The Myths Indulged by Israeli Advocates of a Palestinian “Right of Return”

In 2018, two books appeared in Hebrew on the subject of the so-called Palestinian “right of return,” which, if recognized, would allow for the influx of the descendants of Arab refugees from the Israeli War of Independence into an Israel that has already surrendered control over the West Bank. The War over the Right of Return, by Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf, explains why there is no legal, moral, or historical basis for such a right, and why recognizing it would be a disastrous mistake. In Nakba in Hebrew: A Political Journey, Eitan Bronstein-Aparicio and Eleonore Merza-Bronstein—both professional self-hating Jews—make the opposite case. Reviewing both books, Emmanuel Navon writes of the latter:

Bronstein describes at length his efforts to identify the remnants of Arab villages abandoned in 1948 and to make Israelis feel guilty about their erasure. . . . Bronstein lists villages whose names were Hebraized after Israel’s independence, such as Beit Guvrin (formerly Bait Jibrin) and Ein Ayala (formerly Ain Azal). But a similar list could be made of villages with Arabized names: Saffuriya (formerly Tzippori in Hebrew), Nablus (formerly Neapolis in Greek), and Latrun (formerly Le Toron in medieval French), for example. . . . The renaming of conquered cities is hardly an Israeli invention.

Bronstein’s “solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict is the practical implementation of the Palestinian “right of return,” [of which] the inevitable outcome would be a binational state with a Jewish minority. Anyone familiar with the Middle East, and with the history of the Jews in Arab lands, knows that such a state would not resemble Canada, Belgium, or Switzerland—but rather Lebanon, Iraq, or Syria. Fortunately, for Bronstein and Merza, they have foreign passports that would allow them to run for their lives after “solving” the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Back in his native Argentina, Bronstein will undoubtedly look for the remnants of former Inca villages destroyed by the Spanish. But then, the Incas themselves were an empire, one that colonized the Diaguitas in the mid-15th century. Bronstein could decide instead to do justice on behalf of the Mapuches. But they, too, conquered other tribes, such as the Puelches and the Querandis. In other words, Bronstein’s Manichean theory of “colonized” versus “colonizers” does not stand the test of historical scrutiny, and is therefore a myth.

Read more at Tel Aviv Review of Books

More about: Israeli War of Independence, Palestinian refugees, Postcolonialism

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy