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2008-05-16

As Israelis Celebrate Independence and Palestinians Mark the "Nakba," a Debate with Benny Morris, Saree Makdisi and Norman Finkelstein

Guests

Benny Morris, Israeli historian of 1948. His latest book is 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.

Saree Makdisi, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA and the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation.

Norman Finkelstein, Author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah.

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Sixty years since the creation of Israel and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, we host a debate on the legacy of 1948 and the possibility of a just future for both Israelis and Palestinians with three guests: Benny Morris, seen as one of the most important Israeli historians of the 1948 war and after; Saree Makdisi, UCLA professor and author of Palestine Inside Out; and Norman Finkelstein, author of several books, including Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue today on the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel. Today, a debate around the legacy of 1948 and a possibility of a just future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Benny Morris is seen as one of the most important Israeli historians of the 1948 war. From his first book twenty years ago, Morris has documented Israeli atrocities and the expulsion of Palestinians, considered part of a group of so-called “revisionist” historians who challenged conventional Israeli thinking about 1948. However, unlike his critics to the left, Morris did not consider the expulsions to be part of a systematic Israeli policy of transfer. His latest book, published in March by Yale University Press, is called 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. He joins us here in our firehouse studio.

We’re also joined in California by Saree Makdisi. He’s in Los Angeles, professor of English and comparative literature at UCLA. His latest book is Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, just out this month. His most recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times is titled “Forget the Two-State Solution: Israelis and Palestinians Must Share the Land Equally.”

We are also joined on the telephone from Brussels by Norman Finkelstein, author of four books, including The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah. He was in Brussels addressing a group of parliamentarians around the issue of Palestinians.

And our guest remains on the line, Tikva Honig-Parnass, who fought in the 1948 war, now is a progressive writer in Israel and critical of what happened in 1948.

Benny Morris, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain, from your perspective, from your research, what happened in 1948.

BENNY MORRIS: Well, based on a large amount of documentation, which I’ve gone through over the years, several decades, in fact, the international community in the wake of the Holocaust voted to establish two states in Palestine, to divide the land into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jewish side, the Zionist movement, the Jewish Agency Executive accepted the international decision and went about establishing their state.

The Palestinian Arabs, backed by the Arab world, rejected the decision and went to war against the Jewish community in Palestine and subsequently against the state which was established half a year later. As a result of this war, some 700,000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes, not really turned into refugees, most of them, because they were moved or moved from one place in Palestine to another. About one-third moved out of Palestine and were genuine refugees.

AMY GOODMAN: And on what do you base all of this?

BENNY MORRIS: Oh, on masses and masses of Israeli, American, United Nations, British documentation. The Arab documentation isn’t available. The Arab states, all of them being dictatorships, do not open their archives. But all Western archives, especially the Israeli archives, give a very good picture of what actually happened.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the significance of your finding within the state of Israel — you’re basing much of this on Israeli documents — how you broke with convention in Israel?

BENNY MORRIS: Yeah. The traditional Zionist narrative about what had happened in ’48, especially relating to the refugee problem, was that the refugees had been ordered, instructed, advised by their leaders, by Palestinian leaders or Arab leaders outside the country, to flee, and that is why 700,000 left their homes. The documentation gives us a much, much broader and a more nuanced picture of what happened. Most of the people who were displaced fled their homes. A small number were expelled. Most fled their homes as a result of the war, the fear of battle, the fear of being attacked, the fear of dying. A small number also left because of the economic conditions. And a small number were advised or instructed by their leadership, as in Haifa in April 1948, to leave the country. But it’s a mixed bag, with the war itself, the hostilities themselves and fear of being hurt being the main precipitant to flight.

AMY GOODMAN: You have written that the humiliation of the Arabs going back to 1949 is what underlies so much of the hostility today. Lay out what you see as the humiliations.

BENNY MORRIS: It’s a historic humiliation. It’s not a private, personal humiliation. I think the Arab world was brought up — the Islamic Arab world was brought up on tales of power and conquest dating back to the seventh century and the expansion of Islam and the Arabs out of the Arabian Peninsula and the conquest of the Mediterranean Basin, parts of Europe, and so on. And they had a self-image of a powerful people.

And what happened in the — after the Turkish Ottoman conquests in the fifteenth century and subsequently belittled the Arab world, disempowered it. And then came the European imperial incursions, sometimes conquests in the nineteenth century. And topping all that came the Zionist influx and the unsuccessful Arab war against it in 1947-48. And this was a humiliation the Arab world could not take. 630,000 Jews had bested a 1.2 million Palestinians and 40 million Arabs surrounding that 630,000-strong community. And this humiliation is something which they have never been able to erase and still, I think, motivates them in large measure in their desire to erase the state of Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: How was it that for so many years the Zionist narrative was that there were either no Palestinians — it was an empty land — or the Palestinians left of their own accord?

BENNY MORRIS: These are different subjects, but I think the Zionists preferred not to see the 500,000-or-so natives who were there, as they regarded them at the end of the nineteenth century, because if they had sort of looked at them and they’d have seen the problem of what do you do with 500,000 people who don’t want you to arrive and settle in your — in what they regarded as their land, this would have knocked out the confidence from the Zionists and undermined their enterprise. It was better to see that the — to believe that the land was in some way empty. But if you look at the actual Zionist documentation, they did see the Arabs, and they knew there was a problem almost from the start.

When it comes to the Palestinian so-called — most of them so-called refugees or the displaced of ’48 — look, political movements, peoples like to feel good about themselves and to feel that their cause is just. My belief is the cause, the Zionist cause, was just, and they had good reasons to believe — to see themselves as good. But every war has its dark side, especially civil wars, which are notably vicious. And ’48 also had a dark side, which involved the displacement of 700,000 people and the decision by the Israeli government — and this is the crucial decision — there was never a decision to expel, but there was a decision not to allow back the refugees. And this, in some ways, is a dark side to the ’48 war, which was a glorious war of the creation of the state of Israel; the defeat of larger armies, ultimately larger countries, by a small and weak community. But they preferred not to look at the dark side.

AMY GOODMAN: Saree Makdisi, I wanted to bring you in, a professor at UCLA joining us from Los Angeles. Your response to Benny Morris?

SAREE MAKDISI: Well, I mean, I think the most interesting thing is the way in which Dr. Morris talks about there being a problem way before 1948, and he’s entirely right. When the Zionist movement decided to create a Jewish homeland or a Jewish state in a land that had a largely non-Jewish population at the beginning of the twentieth century, there was in fact a problem. He’s totally right. So the question is, as he puts it in his own work, what do you do with this big population that doesn’t want there to be a state that displaces them or ignores them or sidesteps them or overshadows them or whatever? And as his own research shows and as the research of other historians shows, from the — at least the mid-1930s on, there’s talk of removing the population.

And that goes on to this very day in different forms. I mean, for example, there are people in Israel itself in Israeli politics to this very day, both within Israel proper and in the Occupied Territories, who talk about completing the process of transfer, of removal, of 1948.

And as he also says, the other thing is that, irrespective of what language one uses — and notice how candy one can be with the use of language: are they “refugees”? Are they “displaced persons”? It doesn’t really matter what language one uses; the people who were removed from their homes, that’s what matters. And as he says himself in what he just said now, what matters isn’t so much that they were removed from their homes, it’s that they were never allowed back to their homes. So whatever the circumstances of the removals and expulsions of 1948, the more important fact is, that was seen as something — as an issue forty years previously, if not longer before that, and as an issue to be blocked when they decided — when they wanted to go back to their homes after the fighting stopped. And they’ve never been allowed to go back, as you know, despite their moral and legal right to do so. That’s what this is all about.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein, let me bring you into this conversation, author of a number of books on Israel-Palestine — his latest is Beyond Chutzpah — speaking to us from Brussels.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, as it happens, on the plane ride over here, I read Benny Morris’s new book, and what was most surprising to me is that although the documentation remains pretty much the same as the past several books — he’s added some new material, but it’s pretty much the same as several previous books he’s written on the topic — the conclusions and the political framework has been radically changed.

Now, it’s no problem for people to change their opinions on the basis of new evidence, but what happens in Morris’s new book, 1948, is he radically changes his opinions by subtracting evidence. So let’s take just briefly, because we’re a radio program, some examples. In his previous book, he says transfer was inevitable and inbuilt into Zionism, and this aim automatically produced resistance among the Arabs. And he goes on to say in another book that it was the fear of territorial dispossession and displacement that was to be the chief motor of Arab antagonism to Zionism. So we have two basis facts: number one, Zionism, inbuilt into it was the expulsion of the indigenous population; and number two, the Palestinians or Arabs opposed Zionism, because they were fearful of losing their homes and losing their country.

But now, when you open up his new book, cause and effect have been reversed. It becomes now the Palestinians who are the “expulsionists,” to use his words, and it’s the Zionist movement which is reacting to the Palestinians, which causes them to be occasionally expulsionists. It’s as if to say the Native American population of the United States was expulsionist, because it refused to acquiesce in the European settlers taking over their homes.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Morris?

BENNY MORRIS: I think Finkelstein has a blinkered view, and he sees only certain documents. What I try to do is look at actually the breadth of the documentation and derive conclusions about the past.

The Palestinian National Movement, led by Haj Amin al-Husseini in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, wanted to expel the Jews. The Jews felt they had a moral right to live in the country and to reestablish their sovereignty in the country, at least in part of it. And the Palestinians thought not. They didn’t care about Jewish history. They cared nothing about Jewish tragedy or persecution over the 2,000 years and wanted to expel them from the country. They didn’t get the chance, because they lost the war. So the war — something like the reverse had happened.

But the fact is — and this is something most Arab commentators ignore or don’t tell us — the Palestinians rejected the UN partition resolution; the Jews accepted it. They accepted the possibility of dividing the country into two states, with one Arab state and a Jewish state. And the Jewish state, which was to come into being in 1947-48, according to the United Nations, was to have had an Arab population of 400,000 to 500,000 and a Jewish population of slightly more than 500,000. That was what was supposed to come into being, and that is what the Zionist movement accepted. When the Arabs rejected it and went to war against the Jewish community, it left the Jewish community no choice. It could either lose the war and be pushed into the sea, or ultimately push out the Arab minority in their midst who wanted to kill them. It’s an act of self-defense, and that’s what happened.

My facts in any —- in all my books have not changed at all. They’re all there. But one has to look at also the context in which things happened, and this was the context: an expulsionist mentality, an expulsionist onslaught on the Jewish community in Palestine by Palestine’s Arabs and by the invading Arab armies, and a Jewish self-defense, which involved also pushing out large numbers of Palestinians.

AMY GOODMAN: Saree Makdisi, this issue of the acceptance of the partition, can you take it from there?

SAREE MAKDISI: Yeah. I mean, there are several things about it. For one thing, as Dr. Morris points out, it’s true that the mainstream Zionist movement accepted the partition plan. But on the other hand, as his own historical record shows, Ben-Gurion and others were very frank that the acceptance was meant to be tactical rather than sort of, you know, whole-hearted. So the idea was to accept and then go from there, not just to accept and then really settle down into the two states as envisaged by the UN partition plan.

Meanwhile, the Arab rejection of the plan had to do with the fact that basically they were—- the Palestinians and Arabs were being told that they should become a minority in their own land. That’s what this is fundamentally all about, as well. So, the question is, which viewers have to contemplate is, what would they do if somebody came and told them that they should either become a minority in their own homeland — that is, second-class citizens — or be removed from their homeland? And I think almost anybody would say this is an unreasonable proposition. So, again, it comes back to the question of, what would you do in this situation?

But more than that, I think what’s important to ask Dr. Morris, as long as we have him with us, is: when you talk about — Dr. Morris, when you talk about the events of 1948 in that famous interview with Haaretz in 2004, you say quite clearly that ethnic cleansing is justified and that the main problem, as far as you see it — then, anyway — was that Ben-Gurion didn’t go far enough in completing the ethnic cleansing, that he should have removed as much as possible of the non-Jewish population all the way to the Jordan River. So my question to you is, is this still a position that you hold? Do you still think it was justified? Do you still think that Ben-Gurion should have finished the job? And do you think still that in some ways that is the origin of the conflict as it persists to this day?

BENNY MORRIS: My point in the Haaretz interview, and I repeat it since then, is that a Jewish state could not have arisen with a vast Arab minority — 40, almost 50, percent of its population being Arabs — which opposed the existence of that Jewish state and opposed their being a large minority in that state. And they went and they showed that by going to war against the Jewish state, which left the Jews in an intolerable position: either they give in and don’t get a state, or they fight back and in fighting back end up pushing out Arabs.

My point also was that had — and this is really the point, and I think you would agree with it and understand it perhaps on the logical plane, if not on the emotional plane — had the war ended, the 1948 war ended with all the Palestinian population being moved — moving, it doesn’t matter how — across the Jordan River and there establishing their state in Jordan, across the river, a Palestinian Arab state, and had the Jews had their state without or without a large Arab minority on the west bank of the Jordan River, between the river and the Mediterranean Sea, the history of the Middle East, the history of Israel-Palestine, the history of the Palestinians and of the Jews, would have been much better over the past sixty years. Since ’48, all we’ve had is terrorism, clashes, wars, and so on, all of which have caused vast suffering to both peoples. And had this separation of populations occurred in 1948, I’m sure the Middle East would have enjoyed, and both peoples would have enjoyed, a much better future since 1948.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break. Then we’re going to come back to this discussion. Our guests are Benny Morris, a professor, historian at Ben-Gurion University in Tel Aviv. We’re also joined from UCLA by Saree Makdisi, who is the author of the book Palestine Inside Out. On the phone with us from Brussels is Norman Finkelstein, among his books, The Holocaust Industry and Beyond Chutzpah. This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: As we continue this discussion, I wanted turned, though, to an excerpt of an interview I did with former US President Jimmy Carter. This is President Carter talking about his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and why he describes the situation in Palestine as one of apartheid.

    JIMMY CARTER: Well, the message is very clear. It deals with Palestine, not inside Israel itself, just the Palestinian Occupied Territories. [...] And the word “apartheid” is exactly accurate. You know, this is an area that’s occupied by two powers. They are now completely separated. Palestinians can’t even ride on the same roads that the Israelis have created or built in Palestinian territory. The Israelis never see a Palestinian, except the Israeli soldiers. The Palestinians never see an Israeli, except at a distance, except the Israeli soldiers. So within Palestinian territory, they are absolutely and totally separated, much worse than they were in South Africa, by the way.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Morris, your response?

BENNY MORRIS: I think the image of apartheid is problematic and inaccurate. I think there are — there is a separation of the settlers — between the settlers and the local Arab population in the territories, between the soldiers, the Israeli soldiers, and the Arab population, but it all stems from a vast problem of security: Arab terrorism, Arab warfare by neighboring states who support the Palestinians. And the whole thing is simply a mechanism of self-defense, which has — which has obviously unpleasant and anti-humanitarian offshoots.

But you have to remember — and this is something people also forget when they talk about history — in 1967, Israel was assaulted by Jordan in the West Bank. It didn’t go into the West Bank and East Jerusalem out of free will. The Jordanians opened up with cannon and machine guns against West Jerusalem and against the environs of Tel Aviv. And Israelis reluctantly went into the West Bank and started this occupation. It wasn’t something generated or initiated by Israel. It was defending themselves against Jordanian attack. I’m not talking now about the southern front, but the central front. The Jordanians were told twice on the morning of the 5th of June, ’67, “Do not shoot. We will not touch you.” And after they started shooting, King Hussein of Jordan was told by the Israelis through American and UN intermediaries, “Stop shooting, and we will not touch East Jerusalem or the West Bank.” He continued shooting and forced Israel’s hand. Unfortunately, Israel stayed there after ’67, until, in some ways, this very day. And this is a large part of the problem. But it’s worth looking at the root of the problem, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Norman Finkelstein?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, first of all, the comparison with apartheid at this point has become almost a cliche. If you opened up Haaretz, Israel’s most influential newspaper, just two weeks ago, it had an editorial, which read, "Our Debt to Jimmy Carter,” and it says that although Israelis feel uncomfortable with the apartheid analogy, they go on to say, quote, “the situation begs for the comparison." So I don’t think it’s really controversial, what Carter said, in the real world.

Number two, I think Dr. Morris is probably the only one on earth who still believes all of Israel’s actions in the Occupied Territories bear strictly on security. Does he really believe that all 460,000 settlers in the Occupied Territories, the settlements, the Jewish bypass roads, or Jews-only bypass roads — can he possibly believe still that these are there only for security and not because Israel wants to annex the territory? This is not very serious.

Furthermore, Mr. Morris engages in all sorts of fantasies about what happened in 1967. Now is not the time to go through it. But if you read Tom Segev’s book, you’ll find, already in the third week of May, the Israeli officer corps was stating clearly that "Come what may, we’ll use the opportunity of the next war to occupy or to annex or to attack the West Bank.”

BENNY MORRIS: OK, can I — can I —-

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: It’s true -— it’s true — it’s true that Mr. Hussein, keeping to his peace treaty with — or I should say his treaty with Egypt, joined in the attack after Israel launched its attack on Egypt. But this notion that the West Bank just by chance came to be occupied, just like Mr. Morris’s fantasy that 700,000 Palestinians just by chance came to find themselves outside their homes in 1948, is just not serious.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Morris?

BENNY MORRIS: I don’t know why Norman Finkelstein calls what I write “fantasies.” Most of his work on the Middle East and on the Israeli-Arab problem is based on my work. Look at his footnotes. But that’s a separate issue.

There is no fantasy at all in understanding that in ’67 Israel was under mortal — in mortal peril, under Arab threat and attacked by the Jordanians and by the Syrians. The business of the south and the Egyptians is more complex, but he also knows that the Egyptians closed the Straits —-

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: One second, Egypt attacked Israel in 1967?

BENNY MORRIS: No, do not -— I didn’t — I didn’t bother you. I didn’t bother you. I didn’t interfere with you. Please let me finish.

The Egyptians closed the Straits of Tiran, expelled the United Nations peacekeeping force and threatened Israel with destruction in May 1967, and this is what led to the crisis. You are right that there were expansionist urges among some parts of the Israeli population, including part of the officer corps, not the officer corps, but that isn’t what motivated the Israeli government to strike at Egypt on the 5th of June. What motivated the Israeli government — and it doesn’t matter what Tom Segev writes or doesn’t write in his book, which is a pretty bad book, but that’s not the point — the key thing was security in ’67. I think you even understand that.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Security is always the key thing, Mr. Morris.

BENNY MORRIS: It’s not always — it is the key. It’s true. Since Israel —-

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: You can justify taking over a whole continent in the name of security.

BENNY MORRIS: Since Israel -— since Israel was invaded —- since Israel -—

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: That’s what Hitler did.

BENNY MORRIS: Since Israel is — the comparison of Israel with Hitler is ridiculous —-

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Yeah, but the -— no, the notion of security —-

BENNY MORRIS: —- the same as your book on the Holocaust is ridiculous.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: — to constantly justify expansion.

BENNY MORRIS: No, security is a fact of Israel —-

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Every state does that, Mr. Morris.

BENNY MORRIS: The problem of -—

AMY GOODMAN: One at a time.

BENNY MORRIS: The problem — no, he’s interfering with what I’m saying.

AMY GOODMAN: Right.

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: That’s how we went from the East Coast to the West Coast. We called it “security.”

BENNY MORRIS: The problem of security has reigned, dominated over Israeli life since ’48 quite justifiably. Israel was attacked by the Palestinian Arabs. It was invaded by Arab states. It was threatened for decades with extinction by its Arab neighbors and is currently being threatened with extinction by the Hamas, by the Hezbollah and by the Iranian patrons who are trying to get atomic weapons. So don’t dismiss the problem of security in Israeli minds or objectively.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Makdisi, I want to bring you into this discussion. Your response?

SAREE MAKDISI: OK. Well, I mean, there are several things to be said. The first of all is the business of security. And, you know, actually, I am convinced that Dr. Morris is speaking the truth, I mean that he’s being honest when he says that this is a question of security. In other words, I think that the Israelis really do think that security is what matters and that it justifies all of their actions.

The question is, what kind of collective neurosis does it take when the fact that what they’re doing in the Occupied Territories isn’t just holding territory to defend their very existence, as he’s putting it, but actively settling, colonizing — illegally colonizing — the Occupied Territories? As he knows, or as he ought to know, to this very day, the Jewish settler population in the Occupied Territories is increasing at a rate three times greater than that of the rate of population increase of Israel itself. So there is a will here to settle the land. Now, are you going to tell me that the process of putting in civilians into militarily occupied territory is done on the basis of security? Whose security is safeguarded by —-

BENNY MORRIS: Let me just add something.

SAREE MAKDISI: —- actively — can I finish my sentence? Whose security is safeguarded by putting civilians into a war zone? That just doesn’t make any sense at all as an argument. That doesn’t mean that the Israelis don’t also think there’s a question of security.

But the question is, when the Israelis look at these things, one has to understand a kind of collective neurosis is taking place, and I think that’s part of why we’re at loggerheads here, because they are convinced that everything — look at the way he’s talking. Before the break, what he was saying was, the conflict wouldn’t now have the shape that it does if the ethnic cleansing of 1948 had been completed all the way to the Jordan River. Another way of saying the same thing would — to go back to what he’s saying, which is why it’s justified, as far as he’s concerned — is if the Palestinian people had been literally annihilated in 1948, there also wouldn’t be much of a conflict now, because the other people wouldn’t be there. Now, is that justified? And how can one talk about the process of either mass expulsion or genocide, virtual or literal or whatever, in terms of security? So, and then also, how can one talk about —-

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s put the question to Professor Morris.

BENNY MORRIS: Amy, please.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you for the completion of the expulsion of Palestinians?

BENNY MORRIS: No, I’ve always said that I’m opposed, both morally and on practical grounds, to expulsion in present circumstance -—

SAREE MAKDISI: That’s not what you said in that interview.

BENNY MORRIS: — in present — that’s what I said in the interview, as well — in present circumstances. But projecting back on ’48, I said both peoples would have had a much pleasanter, a more pacific existence since ’48, if what had happened between Turkey and Greece in the 1920s had happened also in Palestine. But that’s the secondary subject here at the moment.

You raised the subject of settlements, and I think we’re in partial or even more than partial agreement on the problem of settlements. I have always opposed Israel’s settlement venture in the territories, realizing that the establishment of settlements represented an obstacle to peace. But this doesn’t undermine the argument that some of the settlement was undertaken with security in mind. It’s true that other factors entered into it, such as a desire to return to historic homelands. Religious convictions and so on went into the settlement venture, as well. But there was always, underlying the settlement venture, especially along the Jordan River in certain places on the high ground of Judea and Samaria, there were security considerations in establishing settlements.

These should have been overtaken by a desire for peace and a peace agreement by both peoples. Unfortunately, this desire for peace, I don’t think exists on the side of the Palestinians and on the part of some of their patrons like Iran, Hezbollah, and so on. I think, incidentally, if you look at any poll of Israel’s Jewish population, it will tell you that the Israelis, by and large, 70 percent, 80 percent, want to get out of the West Bank and to end the settlement venture. But Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran and others have not enabled them to leave, because they haven’t enabled or haven’t persuaded the Palestinians that peace is the right option and a two-state solution is the only possible settlement.

AMY GOODMAN: We have about forty-five seconds for each of you to talk about what has to happen right now. I want to begin with you, Norman Finkelstein. At this point, what needs to happen?

NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: What has to happen is, Israel has to join the international community and accept the principles for resolving the conflict that the entire world has accepted. You look at the last UN General Assembly resolution passed 161-to-7, the seven dissenting states being the United States, Israel, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Australia. 161 countries said a full Israeli withdrawal to the June ’67 borders and a just resolution of the refugee question. That’s what the whole accepts, and that’s what Israel rejected.

AMY GOODMAN: Benny Morris, what has to happen?

BENNY MORRIS: There has to be a change of mindset on the Palestinian side and acceptance of the two-state formula as the only necessary formula for a solution. Without the acceptance of two states, there will never be peace in Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: Saree Makdisi?

SAREE MAKDISI: At this point, precisely because of the kind of aggressive colonization of the Occupied Territories, it’s no longer possible to separate the two populations, if it ever was. I’m not sure that it ever was, but certainly at this point it isn’t possible to do so. So the only way out at this point is for the two peoples to share the land equally and to realize that each — for each side to realize the other is not going to go away and that fantasizing about completing the process of 1948, as Benny Morris has done, is not going to lead to peace and that the only way out is peaceful, just coexistence.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you have hope that there will be peace, Saree?

SAREE MAKDISI: Yes, I do have hope, because, in fact, the situation we’re in now is a situation where there’s a country that rules over more or less equal populations of Jews and non-Jews, and it privileges Jews over non-Jews, it gives rights to Jews over non-Jews —-

BENNY MORRIS: A one-state -—

AMY GOODMAN: Benny Morris, do you have hope?

BENNY MORRIS: A one-state solution will end in anarchy and bloodshed. It will not exist for very long.

SAREE MAKDISI: Why? What’s wrong with the people in mixed populations?

BENNY MORRIS: Because Jews and Arabs are so different and have been in enmity for 120 years. Those are Muslims, and those are Jews. Those have Allah, and those have God, or at least they’re mostly secular, they cannot live together in one polity. They’re too different types of peoples.

SAREE MAKDISI: You know as well as I do, Professor Morris, that the great moments of Sicily and Spain, and so forth, and Baghdad, etc., were always moments where Jews and Arabs lived together and worked together —-

BENNY MORRIS: Totally different circumstances.

SAREE MAKDISI: Well, circumstances change. It’s not one -—

BENNY MORRIS: Totally different circumstances. [inaudible]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there, but we will certainly continue to discuss this. We urge you, folks, to write in; you can write to us at mail@democracynow.org. Saree Makdisi, Benny Morris, Norman Finkelstein in Brussels, we thank you all for being with us.

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