International donors pledged almost $4.5 billion in aid for Gaza earlier this month. It has been very painful for me to witness over the past few years the deteriorating humanitarian situation in that narrow strip where I lived as a child in the 1950s.

The media tend to attribute Gaza's decline solely to Israeli military and economic actions against Hamas. But such a myopic analysis ignores the problem's root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at cementing the Palestinian people's status as stateless refugees in order to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel.
[An Arab-Made Misery] Associated Press

As a child in Gaza in the 1950s, I experienced the early results of this policy. Egypt, which then controlled the territory, conducted guerrilla-style operations against Israel from Gaza. My father commanded these operations, carried out by Palestinian fedayeen, Arabic for "self-sacrifice." Back then, Gaza was already the front line of the Arab jihad against Israel. My father was assassinated by Israeli forces in 1956.

It was in those years that the Arab League started its Palestinian refugee policy. Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel. Even descendants of Palestinian refugees who are born in another Arab country and live there their entire lives can never gain that country's passport. Even if they marry a citizen of an Arab country, they cannot become citizens of their spouse's country. They must remain "Palestinian" even though they may have never set foot in the West Bank or Gaza.

This policy of forcing a Palestinian identity on these people for eternity and condemning them to a miserable life in a refugee camp was designed to perpetuate and exacerbate the Palestinian refugee crisis.

So was the Arab policy of overpopulating Gaza. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, whose main political support comes from Arab countries, encourages high birth rates by rewarding families with many children. Yasser Arafat said the Palestinian woman's womb was his best weapon.

Arab countries always push for classifying as many Palestinians as possible as "refugees." As a result, about one-third of the Palestinians in Gaza still live in refugee camps. For 60 years, Palestinians have been used and abused by Arab regimes and Palestinian terrorists in their fight against Israel.

Now it is Hamas, an Islamist terror organization supported by Iran, which is using and abusing Palestinians for this purpose. While Hamas leaders hid in the well-stocked bunkers and tunnels they prepared before they provoked Israel into attacking them, Palestinian civilians were exposed and caught in the deadly crossfire between Hamas and Israeli soldiers.

As a result of 60 years of this Arab policy, Gaza has become a prison camp for 1.5 million Palestinians. Both Israel and Egypt are fearful of terrorist infiltration from Gaza -- all the more so since Hamas took over -- and have always maintained tight controls over their borders with Gaza. The Palestinians continue to endure hardships because Gaza continues to serve as the launching pad for terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Those attacks come in the form of Hamas missiles that indiscriminately target Israeli kindergartens, homes and businesses.

And Hamas continued these attacks more than two years after Israel withdrew from Gaza in the hope that this step would begin the process of building a Palestinian state, eventually leading to a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There was no "cycle of violence" then, no justification for anything other than peace and prosperity. But instead, Hamas chose Islamic jihad. Gazans' and Israelis' hopes have been met with misery for Palestinians and missiles for Israelis.

Hamas, an Iran proxy, has become a danger not only to Israel, but also to Palestinians as well as to neighboring Arab states, who fear the spread of radical Islam could destabilize their countries.

Arabs claim they love the Palestinian people, but they seem more interested in sacrificing them. If they really loved their Palestinian brethren, they'd pressure Hamas to stop firing missiles at Israel. In the longer term, the Arab world must end the Palestinians' refugee status and thereby their desire to harm Israel. It's time for the 22 Arab countries to open their borders and absorb the Palestinians of Gaza who wish to start a new life. It is time for the Arab world to truly help the Palestinians, not use them.

Mrs. Darwish, who grew up in Gaza City and Cairo, is the author, most recently, of "Cruel and Usual Punishment"

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lol - i'm not Christian and would not like to convert to Christianity or to Jewish
i'm happy as a rebel Muslima ---

you can accuse me of being more like Irshad Manji --- though I do like MEN!

but anyway, keep the conspiracy theories coming - they're entertaining
yes, ok , i am linked to Israeli Army groups or whatever...if that makes you happy, Basil.

btw, this artilce was in the Wall St. Journal Europe i saw today - not some underground manifesto

one more thought for you, speaking of Christianity - here's one saying i do like, tailored for you: -

may he who does NOT have "secterian thinking" cast the first stone

----in other words, please drop your rocks, dear Basil.... :>
ex-Mulsima is a rebel - the biggest rebellion I can make I think ;>
more English than Arab doesn't mean I'm not proud of Arab
people are complicated

Playing a game of "gotcha" with me, accusing me of nefarious intentions and trying to box me into one narrow identity is not a very convincing way of trying to bridge the sectarian divide, lol

I think you can do better.

finally, here's the link

and as far as quoting folks associated with propoganda groups - that's a bit laughable

be a bit honest and let me know how credible many of the sources quoted on this website are NOT associated with propoganda -

how about Naim Giladi? I just googled him -- not a very biased source, lol

and you and Mazin and others here are only quoting neutral sources...?

you'll have define or REdefine propoganda -- because I didn't know that criticizing Arabs or Islam is now called propoganda...
I notice, Basil, that you don't address a single argument made in the article, instead you try, by personal attack, to discredit Nonie Darwish and Sunshine Girl. While it is your democratic right to say what you like, I know I speak for many when I say these kind of attacks have no real place in civilised discussion ... it is only the points made that matter, and the only way to defeat those arguments is to present valid arguments and points against them. You are free to waste your time attacking people, but while you do that, the points made stand unrefuted, and people come away with the impression that you had no arguments against the article, so chose instead to attack the people, their religion, their looks, their height ... anything but the very valid points they make.

Is there something wrong with Joseph Farah besides his Christianity? If you have a problem with what he says, post it and present arguments to refute it. If you have a problem with his Christianity, then we have a serious problem on this list.
Basil, you wrote: "I am not Jewish, but I found his comments offensive", which makes my point exactly. You didn't say "I saw that he was a Jew who had converted to hard core Islam and knew that he had nothing to say" which is essentially your postion on critics of the Palestinian position. Somehow, regardless of what they may be saying, they are part of some Zionist plot and their arguments aren't worth addressing.

I read the article you posted about Farah, and I find that position just as ludicrous. The argument there is that "if Farah objects to homosexuality, nothing he says can be taken seriously". He is so obviously prejudged on the stand he may or may not have taken regarding homosexuality ... there is a reason this is called "prejudice" (prejudging, rather than actually addressing the arguments).

How far is what you're saying from the position "he's Jewish, ignore what he says" or he's a Palestinian, ignore what he says". My position, Basil, is that we don't look at all at who is saying something, it's just not relevant. In your next post you quote Farah as saying "Isn't it interesting that prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, there was no serious movement for a Palestinian homeland?" Now no matter who said that, it is a powerful point that would need to be addressed by anybody advocating a Palestinian state. If such a state on the West Bank has always been important to Palestinians, why indeed did they never demand one from Jordan? Why were there no intefadas? In my own mind I have resolved this by deciding that it wasn't important .... but that after much re-educating it has now become important, which is why I support a two state solution. But it's also why I say "I'll support whatever homeland the Palestinians envisage" which includes going back to being Jordanian, because I can't get away from the feeling, that without the extremist overlay that currently leads Palestinian politics, regular Palestinians may opt for the good times as Jordanians. But those are choices for the Palestinians to make freely ... it's the freely bit I really want them to have.

As for Sunshine Girl, I don't care who she is, I don't care who Joseph Farah is, and I don't care if Mazin is who he claims to be, all I care about is to discuss their opinions. If those stated opinions are hateful, I'll say so if I think it appropriate. I have found many opinions on this blog offensive and hateful and have bitten my lip for the sake of a smoother flow of ideas. Unlike yourself, I did read the Nonie Darwish article, but clearly we can't discuss it, because you looked at her name and decided that you are only interested in reading the people you agree with, and that's unfortunate ... very very unfortunate, because if we all slip into that same mould, you will continue posting the things you agree with, but because I disagree, I won't bother to read it. Similarly I will post things you don't read ... which leaves us absolutely nothing to discuss, we have no point on which we can meet, and there will never be peace.

Frankly, I would rather you read the article and told me what you disagree\agree with and why, whilst I tell you my opinion ... and presto, suddenly we have dialogue and an open path that could lead to agreement. But Basil, that also takes an open mind and a preparedness to accept that cherished ideas may be wrong.
I agree with Basil here. Mick: you are not being honest with yourself on these issues because I am sure your reaction would be very different if someone posted an article by someone else (whether real, fake person or whatever) that claims Jews are subhuman species and are inherently violent, treachorous etc... You would not then say, let us debate the merits of this... Would you want to debate the merits of whether Jews use gentile blood in bisquits too?!!!
You're wrong, Mazin, because I have been there. As a teenager my neighbour asked me why Jews stick a wooden skewer through a pig's throat to kill it before eating it. I explained to her that Jews don't eat pork, that slaughter ritiuals demand that an animal not suffer and many other things. She thanked me for explaining it. If, Mazin, you believe that "Jews are subhuman species and are inherently violent, treachorous etc", or better still, zionists, then let's indeed discuss it. I do believe you are quite prejudiced on the subject.

As to Jews using gentile blood ... it's a strange choice because it's exactly the subject of a virulently antisemitic TV series currently making its way around the Arab world called the something Horseman ... I can look it up if it's important, so it wouldn't surprise me if many Arabs believe this to be Jewish practice and I would welcome the chance to set them straight. That is, after all, what we are here for ... not simply to blast Israel.
Mick: Your post was a clumsy and silly try to villify but it won't wash because as you know my post is right there and peopel can read what I wrote. It is clear that what I wrote is about the idiocy of trying to villify Islam or Judaism. It is not a legitimate discussion (and certainly not at a peace forum) to villify a religion. YOu think it is legitimate, many of us here don'tt. Trying to play games and obfuscations to make it legitimate to villify Islam simply won't wash. It simply will be challenged as I did above by showing how this is wrong/evil!!
Basil, that Zionism equals Nazism has been said often on this forum with no regard for the sensibilities of zionists ... so please! I and many others have simply responded to those posts trying to point out where they are wrong. The presumption we come from is that they are posted in ignorance, and these things need to be explained if we are better to understand each other's position. If they were knowingly poisted in hatred, then what the hell are we doing here?

As I keep saying, it's about the argument not the person, so in answer to your question, if you posted a neo-Nazi talking about fish recipes, I may even use those recipes, but without hearing what is being said, you can't judge its value. If you're going to make this world a better place, these are the very things that need to be addressed, and shown to be wrong.

You addressed Darwish's article, and opened the possibility of discussion. Darwish doesn't claim that Sharon's aim was "the hope that his step would begin the process of buidling a Palestinian state", but it was clearly the world's expectation, and most world leaders expressed that. It really doesn't matter at all what Sharon's aim was. What would have happened had the Palestinians built up Gaza into a peaceful mini-state? Israel would have been pressured into turning the West Bank over as well, because the Palestinians would have proven that they could create a state to live peacefully alongside Israel. Sadly, Hamas' ideology would never allow that to happen. Perhaps Sharon was relying on that and Hamas walked right into it ... I don't know. I do know that had the Palestinians chosen peace, the conflict would have been over. Instead the rockets began the very day Israel pulled out, those amazing hothouses that would have brought the Palestinians hundreds of thousands of dollars were chopped up so that their pipes could make Kassams. Basil, in this instance, Darwish is right ... Hamas could have had "peace and prosperity chose instead Islamic jihad". Let me emphasise, that doesn't negate what you say about Sharon at all ... but the path taken was the Palestinian choice, and they could have chosen not to play Sharon's game, and opt for peace instead, leaving Sharon on the defensive, and the world supporting the Palestinians. That's the path Sadat chose ... the precedent is there.



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