Straight Talk on Palestinian Statehood

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The issue of Palestinian statehood rode the Pope’s robe into the headlines this week. The pope opted to speak of a “homeland” for Palestinians, avoiding the word “state” like it was a dirty word. It’s the kind of acute linguistic caution that has poisoned the entire debate around Palestinian rights.  As an antidote, straight-talking Middle East analyst and historian Juan Cole confronts the statehood issue with blunt force in a post at his Informed Comment blog.

“The contemporary world is a world of states,” explains Cole, “and falling between the cracks because you lack citizenship in any state is a guarantee of marginality and oppression.”

Cole folds the stateless status of Palestinians into its proper historical context, and then makes his argument with a clarity that is all too rare in this notoriously contentious debate: “Statelessness was an attribute of slaves in premodern times. The Jews of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s were the primary victims of the crime of stripping people of their citizenship in a state. Make no mistake; it is Israel that deprived them of statehood, which the 1939 British White Paper pledged to them, and which other League of Nations Mandates, such as French Syria and Lebanon and British Iraq, achieved. Apologists try to shift the blame for Palestinian statelessness from Israel to someone else. But it won’t work.”

Source: Informed Comment

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