The War of Return
How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace
Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf
All Points Books
Two prominent Israeli liberals argue that for the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians to end with peace, Palestinians must come to terms with the fact that there will be no “right of return.”
In 1948, seven hundred thousand Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the first Arab-Israeli War. More than seventy years later, most of their houses are long gone, but millions of their descendants are still registered as refugees, with many living in refugee camps. This group—unlike countless others that were displaced in the aftermath of World War II and other conflicts—has remained unsettled, demanding to settle in the state of Israel. Their belief in a “right of return” is one of the largest obstacles to successful diplomacy and lasting peace in the region.
In The War of Return, Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf—both liberal Israelis supportive of a two-state solution—reveal the origins of the idea of a right of return, and explain how UNRWA – the very agency charged with finding a solution for the refugees – gave in to Palestinian, Arab and international political pressure to create a permanent “refugee” problem. They argue that this Palestinian demand for a “right of return” has no legal or moral basis and make an impassioned plea for the US, the UN, and the EU to recognize this fact, for the good of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
A runaway bestseller in Israel, the first English translation of The War of Return is certain to spark lively debate throughout America and abroad.
Zionism has a story to tell that is not only about Jews or for Jews. Zionism has a story to tell that, when properly understood, has the power to inspire people and peoples to great acts of daring and sacrifice. Zionism tells a simple story: Victimhood is not destiny. A history of marginalization, humiliation, discrimination, persecution, massacres, and even genocide can be transcended. A people, no matter how downtrodden, can find within themselves the power to change their future.
Dr. Wilf grew up as a member of the Israeli left who believed that when the Palestinians would have their own sovereign state, Israel would finally live in peace. But like many Israelis of the left, she lost the certainty that she once had. This essay in Al Monitor reveals Dr. Wilf’s new vision for peace.