Saul Singer at PostGlobal

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer, a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post, is co-author of the forthcoming book, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Middle East Quarterly, Moment, the New Leader, and bitterlemons.org (an Israeli/Palestinian e-zine). Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served as an adviser in the United States Congress to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committees. He is also on Twitter. Close.

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer is a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post. more »

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An Israeli Perspective on Partition

This is an interesting question from an Israeli perspective, since the UN voted on a partition plan for Palestine the same year, 1947. That plan was met by acceptance and even celebration by the Jews and immediately rejected by the Arab world. As our readers surely know, when the British Mandate ended a few months later, five Arab armies invaded in order to wipe the just-declared Jewish state off the map.

Now that the international community and even Israel has decided that creating a Palestinian state is central to resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, it is interesting to think how history would have been different if two states were created back then, as India and Pakistan were. It is tempting, and even natural, to imagine that further wars could have been avoided, since the Palestinians would have had the state they ostensibly have been fighting for.

In truth, however, a "successful" partition in 1947 would not have ended the conflict. There is no reason to believe that the Arab world of that time, even if it had tactically accepted the partition plan, would have accepted Israel's right to exist, so an attempt to destroy Israel around its vulnerable birth was inevitable even if Palestine had been created then. The difference would be, if Israel had survived such an onslaught, that an independent Palestine might have emerged west of the Jordan river, rather than Egypt and Jordan occupying such territories, as was the case between 1948 and 1967.

If such a Palestinian state had emerged along side Israel in, say, the 1950s, we might have avoided some wars and be in a more peaceful situation today, if only because it would not have been possible to pretend that the Arab goal was a Palestinian state (since it already existed). Instead, however, real or imagined territorial disputes would have provided excuses to attack Israel. We see this in the case of Israel's complete, UN-approved unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, which instead of leading Hizbullah to declare victory and disband, resulted in their massive weapons buildup and unprovoked attacks, all allegedly because of a speck of land they call Shaba Farms.

What we see is a continuous Arab attempt to dress up its rejection of Israel's existence as a border conflict. Some day, we Israelis hope and dream, our "conflict" with the Arabs will become one over borders, which we can resolve, rather than one of existence, which we cannot.

As for India and Pakistan, I do wonder if by now that Muslim-Hindu tensions would have been in less danger of deteriorating into war if the two populations were living in a single state. I will be interested to read the answers of more knowledgeable panelists on this issue.

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