Who better to ask than an “absolute moral authority” (Hat tip Maureen Dowd), Judea Pearl?
The U.N. vote of Nov. 29 in favor of Palestinian statehood cannot be dismissed lightly; it signals a new era in the moral standing of Israel. Regardless of the outcomes of the vote, Israel, the US and Canada are now perceived to be on the wrong side of justice, and wrong side of history – a moral minority of nine against 138. And it does not matter that some of the 138 states are gruesome dictatorships and others are victims of deceitful propaganda; much of what we mean by “justice” entails the capacity to elicit consensus on what “justice” is, and the general perception today, even among many Americans, depicts Palestinians as seekers of human rights, freedom and dignity, and those who rejected their bid as operating out of pragmatic, but morally unconvincing considerations.
Israel’s greatest blunder in the process leading to the U.N. vote was to keep the moral issue out of the debate. [...] We discussed every issue on earth except the one that matters in the moral arena: Are Palestinians entitled to, and ready for statehood?
[T]here was no reason for us to avoid the moral aspect of the issue, as this aspect has been and remains Israel’s strongest point in the debate. It can be summarized in one sentence: “A nation deserves a state to the extent that its children are taught that their neighbors deserve one too. In other words, no society, however in need, is entitled to what it denies to others.”
All due respect to Pearl, there’s a great deal more to the moral question than that. If Elizabeth Warren can be accused of “spiritual genocide” for casually picking up and dropping (like last year’s hemlines) a spurious ethnic identity whenever it suited her, how can the Palestinians get away with it? (Especially when they also practice actual genocide?)
Palestine has historically referred to the homeland for the Jewish people. There had never been an independent state in the region by that name or any other name until Israel won its independence (choosing that name for their country, as is their right). The Egyptians, Jordanians, and Syrians of the region only adopted the name “Palestinian” in the 60s or 70s to give themselves an identity distinct from a pan-Arab one; and created a mythological state, Palestine, where one never existed. Heck, even Jordan considered Judea and Samaria (what some call the West Bank) Jordanian territory between 1948 and 1967.
The Palestinian “identity”, it follows, is an invention to deny Israel its Jewish (yet pluralistic) identity. If that’s not “spiritual genocide”, I don’t know what is.
And here Pearl betrays his simplicity even as he wields his authority:
[W]hat Netanyahu could do is the following: Stop all settlement construction with no exception, and issue an ultimatum to Abbas: Construction will resume in three months unless we agree to meet face to face to discuss conditions for a total “end of conflict,” based on 1967 lines (with adjustments) and the principle of “two states for two peoples”.
Now, before readers criticize my proposal as caving in to Abbas’s demands or as a play on words, let us note that, based on all evidence from the Palestinian side, the chances that Abbas could accept such an offer from Netanyahu are extremely slim.
Netanyahu will not be risking a thing by demanding a “total end to the conflict” and “two states for two peoples.” Abbas will reject the offer out of hand. At the same time, these preconditions are so morally compelling that even European politicians would not be able to brand them “unreasonable.”
Does Pearl forget November 2009? Does the world? Netanyahu declared a unilateral suspension on construction that lasted ten months, yet the “Palestinian” Arabs (I refuse to use genocidal language) refused to meet until the very last minute, and only then if Israel unilaterally extended the suspension.
Not only has it been tried and failed, what is moral about playing such games?
Lastly, there’s this:
Abbas’s rejection will then restore to Israel the high moral grounds it has held since Nov. 29, 1947.
That’s the third usage of the phrase “moral high ground” as applied to Israel, we’ve seen in the past couple of days (see Friedman below for the second). That can’t be a coincidence. What the [bleep]‘s up woth that do you think?
PS: As for “absolute moral authority”, I’m not really a believer. Maureen Dowd applied that crown to Cindy Sheehan on the basis of losing her son (who enlisted) in a war she didn’t believe in (but he did). Judea Pearl’s son, Daniel, had his throat cut, on film, very possibly by Khalid Sheik Mohammed, after confessing that he was a Jew. It wins him our sympathy and our respects, which he has, but not our allegiance.