Yet it is Oren's second screed about the "astonishing historical success" of Israel and the Zionist project that is somehow more unsettling. Maybe it's because his heartfelt paean to the almost miraculously realized national aspirations of the Israeli people gives such short shrift to the dreams of those who inhabit the same land:
In view of these monumental achievements, one might think that Zionism would be admired rather than deplored. But Zionism stands accused of thwarting the national aspirations of Palestine's indigenous inhabitants, of oppressing and dispossessing them.But the unease with Oren's historical claims is also due to the uncomfortable similarity to those recently made by someone who is no friend of the United States. In his March 18 address to both houses of the Russian parliament, President Vladimir Putin defended his country's annexation of Crimea this way:
Never mind that the Jews were natives of the land--its Arabic place names reveal Hebrew palimpsests--millennia before the Palestinians or the rise of Palestinian nationalism. Never mind that in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians received offers to divide the land and rejected them, usually with violence. And never mind that the majority of Zionism's adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace.
Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride. This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptised. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilisation and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The graves of Russian soldiers whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea...To be sure, Putin's opportunism in the pursuit of his Greater Russia is different in kind and degree than the life or death struggle of Jews facing pogroms and the Holocaust in Europe. But Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, Ze'ev Jabotinsky and most of Zionism's giants were under no illusions that the establishment of a Jewish state in the land west of the Jordan River would require conflict, accommodation and eventual co-existence with the Arabs already living there
Colleagues. In people's hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th Century.
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(Jabotinsky's "Iron Wall" was the clearest contradiction of the Zionist mantra about "a land without people for a people without a land.") If Abba Eban's famous line that the Arabs "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity" achieve peace with Israel was true, so too was Jabotinsky's statement about the growing Jewish presence in mandatory Palestine, "if we were Arabs, we would not accept it either."
Fast forward to 2014 and most of Jabotinsky's heirs in the Likud Party and its allies among religious and settler parties still won't accept any Palestinian irredentism at the expense of their own. That's why Michael Oren was being so disingenuous when he wrote:
"[T]he majority of Zionism's adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace.Hamas certainly does not share that dream. (After all, its charter declares that Hamas "strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.") But hundreds of thousands of in Gaza, in the West Bank and across the Palestinian Diaspora do. As long as Israel perpetuates the status quo (or worse, unilaterally annexes some or all of the occupied territories), Oren's Zionist project will not know peace. Sadly, until Palestinians are safe and free in their own homes, Israelis won't be, either.
The response to date has been, at best, a refusal to remain at the negotiating table or, at worst, war. But Israelis refuse to relinquish the hope of resuming negotiations with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. To live in peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors remains the Zionist dream."