Mankind has thousands of years of experience and history to revisit and
learn from our past mistakes. But this is a sad time in our existence. It is
2006, a time when it is said humans have undergone a technological renaissance.
Intellectually we are at the height of discovery and intelligence.
It is a sad and defining moment when the world watches and allows the people
of the Middle East to suffer in the name of combating terrorism. For the
U.S. or anyone to let one country ignore so many U.N. resolutions yet use the
same argument against other countries has all the appearance of hypocrisy,
immorality and prejudice that dangers one’s own foreign policy objectives and
causes our loss of credibility with many countries.
For Israel to continue to exist as a Jewish state it must continue to defy
U.N. Resolution 194, which requires the repatriation of the Palestinians who
were expelled in 1948, and it must continue to defy the International
Declaration of Human Rights that proscribes the deprivation of rights based on race
Palestinians must recognize Israel’s right to exist as a state, but there is
no parallel imperative that Israelis must recognize the right of a
Palestinian state to exist, and that, of course, means a viable state. Palestinians
must end the practice of suicide bombing, but Israel is not required to end the
assassinations of Palestinian leaders whom Israel considers a threat,
considering that those targeted assassinations kill and maim as many bystanders as
a typical suicide bombing.
Jewish rights in Palestine are primary and Palestinian rights secondary. Of
course, the fundamental problem is to fail to see that another person is a
human being like oneself. When one realizes that, one knows that he or she will
react as anyone would were his beliefs and livelihood are under attack.
Unlike the Jews, the Palestinians have no messianic vision – they simply
want to be left alone in the land that was taken from them in wars of conquest.
In my opinion, neither the Christian crusaders nine centuries ago nor the
Jews in this century have acquired title to this land. No international decision
made at Versailles or by the United Nations can change the minds of those
who belong, religiously, culturally, and historically, to the world on which
Islam set its fundamental stamp. Palestine is irrevocably a part of the realm
of Islam, especially since Jerusalem is the home of the third holiest shrine
in Islam: the mountain from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
No state has an intrinsic right to exist if it fails to respect human rights
and abide by international law. A state whose continued existence requires
it to keep 3.5 million people under occupation and deprived of basic dignity
and, in effect, in a giant outdoor prison for 39 years, is suspect in claiming
a “right to exist.”
The election of Hamas was a godsend for Israel to press ahead with the
expansion of settlements, building the apartheid wall and grabbing more and more
land. Israel was running out of excuses and suddenly divine intervention
brought Hamas to the forefront. Hamas’ rise was great news for Kadima, and sadly
Hamas obliged. By making irresponsible statements threatening fire and
brimstone it fell into the Israeli trap.
I believe that the time for a two-state solution has passed and we can be
forgiven if we declare that the “road map is dead” and bury it once and for
all. Not to mention U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 188 and 195. The
reason is that Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert is not a man of peace but one of
war who occasionally hides behind the rhetoric of peace. All that he, or any
successor, can deliver are de facto arrangements that tamp down the conflict
but leave the ultimate issues unsolved. This is because no Zionist political
leader can possibly declare that the Palestinians have a right to settle
permanently in Palestine. This would fly in the face of the Zionist movement.
Such thinking should not be hard to comprehend since Prime Minister Menachem
Begin made it very clear in 1977, when he first came to power, that the
purpose of putting Jews on the West Bank was not to make Israel more defensible.
Begin said, without hesitation, that he had been elected prime minister of
Israel in order to carry out an ideological policy: that the land of Israel,
from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, was Jewish. He would defend
that policy even if the actions it required sometimes seemed to compromise Israel
Even if a two-state solution became a reality, Israel would then exist, as
it does now, as a state that discriminates against its non-Jewish minorities
with a set of basic laws, amounting to its Constitution, making it clear that
Israel is a state for Jews only and that others are at best tolerated and at
worse welcome to leave.
The writer is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of
Toledo in Toledo, Ohio