Thanks for your note. In the Mideast, we are dealing with two indigenous peoples, one of whom (in the majority) was exiled 2000 years ago, and later returned en masse to their homeland.
In 1947, the UN voted to partition the land into two states. The Arab side refused and invaded. They lost, and a large number of refugees paid the price.
Two states, for two peoples remains the only viable solution. For many years after 1967, Israeli leaders rejected this solution. With the Oslo agreement, there was reason to hope that both peoples had at last come to their sanity—at the same time.
Unfortunately, Arafat rejected Clinton’s proposals at Camp David last summer. In doing so, he rejected the Jewish link to Haram al-Sharif and demanded the return of refugees to Israel. Together, his position amounted to a denial of the right of self-determination for the Jewish people.
Thanks again for writing.
Thanks for your lengthy note.
The Jews were ethnically cleansed by the Romans. They never gave up and returned to their land. Their national myth, that this was "a land without people for a people without land," was wrong. Which is why the UN, with Canada on the Commission, recommended two states for two people.
Had the Arab states accepted partition and urged people to stay—and had they not invaded--there would be no refugee problem today.
While you invoke international law and the UN, you sidestep the partition resolution which provided that there would be two states within which each people could achieve self-determination. The Palestinians finally came around to support that view in 1988. However, Arafat’s position at Camp David on the right of return to Israel effectively nullified that position, as it would demographically overwhelm the Jewish population of Israel.
So the issues remains what it was in 1947—whether the Arab states, and particularly the Palestinians, are prepared to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the Mideast.
At Camp David, there was agreement on a right of return to Palestine. Chairman Arafat’s refusal to recognize any Jewish link to Haram al-Sharif, and his insistence on a right of return to Israel, belies the acceptance of a Jewish state in the Mideast.
That you find it incredible that there is a right of return for a Jew from Kiev suggests that you, too, do not accept that they have an aboriginal right to the land dating from time immemorial—as do Palestinians. And that the only solution is partition.
You should re-read the sources you quote—they do not suggest what you suggest. This is not to deny that there were incidences of expulsion and even a few massacres.
However, there are numerous reports of appeals to leave. I have this first hand from Mrs. Rabbani, the widow of the Baha’i prophet, who was in Haifa during these years.
But, I reiterate, the bottom line is this—had the Arab states accepted partition, there would have been no refugees.
Norman Spector -----Original Message-----
We agree there should be equality—at Camp David, President Clinton proposed the unrestricted return of refugees to the Palestinian state that would have been created.
The demand for a return to Israel is not equality—it is a euphemism for elimination of the Jewish state. Arafat’s performance at Camp David has persuaded the overwhelming majority of Israelis that this is his goal.
It is true that Buber and Einstein wanted a single secular state. The UN proposed partition and Israel accepted the Plan. The Arab states did not. Had they not made this tragic error, history would have been very different for both peoples.
Surprising that the Arab states voted against Resolution 194, if it says what you allege it says. Perhaps this is because of its non-binding nature, being a resolution of the General Assembly. Perhaps because of the clause on compensation which you have not cited. Or perhaps because the history of the past half century teaches us that we are a long way from, if ever, a state where the lion will lie down with the lamb in the Mideast.
In any case, I conclude from our exchange that you do not accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in the