"This is how I understand the struggle...To stand steadily like spears, and never give up." Naji Al-Ali

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Legitimizing Ethnic Cleansing: Leibermann and Ayalon

In a recent Ynetnews piece on the September 21st meeting between Palestinian "Prime Minister" Salam Fayyad and Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon, Fayyad showed the makings of a backbone (a shocking development for the PA) as he left "outraged...following a dispute about terminology to be used in the meeting summary." Fayyad objected to the addition of the phrase "for two peoples" to the reference of a "two state solution" on the meeting's summary.

According to the article's comments, his stance perplexed and irritated many pro-Israel readers. As one reader explains:
Even the "moderate" Fayyad admits that the Palestinians will NEVER accept Israel as a Jewish state. They want to have the cake, and eat it too: a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, PLUS Israel ceasing to be a Jewish state, and absorbing masses of Palestinian refugees. This proves nothing had changed in the Palestinian ideology through history - they didn't accept a Jewish homeland in 1948, and they still don't accept a Jewish homeland in 2010. This clearly proves they are still not ripe for peace.
Clearly, his poster sees nothing wrong with the concept of Israel as an exclusively Jewish state. However, as Salon writer Ben White points out in his article, "1948 and Israel's Deceptive Bargaining Position," what the author of the above comment forgets is this:
Such a demand, and understanding why it is so unacceptable to Palestinians, means going back to 1948 -- when hundreds of Palestinian towns and villages were destroyed, their inhabitants forbidden from returning by the new Jewish state -- and throwing the spotlight on two groups of Palestinians that the so-called peace process has ignored or marginalized: the refugees of '48 (and their descendants) and the Palestinian minority that's left inside Israel. The unpleasant reality is that Israel as "a Jewish state" means the permanent exile and dispossession of the former, and the colonial control of the latter.
Essentially, insisting that Fayyad agree to describe the emergence of a Palestinian state along ethnic lines implies his acquiescence to subjugating "Israeli Arabs" aka Palestinians who survived the Nakba to second class citizenship within Israel, while at the same time legitimizing the ethnic cleansing of those whose villages were razed or worse, those who were murdered under the direction of Plan Dalet.

In the wake of Fayyad's refusal come the ever-repugnant musings of Israeli Foreign  Minister Avigdor Lieberman to the UN General Assembly. Exchanging his words on forcible population transfers for the slightly less (but not by much) insane position of "moving borders to better reflect demographic realities," thus drawing Arabs out of their country by slight of hand rather than at gunpoint, Lieberman makes his racism evident.

Netanyahu has done his best to distance himself from Lieberman, having his office issue the statement, "The content of the foreign minister's speech at the United Nations was not coordinated with the prime minister. Prime Minister Netanyahu is the one who is managing the political negotiations of the state of Israel." But the truth of the matter is this: Netanyahu, Ayalon and Lieberman are cut from the same cloth. Demanding the recognition of Israel as an exclusively Jewish state, and dividing the land along ethnic lines are simply variations on a theme. The Israeli obsession with a demographic Jewish majority attests to one thing: the inherent racist character of Zionism. If you belong to the wrong ethnic group, you have no right to the land you were born in. And if you ask the poster mentioned above, an unwillingness to accept this position is the reason Palestinians have seen no peace. If these are the terms for peace, who would want it?

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