Israel Palestine Infos
December 3, 2011
The King’s Speech
IN THE middle
of the '80s, a German diplomat conveyed to me
a surprising message. A member of the Jordanian Royal family would like to speak
with me in
Somehow I obtained
official permission from the Israeli government. The Germans generously provided
me with a passport that was not strictly accurate, and so, with much turning of
blind eyes, I arrived in
The news of my presence spread quickly, and after some days it became an embarrassment to the Jordanian government. So I was politely asked to leave, and very quickly, please.
But before that, a high-ranking official invited me to dinner in a very elegant restaurant. He was a well educated, very cultured person, who spoke beautiful English. To my utter amazement, he told me that he was a Bedouin, a member of an important tribe. All my ideas about Bedouins were shattered in that moment.
This dinner stuck in my
memory because, in (literally) ten minutes, I learned more about
“From all these
countries,” he continued, “refugees, agents and ideological influences stream
Another impression I took
with me - the Palestinians in
I WISH that all
influential Israelis had received such an eye-opening lesson, because in
The general picture is that of a ridiculous little country, ruled by fierce and primitive Bedouin tribes, while the majority consists of Palestinians who are continually plotting to overthrow the monarchy and assume power.
(Which reminds me of another conversation – this time in Cairo with the – then - acting Foreign Minister, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a Copt and one of the most intelligent persons I’ve ever met. “Israeli experts in Arab affairs are among the best in the world,” he told me, “they have read everything, they know everything, and they understand nothing. That’s because they have never lived in an Arab country.”)
Another version of this
idea rests on the slogan “
“But what about the
“We shall achieve a
This idea pops up time
and again. This week one of the hyperactive and mentally handicapped right wing
parliamentary thugs submitted another of those bills. It is called “
Apart from the curiosity of one country enacting a law to define the character of another country, it was politically embarrassing. Yet instead of just throwing it out, it was transferred to a sub-committee where the deliberations, such as they are, are secret.
HIS MAJESTY, king Abdullah II, is worried. He has good reasons to be.
There is the democratic
Arab Spring, which may spill over into his autocratic kingdom. There is the
But all this is nothing
compared to the growing threat from radical, rightist
The most immediate
danger, from his point of view, is the growing Israeli oppression and
colonization of the
It was this fear that
caused his father, King Hussein, during the first intifada, to cut all
connections with the
If “Jordan is Palestine”, then there is no reason for Israel not to annex the West Bank, expropriate Palestinian lands, enlarge the existing settlements and create new ones, and in general “convince” Palestinians to find a better life east of the river.
With this in mind, the
king voiced his anxiety in a much-publicized interview this week. In it, he
raised the possibility of a federation between Jordan and the (still occupied)
State of Palestine in the West Bank, obviously to forestall Israeli designs.
Perhaps he also wants to convince the Palestinians that such a move would help
them to terminate the occupation, facilitate their application for UN membership
and prevent a
THE INITIATORS of the
Israeli bill make it clear that their main purpose is Hasbarah (“explaining”),
the Hebrew euphemism for propaganda. Their idea, they believe, will put an end
to the isolation and delegitimization of
If His Majesty suspects that there is a much more sinister dimension to the propaganda ploy, he is quite right. Obviously he is thinking about much more profound long-term possibilities.
This goes back to the basic dilemma of the Israeli right, a dilemma that seems well-nigh insoluble.
The Israeli Right has
never really given up the idea of a Greater
However, in such a state
there would be living, as of today, some 6 million Israeli Jews and about 5.5
million Arab Palestinians (
According to all demographic forecasts, the Palestinians will quite soon constitute the majority in this geographic entity. What then?
Some idealists believe
(or delude themselves) that, faced with stern international disapproval,
The other possibility would be that this entity would become an apartheid state, not only partly, not only in practice, but entirely and officially. The great majority of Jewish Israelis would not like that at all. This, too, is a negation of basic Zionist values.
There is no solution to this dilemma. Or is there?
THE KING seems to think
that there is. It is, actually, implicit in the dream of a Greater
That solution is a repeat of 1948: a naqba of vastly larger dimensions, which Israelis euphemistically call “transfer”.
This means that at some
time, when international conditions are opportune – some huge international
disaster that rivets attention to some other part of the world, a big war, or
such – the government will drive out the non-Jewish population. Where to?
Geography dictates the answer: to
I would suggest that
almost every Israeli who supports the Greater
MORE THAN 80 years ago , Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism and the spiritual forefather of Binjamin Netanyahu, wrote some verses that were sung by the Irgun (to which I belonged when I was very young.)
is a nice song with a nice melody. The refrain goes like this: “The
Jabotinsky, an ardent
admirer of the Italian 19th century risorgimento, was an
ultra-nationalist and a sincere liberal. One verse of the poem says: “The son of
Arabia, the son of
The official emblem of
the Irgun consisted of a map that included
This party has long since
given up the ideal of the three sons, purity and honesty. The slogan “
Or has it?