Yossi Klein HaLevi writes a letter to the Palestinians in the Jerusalem Post. In it, he discusses the need for the Palestinians to reformulate their perpectives on the Jewish state and its Jewish citizens.

Here’s an excerpt, but the entire article is worth a read:

I learned to appreciate the fearless heart of Islam, which knows how to impart in its believers a frank acceptance of their own mortality – something which Western culture too often tries to conceal, with diversions like black humor about death.

The dark side of the Muslim reconciliation with death, of course, are the suicide bombers. But I learned, too, that acceptance of mortality can be the basis for a religious language of reconciliation. Repeatedly, Palestinians would say to me, “Why are you and I arguing over who owns the land when in the end the land will own us both?” That wise ability to place our earthly claims and struggles in the context of our shared condition of mortality gave me hope that peace between us may some day be possible.

But I learned too, during numerous candid conversations with Palestinians at all levels of society, that, in practice, few within your nation are willing to concede that I have a legitimate claim to any part of this land. I will cite one telling example.

During my journey into Islam in Gaza, I met General Nasser Youssef (who at the time of our meeting was head of one of the Palestinian security forces and is now the PA Interior Minister). At one point during our conversation, I asked the general to describe his vision of the relations between a Jewish state and a Palestinian state after we signed a peace agreement.

Let’s assume, I said, that Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, uproots the settlements and redivides Jerusalem: What then? He replied that, once the refugees begin returning to the area, so many would gravitate to those areas in Israel where their families once lived, that eventually we would realize there was no need for an artificial border between Israel and Palestine.

The next step, continued the general, was that the two states would merge. “And then we’ll invite Jordan to join our federation. And Iraq and Syria. Why not? We’ll show the whole world what a beautiful country Jews and Arabs can create together.”

But, I asked the general, aren’t we negotiating today over a two-state solution? Yes, he replied, as an interim step. And then he added, “You aren’t separate from us; you are part of us. Just as there are Muslim Arabs and Christian Arabs, you are Jewish Arabs.”

This story is particularly relevant because General Youssef is widely known as a moderate, deeply opposed to terror as counter-productive to the Palestinian cause. And so what I learned in my journeys into your society is that moderation means one thing on the Israeli side and quite another on the Palestinian side.

AN ISRAELI moderate recognizes the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a struggle between two legitimate national narratives.

A Palestinian moderate, by contrast, tends to disagree with the extremists about method, not goal: He opposes the destruction of Israel through terror and war, perhaps because that option isn’t realistic; yet he advocates the disappearance of Israel through more gradualist means, like demographic subversion. Like General Yusuf, he sees a two state solution as an interim agreement, a step toward Greater Palestine. When your moderates speak of peace and justice, then, they usually mean a one-state solution.

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  • Mobi, let’s plumb your reasoning a bit, shall we?

    I presume you mean that if “the Palestinians” were as “moderate” as I am, then they wouldn’t be moderates and your reaction would be to take an extreme Right wing position because they would deserve that type of harsh response. Right?

    Okay, so let’s just hit on some of the basics. I am for a two state solution and the Palestinian right to self determination.

    Are most Palestinians for a true two state solution? I’m not talking about one where they dream of overwhelming Israeli politics with larger demographics, but a true two state solution?

    I am opposed to any bloodshed, believe that any Palestinian casualties or deaths should be minimized, and targeted killings should be directed only at terrorists while attempting to minimize any collateral casualties – to the point where I say send in a fighting force to do it but don’t kill from the air where the odds of harm to bystanders is greater.

    During the height of this war, in 2002, when an orgy of killing murdered 128 Israelis in one month, Palestinian pollsters showed over 70% public support for these suicide attacks targeting Israeli civilians. Even now that number hovers at about 50%.

    I consider most Palestinians to be people just like any other, with a right to worship as they would prefer, and a right to live as free people under their own Palestinian government. I accept that whether or not they did or did not have ties to the area in 1948, many did have ties, most recognize themselves as a nation today and as such any peace deal needs to accord to them contiguous land sufficient for a state, the right to worship where and how they’d like, ongoing access to Jerusalem holy sites and control over their mosques and relevant churches.

    Is that what most Palestinians believe the Jews should have? Have you seen what they say in their textbooks, on their tv programming, and in their leaders’ speeches? How did they treat our religious sites just now in Gaza? How did they treat them historically? The two key parties to receive votes in recent elections have charters that negate Jewish ties to the region, rights to live there, and one of them goes so far as to use the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a source for their ideology.

    So guess what, my little Mobius, you should be heading right over to your nearest Kach office. By the way, when you join, expect me to treat you like the extremist you are.

  • oooooooh now who’s captain hypersensitive? i was merely joking my little middle.

    Translation: “Damn, that was a fine comment where he really stuck it to me and I have no retort. Where is that Kach registration form again? Oh there it is, next to the Chomsky book and the Progressive, Liberal, Feminist, Anarchist pro-Palestinian Manifesto.”

    😉 Shana tova, Mobius.

  • I read that letter. If that Paleo guy really believes he is a “moderate”, there’s trouble in River City, mein fruende.

    I say let’s give a rat’s ass about the Paleostinian “narrative” when they give a rat’s ass about the Jewish narrative.

    Until then, bupkes.

  • certainly not. mr. middle, can you forgive me for all my ill-tempered responses to the things you save which drive me batty?

  • Mobius, I not only forgive you wholeheartedly, but also ask for your forgiveness if I’ve caused offense.

    However, the little things that drive you batty…I have a feeling they ain’t coming to a stop because our views on certain issues, uh, diverge.

  • Mr Youssef’s comments inspire a great idea: We should absorb the Palestinians – into the atmosphere!

  • You’re not kidding. Maybe there’s a honeymoon suite for them at Beit Jewlicious. I’m actually proud of them, embracing the spirit of the aseret y’mei non-insulting and coming to terms with differences like they have.

  • Alex, I don’t know that my beliefs serve any point – I believe what I believe.

    I do think that I represent a large, silent segment of the population. It just so happens that the vocal ones tend to be on the extremes.

    There used to be a time when most of us used to believe in peace and peace was the hope and dream of most Israelis and their supporters around the world. It’s true that the years have made us all less naive and far more cynical. Myths have been shattered and we have watched a hoped for peace come and go. But if you think about most people’s intentions not that long ago, you realize that if nothing else they were good intentions and worthy of admiration. We wanted peace.

    These feelings don’t belong to the Right with their belief in interminable war, or the Left with their blindness to and excuses for the evil of Israel’s enemies. They belong to those of us in the center. Those who see clearly that ideology is not the solution but pragmatism and a clear-headed view of our situation are going to bring us closer to a solution and much sooner.

    At least that’s what I think.