The Palestinians Are Also to Blame

If the Palestinians had truly wanted to be liberated from the metastasizing occupation and establish a Palestinian state before it is too late, they should have aspired to a swift separation.

A. B. Yehoshua
A.B. Yehoshua
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An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.
An Israeli flag is seen in front of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.Credit: AP
A. B. Yehoshua
A.B. Yehoshua

Anyone who is familiar with the situation in the West Bank – the location of the roads, the communities, the outposts, the industrial and agricultural areas in both the Israeli and the Palestinian sectors – understands with growing clarity that a binational state is inevitable. Yet well-intentioned men of peace – who, with a word, are ready to uproot 300,000 Jewish settlers, to relocate entire communities and alter the route of roads – still refuse to see the physical and human reality that is taking shape and growing roots in the territories.

In Scotland many people wanted to separate from Britain, Czechoslovakia split into two states, the Soviet Union dissolved, Yugoslavia disintegrated, ethnic groups that have lived together inside larger national frameworks in security and full cooperation for generations are now trying to achieve national and linguistic independence apart from each other.

And at this very moment, the Jews – once again going counter to history – are suturing themselves to the Palestinians. They are gradually entangling their existence and their identity in the tissue of a foreign nation, against which they have waged, and still are waging, a bloody struggle for more than 100 years – a nation with a different religion, a different culture, a different history and a different economic level, and which to boot is connected with the larger Arab nation and the vast Islamic world, which have yet to accord legitimacy to the State of Israel. And this absurd, idiotic act is being committed not only in complete defiance of the international community’s position, but also in defiance of the view of roughly half the Israeli people.

How did this happen? We in the peace camp keep asking ourselves this, and we are also asked for answers by all our friends worldwide, all those who care about our wellbeing. Are your eyes too blind and your mind too clouded to understand what you are doing to yourselves?

And here, beyond all the accusations – both correct and incorrect – regarding the weakness of the peace camp and the Israeli left and the flaccidity of American and European pressure to implement the idea of two states, we must recognize the fact that this act of “suturing” the two nations to each other has continued, with a fateful and tragic blindness, not only because of Israel, but also because of the Palestinians themselves who, despite their official declarations, also dream of and are working toward a single state – a binational one, albeit according to their own interpretation.

Are the Palestinians too blind to understand that day after day, their territory is being devoured, territory that is also the first basis of their national identity? Doesn’t the occupation bother them? Don’t they understand that the Israeli moves being made on the West Bank are irreversible? In my view, they understand everything that is being done on their land very well, but the dream of a binational state, the dream of a single state, is what comforts them in their pain and suffering. And this isn’t true only for Palestinians in the West Bank, but also for most of Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

Ostensibly, they agree with the idea of two states, in which their shrunken territory would be less than a quarter of the original land of Palestine. But deep in their hearts they dream and hope, just like former Israeli minister Moshe Arens and his cronies, of a single, binational state – first in the format of moderate apartheid, and later, in the tradition of the struggle waged by Nelson Mandela and his colleagues, in the format of a single, democratic state that over time, in their view, will effectively become uninational because to this day they doubt the existence of a Jewish nationality and see Judaism as a religion only.

For if the Palestinians had truly wanted, as they claim they do, to be liberated from the metastasizing occupation and establish a Palestinian state before it is too late, they should have aspired to a swift separation, division of the land and establishment of a border. They should have agreed to the 1967 borders and established an existing state recognized by the international community. They should have agreed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s baseless and meaningless demand and recognized Israel as the Jewish nation state – a recognition that has no practical implications – and stopped their incessant demand for the right of return, which they will never be able to realize. They should have agreed to territorial swaps, primarily in the area of Gush Etzion, and even agreed that a small minority of Jews would become citizens of the Palestinian state.

Time is running out, and each day moves them further away from their own state. By all logic, before it was too late, they should have agreed to a state in the 1967 borders that would be demilitarized of heavy weapons and the stationing of an international force along the Jordan River in exchange for official status in Jerusalem, so that they could grab the tail end of their state before it vanished from their hands forever.

But meanwhile, instead of making haste they are digging in and delaying, because a different dream or delusion is nourishing them, and perhaps comforting them – the delusion of a single shared state. This delusion has produced an honest belief that within the framework of a binational state they would enjoy civil rights, even if only in the modest version granted to their brethren in Israel. They don’t realize that when the binational state arrives, the tricky Israelis will know how to maneuver in order to bend this threatening democracy to their benefit, and by the time the Palestinians have managed to obtain Knesset representation that reflects their true demographic weight, tens of thousands of overseas Jews, who will be granted fictitious Israeli citizenship, will have neutralized the entire demographic threat via direct electronic voting from their Jewish communities worldwide.

I am saying all this because of the accusations the peace camp tends to level at itself with regard to its political weakness, its infighting and its alienation from the people. Soul-searching is always necessary and proper, especially during the High Holidays, but all the diligent and dedicated peace-seekers both in Israel and abroad would do well to internalize the fact that peace has tarried not only because of Israel’s binational delusion, but also because of the Palestinians’ binational delusion. Thus it’s hardly surprising that dealing with this double binationalism should prove such a complicated and frustrating task. And yet, despite everything, we must not despair.

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