Click below for David’s latest response. I’ll give him the last word.
I don’t think the “crux of our disagreement comes down to historical issues” as you stated. Indeed I’ve grown up with the “Zionist narrative”, but I’m not blind to the Palestinian narrative. I acknowledge and sympathize with the depth of the Palestinian Nakba and all the events that led up to the establishment of the state of Israel and its aftermath. Furthermore, I acknowledge that the Jews contributed to the Nakba tragedy.
But your entire perspective of the conflict today is through the prism of the Palestinian Nakba. While you acknowledge the “Jewish people have maintained a centuries-old attachment to this land”, you don’t express any identification with the tragic history of the Jewish people, culminating in the Holocaust, and in the desperate need to establish an independent Jewish state during that period. Prior to the war, no country would accept the Jews seeking to flee Europe before it was too late. Even after the war, the British severely limited the Jewish refugees seeking to start a new life. After the creation of the state, nearly 1 million Jews from Arab countries fled their native homes (many forcibly, others due to increased persecution), most of whom found refuge in Israel.
So for me, there is no question that the establishment of Israel was not only the realization of the historic aspiration for the Jewish people to return to their homeland, but an historic imperative given the dire circumstances of the Jewish people at this time. The fact that the creation of the Jewish state was in conflict with the aspirations of the Palestinians and against the desire of neighboring Arab states does not delegitimize it.
Since the creation of the state, Israel has had some success in coming to peaceful terms with its Arab neighbors, Egypt and Jordan. But the situation today with the Palestinians is indeed a test for Israel’s morals and values. On one hand, most Israelis want Israel to remain a democratic Jewish state and avoid the nightmare of becoming an apartheid state. On the other hand, Israelis fear the nightmare of a hostile terrorist state in the West Bank and Gaza. Nonetheless, Israel is facing its fears and realizes a 2-state solution is the only option for a better future for both Jews and Palestinians.
The Palestinians have not been able to accept past Israeli proposals for a 2-state solution. Nonetheless, Israel must make every effort to strengthen moderate Palestinian leadership, stop Jewish settlement in the territories, and remove unnecessary security restrictions, etc. In this area, I indeed join in your criticism of current and past Israeli policy. Israel must be creative in its thinking, and open to difficult compromises, even in the area of Jerusalem. However the Palestinians must also make painful compromises, such as the Palestinian “right-of-return”, as no Israeli government would accept this as it would dissolve the Jewish character of the state.
Brant, in one of your responses that you wrote:
If this question can be sufficiently addressed through the peace process, culminating in a true and viable two-state solution then I would unabashedly support a two-state solution. If a two-state solution becomes impossible, forcing a choice between an apartheid state ruled by a Jewish minority over a Palestinian majority or one secular democratic state of all its citizens, I would unabashedly choose the latter.
The notion of “one secular democratic state for all its citizens” has been used for decades by Israel detractors and by Palestinian terror organizations. This is basically a call for the end of a Jewish state. I honestly hope this was not your intention.
The reason for not achieving a 2-state solution up until now can’t be blamed solely on Israel. Although the Palestinian Authority supports the notion of a 2-state solution, Hamas is ideologically committed to continuing the conflict with Israel and is not looking for compromise, coexistence, or peaceful borders with Israel. Read the deep hatred toward Israel in Ashley Bates’ interview with Jamila Al-Shanti, a member of the Palestinian parliament in the Hamas government:
Do you support a two-state solution?
No. I will never allow two states. No way. This is my land. They should go away. But we have another tactical approach that we would accept a state on 1967 borders with the capital of Jerusalem for a temporary period until the whole issue has been solved. The Israelis should know that I cannot recognize a state for them. The next generations will come to fight and kill them.
Brant, you stated that you don’t think anyone can legitimately deny the Jewish claim to Israel as its ancestral homeland. This is certainly the view of Hamas, and I believe this is the prevalent view among Palestinians, and this was my point in referring to Saul Singer article “Stop Palestinian denial of Jewish peoplehood” in my previous letter.
So to conclude my response and our open dialogue, I want to say that although I can agree with many of your criticisms of Israeli policy and human rights issues regarding the Palestinians, it rings unfair and unbalanced in light of your lack of criticism of the Palestinian side, and little sympathy of the Israeli Jewish position. It is not surprising some readers of your blog consider you an “Israel basher”.
Today the Jewish State of Israel is a fact and is our national homeland. Israel is central to the Jewish world, and nearly half of world Jewry lives in Israel. In our short history, we’ve built a modern country, and absorbed millions of Jews from around the world. The Nakba is also sadly a fact, and peace with the Palestinians still eludes us. We must continue to strive to keep our high moral values and help the Palestinians realize their dream, while continuing to realize our dream of a Jewish state.