Steven Den Beste comments that Right of Return is "the" issue which caused the Palestinians to refuse the Barak proposal and choose intifada.

He goes on to phrase the question of right of return in these terms:

Do you think that the US should force Israel to accept millions of Palestinian refugees within its pre-1967 borders and give them full citizenship rights if that is the only way to get peace in the Middle East?

There are so many misperceptions here! In limited and insufficient fashion, I'll try to point out the two major ones:


actually, the Palestinians have LONG accepted that Israel's demographic needs must be taken into consideration. Arafat himself has affirmed it. While its obvious from a practical standpoint that millions of Palestinians cannot settle in (pre-1967) Israel, this is exactly the kind of ludicrous misrepresentation that is consistently presented. A much more balanced proposal for handling right of return was presented by Uri Averny, and in fact I mailed that link to Steven, but he dismissed it completely out of hand. But its proposals like these that not only educate the public about what the sides really want, but also do something to further the solution, by presenting an actual plan of action. Dismissal of them based on pre-conceived notions, and propagating false views of Right of Return, are a disservice. But I wasn't able to get Steven to engage in debate on this, which is a shame since his is a wonderful site and he has a real pulpit from which he can make a huge difference.


The Barak proposal was ludicrously unbalanced. It set aside a portion of the west bank for the Palestinian state, but it carved out huge chunks within that area for IDF installations, for the Israeili settlements, and for security zones. Israeili-only highways crossed it, the borders with Jordan would be under IDF control, and the airspace itself would belong to Israel, not Palestine. The area would be separated into sections and Paletinians wanting to travel within their own "sovereign" state would still have to undergo checkpoints and travel with permission from the IDF. How can anyone think this is acceptable for people wanting a free land of their own?

There is excellent documentation on the true nature of the Barak proposal here. Its worth reading for anyone who desires to opine on the topic. It has MAPS and clear illustrations of precisely what the proposals were, something that was never released in American media.

The fundamental problem here is that Den Beste, like many other intelligent, articulate thinkers, is simply not doing due diligence. He has formed an opinion based on what he has been fed by the media. The picture he has formed is an artificial construct. Now, all material on that topic will be filtered through his conviction and any attempt to engage that opinion on debate will be shot down.

If there will be a solution to the Middle East problem, it will have to be because people on both sides with strong convictions actually LISTEN to what the other side is saying. The truth behind Right of Return and the Barak Proposal is just the beginning - but if more people can be aware of the facts instead of the misinformation, then maybe progress can be achieved - as it always has, through proposals and COMPROMISE.


Being a citizen in a democracy carries with it a commitment to democratic values and a responsibility for your actions. It is morally impossible to be both a devoted democratic citizen and a regular offender against democratic values.

ISHAI MENUCHIN, an IDF soldier who refuses to serve in eth occupied territories.

I wonder why the IDF refusal to serve phenom hasnt been more visible in the media? Probably because it requires some subtlety to grok - after all, the media has barely mentioned that there actually is an occupation, which is a prepreq for understanding why someone would refuse to serve as a matter of principle.

President Bush implied today that there is a difference between al-Qaida terrorism and Palestinian terrorism. He's right. The former is a nihilistic approach that has no real political demands�other than some sweeping notion that the United States should get out of the world. Palestinian terrorism, on the other hand, is rooted in a political struggle. Even Sharon agrees that there's something to negotiate about. Indeed, even he says that Palestinians should have their own state. The Palestinians are using utterly repugnant means, but they are rooted in political demands that even their occupier agrees are legitimate.

Fareed Zakaria

The essential ingredient to informed and honest debate about the middle east has to be explicit acknowledgement of BOTh these truths. 1. There is a LEGITIMATE grievance that the Palestinians are willing to die for - they aren't the same as al-Qaeda. 2. Violence is the wrong approach and is morally wrong. You can qualify that last one by jutifying violance against an occupier (ie, soldiers, checkpoints, possibly settlements, but NOT against Israel proper and civilan areas).

When both sides sit down with these principles stamped across the foreheads, maybe the process can actually suceed.

There's an article by Asma Hasan on SFGate which talks about the trend of demonizing Islam for publicity gain:

Besides quoting the Koran out of context, these profiteers ignore the historical context of the Koran, translation conflicts, as well as overall themes and often the very next line in the verse, which exhorts Muslims to forgive those who wrong them.

By sprinkling your interview, speech or opinion article with a few Koranic verses or stories about Palestinians cheering on Sept. 11 and a "Blame Islam" headline, no one will notice your intellectual dishonesty and double-talk. But they will notice you.

I read Andrew Sullivan quite regularly and I feel that he at least makes a distinction between Muslims in general and "Islamofacists" specifically. I wonder if his readers appreciate that distinction, though. And I have seen plenty of examples of crass intolerance on the warblogs, usually phrased deliberately vaguely so that the author has righteous deniability. As well as contant repetition of false information and out of context Qur'anic references, like the virgins in heaven meme.