Any way you look at it, whether the focus is on Gaza, the West Bank or the internal tension vis-à-vis Israel’s Arab citizens, the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the same: two states for two peoples. Even those who claim that the Palestinian nation was invented cannot deny the fact that it now exists. No matter what the duration of its historical pregnancy, one cannot gainsay its birthplace or deny its right, like that of any people, to a national homeland.
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Enough with the sanctimonious attempts to explain things through so-called hasbara. The only effective way Israel can explain the situation to the world is through a public Israeli peace initiative, with proposed maps and borders. It should be clear by now: If there is no 1967, there is 1948, and these days we’ve had a peek – even a simulation – of what that holds in store. The hole-ridden cheese which now demarcates the territory lying between the Jordan River and Mediterranean, akin to a fried egg in which Israel is the white part, with Palestinian enclaves as pieces of yolk floating within in, can be reversed. When the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Israel’s Arab citizens join forces – even if not in an organized or coordinated fashion – the question becomes who is the white and who the yolk; Who is imposing a blockade and who is under siege.
“Israeli Jews, it’s time to listen,” wrote Noa Landau (Haaretz, May 18), as if we don’t know what the Arabs are saying. As if we don’t know the story and the historical circumstances which led us to live in one state. Everyone knows everything. That’s how history unfolded. And no, the comparison Landau makes between the struggle of Israel’s Arab citizens for equal rights and that of blacks in the United States does an injustice to the former, since it strips the Palestinians of what could be called their ethical advantage in this conflict – their status as natives vis-à-vis Jewish migrants. The only relevant question is what we do now in the circumstances we’ve inherited. Twenty percent of Israel’s population are Palestinians, and there is a national Israeli-Palestinian conflict that demands a solution.
Israel’s Arabs citizens will not be Israeli until the establishment of a Palestinian state which fulfills their national aspirations. Only then they will be able to decide whether to be Israeli without this decision entailing a relinquishing of their self-determination. Just as a Jew can live in the United States as an American citizen, knowing that the right of his people to self-determination is fulfilled in Israel, and that he can at any moment realize his national aspirations in Israel, so will a Palestinian citizen of Israel be able to ease his national aspirations, knowing that his people have a place under the sun.
The astonishment that gripped many Jews at the intensity of the hatred that erupted among a small number of Israeli Arabs is mainly unfounded. Even if one ignores the discrimination, the systematic neglect and even the incitement against them, and even if we put the occupation in parentheses and Gaza behind lock and key, one should ask whether Israelis ever offered Arab citizens a collective “we” they could join? Let’s say one wants to suppress the national aspirations of a people, and let’s even assume this is possible: What identity did we invite Arab citizens to adopt once they abandon their Palestinian one? After all, a person can’t shed one identity and remain bereft of any. If they are not Palestinians and they are not Israelis like we are, what are they?
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The discourse of listening, as well as the attempt of Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn to launch a discourse of conciliation and the recognition of [Palestinian] memories in the midst of an ongoing conflict (“Jewish Israelis should stop being afraid of the Nakba,” Haaretz, May 1) imply that we are after the event, not in its midst. The occupation and dispossession are happening now, but here we are baking a turkey and preparing gravy, and just around the corner is a bid for erecting a memorial to the Nakba. Forget memorials – the only way to stop fearing the Nakba or the Palestinians is to work towards the establishment of a Palestinian state.