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Sunday, September 6, 2009

What the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is really about (10)

Alex Grobman, an historian and author, has written an article entitled, Is Anyone Listening to What The Arabs Are Saying About Israel? Dated 9/07/2009, it is found online at

In it Grobman argues that the chief impediment to Israeli-Arab peace is the Arab refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state. Why? Because, according to Grobman, "[T]he Arabs regard themselves as the only 'legitimate repository of national self-determination' in the Middle East."

In making his case, Grobman discusses the prevalence of pan-Arabism, which he asserts, "For historical, cultural and religious reasons, ... resonates among all segments of Arab society."

Although not cited specifically by Grobman, the following by Khalil Nakhleh, a Palestinian anthropologist, independent development and educational consultant and writer,[resident in Ramallah] exemplifies the mindset and perspective pertinent to Grobman's argument. Nakhleh's document, dated August 2008, is available online at, and is worth reading.

As Grobman asserts, the pan-Arabist considers Palestine (subsuming Israel)part of the whole Arab Homeland.

From Nakhleh ( page 2): The overall objectives of our collective national struggle, to which I am committed, seek to achieve the legitimate historical Palestinian rights, which, as used here, are the right of all Palestinians to live free and independent in their historical land, understood to be an integral part of the whole Arab Homeland (Watan)...

As Grobman asserts, "[T]he Arabs regard themselves as the only 'legitimate repository of national self-determination' in the Middle East."

From Nakhleh (page 5): If they [non-Zionist Jews] chose to live with us [in a single state], they will have the guaranteed right to exercise their cultural and religious values and customs,with freedom and respect, like any other minority with different religious beliefs and values. But they are not eligible to claim a “right of self determination”, as if they constitute a “national” group.

And also, on Nakhleh, page 5, the following -- a denial of Jewish history: Populations of Jewish faith existing in other parts of the world are an integral part of the countries in which they exist; they have no historical or religious claim over the land of Palestine, as if they were part of a “disbursed people”. The “historical disbursal” of the “Jews” from the land of Palestine is equally mythical; their “coerced” claim, so far, has been putative and fabricated. [end]

Grobman's is another voice in the collective and disparate body of voices now asserting that -- for the conflict to end in an honorable two state solution-- the Palestinian leadership ( and Arab governments ) must unambiguously and explicitly recognize Israel as the state of the Jews. Not to imply that Israel need not make important concessions for peace, but there is simply too much history of dogmatic Arab rejectionism and too much obvious verbal avoidance by Palestinian leadership of the specific words indicating recognition of the Jewish state of Israel to subordinate the demand.

-- Mark Finkelstein Send comments to