The limits of liberal Zionism: ‘NYT’ columnist Roger Cohen misrepresents the Nakba and the right of return

Nakba A Palestinian refugee in Jaramana Refugee Camp, Damascus, Syria (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In a recent article I wrote about Chuck Hagel on the Zionist nature of the overall discourse around Israel and Palestine in the United States, I cited a Roger Cohen column as an example:

How perverted is such a debate in this frame? Cohen, for example, suggests in his column that Israeli-Palestinian peace would require “painful compromises on both sides” and specifies “Palestinian abandonment” of the right of return and “Israeli abandonment”of Palestinian territory. Only in such Zionist framing could Palestinian abandonment of a human right enshrined in international law be seen as a fair trade with Israeli abandonment of colonization, which is illegal under international law. This, by the way, represents the “left” end of the spectrum. Simply arguing that such an equation is flawed and morally reprehensible, which it most certainly is, makes one a “radical” in today’s discourse.

Cohen, apparently, didn’t take kindly to being called out. He tweeted some criticism and linked my piece that afternoon.

Cohen didn’t bother to reply to my tweet. I know he is a busy man, but he apparently decided to devote his NY Times column to this issue today. He rambles a bit upfront and sets up the entire column with talk about Hamas and a speech by Khaled Meshal, then devotes a paragraph to comments made by now Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi about Zionist “bloodsuckers.” He then recalls the theme of blood-libel in the long and ugly history of anti-Semitism.

Readers are then presented with an ahistorical and, suffice it to say, unoriginal Nakba narrative. It is a narrative that says the Arabs invaded, the Arabs started the war with no causus belli, the refugees happened, and therefore Arabs are responsible and the Israelis are not. This is a narrative which, by the way, even the original reporting of Cohen’s own newspaper, the NY Times, contradicts. Does Cohen even know that at least half the Palestinian refugees ultimately created during that period were created before any soldiers from other Arab armies entered into Palestine with what he refers to as “annihilation ambition?”

So, after Cohen sets the reader up with plenty of fear and angst, he seeks to associate with those feelings calls for the right of return, dropping this gem of a paragraph:

Pursuit of all of the land, with its accompanying “right of return,” is a form of perennial victimhood, one that has spawned some 4.7 million Palestinian refugees, several times the number who were driven from their homes in the war of 1948. The right of return would be better named the blight of return. It is a damaging illusion that distracts from an achievable peace in the name of Palestinian children and grandchildren nursed on hope. There is the possibility of compensation, but there is in history no right of return. Ask the Greeks of Asia Minor, the Turks of Greece, the Germans of Danzig and Breslau (today Gdansk and Wroclaw) — and the Jews of the Arab world (emphasis added).

Do you see what Cohen does here? He dodges wrestling with the moral dilemma of the Nakba – the depopulation of a land of its native inhabitants and their prolonged excommunication so that a demographic majority of a particular ethnicity can be maintained – by associating the exercise of refugee rights with annihilationist conquest. It’s preposterous but frankly revealing. Think about it, what is annihilationist about people with an undeniable connection to the land living there?

What makes Palestinian refugee repatriation “threatening” to folks like Cohen is not the refugees themselves (they’d be coming from impoverished refugee camps, not on the top of tanks), but rather what including them in a polity based on an exclusivist majoritarian nationalism like Zionism would mean. There is no morality in an ideology that requires constant obsession over the demographic balance within a state and that is willing to deny the human rights of natives outside the privileged ethnicity to maintain this balance.

And yes, Roger, the right of return IS a human right. See the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 13), a document, by the way, which Israel and the United States adopt (officially at least) as UN Members. Note also, in both clauses in this article there is a differentiation between “states” and “country” and the second clause makes clear that humans have a right to return to the country they are from. The language here deliberately does not say “state.” Why? Because refugees are most often created during war time when the boundaries of states may change, but that does not negate their right to return to their country regardless to what state currently administers the land there. Hence, Palestinians have a human right to return to the towns and villages they are from and not just to some redrawn boundaries of a Palestinian “state” on a fraction of the land.

What’s remarkable is that intelligent and intellectual men like Cohen would rather slam calls for the human right of return as “annihilationist” before asking the rudimentary question of why an ideology that is threatened by the exercise of human rights should even be worth defending.

Also illuminating is the notion he and others put forward that as a matter of strategy, the principle of the right of return should be dropped to reach an “achievable” peace. That which we should strive for, Cohen is telling us, is that which Israel and Zionism would accept. Not only is this morally flawed – for the same reasons King and Mandela didn’t base their ambitions on what the white man would accept – but it is strategically flawed as well because it allows Israel, the dominant and powerful party, to dictate what is acceptable instead of established international law. This line of thinking perpetuates the colonization of the West Bank today because it has encouraged Israel to believe it can constantly leverage its bargaining position and dictate any terms of negotiation whenever – if ever – that time comes.

I respect Mr. Cohen and appreciate much of what he has written on criticizing Israel’s occupation. But like so many “liberal Zionists” Cohen is still wrong on this very significant issue. There’s no defense in the modern world for a state whose very existence is, by self-definition, threatened by demographic shifts. Hannah Arendt came to this conclusion amidst much darker times. It would behoove Mr. Cohen and other “liberal Zionists” to arrive at it today at a time when criticism of such ideologies requires far less bravery.

Perhaps the most absurd part of the paragraph, and the column, is when Cohen argues that “there is in history no right of return.” In history! Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that the right of return is actually written into the aforementioned historical document. Cohen goes back in history (to a time when Turkey was still referred to as “Asia Minor”) to show that some ethnic groups did not, in fact, go home. But why go back so far Roger? A much more recent instance exists. Take for example NATO’s position on Kosovo refugees outlined in this far more recent article about the matter from 1999:

NATO has demanded that Mr. Milosevic withdraw his troops from Kosovo, allow several hundred thousand ethnic Albanian refugees to return to the homes from which they have been hounded, and permit the deployment of a military force with NATO at its core. For now, the future political status of Kosovo has been set aside as an issue (emphasis added).

Why would Roger Cohen gloss over this far more recent instance and go back decades prior to defend ethno-majoritarian nationalism by making the bold claim that there’s no such return “in history!?” It’s all very strange if you ask me. Even more so, in fact, when you consider that the author of the above referenced article on Kosovo refugees was none other than Mr. Cohen.

This post originally appeared on the Jerusalem Fund blog Permission to Narrate.
 

About Yousef Munayyer

Yousef Munayyer is Executive Director of The Jerusalem Fund and its educational program, The Palestine Center.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Media, Nakba, Occupation, US Politics

{ 120 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Virgule82 says:

    Refugees obviously have the right to return. However, the problem Palestinians face is that refugee is not a hereditary status under international law. The question of the descendants therefore becomes a political question rather than a legal one.

    • American says:

      “”However, the problem Palestinians face is that refugee is not a hereditary status under international law. The question of the descendants therefore becomes a political question rather than a legal one”

      No problemo…..we’ll just make up our own laws and special rules for the Special Palestine People….just like the zionist did for Jews.
      See?… easy to fix.

    • Abuadam says:

      Evidently the response to “Virgule82” was deemed not fit to print by the censors, so maybe it requires a little explanation and if my explanation is not worthy kindly explain to me why?

      Virgule82 is being a smartA–, by stating that international law does not allow for hereditary status of refugees. Never mind the fact even if it is not enshrined in international the law; the right of return for the descendants of refugees is implied. SO My response was how many 3000 year old Jews were in Israel, because all those European and then Arab Jews who ended up in Israel after 1948, surely were not the ones who were supposedly expelled 2000-3000 years ago.

      • @Abuadam – - Apparently the Palestinians descend from the people who lived in Palestine 2000 years ago. Which would be an assuption one would make, even without the genetic information available today.

    • @Virgule82 – - Yes, and as a political question the Arab leaders who backed the Arab Peace Initiative (Saudi peace plan) recognised Israel would never agree to allow large numbers of Palestinians (i.e., non-Jews), to settle in Israel.

  2. Nevada Ned says:

    It’s a good thing that Roger Cohen wasn’t giving advice to Martin Luther King. Advice like:
    “Rev. King, don’t insist on equal rights for blacks. It’s totally unacceptable to southern whites. Instead, call for ‘painful compromises’, limit your demands to what is realistically achievable”, etc. etc.

    Cohen omits another issue: property. Palestinians lost land and houses. In nearly all cases, they never received any compensation. Israel simply took it by force.
    Notice that in Europe in the 1930′s and 1940′s, many Jews lost their property because it was taken from them, by force, by the Nazis or their allies.
    Needless to say, Jews have been insistent on getting their lost (European) property back.

    One final point: a group of Israeli Jews went to court in Germany a few years ago, and argued that they were forced out of Germany, and demanded the right to return to Germany. The German court agreed with the petitioners. And the Jewish community in Germany has increased a lot in recent years, mainly because of immigration (from Israel and from the former Soviet bloc). [source: Juan Cole's informed comment]

  3. CVillarreal says:

    Plus even if you acknowledge that, historically, some people have not been allowed to return to their country, does Cohen think that is morally defensible? In what company does that place Israel?

  4. Citizen says:

    If there’s no right of return, why do Israeli leaders and their 5th column in America always talk about the Jewish right to return to Jerusalem as support for the forging of, and maintenance of Israel, the self-declared Jewish state?

  5. chinese box says:

    Thank you Phil once again for calling these PEPs and LZs…it sounds like you hit a nerve.

    • chinese box says:

      Sorry, I didn’t look at the byline–I thought Phil wrote the article. Duh. Great article Yousef.

      I don’t know if NYT and WaPO are censoring pieces on IP on the editorial page–if so how did Robert Novak survive for all those years? I think it’s more likely that (for the most part) they hire people whom they know are very unlikely to rock the boat.

  6. Chespirito says:

    Great piece. An impeccably progressive law professor once informed me that though the Palestinian Right of Return was all very nice “from the point of view of justice”, it just “wasn’t feasible.” Not feasible for whom? For the hundreds of thousands still stuck in refugee camps? This double standard makes me gnash my molars. American liberals (and for that matter conservatives and everyone else) need to wake up to how amazingly illiberal Liberal Zionism is.

  7. Woody Tanaka says:

    “Why would Roger Cohen gloss over this far more recent instance and go back decades prior to defend ethno-majoritarian nationalism by making the bold claim that there’s no such return “in history!?”"

    Because he, like every zionist like him, is an ethocentric bigot. To him and those like him, the rules of justice do not apply if doing so would burden his favored people. There is literally nothing more to this than that.

    • john h says:

      “he, like every zionist like him, is an ethocentric bigot. To him and those like him, the rules of justice do not apply”.

      Of course. As stated of Zionism and its rationale in 1923 by Jabotinsky, “there is no other morality”.

  8. Donald says:

    “there is in history no right of return. Ask the Greeks of Asia Minor, the Turks of Greece, the Germans of Danzig and Breslau (today Gdansk and Wroclaw) — and the Jews of the Arab world (emphasis added).”

    This is like saying there is no right not to be massacred. Look at the Albigensians, the residents of Baghdad when the Mongols took the city, Jerusalem when the Crusaders came, the Tasmanians, the Pequot, the Armenians, the Jews under Hitler, the Cambodians, the Timorese, the Tutsi in Rwanda.
    I suppose all these precedents have established once and for all that mass murder and genocide are just things one has to accept.

    Argue for or against a one state solution on pragmatic grounds and I’ll listen, but what is it about this subject which makes intelligent people turn into morons?

    • Ellen says:

      Donald, Israel was founded on Zionist ideas of a right to return. A “right” based on Bronze age symbolic language and other myths. Myths and stories no different than Ayrian sagas or Alpine Italian heros drummed up Euro faschists used to establish their “rights” over others.

      • Ellen – - It was one thing for Jews to “return” to Palestine, to live, do business, etc etc. And it was another thing altogether, for Jews to set up their “own” country, on land taken from Palestine. As I am sure you are well aware.

  9. GJB says:

    Of course then there’s the irony of people who claim a “right of return” for themselves after 2000 years denying that right to those who have been displaced from their homes for a mere 65 years.

    The other irony is that when Israel is finally compelled to accept a full right of return, and a true democratic state is established, the sort of compromise that Mandela actually did have to make in order to “keep the peace” – economic power being retained by the groups that already have it in return for political power to the majority – will likely be on the table. But that is, I guess, a fight for another time.

  10. pabelmont says:

    Roger Cohen seems a prisoner, sadly, either of a (possible) NYT mandatory political position (you must lie about certain facts behind I/P so as to justify Zionism) or of a privately-held but similar ideology. Either way (private, or keep your job), he distorts easily ascertainable history in able to avoid saying something far simpler:

    No Israeli government now foreseeable will ever allow more than a token number of the exiles of 1948 (and their progeny) to “return” to their country, despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and numerous UNGA resolutions calling upon Israel to readmit them. Israel has set its face against this (as against other) human rights as they apply to Palestinians. THEREFORE, it is politically unrealistic to expect Israel to voluntarily readmit the exiles of 1948.

    This formulation makes the unreasonableness of a Palestinian demand clear: it is unreasonable in spite of the world’s views on human rights because of Israeli intransigence.

    And the key is “voluntary” action by Israel. Pressure is needed, as all know. Cohen and the NYT are not leaders in the movement to develop that pressure.

    • MHughes976 says:

      It also makes clear, to its credit I suppose, that human rights as normally understood do not apply to Palestinians and that there is no prospect at all that Israel will change on this matter. The road is long and getting longer.

  11. Avi_G. says:

    Excellent article, Mr. Munayyer.

    When will Cohen have the courage and integrity to respond to your article?

  12. American says:

    “about Zionist “bloodsuckers.” He then recalls the theme of blood-libel in the long and ugly history of anti-Semitism”

    Well ‘blood suckers’ sounds a little icky– but then that’s what Israeli zionist are aren’t they?
    Haven’t they sucked the land, resources and rights of other humans out of Palestine?

    “Pursuit of all of the land, with its accompanying “right of return,” is a form of perennial victimhood, one that has spawned some 4.7 million Palestinian refugees, several times the number who were driven from their homes in the war of 1948. The right of return would be better named the blight of return.”

    Er…..I think the Israelis already hold the record on the Perennial Victimhood claim. And their 3000 years ago Jewish right of return is now the blight known as Israel.

    I must take up twittering…the Cohens of the world need to be aggravated or agitated.

  13. Krauss says:

    I feel bad for Cohen. Deep down, he’s a good guy. But he’s constantly abused by thuggish Zionists to the right of him, like Jeff Goldberg, and others at twitter so he feels the need to contradict their taunts and thus becomes captive of his tormentors. He did an article about British Jewry too and how ‘subdued’ they were. It just so happened that he got attacked by Goldberg, no less, as a ‘weak Jew’ who was desperate to fit in at his private British school and thus willing to debase his Jewishness(or something like that).

    He gets all that abuse and then lashes out, not at his tormentors, but at people far weaker than him. Again, I’m sympathetic to his moral star, but I look with little sympathy at his spineless and confused rants, often in response to other Zionists to ‘prove’ he’s not gone totally liberal(as in, non-nationalist, non-racist). Can’t have that.

    Other than that, Munayyer once again proves he’s one of the most gifted – and knowledgable! – writers on this issue around. There’s a tremendous amount of talent wasted on these issues on the left, who never get a mainstream platform on a regular basis. Sure, Munayyer gets more than most but only on a contractual basis. You got Max Blumenthal and others. The list goes on. One day all of you guys gotta do one big book about Zionism, post-mortem.

  14. JennieS says:

    Rights are such problematic things. So often the rights of one are irreconsilable with those of another, as is the case with Israel/Palestine.

    “…there is in history no right of return.” says Roger Cohen. So Palestinians driven from their homes and their decendants have no right to return to their former homes in Israel even though they know exactly where those homes are, and, in some cases, have documentary evidence of ownership.

    The Likud charter states that “Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.”
    The logic of this “unassailable right” is that Judaism arose in this land, members of this faith lived here and, sometimes, had political control here.

    So the competing “rights” come down to these: Palestinian – “I have the right to return to a specified location” versus Jew-”I have the right to live in this land because I am a Jew, although I do not know exactly where, or even if, any of my ancestors lived in the land”.
    The former would seem to be the stronger claim with the exception of Palestinian Jews whos forebears were resident prior to the inception of the Zionist colonisation project.

  15. a blah chick says:

    I don’t see how there can be any meaningful movement on the peace issue until an Israeli government and the Zionist movement admits its responsibility in the perpetration of the Nakba. But they would never do that because their entire propaganda in based on a lie, a lie that they had NOTHING to do with the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

    It’s one thing to lie to others, but the fact that you cannot admit the truth to yourself is very telling.

    • JeffB says:

      You can’t live in Israel and be unaware of how it came into being. They know. Just as Americans know in vague sense about 270 years of Indian wars. Just as French people know they are got their land by pushing the Visigoths out into Spain…

      They don’t care. Every single person everywhere in the world is where they are because of countless mass migrations accompanied by war.

      • @JeffB – - Did the Visigoths leave what is now France, when the Franks took over? Or did they simply stay, and blend into the new situation?

        • JeffB says:

          They left and moved to Spain and North Africa. The Spanish are the descendants of the Visigoths.

        • The Franks conquered the northern (or “French”) part of the Visigothic kingdom, and the Moors or Arabs conquered much of what now are Spain and Portugal.

          Why would the Franks have expelled the people of the areas they conquered? Would make no sense.

        • JeffB says:

          @James –

          The Franks didn’t want the people they wanted the land. They were engaging in a mass migration, they didn’t view themselves as colonial conquerers. They expelled them because they didn’t want to compete for resources.

          ____

          As for the Moors that is centuries later. There was no Islam during the period of the Huns.

        • @JeffB – - The Germanic tribes driven into the Western Roman Empire by the Huns, did not expel the people of the areas in which the tribes settled and took control. Ownership of land is more valuable when there are workers available to grow the crops, etc etc etc etc.

      • Citizen says:

        @ JeffB

        If this is justification, then might is right and we are still in the stone age. Some of us think WW1 led to WW2, which led to the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials which set international curbs on the caveman philosophy and way of life. Goering, for one, of course, viewed the Nuremberg Trials as a sham court by the victors over the militarily defeated. I’m sure every Israeli Jew is aware of the Nuremberg Trials and what they stand for in the modern world. If they don’t care, as you say, whether or not their own government violates the principles laid down at Nuremberg and its international legal progenies, then the millions upon millions who died during those world wars of aggression (always in the name of preemptive defense) died for nothing.

        • JeffB says:

          @Citizen

          then the millions upon millions who died during those world wars of aggression (always in the name of preemptive defense) died for nothing.

          Well for the Jews what they died for was to move Zionism from a fringe movement to a realized ideal. World War I is what collapsed the Ottoman empire and the space as Turkey was receding and England was assuming control was how the Zionists moved in and became a meaningful force on the ground 1.5m refuges freed from the camps in WWII are who fought the Arab Armies in 47-49. What gives their death meaning is Israel.

          If this is justification, then might is right and we are still in the stone age.

          I don’t know about the stone age. But moral systems have existed as long writing has existed. There is nothing new about “be nice to people” type philosophies. But letters to santa clause, the preaching of Isaiah, the sermon on the mount are not legal systems. Legal systems are dependent upon an enforcing power: that is to say the capability of violence underlies all law.

          Only humans and insects organize themselves into mega-societies, and only humans do so without bonds of kinship. What has advanced in the last several thousands years are better, that is more humane and more efficient, systems by which humans organize themselves themselves into these groups. I think we should applaud the progress but not overstate it.

          As for the Nuremberg Trials, people who did really bad things got punished. I don’t go much beyond that, but that ain’t bad in and of itself.

        • Well for the Jews what they died for was to move Zionism from a fringe movement to a realized ideal.

          you can’t speak for all jews. this is gross.

          But moral systems have existed as long writing has existed.

          zionism is an immoral system.

        • JeffB says:

          @Annie –

          you can’t speak for all jews. this is gross.

          First off I thought you believed in Democracy, not unanimity. But I don’t have to speak for all Jews. Jews are no longer a stateless people with millions of individual opinions. Rather a vehicle exists that allows them to speak collectively, and that vehicle is Israel.

          I didn’t agree with George Bush on most policies, and disagree with Barack Obama on some but that doesn’t mean that George Bush and Barack Obama don’t speak for Americans. Netanyahu and Lapid speak for Jews collectively. Individually they speak for themselves.

        • Citizen says:

          @ JeffB

          “Well for the Jews what they (the millions upon millions who died in WW1 cum WW2) died for was to move Zionism from a fringe movement to a realized ideal.”

          OK, cave man. I think many those dead might be surprised with your rendition of what they all died for. “Ideal?” A state that murders and dispossess innocent Palestinians is your version of an Ideal state? Don’t be surprised to learn not everyone agrees with you. Hitler had an ideal state too, according to his view of what was ideal. How do you differ in your logic? Ditto wrt the Apartheid S Africa regime’s philosophy? How about France wrt Algeria back in the day?

          And, do you speak for all Jews when you say “the Jews”? I don’t see that, especially here on MW.

          “Legal systems are dependent upon an enforcing power: that is to say the capability of violence underlies all law.”

          Yes, of course, whether the local police or strongest military power. Goering agreed. Again, Might makes right. So, he’s your mentor? Along with Julius Streicher, who was hung at Nuremberg for indulging in free speech in Germany? You see no difference between what the police or national military enforced or currently enforce in the nations of this world?

          “As for the Nuremberg Trials, people who did really bad things got punished. I don’t go much beyond that, but that ain’t bad in and of itself.”

          OK, so those hung at Nuremberg & Tokyo Trials deserved it. I agree. Time to go beyond that, use the same legal & ethical principles–on Israeli leaders and some US leaders too. That wouldn’t be bad in itself.

          Good for goose, good for gander.

        • JeffB says:

          @Citizen

          I think many those dead might be surprised with your rendition of what they all died for.

          I agree. The people who died in the black plague didn’t realize the freedoms for serfs, the need for a middle class and the anti-clericalism they were creating much less that those forces would bring about the Reformation. If prefer Israel to their deaths being pointless and without meaning, but I’m a softy :)

          How do you differ in your logic? [from Hitler]

          1) I support women’t participation in society and disagree with Kinder, Küche, Kirche
          2) I have no problem with homosexuality
          3) I don’t believe in racism and don’t support racial oppression.
          4) I want stronger protections for property
          5) I prefer trade to force in international relations

          More or less I disagree with most all of Hitler’s distinctives.

          France wrt Algeria back in the day?

          Algeria was a typical exploitation colonialism. Israel is settler colonialism, not at all the same thing, not even close.

          Ditto wrt the Apartheid S Africa regime’s philosophy?

          I don’t support apartheid.

          use the same legal & ethical principles–on Israeli leaders and some US leaders too. That wouldn’t be bad in itself.

          I commented above (in moderation at the time I’m writing this):
          When Israel invades Jordan to setup death camps, invades Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt to pull those Palestinians into Jordanian death camps then analogies to the Nazi’s are appropriate otherwise they aren’t doing anything remotely similar to the Nazis. Israel has a long term track record of showing that once the Palestinians leave as long as they don’t attempt to use their new homes as a base to attack Israel, Israel has no problem with their existence.

          As for the USA. The USA I think is a fairly moral empire. It has serious flaws, it makes mistakes and business plays too great a role. But I don’t for a second think the world would have been anywhere near as nice a place if the Axis powers had won WWII. What the USA is guilty of pales in comparison to what the Axis proposed for the world.

        • Shmuel says:

          Netanyahu and Lapid speak for Jews collectively.

          No, they speak for Israelis collectively (albeit an ethnically-engineered electorate – by means of selective immigration, ethnic cleansing and apartheid).

        • amigo says:

          “Netanyahu and Lapid speak for Jews collectively. “Jeff B

          Oh really.So Rabin also spoke for all Jews.We know what happened to him.

          Oh –who speaks for non Jewish Israelis.

          Pray tell bigot.

  16. dbroncos says:

    Mr. Cohen conveniently neglects to mention that one of the founding principles of Zionism and the Jewish State is the Jewish “right of return”. No doubt he understands that it’s his birthright to “return” to Israel even while Palestinian refugees, some of whom are being evicted even as I write this sentence, have no such rights according to Cohen and his Zionist pals. I snort with disgust at Cohen’s willfull ingnorace and deliberate obfuscations. What a travesty that otherwise intelligent men and women like Cohen choose to be ingnorant. Their Zionist mentatlity requires willfull ignorance and this becomes more and more obvious to a growing number of Americans who are beginning to see Israel for what it is.

    • mondonut says:

      dbroncos says: Mr. Cohen conveniently neglects to mention that one of the founding principles of Zionism and the Jewish State is the Jewish “right of return”.
      —————————————————-
      I suppose he neglected to mention it as it neither relevant or comparable. Aliya is not born from a GA resolution or other dubious claim, but from the absolute right of a sovereign state to define its own immigration policy.

      • pjdude says:

        but you complain about the palestinians not wanting jewish immigration pre zionist invasion.

        • mondonut says:

          pjdude says: but you complain about the palestinians not wanting jewish immigration pre zionist invasion.
          ======================
          When did I complain about that? But if I had, it still would not be relevant, as Palestine did not exist as a sovereign state.

        • what’s ‘sovereign state’ have to do with anything?

          didn’t you read Munayyer’s text?

          the right of return IS a human right. See the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. 13), a document, by the way, which Israel and the United States adopt (officially at least) as UN Members. Note also, in both clauses in this article there is a differentiation between “states” and “country” and the second clause makes clear that humans have a right to return to the country they are from. The language here deliberately does not say “state.” Why? Because refugees are most often created during war time when the boundaries of states may change, but that does not negate their right to return to their country regardless to what state currently administers the land there. Hence, Palestinians have a human right to return to the towns and villages they are from and not just to some redrawn boundaries of a Palestinian “state” on a fraction of the land.

        • Cliff says:

          @mondonut,

          So you’re saying non-Jews do not exist and do not have any humanity or rights unless they are members of States?

          You are doing a great interpretive dance routine here, making **** up as you go along.

          And you keep reiterating that sovereign States can do what they want. Sure, a sovereign State can make it’s own rules, but that doesn’t give those rules any legitimacy.

          You’re simply saying that you believe the world is flat and that it IS flat because you believe it to be so.

          So Israel won’t accept a RoR for the Palestinians it ethnically cleansed to make a Jewish majority. Additionally, Israel will accept Jews as Israeli citizens to increase the Jewish majority. Additionally, Israel will continue to colonize Occupied Palestine and seize water resources.

          Etc. etc.

          These Israeli actions are part of the framework of colonialism.

        • Proponents of 2002 Saudi peace plan simply accepted that whatever right of return ought to exist or did exist, and be enforced against Israel, within “1967 borders”, this was not achievable.

        • pjdude says:

          but the palestinians were recognized as having soveriegnty. they didn’t want zionist jews coopting them. you have supported the zionists efforts to destroy the palestinians ability to make and administer their territory.

        • @pjdude – - Who supports the Zionist effort to prevent the Palestinians from administering the West Bank?

        • Cliff – - Gaddafi accepted that Israel could not be forced to allow huge numbers of non-Jews to settle in Israel. So di the other members of the Arab League.

          Whether Israel can be forced out of the West Bank is a different issue.

        • piotr says:

          This is de-facto policy of USA, Canada, and to some extend, EU, although within EU it is increasingly questioned.

          More timidly, it is also questioned in USA, which drives donkey fellators to conniptions.

      • eljay says:

        >> Aliya is not born from a GA resolution or other dubious claim, but from the absolute right of a sovereign state to define its own immigration policy.

        Aliya is born from a dubious religious claim that has been enacted as a discriminatory policy by an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist state.

        Leave it to a Zio-supremacist to defend the injustice and immorality it represents.

      • straightline says:

        Which state other than Israel has a generic rule preventing people born there from returning?

  17. Parity says:

    The Jewish desire to reclaim the Land of Israel can be reconciled with the Palestinian right of return under a different kind of two-state solution: two states–Israel and Palestine–on the same land (identical borders), with equal access by all individuals to resources and with 50-50 bilateral governance on all matters of mutual concern. See http://www.parityforpeace.org for a detailed description of how this would work.

    • JeffB says:

      A state has 4 fundamental objectives:

      1) An army which protects the territory from external armies.
      This can’t be 50/50 or you will have a divided army which end up looking like to armies. You can’t 50/50 kill people either both “states” are at war or they are not.

      2) The enforcement of contracts. Which has to be common and shared. And since Israel is rather small most important contracts will need to be under joint laws.

      3) The creation of goods for common usage. Which again there is only going to be one of. You can’t have different sewage policies in the same body of water.

      4) The enforcement of law and order. This might be divisible except when there are disputes between people, and then the two systems would come into conflict.

      I just don’t see it.

      • JeffB – - Palestine may well be able to be independent, without an army.

        • JeffB says:

          @James –

          A state without an army is a protectorate of a larger state not independent. In the case of a demilitarized Palestine the effective Army would be the IDF.

          In the situation Parity was discussing above you would have either 2 armies under 2 polities laying claim to the same territory or a unified army not subject to his parity plan but rather some sort of unified government. The entity that controls the army generally is the government.

        • Palestine would be protected by international force (UN), for as many years as necessary. Israeli army would have to stay out.

        • JeffB says:

          @James –

          The UN peacekeeping missions are lightly armed observers who act as a neutral party when the two sides want such a party. They aren’t peacemakers and they aren’t peace builders. They aren’t setup to fight an army they are setup to observe. the entire UNs peacekeeping budget globally over many many conflicts is $3.6b. Countries like Bangladesh contribute the troops because they need the money.

          The IDF is $15b a year, and likely that is under counting the difference, the troops are highly a highly trained first world first. The UN can’t keep the IDF out. They can complain really loudly, which is more or less what the UN does today when there are incursions. When a real army capable of actually fighting is needed the UN security council calls on regional military alliances like NATO or Community of West African States.

          The UN pulled out of Rwanda and allowed the Rwandan genocide to happen when they lost 15 guys. You think they stay when they lose 15k in the first hour of fighting?

          On the Lebanese Israeli border there was a huge, 12,600 person force who did precisely nothing in 2006 and 2010 when one side or the other made a definite choice to engage in hostilities. The UN did night fight Lebanon’s wars and they will not fight Palestine’s.

          Moreover I can’t imagine Israel ever authorizing a UN force on Palestine’s soil. Israel has been pretty clear that they don’t want foreign armies operating in Palestine and that would include the UN.

        • Israel’s objection to a UN force in Palestine were that it would not be large enough to stop Palestinian missile attacks, and that it could be withdrawn at any time.
          Israel will not allow a Palestinian army. The Arab leaders who backed the 2002 Saudi peace plan were under no illusions Israel would allow a Palestinian army.

        • JeffB says:

          @James –

          I agree Israel won’t allow a Palestinian army. The primary army that exercises ultimate authority over that territory and keeps out foreign invaders will be the IDF. As for the Israelis objecting to the UN, they have good reason to believe UN peacekeepers will be ineffectual in guarding the border but I don’t think that’s the primary reason. They wouldn’t want say 100k Russian troops, that would be an effective force, either.

        • @JeffB – - Palestine will not want continuing occupation by Israeli army. I think the army has to pull out.

  18. Shingo says:

    This is a truly outstanding piece Yousef. You’ve articulated some essential issues superbly. The ones that truly stand out for me are:

    There is no morality in an ideology that requires constant obsession over the demographic balance within a state and that is willing to deny the human rights of natives outside the privileged ethnicity to maintain this balance.

    and

    What’s remarkable is that intelligent and intellectual men like Cohen would rather slam calls for the human right of return as “annihilationist” before asking the rudimentary question of why an ideology that is threatened by the exercise of human rights should even be worth defending.

    and…

    That which we should strive for, Cohen is telling us, is that which Israel and Zionism would accept. Not only is this morally flawed – for the same reasons King and Mandela didn’t base their ambitions on what the white man would accept – but it is strategically flawed as well because it allows Israel, the dominant and powerful party, to dictate what is acceptable instead of established international law.

    and..

    But like so many “liberal Zionists” Cohen is still wrong on this very significant issue. There’s no defense in the modern world for a state whose very existence is, by self-definition, threatened by demographic shifts.

    Hell, the whole piece is a masterful piece of writing. I suspect that the reason has not responded is not because he is busy, but in light of the indefensible position you have put him in, too ashamed to even try.

  19. ToivoS says:

    Actually R Cohen is wrong about the right of return with respect to the Germans purged from Prussia, Eastern Germany and the Sudetanland at the end of WWII. I met a German who today lives in the Czech Republic in his ancestral home. Apparently the Germans insisted on some conditions when they supported Czech admission into the EU. I have not seen much written on this though I am pretty sure it happened.

    • Citizen says:

      @ ToivoS
      Do you know how many million ethnic Germans died when they were “transferred to Germany, after having lived in the East for 100s of years? Of those that survived the transfer, I bet you can count on your hands the number who got the ROR.

      • piotr says:

        I think that Poland got a waiver from general EU rules to basically keep Germans out. There is no RoR in either case but a much simpler right to buy real estate or (conversely) to have regulations that restrict that right in the case of foreign buyers.

  20. Qualtrough says:

    How can Cohen write, “There is in history no right of return.” Isn’t the whole modern day basis of Israel founded upon the right of Jews to return to their promised land?? Does he really want to go there??

  21. eGuard says:

    So Richard Cohen had to show his colors, bringing him in the league of frontpeople Tom “my moustache” Friedman and Peter Beinart.

    Now in the US there is this liberal Zionist scolarship, as opposed to say neocons. Now can someone explain what is the current parallel variant in Israel of this typical American policy group? Which Israli political party, with at least 1 seat in the polls, has this attitude? Please do so before the elections. The hypothesis to check is: there is none.

  22. pjdude says:

    Noticed a problem with the 2 polish cities. they were polish cities that were founded by poland( well Wroclaw was founded by the native Silesian people but was incorporated into poland by the piast dynasty. and eventually became part of Bohenia) Gdansk was founded as a polish city and didn’t really become german until the deluge.

    but since when have zionist have had anything but a tenous connection to reality.

  23. MRW says:

    Don’t miss this treat: Adam Curtis on his blog telling the story of the history of Palestine from the time of Herzl and Balfour and the rise of Israel. He uses BBC historical footage.
    link to bbc.co.uk

    • @MRW – - Very interesting link. Thanks. One might note the difference between the settlement of Jews in Palestine, after the First World War, and the carving out of Palestine a new country controlled entirely by Jews.

  24. I think that the Arab leaders who endorsed the 2002 Saudi peace plan were only too well aware that Israel could not be expected to bring about its own dissolution by allowing millions of non-Jews to return to Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

  25. We should note here that opponents of the 2002 Saudi peace plan claim that it is unworkable because it does not specifically deny right of return (within Israel’s pre-1967 borders).

  26. ritzl says:

    I guess I’m going to be contrarian here.

    While Munayyer’s arguments are well presented as always, isn’t he arguing from the PoV of the “two-state” solution? By arguing RoR, isn’t he subscribing to Cohen’s and the libzio’s dead horse that a two-state solution is in any way achievable in the WB?

    Why do that? It’s (two-states) a delusional mindset and rather than give it credence by arguing in those terms, isn’t it better to simply call it a frivolity/anachronism and re-frame the discussion based on the real issues and facts?

    It would seem to me that given the facts on the ground, that one-state is the outcome and the RoR (for WB Palestinians) is a done deal, pending, of course, a protracted civil rights struggle. It’s done. The argument is over. Any subscription to any contention derived from a two-state context is moot/silly/delusional. Don’t embrace those delusions.

    So wouldn’t a better rebuttal to the libzio (Cohen’s) fondness for the language of the past and pointless two-state hyperbole be simply to point that out. It’s over. It’s pointless. RoR has been accomplished by Israel’s own hand [Get Real, libzios!!]. If you (libzios, or any other kind of zio) think Palestinians are going anywhere, voluntarily, and without global attention, think again! If you think that Palestinians won’t have the vote and ultimately the homes (or present day value for them) they were displaced from, in a few decades, think again.

    RoR has been accomplished.

    • ritzl – - You don’t think the Saudis have a solid grasp of the situation in Israel/Palestine?

      • ritzl says:

        @James Canning

        “Grasp” is such a perspective-laden thing. I believe that the KSA certainly “grasps” the situation from their own needs. Namely to placate their own political “street” and maintain their power. They use, and have always, imo, used the Palestinians as pawns in their power games – internally and externally.

        Second, I do not believe that a 2002 initiative reflects the current reality in either geographical or political terms. Therefore, is it relevant?

        Having said that, as Hostage continually points out, the legal context of the Saudi Plan hasn’t gone away. If anything, it’s become more acute. But even there, there’s almost no indication (sorry Hostage) that that acuteness has legs. The legalities may, ultimately, be the motivator for some precipitous event (i.e. something that would precipitate a viable and durable 2SS), given some unknown/unforeseeable future events, but it doesn’t seem to be that at the moment (and receding).

        So, question back, is the 2002 Saudi/Arab League plan relevant now?

        • Ritzyl – - Most foremer directors of Israeli internal intelligence say Israel must get out of the West Bank. So, of course the 2002 Saudi peace plan is highly relevant now.

        • ritzl says:

          @James Canning

          Sure. Agree on the late realizations of “Israeli internal intelligence” folks (they always seem to go on record with this “realization” after they leave their posts). But, to me anyway, that’s pretty much divorced from the reality of actually “getting out.”

          IOW, it’s not going to happen, ergo the Saudi plan is based on something that’s simply not going to happen, ergo irrelevant, imo.

          There are many templates for a reasonable and durable 2SS resolution to this. But all are just that, templates. Israel has precluded their implementation, at every turn. So it’s easy to say “if only,” but the “if” part of “if only” is the kicker.

        • Of course a director of Shin Bet would not be able to say openly that Israem must get out of the West Bank.
          Can the director of Central Intelligence say openly that Israel must get out of the West Bank?
          As practical matter, 2002 Saudi peace plan is only available solution to Israel/Palestine, that would avoid destroying the Middle East.

    • JeffB says:

      @ritzl –

      All during the 1950s Israel was rather weak, compared to today. All their neighbors strongly supported RoR. The USA and Soviet Union supported RoR. The moral case for RoR was much stronger since the people involved were in fact refugees.

      Today Israel is the dominant power in the region. Most their neighbors would hate to see a country loaded to the gills with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons fall into a dangerous civil war that spill to five other countries. The USA and Russia support a two state solution along the lines of the Clinton parameters. The people involved are the grandchildren of refugees. The towns and villages from which their grandparents came are long gone and built over. There would be virtually no practical way to implement RoR.

      No, RoR is not over by the hand of Israel. Israel has done quite nicely in achieving its objectives.

      • Shmuel says:

        There would be virtually no practical way to implement RoR.

        Not true. The only real objection to RoR is that it would “change the Jewish character of the state”.

        See e.g. Abu Sitta’s classic article, “The Feasibility of the Right of Return” (from 1997, but the principles are still sound): link to prrn.mcgill.ca

        • JeffB says:

          @Smuel –

          Forget the Jewish character of the state. It is not just religion in the sense that American’s use the term Jew. This is not merely a problem of religion. The problem is the Israeli character of the state. Palestinians, particularly those in refugee camps hate Israel. They do not want to be Israeli. They do not want to join Israeli society. They do not want to learn Hebrew, go to a Israeli public school, participate in Israeli public rituals that have a Jewish flavor, serve in an Israeli army fighting other Arabs…. They do not want to be Israeli. This isn’t even a point of dispute.

          Sure physically Right of Return can be implemented if Israelis want to disband their lives and culture and create an entirely new entity. Same thing would work if all the Palestinians moved en mass to Lebanon, Laos or Ottawa. Human mass migrations are highly disruptive, what’s happened to the Palestinians being a terrific case in point.

          One society that has organized itself well for taking in mass migrations if immigrants is the United States. That’s a far more viable option than Israel. But ultimately I don’t think a 4th generation person of Palestinian decent living in Syria is Israeli anymore than I’m Ukrainian (where my family was 2 1/2 generations ago).

          So yeah, there is plenty of land. So what?

      • ritzl says:

        @JeffB

        Are you actually suggesting that if Palestinians were given the vote and/or equality in Israel that that would lead to “a country loaded to the gills with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons fall into a dangerous civil war that [would] spill to five other countries.”? I guess, first, why would that be? Because Jewish-Israelis would opt for armageddon before reconciliation with the Palestinians from whom the land was violently taken (i.e. the mythology of the founding of Israel)?

        Would Palestinians, per se, be an aggravating instability force in regional politics, as opposed to a moderating one? I think this is not the case. I think your contentions are last-ditch bravado in preservation of an unpreservable status-quo.

        “No, RoR is not over by the hand of Israel. Israel has done quite nicely in achieving its objectives.”

        I don’t quite know what you mean by this. In my view the “quite nicely” part directly conflicts with the “not over” part. Your own “quite nicely” observations shouts that the WB will never be a sovereign state. That means that the WB is with 99.5% probability, Israel. That means that ALL the Palestinians in the WB will, at some point be Israelis (barring some massive ethnic cleansing/death event). That means with the vote, eventually. That means an increasing Palestinian presence in Israeli politics and courts. That means RoR compensation and/or housing equality, probably with emphasis on the “and” part of the and/or. That means, over time, it’s over.

        Israel’s coveting and unaccountable assimilation/annexation of the WB means that Palestinians WILL, again eventually, get their land back, though incrementally and not through some stroke of the pen.

        RoR is OVER…unless you think that Israel is somehow, and at some point going to simply (and the .5% above is a concession to this unlikely event, and Hostage’s explanations of potentially compelling, black-letter, legal facts) going to withdraw from the WB (including the Jordan Valley, Ariel, E-1, Maale Adumin, etc.), OR if you believe that Israel is going to violently evict 2-3M Palestinians from the WB without some significant and actioned international notice.

        As far as the “grandchildren of refugees” comment, again you completely dismiss your own heritage (assuming you’re Jewish, and if not, I apologize for the assumption). German law enables progeny of killed or expelled Jews to have German citizenship, in perpetuity. Why, in your view, is that not something the Palestinians should enjoy? Why should the progeny of Palestinians expelled or killed by Jews cum Israel not be entitled to the same repatriation construct?

        Methinks thou doest protesteth too much.

  27. JeffB says:

    @ritzl –

    I’m kinda quitting the discussion here but your post didn’t include ad hominem so I’ll reply and see if it makes it through.

    Because Jewish-Israelis would opt for armageddon before reconciliation with the Palestinians from whom the land was violently taken (i.e. the mythology of the founding of Israel)?

    Yes. I think their are substantial factions on both sides that would reject binationalism and turn violent. The IDF command is a hotbed of Zionist loyalties and the Army far from keeping the peace would, at least at the subcommand levels start backing these factions. In a binational state that would be parts of the army fighting other parts of the army. Different countries would get involved. And as civilians scattered they would take this fighting with them. The IDF (which at this point I’m assuming is binational) would be feeding weapons to these factions.

    Israel is so much more powerful militarily than any of its neighbors these rollover effects be immense. Look at the how the militias from the fall of Libya spread. Now just imagine if instead of rocket launchers they had WMDs.

    None of the governments in the Middle East, as much as they may hate Israel want to see Israel go down hard at this point. The Arab peninsula never experienced WWI, WWII death tolls and they would rather not.

    Would Palestinians, per se, be an aggravating instability force in regional politics, as opposed to a moderating one?

    Of course. Israel is today a very dangerous country but it has clear objectives and an army fully under the control of the government. It can be negotiated with and contained effectively. Once factions of an army no longer view the government as “their government” the ability to control these factions breaks down fast. That’s the problem with Pakistan for example where the army, the intelligence service and the government all have distinct foreign policies.

    WB will never be a sovereign state. That means that the WB is with 99.5% probability, Israel

    I suspect it will end up as a semi-self governing colony. Israel has to annex the WB for full enfranchisement to happen. Think about the USA and conditions for statehood with various states like Utah. So I don’t think it is anywhere near 99.5% in the near future.

    That means that ALL the Palestinians in the WB will, at some point be Israelis

    Not necessarily at least not in a meaningful sense. As long as the Palestinians consider themselves Palestinians they can’t be Israeli. Just living in a state doesn’t make you a citizen of that state. Particular a borderline theocracy with mandatory army service and that service already tied to citizenship privileges. Palestinians could be classified as “non-citizen residents”.

    That means with the vote, eventually. That means an increasing Palestinian presence in Israeli politics and courts.

    Another possibility is a vote for a “government” where the power resides elsewhere like the JNF and the IDF. Egypt is starting to move towards something like that. And Europe with an ever increasingly powerful but less accountable European Union is a democratic example. So I’d be a little cautious about this step. That a vote means control of politics, it doesn’t have to.

    OR if you believe that Israel is going to violently evict 2-3M Palestinians from the WB without some significant and actioned international notice.

    I think in the end if Israel is forced to choose between RoR and ethnic cleansing it won’t even be a hard choice. And yes there will be actioned international notice. But look at North Korea, Iraq until the American attack or Iran today. There is no question ethnically cleansing Palestine would mean a rough generation for Israel, similar to ’48-67. But in the end, they did do it and they did live with the consequences then when they were much weaker.

    Moreover, opportunities may present themselves where Israel has options with even less consequence. The Israelis have proven themselves patient and disciplined.

    As far as the “grandchildren of refugees” comment, again you completely dismiss your own heritage (assuming you’re Jewish, and if not, I apologize for the assumption). German law enables progeny of killed or expelled Jews to have German citizenship, in perpetuity. Why, in your view, is that not something the Palestinians should enjoy?

    I’m Jewish, but I’m not German. I’m 3/4s from Odessa. And no I don’t enjoy a right of return. Nor do I think I should enjoy such a right. I have the right to freely travel to Saint Louis, New Orleans, and Chicago because having been born in America I am American not Ukrainian even though biologically I’m Ukrainian. I don’t buy into this idea of racial privilege that RoR implies.

    As for the German example, that’s nice of the Germans. But just because my neighbor chooses to invite the Smith’s to spend the weekend doesn’t mean I have to invite the Dagwoods to spend the weekend. The German people choose to offer RoR to the Jews. The Israeli people don’t choose to offer RoR to the Palestinians. The Germans now like the Jews, the Israelis don’t like the Palestinians.

  28. JeffN – - I agree Israel would virtually be certain not to annex those portions of the West Bank with too many non-Jews.
    European countries will have to take the lead in achieving full UN recognition of Palestine, to overcome the virutal control of the US Congress by the Israel lobby on matters pertaining to Palestine.

    • JeffB says:

      @James –

      The UN more or less does fully recognize Palestine on the 1967 borders. That just mean much regarding the facts on the ground. The Europeans would have to do a lot more than just push for more UN resolutions. And while the Europeans may object and say mean things about Israel, they aren’t ready to fight a war for a “just resolution” of Palestine.

      The United States stole: California, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Utah and New Mexico from Mexico. We just enhanced the fence to keep Mexicans out. We deported 2m Mexicans in the last 4 years who had illegal crossed into these territories. Is this complete racist BS? Absolutely. Is anyone going to do anything to stop the USA from doing this? No.

      • JeffB – - Aren’t you forgetting that Mexico entered into a treaty with the US? And that Mexico sold further territory to the US after the war?

        • JeffB says:

          I see. So the stealing and the keeping are OK as long as some time in the future there is a treaty?

        • Are you arguing that France should return Alsace-Lorraine to Germany, since France took it from Prussia (German Empire) after the First World War?

          Treaties are obviously important.

        • JeffB says:

          @James –

          It is a bit late, the area has undergone cultural Francification. So the population now often identifies as French. IMHO the Eastern German speaking part should have been part of Germany and the Western part in France. More or less territory should be determined by the resident population.

          But I consider that an analogous case to what’s happening in Palestine.

        • JeffB – - Yes, Israel is trying to annex parts of the West Bank, illegally. By contrast, France obtained Alsace-Lorraine by treaty.

        • JeffB says:

          By treaty here you mean creating the conditions for a war in which millions died and then getting agreement based on the threat of death to more millions? Yes, if you want to consider that somehow morally superior France does have a treaty.

        • piotr says:

          In a nutshell, yes. Hence the need of a “peace process”, and the complementary (opposite) need to prove the sham of the process as is currently conducted.

        • talknic says:

          JeffB “I see. So the stealing and the keeping are OK as long as some time in the future there is a treaty?”

          Er, no, you don’t see, because you’re too busy trying making silly Hasbara style excuses. If people agree to be annexed to a state, it’s not stealing.

          Territory is acquired legally by annexation, wherein there is a referendum of the legitimate citizens of the territory or they can elect a representative body who will agree to annexation on their behalf.

          There was a referendum of the Mexican citizens of Texas. A referendum of the Russian citizens of Alaska. Hawaii, same. All were annexed because the citizens of the territories agreed to be annexed to the US. It’s called SELF DETERMINATION and because the US adopted that legal process, the US was instrumental in that legal process for acquiring territory eventually passing into Customary International Law.

          In the case of the British annexation of the Falkland Islands, there were no citizens there and the penguins didn’t seem to object.

          A treaty doesn’t make sense. If the US had a treaty with Texas and Texas became a part of the US, the treaty would be between the US and the US.

          It’s like the stupid Israeli notion that the Palestinians must have a peace agreement with Israel before there is any consideration of RoR. If there was an peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, those allowed to return to Israel would become ISRAELI citizens. If Palestine for example broke the peace agreement, it wouldn’t be those ISRAELI citizens breaking the agreement.

        • JeffB says:

          @talnic –

          That’s not what James is saying. I’m not sure that if there had been a democratic poll in Texas the vote would have been to sever with Mexico. There certainly were subsets of the population that approved of severing with Mexico but we just simply don’t know how the poor, especially the black and hispanic poor felt on the issue. But for the purpose of argument let’s assume that they would have approved. That’s an acknowledgement that land belongs to its current inhabitants, that people in a territory have a right to self determination and the right to break from their current governing authority and join with another whom they feel more attached to. “ When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another “. That would be endorsing the position from the Clinton parameters, “what is Jewish is Israeli, what is Muslim is Palestinian”. Which the Israelis agreed to at the time and have offered several times since.

          Rather the position being advanced here for those who advocate a 2 state solution is that ownership is racial and irrevocable. The population of a territory does not have the right to self determination, rather they are to be permanently bound to an entity that does not represent their interests and they believe hostile to their interests. There is absolutely no question which political entity the residents of Gush Etzion would choose to join with were they granted self determination.

          The Palestinian population is that the right to self determination does not exist or should not apply to Jews. Now this theory that land is held in a racial trust is not unique to the Palestinians, Milošević had the same theory about Kosovo that since it had one time been Serbian it was permanently and irrevocably Serbian regardless of the desires of the current population. But let’s not confuse that theory with “self determination” it is entirely the opposite. It support self determination is to support Israel not the Palestinian position in the negotiations.

          I notice the weasel word, “legitimate” which doesn’t mean anything. Every population on the planet everywhere got there through forcible mass migration. The way “legitimate” is used to exclude people one doesn’t like while allowing the same behavior from people one does like. I happen to believe all people are legitimate and all people are rightfully entitled to self determination in their territory.

          As an aside, the USA does have a treaty with Texas. That was one of the arguments that Governor Perry among others has made on the question of secession for Texas and why it would be different for Texas than it was for the Confederate States.

        • JeffB – - Are you arguing that after a war, there should be no treaty?

        • @piotr – - A good area of inquiry: why did Obama fail to give adequate backing to Hillary Clinton, when she tried to stop all growth of the illegal colonies early in Obama’s first term?

        • JeffB says:

          @James –

          No I’m arguing that many of these treaties are often nothing more than middle or latter stage of the acquisition of territory by force. They aren’t something wholly different. I think territorial treaties are sometimes, but not always, a good thing in they help societies sort out conflicting claims of territory. There is no meaningful difference between what Israel is doing and what France or the United States did and both continue to do.

          I’m tired of arguments that cast Israel as unique for doing things that most other countries either have done in the last few centuries or often are currently doing. State formation is a violent process.

        • seanmcbride says:

          James Canning,

          A good area of inquiry: why did Obama fail to give adequate backing to Hillary Clinton, when she tried to stop all growth of the illegal colonies early in Obama’s first term?

          The answer to this well-known and well-documented: Obama came under heavy attack from powerful pro-Israel activists within the Democratic Party — billionaire Ronald Lauder, Chuck Schumer and others.

        • Are you arguing that the people of Hawaii could set up their state as an independent country, provided “the people” could vote?

        • Yes, well documented. But is one American in twenty even aware Hillary Clinton tried to stop the growth of the illegal Jewish colonies, and Obama sold her out?

        • One question is why the American taxpayers should be hosed, so Israel can try to steal more of Palestine.

        • JeffB says:

          @James

          Are you arguing that the people of Hawaii could set up their state as an independent country, provided “the people” could vote?

          I’m not sure what could means. The US doesn’t recognize the right of states to secede. Texas is a unique case because there is a treaty. But if by “could” you mean should be able to. Yes I think the people of Hawaii have the right to secede and form their own country or even combine with another country, for example Japan.

        • JeffB says:

          @James

          Yes, well documented. But is one American in twenty even aware Hillary Clinton tried to stop the growth of the illegal Jewish colonies, and Obama sold her out?

          Israel was heavily debated during the US presidential elections especially in Florida. Obama made it pretty clear that on issues of substance he agreed with Romney, he disagreed on issues of tone.

        • sardelapasti says:

          “Hillary Clinton tried to stop the growth of the illegal Jewish colonies”

          Wouldn’t fairy tales more appropriate for putting to bed your grandchildren? I believe that the owners of this site were not intending it to be a fiction writing contest site, even if it often does look like that. Please look up “to try”.

        • The issue is whether even one American in twenty is aware that Hilllary Clinton in fact did try to impose a moratorium on the growth of the illegal colonies of Jews in the West Bank. And Obama lacked the courage and strategic sense to back her.

        • Sardelapast – - Have you read Hillary Clinton’s statements, from early in Obama’s first term? Regarding Israel’s need to stop all growth of the illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank?

        • Interesting point of view, Jeff.

  29. JeffB – - If full UNSC recognition of Palestine meant so little, the US Congress and Obama would not be working so hard to block it.

    Europe must lead the way because the ISRAEL LOBBY completely compromises the ability of the US Congress to act in the best interests of the American people on this issue.

    • JeffB says:

      The majority of Americans who care in any meaningful sense at all about Israel want an ingathering of the Jews so that the righteous 144,000 gather in Israel and thus one of the objectives of the 2nd coming is achieved. The American people, who do care see this as their best interest.

      You may disagree and think this is stupid, but it ain’t the Israeli Lobby that came up with that doctrine.

  30. JeffB – - Are you referring to the delusional end-of-timers, who want the Jews to drive all non-Jews out of the “Land of Israel”? To bring on the destruction of the planet.

    • JeffB says:

      JeffB: The majority of Americans who care in any meaningful sense at all about Israel want an ingathering of the Jews so that the righteous 144,000 gather in Israel and thus one of the objectives of the 2nd coming is achieved. The American people, who do care see this as their best interest.

      James: – Are you referring to the delusional end-of-timers, who want the Jews to drive all non-Jews out of the “Land of Israel”? To bring on the destruction of the planet.

      I’m not quite sure, your characterization of the beliefs is kinda far. Yes I’m referring to end-of-timers, yes they often support a Jewish Israel, No I’m not referring to people who see that as inducing the 2nd coming. As for destruction of the planet… some do some don’t.

      • JeffB – - Apparently the idiot Texan pastor, John Hagee, sees the expulsion of non-Jews from “the Land of Israel” as a waystation in the destruction of the planet. Hagee seems to have a considerable number of followers.

      • john h says:

        “The majority of Americans who care in any meaningful sense at all about Israel want an ingathering of the Jews so that the righteous 144,000 gather in Israel and thus one of the objectives of the 2nd coming is achieved. The American people, who do care see this as their best interest”.

        The way you put that, and your further comment to James, “your characterization of the beliefs is kinda far”, makes you sound close to being a Hagee follower.

        Not me, and I’m one of those pesky Christians looking for the 2nd coming.

        I have no time for such scenarios you paint as being a description of who the “Americans who care in any meaningful sense” are. That is so “kinda far” away it’s in an Alice in Wonderland world.

        • Thanks. And I understand the Rev. Hagee wants Jews to expel Christians from “the Land of Israel”. Amazing.

        • seanmcbride says:

          James Canning,

          Thanks. And I understand the Rev. Hagee wants Jews to expel Christians from “the Land of Israel”. Amazing.

          This has very little to do with rational financial capitalism and everything to do with irrational Abrahamic fundamentalism and cultism.

          (This comment is directed at MRW.)

        • One sometimes wonders if Hagee is an egotistical manipulator who actually knows what he preaches is rubbish.

  31. piotr says:

    “there is in history no right of return”

    The earliest example I found is “return of the Heraclids”. One narrative was Dorian invasion that conquered Peloponessus, but the conquerors were in their narrative returning, with the blessing of Zeus.

    The second example is Jews. It is a bit related, because the most notable Heraclids were Spartans, and the Zionist project has non-accidental similarities to Sparta.

    The third example was the return of nations expelled from their ancestral lands by Stalin. Exile of Kalmyks was rescinded around 1956, and the exile of Crimean Tatars only after the dissolution of Soviet Union.