Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Peace Must Include Palestinian Reality

Quickly digressing from bi-nationalism, David Kahane (“Do We Really Just Need to Move On?” THE HOYA, Nov. 19, 2004, A3) goes beyond “political correctness,” so I will follow his suit to add some nuance and move away from guerilla theater for a real discussion.

His math which “speaks for itself,” also speaks to a different truth. The “demographic threat” he speaks of is primarily constructed by Israel. No one has obliged Israeli governments to continue military occupation of Palestinian lands and actively subsidize settlements in the Palestinian territories.

Israel did not have to hasten the settlement buildup after the 1993 Oslo Accords. Kahane faults the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for terrorism, but he must also admit that Israel’s refusal to heed world opinion and follow multiple UN resolutions by halting settlement expansion in the West Bank, in addition to Israeli policies of systematic imprisonment, movement restrictions, and continuing destruction of Palestinian homes, fan the flames of mistrust and violence and reduce prospects for a resolution.

According to B’tselem, an Israeli human rights group, 3,544 Palestinian civilians and security officials in the Palestinian territories were killed by Israelis between Dec. 1987 and May 2003. In the same period, also in the occupied territories, 532 Israelis, including 251 soldiers, were killed by Palestinians. Within Israel proper, 484 Israeli civilians and 126 soldiers were killed by Palestinians.

I do not intend to downplay or exaggerate anyone’s losses, for all human life is indeed precious, as both Judaism and Islam teach. However, just as terrorism is a major Israeli issue, the occupation is just as much of a legitimate Palestinian concern.

Contrary to Kahane’s claim, the Palestine Liberation Organization has changed its charter and no longer calls for the “destruction of Israel.” Arab countries, as stated in the 2002 plan presented by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah, showed willingness to fully accept Israel in return for a comprehensive peace which includes a Palestinian state, Israel’s withdrawal to 1967 borders and a just resolution to the complicated problems of East Jerusalem and the Palestinian right of return. This may not be everything Sharon’s government desires, but when the Arab League agrees to accept Israel, a second look is certainly merited.

Regarding leadership and the July 2000 Camp David proposal, let’s consider “97 percent of West Bank” and “East Jerusalem.” Kahane must get a map of that “97 percent of West Bank” and the boundaries of that “East Jerusalem,” offered to Palestinians. Temporarily overlooking East Jerusalem and refugees, if you can just find a contiguous state, controlling at least its own aquifers, kindly let me know and we shall discuss this “generous offer.”

Former PLO Chair Yasser Arafat agreed to a Palestinian state composed of less than 25 percent of historical Palestine, but his partner in peace, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated by a Jewish extremist for signing that deal.

Undoubtedly, there are Palestinian extremists who want to “drive Jews to the sea,” but I am also certain there are supporters of Israel, even at Georgetown, who still believe that “there are no Palestinians” in and wish for a “Greater Israel.”

Finally, bi-nationalism is not a Palestinian conspiracy. This solution to the conflict has been discussed since the 1920s by many, including prominent Jewish thinkers like Martin Buber and Judah Magness.

So, let us deal with reality. There are two sides to this conflict.

Yes, Israel and Jews exist. But so do Palestinians with equally inalienable rights and nationalist aspirations whose fulfillment in the Holy Land is also based on international principles of human equality and decency.

Muhammad Shahbaz is a student in his final year of the School of Foreign Service Masters Program.

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