From studying photographs, accounts, and even paintings and renderings of pre-Zionist Levantine and "Palestine" communities compared to current photographs of homes and buildings in the same areas, certain conclusions can forcefully be drawn on the question of whether immigration has been "good or bad" for the area. The influx of Jews (from Europe) and Arabs (mostly from Iraq) was clearly good.
What used to be a salt marsh is now a garden. What used to be a straw and mud (daub and wattle) village is now a remarkable panorama of settlements and industrious people.
It is true that there are displaced people. Almost everyone in Israel is literally "displaced". However, in a place thick with religion and its insane sister, fanaticism, it is important to gaze beyond the rhetoric of the rich and look at what people are doing "on the ground".
Remarkably, there are some beautiful buildings in Israel. Almost all of them have been built by Arabs and Jews working together. There are farms. Almost all of them planted, cultivated and harvested by Arabs and Jews working together. The hatred, it is real, but it is also propaganda.
Yasir Arafat is now dead. November 11, 2004, he died in Paris, in a "battle" entirely his own, by himself. There appears to be no evidence that he is much missed even in the neighborhoods which appeared--it is not clear that that were actually doing so--to be lionizing him while he was alive. The scholar-journalist David Samuels reported in an article first published in the Atlantic Monthly (September 2005) Swiss banks admitted they were holding over $4 billion dollars in accounts controlled entirely by Arafat.
Whatever else history may say about Rais Arafat, it appears to be a fact that no other man has collected more money in the name of any cause and has less to show for it.
The immigrants to Israel and Palestine -- arriving poor, certainly displaced, and desparate for hope -- will take decades to recover from Arafat's legacy. There is no question that as many as 100,000 Arabs were displaced in War and have not been able to "return" to their homes most of which are gone. There is no question that as many as four times that number of Arabs fled the communities they were in, believing that the Jews would be exterminated by the surrounding Arab armies. There is no question that several million Mizrahi Jews were forced out of Arab lands at about the same time.
But the real story is still that $4 billion. And the fact that so very little was allowed to trickle in to help the Palestinian people. When were US and European officials aware of the extent of sheer embezzlement? Why does the UN take no interest in the content of Fatah-written textbooks still read by Palestinian children?
We note that pictures have been taken of the house recently built by Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas. The four visible stories -- the above-ground level -- are four. It is huge. There is no indication that a break from what is now "tradition" is being made. He offers no encouragement.
Still, there are the gardens. The beautiful buildings. Some day, young men and women will thirst for gardens and their desire to build things will be unstoppable.
- Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable. I am filled with joy. It can't be helped.
Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired. Filled, just filled, with Joy.