Rabbi Donniel Hartman: Israel Must Not Demand Arabs Citizens Embrace Jewish State
Rabbi Donniel Hartman has written a remarkable essay in Haaretz on the nature of Israel as a Jewish state. Not only does he show extraordinary empathy toward Israel’s Arab minority in rejecting the notion that they must accept Israel’s Jewish nature; he also shows great courage as a Jewish spiritual leader in warning Israeli Jews that there must be limits to what they can expect of their Arab fellow citizens. He also reminds them that much more is expected of Jews in fully integrating Arabs into Israeli society:
If the peace process has any goal, it is to create here, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, two national entities. It is to forego any fantasy of a single binational state and to make room for two independent nations – each with its own aspirations – that covet the same land yet represent distinct legitimate national identities. The process of peace negotiations requires that each side relinquish its claims to the whole land and be willing to live with only part of the geographical space which it claims as its own. Once a territorial compromise is in place, each of these two peoples must recognize the other as a legitimate sovereign national entity; anything less fails to fulfill the essential aspiration of the peace process.
The Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state seems therefore, at first glance, not only reasonable but also an essential part of the peace process. This demand, however, is a mistake based on a superficial understanding of the complexity of the modern State of Israel. While most Jews – but not all – clearly define Israel as a Jewish state, not every Israeli does. To ask a Muslim or Christian who is an Israeli citizen to regard himself as a citizen of a Jewish state is to expect him to declare himself a perennial outsider within his own country.
But as with any progressive debate on this issue, one quickly becomes enmeshed in a thicket of seeming contradictions as noted in this paragraph:
It is perfectly legitimate, and even crucial, that Israeli Jews define Israel as a Jewish state. In the Jewish understanding of the rebirth of the State of Israel, we have returned to the Land of Israel to create a sovereign Jewish state; in our understanding, the Jewish national narrative is of necessity the majority narrative here. But to assume non-Jews – equal citizens of the State of Israel by virtue of the democratic principles at the basis of Israel’s self-understanding – feel the same way as Jews is not only unreasonable, it is nonsensical.
If I understand Hartman correctly, he seems to contradict himself in that he embraces a majority Jewish state of Israel; but also embraces a State in which Arabs will not feel like outsiders. How do you reconcile that contradiction and still retain a single state?
To expect that a non-Jew will accept a Jewish national identity is to fail to recognize the complexity of the multicultural reality that is the modern State of Israel. We have made this mistake since 1948; while witnesses to the growth of the Palestinian minority in our midst, we have failed to come up with a category to accommodate their distinct Israeli identity. In relegating them to the status of perennial strangers in a Jewish state, we make it supremely difficult for this people to feel a duty of loyalty to Israel or any sense of equality living in it.
We Israeli Jews have to understand that Israel, as a Jewish and democratic state with both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens, must have multiple narratives that inform its national identity. There must be a Jewish narrative and a broader Israeli narrative that creates a collective space with bonds of loyalty toward citizens of the State of Israel who are either non-Jews or for whom the state’s Jewishness is not the central feature of their national self-understanding.
I find it interesting that Hartman proposes a “broader Israeli narrative” that would incorporate Arabs into a collective national space, but he isn’t willing to concede them a full-blown Israeli Arab narrative that would be comparable to the Jewish one. It seems to me that if one embraces an Israel that is a Jewish state you must also concede the possibility that for Arabs a vague “broader Israeli identity” will seem a watered down version of Israeliness.
The following passage is a very important rejoinder to Zionist Jews who cry that anything less than Jewish supremacism within Israel means the death knell for Israel as a Jewish state. In fact, this may be the most important passage in a very important essay:
The impoverished condition of the current political discussion on this issue assumes that anyone who relinquishes an exclusive claim to a Jewish narrative is a post or anti-Zionist. Many Jews fear that by surrendering the exclusivity of the Jewish claim to Israel they facilitate the destruction of the Jewish state. This, I believe, is a mistake. Multicultural states, of which Israel is but one example, require multiple national narratives to enable their different populations to participate. It does not require particular cultures to forfeit their own national self-understanding, but to give up the claim to define others’ collective identity. Only when Israel has such parallel narratives will a non-Jewish Israeli feel fully at home in this country.
But here Hartman again creates a problem for himself in insisting that Israel Arabs relinquish any national aspirations within Israel itself:
With respect to the peace negotiations now underway, it is both unnecessary and unreasonable to require the Palestinian people to accept Israel as a Jewish state. It is critical that they recognize Israel as an independent state against which they have no territorial demands or aspirations. Palestinians – both those living inside and outside Israel – must recognize that their national aspirations are fulfilled exclusively in the confines of the new state of Palestine, while Israel is the national home for Jews – and Palestinians – who want to live in the State of Israel.
I don’t see it that way. Clearly, refugees from pre-1948 Israel DO have legitimate territorial claims. They were either forcibly expelled or frightened into leaving their homes. You can’t by dictat tell them their new home is Palestine. You have to engage in a negotiation in which you attempt to resolve their claim in a way that satisfies each side at least minimally. This may mean that the claims are resolved through financial compensation.
But I believe, along with the Geneva Initiative, that there must be at least a symbolic resettlement of Israeli Arab refugees within Israeli itself. This is important not only for the refugees themselves. It is important for Israeli to accept the crime done to these former residents of Israel by allowing some of them to return.
I also believe that Hartman is giving short shrift to the Israeli Arab narrative and that it cannot be satisfied by mere lip service to an overarching Israeli narrative that transcends the Jewishness of the majority. Without creating a second nation within Israel, Arabs must somehow feel that their narrative, religion, rights, language and cultural expression are equal to those of Jews. Part of this should also entail that both sides renounce a full Right of Return for Diaspora Jews and Arab refugees. These two principles which undergird both Jewish and Palestinian nationalisms should be renegotiated so that they are no longer absolute concepts but rather ones that are tempered by reality. This new reality would be based on a compromise in which Israel embraces equally its Jewish and Arab citizens while telling them that there are limits to their national expressions.
21 thoughts on “Rabbi Donniel Hartman: Israel Must Not Demand Arabs Citizens Embrace Jewish State – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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“””But I believe, along with the Geneva Initiative, that there must be at least a symbolic resettlement of Israeli Arab refugees within Israeli itself. This is important not only for the refugees themselves. It is important for Israeli to accept the crime done to these former residents of Israel by allowing some of them to return.”””
If the Israelis continues to refuse to allow that, are you in favor of the Palestinians continuing to fight to achieve it?
I am not asking you whether the Israelis ought to agree to it, I am asking whether the Palestinians ought to reject any peace agreement which does not include Israel agreeing to this demand.
I reject the framing of the question. The Geneva Initiative & the 2002 Arab League initiative will be the general frameworks for a final peace settlement & there will be a provision for settling the refugee question & it will include at least a symbolic provision for resettlement of some refugees. To talk about Israel flat out rejecting this idea is a non-starter. It ain’t gonna happen. If you want you can say otherwise till you’re blue in the face. But the final settlement when it comes will prove you wrong.
“””I reject the framing of the question.”””
But what is the answer to the question? If Israel continues to reject settling Palestinian refugees and their descendants inside of Israel, should the Palestinians walk away from a deal which gives them a state but not settlement rights inside of Israel?
“””The Geneva Initiative & the 2002 Arab League initiative will be the general frameworks for a final peace settlement”””
What about the Clinton peace plan? President Clinton stated in his late 2000 early 2001 plan that while Israel could allow Palestinian refugees to settle in Israel if it wants to, Clinton’s peace plan does not require them to do so.
Ehud Barak stated after the failure of the collapse of the Taba talks that Barak would not have agreed to any right of return for any Palestinians to Israel. Olmert says the same thing, George W. Bush says the same thing.
“”” & there will be a provision for settling the refugee question”””
Agreed, there will be a provision for settling the refugee question. But what I am asking is whether there will be a provision for settling Palestinian refugees inside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders. That is a different question. And Barak and Olmert and Bush and Clinton say no.
So should the Palestinains keep fighting until Barak and Olmert and Bush and one of the Clintons all say yes? Is it in the interests of the Palestinians to keep fighting if they can get a state–but no right of return–without fighting?
“””& it will include at least a symbolic provision for resettlement of some refugees.”””
Ressettle them where? In the West Bank? Of course it will.
But the question is whether it will include settling them inside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders, and whether the Palestinians ought to keep fighting if contrary to your expectations Olmert and Barak and Bush and the Clintons all continue to say no.
Let’s recap this. Barak, Olmert, Clinton and Bush all say or said no. Richard Siliverstein apparently says yes, as does the Arab League and Yossi Beilin.
It may be that Olmert, Barak, Bush and Clinton trump Silverstein, Beilin and the Arab League. In that case, what should the Palestinians do? Reject the framing of the question and walk away?
“””To talk about Israel flat out rejecting this idea is a non-starter. It ain’t gonna happen.”””
It already happened in 2000, according to Barak but not Beilin. It is happening now, according to Olmert and Bush.
“””If you want you can say otherwise till you’re blue in the face. But the final settlement when it comes”””
When it comes? When is that? This year and this decade Israel continues to reject settling Palestinian refugees inside of Israel’s pre-1967 borders. What should the Palestinians do? Keep fighting until Israel and the US changes their minds? Is that wise?
Should the Palestinians reject a peace agreement with Israel until Israel agrees to this demand? When do you believe that Israel will agree to this demand? It didn’t agree in the 1950s, or the 1960s, or the 1970s, or the 1980s, or the 1990s, or the 2000s.
What makes you so sure that Israel will back down on this demand? And when do you believe that Israel will do so? And do you believe that the Palestinians should keep fighting until Israel does back down?
“””will prove you wrong.”””
I am 54 years old. It is possible that there will be no final peace agreement in my lifetime, however long that is. In the meantime should the Palestinians just keep fighting until Israel agrees to settle Palestinians in Israel?
And if you think that the Palestinians should keep fighting until it happens, how much fighting will YOU be doing? It is easy to say that SOMEONE ELSE should fight for something.
What if the cost of rejecting a Palestinian state and instead fighting for the right to settle Palestinains inside of Israel is too great? What if it is not in the interest of the Palestinians to keep fighting for this goal? What should the Palestinians do then?
In a final settlement Israel will NOT reject this concept. It WILL reject a full implementation of the concept as this would help create an almost immediate Arab majority within the Green Line. But it will not reject a symbolic implementation of the concept.
First, unless you quote fr. something Clinton actually wrote or said on this subject I don’t know that I’d accept on faith yr characterization of Clinton’s views on this. Second, if he actually DID say what you claim then he was trying to finess the issue & not really addressing it which will be absolutely necessary in order to get to a final agreement.
And as for what any leader says now before serious negotiations begin on this subject–it ain’t worth a hill of beans to quote Casablanca. What they say now & what they agree to later will not be the same thing. I have absolutely no interest in whatever those guys say now. They can talk till they’re blue in the face about what Israel’s willing to do or what the Palestinians should do (& God do they ever natter on & on on these subjects), but it’s full of sound & fury signifying nothing. All’s posturing for which the Israelis & Palestinians are well known.
No, this is the rhetoric of a demagogue. If you want to discuss issues that’s fine. But if you want to be a smart aleck & characterize the Geneva Initiative as “Yossi Beilin” then I can’t take you very seriously. The Initiative was not only the work of scores, if not hundreds of Israelis & Palestinians, its provisions were accepted by majorities of both Palestinians & Israelis in opinion polls done after it was introduced. It sounds cute & catchy for a propagandist to diminish the Initiative by making it the work of one man. But that’s all it is–propaganda. If you want to debate based on propaganda points you should go elsewhere.
I’m always terribly amused by Israeli supporters who profess to care so much about “Palestinian interests” that they proffer huge gobs of advice to them on what those interests should be. Palestinians have a funny way of defining their interests on their own terms & in their own way. I don’t think they need you or me to help them. BTW, I often don’t agree with how Palestinians, especially the militants among them, define their interests. But I’m not willing, as you are only to happy to do, to substitute my judgment for theirs.
It isn’t a question of what I say about the Clinton Peace Plan from December 2000, it is what the BBC says (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2057919.stm)
“””Friday, 21 June, 2002, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Arafat ‘accepts’ Clinton peace plan
…In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Mr Arafat also says he is now prepared to accept a Middle East peace plan put forward by former US president Bill Clinton in December 2000.
…The plan does not recognise the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, which is one of the most contentious issues holding up a settlement. Israel refuses to accept the refugees’ right of return to anywhere else but the West Bank and Gaza, fearing it would wipe out Israel’s Jewish character.”””
The question then becomes, what if Israel accepts the Clinton Peace Plan (as it already has) and continues to reject settlement of the descendants of Palestinian refugees inside of Israel’s borders, as the BBC states that it does. Then what? Should the Palestinians reject the Clinton Plan and keep figthing for more.
You are free to believe that Israel will back down. But WHAT IF THEY DON’T? Should the Palestinians then keep fighting, and reject a state, because they want to force Israel to agree to settle Palestinians inside of Israel’s borders instead of in the West Bank and Gaza?
“””In a final settlement Israel will NOT reject this concept.”””
If you define, metaphysically, a “final settlement” as being one which by definition includes settling Palestinians inside of Israel, then the statement becomes true by definition. But the question is, regardless of whether you consider it a “final” settlement or not, should the Palestinians reject a peace treaty or peace plan with Israel if, consistent with the Clinton Plan, there is no provision for settling Palestinians inside of Israel?
Should the Palestinians walk away and keep fighting for this dubious right to settle inside of Israel? Or should the agree to a straight land-for-peace deal which establishes a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and parts of East Jerusalem, but doesn’t include any rights of Palestinians to settle inside of Israel?
“””And as for what any leader says now before serious negotiations begin on this subject–it ain’t worth a hill of beans to quote Casablanca.”””
The Clinton Peace Plan was a product of serious negotiations. You can say that it ain’t worth a hill of beans, but what is this statement based upon?
“””he was trying to finess the issue & not really addressing it which will be absolutely necessary in order to get to a final agreement.”””
He did address it. He said Palestinians should be settled in the West Bank or Gaza, but not in Israel unless Israel agrees. And Israel’s agreement was not part of Clinton’s peace plan.
He simply addressed it in a way that you do not like. That is different from not addressing it at all.
“””I have absolutely no interest in whatever those guys say now.”””
In that case, what is your conviction that Israel will agree to settle Palestinian refugees in Israel based upon? It is not based upon what the Israelis (or President Clinton or President Bush) say. It isn’t based upon what the Israelis do, because the Israelis don’t do that. So what is it based upon?
The question remains. If the Palestinians are once again offered a state based upon the Clinton Plan, should they reject it on the grounds that there is no provision for settling Palestinians inside of Israel?
“””All’s posturing for which the Israelis & Palestinians are well known.”””
What if the Clinton Peace Plan is all the Palestinians are going to get in a negotiated agreement? What if it represents a real position on the part of the US and Israeli governments. Should the Palestinians hold out for settling Palestinians in Israel instead of accepting a state in the West Bank and Gaza? Should they keep fighting over this issue?
“””But if you want to be a smart aleck & characterize the Geneva Initiative as “Yossi Beilin” then I can’t take you very seriously. The Initiative was not only the work of scores, if not hundreds of Israelis & Palestinians, its provisions were accepted by majorities of both Palestinians & Israelis in opinion polls done after it was introduced.”””
It was not the product of an elected Israeli government, nor was any current Israeli official involved in it. Beilin is head of Meretz which has four seats in the Knesset. The other Israelis who produced it have even less political power than Beilin does.
You say that hundreds of people worked on it. That is great. But Israel has millions of people. Again I ask, what if the Palestinians again are offered the Clinton Peace Plan, which does not include settling Palestinains inside of Israel. Should they reject such a straight land-for-peace agreement and instead keep fighting.
“””I’m always terribly amused by Israeli supporters who profess to care so much about “Palestinian interests” that they proffer huge gobs of advice to them on what those interests should be”””
What about non-Israelis who say that it is not in Israel’s interest to build settlements? That is okay, isn’t it? It is okay with me? Is it okay with you? Isn’t it equally okay to say that certain Palestinian demands are not in the Palestinians own interests? Isn’t it equally to say that rejecting land-for-peace, and instead fighting on in order to force Israel to settle Palestinains inside of Israel, is not in the Palestinians interest?
Why is it okay for non-Israelis to express an opinion about what is in the Palestinians interests, but not equally okay for non-Palestinians to express an opinion about what is in the Palestinians interest.
Wouldn’t a peace agreement have to be in the interests of both sides? Doesn’t discussing what a peace agreement should contain necessarily involve discussing where each parties interests lie?
“””Palestinians have a funny way of defining their interests on their own terms & in their own way. “””
So do Israelis. So do all human beings. However, up to this point the leaders of the US and Israel have defined their own interests as including settling Palestinians in a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, but not inside Israel.
What if the US and Israel continue to do so. Should the Palestinians continue to fight, rejecting a Palestinian state in the process?
“”” I don’t think they need you or me to help them.”””
Presumably, you believe that whatever you recommend is in the interests of the Israelis and Palestinians. Otherwise you would not recommend it. If they don’t need you or me to help them then what is the purpose of this blog?
“””BTW, I often don’t agree with how Palestinians, especially the militants among them, define their interests”””
Palestinian militants are quite emphatic that Palestinians have the right of return to settle inside of Israel. If you don’t agree with it when the militants for this demand, then could you not also disagree with anyone who wants to fight to settle Palestinians inside of Israel?
“”” But I’m not willing, as you are only to happy to do, to substitute my judgment for theirs.”””
What if the Israelis judge, as they already have and as the Clinton Peace Plan has, that Palestinian refugees and their descendants should settle in the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem but not in Israel?
Are you equally unwilling to substitute your judgement for that of the Israelis (and President Clinton too) on this issue?
The central question remains. If and when the Palestinians are offered a deal based upon the outlines of the Clinton plan, should the Palestinians reject it on the grounds that Palestinians must also have the right to settle inside of Israel? Should they reject a Palestinian state and instead fight more wars in order to attempt to force Israel to settle Palestinians inside of Israel?
You say that you object to the phrasing of the question. But given what happened in 2000, when the Palestinians were offered, and rejected, a deal which include a state but no right of return, it is a reasonable question.
Was it wise for the Palestinians to reject the Clinton Plan? Should they reject a Palestinian state again and keep fighting for a right to settle inside of Israel?
Have you seen this?
“For less than four dollars an hour, the Jewish teenagers removed furniture, clothes, kitchenware and toys from the homes and loaded them on to trucks. As they worked diligently alongside the many policemen who had come to secure the destruction of 30 houses in two unrecognised Bedouin villages, Bedouin teenagers stood by watching their homes being emptied.
When all the belongings had been removed, the bulldozers rapidly destroyed the homes. All those present, Jews and Bedouins, were Israeli citizens; together they learned an important lesson in the discrimination characterising civic life in the Jewish state.” MORE…
Whether Palesinians should give up their demands or not depends on whether the demands are justified in the first place. In my opinion, if Israel refuses any recognition of the principle of the right of reurn whatsoever, rejects even a symbolic resettlement of refugees, and refuses to accept any responsibility for dispossessing the Palestinians, then, yes, Palestinians would be justified in rejecting a peace agreement with Israel under those conditions, just as they would be jusitifed in rejecting a peace agreement that did not dismantle all the settlements or use the pre-1967 borders as the starting point for territorial exchanges.
“””if Israel refuses any recognition of the principle of the right of reurn whatsoever, rejects even a symbolic resettlement of refugees, and refuses to accept any responsibility for dispossessing the Palestinians, then, yes, Palestinians would be justified in rejecting a peace agreement with Israel under those conditions,”””
“If”? It is already happening with Barak and Clinton in 2000 and with Olmert and Bush today. The Israeli and American positions in this decade have been yes to a Palestinian state, yes to withdrawal from at least 95 percent of the West Bank, and no to a right of return.
Unfortunately, the Palestinians reject a straight land-for-peace deal. So does Peter H, and, although he scoffs at the question and refuses to answer it, so apparently does Richard Silverstein.
Shouldn’t we call the Peter H formula land-plus-right-of-return-for-peace?
In the course of multiple comments you’ve managed to ask the same rather uninteresting question about 16 times. So don’t ask it again because I won’t answer any differently than I have previously. I’m not a Palestinian. I don’t represent them. I don’t tell them what they should do. It’s their fate that they’re negotiating, not mine.
First, there was never a final agreement at Camp David, so this part of the discussion is moot. Second, if you think Yasir Arafat ever renounced the right of return you’re out of yr mind. You simply cannot produce anything documenting such an acceptance because he would never give it.
It doesn’t. It represents an opening gambit before serious negotiations have begun. Now, you’ve repeated yrself ad nauseum. I’m not going to respond any longer & ask you not to respond on this subject. If you have other things you want to say in other threads here you are welcome. But do not reopen this discussion.
That’s not what will happen at all. SOME refugees will be settled within the Green Line. But the vast majority will be settled in the W. Bank & Gaza. Or if not, they will receive financial compensation & remain where they are currently.
“Dubious to whom? To you? And what gives you the right to determine on the behalf of the Palestinians that the right is such?
You’ve conveniently ignored anything I said that was inconvenient to yr argument. The fact is that opinion polls say that a majority of Israelis accepted Geneva’s provisions. That equals “millions of people.”
I am not just a “non-Israeli.” I am a Jew and a progressive Zionist. As such what I believe has an integral connection to Israel and its interests. I am not an Arab, not a Palestinian & certainly not a Palestinian nationalist (the Palestinian equivalent of a Zionist). Nor are you. If you were I would certainly not be accusing you of chutzpah. As it is you aren’t & I am. It so happens that I believe the Geneva Initiative & Arab League proposal ARE in the interests of both sides & Olmert appears to agree as he has made favorable noises about the latter. But primarily I am concerned about Israel’s interests, secondarily about the Palestinians.
I’ll leave the judgmental adjectives to you. They did. I’m not going to second guess their actions. If you read Aaron David Miller, a senior Clinton staffer at the talks, he says that everyone should’ve expected Arafat to reject the proposal, that he didn’t get enough to sell to his people. He says that there was insufficient preparation put into the talks & that expectations were hopelessly unrealistic. Turns out Miller was right.
“””In the course of multiple comments you’ve managed to ask the same rather uninteresting question about 16 times.”””
If it is so uninteresting then why cannot you answer it? Questions are uninteresting precisely because they are easy to answer.
This question is difficult to answer: Should the Palestinians reject a straight land-for-peace deal which does not include settlement of Palestinian refugees inside the Green Line?
“””So don’t ask it again because I won’t answer any differently than I have previously.”””
Actually, you have not answered the question at all. You refuse to answer it. The question is, should the Palestinians accept a straight land-for-peace deal which includes a Palestinian state, but does not include settlement of Palestinians behind the Green Line?
Or should the Palestinians reject a state and keep fighting to try and force Israel to allow Palestinians to settle inside the Green Line?
“””I’m not a Palestinian. I don’t represent them.”””
Your not an Israeli. You don’t represent them either. Just as it is okay for you to make statements about what it is in Israel’s interests to do, you can also make statements about what it is in the Palestinians interests to do.
No one should expect Palestinians and Israelis to do what it is not in their interests to do. Therefore discussions of Middle East peace need to include discussions of what it is in the interests of the parties to do.
“””I don’t tell them what they should do.”””
You don’t. But maybe you should, just as you should tell the Israelis what they should do, even though you are not an Israeli.
“”It’s their fate that they’re negotiating, not mine.”””
The Israelis and the Palestinians are each negotiating their own fates, not our fates. But we can and should and do make normative statements about what the respective parties should agree to, what is reasonable for them to demand and what is not reasonable.
“””Mr Arafat also says he is now prepared to accept a Middle East peace plan put forward by former US president Bill Clinton in December 2000.”””
That quote is FROM THE BBC, not from me. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2057919.stm I thought I made that clear in my posting.
Your quarrel is with the BBC.
“””First, there was never a final agreement at Camp David,”””
True. Why was their no final agreement? One reason or theory is that the Palestinians demanded that Israel allow 500,000 Palestinians into Israel, Yossi Beilin advanced an unofficial proposal that Israel would admit 40,000, and Ehud Barak said later that he would have agreed to accept zero, z-e-r-o, Palestinians into Israel as part of or as a requirement of a peace treaty.
I agree with you that there was no final agreement. Some, including Richard Silverstein, define a final agreement as one that includes settlement of Palestinains inside of Israel’s Green Line. Some, including Barak, Clinton, Bush and Olmert, stick to a straight land-for-peace deal.
This is a fundamental problem. It is not “uninteresting” as you say, unless one is uninterested in why there is no final peace agreement.
“””so this part of the discussion is moot. Second, if you think Yasir Arafat ever renounced the right of return you’re out of yr mind. You simply cannot produce anything documenting such an acceptance because he would never give it.”””
All I did was quote from a BBC report on what the Clinton peace plan said. You have no quarrel with me. Your quarrel is with the BBC, which reported that Arafat had accepted the Clinton Peace Plan. It then stated that the Clinton peace plan included settlement of refugees in Gaza and the West Bank, not in Israel.
Do you agree with the BBC report that the Clinton Peace Plan did not include settlement of Palestinians inside the Green Line? Or do you disagree?
“””What if it represents a real position on the part of the US and Israeli governments.
It doesn’t. It represents an opening gambit before serious negotiations have begun.”””
You may be the only person on earth who thinks that the negotiations in the final days of the Clinton Administration were “an opening gambit before serious negotiations have begun.” What is the basis for this statement?
“””Now, you’ve repeated yrself ad nauseum. I’m not going to respond any longer & ask you not to respond on this subject. If you have other things you want to say in other threads here you are welcome. But do not reopen this discussion.”””
If you wish, you may exercise your right to delete any posts that you dislike. I ask that you either delete my posts in their entirety or publish them in their entirety. Please do not bowdlerize them, although I suppose you have a right to do that also.
“””…they want to force Israel to agree to settle Palestinians inside of Israel’s borders instead of in the West Bank and Gaza?
That’s not what will happen at all. SOME refugees will be settled within the Green Line.”””
In other words, that is what you think will happen, SOME of the time. And you think that the rest of the time it won’t happen. There is no disagreement on cases where it will not happen. The disagreement is whether the Palestinians should fight to make it happen some of the time.
“””But the vast majority will be settled in the W. Bank & Gaza. Or if not, they will receive financial compensation & remain where they are currently.”””
All the more reason for the Palestinians not to fight to force Israel to settle the remainder inside of Israel’s Green Line. The Palestinians will need to renounce this demand in the vast majority, you say, of cases anyway.
“””this dubious right to settle inside of Israel?”
“Dubious to whom? To you? And what gives you the right to determine on the behalf of the Palestinians that the right is such?””””
The same thing that gives me the right to claim that an alleged right to settle Jews in the West Bank is dubious.
Presumably you believe as I do that a right of Jews to settle in the West Bank (there are none in Gaza) is at best dubious and more likely non-existent. That which gives us the right to say what we believe also gives us the exact same right to say that settling Palestinians inside the Green Line is dubious.
“””You’ve conveniently ignored anything I said that was inconvenient to yr argument. The fact is that opinion polls say that a majority of Israelis accepted Geneva’s provisions.”””
Which poll? Who conducted it? What was the wording of the poll question? What if some persons responding to the poll did not agree with or were not aware of your characterization of the Geneva Plan?
“””What about non-Israelis who say that it is not in Israel’s interest to build settlements?
I am not just a “non-Israeli.” “””
Sir, you and I are not Israelis. If we visit Israel, or if we visit France for that matter, the locals can quickly tell that we are Americans.
“””I am a Jew and a progressive Zionist.”””
It cannot be that the wisdom of a statement “Israelis should do X” or “Palestinians should do Y” depends upon the ethnicity of the persons making the statements. What about Americans who are neither Jews nor Arabs? Are they then unable to make any statements about what Israelis or Palestinians ought to do?
“””As such what I believe has an integral connection to Israel and its interests.”””
You give American Jews such as ourselves way too much credit here. We have no integral connection to Israel’s interests. We may reach a decision about what Israelis ought to do, but we can similarly reach a decision about what Palestinians ought to do.
“””It so happens that I believe the Geneva Initiative & Arab League proposal ARE in the interests of both sides & Olmert appears to agree as he has made favorable noises about the latter.”””
The Arab League initiative speaks only of “a just resolution of the refugee issue.” An Arab League official later said that the initiative did not speak of any “right of return” because the Arab League knows that the Israelis object to that language.
It is quite possible for one to be heartened by the Arab League plan because the Arab League plan does not speak of settling Palestinians inside the Green Line.
“”””Was it wise for the Palestinians to reject the Clinton Plan?
I’ll leave the judgmental adjectives to you. They did. I’m not going to second guess their actions. If you read Aaron David Miller, a senior Clinton staffer at the talks, he says that everyone should’ve expected Arafat to reject the proposal, that he didn’t get enough to sell to his people. He says that there was insufficient preparation put into the talks & that expectations were hopelessly unrealistic. Turns out Miller was right.”””
The Palestinians rejected the Clinton Plan in part because it did not include any settlement of Palestinians inside the Green Line. And if the Palestinians are offered the same deal again. they might reject it again. Or they might not. It would not be in their interests to reject it and keep fighting against the Israelis, especially if they believed that the result would be Israel eventually giving in on the matter. Because I don’t see the latter happening.
Some people just plain have logorrhea & can’t control their fingers or keyboard. You’re about the 20th commenter here over the course of five years who seems to have a mania for a particular subject & doesn’t have enough respect for me, who owns the blog, to adhere to a polite request that you NOT continue this thread. So you’ve been given an involuntary vacation.
You’re welcome to continue commenting here once you write to me telling me you can control yr mania & urges.
Only for someone holding yr views is it difficult. Peter gave you a pretty good answer in 2 or 3 lines. It wasn’t difficult for him. Let’s just say I have an allergy to people who seem to be trying to put me in a box or catch me out in some inconsistency. You seem more interested in verbal/political jousting than in serious discussion. So you won’t get the satisfaction of an answer from me.
Not so fast. You’re Jewish, right? You care about Israel, right? Are you really saying that you and I stand in relation to Israel in precisely the same way as we stand in relation to Palestine? You can’t really mean what you’ve implied here. If you do then you’re not a Zionist or have no understanding of 2,000 years of Jewish history. Either way, you’ve become an even less persuasive interlocutor (& you weren’t very) than you were before. If you don’t understand the bond that being a Jew and Zionist creates between me and Israel then you’re really in the wrong place. I don’t know where you belong but it isn’t here.
Neither do you read very carefully. I was referring to current positions of the Olmert & Bush governments regarding the right of return. Anyone can say anything they want before they begin negotiations. Israel’s current position is that there will be no right of return except over the Green Line. Goody. Means nothing. As for what happened during the Clinton years it simply doesn’t matter. If the parties agree that those parameters are useful they will adopt them. If they don’t they will ignore them. There will be a right of return specified though how it is specified is an open question. Certainly one aspect will be a resettlement & another will be financial compensation.
Oh & when there is a final settlement & there IS a right of return included will you please e mail me that you’ve eaten yr nearest hat. And pls. send me a photo of you doing it so I can display it here.
You’re presumptuous to boot. I asked you NOT to continue the thread which you did anyway. Why would I delete yr posts? I want readers to see that you are the kind of person who visits a blog and refuses to respect the owner’s politely expressed wishes. But you will not publish anything further here until you adhere to what I wrote above.
Whoa, yr argument has just gone completely off the rails. You liken Arab refugees who lived in Arab villages in what is now Israel for unbroken generations to extremist settlers who at the longest have lived in their settlements since 1967? Puh-leeze. If I lived in Hebron and my father lived there & my great grandfather lived there, going back 7 or 10 generations then I would certainly have a claim to that land. But just because Abraham lived in Hebron and is buried there doesn’t mean I or any other Israeli Jew has a right to claim the land as their own. Having a historic link to a land as Jews do to Hebron is entirely different than having a physical right to possess it.
Sorry, I don’t do yr homework for you. I’m tired of wasting time responding to you. You do some work for a change & find it yrself.
Anyone can say anything they want. But my views about Israel carry more weight than those of a non-Jew unless that non-Jew can show as much devotion & concern for Israel as I can. Ethnicity counts whether you like it or not.
When it comes to understanding Zionism or Jewish identity you are an ignoramus. I have an integral connection to Israel’s interests. Israelis believe this. The majority of American Jews believe this. You don’t. The latter concerns me not in the least.
Remember Ronald Reagan wagging his finger at Mike Dukakis saying: “There you go again.” Well, there you go again substituting your judgment for that of someone who really has a stake in the issue. Terribly white of you if you don’t mind my saying.
I’ll answer the question from the other side. As an Israeli Jew, if the negotiations were to reach a point where the only obstacle left was the so-called “Palestinian law of return” even a symbolic one, I would reject an agreement rather than allow that trojan horse in. The Arabs insistance on a law of return is the clearest sign that they are not sincere in peace negotiations (unless it is merely a bargaining chip to be bargained away later on in which case my hypothetical scenario where it is the last obstacle would not be possible). After all, the returning refugees, most of whom are not real refugees but decendants of refugees, will not in any case be able to return to their homes which either no longer exist or are occupied by others, so they are not really returning to their homes but to be absorbed elsewhere in Israel Say 5 kms from their homes. So if they are not returning to their homes why immigrate to Israel and not to their brand new Palestinian state just a few kilometers away? It’s a completely disingenuous demand. If the land is to be divided, it is to be divided in order to accomodate a Jewish/Israeli state and a Palestinian/Arab state. Each state should absorb its own immigrants. Of course, this is all very theoretical because there will never (at least not in my lifetime) be a peace agreement because the PLO and Hamas don’t want one. What they want to do is destroy Israel by stages.
It’s really cute of you, Amir, to speak on behalf of Israeli Arabs displaced by the Nakhba–& very credible I might add. I’m sure that they all find yr arguments quite persuasive & trust that you have their interests at heart.
In that case, why wouldn’t Jews have agreed to create a Jewish state somewhere other than their historic ancestral homeland? Why was it so important to them that the homeland be on the site of ancient Israel & not say 5 or 50 or 5,000 Km away in Lebanon or Uganda or wherever? Of course, territory matters. It matters just as much if not more to Israeli Arabs than to Jews since most of them have an even more unbroken link to this specific land than we Jews do since almost all of our families did not live for unbroken generations in Israel.
It is totally disiingenuous to say that if refugees are not returning to their specific physical home in Jaffo or Ramleh or Lod they might as well settle in Ramallah. Israel is quite good at building settlements, it could be equally good at creating new communities for any refugees who return. Not to mention the investment & economic activity that such building would generate to benefit the refugees & Israeli businesses that would profit.
So you believe the hundreds of thousands of Nakhba refugees who still live in camps in Lebanon or wherever are not “real” refugees? What utter narischkeit! Besides, if your father or mine bequeaths the deed to the family home to you or me we possess it in the same way that a refugee bequeaths a claim to a home he was expelled from in 1948. The claim doesn’t end merely because the Haganah or whoever succeeded in expelling them illegally from that home. That is why a just solution to the refugee issue is so critical to ending the conflict.
Again, that’s mighty white of you. The refugees themselves will not accept repatriation to a state they & their families never lived in. They want repatriation to the actual physical place they once lived in even if not necessarily to that particular home they lost. That place is now Israel.
I don’t believe that ALL refugees must return in this fashion. But some must in order for justice to be done.
All of Amir’s bloviating above only shows the continual bad faith he shows to understanding the legitimate demands of both Israeli Arabs and Palestinians in seeking justice. I might add that there are Palestinian militants who show equally bad faith in understanding legitimate Israeli demands for peace & security.
Excuse me, under the two state solutions Jews would be giving up a good part of their historic homeland in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. You’re the one being disingenuous.
They never lived in Israel. And I’m afraid neither the Ottomans nor the British are planning a comeback.
I didn’t say that. What I said is that most people classified as refugees today are not what you call “nakhba” refugees but their decendants. Since the “nakhba” was about 60 years ago, and the life expectancy in Lebanon is 70 years, it is likely that most fleeing Arabs from the “nakba” are no longer alive, at least those that were over 10 years old. Regarding persons with deeds to property in Israel, I think they should be compensated according to the value of their property in 1948 adjusted for inflation. I also think that Jews who left Arab and Muslim countries should be compensated for land and property they left behind.
How is allowing for some refugees to return doing justice to those who are not allowed to return?
Richard said that he had banned me, but my “Testing123” posting got through. I would like to post the following poll result without comment:
“””October 2007: Poll by MarketWatch Research Institute finds great majority of Israelis support conducting permanent status negotiations with the Palestinians.
The poll, commissioned by GI, also finds majority of Israelis support package deal along the lines of the Geneva Accord and favor arriving at a detailed document of understandings at the Annapolis summit.
Poll conducted by MarketWatch Research Institute
Commissioned by Geneva Initiative – October 2007
The survey was conducted on a representative sample of 600 Israelis (including the Russian-speaking and Arab Israeli communities)
Maximum margin of error is ±4.0%
…The return of refugees to the Palestinian state and the limited admission of refugees into Israel based on Israel’s exclusive judgment:
I claimed that a majority of Israelis support the Geneva Initiative which the website you quoted confirmed. I didn’t claim that a majority support a right of return. I’m actually quite pleased that as many as 38% support a limited right of return in this depressing political climate. It’s clear to me that with the prospect of an actual permanent solution at hand (which we are nowhere near at this pt in time) that this number would easily surpass a majority.
“Historic homeland?” Under whose terms? Meir Kahane? The only people who feel any real affinity for retaining the Territories are extremist settlers & other nationalist right wingers. The vast majority of Israelis, if there was a prospect for a real & guaranteed peace would give up any such claim in a heartbeat. Giving up the Territories is not a concession except to you. The Jews historic homeland is Israel within the Green Line. That’s what the world recognizes.
If your father bequeaths you a family home in Italy, where you never lived, are you not entitled to own it? Refugees possessed their homes until 1948. They did not give up a claim to those homes by dispossession. They are entitled to pass their claim on to immediate family as long as they can claim direct kinship to the original owner just as you or I are entitled to pass claim on to our own descendants of our own property.
It doesn’t require that their be Ottoman or British authorities around to recognize the Arab claim. The State of Israel is the immediate governing authority that took over from the Ottomans & British. The claim doesn’t die merely because the government changed hands. Besides, they were expelled by the Israeli government, not the Ottomans or British.
There are hundreds of thousands of immediate refugees who were expelled from Israel AND THEIR IMMEDIATE DESCENDANTS. All of them have legitimate claims as long as the descendants can prove that they inherited the claims from an original inhabitant.
Not the same in most cases. Jews who chose to leave by their own volition should not be compensated. If there is historic proof of violence or other forms of compulsion forced them to leave they should be compensated. Countries like Morocco implored their Jews not to leave. But Israeli emissaries encouraged them to leave & created horrific images of the violence that would occur to them if they didn’t. These Jews deserve no compensation.
It is a general principle that affects not just individuals, but an entire group. There is a collective claim by the entire group that was expelled against the entire State of Israel. Recognizing the claim of a representative group respects the general principle even though it does not fulfill the claim in full physical & absolute fashion for every injured party. That is why financial compensation would become a replacement for physical resettlement within Israel for the rest.
(emphasis added)This is news to me. You couldn’t find a single map or document before 1949 with any reference to the green line. This is historical revisionism at its worst.
As well as Jordan, Egypt (in Gaza) and if Palestine should come to be, Palestine as well with the exception of it not being immediate but with a delay. Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria etc. wishing to return to their homeland will be able to do so to Palestine. Not Israel. Period. If they want peace they should get used to the idea.
More revisionism. Approximately 800,000 Jews from Arab countries left their home of several centuries. Virtually all of them. They did not leave because of a few Israeli emissaries. They left because of centuries of on and off persecution and the consistent relegation to second class status. Several massacres in Arab lands also preceded their emigration (including Morocco). Their land and property were confiscated. It’s true that the late King Mohammed V of Morocco did not encourage the Jewish emigration and even tried to prevent it and is regarded highly by Moroccan Jews, but apparently Moroccan Jews thought it was preferrable to live in the Jewish homeland than as an inferior in a Muslim land. So why should their land be confiscated? If you decided to leave Seatle wouldn’t you expect to be allowed to sell your home and take your savings with you? And the situation was worse in Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Egypt.
Note that this survey was comissioned by a group promoting the Geneva Initiative and the wording is biased and misleading to make it more acceptable to Israeis. The phrase “based on Israel’s judgment” implies that Israel can also decide that according to its judgment zero, 100 or 1,000,000 Palestinians are allowed to “return”. But that’s not what the GI says. It says that Israel will accept a number of refugees based on the average number the third party countries are willing to accept. Purposely vague, in my opinion and a trap to be used against Israel. Also the GI that Israel needs to pay compensation to refugees and to countries such as Syria and Lebanon for housing the refugees until now. That’s rich. The Arabs attack Israel with the purpose of destroying it, urge the Arab civilians to make way for their victorious armies, the majority of Arabs fleeing never saw a Haganah Irgurn or Lehi fighter, Jewish agencies call on the Arabs to stay put, and now Israel has to pay those same Arab nations compensation. Not only does the GI call on Israel to pay refugees for land lost (something I favor in a final settlement) but also compensation for “refugeehood” whatever that means and for whoever that refers to. I don’t see that in the aforementioned poll.
I see that you favor Israel cancelling a full right of return for Jews as well.
Regarding the issue of “historic homeland” if you asked the vast majority of Israelis whether they see Hebron as an equally significant part of their historic homeland as Tel Aviv, you & I both know what the answer would be. So it’s not revisionism at all but cold hard reality which you have such a hard time accepting.
What a pity you aren’t Israel’s chief negotiator. Then we could blame you for the failure of neogitiations & the ensuing bloodshed. Actually, thankfully someone more flexible & responsible than you will be Israel’s negotiator when a real deal is struck. You are the ultimate chutzpan. You think you have the right to tell Palestinians what they will get?? Puh-leeze.
Prove it. But not with propaganda. But rather with reliable sources. Yr claim is entirely specious till I see otherwise. I want to see the 800K number verified. And I want to see the motivation for the emigration verified. I want to see the alleged massacres verified. I want to see the claims of confiscation verified along with numbers of how many people were affected.
You’re implying that all Moroccan Jews emigrated to Israel and you know this is flat out false as many emigrated to France & other countries. That makes yr Zionist argument a wash.
You’re propaganda skills are flagging. You cleary see the Israeli architects of the Geneva Initiative as enemies of Israel if you say that they created a mechanism meant to be “a trap used against Israel.” The very notion is preposterous & shows how completely biased you are & how lacking in credibility yr arguments are.
Talk about revisionist history. Yr spurious recounting of the Nakhba omits the massacres, rapes & destruction of Arab villages by those same Israeli soldiers who you claim most Arab refugees never saw. It omits the fact that Ben Gurion approved of ridding Israel of as many Arabs as it could get away with. And If such Arabs never saw these soldiers then is Benny Morris’ account of the Nakhba wrong? And if you disagree w. Morris, keep in mind you’re disagreeing with a recent convert to yr brand of Israeli nationalist politics who defends the 1948 ethnic cleansing & says there should’ve been more of it.
And yes, Israel along with outside nations will pay these refugees for Israel’s crimes against the Arab refugees. You can’t exile 750,000 people and expect that you will never have a debt to pay for it.
Yes, I favor limiting (but not ending) the Jewish Right of Return as well as the Israeli Arab Right of Return. I don’t believe aliyah should be automatic. I don’t believe it should be draconianly restrictive either. But if you’re going to limit an Arab right to return you must reciprocate in some way on the Jewish side as well.
I think we’ve exhausted this topic & I don’t want to continue this debate beyond your next reply to this. So your next comment will be yr final word in this thread.
That’s a no brainer. If they are over 15 years old they will say Hebron, as long as the word historic is included.
I know, I think so too.
I see. So Israel bashing is that important to you.
No. But I have a right to decide what I am willing to give.
I’m glad to see you have such an interest in Jews from Arab countries. I’m not going to “prove it” because I am not an academic scholar but i will point you in the right direction. Fot easy reading you can start with this editorial by Irwin Cotler: (link can be found in RS spam filter). You may want to read the book “Locked Doors: The Seizure of Jewish Property in Arab Countries ” (link can be found in RS spam filter) or settle for the reviews supplied with Amazon. Or if you want an entire reading list you can checkout BIBLIOGRAPHY OF JEWS FROM ARAB COUNTRIES at (link can be found in RS spam filter)
Most Moroccon Jews left to Israel, though from 1956 to 1963 immigration to Israel was PROHIBITED by Morocco so during this time period most Jews emigrated to France. Between 1963 and 1967 immigration to Israel resumed and once again most Jews immigrated to Israel. After 1967 most Jews leaving Morocco emigrated to the united States (by this time most Jews who wanted to get to Israel had already left and few jews were remaining in Morocco). The fact is that most Jews wanted to leave Morocco because in a Moslem nation they will always have an inferior status.
I never said this and I would never say this. This is the kind of thing that if I were to say about you, you would be demanding an apology. I know you find this hard to believe, but I am capable of disagreeing with someone and still respect them and not doubt their motives. I do believe that the Geneva Initiative is not in Israel’s best interest and that the poll that was linked to is purposely deceitful for propaganda purposes (like many polls are on both sides of the political map). I do not see the GI people as “enemies of Israel.”
I think if you read Morris’ book “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem” you would find that of the villages Morris documents about one/fifth were expelled. One/fifth he doesn’t know and for the remaining three/fifths the inhabitants fled out of fear or because they were ordered to do so by the Arab leadership. Clearly the majority of Arab refugees did not see Jewish fighters when they fled their villages. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be compensated for land they left behind if they can prove ownership. Morris’ book was criticized by people both to the right of him and to the left of him. I certainly am not a judge of his work, but since you brought it up …
BTW, did you know that an Israeli/Hebrew news page on the internet covered the story of the law suit between you and Rachel Neuwirth?
Hebron is as important a part of historic Israel as Tel Aviv?? You’re simply daft & this answer reveals how little you know what an average non-ideological Israeli thinks.
This is prob. the 3rd or 4th time I’ve told you not to engage in such calumny. I deeply resent anyone saying I “bash Israel.” You’re banned until you e mail me saying you think you can refrain from such snark in future.
I don’t bash Israel. I bash Israeli generals and politicians who waste the lives of their young people in hopeless adventures that have no hope of creating a peaceful environment for Israel.
It is not YOU that is giving anything. It is your nation, Israel, that is giving it. And you will be forced to accept what your political leaders agree to when they reluctantly accept a partial right of return for refugees. I hope to see you out there with the extremist settlers blocking traffic & wearing yellow stars to protest a peace agreement that will guarantee safety & security for you & your descendants. That would be fitting.
I said a CREDIBLE source. Not a propagandist like you. Sorry, but not persuasive in the least.
Regarding Moroccan Jewry, again you have provided no proof or evidence to support yr claims. They may have some validity, but I’m simply unwilling to accept them till you can present credible historical authentification.
Regarding your comment about the Geneva Initiative presenting “a trap for Israel.” Anyone who says that a peace proposal presents a trap for Israel either believes the Israelis behind the Initiative created this trap intentionally or unintentionally. If intentionally, then they would be inimical to Israel’s interests. If unintentionally, then they would be dupes. Either way, yr analysis is unflattering & bogus.
That’s an awfullly vague reference. Can you be more specific? I’m assuming you’re talking about Arutz Sheva or one of the other right-wing news sites. At any rate, I’d like to know more about where this appears.