Monday 17 September 2007

Three contributions to the Israel-Palestine debate

Saturday's Guardian contained three contributions on Israel-Palestine and related issues.

Author David Grossman's account of growing up in Israel in the 1950s in the shadow of the Holocaust, and his reflection on the capacity of literature to address the horrors of history, was powerful and moving. He writes:

The world we live in today may not be as overtly and unequivocally cruel as the one created by the Nazis, but there are certain mechanisms at work that have similar underlying principles. Mechanisms that blur human uniqueness and evade responsibility for the destiny of others. A world in which fanatic, fundamentalist forces seem to increase day by day, while others gradually despair of any hope for change.

Meanwhile, Ed Pilkington's article on the Walt-Mearsheimer affair made some attempt to be evenhanded but it was clear where the author's sympathies lay, and the article ended with the inflated claim that the episode 'bears eloquent witness to the state of affairs in America today, where thoughts considered unremarkable elsewhere are deemed beyond the pale.'

Finally, Martin Woollacott's review of Ghada Karmi's new book was a completely uncritical summary of the latter's argument for a one-state solution in Israel-Palestine (which would mean, effectively, the abolition of the world's only Jewish state). Woollacott swallows wholesale Karmi's claim that it was the Israelis rather than the Palestinians who were to blame for the failure of the Oslo peace process, flying in the face of accounts given by Bill Clinton and others of Arafat's stubborn rejectionism. Remarkably, 60 years after the country's foundation and recognition by the United Nations, it is the very fact of Israel's existence that appears to be the main problem for Woollacott, as for Karmi.


Anonymous said...

Hi Bob.

In our earlier discussion you said you in favour of the right of return to Israel for the Palestinian refugees. Perhaps I misunderstood you, but isn't that effectively a one-state solution? And how could Israel remain a 'Jewish state' in such circumstances?

Martin said...

Hi g

I think you must be confusing me with someone else - Bob from Brockley perhaps?

Personally I don't have a fixed view on the right of return, but I've just read Dershowitz's 'The Case for Israel' and this is what he says:

'The claimed right of return has never contemplated their return as a minority group, based on any personal desire to live in a particular village or house in Jewish Israel. The right to return has always contemplated returning as a majority group so as to eliminate the Jewish state and live in a Muslim state...the refugees were not primarily a humanitarian concern but rather a political tactic designed to produce the intended destruction of Israel'.

Elsewhere in the book, Dershowitz accuses some Arab states of perpetuating the misery of Palestinian refugee camps - rather than enabling their occupants to integrate into mainstream society, as has happened with other population movements around the world - in order to keep the issue alive and to bolster their opposition to the very fact of Israel's existence.