Just look at the Middle East's numbers: Six million Jews and 284 million Arabs
By LORRIE GOLDSTEIN -- Toronto Sun
Sometimes, when folks get all hysterical about that great imperialistic power, Israel, one wishes they would look at a map or do some addition or read a little history.
Recently, the 22-member Arab League offered Israel a laughable peace deal which can basically be summed up as this: give us back all the land you won from us in the four major wars in which we tried and failed to drive you into the sea and we'll recognize your right to exist.
That this should be hailed as a breakthrough is simply absurd given that five of the League's members - Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan - have been participants in at least one and, in some cases, all four wars against Israel, the first starting the day after it became a nation on May 14, 1948.
The so-called "Occupied Territories" resulted from the third of the four conflicts, the Six Day War of 1967, in which Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser demanded - and got - the UN to remove peacekeepers from the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, moved Egyptian forces into the Sinai, closed the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships and blocked the Israeli port city of Elat, all the while publicly vowing to attack Israel.
At that point Israel, employing the ancient Hebrew maxim cited by Jay Bushinsky in the Sun last week - "When someone comes to kill you, rise up early and kill him first" - launched a surprise air strike on Egypt on June 5, 1967, whereupon Syria, Iraq and Jordan, which had all signed defence agreements with Egypt, joined it in attacking Israel.
Jordan, which at that time had laid claim to the West Bank, ignored a warning from Israel to desist after it began shelling Jerusalem and sending its troops across the armistice line, at which point Israel entered the West Bank.
Within a week, Israel had captured the Golan Heights from Syria, Sinai and the Gaza from Egypt and all of Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan. This, of course, makes the definition of the West Bank, to use the most famous example, as "Occupied Territory" one of the most bizarre the world has ever seen. Land taken from an invader in a defensive military action after the invader was warned not to invade is now described, through the use of repetition and propaganda, as we would land seized by a foreign invader in a war of aggression.
Anyway, back to the Arab League and a few numbers to consider about that allegedly evil, imperialist and expansionist power, Israel. The 22 countries of the Arab League have a combined population of 284 million, mostly Muslim, covering 5.2 million square miles of land. This excludes Iran, with 65 million people and 636,000 square miles of land, since it is not an Arab state, although it certainly hates Israel.
And big, bad, aggressor Israel? It has a total population of six million, 80% Jewish, and 8,130 square miles of land - 260 miles at its longest point, 70 at its widest. The figure does not include the Occupied Territories, consisting of 2,700 square miles, including Gaza and the West Bank, with about three million people, mostly Palestinian but with a minority of Jewish settlers. Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1982, from most of Gaza in 1994 and from parts of the West Bank starting in 1994 - although the latter two have been reoccupied due to the latest round of terrorist suicide bombings.
So tiny Israel, with less than 1/639th of the land of the Arab countries and less than 1/47th of their population, today stands accused by its enemies and critics of being the Mideast's worst, imperialistic, occupying power. Right. And we won't even dwell here on the long, long history of internecine conflicts and territorial wars within the Arab world.
Looked at another way, there are 15 million Jews in the world compared to 1.2 billion Muslims and 1.9 billion Christians, or one Jew for every 80 Muslims and 126 Christians.
Makes you wonder why anti-Semites spend so much time obsessing over Israel and claiming the Jews are taking over the world, since we clearly haven't been doing a very good job of it, what with the Holocaust and all, now have we?
Finally, since Israel is forever being compared by its more hysterical critics to the Nazis, Hitler, etc., let's look at the relative degree of freedom in Israel compared to its Arab neighbours as documented by the respected monitoring agency, Freedom House. Under its long-established ranking system, the lower the number, the more "free" a society.
In the 1999/2000 rankings, Israel scored 1.2, comparable to other free nations such as the U.S. and Canada at 1.1.
In the Arab League, the best country, Jordan, at 4.4, is only "partly free" while the majority are far worse and "not free."
While Israel has been accused of gross human rights abuses and media censorship in the Occupied Territories (as has the Palestinian Authority) a bad day in the Occupied Territories is pretty much a typical day in such Arab dictatorships as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, etc. You don't hear about them much because, unlike Israel, independent media are not welcome. That's another thing "awful" Israel does that "enlightened" Arab dictatorships don't.
While it has military censors, it allows a free press and both domestic and foreign media to report on it critically.
Try doing that in Iraq and watch what happens.