Rupert Murdoch and I have had our differences over many years, and especially during my recent legal travails, but I must join with him entirely in his recent tweeted complaint that most American media outlets that are controlled by Jews seem to be reflexively, or at least habitually, anti-Israel. For mentioning this notorious fact, Murdoch was lambasted by the usual suspects, led by the New York Times, upon whose franchise as the premier quality newspaper of the world’s greatest market Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal is steadily encroaching. My sometime colleagues at the Daily Beast, whose grievances against Murdoch are profound and not unreasonable, even suggested that there was room here for a regulatory intervention. I understand the temptation to attack Murdoch, but this was seriously uncalled for. And yet, Murdoch actually apologized for his tweet. He did use some indelicate language, but to illustrate his pro-Israeli views.
From my long-sought sanctuary outside the United States, I urge that we all in the West, including the most febrile interveners on all sides of the dispute over the status of Israel, face a few facts. Apart from the founding members and permanent Security Council countries of the United Nations (the U.S., the U.K., France, and the former Soviet Union and Nationalist China), no state has a higher claim of legitimacy than Israel. All the other members of the U.N. were admitted, at the outset or subsequently, but Israel was created by the U.N. as a Jewish state, on the motion of Stalin’s ambassador, seconded by President Truman’s.
In 1917, as Russia fell into the hands of the Bolsheviks and Germany turned her full force on to the Western Front at the climax of World War I and before the U.S. was fully mobilized, Britain promised that when it evicted Turkey from what is now Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, it would make Palestine a “homeland for the Jews” without compromising the rights of the non-Jews there, effectively selling the same real estate simultaneously to two separate and opposed buyers. If the Arab powers had accepted the U.N. demarcation of Palestine in 1948, an Israel of extremely modest borders would have been born and would today remain confined to those borders. Israel expanded beyond its original boundaries only because the Arab powers attacked Israel and the U.N. demarcation unsuccessfully in 1948. The endless caterwauling about the 1967 borders is rubbish. The Arabs had those borders and could have kept them if they had not carefully planned an aggressive sneak attack on Israel and lost the war that resulted. Originating and defending against aggression, and losing and winning wars, do not create identical rights and interchangeable moral positions.
There was never, after the British conflicting promises of 1917, any possible solution except a division of the territory between the Jews and Arabs. For some decades the Israelis considered any concessions to be a step backwards toward the horrors that exterminated half the world’s Jewish population during World War II, but they have been ready for a two-state solution for nearly 20 years. The Arabs have considered the creation of a Jewish state around Jerusalem to be the last straw in nearly 13 centuries of retreat since Charles Martel expelled the Arabs from France at the Battle of Tours in 732, and have held up a succession of ever more spurious obstacles to agreement. One obstacle they propose now is the settlements, which are effectively confined to the natural growth of intra-settlement populations following the Ariel Sharon–George W. Bush agreement; and they do so despite the readiness the Israelis showed, in Sinai and in Gaza, to uproot settlers in exchange for a general agreement.
Beyond the settlements is the right of return, in which the Arabs claim the right of many millions of alleged former Palestinian Arabs and their numerous issue to return to Israel and inundate the country (and, sometimes explicitly and sometimes not, subjugate, expel, or kill the Jews). The whole land-for-peace formula that was in vogue from Camp David in 1978 to after Oslo in 1993 was a confidence trick: irrevocable Israeli givebacks of territory taken from the Arabs in wars the Arabs started, in exchange for non-binding cease-fires that were rarely fully observed even at the outset.
The Arabs could have peace tomorrow if sufficient numbers of Palestinians were not content to be used as cannon fodder in fruitless assaults on Israel, even as the surrounding Arab powers distract the Arab masses with the red herring of Israel while retarding their countries with their repression and corruption. It is not Israel’s fault that when the Korean War ended nearly 50 years ago, Egypt had a higher standard of living than South Korea, and South Koreans now have eight times the per capita income of Egyptians.