Professor Shlomo Avineri, one of my university lecturers when I first began my MA studies at Hebrew University, has had his article translated into English and it now appears in the July 16 edition of Haaretz, entitled
As with the Left, if the enemy doesn't yield to you, we must surrender to him:
The Palestinians do not recognize the Jews’ right to a state, so Israel must take steps on its own to improve the atmosphere.
But he does make some very good points.
1. Oslo’s sponsors saw the conflict as one between two national movements and believed – as did I – that direct negotiations between Israel and the PLO could find a solution to the territorial and strategic issues that were the cornerstones of the dispute...We were wrong.
2. The Palestinians don’t think this is a conflict between two national movements. From their perspective, this is a conflict between a single national movement – the Palestinian one – and a colonialist, imperialist entity that is destined to vanish from the world.
3. The Israeli position talks about “two states for two peoples.” But in the Palestinian version, the phrase “two peoples” doesn’t appear; it only talks about “two states.” If anyone thinks this is hairsplitting, let him ask a Palestinian interlocutor for his opinion on the “two states for two peoples” formula. Sooner or later, he’ll get the answer that there is no Jewish people.
4. The truth is that in the Palestinian narrative, the Jews are neither a people nor a nation, but merely a religious community; therefore they aren’t entitled to a state. This is also the reason for the sweeping, uncompromising Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as the Jewish nation-state.
5. This is the root of the conflict – not borders, not the settlements, not even Jerusalem. And of course, the Palestinian refusal to give up the principle of the “right of return” is tied into this.
6. Zionism in 1948, when it accepted the principle of partition, believed, just as the people behind Oslo did, that the Palestinian national movement was a mirror image of what Zionism thought – that this was a conflict between two national movements. In such a conflict, compromise is possible. But if you view your movement as fighting against a colonialist, imperialist movement, there is no chance of compromise and no moral justification for it.
So far, so good.
1. Nothing can be expected from the United States or the Netanyahu government. The Obama administration has failed in every foreign-policy challenge...
But, being 'left', he needs to say something for hope, to prevent despair since the Left is all about emotion and feeling good.
So, he writes:
Without retreating from the principle of “two states for two peoples,” the opposition must propose interim steps right now...a complete halt to construction in the settlements, the evacuation of illegal outposts, a reexamination – once the current tension has ebbed – of the Israel Defense Forces’ deployment in the West Bank, and the removal of what remains of the Gaza blockade (possibly in coordination with Egypt after the current fighting ends). Finally, it must propose an initiative to reduce Israel’s civilian presence in the West Bank by developing an evacuation-compensation plan.
Would that plan work? Well, he writes:
Most Israeli settlers in the West Bank came there not for ideological, nationalist or religious reasons, but for the economic vistas opened by government subsidies for spacious, comfortable housing.
So, when convenient for the Left, the "settlers" are fanatics, extremists, messianic and above all, ideologically-driven Biblical-religious fundamentalists and when it is convenient in another framework, we're basically venal, money-hungry, non-thinking dupes of a Marxist interpretation of false national feeling.
But at least his ending improves:
Those of us who supported Oslo – and who still think it was the right step – must recognize that salvation won’t come from the Palestinians. They’re genuinely uninterested in a solution of two states for two peoples because they’re unwilling to grant legitimacy to the Jewish right of self-determination...