Sunday, January 04, 2009

Jordan Isn't Palestine

A Guest Post by SM

It would be lovely for us all if Jordan was Palestine. A sweet solution. There are only 4 problems:
  1. The Jordanians don't want it. Jordan is a sovereign state at peace with Israel. Not only would it be contrary to normally accepted diplomatic behaviour to suddenly start telling a nation with whom we are at peace that we wish to deport approximately 3 million people (including those living many, many miles away in Gaza) into their territory. There is not the slightest chance that the Jordanians or the international community generally would respond in any way other than by rolling around laughing.
  2. The Palestinians don't want it. Quite how we are supposed to make peace by displacing 3m people from their homes and livelihoods is beyond me. But there is no way to make them go because Israel is a democracy. That means that the withdrawal of human rights in an effort to make people leave is impermissible. We already treat Arabs like second class citizens, but at least we can try and put that right. Were we to enshrine that in state policy we would be no better than any other totalitarian society.
  3. The international community doesn't want it. That is not - perhaps contrary to some cherished beliefs - because the international community are all anti-semitic and wicked. It is because we do not, nowadays, forcibly deport millions of people from one place to another. When pariahs do such things it is called ethnic cleansing. At the moment Israel is able to face down proposed boycotts because it has the moral high ground. It also gets billions of dollars of US aid for the same reason. The day we deport people is the day we gain the moral pit.
  4. It is wrong. I know of no Rabbi worthy of the name (I exclude people who pervert religion for their own political ends) who espouses as a Jewish value the forced deportation of an entire population. Indeed, looking at what the Nevi'im say about the Babylonians for doing that to some (a very few) of us, one must assume they are against it. The sheer human misery entailed in the proposal is 'justified' by the assumption that all of 'them' hate all of 'us'. That view is propounded by those who know no history and are uninterested in learning anything which does not support the beliefs they have previously decided they hold.
In the end we will have to talk to the Palestinians. We will have to take a deep breath and trust them and we will have to give back land so they can have a State. Our job is to try and create a group whom we can safely trust. We have done it with Jordan and Egypt and the peace has lasted. We gave back land to make peace with Egypt and we have not had to fight them since we did it.

We must do it because the right-wing fringe is too expensive for our pockets, our safety and our morality. The particular beliefs of those being killed or injured matter not in the context of national service - an Israeli soldier is just that: neither more nor less. It is a proud thing to be, because the soldier fights for all Israel. It matters not whether the soldier is religious or where he lives. The army is our army - not to be claimed by some fringe group to justify a political position with which the State is at odds. To make a mockery of those injuries and that death by failing to try and create a situation which makes future injuries and deaths unthinkable is a true betrayal.

Buy the man's book. (please)
Or buy his wife a gift (please)

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