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Arab-Israeli Conflict: Basic Facts

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  1. Arab countries versus Israel - Table
  2. History
  3. Role of Religion in the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  4. Holy Places
  5. Education
  6. Is improving economic conditions for Palestinian Arabs conducive to Peace?
  7. Other resources about the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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Arab countries versus Israel

Map of Arab Countries vs. Israel

Maps of Arab countries (green) and Israel (red).
Note that Israel is like a tiny island in a sea of Arab countries.
Also see maps comparing size of Israel with those of Arab countries.

The Arab nations are represented by 21 separate countries (see Table). There is only one Jewish nation with a tiny country, Israel. The combined territories of Arab countries is 650 fold greater than Israel (see map above comparing size of Israel versus those of Arab countries). Their population is 50 fold greater than Israel. The average per capita GDP in Arab countries is $3,700 versus $18,000 for Israel. This despite the fact that many Arab countries have world's richest oil resources.

CountryGovernmentTerritory
(sq km)
Population
(2001 est.)
GDP
(Billions)
ARAB TotalMostly monarchies13,486,861292,400,267$1,195.49
IsraelDemocracy20,7705,938,093$110.20
Arabs > Israel 649 fold49 fold11 fold
AlgeriaRepublic2,381,74031,736,053$171.00
BahrainMonarchy620645,361$10.10
ComorosRepublic2,170596,202$0.42
DjiboutiRepublic22,000460,700$0.57
EgyptRepublic1,001,45069,536,644$247.00
IraqIn transition437,07223,331,985$57.00
JordanMonarchy89,2135,153,378$17.30
KuwaitMonarchy17,8202,041,961$29.30
LebanonRepublic10,4003,627,774$18.20
LibyaDictatorship1,759,5405,240,599$45.40
Mauritania Republic1,030,7002,747,312$5.40
MoroccoMonarchy446,55030,645,305$105.00
OmanMonarchy212,4602,622,198$19.60
QatarMonarchy11,437769,152$15.10
Saudi ArabiaMonarchy1,960,58222,757,092$232.00
SomaliaNone637,6577,488,773$4.30
SudanMilitary regime2,505,81036,080,373$35.70
SyriaMilitary regime185,18016,728,808$50.90
TunisiaRepublic163,6109,705,102$62.80
UAEEmirates82,8802,407,460$54.00
YemenRepublic527,97018,078,035$14.40
ARAB TotalMostly monarchies13,486,861292,400,267$1,195.49
Israel TotalDemocracy20,7705,938,093$110.20
Arabs > Israel 649 fold49 fold11 fold

Figures in the table were compiled from The World Fact Book.

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Arab-Israeli wars

The Arab nations initiated four wars against Israel:

Israel defended itself each time and won. After each war Israeli army withdrew from most of the areas it captured (see maps). (see Camp-David Accords). This is unprecedented in World history and shows Israel's willingness to reach peace even at the risk of fighting for its very existence each time anew.

Anonymous quote:

If the Arabs (Moslems) put down their weapons today there would be no more violence. If the Israelis put down their weapons today there would be no more Israel.
Think about it...

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Nationhood

Quote from Charles Krauthammer - The Weekly Standard, May 11, 1998

"Israel is the very embodiment of Jewish continuity: It is the only nation on earth that inhabits the same land, bears the same name, speaks the same language, and worships the same God that it did 3,000 years ago. You dig the soil and you find pottery from Davidic times, coins from Bar Kokhba, and 2,000-year-old scrolls written in a script remarkably like the one that today advertises ice cream at the corner candy store."

Israel became a nation about 1300 BCE, two thousand years before the rise of Islam. The people of modern day Israel share the same language and culture shaped by the Jewish heritage and religion passed through generations starting with the founding father Abraham. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BCE, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land for the past 3,300 years.

After the Romans conquered Jerusalem about 2,000 years ago, Jewish people were expelled and dispersed to the Diaspora, and the Land of Israel was ruled by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire, and by the British Empire.

Throughout centuries Jews prayed to return from the Diaspora to Israel. During the first half of the 20th century there were major waves of immigration of Jews back to Israel from the Arab countries and from Europe. In 1948 Jews reestablished their sovereignty over their ancient homeland with the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

It was only after the Jews re-inhabited their historic homeland of Judea and Samaria, that the myth of a Palestinian nation was created and marketed worldwide. Jews come from Judea, not Palestinians. There is no language known as Palestinian, or any Palestinian culture distinct from that of all the Arabs in the area. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs indistinguishable from Arabs throughout the Middle East. The Palestinian National Charter adopted by the PLO states this fact in the first article (See the covenant)

The area called Palestine included the territories of present day Israel and Jordan. Under Lausanne agreement of 1923 Turkey transferred all claims to Palestine to mandatory power Britain. In 1922 Britain allocated nearly 80% of Palestine to Transjordan. In 1947 UN partitioned this remaining land into two states, a second Arab state, Palestine, and Israel. The great majority of Arabs in greater Palestine and Israel share the same culture, language and religion. The Arabs in the area began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Virtually all the Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in the West Bank of Jordan River have complete autonomy under the rule of the Palestinian Authority.

See: The History and Meaning of "Palestine" and "Palestinians"

Jerusalem

For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem (1948-1967), they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.

In the Jewish Bible, Jerusalem is mentioned over 669 times and Zion (which usually means Jerusalem, sometimes the Land of Israel) 154 times, or 823 times. The Christian Bible mentions Jerusalem 154 times and Zion 7 times. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran. Jerusalem is also not mentioned in the Palestinian Covenant.

King David established the city of Jerusalem as the capital of the whole Land of Israel. Mohammed never came to Jerusalem. Jerusalem remained under Turkish Ottoman Empire rule from 1517 to 1917, and under British rule from 1917 to 1948.

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Arab and Jewish Refugees

The UN partition plan of 1947 was rejected by all the Arab countries. Arab leadership in Israel and in the countries surrounding Israel, planned a Jihad, holy war, against Israel and encouraged the Arabs to leave Israel promising their return after they purge the land of Jews. The great majority of Arabs left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier (see article and Arab sources that describe what happened during the war of 1948 that caused the Palestinian refugee problem).

During 1940's through 1950's nearly ALL the Jews had to flee from Arab countries to avoid persecution and pogroms. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries is estimated to be a million. This number is greater than the number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948, estimated as 343,000 (see Peters' book cited below).

Most of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries rapidly integrated into the modern society of Israel. This, despite the fact that Israel is a tiny country (about size of New Jersey) without any of the world's richest resources of petroleum in Arab countries. Today, the majority of the people in Israel are the descendants of Jews from Arab countries. (European Jews and their descendants constitute less than half the population of Israel).

The development of the Jewish community under British mandate led to economic growth in the region providing job opportunities for Arab workers. Consequently, the Arab population of Palestine swelled by the influx of Arab immigrants from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and other Arab countries until 1947 (The trend of Arab migration into Israel to find a job continues to the present day). While the British forces limited Jewish immigration, they allowed free entry of Arab migrants. The UN agency UNRWA defined a "Palestinian refugee", as any Arab who stayed in the country for two years prior to 1948. Thus, UNRWA included in their statistics migrant workers greatly swelling the ranks of so called "Palestinian refugees" (for best reference on the subject see: From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine by Joan Peters).

Arab refugee problem was created by the seven Arab countries that attacked Israel in 1948. Arab refugees were intentionally not integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the fact total territory of Arab countries is about 700 times greater than that of Israel. Out of about 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has not been absorbed into their own peoples' lands. Arab nations still maintain generations of the descendants of the refugees in so called "refugee camps" under squalid conditions with the hope that someday they will dislodge the Jews in Israel. The money spent by the Arab countries on armaments would be sufficient to build houses for all so called "refugees". Arab countries should be encouraged to care for their poor population instead of spending their richest resources in the world on armaments and development of terrorist groups such as Osama Bin Laden from Saudi Arabia.

Since 1948, after three generations the descendants of the Arab refugees are still called "refugees" and are supported by UN "refugee" funds! With the highest birth rate in Arab countries this population has now grown to about four million. In negotiations, Arab leadership requests the "right of return" of this mass of millions into the tiny land of Israel. The settlement of millions of Arabs in Israel would immediately eliminate Israel as a Jewish state. This is the real aim of the Arab countries, to achieve by supposedly "peaceful" means what they could not achieve by unceasing violence in whole scale wars and daily terrorism.

The responsibility for keeping the Arab population who are descendants of the Arab refugees, rests only on the shoulders of the Arab countries that created the problem by attacking Israel in 1948.

Quote from Ralph Galloway, a former head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), in Amman, capital of Jordan, in August 1958:

"The Arab states do not want to solve the refugee problem. They want to keep it as open sore, as an affront to the United Nations and as a weapon against Israel. Arab leaders don't give a damn whether the refugees live or die."

Related resources:

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Holy Places

The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the holiest site for Jews. It was the site of the Beit HaMikdash ("Temple") built by King Solomon (950 BCE), which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (587 BCE), rebuilt in 541 BCE, and then destroyed again by the Roman army in 70 CE leading to the exile of Jews from Israel. Al Aqsa Mosque and Shrine Of Omar were built at the site of the ancient Jewish temples. The Arabic name for Jerusalem "el-KuDS" is derived from the Arabic name "BeT el-MaKDeS", a translation of the Hebrew "BeiT ha-MiKDaSH", the name of the Jewish Temple (see articles).

Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths. Arabs recently burnt the Tomb of Joseph and the ancient synagogue in Jericho (see pictures). To this days Arab Waqf in control of the Temple Mount does not allow Jews to pray in the Temple Mount. Jews pray facing Jerusalem as the location of the Beit Hamikdash. Muslims pray facing their holy city Mecca with their backs toward Jerusalem. Throughout the ages the Arabs have ignored The Temple Mount and renewed interest only recently because of their political exigencies and not religious history (see pictures and articles).

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U.N. Record on Israel and the Arabs

Of the 175 United Nations Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel. The U.N. was silent while 58 Jerusalem synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians. The U.N. was silent while the Jordanians destroyed 58 Jerusalem Synagogues and systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. The U.N. was silent while the Jordanians prevented Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

This anti-Israel stance of the UN is a natural consequence of its membership structure. 21 members of the UN are Arab countries, and 52 members represent Islamic countries. Since the Arab Israeli conflict is represented as a religious conflict (see article) Israel as the only Jewish state has no chance for a fair hearing in the UN.

Related articles

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Oslo accords and "Peace Process"

The Oslo "Peace" accords have not brought peace. The number of terror attacks against Israel and the number of Israelis killed by Arab terror bombings greatly escalated after Oslo to a level that has not been seen since 1948 (see statistics). The Palestinian Authority has repeatedly violated all aspects of the agreement (see full report of violations).

Recent armed violence by the army of Arafat confirm the predictions that this agreement would escalate the conflict rather than subdue it (see article). In the history there are many examples of international "peace agreements" that were rapidly followed by major wars. A well known relevant case is the Munich agreement signed by Chamberlain from Great Britain and Hitler from Germany in 1938, which was rapidly revoked by Hitler as German armies invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939.

The P.L.O.'s Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Fatah Constitution that is adopted as the unofficial constitution of the Palestinian Authority also calls for the destruction of the Jewish State in most of its clauses.

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Education

One of primary means to promote peace between nations is the educational system. In Israeli high schools Arabic is taught as one of required languages. Special educational programs greatly emphasize the need for peaceful coexistence with Israel's Arab neighbors. In contrast, textbooks used in Palestinian Authority schools portray Jews and Israelis in most derogatory and hateful terms (see reports). In summer camps and kindergartens, Palestinian Arab children undergo paramilitary training against Israel. Some Arab Institutions and parents train children at an early age as suicide bombers, See video). This educational atmosphere makes peace impossible in this generation, and plants the seeds of hatred among the coming generations of Arab children as well.

Related articles:

The Portrayal of Israel and of the Jew in the Palestinian Authority School Textbooks

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Is improving economic conditions for Palestinian Arabs conducive to peace?

No, the opposite is true! A landmark study on the subject indicates that the prerequisite for Peace-seeking is not better economic conditions but rather democratic forms of government. Since most Arab countries are far removed from multi-party democracy (see table above), the conditions are not ripe for overall peace in the Middle East. The study concludes that "making  inherently aggressive dictatorships of the region more prosperous will not make them more pacific only more powerful" and more willing to pursue armed violence (see article). This is true not only for conflict with Israel but for Intra-Arab conflicts as well (see most recent examples of Iran-Iraq war, Gulf War, etc.).

One of the assumptions of the "Oslo Peace Process" was that it would increase stability by improving the economic conditions for the Arabs of the region. Ironically, since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) the per capita GDP among the P.A. Arabs dropped from $3,500 in 1987 to around $1,000 in 1999. There are many factors responsible for this drop, prominent among them is the corruption of the P.A.

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Other resources about the Arab-Israeli Conflict

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