The author makes us aware of a similar problem today. While antizionists may imply that there is a huge Arab population that can live only on Jewish land, that's simply not the case. Katz explains that when Arabs controlled the entire West Bank from 1948 through 1967, not even allowing Jews to live there at all, there were no demands for a separate Arab state there.
I must confess the continued currency of this argument beats me. The Arabs in the West Bank (its proponents claim) did not ask for an independent state when they were ruled by the Jordanians, so why would they demand one now? The answer, of course, is that they're part of the World Conspiracy Against Israel And The Jewish People. They don't want to be free; only to kill Jews, or, at the very least, ethnically cleanse them from Israel.
Of course, this reasoning may catch off guard Western audiences to whom the only possible reason a people may ask for a state is the realization of their national aspirations. A Westerner thinks, for instance, of the Basques, who enjoy a high standard of living, freedom of movement and the right to receive schooling in Euskara, but are very frustrated to have to see the Spanish flag flying over their public buildings. Or the Scots people, who don't even have a separate language but long for a separate state all the same. If the Palestinians are like those people, they should be frustrated by any foreign flag being hoisted in the West Bank; therefore, if they reject the Israeli flag but accepted the Jordanian one, it must mean they're antisemitic.
A more sophisticated and enquiring audience, however, might ask if the flags are the only difference between Israeli and Jordanian occupation. And here's where the argument begins to crumble.
For one thing, the Jordanian occupiers were Arab. They had the same language, the same religion, the same customs as the occupied people. Foreign rule is likely to be far less tolerated if the rulers' way of life and values are perceived as widely different from the occupied people's.
But, fundamentally, the Jordanian occupation did not disrupt West Bank life to the same extent that the Israeli occupation has. Let us just ask:
- Did the Jordanians steal privately-owned Palestinian land to build illegal settlements, outposts and roads?
- Did the Jordanians burn down fields, poison wells, savagely beat up shepherds or uproot trees?
- Did the Jordanians write "Death to the Palestinians" on the walls and tombstones of the West Bank?
- Did the Jordanians stone schoolgirls on their way to school?
- Did the Jordanian soldiers shoot holes in the Palestinians' water towers?
- Did the Jordanians make Palestinian drivers wait for hours on end at checkpoints, far beyond what would be justified by security concerns?
If your answer to all these questions is no, you'll understand why the Palestinians want independence now but didn't yearn for it in 1966. It's not a question of sovereignty or peoplehood; it's just an understandable craving for normalcy. That is easy to grasp, and I'm puzzled that the Zionists have been able to peddle their argument for so long without these elementary questions being raised.
Which is connected, by the way, to why a Bantustan solution can never be accepted by the Palestinians. If they have to cross Israeli territory, or make an impossibly long detour, to go from Hebron to Jericho, any sense of a normal life will be lost. The belief that a Palestinian state with long wedges of Jewish settlements cutting deep into it is sustainable in the long term is purely dellusional, but unfortunately it's the underlying assumption behind all Israeli versions of the highly questionable concept of a two-state solution.