Thursday, March 29, 2007

On the Right of Return

There they go again! The Arab leaders meeting in Riyadh have unanimously approved a Saudi "peace" initiative with Israel! The terms: If they are to recognize Israel's right to exist, Israel must:

1. Return to the 1967 borders that gave Arab leaders like Nasser the confidence to believe they could throw Israel into the sea overnight, and

2. Allow an unspecified number of Arabs to "return" to their "homes" in Israel.

What are the Arab states obliged to do? They are supposed to forcibly expel their "Palestinians" (or any other troublesome Arabs, I suppose; there is no test to see who is qualified) so they can return to their "homes" in Israel, even if these homes were purchased from them decades ago by the Jewish National Fund.

The new peace initiative is hailed as an advance over the previous Arab position of "no recognition". In reality, it is just another recipe for killing Jews. As I noted in Crossroads Arabia:
There already is a perfectly reasonable “right of return” in effect: Those refugees from 1947 who are willing to renounce violence, swear allegiance to Israel, and become peaceful productive citizens are permitted to come back: 150,000 have done so.

What the Arab states have been demanding, then, is that Israel accept back into their little country hundreds of thousands - even millions - of “refugees” (who decides who is a refugee?) who are actively hostile to the existence of Israel!

The best analogy I can think of is a man who wraps a noose around his own neck and hands the rope to his enemy, politely asking him not to give it a tug.

Hey, the septic tank spilled over! Must be your fault! Time to die!

Israel has proved time and time again that it can act with generosity and restraint. That sort of thing takes the kind of bravery that Arabs, who are so used to massacring or expelling their enemies, have little experience with. (That is also the problem U.S. troops have encountered training security forces in Iraq.) Note: I wrote these words before I heard about the latest massacre in Iraq.

Arab leaders would have to swallow hard and go a good deal further than the 2002 formula to really make peace in the region. Saudi leaders have the money to pay for everything, a huge subcontinent that could be a second home to an overly crowded population, and the credibility of a sixty-year alliance with the United States. What Saudi leaders demonstrably don’t have is the courage to try something really new, or the generosity of spirit that would allow them to open up their hearts to the Palestinian Arabs as much as the Israelis have.

Of course, the Saudis are not alone in their lack of compassion. The meanness extends throughout the Arab world and cuts deep into Arabs treatment of one another. I wrote at The Arabist last week:
What most Arabs don’t realize is the intimate connection between anti-Zionism and Arab backwardness and sufferrings: each is used to legitimize the other. To attempt to deny the viability, compassion, and justice of Zionism and Israel, writing them off as “evil”, is to mangle truth and justice to such an extent that any true evil can be perpetrated upon anyone, anywhere. Arab democrats and liberals can keep sacrificing, but they will always undermine themselves this way, because legitimizing anti-Zionism will always legitimize oppression. It is the story of the past sixty years.

Yesterday, through their expression of barely-masked hostility, the leaders of the Arab states gave every impression that they are willing to make their subjects suffer through sixty more such years of misery. Will Arabs continue to put up with this or will they toss the bums out someday?

Linked to Carnival of the Insanities, April 1, 2007

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