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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's not just semantics

A little more than ten days ago, when the controversy over 'Palestinian' recognition of Israel as a Jewish state first cropped up, I produced a copy of President Truman's letter recognizing the State of Israel and suggested why the words 'Jewish state' might have been crossed out.

What Erekat is apparently arguing is that Truman's having crossed out "new Jewish state" and having written in "State of Israel" means that Truman did not recognize that Israel is a Jewish state. That's nonsense for third reasons. First, the most likely scenario is that Truman was told that the State had a name when he went to sign the letter, and therefore he decided to recognize the State by its name. Second, his first paragraph says that "a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine." Well, if he wasn't recognizing that "Jewish state," what is the meaning of the second paragraph? Third, the United States never threatened to flood Israel with 'refugees,' has no contiguous borders with Israel and has never threatened to 'drive the Jews into the sea.' So once again, Erekat's comparison fails.
In Tuesday's New York Times, Hebrew University professor Shlomo Avineri provides the historical background I was missing:
Shlomo Avineri, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said Mr. Erekat was misinterpreting the American president’s intention. According to Mr. Avineri, the Truman letter had been prepared hours before Israel declared its independence, before the new country had chosen its name.

It was later corrected by a Truman adviser, Clark M. Clifford, after the declaration of independence in order to call the country by its name, not to deny its Jewish character, Mr. Avineri said.
The Times also notes Abu Mazen's and 'chief negotiator' Saeb Erekat's real intentions behind the refusal to recognize Israel is a Jewish state. It's not just about semantics:
Palestinian negotiators have long refused to recognize Israel’s Jewish character, saying that it would negate the Palestinian refugees’ demand for the right to return to their former homes and would be detrimental to the status of Israel’s Arab citizens.
For those who cannot figure out Abu Mazen's real intentions, please consider this picture from Tuesday's 'Palestinian' papers:

And here's the story behind the picture from Palestinian Media Watch.
Palestinian Authority president and Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated unequivocally Monday that he does not accept the Jewish state.

"I say this clearly: I do not accept the Jewish State, call it what you will," he said at a preliminary conference of the Palestinian Youth Parliament in Ramallah.

At the end of the conference, Abbas was presented with a large framed map of "Palestine," covering the entire area of Israel.

The photo of the map being held aloft by a smiling Abbas was featured in a prominent front-page position in both PA daily newspapers. Note that the word "Palestine" appears on the map in English.
JPost adds:
"The argument over recognizing Israel as a Jewish state is not technical or tactical," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levy told The Jerusalem Post Monday.

"The Palestinians cannot negotiate for a two-state solution where one is Palestinian and the other is Palestinian-to-be," he said. "This is essential; it is the choice between ending the conflict or failing to end the conflict."

A ministry statement said that "recognizing Israel as the sovereign state of the Jewish people is a crucial and necessary stage in the historical reconciliation process between Israelis and the Palestinians. The sooner the Palestinians internalize this basic fact, the sooner the peace between our nations will progress."
The Post also has some interesting quotes from Abbas' speech on Monday night in Ramallah:
"The Israeli government has come up with many new issues and it does not want a two-state solution," Abbas told the Palestinian "Youth Parliament in Ramallah. "We don't accept the term 'Jewish state' and insist on achieving all our rights."

He added: "We say that Israel is a state and the Israelis have the right to call themselves whatever they wish. But I don't accept this. At the Annapolis peace conference we told the Israelis that we only recognize the State of Israel and that they are free to call themselves as they wish."

Abbas also expressed his desire to resume peace talks with Israel on the basis of the Saudi peace initiative of 2002, the two-state solution and the "road map" for peace in the Middle East.

"The [Saudi] peace initiative is no longer an Arab initiative," he said. "It has become part of the road map, which has been endorsed by the Quartet, and as such it's an internationally recognized peace plan. We don't want to impose an Arab-Islamic peace vision on the Israelis, but this is an international plan." [So imposing an 'Arab-Islamic peace vision' wouldn't be okay, but if it becomes an 'international plan' that suddenly makes it okay? CiJ].

He said that the Palestinians conducted peace talks with the previous government in Israel for a year following the Annapolis peace conference in November 2007.

"All the final-status issues were then on the table," he added. "We fulfilled our duties while Israel didn't do anything." [What duties did they fulfill? CiJ]

He said that during the talks, the Palestinians made clear their position regarding all the final-status issues.

"Can anyone deny that Jerusalem was occupied in 1967?" he asked. "And can anyone deny that all the [Palestinian] refugees left their homes in what is Israel today?

"We want to tell the Israelis that east Jerusalem doesn't belong to you because it's an occupied territory. Therefore, you have no right to build in the city. They are also stealing our water and selling it to us. We want to solve the problem of water in accordance with international law." ['Stealing their water' from where? And selling it to them how? They've managed to pollute all the underground acquifers in Judea and Samaria by their unrestricted drilling since 1993. CiJ]

Abbas's comments contrast with former prime minister Ehud Olmert's insistence in March that during talks with the Palestinians, he had "put on the table an offer that dealt with the heart of the problems and all our historic emotional heritage of thousands of years.

"I said to [Abbas], Here you go, just sign. That was six months ago; I haven't heard back yet," Olmert said. [Why do I suspect that for once Olmert is telling the truth? CiJ]

Abbas pledged that if and when he reached an agreement with Israel, he would seek the approval of the Palestinians through a referendum.
There are almost no Israelis who will agree to any kind of 'right of return' or to a deal that does not include an end of conflict provision and a total and permanent cessation of terrorism. But that's not what Abu Mazen wants. Like Hamas, what he really wants is to destroy the Jewish state. Most of us aren't willing to commit suicide yet.

Soccer Dad adds:
Since 1993, Israel has given the Palestinian Authority legitimacy (the PLO supposedly renounced violence in return for no longer being considered a terrorist organization), territory ( Jericho, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarem, Kalkilye, Nablus, Jenin and all of Gaza) arms, money and the Palestians have failed to keep a single term (no violence, no incitement against Israel) of the Oslo agreements. Given that Abbas has done nothing for Israel, the question really should be whether or not Abbas (or any leader of the PA) accepts the notion of an independent Jewish state living alongside a Palestinian state. Abbas's latest makes it clear that the answer is most likely "no."
You can bet on it.


At 8:45 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

No Israeli Jew is prepared to accept any deal that does not recognize the principle of two states for two peoples - meaning an Arab State and a Jewish State and that does not terminate the conflict. The Palestinians are not willing to accept the aforegoing terms for a peace settlement. There is nothing to negotiate about with Mahmoud Abbas. Israel is not going to sign a suicide note. That is why a two state solution is not going to happen because the Palestinians don't want peace with Israel, they want to destroy Israel. That is clear to every one who is not in denial about the extremist views expressed by Abbas.

In short, Israel's existence, united capital and character as a Jewish State are issues not open to compromise. The real essence of the dispute is not about land, borders, or settlements but Israel's very right to exist as a country. Israel will never discuss it.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger a little bit of everything said...

it is interesting these type of tactics. You demand something that the Palestinians can't give, not at this point, as the status of the refugees is part of the negotiations, and then blame them for stopping the peace process. It is very convenient. Unfortunately. Once the palestinians start to realize they will never have their own, sustainable state, they will start demanding equal rights in westbank as the israeli in israel, as westbank is technically Israel. Ironic because that will be in effect the end of the Jewish state. By trying to preserve the jewishness of the jewish state so desperately, this jewish state might lose its jewishness faster than sand slips through fingers. What do they call it? The reason of the hawks.

At 11:59 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Owl, Israel is asking for nothing more than a declaration of equality and an end to the conflict. That's it. Israel is not standing in the way of Palestinian statehood. The Palestinians could have a state tomorrow if the Palestinians agreed to accept the above two points as the basis for future co-existence. They don't want one - after all as Carl said, Ehud Olmert presented Abbas with a very generous offer and never heard back from the Palestinians. And there is no sign they will ever accept it.

At 3:54 AM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

It's always fascinating to watch the Palestinians and their apologists contort themselves and the historical record to rationalize their eternal intransigence and belligerence.

The UN partition plan -- rejected by the Arabs in an act of war and thereby forfeited -- specifically called for an Arab state and a Jewish state in Palestine. This of course, followed Britain's breach of the earlier League of Nations resolution (calling for "close Jewish settlement of the land") when they handed 78% of the original mandate to the Hashemites (now 70% Palestinian Jordan and Judenrein).

Excluding Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Israel retains just 15% of the original mandate as a Jewish state, yet this is still too much for the Palestinians and their apologists like OOM.

At 5:13 AM, Blogger a little bit of everything said...

well i still say that israel knows very well that making preconditions like this will paralyze the peace process (calling it that becomes more and more absurd) further which is according to me exactly the strategy. What else could be the reason for this nonsense? The more preconditions the more it becomes impossible to even start to negotiate. Which is the point. Israel needs more time for its settlements to grow and create 'facts on the ground'. It is sad, as this will only further erode the possibility of a two state solution. Olmert was a crook, but he was right that the only alternative to a two state solution is an official apartheid system a la south africa. Israel cannot survive an apartheid system. By the way I made a mistake above. This sort of hardliners logic is called 'treason of the hawks'. I forgot the t. It's the opposite of appeasement but just as dangerous.

At 5:23 AM, Blogger a little bit of everything said...

to finance doc:
I think you got it upside down.
Even given gaza AND westbank, palestinians will only get about 18% of what they used to have.
Also, this reference to what was offered in '48 to palestinians is absurd. Are you seriously blaming them for rejecting this 'generous' offer? I don't know if anybody would appreciate it if suddenly the UN decides to cut a land in half and give the other half to a people that weren't there 50 years ago. Of course they rejected this.
Also, Olmert should have negotiated with Hamas. As Abbas has virtually no power. It doesn't matter what Abbas accepts or not. Maybe Israel shouldn't have tried so hard to undermine Abbas and to leave him without authority. As the alternative to Abbas turned out so much worse. I wonder what will happen if Israel manages to eliminate Hamas.
Both sides are impossible in this situation. Israel has done everything in its power as well to undermine the peace process and has kept another people occupied for over 40 years now. Israel has never made any serious offer to palestine. NEVER. To pretend that all that stands in the way of peace are the palestinians is an enormous hypocrisy. And believe me I am not an opponent of anybody.

At 6:01 AM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:04 AM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

The Palestinian Arabs had NOTHING prior to 1948 -- no country and no ethnicity, religion, culture, language, history, or national origin distinct from the other Arabs living on the 5 million square miles of territory they control to this day.

The Palestinian Arabs were not interested in co-existence with the Jews in the 1920 when they murdered hundreds in pogroms, nor in the 1930s when they flatly refused the overwhelming share of the mandate offered to them by the Peel Commission, nor in 1948 when they declared war on Israel, nor in 1964 when the PLO was formed (three years prior to Israeli control of the territories). They are not interested in co-existence to this day.

The Jews were in the land over 3,000 years ago. The Arabs are indigenous to Arab-ia and first arrived in what is today Israel during the Muslim Invasion in the 7th century. Most of the Arabs living in Palestine in the mid-20th century came from Egypt and Syria in search of jobs and a better life facilitated by the early Zionists.

When a people lose control of land through wars of aggression, they lose -- full stop. They don't get infinite "do-overs" in an effort to reverse the results, have a claim to billions of dollars in Western taxpayer money, or a right to murder innocents in the name of "resistance".

You are just another know-nothing Western hypocrite and apologist for terror.

Fuck you, and the camel you rode in on.

At 7:26 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

FinanceDoc, well said!

There is neither a moral or a strategic case to be made for partitioning the Land Of Israel. The Arabs have made it clear they want it all. How do you talk to people who have that kind of attitude? The leftist Jewish apologists in Israel, by defending Palestinian extremism are in truth pushing peace further away.

And there will be no peace if Israel is turned into a graveyard.

At 8:26 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Finance Doc,

Well said indeed.

Glad to see that I can go to sleep at night and others will hold down the fort.

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl in Jerusalem said...
Finance Doc,

Well said indeed.

All I needed was the 'camel' line. :)

At 7:23 AM, Blogger a little bit of everything said...

"Fuck you, and the camel you rode in on."

Is this your summary of Israeli policy towards the Palestians? No wonder you haven't been able to get along with them.

In 1980 there were 10000 jews in Palestine and a few hundred thousands Palestinians. If you have to back 3000 years to legitimize the ethnic cleansing of an entire region you loose the argument.
That region has been conquered by every surrounding empire for the last few thousand years. That does not mean that there were no people living there that have a certain identity.
It is ironic that this whole conflict that Israel started has in fact reinforced a subtle palestinian identity (they were just people living for centuries in a certain area) into a very strong one.
I guess you have to be careful what you wish for. In defining yourself so strongly in opposition to another people you force the other people to define themselves just as strongly.
I am always amazed by the lack of comprehension on the side of israeli of what they did to the people that inhabited the region originally. As if they have no idea whatsoever that they are actually dealing with an another people. Why is that? Any ideas? (Besides blaming the palestinians for the lack of comprehension on the israeli side)

At 7:41 AM, Blogger a little bit of everything said...

"Fuck you, and the camel you rode in on."

Is that your summary of official israeli policy with regard to the Arabs? No wonder you don't get along.

There were 10000 Jews and 600000 Arab Palestinians living in the area that was palestine in 1880. If you have to go back 3000 years to justify your presence in a region you loose.
It's not because that region was occupied by every empire throughout history that there are not people living in that area with a certain identity. It is interesting that a subtle identity of Arabs simply living in a certain region has been reinfored through this conflict with the Jews into a very strong self-definition as Palestinians. I guess you have to be careful what you wish for. In the Jewish state identifying itself so strongly in opposition to everybody else they have forced their neighbors to strong identify themselves in opposition to the Jewish state. An interesting dialectical process.
I am always astonished by the complete lack of comprehension of isreali of the history, identity, desires etc of their neighbors. Like they have no idea they are actually dealing with a people. Why is that? This blindness?


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