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Huckabee Offers Palestinians State "Some Place Else"

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In a move sure to antagonize the Onion for not having come up with it first, former U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee endorsed Israeli control over the occupied West Bank and rejected the "two-state solution." Instead, the Southern Baptist preacher suggested that Palestinians should "have a place of their own" some place else.

Both my parents immigrated to Indiana from the Palestinian town of Ramallah in the early 1960s, before Israel's occupation in 1967. Like many Palestinians in the Diaspora, they would have been happy with a secular democratic state in the entirety of historic Palestine/Eretz Israel with equal rights for both Jews and Arabs. But also like many Palestinians, convinced that Israelis would never agree to granting equality to all Palestinians, they have supported attempts to create a rump Palestinian state in the parts of Palestine occupied by Israel in 1967 where Palestinians could exercise their right to self-determination.

Having been uncomfortable with the idea of immigrants from Europe displacing the native inhabitants of Palestine, Palestinians have never seriously entertained the idea that they should go somewhere else and displace another people to create a "Palestinian" state. But now that a prominent American politician is making the offer, I have some ideas on a locale.

Obviously, the Arab world doesn't offer any choices. All the good states are already taken. I know that many Israelis including Labor leader Ehud Barak occasionally talk about Jordan being given to Palestinians, but being at the intersection of Iraq, Syria, and Greater Israel is probably not what war weary Palestinians want.

The British offered Theodore Herzl Uganda for a Jewish homeland but the larger Zionist movement rejected the offer. To the best of my knowledge, no one asked the Ugandans how they felt about it, but boy did they dodge a bullet there. Perhaps for similar reasons, Palestinians probably wouldn't want to move to Africa either. There has historically been an under-appreciation of Africa by Semites, but that is probably to Africa's benefit.

Huckabee reminded me of a comment my late grandfather made as we drove from Chicago to Washington, DC and then again through the Blue Ridge Mountains. He couldn't believe just how much beautiful empty land there was in the United States. So much empty land......almost like a land without a people waiting for a people without a land.

And since the United States has played such a prominent role historically in helping Israel keep the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights, perhaps the United States can offer up one of the states to the Palestinians. Perhaps that was what Governor Huckabee was getting at.

I haven't yet conducted a poll of Palestinians on the Huckabee-Solution, but it seems that California - at least everything from San Francisco and south would be most preferred, no offense to Huckabee's home state of Arkansas. The landscape is very similar to historic Palestine with various Mediterranean climates, lots of orange and fig trees, beautiful vistas, and lots of ocean front property. California even has its own fault lines, just like Israel/Palestine which makes for good wrath of God sermons. It wouldn't matter if you were originally from Haifa, Ramallah, or the Gaza Strip, there would be something to remind you of home.

Many Palestinians immigrated to the US to live in industrial cities where jobs were plentiful. My grandfather's brother worked for Ford for most of his life in Detroit and I grew up in Gary, Indiana. Nothing against Detroit and Gary, but Palestinians have an agrarian history (it wasn't called the Fertile Crescent because you couldn't grow anything) and would prefer California.

Many Palestinians, especially those in the Diaspora, are Christian and they could try their hand at taking over the California wine industry.

And think of all the jobs in Hollywood playing Arab stereotypes that could now go to actual Arabs.

Hmmm, but that raises the issue of what to do with all the Californians that already live there.

Perhaps Huckabee has a solution for them too. There is a lot of empty land in Nevada and Arizona. We'll just have to wait for his next presidential run.

Blessed are the peacemakers.