Written by Gilbert Schramm Gilbert Schramm
Published: 26 December 2023 26 December 2023
The situation in Palestine is often falsely described as “ancient, complex, and insoluble.” In fact, the modern problem began with the growth of political Zionism in 1895. In The Jewish State, which he published that year, Theodore Herzl announced his plan quite clearly: Palestinians were to be removed to make room for Zionist settlers. That was, and remains, the Israeli plan today. Palestinians are often criticized for resorting to violence as they resist removal. Since 1895, Palestinians have largely tried to get justice through non-violent means. Even today, most resistance is still non-violent- it just doesn’t get the attention that violent outbursts do. When things settle down, the world simply ignores the problem. Another reason the problem shouldn’t be considered ancient is that like systemic racism in the US, it continues unabated to this day. It has nothing to do with ancient Jebusites, Hittites, etc.
The situation is not complex either. It is simply the story of Zionist settlers taking land from the native Palestinians, and resistance from their victims. In my long study of the subject, I am not aware of Palestinians ever getting any of their land back. It has been a one-way street. As a result, five generations of Palestinians have lived in exile. The current war in Gaza hasn’t interrupted Zionist settlement and violence in the West Bank (which is not run by Hamas and hasn’t fired rockets).
Along the way, violence by Zionists has been aimed at taking the land: violence by Palestinians has been in defense of their land. When this situation is discussed, there is often talk of “being balanced.” There really is no way to correct this basic imbalance. If there is truth on one side and a lie on the other, splitting the difference does not get you to the truth- it just gets you to a milder lie. The Palestinians have always been greatly overmatched. There has never really been any “balance” in this struggle.
The notion that the problem is insoluble is simply nonsense. Israel could solve the problem on any given day by simply honoring their previous and long-standing commitment to treaties and UN resolutions (194, 242, 338, etc.). It is only their intransigence that stands in the way. Serious US pressure is probably the only solution.
All the other problems (skyjacking and rockets, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis, and Iran) that have come up along the way make the situation seem more complicated than it is. They all developed over time as the basic problem was left unresolved. Overall, things have always gotten worse- not better. This latest outburst of violence demonstrates this. The fatal mistake most people make is accepting the idea that Netanyahu’s goal is “to eliminate Hamas.” Actually, his goal is to eliminate ANY and ALL Palestinian resistance. It just won’t happen.
Since I first called for a ceasefire on November 3, another 15,000 Palestinians have been killed. They are largely women and children. Of some 40 hospitals in Gaza, almost none are functional. They have become morgues and hospices. Can anyone truly believe that Israel is “not targeting” hospitals? With disease and starvation, the death toll is set to soar. So far, Netanyahu’s strategy of force has freed only one hostage. About a hundred were released during the brief ceasefire. Yet he persists in this savagery and will continue as long as the US stands by him. Since any just, lasting peace will have to begin with a ceasefire, why not start now?
Finally, a few simple observations on antisemitism. Antisemitism is an ugly, dangerous ideology. Like any ideology that promotes the idea of racial or ethnic supremacy by any group, it should be rejected. That said, it is simply untrue to assert that the current state of Israel speaks for all Jewish people or that political Zionism truly represents the Jewish religious tradition. Many passionate advocates of Palestinian rights are Jewish. Fair criticism of Israel is not antisemitic and to claim that it is actually confuses the issue of combating the spread of real antisemitism. In that regard, Israel’s current reprehensible conduct is extremely counterproductive. It is also a disaster for the standing of the US in the world.