Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Identities Have Consequences

Max notes that the identities of various nations have been “invented” relatively recently, including those of Americans, Italians, and others, and argues there is little point at this stage in disputing whether the Palestinians have forged a national identity, or whether they should have a state. But identities have consequences, and the Palestinian one bears on their claim to statehood, since identity and statehood are not synonymous (as the Kurds and Tibetans know).

The “Palestinians” have not been invented so much as renamed; not so much renamed as repurposed; not so much repurposed as redefined as “refugees” — under a definition that applies to no other people in the world. The number of all other refugees decreases each year, as they are resettled; the number of Palestinian “refugees” increases each year, as they are born, since they are the only people in the world entitled to inherit refugee status. Their refugee status is fundamental to their identity; it is the reason they reject offers of a state again and again and again: a two-state solution would require their acceptance of a Jewish state, but acceptance of such a state would require them to give up their identity.

The barrier to Palestinian statehood has never been the Jews or the State of Israel. The Jews offered Arabs a two-state solution in 1919; accepted the two-state solution of the Peel Commission in 1937; accepted the UN two-state solution in 1947. Israel offered the Palestinians a state in 2000; accepted the Clinton Parameters in 2000-01; and offered a state again at the end of 2008. The Palestinians rejected every offer, becoming the first people in history to reject multiple offers of a state and then set conditions for discussing another one.

The Palestinians continue to assert they will never recognize a Jewish state. They can’t – it is inconsistent with their identity, and the purpose for which the Palestinian identity was forged. From the Palestinian standpoint, the “peace process” is not about peace, or even about a state, but about reversing history: they seek a state on the 1967 lines to reverse the 1967 war, and a “right of return” to reverse the 1948 war — to return to the time before the wars the Arabs started and lost, and before there was a Jewish state. The real barrier to Palestinian statehood is the identity the Palestinians have invented.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.