(Based on my article "The main Effort" published in Haaretz , May 4. 2012.)
ON MAY 15, the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, its Arab citizens observed a day of mourning for the victims of the Naqba ("catastrophe") -- the mass exodus of half the Palestinian people from the territory which became Israel.
Like every year, this aroused much fury. Tel Aviv University allowed Arab students to hold a meeting, which was attacked by ultra-right Jewish students. Haifa University forbade the meeting altogether. Some years ago the Knesset debated a "Naqba Law" that would have sent commemorators to prison for three years. This was later moderated to the withdrawal of government funds from institutions that mention the Naqba.
The Only Democracy in the Middle East may well be the only democracy in the world that forbids its citizens to remember a historical event. Forgetting is a national duty.
Trouble is, it's hard to forget the history of the "Palestinian issue," because it dominates our life. 65 years after the foundation of Israel, half the news in our media concern this one issue, directly or indirectly.
Just now, the South African government has decreed that all products of the West Bank settlements sold there must be clearly marked. This measure, already in force in Europe, was roundly condemned by our Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as "racist" (look who's talking!). However, it joins a boycott initiated 15 years ago by my Israeli friends and me.
The new government coalition has declared that it will renew negotiations with the Palestinians (everybody knows that this is a hollow promise). A wave of murders and rapes is being attributed to Arabs (and African asylum seekers). All presidential candidates in Egypt promise to take up the fight for the Palestinians. Senior Israeli army officers have disclosed that 3500 Syrian and Iranian missiles, as well as tens of thousands in Hizbollah's South Lebanon, are ready to be launched against us because of Palestine. And so on, a daily list.
115 years after the foundation of the Zionist movement, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dominates our news.
THE FOUNDING FATHERS of Zionism adopted the slogan "a land without a people for a people without a land" (coined much earlier by a British Christian Zionist). They believed the Promised Land to be empty. They knew, of course, that there were some people in the country, but the Zionists were Europeans, and for Europeans at the end of the 19th century, the heyday of imperialism and colonialism, colored people -- brown, black, yellow, red or whatever -- did not count as people.
When Theodor Herzl put forward the idea of a Jewish State, he was not thinking about Palestine but about an area in Argentina. He intended to empty this area of all its native population -- but only after they had killed all the snakes and dangerous beasts.
In his book "Der Judenstaat" there is no mention of Arabs -- and not by accident. When Herzl wrote it, he was not yet thinking about this country. The country appears in the book only in a tiny chapter added at the last moment, titled "Palestine or Argentina?"
Therefore Herzl did not speak about evicting the Palestinian population. This would have been impossible anyway, since Herzl was asking the Ottoman sultan for a charter for Palestine. The Sultan was a Caliph, the spiritual head of all the world's Muslims. Herzl was too cautious to bring this subject up.
This explains the otherwise curious fact: the Zionist movement has never given a clear answer to its most basic question: how to create a Jewish state in a country inhabited by another people. This question has remained unresolved to this very day.
But only seemingly. Hidden somewhere underneath it all, on the fringes of the collective consciousness, Zionism always had an answer. It is so self-evident, that there was no need to think about it. Only few had the courage to express it openly. It is imprinted on the "genetic code" of the Zionist movement, so to speak, and its daughter, the State of Israel.
This code says: a Jewish State in all the Land of Israel. And therefore: total opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state -- at any time, anywhere in the country, at all costs.
WHEN A strategist plans a war, he first of all defines its aim. That is the Main Effort. Every other effort must be considered accordingly. If it supports the main effort, it is acceptable. If it hurts the main effort, it must be rejected.