On the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the dissolution of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees because it “perpetuates and does not solve the Palestinian refugee problem,” the Israeli consul general in New York said that he admires and even envies the Palestinians for keeping the refugee issue alive “in order to keep the flame alive.”
“As a person… whose way of looking at life, is also a national center, I have enormous respect for the Palestinian national movement,” Dani Dayan said yesterday. “I admire in some sense a movement that keeps its refugees for five generations in squalid camps in order to keep the flame alive. In some senses I envy that movement.”
Dayan made his comments in a speech to five Zionist groups gathered at the Hebrew Union College in New York for a conference titled “Israel at a crossroads on the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War.”
A settler on the West Bank, Dayan spoke of the refugees in a larger context: saying Palestinians are responsible for the absence of peace, because Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
What should we do for the sake of peace. This is the most important question. What can you do for the sake of peace?I think this after all is the most important question…
I have great respect for the Palestinian national movement. As a person, whose way of looking at life, is also a national center, I have enormous respect for the Palestinian national movement. I admire in some sense a movement that keeps its refugees for five generations in squalid camps in order to keep the flame alive. In some senses I envy that movement.
But we also have to understand what that means. That means that the conflict between Jews and Arabs and Palestinians is not about ’67. It is about our recognition that there are two ethnic groups, two nations in what we call Eretz Israel and they call Falastin that have legitimate rights– and their belief there is only one. Only them. Until that changes, there is no chance for peace. Until the Palestinian national movement comes to terms with the understanding that also Jews are indigenous to that land– also, not only– also Jews are indigenous to that land, there is no chance for peace.
Because you will never, never compromise with whom you believe stole your land.
So only when the Palestinians come to terms with the fact, the historical fact, that there are two nations that have legitimate claim over the same patch of land, the peace process will begin. And I can assure you that the day it happens, if we live to see it, you will be surprised how, if it happens during Bibi Netanyahu’s term, how forthcoming he will be, whether I like it or not. But until then, there is no chance.
So if you ask me, What can I do for the sake of peace? It’s not about Israel, I’m sorry; it’s about the Palestinians. The most important person in the peace process is not the prime minister of Israel or the president of the United States, not even the president of the Palestinian Authority. It’s the minister of education of the Palestinian Authority. The moment they will accept not our existence, our right to exist as a Jewish state, then the peace process will come and all the other issues are technical. All the other issues can be solved. I’m not saying fifteen minutes, but they can be solved.
And if you ask me what you can do for peace? That’s what you can do for peace: work with the Palestinians in order to make them the understanding that this is the way.
And I must say one last word. Why I am so worried? Because I see the Palestinians going in the opposite direction… Think what happened; I saw it, I was present– the new secretary general of the U.N., Antonio Guterres, said the following, I was present when he said, a historical fact, the temple that was destroyed in Jerusalem in year 70 AC was a Jewish temple. Period. No political conclusion. Nothing. A historical fact. What did the following day the Palestinian representative to the UN, presented a protest, demanded a retract and said, it offends the Palestinians. That is the reason there is no peace. No more than that, but also no less than that.
The temple incident took place in January. The Palestinians said that Guterres “ignored UNESCO’s decision that considered the Al-Aqsa mosque of pure Islamic heritage” and gave a green light to Israelis to continue to colonize Jerusalem.
I’d make an observation about Dayan, based on his own speech. In the spring of 1967, he was a boy of 11 in Buenos Aires, and receiving a Zionist education, when his mother’s parents, whom he lived with, visited Israel and were killed in a traffic accident. A few weeks later the 1967 war happened; and four years later, Dayan’s family emigrated to Israel. As a non-observant adult, Dayan gave up his love of cities, Buenos Aires and Tel Aviv, to move to a mountain in the West Bank to build the Jewish future. In any western political context, this man would be seen as a rightwing nationalist nut causing a lot of problems. But in a Jewish space yesterday he was applauded, treated with great respect and– when criticized by a Palestinian Israeli, Mohammad Darashwe, the head of a co-existence group, for not treating Palestinians as equals– Dayan was given the podium again to respond to Darashwe. This is the shame of American Jewish leaders, that they defer to nationalist crazies.
Thanks to Allison Deger.