J Street’s pipe dreams of peace

Sixty-five years after their forced dispossession, Palestinian refugees are forbidden from returning home.

Issam Rimawi APA images

May and June are once again upon us, which means Palestinians are commemorating the Nakba (the catastrophe of their 1948 dispossession) and Naksa (the disaster of the 1967 War and subsequent occupation). Meanwhile Israelis celebrate the establishment of their state and the conquest of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Syrian Golan Heights and the Sinai. This inevitably leaves one to ask the banal question: “Will there be peace in our lifetime?”

In a mass email sent on 5 May, Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of the pro-Israel lobby group J Street, wrote to his supporters: “I’ve just arrived in Israel with a delegation of J Street leaders on our annual fact-finding mission to the region.” He added: “It’s an energizing time to be here. After years of frustrating deadlock, talk of peace is in the air again.”

What air is he breathing?

US Secretary of State John Kerry recently told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “the window for a two-state solution is shutting” (“Kerry: two years left to reach two-state solution in Middle East peace process,” The Guardian, 18 April 2013).

Myths and double standards

In fact, it’s been shut for decades. Kerry is merely regurgitating the old, numbing talking points. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is deadlocked because of the myths and double standards that dominate the debate.

Zionists claim that Jewish people have a right to “return” to Palestine — or the Land of Israel, as they call it — because they are related to the ancient Hebrews, a tribe that lived there thousands of years ago. Yet Palestinians who lived in Palestine only 65 years ago and remember when they were forced to leave as refugees are forbidden from returning to their homes and their land.

A nation whose connection to the land is based on something that took place thousands of years ago is telling a nation that still has the keys to their homes and the deeds to their land that they must stay out.

The State of Israel was established on the ruins of Palestine, but today close to half of the population residing under Israeli control are Palestinians. Israel maintains laws that discriminate against the Palestinian portion of the population — or what it calls the non-Jewish population.

Catastrophe continues

One may wonder why Palestinians call Israel’s establishment a catastrophe, or Nakba. It might be hard to grasp how this historic marvel, the revival of the Jewish state, could be called a catastrophe. However, a closer look will show that characterizing the war of 1948 as catastrophic is not only justified, it involves understating what happened.

The war of 1948 was an act of terrorism initiated by Zionist militias that ended up in the destruction of Palestine and the forced displacement of its people. What makes it even worse is that the catastrophe did not just take place in 1948. It began in 1948 and has been going on ever since.

The catastrophe continues with thousands of Palestinians in jail, 1.6 million living under siege in Gaza, another 1.5 million living as second-class citizens in Israel, close to three million in the West Bank living at the mercy of the Israeli army, which knows little mercy, and approximately seven million Palestinians living as refugees outside of Palestine who are not permitted to return to their homes.

This May and June, it is time to reflect on the reality in which Palestinians are forced to live, and separate it from the virtual reality that Israel and its supporters try to paint. Perhaps this year it is time to assert in clear terms that supporting an exclusivist and discriminatory Jewish state means supporting a state that violates the most basic human and civil rights of millions of Palestinians, including the right to life itself.

If peace is indeed in the air then one would hope that Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the refugee camps and in Israeli jails are also breathing it. If so, they can leave their cells and their makeshift homes, close the camps, open the prisons and return home, to Palestine. It also means that a bi-national democracy that respects and represents the rights of all people is on its way.

Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in California. He is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.




Your article touched my heart and for the first time in my life I am asking myself the question, was Israel in the wrong? I need to try to discern the facts and I am learning to question everything I've been told preciously.

I am a Christian and live in the US. I have studied theology extensively over the years and know the bible to be Truth. I will not lose my faith in God but also aware of his character. He created all and lives us equally. I believe that Jesus fulfilled the law of the old testament and freed us of the restraints' and bondages we lived under at the time.

I am not trying to persuade anyone but need you to understand my struggle to understand. The Muslims are not my enemy. God is love and o e of his greatest commandments was to love one another as yourself. The scriptures from the new testiment also teach not to kill or murder. Love covers a multitude of sins. According to the old testiment, the Israelites were God's choosen ones. The division came when Abraham went out of God's design and used his own wisdom to father a child. Abraham brought in a concubine to live with him and his wife Sarah. Abram laid with her and she became pregnant with his first child. Naturally, Sarah was very upset by the situation and unjustly cruel to this young women who by no choice of her own was carrying Sarah's husband's child. She mistress ran out of the house and into the woods sobbing at a well. God appears to her and comforts her by telling her that He sees everything and knows her pain. He tells her that she will have a son called Ishmael and would have many descendants in a land far away from Israel. God had given Israel to the Jews and that is where they built the house of God and where the new tabernacle is to be built before His return. We believe that God clearly states that Jesus will return and appear on Mt Sinai. Ishmael's land was not in Israel. Those descendants became follows of Islam.

Now here lies the problem. Please continue next post.


When did the descendants of Ismael return historically? I honestly don't know and am trying to find an answer. Who was the leader in Israel in 1948? I am ashamed not to know these answers. Was he a God fearing leader trying to obey God's law. The Jews still live under the law because they do not believe that God descended from heaven and took the form of man as His son Jesus. We were separated from God due to our sin. Jesus took the sins of man upon himself and became the living sacrifice so man could once again have fellowship with Him. Historically, Jesus rose from the grave and sits with the father in heaven. Many documents have eye witness accounts by the hundreds testify that they saw Jesus alive on earth after his resurrection.

God loved us all so much that he would sacrifice his only son so that we can spend eternity with Him is pretty humbling. It shows His love for all. God's Word teaches us that there was a reason that Ishmael was sent to another land. But, God never left him or his descendants. It was they that turned their back on Him and choose to follow another god.
After the law was fulfilled we were shown what love is. Love is dying to self and loving your neighbor, it is inconceivable for me to believe that Israel was honoring God when they killed the Palestine people and drove them from their homes. The killing and bloodshed must cease. God loves the Palestinian people just as much as the Israelites'. Just as Abraham sinned when he used his own wisdom, there are always consequences that must come. When the temple was built it was God who gave the instruction on where to build it. I don't know what God's will is apart from the scriptures. If we would only try to understand one another and love each other as our brothers then a solution could be found. The Jew's hearts have hardened. God will soften them yet again. Scripture tells us that the whole world will turn against Israel one day before His return. God is changing hearts


Ms. Lawrence--your strong beliefs and faith in New Testament Christianity are apparent in your summary. But to understand this conflict, one must examine the precepts of Zionism which forms the bedrock operating system of modern day Israel. Zionism has hijacked Judaism to provide a veneer of respectability to the true intent of its movement which is to colonize all of Palestibe from the Jordan to the Mediterranean with Jews. Non-Jews are not welcomed. Zionism is not religious in nature as much as it is aggressively colonialistic. The Nakba was a vicious and cruel act committed by the Zionist led by David Ben Guerion in 1948. It's goal--the ethnic cleansing of Palestine--is still being carried out to this day. The world is waking up to this horrible crime except for the U.S.Congres which kowtows to the Israeli Lobby. I would suggest you support the world wide BDS movement(I.e. boycott, divestment, and sanction) to support the Palestinian people as well as the Kairos effort started by Christian organizations to bring justice to these poor people.


The Jewish State is being killed, incredibly by the people who are so enthusiastic for it, the Zionists ! The continued illegal Settlements creating "Facts on the Ground" means that there can only be one state, but it cannot just be a Jewish State, but one that recognises the right of all individuals, Muslims, Christians, Jews or those with no religion to live as equals before the law.


Yes, the "two-state solution" has been dead for some time but the "one-state solution" is equally unfeasible. There is no practical way, even in one state to deal with the fact that the majority of Jewish towns in Israel are built on the ruins of abandoned Arab villiages and towns. A one state solution is more than "Israel out of Palestine," it is also Israelis out of Palestine in practice.


Peled: a voice which needs to be heard. Do you have plans to hit Central/Upstate New York area? - Syracuse, for instance. We'd love you to address an audience.