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:
[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]