In his review of Hannah Arendt's thought and literary output, Cory Robin, touching on her opposition to Zionism, writes "Zionism left the Palestinians with no options other than emigration or 'transfer', which could be accomplished only using Fascist methods, or second-class status in the land of their birth" (LRB, 4 January 2007). That should be
amended more properly to read "Palestinians, having refused to accept any compromise
offered, left Zionists with no option".
Even if the argument is to be debated on the grounds that the Zionist claim to a national homeland in the area the world knew than as "Palestine" (although no one had heard of Palestinians) is in question, no one surely can disregard the many attempts made by officials, semi-official persons and private individuals to reach a compromise with the Arab nationalists there. This was done despite the purposeful non-recognition of any specific non-Jewish national rights to the country as reflected in the Mandate's Article 9 which stated there was to be respect solely for the "personal status" of non-identified "various peoples and communities". Arabs, whether Syrian or otherwise - there was no such classification of "Palestinian Arab" at the time - were not a factor.
Nevertheless, Arab violence brought about the considerable decrease of the original land dimension of the Jewish national home guaranteed by international law in decisions both of the San Remo Conference in 1920 and the decision of the Supreme Council of the League of Nations in 1922. This was in violation of Article 5 of the Mandate that "no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of the Government of any foreign Power". CisJordan was handed over to one Abdullah, a Saudi Arabian refugee set on regaining the throne of Damascus for his brother Feisal who had to make do with the throne of Iraq, so as to create TransJordan, an entity, however, thast was nevertheless administered under the Palestine Mandate regime.
Other compromise proposals such as an Arab Agency idea floated by the British to counter the Jewish Agency were rejected by Arabs. The 1939 Partition plan was rejected by Arabs who even refused to sit on the same floor with the Zionist in St. James' Palace. In the years in-between, over a thousand Jews had been killed in Arab riots in 1920, 1921, 1929 and during the 1936-39 disturbances.
Throughout the late 1920s and the 1930s, Jewish pacifists and bi-nationalists attempted to persuade Arabs that any agreement, even including the idea of halting Jewish immigration, could be accomplished if only they would sit and talk. Even David Ben-Gurion engaged in discussions. Nothing was forthcoming: no recognition of Jewish national rights, of Jewish need before the Holocaust to escape Nazi intentions and of their own distinct non-position vis a vis the overwhelmning international legitimacy that Zionism had gained.
If we fast-forward to 2007, we can, perhaps, rephrase the question thus: if after
15 months following a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and and the
declaration of yet another cease-fire on November 26, 51 Qasam missiles have been
fired into Israel by December 24, is Israel left with any other option except to act in its self-defense and to assume that Arabs will never agree to any Jewish political sovereignty anywhere in what the Arabs call "Palestine" and what the Jews refer to as the "Land of Israel"?
Will it be published?