On his own facebook page, Aymenn posted that he "is thrilled to have had his existence described as an 'abomination' by the disgraced Nir Rosen! A hearty 'Aymenn' to that!" Aymenn wrote in a comment: "If 'self-hating Jew' has any meaning, then Nir Rosen matches that definition."
In the late 1990s on the Yahoo message boards I saw many pro-Israel Jews and Christians calling Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Ralph Schoenman, and other Jewish critics of Israel "self-hating Jews" but I have never seen an Arab call anybody a self-hating Jew until a few days ago on facebook. What is a "self-hating Jew"? And what is an "Arab Zionist"?
I believe that Nir Rosen is also a brilliant author and journalist, although I haven't always agreed with him. I think Nir wants what's best for Iraqis, but Nir's views on Iraq have often seemed to be "pro-resistance" and I've criticized him for ignoring the history of sectarian conflict in Iraq before 2003. But calling him a "self-hating Jew" is a bit over the top. Just because Nir is pro-Palestinian doesn't mean he hates Jews, and he definitely does not hate himself. On the other hand, calling Aymenn an Arab Zionist also seems to be wrong. I wondered what makes Aymenn a Zionist, so I asked him how to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. He responded:
I support the two-state solution along the pre-67 borders as the best option. A West Bank confederation with Jordan has its merits, but it's not going to be accepted any time soon. Anyway, paramount to a lasting two-state solution will be the recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state by the Palestinian leadership- a requirement as per UN General Assembly Resolution 181- and that the right of return is simply untenable. The population has to be taught this as well- it's no good to give a different message to the people.
On the other hand, elements of the Israeli right have to realise that the West Bank cannot remain occupied, and continued construction of Jewish settlements across the West Bank will become the vanguard of a binational state, thereby endangering the very character of the Jewish state they claim to espouse. That said, I don't think that settlement building should be a reason to refuse to continue negotiations. I would like to see a final agreement reached even if settlement building continues- it's an issue that can be easily resolved after a deal is struck. Incidentally, a land swap whereby Israel gets to keep some of the major settlements like Arial in return for some land from 1948 Israel for a Palestinian state is reasonable.
Whilst Palestinian leaders should not feel a need to exclude Jews from being part of a Palestinian state, they have every right to demand that Israel respect its right to exist as a Palestinian state (also per Resolution 181).
As for East Jerusalem, it should be subject to a referendum as I find that many polls indicate that the Arab inhabitants would prefer to remain with Israel rather than become incorporated into a Palestinian state.
Hamas: it's unreasonable to expect Hamas to be incorporated into the peace process when the group doesn't recognise Israel's right to exist- what's the point in negotiating with someone who doesn't recognise you? In fact, progress in negotiations with the PA leading to a two-state solution could well prove essential for getting rid of Hamas, as it is hard to imagine that the people of Gaza would want to be 'left behind'.
In this context, I should note that it was disastrous for the Palestinian leadership to reject Ehud Olmert's offer for a Palestinian state:
As for my view of the history of the conflict, Israel's record has not been entirely clean (e.g. expulsions in 1948), but ultimately the blame for a lack of a Palestinian state lies with the Arab states who repeatedly launched wars of aggression to try to destroy Israel. They should simply have accepted the original partition in 1948.
That seems reasonable. So Aymenn is a Zionist because he believes that the Arabs should accept Israel's existence according to 1967 borders? I have never seen a right-wing Zionist call for Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders.
I've written a few posts about Palestine, and anybody who has read any of them would probably conclude that I am pro-Palestinian, yet I have been called a "Zionist" before. What is a Zionist? According to the Advanced English Dictionary (iPhone app) a Zionist is a "Jewish supporter of Zionism" and Zionism is a "policy for establishing and developing a national homeland for Jews in Palestine." Obviously Aymenn is not Jewish, yet he supports Israel's right to exist. Maybe in a way this makes Aymenn a Zionist. But does this make him an abomination? I don't think so.
I wonder what Nir's solution to the conflict would be. Does Nir believe that Arabs should naturally be against Israel? Does he believe that Israel should be destroyed and that Arabs should support the destruction of Israel?
I don't agree completely with Aymenn's views. It's easy to say today that the Arabs should have accepted partition in 1948, and I don't believe that the Arabs launched wars in all five cases. To say that in 1948 the Arabs launched a "war of aggression" against Israel is to be simplistic and misleading. From the Arab point of view, they were defending Palestine, an Arab land, against colonialism. I like what Ghandi wrote in 1938:
“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French...What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct...If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs... As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”
--Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in “A Land of Two Peoples” ed. Mendes-Flohr.
By 1948, however, after the Holocaust and the foolish Farhood al Yahood in Iraq, the Jews had gained the sympathy of the world. Most people agreed that the Jews should suffer no more and that they deserved a homeland. But was the partition of Palestine fair to the Arabs? Palestinian scholar Sami Hadawi wrote in A Bitter Harvest:
“Arab rejection was...based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half] Jewish with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body — a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least...The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs, who formed the two-thirds majority of the country, the right to decide for themselves, the United Nations had violated its own charter.”
Furthermore, Zionist leaders were intent from the beginning to take all of Palestine:
“In internal discussion in 1938 [David Ben-Gurion] stated that ‘after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine’...In 1948, Menachem Begin declared that: ‘The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel, All of it. And forever.”
--Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle”
1967 is another one of those "wars of aggression" that the Arabs allegedly launched. I believed this too until I entered college and began reading Noam Chomsky:
“The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weitzman, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was ‘no threat of destruction’ but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could ‘exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.’...Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: ‘In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.’“
--Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle”
Since 1967, Israel has demolished thousands of Palestinian homes and has annexed large parts of what remains of Palestine. Even the US government agrees that Israeli expansion into Palestinian territory since 1967 is illegal.
Too many westerners have accepted the notion that the Arabs launched "wars of aggression" against Israel. It's kinda like saying, without elaborating, that the native Americans launched "wars of aggression" against the US after 1776. Apparently right wing Israelis and Americans believe that it is Israel's manifest destiny to take all of Palestine. But how do they do this and keep Israel a Jewish state? Even the "Arab Zionist" Aymenn says that "Jewish settlements across the West Bank will become the vanguard of a binational state, thereby endangering the very character of the Jewish state they claim to espouse." I agree. Also I agree with Aymenn that negotiations must continue, even with continued settlement building (because Israel will continue to build settlements even without negotiations), and that if the Palestinians of East Jerusalem vote to become part of Israel, then so be it, although I question Palestinians' desire to be part of Israel. I do not agree, however, that the Palestinians should be arm-twisted into accepting concessions that make them look foolish. Aymenn and many westerners evidently believe that Olmert and Barak made generous offers to the Palestinians, but I don't blame the Palestinians for rejecting those offers. Why should the Palestinians settle for anything less than complete control of the entire West Bank and Gaza, just 22% of historic Palestine?
I'm not Jewish, and had I lived in the Middle East in 1947, I probably would have been against the partition of Palestine. Palestine was partitioned nonetheless, and the Arabs lost their fight to keep it whole. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes and were not allowed to return. That was an abomination, just as the subsequent expulsion of Jews from Arab nations was an abomination. The continued oppression of Palestinians and Israel's expansion into Palestinian land is also an abomination, I believe, and it is why the conflict continues. However, to call for the destruction of Israel is not only wrong, not to mention impractical, but I believe it hurts the Palestinian cause.