Several speakers presented in the symposium hosted by Mada on July 28: writer and commentator Anton Shalhat; Attorney Hassan Jabarin, director of Adalah; and the author.
In his introductory comments, Professor Nadim Rouhana, director of Mada, discussed the book’s challenge to the two-state solution. He suggests the book offers a new understanding of the political history of the conflict, one that exposes the deceit of the Israeli Left and its attempt to blur and conceal that history.
Mr. Shalhat described the great importance of the book’s underlying idea: the attempt to find a common denominator of time and place. “The book is written from a Jewish perspective, which is one of [its] strengths. The book presents utopia to us, the search for hope, and a way out of the conflict.” Shalhat sees in Shenhav’s writing the quest to surmount the trauma of the ethnic cleansing carried out in Palestine for which Shenhav, as a Jew, takes personal responsibility. He simultaneously suggests to Palestinians that they overcome this trauma. “The Palestinian problem is not limited to the ethnic cleansing and the Nakba of 1948; what happened goes far beyond that issue,” Shalhat said.
Attorney Hassan Jabarin found the book to be a sort of awakening in the current discourse. In his commentary, he described Shenhav’s approach to the physical dimension of the conflict.
“The novel idea presented in the book, and in other new research studies, is its treatment of the Green Line and the occupied territories as one block. Until now, the studies have separated the two, and assumed the existence of two different political entities. Shenhav objects to this distinction, and, to some extent, his book is a response to Ariela Azulai’s and Adi Ophir’s book.”
Attorney Jabarin also discussed Shenhav’s conclusion that Israel is not independent, and that the War of 1948 has not ended. “There was no new beginning inside the Green Line to enable the claim that the situation is normal. There was no reconciliation with history and there was no reconciliation with the Palestinians.” After further analysis, he criticized part of Shenhav’s approach. “Shenhav must cope with the book’s political agenda. Shenhav is comparing the Jews of Jaffa with the settlers. . . Over-legitimization of the settlers cannot constitute a political agenda.”
The last to speak was Professor Shenhav. He emphasized that the Jewish Left wasted dozens of years focusing on the illegal settlements. Centering the analysis on the settlements blurred the war debate by focusing on lands outside the Green Line.
“The Palestinian trauma does not belong to the past; it continues to exist each and every day. The Nakba has not ended. Just yesterday, we were witness to another Nakba, in the village of al-Araqib, which was demolished for the fourth time.”
Professor Shenhav added that the idea of sovereignty, in the classic sense of the term, is inapplicable to the Israeli-Palestinian situation because the concept of true citizenship for Palestinians inside Israel is a myth.