One of the reasons why it is so difficult for the average American to relate to Arabs and to Palestinians in particular is the level of hatred that they bear against Israel and Jews.
Many American Christians see the restoration of Israel as one of the great miracles of the 20th century, a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, especially since it took place on the heels of the Nazi holocaust in Europe. As such, they see the hatred of Israel by Palestinians and Arabs as not only anti-biblical but anti-Christian.
But from a merely psychological viewpoint, such hatred is also pathological and unhealthy. We all know that people consumed by hatred cannot lead normal lives because they are driven by an emotion that not only creates gut-eating inner stress, but leads to the kind of terrorist acts that took place on Sept. 11 against America and more recently against Israel.
Arab opposition to Jewish settlement in Palestine goes back quite a way. In the years of early immigration before the 1948 war, Jews bought land from Arabs and made it bloom. Since Palestine was a British mandate at that time, all transfers of land from Arabs to Jews were normal real estate transactions. Jews were not stealing anybody’s land. Despite the legality of all of this, there were anti-Jewish riots in Palestine that resulted in many Jews being slaughtered.
But the Zionist movement gained strength in the 1930s when Hitler took control of Germany and launched his campaign of persecution and terror against Germany’s Jewish citizens. Many Jews, reading the handwriting on the wall, emigrated to Palestine. The whole Zionist idea was to provide Jews with a haven from persecution which they could call their own.
After World War II, when the surviving Jews of Europe examined the catastrophe they had gone through, they realized that there was no possibility of returning to the way things were before the war. Hundreds of Jewish communities had been destroyed. There was no place to return to. And so, by the thousands they headed to Palestine. Others headed to North America and elsewhere, but the majority, renewed in their determination to rebuild Jewish life, went to the land that held that promise. The language of the Jews in Palestine was their ancient language of the Bible, Hebrew. In fact, the revival of Hebrew was another miracle in the restoration of the Jewish commonwealth.
In other words, the survivors did not linger in the refugee camps any longer than they had to. They were anxious to resume constructive lives in which they could create new families and raise new children.
Meanwhile, in Palestine, as the Jewish population increased, so did Arab opposition. The Arabs had little sympathy with the plight of Jews after the holocaust. However, it should be acknowledged that many ordinary Arabs worked with Jews from the beginning of settlement to today. But it was the Islamic religious and political leadership that harbored the greatest hatred against the Jews.
When in 1948 the United Nations voted in favor of a partition plan to divide Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states, Arab leaders rejected it. And so, when the British finally departed from Palestine, leaders of the Jewish community declared the restoration of Israel as a sovereign state, thus fulfilling a dream 2,000 years old. Christians around the world realized that what they were witnessing in their lifetime was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
No sooner was the State of Israel founded, than Arab armies from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq invaded the infant state in the determination to crush it and drive the Jews into the sea. But another miracle took place, and Israel was able to defeat the Arab armies and add more territory to their small state. Jordan held on to East Jerusalem and most of the West Bank, which was mainly populated by Arabs, and Egypt annexed the Gaza Strip.
The Arabs who fled Palestine during the war were settled in refugee camps awaiting some future event that would permit them to return to their homes. In the Six Day War in 1967, Israel again defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, reoccupied the Gaza Strip, and conquered the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. For the first time in 2,000 years, the Jews had complete control of their ancient capital. In 1973, Egypt launched a surprise attack against Israel on Yom Kippur. Although Israel was able to fend off the attack, the war led to peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel, and the return of the Sinai to Egypt.
Meanwhile, during all of those years, Israel was regularly attacked by Palestinian terrorists whose goal it was to destroy Israel. The chief organizer of this terrorism was none other than Arafat, who organized the Palestine Liberation Organization with the help of the Soviet Union. As of today, the goal of the PLO (now the Palestinian Authority) is still the destruction of Israel and its chosen method of combat is terrorism.
During all of this time, the movement to destroy Israel has been fueled by a force of hatred maintained at the highest level by unrelenting propaganda and incitement. Just as the previous attacks against Israel have failed, the present attack will also fail. But the hatred will hardly go away. The Arabs will sustain it because hatred and perpetual war have become their way of life.