If someone were to ask what it is the Palestinians are fighting for, one might answer: “For a Palestinian state in the occupied territories.” If this is what you think, don’t worry. Most people would say the same thing. Most believe that the moment Israel ends its occupation, peace and tranquility will descend upon the region. And just in case you feel you got the answer wrong, rest assured. Israel, from top to bottom, believes that the root cause of the conflict is its own victory in 1967. If only the results of this war could be reversed, say peace-loving Israelis, things would be great again.
On March 30, 2018, Hamas launched the first wave of what it called the “Great March of Return.” These “demonstrations” were not an attempt to improve life in Gaza. As the name itself clearly states, what naive Westerners called “peaceful protests” were in fact a vivid expression of the Palestinians’ raison d’etre: Reverting the geopolitical situation back to what it was before 1920, not to what it was before 1967.
The Palestinians are fighting Israel in an attempt to return to their cities and villages and lands that stretch all the way from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, from Mount Hermon to the Red Sea. If you watch closely the signs carried by the “Free Palestine” crowd, you will note that the maps on the signs depict Palestine as wholly replacing present-day Israel. In other words, for there ever to be a State of Palestine, the State of Israel must cease to exist.
But what should have been obvious has become obscured after decades of well-planned propaganda smokescreens. So effective is this propaganda that even straight-forward attempts by “refugees” to return to their villages by force are seen as benign and legitimate quests for a better life in Gaza, as if Israel is still responsible for the services the municipality of this city provides to its residents.
One might expect that Israelis would be the first to recognize the smokescreen for what it is and do whatever it can to blow it away. Instead, we find that Israel has fallen prey to the lie that the Palestinians are fighting for their independence in the West Bank and Gaza, the latter of which was already made judenrein back in 2005.
A new book by Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf titled _The War of Return _looks to bring Israelis back to their senses. As the name of the book itself indicates, the authors present a compelling case for the root cause of the conflict – the “Palestinian refugees,” whose numbers have swelled over the past 70 years from just half a million to over five million. Palestinian refugees, as Schwartz and Wilf demonstrate, are not a humanitarian issue, but a political one.
However, the Palestinians, aided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), have succeeded in creating an unprecedented, one-of-a-kind category of perpetual Palestinian refugee who are endowed with a unique “right of return” passed on to their descendants till kingdom come.
By transforming the refugees from a solvable problem into an issue of justice and human rights, the Palestinians, together with UNRWA, the EU, etc., have turned a political question for which an answer could be found (Palestinian state) into a perpetual ethical dilemma with no end in sight. Justice will be done, the conflict will be solved, say the Palestinians and their supporters, only when the refugees return to their “homes,” which can only happen by trampling over Israel’s dead body.