Wednesday 19 March 2014

The path of good intentions is paved with distortions.

The path of good intentions is paved with distortions.
Original thinking from Barry Shaw.

Netanya Academic College hosted a conference titled ‘The Challenges of Jerusalem” on March 18.
Organized by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue, for whom I am the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues, and the Freidrich Ebert Stiftung, this important event reviewed the current and future face of Israel’s capital.

I was struck by one invited speaker, Dr. Rami Nasrallah, Chair of the International Peace & Cooperation Center in Jerusalem, who claimed that all Jerusalem Arabs are Palestinian.

He was followed by Professor Menachem Klein of Bar Ilan University who, surprisingly, told us that Jerusalem is made up off 40% Palestinians, a third are Haredi Jews, and about another third are either Orthodox or secular Jews. “Palestinians,” Professor Klein! Where are the Arabs? 

Like Dr. Nasrallah, Klein made them disappear into a conglomerate block known to them as Palestinian. Nice trick, except that the professor opened his remarks by informing us that he would not go into the rhetoric that, according to him, colors much of the narrative of Jerusalem. But his Arab disappearing trick caught him out of doing precisely that – spouting rhetoric.  The vast majority of Jerusalem Arabs are not, nor do they want to be, Palestinian.

Both Nasrallah and Klein are aware of the Pechter Middle East poll released in January 2011 that clearly showed that only 30% of Jerusalem Arabs would choose Palestinian citizenship, and that 35% would relocate into Israel if east Jerusalem became part of a future Palestinian state. This survey was conducted by Dr. Nabil Kukali of the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, in partnership with Princeton-based Pechter Middle East Polls.

 Riman Barakat, the Co-Director of the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information, noted in an article in the +972 blog that, “many of my friends and acquaintances are quietly applying for and obtaining Israeli passports.” He went on, residents of East Jerusalem, numbering over 350,000, or 38% of the city’s total population , already go about their daily lives, shop at Israeli malls, use Israeli services, frequent Israeli restaurants and bars, send their children to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and receive Israeli social and health benefits.
The majority of Jerusalem Arabs were born after 1967 in the State of Israeli. Many of them migrated of their own free will into Jerusalem.
Those that dubiously claim to be ethnically Palestinian, like Saeb Erekat, for example. He also claims to be a Canaanite, even though the Erekat tribe drifted into the Jordan Valley from Saudi Arabia.  Many Jews were born or arrived into Mandated Palestine. If asked is they see themselves as ethnically Palestinian or Jewish all would dismiss a Palestinian ethnicity in favor of a Jewish ethnicity.

Nasrallah and Klein are aware of these facts. They are aware of them, and are in denial. This is disingenuous, but it is part of the atmosphere and rhetoric they engender in order to impose their type of solution on the conflict, a solution that goes against the trend and preferences of the Jerusalem Arab citizens of Israel.
There is little doubt that Nasrallah and Klein are people of good intentions, but you know where that road leads when paved with distortions?
I am certain that John Kerry is also a person of good intentions, and that he is a more creative thinker than me. Or, is he?
Kerry said that it was a “mistake” for Israel to demand that Abbas acknowledge the existence of the Jewish State. If that’s the case, why didn’t he come up with a creative alternative proposal, as I have done?
Surely, if Abbas chokes on the word “Jewish,” he could be persuaded to agree a formula that a  Palestinian state will have no future claim on Israel being part of Palestine once a two-state solution in reached? This claim should be guaranteed by the United Nations.   If it’s end of conflict you want, Mr. Kerry, wouldn’t this do the trick?
If Abbas fails this test he would be exposed for what most Israelis accuse him of, which is the gradual carve-up of the Jewish state, salami-style, until there is nothing left.
Since Arafat, the Palestinians have grandiosely seen themselves as spearheading the Arab and Muslim ambitions against Israel. It is this that prevents Abbas from recognizing the Jewish State. He cannot portray himself as a traitor to this cause. This overrides the desire for Palestinian independence. 
If Kerry will not protect the notion of Israel as the Jewish State, he, and President Obama, had better construct the condition that would protect whatever is left of Israel when their path of good intentions reaches its destination.

Barry Shaw is the author of the common-sense book ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’

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