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Two Nations, One Land, No Solution to the Problem Except Compromise

May 18, 2006 By:
Amnon Rubinstein
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For many in the international 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 as Palestinians mark "Al Nakba" this week (on May 15, the day they recall the "catastrophe" of the creation of Israel), we should not forget that the Palestinians' suffering has been caused by their own leadership, by Arab countries, and especially because so many 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 the land of Israel and of the two nations living in it must conclude that there's no solution but compromise - that is, to divide the land between two peoples that view it as theirs.

The Zionist national movement agreed to this division, with the exception of the period when it became drunk with ostensible power following the Six-Day War. The Zionist movement in 1947 was prepared, and today's State of Israel is also prepared to make the compromise.

The Palestinian national movement, on the other hand, has not agreed to any such thing. 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.

Most delegates to the U.N. General Assembly in 1947 took a negative view of the Arabs' extreme position, as well as of the leadership of the Palestinian's leader, the Nazi mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini. Had the mufti had his way, the Jewish population of Israel/Palestine would have also been exterminated in death camps.

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 compromise. 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 U.N. 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, terrible things were done. But where justice is concerned, we must not forget that if the Palestinian Arab leadership and Arab countries had accepted the United Nations' compromise, the Palestinians would have been saved much suffering, and justice could have been done to both peoples.

Similarly, had the Arab countries treated the Palestinians who came to their countries as human beings rather than 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 Zionist claim was 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, 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. And it remains far stronger than any pro-Arab claim.

Amnon Rubinstein is a former member of Israel's Cabinet. He is currently president of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

 

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