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View Diary: A Liberal Conundrum (20 comments)

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  •  Unfortunately your vagueness on the historical (2+ / 0-)
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    Urizen, quill

    origins of Israel is at the heart of profound errors of judgement by Israelis and Palestinians. Human beings are deeply wired for a sense of justice - which is not the same as narrow legalistic interpretations of law.

    The boundaries of most of the Middle East came out of the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement drawn up by the British and French in the middle of World War I and anticipation of rolling back Ottoman rule in that part of the world. The British and French ended up with League of Nations mandates over these new nation states, submitting reports each year (at least the British did) on the progress of these territories towards full independence and democracy.

    During the war period Zionists in the British Government (notably Herbert Samuel) saw the opportunity presented by the potential acquisition of historical Palestine by the British to call for the creation of a Jewish homeland in the historical territory of Israel. An earlier 1906 conversation between Chaim Weizmann and Arthur Balfour, where the British were offering land in Uganda for a Jewish Homeland contained this famous exchange:

    Mr. Balfour, supposing I was to offer you Paris instead of London, would you take it?" He sat up, looked at me, and answered: "But Dr. Weizmann, we have London." "That is true," I said, "but we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh."
    The result was the Balfour Declaration that effectively declared the major power of the day was going to support the emergence of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

    Americans may have next to no recollection of the crucial period from the creation of Palestine to the creation of Israel, but everyone in the area has their keenly felt version of the story. This includes Israelis who like to "remember" that the Arab neighbours of Jews simply fled the territory in 1948 - expecting to come back with victorious Arab armies. The reality was much different (including the outcome of course!) and the 1948 partition was really a consequence of the impossibility of reconciling a Jewish dominated homeland with a Palestinian dominated territory. Chaim Weizmann became the first President of Israel but he decried the descent into terrorism by groups such as Irgun, foreshadowing the hard-line position against Arabs that is the hallmark of right wing politics in Israel and the US.

    Don't get me wrong - on balance I think the emergence of the State of Israel was a good thing for Jews, the region and the world. But nothing good can be built on deliberate distortions of history and utter refusal to recognize the dignity of others. I don't think there can be a perfectly just solution to the "twice promised land" as the British realised. But there are clearly more just outcomes than the current approach by the Israeli government to corral Palestinians into non-viable "bantustans" in the West Bank or Gaza. The only solution that makes sense given the history is a basic reversion to the 1967 boundaries and the emergence of a viable Palestinian state. Liberal supporters of Israel should be pushing hard for such a solution.  

    •  Thank you for adding some detail and clarification (0+ / 0-)

      I did not go into the details of the Balfour declaration and what followed, and perhaps should have.  And there is much more detail left unsaid here.  The broader conclusion remains the same:  The current mess arises not just from tribal animus, but from a series of decisions made by imperial powers competing over all the stuff empires compete for, while using and discarding the local inhabitants at will.  Western policy in the region, especially through two world wars, entailed repeated cycles of alliance and betrayal of the various communities there, both Arab and Jewish.

      I agree that a viable Palestinian state is essential to any hope of a solution.  Nothing in my piece suggests otherwise.  I am only suggesting that abandoning Israel is not a solution that is either acceptable or viable.

      The Wanderer, from somewhere over the Pacific...

      by Wanderer1961 on Sat May 18, 2013 at 03:06:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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