Won’t apologize for using the ‘M’ word

This week, I participated in a panel discussion of Palestinian
and Israeli bloggers that took place in Washington DC in
“conjunction” with the convention held by “J Street,”
the new moderate American Jewish lobbying group. “J Street” is more
moderate than AIPAC, but the truth is anything is more moderate than AIPAC, the
rightwing lobbying organization that has had American foreign policy in a
lifelong headlock.

Normally, discussions with Israelis and Palestinians are
difficult enough but I was participating long distance using Internet video
from Chicago, making it even more difficult. So, I was on my best behavior.

When it was my turn to talk, I gave my usual spiel: Jewish
and pro-Israeli American must define a new representative group that is more
moderate in its approach to the Middle East conflict. Too often, the extremism
of American Jews pushes Israel even further to the extremist right and instead
of contributing to peace, Israel ends up causing more problems.

At the same time, I said Palestinians need to be more
forceful in defining the “moderate voice.” Do we or do we not
support a two-state solution? Has it all be just talk and are we sincere?

We must support two-states, I said, because two-states is
the only solution. One-state, as more and more Palestinians are advocating out
of anger and six decades of failure, would be the Palestinians’
“Final Solution.” We can’t afford to let the extremists hold
us hostage by causing so much violence that it gives Israel more excuses to
back away from compromise and make Palestinians suffer even more.

Let’s face it, Hamas spent the entire 90s opposing peace
and using suicide bombings not to kill Israelis as a primary goal but to kill
the peace process and if they took some innocent Israeli lives with then so be
it, they felt. In my mind, fighting while Palestinian leaders were negotiating
with Israelis at the peace table was an unforgivable act of terrorism by Hamas.

Another Palestinian panelist on the program decided to
attack me. What a shock. Like I have never been attacked by an uncompromising Palestinian
before. She said the “only solution” is the “one-state solution.”
She said that using terms like “moderates” and “extremists”
was disrespectful to “the cause of peace.”

What “peace” is she talking about when you
embrace the one-state final solution of the Palestinian problem? It’s not
a peace plan but a declaration of continued conflict. But then the lifers in
the activist movement have always been willing to sacrifice the rest of our
lives so they can make a point of principle at a podium in front of a large
audience. I think if there ever was to be peace, the activists would be out of
jobs and that must scare them more than admitting their failure to defeat
Israel and having to compromise for half of Palestine.

Well, I am not willing to ride the frogs back or play the
role of the scorpion. And the way we have cut off our noses to spite our own
faces, we have no Palestinian identity remaining. The fact is this conflict has
raged 61 years and in those years it has been the Palestinian secular national
identity that has been the big loser. We are slowly being erased in Jerusalem,
in pre-1967 Israel and in the West Bank, too.

Israel has exploited our failure to accept reality and refusal
to fight for a reasoned goal rather than an unreasoned dream. We cannot go back
to 1922. With all the recent failures and violence, I am worried that we can’t
go back to 1967, either.

But there is still time to compromise and create two states.

Many Palestinians can’t do that because they
can’t let go of the anger and the rage. We have suffered endlessly at the
hands of a great oppressor, Israel. We suffered whether we lived as so-called
“citizens” in Israel, under occupation since 1967 or even in the
Diaspora in refugee camps or as homeless activists in unfriendly countries like
America. The Goldstone Report is not an attack against Israel. It is a
statement against injustice. But we Palestinians want to use it as a bludgeon
and we shouldn’t.

For all the suffering, the real challenge is not in seeking vengeance.
The suffering of Gaza is irrelevant to the solution. Gaza will be fine if we
achieve peace. Peace is the answer to the trauma. Peace can allow Palestinians
to build a state and I am confident that no matter how much land we are able to
extract from Israel’s grip, the state we create will be far more
Democratic, far more free and eventually far more powerful than Israel pretends
to be today.

In fact, creating a Palestinian State would be a favor to
Israel which will never have peace if it continues to refuse to recognize
Palestinian rights.

But two states means compromise and compromise means that
Palestinian refugees will have to be told the truth that all the cowardly
Palestinian activists refuse to tell them. They are never going back to their
original homes and lands. We cannot turn back the clock except in our dreams;
and dreams can easily turn into nightmares.

They should be recognized for their suffering. Israel must
accept its role in causing their suffering and they must be compensated so that
their children can live with the dignity of freedom rather than a life of

If the Jewish American community can somehow ratchet their
people away from the lure of the extremists and settler terrorists who also embrace
a suicidal one-state plan for an all-Jewish Israel from the Nile to the
Euphrates, then maybe we need to help moderates like J Street and find a way to
work together.

The battle is no longer one between Palestinians and
Israelis. Today’s fight, six decades since the Nakba, is a battle for
survival between moderate Palestinians and Israelis versus extremist
Palestinians and Israelis.

I won’t apologize for using the “M-word.”
And I won’t let the extremists put me down.

Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist with Creators Syndicate, media consultant, radio host and Palestinian American stand-up comedian. (Journalism and comedy? What's the difference?). Named Best Ethnic American Columnist for 2007 by the New America Media, Hanania received the 2009 Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award, the 2010 Sigma Delta Chi National Award for Column Writing, and four Lisagor Awards. Hanania is the host of several Radio programs on WSBC 1240 AM radio in Chicago every Sunday from 8-11 am CST, on WNZK AM 690 in Detroit at 8 am EST and on the Internet at BlogTalkRadio.com, A former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist, Hanania provides informed insight into the complexities of Chicagoland politics and the Middle East.
  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/Mythbuster/default.aspx Mythbuster

    You say: “We must support two-states, I said, because two-states is the only solution. One-state, as more and more Palestinians are advocating out of anger and six decades of failure, would be the Palestinians’ “Final Solution.” We can’t afford to let the extremists hold us hostage by causing so much violence that it gives Israel more excuses to back away from compromise and make Palestinians suffer even more.’

    Yes, giving Palestinians equal voting rights is equivalent to the Holocaust. Unbelievable.

    Calling you an Arab Uncle Tom would be understatement.

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/Ray-Hanania/default.aspx Ray Hanania

    Being called an “Arab Uncle Tom” by a fanatic who supports continued violence, a rejection of peace, and one-state is like being called ugly by a pig — euphemistically : )

    So, being called that by you is an honor that I accept. I would rather by an Arab Uncle Tom that a fanatic who exploits the suffering of my people for some unachievable dream based on hatred that relies on suicide bombings and violence.

    Thanks so much
    Ray Hanania

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/Mythbuster/default.aspx Mythbuster

    I called you an Uncle Tom because you equated the demand for equal rights for Palestinians with “The Final Solution.”

    Your response is to call me “a fanatic who supports continued violence, a rejection of peace, and one-state is like being called ugly by a pig.”

    How many non sequiturs are in that Quisling-esque response?

    1. So to oppose the ghettoization of Palestinians makes me “a fanatic”?

    2. To to oppose the ghettoization of Palestinians make me a supppoter “of continued violence”?

    You got all that from my post?

    No wonder you are every Zionist’s favorate Arab. Do you shine shoes too?

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/PissedOffAmerican/default.aspx PissedOffAmerican

    I’m not Jewish, and I’m not Palestinian. I’m an American, outside, looking in.

    Reading the prior comments, I can only imagine the smile such division brings to the faces of the rabid zionists. Such division can only work to Israel’s advantage, and from my vantage point, it looks like they actively nurture it, much to the detriment of the Palestinian’s hope for a future.

    Keep bickering amongst yourselves, and you will be lucky to get ANY solution, much less a two state solution. The longer you nip at each other’s hamstrings, the more time Israel has to steal more land, cripple you with blockades, and show the world community that you are seemingly unable to even get along with yourselves, much less the rest of the world community.

    Wise up, before its too late. You are dancing to Israel’s tune.

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/Ray-Hanania/default.aspx Ray Hanania

    Hey American — we’re ALL American in America by the way — this is the debate that is taking place, unfortunately, in the US among the extremists … you write something and they distort it, lie about it and then claim it as fact. And they call you names. When you respond, they reply with indignity and shock like, wow, I called you all kinds of names and you dared to make fun of me?

    Don’t be discouraged. The majority of palestinians support two-states, compromise on the Right of Return, a sovereign Palestine, the return of the West Bank, dismantling of settlements and sharing of Jerusalem, and most important, a rejection of violence … let the extremists say what they will. They ALWAYS look for the pebble and then fixate on it instead of seeing the bigger picture.

    Israel HAS been stealing more and more land and one reason why is not the bickering but the rejection of genuine peace by the far secular left and the religious extremists. They are the problem and always have been the problem since the day this conflict started. They enable Israel to do all that it does, good, bad and ugly.

    PS … the name calling doesn’t bother me. I just look at the source, as my comment humoroulsy explained above!

    Ray Hanania

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/Mythbuster/default.aspx Mythbuster

    Yes, do consider the source. I am actually married to a Palestinian. We can’t all say that, can we?

    BTW, have you written an article about of “destroying” settlers like you wrote about destroying Hamas? Apparently, you only believe in non-violence against Israelis, but you support tremendous violence against Palestinians. (You know, the people under the brutal occupation.)

    Maybe that’s why I called you an Uncle Tom.

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/PissedOffAmerican/default.aspx PissedOffAmerican

    I rest my case. Keep it up, and the Palestinian people will end up with nothing.

    You two, and all of the Palestinian people, had damned well get their act together, and find a middle ground, or Israel is going to chew you up and spit you out, with the support of a large portion of the world community. Your children deserve better. Get your act together, or you are just going to be another sad chapter in the history books. Israel is winning, and it is in no small part because of the kind of bickering you two are engaged in.

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/Ray-Hanania/default.aspx Ray Hanania

    The problem is some Palestinians can’t deal with the issues or the truth and hide behind things like — they’re married to “Palestinians” and others are not like that is something they are proud of … they can’t claim to want a “One-State” solution and say that Jews, Christians and Muslims will be treated equally (that’s a joke) and not come across like racists …

    “mythbuster” does what many fanatics do, attack the person not address the issues, calls people names and then falls into victim mode pretending like they’re angels …

    All they do is enable the occupation and promote more tragedy because they thrive on the hate. And if calling someone a name like “Uncle Tom” makes them feel good, they pretend that they’ve done a great service to Palestine, and then go out and do nothing but yap …

    Of course, Mythbuster has never read any of my many columns condemning israeli atrocities, the settler terrorists who I equate with the Hamas terrorists who target Christian Arabs and secular Muslims with their religious fanaticism …

    It’s a fact of life and something that Palestine will have to address and clean out before we can have a real state …

    But these extremists are not unusual. They only know how to call people names, attack the person and have no capacity to deal with the issues, and that inability to deal with the issues is as much a factor in the Palestinian tragedy as is the Israeli Government policies and the occupation

    Fortunately, he’s in the minority which is loud, and not growing

    – Ray Hanania

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/farrenh/default.aspx farrenh


    Its possible to advocate for a one-state solution without supporting the religious fundamentalism and tactics of Hamas, just like it was possible to advocate for a non-racial democracy in South Africa without supporting the black nationalist groups responsible for acts like the murder of white nuns during South Africa’s Apartheid period. It seems to me you’re creating a kind of false dichotomy here.

    Israel is, in essence, the last European colonial exercise of the 20th century. Even claims that much of the original territory of Israel was legally bought mask the reality of Zionists buying land from wealthy Arab landowners then refusing to lease to the original poor Arab residents, a practise which is considered racist and is illegal in most western democracies, whether it fits the definition of “legal” or not – as well as ignoring the extensive Zionist terrorism that preceded the foundation of the state.

    So there is certainly a moral case for the one-state solution. And the idea that Jews “deserve” a state of their own is not consistent with universally accepted values. There are hundreds of minorities around the world who have suffered discrimination for centuries, like the Roma, and do not have their own state – especially not one carved out of previously occupied land and founded on ethnically exclusive principles. Comparisons to, say, France, which is mostly “French” are weak. The french do not have ethnically discriminatory laws like the right of return, or the offical legal status afforded to ethnically excusive organisations like the JLA in Israel. The nationalist era in Europe consolidated states around existing populations, states that then evolved into non-racial states with universal equality. Israel has been viewed through a lens which accords it a unique status and applies different standards to any other case. An imagined Basque or Roma state with laws and practises like Israel’s would be considered a racist state by most.

    I’m a white South African of Irish extraction (not Jewish or Palestian) who grew up under Apartheid and the discourse of Israeli nationalists today is startlingly familiar to me. White nationalists in South Africa used “black on black” and other forms of violent reaction to violence to justify Apartheid. White Afrikaner nationalists, who speak a dutch-language derivative exclusive to Southern Africa, spoke of the “survival” of their race being at stake. They also drew on historical tragedy, much like many Zionists drink at the well of the Holocaust. In the case of Afrikaner nationalism, it was the estimated hundreds of thousands of boer women and children that died in British Concentration camps during the SA war. They also claimed that black South Africans weren’t actually South Africans, pointing to the artificially created black “homelands” (bantustans) created under Apartheid and archeological evidence that the Nguni people were only recent settlers of the Southern African region, much like Europeans. Just as Israel does today (most Arabs in the region are from elsewhere. West Bank Arabs are not Israeli’s, Israeli Arabs have equal rights – a lie).

    Practicality is certainly valid grounds for any argument about a settlement. I recall, too, having fierce arguments with Irish nationalist friends who’s father was jailed for IRA terrorism. This at a time when “facts on the ground” were long established and most N. Irish were in favour of remaining part of the UK, thanks to earlier massive colonisation. Sometimes unravelling a historical justice is impossible without far greater suffering (N.Ireland, the USA, Australia…).

    But in all of the examples cited, the people involved at least put an end to any legal cover for discimination, whereas many of Israel’s supporters today continue to support the idea of a legally Jewish state and all the discrimination that implies, from selective right of return to obliquely discrimatory land laws like the legal cover given to the JLA and the existence of structures that ensure discrimination flourishes at a beauracratic level (predominantly Jewish nationalist Commitees being responsible for the issuing of building permits in Israeli Arab communities). Even the legal cover for this last kind of covert discrimination has been eliminated in other western democracies. Look at the plethora of laws created specifically to stop beauracratic discrimination in the American southern states, for instance.

    So on practical grounds it may be fair to support a two-state solution to end the cycle of suffering, but that does not imply supporting a continuation of support for Israel as a Jewish State. That idea should be anathema to anyone who truly believes in equal human rights (as should be the idea that any future Palestinian state will be an exclusive Muslim or Arab state in legal terms).

    Right now, though, Israelis must discard their fantasies about original legitimacy and accept, like the citizens of other European colonies, that their nation was born in the blood, suffering of and injustice imposed on another people. And the citizens of other nations that continue to provide material support to Israel must accept that Palestinians are an oppressed people who stand on the higher moral ground, regardless of whether some of their political representatives, like Hamas, espouse equally unacceptable views. And they should support wholesale disinvestment from Israel, just as the world did during Apartheid in South Africa.

    Prior to the demise of Apartheid in South Africa, white people pointed to black nationalist movements that openly stated they wanted to drive all whites into the sea, claiming that the very survival of whites in Africa was at stake – and especially the survival of the uniquely African culture of Afrikaans white people. Massive disinvestment from South Africa forced them to accept the inevitable and as a result, Apartheid ended, our society became integrated, and 15 years on I am a white man living comfortably under a black government, free of discrimation.

    Whether it would turn out the same way in Israel is anybodies guess. But as a white male growing up in SA I was 100% ready to accept the possibility that a future black state would force me into exile. I accepted the fact that fundamental, factual illegitimacy of the white state I lived in was a greater moral crime than the abstract, unrealised aspirations of some racist black nationalists. So I have zero sympathy for Israeli’s who employ exactly the same bogeyman of the scary Arab nationalist to whip up sympathy elsewhere.

    I do, however, appreciate the efforts of peace-minded Palestinians to marginalise Muslim extremist organisations like Hamas and their religious/ethnically exclusive vision of a Palestinian future, just as the ANC split from other liberation movements in casting themselves as a human rights movement rather than simply a black liberation movement.

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/Ray-Hanania/default.aspx Ray Hanania

    It’s not a false dichotomy. You’re missing my point, I think, but I appreciate the thoughtful way you express your views. I wish more of my fellow Palestinians would follow your lead and discuss issues, although extremists by nature can’t rely on facts or reason to argue and must resort to namecalling and personal attacks.

    Here is my point:

    You cannot support One State AND support compromise. It’s not possible. f you support One State, you are saying you reject compromise, or are being disingenuous about compromise based on peaceful negotiations.

    Those who advocate the one-state solution are in fact pushing to continue the conflict because they believe that violence continues the conflict until such time as they can be strong enough to win. In 61 years, or more, the Palestinians have NEVER been strong enough to win against Israel and the Zionist Movement and trying to win has caused us to loose even more.

    We should have created a state in 1967 and then battled with Israel. But, palestinians claim they couldn’t because the Arab states wouldn’t allow it, but the fact is we rejected compromise because in 1948 we believed we could win and defeat the Israelis. History tells us the truth on that unreasoned view which, sadly, continues till today.

    So, if you reject compromise, then by default you support continued conflict. In my view, that makes someone an extremist.

    This isn’t about legal issues any more because Palestinians are incapable of getting over their emotions to organize strategic campaigns to impose the Rule of law on Israel. We tend to fight with our emotions and hearts but not our heads and intelligence, I am sorry to say.

    Legally, the Palestinians have every right to return to Palestine and create a single state called Palestine where Christians, Muslims and Jews can live together.

    But the reality is otherwise.

    First, many Palestinians (especially the extremists) talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. They love to say how a one state Palestine would treat Christians, Muslims and Jews as equals. But in the same breath (as the extremists Mythbuster did above) they attack you because your wife is a Jew r you are married to a Jew. (My wife is a Jew and the racist attack from Mythbuster to say that he is married to a Palestinian somehow makes him “better” is appalling and exposes the lie of all three religions being equal in the distorted mindset of the one-staters.

    But,the other more serious problem of applying the law is that we can’t. We can’t enforce the Rule of Law and we have been forced by circumstances to compromise in order to save our people.

    The extremists are fighting for principle and law at the expense of the reality of the suffering of the Palestinian people. We are being erased from palestine slowly and steadily and we need to find an immediate way to stop Israel’s own fanatics and settler terrorists from erasing us.

    That’s where compromise and two-states come in.

    Any rejection of two-states is an embrace of the failed policies of the past which continue today. They’re more popular because it is easy for someone to reject peace with Israel the oppressor, but it is tougher to find a way to actually win.

    Ray Hanania

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/farrenh/default.aspx farrenh

    Maybe you’re right about Palestinians themselves being exceptionally reasonable and accomodating as a path to peace. Its hard for outsiders to buy the “its complex, but everyone’s to blame” line when one side is being overtly reasonable and accomodating. But at the same time I fully support BDS, which is something those of us who aren’t connected by blood, religion and origin can do. Its a potent weapon in the fight against injustice.

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/farrenh/default.aspx farrenh

    And yeah, the views of some Palestinian nationalists are far from reasonable. As an atheist an strong believer in inequality I find it impossible to sympathise with Hamas on any level. That doesn’t cloud my vision of the essential injustice of both the foundation of Israel and its current system of Apartheid, but I have encountered many otherwise uninvolved Christians and atheists who do buy the line that Jew-hatred forces Israel to behave the way it does. It definitely clouds the issue.

  • http://palestinenote.com/cs/members/farrenh/default.aspx farrenh

    oops I meant strong believer in equality

  • John

     Sacrificing the refugees for a Palestinian state, will not end the longing of those people to return home. There has to be a solution for them too or that will be a festering sore. I don’t see why a 2 state solution should negate refugees their rights, unless Israel insists that be part of the deal. Advocating a 2 state solution means you have given up on Israeli
    justice, on Israelis learning Arabic, and accepting Palestinian election
    results in the territories.

    States have always been carved out by war and its usually extremists that are good at carrying out war, moderates prefer peace. Perhaps J street are moderates because they are far away from conflict and they are exposed to other view points. Israelis are a different kettle of fish, they automatically see Palestinians as enemies something they are taught from childhood. Honest Israelis that have lived for sometime outside their state will admit they are brainwashed.

    You are dealing with an extremist mentality that trains all men and women in the military, the only state to do so. Ending that would be a big step forward toward peace. But that is up to Israelis to refuse to serve, a peace movement for them to create. Very very few have done so, so far.