The Palestinians and Israelis are yet to engage in peace discussions.
On the Israeli side all negotiations have effectively been about finding a compromise between the Israeli right and the Israeli left over the extent of the sovereignty to be conceded to the various Palestinian refugee camps, villages, and cities controlled by the Israeli Army.
The US has traditionally accepted that the peace process is exclusively an Israeli issue, something to be negotiated between the right and left of Israel. In this view, Palestinians are peripheral in these negotiations and should at the very least accept in advance the Israeli left's proposals uncompromized by the views of the Israeli right.
Daily Kos is a place where a genuine Palestinian and Israeli conversation is emerging, shielded by a progressive environment. To Palestinians and their friends Daily Kos is emerging as a place to present a Palestinian view to a wide audience, to engage in conversation with progressive friends of Israel, and to hope that some of our ideas, cries, and wailings will reach people closer than us to the Obama administration.
This, however, motivates a nascent and ongoing campaign of vilification against the forum and its participants.
To some the very notion of a Palestinian perspective, a Palestinian voice, is dangerous.
To a few it is so dangerous that it warrants an external as well as an internal campaign of vilification against the Daily Kos forum. According to this campaign, DailyKos is emerging as an uncomfortable forum for Jews and unwelcoming of Jews. According to this campaign DailyKos is emerging as a forum for haters of Israel. According to this campaign DailyKos is driving Jews away from the Democratic Party. According to this campaign Obama will lose the 2012 elections because of the dominance of Israel haters on DailyKos.
According to the campaign administrators overseeing the Israeli Palestinian conversation here want to see Israel destroyed and are contributing to the erosion of the traditional Jewish support for the Democratic Party.
Of course, all of this is nonsense. Daily Kos nurtures a progressive environment where unmitigated leftist discourse is welcomed.
The truth in fact is that the presence of the very slight Palestinian advocacy in this environment scares some to the core. It seems to me that nothing scares these people more than the articulation of Palestinian concerns, which do not conform to the small spectrum of views held by Israel's leftist and rightist parties. This small spectrum ranges from defining borders based on demographic exigency around the refugee camps and cities and giving the new entity a measure of sovereignty, or even full sovereignty, to allowing for a local administration of some Palestinian population centres, creating Palestinian Bantustans. Moderation in this setting involves the Israeli left making some concessions to meet the concerns for security of the Israeli right and the Israeli right meeting the Israeli left halfway in addressing demographic concerns.
On the Palestinian side, the dominant issue is civil rights. Most Palestinians live in areas controlled by Israel without a modicum of civil rights. They are registered as residents of Eretz Yisrael (Israel and Palestine) but are not afforded any of the extensive rights afforded to Israeli citizens, who in many cases are their Jewish neighbours.
In this struggle for civil rights the dominant Palestinian issue is the individual right of return of refugees to their homes. It is not local authority or sovereignty within and around refugee camps. Amongst the Palestinians the return of the refugees is fundamental. It is not an issue generated or actively promoted by any real leadership-Palestinians have no effective institutions to do this. It is a pervasive individual demand. Both Intifadas were right of return intifadas. It is the ideological driving force of hostility between the Palestinian population and the various western funded mercenaries like the Dahlan Palestinian militias.
The demand for the individual right of return of refugees to their homes cannot be ignored. It is regularly heard here on Daily Kos because it is the central Palestinian concern.
It confronted the late Yasser Arafat who rendered himself helpless at Camp David by accepting to restrict himself to discussing the peace process from an Israeli perspective: rough boundaries around refugee camps and certain towns. Indeed around the time of the Camp David meetings Arafat and his cohorts faced an existential crises when Laila Khaled expressed a desire to return home to Haifa. This existential threat is now being realized and it is likely that Fateh will not survive the present crises and will not be forgiven for a leadership that ignored the right of return.
Recently, it confronted Mustapha Barghouti. He is a signatory to the Geneva Accords, which articulate the Israeli left's position in its debate with the Israeli right. His inability and unwillingness to give a coherent view on the right of return has rendered him completely irrelevant: a popular joke in Palestine.
It confronted, according to a narrative in Haifa, my very own Israeli Communist Party when in the early 1950's the Palestinian members at a meeting in Haifa demanded the return of the recently transferred refugees. The demand was rejected by the leadership who could not fathom reversing the "miraculous clearing of the land" of the Arab citizens of Palestine. It recently confronted Meretz in the US who are regularly surprised that their Palestinian counterparts, Palestinian peace activists, insist on discussing the right of return.
Daily Kos is emerging as a place were discourse with the bearers of the Palestinian refugee narrative can happen.
Let's not shut this down.
Let's recognize the campaign against the Daily Kos Israel-Palestine community for what it is: a rightwing campaign aimed at silencing Palestinians and their friends.
Let's deal with this campaign in the same way that we deal with other right wing campaigns that worm their way into this forum.