Why don't the Arabs give the Palestinians a homeland?
By Mike Royko 1989
When I look at a world map, I sometimes wonder what the insane fuss in
the Middle East is all about. Sure, I listen to the experts, the pundits
and even Henry Kissinger. But then I look at the map and it still makes
no sense. If I look closely and squint my eyes, I can find a country
that has about 8,000 square miles. That's Israel.
To give you an idea how small that is, you could take about 40 Israels
and put them together and the whole thing would still be smaller than Texas.
There may be counties, even ranches, in Texas that are bigger. Little
New Hampshire, where just about everybody gets a handshake from a
politician during presidential primaries, is bigger than Israel. So is
Vermont. In fact, we have only four states that are smaller.
Then consider the population: about 4.4 million. There are many cities
that have more people. New York is much bigger. So are London,
Instanbul, Bombay and Tokyo. You could put three times the population of
Israel in Mexico City. And Chicago, if you include the suburbs, is
almost twice as populous.
So we're talking about a mere speck on the map. In acreage, Israel isn't
as big as Belize, Burundi, Djibouti, and is only slightly larger than
Fiji, but a little smaller than Haiti. People sometimes refer to Japan
as being small.
But it's almost 20 times as big as Israel, with 30 times as many people.
So when it comes to land size and population, we're really talking dinky.
Why, during any really cold winter you can find more Jews in southern
Florida (seven times as big). But if you want to talk big, just unsquint
your eyes and look at some the countries near Israel--those that have
been trying to squash their tiny neighbor for the last 41 years. Syria,
nine times as big with three times as many people; Iraq, 20 times as big
with 17 million people; Iran, 80 times bigger, with almost 50 million
Put that part of the world together and there are millions of square
miles with a population bigger than that of the United States. And most
of them, at one time or another, in one way or another, with guns,
tanks, terrorists or oil money, have tried to squash a country that
isn't as big as Vermont. You would think that with more than 3 million
square miles of land - probably more, but I'm not that good at math -
and 200 million-plus people, they wouldn't make such a fuss about what
amounts to a tiny sliver of real estate and fewer people than live in
many of their cities.
But instead, they've spent the last 40 years making themselves look like
idiots by unsuccessfully trying to wage war on this itsy-bitsy country.
They didn't wait long. The day after Israel was first established as a
state, the Arabs invaded. They expected little trouble overrunning so
few victims, only 800,000 at the time. Instead, Israel beat them back,
making the Arabs look like some of the most incompetent warriors in
history. But they kept trying. Again, in 1956, 1967 and 1973.
And as Winston Churchill might have said, never have so
many had their butts kicked by so few.
Looking back, the Arabs would have been wise to let Israel alone - to
let them irrigate, turn arid land into something green, make greasy
chicken soup and start some small industries. Who knows, if the Arabs
hadn't been so warlike, Israel could have turned its energies to
peaceful pursuits. And today, instead of watching a Sony, we might be
looking at a 36-inch Goldberg.
Now the Arabs are irate because Israel has expanded its borders. Of course it has. It wised up.
When the Arabs kept attacking and Israel chased them away, the Israelis
decided that if they have to keep going through all that trouble, they
might as well keep a few acres. Besides, if somebody is using nearby
hills to lob shells at you, you'd be silly not to kick them off the
The way the Arabs act, you would think Israel treated them the
way our ancestors treated the Indians. (Actually, my ancestors can't
take much credit, not being WASPs.) We came here, stomped every which
way, conned, cheated and slaughtered, until the whole thing was ours,
from sea to oil-slicked sea. In contrast, the land Israel has seized
doesn't amount to much more than Coney Island.
But we keep hearing that the Palestinians must have their homeland.
You'd think that with millions of square miles of vacant land, the Arabs
could find them a homeland, the cheapskates. Jordan is right next door
to Israel. It would make a fine homeland. That was the idea of creating
Jordan in the first place. Lots of vacant land. Same climate. If they'd
stop spending their oil money on bumbling wars, they could probably turn
Jordan into something that looks like Palm Springs. Instead, we have
these vast, and in some cases, wealthy countries now entering their
fifth decade of trying to take over a place you can barely find on the map.
It makes no sense. I mean, Israel doesn't even have one really good golf
© Copyright 2002 Joel Orr.
Last update: 7/7/02; 3:23:27 AM.