Beshara Doumani and the ‘Ironies of Palestinian History’

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This “all or nothing” mentality has been seen again and again in Palestinian leaders, most notably with Yasser Arafat at the 2000 Camp David Accords. Presenting the so-called “right of return” as a non-negotiable prerequisite for the establishment of a Palestinian state reveals a complete lack of interest in finding an actionable solution to the conflict. Whether he realized it or not, Doumani was implying that Palestinians do not want an independent Palestine—they want Israel.

Doumani concluded his remarks by restating the importance of the Palestinian diaspora to negotiating the state of Palestine; praising the Palestinians for finding loopholes in Israeli law that allow them to gain foreign passports; and highlighting the untapped potential of the Palestinian community in Israel. With regard to the latter, he lamented Israelis’ concern that their Arab compatriots might comprise a fifth column within their country while essentially encouraging those Arabs to realize those fears. “There is no reason why Palestinian citizens of Israel cannot be the leaders of a Palestinian national movement,” Doumani maintained. Although he claimed to be “agnostic” on the issue of a one-state or two-state solution to the conflict, he noted, “There is one state already. . . . The solution is a state for all its citizens.”

During the question and answer session, an audience member confronted Doumani on his final statement. “Why is it,” the man asked, “that there is no outcry against the treatment of Palestinians in Arab countries [such as Lebanon, Jordan and Syria]? Are these countries really states for all their citizens?” As might be expected, Doumani sidestepped the question. “Two wrongs don’t make a right,” he answered flatly. “If it’s wrong elsewhere, it’s wrong in Israel. I’m just asking that the right of equality for all people be applied to Israel.” In Doumani’s world, the right of equality for all people need not be applied to Muslim countries, and the fact that Arab citizens of Israel enjoy more political freedom than citizens of any Arab nation is irrelevant.

Other audience questions involved the role of international law, the American-Israeli relationship, and the possibility for coexistence. Doumani claimed that Israel has “no leg to stand on” with regard to international law and that “the free ride is over” in the American-Israeli relationship. Finally, Doumani concluded, coexistence is “the only solution I can see.” That may be, but coexistence under whose terms?

Jonathan Gelbart is a senior at Stanford University majoring in International Relations. He is the president of Students for an Open Society and former world news editor of the Stanford Review, an independent publication. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

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  • waterwillows

    Oh boy. Another dim-wit giving an even dimmer viewpoint about the ME.
    I suppose there is no end to foolish prattle.

  • ajnn

    There are now 11 million Palestinian Arabs in the world ?

    All from the 700,000 or so Arabs who left Israel in 1948.

    Does anyone else find this fantastic population increase, unmatched in human history, a little bit improbable ?

    • highpressure

      And the Arabs doubled the jewish population in Israel in 49 and 50 when they sent them to Israel while stealing just about everything they owned when they kicked them out of there homes.

      Whether the Arab/Persian Nations like it or not, by their own actions, legitimized Isreal more then the UN vote in 1948.

      In all fairness, those nations OWE Israel three times the land mass they already pocess because of that singular act.

    • MixMChess

      Interestingly enough, according to Israeli and British census sources, no more than 650,000 Palestinian Arabs could have become refugees. However, "A report by the UN Mediator on Palestine" concluded an even lower amount: 472,000.

      It begs the question how did 472,000 turn into 11 million so quickly!? It probably has to do with UNRWA's ridiculously broad definition of who is a Palestinian refugee: A Palestinian refugee is any person "whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948." You read that right, TWO YEARS! An Arab from Saudi Arabia who had an Apartment in the region could suddenly claim refugee status. But if that's not bad enough, UNRWA's definition of a Palestinian refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948 into perpetuity regardless of whether they have become citizens of another country or permanently resettled in another country.

      I guess it just further proves the hypocrisy of the UN.

  • highpressure

    One always has to ask, Who are these so-called Palestinian ethnic group that suddenly emerged out of thin air in the 60's? And what are these Iraqis, Jordanians, Lebanese, Syrians and Egyptians doing among them?

    And I wonder why the Israeli's won't recognize a movement guilty of ethic cleansing, mass child abuse and other gross crimes against humanity and God such as Hamas? I guess we all should be more tolerant of sociopaths.

  • PAthena

    The Roman Emperor Hadrian changed the name of Judea to "Palestina" in 135 A.D. after he had defeated the last Jewish uprising under Bar Kochba. He wanted to eradicate all memory of Judea and Judaism (he outlawed Judaism). Since that time, "Palestine" became synonymous with "land of the Jews" or "the Holy Land" (since Jesus was a Jew), and "Palestinian" synonymous with "Jew." That is why the Zionists wanted the "Palestine Mandate" and why Great Britain was awarded the "Palestine Mandate" after World War I as the "homeland of the Jews."

    Calling Arabs "Palestinians" is a consequence of Soviet propaganda, for Nasser and the Soviet Union in Cairo in 1964 invented the "Palestine Liberation Organization" with all the phony history to accompany it. Israel should certainly not give up any territory, including the propaganda-named "West Bank," namely, Judea and Samaria, for a "Palestinian" state named "Palestine." It should not give up any territory it controls, in any case, for military reasons, and the Arabs, as phony "Palestinians" do not deserve yet another state. The only "Palestinians" are the Jews, with the state of Israel.

    • Findalis

      Don't you know? Jesus was a Palestinian not a Jew. That is what being taught in US pubic schools and main stream churches.

      Also being taught is that the Jews have no claim to the land. They trace their heritage only back to the 1850s.