Establishing an Irredentist Case
A series of maps circulating on the Web propagates a lie. It purports to show "Palestinian" land loss from 1946 to the present day.
It looks pretty convincing, doesn't it? All that green area that was "Palestinian" in 1948 has shrunk to a few tiny enclaves.
It is not clear what the last map shows. It seems to coincide with Areas A and B of the Oslo Interim Agreement. From the date, 2000, it would appear that the map series was created in order to help torpedo the Camp David peace talks, as part of the Palestinian anti-peace effort. But Areas A and B do not represent land remaining after other land was taken away. They are in fact, the only land on which Palestinian Arabs ever had any autonomous recognized government at any time in history. Before the Oslo Agreements, the Palestinian Arabs had nothing. The green areas, if they are intended to show Areas A and B, show Palestinian land gained, not land lost. What the map shows is not related to the final settlement offers made by Israel in 2000, which constituted well over 90% of the land of the West Bank (see here)
Presumably, the editors of Occupation Magazine, along with Sullivan and Cole and Lawrence of Cyberia believe that all the area shown in green in the 1946 map is "occupied." "Justice" thus demands that all the "occupied land" that the Arabs "lost" be "returned." "Peace with Justice" therefore must bring about the destruction of Israel according to this logic.
Irredentist claims are the stuff of dangerous national conflicts. They may be based on real or imaginary history. Germany really had a legitimate claim on Alsace, which had been taken by France in the Thirty Years war. Italy really had some legitimate claims on former lands of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Too much legitimacy and "justice" ensure that peace is impossible.
Once the legitimacy of irredentist claims is admitted, there is no end to irredentism and irredentist maps in the Middle East. Syrian maps show Lebanon and Israel as part of Syria. Turkey can claim that all of Central Asia, much of the Middle East and parts of Europe were torn from them by the machinations of Western colonialist imperialism over the last 200 years. The British ideology that supported the liberation of Greece and the Balkan countries was identical to the ideology that called, at the same time, for the restoration of the Jews, and it was advanced by some of the same people. The Arabs have maps of their receding empire, recalling past days of glory when they ruled Sicily and Al Andalus, now known as Spain. Christians can claim sovereignty over Jerusalem. That was, in fact, one of the factors that decided the fate of Jerusalem in the post-World War I negotiations over the future of the Middle East.
We Zionists can claim all of the land promised as a Jewish national home in the San Remo Treaty that was the basis of the League of Nations Mandate. That land is, in justice, part of the "land of Israel." It is land that the Jewish people "lost." Unlike the green areas drawn in the Palestinian maps according to the whims of the artist, this is not a myth. The borders were political reality, supposedly guaranteed in international law. That land included not only the entire West Bank and the Golan Heights, but also all of Jordan, which was torn from the mandate and given to the Hashemite dynasty by the British. This claim used to be made by the Israeli right. It is considered to be "extremist" and not "politically correct" of course. Andrew Sullivan and Juan Cole would never support that claim, but they are quite content to propagate Palestinian Irredentism.
Irredentism is suffused into national culture by those who wish to make peace impossible. The first stanza of the Deutschland lied ("Deutschland Uber Alles") stated the German claim to borders from the Adige to the Belt, from the Meuse to the Memel. All these locations are outside the borders of modern Germany. The Adige river, for example, is in Italy. The "Belt" is in Denmark. The Germans had their view of "justice," while the Danes, Italians and others have a different view. Whatever the claims of "justice," the anthem is now forbidden. The need for peace is given precedence over "justice." The anthem is still sung, however, by certain Germans who insist on "justice."
March 31, 2010
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