Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes has called for a one state solution to the Israel – Palestine conflict. I suppose one should not be surprised at such a wooly piece of thinking from him, but let us be clear what he actually means; the abolition of the State of Israel; nothing less, for that is the inevitable consequence of that particular “solution.”
This is why it finds favour with those on the left. It is the ultimate aim of the delegitimizers, the boycotters and their fellow travellers.
When left leaning politicians and commentators like Hughes look at the Middle East today they look at it through the distorting prism of current “liberal” orthodoxy. That means that they view only the bits of the puzzle they want to. Thus they see and readily condemn the Israeli reprisals against terrorists in Gaza but not the hundreds of rocket that those same terrorists have launched against the towns and villages of southern Israel. They choose to ignore the fact that thousands of Israeli children are forced to spend a large part of their lives in air raid shelters to avoid the daily rocket barrage.
They see the separation barrier but forget about the bombed buses and restaurants and the random shootings that claimed hundreds of Israeli lives in the early years of this century which was the reason the barrier was erected in the first place. Of course it would be preferable if the barrier was not there, but the fact remains it has worked and an untold number of lives have been saved because of it. Perhaps it is the fact that it is Jewish lives that have been saved that renders that little detail irrelevant to those on the left.
It is not only their view of the current situation that is so warped. They also display a disturbingly selective memory where the region’s history is concerned. As Palestinians deliberately try to destroy all evidence of Jerusalem’s Jewish history, the delegitimizers happily ignore the four millenia of continuous Jewish history in the Holy Land.
So, when he calls for a one state solution, Hughes is putting the blame for the impasse on Israel Alone. Never mind that during the British Mandate whilst the Jews accepted the 1937 Peel Commission recommendation for a two state solution, the Arabs rejected it outright. Never mind that they again rejected it in 1947 after the UN voted for partition and then launched a deadly attack on the newly formed Jewish State when it declared independence.
I was in Israel as a volunteer in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War. Almost without exception the opinion I heard from every Israeli I spoke to was the same. “Now at last they will have to talk with us and make peace with us.” Alas, just three months later came the infamous Khartoum Declaration. “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” Since then there have been negotiations of course but basically the Arab position is as intransigent today as it was then.
At Camp David in 2000, Israel offered huge concessions to the Palestinians, but Arafat would not budge. As Abba Eban said at the time, “Arafat never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” As a consequence, perhaps the best chance for a lasting peace was lost.
To achieve a lasting peace requires two interlocutors willing to achieve an agreement and prepared to make the concessions necessary. In 1937, in 1947 and again in 2000 Israel showed that commitment. Sadly, whenever called upon to rise to the challenge, the Palestinians have not.
So when Hughes calls upon the British Jewish Community to put pressure on the Israeli Government, this member of the community will have no part of it. That is not to say I always agree with everything the government does; I do not. But I am able to put its actions in context. I can understand what living in a country surrounded by an intransigent enemy sworn to wipe it out can do to that country’s psyche.
Of course the Palestinians would welcome a one state solution. They know, that were it to happen, they would succeed in their oft-repeated aim of driving the Jews into the sea. Look at the placards at any anti-Israel demonstration and you will see several proclaiming “Palestine from the river(Jordan) to the sea.” That always has been their aim and I fear it still is.
Is Simon Hughes not aware that he is inviting a second Jewish Holocaust? When hatred of Jews is taught every day in Palestinian schools does he imagine that Arab and Jew would leave peacefully side by side in such a State? Is he unaware that all over the Arab world, internecine warfare is a fact of daily life. If the Arabs can kill each other so easily, and they do as we all know, can he not see the probability of a Jewish bloodbath if his idea came to fruition? Or maybe he just does not care.
Consider what is happening in the Muslim world right now with the protests at a silly film shown on You-Tube. As Islamists tighten their grip over all Muslim countries, does Mr. Hughes expect those hard liners to tolerate, liberal, democratic, freedom loving Israelis in their midst?
Women have full equal rights in Israel. Homosexuality is not a crime in Israel. Freedom of expression is a right in Israel. None of this is so in any Arab or Muslim country.
So a single state solution cannot be the answer. What Simon Hughes and his ilk need to understand is that as long as they continue to view the Middle East through their distorted prism, there is no reason for the Palestinians to make peace with Israel.
If a lasting peace in the region is really his objective he should start by being even-handed and ensuring that the Palestinians understand fully that the Wests commitment to Israel’s survival within secure borders is non negotiable.