Dialogue of the Deaf

(Jerusalem Post) Judea Pearl - At the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, Richard Holbrooke, America's former ambassador to the UN, reminded the audience that, by now, two and a half generations of Arabs have been brought up on textbooks that do not show Israel on any map, and that such continued denial, on a grassroots level, is a major hindrance to any peaceful settlement. I had a friendly conversation on this issue with one of PA Minister Muhammad Dahlan's aides, who confessed that "we Palestinians do not believe in a two-state solution, for we can't agree to the notion of 'Jewish state.'" "Judaism is a religion," he added "and religions should not have states." When I pointed out that Israeli society is 70% secular, bonded by history, not religion, he replied: "Still, Palestine is too small for two states." This was somewhat disappointing, given the official PA endorsement of the road map. "Road map to what?" I thought, "to a Middle East without Israel?" I discussed my disappointment with an Egyptian scholar renowned as a champion of liberalism in the Arab context. His answer: "The Jews should build themselves a Vatican," he said, "a spiritual center somewhere near Jerusalem. But there is no place for a Jewish state in Palestine." In 2005, I still cannot name a single Muslim leader (or a journalist, or an intellectual) who has publicly acknowledged the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a dispute between two legitimate national movements. The writer is president of the Daniel Pearl Foundation, named after his son, a Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.

2005-06-17 00:00:00

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