The day after 'Nakba Day'

Those surveying history must conclude that there is no solution other than compromise.

blindfolded pals 88 (photo credit: )
blindfolded pals 88
(photo credit: )
For many in the media the words "justice" and "Zionism" seldom go together. The world prefers to think about the "justice" that needs to be done for the Palestinians. Granted, the Palestinians are deserving of self-determination in a political entity of their own and to live in a free and democratic society, even if most of them have opted for rule by a fanatical, anti-democratic and racist movement. But on this, the day after what the Palestinians call Nakba Day (when they mark the catastrophe of the creation of Israel), we should not forget that the Palestinians' suffering has been caused by their own leadership, the Arab countries, and, in particular, because so many of them continue to cling to the futile idea of destroying Israel. True, the Israeli-Palestinian case is sui generis, with the occupied denying the right of the occupier to even exist, and the occupier feeling that it is a threatened minority and the occupied part of the threatening majority. This is a situation unparalleled anywhere. Those surveying the history of Eretz Yisrael and of the two nations living in it must conclude that there is no solution other than compromise - that is, to divide the land between the two peoples that view it as their homeland. The Zionist national movement agreed to this division, with the exception of the period when it became drunk with its ostensible power following the Six Day War. The Zionist movement in 1947 was prepared, and today's State of Israel is prepared to make this compromise. The Palestinian national movement, on the other hand, has not agreed to any such compromise. It did not agree to it in 1947, and it does not agree to it today. It is not a question of borders, or of drawing the line dividing the two states; rather of the very principle of two states for two peoples. IT IS A historic crime that the Palestinian leadership did not agree to this concept in the debates that preceded the United Nations resolution regarding partition, which came in the wake of the recommendations made by the majority in the special committee established by the United Nations General Assembly. Few recall that this Palestinian leadership opposed not only the majority view, which favored partition into two states, but even that of the pro-Arab minority in that committee. The minority view proposed the establishment of a single federative state having two cantons, Jewish and Arab; the independence of the Jewish canton would be more limited and matters of immigration - the existential matter that the Jews fought for - would be removed from its authority. With the minority proposal it would not have been possible to save the majority of displaced Jews, Holocaust survivors, from their shameful existence in DP camps on German soil. The recommendations of the pro-Arab minority nevertheless recognized the existence of a Jewish national entity, and it was this idea that was anathema to the Palestinian leadership and Arab countries. That is why they opposed both the minority and majority recommendations in the committee. Most of the delegates to the UN General Assembly took a negative view of this recalcitrant and extreme position, as well as of the leadership of the Nazi mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini. Had the mufti had his way, the Jewish population of Eretz Yisrael/Palestine would also have been exterminated in death camps - a small addition of 10 percent to the number of Jews murdered by his Nazi partners. FROM THE moment the decision in favor of partition was made, the Palestinian Arabs and Arab nations rose up against the Palestinian Jews. Instead of accepting the compromise decided upon by the supreme international organization, which also had the authority to decide on the future of the areas under the Mandate of the League of Nations, the Arab countries made a declaration of war and began to plan their invasion of the Jewish state by regular Arab armies and a Palestinian Arab army led by the mufti. There had been no more terrible, hostile invasion since the Nazi invasion than that of the Arab forces into the territory whose fate had been determined by the UN. Yet it did not succeed. The small, barely armed Jewish population succeeded in repelling the invading armies at a terrible cost in human life. It is true that in this war, which we remember on Israel Independence Day along with its victims, terrible things were done, and Arab residents were also driven out of their homes and villages - alongside the masses that left of their own free will, following the advice of their leaders in the hope that they would soon return as victors. But where justice is concerned, we must not forget that if the Palestinian Arab leadership and Arab countries had accepted the United Nations' compromise resolution, the Palestinian people would have been saved much suffering, and justice could have been done to both peoples. Similarly, we must remember that if the Arab countries had treated the Palestinian refugees who came to their countries as human beings rather than as bargaining chips, the refugees would have been saved considerable suffering and deprivation. WHERE DOES this Arab refusal come from? It comes from the same argument that the president of Iran is now making - that the Jews are not a people, and therefore not entitled to a state; and that the Middle East is Muslim and has no place for a state that is not Muslim. The majority in the UN General Assembly became convinced of the justice of the Zionist claim: that a persecuted nation was entitled to a homeland, that the establishment of a Jewish state would prevent further Jewish suffering, that the Palestinians could enjoy self-determination in a state of their own where they would be protected from becoming a minority, and that there was no other place in the world for Jewish independence than the Land of Israel. That is the justice of the Zionist cause. It remains far stronger than any pro-Arab claim. The writer is president of the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya.