On Gratitude
Prof. Paul Eidelberg
27 June 2003

Americans are going to be rudely disappointed if they expect any gratitude for having liberated the Iraqis from tyranny. Let me offer Israel's experience.

As I wrote more than ten years ago in Demophrenia: Israel and the Malaise of Democracy, let us briefly examine the condition of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria before and after the Six Day War of June, 1967:

During the nineteen years in which Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria, the Jordanian government deliberately curtailed the economic and educational development of the Arab inhabitants. Amman did not want the "West Bank" to challenge the primacy of the "East Bank." As a result of Jordan4s deliberate policy of impoverishment, agriculture in Judea and Samaria was kept at a subsistence level. Industry was virtually non-existent and no infrastructure was developed. Also, not a single institution of higher education existed on the "West Bank." Moreover, the Jordanian occupation authorities oppressed the local population and brutally suppressed the riots which broke out at frequent intervals.

The situation changed dramatically after June, 1967. Thanks to Israel's benevolent attempt to pacify the Arab residents, Judea and Samaria soon boasted of no less than four universities. Higher education enlarged the Palestinian Arab's mind beyond family and clan. It helped him interact with Arab as well as non-Arab nations. While it aroused his ambitions, the university became a most efficient means of penetrating the socio-political power structure of the Arab-Islamic world.

Unsurprisingly, at least to any student of European history, all of these universities became hotbeds of revolution. When one or another became too obstreperous, the government of Israel would close it down for a while -- predictably -- arousing the protestations of relativistic professors in Israel's own universities. For these repositories of civilization, preaching hatred of Jews and inciting Arabs to murder and insurrection are legitimate exercises of "academic freedom," not violations of domestic and international law. Of course, if the government were not itself afflicted by democratic relativism, it would have permanently shut down any Arab university after one or two serious infractions. But such firmness would require a sense of justice or degree of moral indignation uncharacteristic of such governments.

In any event, far from pacifying the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, the government only succeeded in educating, enriching, and arming Israel's enemies. It established a system of primary and secondary schools, which greatly multiplied the number of girls and boys attending classes. Many eventually learned how to make firebombs as part of their extra-curricular activities.

The government also established new hospitals, health centers, and nursing schools. Infant mortality was greatly reduced and the standard of health improved beyond recognition (reminiscent of what Jewish medical facilities had done for the Arabs during the British Mandate). Also, roads as well as water and electric power facilities were constructed. Modern methods of agriculture were introduced. Eventually, tens of thousands of "West Bank" Arabs were employed in Israel. The Arabs' standard of living doubled and quadrupled. Tourists were amazed to see so many large and luxurious mansions in Arab towns and villages.

Still, hatred of Israel flourished more vigorously than ever, recalling the Peel Commission Report of 1937, which recorded how the Jew-hatred of Arabs increased as their living standards were improved - an improvement that was also thanks to the Jews. Nevertheless, despite all evidence to the contrary, an official Israeli government publication expressed the bourgeois dogma that "If one wants to prevent a potential outbreak of social unrest, the only way is to work consistently to raise the standard of living and the standard of services in this backward [Arab] society."

By raising the Arab's standard of living and of education in Judea and Samaria, the government raised the mobility and competence of Israel's enemies, and even produced new and radical elites. In the "West Bank" Arab municipal elections of April 1976 -- supervised by democratic Israel -- candidates who identified with Arafat and the PLO won out against the "old guard" that had identified with King Hussein and Jordan. PLO supporters were elected to govern the three principal towns in Judea and Samaria -- Hebron, Nablus (Shechem), and Ramallah.

And so, by not extending Israeli law over Judea and Samaria, by educating and enriching the Arabs in these areas, and thereby making them less dependent on Jordan, the government of Israel unwittingly prepared the ground for Palestinian peoplehood -- fiction or not -- as well as the demand for Palestinian statehood. Having been recognized by the democratic world as a "people," the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza found the democratic principle of self-determination a convenient instrument for achieving statehood.

The ultimate consequence of this manifestation of Israeli democracy is democracide.
Professor Eidelberg is the President of the Yamin Israel movement.