Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

E proelio veritas: From battle, truth

If you perceive the vital centrality of what is happening today in and around Israel not merely to US foreign policy, but to spillover effects impinging upon people's lives the world around, read this page.

Palestinians' right of return: Two signs, one unjust policy

Palestinians’ right of return: Two signs, one unjust policy.
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To enter the comments zone following this provocative image is to set foot on an ideological battleground, and the contestants miss no opportunity to inflict rhetorical wounds upon one another, but in all of this verbal warfare, an interesting thing happens: Something resembling a picture of the true history and present condition of Zionism begins to take shape.

This page is nearly two years old. This in no sense diminishes its relevance, for no essential element of the Israeli-Palestinian impasse has changed since it was posted. However, it does mean that there’s little point in posting what I have to say on that page, so I will have to refute commenter carnas’ attempted dismissal of the discussion by proving that the opinions posted in it, where valid, do matter to someone besides the posters; thus it is that I am now adding to the conversation from my vantage-point in the future.

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First, we must acknowledge one essential fact: Jews have been persecuted throughout centuries of history, principally in Europe. Because they were scattered and found themselves in the minority virtually everywhere, they traditionally have been vulnerable to pogroms, expulsions and various abuses on a smaller scale; because ruling elites have always found it convenient to distract restive citizens by dividing them against one another and encouraging those in the majority to harass whatever minority was convenient at the time, even Jews who had achieved near-equality in the political sphere and prosperity in the economic repeatedly became scapegoats and lucrative targets for confiscations and proscriptions.

The Holocaust was therefore decisive: It is not hard to understand that a people whose extermination had been ordained and nearly effected should feel the need for a homeland. Even so, the creation of Israel in its present location was a lapse of reason and morality for which generations have paid an inexcusable price.

This owes to a second essential fact: It was not the Palestinians — or indeed any Arabs — who attempted genocide against Jews. It is therefore unconscionable to exact de facto reparations from them.

There is historical reason to suspect that European anti-Semites readily endorsed Zionism as a means of ridding themselves of the objects of their scorn under the deceitful guise of benevolence toward the quest of the latter for the reclamation of what some considered their traditional homeland in biblical Israel. Had the post-war advocates of such a project been free of prejudice, against Arabs and possibly also Jews, they would have given the Jews their homeland at the direct expense of the nation that had sought to annihilate them.

The proper solution: Offer the Holocaust survivors and their descendants in perpetuity title to half the territory of a depopulated Germany — the best half, as chosen by the Jews themselves. Then a warning could have been issued to the remaining Germans: Any act of aggression against this Jewish homeland, and we will carry through our formerly rejected plan to obliterate Germany as a modern nation and retain it forever as a permanently impoverished agricultural republic under foreign administration.

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Of course, such an ideal solution is no longer possible. Israel is, and it is where it is; therefore, we must be both pragmatic and fair. This means one of two things: two contiguous, sovereign and fully independent states following the pre-1967 borders, as repeatedly agreed in principle but never effected; or one nation that becomes a homeland equally shared by its Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants, with a right of return for the latter. Nothing else could ever — or should — be acceptable to both sides.

Meanwhile, do read this page. I learned from it, and you may as well.

Originally published as a review of a mondoweiss.net article on Israeli policies
and Palestinian right of return.

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