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Why we need Israel AND Palestine

Submitted by Robin Messing on Sun, 02/09/2014 - 5:33pm

Huffington Post just ran an article about a wave of French Jews who are migrating to Israel becuase of rising anti-Semitism in France.   This is exactly why we need Israel.  We need a state where Jews can migrate to when anti-semitism raises its ugly head, as it has done so many times in the past.  We need a state designed for the protection of the Jewish people.  That does not necessarily mean though, that Israel should always be a Jewish State in the future.  There is a difference between  "a Jewish State" and "a state designed for the protection of Jews".  The first is racist, the second is not--and I prove this mathematically here.

I don't mean to belittle the antiSemitism the Jews in France are enduring, but what they are going through is nothing compared to the crisis the Palestinians are enduring in the Yarmouk refugee camp and elsewhere throughout Syria.

The crisis in Yarmouk underscores the necessity of the Palestinians having their own state for those facing crisis to return to.  Unfortunately, Israel has made forming a relatively contiguous Palestinian state more and more difficult over the years through its illegal settlement construction in the West Bank.  Israel has a special moral obligation to help Palestinians in crisis by allowing them to return--after all, they would not be in refugee camps in the first place had Israel not decided to steal the houses of their parents and grandparents by refusing to let them return after the war ended in 1948.  Of course, we all know that Israel isn't going to allow them to return.  But the least it should do is freeze settlement construction which makes achieving a Palestinian state more difficult, if not impossible.

The Huffington Post article mentions "the ongoing existential threats from Palestinians and hostile Arab neighbors."   These threats are at least partially self-inflicted by Israel.  Much of the hostility arises from Israel's defiance of international law by its ongoing settlement project and its brutal occupation of the West Bank.  Much arises from Israel's reliance on brute force over diplomacy to solve its problems.  Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif said "Once the Palestinian problem is solved the conditions for an Iranian recognition of Israel will be possible." 

Israel should jump on this pronouncement and explore what it means.  Hamas will never agree to living peacefully with Israel because it believes all of historical Palestine--including Israel, is part of a waqf, or sacred trust reserved for the benefit of the Islamic people.  Hamas believes it CAN'T negotiate away even a square inch of this soil because doing so would betray a trust with Allah.  Iran does not share this belief that all of historic Palestine is sacred waqf territory.  Israel should be exploring what benefits would come if it were to withdraw from the occupied territories as part of a deal with the Palestinian Authority.  Would Iran be willing to try to persuade Hamas to change its charter and give up the notion that Allah forbits them from  negotiating peace with Israel?  Failing that, would Iran be willing to cut off all military aid to Hamas and Hezbollah in return for a negotiated settlement with the Palestinian Authority?

Of course, Israel has no interest in exploring peace talks with Iran either. A full peace with Iran would depend upon resolving the Palestinian conflict, and Israel has no intentions of bargaining in good faith with the Palestinians.  In fact, I believe that Israel is using its conflict with Iran to distract world attention from its lack of good faith in its dealing with the Palestinians.  I describe this in much more detail here.

Bottom line: We need Israel to be a safe place where Jews are guaranteed to have a home.  But Israel's greed for land exceeds its desire for peace.