Pondering a Zionist's words on the eve of the Palestinians' catastrophe

May 14, 2010
*Special to asia!
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It is sobering to remember that one of those who realised Israel needs to treat the Palestinians justly was one of the first full-blooded Zionist.

Tomorrow thousands of Palestinians will march in the West Bank and Gaza to remember what they call the nakba, or the catastrophe.

On May 14, 1948, the state of Israel was proclaimed in Palestine. That was the day when the Palestinians, the Arabs living on that land became displaced from their own homes. That day, Palestine ceased to be. That day, the Palestinians became a people without a home.

This is an episode that has not been forgotten in the Arab world. This is a wrong that has not been right till now, more than six decades later.

Palestinians continue to have their land seized from them and given to Jewish settlers to build new homes and highways they are not allowed to use. The independent Palestinian state first broached  during the 1978 Camp David accords continues to remain a distant dream, and the roadmap for peace doesn't appear to be taking them that much closer.

Just yesterday, Israel's top diplomat Avigdor Leiberman proclaimed that the Palestinians have answered Israeli overtures at peace have been met by “slaps in the face”.

He spoke among others, of removing roadblocks for the Palestinians and imposing construction freeze in Judea and Samaria.

Instead of bowing in gratitude, the Palestinians keep harping on Israeli atrocities committed during the 2008 war in Gaza, and the Jewish settlements built illegally under international law in East Jerusalem.

As if to drive home the point, the Interior Minister reiterates they will “never” freeze the building of housing units for Israeli Jews in East Jerusalem, even though the Palestinians are contesting that for their capital of their future state.

And Israel wonders why the Palestinians are pissed. Really.

...because Israel was the embodiment of a dream borne out of the ashes of the Holocaust and the miscarried lives of the six million who perished, it will be held to a higher standard.

Ask any ordinary Israeli or Palestinian. See if you can find one who wants his children to carry on living in this ridiculous conflict. Yet thanks to the disgraceful leadership of both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians have remained in this conundrum.

They may point their officious fingers at the untrustworthiness of the other, but the truth is that they have let themselves be taken hostage by the most extreme elements among them. Between Israel pandering to ultra-rightwingers for whom not an inch of territory can be given up, not for peace and hell, not for the Palestinians, because that is the land God promised them, to the inability of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to set aside their petty infighting, one wonders just who's looking out for the man in the street.

What the men, women and children in the street need now are leaders with wisdom, insight and the audacity to make the compromises that will create an environment of trust from which some semblance of peace can be achieved. Only then can justice for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis finally prevail.

“I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish state by what it will do with the Arabs, just as the Jewish people at large will be judged by what we do or fail to do in this state, where we have been given such a wonderful opportunity after thousands of years of wandering and suffering.”

These are the words of Israel's first president Chaim Weizmann, written in his autobiography, Trial and Error, published in 1949.

Weizmann was a full-blooded supporter of the Zionist ideology that brought into being the establishment of Israel in 1948. His words were spoken with the best interests of his country at heart. He understood that because Israel was the embodiment of a dream borne out of the ashes of the Holocaust and the miscarried lives of the six million who perished, it will be held to a higher standard.

Now, six decades after coming into being, it is time for Israel to live up to that dream.


dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for theasiamag.com, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

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