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Redesigning the Peace Process

Ignoring cultural difference and overestimating politics has left us without a resolution. We can do better.

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(Photoillustration Tablet Magazine; original photos Shutterstock and Wikimedia Commons)

By constantly reinforcing a Palestinian sense of grievance against Israel, activists like the late Rachel Corrie, journalists like BBC’s Jeremy Bowen and CNN’s Ben Wedeman, and Israel-obsessed organizations like Human Rights Watch have unwittingly contributed to the very war that rages. And as a result of this consensus, Israel appears to most in the West as a terrible oppressor when the sad but redeeming truth is that the Israelis are the best enemies one could hope for, and they face the worst.

Nothing illustrates the cultural gap between Israel and Palestine better—and offers a more immediate and constructive way out—than the problem of Palestinian refugees. They are the symbol of Arab political priorities. When faced with the catastrophic humiliation of 1948, when the combined Arab nations, fully confident of a glorious victory, failed to destroy the upstart Jewish nation in the heart of the Muslim world, the Arab leadership unanimously chose to herd Arab refugees into prison camps so that they could serve as a symbol of Israeli crimes and a breeding ground or the counter-attack.

For over 60 years, Arab leaders have blocked any efforts to remove these people from these wretched camps because to do so would be a tacit acceptance of Israel’s permanence and would acknowledge the humiliating defeat. (By contrast, Israel rapidly moved the even larger number of Jews chased from the Arab world in 1948 out of their refugee camps.) The Arabs thus went from a zero-sum loss (the establishment of Israel) to a negative-sum solution: sacrifice your own people on the altar of your lost honor. No negotiations, no recognition, no peace.

Not only do Palestinian negotiators insist on the return of 5 million refugees to Israel (it was one of two key deal-breakers at Camp David), but the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon recently explained that Palestinian refugees not residing in the future Palestine would not be citizens in that state. In other words, Palestinian refugees still captive in camps in Lebanon and Syria and Jordan only have a right to citizenship in Israel.

So, here’s my proposal to those who somehow feel we must revive the peace process now, before it’s too late. Call for the Palestinians to show their good intentions, not toward the Israelis, but toward their own people. Get those “refugees” out of the prison camps into which they have been so shamefully consigned for most of a century.

Begin at home, with the over 100,000 refugees in Territory A, under complete PA control. Bring in Habitat for Humanity and Jimmy Carter to help them build decent, affordable, new homes. Let us all participate in turning the powers of Palestinian ingenuity away from manufacturing hatred, fomenting violence, and building villas for the rich and powerful, while the refugees live in squalor as a showcase of Israeli cruelty, and start to do good for a people victimized by their own leadership.

To take this position, so aligned with progressive values, however, we would have to confront two obstacles. First, overcoming our immense reluctance to criticize and make demands on the Palestinians. That would also mean we’d also have to renounce the impulse to attack as racists or Islamophobes those making the demands. We also have to consider, especially true for journalists in the field, the possibility that we’re intimidated, afraid to criticize people with so prickly a collective ego. Second, it would mean overcoming the widespread hunger for stories of “Jews behaving badly.” After all, if it weren’t for the appetite for moral Schadenfreude, the whole idea of pinning the miserable fate of the Palestinian refugees on Israel rather than on their Arab jailors would never have taken hold in the first place.

***

Such introspection and self-criticism can be a little like chewing glass, but I can think of no more important communal task this Yom Kippur.

How often have I gone overboard, how often have I accepted a lethal narrative in order to save face with my friends who expect me to rise above being an “Israel-firster”? How often have I admitted to crimes on behalf of my people without checking to see if they were accurate? How often have I failed to speak out against the depravity of the Palestinian leadership, out of fear of being called an Islamophobe? In the answers to those questions lies the path to a real peace in this troubled, blessed land.

Do we outsiders who say we want peace want it badly enough to confront our own comfort zones? Let’s hope. Those Palestinians and Israelis who are ready to live in a win-win world depend on it.

***

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happyandproud says:

This is an excellent article outlining practical ideas that have been circulating for years. Is anyone listening?

Eliezer Ramon says:

If I may , an excellent analysis/portrayal of a very complicated issue.
Thank you Prof. Landes (@ Many Happy Years !!! )

Prof. Landes provides a once again simplistic overview. Negotiation, between any parties, for any reason, depend on there being a middle ground that both/all may agree upon. Israel has shown a consistant desire for compromise. In 1999-2000, Ehud Barak offered Arafat and the PLO all that could be given. You all know that turned out. The Palestinians want Israel gone and the Jews dead. There is no one to negotiate with!

PhillipNagle says:

The arabs will be satisfied only with a total surrender by Israel. Until the Israel recognizes the fact that this is a fight to the death, acknowledged by the arabs in their internal statements, there will be no peace.

David Cooper says:

An understanding of Palestinian Arab culture must include its provincial village and kinship based sense of identity. For countless generations Palestinian villagers have married their first cousins and had little to do with anyone outside their native villages. Resettling the 100,000 refugees in area A would mean creating Palestinian settlements each of which would correspond to and resettle the former inhabitants of particular villages that once and in many if not most cases no longer exist in Israel proper on land the PA would have to confiscate from existing West Bank villages who are also provincial and xenophobic. The provincial/cosmopolitan cultural divide is no less important than religious ones.

Beatrix17 says:

Yes, the conservatives.

Beatrix17 says:

Tablet keeps showing my
words as spokesperson for Republican Jews. Actually, I’m Moderate
Independent ( voted for Hillary in the Primary, McCain In the
election). I’m voting for Romney, but I’m on Social Security and so
there are times I’ve leaned toward Obama though I think he’s doing a
poor job.

It’s not my only issue,
but I know that conservatives understand the Israel/Palestinian
dilemma much better than the left.

Palestinians needs
leadership. I don’t know who will step forward when Abbas (the
propagandist) retires, but its got to be someone chomping at the bit
to lead a nation, with a fervent desire to lead all his people.
Without the “refugees”, a Palestinian leader only leads 2 ½
million people. With the “refugees” he has 8 million. No
ambitious leader is going to hand people over to the
enemy/oppositio

One thing advocates of the entire palace diplomacy based peace process forget is that the PNM (PLO, later augmented by Hamas and Islamic Jihad) was not created to realize the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. It was created in order to un-realize the national aspirations of the Jewish people. That is why the PLO was given the status of “sole legitimate representative” of the Palestinians–their patrons wanted to make sure that the focus would remain on un-realizing the Jews’ aspirations.

To make progress in the peace process, we have to move past palace diplomacy and develop a willingness to hit the PNM where it will hurt–control over the Palestinian people. Some ideas: empower third parties like Wasatiya and Palestinian National Initiative to deliver on things that regular Palestinians would want so that those parties might gain support or develop relations with village leaders near the border or a settlement bloc and enable them to secede from the rest of Palestine and develop a Palestinian state outward from their village. Either way, when Palestinians can start to imagine a course independent of the PNM, advancements in peace will be feasible.

One thing advocates of the entire palace diplomacy based peace process forget is that the PNM (PLO, later augmented by Hamas and Islamic Jihad) was not created to realize the national aspirations of the Palestinian people. It was created in order to un-realize the national aspirations of the Jewish people. That is why the PLO was given the status of “sole legitimate representative” of the Palestinians–their patrons wanted to make sure that the focus would remain on un-realizing the Jews’ aspirations.

To make progress in the peace process, we have to move past palace diplomacy and develop a willingness to hit the PNM where it will hurt–control over the Palestinian people. Some ideas: empower third parties like Wasatiya and Palestinian National Initiative to deliver on things that regular Palestinians would want so that those parties might gain support or develop relations with village leaders near the border or a settlement bloc and enable them to secede from the rest of Palestine and develop a Palestinian state outward from their village. Either way, when Palestinians can start to imagine a course independent of the PNM, advancements in peace will be feasible.

Saint_Etienne says:

Off the cuff, while this approach sounds reasonable, didn’t we get the Hamas the last time it was tried?

Richard, I agree with your analysis however I found the article flowed. You discussed the arab culture, what about the Jewish culture. Are Jews willing to cut a deal in a liberal, Jimmy Carter, style? I think the obsticles are to be found in the two partners. still, the arab side is a harder nut to crack.

Yes we did support Hamas initially. However, it was not based on any rational assessment of their willingness to make a reasonable settlement of the conflict. Rather, it was based on the thought that any alternative to the PLO would be better and that no attention had to be paid to the platform of any emerging alternative. The alternatives I suggest empowering all have platforms of making reasonable concessions to Israel.

Saint_Etienne says:

Point taken. So, what’s Wasatiya? Couldn’t find anything on it.

Saint_Etienne says:

That’s rather glum. In your telling, it’s a fight to the death anyway, isn’t it?

Saint_Etienne says:

What exactly do you mean by “a deal in a liberal, Jimmy Carter, style”?

Beatrix17 says:

This is such an important
article it should have received more attention. The problem is that
the author is trying to convince liberals to accept a solution that
conservatives have already arrived at.

The only thing the author
omits is that Palestine during the peace process has been led by
Arafat, a warrior whose only solution was more warfare, and his
propagandist, Abbas, who can’t stop propagandizing and who has the
ear of the left. You tell Abbas that he has to stop propagandizing
and to start leading a country, and he won’t know what to do with
himself.

Until the Palestinians get
a leader who actually wants to lead a country, they aren’t going to
agree to peace.

PhillipNagle says:

Absolutely! Any attempts at a peaceful settlement short of an Israeli surrender are doomed to faiure. I am not expecting nor do I advocate an Israeli surrender.

Saint_Etienne says:

And why so? Do you mean that you cannot envisage any kind of a change in Arab attitudes that will gradually lead to peace? Over, say, 40-50-60 years, given appropriate global stimuli (like the world moving over to alternative energy sources and their stashes of oil becoming worthless dirty liquid?).

PhillipNagle says:

If I understand you, maybe some time in the future, the situation will change, so that peace is possible. Of course that would require that in that period another major war does not break out. I would bet on the Messiah coming first.

Taking a swim in Lake Disingenuous: “How often have I
admitted to crimes on behalf of my people without checking to see if
they were accurate?” If it points to Zionism being responsible for starting (and continuing) the conflict, somehow I don’t believe Landes would acknowledge it as fact even if the historical accuracy can be ascertained.

paul delano says:

‘The zero-sum logic of Arab attitudes toward Israel does not represent merely the choices made by politicians, but Islamic religiosity and deep-seated cultural mores. From the Arab perspective, the very existence of Israel represents a stain on Arab honor and a blasphemy to Islam’s dominion in Dar al Islam.’

Exactly!. A fact which I have attempted to convey to many Liberals over the years. A fact which is also not easily understood by those Westerners enamored of the concept of ‘rational dialogue.’

hypnosifl says:

What solution would that be? The only suggestion I saw in the article had nothing really to do with given Palestinians greater control over their own territory, just an idea that we should “Begin at home, with the over 100,000 refugees in Territory A, under complete PA control. Bring in Habitat for Humanity and Jimmy Carter to help them build decent, affordable, new homes.” That’s a good humanitarian idea, but I don’t see how it gets us closer to a two-state solution. Why no mention of stopping the expansion of settlements, which surely presents an ever-increasing obstacle to any hope of a two-state solution? And even if the Palestinian leaders are unwilling to accept reasonable compromises, what about the idea of just unilaterally withdrawing from the areas that might reasonably be expected to become part of a Palestinian state in any future compromise, and giving Palestinians sovereignty in these areas? They might not be happy with such a solution, but it would at least be an end to all the injustices associated with the occupation. A unilateral withdrawl has been suggested by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and also see the links in this blog post for some further discussion.

paul delano says:

They haven’t changed in 1500 years. Most of them before oil was a factor.Why would anyone think their attitudes are likely to change in 50 years?

Saint_Etienne says:

That’s the sort of blanket statements that signify nothing. The Catholic Church had the Inquisition, the Protestants had their share of violent and fundamentalist dark pages, and we the Jews, going really back in history also have some less savoury deeds (remember where we got Herod from?). That goes to show that peoples and societies do change over centuries. You’d have to adduce some very good reasons for denying *any* sort of possible historical progress to the Arabs.

P.S.
And I spared you the tirades about the Golden Age in Spain etc.

Sorry, I misspelled it. That should be Wasatia. The literal meaning is centrism. I first read about the two parties I mentioned in a post at OpenZion, http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/26/give-palestinian-third-parties-a-chance.html

Danny_Albany says:

You really miss Landes’s point…. first of all the PA leadership has contributed absolutely ZERO to any peace process, including the now-dead Oslo agreements. Israel has been the only party to offer and make concessions as the PA and world just keeps demanding more and nothing, absolutely nothing of the PA. Israel was met with the murderous and violent 2nd intifada after making a way over-generous offer to Arafat with Clinton in 2000 which Arafat rejected, walked out of and started the violence. Just one example of the several offers Israelis have made with nothing in return from the PA. As to your absurd suggestion of unilateral withdrawal (Ehud Barak is the same one who made the offer to Arafat at Camp David and ignited the 2nd intifada), I just can’t even believe that a serious thinker would consider that ridiculous step after what happened with the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, and the unilateral withdrawal from south Lebanon and even again after the violence fomented by the PA after the more than generous offer at Camp David 2000. I think you, your family and so many of your ilk should move to Sderot or areas that border Israel and after a few months or a year, tell us that you would risk your life and family on these steps you suggest. You, the PA and other Arab & world leaders need to stop the constant whining about how it is all Israel’s doing that brings about the plight of the refugees and confront the very inconvenient truth that the refugee situation is primarily due to the Arab rejectionist, political policies and Arab exploitation of the refugees for their political goals to remove Israel. Billions and billions and billions of oil dollars coming in to many of those Arab countries and they cannot help with supplying their Arab brethren with permanent dwelllings and livelihoods???? And it’s all tiny Israel’s fault ????? Come on now !!!!!!!

It is true of all Arabs who currently have power. It is not true of all Arabs. One of the problems is that all the VSPs of the West insist that all business be conducted with those who are in power, among whom there are none who are willing to accept anything less than the elimination of Israel.

This gives the mass of Arabs no reason to support other Arabs who favor a settlement that leaves Israel in existence. Since the Arabs advocating a reasonable settlement are ignored because they are out of power, the masses see that genuine moderation gets you nothing. On the other hand, the West goes all out to court the most tenuous sign of moderation from any Arab in power, even as they prepare the invasion force that they will insert into the Trojan horse. Message to the masses: you can seek maximalist ambitions all you want and the West will still court you.

paul delano says:

You don’t get it. As long as Islam is the guiding social, religious and political ideology for all arabs, nothing will change. The problem lies not in the West, East, North,South or any other points on the compass. It is an internal dysfunction rooted firmly within islam.

paul delano says:

It’s always amusing how the apologists always bring up the Crusades, the Inquisition and various other events from hundreds years past in an attempt to make a case for ‘equivalency’ between Islam and the rest of the world’s religions. This is 2012, my friend, and Christianity and Judaism have long since come to terms with the modern world and its requirements. The fact that Islam still has not, and in fact what has been going on in the Islamic world is a rejection of Western values, is all the evidence any clear-minded person needs to reach the obvious conclusion: Islam has not changed from Mohammed’s time til now and there is no evidence to suggest any change in the near or distant future.

Saint_Etienne says:

Well, I am glad you are amused, although I have no idea who am I an apologist for. I merely express my opinion. I think that every religion is in fact very malleable and can be made to sanction practically every social order. I see no reason why Islam should be different. I am not arguing (as some morally or politically blind people do) that moderate Islam is powerful today or will be powerful tomorrow; I am just pointing out that it exists and might still succeed one day – there is no inherent reason why it should not.

Saint_Etienne says:

That’s a very sober analysis.

Beatrix17 says:

Mideastern leaders have
used Israel for 64 years to propagandize against so that their people
focus their anger on Israel and not on their own leaders. Palestine
has been getting billions from these countries to continue their pity
party, and so they haven’t had a reason to make peace.
With the Arab
Spring, money has been tight for the Pals, and some of these new
governments might actually be successful. It’a possibly time for the
Pals to stop feeling sorry for themselves, get decent leadership, and
negotiate peace.

hypnosifl says:

You really miss Landes’s point…. first of all the PA leadership has contributed absolutely ZERO to any peace process, including the now-dead Oslo agreements. Israel has been the only party to offer and make concessions as the PA and world just keeps demanding more and nothing, absolutely nothing of the PA.

Of course I haven’t missed that point, the observation that the PA is unwilling to make reasonable compromises like a decent negotiating partner is the main argument for unilateral withdrawal! Anyone who thinks the PA might be willing to negotiate would presumably prefer a negotiated settlement that both sides agreed to over a unilateral decision by Israel about the boundaries of the Palestinian state, since mutual agreement would lessen the potential for future conflict with the new Palestinian state. But one has to be realistic and recognize that this may not be possible anytime soon, and then the conclusion is that unilateral withdrawal would at least be a “less bad” option that indefinite continued occupation.

Israel was met with the murderous and violent 2nd intifada after making a way over-generous offer to Arafat with Clinton in 2000 which Arafat rejected, walked out of and started the violence. Just one example of the several offers Israelis have made with nothing in return from the PA.

I don’t disagree that the PA is largely to blame for the failure of previous peace efforts, but the point is that I am trying to approach this in a rational, utilitarian way, just considering what course of action is likely to minimize the amount of death and suffering in the future, rather than an emotional approach allocating blame and then punishing the blameworthy, even if the punishing serves no constructive purpose and just creates more death and suffering.

Besides, even if one takes the view that there is something intrinsically good about punishing people for blameworthy actions, “collective punishment” is still unfair–even if the PA leadership is unwilling to accept any two-state solution that doesn’t include the “right of return” (which would effectively destroy Israel), not all Palestinians would take such a strident view, so how is it fair to make them all suffer under the occupation if there are other options?

As to your absurd suggestion of unilateral withdrawal (Ehud Barak is the same one who made the offer to Arafat at Camp David and ignited the 2nd intifada)

You don’t think it was admirable to make the attempt, even if it resulted in failure? Could he have known in advance that the negotiations would fail? And you say “ignited the 2nd infitada”, but do you really think if he hadn’t made any attempt at peace, but just made clear he had no interest in negotiation and would continue the occupation as usual, then there wouldn’t have been any further infitadas?

I just can’t even believe that a serious thinker would consider that ridiculous step after what happened with the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, and the unilateral withdrawal from south Lebanon and even again after the violence fomented by the PA after the more than generous offer at Camp David 2000. I think you, your family and so many of your ilk should move to Sderot or areas that border Israel and after a few months or a year, tell us that you would risk your life and family on these steps you suggest.

If some extremists in Canada were lobbing poorly-aimed rockets over the border at us in the U.S., killing some tens of U.S. citizens and injuring several hundred, that would justify some sort of military action to take out the missile sites and the people responsible for them (nowadays it might be possible to do that with drone strikes rather than soldiers), but I don’t think it would justify a full-scale invasion of Canada–some principle of “proportional response” has to be accepted, where even if an enemy is killing civilians on your side, you shouldn’t overreact by taking an action that will kill far more civilians on their side.

Also, nowadays Israel has the “Iron Dome” missile defense system that does a good job of stopping rockets before they impact (see here and here), so that would limit the risk from giving Palestinians their own state even if their leaders continued to be belligerent.

You, the PA and other Arab & world leaders need to stop the constant whining about how it is all Israel’s doing

Except I did nothing of the sort, read my post again. To me the constant attention paid to who is “to blame” for a given situation, at the expense of considering what action is likely to lead to the best outcome, is a basic failing in the way people think about political situations. Blame and punishment may sometimes be useful in a practical utilitarian sense insofar as they can transform the behavior of wrongdoers (whether through shame or fear of punishment), but it makes little sense to keep focusing on them even when there is little hope that they will reform behavior.

hypnosifl says:

But “time for the Pals to stop feeling sorry for themselves” makes that sound more like a moralistic statement of what you think the Palestinians should do, rather than a prediction about what is most likely to happen…do you in fact think that it’s more likely than not the Palestinians will in the near future elect leaders who are willing to give up on the right of return, and willing to allow Israel to have full control of Jerusalem? If someone offered to bet money that this won’t happen in the next ten years, would you take that bet?

Also, even supposing somewhat more moderate Palestinian leaders are chosen, would you disagree that the continued expansion of Isreali settlements in areas beyond the 1967 borders will make future negotiations more difficult? If so, then regardless of how much blame the Palestinians bear for the failure of past negotiations, Isreali leaders who are seriously interested in an eventual two-state solution should try to halt new settlement construction in those areas.

Danny_Albany says:

I do thank you for your thoughtful point by point reply though I vigorously disagree with your main thesis which to me sounds like, “just do something, Israel…. even if it further endangers your citizens and security… just give up more … it is better than the status quo”. I think that is a ridiculous policy and has been proven time and time again through continued hostilities and missiles lobbed at Israel over the decades. If the PA and Arab leaders are unwilling or unable to change their violent hateful resentments, hatreds and killing ways,then it is not incumbent upon Israel to risk its people, resources, culture and nationhood by unilaterally giving up more just “to do something”.

Israel calls itself a Jewish state. It needs land populated with Jews to maintain that status. The original acquisition of the Green Line territory (1949 armistice lines) was not peaceful. The acquisition and military rule over the West Bank and Gaza (and Golan and Sinai) has not been peaceful. There’s a conflict as a result of Zionism because anyone would have fought such encroachment. Islam is not at fault for the Palestinians’ inability to make peace with Israel. Had they been Buddhists, all the blame would shift to Buddhism.

DrMikeH49 says:

hyposifl (and readers): I hope that all readers of this article are aware that the so-called “right” of return for descendants of 1947-8 Arab refugees is a complete fiction existing nowhere in international law. It arises from paragraph 11 of UN GA Resolution 194 from December 1948, which states that “Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live in peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”
1. GA resolutions do not make international law.
2. All of the Arab states in the UN voted against 194.
3. The word “right” appears nowhere in that clause.
4. There is no mention of subsequent generations.

Other existing international law (which is made by treaties) on refugees does not provide refugee status to descendants until the end of time. The right to return only applies to refugees themselves and ONLY at the resolution of the conflict.

So it would be more correct to refer to the “so-called right of return”.

DrMikeH49 says:

Indeed, the War of Independence was not peaceful at all, thanks to the decision of both the local Palestinians and the surrounding Arab countries to violently reject the concept of a state of the Jewish people. It’s also interesting how hundreds of thousands of Arabs from Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon encroached upon Palestine once the Jews started building it up.

Beatrix17 says:

“Refugees” who were adult 64 years ago when
Israel had its war of Independence would be at least 85 today. Most
would be in their 90s, 100s, etc. Do you seriously think these
people are waiting in camps to “return” to a nation that has a
different primary religion, language, and history? They want to be
in Palestine.

As for settlements, Israel has offered to give the
Palestinians Israeli land equal to the land that they built
settlements on . And both Barak and Olmert offered the Palestinians
East Jerusalem.

The West bank belongs to Jordan and is where the Pals
were exiled when Arafat tried to overthrow the Jordanian King. Gaza
belongs to Egypt. During the almost 20 years the Palestinians were
under Jordanian and Egyptian rule they were never offered a homeland,
nor did they ask for one. Israel didn’t offer one at first either
when they won the land from Jordan/Egypt, hence the settlements. Now
Israel is the only nation that has ever offered the Palestinians this
land for their own. The Pals have a leader with a big mouth. What
they need is one with a brain in his head.

Beatrix17 says:

Thank you for this
information, and your intelligent assessment. It’s very important.,

That’s not what Arthur Ruppin (Founder of the kibbutzim) was saying in the late 20′s.

This aim is: to bring the Jews as a second nation into a country that is
already settled by a nation
– and to achieve that by peaceful means.
History knows such intrusion […] only by way of occupation, but it has
not yet happened that a nation agreed of its own good will to let
another nation come and demand complete and equal rights as well as
national autonomy. The uniqueness of the case precludes, in my opinion,
treating it according to the accepted official and legal concepts. It
requires a special study and consideration. Brit shalom should be the
forum in which this problem will be discussed.”283″
[Etan Bloom, Arthur Ruppin, 379]

Ruppin claimed that there were deep and manifest conflicts of interests
between Arabs and Jews, conflicts which would worsen as the Zionists
gained more control of the land: “Land is the essential condition for
putting down economic roots in Palestine […] wherever we purchase land
and settle people on it – its current workers [the Arabs] must of
necessity be removed, whether they be owners or tenants […] in future it
will be much harder to purchase land, because sparsely settled land is
no longer available – what is left is land settled with considerable
density
” (ibid.). 283 Ruppin to Kohn [30 May. 1928] in: (Bein 1968, III,
149-150).
[Bloom 379]

(My emphasis)

DrMikeH49 says:

Yet Ruppin was ultimately incorrect, in that Arabs were not removed from lands until they declared open warfare in 1947. And hundreds of thousands of Arabs continued to immigrate in to British Palestine after Ruppin wrote those words, and there was no significant loss of land by Palestinians over that time.

“In 1936, a commission of inquiry found that 654 Palestinian families had lost their lands as the result of Zionist purchases, out of a total of 61,408 Arab families that owned or tenanted land. In other words, slightly over 1%. These families lost 46,633 dunams of land, which is less than 1% of the 6,440,000 dunams of land in Palestine that were deemed to be arable.4 That was the extent of the dispossession.”http://www.zionism-israel.com/impact_of_zionism.htm

By the way, are you American? If so, and not a member of a Native American tribe, then you can demonstrate your own moral consistency by turning your home over to the descendants of those tribes who lived here before the arrival of European colonists (who were not returning to their ancestral homeland, a return for which they had prayed through hundreds of years).

brynababy says:

Knock it off! There are liberals and conservatives who have unrealistic ideas about a ‘solution’, but all Conservatives and all Liberals cannot be swept together in one ‘label’. Most of us ‘liberals’ are as committed to Israel and as disgusted with the ugliness and hatred and violence coming from the Palestinian leadership, as any conservative you can name. It is the extremists who, wear either of those labels, that mirror that same ugliness and hatred in their actions and remarks.

Thank you for this article. It is very important. I wish it was more widely read.

hypnosifl says:

“Refugees” who were adult 64 years ago when
Israel had its war of Independence would be at least 85 today. Most
would be in their 90s, 100s, etc. Do you seriously think these
people are waiting in camps to “return” to a nation that has a
different primary religion, language, and history? They want to be
in Palestine.

I’m not sure that this is what they would want if asked–it might be a matter of principle for some–but in any case I didn’t endorse the “right of return”, in fact I thought I made it pretty clear that in order for there to be any hope of a mutually agreed-upon two-state solution, there would need to be a more reasonable Palestinian leadership who are willing to give up on this claimed “right” (and to address DrMikeH489, my casual use of the phrase was not meant to imply I agreed that this should be a right, I was talking about it in the context of an absolute demand made by Arafat and other leaders so I was quoting their own phrase).

As for settlements, Israel has offered to give the
Palestinians Israeli land equal to the land that they built
settlements on . And both Barak and Olmert offered the Palestinians
East Jerusalem.

I certainly think the offer to trade land is reasonable (though American conservatives would apparently disagree, since they professed shock when Obama mentioned land exchanges), provided that A) the land offered is about as good in terms of natural resources and habitability as the land claimed for Israeli settlements, and B) the land claimed for Israeli settlements doesn’t end up making the border so convoluted as to make border security for each state much more difficult, or make travel between different parts of Palestine without crossing through Israeli territory too problematic. As long as these conditions are met it’s fine, but I would guess that the more settlements that Israelis allow to be built beyond the 1967 borders now, the more difficult it would be in future to make a land exchange agreement that satisfies these conditions.

Anyway, you didn’t answer my main question: would you actually bet that a decrease in funding from other Arab states (due to the Arab spring, according to your argument) is likely to lead Palestinians to choose leaders more open to reasonable negotiation, or were you just expressing a hope, or a comment on what the Palestinians should do? If you don’t believe that this is actually all that likely, then you were kidding yourself when you said that Landes had proposed “a solution that conservatives have already arrived at.” Unless this hope is actually likely to bear fruit it’s not really a “solution” at all, just a vague hope and/or an opportunity for publicly scolding Palestinians for their unreasonable demands in past negotiations (and I certainly agree the demand of a right of return was unreasonable, but the point is that such public scolding is totally unhelpful if the goal actually arriving at a practical solution, whereas I think unilateral withdrawal would have an actual decent chance of producing an outcome a lot better for both Palestinians and Israelis than the present status quo, even if Palestinian leaders weren’t satisfied by it.)

For one thing, I am willing in the abstract to make personal sacrifices to help undo the colonization process, albeit not at the demands of someone who defends another colonial project. And you are admitting indirectly that’s exactly what Zionism is.

Plus, to declare Ruppin, who is known as the father of Zionist settlement, incorrect, is a sophistic argument. He would know better than anyone else that removing the Arabs from Palestine was a pre-requisite for creating Jewish political autonomy.

Best of all, you’re contradicting yourself here. Your first sentence goes thus, “Arabs were not removed from lands until they declared open warfare” then in the next paragraph, “a commission of inquiry found that 654 Palestinian families had lost their lands as the result of Zionist purchases” So these 654 families declared open warfare, right?

No, the Palestinians did not lose their land after 1947 because they declared open warfare, but because that’s what the Zionist settlers wanted to accomplish the minute they got off the boat.

nyesq1 says:

Purchasing land is not the same as “losing land”. The latter implies an involuntary measure taken by the owner of the land. The pointing out of various quotes from Zionist leaders is a pretty weak strategy, when there are multiples of more extreme quotes forming the corpus of Arab rejectionism (al-husseini, “war of annihilation”, etc..). There are also many quotes of Zionist leaders who took a conciliatory tone. Just because the “Zionists” wanted to accomplish something doesn’t mean they’re the perpetrators. Merely intending to do something is insufficient. Even if your argument was true, which it isn’t, When does the statute of limitations for Arab claims to the land expire? Jews had claims that were subsumed by the entities that conquered Israel. Does it start in 1948? Does it include economic migrants to pre-1948 Palestine? Do the Arabs feel guilty for taking the land from Jews? Or controling the African slave trade? Do Turks feel guilty for their presence in Cyprus? Over the span of history millions of people have migrated, sought refuge or were thrown out from various areas – these are the tectonic plates of history,.

Beatrix17 says:

Hypnosifil: I’m moderate conservative. Conservatives
don’t object to land trade, they (we) objected to Obama’s stance of
returning to 1948 indefensible borders. Israel achieved her current
borders in the 6 day war, and would not give them up without
negotiation.

Israel is not expanding settlements. In fact
Netanyahu’s government is using the army to toss out illegal
settlements as quickly as the courts allow. The legal building takes
place within existing settlements. The two settlements Israel would
like keep are contiguous to Israel.

There is no passageway now from Gaza to the West
Bank. Israel knows this and that would be part of the negotiations,
assuming Gaza and West Bank want to be one entity.

The Palestinians are not be allowed to vote for
anything and so better leadership is a mute point unless Abbas
retires and appoints someone more skilled at the job than he is.
Nasser appointed Sadat to follow him and so it could happen.

Beatrix17 says:

85% of Republicans support Israel and less than 50%
of Democrats do. That leaves plenty of room for hateful Republicans
and wonderful Democrats. Welcome to the fold.

hypnosifl says:

You are misinformed, see here and here–Obama did not advocate a return to the 1948 borders, he said that “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps”, a thoroughly mainstream position among advocates of a two-state solution (and you used the phrase “indefensible borders”, but it was the 1967 borders that Netanyahu called “indefensible” in his bizarre response). As for settlement expansion, that is the word that news organizations like this one and this one use to describe Netanyahu’s policy, which among other things involves attempting to “authorize” several settlements that Israel had previously committed to dismantling in the 2003 “road map for peace”–from the linked article:

“Also on April 4, Netanyahu announced his government would seek to preserve the unauthorized Ulpana outpost abutting the Beit El settlement just north of Ramallah despite its being built entirely on private Palestinian property. Netanyahu also said he was asking the government to begin procedures to legalize three other illegal outposts – Rekhelim, Sansana, and Brukhin, a move that would make them among the first new settlements authorized since the early days of the peace process in 1995 and could pave the way for further legalizations among the 96 outposts in the West Bank.”

And Netanyahu himself used the word “expand” for his plan to build new homes in Ulpana:

“The 30 families [who currently live in Ulpana] will remain in Beit El and will be joined by 300 new families,” Netanyahu vowed yesterday. “I tell those who think they can use the judicial system to hurt settlement that they are mistaken, because in practice the exact opposite will occur. Instead of shrinking Beit El, Beit El has expanded. Instead of hurting settlement, settlement has been strengthened.”

The Palestinians are not be allowed to vote foranything and so better leadership is a mute point unless Abbas
retires and appoints someone more skilled at the job than he is.
Nasser appointed Sadat to follow him and so it could happen.

Just a grammar nitpick, but the phrase is “moot point” (I’m a little OCD about these things). Anyway, can I take this as a tacit admission that you admit that your earlier statement that Landes had proposed a “solution”, which you expanded on “With the ArabSpring, money has been tight for the Pals, and some of these new
governments might actually be successful”, was not actually a “solution” in the sense of something that has a good likelihood of actually occurring and improving the situation? If you acknowledge that the strategy of waiting for Palestinians to pick better leaders is not likely to bear fruit anytime soon, then that shows the need for proposals that could actually lead to an end to the occupation, like Ehud Barak’s proposal of unilateral withdrawal.

DrMikeH49 says:

and they were so effective that in several decades they were actually able to move a whole 1% of the Arab population that was tenant farmers on land that the Jews legally purchased from its owners! I bet that more renters in NYC have to move every year as buildings change ownership.
OK, so you got me. 1% of Arabs renting or squatting on land had to move. That’s nobody’s definition of wholesale dispossession.
And no, I was comparing the Jews’ return to the land to an ACTUAL full scale colonial project. And I’m sure that “in the abstract” you’re quite likely to live up to the demands you make on others. Right.

Palestinian peasants traditionally enjoyed the right of usufruct on Ottoman state land; through a series of complex modernizing attempts that were supposed to strengthen the central govt., the miri (state land) became registered with individual bureaucrats who retained private ownership (Mainly due to the peasants fearing conscription and so not registering the land themselves).

Rashid Khalidi and Gershon Shafir both demonstrated that there was relatively little conflict during the first aliyah because the settlers would retain the peasants as tenant farmers. The second aliyah and the drive for “Hebrew labor,” that is to replace the Palestinian laborers with ideological Zionists, led to the forced relocation of the peasants from the land they cultivated.

http://books.google.com/books?id=YDPKFyZ38qsC&pg=PA94

Ruppin created the early kibbutzim based on advanced development groups that would prepare tracts of land for settlement in Poland by Germans. Not only could Arabs not join a kibbutz, neither could Jews from Arab countries. Creating a separate economic space staffed by Hebrew workers was a goal of Ruppin’s, and it was a means to the end of a Jewish state in Palestine. He submitted a memo to the WZO (in 1907, which led to his creating a WZO branch in Jaffa called the Palestine Office) proposing to create Jewish autonomy by purchasing most of the land in Palestine and creating a Jewish majority through mass immigration. That should be the context for his statements that I quoted here. (Search for the doctoral thesis on him by Etan Bloom).

“When does the statute of limitations for Arab claims to the land expire?”

The Zionist claim to the land is 2000 years old, last I heard, so that seems reasonable for the Arabs.

“Do the Arabs feel guilty for taking the land from Jews?”

So if I got this right it’s okay to throw Arab X out of the country because Arab B sold slaves in the 18th century. Who says Zionism is racism?

“and they were so effective that in several decades they were actually
able to move a whole 1% of the Arab population that was tenant farmers
on land that the Jews legally purchased from its owners! I bet that
more renters in NYC have to move every year as buildings change
ownership.”

Exactly, this brings us to 1948 when the armed-wing of the Jewish Agency took the drastic step of evicting most Palestinians from the Green Line by force and taking their land with no compensation. When bureaucratic, legalistic and diplomatic means weren’t sufficient (to make Palestine a Jewish majority state) they went all out paramilitary.

The sale of land wasn’t always legal under Ottoman law but in the point I’m trying to get across here that’s a minor detail.

nyesq1 says:

It is not okay to throw arabs off their land. However it is equally not ok for entities that have committed far worse crimes to single out israel. It reeks of moral hypocrisy to hear academics talk about Israel’s misgivings when the Arab nation has killed and enslaved millions over the centuries. The party that has committed the most egregious crimes has little moral authority here.
People have freedom of association, nobody owes the Palestinians jobs.
My claim is that the statute of limitations on refugees so called right to return is not a genetic market that’s inherited for generations. After World War Two there were millions of refugees and they have almost all been resettled

Beatrix17 says:

1967 was the year of the 6 day way. The day before
Israel won, they still had the vulnerable 1948 borders that got them
attacked. After Israel won the war, they had current borders. If
Obama isn’t accepting current borders, then he’s asking for those in
1948. There are no other ones.

The Israeli press, including the right wing Arutz 7,
complain of Netanyahu dismantling settlements. That’s why the
settlers and the government are in court. With Abbas’ refusal to
negotiate, Netanyahu is threatening to make some of these settlements
permanent.

I have no idea how the Arab Spring is going to turn
out. I’m simply hoping like most Americans that something goes
right. Obama’s refusal to try to gain safe passage for long time
allies like Murbarak, even if Mubarak was a dictator, does not speak
well for our country.

Unilateral withdrawal led last time to Hamas. This
time it means no negotiation over East Jerusalem, no dismantling of
any current settlements, no land bridge between West Bank and Gaza,
and no “right of return” not even for the 20,000 that Olmert
offered a home to. I don’t see how it can benefit the Palestinians.

Mute point because no one is talking.

I agree with a certain portion of the article, but I would like to see the argument more developed around overcoming the IDF’s summary destruction of homes belonging to relatives of suicide bombers, the virtual prison that is Gaza (perpetrated by both Egypt and Israel, the return of homes stolen from residents fleeing the Israeli army in 1948, as well as a discussion of the culture of violence and retribution in the occupied territories.

There will not be any change over the 40-60 period that you have
mentioned because the only thing that the Middle East recongnizes,
is power. When rational men converse with a tribal mentality such
as the Blacks and Muslims, they have been raised to be patient
because all Muslims believe that their day will come. In the Muslim
world, there is no word for “COMPROMISE,” therefore, there can
never a coexistence peace between Israel and the Middle East,
therefore, it must be a fight to the death, winner take all.

Saint_Etienne says:

Well, you know, as an Israeli I do not find your vision very much to my liking. Because, it’d be us doing the fighting to the death, wouldn’t it?

There must be some other way, if not now (and no, there is no good way now), then surely in the future. Your pessimism is grounded less in historical sagacity than in blind dogma – much as the wild optimism of the peaceniks.

Like
you, I favor consideration of a one-state solution. I wrote an article
supporting this position for the Huffington Post some time ago. I hope
you will take a few minutes to consider this unique solution.
Can’t We All Just Get Along? A Modest Proposal for Settlements on the Israeli West Bank
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-baker/cant-we-all-just-get-alon_1_b_798800.html

Yes, I can envision it…but not for a long time. Today, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leader called not for social justice, or equality, or a minimum wage or more jobs—but jihad against Israel. Annihilating Israel is the means of restoring Arab honor and once that’s accomplished, everything will be perfect, their leaders promise.

Nat Ben Zimri says:

What you need to know about the “2 State Solution”:
http://shomroncentral.blogspot.co.il/

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