By "Zionist extremists," I don't mean all Israelis, or even all Israeli military personal/leadership. I do mean those who insisted on creating a specifically Jewish state in a previously occupied territory. That deplorable goal, and the idea that somehow being Jewish made their claims more valid or important than that of those already living there, is the definition of extremist Zionism.
Don't forget that lots of Jews also lived in that "previously occupied territory" and had done so for quite a while.Too many people blindly accept a misrepresentation regarding the demographic shifts in Israel . At the turn of the century, (1900) the population of Jerusalem had more Jews than either Muslims or Christians. Jews did not just move there after WWI and WWII, steal the land and try to sweep everyone else out. (Huge tracts of land in Israel were owned by absentee Egyptian landlords. They sold----at exorbitant prices-----much of this land to Jewish settlers.)
Records suggest that immigration of Egyptians and Arabs into Palestine from neighboring regions during the early decades of the century exceeded Jewish immigration. The boost to the local economy created by Jewish and British investment and development (like the port at Haifa) was a magnet that attracted many immigrants. (The standard of living in Israel for Arabs rose to approximately twice that experienced by their counterparts in nearby countries-----hence the dramatic influx. Furthermore, the Turks and the British did not restrict Arab and Egyptian immigration as severely as Jewish immigration.
Why should Jewish immigration to Israel be seen as less real, their status as established residents more open to question than immigrants from nearby lands? Is it a race thing? Or because they came from far away? And why is it a deplorable goal for there to be a separate and independent Jewish state?
The designation, "a Jewish State" has more of a symbolic meaning than anything else. Citizens are not required to be Jewish, and Arab Israelis (Arab citizens of Israel as opposed to the people in Gaza or the West Bank) enjoy all the same basic rights as the Jewish citizens, and certainly more rights than elsewhere in the entire region-----other than perhaps the right to kill Jews with impunity, or the right to stone to death women who have been raped without taking the precaution of arranging four male witnesses. In fact, Arab Israelis enjoy one privilege other Israelis don't, an exemption from mandatory military service, although they are welcome to join the army. Mostly the designation as a "Jewish" state affects the rights of people living elsewhere, and their rights regarding immigration to Israel; it's true that Jews are given preferential treatment in immigration.
As far as the burning issue of the "right of return", what is not widely remembered is that in the couple of years immediately following Israeli independence, many Jews fled their homes in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq etc. to save their lives.(And for the first time in thousands of years, they had somewhere to flee to!) Israel took all of these refugees in initially, and most stayed. These people left all of their property behind, and no one mentions restitution on this front.
The Palestinian exodus of between 420,000 and 910,000 people during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, was subsequently followed by the Jewish exodus from Arab lands of a similar magnitude between 758,000 and 866,000 people.Population swaps are a common feature historically in resolving international disputes. Look at India and Pakistan. Or Greece and Turkey in 1923.
Fridtjof Nansen worked with both Greece and Turkey to gain their acceptance of the proposed population exchange. About 1.5 million Greeks and half a million Muslims were moved from one side of the international border to the other.
Population transfer prevented further attacks on minorities in the respective states while Nansen was awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace......
..... Nearly 20 million persons in Europe fled their homes, were expelled, transferred or exchanged during the process of sorting out ethnic groups between 1944 and 1951.....
.....Kuwait expelled 500,000 Palestinian Arabs after the Gulf War because of their support for Saddam Hussein's invasion.
At the same time that Israel was in the throes of it's fight for independence, India was undergoing partition.
Massive population exchanges occurred between the two newly-formed states in the months immediately following Partition. Once the lines were established, about 14.5 million people crossed the borders to what they hoped was the relative safety of religious majority. Based on 1951 Census of displaced persons, 7,226,000 Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan immediately after partition.
Nowadays, population transfers have fallen into disrepute. It is often regarded as "ethnic cleansing", now labeled a form of genocide. But at the time Israel was formed, this clearly was a common occurance. It is unfair to single out Israel and accuse the Jews of genocide (which many people do) because of the exodus from Israel of so many Palestinians. In any event, most of the Palestinian refugees now live either in the Gaza strip, or the West Bank, and Israel has tried for decades to finalize an agreement for the Palestinians to have their own independent state.
Yes, the Israelis have been trying to reach accomodation with Palestine. And as long as they insist on that accommodation be on their terms--that the land and political authority which they had taken from others is theirs unchallenged--the attempts at "accommodation" are superficial.
The Israelis have not insisted that everything be on their terms. The negotiations in the mid nineties came very close to being accepted. The moderate Palestinian negotiators were disappointed and surprised when Arafat declined to accept the final proposal. Israel had made historic concessions. When Arafat turned that offer down, Israelis began to lose confidence that the negotiations were in good faith, or that Palestinian leadership would ever budge on any of it's demands.
A key point is that from the outset Palestinians and other Arab nations rejected the partition plan that the UN put forward in 1947. The Jews were willing to accept the arrangement even though they were disappointed that most of the land they would get was the barren Negev desert. The Arabs did not want for there to be a single square inch of Israel. A Jewish state occupying any part of the middle east was considered unacceptable. The Jews saw the handwriting on the wall and prepared to kick out the British and secure themselves against the inevitable Arab onslaught.
Three times now, Arab nations have joined forces and waged war to try to wipe Israel from the map----for the record, they never minced words, openly clamoring for a complete genocide. For fundamentalist Muslims, the very existence of a Jewish state on land they consider holy is an affront, an abomination. They would not be content if all the Palestinians had nice homes, jobs and good health in a separate Palestinian state. They are not concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. They delight in their victimhood because it helps advance the jihadist fundamentalist cause. If they gave a rat's ass about atrocities against Muslims, wouldn't we hear them lament the barbarous outrages perpetrated against the benighted inhabitants of Darfur. The scale of the tragedy there far outstips anything that has ever happened in Israel. Hmmm, the same thing goes for the brutal atrocities against the Kurds by Turks. Or wait, Iraqi atrocities against Iranians and Kurds, or Iranian atrocities against the Iraqis. The extremist fundamentalists are trying to make the conditions in Gaza as horrible as possible because when people scratch the surface of the story superficially, the Jews seem like they are being the bad guys.
But the Palestinians had no consent in the creation of a Knesset, or the form it would take.
The constitution of my country was drafted without my consent, but I consider myself lucky to live in a democratic society. The Arab Israelis don't object to having a voice in the Knesset, and do not want to move to Gaza or the West Bank to"be free". They know they are better off with the civil rights afforded them under Israeli law.
( Here's a tricky question: do people have to consent to live in a democracy? If they don't consent, then doesn't that negate the value of their input on the question to begin with?)
Israel is in a very difficult position. If she ignores Hamas' rocketfire, that makes Hamas look strong to the Palestinians and that makes it likelier that they keep power in Gaza. If she retaliates, it causes the sort of tragedies that breed new extremists. Liberal Westerners tend to root for the underdog, and the Palestinians at first glance are just that. But really they are unwitting pawns in a much larger war, the fight of religious Muslim extremists against the Jews. Every time so far they have lost these military campaigns. But they bide their time and wait to fight another day. Israel can lose this war exactly once, and if she ever does, she will be gone forever.
The tragic loss of innocent life in Gaza horrifies me. I believe that Israel has a right to protect her citizenry, but that this latest campaign could be ineffective. It would be presumptuous of us to insist that it is a huge mistake since their military intelligence could know something that we do not. Israel takes many precautions to reduce the harm to innocent bystanders, but there is only so much they can do in an area where the people are being used as human shields. Westerners should not confuse supporting Palestinians with supporting Hamas. The Palestinians brightest hope for a better future would be the replacement of Hamas by a moderate faction.