Friday, April 25, 2014

Does Israel’s triumph mean we are guilty?

Dror Eydar

Last week, while Israelis were celebrating the festival of freedom known as Passover, Professor Zeev Sternhell wrote an op-ed in Haaretz in which he criticized Israel for insisting the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state.
This "is a way to demand that the Palestinians accept their historic defeat and recognize the Jews' exclusive ownership of the entire land," Sternhell wrote.
There. With that single sentence, Sternhell encapsulated the Left's tendency to run away from historical facts. The Arabs have been asked to recognize the Jews' right to hold some part of their historic homeland, the Land of Israel. Every draft agreement since World War I has stipulated such a provision. Never has Israel asked the Palestinians to recognize its right to retain the entire land.
Only a left-winger who denies the Jewish claims on this land, only a person who scorns at the notion that there are valid legal and moral arguments that prove a historical and religious link between the Jews and their only homeland, can describe this demand as something that is akin to "accepting defeat."

Who defeated the clans in Ramallah, Hebron, Nablus and Gaza? Israel's triumph was just one painful strike. But the Israeli hammer was not what caused their disadvantage; it was the Arabs of this region who have dealt them blow after blow and handed them their troubled fate. The Arabs have constantly refused to accept our presence here; they are still harboring a false hope that they could drive us out of here if they just wait a little longer. And they are abetted by Sternhell and his cohorts.
That is why they will never sign a peace agreement that declares an end to the conflict, once and for all. In fact, it is the Palestinians, not Israelis, who insist they have "exclusive ownership of the entire land." The professor refuses to see this truth because his eyes have been shut.
The Palestinian's intransigence on Israel being a Jewish state has to do with one of the core questions, a question that parts in the Left have somehow ignored: Do the Jews, as a national and ethnic group, have a claim to this land, based on moral, legal, historical and religious grounds? At the very least, do they have claim on the portion of the land that would be left to us if Sternhell has his way?
As long as the Palestinians refuse to accept this demand, the conflict will endure. Any deal that is not considered final would merely be another step toward the implementation of the Palestine Liberation Organization's phased plan to destroy Israel. In other words, the delegitimization of the Jewish state would continue even after it had withdrawn to its narrow borders.
Sternhell's friends will then attack Israel as being an "apartheid" and a "racist" state. As far as they are concerned, because a fifth of the population is non-Jewish, this country is a binational state. It is just obvious. How outrageous it is that the law books overtly favor the Jewish majority.
Sternhell must be rolling his eyes, full of righteous indignation, penning his next op-ed to call for transforming Israel into a "country of all its citizens" -- a state of all its nationalities. Why? To use his own words, "citizenship is inferior to national affiliation." That annoying thing called nationality, it just won't go away.
But it gets worse. Sternhell essentially claims that the Jews are the perennial culprits. Unfortunately, a significant portion of our declining elite has grown to accept the anti-Semitism on the world stage.
Just look at how Sternhell defines this agreement: "For Israel's leaders, the word 'agreement' means unconditional Palestinian surrender. ... The Palestinians must accept their inferiority." Unbelievable. Where did he get that from? Only a colonialist could talk like that. Only a colonialist would view the agreement as a deal where the locals accept their inferiority to the masters.
So a "fair agreement," I guess, would have the Palestinians hold a knife against our throat and slowly push us into the sea. Then they would have us board ships and disperse us all over Europe, Sternhell's spiritual homeland.
The Palestinian collective (assuming there is only one, not many) has a state in Jordan and in Gaza. It has a mini-state in Ramallah. Moreover, there are new Palestinian states in the making. Is that inferiority?
The Left's patronage extends to non-Arabs as well. It is applied to ideological adversaries too. Sternhell has realized that he is part of a minority. He wants Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to renege on the pledges he made to his voters, to disavow the very values he ran on and abort the historic mission he has pursued: "Try to go down as a [Charles] de Gaulle rather than as a son of Professor [Benzion] Netanyahu." He essentially wants him take a page from his two most recent successors, Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon, and to emulate Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. They have all ignored their ideological roots.
De Gaulle? That's just hilarious. Remember his anti-Semitic rhetoric after the Six-Day War, when he said there was no justification for a Jewish state that was surrounded by hostile Arab nations? He called us an "elite people, sure of themselves and domineering" (if you were to read Sternhell's op-ed pieces, you might reach the same conclusion).
Sternhell implies that Netanyahu should withdraw from the heart of our homeland, just like de Gaulle withdrew from Algeria. But this is like apples and oranges. Algeria was never French. As for the Land of Israel, well -- it has been the land of the Jewish people since time immemorial. Yes, Mr. Sternhell. This has been the home of your people for ages. Could you believe it?
I would much rather praise de Gaulle's patriotic stance during World War II. Back then, he stood firm against the defeatists in the French government who wanted to submit to the German evildoers. My advice: When you make historical parallels, you have to do it right.

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