Posted by: Lister | February 6, 2007

America’s right to exist

What’s the difference between recognising Israel and recognising Israel’s right to exist?

John Whitbeck at CSMonitor, tells us what ‘Israel’s right to exist’ means to Palestinians:

For Palestinians to acknowledge the occurrence of the Nakba – the expulsion of the great majority of Palestinians from their homeland between 1947 and 1949 – is one thing. For them to publicly concede that it was “right” for the Nakba to have happened would be something else entirely. For the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, the Holocaust and the Nakba, respectively, represent catastrophes and injustices on an unimaginable scale that can neither be forgotten nor forgiven.

He makes the comparison with Native Americans, who surely recognise America. But in what sense?

Surely America has the right to continue to exist. However, this is not an acknowledgement of America’s right to exist. To acknowledge that would be to say white Europeans had the right to go and steal land already occupied by another people.

And, indeed, America has recognised that its creation involved injustice to the native peoples.

Whitbeck puts it well when he says that acknowledging Israel’s right to exist is not a diplomatic or political statement — it is a moral judgement. It forces Palestinians to say the Nakba was justified.


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