Netanyahu puts Israeli-Arab conflict in proper perspective

Friday, April 01, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took part in a global interview on YouTube this week, with questions for the Israeli leader coming in from around the world, including countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The top questions - which were voted on by YouTube viewers - were asked by a popular Israeli television journalist. The short interview was posted to YouTube as part of the “World Views” series.

In one of the questions, Netanyahu was asked if he thought the decision to build a few hundred more Jewish housing units in Judea and Samaria in response to the recent massacre of a Jewish family in the area would harm chances for peace with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians claim all of Judea and Samaria as theirs, and insist they will not conclude a peace deal with Israel until Jews stop building there.

Netanyahu’s answer highlighted how the world is playing right into Islam’s hands by misrepresenting the conflict and ignoring its historic context.

The Israeli leader insisted that the international community must stop looking at Jewish houses as being any different than Arab houses in Judea and Samaria since the territory is “disputed land – we have a historical connection to it.”

For decades, the world has parroted the Arab line that Judea and Samaria are “occupied territories” to which the Jews have no real connection.

Netanyahu disagreed.

“My name is Benjamin; the first Benjamin, the son of Jacob, walked these hills 4,000 years ago, so we have some connection with this land,” Netanyahu explained. “Any one in his right mind knows that this is part of the ancestral Jewish homeland; it’s in the Bible.”

Many Israelis have for years been frustrated by their government’s compliance with the Arab narrative regarding the land and its history. By going along with the “occupation” theme, previous Israeli leaders have all but accepted the notion that Jews do not belong there. And if they do not belong in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, then they certainly don’t belong in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu also sought to remind the world that the exaggerated and artificially-perpetuated Palestinian refugee issue has a Jewish parallel that is typically ignored.

“Everyone knows we can’t kick out 350,000 or 400,000 Jews from their homes [in Judea and Samaria],” said Netanyahu, noting that “many of them, by the way, were kicked out [from their homes in Arab countries] before the founding of Israel by hostile Arab armies.”

The difference between the Palestinian and Jewish refugee issues is that Israel fully absorbed and integrated the Jewish refugees that fled here. The Arabs have worked hard to maintain the Palestinians’ refugee status and condition as a political weapon against Israel.

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