A Solution for an Enduring Dilemma from a Renaissance Type Scholar and Activist
Nineteenth Century Europe witnessed the height of nationalism and colonialism. Almost every nation ventured out to conquer a piece of the world, believing that any land not inhabited by Europeans is figuratively empty. And why not the Jews? Central and East European Jews, of Turkic/Slavic stock, commonly known as Ashkenazim, and currently constituting 80% of world Jewry, established their first colony in Palestine in 1882. That same year, the British invaded and occupied Egypt, and the colonialist Cecil Rhodes established a colony in south eastern Africa naming it after himself (now Zimbabwe).
It is said that the leaders of the Zionist Movement dispatched two rabbis to report on the country of their colonialist ambition. The rabbis reported back: "The bride is beautiful, but alas, she is already married to another man", meaning that the country was well- populated. That did not deter the leaders who persisted with their project to create a colonial-settler state, to be named Israel, and in the process cleansing out most of its endogenous population. Thus the enduring dilemma of what is to be done with the Palestinians and resolve this conflict that continues to cause so much misery for the whole population of that area and threaten world peace. This is the meaning of the title of this book.
The relationship of an author to her book is akin to that of the mother to her daughter. Thus a brief introduction of the author is worthwhile. Ghada Karmi, the nine year old of a prominent scholar, was more fortunate than most of those who were driven out of Jerusalem. Her family landed in England in 1949. If every cloud has its silver lining, the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians had its positive effects. Losing their land and homes, they turned to education as their means of survival and source of pride.
Ghada seems to have internalized this culture par excellence. She first qualified in and practiced medicine, and followed this with a doctorate in History of Medicine, and continues to teach, research and consult on these subjects. At the same time, she has been continuously involved in politics as a scholar and activist. I know of a man who would be proud of Dr. Karmi. He is Rudolph Virchow, the great German physician and scientist, and a leader of the 1848 revolution in Germany and Europe. When asked how he justified taking time from his medical pathology research to be active in politics replied: " Politics is medicine on a large scale".
This book is the latest of several books in and scores of articles written by this author. One of these books is an autobiography entitled "In Search for Fatima". Consider this fact: this memoir is rated as 9 on the Flesh-Kincaid Readability Index, meaning that it can be understood by a reader with 9 years education. In contrast "Married to Another Man" is rated 16. Few authors can be so versatile.
Eloquent, assertive and attractive, Dr. Karmi gained access to high political circles. This book benefits from her first-hand experience. It is also a scholarly and well- documented treatise. Even the most informed will find new material in it. The book is divided into seven chapters, an introduction, and an epilogue. Each chapter can be read on its own, but all serve as a useful background to understand the dilemma and the logic of the proposed solution. Two of the chapters are on the cost of Israel to the Arabs and the Palestinians.
Two others delve into the reasons the Jews and the West established and continue to sustain Israel. A chapter is titled " The Peace Process", and another discusses the various solutions that have been proposed, including the two-state proposal. The book culminates with a chapter arguing that the only logical solution is one democratic state for all those who live on the land of historic Palestine and Palestinian refugees.
To those who are pessimistic about finding a satisfactory solution to this enduring conflict, the author answers that this pessimism is unwarranted if one thought through the logic of the situation. To those with quick accusations of utopianism, anti-Semitism , or even treachery, she counters that such judgments are a lazy way out of having to think about ideas that conflict with what has become familiar, conventional and also serves vested interests. It is worthwhile taking the time to find out.