(Above cartoon courtesy of Dry Bones Blog)
By publishing the article entitled ‘Israel’s unreasonable demand’ written by Omar Rahman, Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre , on September 22nd, the Guardian has placed itself well and truly in the opposite camp to all those hoping to find a fair, peaceful and durable solution to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. (Its not insignificant that the the Guardian piece was posted, and promoted, on anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sites such as Mondoweiss and Friends of Al-Aqsa. For info on Mondoweiss, see here; For more on Friends of Al-Aqsa, see here.)
Rahman employs much transparent waffle in the first part of his article, but the essential paragraph is this later one:
“Jewish entitlements over non-Jewish citizens would naturally follow. Israel would continue to allow the right of return for Jews from all over the world but not to Palestinians who lost or were stripped of their own homes and property. Nor would Israel’s own non-Jewish citizens naturally be entitled to seek family reunification inside the Jewish state, or any other such privileges afforded to Jews in a “Jewish” state. By achieving such acceptance, Israel would not be forced to undermine its Jewish character by allowing the repatriation of Palestinian refugees back into Israel.” (My emphasis)
There are numerous voices of opposition to the ongoing peace talks currently making themselves heard. From the rhetoric coming out of Tehran and the Arab League (including Mahmoud Abbas), through the violent actions of Hamas and other assorted terror groups, and down to various supposedly ‘humanitarian’ NGOs (often backed with European funding); the style may differ, but the bottom line is essentially the same – the refusal to accept the concept of two states for two peoples.
An end to the Arab/Israeli conflict depends upon an end to Arab demands – an acceptance of the reality of Israel as a Jewish State as being permanent. Any other formula simply sets the stage for the next round of conflict because it indicates that its promoters have not given up on the dream of yet another Arab State on the land which is today Israel. Omar Rahman can try to dress his refusal to bring about an end to the conflict in all sorts of guises designed to push the buttons of his Western liberal readers – and he does – but the bottom line is that this is all about the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees to Israel and the subsequent inevitable annihilation of the Jewish right to self-determination.
“The Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state.” This is the mantra of the Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has been promoting this controversial idea as a condition of any peace deal.”
The idea of Israel as the one Jewish state in the world can hardly be called controversial seeing as it has been around for over a century, received backing from both the League of Nations and its successor the United Nations and has been reality for 62 years, but to those such as Rahman and the Guardian who wish to open the subject up to renewed debate in the hope of reversing 80 year-old international obligations towards the Jewish people and the recognition of their right to self-determination, portraying it as such has an ulterior motive.
“Recognising Israel as a “Jewish” state, however, is a question of national character, and is not relevant to the Palestinians living as a foreign nation outside Israel. This is a domestic issue and it is up to the citizens of every country to decide the identity and character of their own state.”
With this statement Rahman tries to obscure the real issue, deliberately concealing the fact that it is precisely such recognition by the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world which is essential if a lasting peaceful solution is to be achieved, as that would in effect be an admission of the termination of any further territorial designs on their part. It would be a declaration of acceptance of the Jews as legitimate and equal neighbours in the region and an end to the concept of Israel as ‘Arab land’.
“The issue also goes deeper and challenges the demographic reality of the Israeli state and its democracy. The axiom of “two states for two peoples, one Jewish and one Palestinian”, currently being peddled by Israeli spokespersons, distorts the demographic reality of Israel in favour of depicting a population that is entirely Jewish.”
“Although it was intended to be just that, the practicalities of creating that state on land already inhabited by Palestinians left Israel with a significant population that did not fit its Zionist ideology. The very principle of a “Jewish state” in this circumstance is altogether contradictory to Israel’s claims to be democratic.”
Rahman’s knowledge of early Zionist history is obviously sadly lacking. At no point was Israel ever meant to have a population which was exclusively Jewish. Not only did the early Zionists recognise the fact that people of numerous religions and ethnicities would be part of the state, they also specifically appealed to them to join in the building of the state on the basis of equal rights from the first hours of its establishment in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. In later years Israel continued to consciously invite groups of non-Jews to join the nation, be they Vietnamese boat people or more recently refugees from Darfur.
Rahman also ignores the fact that there are many democratic nations around the world with a particular religious or ethnic flavour to them which in no way deny the democratic rights of their citizens who do not belong to that particular group. In the United Kingdom, the head of state cannot, by law, be of any religion other than Anglican. In Israel the head of state can, by law, be of any religion or ethnicity. And yet, we do not hear Rahman or others defining the UK as undemocratic.
Even more ridiculous is the following declaration by Rahman:
“The current Palestinian leadership headed by President Mahmoud Abbas has been absolutely right in refusing to recognise Israel as a Jewish state because it does not have the authority to speak for the Israeli people; nor should it acknowledge such undemocratic expressions of ethno-nationalism.”
Taking into account that the Constitution of the Palestinian Authority declares that “Arabic and Islam are the official Palestinian language and religion”, one has to wonder whether this – and the 22 nations comprising the Arab League or the 55 nations comprising the Organisation of the Islamic Conference – would equally evoke such charges of ‘undemocratic expressions of ethno-nationalism’. How telling it is that so many of those who seem to find it so difficult to accept the idea of one tiny Jewish state are totally blind to the ethno-nationalistic/religious projects going on in the rest of the world, including those established under the very same conditions and by the very same powers as those under which Israel came to being. The Syrian Arab Republic, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan or the Islamic Republic of Iran, to name but a few, don’t seem to trouble any of those people who find a Jewish state so unpalatable on the grounds of ‘ethno-nationalism’.
Equally bizarre are Rahman’s crocodile tears for the non-Jewish citizens of Israel.
“Moreover, by forcing the Palestinian Authority to recognise the state’s “Jewishness”, Israel is obliging the Palestinians to recognise a system in which Israel’s Arab citizens are second class. Those people, who represent 20% of Israel’s population, become the “non-Jewish” citizens of the “Jewish state” – a contradiction with serious implications.”
Of course the rights of non-Jewish citizens in Israel have been guaranteed under Israeli law for the past 62 years and there is no justification whatsoever in Rahman’s implication that their rights would somehow be harmed or subject to review should the PA agree to recognise Israel as a Jewish state. When one considers that under Palestinian law the penalty for selling land or property to a Jew is death and that Abbas has declared on several occasions his intention to have a Jew-free Palestinian state, it becomes even more obvious that Rahman’s assorted protestations and so-called justifications for the refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state are merely a faux liberal smokescreen aimed at disguising the fact that he is against ending the conflict once and for all.
So we have learned from this article that Omar Rahman, like many others in the Middle East and further afield, does not wish to end the Arab/Israeli conflict. Instead of firing rockets into the Israeli Negev or murdering Israeli motorists, he writes weasel words in the Guardian, but the essence is exactly the same when one looks at the bottom line; he is not prepared to give up on the dream of annihilating Israel.
One wonders if the Guardian is comfortable with the knowledge that it is promoting the same stance as that taken by terrorists and theocratic Islamist dictators by furthering the cause of the anti-peace camp. Equally, one must ask the readers of ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ and those who keep it afloat financially through sales and advertising if they are comfortable with co-operating in the condemnation of future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to more violence and bloodshed for the sake of their own politically fashionable credentials.