Hisham Melhem at PostGlobal

Hisham Melhem

Washington, D.C., USA

Hisham Melhem is the Washington-based correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily; Al-Qabas, the Kuwaiti daily; and Radio Monte Carlo in France. He is currently the host of "Across the Ocean", a weekly talk show for Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite station. Close.

Hisham Melhem

Washington, D.C., USA

Hisham Melhem is the Washington-based correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily; Al-Qabas, the Kuwaiti daily; and Radio Monte Carlo in France. He is currently the host of "Across the Ocean", a weekly talk show for Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite station. more »

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The Annapolis Summit
Don't Expect Much from Annapolis

Weak and uncommitted leaders will waste another opportunity for peace.

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All Comments (13)

William, San Antonio:
William, San Antonio:

Alan:

You know what happens to cockroaches when you turn the lights on.

Alan:

William

Looks like nobody wants to debate your letter. I just read about Noviana Malewa. To the people in this blog espousing a one state solution, do you really think Jews would be safe in a Muslim majority country?

Please refrain from answering with "they were safe in many Arab countries for years". If so, how do you account for 99% Jewish population reductions in every Arabic country? When that large of a number leaves, one might conclude the locals weren't very friendly.

William, San Antonio:

Rick Jones:

RE: “They immigrated there illegally.”

Now, Rick, Hamas propaganda is one thing fact another. The fact is that Jewish immigrants into the districts that Palestine comprised were authorized and regulated by the Ottoman regime as were their land purchases. Although the history of that area is complicated because the Ottoman Empire was in decline, to characterize Jewish immigration during that period as illegal is simply false. After the Balfour Declaration the point was moot. It was not until 1934 that the question of the illegal immigrants (maapilim) arose (in the context of British appeasement of the Arabs) in contravention of the Balfour Declaration.

It is abundantly clear, most especially given revelations about the treatment of European Jews from 1934 to 1945, that a sovereign Jewish homeland is essential to their safety. The United Nations agreed. Arab states did not.

It is also clear, from even a cursory investigation of the causes of Arab intransigence, that the inherent anti-Semitism in Islam is central to their inflexibility. Claims of robbing Arabs of their ancestral land by European colonialist enterprises are simply unfounded attempts to deflect criticism from the true “root causes” of the current conflict.

Dr. Seymour Martin Lipset wrote an article "The Socialism of Fools: The Left, the Jews and Israel" which was published in the December, 1969 (page 24) edition of Encounter magazine. The article states: "Shortly before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr., was in Boston on a fund-raising mission, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner which was given for him in Cambridge... One of the young men present happened to make some remark against the Zionists. Dr. King snapped at him and said, "Don't talk like that! When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism!"

I agree with Dr. King.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Andrew,

Thanks for the reply.

“Rick, you keep saying that the Jews were absent for millennia, but there has been a continuous Jewish population in what is today Israel since the Roman expulsion.”

Yes, but at the turn of the 20th century Jews were 2% of the population of Palestine. That’s what it should be now. Just like the good ole US of A, no illegal unwanted immigrants are allowed.

“Furthermore there are many Jews in Israel who are descended from people who emigrated there from Arab countries.”

So what? They immigrated there illegally. They need to go back where they came from if they can, or else come to the USA and join their brethren in forming a legitimate Jewish homeland.

“Both sides have wronged and been wronged and the situation in Israel/Palestine is not entirely the fault of either party.”

The Jews were wronged by the Romans and Germans, not the Palestinians. The Palestinians should not have to pay the price.

Andrew:

Rick, you keep saying that the Jews were absent for millenia, but there has been a continuous Jewish population in what is today Israel since the Roman expulsion. Furthermore there are many Jews in Israel who are descended from people who immigrated there from Arab countries. You are oversimplifying a complex issue. Both sides have wronged and been wronged and the situation in Israel/Palestine is not entirely the fault of either party. Israel isn't going anywhere and both sides need to learn to tolerate each other.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

NRGlaw:

“Public policy questions and matters of peace and war must be decided on a secular basis today.”

“Mixing religious texts with politics has resulted in the deaths of Jews in their millions.”

How right you are. Yet without the religious dogma, what right have the Jews to return to Palestine after being absent for nearly two millennia, and forcing the Palestinians from the homes and land of their ancestors at gun point with the backing of the world’s super powers.

If not for “we are God’s chosen and He promised this land to us”, then what could possibly be the justification for the atrocities being perpetrated against the native Palestinians. All 5 million Israeli Jews might as well come to America, join your 5.7 million brethren, and form a true “State of Israel” with 80% of the world Jewish population in say Texas?

nrglaw:

Maryanne--Public policy questions and matters of peace and war must be decided on a secular basis today. That is the only position of safety for us as Jews today, and it has been so for a very long time. Every atrocity committed against Jews over the centuries has had its ultimate source in religious philosophy about Jews and Judaism. Mixing religious texts with politics has resulted in the deaths of Jews in their millions.

Your argument openly mixes Torah and Tanakh with statements and conclusions about political facts as they exist today. All sides must eventually acknowledge a version of these political facts as acceptable if they are to achieve a peace. The Israelis and the Arabs, in other words, are going to have to find a common way of thinking about their relationship so they can move on from conflict to some kind of peace. That common understanding will certainly not be the one you describe.

There is no basis for any of it except in Tanakh. Whether I or you believe it is true as a matter our religious beliefs does not matter. We cannot turn to a non-Jewish world and say that our version of political facts is the only true one, even if that is what you yourself believe. That is simply a non-starter and will prolong conflict not solve it.

No sacred book is self-authenticating in this way, at least not in a pluralistic society and world.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Maryanne:

As you say, the Jews were absent from the land of Palestine for almost two millennia. Then they return (with the aid of the world’s superpowers) to retake the land by force over the past 100 years, from the families whose ancestors have tended their flocks and orchards, and farmed the land for millennia. You want to force these people out of their homes and off their land at the point of gun. Is that your idea of justice? Shame!

Sam,

Excellent post! You have the best solution and only solution, the single-state solution, with Palestinian right of return:

“…All citizens of the new state, PALISRA (Palestine +Israel), would enjoy equal rights and bear the same responsibilities…”

SAM:

PALISRA is the only feasible and lasting solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.Both Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting and killing each other for more than 60 years now and unfortunately, no light could be seen at the end of this dark tunnel.
The geography and demography of the area that extends between River Jordan and the Mediterranean indicate the complexity of the current situation. Every party is trying hard to grab by mere force what is in the hand of the other. Many wars have been waged and thousands of innocent lives have been shed for this purpose.
Nowadays, almost everybody is talking about setting up two countries for both Israelis and Palestinians. This simply means that the land of historical Palestine will be divided between the two parties, Israelis and Palestinians.
I doubt very much that either party will be satisfied with his share of the cake. There are chronic problems like Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, borders, water resources that nobody on earth can sort out to the satisfaction of both parties.
The short vision of setting up two separate states could sow the seeds for more bloody conflicts in the future. Nobody can guarantee or secure permanent and lasting peace under this proposition.
A far better viable solution that should satisfy both parties and put an end to all complicated issues is available. It is the establishment of one secular country for all on the whole territory of historical Palestine that includes the West Bank and Gaza besides Israel. Jerusalem will remain united for both parties, settlements could remain where they are now provided an appropriate compensation is made to the original land owners, natural geographical borders are already in place for the whole country and the issue of refugees could be settled by allowing all refugees to return home and to be compensated for the 60 years of misery they had to spend at refugee camps. All citizens of the new state, PALISRA (Palestine +Israel), would enjoy equal rights and bear the same responsibilities.
The newly established state, PALISRA will emerge as a prosperous and safe country within a very short period of time, and citizens of this state will learn how to tolerate,respect and even cherish each other. PALISRA will become a key player and an integral part of the Middle East as yesterday's enemies will become today's friends and allies for ever.

Maryanne:

Unfortunately, there can be no lasting peace until the Arab peoples--and the rest of the world--recognize the Land of Israel as the ancient and historic homeland of the Jewish People.

How, truly, can Israel be colonialist or illegitimate??

The Jews were the original inhabitants of the Holy Land.

The earliest reference to Israel is from the Funerary Stela of the Egyptian Pharaoh Merneptah in 1209 B.C.! (And its sitting in museum in Cairo, by the way)

Indeed, ironic perhaps, but Jews' closest genetic cousins are Syrian. (The fact that most of these tests were done at Oxford is maybe even more ironic...)

After all, Jesus was a Jew--as was Isaac and Jacob, Jeremiah and Isaiah, all the Prophets, Kings David and Solomon, Mary, Josheph, John the Baptist, all the Disciples, etc....

The Jews were kicked out of their land by the Roman Empire and forced into Exile for nearly two thousand years.

One would think that this tiny group (there are 13.2 Million Jews in the world, compared to 2 Billion Christians and 1.6 Billion Muslims), expelled by Empire, exiled, and then returned to their original homeland after mass destruction in Europe and final expulsion from the Arab world would elicit sympathy and support among "Liberals."

Unfortunately, for those who believe in supersessionist philosophy--that Christianity and Islam superseded or replaced their mother faith community, the Jewish People--its rather a problem that the Jews returned to Jerusalem.

That means all the tenets that have been taught over the centuries--that Jews are no longer Chosen but in fact cursed and destined to live in exile, that all the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures relating to Israel and Judah now belong to the Church or, as stated in the Koran, the followers of Mohammad---might ring false.

Thus, most of the world can't stand the idea of Jews controlling their own country in their own ancestral homeland and returning to power in the city of their ancient Kings, Jerusalem.

Lebanon can shell Palestinian camps all day long--No one cares.

Jordan killed more Palestinians in Black September then Israel in all her history--No one said a word.

Iran persecutes more then a million Sunni Arabs within their borders, Syria forces its Kurds into abject poverty, etc., etc.....There are no protests.

As a Palestinian in East Jerusalem once told me, "the truth is, if we were to admit it to ourselves, is that people only pay attention to us because they hate the Jews."

Lisa:

"There is some truth there, but the larger reality is that Israel is ruled by small-time men (who said the Arabs have a monopoly on this?) and Bush has never been seriously committed to resolving this conflict"


Don't make Annapolis a total waste...pressure Israelis to release Marwan Baghouti...Abbas cannot inite Palestinians or deliver a state ...Marwan can...Arabs gave Bush Aministration, Olmert a public relations coup , especially Saudis...they need to secure Marwan's release, it's the only honorable thing to do at this point.

Lisa:

"Many Arabs ask: Why did the Bush Administration wait seven years to re-launch the 'peace process'? They ask, with justification, where is the intellectual/emotional commitment of the American president, since no real progress can be achieved without his real engagement?"


Well that is the problem...waiting for an American President?!?!...maybe the British and French should just come back and occupy the rest of the Middle East again along with US in Iraq...if everyone agrees with your thinking then you might as well be still be occupied by the west, because that is sure as heck how you are acting with this sort of thinking...

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