June 1, 2021 marked the eightieth anniversary of the Farhud, the massive pogrom in Iraq which resulted in nearly two hundred Iraqi Jews murdered and hundreds of others raped and wounded. The Wall Street Journal commemorated the anniversary by publishing an op-ed by a survivor of the Farhud, Joseph Samuels. The Washington Post, however, took another approach.
The Post not only failed to note the anniversary, it published an op-ed that, if implicitly, called for dismantling the world’s sole Jewish state.
The op-ed, entitled “Opposition to a ‘one-state’ solution is often rooted in bigotry” and authored by H.A. Hellyer of the Carnegie Endowment for Middle East Peace, evidenced a historical illiteracy that, even in today’s day and age, is truly astonishing.
Hellyer asserted that opposition by some Israeli politicians to a “one-state solution” is, when taken to its “logical conclusion…underpinned by racist overtones.” The “vehemence against a one-state solution,” Hellyer claimed, “is appalling because it is rooted in a notion that Palestinians and Israelis simply cannot live together.” Further, “it’s important to note that the pushback often comes from partisans of Israel, not pro-Palestinian campaigners. The insinuation is simply this—Palestinians in particular, but Arabs more generally, are simply not capable of living in a diverse society.”
But this insinuation is pure projection on Hellyer’s part. And to reach his “logical conclusions,” the scholar omitted crucial history and facts.
Curiously, in an 819-word op-ed that is ostensibly about the potential merits of a “one-state solution” versus a “two-state solution,” Hellyer failed to inform readers that Palestinian Arab leaders have rejected numerous offers for a Palestinian Arab state if it meant living in peace next to a Jewish one.
In 1937, after the Peel Report, Palestinian Arab leaders refused an offer by ruling British authorities to create two states, one Arab and the other Jewish. In 1947—less than two years after the Holocaust—Palestinian Arabs and Arab nations rejected the U.N.’s Partition Plan that would have created two states, choosing instead to make war on the fledgling Jewish state. In that war’s wake, Arab nations expelled no fewer than 850,000 Jews from their lands, the majority of whom were given safe haven in Israel—another important point that Hellyer omits but which is worth revisiting.
As CAMERA has documented, Palestinian Arab leaders rejected no fewer than half a dozen other opportunities for a “two-state solution” in the years since. In 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis Conference, Palestinian leaders refused U.S. and Israeli offers for something that hasn’t ever existed: a sovereign Palestinian Arab state.
Hellyer’s refusal to note these rejected opportunities is revealing. It is, however, far from the only omission. Indeed, Hellyer’s claim that opponents of a “one state solution” are “bigots” is itself dependent on ignoring history.
Jews living as minorities under Muslim majority rule endured centuries of bigotry—and worse. The Farhud of 1941—which itself was sparked by a Palestinian Arab leader and Nazi collaborator, Amin al-Husseini—is but one of many examples of the organized, systemic, and state-sanctioned violence that the Jews of the Middle East endured. Ditto for the arbitrary decision to expel nearly a million Jewish citizens of Muslim-majority nations in the years after the 1948 War. These individuals lost their property, their homes, their livelihoods and, in some cases, their family members and were left with no recourse under the law.
As the late historian Martin Gilbert documented in his book In Ishmael’s House, outside of Israel, Jews living in the Middle East were “subjected to the worst excesses of hostility, hatred and persecution.” In many cases, Jews were forbidden from certain jobs, forced to wear clothing with insignia that denoted their religion, forbidden from owning weapons and defending themselves, endured forced conversion, had their property and possessions taken from them, were forced to pay special taxes and so on. Indeed, there are numerous examples of the mass murder and persecution of Jews in the region—before, during, and after the Ottoman Empire. Gilbert and others have written entire books on the subject.
Further, Hellyer doesn’t mention it, but there was a de facto “one state solution” in practice. Under the British Mandate, Jews and Arabs lived under British rule—and anti-Jewish violence and terrorism still persisted. Indeed, at times it was endemic.
In 1920 a pogrom erupted in Jerusalem. Arab crowds attacked and murdered Jews, yelling, “Palestine is our land and the Jews are our dogs.” Five Jews were murdered and hundreds injured. Other pogroms followed, in 1921 in Jaffa, 1929 in Hebron, 1929 in Safed, 1929 in Jerusalem and, perhaps most infamously, a three-year long terror wave from 1936-1939. Hundreds of Jews were murdered and, in the case of Hebron, the Jewish community—which had lived there for centuries and many of whom were not Zionists—were ethnically cleansed.
As CAMERA has highlighted, eyewitness accounts detailed the horrors of these events, including where attackers burst into an orphanages in Safed and “smashed children’s heads and cut off their hands.” One eyewitness to the Safed massacre, David Hacohen, noted finding “the mutilated and burned bodies of the victims of the massacre, and the burned body of a woman tied to the grille of a window.”
A Dutch-Canadian journalist named Pierre Van Passen came upon one of the scenes of the 1929 Hebron massacre and attempted to “gather up the severed sexual organs and the cut-off women’s breasts we had seen lying scattered over the floor.”
These massacres were the subject of British-led commissions that included testimony from survivors and authorities. They’re detailed in dozens, if not hundreds, of scholarly works and books on the Arab-Israeli Conflict. They prompted the formal creation of the Haganah, the forerunner of today’s Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and, as CAMERA detailed in op-eds in both Mosaic and the National Review, they precipitated significant changes in both Zionist and Arab societies at the time. They are, in short, essential to any history of the conflict, much less any discussion about a “one-state solution.” Yet, Hellyer completely omitted these events. That is not the decision of a serious scholar, but that of an activist posing as one.
Indeed, as CAMERA noted in an Aug. 6, 2020 Jerusalem Post op-ed, arguments for a binational “solution” are nothing new. In May 1925, a group of philosophers, academics and theologians announced the formation of Brit Shalom (the Covenant of Peace) in British-ruled Mandate Palestine. Brit Shalom “sought to promote peace between Jews and Arabs, primarily by arguing that Jews should give up their quest for statehood,” historian Daniel Gordis noted in his 2016 Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn. The pogroms of 1929, however, discredited Brit Shalom and led to its dissolution.
Nor does Hellyer merely omit relevant history. He glosses over past and present alike.
For example, noting that then-Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni purportedly proposed that “Israel cede towns where some 300,000 Palestinian citizens reside to a future Palestinian state,” Hellyer writes that “in this vision, coexistence between Israeli Jews and Palestinians cannot exist in the same territory — the Palestinians should be moved. Or harassed at a sufficient level that would encourage their ‘voluntary’ departure as part of policies that the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem already consider as akin to apartheid.”
But once again Hellyer is demonstrating his ignorance of history. Arab citizens of Israel—whom Hellyer insists on calling “Palestinians” despite evidence showing that a majority prefers to be called “Israeli Arabs”—enjoy far greater political rights than the majority of Palestinians who live under the rule of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, or Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Indeed, more Israeli Arabs have voted in Israel in the past year alone than the Arabs living under PA or Hamas rule have in fifteen years. Instead of mindlessly echoing the claims of B’Tselem, which has a documented history of anti-Israel bias, Hellyer could have noted that Arabs in Israel have their own political parties, have sat on Israel’s Supreme Court, hold high-ranks in the military, run hospitals and major corporations and enjoy equal rights.
If Hellyer were really concerned about “coexistence” he would note that the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip is Judenrein. This occurred after Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Israel hoped that the move would lead to peace, but instead it led to the election of Hamas, the genocidal terrorist group that calls for Israel’s destruction, launches missiles indiscriminately at Israeli civilians from behind the cover of human shields and whose charter approvingly cites Adolf Hitler. Hellyer mentions none of this, of course, as it would undermine his argument. Nor does he tell Washington Post readers that the Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank is similarly Judenrein, and the PA pays salaries to those who murder and maim Jews. And under the PA, those who so much as sell or rent land to a Jew, face death or imprisonment. This, of course, is real bigotry, as well as a shining example of how Jews would be treated under Palestinian rule. Tellingly, Hellyer omitted them.
Holding up a strawman, Hellyer decried “the bigoted notion that Arabs can’t live in diverse societies,” which “is easily disproved, of course. Millions of Arabs live in democratic countries such as Tunisia, or in many others as immigrants.” No doubt. But we do have a litany of examples, from past and present, as to how Jews would be treated under the rule of current Palestinian Arab leaders. We don’t need to speculate. History provides horrific examples.
When Hellyer was challenged on Twitter about his numerous omissions, he responded childishly. He cited his academic credentials and glibly responded “thank you for drawing more attention to my article.” Notably, he did not address the concerns detailed above. It was not the response of a serious scholar.
Many of Carnegie’s top donors include groups with a documented history of bankrolling anti-Israel causes, like the Rockefeller Brothers, Open Society Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, among others. But one has to wonder if they’re not the least bit embarrassed by such demonstrably shoddy “scholarship.”
Hellyer professes to be “agnostic about both the two-state vs. one-state solutions,” and claims to be “more concerned about what any solution would entail for the rights and responsibilities for individual citizens.” But his omissions, and his clear agenda, show otherwise.