Writing in the Melbourne newspaper The Age, Yakov Rabkin, professor of history at the University of Montreal, argues that Israel could learn something from Australia's National Sorry Day, and acknowledge the wrongs that Israel has inflcited on the Palestinians, just as Australia now apologizes annually to Aboriginal communities. Rabkin appeals, in this, to 'the values of social justice that permeate the Jewish tradition' and he refers a couple of times to the colonial histories of Australia and Israel.
I, too, look forward to the day when Israelis can say an official sorry to the Palestinian people, but I would point out one major disanalogy that Rabkin ignores in treating the cases as alike, and one practical conclusion flowing from it. This is that, despite Australia's colonial history, the present legitimacy of the country has not been put in question. In making its apology, it does so as a nation whose existence is accepted; this is even a basic assumption of the apology - both offered and received in the knowledge that no one proposes the dismantling or undoing of Australia. The same does not hold in the Israel and Palestine case. The legitimacy of Israel's existence is still not recognized on the Palestinian side. It could be that apology and recognition will go together as reciprocal acts in building a two-state solution. (Thanks: IMac.)