Palestine: Great Expectations That Founder On Fiction

October 12, 2012 by David Singer
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Israeli novelist David Grossman is working with Algerian writer Boualem Sansal to launch a writers’ drive for world peace at the World Forum For Democracy in Strasbourg this week…writes David Singer.

Their initiative is reportedly supported by some of the most respected names in literature including Claudio Magris, Antonio Lobo Antunes and Liao Yiwu.

The Forum brings together reformers and global leaders to identify democratic responses to the economic, social and political challenges which affect societies today.

The writers – in their quest to end conflict and bring peace to the world  – have naturally included the resolution of the “Israel – Palestine conflict” within their purview.

However the views they express are indeed surprising – parroting Arab propaganda rather than relying on careful research – the indispensable tool normally used by writers of such distinction and undoubted repute.

They begin by stating :

Israel maintains the Palestinians under occupation for more than 45 years, and this inhuman and immoral situation must stop.

All the Palestinian Arabs residing in Gaza are under the total administrative and security control of a Hamas dominated Government following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

Our well intended authors are also apparently unaware that pursuant to arrangements mutually negotiated between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the 1993 Oslo Accords – 55%  of the Palestinian Arabs residing in the West Bank are under the total administative and security control of the PA Government – whilst another 41% are under the total administrative control of the PA Government and joint security control of the PA and Israel.

Elections in the West Bank and Gaza were last held in 2006.  Since then Hamas and the PA have been at each other’s jugulars. President Abbas’s use by date as PA president expired in 2009. Democracy is nowhere to be seen.

Suggesting Israel’s occupation is “inhuman and immoral” in the light of these facts is pure fiction

The statement continues:

Both sides are putting unrealistic conditions to resume negotiations …

Are they serious? Israel has been offering to return to negotiations with the PA without any preconditions. It is the PA that is refusing to negotiate unless Israel stops building in the  West Bank.

Grossman and Sansal continue:

It is urgent that the international community intervenes firmly to bring the Iranian nuclear programme under control and steadily commits to the resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, pushing the parties to immediately establish a true direct dialogue, leading as soon as possible to the creation of a Palestinian state next to the State of Israel, both with secure borders, on the basis of painful compromises for both parts though necessary for peace, as the abandonment of settlements or their exchange against land, the renouncement to the right of return of the 1948 refugees, the sharing of Jerusalem. This is still – but maybe not for long – a possible solution and there are men and women on both sides capable of achieving it. Let us help them do so.

Our well-meaning authors seem to be ignorant of the fact that Israel in 2001 and 2008 offered to cede its claims to more than 90% of the West Bank and agreed to a part of Jerusalem becoming the capitol of a Palestinian Arab State – but such offers were rejected. Even land swaps were broached in the latter offer.

They seem oblivious to the fact that no one in the PA or Hamas has the power to renounce any right of return of the 1948 refugees and expect to be alive the next day.

They also seem to overlook that what the Palestinian Arabs demand today could have been theirs – plus more – at any time between 1948-1967 with the single stroke of an Arab League pen – after all the Jews living there had been driven out.

Why the need for a state now when one was not demanded during those 19 years – and indeed rejected in 1937 when recommended by the Peel Commission or in 1947 when proposed by the United Nations?

Who are the men and women on both sides that are capable of doing what has not been able to be achieved for the last 19 years in trying to create a new Arab State between Jordan and Israel for the first time ever in recorded history? Naming them would have been great – even if it embarrassed those highly experienced negotiators from Israel the PA, and the Quartet – the United Nations, the European Union, Russia and America – who have tired endlessly for the last eight years to resolve the conflict but have got absolutely nowhere

Grossman and Sansal conclude:

Writers have their part in this fight and we hereby express our determination to take it firmly and objectively. We urge all writers in the world to join us. Together, we can influence decision makers and public opinion and thereby also the course of events, ensuring that the values of peace are strengthened throughout the world. Our methods in this fight are literature, debate and vigilance. Maybe it is not much, but it is our way of maintaining our dignity in a world of violence and cynism.

They have been less than objective and their ability to influence decision makers and public opinion with their planned initiative is fanciful.

Samir El-youssef – a Palestinian writer – has succinctly summed up the Grossman/Sansal proposal:

Rather than maintaining hope for peace, I see here nothing but a further attempt to renew the old failed approach to deal with the Arabic and Islamic world.

The old failed approach  has certainly been an unmitigated disaster.

It is indeed time for a new approach in dealing with the Arabic and Islamic world in trying to resolve the 130 years old Arab – Jewish conflict.

Might I suggest negotiations between Israel, Egypt and Jordan to allocate sovereignty in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – to be held under the chairmanship of the Secretary General of the United Nations with the approval of the Quartet, the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Co- Operation.

Writers of the world – are you prepared to sign up to such an initiative?

With your active support this proposal could become a best seller in a very short space of time. It is not fiction. It is based on history, geography, demography and international law – unlike the fairy tales that form the basis for the “two-state” solution.

Maintaining your dignity in a world of violence and cynicism will certainly be heightened by supporting this proposal.

If  you hesitate to get involved – exercise your undoubted writing skills to tell me why.

But please this time round – facts not fiction.

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network


8 Responses to “Palestine: Great Expectations That Founder On Fiction”
  1. Otto Waldmann says:

    By far one of the most cogent and, why not, passionate debate seen…..
    Solomonically, both David, Paul and Liat are right. (……)
    Realistically, the notion of an exclusion of , by far, the most aggressive sitter on the issue, the Palestinians, cannot be excluded from the projected formulas of a possible peace-settlement. Rhetorically one can indulge in an infinite number of variants. Realistacally, if we must apporach this exercise in the anti-historicity manner, assumptions at any level may not be proven correct. It is said that one may not predict the future in matters political. I only disagree from a very selfish stance. This will put me, at least, out of the business of having a hobby that takes approx. my entire life – expressiong my views. Same goes for the above three and the batallions to follow.
    But Paul is more right. The entire context was created and sustained by the now inescapable principle that a certain entity MUST be morphed as to arrive at a seemingly perennial conflict as to engage ANY ideological entity, with the specific purpose of creating strident dialectics. It has been proven that USSR needed a causa belli, therefore the term “Palestinian” served as the most effective core of discord. The purpose was also for it to gain a life of its own. Done, achievd, completed and functiong !!!
    . The notion to extricate it from the structure that has the same as a FUNDAMENT is akin to imagining that we can engineer the instantcoming of Moshiah. Unfortunately, that desire is not at hand, and most definitely while the tainted hands of most involved in this exercise are still at work.
    Coming back to the subject of the article, writers are but a peripheral little wheel in the mecahnism of deceit so virulently instrumental in this political farce. NO writer shall be sitting at any negotiation table, no brilliant prose or verse will find its way in the distonant discourses around the square minds sitting at the same table. Their contribution is as useful as the cynical minds that conceive constantly “solutions”, while mothers adorn their children with explosive vests, fathers instruct their infants in the use of K47 while the K1 to 12 in education shall be used only to inject hatred within that perennial “struggle”.Palestinians are inextricable and “designed” to maintain conflict , ergo, no peace settlemnt. This is one other reason why the Jewish settlements might as well be the only realistic version of the term in use, while the chance of a humane and rational attitude by the palestinians is inherently impossible to fathom.
    The ME scene is not conceived to stage that desirable Solomonic lesson on how to conceive convivial existence but how to con the credule in dreaming of that reason may prevail while the DNA of the entire structure is infested with profitable necessity of conflict. There is, therefore, a reason for the existence of that spledind word : haloymes. Decent Jews shall continue to dream of a Parnas where only the sublime sounds of the Choral Symphony can be enjoyed while juxtaposed “stabat Matter” of all destructions, those inextricable partners to the …………..peace process.

    Meahwile why not enjoy writing about it……….

  2. david says:

    To Paul Winter

    UNSC 242 & 343 do not call for negotiations between Israel and the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the PA.

    I have suggested three parties to enter into negotiations – Jordan, Egypt and and Israel.

    Jordan has just this past week sent out a signal that it would like to do so. I suggest you read the following article”

    Maybe my proposal is starting to resonate.

    Watch this space.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    If a writers’ drive for world peace, including a resolution for the end to the ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’, is couched in the same general ideological terms as quoted in David’s article, then it is doomed to ineffectual failure. Good writers, as undoubtedly the names quoted are, don’t make the same writerly mistakes in producing their literature. Their literature, or fiction, is constructed with specificity, depth of dimension and attention to the kind of detail necessary for the work to succeed.

    Writing well creatively and speaking and/or writing polemically or rhetorically are very different things. David Grossman and other writers adding their names to this poorly worded, and inaccurate, account should be aware of this and not shame themselves by participating in such a one-sided, unfair accusation/plea. But then I suppose they have the individual right to make their stand, publicly or privately. Let’s not get it mixed up with their writing though. They shouldn’t be using their positions as ‘esteemed’ writers to carry more weight unless their comments justify it.

    I know David Grossman lost a son to the Palestinian/Israeli fighting, in Gaza, I think. His novel ‘To the End of the Land’, at its core shows the quiet ongoing anxiety of a mother trying to escape the waiting for a knock on the door and the sight of two IDF soldiers with news of her son having died while serving in Gaza. It is a complex work, emotionally and psychologically, with none of the easy misplaced rhetoric, the inaccurate accusations, being brought to this overture by writers, including Grossman. Under these circumstances I can’t even guess what is motivating David Grossman in this way. The World Forum for Democracy … boy, how would you know where to start with this?! First of all, it would have to be decided what Democracy means to all attending the Forum before you could even think of going anywhere else with it.

  4. Paul Winter says:

    David Singer’s facts are spot on and his analysis if flawless. He falls down in his suggested course of action. There already is a state for the Palestinian Arabs; it goes by the name of Jordan. It is pure political naïvette to suggest that the former illegal occupiers of Gaza and of Judea and Samaria who were kicked out of those territories after they launched and aggressive war, should have any say in those territories. It is equally naïve to involve the anti-Israeli UN. Proposing discussions for the sharing of “East” Jerusalem with an enemy that broke its commitment and excluded Jews and Christians from areas of Jerusalem it conquered is nonsense, the more so as Israel has already declared sovereignity over the city.

    There is only one realistic way to go as there is NO(!!!) occupation of areas liberated by Israel. Those liberated areas belonged to no independent polity, so Israel should annex them. Arabs living there could get Israeli citizenship after a perion of good behaviour, provided they are prepared to pledge loyalty to Israel as the state of the Jewish people. If they do not meet those conditions, they become stateless refugees under the care of UNHCR, because the other thing Israel must do is to expel UNWRA.

    The two state solution has been killed by the mohammedans. Israel must cease the macabre charade of dealing with zombie statelets run by religion driven vampires who keep alive by sucking the economic lifeblood of Western nations. Their brother Arabs are awake to them and have turned off the dollar drip.

    Unless and until Israel demands to be treated as a nation equal to other nations, insisting on its rights, it will be treated with contempt and unfair and insulting demands will placed on her. Singer’s suggestion would lead to making Israel’s situation worse than it is now.

    • david says:

      To Paul Winter

      I agree that the two-state solution is dead. The PLO have once again shown their ability to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. 75 years of unrelenting rejection has brought the Palestinian Arabs nothing but grief.

      My proposal is in effect a call for direct negotiations between Israel,Jordan and Egypt, in an attempt to restore the status quo – as far as is now possible – to that which existed on the eve of the Six Day War.

      Jordan had then been in occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and Egypt had then been in occupation of Gaza – for the previous 19 years.

      Where such negotiations would lead to and what agreements might be made between Israel,Jordan and Egypt are decisions these sovereign states will make – not you or I.

      Yes – those negotiations might reward aggressors by returning to them land they lost as a result of their aggression. But since then Israel has signed peace treaties with both Jordan and Egypt.. Redrawing boundaries between countries at peace with each other is not uncommon.

      Indeed the peace treaty with Jordan already sets out negotiating parameters for dealing with such issues as refugees, water and Jerusalem.

      In the absence of any such negotiations – any of the parties to the Jewish-Arab conflict might be tempted to take unilateral action which could prove extremely detrimental to both sides.

      Israel made an enormous mistake in unilaterally disengaging from Gaza in 2005. It needs to be absolutely certain in my opinion that agreement with Jordan and Egypt is absolutely unattainable before it decides to repeat anything like its Gaza decision again.

      Given that Israel offered to cede its claim to 95% of the West Bank and Gaza in 2008 and had that offer rejected by the PLO – maybe an offer made to Jordan and Egypt – taking into account the current upheaval in the Arab states since 2008 and the nuclear threat posed by Iran – would bear better results.

      If such negotiations between Israel, Egypt and Jordan are rejected or prove unsuccessful – then unilateral action by Israel could indeed be on the cards.

      • Paul Winter says:

        The restoration of the status quo is no more possible than the unscrambling of eggs. Too many things have happened, not the least of which is the international recognition of the PA as the representative of the “Palestinian” people. Other complicating factors are that Egypt is now an Islamist regime rather than a (semi)secular miltary dictatorship and Jordan’s monarchy under Abdullah is weaker than it was under Hussein. The MB running Egypt is allied to Hamas and is a mortal enemy of Israel; it is just itching to break the peace treaty and start building its forces to start a jihad. Jordan has renounced its claim to Judea and Samaria – the region it Christened the “West Bank” – and Islamist forces there are trying to take over the government, in much the same way as they are trying to kick out the PA in Areas A & B. Seeing that the pullout from Gaza was a disaster (as was the pullout from Lebanon) inviting unstable hostile regimes to take over areas where they are not wanted and where they would be as useless as the PA/Hamas regimes would only make the mess worse. And just because an offer was made, does not mean that there was any agreement reached; not only has an Israeli administration no obligation to abide by or reoffer a previous administration proposal – especially ones that h ad been rejected by its enemy – but there is no point in making any offer to either Fatahland or Hamastan when neither group of cutthroats running those regimes has any electoral mandate. Israel must wait, set clear lines, negotiate on those after elections by its enemies and if negotiations do not resume simply impose conditions it needs for its security and offer Arabs a tidy incentive to start a new life in Egypt of Saudi Arabia. defeated hotiles must not get invited because that could set a precedent for involvement by the OIC.

        • david says:


          I did say – ” restore the status quo – as far as is now possible” .

          45 years resulting in drastically changed circumstances ensure the the eggs can’t be completely unscrambled.

          Obviously all the matters you stated would be raised in any negotiations involving Israel,Egypt and Jordan.

          Given that 60% of the West Bank is already under Arab administrative control – successfully concluding negotiations might not be as difficult as you think.

          It is amazing how easy it can be to redraw some new lines on the map between countries that are at peace with each other.

          The question is – can the three sovereign states backed by the Quartet, the Arab League and the OIC ignore or reject conducting such negotiations – now that the negotiations between Israel and the PLO over the last 19 years are dead in the water?

          • Paul Winter says:

            Occam’s Razor (lex parsimoniea) states that when choosing among competing hypotheses, the one which makes the fewest assumptions should be selected. I submit, David, that Occam’s Razor has a parallel in negotiations: the fewer parties to the talks, the greater the chance of reaching agreement.

            While your original hypothesis that by-passing the PA/Hamas and negotiating with the previous occupiers might have had some merit after Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, that hypothesis under the present circumstances is untenable. Even at that time, it would have meant rescinding UNSC 242 & 343 which call for negotiations between Israel and the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the PA. The likelihood of the PA and Hamas putting themselves out of business – and away from power the profits of corruption – has as much chance as getting sunstroke in antarctica.

            The former occupiers of Gaza, Judea and Samaria would, quite properly be rejected by the Palestinian Arabs and their role in speaking for those people would be rejected by the competing mohammedan sectarian rivals. That rejection would also be rejected by the various EU, Quartet, UN & US groupings which have invested so much in trying to legitimise a people and a state that they constructed as an opponent to Israel.

            The three sovereign states could not by themselves impose a solution because there are too many other interests trying to selfishly pursue competing political, religious and economic agendas. While the legal perspective might cut the Gordian Knot of the Israeli/Arab (or more precisely the Jewish/mohammedan) conflict your hypothesis , David, founders on the rocks of reality.

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