Moonlighting: Non-Specialists in the News
Saree Makdisi Rejects Israel's Legitimacy in the LA Times
On Israel's 60th anniversary, that nation - unlike other states born after World War II - continues to face attacks against its right to exist, including most recently in the pages of the Los Angeles Times. On May 11, 2008, Saree Makdisi, a frequent contributor to the Times, was allowed 1,200 words to advocate for the replacement of the Jewish state with a "bi-national state" ("Forget the Two-State Solution"). (The Makdisi Op-Ed is paired with one by Benny Morris, " Israel's unhappy birthday," which provides some of the history of Palestinian rejectionism.)
Manipulating and inverting facts, Makdisi argues that a two-state solution is impossible due to Israeli settlements and Israel's alleged rejection of a Palestinian neighbor and he argues instead for a one-state "solution," a formulation that amounts to the annihilation of Israel and potential genocide.
While it is the Palestinians who have historically and continuously rejected a Jewish presence in the Holy Land and who daily teach such rejection to their children, Makdisi inverts the reality and projects that rejectionism onto Prime Minister Olmert, and Israel at large. In the case of Olmert, Makdisi truncates a quote to distort his position on possible land withdrawals. Makdisi writes:
"Although Olmert says he believes in theory that Israel should give up those parts of the West Bank and Gaza [sic] densely inhabited by Palestinians he also said in 2006 that 'every hill in Samaria and every valley in Judea is part of our historic homeland' and 'we firmly stand by the historic right of the people of Israel to the entire land of Israel.' "
In addition to ignoring the fact that Israel already has withdrawn entirely from Gaza, Makdisi quotes selectively from Olmert's Jan. 24, 2006 address at the Sixth Herzilya Conference. Far from stating that Israel should not withdraw from the historic heartland of Judea and Samaria, Olmert says the exact opposite. His statement in full is:
"The existence of a Jewish majority in the State of Israel cannot be maintained with the continued control over the Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. We firmly stand by the historic right of the people of Israel to the entire Land of Israel. Every hill in Samaria and every valley in Judea is part of our historic homeland. We do not forget this, not even for one moment. However, the choice between the desire to allow every Jew to live anywhere in the Land of Israel to the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish country - obligates relinquishing parts of the Land of Israel. This is not a relinquishing of the Zionist idea, rather the essential realization of the Zionist goal - ensuring the existence of a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel.
"In order to ensure the existence of a Jewish national homeland, we will not be able to continue ruling over the territories in which the majority of the Palestinian population lives. We must create a clear boundary as soon as possible, one which will reflect the demographic reality on the ground. Israel will maintain control over the security zones, the Jewish settlement blocs, and those places which have supreme national importance to the Jewish people, first and foremost a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty."
Again deceptive and inverting facts, Makdisi writes:
"Judea and Samaria: These ancient biblical terms are still used by Israeli officials to refer to the West Bank. More than 10 years after the initiation of the Oslo peace process, which was supposed to lead to a two-state solution, maps in Israeli textbooks continued to show not the West Bank but Judea and Samaria - and not as occupied territories but as integral parts of Israel."
First of all, it's true Judea and Samaria are ancient names - just like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Hebron and many other place names in current use in both Israel and the West Bank that do not appear to trouble the writer. Nor does Makdisi indicate that "Judea" and "Samaria" were terms endorsed by none other than famed Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi who praised A Survey of Palestine reprinted in 1991 by The Institute for Palestine Studies in which "Judea" and "Samaria" are used throughout. Khalidi calls the Survey "the single most authoritative, comprehensive, and dispassionate source on all major aspects of the socio-economic, administrative, and political life..." of the protagonists in the Israeli-Palestinian Arab dispute.
As for the textbooks, Makdisi is again reversing the roles. While Israeli textbooks do carry maps containing the Green Line - a fact which he obscures - maps in Palestinian textbooks do not recognize Israel.
According to a March 2008 study by the Center for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education entitled "Palestinian Textbooks: From Arafat to Abbas and Hamas":
"With the exception of two Israeli maps reproduced in a grade 11 book, its name [Israel] is not to be found on any map at all. In textbooks, including on the covers of books themselves, Palestine - which is presented as a full-fledged state - is sometimes represented as a sovereign state in the region in the place of Israel, alongside Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan . . .
"And there are maps where the name 'Palestine' covers the whole territory of pre-1967 Israel. . . [Image from Atlas of Palestine, the Arab Homeland, and the World, 2002, included.]
"The books present regions such as the Negev, cities such as Haifa, Jaffa, and Nazareth, and sites such as Caesarea - all within Israel's pre-1967 borders - as Palestinian."
The Heart Of It All - Exclusivity
Getting to the core charges against Israel, Makdisi sums up:
"This is a conflict driven from its origins by Zionism's exclusive sense of entitlement to the land."
Once more the inversion. In an Arab/Muslim realm characterized by intolerance of certain minorities and where Jews in some places can't set foot or, or course, own land - Zionism is cast as having the "exclusive" doctrine. In fact, from the 1947 Partition Plan, which Israel accepted and the Arabs rejected; to the Declaration of Independence, which states that the country "will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants"; to Israeli withdrawal from Sinai and peace deals with Egypt; to the Israeli relinquishing of Gaza and West Bank cities in which the vast majority of Palestinians live; to the Camp David/Taba proposals, which would have secured the Palestinians a state in the entire Gaza Strip and almost all of the West Bank; to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Israel has demonstrated it has no "exclusive sense of entitlement to the land."
Genocide Through Democracy
Makdisi has been pushing his "one state" agenda in the Los Angeles Times for years, suggesting that such a state would mean all living together peacefully with equal rights. But as CAMERA earlier wrote about a November 2004 Makdisi Op-Ed making the "binational state" argument:
"The history of 22 Muslim Arab states and their discriminatory treatment of Jews and other non-Muslim, non-Arab minorities in their midst - who are deemed inferior 'dhimmis' - is just one powerful warning against any concession by Israel of its sovereign status."
Since then, Hamas has forcibly taken over control in the Gaza Strip, leaving many Christians to fear for their lives.
Meanwhile, Hamas' popularity among Palestinians is on the rise, a fact that Makdisi defended and embraced in a June 20, 2007 Op-Ed entitled "West chooses Fatah, but Palestinians don't." In a "binational state" of Palestinians and Israelis, in which the growth of the former population outpaces that of the latter, democratic elections would vote in Hamas. In other words, we could look forward to Jews losing their rights, perhaps even the right to life, through democratic means. As Hamas' Charter reads: "The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine" (Article Six). As for the Jews, 'Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him." (Article Seven).
Distorting Root Causes
Makdisi argues that a two-state solution is "unworkable" due to the Israeli presence in the West Bank. He writes:
"A report published last summer by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that almost 40 % of the West Bank is now taken up by Israeli infrastructure-roads, settlements, military bases and so on-largely off-limits to Palestinians."
What makes a viable Palestinian state "unworkable" today is not Israel's presence in the West Bank but the irredentist Arab position that views Israel as a foreign implant in the region with which no compromise is to be made. Israel has shown again and again that when a genuine partner for peace appears - whether Anwar Sadat of Egypt or King Hussein of Jordan - agreements can be reached. Israel has withdrawn from territory repeatedly but such action has not prompted a reciprocal decrease in violence. Just the opposite.
The "one state solution" was given an additional boost in the Los Angeles Times with a lengthy, largely uncritical feature by Richard Boudreaux on May 8th entitled "For some Palestinians, one state better than none." On the day that Israelis were celebrating 60 years of independence, the Times contended that due to a growing Palestinian minority that longs for a "one-state solution," "the 60th anniversary this month of Israel's birth is a time of insecurity and flux." The 2,000-word article had only a brief reply from one Israeli who opposed a binational state.
Director, Israel Office
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