Monday, June 15, 2009

The Point of the Conflict

Should I find the time sometime soon, perhaps I'll try to sum up the issues Netanyahu raised in his speech yesterday, the responses to them, and the significance of them all. Here, however, a quick comment about the Jewish State requirement.

The entire Israel-Palestine conflict stems from the tragic reality of two peoples with legitimate claims to one small land. For the Jews, it's their ancestral homeland. For the Palestinians, it's the land they lived in when they first began developing a national identity. Since neither side is going to relinquish their claim, the only resolution to the conflict will be when both accept that the claims of the other are legitimate, and both accept partition.

If Israel is not allowed to define itself as the homeland of the Jews, what's the purpose of the entire effort? French, Angolan or Argentinian claims to the homeland of the Palestinians would be baseless and illegitimate; the reason the Israeli's claim is legitimate is that they're Jews.


Zionist Juice said...

although there is some difference between a Jewish state (which, with the adjective, sounds like a theocracy) and a Judenstaat/a State of the Jews/homeland of the Jews.
medinat yehudim, and not medinat yehudit.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Who the hell is not allowing Israel to define itself as the homeland of the Jews? That's a canard. The Palestinians have explicitly said that if Israel changes its name to "The Jewish State of Israel," they'll call it by that name. See here.

But what is being asked of the Palestinians is that they define Israel as Jewish. That's clearly unacceptable, even outrageous, and they're absolutely right to reject the demand.

Anonymous said...

"Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf" -- I'm afraid you're not making sense. Do the Palestinians support two states for two peoples, or do they support two Arab states for one Arab people? The two-states-for-two-peoples concept is the entire basis for negotiations and therefore a critical question. No amount of word games will change this fact.

The fact that the Palestinian leadership so quickly rejected the notion that Israel is a state for the Jews (or some variant thereof) at least to this observer seems a very clear demonstration of them negotiating in bad faith, and (as ever) hope to eliminate Jewish sovereignty in the middle east.

A clarifying moment, I'd say. But that's just me.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Indeed, it's just you.

The Palestinians don't reject the notion that Israel is a state for the Jews. They just refuse to be the ones who define Israel as such. They think Israel itself must decide what it wants to be, and once it has made up its mind, they'll accept the decision.

You may want to check an interview with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat published by The Jerusalem Post when this nonsensical demand was first formulated:

Erekat told the Post it was up to Israel to decide what to call itself, and that the Palestinians would recognize it accordingly. "Like the Islamic Republic of Iran," he said, "if you change your name to 'the Jewish state of Israel,' we'll call you that."

What part of this acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state don't you understand?

You may also be interested to learn that sensible Israelis reject Netanyahu's demand. As former Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio Ami Ayalon said in the same JPost story:

"I don't accept any condition for starting dialogue. It's a fact that we are a Jewish and democratic state and it will remain a fact. Any final-status agreement will say this, but making it a precondition is unacceptable."

The Palestinians won't declare that Israel is a Jewish state for the same reason that the US has never declared that the UK is an Anglican state and the Vatican has never stated that Mexico is a church-and-state-separation state.

Maoz said...

My hunch is that the demand for being recognized as a Jewish State stems from the suspicion that the Palestinians intend to eventually carry the conflict into Israel proper and reclaim all of historical Palestine as an Arab state (something akin to what that Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon stated recently in an interview).

"On May 7, the Palestinian government’s ambassador to Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, said on ANB TV, 'With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made - just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward.'"

I originally read the story in Ha'aretz, but I just found it now here:

I don't know if this suspicion is paranoid and unfounded, but I will say that if the Palestinians intend to do this, they're also entirely capable of making hollow, insincere declarations to appease Israel.

For that reason among others, recognition of Israel as a Jewish State is, indeed, silly.

Amin said...

How can "two states for two peoples" be interpreted as one state for the Palestinians and one binational state?

Dimitry Papkov said...

Ibrahim, the call to recognize Israel as Jewish and the Palestinian refusal are not mere semantic quibbling. If it were, the Palestinian side would have said the words and be done with it. But it isn't. Netanyahu said what this exactly means in practical terms -- the refugee issue will be resolved outside Israel's borders. And I would add also -- the end of conflict and the claims when the final status agreement is reached. The Palestinian leadership (with the exception of Sari Nuseibah) had so far refused to budge on these issues, even though they know perfectly well that no Israeli leader (not even one from Meretz, if elected by a stroke from G-d) would agree to the right of return and to the fact that the final agreement would be used a stepping stone, not as an end of conflict. Beilin, for all his delusions, said as much during deliberations on the Geneva accords.

Unknown said...

the palestinians won't accept israel as the state of the jews, because that would be the same as accepting the "refugee" issue (i write refugee in "" because i disagree with the notion, that the descendants of refugees are refugees as well; if that would be so, every human being might portray himself as a refugee since i bet that everybody has ancestors that a t one point in history fled some place on this earth).

@ ibrahim, if that is your real name:
tell, me! can i expect a speech from abbas soon? and when will he commit himself to the two state solution, as two states for two people?

Anonymous said...

Were it not for the particular history and context of this conflict, I would agree that it is not the Palestinians' job to "recognize" Israel as a Jewish state per se. Israel's definition and constitutional structure is up to the Israeli people and subject to Israel's own internal democratic processes.

But alas, history and context are everything. For peace to prevail, both Israelis and Palestinians must recognize not only the existence of the other, but also their legitimacy. The Palestinians' refusal to come out and say that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state is deeply indicative of their failure to come to terms with the legitimate national claims of the Jewish people. It is this same failure to accept the "other" that has led the Palestinians to reject one peace initiative after another.

I'm no fan of Netanyahu, and I am deeply critical of many of the points he made in his speech. He too has failed to take the steps necessary to accept and acknowledge the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people; however, his election came about precisely because of the overwhelming sense among Israelis that despite the tremendous moves they have made to accept Palestinian national existence and the need to compromise, there is no comparable movement on the other side.

Yaacov said...

Philip -

His name isn't Ibrahim. So far as we can know, he isn't an Arab, either. He's a lefty fellow from a small town very far away from the Middle East with an obsession about Israel - an odd but common phenomenon. He's not at all well versed in the issues he blogs about, but seems not embarrassed by this - most uninformed folks aren't.

To his credit, he has a fine sense of humour. Yet his animosities over-ride it.

kai said...

I don't know to whom the Bibi speech was directed. He does definitely not approach the Palestinians (he speaks ABOUT them, not to them).
I think everything he was talking about is correct. However, very little of it is fostering peace with the Palestinians. BUT - had he done differently (say, more Obama-like), the result would still be the same.
Hence - who cares.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

the overwhelming sense among Israelis that despite the tremendous moves they have made to accept Palestinian national existence and the need to compromise, there is no comparable movement on the other side

Another canard.

1) Israel made no move whatsoever to accept Palestinian national existence. Its only moves have been dictated by financial or political logic. Gaza represented a heavy burden on the Israeli budget and no revenue in return. The IDF left Lebanon because its kids got killed on a regular basis.

2) Palestine has made enormous concessions to the Israelis. For instance, Palestine has agreed to give Israel 4 gallons of West Bank water for every gallon the Palestinians themselves use. Nowhere in the world will you find such a generous water agreement, which the World Bank has denounced as unfair to the Palestinians. What has Palestine gotten in return? Checkpoints and more checkpoints, not to defend Israel, but to defend the tens of illegal outposts that Israel allows its fascist settlers to set up every summer.

As you can see, every coin has two sides. An etz and a pali, as my friend Yaakov once taught me.

Zionist Juice said...

@ fellow from a small town aka ابرهيم ابن يوسف ibrahim ibn yusuf

you wrote:
"1) Israel made no move whatsoever to accept Palestinian national existence. Its only moves have been dictated by financial or political logic."

do you recognize, that you contradict yourself? i don't think that it matters much for any palestinian WHY their living standards are improving.

what will happen if a palestinian state will be established with the participation of israel, because it is in the very interest of israel that there will be a palestinian state?
then you will come an proclaim:
"israel did not participate in establishing a palestinian state. they only participated i establishing a palestinian state, because it was in their interest."

Gaza represented a heavy burden on the Israeli budget and no revenue in return. The IDF left Lebanon because its kids got killed on a regular basis."

regarding your coin statment:
yes it is true. every coin has two sides: a right one and a wrong one (that is not from me, but from wingate).

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

I see you don't address my point about water, Zionist Juice.

As regards Gaza, withdrawing from a territory is not the same as accepting a people's national existence. I think it's not that hard to understand.

(Hint: the Gazans are not allowed to collect their own taxes, a right which is part and parcel of national existence, and without which no state can survive.)

Zionist Juice said...

i have better things to do than to spend to much time to correct utter nonsense.
but, 30 seconds for you (regarding you 2)):
you talk about "palestine", which until now does not exist.
then you give the reader the impression that palestinians "agreed" on anything that israel is doing in the west bank.
very funny.
you have no clue, have you?
that is it. there is a khomeini in the room, i have to hunt him down and let him out.

Yaacov said...

Ah, Faux-Ibrahim, as usual you don't have the facts nor do you understand the reality. Not surprising, given your distance (on all levels).

The story about the water is simply wrong. Just last week there was a big conference here at which perhaps the top hydrologist in the country presented a paper with the full array of facts, and hey presto! They're completely not what the media says! Fancy that! He is presently preparing his findings for publication; I assure you I'll detail them once he does (tho I expect the publication may be in Hebrew).

As for recognition, your position is factually challenged in the extreme. Go read the relevant speeches of Yitzchak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert, and even Binyamin Netanyahu; after you've done so, tell us what light you can find between what they said and between Obama's Cairo speech, unless it be that the Israelis related to the Palestinians in a more direct way. Once you've finished with that, find us one case (ONE) where a Palestinian leader addressed the the right of the Jews for a homeland in the land of their origins or any other such formulation. Though I suggest you don't work too hard at it, because you won't find. After you don't find, go read the books of the various American negotiators from the Clinton era, and come back and tell us what they have to say on the matter.

Ah, and once you've finished all that, I'll give you additional homework that will relate to the electorates, rather than the leaders.

Then again, perhaps you ought not waste your time. Go write a blog about the economics of Soybeans and their connection to football. Or some other topic you know something about. I assure you: your insistance on writing about things you know almost nothing about really is embarassing.

Anonymous said...

Yaacov -

I am really looking forward to that hydrology report. Please don't get too busy to post the link for it. Hebrew is ok by me.

"find us one case (ONE) where a Palestinian leader addressed the the right of the Jews for a homeland in the land of their origins or any other such formulation."

Would you count Sari Nusseibah?


Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

While the Israeli specialist writes his paper, let's quote from the World Bank report:

Palestinians abstract about 20% of the “estimated potential” of the aquifers that underlie both the West Bank and Israel. Israel abstracts the balance, and in addition overdraws without JWC approval on the “estimated potential” by more than 50%, up to 1.8 times its share under Oslo. Over-extraction by deep wells combined with reduced recharge has created risks for the aquifers and a decline in water available to Palestinians through shallower wells.

Yaacov said...

Nusseibah comes about as close as possible, and is the exception that proves the rule. He's the only likely candidate. So far as one knowes, his political or cultural wieght among the Palestinians is, at best, negligable.

Zionist Juice said...

@ ibrahim

concering water, check this out: