In today's "Disunion" blog at the New York Times, there is a post about how the South continued to fight for white hegemony after the surrender Appomattox Courthouse. One topic of the post was the debate over what exactly were the terms of the Appomattox surrender. A further issue was the southern notion that the result of the war was the triumph of “might over right.”
A notable passage in the post is
Trafficking in the toxic myth that congressional Reconstruction was a time of white Southern prostration and vindictive “black rule,” Gordon claimed, “our people feel that the faith which was pledged to them has been violated.” Southerners were “disturbed” by the congressional program, “deprived of rights which we had inherited — which belonged to us as citizens of the country.” If they had known what indignities and disabilities awaited them, Gordon surmised, Confederates would not have surrendered on April 9, 1865.With changing a few words here and there, this passage would become
Trafficking in the toxic myth that Zionism is a force for Arab prostration and vindictive “Jewish rule.” “Our people feel that the faith which was pledged to them has been violated.” Arabs were “disturbed” by the Zionist program, “deprived of rights which we had inherited — which belonged to us as natives of the land.”Altogether, that is not too off from the case that is put forward against Israel.
Returning to the point about how the American Civil War represented the triumph of “might over right,” which originates in General Lee's farewell address to his troops, I recall Einat Wilf's reflections on what led to her present views of the conflict. Among Wilf's points was her characterization of her Arab interlocutors at various “peace” gatherings. She described their position as “we get it, you're here, you're powerful,” and then over dinner they would say things like, “the people are not really a people, you're only a religion” and “your whole connection to this land is made up, it's a fabricated story that you created in order to take our land” with the conclusion that they reject any Jewish right to be in the Land of Israel.
Wilf continued on the asymmetry of moderation between the Israeli and the Palestinian side. On the Israeli side, a moderate recognizes the right of the Arab residents between the Mediterranean and the Jordan to have self-determination. However, the Palestinians considered moderates by the West “do not recognize my right. They recognize my might, but what happens the day when I no longer have might?”
When the South surrendered to Northern “might” without recognizing Northern right, the result was that as soon as that might was retracted, the South reimposed social order that had existed previously. Similarly, if the Palestinians recognize only Israeli might without recognizing any Jewish right, then as soon as Jewish might would be retracted, they will seek to overturn everything Israel has built up. This is why there can never be a just and equitable peace as long as the Palestinians reject Jewish rights to live in their ancestral land and that any notion that peace can break out by simply forcing “adequate” concessions from Israel without getting the Palestinians to recognize Jewish rights is simply fantasy.