By Carlos Alberto Montaner
Washington’s support has increased with each administration in the White House. That is morally just and politically convenient. After all, the Jewish state is the only existing democracy in that tortured region of the planet.
Despite Truman’s backing in 1948 for the creation of Israel and a Palestinian state by means of a United Nations resolution — joined by Stalin’s Soviet Union, perhaps enthused by the nascent country’s socialist origins — the truth is that in the Eisenhower years there was no special sympathy for the Jewish state. It was after that administration that support for Israel really began.
Why hasn’t the two-state solution — one, Israeli; the other, Palestinian — been possible? Basically, by the incapacity of the Arabs to accept that the Jews reinsert themselves into a territory that once belonged to them and to which they returned, harassed by the inveterate custom of their enemies to mistreat, expel or murder them at will.
The better educated and Europeized Jews who generated the Zionist drive did not come hurriedly to the conclusion of creating in Palestine, the land of their ancestors, a Jewish home that ended up becoming a Jewish state. It was the product of a bitter necessity imposed by centuries of incomprehension and rejection.
It was a clear sacrifice made by a handful of idealists. Who in his right mind would abandon a reasonably comfortable existence in the Austro-Hungarian empire, London or Paris, even in the villages in Poland, for the dusty adventure of creating a better future in the impoverished and unhealthy Middle East of the late 19th and early 20th centuries?
What were those early Zionists, summoned by journalist Theodor Herzl, looking for? They sought to create their own place, unafraid of the pogroms, where being Jewish was not a stigma, because they were tired of the discrimination, the persecutions, the slaps and the thousands of injuries and calumnies suffered over centuries, which already presaged what later would be Nazism.
To whomever wants to understand the history of what happened in the so-called Holy Land (which might well have been called Bloody Land) I recommend a book titled My Promised Land, exceptionally well written by journalist Ari Shavit. It was recommended and given to me by my friend Alicia Freilish. It’s brilliant.
There you find all the clues and all the deeds. The murders and barbarities committed by both sides, by the Jews and the Palestinians. It is not a work about the clash between good and bad people but about the confrontation between two rights and two visions that generated a perhaps inevitable conflict.
Netanyahu said it clearly during his visit to Washington: no one doubts that the Chinese come from China and the Japanese from Japan. Is it so hard to understand that the Jews come from Judea?
At the same time, the argument that there was never a Palestinian nation is untenable. It does exist now, it emerged as a counterpart to Zionism and it is necessary to open a space for it, so long as that society admits that the Jews formed a state with which they must coexist in peace.
That’s the key: one side cannot extirpate the other. The Jews arrived to stay and the existence of Israel transcends the idea of the home of an ethnic group encysted in a foreign land, as some Arabs put it.
A common Palestinian land would mean to confine the Jews in a new ghetto while waiting for the definitive pogrom. That makes no sense. It wouldn’t make sense the other way, either. The Palestinians need to learn to give in, and it’s useless to invoke a right that, were it to exist, stumbles over an unmovable reality. In that region, there’s no other solution than the existence of two nations.