Kadafi's Revisionist History

October 05, 1990

When statesmen everywhere are talking peace, Libya's Muammar el Kadafi sent a message to the United Nations General Assembly in New York that called for Israel to be relocated in Europe. His rationale was that creation of Israel was "a revenge against Nazism" and the responsibility of Europeans. This is an old, oft-refuted argument. Mr. Kadafi, trying to attract attention, is odd-man-out of Arab politics, shadowed by the luster of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak who recognizes Israel and keeps peace with it. But what's wrong with the argument should not be forgotten:

(1) Some Jews lived in what is now Israel since the dawn of history; (2) The rise of modern Zionism, which created Israel, and the British promise of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, both came long before the Nazi movement in Germany. (3) More than half of today's Israelis are refugees or descendants of refugees from Arab countries, not Europe. Arab countries helped create Israel by forcing out Israel-bound Jews who had lived since time immemorial in such places as Iraq, Yemen and Morocco.

In terms of Israeli-Arab relations, the third argument is the most important: Israel is an essential part of the Middle East and

belongs there always. But the most harmful aspect of the Kadafi argument is that it undermines any prospect of peace. Every argument directed at making Israel more accommodating to Palestinians and toward a necessary trade of land for peace rests on the assumption that Israel's own existence is secure and unquestioned. Israel's concern for security, say friends of the Palestinian cause, is paranoid.

Then along comes Mr. Kadafi to show that Israel's concerns are not fantasy or unfounded. Nothing is more harmful to the Palestinian cause or the cause of peace in the Middle East than the fantastic revision of history to which the U.N. General Assembly was subjected.

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