Roger Cohen comments in the New York Times:
Palestinians speak of the 1967 lines as a basis for negotiation, an idea President Obama once endorsed. Yet many continue to see the conflict not as the battle of two national movements for the same land — one resolved by the United Nations in 1947 in favor of two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian, in the Holy Land — but as a fight against a colonial intruder who must be banished.
One, the conflict was most certainly not “resolved” by the U.N. in 1947. Cohen is here referring to the myth that the U.N. created the state of Israel. In fact, the U.N. neither created Israel nor conferred any legal authority or legitimacy to the Zionists’ unilateral declaration of the existence of the state of Israel on May 13, 1948. The role the U.N. in fact played, far from helping to “resolve” the conflict, was to exacerbate the conflict, as I argue in an article in this month’s issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
Two, Palestinians are correct in their perception of the conflict: it is indeed a fight against a colonial intruder. It always has been. That was true in 1947, when the Zionists’ military operations to ethnically cleanse Palestine of its Arab inhabitants in order to establish there a “Jewish state” began, and it is true today, as Israel continues to colonize the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, in violation of international law.
For these Palestinians, represented in Hamas and elsewhere, Zionism equals colonialism and imperialism, rather than the legitimate struggle of a persecuted Jewish people for a homeland. It must be extirpated, like the French from Algeria.
Notice that implicit in his comments is that his own belief is that it is not a fight against a colonial invader, that it was “resolved” in 1947, and that the means by which the Zionists established their “homeland” for the “Jewish people” was “legitimate”.
Cohen next writes:
Coupled with this view is the tenacious Palestinian attachment to the so-called right of return. Well, ask the Jews of Baghdad and Cairo, the Greeks of Asia Minor, the Turks of Greece and the ethnic Germans of Poland and Hungary about this “right.” As the Israeli novelist Amos Oz once told me, “The right of return is a euphemism for the liquidation of Israel. If exercised there will be two Palestinian states and not one for Jews.”
So Cohen is implicitly rejecting the Palestinian right of return, even though the right of return of refugees to their homeland is an internationally recognized right codified in international law. And notice the logic by which he reasons that Palestinians have no such right: Jews have been expelled from various countries and either chose not to or were not allowed to exercise their right of return, and so therefore, Palestinians must not be allowed to exercise this right, either. In other words, the Palestinians should be made to suffer the consequences of the actions of various governments which neither represent the Palestinians nor which the Palestinians had any control over.
Cohen goes on to acknowledge Israel’s “undemocratic system of oppression” in the occupied territories, its “repressive military rule for Palestinians in occupied areas while allowing state-subsidized settler Jews there to vote.” He quotes Gershom Gorenberg from his book The Unmaking of Israel saying, “Israel behaved as if the territories were part of Israel for the purpose of settlement, and under military occupation for the purpose of ruling the Palestinians.”
So how is, again, it that we are supposed to consider Palestinians who see the conflict as “a fight against a colonial intruder” are the ones who are warped in their perception?