Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guest post by Zvi on the peace proposal by Arab-American Ray Hanania, whom I've criticized here and praised here.
Ray in the Jerusalem Post writes:

I've outlined my own peace plan. It’s a part of my PR stunt to run for Palestinian president, but my real goal is to run for the Palestine Legislative Council from east Jerusalem. It’s simple, and detailed on my Web site.

Basically, draw the boundary roughly on the 1967 borders. Israel keeps most of the settlements, and gives Palestine land mass equal to land annexed from the West Bank.

Many Israelis would probably support this proposal.

The Palestinian refugee issue is resolved using the rule of reason not the rule of law. Refugees would surrender the “right of return” in exchange for financial compensation from an international fund and resettlement in the Palestinian state or assimilation into the Arab countries where they now reside.

Most Israelis would support paying compensation in lieu of return.

The Palestinian diaspora, if compensated fairly and if permitted to assimilate, would likely choose that option. For every Palestinian refugee who went to Lebanon in 1948, there may be 50 descendants; and the small house for which he has a key - where only a handful of them could ever have lived - was long ago overrun by urban sprawl. Populations have surged throughout the region during the intervening period, and it would be absolutely impossible to restore the sparsely-populated status quo ante even if every last Jew suddenly evaporated.

One of those 50 descendants has never lived anywhere but Lebanon. His father and mother never lived anywhere but Lebanon. Maybe his grandfather too. Most such people would rather be allowed to work and build lives for themselves than continue to rot in refugee camps, stewing about a key, even if they come from an honor-oriented clan.

Seems to me that this part of Ray's proposal is "spot-on."

The possible exception is Lebanon, which has some very real reasons for being concerned about demographics. I really do sympathize with Lebanon's situation.

I would think that the countries that have put the most effort into using the Palestinians as a weapon would take the greatest number of Palestinians, since they obviously care so much about them ; - )

Both sides would apologize to each other for the past and embrace this vision of moving forward.

Most Israelis would likely agree to this requirement. They know that Palestinians have been hurt by the conflict, and most Israelis regret it, where the specific Palestinians involved are not themselves terrorists.

Many Palestinians would have a harder time apologizing. They have been taught that the ends justify the means, and that the end is to get their honor back from the Jews. Do you apologize for taking revenge in order to get back your honor? No.

However, Palestinian society will simply have to accept that some Palestinians did some unspeakably horrible things in pursuit of their cause. It will have to own up to them and apologize for them.

Israel already issues regrets and apologies for accidental killings of civilians and the like. I have no doubt that apologizing for the general problems that Israel has caused for Arabs in the WB and Gaza and elsewhere would not be a serious issue for Israelis. Since the purpose of Zionism has never had anything to do with the Arabs (it is about rebuilding the Jewish national homeland), there is no contradiction between showing remorse and continuing to be Zionists.

If Palestinian nationalism is really about nationhood rather than revenge against Jews, then hurting Jews comes second to nation building and Palestinians, too, will be able to apologize.

Ray's position here, in other words, is a mature one, and would represent a test of the true intentions and maturity of WB/Gaza society.

Also on the table for discussion is my plan (which the Financial Times “borrowed,” to put it nicely) requiring Israel to take back some refugees, based on how many settlers remain in West Bank settlements. “Refugees for settlers” is a concept that needs to be explored.

I'm not sure why this is required. If there has already been a land swap, then it's up to Israel how to deal with that land. There is no need for Israel to be "double dipped".

Israel would likely take in some Palestinian Arabs under any final settlement, in any case; but to tie this number to the number of settlers living on land that has already been exchanged is pointless. Or maybe Ray means settlers who live on land that was surrendered to the Palestinians. That would make some sense.

The Arab countries, too, would work with Israel to compensate Jews who lost lands and homes as a result of the conflict. (How Palestinians and Jews “lost” land and property is irrelevant in this discussion. It doesn’t matter if they left voluntarily or were forced to flee.)

That makes sense to me. It would make sense to most Israelis.

Most of the Mizrachi Jews fled because of a very real fear of violence, or were expelled, and everything was taken from them. But Ray's point makes it unnecessary to argue about the causes of the two refugee issues. Arguing causes would just bog everything down. Better to move beyond it. Glad to see Ray acknowledge the Mizrachim.

The status of citizenship would remain the same. But Jews who wish to live in Palestine could do so and retain Israeli citizenship for voting purposes, although they must abide by Palestinian laws. Jews should be permitted to live in any area of Palestine, including Hebron.

Works for me.

The same for Palestinians. Refugees who “return” to Israel under the “settler-refugee exchange program” would be given Palestinian citizenship. And, Palestinian citizens of Israel could receive dual citizenship too, living by Israel’s laws. Settlers in settlements not annexed by Israel and surrendered to Palestine would be given the same option to keep Israeli citizenship.

An Egyptian living in Jordan is an Egyptian citizen who is living by Jordan's laws. An Israeli living in France is an Israeli citizen living by France's laws. A Palestinian living in Israel would be a Palestinian citizen living by Israel's laws.

If an Arab Israeli wants dual citizenship, I don't suppose there's a legal issue with that; Israeli law allows for dual citizenship in general. It is very important, however, that as part of the peace settlement, Arab Israeli leaders make an effort to encourage their followers to see themselves as Israelis as well as Arabs.

It’s worth exploring at a higher, more detailed level.

The Old City of Jerusalem would be shared, with Israel taking the Jewish Quarter and the Western Wall and Palestine taking the Armenian, Muslim and Christian Quarters. There, Palestine can establish its capital alongside Israel’s, which would be recognized by all.

I liked the Clinton plan, in which national borders (normally vertical) also had a horizontal component; Israel would own the below-ground strata within the Temple Mount that are associated with the 2nd Temple, and the Palestinians would own the top strata. Details of cooperation, necessary repairs, archaeological work, etc. would need to be worked out. With goodwill, they could be.

Ray's proposals here seem pretty reasonable. There are some practical issues, and he leaves out necessary points around security and the like, but I honestly don't find a lot with which I would argue.

[Elder] I am a bit to the right of Zvi, so while I personally would not want Israel to compromise on one square centimeter of the Old City and I highly doubt that any conceivable Palestinian Arab leader could apologize for decades of terror, I agree that most Israelis would accept the proposal as it was quoted so far.

However, more problematic is what he writes later:

Palestine would be a non-military nation for the first 20 years, and would eventually partner with Israel to form a Palestinian-Israeli military, even creating merged Palestinian-Israel police.

This is a recipe for disaster and the beginning of the dissolution of Israel. It is inconceivable that, say, the US and Canada would agree to share an army as friends with similar interests; to ever imagine that a Palestinian-Israeli army would defend Israel from its Arab neighbors is insanity - as is the idea that PalArabs wouldn't use their weapons against Jews, as they did during the second intifada.

The bigger problem is a fundamental one. Hanania is an American. He grew up in America. He thinks like an American, which is why Israelis would accept many of these ideas. But he seems to not understand, fundamentally, the Arab mindset, replacing it with wishful thinking about how everyone can think like him.

If all Arabs were Hananias, then the plan would be very realistic and eagerly accepted by many Israelis, because there would be a presumption of honesty and fairness and mutual goodwill.

But the Arabs who live in the Middle East did not grow up in Chicago. They don't have fathers who were members of the US Army during World War II, most aren't Christians and very few have Jewish wives whom they have any respect for as Jews. (incorrect sentence deleted - see comments.) In other words, Middle East Arabs aren't Americans and they don't think like Americans. To them, the conflict is not about fairness or compromise, it is fundamentally about pride and honor, and that mindset is not the least bit compatible with what Hanania is proposing.

In the highly unlikely scenario that the Arabs would accept this proposal, it would be as part of a strategy to destroy Israel, not to live in peace with her. This essay I wrote in 2008 explains the fundamental problem in the difference of Islamist versus Western mindsets, and Hanania's plan falls into the same trap. That problem would take generations to solve, not years or even decades.

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