Palestinians Are Nobody’s Negroes

January 28th, 2008 § 0 comments

I wish I’d written this, one day I will make time to write a proper post and shock you all…

It’s a long post so I’m not going to post all of here, but it is worth reading.

Lawrence of Cyberia:

Palestinians Are Nobody’s Negroes

Before I get into the details of why the “Jewish state” controversy is so revealing of Israel’s general inability to come to terms with its own past, I should make a few preliminary points. First, it is a good thing that the “Jewish state” issue is being discussed, even if the discussion so far tends to generate more heat than light. This is what the I/P conflict is about, and this is the kind of issue that needs to be aired honestly if it’s ever going to be resolved. The I/P conflict is not about how many nonexistent West Bank roadblocks the IDF can fool Condoleezza Rice into thinking have been removed this week, or any of the other superficial lipstick – on – a – pig, how – can – we – make – the – Occupation – appear – less – onerous – to – the – outside – world kind of issues that Israel has managed to restrict discussion to over the last seven years. The I/P conflict is, at base, about what it means to create a state for Jewish people in a land with a preexisting population that is overwhelmingly not Jewish. It might have saved a lot of blood and treasure if the subject had been honestly debated a century ago, instead of being hidden behind silly lies like “a land without a people for a people without a land”, but it wasn’t. So, better late than never, I guess.

What the PLO is offering is a real painful concession, in which people who were not squatters in illegal settlements in belligerently occupied territory, but indigenous residents living in their own homes in their own land, offer to implement their legitimate legal right to go home in a way that preserves the way of life of those who forcibly evicted them in the first place. It means accepting the outcome of their own ethnic cleansing at the hands of a once-persecuted people that the Palestinians themselves were not responsible for persecuting. Palestinians do not accept the rationale or the rightness of the ethnic cleansing but, for the sake of their own future generations and of Israel’s, the PLO is offering to acknowledge the outcome. As Yasir Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian negotiator and himself a refugee in 1948, put it in a debate at the Brookings Institution on 20 November 2001:

We asked [at Taba] for the principle of the right of return, but the implementation of it, should be discussed in a very practical and even pragmatic way, without affecting or without — yes, without affecting — the Jewish nature of the state of Israel…

You want, as a Palestinian who was born in Jaffa, to forget my personal thing, my attachment as a person to the place of my birth? I will not do that. But you want me, as a serious politician responsible for the future of my people, and as a person who wants, really, to put an end to these agonies, to take a position which hurts me — I should take it. I will do that. This is the difference.

— cited by Akiva Eldar, in You’re holding the baby, Colin, try not to drop it; Ha’aretz, 22 Nov 2001.

This is a generous offer whose proportions the Israelis – who apparently think that Barak’s attempt (left) to give back disjointed parts of something that didn’t belong to him in the first place, actually constitutes a “generous offer” – cannot begin to imagine.


Labels: Palestine

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