Given the Arab understanding of Zionism as a temporary historical aberration whose life span is a mere few decades, to date, it has made sense for the Palestinians to repeatedly choose to suffer the daily humiliations of living under a military occupation rather than to accept the far greater humiliation of permanent Jewish sovereignty on land they considered exclusively their own. In refusing to end the military occupation by making a permanent peace with Israel, the Arab Palestinians were making a conscious choice that was based on their understanding of Arab history and Islamic ‘justice’. As Arabs and Muslims, the Palestinians were not hapless victims, but rather masters of a historical narrative, at the end of which their resistance and patience would be rewarded with victory, in the form of Zionism’s disappearance.
How can a temporary 50-year military occupation of most of the West Bank by Israel come to an end then, if the Muslim, Arab and Palestinian view of history is that 50 years of Israeli occupation matters significantly less than the countdown of the remaining few years on the crusader clock? It is necessary to demonstrate to the Muslim-Arab world that their view of history is wrong, and that rather than constituting a second crusader state, Israel is the sovereign state of an indigenous people who have come home. This can only be achieved through Jewish power and persistence over time. And given the vast numerical imbalance between Jews and Arabs, it can only be achieved if those who truly seek peace support the Jewish people in sending the message to the Arab world that the Jewish people are here to stay.
The essence of the conflict between Zionism and the Muslim Arab world is a battle over time. It is a race of mutual exhaustion. The question that will determine how the conflict is ultimately resolved revolves around who will give up first: will the Zionists give up on their project in the face of unrelenting violent, diplomatic and economic resistance, or will the Muslim Arabs give up on their project of erasing the sovereign Jewish presence in their midst, and finally come to accept it as a part of their history, rather than an affront to it? Only time will tell.
A longer essay on this topic was published in Fathom. Read it here.
A simple counting of 50 years of military occupation might lead reasonable people to believe that it can no longer be considered temporary. But that fails to take account of an alternative time frame: the Arab and Muslim countdown until the end of Zionism and the State of Israel. That countdown reflects the prevailing Muslim, Arab and Palestinian view that Zionism is a historical aberration that will not – and must not – last. Any Israeli effort to end the military occupation in a manner that would bring it peace and security thus clashes with the Muslim, Arab and Palestinian view that no place for compromise and agreement exists that would grant legitimacy to Zionism and the State of Israel and that would accept its permanence.