From Gush ShalomI DON'T know when the wheel was invented, or who invented it.
However, I have no doubt that it was invented again and again, with many happy inventors sharing the glory.
The same is true for the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation. From time to time it appears in public as a brand-new idea, with another group of inventors proudly presenting it to the public.
This just shows that you cannot suppress a good idea. It appears again and again. During the last few weeks, it has appeared in several articles, presented by new inventors.
Every time it happens, I would take off my hat, if I had one. As Europeans used to do when they met a lady or an old acquaintance.
ACTUALLY, the United Nations Partition Plan adopted by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947 (Resolution 181) already proposed a kind of confederation, though without using the term. It said that the two new states that it created -- one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem as a separate unit - would be united in an "economic union."
A few days later, the "war of 1948" broke out. It was a bitter and cruel war, and when it ended in early 1949, nothing of the UN resolution remained. There were still some desultory negotiations, but they petered out.
The war had created "facts on the ground" -- Israel controlled vastly more territory than was allotted to it, Jordan and Egypt had taken over what was left. Palestine had ceased to exist, the very name erased from the map, with half the Palestinian people evicted from their homes.
Immediately after the war, I tried to set up a group of young Jews, Muslims and Druze to propagate the setting up of a Palestinian state next to the new State of Israel. This initiative led nowhere. In 1954, when some Palestinians in the West Bank revolted against their Jordanian masters, I published a call for the Israeli government to support the creation of a Palestinian state. It was ignored.
It was three years later that the idea of an Israeli-Palestinian federation first took on a serious form. The 1956 Israeli attack on Egypt, in collusion with France and the UK, aroused the disgust of many Israelis. In the middle of the war, I got a phone call from Nathan Yellin-Mor. He proposed that we do something about it.
Yellin-Mor had been the political leader of Lehi (alias the Stern Gang) the most extreme of the three underground organizations that fought against British rule. I was the owner and editor-in-chief of a popular news magazine.
We set up a group called Semitic Action. As a first step, we decided to compose a document. Not one of those flimsy political programs that are published today and forgotten tomorrow, but a serious plan for the total overhaul of the State of Israel. It took us more than a year.
We were some 20 people, most of them prominent in their field, and met at least once a week for our deliberations. We divided the subjects among us. The subject of peace with the Arabs fell to me.
THE BASIS of the new creed was that we Israelis are a new nation -- not outside the Jewish people but a part of it, much like Australia was a new nation within the Anglo-Saxon community. A new nation created by its geo-political situation, climate, culture and traditions.
(This idea itself was not quite new. In the early 1940s, a handful of poets and writers, nicknamed the Canaanites, had proposed something similar, but denied any connection with the world Jewish people and also denied the existence of the Arab nation or nations.)
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