When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable,
must be the truth.
– Sherlock Holmes in This Sign of the Four
been much talk in Palestine about emigration, especially among the young
people...in search of a better life abroad. Many are continuing to rush
to the gates of the embassies and consulates... with requests for visas in order
to reside permanently in those countries.
– the PA’s mufti of Jerusalem,
My past two columns, focusing on the authenticity (or lack thereof) of the
Palestinian’s national identity following Newt Gingrich’s characterization of
them as an “invented people,” generated a brisk public exchange.
questions were raised and reservations expressed as to the various aspects of
the operational program I proposed, especially regarding the prospects of
The proposal had three interlocking
components: • Ending discriminatory treatment of the Palestinian refugees by
abolishing the UN’s Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), or bringing it into line
with international practice for all other refugees on the face of the
• Ending discrimination against Palestinians in the Arab world and
abolishing the prohibition on their acquisition of the citizenship of the
countries in which they have been resident for decades.
generous relocation finance directly to Palestinian breadwinners resident across
the 1967 Green Line, to allow them to build better futures for themselves and
their families in foreign countries of their choice.
Some readers, even
those who commended the proposal, were skeptical. For example, one talk-backer
remarked, “It’s a nonstarter, for the simple reason that no Arab state would
agree to it.”
This comment, entirely correct factually, is equally
irrelevant strategically and reflects a common misunderstanding of the proposal
which it is important to dispel.
For – as I hope will become clear later
– the agreement of Arab states – or indeed of any Arab collective – is totally
immaterial to the implementation of the proposal. But
first...Eliminating the ‘impossible’
In establishing what is
“impossible,” it is crucial to define one’s point-of-departure.
terms of policy decisions, what is admissible given one point-of-departure, may
well be unacceptable given another.
Thus, if the conceptual
point-of-departure is the imperative to preserve Israel as the nation-state of
the Jews, policy choices that entail forgoing this aspiration would be deemed
“impossible” to accept.
Accordingly, proposals whose rationale is that
the Israel-Palestinian conflict could be resolved by transforming Israel into a
multi-ethnic state-of-all-it-citizens would be unacceptable on a conceptual
level – quite apart from the fact that they would be unworkable on a practical
Likewise, proposals that suggest a resolution could be arrived at by
reducing Israel to unsustainable territorial dimensions which, as Shimon Peres
once remarked, “would create a compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all
sides” must also be deemed “impossible.”
After all, Israel cannot be
preserved as functioning nation-state if its metropolis is exposed to ongoing
Sderot-like bombardment by alleged “renegades.”
Indeed, even the palpable
threat of primitive rockets fired on the country’s only international airport,
congested highways, major ports and rail links, not to mention 80 percent of the
population and commercial activity, would make the maintenance of socioeconomic
routine impossible, or at least highly improbable.Recognizing ‘whatever
So if territorial concessions entailed in a two-state approach would
make the Jewish nation-state untenable in terms of security, and if absorbing a
large Muslim population entailed in a one-state solution would make the Jewish
state untenable in terms of demography, “whatever remains – however improbable”
– must be the only alternative.
Since the geography is immutable, the
focus must be on the demography.
It is thus no more than “elementary”
that the long-term preservation of the Jewish state must involve the relocation
of the non-Israeli Arabs between the river and the sea. Any other option is
self-deluded wishful thinking – or at least the burden of proof to show
otherwise is on the proponents of such an option, especially in view of the
It is either hopelessly myopic
or hypocritically malevolent to profess support of a Jewish state and then
advocate policy that makes its long-term survival impossible, or at least highly
implausible. Note that there is nothing remotely “racist” in this purely
“Holmesian” deductive process, unless the very notion of a Jewish nation-state
is considered racist, something which itself is the epitome of
For as Chaim Herzog, the late president of the state, once
pointed out: “To question the Jewish people’s right to national existence and
freedom is... to deny to the Jewish people the right accorded to every other
people on this globe.”Is the ‘improbable’ really improbable?
principle there are two way to effect such relocation – coercively or
In the proposed alternative, coercive options are
rejected for a variety of moral and practical reasons and a noncoercive approach
is adopted, with economic inducements to enable Palestinian breadwinners to seek
a better future for themselves and their families elsewhere.
that this is unfeasible is to fly in the face of facts. It is to ignore the fact
that the number of international migrants today is approaching a quarter of a
billion, and is growing rapidly. Although this is partially a byproduct of wars,
political conflicts and natural disasters, it is predominantly motivated by
economics. It would be absurd to suggest the Palestinians are immune to such
Indeed, to make such a claim is to ignore compelling
evidence – both anecdotal and statistical – that a desire to seek a better life
elsewhere is widespread among the Palestinians, even without the availability of
generous relocation grants, as both the above citation from the Palestinian
Authority’s mufti of Jerusalem suggests and as numerous opinion polls indicate.
It would highly implausible to hold that the perception of tangible and credible
prospects for a better life would not greatly enhance this
desire.Rejecting intellectual surrender
Some claim that a sense of
national pride would override the desire to accept material gain as an
inducement to emigrate.
In the case of the Palestinians, this claim would
be extremely tenuous. For as has been amply demonstrated recently, is there no
basis for the claim of the Arabs of Palestine to genuine history of nationhood.
But more important, and more policy-pertinent, the claim is as much a prevailing
political pretext as it is a historical hoax.
Sadly, this has not been
grasped by many, including several prominent pro-Israeli pundits such as Elliott
Abrams, who recently said: “There was no Jordan or Syria or Iraq... so perhaps
[Gingrich] would say they are all invented people as well and also have no right
to statehood. Whatever was true then, Palestinian nationalism has grown since
1948, and whether we like it or not, it exists.”
With all due respect, I
There is no obligation to accept the fabrications of
adversaries merely because they are insistent.
Indeed, it is neither
pragmatic nor progressive to acknowledge “Palestinian nationalism.”
the contrary, it reflects either inordinate credulity or complicity in
Acceptance of Palestinian nationality is a symptom
of either intellectual fatigue or intellectual laziness that has sapped the will
to resist this pernicious ruse.
As such, it reflects intellectual
surrender and an abject admission of the inability to oppose political duplicity
– openly conceded by the Arabs.Why Palestinians are different
Palestinians are qualitatively different from other new “nations” that emerged
from the breakup up of empire. There are the only collective whose manifest
raison d’etre is the not the establishment of their own political independence
but the denial of that of others. As such they can more appropriately deemed an
“anti-nation” rather than a “nation.
The fact that Palestinians have
shown they are capable of cohesive action against another collective does not
prove they are a nation. Virtually their entire collective effort has been
directed at an attempt to annul the expression of Jewish sovereignty rather than
assert their own. Indeed, were they to achieve that goal, the entire point of
their distinct collective identity, which hitherto has only been maintained by
exogenous factors – international naiveté and Arab coercion – would be
This lack of endogenous national drive explains their
monumental failure at statebuilding.
For almost two decades after the
Oslo Accords – despite massive financial aid and political support – they have
produced nothing but a deeply divided entity, crippled by corruption and
The result is a dysfunctional polity unable to conduct even the
semblance of timely elections, and a puny economy, comprising a minuscule
private sector and a bloated public one, totally unsustainable without massive
infusions of foreign funds.Failing the test of history
meaningful aspect, the Palestinians claim to statehood has failed the test of
history, as has the two-state principle.
This in itself should be no
cause for celebration by its opponents. For while I find myself in total
disagreement with virtually all of Jerusalem Post columnist Gershon Baskin’s
positions, his latest opinion piece raises a question of great relevance and
urgency which his ideological adversaries will ignore at great
Baskin asks, “What now? What happens when there really is no
longer a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?” and warns, “We
better start coming up with answers because we are almost there.”
is right in his analysis and right to demand answers. For such a scenario may
indeed be upon us, with little warning.
The PA could well implode when
the fraudulent façade of Fayyadism – with disposable income reportedly almost
double GDP – grinds to an inevitable halt; it might collapse if foreign funding
is curtailed because a Hamas-dominated administration emerges from the
conciliation talks; or it might dissolve itself, unwilling to face public wrath
at its inability to deliver promised goods.Depoliticizing and atomizing
If the two-state solution is nearing extinction as a viable option and the
“one-state-of- all-its-residents-between-the-river-and-the- sea” principle is
unacceptable, what remains? Israel must gear itself to deal with this emerging
Fortunately, once the inauthenticity of Palestinian nationality
is acknowledged, the answer is “elementary.”
It lies a shifting the focus
from the Palestinian collective to the Palestinian individual, from the
political to the humanitarian, from an endeavor to solve the problem to an
endeavor to dissolve (i.e. disperse) it.
context (by underscoring the humanitarian issues) and atomizing the
implementation (by engaging individual breadwinners) provide two significant
It renders the question of “who will accept them”
It does not require the agreement of any Arab state to effect
implementation. Since the envisaged compensation will be large enough to allow
recipients to comply with immigration criteria in numerous countries – not
necessarily Arab or Muslim – and since they would be coming as adequately funded
private individuals, what would be the possible basis for refusal of entry –
other than ethnic discrimination? And if they were refused entry despite their
desire to seek a better future, on the grounds that would undermine the
prospects of a Palestinian state, would this not further confirm that
Palestinian nationality can only be sustained by artificial constraints?
Likewise, the provision of relocation finance is a measure that can be
implemented unilaterally by Israel and requires no agreement or approval of any
Arab country/collective. All that it requires is for the individually needy to
Clearly, steps would have to be taken by Israel to prevent
reprisals against recipients by their kinfolk, but would not politically
motivated fratricide against Palestinians seeking to improve their lives again
demonstrate that Palestinian nationality is artificially imposed rather than
naturally desired? And how would that fratricide be portrayed as more morally
justified than Israeli largesse in helping Palestinians extricate themselves
from their socioeconomic predicament? ‘Elementary, my dear Israel’
have exhausted the generous word quota assigned by the editor, many questions
remain without the answers I owe my readers. Accordingly, and because the
Palestinian issue and alternatives to the two-state principle constitute what is
arguably the most crucial issue on the national agenda, I will devote one more
article next week to address further aspects of this humanitarian alternative,
its economic feasibility and political acceptability, and endeavor to
demonstrate that the response from Sherlock Holmes would be “Elementary, my dear