Creation of Israel good or bad?

I personally have no solid opinion on this matter, I’m about as politically minded as a Carrot Top concert. However, my roommate (a semi-racist redneck) always chimes in with his poorly developed political opinions any time the news is on. His favorite thing to say anytime the word Israel is mentioned is “The US should never have created Israel, see what kind of problems are going on over there?”

To me this sounds incredibly ignorant, uninformed, and at the very least insensitive. I distance myself from politics as if it were the plague, hence I have no witty retort with which to shut his stupid mouth. I understand (I think) the basics about the Jews needing a homeland and the Palestinians not wanting it on “their turf”, but I could be completely backwards in regards to the truth.

Obviously the issue is very subjective and there is no clearly right answer, but I’d like some background info. I’d rather just be ignorant than wade through volumes of texts in order to research something I have little or no opinion about. If a concise summary can be found anywhere online, I imagine it can be found here.

Thanks in advance.

Well, first of all the US did not create Israel. Blame or credit belongs to Britain and the UN.

The best website I’ve found for general background on the creation of Israel and the current conflict in the region is here. I won’t vouch for it, except to say that it links to many original documents (so you can make your own mind up) and that it at least appears to try to present the information in as balanced and non-partisan a way as possible.

God created Israel, and no one is ever going to uncreate it.

As DanBlather said, the US did not create the modern state of Israel. The UN created it, using land under the British Protectorate.

In the early years, the US was fairly openly hostile to Israel. Eisenhower had an arms embargo against Israel, and he also helped get them out of the Sinai, which was a French and to a lesser extent British deal. France was the primary ally of Israel up until 1967 or so.

Personally, I think that if a modern Jewish state were to have been created, it should have been created around Berchtesgaden. But that’s as maybe, and Israel exists, with a birth certificate from the UN.

Well, the result has been kind of a mess, to say the least.

I guess one might ask oneself, what problem was the UN trying to solve by creating the state of Israel?

John, take your pick of any or all of the following:

  • that the Jewish people didn’t have a homeland (probably not a major consideration in realpolitik terms).
  • that there were a lot of displaced Jews after WW2, staying in various refugee camps, who were understandably reluctant to move back to their Central Europe homes in a USSR-ruled, post-war wasteland.
  • that there was already an unstable situation in Palestine at the end of the British mandate, and the UN and various Allies wanted to “rule a line down the middle”, so to speak, and thus settle the problem.
  • the Holocaust was probably a factor, but it isn’t clear (and is probably very controversial) exactly how post-Shoah events were influenced.

Caveat - these are just reasons that are often cited. I make no claim about their validity, nor on whether there was a UN “lack of foresight” / “callousness to Palestinians” etc.

With all hindsight, it was probably a bad idea based on more than a little misunderstanding of the Arabs. The British (and other Allies) made several errors with population relocation and such after WWII, not only Israel.

Part of it was a desire to draw national lines so that an ethnic slaughter like WWII wouldn’t happen again. The idea was that the Jewish people could only be safe in a state of their own. The settlement wasn’t originally to be Israel - it could have been anywhere available. Arguably, the last act of true imperialist control was carving out Israel.

Obviously, it would have been better had an area been volunteered for the Jews to move to. Fact is, Palestine was one of the worst places they could have possibly chosen. Probably the best bet, as mentioned, would have been a chunk of Germany. The Germans were hardly in a position to complain, and we all know how stable West Germany turned out.

However, that is now a coulda-shoulda-woulda. We could sit back and bash the Western Europeans until next Tuesday about their poor foresight, but it wouldn’t change anything.

As far as who was involved in the Middle East first, that is true, Britain and France were, not America. One of the first things that happened was the Tripartite (England, France, Israel) invasion of Egypt in '56, that America and the USSR condemned, destroying the entire operation. That created more than a little discord between everyone involved. In fact, that is a whole nother kettle of fish, but suffice it to say, it was a horrible, horrible idea with long-lasting consequences.

So, ironically, in an effort to create an independent state free from persecution, and after applying colonial pressure to post-colonial nations, the Europeans played a major role in damning Israel (not to mention the Arabs). I think it would be unfair to say that the Arabs don’t have a case to make (though their actions are condemnable, of course).

Some positives, some negatives. I always thought historian Isaac Deutscher’s simile about the creation of Israel was rather apt: he said it was like a man jumping out of a burning building to save his own life but accidentally landing on another man whose arms and legs are broken by the impact. The man who jumped (i.e., Jews fleeing European genocide) had a right to try to save himself, but he still owes restitution and assistance to the man he injured (i.e., Palestinians displaced from Israel).

Is it worth trying to decide what the overall moral status of the very existence of nations is? Myself, coming from a non-Zionist Jewish background, I think of the existence of Israel much as I do of that of Pakistan, another small state created by political fiat for the religious minority of a larger region. In both cases, there were powerful political and emotional reasons for establishing the new state. In both cases, there have been ongoing political and cultural tensions, including long years of war and continuous lower-level violence, that arguably might have been avoided if the partition had never happened.

However, in both cases, the state in question has been around for over fifty years now, and I don’t think it’s possible to make a reasonable argument in favor of eliminating it that wouldn’t cause much worse problems than it purports to solve. I don’t buy the “realities on the ground” argument as a legitimate justification for every political maneuver, but when we’re talking about countries that have existed for more than half a century, I think the only reasonable thing is to say “well, that’s the way it is, and let’s not get distracted from the effort to solve our problems by overmuch fretting about whether the problems should ever have existed in the first place.”

I think people are ignoring some history here - namely, that there was a large Jewish poplulation in Palestine before Israel was founded. These people, nearly a million of them, were the ones who founded the country, through a combination of intense diplomacy and armed insurgency. I wouldn’t say the UN or UK founded anything - they didn’t provide any money, protect any borders, impose any peace, or do anything except draw lines on a map which were promptly ignored. In short, they didn’t so much as give the country to anyone than just leave it to its own devices. Considering the fact that Britain abandoned virtually all its colonies in the decade following WW2, there’s no reason to believe that it wouldn’t have left Palestine anyway, with or without UN “approval”. You might as well say that the British founded India.

OTOH, I would have preferred Germany, too. The weather is nicer and I’d much rather be fighting Germans.

Actually, Zionism (as defined as the return of jews to their historic homeland of Israel) is older than WWII. It was coined in 1890 by Nathan Birnbaum and the first Zionist Congress took place in 1897. Prompted by the anti-jewish progoms of Russia and Eastern Europe, they were looking for a home free of persecution.

Alessan: You might as well say that the British founded India.

You certainly can say that British imperialism largely determined the extent and structure of India as a modern nation-state. You are right that it’s not fair to say that the inhabitants themselves—in India or in Israel—played no role in achieving their independent national existence, but the overall situation was mostly determined by the effects of the colonial period.

Just like most of the atlas - including North America - was drawn by European colonialism. It’s really a moot point. I simply resent the implication that Israel, somehow, was creted from some sort of vaccum. Founding a country means taking action, and post-war British behaviour was, by and large, passive. The end of the Euroipean colonial period was a series of holding actions, compromises, and little else.

I think that is an unfair appraisal. While, for the most part, it was a retreat en masse, the “theory” on which Britain (and the UN) was operating on was a longer, controlled withdraw, more akin to what they did with Canada and Australia. The Africans and Arabs didn’t want any part of that, though, and the result is a series of mini-wars and revolutions in the region. However, without the Western involvement, it wouldn’t have happened, at least in the same way. Brushing off Western involvement in the Middle East and North Africa in the late '40s and '50s is being rather closeminded on the situation.

You’re correct about Africa and most of the middle East. However, I wouldn’t call the British withdrawal from Palestine “long and controlled” - it was basically a six-month (29 November 1947 to 15 May 1948) rout. The British simply packed up and left, virtually ignoring the full scale Arab-Jewish civil war that was raging around them. If the Brits - or any one else - had actually bothered to stick around and enforce the UN Partition Plan, as well as protect the new country from invasion, then maybe they would have a right to claim that they “founded” Israel.

Well, the role of the UN / international community in general in “creating” Israel as a state is extremely important. It is widely cited as the basis of Israel’s legitimacy as a state.

In this sense Zionist settlement pre-48 + UN approval = state.

I’d say that the requirement that Israel needs “approval” in order to be considered “legitimate” is oddly hypocritical. Who approved of France? In what sense is the U.S. a legitimate country? Nation-states existed well before the UN. If the world needs UN approval to consider a nation legitimate, than it should be applied to everyone, retroactively.

Largely bad, a historical mistake if I’m feeling generous, a crime if I’m not. I can sympathise with the desire for a jewish state but putting it in Palestine was arrogant folly. It would have been far better in say Tasmania or Wisconsin.

Or Antarctica. On a slightly different note, I always thought the world would have been a far better place if Sweden were a small town north of Thule. Perhaps we should move Australia to Hokkaido while we’re at it. Then the Japanese could live in Peru and the Peruvians move to North Dakota. That’d solve a bunch of problems right off - except for Ted Turner naturally.

One of the reasons for Israel has been to give Jews a safe haven. Has it worked out? Without Israel the refugees after WWII would have had to go somewhere else since back was nearly inconceivable – perhaps America would have taken them in, perhaps not? The Jews already living in Israel and the Palestine would likely have been driven out after a few more pogroms. And then there’s the matter of the 800.000 Jews that were forced to flee from the other Arab states – where would they have gone? And the Ethiopians. The Russians. Etc.

Has it made the world or the Middle East a worse place? Probably not. If not for the minuscule state of Israel, all the Arab states always harping on about Israel and Jews would have had to come up with another scapegoat for their own mismanagement and stupidity.

Meanwhile Israel has made the desert bloom. Shown us democracy and the Middle East are not like water and oil, and given us all an old and new vibrant, exiting culture. As well as something to read about in Sunday morning newspapers.