Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Where Exactly IS Palestine?

President Bush is once again pushing the futile idea of a "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "I strongly support the creation of a Palestinian state. I believe it's in the interests of the Palestinian people, I believe it's in the interests of Israel to have a democracy living side-by-side - democracies living side-by-side in peace," Bush said. See today's story in the Jerusalem Post.

Sadly, there is every indication that President Bush is actually sincere about this idea, and not just playing the usual chin-music that we expect from politicians. This fantasy of a two-state solution is rooted in the popular but quite mistaken belief that the Palestinian Arabs were booted out of their homeland by the Israelis (AKA the Zionists) in 1967, after which they resorted to terrorism, and they would end all that terrorism if only the Israelis/Zionists would give back that conquered Arab land, as is called for in UN Resolution 242. That belief is mistaken because the Palestinian Arabs formally resolved to liberate all of Palestine from the Zionists at least as far back as 1964. They have no interest in two states. See the Palestinian Charter and other interesting historical documents at the website of the Palestinian UN Observer: http://www.un.int/palestine/PLO/PNA2.html

Check out that Charter. It framed the mental landscape of "Palestine" for the present generation of Palestinians. Particularly check out Article 2 ("Palestine, with its boundaries at the time of the British Mandate, is a indivisible territorial unit.") and Article 17 ("The partitioning of Palestine, which took place in 1947, and the establishment of Israel are illegal and null and void, regardless of the loss of time ... "). A two-state solution is unimaginable, at least on the Arab side. The Arab League absolutely rejected the partition of the Palestine Mandate territory into Arab and Jewish states in 1947 [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1947UN181.html]; that is the cause of the conflict, and that rejection has only become more entrenched over time.

This point is key: both the Palestinian Charter and the Palestinian Liberation Organization pre-date the 1967 war. Where exactly - geographically - is that Palestine that the PLO was formed to liberate? Since the facts on the ground before 1967 were that Arabs occupied ALL of the territories that are in dispute today, plus parts of Jerusalem (the 1964 Arab League meeting which adopted the Palestinian Charter was held in Jerusalem), there is no place left for that Zionist-occupied Palestinian land to be other than that place we call "Israel." There is no getting around the fact that the Palestinian Arabs are utterly convinced they are entitled to have all of the land of historic Palestine from the Jordan to the sea, including the part that is Israel.

All conflicts can be solved, but not all of them can be solved peacefully. That great American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes (a Civil War veteran) said it with his usual cogency: "I believe that force, mitigated so far as may be by good manners, is the Ultima Ratio, and between two groups that want to make inconsistent kinds of world, I see no remedy except force." That unsentimental statement is exactly the rhetorical bucket of cold water I'd like to throw on President Bush and the rest of our "two-state solution" dreamers.

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