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Apr 28, 2014
Presented by
Dennis Prager

The Middle East conflict is framed as one of the most complex problems in the world. But, in reality, it's very simple. Israelis want to live in peace and are willing to accept a neighboring Palestinian state. And most Palestinians do not want Israel to exist. As Dennis Prager explains, this is really all you need to know. In 5 minutes, understand how Israel was founded, and how, since that auspicious day in 1948, its neighbors have tried to destroy it, again and again.

Prager U gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, who sponsored this video.

What’s the root cause of the “Israeli-Arab conflict”? Most of Israel’s neighbors, Palestinians included, want to destroy Israel.

  • In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the partitioning of Palestine between Arabs and Jews.View Source
  • Jewish representatives in Palestine accepted the partition, but Arab and Muslim leaders did not.View Source
  • Israel was declared an independent state on May 14, 1948.View Source
  • Immediately after Israel was declared a free state from Britain, the armies of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon invaded Israel and began the Arab-Israeli war.View Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source

The day Israel declared its independence, the surrounding Arab nations attempted to destroy it. 

  • In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the partitioning of Palestine between Arabs and Jews.View Source
  • Jewish representatives in Palestine accepted the partition, but Arab and Muslim leaders did not.View Source
  • Israel was declared an independent state on May 14, 1948.View Source
  • Immediately after Israel was declared a free state from Britain, the armies of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon invaded Israel and began the Arab-Israeli war.View Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source

Israel only takes military action when absolutely necessary to defend the homeland. 

  • As it has in all of its conflicts, Israel acted to bring the Six Day War in 1967 to a quick solution. Prior to the war, guerrilla groups based in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan had stepped up their attacks on Israel. Egyptian forces heightened tensions by massing troops on Israel’s border in a show of support for Syria. By the end of the war, Israel had defeated the Egyptian, Syrian, and Lebanese forces and occupied the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.View Source
  • The war ended with a UN-brokered cease-fire.View Source
  • Related reading: Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East – Michael OrenView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

If Israel’s enemies disarmed, there would be an immediate peace. If Israel disarmed, there would be an immediate genocide.

  • After losing the 1967 Six Day War against Israel, the heads of state of eight Arab nations joined forces in Khartoum, Sudan and passed the Khartoum Resolutions, which declared the “three NOs”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.View Source
  • Israel responded to repeated hostilities from its neighboring states by signing the Camp David Accords in 1978—the first peace treaty signed between Israel and an Arab state—in which it entered into peace with Egypt and returned their portion of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.View Source
  • The historic 1993 Oslo Accords were followed by an increase in terror attacks by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas against Israel.View Source
  • In 2000, Israel again sought peace by offering to give the Palestinians 97% of the West Bank and full control of the Gaza Strip—an offer that was denied by the Palestinians.View Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

In the Khartoum Resolution, the Arab states declared that they’d never accept peace or negotiate with Israel.   

  • After losing the 1967 Six Day War against Israel, the heads of state of eight Arab country joined forces in Khartoum, Sudan and passed the Khartoum Resolutions.View Source
  • The Khartoum Resolutions clarified that Arab states intended to act according to the “three NOs”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.View Source
  • Related reading: Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East – Michael OrenView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

The Palestinians have responded to multiple Israeli peace offers by rejecting them and increasing terrorism against Israeli civilians.

  • After losing the 1967 Six Day War against Israel, the heads of state of eight Arab nations joined forces in Khartoum, Sudan and passed the Khartoum Resolutions, which declared the “three NOs”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.View Source
  • Israel responded to repeated hostilities from its neighboring states by signing the Camp David Accords in 1978—the first peace treaty signed between Israel and an Arab state—in which it entered into peace with Egypt and returned their portion of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.View Source
  • The historic 1993 Oslo Accords were followed by an increase in terror attacks by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas against Israel.View Source
  • In 2000, Israel again sought peace by offering to give the Palestinians 97% of the West Bank and full control of the Gaza Strip—an offer that was denied by the Palestinians.View Source
  • Related reading: Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East – Michael OrenView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

Israel has repeatedly responded to the hostilities of surrounding Arab states by attempting to negotiate for peace.

  • After losing the 1967 Six Day War against Israel, the heads of state of eight Arab nations joined forces in Khartoum, Sudan and passed the Khartoum Resolutions, which declared the “three NOs”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.View Source
  • Israel responded to repeated hostilities from its neighboring states by signing the Camp David Accords in 1978—the first peace treaty signed between Israel and an Arab state—in which it entered into peace with Egypt and returned their portion of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.View Source
  • The historic 1993 Oslo Accords were followed by an increase in terror attacks by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas against Israel.View Source
  • In 2000, Israel again sought peace by offering to give the Palestinians 97% of the West Bank and full control of the Gaza Strip—an offer that was denied by the Palestinians.View Source
  • Related reading: Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East – Michael OrenView Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

After the Oslo Accords, the Palestinians responded to Israel’s peace overtures by increasing suicide bombings and other terror attacks.

  • The historic 1993 Oslo Accords were followed by an increase in terror attacks by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas against Israel.View Source
  • In 2000, Israel again sought peace by offering to give the Palestinians 97% of the West Bank and full control of the Gaza Strip—an offer that was denied by the Palestinians.View Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

In 2000, Israel offered to give the Palestinians 97% of the West Bank and full control of the Gaza Strip—an offer the Palestinians rejected.

  • In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the partitioning of Palestine between Arabs and Jews.View Source
  • Jewish representatives in Palestine accepted the partition, but Arab and Muslim leaders did not.View Source
  • In 2000, Israel again sought peace by offering to give the Palestinians 97% of the West Bank and full control of the Gaza Strip—an offer that was rejected by the Palestinians.View Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

The motto of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas is “We love death as much as the Jews love life.”

  • Palestinians celebrate terrorists who murder Jews by regarding them as martyrs and naming town squares and sports stadiums after them.View Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

The Palestinians regularly celebrate terrorists who murder Jews, naming town squares and stadiums after them. 

  • Palestinians celebrate terrorists who murder Jews by regarding them as martyrs and naming town squares and sports stadiums after them.View Source
  • Related reading: The Case for Israel – Alan DershowitzView Source
  • Related reading: Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict – Mitchell G. BardView Source

When I did my graduate studies at the Middle East Institute at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs, I took many courses on the question of the Middle East conflict.

Semester after semester, we studied the Middle East conflict as if it was the most complex conflict in the world -- when in fact, it is probably the easiest conflict in the world to explain. It may be the hardest to solve, but it is the easiest to explain. 

In a nutshell, it’s this: One side wants the other side dead. 

Israel wants to exist as a Jewish state and to live in peace. Israel also recognizes the right of Palestinians to have their own state and to live in peace. The problem, however, is that most Palestinians and many other Muslims and Arabs, do not recognize the right of the Jewish state of Israel to exist.

This has been true since 1947, when the United Nations voted to divide the land called Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state.

The Jews accepted the United Nations partition but no Arab or any other Muslim country accepted it. 

When British rule ended on May 15, 1948, the armies of all the neighboring Arab states  --  Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, and Egypt -- attacked the one-day old state of Israel in order to destroy it. 

But, to the world’s surprise, the little Jewish state survived.

Then it happened again. In 1967, the dictator of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, announced his plan, in his words, “to destroy Israel.” He placed Egyptian troops on Israel’s border, and armies of surrounding Arab countries were also mobilized to attack. However, Israel preemptively attacked Egypt and Syria. Israel did not attack Jordan, and begged Jordan’s king not to join the war. But he did. And only because of that did Israel take control of Jordanian land, specifically the “West Bank” of the Jordan River.

Shortly after the war, the Arab states went to Khartoum, Sudan and announced their famous three “No’s: “No recognition, no peace, and no negotiations,” 

What was Israel supposed to do? 

Well, one thing Israel did, a little more than a decade later, in 1978, was to give the entire Sinai Peninsula -- an area of land bigger than Israel itself, and with oil -- back to Egypt because Egypt, under new leadership, signed a peace agreement with Israel. 

So, Israel gave land for the promise of peace with Egypt, and it has always been willing to do the same thing with the Palestinians. All the Palestinians have ever had to do is recognize Israel as a Jewish state and promise to live in peace with it. 

But when Israel has proposed trading land for peace -- as it did in 2000 when it agreed to give the Palestinians a sovereign state in more than 95% of the West Bank and all of Gaza -- the Palestinian leadership rejected the offer, and instead responded by sending waves of suicide terrorists into Israel. 

Meanwhile, Palestinian radio, television, and school curricula remain filled with glorification of terrorists, demonization of Jews, and the daily repeated message that Israel should cease to exist. 

So it’s not hard to explain the Middle-East dispute. One side wants the other dead. The motto of Hamas, the Palestinian rulers of Gaza, is: “We love death as much as the Jews love life.” 

There are 22 Arab states in the world -- stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean. There is one “Jewish State” in the world. And it is about the size of New Jersey. In fact, tiny El Salvador is larger than Israel. 

Finally, think about these two questions: If, tomorrow, Israel laid down its arms and announced, “We will fight no more,” what would happen? And if the Arab countries around Israel laid down their arms and announced “We will fight no more,” what would happen? 

In the first case there would be an immediate destruction of the state of Israel and the mass murder of its Jewish population. In the second case, there would be peace the next day.

As I said at the outset, it is a simple problem to describe: one side wants the other dead -- and if it didn’t, there would be peace.

Please remember this: There has never been a state in the geographic area known as Palestine that was not Jewish. Israel is the third Jewish state to exist in that area. There was never an Arab state, never a Palestinian state, never a Muslim or any other state.

That’s the issue: why can’t the one Jewish state the size of El Salvador be allowed to exist? 

That is the Middle-East problem.

I’m Dennis Prager.

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