Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Herbert C. Kelman published a long piece in the Globe today titled, “’A Declaration of Principles’ for the Mideast.” I suspected it would be heavily slanted toward the Palestinian side when I read the phrase, “Herbert C. Kelman is a professor…” And when it continued, “of the Middle East Seminar at Harvard,” I knew for certain.

The piece pretends to respect both sides, but it includes such demands as, “the borders between the two states will follow the 1967 armistice lines.” The following quotes about the 1967 border were on Wikipedia:
Prime Minister Golda Meir said the pre-1967 borders were so dangerous that it "would be treasonable" for an Israeli leader to accept them (New York Times, December 23, 1969).

The Foreign Minister Abba Eban said the pre-1967 borders have "a memory of Auschwitz" (Der Spiegel, November 5, 1969).

Prime Minister Menachem Begin described a proposal for a retreat to the pre-1967 borders as "national suicide for Israel."

Nevertheless, over the past 40 years, Israel has slowly been unilaterally retreating to the 1967 borders in Sinai, Gaza, Jordan, and Lebanon—with little to show for it in return from the Palestinian side.

Another of Mr Kelman’s principles is: “An end to the occupation and to the conflict.” The word “occupation” is what enemies of Israel use to describe the Israeli presence in lands taken when they defeated the aggressive Arab armies in the 1967 war. As for “conflict,” this is the sole reference to the decades of terrorist attacks on Israel. Cessation of suicide bombings and rocket attack was a prerequisite for discussion under the Bush Roadmap.

Kelman’s principles also include a divided Jerusalem and Israel’s recognizing the right of return for Palestinian “refugees”—both unacceptable to Israel. Kelman does concede that “Only a limited number, however, will return to Israel proper, in order to allow Israel to maintain its character as a Jewish-majority state.” Once an international agreement acknowledges that Palestinians in the countries surrounding Israel have the right to “return” to Israel, however, Israel will be in the position of turning away poor refugees—certainly cause for a new Intifada.