Israel/Palestine: Why "Peace" is NOT the Solution
Today's New York Times has an opinion piece titled, "To Achieve Mideast Peace, Suspend Disbelief" by Dennis Ross, who is a long time loyal servant of the American ruling elite, and exactly the kind of person that an establishment paper like the New York Times would promote as an authority on how to achieve peace in the Middle East.
The problem with "peace" in the Middle East, the reason why "peace" is not the solution (at least not a desirable solution), is that the word "peace," when used by the likes of Dennis Ross and the NYT in the context of Israel/Palestine, means something very bad. To see why, consider what "peace" means for the millions of Palestinian refugees, many of whom still live in refugee camps. What does it mean for their right to live inside what is now called Israel, from where they (or their parents or grandparents who lived there for many generations) were forced to flee in 1947-9 and to where they are still prevented by the government of Israel from returning, for no other reason than that they are not Jewish?
The root of the Palestine/Israel conflict is precisely this ethnic cleansing. The fact of the ethnic cleansing is not disputed among Israeli, not to mention Palestinian, historians. Both Ilan Pappe (an anti-Zionist who wrote The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine) and Benny Morris (an extreme pro-Zionist who wrote The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited ) agree that Israel is based on the principle of ethnic cleansing. The reason for this is that, by defining itself as a Jewish State that requires at least an 80% (Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, insisted on this figure*) Jewish majority, Israel cannot be what it claims to be without ethnic cleansing. Benny Morris made this clear in his famous interview stating that:
The "peace" advocated by Dennis Ross and virtually all of the world's governmental and corporate leaders (the so called "world community") is a peace based on Palestinian refugees accepting, as a fait accompli, their ethnic cleansing, meaning the denial to them of their right to return to the land from which they were violently driven. Dennis Ross makes this quite clear in the very first three of his "What Palestinians Can Do" points, which demand that Palestinians accept the division of Palestine into a Jewish state (occupying at least 78% of it, by the way) and a non-Jewish state occupying the rest of it that "does not encroach on Israel," which means that it does not challenge Israel's status as a Jewish state based on denying its former non-Jewish residents their right to return, simply because they are not Jewish.
There are only two arguments by the pro-Israel camp in defense of the ethnic cleansing at the root of the conflict. The first argument is that God gave the land to the Jews. Actually, a large proportion of the Israeli Jewish population does not believe in God, and their version of this argument goes like this: "God does not exist, and he gave the land to the Jews." This argument is so specious that no self-respecting member of the "world comunity" invokes it.
The second reason given for the ethnic cleansing, the one advanced by the founder of the movement (known as Zionism) that first called for the creation of a Jewish State in 1896--Theordor Herzl--and the reason espoused, implicitly if not explicitly, by virtually all Zionists today, is that non-Jews are innately and permanently anti-Semitic, if not overtly then covertly, and therefore Jews can only be safe from another Holocaust by living in a state exclusively of their own, and not by living in equality with non-Jews in a state based on equality for all regardless of religion.
Theodor Herzl had absolutely no intention of defeating anti-Semitism. He wrote in his diary in June, 1885, "In Paris, as I have said, I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti--Semitism." In 1946 the American Zionist Emergency Council re-published Herzl's famous book, The Jewish State (originally published in1896) with a brief biography of Herzl stating that shortly before writing the famous book, "the realization flashed upon Herzl that anti-Semitism was deep-rooted in the heart of the people -- so deep, indeed, that it was impossible to hope for its disappearance within a measurable period of time."  In The Jewish State Herzl writes, "The nations in whose midst Jews live are all either covertly or openly Anti-Semitic"  and "Anti-Semitism increases day by day and hour by hour among the nations; indeed, it is bound to increase, because the causes of its growth continue to exist and cannot be removed." 
It is noteworthy that Herzl's generalization about all non-Jews (and its modern version focused especially on Arabs), regarding them without distinction as inalterably anti-Semitic, is one of the last surviving derogatory racial/ethnic stereotypes (along with the demeaning stereotype of poor southern whites as "Rednecks") tolerated by people in the United States who consider themselves to be "progressive." Unfortunately, not everybody who quickly condemns the KKK's anti-black racism is as quick to condemn the demeaning stereotype of Arabs by pro-Zionists or of poor southern whites by hip late night TV comedians.
A typical contemporary expression of this Zionist view of anti-Semitism as innate and eternal among non-Jews is the following statement by Raffi Bilek, head of the University College (London) campus group Friends of Israel, which appeared in The Brown Daily Herald on Tuesday, April 9, 2002:
(There is a third "reason" that Zionists give in defense of the ethnic cleansing, but it is so overtly racist that it hardly needs to be taken seriously. Just for the sake of completeness, however, it goes like this: "The Palestinians left voluntarily and so they forfeited their right to return." According to this "logic" any American who voluntarily travels to Europe for a vaction, or to, say, Africa for a work-related conference, forfeits his or her right to return to the United States. Obviously, this Zionist argument rests on the racist premise that only Palestinians forfeit their right to return when they voluntarily leave their country. Thus, the argument is racist even if one accepts its historically false premise that Palestinians left voluntarily. In fact, they left either at gunpoint, or in fear of imminent violence, and they left despite the urging of Arab governments that they remain, contrary to the Zionist myth.)
A sophisticated person such as Dennis Ross would never, of course, explicitly embrace a position so overtly racist as the Zionist movement's stereotyping of all non-Jews as dangerous bigots. He, and all the others of his ilk, only embrace this racist position implicitly, by using a vocabulary designed to disguise the actual racist content. They use words like "peace" and "two state solution" and they lament that "Most Israelis and Palestinians today simply don’t believe that peace is possible."
Justice, Not "Peace," Is the Basis for Real Peace
As long as the injustice of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians prevails, whether in the form of a Jewish state based on ethnic cleansing existing alongside its occupation of the rest of Palestine or alongside a non-Jewish state in the rest of Palestine, justice will be denied, the conflict will remain, and the only kind of "peace" that will even be conceivable will be the "peace" of Palestinians surrendering to the injustice and agreeing to accept it as a fait accompli. Oh, how fervently some people hope for this "peace."
But the people with real power only pretend to hope for this "peace." What they really want is the conflict itself to continue. They know that the "peace" they advocate will never be accepted by the Palestinians. They know that the Palestinians will continue to fight against their ethnic cleansing. And this is exactly what the rulers of Israel and the United States want. Palestinians fighting against Israel, portrayed falsely to the American and Israeli public as hateful anti-Semites, are the perfect bogeyman that American and Israeli ruling elites need to control their populations with Orwellian wars. Elite social control of "their own people" requires such a bogeyman. If one doesn't exist, then one must be created. This is why the Israeli ruling class is so outrageously brutal against Palestinians, and why the American ruling class supports this brutality. It is also, by the way, why Obama kills Muslims with drones: not to defeat an enemy but to create an enemy. Dennis Ross surely understands all of this. And so should we.
The genuine peace that all good people in the world want in the Middle East is a peace based on justice, a peace based on ending the ethnic cleansing by allowing the Palestinian refugees to return to the part of Palestine that is now called Israel, and to live there as the equal of Jews under the law, and to receive just compensation for the land and property that the Zionist leaders stole from them. To those who say, "This can never happen because the Jews of Israel have no reason to let it happen" I say, please read this article about how Israeli Jews could not only let this happen but fervently wish for it to happen. To those who say, "It is not practical to work for the right of return of the Palestinian refugees" I say, please read this article about why it is. To those who say, "What you're advocating is impossible because it would take a revolution in the United States" I say, please read Thinking about Revolution. We can make a far better world than the Dennis Ross's will ever willingly accept.
* "There are 40% non-Jews in the areas allocated to the Jewish state. This composition is not a solid basis for a Jewish state. And we have to face this new reality with all of its severity and distinctness. Such a demographic balance questions our ability to maintain Jewish sovereignty...Only a state with at least 80% Jews is a viable and stable state." David Ben-Gurion, in a speech given on December 3, 1947 in front of senior members of his Mapai party (the Eretz Israel Workers Party), quoted in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (hardcover), pg. 48, by Ilan Pappe
1. Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1988, pg. 34
2. ibid, p. 11
13. ibid. pp. 90-1
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