Note on the map below: “Palestinian Land” and “Occupied Palestinian Land” are more accurately considered “disputed territory.”
What is so special about the Palestinians? Why is the conflict between them and Israel such an essential casus belli for mostly leftist intellectuals around the world? Before offering my answer to that question, I note that the struggle over what was once called Palestine is only one of many land disputes around the world. Usually the disputes are resolved when one side defeats the other, and then both sides, as they say, move on.
The present-day American states of California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona, about half of New Mexico, about a quarter of Colorado, and a small section of Wyoming once belonged to Mexico. Mexico lost the Mexican-American War, and those territories were annexed by the United States. To be sure, there may be a few diehards in Mexico who still bemoan the loss of their land to the U.S, but I expect that most Mexicans consider that to be ancient history.
The Vietnam War was a land dispute between the communist North Vietnamese and the American backed South Vietnamese. The Americans and their Vietnamese allies lost the war, and once again, most moved on. A neighbor of mine was one of the Vietnamese “boat people,” who escaped Vietnam by way of a rickety boat when she was a child. I asked her if she had since visited Vietnam or wished to. Her answer: No, no no! She now lives in a beautiful house with her husband and children. And she drives a Tesla. She is definitely not interested in returning to her “ancestral home,” her roots. She too has moved on. Today, Freedom House rates Vietnam a six out of seven for nations that are the “least free,” and a seven out of seven for countries with the worst record in political rights.
According to an article in the March 28, 2014 issue of National Geographic Magazine, there are more than 150 disputes around the world that involve land. One they consider particularly problematic is Crimea where Russian forces occupied and then annexed the country. And do you remember the 2008 “five-day war” with Georgia in which Russia took over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two regions that once were firmly considered part of Georgia?
China is engaged in an number of land disputes. There is the territory known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China. The article notes that, “China is involved in multiple other territorial disputes, including the long struggle over Tibet, which ‘is an example of a dispute where there is one state and an area inside it wants to be separate,’ says Ron Hassner, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley, who has written extensively about territory disputes… He adds, ‘Another form of territorial dispute is when two states argue over a piece of land that lies between them, such as Jammu and Kashmir.'” Gibraltar is also a bone of contention between the U.K. and Spain.
The Kurds are a people who many believe deserve a state of their own. They suffered in Iraq under Saddam Hussein and they still have an ongoing armed conflict with Turkey. I could go on, but you can see for yourself: Google “territorial land disputes.” The list is long. Yet most of those obsessed over the supposed Israeli oppression of the Palestinians could not care less about any of these other disputes where, in many cases, people are being oppressed and denied their rights.
The case for Israel is that the Jews were living in the disputed land long before the Arabs invaded. In addition, Israel still stands prosperous and strong after defeating the Arabs over and over again in wars of self-defense. This is usually the way land disputes are settled, and the Israeli presence pre-dating the Arabs is further support for their right to the land. Of course, the dispute could be settled by negotiation, but the Palestinians have shown no interest in that. It is true that “might doesn’t make right,” but it does make for reality as history shows.
So why is the Palestinian-Israeli dispute special as compared to the more than 150 other land disputes going on around the world? The two answers are usually oil or anti-Semitism. As I said before, the group mainly responsible for the anti-Israel movement is the left-wing educated class; therefore, I would reject oil as a reason for their obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since that class is adamantly opposed to fossil fuels. I can only conclude that they don’t like Jews.