Typical academic anti-Israel conference
Comment by Ted Belman
Recently I posted a report on an academic boycott conference and one on a conference on medical problems in conflict areas at York U and U of Toronto, respectively. Effectively they were hatefests in the name of conferences.
Now, York U is hosting a conference to purports to consider alternatives to a two-state solution. But it too fails to be a legitimate Conference. My friend, Salomon Benzimra, explains.
“Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace”
Conference at York University, June 22-24, 2009
by Salomon Benzimra, May 24, 2009 ( email@example.com )
The purpose of this paper is to briefly analyze the agenda of this Conference and the main issues likely to be discussed, based on the contents of its official website. I only focused on two excerpts – the Welcome Page and the Vision Statement – where I highlighted some of the most egregious notions.
Welcome (home page)
The purpose of this conference is to explore which state model would be the best to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, respecting the rights to self-determination of both Israelis/Jews and Palestinians. Despite the current diplomatic focus on the two-state model, the continued failure to bring peace to the region highlights the necessity of rigorously examining all options for a resolution of the conflict. The conference seeks to systematically measure the two state model against the promise of alternatives; very specifically the potential in the model of a single bi-national state.
The central goal of the conference is to focus a scholarly lens on a wide range of issues pertaining to one and two state models…..
The security and human rights of all individuals and peoples of the region remains a fundamental governing principle of the conference’s vision.
Dedicated as we are to achieving the scholarly goals of the conference, we are committed to ensuring that neither anti-Semitism, nor any other form of racism, has any place in this forum.
Self-determination: The notion of self-determination is inextricably linked to the notion of “people”. For a people to claim self-determination, it should be first ascertained that this people is entitled to sovereignty in the land where it lives, that is to say, that this people constitutes a “nation”. Whereas no one would question these attributes of the Jewish people, whose historical connection to the Land of Israel was recognized in international law (San Remo Conference, April, 1920 and Mandate for Palestine, July, 1922), together with the reconstitution of their national home in Palestine, it would be next to impossible to extend these same attributes to the so-called “Palestinian people.” Yet, this is the unchallenged premise upon which the whole Conference rests.
“…rigorously examining all options…”? Curiously, a few lines later we learn that “all options” are reduced to the “one and two state models.” This is sadly reminiscent of a famous cartoon which was circulated during the “Terror” period of the French Revolution in 1793. [A monkey (representing the authority) asks a gaggle of geese (representing the people) in what kind of sauce they would like to be cooked. To the geese’s angry reply, “But we don’t want to be cooked at all!”, the monkey fires back: “You are not answering the question!”] We can think of many other options: “one-Jewish State model”; “autonomy for the largely Arab areas”; “exchange of populations” (to account for the Jewish refugees from Arab lands); “Jordan is Palestine”, “Palestinian state in Gaza with a portion of Sinai”, etc. This is to say that the claim of “rigorous examination” is a crude fig leaf to the preconceived agenda of the Conference’s organizers.
“…human rights of all individuals and peoples…” This is a noble pursuit. But it should be obvious to everyone that the mere discussion of a “one-state model” implies the eradication of the only Jewish State in the world and its transformation into a state with a most probable Arab majority, in addition to the already existing 21 Arab states. Besides, this naked attempt at the selective elimination of the Jewish State flies in the face of the inherent rights of the Jewish people and, therefore, violates Article 80 of the UN Charter and the notion of “acquired rights”, as spelled out in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
“…anti-Semitism … has [no] place in this forum…” One wonders why this warning was inserted here. In the twisted mind of the organizers, anti-Zionism is fair game while anti-Semitism is banned. This disingenuous statement is a distinction without a difference for when you deny, selectively, the national aspirations of the Jewish people (anti-Zionism), you inevitably diminish the Jewish people with regard to others (anti-Semitism). It should be clear that the purpose of this Conference is not to discuss this or that specific policy of the Israeli government; it is to question the very legitimacy of the Jewish nation. What this lame statement does is condoning anti-Semitism and, hypocritically, pretending to oppose it.
The two-state vision has guided the peace process in Israel/Palestine since the Oslo Accords of 1993, a focus reinforced by the 2002 “Road Map to Peace”. Nevertheless, a number of factors – including the slow progress of peace talks, the isolation of Gaza, the never-ending cycle of violence, the construction of the separation wall in the West Bank, the growth of Israeli settlements and bypass roads dissecting the Occupied Territories, the growing strength of Palestinian and Israeli movements which reject the two-state solution as well as anxieties about deeply-rooted and enduring antipathies – are generating skepticism about the ability of the two-state model to resolve enough of the outstanding issues between the two groups to make a negotiated peace possible.
In the 1930s and 1940s, prominent Jewish intellectuals such as Hannah Arendt, Martin Buber and Judah Magnes advocated the establishment of a single state for Jews and Arabs in Palestine. The idea of using a variety of power-sharing techniques and formulas to accommodate two competing nationalisms within one state faded with the adoption of the United Nations partition plan in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. After a half century of political and intellectual marginalization, the idea that a single democratic state, whether binational, multicultural or liberal, could provide the most secure homeland for Jews and Palestinians was once again revived by independent thinkers such as Edward Said, Tony Judt, Meron Benvenisti and Ali Abunimah. However, to our knowledge, no recent university-sponsored conference has undertaken a sustained scholarly exploration of the question. The time is right to revisit the one state vs. two state debate in an academic context.
The conference will open a series of principled conversations among scholars with a commitment to liberal democracy and to the equality of all peoples and in particular, the equal rights to dignity, security and fundamental justice for Jews and Palestinians. The objective is to create an inclusive and respectful forum that promotes genuine debate and dialogue. To this end, conference speakers will be selected to represent a range of opinion, including proponents of one and two state models for Israel/Palestine.
Drawing on the experiences, both successful and otherwise, of other multinational constitutional democracies – such as Belgium, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa and Switzerland – the conference will explore the potential of a state shaped by federalism, equal citizenship and respect for linguistic, cultural and religious rights to protect the rights and security of its inhabitants and to serve as a political framework for the amelioration or even resolution of protracted conflicts.
Listed causes of the failure of the two-state model: The “Vision Statement” is appallingly selective in its enumeration of the obstacles to the two-state solution: “isolation of Gaza”; “cycle of violence”; “wall in the West Bank”; “Israeli settlements”; “bypass roads dissecting the Occupied Territories”; etc. Nowhere to be seen is any Palestinian responsibility for their failure: The Charters of Hamas, the PLO and Fatah which all call for the destruction of Israel, when they don’t openly call for genocide against the Jews; the countless violations of all agreements signed by the Palestinians (dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure; abiding by the restrictions in weaponry and armed personnel agreed upon in the Oslo Accords, etc.); the rejection of the Clinton-Barak offer at Camp David in July, 2000; the vandalizing of the economic infrastructure left over by the Israelis in Gaza in 2005; the indoctrination to hatred in Palestinian schools, mosques and media; etc.. The selective listing of failures shown in their “Vision Statement” denotes either a sheer ignorance of the facts (hard to believe) or a blatant propaganda manoeuvre where facts must be hidden to serve their pernicious agenda.
Truncated narrative: As is regularly done in all the Arab narratives, the best way to hide reality is to start history at a “convenient” time and ignoring all previous events (see my presentation at the Limmud Conference on February 15, 2009, addressing the fallacy of the “occupation”). The mention of three prominent Jewish intellectuals who toyed with the idea of a federated Arab-Jewish state – in the same way as Theodor Herzl toyed with the Ugandan option – obscures the far more relevant implications of international law, the will of the majority and the historic realities.
“…accommodate two competing nationalisms…”: The two Arab and Jewish competing nationalisms were indeed “accommodated” in the wake of World War I. The allocation of the territories held by the defunct Ottoman Empire conferred Arab sovereignty to most of these lands, while withholding about 2% for the Jewish homeland in Palestine. The Vision Statement would have us believe that a specific “Palestinian nationalism” was short-changed when the national aspirations of the Jewish people were recognized by the international community. It took about half a century for the Arabs to cleverly devise a newly forged “Palestinian people” and present it as the forgotten victim of Middle East politics, for the sole purpose of eradicating any Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. That the world at large has been duped to this day by this flimsy sham never ceases to amaze me.
“…a single democratic state, whether bi-national, multicultural or liberal…”: We already have a single, democratic, Jewish state in the Middle East, surrounded by five undemocratic Arab states where non-Muslim or non-Arab communities are deprived of their basic rights, in sharp contrast with the rights enjoyed by the substantial minority populations currently living in Israel. Pretending that a bi-national or multicultural entity in “Palestine”, where Arabs would inevitably form the majority, would lead to a peaceful and democratic state is, to paraphrase George Orwell, an idea so stupid that only intellectuals such as those cited (Edward Said, Tony Judt, Meron Benvenisti and Ali Abunimah) could believe and support in such a Conference.
“…equality of all peoples…dignity, security and fundamental justice for Jews and Palestinians”: Few would doubt that dignity, security and justice for the Arab people are in any particular danger within their 21 recognized states stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf. When the “Palestinian people” entered the international lexicon in the 1970s, the whole world embraced this novel concept even though the Arabs candidly admitted that the “Palestinian” label had been intentionally introduced to fight Israel and that there was no specific difference between them and the Jordanians, the Syrians and the Lebanese. Does a “people” whose only specificity is their avowed desire to eradicate a neighbouring people in their ancestral land deserve “dignity, security and fundamental justice”?
“Drawing on the experiences…of other multinational constitutional democracies…”: With the exception of South Africa, the countries cited as examples are populated either by a majority not exceeding 50% (Malaysia) or by ethnic groups of a common Western stock (Belgium, Canada, Switzerland). None of these patterns apply to the envisioned “one state solution.” Far more relevant would be the numerous examples in recent history where peace between traditionally hostile groups has been achieved not by creating “multinational” entities but by relocating people to countries where they would enjoy a more homogeneous ethnic distribution. If Europe has been at peace since 1945, it is precisely because millions of Germans, Hungarians, Poles, Serbs and Romanians have been relocated, often forcefully. Several millions of Turks, Greeks and Bulgarians were relocated in the inter-War years. The recent dislocation of the ex-Yugoslavia showed the limits of forced cohabitation in the absence of a totalitarian dictatorship. Ominous prospects of breakdown of multicultural societies hover in Lebanon and Iraq. The rapid dwindling of the Christian communities in the Arab world should also give pause to the unbridled “multicultural” impulse that seems to drive this Conference.
Three other observations are noteworthy:
a) The European political left extols the values of “multiculturalism”, in part because Europe has experienced the bloody excesses of nationalism in the 20th century. The actual success of this socio-political experiment is so far questionable, given the often unreported frictions it has generated in many European countries. However, sovereign countries in the European Union and elsewhere have the right to determine their long-term demographic policies, and to choose multiculturalism if they so wish. But this should in no way be a universal pattern to which every country in the world must abide to. Iceland, Poland and Japan, to name a few, are adamant in preserving their ethnic homogeneity and they are absolutely entitled to maintain their nation-state. The same thing applies to Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, notwithstanding the vociferous accusations from its many misguided detractors.
b) It is also amusing to observe the sheer academic dedication shown by the organizers of this Conference in tackling the Israeli-Arab issue which, by all accounts, has been far less bloody than many other conflicts in the world. Could we expect a similar symposium to debate “multinational constitutional” proposals to, say, unify the Indian subcontinent whereby Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India would put an end to their decades long violence and finally enjoy a blissful “one state solution”? Why not reunifying Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Macedonians and Kosovars into a more advanced “multicultural” union? Not a chance. The lofty principles embraced by the organizers of this Conference have nothing to do with the “respect for human rights.” The whole exercise is to present an academic justification, no matter how preposterous, to the selective elimination of the only Jewish State.
c) It is no less amusing to witness the casual abandonment of the so-called “Palestinian cause.” For the past four decades the world has been hypnotized by the phony notions of “Palestinian people”, “indigenous Palestinian population”, “Palestinian State”, “historic Palestine”, and so forth. But all of a sudden, the same academics that relentlessly pushed these constructs forward are prepared to jettison the whole package and forgo the sacrosanct statehood of the Palestinians. Why not? After all, hasn’t the whole propaganda around the “Palestinians” been built with the sole objective to destroy Israel?
We would have hoped that the organizers of this Conference had at least the decency to recognize their hidden agenda.
Rebuttal of Mr. Mazen Masri’s views on the Israeli-Arab conflict
by Salomon Benzimra, May 24, 2009
Among the four “Organizers” of the Conference scheduled for June 22-24 at York University (Bruce Ryder, Susan Drummond, Sharryn Aiken and Mazen Masri) listed in the Conference website, I can only comment on Mr. Masri’s views, based on a paper he published last year, titled “No Backing Down on Palestinian Right of Return”:
Mr. Masri’s credentials are presented in the Conference website as follows:
Mazen Masri is currently a Ph.D candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School where he is also an instructor. Prior to resuming graduate studies at Osgoode, Mazen served as legal advisor to the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). He holds a Bachelor of Law degree (LLB) from the Hebrew University and a Master of Law degree (LLM) from the University of Toronto and has worked in the legal field in both Israel and the West Bank. His current research interests include Israeli constitutional law and international law. Mazen is also a member of the Israeli Bar Association.
In April, 2008, Mr. Mazen Masri wrote an article, titled “No Backing Down on Palestinian Right of Return.” In it, he blames Israel for expelling Palestinian refugees in 1948, in a campaign he calls “racist”, and he argues that no peace could be achieved in the Middle East until all refugees return home and the state of Israel turns into a bi-national state. Clearly, Mr. Masri opposes the Jewish character of Israel and he actively supports the “one-state solution”, a scheme that is becoming more and more popular among radical Arabs and their Western supporters.
Mr. Masri’s article is another showpiece of Arab obfuscation wrapped in pseudo-legal prose. In his defence of the so-called “right of return” of the Palestinians, he repeatedly invokes international law, and accuses Israel of being a racist state. No need to be a legal expert to expose the many flaws in his argumentation.
As it should be obvious by now, all Arab narratives of the Middle East are based upon a truncated timeline. Mr. Masri’s exposé is no exception. For years, the Arabs have been complaining about the “illegal occupation of Palestinian territories” and they have, amazingly, convinced gullible journalists and fickle Western politicians with this repetitive mantra. The “occupation” narrative takes root in the 1967 Six Day War when Israel responded to an Arab-created casus belli and ended up in possession of territories from where military attacks had been launched.
Now, Mr. Masri somewhat dismisses the importance of the “occupation” narrative and insists on the fundamental importance of the “Nakba” narrative, thus pushing the timeline back to 1948. We welcome this expanded historical horizon but we ask: why stopping at 1948? Why not going back to 1920 to have a full picture of the events and really understand the present Middle East situation?
Since the events of the early 1920s are rarely, if ever, mentioned when discussing the Middle East, let us summarize what happened in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The Mandate system was introduced by the League of Nations and all the Middle East territories previously held by the Turks were temporarily assigned to Britain and France in three separate Mandates – Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine. The first two eventually led to the creation of present-day Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. At the Conference of San Remo, in April, 1920, the international community “[recognized] the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” However, within two years, the British decided – in contravention of their Mandatory obligations – to carve a new Arab state (Transjordan, which became present-day Jordan) out of Palestine, and to make it an exclusively Arab state.
So, when Mr. Masri refers incessantly to international law in his defence of the Palestinian Arabs, he is treading on thin ice. He should know that the legal foundations of Israel – in at least all lands west of the Jordan River – have been recognized by international law long before the Arabs forged the newly minted “Palestinian people.” And if anyone rejects the legality of Israel, they should as well reject the legality of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, unless they condone a selective application of international law.
In claiming the “Palestinian right of return”, Mr. Masri invokes the oft-repeated sham of “historic Palestine.” What is the history of Palestine? Coined by the Romans about 1,900 years ago, the name “Palestine” was adopted to eradicate any memory of Judea and of the much despised Jews of the area who had fought relentlessly against the Roman legions. “Palestine” revived the memory of the ancient Philistines, an Aegean people who settled the southern coastline over a thousand years earlier and who had largely vanished in Roman times. The region thus renamed “Palestine” was subsequently invaded and colonized by the Byzantines, the Sassanid Persians, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Mameluks and, eventually, the Turks who occupied it for five centuries until 1918. The history of “Palestine” has been marked by one occupying power after another until 1920, when the international community recognized the Jewish people as its rightful sovereign. That year – 1920 – marks the end of the longest colonization period in history and the first time Palestine became a legal entity under the Mandate. This status lasted until 1948 when the State of Israel was finally recognized by the community of nations. Israel is the only Palestinian state under international law. And if this is what Mr. Masri calls “rewriting history”, we invite him to challenge it.
With regard to “rewriting history”, Arabs living in glass houses should not be throwing stones. The Nakba (“catastrophe”) is now commemorated in sorrow by the Arabs every year on the anniversary of Israel Independence Day in 1948. But the term “Nakba” was introduced in Syria in the early 1920s, at the time when the French and British Mandates separated the northern Syrians from the southern Syrians, who now call themselves “Palestinians.” This partition was deemed disastrous for the Syrian Arabs, as it is amply documented in “The Arab Awakening”, by George Antonius, an author widely praised in the Arab world for his staunch anti-Zionism. Ironically, Antonius’s observation shatters the Arab propaganda machine which has been so insistent in highlighting the particularity of the “Palestinian people” whereas they are actually indistinguishable from the surrounding Arabs.
The new meaning of the “Nakba” is characterized by Mr. Masri as “ethnic cleansing” perpetrated by the Zionists in 1948. In support of this accusation, Mr. Masri cites the “compelling evidence furnished by the Israeli archives.” I suspect this “compelling evidence” is culled out of Ilan Pappe’s book, “The ethnic cleansing of Palestine”, or of Benny Morris’ initial work “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem”, written in 1987.
• Ilan Pappe, who calls himself to be a “historian”, is actually driven by a rabid anti-Zionist ideology which has discredited him from advancing any valid historical perspective. He has no qualms in admitting that he is not “interested in what happened [but] as to how people think what’s happened.” He also admits “that [his] ideology influences [his] historical writings….[because] the struggle is about ideology, not about facts; we do it because of ideological reasons, not because we are truth seekers.” Not surprisingly, Pappe’s total disregard for factual truths is what motivated the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week to recommend his book as a must-read.
• The case of Benny Morris is even more telling. As one of the so-called “New Historians”, driven by a passionate desire to assign guilt to Israel and to whitewash any responsibility from the Arabs, Morris has been extensively quoted as the prominent evidence purveyor by many Arab propagandists (Edward Said, Rashid Khalidi, Saree Makdisi, Hanan Ashrawi, etc.) and their Western sycophants. But when his shoddy scholarship and his false claims on his sources of information were revealed by the extensive work carried out by Efraim Karsh (Professor of Mediterranean Studies at King’s College, University of London), Morris admitted that he had “no access to the materials in the IDF and the Hagana Archives, and precious little to first-hand military materials deposited elsewhere.” This acknowledgement led Morris to entirely reverse his historical narrative; to recognize that the Arab leaders – and not the Zionists – were mostly responsible for the dispersion of the Palestinian Arab population in 1948; and that if the Jews had actually expelled all the Arabs in 1948, “today’s Middle East would be a healthier, less violent place.” Needless to say that this belated restoration of the truth made many former admirers of Morris very angry, especially Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer (of “Israel Lobby” fame) who relied heavily on Morris’ previous distortions for their reckless bashing of Israel.
So, where does the “compelling evidence” come from? We don’t know. But it seems Mr. Masri is in a time warp, circa 1990, when the New Historians ran their fictions unobstructed and they were considered pioneers in the field. It is also apparent that Mr. Masri never bothered to consult other reliable sources. He does not hesitate to blame the Zionists for “expelling [the refugees] from Haifa, Jaffa and the Galilee” but the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming from various independent sources, as the following examples show:
• from British sources:
“The most potent factor [in the flight of the Arabs] was the announcements made over the air by the Arab-Palestinian Higher Executive, urging all Haifa Arabs to quit… It was clearly intimated that Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.” (London Economist, October 2, 1948)”Every effort is being made by the Jews to persuade the Arab populace to stay and carry on with their normal lives, to get their shops and businesses open and to be assured that their lives and interests will be safe.” (Haifa District HQ of the British Police, April 26, 1948, (quoted in “Battleground” by Samuel Katz)
• from American sources:
“The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by order of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city…. By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa.” (Time Magazine, May 3, 1948)
“Israelis argue that the Arab states encouraged the Palestinians to flee. In fact, Arabs still living in Israel recall being urged to evacuate Haifa by Arab military commanders who wanted to bomb the city.” (Newsweek, January 20, 1963)
• from Arab sources (both Muslim and Christian):
“The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the act of the Arab states in opposing partition and the Jewish state. The Arab states agreed upon this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem.” (Emile Ghoury, Secretary of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, September 6, 1948)
“The Arabs of Haifa fled in spite of the fact that the Jewish authorities guaranteed their safety and rights as citizens of Israel.” (Monsignor George Hakim, Greek Catholic Bishop of Galilee, New York Herald Tribune, June 30, 1949)
“The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the “Nakba” in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those “treacherous” promises made by the leaders and the political elites.” (Mahmoud al-Habbash, writing in Al-Hayat el-Jadida, a Palestinian paper, December 13, 2006)
Nevertheless, Mr. Masri persists in his accusatory mood by repeatedly calling the Israelis “racist.” And yet, he mentions the 30,000 displaced Palestinians, following the intervention of the Lebanese army in Nahr al-Bared in 2007. He could have also mentioned the 300,000 expelled from Kuwait in 1991 and the countless Palestinians killed by or fleeing from Jordan after “black September” in 1970. But neither the Lebanese, nor the Kuwaitis, nor the Jordanians are ever called “racist.” That epithet, selectively applied to Israelis and Zionists, seems to be the last refuge of scoundrels who can neither confront the facts nor sustain any intelligent argumentation, as it becomes quite apparent in the disgraceful Q&A periods of the so-called “debates” and “conferences” organized by Arab groups under the auspices of academia.
Mr. Masri laments that “no [Arab] country accepts [the Palestinians].” Perhaps these Arab countries have a better understanding of this group than its Western supporters. After close to 90 years of direct and bloody experience, the Israelis also understand the hostile tendencies of the Palestinian Arabs and would laugh at Mr. Masri’s suggestion that the return of refugees is the “key to peace.” Recent history does not support his theory. If Europe has been at peace for the past 60 years, it is precisely because refugees have never returned to Eastern Prussia, Silesia, Moravia or Bohemia, even though millions of them have been living there for centuries. The same applies to the massive population transfers between Turkey and Greece in the early 1920s. The so-called “right of return of Palestinian refugees” is another fiction which Mr. Masri would have us believe by referring to “more than a hundred UN resolutions” which are all based on the largely misinterpreted General Assembly Resolution 194 of December, 1948. He should know that:
• General Assembly Resolutions are not binding and do not constitute international law.
• Resolution 194 was rejected by all Arab countries. It is then preposterous for them, 60 years later, to hail this document as essential.
• The article which refers to the refugees (Art. 11) is just one among 15 which deal primarily with a “Conciliation Commission” aimed at resolving all the issues pending between Arabs and Israelis, something the Arabs were obviously not prepared to do then and probably not now, with some rare exceptions.
• Article 11 does not specifically mention the “Palestinian Arab” refugees. If the question of Jewish refugees is included (at it should normally be), then the “responsible Governments” that Art. 11 refers to would be at a far greater disadvantage for any “compensation for loss of property”, given the much larger assets that the Jews left behind when they were expelled from Arab countries.
• Restricting the return to those “who wish to live at peace with their neighbours” (Art. 11) evidently bars the majority of the Palestinian Arabs who were actively hostile to Israel even before May 14, 1948, and still are today according to most polls.
• Article 11 not only mentions the “return” but also the “resettlement and economic rehabilitation” of the refugees wherever their present location may be, something the Arab states (with the exception of Jordan) have been reluctant to do to this day. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has opposed any termination of the “refugee status” of the Palestinian Arabs even after the third or fourth generation of refugees, contrary to the usual practice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which applies to all other refugee groups in the world.
The final point raised by Mr. Masri reveals his sheer ignorance of the character of nation-states. He blames Israel for trying to “maintain the hegemony of one ethnic group over another – which was acquired as a result of crimes against humanity (the ethnic cleansing process of 1948).” Some self-evident truths must be told and retold, even though a mind atrophied by a lifelong diet of propaganda may be impervious to them. Like the many national movements of the 20th century, Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people. The State of Israel is the result of the self-determination of the Jewish nation in their ancestral land, which has been recognized in 1920 by international law. By its very nature, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and is then perfectly entitled to preserve and promote its national character as other nation-states do around the world – Iceland, Poland, Japan, to cite a few. Nation-states are inherently exclusive since sovereignty is vested in the founding people, which must maintain a substantial majority. Israel has no vocation to become a bi-national or multicultural state; it is the only Jewish state, willed, reborn and developed through the persistent effort of a unique people, with specific attributes in language, culture, history, traditions, institutions and a sense of kinship.
Mr. Masri would be hard pressed to highlight similar particularities of the “Palestinian people” that differentiate them from the surrounding Arab populations. He can only resort to tarnishing Israel by slandering its origins in the vilest way. Well, he should get used to the reality of the Jewish State of Israel, which is where it is by right, not by stealth, not by conquest at the edge of a sword, and certainly not by “crimes against humanity” as he pretends. The real crime against humanity is embedded in Mr. Masri’s preferred “one-state solution” since it will amount to the dislocation of an entire nation, the Jewish nation. And the means he suggests to pursue his hateful program against the national aspirations of the Jewish people – through boycotts, divestment and sanctions, while promoting the “right of return” of millions of Arabs – can only dupe the fool, the ignorant and the racist. Glaring outbursts of this pathological hatred are regularly broadcast by Palestinian secular and religious officials, but none as widely reported as the despicable diatribe of Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi in the presence of Pope Benedict on May 11, 2009, at the Notre Dame Pontifical Institute in Jerusalem.
In conclusion, Mr. Masri’s article, as many others of the same vein penned by Arab academics, shows a troubling pattern. Conscious of the backwardness of the Palestinian Arab society, of their disregard of the rule of law and of their supremacist ideology derived from Islamic scripture, Mr. Masri finds a convenient scapegoat in the State of Israel to relieve the Palestinians of all responsibilities, past and present, and to perpetuate their grievances and their sense of victimization. And so, the real “ethnic cleansing” practised by the Palestinian Arabs in the pre-1967 “West Bank” against the Jewish communities is conveniently forgotten; the flagrant “racism” and “apartheid” shown in their vociferous calls to dismantle all Jewish settlements is never mentioned; the lawlessness of the internecine violence between Fatah and Hamas and the abuse of basic human rights remain untold. Instead, Israel is wrongly accused of “ethnic cleansing”, of being “racist” and “hegemonic”, and of “breaching international law”. This malicious campaign of denigration of Israel must be seen for what it is: a Freudian projection used as a lame defence mechanism to conceal the deep failings of the Palestinian Arab society, their leaders, their policies and their supporters.
It is nothing short of obscene that this kind of discourse is being promoted in reputable academic centres.