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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 30, 2003

What Palestinians Can Learn From a Turning Point in Zionist History

This op-ed piece in the New York Times (reg req'd) points to an ending of terrorism in the early days of Israel as an example for the Palestinian. Not sure if there really is this sort of parallel but it is an interesting notion

he Palestinians have often been called the Jews of the Arab world: a stateless people dispersed in a diaspora, living by their wits, pining for a return to their historic homeland. This is not a comparison either side likes. It implies an equivalency that both reject.

Yet the comparison remains common, even among Israelis and Palestinians themselves. Palestinians study the milestones of the Zionist movement for guidance and often speak about the Israeli political system, with its freewheeling debate, as a model for their own.

There is one milestone in particular that bears study today — David Ben-Gurion's fateful decision in 1948 to end Jewish terrorist activities and bring armed splinter groups under government control. When Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas, the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers, met last night and prepared to see President Bush next week, one of the biggest issues they discussed was ending the terrorism of renegade Palestinian groups. Mr. Abbas said that by next week he hoped to have a pact with Hamas, the main Palestinian Islamic party, to halt violence against Israelis.

Mr. Sharon and his aides say a cease-fire pact is not enough, however, that what is needed is to arrest and disarm the militants. What Israelis increasingly say is that the Palestinians need "their own Altalena." Little known to the outside world, the Altalena episode is frequently invoked because without some equivalent, the Palestinian state may never come to be. [more]