Lessons Learned from Israel’s War on Gaza & Why Palestinians May Eventually Win.
When Israel became a state in 1948, it demolished most Palestinian towns and forced most Palestinians out of their homes. Palestinian homes were forcefully taken over by Jewish immigrants. After the 1948 War ended, Israel refused to allow Palestinians to return to their homes. Most Israeli leaders at the time believed that if Israel prevented Palestinians from returning to their homes their children would eventually forget about Palestine. Israel's plan failed. The latest war on Gaza has revealed that not only did Palestinian children not forget about Palestine, but Israel is now fighting the grandchildren of those Palestinians who were forced out of their homes. Consequently, Israel will have to accept the reality that Palestinians will never forget about Palestine and Israel will have to make peace with Palestinians by accepting them as equal citizens of Israel-Palestine and both Jews and Palestinians will have to accept that Palestinians and Jews are native to Palestine-Israel.
In the last 100 years, many plans have been proposed to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but only one has been proven to work and that is the Equal Rights Solution whereby Jews and Palestinians live together as equal citizens of the same country. To illustrate, consider that Israel divides Palestinians into four different categories. The first category is Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship. Those Palestinians have the most rights in Israel-Palestine. The second category is those Palestinians who live in Jerusalem. They are not citizens of Israel but are legal residents. They have fewer rights than Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, but they have freedom of movement. The third category of Palestinians is those who live in the Westbank. They are neither citizens nor residents of Israel and have limited freedom of movement. The fourth category is for those Palestinians who live in Gaza. They are not citizens or residents of Israel, and they have no freedom of movement and their living situation is described as an open-air prison. Today, the best coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians is found among those who hold Israeli citizenship, and who have freedom of movement and freedom of employment. The worst relations are with residents of Gaza who have no rights in Israel even though 80% of Gazans originate from Israel but were forced out in 1948. Thus, there is a relationship between the rights and equality that Israel gives Palestinians and how Palestinians respond to Israel. It is no coincidence that the Palestinians with the most rights in Israel are NOT throwing rocks or rockets at Israelis.
The question for Israelis and Palestinians now is how to share the land as equals. Some experts have suggested the One-1-State or Equal Rights Solution based on one person one vote while others prefer a federation or confederation where the land is divided into two provinces of the same country. Regardless of the answer, that is the only question that Jews and Palestinians should be discussing and not waste time on the two-state solution, which no one wants.
This latest war with Palestinians has clearly shown that no matter what Israel throws at them, they will not be defeated. Their attachment to Israel-Palestine is unquestionable and they will continue to fight until they achieve freedom and equality in the land that includes Israel Proper, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Without a doubt, most Israelis will reject this reality out of fear and due to their preference for living in a majority Jewish state. However, Jews must accept that there is no way to deprive Palestinians of equal rights without being in a constant state of war. Israel has tried to beat the Palestinians into submission for 75 years and it did NOT work. This reality has frustrated many Israelis, and this frustration has pushed many Jews towards extremism. Not surprisingly, in the last election Jews elected the most extreme government in Israel's history.
However, extremism will not lead to peace or security. There is a long history in Palestine of Muslims and Christians showing kindness to Jews because they recognize that Jews are native to Israel-Palestine. For most of the last 2000 years, Jews have had minimal presence in Israel-Palestine. Soon after Jesus Christ was crucified, most Jews were kicked out of Israel-Palestine by the Romans. It was the Arabs under the leadership of Omar Ibn Al-Khattab who insisted that Jews be allowed to return to Israel-Palestine after the Byzantine empire was defeated. This was repeated after Salahudin defeated the Crusaders and insisted that Jews be allowed to return to Israel-Palestine. The present-day Palestinians have never exiled Jews out of Israel-Palestine. Similarly, after Jews began immigrating to Palestine in the 20th Century there were many reported stories of Palestinians, both Christian and Muslim, who gave refuge to Jews. One notable example is the Hadid family from Nazareth which welcomed Jews to live in their house. When Israel was created the Hadeed family was kicked out of Nazareth. This is why Gigi Hadeed and Bella Hadeed are now outspoken critics of Israel.
In conclusion, Israel must provide all Palestinians with equal rights while it is strong. President Richard Nixon of the United States once said that Israel should make peace with the Palestinians before the Palestinians learn to fight. Well, Palestinians are learning how to fight. Israel has no choice other than Equality and desegregation.
Kamal Nawash is a leading expert on Israel-Palestine. He may be contacted at 202-776-7191 or [email protected].