what’s the difference between 48 and 11?

back then

I under­stand that dur­ing the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry not even the major­i­ty of world Jew­ry sup­port­ed a nation­al­ist solu­tion to Jew­ish exis­tence. Jew­ish work­ing class move­ments were gen­er­al­ly non-Zion­ist and many of the “lead­ers” of world Jew­ry were inter­na­tion­al­ists, look­ing for inter­na­tion­al solu­tions. Why, then, should I be sur­prised that the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple did not rec­og­nize nation­al­ism as potent force in their own approach to moder­ni­ty? As I wrote in a leaflet I pub­lished in 2002:

Who Are the Palestinians?

  • We con­sid­er Pales­tine as part of Arab Syr­ia, as it has nev­er been sep­a­rat­ed from it at any time. We are con­nect­ed with it by nation­al, reli­gious, lin­guis­tic, nat­ur­al, eco­nom­ic and geo­graph­i­cal bonds.

    Res­o­lu­tion adopt­ed by the First Con­gress of Mus­lim-Chris­t­ian Asso­ci­a­tions; Jerusalem, Feb­ru­ary, 1919 at a meet­ing to choose rep­re­sen­ta­tives for the Paris Peace Con­fer­ence

  • There is no such coun­try [as Pales­tine]! “Pales­tine” is a term the Zion­ists invent­ed! There is no Pales­tine in the Bible. Our coun­try was for cen­turies part of Syr­ia.

    The words of Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, local Arab Leader to the Peel Com­mis­sion (which came up with the sug­ges­tion to par­ti­tion the Land of Israel) in 1937

  • There is no such thing as “Pales­tine” in his­to­ry, absolute­ly not.

    Tes­ti­mo­ny of dis­tin­guished Arab-Amer­i­can his­to­ri­an, Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Prof. Philip Hit­ti, before the Anglo-Amer­i­can Com­mit­tee 1946

  • Pales­tine was part of the Province of Syr­ia… polit­i­cal­ly, the Arabs of Pales­tine were not inde­pen­dent in the sense of form­ing a sep­a­rate polit­i­cal enti­ty.

    Arab High­er Com­mit­tee rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Unit­ed Nations at the Gen­er­al Assem­bly, May, 1947

  • It is com­mon knowl­edge that Pales­tine is noth­ing but south­ern Syr­ia
    Ahmed Shuqeiri (lat­er chair­man of the PLO) to the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil (a few years lat­er)

The Pales­tin­ian peo­ple did not care about or build a nation­al move­ment until Israel acquired con­trol of the West Bank and Gaza fol­low­ing the Six-Day War in 1967.

Now that Pales­tin­ian nation­al­ism is a force, the Pales­tini­ans must rec­og­nize the right of the Jew­ish peo­ple to its nation­al move­ment: Zion­ism.

Togeth­er, the two peo­ples can share the land.

coulda shoulda”

So… (as I pub­lished in anoth­er leaflet at that time):

why not this?

why not this?

Accord­ing to Unit­ed Nations Par­ti­tion Plan of 1948 a Pales­tin­ian state was cre­at­ed at the same time as the State of Israel

It offered a lot more ter­ri­to­ry than the Camp David pro­pos­als of 2000!

which came first…

the nation or the state?

That’s a hard one to answer, as the Wikipedia arti­cle on “nation state” makes clear. I thought I could learn some­thing about the pre­de­ces­sor of the mod­ern nation state by look­ing at the con­cept of “the peo­ple” or “peo­ple­hood”. But even here the ideas are scat­tered. The Wikipedia has arti­cles on “Jew­ish Peo­ple­hood” which has its ori­gins in the Bib­li­cal con­cept of עם ישראל, expressed in ear­ly Rab­binic times as “Kol yis­rael are­vim zeh bazeh – All Israel are respon­si­ble for one anoth­er.” [Tal­mud She­vuot 39a] and is sim­i­lar (prob­a­bly a cog­nate word) to the Mus­lim con­cept of أمة‎ “Ummah” and that idea is not all that far from the Eng­lish word “folk”.

So, when Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Abbas stood before the Unit­ed Nations Gen­er­al Assem­bly on Sep­tem­ber 23, 2011, I won­dered where he and his pre­de­ces­sors had been back in 1948! I imag­ine that oth­ers said “Nyah nyah, lost your chance.” But I am in favor of there being a State of Pales­tine along­side a State of Israel.

Pres­i­dent Abbas’ address to UN; 1,585 view­ings as of mid­night 20110923 [part 1]

Pres­i­dent Abbas’ address to UN; 302 view­ings as of mid­night 20110923 [part 2]

Pres­i­dent Abbas’ address to UN; 304 view­ings as of mid­night 20110923 [part 3]

text of Pres­i­dent Abbas’ address

I do, however, want to comment on this small part:

It is a moment of truth and my peo­ple are wait­ing to hear the answer of the world. Will it allow Israel to con­tin­ue its occu­pa­tion, the only occu­pa­tion in the world?

Uh, Turkey, the cur­rent great defend­er of the Pales­tini­ans, occu­pies Cyprus, Chi­na occu­pies Tibet; do those not count? The Wikipedia arti­cle on occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries enu­mer­ates many oth­ers.

Will it allow Israel to remain a State above the law and account­abil­i­ty? Will it allow Israel to con­tin­ue reject­ing the res­o­lu­tions of the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil and the Gen­er­al Assem­bly of the Unit­ed Nations and the Inter­na­tion­al Court of Jus­tice and the posi­tions of the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of coun­tries in the world?

Why does­n’t any­body repeat­ed­ly com­plain about the Turk­ish or Chi­nese occu­pa­tions, so there could be res­o­lu­tions they would reject? Or why was there no out­cry at the UN when using car­pet bomb­ing, Rus­sia destroyed much of Grozny or when Turkey kills scores of Kurds?]


Ladies and Gen­tle­men,

I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Pales­tine, the land of divine mes­sages, ascen­sion of the Prophet Muham­mad (peace be upon him) and the birth­place of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)

Um, at the time, it was known as the King­dom of Israel or the Roman province of Judaea. What about Ahab king of Israel (peace be upon him) does he not count? Or, would men­tion­ing him (and his title, I could men­tion so many more, but Ahab is attest­ed to by the world pow­ers of his day) fal­si­fy Abbas’ claim to “the Holy Land, the land of Pales­tine”?

to speak on behalf of the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple in the home­land and in the the Dias­po­ra, to say, after 63 years of suf­fer­ing of the ongo­ing Nak­ba

Ah hah! So it’s not “the occu­pa­tion of the ‘West Bank’ ”, but the very cre­ation of Israel that is the issue to Abbas. He’s let the cat out of the bag!:

Enough. It is time for the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple to gain their free­dom and inde­pen­dence.

Well, yes, so why did not the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple accept the offer in 1948 and Unit­ed Nations Gen­er­al Assem­bly (yes, the same group before which he deliv­ers these remarks) Res­o­lu­tion 181?!

kuruth monolith

kurkh mono­lith of shal­maneser iii men­tion­ing ahab king of israel

i am no fan of bibi either

Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu’s address to UN; 304 view­ings as of mid­night 20110923

text of Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu’s address


I won­dered to whom Netanyahu was speak­ing when his open­ing remarks to the Gen­er­al Assem­bly dealt with the ter­ror­ist attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001 and he then went on to use the phrase “mil­i­tant islam” five times in the first eigh­teen para­graphs. Was he direct­ing his con­cerned remarks to the many Islam­ic states that are mem­bers of the UN, or was his audi­ence the Amer­i­can pub­lic?

Yos­si Vert­er writes in his col­umn in Haaretz Nobel no, Oscar yes

In 1978, when it was learned that Prime Minister​ Men­achem Begin had won the Nobel Peace Prize, for­mer prime min­is­ter Gol­da Meir​ remarked: “He deserves a Nobel?” adding that what he real­ly deserved was an Oscar.

If Gol­da were still with us, she could have res­ur­rect­ed her com­ment, this time with jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, with regard to Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu over his speech to the Unit­ed Nations Gen­er­al Assem­bly on Fri­day.

Netanyahu began and end­ed his speech with calls for nego­ti­a­tions. Towards the end of his talk he seemed to address Mah­moud Abbas direct­ly:

In two and a half years, we met in Jerusalem only once, even though my door has always been open to you. If you wish, I’ll come to Ramal­lah. Actu­al­ly, I have a bet­ter sug­ges­tion. We’ve both just flown thou­sands of miles to New York. Now we’re in the same city. We’re in the same build­ing. So let’s meet here today in the Unit­ed Nations. (Applause.) Who’s there to stop us? What is there to stop us? If we gen­uine­ly want peace, what is there to stop us from meet­ing today and begin­ning peace nego­ti­a­tions?

Did Netanyahu call Abbas on his cell phone after the ses­sion? If not, why? If he did, what was Abbas’ response? Why have we not heard any­thing more about this? Or, was this no more than a form of grand­stand­ing on Netanyahu’s part?

show business

I’m not the only one who has been crit­i­cal of the pre­ten­sions of these lead­ers. Jere­my Ben-Ami, the founder of J Street, “the polit­i­cal home of the pro-Israel pro-Peace move­ment” appeared on the Col­bert Report:

Jon Stew­art sat­i­rized what it might take for Pales­tine to be admit­ted to the UN:

duplicity squared or goose and gander

There are enough half-truths and full lies tossed around to make one cry.

In his arti­cle Ori­gins of the Pales­tin­ian Uni­lat­er­al Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dence, Jonathan Schanz­er writes exten­sive­ly on all the diplo­mat­ic maneu­vers (from upgrad­ing diplo­mat­ic mis­sions to full recog­ni­tion of state­hood by numer­ous coun­tries) over a six-year peri­od, as a lead-up to have Pales­tine admit­ted as a state at the UN, and then, in his final para­graph he won­ders:

What Pales­tin­ian lead­ers plan to do in the after­math of their maneu­ver at the UN remains to be seen. Their options range from a legal cam­paign to a series of non­vi­o­lent protests to a full-blown vio­lent intifa­da. Regard­less of which path they take—and it could be a combination—this ini­tia­tive marks a new phase, now six years in dura­tion,

and com­plains:

[that] Pales­tin­ian lead­ers have for­sak­en diplo­ma­cy in exchange for a posi­tion that may keep them at odds with Israel for many more years to come.

I think he means to state that they have for­sak­en nego­ti­a­tionswith Israel.

And what is so wrong with what Abbas has done? Is this not, as out­lined by Samuel Moyn in his arti­cle: “Face the Nations; By ask­ing the Unit­ed Nations to ful­fill their nation­al aspi­ra­tions, the Pales­tini­ans are fol­low­ing a script Israel’s founders wrote in the 1940s” anal­o­gous to what the pre-State lead­ers of Israel did in 1948? And has not Israel made a whole series of uni­lat­er­al actions? Aside from build­ing set­tle­ments in “dis­put­ed ter­ri­to­ry” there’s with­draw­al from Gaza. Is not what’s good for the goose also good for the gan­der?

imagine a more positive outcome

It’s not as though nobody knew this was com­ing. As Schanz­er made clear, a request for full mem­ber­ship in the UN has been in the works for six years. Even Pres­i­dent Oba­ma had hoped for an inde­pen­dent, sov­er­eign state of Pales­tine by this time.

As a friend men­tioned to me: “You got­ta won­der how things would play out if Israel shocked the world by sup­port­ing the Pales­tine res­o­lu­tion at the UN and vowed to do every­thing it could to imple­ment it peace­ful­ly.” I think (as usu­al) Bibi made a big mis­take in not agree­ing to this. A para­graph in an arti­cle in The New York­er “Mem­ber­ship Dues” by Steve Coll sug­gests the per­fect lead-up to the present sit­u­a­tion:

Last year, Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma, in his annu­al speech to the Gen­er­al Assem­bly, devot­ed con­sid­er­able atten­tion to the Pales­tin­ian cause. He declared, in sup­port of renewed talks with the gov­ern­ment of Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu, “We can say this time will be dif­fer­ent,” adding, “If we do, when we come back here next year, we can have an agree­ment that will lead to a new mem­ber of the Unit­ed Nations—an inde­pen­dent, sov­er­eign state of Pales­tine.” But that hope has not yield­ed a work­able plan. Many Pales­tin­ian lead­ers have there­fore con­clud­ed that it may be impos­si­ble to achieve state­hood through nego­ti­a­tions with Netanyahu. Their pes­simism is well ground­ed; the evi­dence sug­gests that he seeks only to fob off the Pales­tin­ian Author­i­ty, as well as his allies in the Unit­ed States and Europe, in order to buy time to bankroll more set­tle­ments on the West Bank, which will change the con­tours of the con­flict. Nor is there any sign that Israeli domes­tic pol­i­tics will soon yield a coali­tion dif­fer­ent from the type Netanyahu over­sees, in which uncom­pro­mis­ing, expan­sion­ist par­ties hold deci­sive influ­ence.

but, you know, it probably doesn’t matter

Because, as in the orig­i­nal title of Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Mod­ern Arab Pol­i­tics and Intel­lec­tu­al His­to­ry at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, Joseph Mas­sad’s arti­cle in Al Jazeerz: “Either Way, Israel Wins”.

Whether the UN grants the PA sta­tus as a state or refus­es to do so, either out­come will be in Israel’s inter­est.

But, of course! It almost makes me appre­ci­ate the rea­son­ing of Netanyahu. The com­ments to the arti­cle, well, I only read the first few of at least 18 pages. They’re a bit hard to take (I sort­ed by old­est first). I encour­age you to steel your­self.

I still believe it should and can be dif­fer­ent.

back in “the ’60s”

Yes, while I was alive in 1948, I have no rec­ol­lec­tion of that time. I do recall, how­ev­er, wear­ing these two but­tons togeth­er on my lapel dur­ing the ear­ly ’70s (which was a con­tin­u­a­tion of “the ’60s”). I sensed then, and still believe now that the two, no not direct­ly depen­dent one on the oth­er, go hand in hand. I can’t tell anoth­er peo­ple how to achieve its own self deter­mi­na­tion. How­ev­er, when there is no more Arab ter­ror against Israel and its cit­i­zens, more Israelis will feel free enough to encour­age and want true self deter­mi­na­tion for Pales­tini­ans. And, so, it con­tin­ues to pain me that these two “cousins” can­not seem to get their act togeth­er and “share their toys”.









Pin Form:



Print Method:









for Pales­tine

your lapel buttons

Many peo­ple have lapel but­tons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jack­et you no longer wear, or poked into a cork-board on your wall. If you have any lay­ing around that you do not feel emo­tion­al­ly attached to, please let me know. I pre­serve these for the Jew­ish peo­ple. At some point they will all go to an appro­pri­ate muse­um. You can see all the but­tons shared to date.

This entry was posted in lapel buttons, politics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to what’s the difference between 48 and 11?

  1. Paul Kipnes says:

    Nice diver­sion. Thought­ful analy­sis.
    Still strug­gling myself.
    Love for the holy days and beyond.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.