The overwhelming majority of the European jews fleeing the Nazis would have wanted to emigrate to North America but the doors were closed. "The idea of building such a state in a country which was not a deserted country, far from it, at the expense of the local population was planting the seeds of a tragedy which has now been with us for several decades since 1947/1948", says Achcar. After the total occupation of Palastine after the Six-Day War in 1967 Israel has continually rejected any international agreement in form of "land in exchange for peace". The complete evacuation by Israel of all the territories occupied in 1967 and the respect of the right of the Palestinians to self-determination at least in the 22 per cent of their historical territory would be a minimal condition for any peace solution. It's also important to mediate in the "war of narratives" between the Zionist and Colonialist interpretation of the conflict, says Achcar.
Gilbert Achcar: Political Scientist and Sociologist at the "School of Oriental and African Studies", University of London, Peace Activist, Author of "The Arabs and the Holocaust" and together with Noam Chomsky "Perilous Power"
David Goessmann: There is a lot of reporting about the Israel-Palestine conflict in Western media. They describe it as a fatal deadlock, a cycle of violence. But they rarely provide essential contexts like why UN Resolution 242 from 1967 and other internationally agreed on peace settlements can’t be implemented. Give us an insight on why there is no justice and peace in Israel and Palestine and what should be done to achieve that.
Gilbert Achcar: I don't think there is anything fatal in what is happening, in the sense that what is happening for four decades now, is the product of decisions of a behaviour by a specific political force, which is conducting what is happening on the Israeli side. The first fatality that people would mention is that the Jewish survivors of the holocaust, the Nazi-holocaust in Europe, fell on the Palestinians. Isaak Deutscher, the famous historian, had used this metaphor of someone trying to escape from a fire in their home jumping from the window and falling on someone else. The person jumping from the window are the Jewish survivors of the holocaust and the person on whom they happen to fall and break the legs and back of this person are the Palestinians. This would describe the thing as a fatality. But the reality is it wasn't that fatal if you think of it. Because if you go to the beginning of all that there is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of European Jews escaping from Nazism, would have liked to go to North-America - but they had closed doors. They would have liked to go to Britain - they also had closed doors. These countries only accepted very limited quotas of these people. They tried to solve this problem by getting Britain, which was in control of Palestine, to open the doors there...
David Goessmann: There was a lot of anti-Semitism at that time in North America.
Gilbert Achcar: ...of course, and added to that you had the Zionist movement, which also was fighting actually. Instead of fighting for opening the doors of the whole world, for the Jewish survivors the Zionist movement actually wanted or concentrated all its effort on the issue of Palestine. They wanted therefore this concentration of people to come to Palestine in order to create a state. And that's what is at the core of State-Zionism of Theodor Herzl, the author of Der Judenstaat. This idea of a Jewish state, a state of the Jews, which is an idea which by itself, you know. A state defined in that way is undemocratic kind of definition. The idea of building such a state in a country, which was not a deserted country, far from it, at the expense of the local population, was planting the seeds of a tragedy, which has now been with us for several decades, since 1947/1948. You had a second historical watershed, which was after 1947, the UN resolution partitioning Palestine. You had the UN resolution that you mentioned, 242 in 1967, when Israel completed its occupation of Palestine, occupied the rest of Palestine, the 22%, that have been left out when the Israeli state was created in 1948 after the war. So, this was completed and despite the offers on the Arab side and despite also the international legality or legal frame were created by 242 of peace versus territory. This exchange has been rejected by successive Israeli governments. Even the Oslo agreement was basically flawed, because the Oslo agreement, in signing the Oslo agreement, Israel only pledge to withdraw from the inhabited areas of the Westbank. Not of the whole Westbank. And [they] kept building settlements and actually increased the building of settlements in various spots of the Westbank, many times the speed which it had been developing after 1967. So, after Oslo actually, what we see is in seven years doubling the number of settlers, colonial settlers, in the Westbank. So, this is again, I mean, these are policies, these are the deep roots of this problem. And there is no fatality in all that. A very different policy could have been done. I mean, at the time (?) so many people in Israel as in the Arab world, hoped for peace. Hoped that that would really be an exchange of peace versus territory. And that a Palestinian state would be created. We had this kind of dreams. Of course Arafat has this kind of dream and it proved a total illusion. It proved a total illusion not because of the Palestinians. That's absolutely clear. The are the (?) part in this conflict, they are the oppressed, they are not the oppressor, they are not the occupier. That's the key point.
David Goessmann: How could a solution be implemented. What has to be done to achieve a peace settlement? And what is the role of the United States in that?
Gilbert Achcar: I would put it in a more sober way, because it's ...I mean...one can not commit for historical developments. What I could say: What are the minimal conditions for any settlement in the region. And these settlements are known...these conditions are known. Because the Palestinians have a consensus which they even phrase in a document, there is a consensual document of all, or practically all, Palestinian forces from Fatah to Hamas, and everybody has subscribed to that. These minimal conditions are the complete evacuation by Israel of all the territories occupied in 1967 and the dismantlement of the settlements. The respect of the right of the Palestinians to self-determination at least in these 22% of their historical territory. Even that is not recognised by Israel. So, short of this very minimum, you can't think of any beginning of settlement. Any settlement between quote-marks would be like the Oslo [agreement], an illusionary process, which collapses after very few years and leads to an even greater tragedy even than what you had before.