For far too long political debate has been reduced to name-calling and identity labelling, with facts and reasoned arguments taking second place – consigning civilised discourse and the exchange of ideas and opinions into the trash bin.
Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has taken a positive step in reversing this burgeoning practice of personal denigration and arbitrary dismissal of opinions of those with whom one doesn’t agree – in setting out her opinion on resolving the Arab-Jewish conflictin an op-ed article in the Washington Post on 17 March.
Omar’s opinion is based on factual errors and her failure to take into account other relevant facts – as this sentence by sentence analysis of her position makes clear:
1.“The founding of Israel 70 years ago was built on the Jewish people’s connection to their historical homeland, as well as the urgency of establishing a nation in the wake of the horror of the Holocaust and the centuries of anti-Semitic oppression leading up to it.”
The founding of Israel pre-dated the Holocaust – back to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War One. Palestine – within boundaries to be determined – which had formed part of the territory of the Ottoman Empire for the previous 400 years -was designated by the Principal Allied Powers at the San Remo Conference held in April 1920 as the location for the “establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.”
This decision was unanimously endorsed by the League of Nations when granting Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine in 1922. The Mandate’s boundaries comprised what is today called Israel, Jordan, Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza. However the establishment of the Jewish National Home in Transjordan – 78% of Mandatory Palestine – was postponed or withheld under article 25 of the Mandate.
2.“We must acknowledge that this is also the historical homeland of Palestinians.”
The “Palestinians” were not recognised as an identifiable people in 1917. The Mandate for Palestine regarded the Arab residents of Palestine as forming part of the “existing non-Jewish communities” in Palestine – whose civil and religious rights were not to be prejudiced. The “Palestinians” were only defined for the first time in the 1964 PLO Charter – article 6.
3.“And without a state, the Palestinian people live in a state of permanent refugeehood and displacement.”
The Palestinian Arabs acquired their own state and independence in 1946 in Jordan – 78% of Palestine. Hamas exercises full administrative control over the Arab residents of Gaza. The PLO exercises full administrative control over 95% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria (West Bank).
4.“This, too, is a refugee crisis, and they, too, deserve freedom and dignity.”
A refugee crisis exists in Lebanon and Syria because the Palestinian Arabs living there have been denied citizenship for 70 years.
5.“I support a two-state solution, with internationally recognized borders, which allows for both Israelis and Palestinians to have their own sanctuaries and self-determination.''
There are already two such states in 95% of former Palestine – one (78%) for the Arabs called Jordan – one (17%) for the Jews, called Israel.
6.“This has been official bipartisan U.S. policy across two decades and has been supported by each of the most recent Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as the consensus of the Israeli security establishment.”
New solutions are required after negotiations spanning 25 years have failed to create a second Arab state in former Palestine between Israel and Jordan. Redrawing the international bordersbetween Jordan Israel and Egypt could be game changers.Hopefully Congresswoman Omar will rethink her flawed position and continue this dialogue.