Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Illegal Israeli Settlements" and the Right of Return

With Israel pounding Hamas back into the wormholes they crawled out of, the far-left's opposition to Israel -- which they themselves insist is merely support of the Palestinian people -- has put them in quite the moral, ethical and ideological quandary.

They insist that they oppose the oppression of the Palestinian people. Yet they remain utterly silent on the true oppressor of the Palestinian people: Hamas. They insist that it's justified for Hamas to attack Israel; they ignore the fact that Hamas invariably strikes first.

But even they have no idea just how deep their quandary goes.

The far-left fervently believe in anti-colonialism. Anti-colonialism can most simply be described as follows: it is ethically and morally wrong for any country or nation to conquer another's lands and then drive them out by force. Any people subjected to such an offense should be afforded the right to return to their lands. It doesn't matter how long ago this happened.

This is the anti-colonial twist on the right of return. As it appears in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it states:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

As a general principle of international law, this is generally considered to apply largely to individuals. The anti-colonial left sees it rather differently: they believe that it applies to entire nations.

I don't necessarily disagree. (More on that shortly.)

Where I do disagree with them is on the hypocritical manner in which they insist upon applying this particular principle. Simply put, that it applies only to groups to whom they favour, and so it does not apply to the Israelis.

If you take the anti-colonial left at their word, if there's anyone this principle, as they interpret it, does apply to it's the Israelis. They were forced out of their lands in Biblical times via ethnic cleansing and since the Israelis returned to their land in the late 1940s their Arab neighbours continually attempted to ethnically cleanse the land once again -- this time via genocide. When that failed each Arab country dropped away and in time made their own peace with Israel. They utterly abandoned the Palestinians, whom they themselves had previously oppressed. (No Arab objected when the Egyptians or even the Ottomans occupied Palestinian lands.)

Now, Hamas -- whose brutal oppression of the Palestinian people seems to find so little place in the minds of the anti-colonial left -- attempts to ethnically cleanse the land of the Israelis, despite that it is simply not in their power to do so. When Israel defends itself, as is its right, Palestinian civilians are among the collateral damage. (No one is happy about this, aside from Hamas, who are ecstatic about it.)

It's not Hamas' right to ethnically cleanse Israel. Nor is it their right to deny Israelis their right of return, and especially not if Israelis return as they did -- with the intention to share the land with its then-occupiers.

Palestinian leadership, for their part, did not share those intentions. They opposed mass Jewish immigration to the region, and insisted they would kill the Israelis if they returned. Fearing such bloodshed, the British (who took over administration of the region from the Ottmans after World War I) attempted to impede the return of the Israelis. But even with the British attempting to do the heavy lifting, the Palestinian leaders of the day failed in their bid to keep their lands "pure."

So instead of resigning themselves to sharing these lands instead they retreated into slums and waged war against those who all along would have much preferred to be their peaceful neighbours.

The perverse thing about it is that most Israelis would happily share their lands still. Arab Israelis, including those of Palestinian descent, have expressed an astonishing level of appreciation for the rights -- inherent as a matter of natural law -- protected by their Israeli citizenship. Nearly 90% declare they'd rather be an Israeli citizen than a citizen of any other country in the world, Arab countries included.

Palestinians could share in that satisfaction, and they wouldn't even have to become Israeli citizens to do it. All they'd have to do is elect a government committed to restoring and protecting their freedoms, and living in a negotiated peace with Israel.

The sooner the so-called anti-colonial left find it in themselves to stop rhetorically propping up the foolish war-mongers of Hamas and the sooner they recognize that Israel's right to exist is rooted in the Israeli's right of return, the easier it will be for the Israelis and Palestinians to make a lasting peace.

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