By Uri Avnery
26 May 2012
When Theodor Herzl put forward the idea of a Jewish state, he was not thinking about Palestine but about an area in Argentina. He intended to empty this area of all its native population – but only after they had killed all the snakes and dangerous beasts.
In his book Der Judenstaat [The Jewish State] there is no mention of Arabs – and not by accident. When Herzl wrote it, he was not yet thinking about this country. The country appears in the book only in a tiny chapter added at the last moment, titled “Palestine or Argentina?”
Therefore Herzl did not speak about evicting the Palestinian population. This would have been impossible anyway, since Herzl was asking the Ottoman sultan for a charter for Palestine. The sultan was a caliph, the spiritual head of all the world’s Muslims. Herzl was too cautious to bring this subject up.
”Total opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state – at any time, anywhere in the country, at all costs”
This explains the otherwise curious fact: the Zionist movement has never given a clear answer to its most basic question: how to create a Jewish state in a country inhabited by another people. This question has remained unresolved to this very day.
“The main effort of the Zionist/Israeli movement is to achieve a Jewish state in all of Eretz Israel – the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In other words, the prevention of an Arab Palestinian state.”
But only seemingly. Hidden somewhere underneath it all, on the fringes of the collective consciousness, Zionism always had an answer. It is so self-evident, that there was no need to think about it. Only few had the courage to express it openly. It is imprinted on the “genetic code” of the Zionist movement, so to speak, and its daughter, the state of Israel.
This code says: a Jewish state in all the land of Israel. And therefore: total opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state – at any time, anywhere in the country, at all costs.
The main effort of the Zionist/Israeli movement is to achieve a Jewish state in all of Eretz Israel – the territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. In other words, the prevention of an Arab Palestinian state.
When one grasps this, all the events of the last 115 years make sense. All the twists and turns, all the seeming contradictions and deviations, all the curious-looking decisions make perfect sense.
In a bird’s eye view, the Zionist-Israeli policy looks like a river striving towards the sea. When it meets an obstacle, it goes around it. The path deviates to the right and to the left, sometimes even going backwards. But it perseveres with a wondrous determination towards its goal.
The guiding principle was to accept every compromise that gives us what we can get at any stage, but never let the final aim out of our sight.
This policy allows us to compromise about everything, except one: an Arab Palestinian state that would confirm the existence of an Arab Palestinian people.
The only exception may be the Oslo agreement – which also did not mention a Palestinian state. After signing it, Yitzhak Rabin did not rush forwards to create such a state. Instead, he stopped in his tracks as if stunned by his own audacity. He hesitated, dithered, until the inevitable Zionist counterattack gathered momentum and put an end to his effort –- and his life
The present struggle over the settlements is an integral part of this process. The main aim of the settlers is to make a Palestinian state impossible. All Israeli governments have supported them, openly or covertly. They are, of course, illegal under international law, but many of them are also illegal under Israeli law. These are variously called “illegal”, “unlawful”, “unpermitted” and so forth. Israel’s august Supreme Court has ordered the removal of several of them and seen its rulings ignored by the government.
While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems in abeyance and “nothing happens”, it is really going on with full force in the only battlefield that matters: the settlement enterprise. Everything else is marginal, like the awesome prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran. As I have been saying all along, that will never happen. It is a part of the effort to divert attention from the two-state solution, the only peaceful solution there is.
Where is the negation of the Palestinian state leading to?
Logically, it can only lead to an apartheid state in the entire country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. In the long run, that would be untenable, leading to an Arab-majority “bi-national” state, which would be totally unacceptable to almost all Israeli Jews. So what is left?
The only conceivable solution would be transfer of all the Arabs to the other side of the Jordan. In some ultra-right circles, this is openly talked about. The Jordanian monarch is incensed by it .
Unless we do something that looks almost impossible: to change the main effort, the historic direction of our state. Substitute for it a new national aim: peace and coexistence…