Special Nakba Feature: Comment: "Will Israel Get the Message?"

Fifty years after the Palestinian Nakba, the loss of the homeland and displacement of 800,000 people, and Israeli independence, the Palestinians have not realized their rights and objectives, but neither have the objectives of the Zionist movement been achieved.

While the Palestinian failure thus far has been noticed by almost everybody, only a few understand that the Zionist project has in fact not succeeded.

One hundred years ago, the Zionist movement started their campaign to establish a Jewish state in Palestinian, a purely Jewish state in all Palestine that would, among other objectives, solve the problems suffered by Jewish people worldwide. That project, however, assumed that Palestine was a land without a people that could provide a solution for the people without a land.

One hundred years later, and 50 years after the establishment of the Jewish state, the following objectives have not been attained: the Jewish people do not control all of Palestine; Israel is stuck with four million Palestinians in historical Palestine; even Israel proper is not a purely Jewish state; and a peaceful, stable life does not exist and cannot be seen even on the horizon.

Thus, the Zionist project has not been successful. There is a Palestinian people in and outside of Palestine determined now, no less than 70, 50 or 20 years ago, to realize their rights, which are now recognized worldwide.

In the past, the Zionists and later Israel, succeeded in achieving some of their objectives because, among other reasons, of two factors. The first was the Cold War, and the role Israel was required to play in the competition between the two super-powers over the vital Middle East, which no longer exists. The second is the human tragedy which the Jewish people suffered in the Second World War and the Western countries' consequent feelings of guilt. But in spite of the continuous, and appropriate, recognition of that suffering and that tragedy, its impact on the "realpolitik" is declining with the passage of time, the existence of a state for the Jewish people, and, of increasing importance, the tragedy and suffering of the Palestinians.

During the peace process, Israel has been given a historic opportunity to make a breakthrough, to gain recognition and acceptance from the Arab world, and ensure peace and survival. In return, Israel would have to agree to the division of Palestine based on the 1967 borders and the principles of i nternational legitimacy. It appears that the Israelis have decided to give this opportunity a miss, simply because they have tried to exploit the weakness of the other side by trying to get peace without giving up the land. This not only cannot work, but will also have negative consequences for Is rael.

The failure of the peace process and the bitter taste left with the Palestinians is a partial contributor to the scale and content of the current commemoration of the Nakba by Palestinians, which is focusing on issues which are scheduled to have been addressed in the peace process: refugees, land, rights. Will Israel get the message? Or is it too late? There are no answers to these questions.