Morning Musings: Safe Haven or Land Grab; One State or Two?

There has been a lot of discussion recently on the Mondoweiss blog site based on a thread started by one of the long-time gurus of the Israel-Palestine issue, Jerome Slater .   This discussion has caused me to change two key tenants of my belief regarding the Israel-Palestine issue: whether Jews had the right to seize the land of another because of their realistic fears of persecution, and whether the Two State Solution is still a viable and moral solution to the conflict.  My answer to both is now no. Here are my two comments.  Go the thread link above to get the full flavor of the discussion as well as Professor Slater’s excellent opening posting and later commentary.

 irishmoses February 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I exchanged views with Jerry on this issue on his blog last year and I concluded that Zionism provided a necessary haven for Jews due to the horrors of the pogroms, a need later confirmed by the holocaust. However, I felt Zionists used unnecessary and brutal means that were and are oppressive to the Palestinians.

Jerry’s courage and honesty in reopening this issue in two long Mondoweiss threads by laying out his full argument for all to analyze discuss and attack is commendable. This discussion has caused me to modify my earlier position: Prior wrongs, genocides or other calamities, no matter how extreme, cannot justify the taking of the land of another. While Jews may have wanted and felt they desperately needed a land of their own that need could not justify their taking the land of the Palestinians.

If the threat or fear of future harm by one people creates a justification to move and conquer the land of another people, then why don’t the Ukranians, Poles, or other historically oppressed people also have that right? Someone recently provided an extensive list of all holocaust-like events in the last 100 years which showed that Jews are not unique as an oppressed people or as genocide victims. If Jews get a state of their own, why not Romas (Gypsies), or gays, both of whom suffered severely under the Nazis and who also have suffered and continue to suffer severe discrimination? Perhaps we Irish should have qualified for a separate state of our own when a million or more of us died of starvation during the great potato famine of the 1800s, showing Ireland could not provide sufficient food for millions of its citizens?

While I do not mean to belittle the extremes of Jewish historical suffering, lots of other groups have also suffered from oppression, genocide and other catastrophes and may continue to suffer. Yet, the risk and fear of future oppression and suffering can’t provide a valid justification for land theft and oppression of another people, particularly in a post-holocaust world. So, despite being victims of the horrors of pogroms, holocaust, and genocide, neither Jews nor Ukranians, Cambodians, Armenians, Bosnians, Ruandan Tutsi, Sudanese Darfurians, or any other group subjected to genocide or great calamity has the right to a new land of its own at the expense of another people. There simply can’t be a Jewish exception to this basic moral rule.

So what options do an oppressed people or victims of a genocide or other great calamity have? Emigration as refugees or as legal immigrants to another country is the most common. The latter was the tack taken by Eastern European Jews in emigrating to Palestine after the pogroms of the late 1800s, as well as by millions of Irish who emigrated throughout the world during and after the great famine. While these solutions are imperfect, there is no easy solution for victims of genocide or other great calamities. Nonetheless, I can’t see any rationale for a separate, immoral exception and solution reserved for oppressed Jews.

I recently came across a fascinating free E Book from Google (via my Nook) on the history of Palestine. It was written in 1917 by the renowned British Zionist, Albert Montefiore Hyamson. Here is a quote: “Local autonomy is all the Jews of Palestine ask….The Jews desire no favour as compared with the other inhabitants of the land. They are willing for all the advantages of a free and liberal government to be enjoyed by all equally.” (“Palestine: The Rebirth of an Ancient People”, p. 238)

That Jewish/Zionist spirit of sharing the land with equal rights and freedoms for all, including Palestinians, soon dissipated, post Balfour, into the extremes of Zionism: exclusion and discrimination in the 20s, terrorism against Palestinians, British and UN representatives in the 30s and 40s, massive ethnic cleansing in 1948 and 1967, the settlement enterprise beginning in 1967, all culminating in the ghastliness of Zionist conduct in today’s Israel.

I think once Zionist Jews decided they were entitled to seize a portion or all of Palestine from the Palestinians all moral constraints were removed. That end, a Jewish State, justified any and all means. In a real sense the Jewish people, or at least Zionist Jews, sold their soul for their Jewish State.

Righting that wrong is not an easy task. A two state solution along 1967 borders with no settlements in the West Bank or East Jerusalem is a pipe dream at best and does nothing for the millions of displaced Palestinians many of who still reside in refugee camps in other countries. As difficult and unrealistic as it may seem, I think the only remaining viable and moral solution is a single democratic, perhaps federated state. I suspect we will first need to progress through the horrors of an apartheid state before we get there.

I am glad I am not Jew facing that reality, although as an American I have to share in the collective guilt for our funding and political enabling of this ghastly situation.

Gil Maguire

134 irishmoses February 17, 2011 at 12:49 am


The 1948 ethnic cleansing and land theft was post holocaust and post WWII. The post WWII UN and new Geneva rules were all intended to prevent another occurance. Yet, irony of ironies, the Jews themselves violated the very rules designed to protect them and prevent what happened to them and did so against a people who had no responsibility for either the pogroms or the holocaust.

As to the trauma of the holocaust being the cause, my reading of the history of Palestine and the Zionists shows they had every intent to seize all or as much of Palestine as possible from Herzl on down. It is that strain of hard core Zionism that wanted and still wants all of Palestine for the Jewish State, and was and remains willing to use any means to get it. That is not to deny the trauma of post-holocaust Jews, but that trauma provided neither the motive nor justification for what happened and continues to happen. War crimes are war crimes. There is no Jewish exception or absolution for that conduct.

Part of the problem is that the hard core Zionists were and are just as effective in public relations as in military dominence. The narrative they spun and continue spinning is highly effective and tends to control the message. All Zionist actions are couched as defensive or holocaust-related; all Palestinian/Arab actions as aggressive, existentially threatening and/or terroristic. It’s an effective program but I’ve lost my taste for the Koolaid.

Israelis/Zionists have a right to exist side-by-side with Palestinians in a democratic single state. Until that happens, it’s nothing more than cleverly disguised and spun apartheid. Wikileaks and Palestine Papers disclosures have reinforced the conclusion that hard core Zionists have no intention of allowing any version of a two state solution that is remotely fair or acceptable to the Palestinians. That solution is also no longer possible except in the minds of Jewish/Zionist progressives who are merely manipulated tools in the hands of their far more driven and clever hard core brethern.

I suspect the hard core Zionists have probably concluded they can survive just fine and dandy under continued apartheid conditions so long as they have continued total control over the Palestinians, media and their feckless opposition. They certainly have no worries that Obama will oppose them since they know their lobby has him and congress totally under their contol for funding, UN veto protection and “moral” support.

The scary part is that Israel has done immense harm to its sole ally and great benefactor, the US, reducing our influence in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world to one of ridicule and hate. e.g. Our relations with and influence in Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan, three of the most critical countries on the planet, are at all time lows. If the Arab democracy movement florishes, the hatred toward the US and Israel will boil over and cause further loss of US influence and increasing influence from China, Russia, Iran and India in the Middle East, not to mention Islamic extremists. That is bad for the US but potentially life threatening to Israel.

Progressive Zionists and rightous Jews in general should be putting all their efforts into stopping Israel’s mad, immoral, suicidal dash to oblivion but instead they waste their efforts being apologists for the unforgivable actions of their hard core Zionist compatriots.

Too bad Barbara Tuchman is not longer around; this circus show would be the folly of all follies for her.

No offense, but it is what it is.

Gil Maguire

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