Jews and Palestinians: Is the Elusive Peace Close By?

A couple of days ago I came across this fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands around the same time as the expulsion of Arabs from the new state of Israel and how the Israelis have finally gotten around to bringing this issue up in negotiations. Among the excerpts:

Within 25 years [of the establishment of Israel], the Arab world lost nearly all its Jewish population. Some faced expulsion, while others suffered such economic and social hardships they had no choice but to go. Others left voluntarily because they longed to settle in Israel. Only about 4,300 Jews remain there today, mostly in Morocco and Tunisia […]

And this:

Many of the Palestinians who fled Israel wound up stranded in refugee camps. Multiple U.N. agencies were created to help them, and billions of dollars in aid flowed their way. The Arab Jews, by contrast, were quietly absorbed by their new homes. “The Arab Jews became phantoms” whose stories were “edited out” of Arab consciousness […]

I think that the Israelis were right to bring these expulsions to the forefront of the debates with the Palestinians. A lot of people on both sides have suffered and it is a good thing that the plight of the Arab world’s Jews is now being highlighted. But now that this historical fact is being highlighted by the Israeli state in its negotiations with the Palestinians, will it do any good for the peace process?

The reaction by one of the Palestinian negotiators is telling: Continue reading