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Americans for Peace Now: Knesset forms “flat earth society”

I have been waiting in vain for more than 25 years to hear a coherent answer from Israeli settlers and their supporters to the following questions:

“If Israel keeps expanding settlements and closes the door on a two-state solution, how do you propose to prevent it from becoming either a bi-national state or South Africa under apartheid? Is the answer that you are quite prepared to live forever in a non-democratic apartheid state (it isn’t there yet, although it’s rushing headlong in that direction) with permanently second class citizens who are deprived of the right to vote? If that is your answer, why don’t you admit it?”

Yet the lack of an answer apparently didn’t bother the Knesset members who recently set up a caucus against a two state solution, according to the latest Middle East Peace Report from Americans for Peace Now. The news item has one of the better titles in the history of the blogosphere: “Flat Earth Society.” Here it is, without further comment:

A Knesset caucus against a two-state solution was established earlier this month with strong support from many politicians considered close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“After the disengagement, one could have expected that the talk of creating a Palestinian state would be stricken off and that no one would try to take down [settlements] anymore,” Knesset member Arieh Eldad – a co-founder of the caucus and a member of the extremist National Union party – said at the opening session. “Once again, talk of two states is being heard and there’s a freeze decree,” he added.

His comments were echoed by Likud Minister Benny Begin. “The possibility of creating a foreign, sovereign independent state led by the PLO or Hamas goes against our right over the Land of Israel and our right to live securely,” he said.

The lobby was founded by Eldad and by Likud whip Zeev Elkin. The opening session was also attended by Likud ministers Begin and Moshe Kahlon, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, as well as Likud Knesset members Carmel Shama and Tzipi Hotovely. Kadima Knesset members Otniel Schneller and Zeev Bielski also attended.

The only two Likud ministers to not be present or send messages of support to the caucus were Netanyahu and Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor.

Settler leader Danny Dayan offered the caucus a clear charge: “The lobby’s role should be bringing Zionism to the residents of Israel through expansion so a Jewish sovereignty for the entire Land of Israel will grow from there.”

These statements stand in stark contrast with comments made by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the Herziliya Conference. He said that if Israel fails to reach a peace deal to relinquish control of Palestinian population centers, it “will have to be either a binational or undemocratic [state].”

“If this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state,” he added. (Ynet, 2/2/10; AP 2/3/10; Haaretz, 2/5/10)

32 thoughts on “Americans for Peace Now: Knesset forms “flat earth society”

  1. Dan,

    Your question shows that you don’t really understand apartheid. Under apartheid the goal was to make the majority of blacks foreigners but making them citizens of independent homelands. This was done with the TBVC states (Transkei, Bophutatswana, Venda, Ciskei) while only a minority of blacks remained as South African citizens and were coopted into the system. By leaving Palestinians as citizens of a compliant non-sovereign dependent Palestinian Authority Palestinians would be in the same situation. They would not be citizens but remain foreigners. The problem is that eventually people start looking at the reality rather than the legal theory.

  2. Dan,

    Apartheid failed because Mangosuthu Gatsha Buthelezi organized the other chief ministers of the still non-independent homeland to resist independence and to retain their citizenship. The equivalent of this in the Palestinian case would be for the leaders of the PA to advocate for a one-state solution.

  3. “If that is your answer, why don’t you admit it?”
    Why should they admit it? It might make them look bad. And since the world’s full of people who will happily accept the reality of an apartheid Israel as long as they can keep a facade of being “democratic”, everything’s just dandy.

  4. I’m not what you call a “settler” or one of their supporters, but I can answer your question. First, your premise is mistaken. Expanding the settlements (which ones?) does not close the door to a two-state solution. But that’s an old argument and there’s no point going over it here.

    A second mistaken premise is that Israel is only in danger of “becoming” a nondemocratic or apartheid state. Here’s what the Zionist left refuses to admit: Israel is already nondemocratic in any substantial meaning of the word. It has a large, self-consciously political group of citizens which has always opposed the state’s very existence; therefore Israel is not a universal democracy in any substantive sense, only formally in the sense of ballots etc. Israel proper (not counting the territories) is already an “apartheid” state because Arabs are de facto second-class citizens. Whatever reforms might be made, Israeli Arabs (unlike, for instance, the Druze) can never achieve true equality as citizens for as long as they oppose the existence of the state. Those on the anti-Zionist left understand all this perfectly, and they use these facts skillfully in their rhetoric. It’s time for the Zionist left to get a clue.

    Now here’s the answer to the question, faulty premises aside. If, for whatever reason, the two-state “solution” does not come about, the Arabs in the territories will not be granted citizenship, so they won’t be second-class citizens. They will remain a population which sees itself as occupied. The century-long war will continue, with formal and informal cease-fires and intermittent flare-ups. The Arabs will probably start building state-like institutions as well. The occupation will most likely become institutionalized on both sides, even as it’s being resisted.

    International delegitimization of Israel will continue and probably intensify. However, that’s the most likely scenario no matter what happens with the territories. Ask anyone on the anti-Zionist left, he’ll tell you. Israel is a state which – it is perceived – institutionalizes white (Jewish) oppression of coloreds (Arabs, on both sides of the Green Line). That is the reason for the disproportionate intensity of anti-Israel rhetoric. Worldwide opposition to the so-called nondemocratic, apartheid State of Israel will continue no matter what, and Israel will have no choice but to continue to resist it as it has since the 1970s.

    Personally, to answer your question, I am prepared to live in a nondemocratic, apartheid state. I take that to mean an Israel whose Arab citizens oppose its existence as a Jewish state and where Arabs in the territories are ruled over by force. That’s the state I live in today. The changes you predict are not qualitative changes.

  5. I think it would be more appropriate to title this thread “Americans For Peace Now-A New Form of the Flat Earth Society”. No matter how much events show their belief in a “compromise peace” is just an illusion, they keep up with it. This Knesset lobby for settlement in Judea/Samaria is the ONLY hope for eventual peace. Because only building and strengthening Jewish communities there will convince the Arabs that the Jews are here to stay. Israeli territorial compromises only embolden the radicals. It is about time you “progressives” listen to your fellow “progressive” MagnesZionist-Manekin who endless points out that “the problem ISN’T 1967 (Judea/Samaria/Gaza came into Israeli control), but is rather 1947 (the UN Partition Plan), or 1917 (Balfour Declaration) or even 1897 (the First Zionist Congress). It is THESE things the Arabs are fighting against, not the “occupation” of Judea/Samaria.
    “Peace Now’s” wish to see “two states (Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli) living side by side in peace is ANATHEMA to the Arab/Muslim world”. Any Palestinian leader who agreed to such a thing would be branded a traitor to the cause (a-la-Sadat). Olmert and Livni’s cry that “it is vital to Israel to set up a Palestinian state as soon as possible” only tells the Arabs that the “2-state solution” is NOT in their interest because they want to get rid of Israel, not strengthen her.
    Thus, the only option is to continue the current situation while maintaining the vigil in the security realm, strengthening the settlements, looking for as much cooperation as possible with the Arabs (and there is some). The current Arab strategy (which dates from after the Yom Kippur War) is not all-out military confrontation, but rather a long-term war of attrition with terror accompanied by negotiations designed to demoralize the Israeli Left and to ensure the continuing flow of US and EU money into the pockets of the Palestinian Authority, and an ongoing campaign to delegitimize Israel in the international community. This war will fail, but it would be better for the “progressives” to wake up to this reality sooner than later and forget about their obsolete theories and forumalas about “peace” as they see it.

  6. Aaron,

    I’m rather puzzled. When I lived in Israel in the late 1970s there was actually a majority of Mizrahim among the Jews. Now the Mizrahim are culturally for the most part Arabs, except that they speak Hebrew and are Jews rather than Christians or Muslims. Ashkenazim didn’t become a majority of the Israeli Jewish population again until the major former Soviet aliya of the 1990s. So how this this an example of whites ruling over coloreds? Plus, DNA testing has established the genetic origin of even the European Jews in the Holy Land/Palestine/Eretz Israel. So again how is this a case of whites ruling over coloreds? It seems more a case of one group of coloreds ruling over another, or more correctly since Arabs are actually caucasians (except for the Sudanese and Mauritians) one group of whites ruling over another.

  7. Tom, the answer to your question is simple: I said Israel is perceived by its critics to be whites (Westerners) oppressing coloreds. Israel is perceived as a white, European state.

    Most people know rationally that a large proportion of Israeli Jews are mizrahim, but that’s not the “picture” Israel’s critics have of it. They don’t see the conflict as people from Morocco and Yemen oppressing people from Palestine; they see it as people from Poland and Russia (and Brooklyn) oppressing people from Palestine. This is clear from the rhetoric. For just one instance of many: “the victims (of the Holocaust) are now the oppressors”, although ashkenazim are in fact much more dovish than mizrahim.

    It’s a truism that in politics, it’s perceptions that matter. The perception of Israel as a white, Western state causes many white Westerners to sympathize with Israel’s enemies.

  8. Aaron,

    Okay, I misread that. This was because it followed logically from your claim that Israel isn’t a democracy.

    I would also dispute, however, that Israel isn’t a democracy. I side with Sammi Smooha who terms it an ethnic democracy, rather than with Oren Yiftachel who declares it to be a nondemocratic ethnocracy. If it is democratic for 80 percent of its citizens that means it is a democracy. The challenge is to make it a democracy for 100 percent. And I would also disagree that it is because Israeli Arabs cannot be loyal to Israel that Israel doesn’t treat them as full citizens. That is backwards. It is because the state doesn’t treat them as full citizens that many Israeli Arabs question that Israel as a Jewish state can ever treat them equally. I think that Israel is perfectly capable of being a state with a predominantly Jewish cultural and a special mission as a refuge for oppressed Jews and still treat all its citizens equally. It is largely because it favors Jews through its land tenure laws, budgeting decisions and by not functioning as a secular state but as a semi-religious one that Arabs are second-class citizens.

  9. Tom: I call Israel a democracy of the Jews, and you call it “democratic for 80 percent of its citizens”, so I don’t think we disagree much there. Next time you’re defending the state of Israel, point out that it’s “the only democracy of 80 percent of its citizens in the Middle East”. See how far that gets you. My main point isn’t that Israel is not a universal democracy. My point is that Israel’s critics are not stupid enough to be fooled by our calling Israel a democracy, whether Israel fits your definition of the word or not.

    Israel can never treat its citizens equally as long as a politically self-conscious group of citizens (the Arabs) is disloyal to the state. That’s mainly because in Israel, a large part of treating citizens equally is allowing them access to security-sensitive positions. In effect that excludes Arabs not just from the army but from many jobs in the electric company, the water authority, the defense industry, and really pretty much everything except maybe Knesset intelligence committees.

    Loyalty is necessary for equality, but equality is not necessary for loyalty. Bedouin and Druze are, alas, not treated equally, but many of them are loyal to the State of Israel.

  10. It must be pointed out that, at least in the political-Knesset realm, it is the Arab political leadership itself that has greatly weakened the Arab community’s influence in Israel. They are able to get governmental financial support for their people during the budget process by supporting the budgen in Knesset votes, just like all the other parties, including those in the opposition. They have weakened their influence in two important ways: (1) by adopting extreme anti-Israel positions in their public statements, and (2) by their chronic inability to cooperate with each other and run on a joint list.

    While it has been stated that Israel, as a Jewish state, should have major national policies determined by a “Jewish” majority in the Knesset, the fact is that Arab votes were critical in getting both the Oslo Agreements and the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif. Sharon even denounced those who pointed this out as “racists”. So we see that at critical junctures, the Arabs can have great influence. As usual, Arab spokesmen end up trying to blame everyone else, but they should look in the mirror to see a significant source of their problems.

  11. Here is an interesting article by Akiva Eldar in Ha’aretz which is a paean of praise of ‘peace partner’ Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad:

    Note the following, revealing quote from the article:

    Fayyad is promising that this year, more than half the PA budget ($1.8 billion out of $3 billion) will come from tax revenues, especially indirect taxes. He hopes the Palestinians will no longer be dependent on the kindness of foreign countries and will be able to fill their own needs.

    Of course, Palestinian leaders have been promising this since the beginning, but it never happens. Fayyad himself has promised it in the past. Note the comment about INDIRECT taxes. Why did he emphasize that point? Because the Palestinians, like all Arabs throughout the Arab world are very reluctant to pay taxes. This is because they don’t view taxes the way Westerners do..i.e. money paid by the taxpayer to the government in return for governmental services rendered. In the Arab world, taxes are viewed as tribute paid to the ruler, their overlord, and the money goes into the pockets of the ruler and his family and cronies. That is what is expected. That is why the Arab municipalities in Israel are constantly bankrupt..the citizenry refuses to pay municipal taxes (and NOT because of “discrimination” by the national government).

    Benny Morris, in his book “1948” points out that when the British took control in Eretz Israel, they gave both the Jews and Arabs the power to set up autonomous agencies with the power to tax their community. The Jews set up the Jewish Agency. The Arabs refused to set up a parallel “Arab Agency”. They said “why should be pay taxes when we can get the British to give us money”?. Also there would be the question of who would control it, thus leading to major friction between all the clans of the country.

    When the Oslo Agreements were signed, there was an attempt to set up, in the US, a “Palestine National Fund” which would parallel the JNF, in order to collect funds from well-to-do Palestinians in the US. It folded after a short time. Palestinians would not give money to some fund controlled by people from a rival clan. They would only give money to their own relatives (this was discussed in the media at the time).

    So we see that, today, the Palestinians may say they want a state, but to actually dip into their pockets and PAY FOR IT?

  12. Aaron,
    How exactly are the Israeli Arabs disloyal to the state? If you mean by criticism than this applies to most groups within the state. If you mean by obeying the law, the Arab citizens are certainly more loyal than many of the Jewish settlers on the West Bank who set up illegal settlements, declare that they are not loyal to the government of the day, and commit pogroms against their Arab neighbors, thereby helping to increase friction and create terrorists.

    The Irish Free State after the end of the Irish civil war (1923) created a situation where Protestant Irish, descendants of British settlers, were excluded from certain security-sensitive positions, from the army, and largely from politics, but they were free to compete in business and were not discriminated against in budgeting decisions. The Irish Free State had a Catholic Gaelic ethos and character, but it didn’t actively discriminate against Protestants. I think that most Israeli Arabs would be quite happy with a similar situation in which their villages received similar levels of funding as Jewish towns and moshavim, and in which Arabs were free to rent or purchase state land like Jews. One might argue that some lands were purchased by funds collected in the diaspora for Jewish settlement, but the majority are lands taken over by the state after 1948 and formerly belonging to the Ottoman and mandatory authorities.

  13. Tom, I don’t believe Arabs towns receive any less funding than Jewish ones do. When MERETZ was in the gov’t coalition formed by Rabin in 1992 they equalized things like that, child support payments, etc.

    Arabs by and large do not grant the state moral legitimacy, feeling that it doesn’t represent them. There is no way it can, Israel represents their defeat, an abomination, an historical abberation because, according to their world-view, it is the Arab/Muslims who are supposed to be dominant. I would say that many Arabs in the Arabs countries also feel that way about the regime of that country if the leadership is in the hands of a hamullah or clan or group that is hostile to their own. A good example would be the majority Shi’ites in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq which favored the Sunnis, and now the opposite, where the Sunnis feel cheated out of power now that the Shi’ites are in power.

    I recall some years ago on the TV show “Erev Hadash” hosted by journalist Dan Margalit where the subject was the not infrequent situation where state broadcasting authorities will break into homes and confiscate the television if they don’t pay the accursed TV tax. Margalit asked the guest who was an inspector from the Authority if non-payment was a widespread phenomenon in Israel. The inspector replied “well, there is a problem in the Arab sector….” and I could see Margalit on the edge of the screen waving at the guy to shut up. Things like this, widespread non-compliance of the Arab sector in paying taxes, illegal building, crime and the such are verboten subjects in the Israeli media.

  14. Tom: Obedience is not loyalty. No one who supports a Palestinian so-called right of return to Israel is loyal to the State of Israel, because that would entail the destruction of the state. No one who would root for Israel’s enemies, or stay neutral, in a war over Israel’s existence is loyal to the state.

    Arab Israelis are by and large obedient but disloyal. Again, contrast with the Druze.

  15. Aaron,
    So you want the Arabs to declare themselves to be Zionists before you call them loyal? Then you would probably argue that because they are only supportive of a Meretz or Labor version of Zionism that this isn’t real loyalty. There are certain types of regimes that like to engage in elaborate loyalty oathes and declarations from its citizens. Maybe because you agree with them you don’t mind people not calling Israel democratic.

  16. Tom:
    Serious question. The Iranians are plowing towards nukes. Even the UN says so. ( and lets face it, that’s not exactly a hotbed of philo-semitism ) But I digress. Do you think that this is something Israel should be at all concerned with. If not, why not. If you were Netanyahu and there was an administration in Washington that makes Neville Chamberlain look like Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at little round top. What would you do?

  17. Israel according to a former nuclear worker at Dimona, who received an 18-year sentence for divulging this information, has something on the order of 200 nuclear weapons. It should not be Israel that should be worried about a possible Iranian nuclear capability, but rather all of those countries in the region, especially those neighboring Iran, that lack nuclear weapons.

    I don’t see an Iranian nuclear capability as inherently more dangerous than the existing Pakistani nuclear arsenal, which the Reagan administration was keen to let Islamabad acquire to the extent that it went on a vendetta against whistle-blowers in the CIA who raised the alarm. So if Iranian weapons are such a reason for concern today, why weren’t Pakistani nuclear ambitions a reason to have worried twenty-five years ago?

  18. You don’t disappoint Tom. Again, the problem in your mind. The root of all evil. The blot on humanity, is Israel. The coming Iranian bomb is a wonderful development, nothing to worry about. And there is no difference between the United States, Israel, And England when you compare them to China, Pakistan and Russia. In fact they are more noble and better. Do I have it correct?

  19. Tom-
    I have often wondered about that myself-why didn’t people freak out about the Pakistan “Islamic” bomb more than they did about Iran’s nuclear capability. Pakistan is a very unstable state as we see, and they have imperial ambitions no less than Iran, by playing around in Kashmir, Afghanistan and India. Maybe it is because the Arabs aren’t afraid of Pakistan, but they do fear Iran?

  20. I don’t think anybody is happy about the situation in Pakistan, except Tom of course. But the United States has at least something of a working relationship with them. And their blood enemy is India. Iran is a different story. But i huess according to Tom, Dan, Witty, not toemtnion Phil ( Hitler should have finished the job) Weiss. It’s nothing to worry about. I hope they are right. Because if they are wrong the world has we know it is over.

  21. Bill,
    You have in completely wrong. I didn’t criticize Israel at all in the response to your question. I just pointed out the realities, which you want to ignore. If I was happy about the situation in Pakistan, why did I bring it up?

    Bill, I don’t know which passport you hold. If you hold an Israeli passport I can understand why you place Israel’s national interest in front of the U.S. national interest–I only do the same for my country. But if you are American you should make aliya immediately and stop behaving like an Israeli fifth columnist. Urging the U.S. to enter into a third war while in the midst of a severe recession and suffering from a severely overstretched military is not in the American national interest.

  22. Nobodys talking about a war. But how about this. Would it be possible fopr Obama to stop bowing and scraping to the Iranians. Just for a little bit. And I do think that it’s in the US national interst to prevent Iranian hegemony over the Persian gulf. I know, “Persian gulf and all that”. I am curious though. To me the United States, England, and Israel having the bomb is not soemthing I worry about. There is a qualitiative difference between them and countries like Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China. Do you agree, and if not why not.

  23. BTW, I cna’t help thinking when I read what you write what Chamberlain said about the Munich pact. “Why should we get involved in a far away land for people about which we know nothing” Throwing Israel to the wolves, has you advocate doing, won’t work this time either.

  24. Bill,
    I don’t consider organizing international sanctions against the regime to be either bowing or scraping or throwing Israel to the wolves. You’ve obviously been listening to Limbaugh et al. for so long that you’ve lost touch with reality.

  25. Reality, internationa sanctions. I beg to differ about who is intouch with reality. The Russians, the Chinese, the everloving krauts. Snactions my ass. And Hussein Obamas every fiber of being argues against it.

  26. Dan raises clear and fair questions that are almost always avoided by settlers and their supporters.

    Not only that but what kind of country allows you to immigratre to it based soley on your religion/race even if you and your grandparents never lived or set foot in the area?

  27. Eurail,
    Ireland, another Eurail country, also allows you to do that. What kind of a country allows you to come to it illegally without a visa and after a decade become legalized? That would be the United States. What kind of a country allows people to come who have nothing to do with the culture of the country, have no real great skills, and who have no plans to assimilate? There are a good many countries in Europe asking that question at the moment.

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