Friday, August 26, 2016

PCG on the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty

So PCG has released an article talking about the peace treaty made between the State of Israel and Egypt. (Kieran Underwood, A Bright Light in Diplomatic History, August 26, 2016.)

Let's take a look.
Three decades of war haunted both nations. Attacks, counterattacks and preemptive attacks had delivered little but shed the blood of 40,000 men in the process. One man said he would “go to the end of the world” for peace, and another outstretched his hand to guide him. What precipitated was a bright light in diplomatic history. 
That bright light was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s efforts to bring peace to one of the world’s most ancient rivalries. To this day, the Jews annually celebrate their Exodus and their independence from Egypt. And on March 26, the Jews in Israel celebrated 36 years of peace with their eastern Arab partner.
Actually there was no ancient rivalry between the State of Israel and Egypt. The state of tensions between the State of Israel and Egypt came into being in modern times. It was only in the 1880s that the nationalist movement to create a Jewish state came to gain enough political clout to bring this dream into reality as it would in 1948. This was partly a response to deadly anti-Semitic pogroms in Tsarist Russia. Nationalism is merely a modern phenomenon.
Sadly, today only a few know of the efforts of these two brave leaders. Most Westerners associate diplomacy in the Middle East with the unending Palestinian conflict and the Iranian nuclear deal. Many wonder if diplomacy can actually be effective in the Middle East.
That seems quite an exaggerated statement.

Elsewhere PCG's 1% insists that diplomacy is useless since (they say) unending conflict and bloodshed is the fate of the world until Christ returns.

Underwood then talked about HWA's meetings with various persons discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict in the late 1940s.
In “Mt. Sinai, Jerusalem: Now Foreshadow World Peace,” Mr. Armstrong paraphrased his conversation with then president of the Zionist Organization Chaim Weizmann in 1946:
God, he said, had promised this land to the nation Israel. It had always been called “the Promised Land.” It belonged to Jews by divine right. If God ordained that Jews should be there, he, of course, had a well-founded argument. And just about everybody supposed the biblical account did affirm the divine right of Jews to have there a national state.
Then why is it that in previous generations the Jewish community did not arrive en masse to Palestine if it belonged to them by divine right until the 1880s?

In 1292 King Edward I viciously expelled the Jewish community out of England and forbade them to return. It was not until the 1650s that this unjust and cruel anti-Semitic decree was finally reversed. But those innocent Jews did not move to Palestine. Instead they took shelter mainly in the Netherlands and France. Nationalism did not exist in those days so it never occurred to them to create a Jewish state. That is why they did not go to Palestine to set up a Jewish state.

In 1492 the unified Kingdom of Spain viciously expelled the Jewish community out of the kingdom. But again nationalism did not exist so it never occurred to these innocent Jews to go to Palestine to build a nation state. Instead they took shelter in the Muslim world.

It was only in the modern era as Europe modernized itself that people began to view themselves as part of a nation state. Scholars debate precisely when this happen. Some say in Britain after the English Civil War. Others say after the French Revolution. It was only then that people began to imagine themselves as belonging to a nation state. By 1870 Germany and Italy united themselves as nation states. It was only as nationalism took hold in Europe that the dream of a Jewish state began to be conceivable. This dream of a Jewish state only began to take form in the nineteenth century and it only began to become a viable political movement in the 1880s partly in response to deadly anti-Semitic pogroms in Tsarist Russia. But this modern movement is being anachronistically projected into the past when nationalism did not exist.

Underwood then discusses HWA's discussion with the Saudi Ambassador.
Saudi Arabian Ambassador Hafiz Wahba explained to Mr. Armstrong the Arab viewpoint, which seemed equally convincing:
“Do you feel,” he asked me, “that your American people have a right to the land of the United States, including California?” 
“Your people have occupied this country as a nation less than 200 years, and California still a shorter time.” This was said during the San Francisco Conference. “Suppose the Japanese came claiming the land of California by divine right, and demanded they be allowed to move all Californians out and make it a Japanese national state. Would you think their claim valid? Well, we Arabs have occupied Palestine for many times 200 years, and the Zionists want us to move out and turn it over to them.”
Underwood neglects to mention that Ambassador Wahba's fear that the Palestinians would be forcibly moved out in the creation of a Jewish state was fulfilled in the Israeli War of Independence of 1947-9. About 750,000 Palestinians were expelled into the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere.
Statistics for refugee figures have been as high as 935,573 according to UNRWA registrations, to as low as 530,000 according to some Israeli sources. The British Foreign Office estimated the total number of refugees to be 810,000 in February 1949 and then issued a revised estimate of 600,000. The UNCCP Technical Office gave a figure of 760,000. The US government estimated a total refugee population of 875,000 as of 1953. [It states elsewhere that the consensus figure is now about 750,000.] (Beyond Occupation, 2011, p. 292.)
The issue of the mass expulsion of Palestinians is never addressed in this article.

Underwood then discusses the peace negotiations between the State of Israel and Egypt.
Sadat dropped the peace bombshell on Nov. 9, 1977, when he told the Egyptian Parliament he would travel to Jerusalem to pursue peace negotiations. It was not in his original notes. Everyone in the assembly applauded, even Yasser Arafat who was sitting out front. The Egyptians loved the outreach: They believed the other Arabs had grown wealthy while the Egyptians had borne the burden of the four previous wars with Israel.
He mentions that the Arab nations were most displeased at Sadat's diplomatic gesture toward the Israeli government.
Israel quickly accepted the invitation, and Sadat was scheduled to speak to the Israeli Knesset on November 20. When he arrived, Syria declared a Day of National Mourning and flags were flown at half-mast. In Iraq, celebrations of the Eid al-Adha feast were canceled in protest. Libya withdrew its recognition of the Sadat government and severed diplomatic relations. Arab newspapers and broadcasting stations described Sadat as a “traitor,” a “capitulator,” a “conniver with the enemy” and an “agent of imperialism.”
Why would Syria be so angry at President Sadat's diplomatic moves? The Syrian government knew that if there was peace between the State of Israel and Egypt then the State of Israel would not be afraid of an attack from Egypt leaving that side of its border secure and allowing the State of Israel to devote more of its military resources towards the other Arab nations, including Syria.

But as it turned out it would be Lebanon that would find itself on the short side of this peace. With the border with Egypt secure from possible attack the Israeli government knew that they no longer had to worry about Egypt. In 1978 Israeli forces bombarded Lebanon. Later in 1982, knowing that Egypt would not attack to restrain them, the Israeli government sent their military forces into Lebanon. Egypt would not be in the way. Thousands were killed in the military advance.
[Sadat in his speech to the Israeli Knesset] talked of the past, with “all its complexities and weighing memories,” but told his audience it was now time to have the “clarity of vision to overlook”
And so Begin and Sadat went into negotiations and came to an agreement.
At the last moment, Sept. 17, 1978, an agreement was reached: Israel would sacrifice the Sinai but keep the West Bank. Egypt and Israel drew a framework for the conclusion of their peace treaty—and the peace has been kept ever since.
The State of Israel had seized control of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula during the Six Day War of 1967. The international community did not recognize the State of Israel as having any right to rule over the Sinai Peninsula. The State of Israel had no legal right to hold that land. Naturally the Egyptian government demanded it back but the Israeli government refused. President Sadat proposed a separate peace with the State of Israel in 1971 without the other Arab nations but this offer was refused. So in seeking to reclaim its land Egypt launched the Yom Kippur War in 1973. It is horrifying to imagine that the terrible war could have been avoided if the Israeli government had earlier agreed to return land that did not belong to it.

Furthermore Underwood ignores the complicating factor that the West Bank never belonged to Egypt and so Egypt had no right to give it to the State of Israel as is misleadingly implied above.

Underwood then mentions that the peace treaty put President Sadat's life in danger. He also mentions HWA's meetings with Begin and Sadat.
While both Begin and Sadat began their lives engaging in war, they demonstrated it was possible to overlook the past to create a better future. In doing so, they shone a bright light in a sometimes dim history of diplomacy.
The assassination of President Sadat was a most terrible event.

Underwood conveniently ignores that this peace contributed to the State of Israel's decision to advance into Lebanon. The Israeli government accurately foresaw that Egypt would not hinder this military advance because of this peace treaty. The peace contributed to an escalation of war in Lebanon. But what can one expect such a dogmatic organization as PCG?

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