A little more than a week and a half ago, Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor – Founder and Director of the Middle East Study Group at the University of Hull – joined with Manual Hassassian – Palestinian Ambassador to the UK – and published ‘The Two State Solution: The Way To Peace’ in Fathom Journal, an online magazine I once respected. For many Palestinians, it was a highly controversial article, because the latter not only recognized Israel’s right to exist, but it’s right to exist as a Jewish state. For Palestinian and Islamist radicals, recognizing Israel’s right to exist at all, under any borders, is bad enough; recognizing it as a Jewish homeland is an unforgivable sin. Needless to say, it was a great start, and an indispensable step towards peace.
But alas, that’s all it really was….. a start. While the article itself is very good, there were couple of key points that I felt got lost in the shuffle, or were ignored outright. I tried posting my suggestions in the comment section below, but the site refused to publish them. Meanwhile, they were more than happy to accept a couple of virulently anti-Israel posts on their article, which did a great deal of damage to the site’s reputation in my eyes.
The following is what I tried to post on the article. And yes, I know that some of these were addressed in the Fathom article, but I am including them here as well because I want to give them extra emphasis.
1. Mutual compensation and acknowledgement of the crimes committed by and against both sides. For Israelis, this includes: arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, reckless expansionist policies in Yehudah and Shomron aka West Bank, the abusive treatment some Jewish residents in the territories inflict upon innocent Palestinians (see above), and (as much as some Israelis hate to admit it) partial responsibility for the refugee crisis of 1948. For Palestinians (note that many of these could also apply to the Arab/Muslim world as a whole), the list includes: targeting civilians with rockets and suicide bombers, pogroms, wars of (attempted) ethnic cleansing, incitement to genocide, collaboration with Hitler and the Nazis in the Final Solution, history and heritage theft, the deplorable treatment of Jews throughout the Arab world since the Islamic conquests, and the ongoing worldwide delegitimization campaign in the form of the BDS movement, which has resulted in a significant spike in antisemitism all over the globe. Oh yes, and #BringBackOurBoys.
2. An immediate end to genocidal incitement against Jews in the Palestinian Territories and the dissolution of Hamas. It’s leaders need to be brought to justice and tried in an Israeli court, and Palestinian newspapers, television, radio, etc need to be cleansed of antisemitism as thoroughly as possible. Israel also needs to do everything in its power to integrate its Arab minority, end housing discrimination, and address their needs and concerns (within reason of course), meanwhile providing assistance and compensation to families negatively affected by the military occupation.
3. The Temple Mount needs to be governed by the UN, and it should be open to visitation and prayer by both Jews and Muslims. A third Temple should be built alongside the Dome on the Mount as well.
4. Jewish holy sites in Hebron, Bethlehem, etc must be respected, or placed under Jewish control i.e. the Jordanian control of the Temple Mount. Ditto for Muslim and Christian holy sites located within Israel proper.
5. Palestinians and the larger Arab and Muslim world need to start telling the truth about the indigenous roots of the Jews to Israel/Palestine. If the Palestinian Arabs really do see themselves as Israelites/Canaanites and wish to celebrate it, that is fine. In fact, we encourage our Palestinian brothers to embrace it. However, we will not tolerate, let alone accept such false myths as: “Jesus was a Palestinian Arab/Muslim shaheed”, “Palestine was always an Arab/Muslim country”, “the Jewish Kingdom never existed”, “there was never a Jewish Temple on the Mount”, and “modern Palestinians are the “real” descendants of the ancient Hebrews (that is, if they’re even willing to accept that Jews once lived there at all) whereas modern Jews are European invaders from Khazaria with no Israelite roots to speak of”. I am entirely confident in saying that this heritage theft is not only unacceptable, but unconscionable. This is nothing short of colonialism, and it needs to stop right now. The Jordanian waqf also needs to be reformed and told that if it doesn’t cease in its efforts to destroy any and all archaeological evidence of the Jewish Temple, or the 4000 year old Jewish heritage in the land, that it will be removed and exiled forthwith.
I am open to further suggestions. If they are good enough, I will consider adding them to the list. I left out al-Farhud and the expulsion of Jews from other Arab lands because this is something that cannot be directly pinned on either the Israelis or the Palestinians.