The author writes that the title of this book comes from, “following the first Zionist Congress in Basel in 1897 at which the idea of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine was first mooted, the rabbis of Vienna dispatched two representatives to investigate the suitability of the country for such an enterprise. The men reported the result of their explorations in this cable to Vienna: The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man. It was not “A land without people for a people without a land.” It was inhabited by native Palestinians for whom Palestine was (and still is) their homeland. And therein lies the root of a conflict that continues relentlessly every day.
Karmi has described a political vision for this troubled region that unfolds in the book; it is also a personal imperative for her, she was one of 800,000 who were torn from Palestine in 1948 when she was a child. She has lived in exile in England, most of her life, where she is an academic at the University of Exeter.
The book provides an excellent, methodical context for the events that flash sometimes on our news, a history that the mass media never base their stories in.
She writes about the West and its powerful pro-Israel lobby, in particular how USA media is used “to distort American public perceptions and help entrench unassailable ‘truths’ favourable to Israel” including perceptions about the liberalism and ‘civilized values’ of Israel. This is a country where children are jailed and tortured, where thousands are held in inhumane prisons, a country that kills civilians with drones.
She explains how aid only perpetuates the occupation, the story of Zionism, including Christian Zionism and its power; and always the Wall, the most visible and shocking manifestation of Israel’s violation of international law. She examines the 2-state solution and exposes its total lack of viability. The reality of seven million exiles who demand the Right of Return, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Canada and many nations pay lip service, requires us to consider the impossibility of accommodating those who would choice to exercise this right to a land that grows smaller every day. Palestinian homes and farms are bulldozed to make room for new Israeli colonies, both domestic and commercial, which are built on Palestinian land, again in violation of international law.
As Karmi writes in her introduction, this all leads to the only possible conclusion and only viable solution: the one state solution. She expands on this in her concluding chapter.
I heard Karmi and many other speakers, Palestinians, Israelis, Europeans, discuss this solution in May, 2013 at a conference on ‘The One Democratic State’, a solution that emphasizes equality of all citizens and the right of return of exiles. Thanks to Karmi and many other thinkers and activists, this concept is gaining success globally as well as in Israel and Palestine. This book is an invaluable contribution to resolving a conflict that has inflicted terrible consequences on millions of people and continues to threaten regional and global security.
Her analysis is based on “a vision, an aspiration and a belief in the ultimate humanity of Jews and Palestinians and all those who wish to see them prosper.”