Palestine-Israel Conflict

Part 12

We hope that this look at the historical record concerning the root cause of the Middle East conflict will give second thoughts to all who have previously supported Israel's actions.

The persecution of the Jews for centuries in Europe was the worst of many stains on the European record, and the Zionists' desire for a place of sanctuary is certainly understandable. Like all other colonial enterprises, however, Zionism was based on the total disregard of the rights of indigenous inhabitants. As such, it is morally indefensible. And, as previously stated, all subsequent crimes - and there have been many on both sides - inevitably follow from this original injustice to the Palestinians.

Given the damage that has been done to the Palestinian people, Israel's obligation is to make whatever amends possible. Among these should be assisting the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state in the entire West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israel should not object to this state and, in addition, should help with its foundation via generous reparations. Besides being the right thing to do, this would stop the sporadic acts of violence against Israel, as the Palestinians' legitimate desire for their own state would be realized. Moreover, all laws that discriminate against non-Jews living in Israel should be repealed. All citizens should enjoy full and equal rights, as should any Palestinians who wish to return to their ancestral homeland. These refugees should, as a matter of principle, be compensated for their lost homes and land.

As U.S. citizens, we have a special obligation to see that justice is done in this matter. U.S. financial aid to Israel has been, and continues to be, enormous; and our diplomatic support allows Israel's continued occupation of Arab territories. We strongly recommend that you contact your elected representatives in Washington and urge them to pressure Israel to abide by the consensus of world opinion, as shown by numerous UN votes, as a precondition of continued support.

American Jews in particular have a special responsibility to acknowledge the Palestinian point of view in order to help move the debate forward. As Chomsky writes in his Peace in the Middle East?, "In the American Jewish community, there is little willingness to face the fact that the Palestinian Arabs have suffered a monstrous historical injustice, whatever one may think of the competing claims. Until this is recognized, discussion of the Middle East crisis cannot even begin."

In the long run, only by admitting their culpability and making amends can Israelis live with their neighbors in peace. Only then can the centuries-old Jewish tradition of being a people of high moral character be restored. And only in this way can real security, peace and justice come to this ancient land.

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