Friday, November 16, 2012
I wrote this two part article just under two years ago. Unfortunately, nothing has occurred in the last two years to cause me to change anything that I wrote then.
Israel is concerned that upgrading diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority will be but one step closer to full recognition of Palestinian statehood. In fact UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) should be pre-empted by Israel declaring its full acceptance of one or even two Palestinian states.
Am I perhaps naïve, or even worse? I don’t understand why we beat ourselves up at every possible opportunity. Most people understand that some sort of peace will one day be made between Israelis and Palestinians. Of course terms are complicated. But we have allowed our enemies to take the centre stage and they are hogging the limelight. There is no counter-attack from the State of Israel to repudiate the lies and the half-truths that are thrown at us. There is no consensus within the political classes, and therefore only the extremists are heard with anything approaching a coherent, if divisive, agenda.
George Orwell observed that whoever controls the past controls the future, and whoever controls the present controls the past. The Arab world with its buddies at the UN and friendly news media are doing an excellent job of controlling the lot.
So I have a plan!
Act 1. Bibi goes to the UN General Assembly. He proposes recognition of the State of Palestine and separate recognition of the independent entity ruled by Hamas in Gaza based on minimalist borders for both of the new states.
Act 2. Bibi proposes East Jerusalem be recognised as the capital of Palestine, and West Jerusalem be (finally) recognised as the capital of Israel.
Act 3. Bibi announces that The Old City of Jerusalem is to remain in Israeli hands (see Act 5) and after a reasonable period of peaceful co-existence a plebiscite will be held by all eligible (i.e. resident) citizens of the Old City, overseen by impartial observers in order to decide on its future allegiance.
Act 4. Bibi demands the consulates in West Jerusalem operating under the principle of extra-territoriality and non-recognition of Israel be immediately and permanently closed. [This should have been done years ago]
Act 5. Bibi provides a principled summary of the history of the Old City of Jerusalem through Jewish eyes i.e. the control by Muslims through the ages; Palestinian control between 1948 and 1967; the destruction of Jewish archaeology and cultural history, Jewish majority for most of the last 200 years.
Act 6. Bibi proposes the setting up of a special permanent committee to explain how Islamic cultural colonialism became acceptable in the UN. This would be explained with reference to the refusal to recognise Jewish rights in any of the Islamic, Arab or Palestinian literature. The rewriting of history by this ‘Tripartite conspiracy’ is important. [Even if no-one is interested, history has shown that the fate of the Jews is a mirror to the fate that lies in wait for others.]
Act 7. Bibi, given his acute sensitivity to history, reminds the UN that historically the term “Judaisation” was used by fascist and racist regimes to justify the ethnic cleansing of Jews. Furthermore, after Palestinian forces had ethnically cleansed Jerusalem of its Jews in 1948, and in recognition of the ongoing destruction of Jewish archaeology on the Temple Mount, the term as applied to a Jewish return to Jerusalem is morally indefensible. Palestinian policy calls for the death penalty for anyone selling land to Jews in Palestine. This is racist.
Why should we do this? Because a nation must stake its claim to virtue before it fights for its honour. This is something that Israel has contemptuously ignored in its past dealings with the UN. It is time to change tactics.
Palestine and Gaza as separate, legally recognised states will not make a difference to the propaganda war waged against the Jewish Commonwealth.
Israel must focus its attention on the symbolic as well. It has never been ‘only’ a physical conflict. Moral recognition of 1,400 years of Islamic conquest and Arab persecution must be recognised as a counter weight to the tragedy of Palestinian dispossession. Some form of restitution to the refugees of Palestine must have equal weight with recognition that Arab regimes ethnically cleansed their Jewish population throughout the Arab world, and that for universal justice to be seen to be done equal rights of reparation must apply. As there is little chance that more than a handful of Jews would risk returning to live in the racist and undemocratic Arab world, this clearly precludes a refugee right of return.
On a similar note, it must be argued that equal application of refugee definitions are a pre-requisite for the promotion of historical reconciliation between the two peoples.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad’s plan to declare Palestinian statehood (now Mahmoud Abbas’s plan) should be encouraged, along with his recognition of the historic injustices that his people have carried out against the Jewish people. Similarly Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, can express contrition for Israel’s suffering under Arab racist propaganda. A difference between the Muslim and the Jewish world view is that most Israelis can agree to differ and still expect a minimum standard of behaviour from our citizens towards our enemy, even when the enemy presents an existential threat. Propagandists for Palestine proclaim that they will respect us when we give them what they want. 1,400 years of interaction with the Arab world has taught us differently.
In 1986 I heard Dr Hanan Ashrawi declare that Palestinian racism and bigotry would disappear when Palestine came into being. The problem I have with this is that it is Arab culture that speaks this nonsense, not Jewish civilisation. The government of Mahmoud Abbas named a Palestinian Square after Dalal Al-Mughrabi, a Palestinian ‘martyr’ who murdered 37 Israeli civilians, including 12 children, in a 1978 terror incident. It isn’t just conflict that encourages dehumanization. The glorification of mass murderers and the idealization of child killers is an act of barbarism that denies Civilization because it repudiates survival of the species. It is a microcosm of the act of genocide. There is a reason that normative Judaism sees only shame and despair in the killing of children, even in time of war, such as during the First Gaza War.
I don’t expect Palestinian Arabs or Christians living under Muslim threat to empathise with my Jewish historical narrative. 1,400 years of beating up your neighbours does not make you tolerant of their wish for self-determination. But I am no longer asking the world for the right to self-determination. Nor is my self-determination open to negotiation. The State of Israel was a historically inevitable event that would have occurred even without the horrors of the Shoah. The State of Israel represents the Jewish Intifada against Arab aggression and the Jewish intifada against Islamic persecution.
It is why the narrative must be rewritten to reflect our reality and our demand for a priori recognition of the essential Jewishness of the State.
There is no rational response to denial. In order to create change we must have consensus. By denying Jewish history and dismissing Arab historical prejudice we cannot have the mutual recognition of our parallel traumas. We are two peoples refusing to recognise each others' suffering at the hands of the other, but therefore we are also two people shouting at each other while looking away in order to not recognise our mutual humanity.
Poverty, ignorance and war do not breed hero worship for child killers. A theological justification for genocide does. Islam is replete with atrocities committed in the name of its prophet and in the name of its god. Popular support is underpinned theologically, politically and ideologically. When death is raised on a pedestal to be glorified as a cultural ideal, when superiority is understood to be a birthright, and slavery an obligation to be imposed on ones enemy, then and only then do we worship child killers.
One man’s terrorist cannot be another man’s freedom fighter. Intolerance, racist propaganda, a Nazi-style press, ethnic cleansing, and an Islamic racial agenda: these must all be brought up as final agenda items for inclusion in all future discussion at any national and international fora.
And UDI? Yes, let us welcome Palestine and Gaza as the world’s newest independent nations. You persuade the other side to discuss what they have always rejected by placing on the table that which is most uncomfortable for them and then repeating the truths they have rejected in every possible forum. Let us negotiate on all of the issues and not just the ones our enemies want us to discuss.