Posted by: sean | July 19, 2007

More on Israel’s right to exist

Hamas’s deputy of the political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzook, recently had an op-ed in the LA Times outlining his views on recognizing Israel’s right to exist and Hamas’s charter. He makes a point that it’s not necessarily fair to judge an organization or a country based on its charter, citing the US Constitution’s codifying of slavery with its counting of “other persons” as three-fifths of a person. This is an attempt by Hamas to distance itself publicly in the American media from the parts of its charter that are deemed beyond the pale by polite company. The difference, however, between the embarrassing parts of the constitution and the Hamas charter is that the former was rectified by passing the fourteenth amendment in 1868. So if Hamas would like to publicly distance itself from unsavory parts of its 20-year-old charter, perhaps the best way of doing so would be to change it.

As for Israel’s right to exist, Abu Marzook has some interesting points:

The sticking point of “recognition” has been used as a litmus test to judge Palestinians. Yet as I have said before, a state may have a right to exist, but not absolutely at the expense of other states, or more important, at the expense of millions of human individuals and their rights to justice. Why should anyone concede Israel’s “right” to exist, when it has never even acknowledged the foundational crimes of murder and ethnic cleansing by means of which Israel took our towns and villages, our farms and orchards, and made us a nation of refugees?

Why should any Palestinian “recognize” the monstrous crime carried out by Israel’s founders and continued by its deformed modern apartheid state, while he or she lives 10 to a room in a cinderblock, tin-roof United Nations hut? These are not abstract questions, and it is not rejectionist simply because we have refused to abandon the victims of 1948 and their descendants.

[…]

The writings of Israel’s “founders” — from Herzl to Jabotinsky to Ben Gurion — make repeated calls for the destruction of Palestine’s non-Jewish inhabitants: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places.” A number of political parties today control blocs in the Israeli Knesset, while advocating for the expulsion of Arab citizens from Israel and the rest of Palestine, envisioning a single Jewish state from the Jordan to the sea. Yet I hear no clamor in the international community for Israel to repudiate these words as a necessary precondition for any discourse whatsoever. The double standard, as always, is in effect for Palestinians.

I, for one, do not trouble myself over “recognizing” Israel’s right to exist — this is not, after all, an epistemological problem; Israel does exist, as any Rafah boy in a hospital bed, with IDF shrapnel in his torso, can tell you. This dance of mutual rejection is a mere distraction when so many are dying or have lived as prisoners for two generations in refugee camps. As I write these words, Israeli forays into Gaza have killed another 15 people, including a child. Who but a Jacobin dares to discuss the “rights” of nations in the face of such relentless state violence against an occupied population?

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