The student union at The University of Regina has voted to support a campaign of boycotts, divestiture, and sanctions against Israel. While I will not defend absolutely everything Israel does or has done, here are some things the students there and everyone elsewhere should consider [from Melanie Phillips, "The Algorithm of Malice"]. I have added a number of additional points below this lengthy quote:
There are two big and connected points made by this little video. The first is that the widely-held belief that the Arabs were the only refugees from the Arab war against the newly reconstituted country of Israel (a war which started in 1948 and continues to this day) -- is totally untrue. There were many more Jewish refugees from Arab countries. As a result of the 1948 war, some 500,000 Arabs left Palestine – most of them as a result of having been told to do so by Arab regimes certain of destroying the new Jewish state. [emphasis added] But some 850,000 Jews were then attacked, stripped of their citizenship and ethnically cleansed from their homes in Arab states -- causing the destruction of ancient Jewish communities in those countries which had well predated the arrival of Islam in the Middle East. And what happened to those refugees? They were absorbed without fuss into Israel ..., where they form around half of the population, and into other countries.
The second point which is crucial to an understanding of this conflict is that the Palestinian refugee issue is entirely artificial and bogus. Not only were the Arabs from Palestine deliberately refused access to other Arab countries [EE: again emphasis added. Note that there was no country called Palestine then. Just Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt in addition to Israel.] in order to turn them – as a UN refugee official admitted – into an open sore as a weapon to be used against Israel. Even more astonishingly, the UN itself was a party to this malevolent strategy.
For it chose to treat the Palestinian Arabs differently from any other refugee group. All other refugees are dealt with by the UN Refugee Agency, whose goal is to re-settle them. But for the Palestinian Arabs, the UN set up the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) – whose [apparent] goal was to maintain the Palestinian Arabs as permanent refugees.
To that end, while in every other conflict refugees are defined merely as people who flee their homes, the UN decided that amongst the Palestinian Arabs refugee status would be transmitted from generation to generation. As a result, the number of Palestinian Arab ‘refugees’ has not diminished but risen over the years from 550,000 to 4.7 million. These are the people who are now said to deserve the ‘right of return’ to Israel.
Of course, the idea that 4.2 million of these people are actually refugees is totally absurd. If that standard was applied generally, the entire Jewish diaspora -- not to mention untold millions around the world who have been settled for generations - could suddenly claim refugee status. ...
Now at long last Israel has begun to realise that yes, incredible as it seems, sentient people do actually believe such lies -- – and that if the free world is to be restored to the axis of reason, they must be countered head-on by the true facts of history.
So long as there are rockets landing in Israel, so long as there are neighbouring governments pledged to annihilate Israel, and so long as there are terrorists bombing and killing civilians in Israel and threatening the very existence of its citizens, it makes all the sense in the world to me that the Israelis would create checkpoints and barriers.
Keep in mind, too, that after Israel ceded the Gaza strip to the Palestinian Arabs living in Gaza (forcing the Israelis living there to leave!), much of the infrastructure they left in place was immediately pillaged. And of course the rain of rockets from Gaza continues with Hamas in control in Gaza now. Furthermore, people blamed Israel for the later blockade of Gaza when in fact Egypt participated in it as well.
Finally, if you want to defend some downtrodden people, consider defending the residents of North Korea, Tibet, southern Sudan and Darfur, Cuba, and even many Venezuelans. But the plight of many Palestinian Arabs is at least as much the result of policies of neighbouring Arab countries who:
- encouraged them (and mostly their ancestors) to leave Israel in 1948, promising to drive the Jews into the sea. Granted, some Arabs were indeed driven out of Israel, but most left voluntarily expecting to return only a few weeks later.
- When Jordan, Syria, and Egypt failed in this war, they blamed the Jews for taking the property of those who fled. Furthermore despite their mistaken policies, these governments refused to accept the fleeing Palestinian Arabs as full-fledged citizens, instead forcing them to live in refugee camps.
- There are tonnes more Arab students in Israeli universities than there are Jews in Arab universities.
Finally, remember that for centuries before World War I, the entire region was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. After WWI, the British had a mandate to govern the middle east and probably botched it (though it is not at all clear that at the time anyone could realistically have done much better, given the mutually exclusive competing claims and factions).
After WWII, the British slowly re-carved the region, creating Israel, among other countries. If the Palestinian and other Arabs of the region had accepted the initial partition of 1947-48, there would be no problem (well, okay, there would be much less of a problem).