Sunday, September 09, 2012

What "Palestine"?

From JPost, 6 Sept 2012, by Martin Sherman:
... given how ingrained the ["Two-State Solution"] TSS-approach has become in the culture of the discourse on the Arab-Israeli conflict, generating any conceptual space for the consideration of alternative, Zionist-compliant proposals requires a dramatic restructuring of Israel’s diplomatic apparatus.
...In the absence of a well-financed and well-formulated public diplomacy offensive, Israel will find not only that its strategic options are restricted, but that its very survival is threatened. Among the survival- threatening strategic restrictions that Israel will be subjected to, is the inability to break out of the stranglehold the TSS has on its perceived range of actionable alternatives.
...Clearly, sustaining the TSS mythology is what is commonly known as the “Palestinian narrative” – the notion that the Palestinian Arabs are a distinct people that comprise a coherent and cohesive national entity, with a clear vision of a “homeland,” in which they aspire to exercise national sovereignty.
If this claim can be disproven in a manner that is not only substantively persuasive, but that can be pertinently packaged politically, the foundations upon which the edifice of the TSS is erected will no longer be tenable.
Conversely, as long as the perceived legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative persists – or more accurately, is allowed to persist – it will continue to fuel the myths and the misperceptions that perpetuate the TSS.
...This assault on the pervasive but unmerited legitimacy of the narrative must be directed both at its factual veracity and it moral validity – i.e. both at the empirical elements on which it is founded and the objectives it is being used to promote.
Delegitimizing the Palestinian narrative will be a daunting task, but the difficulty should not be overstated. We should take heart from the accomplishments of the TSS-advocates themselves. Imagine how hopeless the situation of any pro-TSS Palestinian activist must have seemed in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the wake of Israel’s dramatic Six Day War victory.
Faced with the perception of invincible Israeli military might on the one hand, and resolute US rejection on the other, any realistic pundit could well have been excused for considering the TSS dead in the water.
Will and wherewithal
By way of illustration, the 1980 Republican platform that brought Ronald Reagan to the White House stated: “We believe the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank would be destabilizing and harmful to the peace process.” Moreover, in Israel, up until the late 1980s, successive opinion polls found that 80 percent or more of the electorate opposed any significant territorial withdrawal in Judea/Samaria.
Yet despite the bleak prospects, TSS-advocates did not despair. With commendable resolve and resourcefulness they managed, against all odds, to convert the status of their highly improbable political paradigm from marginal to mainstream – eventually even monopolistic. For almost a quarter of a century, it has dominated and dictated the discourse as the preferred mode of ending the Mideast conflict.
This, then, is the example that must be emulated – in reverse. The opponents of the TSS need to marshal the will and the wherewithal to achieve what the proponents of TSS did: dislodge a dominant paradigm and replace it with their own.
Without wishing to understate the difficulties entailed in this, in some important aspects this reverse endeavor is – or could be – easier.
For those seeking to debunk the Palestinian narrative, and hence the fundamental rationale of the TSS, have an important ally on their side – the truth. After all, to strip the wafer-thin veneer of legitimacy off this narrative, all one needs is to echo what the Palestinians themselves do and say.
A contrived people
The Palestinian Arabs are a contrived people and their professed national identity is bogus ... because they – and their Arab patrons – openly admit it.
...the Palestinians characterize themselves not as a distinct people, but as part of the Arab nation, indistinguishable from other components of it. They openly confess that their national identity is neither authentic nor permanent, but merely a temporary contrivance to help the Arabs eliminate Israel. No less a figure than the spokesman of the Arab League revealed that pan-Arab policy is to refuse Palestinians wishing to acquire citizenship of Arab countries in which they have been resident for decades, so as to artificially preserve their identity – lest there be no “reason for them to return to Palestine.”
Even more tellingly, the Palestinians have no clear vision of a “homeland” in which they aspire to exercise their national sovereignty. They have put forward wildly divergent – even mutually exclusive – delineations of what comprises that “homeland.”
Significantly, until 1968, they not only explicitly eschewed any sovereign claims to the “West Bank,” but conceded that it was part of a another sovereign country, the Hashemite Kingdom, which up until 1988 claimed the territory for itself.
Clearly then, the Palestinians do not genuinely see themselves as a distinct people with an authentic national identity, striving to exercise sovereign rule in a defined territory. Rather their claim to nationhood is a thinly disguised device to thwart the exercise of Jewish national sovereignty and to undermine the Jewish nation-state.
Conveying this message assertively and articulately must be the primary mission of the nation’s diplomatic offensive and the vital precondition for the foundation of a viable TSS-alternative.
...Since the express purpose of the contrived Palestinian national identity is to undermine the foundations of the Jewish state, the pursuit of ...a genuine, sustainable accord with some Arab political entity is so implausible as to be irrelevant as an element of policy, as the experience of the past 100 years demonstrates.
...Indeed, recognizing the futility of seeking a political solution underscores the need for a humanitarian one.
Accordingly, these notions ...lead inexorably to a policy prescription based on the ...doctrinal principles of: (a) eliminating ethnic discrimination toward the Palestinian Arabs – first as refugees and second as residents in the Arab world, and (b) providing individual Palestinian-Arabs the freedom of choice to determine their future and that of their families.
These doctrinal elements translate into a comprehensive tripartite proposal...
The three components should be seen as a mutually interactive, integrative whole:
  • Dissolution or radical restructuring of UNRWA to bring the treatment of Palestinian refugees into line with that of all other refugees on the face of the globe.
  • Resolute insistence on the cessation of ethnic discrimination against Palestinian Arabs in the Arab world and of the prohibition on their acquiring citizenship of the countries in which they have resided for decades.
  • Generous relocation loans provided directly to individual Palestinian Arab breadwinners and family heads, resident in Judea/Samaria (and eventually Gaza) to allow them to build better futures for themselves and their dependents, in other countries of their choice.
...If there is nothing reprehensible in advocating funding the voluntary relocation of Jews from Judea/Samaria to facilitate the establishment of what, in all probability, would be a failed micro-state and a haven for radical extremists on the fringes of Europe, what possible objection could there be for funding the voluntary relocation of Arabs from Judea/Samaria to prevent the establishment of such a forbidding entity?
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