THE HOLOCAUST AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DYNAMICS OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
Panel on “Problems of Politicization”
These are difficult times for the Arab-Israeli conflict, as you all know, and I think in difficult times one of the things that we can do is challenge ourselves, be honest, and speak in the spirit of openness that some of us here also encourage us to do. I’ll try to do that.
I’ll begin with a personal note. I am not a genocide scholar. I am not a Holocaust scholar. I come to this from the view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is the first time that I talk about it publicly. I have thought about it obviously, written about it a little, and this is how Professor Miles came to speak to me about this Symposium.
I grew up in Israel. Until college, my education was in Israel. I’m a Palestinian citizen of Israel, though. Palestinian. I am completely bicultural. I know Hebrew. I know the Israeli culture quite well. I went through the Israeli educational system – the state-controlled system. I have been educated with the Zionist, rather than the Palestinian, narrative. My education gave me more Hebrew literature about yearning for Zion than Palestinian literature about yearning for Palestine in exile. I have even studied the Bible – the Old Testament, in Hebrew – in a private high school controlled by the state. But not the Koran, considered by Arabs as the most beautiful Arabic document. Yet my political education, I mainly received informally, outside the school system of Israel. So don’t blame the Israeli school system for what you are going to hear here.
Why is taking part in this symposium “a sign of courage” on the part of participants, as was openly said by William Miles in his opening remarks? And why should it be courageous for an Arab or a Palestinian to do that? Why should the participation of a Palestinian be questioned or met with some eyebrow-raising? Why should it be hard for a Palestinian or an Arab to be here? Or should it be hard? Honestly, I did think about this a couple of times. Because it is not easy to participate in such a conference. I thought twice – more than twice – until I said “yes” to Professor Miles.
Is it because Arabs cannot be sympathetic with the Holocaust or identify with the Jewish experience? Is it because Arabs and Jews are enemies? Or are they? Or is it because of Arab “anti-Semitism,” as one hears often? After all, Arabs refer to Jews as “our cousins,” with [deliberate] irony. We really do refer to Jews this way a lot – probably also in an effort to avoid naming them directly. Because when we talk about what Israel did to the Palestinians, or how it is doing it to the Palestinians, we don’t want to say “the Jews,” because it is not really the Jews. The Israelis? It is not really the Israelis, because there are many Israelis who are not Jewish. The Zionists? Well, “the Zionists” is a term that has some negative implication. So what do we say? We say “our cousins.” And they really are. So we use that term in a way of ambivalent distance and closeness.
I think the reasons for the difficulties that were mentioned by others here, and by me, lie in the role that the Jewish Holocaust has played in that psychological dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict. And this is what I want today to talk about.
Many people would agree that there are three major developments in modern Jewish history. One is the emergence of Zionism at the end of the nineteenth century. The second is the Holocaust of European Jewry in Europe. And the third is the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine. These three developments are inter-related, obviously, in different ways, for different people. But the patterns of relationship are of utmost importance for understanding the Israelis’ views about the conflict and about the Jewish Holocaust.
It is this relationship that I want to deconstruct here. Each of these developments is momentous by itself. To have all three of them happen within a half a century is an almost unprecedented drama of both horrible loss and spectacular revival. Within the Zionist narrative, the drama has internal consistency. It has coherence. If not for the horrendous brutality of the Holocaust, and the indescribable human suffering and loss, one would say even some beauty. That narrative certainly has embedded in it a sense of historical justice.
Two thousand years of longing for Zion. Two thousand years of waiting. Hundreds of years of persecution that peaked in anti-Semitic practices in the Jewish Holocaust. Then “The Return.” “The Return to Israel” (for this is the term that Sam Bernstein here encouraged me to use in describing the third component of [the narrative]). Zionism, the Holocaust, the establishing of Israel – the Jewish State – in Palestine. The creation of Israel. Within this coherent narrative, the Jewish Holocaust becomes a powerful legitimizing source for the Zionist movement’s goal: establishing a Jewish State in Palestine. And all three components coalesce into one goal: a Jewish State in Palestine.
Indeed, the Zionist movement, and later Israel, make every political [use] of the Jewish Holocaust to gain support for the Jewish State. It is widely believed in Israel itself – all over the world, I think – that in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of Zionism itself, that without the sympathy the Holocaust created for the Jewish cause, the U.N. resolution [creating Israel] probably would not have been passed. In some Israeli thinking about the moral foundation for establishing the Jewish state in Palestine, the Jewish predicament of hundreds of years of persecution, and the Jewish Holocaust, are used as the cornerstone for that new moral argument for establishing Israel. I’ll come back to that legitimization function of the Jewish Holocaust in a second. For now it is important to see how this coherent drama of establishing a Jewish State in Palestine has unfolded for the other side, from the Palestinian side. As I said, the main Zionist narrative prefers to use the innocuous term or language or image of “returning” to Israel.
The coherence and the beauty of the narrative, and therefore its historical justice, are disturbed by the reality on the ground – even, sometimes, by the words that one chooses to describe that reality. One [need] recognize a very simple fact: that when the Zionist project started around the end of the twentieth century, there was a Palestine, and people lived in it, and it was their right to a homeland. Zionism then sought to establish an exclusive Jewish State in Palestine while a group of people, a nation, was living in it. This goal could only have been achieved by force. For establishing a Jewish State in Palestine inevitably entails uprooting the indigenous population. How else can immigrants establish an exclusive state for themselves in another people’s homeland? Furthermore, how would an exclusive Jewish State be established in Palestine without displacing the Palestinians? Palestinians were displaced essentially because they were perceived as occupiers of their own land – as aliens, foreigners, as illegal inhabitants of the future Jewish State. Why else would the war be called the War of Liberation, and the goal of the war [be] redeeming the land? Israel’s responsibility for the flight of Palestinian refugees has to be faced.
The Israeli narrative tells us that the Arab countries opened war on Israel in 1948 and that many of the refugees left on their own. Thus, Israel refuses to accept moral responsibility for the refugee problem. This is why, incidentally, the Camp David efforts fell apart and we have the consequences of that you are witnessing now. But if the refugees left on their own, why are they not allowed to return? What are the moral foundations for preventing them from returning to their own homeland, despite the United Nations’ repeated resolutions in favor of their return? Some Israeli historians describe the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 as the largest ethnic cleansing project in the century. To my mind, the question of how many Palestinians were expelled in 1948, and how many left under the duress of war, is relevant but not essential to their basic right to return to their country and to Israel’s responsibility for their plight. Facing these issues has strong moral, legal, political implications for Israel and the core of Israeli identity.
In order to avoid the moral implications, Israel was left with the only option of developing a massive and sophisticated denial mechanism and to use multiple levels of specification in order to deal with its own history. Israel inevitably denies both the means of which the project of establishing a Jewish State was achieved – returning to Israel in another people’s homeland – and the consequences for the Palestinian people.
In Arab eyes, therefore, the Holocaust is seen in conjunction with the Zionist project. Exactly as Israel wanted it to be, as Israel portrayed it. The Holocaust and the Zionist project have to be disentangled in order for an Arab to look at the Jewish Holocaust and see it for what it is. The mixing of the two is the product of complex political and cultural processes. It is possible for individuals to disentangle these two, and they should. But they often run the risk of being misunderstood by both sides. That is, disentangling should become a political and a cultural project. Personally, I see no reason why a person cannot do that. Disentangle the two.
I think of myself as sympathetic and understanding of the Jewish experience, as much as a non-Jewish person can be, or at least what I would honestly try to be in the world. At the same time, I am a strong anti-Zionist in the sense that I oppose the ideology that the Jewish people have the original right to establish a Jewish State in Palestine. Or that Israel should be a Jewish state when its population has about twenty percent or more non-Jews. Not only as a Palestinian, but as a human being, I cannot see how such a project could have been achieved other than at the expense of those who inhabited Palestine. Unless this is recognized, the two sides will stay within the vicious circle of violence. That, incidentally, doesn’t mean that the Israelis don’t have the right to exist in a secure state or the right to self-determination. They do. But that should be done in a way consistent with the rights of the indigenous population of Palestine.
Now, coming back to the dual presentation of Zionism and the Jewish Holocaust: that dual combination – that “packaging” – is popular in consciousness and has far-reaching effects on the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict. So far, I have looked at the Arab and Israeli difficulties in disentangling the two. This difficulty can be seen from the other side, from the Jewish Israeli side, as being rooted in anti-Semitism. One has to consider Jewish relations in the region before Zionism in order to see why anti-Semitism as a racist ideology, that originated and developed in the Christian West, is not part of the Arab political culture. To the contrary, all indications point to good relations from the days of Arab [administration of] Palestine under the Ottomans until the emergence of Zionism.
This does not mean that there are no manifestations of [Arab] anti-Semitic behavior, but not as a racist ideology. Take, for example, the talk about Jewish influence in the U.S. I probably shouldn’t spend time on that because it was already mentioned before. Some of the talk about that influence comes from Arab government impotence in facing unbalanced policy or biased American policy toward Israel. They sell that to their public, but in the exact same way that other governments in Eastern Europe or Africa use it – not as a racist ideology, but as a political tool. (Incidentally, Israel doesn’t try [to combat it] because that image gives Israel power in dealing with other countries.) The dual packaging has a far reaching impact on the discourse about the conflict. By combining Zionism with the Jewish Holocaust, one is in effect combining Zionism as an ideology, the Jewish Holocaust and its painful history, and the experience of Israel. All in one package. Thus, it becomes possible -[even] easy – to equate criticism of Zionism, or of Israeli practices, with anti-Semitism.
As we all know, this is one of the most difficult charges for people to be associated with. [Unfortunately], the fear of such a charge has silenced many people, particularly in the West. This is not to say that criticism of Israel or attitudes toward Israel or even Zionism will not emanate from anti-Semitism. I know that they sometimes do. And I understand Jewish concerns about them. But at the same time, there are genuine criticisms of Israel, or opposition to Zionism, that come without anti-Semitic origin and are silenced.
Let me point out four mechanisms on each side, on the Israeli side and on the Palestinian side, by which the Holocaust has been used in the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
First, in Israel criticism by the West isn’t seen on its merits because it involves anti-Semitic fear. If it involves anti-Semitic fear then the reaction is, “They are all against us.” So they reject that criticism as not substantive.
Second, because Jews were the victims in Europe, victims of anti-Semitism as demonstrated over history and peaking in the forties, they generalize this victimization into their relationship with the Arabs. They saw themselves as the victims of the Arabs and couldn’t overcome that sense and see that the relationship with the Palestinians had changed from being a victim to being a victimizer. Therefore, there has been a serious difficulty here in the discourse, the context of our cousins wanting to use the moral argument about being the victim.
[The third mechanism is] that in their relationship with other parts of the world, the Jews are “the victims” and therefore the moral argument, the moral discourse, is of essence. Justice, restitution, historical responsibility and so on is the essence of the discourse.
With the Palestinians, however, notice that the discourse about the [so-called] peace process is devoid of anything to do with moral argument. It has no consideration about justice, human rights, historical responsibility, reparation, restitution or any of that. There is a split in the discourse.
Fourth, attributing security concerns and fears to the Jewish experience is right and legitimate. Israel’s fear and security concerns sometimes come from other sources, too. They come from that experience that I will talk about when I address the Palestinian side. It also comes from the history of how Palestine was [overtaken] by the Israelis. That is a major source of fear. Because there is a group of people telling you, “Hey, this is ours.” Until that issue is resolved and reconciliation is reached, that is a major source of fear.
On the Arab side, the dynamics have worked in [four] different ways.
First, the difficulty of the Arabs to understand the preoccupation with the Holocaust and with Jewish history. I do not think that the Arabs know more than what we heard about from Latin America, perhaps, or Africa. Perhaps they do a little more. But there is a difficulty in understanding the preoccupation. Until somebody really tries to understand the Holocaust and the Jewish experience, it is very hard for him to observe and understand this justified preoccupation – Jewish preoccupation – with that long history of oppression.
They see many of the acts as political manipulations in the service of Israel.
Two, they have difficulty in understanding Israeli security concerns and fears. I think that is obvious. In any meeting between the Arabs and Jews, the Palestinians will say, “Listen, you have one hundred nuclear bombs. What are you worried about? Why are you afraid?” They fail to understand the history of the Holocaust and its impact.
Three, they have difficulty in understanding the depth of the experience with the Nazis. The packaging doesn’t help, because it keeps them away from trying to understand the experience. So often the Palestinians will respond with, “You are doing to us what the Nazis did” with an utmost lack of [appreciation that their situation and the Holocaust] are not exactly the same.
And fourth, there is the impact of the discourse of Palestinians inside Israel and outside. I probably should skip that. This discourse is being now framed in other countries, as mentioned before, in terms of restitution and reparation, denial of what is happening to the Palestinians. So that the denial of the Naqba is like the denial of the Holocaust.
In closing, I’ll argue that the package that combined Zionism and the Holocaust should be opened. This is what is called deconstruction. I don’t think that official Israel will help in this process but there are some in Israel, in the Israeli media and academia, who have started this sensitive process. For Arabs and Palestinians, this is a serious responsibility. For it is open to them – the possibility of a natural human identification with the Jewish Holocaust and Jewish experience while at the same time framing their political views [in opposition to] Zionism as an ideology and practice.
Ilan Stavans: I salute you for being here and for your honesty and directness. I also salute William Miles for the symmetry of the pattern and for casting the net to create a sense of all-encompassing representation. And perhaps, more than anything, for not having included here a survivor of the Holocaust. A famous line by Irving Howe says that ‘the mere appearance of a memoir of the Holocaust puts us in such a difficult, critical condition. We can’t criticize it as a work of literature. We have to assume that it is good, and we are paralyzed.’
I just want to take one concept that goes back to the previous debate. That is my very uncomfortable, and even appalling, feeling of what the word “Holocaust” has become in the semantics we have all been using here. That question of criticism, and self-criticism, that Nadim Rouhana [invoked] is so important.
In his structure of presentation of Jewish history we have three entries: the origins of Zionism, the Holocaust, and the creation of the State of Israel. Ask any American Jew – that is precisely what Jewish history is all about. It starts in the Bible, it jumps about a thousand and five hundred years, and it continues at the very end of the nineteenth century with Herzl. And if you ask Israelis, it’s the history of the Bible or the history of the Diaspora, and the continuation with Herzl. Yet one out of every three Jews in the world today lives [outside of] for Israel or the United States. Yet the color of Jewish history is tarnished, marked by the [impressions] that we get from one side of the ocean or the other. The whole experience through Greece or Rome, the whole experience through Spain and Byzantine was [, for American and Israeli Jews, altogether] forgettable and unimportant.
One out of three Jews today has to submit himself or herself to the patterns of history that come from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, or New England and California. For me, the Holocaust is about excess. Excess in destruction, excess in ideology. In the hands of American Jews the Holocaust has become about excess. This does not mean in any way that we should stop remembering. [In the Talmud] it says very clearly, “Remembrance leads to redemption, forgetting leads to exile.” But remembering only the Holocaust, or only Zionism, as the value coloring all of Jewish history is very dangerous. I suggest here, as a new generation of scholars and intellectuals comes to the [fore], that it is time to reevaluate Jewish history altogether and see Zionism not only from the point of view of Israel or the Palestinian-Jewish conflict and/or what comes from Hollywood or from American academia, but far beyond. We need a courageous reconsideration of what Jews have been – not only about being victims, not only about suffering, but about many other things, good and bad.
Edward Kissi: I speak as an Africanist. I speak as an Ethiopianist, from my own conversations with people that I encountered in Ethiopia. There is a subdued feeling in Ethiopia, and particularly in other parts of Africa, that the view of the Holocaust that people have – that attitudes toward Jews that people generally have – is often [shaped] by their perception of what is going on in the Middle East. It is shaped, in part, by their own observations from television, and periodicals about the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. I want you to become like the soothsayer in Julius Caesar – how we should beware the Ides of March. Fifteen or twenty years from now, what would the view of the Holocaust be in the Third World if the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians escalated and Jewish people all over the world and the United States, in particular, remained aloof?
Locksley Edmondson: First, I’m extremely glad that the issue was raised, that there was not a long-standing, long-ingrained Arab hostility to Jews. This really began to mature in the context of the establishment of Israel and the subsequent displacement of the Palestinians.
Someone mentioned the expulsion of Jews from Spain in the 1490s. Simultaneously, the Moors from Africa were also expelled. This [had been] a multicultural, multi-religious society; there was no inkling of anti-Semitism, of conflict with Islam, Arabs and so forth. It was the novel Europeanization of Spain, which actually brought more religious intolerance and anti-Semitism.
Secondly, I’ve been reading recently about a group of what they call revisionists – Israeli historians, Jewish historians – who are now beginning to rethink their analyses of the establishment of the State of Israel, the displacement of Palestinians, and also questioning the traditional myths that you have mentioned. How widespread is this process? To what extent has it caught on in emerging scholarship within Israel? It obviously is a function of the emerging peace process. This is a new style in thinking and I just hope that it is not a casualty in the current crisis.
The third thing is reparation. You said it hadn’t come into the discourse at all. But forget the discourse – to what extent are Palestinians at all even [interested] in the principle? In the future, might the concept of compensation be considered?
Gerald Gahima: I am not active in the Arab conflict. I am not a student of the Holocaust. I probably should now keep quiet, rather than speak. But since I went through the trouble to come from Africa to attend a conference on Third World views of the Holocaust, I’ll take a risk and say something in regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and what our colleague has said.
I talk as somebody who has been to Israel over the last several years, to deal with issues relating to the genocide in Rwanda. [From this], I have come to know such more about the Holocaust. (Perhaps not being from academia, incidentally, I don’t appreciate very much to argue so much about the Holocaust. To me, the Holocaust is the Holocaust of the Jews. People can find other words for what happened to them. I think the important thing is not this one word that we use. We all can find our words to explain what has happened to us.)
But coming back to the topic at hand, I talk as somebody who has been to Israel, who by now has some knowledge of what happened to Jews during the Second World War and who appreciates why there is an Israel and why Israel sometimes has to do the things it does. If you have been through a genocide, you owe yourselves a duty to make sure that these things never happen to you again.
Nevertheless, the world being what it is, I will talk about views of the Third World about the Holocaust. I’m afraid my colleague there was not happy with what I said [earlier] about South Africa. Whether it’s right or wrong how the State of Israel behaves, for better or for worse, will always affect Third World views of the Holocaust.
I remember I was in China, sometime in October, when the current problem started in the Middle East. There was live television, of Israeli attacks on Ramallah. There is no way that somebody sitting in the Third World country is not going to say that something wrong is happening here. Sometimes Israel gets away with things that we in other countries – regardless of whether we’ve been victims – can not. No other country will say, “This is a terrorist, let’s kill him without a trial.” In another country you would be subject to very strong criticism of the extrajudicial killings. No other country will get away with, “We think this is a terrorist, so let’s destroy his home,” and, without a trial, destroying his home. No other country would get away with some of the indiscriminate use of arms against defenseless civilians, the way that we see it.
I speak as somebody who doesn’t have Arab friends there. I really have no contact with the Arab world (except I’ve been to Bahrain to shop.) [Audience laughter] The only contact I have there are with Jewish people, because of Israel. I have a lot of Jewish friends. The Jewish people have been on the whole, kind and sympathetic and supportive to the people of Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide. But I’ve got to remind those who study the Holocaust, and want these things to be remembered, that the things we do today are going to affect the perception of this terrible tragedy in years to come. We can not isolate the present from the past or the past from the present. I don’t know if I conveyed what I wanted to say, but in my view, Third World views of the Holocaust will be affected by contemporary events.
Shawkat Toorawa: What Professor Rouhana said about disentanglement is critically important. One of the problems of disentangling the things that you say are a package is that if some – let’s oversimplify and call them the Arab or Palestinian side – disentangle, they will be viewed, possibly, by their fellow Palestinians as sympathizing with the other side. And if on the other side some Israeli “disentangles,” then that person will be viewed as sympathizing with the Palestinian side. The act of disentangling doesn’t endow the disentanglement. It doesn’t [come with] any [surrounding] zone of influence. I think it is incredibly courageous. It is not accidental that you are able to do [this] so successfully as an Israeli, and that Ilan [Stavans] is able to then weigh in as someone [who is] Jewish and say, “I think this needs to be done.” There is a certain protection endowed by what I call a position of privilege. It is easier, and important, for people in that situation to be able to say, “Look, I am able to speak and you can’t now point a finger at me, because I am speaking both as someone who is inside and as a disentangler.” I think that is just amazing that William Miles has been able to bring it all together in that context, and in the context of everything that everyone has said.
Marlin Graham: This conference reminds me of a comment I once heard by a speaker who happened to be both Black and Jewish. He said it somewhat humorously: “Jews constitute 1% of the world’s population, but they occupy about 99% of the non-Jewish mind.” The comparison is not logical, but for some reason it is the only part of the speech that stuck with me.
More seriously, given the weight of history, do you wonder if genocide is actually a preventable phenomenon? Is there something about the construct of human beings that produces this kind of behavior?
Professor Samuel Bernstein: I’m sorry that Mr. Gahima just went out. There have been allusions to the Jewish relationship and the Israeli relationship to South Africa. Many years ago, I went with a friend to South Africa – at great financial expense and with some danger, actually – with the hope of trying to free Mr. Mandela. After speaking with people during that trip, and subsequently, I made the point and still believe that anything done by anyone – Jewish, Israeli, anyone – that in any way supported or helped the South African regime is horrendous to the vast majority of, if not practically all, Jewish people. That is an area requiring much more study and discussion – of both the conditions that prevailed at the time and the perception of them since.
As for the talk by Professor Rouhana, let me simply say it was very thoughtful. Three elements that you mentioned were anti-Semitism, the issue of displacement, and the Arab inability to understand the role of the Holocaust. In light of the experiences of the twentieth century, including the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Holocaust and the [other] genocides, what would Professor Rouhana now suggest to bring the cousins – the Arab and Jewish cousins to whom you referred – back together as cousins once more, in a place not simply of peace, but of creative and mutual harmony?
Elana Heideman: My question is actually on the same lines – the practical implications of the issue at hand. There is no denying the moral responsibility we need of all human history. In order to do that, cultural upbringing has a huge impact. Do you feel that there is a way that the upbringing within Israeli-Palestinian society can change for the future? Is it something that we have to wait for a long time to do?
In terms of disentanglement of Zionism and Zionism, the Holocaust, and the existence of the State of Israel, it would be interesting to hear your perspective on the way to separate them out. Personally, with my methods that I put in education, the separation of those three aspects is possible, but that is because I am in America and teaching American students. When you’re in Israel, and you’re in that kind of context, the sensitivity is [completely different].
Susan Slimovich: My name is Susan Slimovich. I teach anthropology at M.I.T. and I’d like to return to the opening remarks of Professor Rouhana about growing up in the Israeli educational system, which I would assume granted you some education about the Holocaust. You would have been one of the recipients of that. Are there cultural mechanisms by Palestinians in Israel that may, or perhaps may not, appropriate the cultural forms of what you called so beautifully “dual packaging?” Holocaust memorials, for example. Do Palestinians, in a sense, memorialize what has happened to them, their past? Do they set up a counterhistory? You gave one example of the Naqba that in some sense appropriates, digests, inhabits the kind of education and Holocaust memorializing that surrounds you.
Nadim Rouhana Responds: My education about the Holocaust was not much from the Israeli educational system. My political education has been from political parties and Arab organizations. Some of them were extremely [close to] the Israeli Communist Party, the only party allowed in Israel that can allow some expression of [Palestinian] nationalism. They were also genuinely, genuinely concerned with educating about the Holocaust. So it is from other sources [that I learned], not from the controlled, propaganda Israeli system.
What would be the view of the Holocaust if the Middle East conflict escalates? Edward Kissi is in a better position to talk about that. I can only say that if Palestine was taken, not by Jews, not by the Zionist movement, then the Jewish people who underwent this experience would be in full alliance with the Palestinians. Palestinians would be appropriating the Holocaust as many other people are doing. It is unfortunate, a twist of history, that made it that way.
[Think about the] entanglement. The Holocaust should be seen, experienced, respected, identified with, regardless of what Israel is doing. I honestly mean that. In the Third World, too. If these things are disentangled. Zionism didn’t come in the name of the Holocaust. Zionism began in 1896. The Holocaust came much later and was used as a tool for migration (but they didn’t come). Israel is not in response to the Holocaust. Therefore, the view of the Holocaust should be independent of how Zionism has evolved.
Locksley Edmondson, revisionist historians in Israel are taking their job seriously. There are also revisionist social scientists. There are even revisionist behavioral scientists now. They are looking at the society, the role of the academy in legitimizing Israeli policies toward its own Arab population, examining the role of history. They are examining the issue of responsibility very openly – much more, if I may say, than has been done in this country [the U.S.]. There is a generational difference. The sense of security is allowing for that. [It is something of the younger generation]. I don’t think that setback in the peace process is influencing the people who are really interested [in the revisionist movement].
Reparations and compensation, in the Palestinian perception, can only come with return. It is not independent of return. It is giving the Palestinians a way to think about the right of return. Then they can choose. If they do not want to [accept] compensation, the right of return should be given.
Shawkat [Toorawa’s point about speaking from a “position of privilege”] is very well taken, very insightful. I submit to it completely. I probably have that sense of security going back into my [being an Israeli citizen,] (“Israeli” in Israel is reserved for Jews, [but in this context it maybe appropriate to say].)
What would I suggest for “the cousins” to do? I’ll tell you what. I don’t know how they are going to do it. But I think it will end up, one way or another, if not within the next few years, in Palestinian independence – in a viable Palestinian state. A binational state in Palestine, which means Israel and the West Bank/Gaza. If that does not happen soon, we will go through a very long process that might [resemble] apartheid. Looking back at the experiences of apartheid in South Africa, and many other states, [we] learn that [there is] a generation or two of suffering and struggle and violence until we get to a place of one person, one vote; all equal before the law; all equal as groups, as individuals. I think it is possible that things are going in that direction, but it is a very long process.