Monday, May 12, 2008

Israel's celebration remains a Palestinian catastrophe

Neither side will ever agree on the narrative of the conflict, and the prospects for peace in the Middle East are slim

By Ahmad Samih Khalidi
The Guardian, Monday May 12 2008

"As Israel celebrates the 60th anniversary of its establishment, an inescapable counter-reality lingers over the occasion that is inextricably twinned with it. It is the nakba or catastrophe, the 60th anniversary of the destruction of Arab Palestine in 1948.

Despite a public discourse that often claimed the opposite, the Zionist movement set out to build a Jewish state in Palestine with a Jewish majority. This could only come about at the expense of the local inhabitants, the vast majority of whom were Palestinian Arabs - both Muslim and Christian. From this perspective, neither the Zionists' intentions nor the reactions of the Palestinians are at issue: Israel could not have been built as a Jewish state except on the ruins of Arab Palestine......

As things stand, and in a situation where the vast majority of Israelis are impervious to the horrors of the occupation and shielded from its consequences, and where Palestinian aspirations are being dissipated by the daily changes on the ground and the PA's own failures, it is hard to avoid the fear that the next shift in attitude is going to be the product of yet another cataclysm.

At the one end of the spectrum of possibilities is an open-ended and continuous spiral of conflict. At the other is a new set of relations between Arab and Jew, and new forms of association on the land of Palestine that go beyond the dying paradigm of a two-state solution towards different formulae for power-sharing, partition or sovereignty. One century after the first Zionist incursion into Palestine, and 60 years after the great determining event of 1948, it would take a brave soothsayer to predict which course will prevail."

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