Supporters of a Palestinian right of return assume that Israeli Jews bear responsibility for both the past and present suffering of the Palestinian refugees. Accordingly, the Palestinian claim for return is a demand to realize this responsibility (inter alia) by way of the return of the refugees to their places of origin or to uninhabited regions in the Land of Israel/Palestine. The purpose of this article is to examine the responsibility of the Israeli Jews for the Palestinian return of the refugees in light of the question of the justice of Zionism. Part I presents various approaches rejecting or affirming Zionism. The subsequent parts investigate the implications of the disparities between these approaches rejecting/affirming Zionism and Zionism’s actual history as it unfolded in terms of Jewish responsibility for the Palestinian plight and the question of Palestinian return. I argue that some of the approaches to Zionism are irrelevant to the dispute over the Palestinian right of return as it is understood within the framework of Israeli internal discourse and the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. However, my main point is that those approaches rejecting/ affirming Zionism that are relevant, though they may vary in their implications for the scope of Jewish responsibility for Palestinian suffering, nevertheless lead to very similar conclusions with respect to discharging that responsibility by way of Palestinian repatriation.
©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston