May 28, 2006

Surrender vs. the Right to Exist

by Kathleen Christison
Noting that he had been raised with the deep conviction that the Jewish people would never have to relinquish any part of the "land of our forefathers," Ehud Olmert told Congress in his address to a joint session on May 24, "I believed, and to this day still believe, in our people's eternal and historic right to this entire land." He did then concede that dreams alone cannot bring peace and will not preserve Israel as a "secure democratic Jewish state." But what stands out in this little-noted statement of Jewish attachment to the land is its affirmation of a supreme Jewish right to all of Palestine, never mind who else may live there. In the context of any hope for a just and equitable peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, this is a deal-breaker par excellence.

In light of this official Israeli view that the Jewish people have "an eternal and historic right to this entire land," one is startled by the hypocrisy of the demand -- enunciated universally by Israel, the U.S., the EU, and most of the rest of the international community -- that the Palestinians must recognize Israel's "right to exist" before anyone will even speak to them, before they can be admitted to civilized company in the world. Does this demand that Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist mean that they must recognize Israel's "right to the entire land" as defined by Olmert? And if that is the case, how could the Palestinians possibly be assured, even if Israel were magnanimously to grant them a "state" or a "Bantustan" in a part of that "entire land," that Israel would not at some future date take it back, since Jews have "an eternal and historic right" to it? Why should anyone believe that any Israeli concession of land would be permanent?


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