As part of a settlement enterprise, Zionism decided to establish a national home for the Jews in an already populated country. From the outset, this meant that this enterprise sought to transform the Jews into a majority and the Arab Palestinians into a minority. Without a transformation of this kind, it was impossible for Zionism to fulfil the promise it had made to its people, namely, self-determination in a state of their own. At first, the idea of a majority and statehood was esoteric. In the 1920s, a debate took place between political and cultural Zionism about whether the Jews should be the majority or be too many without constituting a majority. In the 1903s and 1940s, this debate was resolved in favour of Ben-Gurion. The statehood project was transformed into a declared programme, which was embraced by Zionism.
The theme of this issue has its focus on the relations between Israel and Germany. Beyond doubt, the entry point to understand these relations lies in the Holocaust, which befell European Jews under the Nazi regime.
Initially, there was no consensus in Israel on how to deal with the German state following the integration of Nazism. As it did not wish to engage in direct negotiations with the Germans, Israel addressed the Allied Powers to claim compensations from Germany. However, having felt the wind of the Cold War, the USA and the West were eager to include West Germany in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The payment of compensations would pave the way to West Germany’s membership of the NATO.
The theme of this issue has its focus on the intellectual roots of the Zionist right wing. In a settler community, the idea of separation between the right and left wing parties was, and is still, grounded in the acquisition of the homeland of another people. This idea is not impliedly perceived, however. A logically tempting argument views the enterprise settler Zionist enterprise as a right wing one in its entirety, from the very beginning to the very end. This is an enterprise that culminates in control, expulsion, occupation, and racial supremacy.
Settlement and Jewish immigration have laid the foundation for the Zionist project. During the British Mandate period, Ben-Gurion tolerated many issues, including borders and type of sovereignty, but insisted on immigration and settlement. While immigration started to recede within the Zionist project, settlement has continued to be more and more superior and central. In essence, the settlement community means two things. Firstly, while its expansion is permanent, the settlement enterprise neither recognises nor defines its borders. The latter are those of others; they are not demarcated for, or imposed on, it. Combined with Judaising the place and its identity, expansion is intertwined with hostility towards the Palestinian milieu and
As unjust as it was for Palestinians, partition had already been expected, if not almost inevitable. From the outset, the Zionist Jewish settlement enterprise was separate and sought to establish its separation with assistance from, under the aegis of and in the context of the British Mandate. The Zionist settlement enterprise did not involve a group of displaced persons and immigrants, who were willing to integrate into the then existing system and its laws. They arrived as settlers, who carried with them their collective dreams, code, law and moral and symbolic world. Their integration into the Palestinian local community was unthinkable, neither by themselves nor by the Palestinian community who viewed them as an existential threat. This way, two religiously, ethnically and economically parallel communities were born out of the British Mandate. These were mostly like parallel lines, which seldom intersected. The 1936 revolution was a milestone that entrenched this sharp division, albeit some historians such as Hillel Cohen attribute it to the Buraq Uprising events of 1929. The obvious fact stands still: the British Peel Commission had proposed partition ten years before it turned into an official UN resolution. Together with its partition proposal, the Peel Commission was one factor that took the idea of a separate and independent Jewish State out of the deliberate grey area within the Zionist project and turned it into an approved and public project in the Biltmore Conference of 1942.
In the interval between the Peel Commission and 1947 UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which was established to submit recommendations on the future of Palestine, several developments took place: the Jewish Yishuv was larger and more powerful with a full panoply of means. The Palestinian community was worn out by the 1936 revolution and global sympathy with the Jewish question reached a climax. Partition was not the only proposal on the table. Of course, the Arabs and Palestinians could not imagine the significant shift in the international awareness of the Jewish question. Morally, nothing would justify the proposition of the idea of a bi-national state by the Arabs and Palestinians at the time. There is no clear justification why the indigenous population would share their land with people, who had just arrived recently. However, if hope had been pinned to overcome and avoid the Partition Plan, the only solution that was qualified to block partition would have been a bi-national state. No one knows how the UN would have dealt with a bi-national state project. However, it was possible that it would bring the initiative back to the Arab side.
At the time, the key question was not as much about partition as it concerned approval of the emerging bi-nationalism in Palestine. An overwhelming majority of states around the world believed that two nationalisms were in place regardless of the form of the solution: one or two states. Despite the minority’s view which rejected partition, the UNSCOP report considered the Jews as a national group who had the right to self-determination, albeit unnecessarily in the form of a state. The dispute addressed whether there was a need for two states. However, the UN did not engage in a genuine discussion of whether there were two nationalisms in Palestine.
Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan because it divided the people and homeland.
Palestinians could not accept such a demographic upheaval which originated in a volcanic eruption made by other nations in another continent. The Palestinian people, too, were a victim of another upheaval they had nothing to do with.
Seventy years after partition, Israel practically rejects the one-state and two-state solutions. Today, Israel counts on the disappearance and dismantlement of the question of Palestine. However, as long as Palestinians exist on the land of Palestine, that is the bet. No matter how long it takes, it is inevitably a bad bet.
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