Could the money spent on the Israel-Arab conflict have solved the Palestinian problem?

It is evident that Israel, in the 63 years of its existence, has spent an incredibly high proportion of its budget on defense. Similarly, Arab (and perhaps Islamic non-Arab) states around and near Israel have spent incredible amounts to destroy Israel, as well as contributing to the support of milliions of Palestinian refugees.

What if, shortly after 1948, when it became clear that the Jews were not going to be easy to drive into the sea, the Arab states had tried some realpolitik and accepted that the Palestinian refugees needed to be resettled, whether their plight was fair or unfair?

It does not matter whether the Palestinians left voluntarily in the belief that the Arab armies would wipe out the Jews (Israeli version), or whether (Arab version) they were driven out by thugs like the Stern Gang (which Hollywood changed to the Stern Boys in the Kirk Douglas movie “Major Marcus”, btw).

What if the billions consumed by this conflict on both sides had been poured into homes, education and resettlement of the Palestinians elsewhere in the Arab world? Would their descendants today be prosperous, happy people, with the events of 1948 just a dim memory?

Billions have been consumed in military hardware and supplies, and destruction of property. There is the invaluable cost of loss of life, of wasted potential when a kid grows up in a refugee camp or when an Israeli kid is suddenly made an orphan by a suicide bomber. I am sure a good, cold-blooded accountant could put a dollar figure on the lost and wasted lives.

Has anyone ever put a dollar figure on the whole, bloody mess since 1948? Israel would always need some kind of defense like a normal state, but what if a large chunk of the money contributed by the Jewish diaspora and the US taxpayer over the decades, as well as Arab money sent to destroy Israel, had been directed to benefit the Palestinians?

Which leads me to my second question: Are there other factors that explain this endless conflict? Here are a few hypotheses:

[ul]
[li]Israelis have never clearly defined the territoral limits of Israel they would be happy with.[/li]
[li]Many Muslims cannot accept that land once conquered for Islam can ever be allowed to revert to the rule of unbelievers. For these people, even Spain and the Balkans are on that list.[/li]
[li]The rampant anti-semitism in Islam makes a Jewish state in the midst of an Arab region particularly intolerable.[/li]
[li]Israel makes a convenient bogeyman for corrupt Arab regimes[/li]
[li]Arms manufacturers in the US, Europe and Israel (are there any in Arab countries to speak of?) have a vested interest in keeping both sides armed.[/li][/ul]

Arab states like the current situation because it diverts attention away from why people in their own countries have such a crappy life. But yeah, even today there would be billions poured into a Palestinian state if one was agreed to. Everyone’s life would be better. But pride is stopping Palestinians from accepting anything less than “everything” and Israelis aren’t much better.

Interesting OP Valteron.

Thanks, but nobody seems interested in discussing it. I start up about Hearings into Islam and home-grown terrorism and the magnificent train wreck runs into three pages with Tomndebb and Marley threatening me with disciplinary measures. But I write something like this and nobody gives sfa.:confused:

I’d go for “all of the above, and more”. I’d add:

[ul]
[li]Racial/religious bigotry on the part of the Israelis.[/li]
[li]Both sides blaming everything on the other side as a whole, rather than realizing the problem is the fanatics on both sides. Which leads right to…[/li]
[li]Both sides are easily provoked; if the violent acts of a few people can reignite the fighting, then you’ll never have peace because there’ll always be a few fanatics.[/li]
[li]By now the situation has become a feud based on mutual revenge.[/li]
[li]The demographic problem. Israel is a supposed democracy, but built around a particular religious/ethnic group in a region where they are a minority. Free and friendly relationships with their neighbors will probably lead to their no longer being a “Jewish state”. Not that means they’d be destroyed or anything, but that’s an unacceptable scenario for…[/li]
A powerful segment of the Israeli population has a drive for religious & territorial imperialism that makes them bad neighbors.[/ul]

Democratic reform in Jordan might have some interesting long term repercussions.

(Jordan is majority Palestinian)

Not majority. About a sixth of Jordanians identify themselves as Palestinian.

The Palestinian people, rightly or wrongly, feel that their homeland was conquered by Israel. I can’t imagine them giving up their claim in 1948 for some hypothetical offer of compensation. And if the Palestinians didn’t accept the loss of territory they’re be no basis for a peace settlement so the military spending would have continued.

Well … thing is we’ve had these discussions many many times here. But okay, I’ll bite.

As far as the portion of the op that proposes that if the various Arab forces had accepted Israel’s existence at the start, or at several other points thereafter, and also been given the money that each side has used on the conflict, that such an alt-history would likely include a prosperous, happy Palestinian people …

Maybe. Probably. But. There were lots of other forces in play that they may have otherwise been used by. How would Nassar have tried to use such a nascant country towards his then extant dream of Pan-Arab nationalism? Would old tribal conflicts have erupted? The region’s conflicts were both effected by and had effect on larger geopolitical ones; would those have played out otherwise? Alt-history is a tricky thing. But in priniciple, sure. Having accepted Israel’s right to exist and using some resources early on would have very likely put the Palestinian people in a much better place than they are today.

As far as the motivations - my vote is mostly the bogeyman factor, but not only for corrupt regiemes. Each side has many (and on the Arab side often conflicting) elements that use the fear and demonization of the other as a means to build their own local power bases. European … Jews … Hell, it doesn’t need rampant anti-Semitism to see that an other like no other in an Arab world that had recently been under colonial control and is used to Jews as being the second class.

My questions are if a Palestinian government accepted an agreement that was less than some large fraction of its people feel it deserves as “just”, and the world ponied up enough scratch to get them started, is that “happy, prosperous people” alt-history still possible? And if the bogeyman factor is indeed primary, then how does the current … realignments in the Arab world effect that?

Good OP. The only point I disagree with is the religious one - I don’t recall “holy Islamic land” playing much of a part in any debates. I’ve read the UN debates before the independence of Israel and during the 1948 war.

Geezers like me remember that the Palestinians were forced into refugee camps on the West Bank pre-1967. You don’t hear about these any more (though I think there are still some in Lebanon). Have they all been moved into villages? I suspect that the reason for them was twofold - first as propaganda against Israel, and second to keep the Palestinians from playing a part in Jordanian culture and politics.
WW II results in the displacement of people all around Europe. In no other case were they displaced for so long.

No, they’re still around, in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza. You just don’t hear much about them, because since '67, most of the attention’s been focused on West Bank and Gaza Palestinians rather than the Palestinian refugees.

Egypt has a substantial defense industry. It largely builds foreign designed equipment under license, for example 1,005 M1A1 Abrams were built domestically in Egypt. They have also domestically designed and built equipment, the largest program probably being the Fahd wheeled APC with 1,400 units produced for the Egyptian army and export.

Remember what people describe as Palestine was not an independant country but a part of the Turkish empire for a long, long time.

The Palestinians have never ever kept faith with any agreements made in the past.

They accept the concessions, keep quiet for a while and then resume their activities.
Blaming at first splinter groups, and then when people have got used to it, stoppping even this pretence.

They hate Jews at gut level, and westerners generally except when they’re useful to them.

That was the original plan (the Jews get Israel, the Arabs get Jordan). If it had been accepted, everybody would have settled down and gotten over it.

You could sawp “Israel/Israelis” for “Palestine/Palestinians” here and it would read just as well.

But wouldn’t be true.

In what way?

In the way that it wouldn’t be true.

The Israelis “hate Jews at a gut level”?

You haven’t met any Israelis have you?

And here we go again with the “You dont know much about this, do you?” routine… You know, I think it remains in the domain of the humanly possible to educate others without permanently patronizing them.