Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The State of the Two States by Ghassan Kadi June 2011

The State of the Two States

June 18, 2011
Ghassan Kadi
It is expected that the Palestinians will ask for recognition of statehood in September 2011. Whether or not they make this demand, and whether or not it materializes is for the pages of the history of the future to write about. It is both the need and viability of the two-state resolution that are under the microscope herein.

Ever since its inception, Israel has been trying to rally up western support by creating lies, least of which are lies about the history of Jews in the Middle East.

The Israel lobby wants to portray the Arabs and the Moslems as the historic Nazis. It wants the world to believe that Jews had always been persecuted throughout the centuries and in every corner of the world. For some reason, there seems to be a victim mentality among Zionist Jews. They love to look likes victims to the extent that they start believing it themselves.

With the West deeply entrenched with the guilt of allowing the Holocaust to happen, Jewish settlers in Palestine were allowed to literally get away with murder if this meant securing a long-lasting peace for Jewish people.

Israel was given a carte blanche by the West, and any attempt to criticise the state of Israel by any person meant the branding of anti-Semitism, and this meant the end of one’s political career, business career, and a sequential social banishment.

The Israel lobby thrived on the “us and them” concept. In fact, the “them” concept (ie Palestinians) did not exist in the beginning. Not until the Palestinians took up armed resistance and started to gain global notoriety as hijackers, the non-Arab world did not know they existed.

The “us and them” concept grew deeper and it wasn’t until Arafat publicly renounced “terrorism” to appease the USA that Palestinians began to gain international recognition.

Ever since, and despite many attempts to establish a proper peace with Israel, the Palestinians have failed; or should one say that Israel has refused to ratify existing agreements and/or to make concessions that are acceptable. Despite international treaties and pressure, Israel is not yet convinced that Palestinians deserve to live in dignity.

Israel does not want the West to know/remember that Moslems, Christians and Jews have lived peacefully side by side for centuries in the Middle East. Historically, there has never been any systemic discrimination against the Jews of the Middle East as compared to their European cousins. Anti-Judaism (and I won’t use the word Anti-Semitism) has been around in Europe for centuries long before Nazism ever existed.

My hometown Beirut had a Jewish quarter (Wadi Abou Jmeel). Thousands of Jews lived there for centuries. Beirut also had/has a Jewish cemetery on Damascus Road. The tombs bear the Star of David for all to see. Whilst most Lebanese Jews left Lebanon VOLUNTARILY, the cemetery is still there. Most Arab cities had a significant Jewish population. It was not till the creation of Israel that they were either tempted to leave or felt under pressure to leave. Few were forcefully made to leave. Israel makes it appear as if all Arab Jews were kicked out as soon as Israel was created. This is a big lie and far from the truth.

In a personal experience, I was quite surprised during a recent trip to Syria when I found a copper tray in Aleppo of all places, with detailed artwork that depicted the Star of David. When I asked the shopkeeper (who is in fact the craftsman who created this wonderful piece of art) about the reason behind the star, his reply was spontaneous and simple. He said that historically, Jewish craftsmen in Aleppo had a big influence on the artistic designs and that today’s craftsmen like to keep this legacy alive.

Palestine has always had a very large Jewish population. My grandmother, who was a queen of proverbs, had a proverb for every occasion. To illustrate abundance, she used to say “more than the Jews of Palestine”. The Palestinian currency that was circulated before Israel was established was trilingual, English, Arabic and Hebrew.

If anything, Moslems feel closer to Jews than they do to Christians. As a child, I often heard the elderly say that our traditions are much closer to Judaism than they are to Christianity. The Moslem Halal concept of food is not different from its Jewish counterpart (Kosher), and which includes a major commonality; refraining from eating pork. This is not to mention circumcision and the Abrahamic ancestry.

The Israel lobby is making it look as if it is impossible for Jews to live with Arabs and Moslems, and also putting on the false pretence that it has never happened in the past, and cannot happen in the future. Their real fear is in assimilation. They simply refuse to see the Jewish identity getting diluted.

Reality dictates otherwise. The percentage of Jews in Israel is on the decrease and Israel has virtually run out of measure to reverse this trend or to at least be able to put an end to it. The long-term security of Jews in Israel cannot come as a result of more separation, more Jewish immigration and more Palestinian expulsion. This modus operandi has been stretched to the limit and it has reached breaking point. The security of Jews in Israel can only come as the result of a just peace with the Palestinians.

The political leaders and policy makers of Israel are not wise enough to realize that time is not on Israel’s side. This is why they have not yet displayed any seriousness in trying to establish a final solution. They are still bogged down in the belief that what force cannot solve, then more force can.

If and when a two-state solution is reached, neither party will be satisfied. Each party will feel that it had to give up land to buy peace. Neither party will feel that it ended up as the winner. They will both feel like losers with vendetta. They will each feel that this resolution is only of short-term, the best they can achieve now until time changes to their favour and push for more gains. The two states will have a very uneasy peace and most probably continue to squabble over many matters least of which will be water and the new-found natural gas off the coast.

It won’t take long before the two states find a new reason to get into conflict.

There is no long-term solution for the problem other than a one-state for all. In agreeing to live together under one state, both Israelis and Palestinians will be winners. Instead of splitting up Jerusalem and spilling more blood on deciding who it belongs to, then can both have it all, undivided, like they had it in the past.

Under a one-state solution, neither party will feel under any threat and/or have a need to take vengeance or recapture lost territory.

Under the one-state solution, Palestinians should have the right of return. If Jews claim ownership of this land and have the right of return thousands of years later, then so should the Palestinians. This prospect sends shivers down the spine of Israel and is seen as something that will end Jewish majority in an instance. They do not see that it won’t be easy for Palestinians to return even if they wished to do so. Many will probably go back to see their country and to have a holiday, but one would imagine that only a small percentage will be able to stay there and have a prosperous future. After all, the establishment of the state of Israel did not eventuate in a repatriation of all Jewish diaspora.

With good intentions on both sides, the ensuing insecurity of the Jewish population can be resolved. Legislation can be put in place to ensure it. With good intentions and mutual trust, the one state can even be called Israel; and why not?

The Lebanese model, with its faults, is not far from this scenario. Christians, who are in reality a shrinking minority in Lebanon, are protected by the constitution, and so they should be.

The bottom line here is that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians can claim that there is no solution for the problem. With good intentions and enough wisdom and maturity on both sides, the problem can be put to rest once and for all.

What is more pertinent perhaps than anything else, is that Israel cannot prevent change from taking place. When Israel reached its peak just after the 1967 war in which it scored an amazing and unprecedented military victory against all of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, it felt that it was unstoppable and that it was able to model the Levant in any whichever way it wished to do. Time has changed so many things from that point on, and events are not moving in Israel’s favour.

If Israel remains stubborn and defiant, it will end up as the biggest loser. If Israel insists to keep up its military approach, a time will come when it loses this upper hand. It would be asking for a new Holocaust.

No Arab in his/her right mind wants to “throw the Jews back into the sea”. This slogan is dead and buried. But if the state of war continues, no one can guarantee the future.

Currency of Palestine
Currency of Palestine

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