American Jews anti-Zionism Apartheid Arab-Israeli conflict BDS delegitimization Far left Israel Israeli occupation

“Not All Criticism Of Israel Is the Same”

My op-ed on the campaign against the “anti-delegitimization” of Israel was just posted on the New York Jewish Week web site. The far left won’t like it. The far right won’t like it. I don’t know what the centrists will think…

Here it is:

Not All Criticism Of Israel Is The Same

In an article on the recent General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, The Jewish Week’s Gary Rosenblatt noted the delegates’ understandable “angst” over “international efforts to delegitimize Israel.” Then he asserted: “Many of the 4,000 delegates witnessed that effort firsthand [my italics] when a tiny group of hecklers … disrupted the keynote address by Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

But those young people were not trying to delegitimize Israel or destroy it.

They protested policies that many delegates to the GA also found appalling, such as the loyalty oath and settlement expansion.

The inclusion of the protestors into the same category as true delegitimizers exemplifies the hazy, imprecise definitions of the “enemy” that are being tossed around in the Jewish community’s conversations about heated, anti-Israel rhetoric and activity. Fortunately, a multimillion-dollar campaign to confront delegitimization is being organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the JFNA. This initiative must distinguish carefully between vehement opposition to Israeli policies and pernicious efforts whose ultimate goal is to unravel the Jewish state. If it doesn’t, it will be perceived as mounting a generalized assault against any passionate criticism that mainstream Jews find grating, rather than rhetoric that is truly dangerous.

In an influential report on delegitimization that has helped to catalyze this effort, the Re’ut Institute, an Israeli think tank, notes that “criticism [of Israel] should be viewed as legitimate, even when harsh or unfair.” But without more precise definitions of what is over the top vs. what is simply unpleasant, the effort will lack credibility — especially on university campuses — and be seen as an initiative of Jewish thought police.

Re’ut misses the mark when it claims that “criticism against Israel becomes delegitimization when it exhibits blatant double standards, singles out Israel, denies its right to exist as the embodiment of the self-determination right of the Jewish people or demonizes the state.” The first category of criticism — exhibiting double standards or singling out Israel — is not as objectionable as the second. It is possible to harangue Israel for human rights violations or other actions, and unfairly ignore similar behavior by other nations, yet not be guilty of trying to destroy the Jewish state.

It would be more helpful to distinguish between two categories of rhetoric or activities, and to respond to them differently: defamatory claims that assert or strongly imply that the very existence of a Jewish state is immoral; and claims that are simply wrong, but which can be credibly made in intelligent conversation and need to be answered cogently and respectfully.

Here are some examples of truly delegitimizing actions and rhetoric that should be vigorously denounced and countered:

The signs at rallies that proclaim “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Shall Be Free.” The claims that Israel is a “Nazi state” and/or one that is “genocidal,” implying that there is a moral duty to oppose the Jewish state.

“Lawfare” initiatives that seek the arrest of Israeli officials when they touch down in England or other countries, which imply that Israeli governmental institutions are, by definition, illegal and the embodiment of all evil.

Another dangerous strain of criticism, often heard in comments in the blogosphere and bolstered by some academics, attacks the whole notion of the “Jewish people” as a distinct collective with the same right to self-determination as any other people.

On the other hand, mistakenly calling Israel an “apartheid state” or referring to an “apartheid wall” is not necessarily an act of delegitimization. Those who use the apartheid analogy often cite Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s statements comparing Israeli policies to those perpetrated by the Afrikaners. Bishop Tutu is not someone who rejects the premise or existence of the Jewish state and surely he knows something about apartheid. I think his opinion is wrong, but worth taking seriously and countered in a respectful manner.

What about the movement known as BDS, referring to boycott, divestment and sanctions? Some activists clearly are for the eventual internal collapse of the Jewish state. But many are pressuring Israel to change its policies. They — and the larger, more important audience of people who are following this conversation — cannot be convinced that there is something intrinsically wrong with pressuring Israel, particularly when the BDSers target policies deeply offensive to many American Jews who want Israel to survive and thrive.

The best argument against BDS is that it is tactically counter-productive because it will accentuate Israelis’ us-against-the-world mentality and make them even less likely to compromise. The worst arguments are those that accuse BDS supporters of harboring motives that they may not have.

Some argue that even if they don’t intend to undermine Israel’s existence, harsh critics of Israeli policies are being duped and manipulated by those who do have that intention, and all of them are creating a climate of public opinion that is an existential threat to the Jewish state. Even if that were true, it is unwise to treat all vociferous critics as if they had the same goals. That is a surefire way to lose those who can be convinced to tone down their rhetoric and take a more balanced approach to a conflict in which neither side is blameless.

Dan Fleshler is the author of “Transforming America’s Israel Lobby –The Limits of Its Power and the Potential for Change,” and a board member of Ameinu and Americans for Peace Now.

94 thoughts on ““Not All Criticism Of Israel Is the Same”

  1. I agree with the overall approach of this post, and I think it’s a good start. I don’t completely agree with the distinctions made, though. You seem to be conflating the content of the claims (asserting that Israel’s existence is immoral) with the tone of the rhetoric (“defamatory”). One can try to delegitimize the State of Israel in non-defamatory, ethical ways; one can criticize specific policies in defamatory, unethical ways. Lots of times the intensity of the rhetoric doesn’t match the radicalness of the content.

    I agree with you that double standards are not necessarily, or even usually, delegitimizing. That’s why I think you’re wrong on the “lawfare” thing. It’s a good example of a double standard, but how does trying citizens of a foreign state for “war crimes” attack the legitimacy of their state? Even the Nuremberg tribunals didn’t attack the legitimacy of Germany.

    Regarding “the same right to self-determination as any other people”, you left out the crucial part of that argument: that the Jewish nation-state already exists. There is no right for every nation to have its own state. Given that there are many thousands of nations and only a few hundred existing states, to affirm such a right is to affirm endless, global war. So the answer to this attempted delegitimization is to point to all the other existing nation-states (“ethnostates”) in the world, which are given a pass by Israel’s critics. A good rhetorical question to ask is, “Which other states (besides Israel) are illegitimate?”

    As usual, I appreciate your call for us to understand our political adversaries (and you and I are adversaries, I guess). Even aside from simple common decency, it’s crucial tactically, as you point out. Many of the anti-Israel people, even those using egregious double standards, are working in good faith and are not motivated by hatred.

  2. Aaron, it’s true that a crucial part of the argument FOR self-determination was left out of the piece. But so were other specific arguments, such as the one against the charge that Israel is an apartheid state. One only gets 900 or so words, if one is lucky, in a column of this sort. As it is, they edited out crucial text. For example, my original read: “In my experience, when talking to far lefists, the best argument against BDS is that it is tactically counter-productive because it will accentuate Israelis’ us-against-the-world mentality and make them even less likely to compromise.” They cut out the part about far leftists…

    Thanks for your thoughtful response

  3. It has to be infuriating for Netanyahu, who lost his brother at Entebbe. And who himself is a combat veteran. To be heckled by a bunch of piss ant college students who never had a tough day in their lives. And in no logical context can JVP be classified has anything but an anti-Israel, pro-hamas, pro- hezbollah organization.

  4. Dan,
    Glad to see that after about three months you finally made another post.

    A couple of months ago I had an interesting experience. The New Republic featured an essay by Dore Gold rejecting the claim that Israel is an example of colonialism without even acknowledging that anything about Israel could be seen as related to colonialism. In the comments section I gave a brief summary of an article that I had published in the Journal of Conflict Studies. I stated that in my opinion Israeli Jews should be seen both as they see themselves–as returned natives–and as their enemies see them–as settlers. I added further that they should be seen as returned natives for purposes of legitimacy and as settlers for purposes of comparison. For this I was attacked by a group of the regular commentators and denounced as an anti-semitite, a Jew hater, and a leftist professor trying to indoctrinate my students. I did deign to reply to the arguments of the most rational of the critics. He found a couple of minor errors in the article concerning Irish history, but his attempt to make something of this ended up only reinforcing my point. One of the critics thought that by comparing Israel to antebellum America, Northern Ireland, and South Africa I was obviously attempting to malign Israel and delegitimize it. Apparently he most have thought that antebellum America automatically meant the South and that Northern Ireland itself was not legitimate. (Although Israel would love to have the same number of countries recognize Jerusalem as its capital as recognize Northern Ireland as part of the UK.) Even the simple observations that Israeli governments tend to be weak and unstable and that Israel has powerful religious parties were seen as attempts to delegitimize rather than to simply describe reality. Whenever I challenged the group to refute my specific claims these challenges were simply ignored. This leads me to think that a) Israel has quite a few paranoid supporters who can’t tell who their real enemies are; and b) as a PR strategy the Israeli right is simply conflating any criticism of Likud policies with delegitimization.

    Bill: Before you talk about piss ant college students, you should learn the difference between proper and common nouns and how they are differentiated in writing.

  5. Interesting comment. I agree that Israeli Jews are both returned natives and settlers. People on the right (like me) and people on the anti-Zionist left can agree with that. It serves both our purposes.

    Still, I don’t think either the settler part or the returned-native part is properly relevant to the question of legitimacy, at least not today. That’s because the Jews returned (in large numbers) after many centuries, by which time the “statute of limitations” had long since expired. The State of Israel is legitimate today not because its nation lived in the Land of Israel in the ancient past, but because the State of Israel exists, has been internationally recognized, etc. Nor is it illegitimate because it was founded by settlers. It would be every bit as legitimate today if it had been founded by, say, Hindu settlers from India with no historical connection to the land.

    Re Bill Pearlman’s orthography, you often see the same thing among anti-Semites, mutatis mutandis. Upper-case means “I like it” and lower-case means “I don’t like it”. Thus they write “Whites” and “jews”, as he writes “Israel” and “hezbollah”. Silly and childish, but let them have their fun.

  6. Aaron,

    I think it is very relevant. Notice all the comments by right-wing Israelis against Obama for mentioning the Holocaust in his Cairo speech. Most nationalities don’t want to think of themselves as a global charity case. Zionists, largely because of Arab resistance to their return, ended up copying many of the forms of other settler societies, such as native-fighter politicians (Indian fighters in America, Arab fighters in Israel), discriminatory legislation, and a notion that a party’s stand on the native question determines whether it is “left” or “right.” So to compensate for this and distinguish themselves from the other societies, Zionists over-emphasis their “returned native” status. Believe me, if Jews didn’t have a historical connection with Eretz Israel and weren’t the people of the Book, they wouldn’t have nearly so much support in the U.S. and Britain.

    My purpose in comparing Israel to other settler societies is to see what light it can shed on Israeli politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So far after a decade of study I have come to the following meager but significant conclusions:

    1) Israel’s class of military politicians is likely to exist for about 20 years after the conclusion of a real peace agreement with the Palestinians.

    2) The Labor Party and Meretz are probably in irrecoverable decline. They can be saved only by imitating the founders of the Republican Party and merging their parties while adopting a pragmatic rather than a moral approach to the Palestinian issue. This means an emphasis on the demographic question. But even then they are hostage to Palestinian actions.

    3)Israel will have to adopt significant electoral reform, which would result in a drastic reduction in the number of parties, as a necessary precondition for peace. This, however, is not a sufficient precondition as the Palestinians would also have to resolve their power struggle and come to terms with the existence of a Jewish state.

    4) Northern Ireland is the best model for peace in the Middle East, but the latter conflict is much more complex and difficult to resolve. But the Northern Ireland peace process illustrates the minimum efforts that would be necessary to resolve the conflict.

  7. I agree with you that the returned-native/settler characterization is very relevant in practice. I said that it was not properly relevant, by which I meant only that it’s not relevant to the question of true legitimacy. But yeah, it’s extremely relevant to perceptions of legitimacy, which of course are what count in the real world.

    I really like the idea of your comparative approach. Regarding “a party’s stand on the native question determines whether it is `left’ or `right'”, isn’t that also true of many non-settler societies? I think that in Europe nowadays left/right refers mostly to national identity and immigration. In America it doesn’t. I’d think that if this is the case in settler societies, it’s simply because national identity is an extremely salient issue there because of ethnic conflict, as it is in non-settler societies in Europe.

    Your claims 1, 2, and 4 seem intuitively reasonable, though I don’t know anything about Northern Ireland so I can’t evaluate your fourth claim. I’m skeptical about your third claim. It sounds like what I call the “driver’s seat myth”: that the numerically small settler movement is in the driver’s seat in Israeli policy because of Israel’s coalition-based electoral system. I don’t know whether that’s what you’re getting at, but I think that if real peace would ever be in sight (ha ha), then a large majority will support territorial concessions, and the small parties won’t have any say in the matter. We see this in opinion surveys, and we saw it in the Gaza disengagement when there wasn’t even any hope of peace. So I don’t see how the current electoral system makes peace impossible. I’d be interested if you want to elaborate on that.

  8. Aaron,
    There are four pieces of evidence for this.
    1) Over the last twenty years everytime an Israeli government has had to deal seriously with the Palestinian issue it collapses because parties that are opposed to realistic terms of a settlement leave the government even before negotiations get serious. This happened in 1989-90, in 1999, in 2000 and in 2003 it was threatened.
    2) The French Fourth Republic had an electoral law similar to Israel’s resulting in a similar type party system. Before De Gaulle was able to negotiate a peace settlement with the FLN in Algeria he had to change the constitution and turn France into a semi-presidential system, the Fifth Republic. France was able to withdraw from Indochina in 1954 only because it suffered a major defeat and it was obvious to everyone that it would lose the war.
    3) Ireland was able to give up its 1932 constitutional claim to the territory of Northern Ireland over a 26-year period from 1973 to 1999. Each time an advance was made in the peace process it was made by a two-party coalition government. Two-party and even three-party coalition governments tend to be much more stable because the red lines of the parties are well known. With five of six parties in a coalition the small parties like to try and blackmail the larger ones by exorbitant demands.
    4) Normally Northern Ireland has had a five-party system consisting of two unionist (Protestant pro-British) parties, two nationalist (Catholic pro-Irish) parties and a small non-sectarian liberal party. When, however, there was any discussion about a solution to the conflict the main Ulster Unionist Party would fragment. In the late 1990s there were seven unionist parties with six of them represented in the Assembly after the June 1998 election. Only after this number had been reduced to three parties by the right-wing Democratic Unionist Party absorbing the voters of the smaller unionist parties was it willing to support peace. In 2007 the DUP reached a power-sharing agreement with Sinn Fein that was in many ways a carve-up of the province at the expense of the moderate parties. Because Northern Ireland uses the first-past-the-post electoral system used in Britain and the U.S. for parliamentary elections and a modified form of proportional representation (PR-STV) for local council and Assembly elections, it is much less inclined to have a large number of parties as in Israel or the French Fourth Republic.

    With a weak electoral system it is easy for small parties to argue that the other side is cheating and can’t be trusted. But unfortunately, the existing parties largely seem to have an interest in preserving the status quo. They’ll oppose any changes to it–largely by arguing that it isn’t necessary as the Arabs will never make peace anyways.

  9. I can’t judge the last three reasons, but the first reason doesn’t seem quite right. The Israeli government has dealt with the Palestinian issue without collapsing; possibly holding elections, but with the process continuing after the elections. Examples are the Oslo accords and the Gaza disengagement. In each case there was strong majority support and strong minority opposition. I don’t remember all your examples, but in 2000 there was virtually no popular support for the government’s negotiations. There was support for the withdrawal from the Security Zone in that year, and the withdrawal went through despite right-wing opposition.

    In 2003 the government was threatened but the proposals went through; that’s still a data point against your theory. After the Gaza disengagement, Olmert was elected basically on a referendum on further withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, which later became moot because of other events.

    I’m distinguishing between peace agreements and peace, a distinction you don’t seem to be making. In none of these cases except Oslo did the public expect real peace. When the public expected real peace, in the early 1990s, the peace process went forward.

    To the extent that the Irish and French cases support your conclusion, it looks to me like a limitation of the comparative approach.

  10. Aaron,

    The difference between the American presidential system with the electoral college and the Israeli system is that the former artificially strengthens the executive and the latter artificially weakens it. Under the American system the president is elected for a fixed period, although there is the potential to remove the president early from office as nearly occurred with Andrew Jackson some 140 years ago and would have occurred with Nixon had he not resigned first.

    In parliamentary systems with first-past-the-post franchise systems as in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc. the governments normally complete their terms or come close to completing it, but they can be removed if they really become unpopular because of bad economic policies.

    In Israel there is always a majority for war if the government thinks it is necessary, but rarely one for peace because the latter involves both giving up territory that about a third of the electorate wants to retain on principle and there is usually another twenty percent at least that is very hesitant about taking risks. Calling an election is tantamount to collapsing–it means that the process freezes for several months until the election is held and the new coalition formed. The French and Italians were able to quickly reorganize governments quickly like musical chairs. But the French also had problems when it came to Algeria.

    In order for France to switch from the Fourth to the Fifth Republic a coup d’etat was required backed by the Algerian settlers. I think that such a solution is very unlikely in Israel at present. But in a decade or more with the growing influence of the national religious settlers in the IDF this could change. Then we would just require another De Gaulle or Sharon who could win the backing of the settlers and then betray them.

    Another conclusion I reached is that when you have “liberation” movements commited to politicide as the IRA and PLO were it takes decades for them both to change their declarative policy and to change their behavior. The Provisional IRA was founded in January 1970 and it took until September 2005 before it finally disarmed, thereby demonstrating its readiness to really make peace. Fatah was founded in 1958 or 1959. It took 30 years before it declared in favor of the two-state solution, but its declarative support was ambiguous. Under Arafat it wasn’t really commited as demonstrated by the Al-Aksa Intifada. I think that Abbas is sincere about giving up armed struggle (terrorism) but is too weak to negotiate peace. So we have 35 years for the IRA, 47 years for the PLO. So I would say that for Hamas to come to a decision to genuinely make peace will take a minimum of about 40 years from when it was founded and maybe much longer because of its Islamist nature. Hamas was founded in 1988, so it probably wouldn’t be even ready to seriously make peace until about 2028 at the earliest.

  11. Tom, You’re once again giving a theoretical, a priori argument that under the current political system peace agreements etc. are impossible. I gave an empirical, a posteriori argument that peace agreements etc. have actually been implemented under the present system, therefore we know they are possible. Furthermore, polls say that Israelis are still willing to implement them again, when the opportunity arises.

    I agree with your general conclusions about Fatah and Hamas, but I think attempting to give a prediction in years is carrying the comparative method way farther than it can go.

  12. Aaron,
    But the Oslo agreements were implemented before the new election law. Even though the new election law with its double-vote feature was changed back in 2002 it seems to have permanently changed the behavior of Israeli voters, at least according to a number of Israeli political scientists. Tactical voters on the right who voted for the Likud before 1996 liked being able to vote for smaller ideological parties like the National Union, Israel Beitenu, Beit Israel, etc. They have continued to vote for them. This has left the Israeli political scene more fragmented. In the mean 1980s Tehiya was the third largest party with only FIVE seats. Both of the two main parties had totals in the forties so that between 2/3s and 3/4s of all the Knesset seats were held by the two main parties. Now they are held by smaller parties that have increased the instability of the system.

    I’m not claiming an exact number of years for how long it will take Hamas to adjust (if ever), but merely pointing out the minimum period based on previous experience and realizing that it will be more difficult for an Islamist party than for secular parties to make the adjustment.

  13. Dan,
    Thanks for posting again. I had stopped checking your blog, and only heard about this posting on Mondoweiss.

    I wasn’t a fan of the disruption of the Netanyahu speech, because it was a disruption.

    The choice of approach was tactically effective, five planted disrupters timed to confuse, almost like an Al Quaida operation (three bombings in short sequence in different parts of a city).

    I was pleased that their message only included criticism of policies and practices and not delegitimazation of Israel’s existence.

    It is a truth that many in the BDS movement do advocate for a single state, for the elimination of a separate Jewish majority state.

    It is a picture of Netanyahu’s lack of political skill that he cannot effectively make peace with the moderates, while exposing the agenda of the extremists and revolutionaries.

    That he is currently opposing the effort by the PA to rally for recognition of Palestine along the green line as guideline is another example of his political carelessness. If he were in earnest about the desirability of the two-state approach, he would negotiate immediately so that when the inevitable occurs, it will happen with cooperation and resulting in goodwill after the fact. Somehow, the lesson of the evacuation of Gaza should be learned. (That with cooperation of the PA, the evacuation can be peaceful and result in a state of order, rather than chaos.)

  14. Richard,

    Thanks for commenting. I do intend to post when I have something useful to contribute. I don’t understand why you believe the “lesson of the evacuation of Gaza” is that it would be peaceful with the cooperation of the PA, or that it would result in a “state of order”. All that the evacuation proved is that violence and mayhem will result without consulting or cooperating with the PA, without the PA having a firm grip on power, and without sufficient Palestinian economic freedom. That does not necessarily mean that the opposite would occur if there IS cooperation

  15. True,
    Its not a sure thing. Other characteristics that convey confidence would have to be incorporated.

    The lesson of the Gaza evacuation is that an evacuation without a transition plan, nearly inevitably devolves to chaos.

    From what I read, the PA has established institutions that can function as a state on the West Bank. Gaza is unknown.

    We are looking at new. There is always risk in new. But, if the features that construct normalcy are present, then there is a high probability that this “new” will be an orderly one.

    The PA working behind and in front of the scenes to achieve even theoretical recognition, is just a hastening of the inevitable.

    Do you think it itself is disruptive?

    I think Netanyahu has to get ahead of the ball, so that he can catch it.

  16. Just a few points that I want to address:

    Your point about “lawfare” is off base. As I understand it, Israeli officials have been targeted legally in this way based on their personal role in state crimes (i.e. involvement in planning war crimes in Gaza), not for simply being a member of the government.

    “From the river to the see […]” simply references the fact that Palestinians are oppressed in all of Israel/Palestine, by Israeli institutions which attack their identity and their bodies.

    And this gets at my main criticism of your article and the entire “delegitimization” meme. Which is that there is not a real border between “harsh but true” and “delegitimizing” criticisms of Israel. Or, to address another distinction you made, between “reform” and “collapse” of the Jewish State. Both words, though they have different connotations, can describe the political solution I advocate. Because the problems with a “Jewish State” are fundamental, inherent even in that phrase. That doesn’t mean that change can’t come peacefully, or that it can’t preserve Jewish human rights and even the modern and democratic aspects of contemporary Israeli institutions.

    To further get at what I mean, let me ask you: did the apartheid government of South Africa “collapse” or “reform”? It no longer exists in the same form, but the change was peaceful and inclusive. I know you reject this comparison, but really in both cases we (delegitimizers, one-staters, etc.) are talking about the same thing: including people who have been racially excluded from the democratic political process (Palestinians in the territories and diaspora), and establishing institutional respect for diverse identities. That must be Israel’s task, one state or two.

    Tell me: am I a delegitimizer?

  17. Hard to know if you are Robin.

    If you advocate for a single state on the basis of “Zionism is racism”, then you likely are.

    Do you think “Zionism is racism” inherently, or only in application?

    If you think that it is racist in specific application, then reform is the relevant term, as South Africa reformed (same constitution, same government structure).

    If you think that it is inherently racist, and not one of competing national aspirations justifiable by different logics but sharing the same world, then you are a delegitimizer.

    If your effort is for mutual humanization, and seek an optimal political form to accomplish that (which seems very obviously to me to be two states for two peoples, perhaps later in European like non-state confederation), then you are not a delegitimizor.

  18. Robin, you write that “the problems with a “Jewish State” are fundamental, inherent even in that phrase.” You would like that state, that national entity where Jews are in the majority, to disappear. That means you are a delegitimizer. Like Richard, I believe that Jewish self-determination is a fundamental right, and, given the way the world works, that right needs to be expressed in the form of a nation-state, like the French state or the Danish state or the Mexican state. I keep telling myself that I should do a post on this topic, and explain this belief in more detail. I will try to do so, soon.

  19. But Dan, the word “disappear” is so misleading, it is such a poor description. What does it mean, concretely? It means exactly what I wrote later:

    “including people who have been racially excluded from the democratic political process (Palestinians in the territories and diaspora), and establishing institutional respect for diverse identities.”

    How on earth can you disagree with that?

    I’m sure people have pointed this out many times, but it apparently bears repeating that “French” “Danish” “Mexican” are not appropriate analogues for “Jewish”. Only “Jewish” is primarily a racial identity (and alternately or additionally a religious one), and is never an inclusive term of civic membership (as “Israeli” might be).

    The fact is, “Jews must rule” is the central commandment of “Jewish State” ideology (a.k.a. Zionism). There is no analogue for that in the developed world. The French state is not based on the idea that “ethnic French must rule”, or the United States that “whites must rule”, even though those remain the dominant groups (for now). The difference is an institutionalized supremacist ideology.

    It’s not that I would “like” Israel’s Jewish majority to disappear. It’s that I am indifferent to it, as we all should be. When you begin to use the tools of the state (violence) to maintain one or another ethnic majority, you become an ethnic cleanser, with the scale of the crime depending on the size of the unwelcome population (“the demographic threat”). And Israel has consistently been an ethnic cleanser, while never renouncing or redressing its ethnic cleansing binge of 1948.

    While we both may condemn occupation, brutality, discrimination, and ethnic cleansing, the difference between you and I seems to be that you don’t believe these iniquities have anything to do with the commandment “Jews must rule”, which you endorse openly.

    I will continue to argue that the mandate to maintain a Jewish-majority/Jewish-controlled state, particularly when faced with a large and indigenous non-Jewish population, is a mandate to commit crimes against humanity, a mandate for ethnic cleansing and apartheid.

  20. Robin’s comments are a good example of what I meant , that one can argue against Israel’s legitimacy rationally and ethically. And it seems clear from the last comment that she (he?) is trying to delegitimize the State of Israel: if Jewish sovereignty is “a mandate to commit crimes against humanity”, then how could the Jewish state possibly be legitimate? Whatever “Jewish state” really means today, it certainly implies Jewish political supremacy.

    The contrast with Denmark, Mexico, etc. is overstated, by the way. Mexico at least is a lot more ethnically oriented than Robin suggests, and probably Denmark too. France may be a “civic-territorial state” to an exceptional degree, but Israel is not alone in its definition as a 19th-century style nation-state. And not just “backward” states like Mexico conceive of themselves this way. See who’s more successful in immigrating to Japan, a Mr. Yoshimoto or a Mr. Goldstein.

    The argument against nation-states (“ethnostates”) is coherent and rational. My main problem with it (besides that it’s wrong) is that it’s usually applied disproportionately against Israel.

  21. I think there is an inherent tension between the anti-ethnic or anti-national approach and the concept of self-determination and consent of the governed.

    In describing Jews (a people, only recently with a coherent home) as primarily intruding and not living, Robin is indulging in a prospect of denial of self-governance to the Jewish people.

    Its a tension inherent in EVERY application of nationalism and democracy. France only appears universalistic because it chose to regard all of its colonies as part of France, and now association in the European Union.

    You should go to France. It is definitively French. It is not primarily European. Or Germany, or Spain, or Hungary, or Czech Republic. There has not been an Arab prime minister of France.

    Even the right-wing in Israel proposes an arrangement that is very similar to the European Union, in the Middle East, close to a bi-national entity.

    But, it follows confident Israeli sovereignty. To the extent that Israeli sovereignty is threatened, it will act as if it is threatened.

    Hence, the most progressive political approach, is the one that urges reform, insists that the democratic in Jewish and democratic is strong, even the predominant weight.

    The objection to Israel being both Jewish and democratic is analagous in my mind to the conclusion that purple cannot be both red and blue, but must decide whether it is national (red) or democratic (blue).

  22. Aaron: you say that I overstate the differences between the ethnocratic policies of Israel and other states. You allude to parallels in immigration policy.

    I considered writing this in my last comment, but ultimately left it out: immigration policy is really the one exception to my statement about states engaging in ethnic cleansing any time they act to influence their ethnic composition. Keeping people out may be unjust and discriminatory, but it can’t really be called ethnic cleansing (which implies a purge). Unless of course the people in question were expelled by the state in the first place, in which case their continuing exclusion is part of a policy of ethnic cleansing (and not properly in the realm of immigration policy).

    But my question is, aside from immigration policy and perhaps the use of ethno-national symbols, what other parallels can you give me? What other developed states act on their internal/indigenous population with the intention to influence the ethnic composition? What other developed states explicitly enshrine the rule of one ethnic segment of their citizenry into perpetuity? And even more, affirm that supremacy as the highest priority of their politics? What other developed states, for their very essence, rely on ethnic purging, de jure discrimination, or total disenfranchisement, based on race, of indigenous ethnicities?

    I am talking about measures more tangible and hurtful than the trappings of ethnocracy that may be common elsewhere. That, and a true commitment to exclusive rule (at the expense of natives’ rights), are what form the difference between a nation-state and an apartheid state. And those are what set Israel apart (along with, from my perspective, its privileged relationship with the United States), although Israel needn’t be unique to warrant equally firm condemnation.

    (And BTW, I would love to hear more about how Mexico is ‘more ethnically oriented than I suggest’. What ethnicity is it oriented toward? Indigenous? European? “Mexican”? And what are the official criteria? I’m fascinated to hear that Mexico might be another case of rigid in-group/out-group apartheid.)

  23. And about delegimitizing a “State of Israel”: a state which exists for one citizen more than another, is simply never legitimate. You (and all Zionists) insist on defining it as such. You insist on making “Israel” something illegitimate. If it was defined as a democracy, even one with roots in Jewish and Palestinian heritage, I would find that exceptionally legitimate.

  24. Mexico is oriented towards a (mythical) Mexican ethnie or race, which is certainly neither Indian nor European, nor even exclusively mestizo. All I have here is anecdotes, though.

    A President of Mexico (Calderon) has said that people of Mexican descent in the US are still part of the “Mexican nation”. He also has celebrated something like a “universal Mexican race” which includes all “Mexicans”. These are from memory so I don’t have the sources.

    A Jewish-Mexican girl I knew told me that she was talking to a Mexican woman once and casually referred to herself as Mexican. The woman responded in surprise and bewilderment: how could a non-Catholic consider herself Mexican? As I understood it, this was typical of Mexican attitudes.

    Mexican immigration policy is also restrictive, I think. And you’re way downplaying the importance of immigration policy to a state’s identity.

    Regarding the parallels you ask for, some of them refer specifically to settler states so obviously you’re not going to find them in Europe. Immigration/citizenship policy is a huge factor in a state’s identity, probably the greatest. A state that grants citizenship to, say, ethnic Germans much more easily than to Turks, is to a large extent defining itself as a German nation-state. Spain is defining itself as a Spanish nation-state in its treatment of Basque nationalists, whom it defines as Spaniards (correct me if I’m wrong there). I think this is what Benedict Anderson called “official nationalism”. The list can be extended. And that’s in states with significant national minorities. In “true” nation-states like Japan, where nation and state largely coincide, the national and state identities are inseparable.

    My point is that implicit definitions of nationhood can be just as strong as explicit Israeli-style definitions. It’s a truism that states that pay lip service to representing all their citizens are often in reality instruments of power used by the dominant nation, the Staatvolk. I guess I could list examples from southern Asia, the Near East, and Africa, but it seems too obvious to bother. Do you really deny that there are lots of states where the Staatvolk oppresses other nations or ethnies?

    Anti-Israel people are often pretty consistent in their opposition to European national expression, but not when it comes to the rest of the world. Self-defined Muslim states are often to a large extent ethnic/national states, because religion and nationality often coincide (e.g., Copts in Egypt). Even more so in self-defined Arab states. I just don’t see the anti-Israel people opposing this stuff in a consistent way.

  25. I was wondering, why the scare quotes around the “State of Israel”? Is it because I capitalized the word “State”? I thought that’s correct because it’s part of the name, like “States” is part of the name “United States of America”, or “Kingdom” is part of “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan”. What’s the correct usage here?

  26. Robin,
    On immigration.

    The United States restricts immigration into itself, quite assertively.

    The period that the Statue of Liberty “give me your tired, your poor” applied to was really a relatively short period.

    It was the greatest period though, the formation period of the universalist identity, that gave rise to the interpretation of human rights that was inclusive: not excluding women, blacks, Indians, as the original constitution allowed and affirmed by the Supreme Court over its first half-century.

    Currently, there is harsh urging that the US not allow Mexicans to migrate here, in areas of land that was mostly Mexican jurisdiction and Mexican identity.

    There is no way to describe really any nation as conforming to your definition of not being colonial. It is a selective standard.

    The important concern is the current status of the people, the individuals and their ability to self-govern.

    Again, if your ideological prescription affords a single-state federal definition of self-governance, that comes at the cost of the current majority.

    I’m not sure how that is “democratic”. I don’t see how human rights stated as restoration of prior peoples’ human rights (most of whom are dead) compares to present democracy (all of whom are alive).

  27. Robin,
    Have you considered norming Israel to its region? In the Middle East several Arab states specify in the constitution that the president must be a Muslim. Lebanon is the only Arab state that in the 20th century has had non-Muslim rulers. And it has done so under a system with much more rigid ethno-religious typing than in Israel.

    If you are going to compare Israel with western countries you should compare it to western countries that are in a similar situation. The best example is Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland there was rigid segregation practiced against the indigenous Irish population for decades. Part of the reason was that the nationalists had a policy of not recognizing the institutions of the province or considering it legitimate. This eventually resulted in a 25-year campaign to overthrow the state through terrorism. The ruling ethno-religious group, the British Protestants or unionists, agreed under British pressure to share power with the nationalists but only once they had agreed to forego armed struggle and to agree that Northern Ireland would remain a province of the UK as long as a majority of its citizens agreed to this.

    While Israeli Arabs have not for the most part taken up arms or engaged in subversive activities against the state, they do consciously identify themselves as Palestinians. Thus they are seen by the state and by most Jewish Israelis as a potential fifth column. I think that major internal reforms regarding the status of Israeli Palestinians will be required, but these will only come about once the Palestinians have made peace with Israel and not before. Under Arafat the PLO privileged the rights and future of Palestinian refugees over both Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza and those living in Israel. Hamas continues to do so and this inhibits Abbas from changing his focus. Only when the Arabs decide that Palestinian refugees will be treated like the millions of other refugees from conflicts of the 1940s–Germans, Hindus, Indian Muslims and Sikhs–will there be peace. Then Israel can reform internally.

  28. Tom said;
    ————————————————–
    Only when the Arabs decide that Palestinian refugees will be treated like the millions of other refugees from conflicts of the 1940s–Germans, Hindus, Indian Muslims and Sikhs–will there be peace. Then Israel can reform internally.

    ————————————————-

    When do you think this will happen? Do you see any indications that it will happen in the near future?

  29. I intended the quotations not as “scare quotes”, but to emphasize the subjectivity of the concept “Israel”. The state is concrete enough: an army, Parliament, civil service, etc. (which are ever-changing). But you, and most Zionists, insist on defining its essence a certain way. A way which binds the state to policies that are unfair and abusive.

    And I am less interested in the importance of certain policies to a state’s identity, than in the importance of a state’s identity (and the policies that “express” it) to the lives of its citizens, subjects, and exiles.

    (Leaving out the category of potential immigrants, which is a whole other discussion relevant to so many countries as you rightly point out, but an issue that strikes me as less immediate. In other words, *if only* Israel’s most problematic expression of ethnicity was it’s immigration policy.)

    And sorry, but the argument that people focus “disproportionately” on Israel is infantile. First of all, people can focus on any issue they want in good faith. Gay Americans may have more rights and privileges than most Palestinians, but I 100% support those who make it their life’s work to achieve gay equality. Likewise with those who work to promote religious liberty in theocratic states. There are all kinds of struggles that can make the world a better place. People should act when they find moral clarity and see a potential for change. Secondly, the United States provides more support to Israel and its policies than it does to any other state in the world (with the recent exceptions of Iraq and Afghanistan). In other words, my personal responsibility for the situation there is greater than in many other places around the world. And I am less interested in being a savior to suffering people in far off lands (who may or may not benefit from my interference), than I am in ceasing the suffering that I actually cause. And thirdly, most Palestinian solidarity activists are extremely consistent in their principles, and oppose ethnocratic (and theocratic, autocratic, etc.) abuses wherever they occur.

    But again, my argument is not that nation-states or state expressions of identity are always unacceptable, though I’m never crazy about them. It is that state ethnic identities are unacceptable when they are (and need to be) codified in systems of apartheid, with separate legal status imposed on different ancestral groups within the state.

    And the other thing is that a “Jewish State” in historic Palestine is simply not an honest attempt to represent the heritage and people of that land. (This is hard to quantify in relation to other states, since national identities are never “perfect” models that represent everyone fairly, but the difference with most developed states is obvious nonetheless). When your population is so diverse, and ethnicity so institutionalized, your national concept must be more inclusive. (Even Lebanon, though dysfunctional, at least throws a bone to all its indigenous communities. Seriously, that’s a step up from Israel.) You can’t wish away or bury Palestinian identity, or even consign it to an enclave on the West Bank. Jewish people are certainly a part of the heritage of that land, but Palestinians are just as essential to it, in every part. And they’re still there, and elsewhere, demanding equal recognition. The denial of that call is fundamentally undemocratic, and again, requires that abusive policies be put in place in the absence of consent.

  30. I agree that people can choose their moral crusades by whatever criteria they like. I said that this disproportionality bothers me (because I care disproportionately about Israel), not that it’s objectively wrong. But you seemed to be denying that there was any disproportionality – saying that Israel was unparalleled – so I and others responded to that. If you’d said at the beginning, “OK, lots of other states are as bad as or worse than Israel in this regard, but I’m interested in Israel”, that would have saved some typing.

    I guess it’s nice that these Palestinian solidarity activists are consistent in their principles, but what difference does that make when they apply their principles selectively in practice? Doesn’t that sort of contradict the whole idea of principles? If you oppose injustice in principle, whether it’s inflicted by John or Joe, but in practice you only try to stop or even criticize John’s actions, why should John care that you also theoretically condemn Joe’s actions – in principle? I suggest that you’re all applying these ostensibly universal principles selectively against “privileged” or “hegemonic” political actors, and not against “marginalized” actors. That in itself is a principle, a covert one.

    Your point about US support of Israel does justify this disproportionate focus among American activists – though it would be nice to hear a little about Egyptian oppression every once in a while, since they get lots of US support too. But it doesn’t apply to European activists, whose states are less supportive of Israel. In any case, this justification would be more convincing if you were pushing for an end to US support for Israel (a change that I’d support as a patriotic American), rather than for changes in Israeli policy. But to repeat: anyone can choose whatever moral crusade they happen to like.

    You’re obviously right that the Jewish state is not an attempt to represent all the peoples under its jurisdiction. No nation-state (in the original sense of the word) attempts that, by definition, except in those rare cases where the Staatvolk is the only ethnie. Ethnic discrimination is fundamental to the concept of nation-state. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Lebanon is formally more representative in this sense than Israel and that Lebanon is dysfunctional. The State of Israel is essentially – yeah, essences again – essentially undemocratic, if democracy is meant in the contemporary sense as universal. That’s been sort of a hobby horse of mine at this and another left-Zionist blog.

  31. “And I am less interested in the importance of certain policies to a state’s identity, than in the importance of a state’s identity (and the policies that “express” it) to the lives of its citizens, subjects, and exiles.”

    Robin, can you address my response?

    “The objection to Israel being both Jewish and democratic is analagous in my mind to the conclusion that purple cannot be both red and blue, but must decide whether it is national (red) or democratic (blue).”

  32. I too was curious to read this artuicle after seeing it mentioned at Mondoweiss and I am glad that I did. It’s refreshign in it’s honesty and candor.

    This is an excellent article Dan, though I do agree with Robin’s criticisms.

    First, it doesn’t bode well to hear someone refer to the far left and the right, as though to suggest there is no moderate left. It doesn’t serve you to denigrade the left for not getting it simply because they disagree with you.

    Anyway, the issue of delegitimization strikes me as a pro Zionist argument that the Zionist wing that has gone out of control. The “delegitimization” argument is the latest incarnation of hyperbolic terms like “seeking Israel’s destruction”, or “denies its right to exist”, which were always too rediculous to even address.

    Neither argument were serious, but used to great effect to derail legitmate debate and criticism of Israel’s criminal behavior.

    I can’t for the life of me understand why Zionists are so hung up on the “delegitimization” issue, because qute frankly, Israel’s legitimacy was established long ago. the best explanatioj I have come across for such paranoia was Gilad Atzimon’s thesis that the real uncertainty about Israel’s legitimacy resides in the psyche of Israel itself.

    The argument about double standards is also a very precarious and selective one. Those that resort to this defense overlook how often Israel benefits from double standards. For example, one can hardly imagine a more baltant doubel stadnard than US calls for a nuclear free Middle East, while maintaining that Israel should not only be exclusively exempted, but be allowed to maintain it’s nuclear ambiguity. One could go on idenfinitely cataloging how Israel enjoys massive and unconditional dimplomatic, economic and military support from the West.

    Robin has already addressed the absurdity that Israeli officials should be granted immunity from war crimes. US displomats, like Hnery Kissinger for example, are very cautious about their travel arrangements, because they are wanted for war crimes. That hardly proves that the US government is illegal and the embodiment of all evil.

    Robin has addressed the weakness of your argument that BDS would reinforce Israel’s bunker meantality. For a start, Israel’s policies have been driving Israel towards isolation for over a decade, and those who use this defense are usually comfortable with imposing far more severe measures on Hamas and Iran.

    I would also like to atto to Robins point that the argument that people focus “disproportionately” on Israel is infantile. Take the Iran nuclear issue for example. Even Iran’s mst hawkish critics accept that Iran has not produced a single nuclear weapon, yet even those seeing balance on this matter are not demanding that the Iranian issue be dropped simply because Israel has a formidable nuclear ansernal.

  33. “If you’d said at the beginning, “OK, lots of other states are as bad as or worse than Israel in this regard, but I’m interested in Israel”, that would have saved some typing.”

    That’s actually a dishonest argument Aaron, and I am sure you undertand why. Anyone who premised their comments with this statement would be immidiately atttacked for harboring anti Semtic sentiments and motives.

    “Your point about US support of Israel does justify this disproportionate focus among American activists – though it would be nice to hear a little about Egyptian oppression every once in a while, since they get lots of US support too.”

    Again, I think you already know the answer to this. As a critic of Israel, I am equally critical of the Egyptian government, but what cannot be overlooked is the fact that US suport for Egypt is intrinsically connected to US policy towards Isral. The aid Egypt received by and large, is a reward or incentive to play nice with Israel. Personally, I woudl be delighted to see the Mubarak government toppled.

    No nation-state (in the original sense of the word) attempts that, by definition, except in those rare cases where the Staatvolk is the only ethnie. Ethnic discrimination is fundamental to the concept of nation-state.

    Again that is a misleading argument. Most Western Democracies are indetifid by the fact that protections against ethnic discrimination are written into their laws. This doesn’t mean that descrimination and racism are curtailed, but at the very least, these minorities are at least legally entitled to the same rights as anyone else udner the law.

    The same cannto be said for Israel. This is why Henry Siegman, formerly national director of the American Jewish Congress, writes: ”As a result … Israel has crossed the threshold from ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ to the only apartheid regime in the Western world.”

    “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Lebanon is formally more representative in this sense than Israel and that Lebanon is dysfunctional.”

    One cannot even pretend to undertand the dysfunctionality of Lebanon without giving significant consideration to the influence of foreign interference from the very beginning of it’s creation.

  34. All that the evacuation proved is that violence and mayhem will result without consulting or cooperating with the PA, without the PA having a firm grip on power, and without sufficient Palestinian economic freedom. That does not necessarily mean that the opposite would occur if there IS cooperation

    Sorry Dan,

    But this is simply denial. Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar, documented the withdrawl of Israeli forces from Gaza in their book of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, “Lords of the Land”.

    “After Israel withdrew it’s forces from Gaza, in August 2005, the ruined territory was not released for even a single day from Israel’s military grip, or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every day. Israel left behind scotched earth, devastated services, and people with nearly a present or a future. The Jewish settlements were destroyed in an ungenerous move by an unenlightened occupier, which in fact continues to control the territory and kill and harass it’s inhabitants, by means of it’s formidable military might.”

    This does not even take into account the fact that Israel fired close to 8000 shells into Gaza in the 10 months after they withdrew. How would a former grip on power by the PA have influenced this outcome? Since when as the PA managed to curtail the excesses of the IDF?

  35. Richard Witty Says:

    The objection to Israel being both Jewish and democratic is analagous in my mind to the conclusion that purple cannot be both red and blue, but must decide whether it is national (red) or democratic (blue).

    Nice flowery rhetoric Witty, except for the fact it omits the cricial point that Israel is only democratic because Israel ethnically cleansed the Palestinian population to ensure it could afford to be both Jewish and democratic. More importantly, Jerry Goldberg himself aknolwedged the fact that, in the event of the innevitable demographic shift, if it came down to a choice between being a Jewish state or a democratic one, most Israelis would sacrifice democracy to maintain Jewish control.

  36. “Anyway, the issue of delegitimization strikes me as a pro Zionist argument that the Zionist wing that has gone out of control. The “delegitimization” argument is the latest incarnation of hyperbolic terms like “seeking Israel’s destruction”, or “denies its right to exist”, which were always too rediculous to even address.”

    The movement for a single state, presented as complementary component to BDS, is that.

    I expect that you regard international BDS as prospectively successful at it, and want BDS to succeed at that. So, to conclude that there is an effort to delegitimatize Israel is likely accurate, as more than just you propose that.

    Better that you be honest about it, was Aaron’s point I think.

    I think its more than clear that Dan’s goal is support for Palestinian rights, dignity, health probably more importantly, and the way that that can and should happen is by reconciling, replacing respect for one’s neighbor for now mutual fear and condemnation.

    The factors that make fear rational in the situation are punitive militancy. “They should pay for their past crimes, and not just compensation.”

    To which Israelis then ask, “what do they want from us, specifically?”

    To which militants respond “satisfaction”.

    I tend to fear someone that tells me that they hate my basis of association, and want “satisfaction of their angers” as “justice”.

    The difference between a goal orientation and a resentment orientation for dissent, is stark.

    One can reconcile with those that have goals. “Lets put our heads together, so that we can both meet our needs well.”

    One can only defend against those that have resentments that are willingly played out punitively, even if the resentments are clearly understandable.

  37. Shingo wrote:

    “When your population is so diverse, and ethnicity so institutionalized, your national concept must be more inclusive…You can’t wish away or bury Palestinian identity, or even consign it to an enclave on the West Bank. Jewish people are certainly a part of the heritage of that land, but Palestinians are just as essential to it, in every part. And they’re still there, and elsewhere, demanding equal recognition. The denial of that call is fundamentally undemocratic, and again, requires that abusive policies be put in place in the absence of consent.”

    This makes the common mistake of eliding the circumstances and even the desires of Palestinians of the occupied territories and Palestinian citizens of Israel. No one can deny –or tries to deny- that the administration of the occupied territories is “undemocratic” or that it denies “equal rights” to the occupied. But if the Palestinian people had their own state, and could exercise the same right to national self-determination as the one afforded to the Jews, that would not mean that “Palestinian identity” is somehow consigned to an “enclave in the West Bank.” It would mean they had a national homeland (and it would need to include Gaza) that is a concrete manifestation of national identity, and that the rest of the Palestinian people would either live in a diaspora or a national homeland (which would put them in the same category as many other ethnic groups)

    Now, once that’s in place, the tougher question must be answered. Is it possible to grant equal rights to a Palestinian minority in a majority-Jewish state and not perpetually quash their “Palestinian identity?” Answering that question in the affirmative means facing the same challenges faced by all nation states with ethnic or religious minorities (and there are DOZENS of those spread throughout the world).

    There is no perfect answer as this is a defiantly imperfect world. But it is possible –albeit extraordinarily difficult– to create or shape a state with a “Jewish character,” with a language, holidays, calendar and customs that reflect the preferences and identity of the majority, yet still protect the civil and human and even the national rights of the Arab minority. It is possible to envision a majority-Jewish state where aggressive affirmative action addresses inequality between Jews and Arabs, where the teaching of Arabic is required in all public schools, where Muslim and Christian holidays are honored in some fashion, where there is active, state-sanctioned encouragement of institutions that promote the arts, language and history of minority cultures. I intend to discuss this more thoroughly in a subsequent post.

    You might say, “that will never work,” given the “ethnic supremacist” mentality of the current Jewish state. It would be hard to argue with you. But would the alternative, a one-state solution with a JEWISH minority, be MORE likely to work, or somehow be less idealistic, given the bitter emnities and competing narratives and economic disparities and all sort of other divisions? There are many reasons why a one-state arrangement is not only unlikely to work, but also dangerous to attempt –that discussion requires more words than can be squeezed into a single, readable comment.

    Moreover, the majority Jewish state was formed and continues to exist in part because of what some scholars call “defensive nationalism” Amoz Oz puts it well:

    “I think the nation-state is a tool, an instrument, but I am not enamored of this instrument…I would be more than happy to live in a world composed of dozens of civilizations, each developing…without any one emerging as a nation state: no flag, no emblem, no passport, no anthem. No nothing. Only spiritual civizations tied somehow to their lands, without the tools of statehood and the instruments of war.

    “But the Jewish people has already staged a long-running one man show of that sort. The international audience sometimes applauded, sometimes threw stones, and occasionally slaughtered the actor. No one joined us. No one copied the model the Jews were forced to sustain for two thousand years…For me this drama ended with the murder of Europe’s Jews by Hitler. And I am forced to take it upon myself to plsy the `game of nations’ with all the tools of statehood.”

    Oz, like me, regards nationalism as a kind of necessary curse. He believes, because the world leaves him no other choice, that –in the words of Stephen Nathanson — “a national group can justify its claims to a state and territory becuse the alternative for members of that group is exposure to the risk of destruction by other groups.”

  38. Shingo,
    Israel is not unique or even unusual in being able to practice democracy because of ethnic cleansing. The same could be said of Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Canada, Chile, the United States and Uruguay. The difference is that Israel’s ethnic cleansing was carried out in accordance with 1940s norms that the ethnic population of an aggressor nation could be cleansed as a protection against future aggression. This was applied to ethnic Germans across central Europe from Yugoslavia in the south to Danzig in the north. Israel carried out its own ethnic cleansing less than five years–about 2-3 years–after the European ethnic cleansing occurred.

  39. Tom,

    Your arguments are so absurd, it’s hard to know where to begin.

     Israel is not unique or even unusual in being able to practice democracy because of ethnic cleansing. The same could be said of Argentina, Australia, Costa Rica, Canada, Chile, the United States and Uruguay.

    The world went to war to stop countries from perpetrating such crimes.

    The states you listed did what they did in the 19th century  and come to the unanimous conclusion that such crimes against humanity are a bad idea. Most have recognized these as acts of genocide and payed reparations.

    You might lament the fact that Israel missed out on the 19th century, but Israel has agreed to the Geneva Conventions, which forbids ethnic cleansing.

    There us no such thing as 1940s norms “that the ethnic population of an aggressor nation could be cleansed as a protection against future aggression”. These norms became accepted as war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    For a start, the Palestinians were not an aggressor population and played no part in the 1948 war, nor is there any such recognized entity as an “aggressor population”.

    Secondly, Israel had already driven out more than 200,000 Palesrinians in 1947,so even yourbuzarre theory doesn’t hold water.

    Thirdly, Iarael accepted the demand by the UNGA to allow the refugees to return, as a condition if it’s membership to the UN, and entered no objection about any “aggressor population”.

    One could go on and explan to you that the Arab armies attacked Israeli forces who were in Palestine, not Usrael itself and how they were legally entitled to do so, but that’s another story.

    ” Israel carried out its own ethnic cleansing less than five years–about 2-3 years–after the European ethnic cleansing occurred.”

    It makes no difference whether is was 2 years or 2 days. It was already accepted as a crime against humanity by that stage, including Israel.

  40. Shingo,
    People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

    1) From the Nov. 29,1947 partition resolution until the Arab invasion on May 15, 1948 the war was a civil war between Jews and Arabs within the Palestine mandate.
    2) Except for some rioting and pogroms by the Arabs in December, the war really began in January 1948, so it is hard to see how Israel (which didn’t exist in 1947) drove out 200,000 Palestinians under the noses of the British mandatory authorities during 1947. What is your source for this fantasy?
    3) One only has to look to the declarations of the Arab governments at the time to see what their aims were in 1948.
    4) Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab territory, from the Old City of Jerusalem and the Etzion bloc of settlements, but these numbered in the hundreds because the Arabs armies were remarkably unsuccessful in their military efforts.

  41. Dan,

    I wasn;t responsible for teh quote you included in your response, though I am delighted to discuss it.

    Is it possible to grant equal rights to a Palestinian minority in a majority-Jewish state and not perpetually quash their “Palestinian identity?”

    I’d suggest that one looks at this issue one step at a time. Before we concern ourselves with ethnic identity, shouldn’t we first address human rights and equal status of all citizenry under the law?

    Not even Israeli Palestinians have equal rights under the law. As I argued earlier, it is unrealistic to expect racism or descrimination to be abolished in any society, but the measure of any civilized and progressive society is the existence of laws that protect individual rights, regardless of ethnic or religious identity. This is not the case in Israel.

    As long as there are laws forbidding discrimination and disenfranchisement, the individual at least has protection under the law, even if the law cannot always guarantee them protection.

    The question if identity is a more subtle one, and a largely personal one. Such challenges are not as big a challenge as the are made out to be by those whom reject multiculturalism. As we have witnessed in states like the UK, Australia and Europe, such matters should be of little concern so
    Long as individual liberty and rights are protected.

    Oz, like me, regards nationalism as a kind of necessary curse

    I don’t agree. The issues facing of Israel’s nationhood are [resented as complex because are conflated with Israel’s desire to sustain an unsustainable set of conditions. Israel’s challenges are largely this of it’s own making.

    1. Israel’s refusal to withdraw from the occupied territories
    2.israel’s refusal to define it’s birders or accept the 1967 borders
    3. Building of settlements on land that was suposed to harbor a Palestinian state
    4. Refusal to address teh rfugee issue, whether by ROR or compensation
    5. Israel’s insistence that it’s security alone is paramount

    The otehr point that is adding to the problem is the massive support from the US, which has empowered ISrael to such a degree that it has no incentive to agree to a political settlement, becasue it has nothing to lose by not negotating.

    As Abbas said recently, Isral can be whatver it chooses to be within the confines of it’s legitimate borders, so the nation state is not the issue here.

  42. Dan, if you look at my earlier writing (and the quote you’re responding to was mine and not Shingo’s), you might see that I was not explicitly arguing for one state, although it’s true I prefer that as a solution. In fact I was arguing for the kind of changes that you seem to agree are needed in Israel proper.

    Again, I will say, there’s nothing wrong with a Jewish-majority state. I’m White and live in a white-majority United States. I can even respect the fact that you personally desire Israel to be a state of mostly Jews. But that preference can’t, even for a minute, come before the human rights and equal rights of any person. You don’t get to decide how many Palestinians there will be in your shared country, or whether their rights will be equal to yours. “Ethnic engineering” (again, excusing immigration for now) is not a legitimate realm of state policy. That is the fundamental change Israel needs: not to have its Jewish “majority” overturned, but to overturn those laws that attempt to engineer a permanent Jewish majority (as well as Jewish social/political privilege). And if that means no more Jewish majority, then so be it. In fact, that only makes the task more urgent because it means that the rights of even more people are currently not being respected.

    And that needs to happen today! Not possibly 15-20 years from now. If there is a two-state solution, fine. But, pending that (as in the last 43 years!), there is no excuse for maintaining a system of apartheid.

    It is all fine to say “if the Palestinians had a state” then we could try to do this that and the other. But we have to confront the world (and the real injustice) that we find before us. Israel is today, and has been for the last 43 years (arguably since 1948), an apartheid state. And its ethnocratic ideology and institutions are directly linked to those abuses of human rights (whether or not they could, in different forms and in different circumstances, be relatively innocuous.)

    “[…] exposure to the risk of destruction by other groups” Sorry Dan, and I say this with all due sensitivity to the tragic history of the Jewish people, but every group of people on earth suffers that “exposure” and that “risk” at all times. That’s a sad fact of human history. There are no security guarantees for anyone, even with a state. Even if you don’t believe, as I do, that advancing the principles of democracy, coexistence, and equal rights leads to a more secure existence for oneself as well as everyone else, you still have to acknowledge the moral imperative to do right by those with whom you come into contact. It is simply not for you to say, “nationalism is a necessary curse,” because of course it’s not really a curse for you, but for the Palestinians.

    Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is its responsibility alone. It can’t use “peace talks” to deflect responsibility onto anyone else. Israel can (and must) move to end its apartheid system unilaterally while still allowing for the possibility of a Palestinian state — if that is what the Palestinians democratically decide they want, given the option of equal rights. What it can’t do is expel people without consent from their polity (which imposed itself on them in the
    first place) (that would also be ethnic cleansing), or maintain the current system of occupation, forced segregation, ethnic privilege, ethnic abuse, and race-based exile. Any solution must be based on the democratic and legitimate (as in, excluding demands to dominate others) wishes of all involved. Israel’s basic state structures have never been based on those, and must be subject to change.

  43. And let me expand a bit on this:

    “And its ethnocratic ideology and institutions are directly linked to those abuses of human rights (whether or not they could, in different forms and in different circumstances, be relatively innocuous.)”

    You think that state expressions of Jewish identity could be made innocuous, and let me be clear: I agree. Do it! Make them innocuous!

    But I’m telling you, in historic Palestine, where Palestinians live today in large numbers (or are barred from living), those state expressions of Jewish identity will have to sit alongside some expressions of Palestinian identity in order to be innocuous. There has to be some reciprocation. Anything else is simply hostile and not true coexistence. And giving away a small chunk of territory is no substitute for true coexistence.

  44. Aaron: I don’t feel like our discussion is going very far. I keep trying to illustrate a distinction for you, but it’s not coming through.

    To attempt to put it simply, that distinction in nation-state concepts goes something like this: “Jews are in control here, they’re the majority, and that’s cool” VS. “Jews MUST be in control here, they MUST be the majority, and our state will not suffer the presence (no matter how legitimate) of others who threaten that status”.

    And in practical realities, it goes something like this: a Jewish Mexican being told by a private citizen that she is not regarded as Mexican, VS. a Jewish Mexican living under military occupation for the explicit reason that she is not catholic.

  45. Tom Mitchell Says:

    People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

    Indeed, which is why I am pleased to see thatg’s youve jettisoned your rediculous argument about “aggressor nations” and 1940s norms of ethnic cleansing.

    1) From the Nov. 29,1947 partition resolution until the Arab invasion on May 15, 1948 the war was a civil war between Jews and Arabs within the Palestine mandate.

    In which case, given that there was a civil war with no way of determining who was the agressor, no one was had the authority to decide who was or was no an “aggressor nation”.

    2) Except for some rioting and pogroms by the Arabs in December, the war really began in January 1948, so it is hard to see how Israel (which didn’t exist in 1947) drove out 200,000 Palestinians under the noses of the British mandatory authorities during 1947. What is your source for this fantasy?

    The Palestinians who resided within the Jewish parition were targetted, and their vilages destroyed.

    Illan Pappe has documented extensively:

    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Pappe_Ilan/EthnCleansPales_bookreview.html

    3) One only has to look to the declarations of the Arab governments at the time to see what their aims were in 1948.

    One only has to look to the declarations of the Zionsts going back to Hertzl to see what their aims were. Unlike the Arab’s, they achieved theirs.

    4) Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab territory, from the Old City of Jerusalem and the Etzion bloc of settlements, but these numbered in the hundreds because the Arabs armies were remarkably unsuccessful in their military efforts.

    Jews were ethnically cleansed AFTER Israel ethnically cleansd 750,000 Palestinians. The reason for the low numbers affected was becasue the population was tiny.

  46. The movement for a single state, presented as complementary component to BDS, is that.

    You’ve been repeating this claim for months, while refusing to provide evidence of this claim. Isn’t it abuot time you put up or shut up Witty?

    So I’m going o ask you again. Please provide the excerpt from the BDS mission statement that links BDS to a single state agenda.

    Better that you be honest about it, that’s my point.

    I won’t bother to address the rest of your typically incoherent post.

  47. Robin-
    It is important for you to consider some facts on the ground. It is very nice to have all these theoretical discussions about “human rights”, “democracy”, “equality”, etc, but the Arab-Israeli conflict is not about any of those things.
    Let’s take today’s Iraq, for instance. It is probably the most democratic Arab state and it has a democratic constitution, yet the following link points out the problems of minorities in such a country:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/31/world/middleeast/31iraq.html?_r=1&ref=global-home

    See, to Israelis, the “one state solution” does not mean a “secular state with equal rights for everyone”. No, it doesn’t say that to Israelis. It means “throwing the Jews into the sea”. Look at what has happened to Christians and other minority groups in the Middle East since the end of the colonial period of the first half of the 20th century. They are all under pressure and in decline, except in a case like Syria where the Alawite minority is riding the tiger by holding onto power themselves.
    The “two-state solution” based on the agreement “everyone knows the terms” of with a “Palestinian state living in peace and prosperity side-by-side with Israel” would be considered a disaster by both the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world and any Palestinian leader who agreed to such a thing would be condemned as a traitor. Arafat told Bill Clinton this, more or less. Thus, we see, the question is not about Palestinian nationalism being suppressed either by occupation or by living as a minority in Israel, it is about the intolerable existence of a dhimmi Jewish-Israeli state in the Arab/Muslim Middle East, regardless of whatever its borders may be.

  48. Y. Ben-David Says,

    Let’s take today’s Iraq, for instance. It is probably the most democratic Arab state and it has a democratic constitution, yet the following link points out the problems of minorities in such a country

    Iraq is not a democratic state. Iraq is a fractures society that is still under US military occupation.

    The issue of Christians in Iraq has become a favored topic of discussion among the right, but the reality is that this crisis was not created by Islam. If that were the case, then Christian in Iraq would have been fleeing Iraq long before the US invaded.

    As Colin Powel said to Bush, if you break it you own it. The US broke Iraq, and the disaster that has ensued is America’s responsibility.

    See, to Israelis, the “one state solution” does not mean a “secular state with equal rights for everyone”. No, it doesn’t say that to Israelis. It means “throwing the Jews into the sea”.

    That’s meaningless paraios and hyperbole. What Israelis believe and what is reality are 2 different things. Is Israelis believe that, it’s because that’s what they have been conditioned to believe.

    Look at what has happened to Christians and other minority groups in the Middle East since the end of the colonial period of the first half of the 20th century.

    And look at whathappend to those states and ask yourself, which of them has not been cripled by Western meddling and subversion?

    The “two-state solution” based on the agreement “everyone knows the terms” of with a “Palestinian state living in peace and prosperity side-by-side with Israel” would be considered a disaster by both the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world and any Palestinian leader who agreed to such a thing would be condemned as a traitor. Arafat told Bill Clinton this, more or less.

    That’s absolutely false. The “terms” that Israel has theoreticalyl accepted for a Palestinian state would mean a disfucntional and unmanageable archipelago of doscinneted bastustans, whereby the popualtion has no control of it’s airspace, water ways or borders. No state could possibly enjoy peace and prosperity undr these rediculus conditions.

    You can argue all you like about the pitfalls of a single state, but the sad reality is that Israel’s policies has ensured it is the only possible outcome. It’s a bit late to lament the fact that it’s not the ideal solution.

  49. “So I’m going o ask you again. Please provide the excerpt from the BDS mission statement that links BDS to a single state agenda.”

    I’ve stated a few dozen times that the stated purposes of BDS:

    1. Equal rights for Palestinians within Israel
    2. End of the occupation of West Bank and Gaza (occupied territories)
    3. Right of return (I interpret that as anyone born in Israel should have the right to be a citizen, and that all that lost property should have their day in court.)

    The statements of goals have changed over the last two years, to more vague and expansive language than the above (particularly the right of return, though the vagueness surrounding what constitutes “occupation” is opportunistic).

    In reality though, the main propounders of BDS that I’ve seen, read, watched on youtube, simultaneously advocate for BDS and for the single-state.

    Ali Abunimeh (read), Omar Barghouti (youtube), Anna Balzer (met).

    Even the last paragraph of your prior post indicates that they are associated.

    Even if there are idealists that do not adopt the single state as a goal, it is inherent in the movement, and the BDS movement cannot currently be conceived as just a dissenting statement.

    It is intentionally punitive rather than reformative, and in association with the single-state orchestrated by external pressure rather than by consent, is revolutionary (not a small word) and contrary to current international law (that recognizes Israel as Israel).

    Robin,
    I disagree with you on the Jewish nature of the state. I believe that that is within a people’s right to maintain, including by immigration policies, and by adjustment of borders if the Jewish plurality changes.

    There are different bases of governance than just geographic. If Israel is the first of a new breed, wonderful (consistent with the Oz quote). If it is 19th century and a residue but still living, wonderful.

    The urge for Zionism came from two things:
    1. The desire of a people that regarded itself as a people to gather physically (a long historical urge)
    2. The need for a people that had experienced centuries of persecution, culminating in real genocide, to restore itself (also a long historical urge, but also a recent one).

    The interpretation of international law that you espouse (that no new national formations may be conducted as they inevitably involve displacement of a residing population on our full planet) is suppressive structurally.

    The history of the world includes people being forced and needing to move, in dominoes.

    The telling example is of the new world, in which many peoples were displaced. First in Europe, (in addition to the deliberate colonial efforts of national companies), there were peoples that were displaced, persecuted, forced to move.

    When they settled in the new world, they displaced existing tribes, which moved west displacing other tribes in a domino effect. In spite of the plains tribes’ assertions that they had always been there, the fact is that virtually all tribes moved west between a few hundred and a thousand miles from their former lands.

    And, most of them did not encounter a white man, but were moved west by dominoes of other tribes.

    Does that make the Lakota not a nation, because they moved, split up, reconnected, displaced others?

    Where does a circle start?

  50. The statements of goals have changed over the last two years, to more vague and expansive language than the above (particularly the right of return, though the vagueness surrounding what constitutes “occupation” is opportunistic).

    So where are the new statements of goals Witty? Where is the statements that support a single state?

    I asked you for a link to source Witty, not more of your waffle and incoherent word salads.

    In reality though, the main propounders of BDS that I’ve seen, read, watched on youtube, simultaneously advocate for BDS and for the single-state.

    So where are those links? Come on Witty. Put up or shut up.

    Even if there are idealists that do not adopt the single state as a goal, it is inherent in the movement, and the BDS movement cannot currently be conceived as just a dissenting statement.

    How is it inherent in the movement of the single state goal is never mentioned? Where it the implied support for a single state?

    It is intentionally punitive rather than reformative, and in association with the single-state orchestrated by external pressure rather than by consent, is revolutionary (not a small word) and contrary to current international law (that recognizes Israel as Israel).

    You’re waffling and refusing to address the question Witty. Where is the evidence of association with the single-state?

    Boycotts are NEVER orchestrated by consent of ose being boycotted, though there is support for BDS in Israel.

    And there in nothing contrary to international law about BDS. If there is, I would strongly suggest you cite the law if you want to salvage what little credibility you may have.

    I believe that that is within a people’s right to maintain, including by immigration policies, and by adjustment of borders if the Jewish plurality changes.

    No state has the legal right to adjust it’s borders, for any reason. What makes you think that Israel is legallt entitled to do it?

    The interpretation of international law that you espouse (that no new national formations may be conducted as they inevitably involve displacement of a residing population on our full planet) is suppressive structurally.

    So in otehr words, you endorse the vilation of intenational law when it suits Israel’s ambitions. Then why are you arguing against BDS if you think it violates intenational law?

    The history of the world includes people being forced and needing to move, in dominoes.

    Yes, adn the world came to the conclusion that this was unacceptable and a violation of human rights and a war crime Witty. Otherwise, it woudl be perfectly legal for the Arab states to push the Jews into the sea, would it not?

    You’re really beginngi to show your penchant for colinalisn, empire and fascism Witty. I think I’ll keep this post on record to remind you of yout extreme views.

  51. Shingo,
    Even your source doesn’t support your claim of 200,000 Palestinians (or any) expelled in 1947. You either have to read your sources more carefully or be more careful when selecting links to back up your fantasy claims.

    You claim that because before May 1948 it was a civil war there could be no aggressor. Then in the American Civil War by this same tortured logic there could be no aggressor. Yet hundreds of historians disagree with you. Or are they just fascists (like everyone else who disagrees with you)?

  52. Shingo,

    One could spend many hours trying to add up and compare the moral ledgers of each side in the Arab-Jewish conflict over Palestine. There is absolutely no doubt that the Zionists committed atrocities (mostly beginning with the founding the Irgun in 1931), or that a certain amount of ethnic cleansing of the Arab population took place in 47 and 48, or that Arab refugees were forcibly prevented from returning to their homes in ’48 and ’49, etc. etc. What I find sad and appalling is the people who have bought into the myth that the Arabs were completely blameless in all of this. You seem to be in that category (correct me if I’m wrong)

    The difficultly of dealing with this topic is that a book or three is required to do it justice. But just focusing on armed conflict, it is nothing less than absurb to deny that there was violent Arab aggression against the Zionist settlers. The most well-known outbursts against the Jews occured in 1920, 1921, 1929 and during the Arab revolt from 1936-1939. Each outburst sparked a new expansion of Zionist military organization, starting with the founding of the Hagana in 1920, its dramatic expansion in 1929, the founding of the Irgun in 1931 (which was established by Jews who did not agree with the OFFICIAL Zionist policy of “havlagah” or restraint, i.e., not attacking unless provoked) and the “tower and stockade” campaign that was created in reaction to events of the 1930s.

    The civil war that Tom refers to in 1947 and the begining of 1948 had two phases, according to Benny Morris in the very well-documented “1948.” The first phase was characterized by organized sniping and other attacks on Jews, particularly on major roads –the most well-known Arab action during that phase was the seige of Jerusalem. During that phase, havlagah –restraint– mostly prevailed as the Zionist policy, although there was obviously Jewish resistance to Arab resistance.

    During the second phase, the Jews hit back very hard, and many of the actions –including expulsions– that Pappe refers to took place. The civil war occured in the months leading up to the expiration of the British Mandate in May, 1948, when the Jews and most of the world expected that the Arab states would invade. And there was absolutely no doubt, none, that the intention of those Arab states was the ethnic cleasning of the Jewish population. Had they succeeded, I wonder if you would be taking the same approach to the moral dimensions of this complex and tangled saga.

    Based on what you have written, you might believe that all of the anti-Jewish violence BEFORE the Arab invasion of 1948 was not only understandable but justified. But it is irresponsible to pretend that it didn’t exist. Happy New Year.

  53. Shingo,
    It was funny to observe you conclude that by “adjustment of borders” you seemed to think that I meant that Israel expanded, annexed.

    I meant the oppossite, that if areas became Palestinian majority to the extent that Israel lost its Jewish super-majority, that it should adjust its borders to transfer territory to Palestine.

    If you believe that “Zionism is racism”, then even that would not appeal to you, and you would construe it as a strategem to maintain a racist structure, no?

    If you believe that a people deserve the right to self-govern, then you would say, “OK, that makes sense, so long as they don’t harm or suppress others.”

    So, we agree that Israel should not suppress others. We just don’t agree that Israel should suicide in order to accomplish that.

  54. Tom,

    “Even your source doesn’t support your claim of 200,000 Palestinians (or any) expelled in 1947. You either have to read your sources more carefully or be more careful when selecting links to back up your fantasy claims.

    You are correct Tom, I cited the wrong source. Here is the source.

    “The Zionists were by far the more powerful and better organized force, and by May 1948, when the state of Israel was formally established, about 300,000 Palestinians already had been expelled from their homes or had fled the fighting, and the Zionists controlled a region well beyond the area of the original Jewish state that had been proposed by the UN. Now it’s then that Israel was attacked by its neighbors – in May 1948; it’s then, after the Zionists had taken control of this much larger part of the region and hundreds of thousands of civilians had been forced out, not before.” p132 Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky

    You claim that because before May 1948 it was a civil war there could be no aggressor.

    I didn’t say there could be aggressor, but naturally, your first assumption was to blame the Arabs even though it was the Zionists who had declared their intent to remove the Arabs. We coudl argue indefinitely as to who was to blame for starting the first phase of the civil war, but neither side had the authority to expell the other, nor was there any law that deemed such an action tobe legitimate.

    Furthermore, you made some outlandish claim about a 1940’s convention of expelling entire populations based on your illusory notion of “aggressor nations”.

  55. Dan,

    I agree it would be futile to derail this discussion with debates about who started the conflict, but I couldn’t allow Tom to get way with such false claims.
    It would be equally futile to claim any side was blameless, though this is often and falsely extrapolated by the pro Israeli position to imply that this was/is a conflict between 2 equally matched sides. The Arabs made many mistakes and poor choices, but that’s what sides who are attacked, victimized, disadvantaged, dispossessed, and overpowered often do.

    It’s interesting to see you refer to the Arab revolt, without bothering to acknowledge that the revolt was a reaction, not a movement that began out of nowhere. The revolt was a resistance movement against British rule and mass Jewish immigration, which was compounded by the stated declarations of the Zionist founders since Hertzl that they were planning to remove the Arab population.

    In many ways, the Revolt was not dissimilar to the Zionist attacks on the British forces in Palestine, though clearly not as ruthless or efficient.
    The dominant narrative that we have been force to swallow for so long is the suggestion that the resistance to the mass immigration was irrational, malevolent, anti Semitic and a denial of the Holocaust. What is never mentioned is the fact that the Palestinians had been promised independence in 1915, and yet by 1917, they were expected not only to surrender those aspirations, but give up 50% of the territory in question, not just to immigrants, but to immigrants who has their eyes set on the other 50%.

    Can anyone imagine how the residents of Texas would respond if there was not only massive immigration of Mexicans, but that the government of Mexico had declared its aims to rid Texas of white Americans?

    Even your own narrative describes the outbursts by the Arabs as the incitement that provoked a response from the Zionist military organizations and terror gangs. Perhaps you are not even aware you are doing this (unless I am reading you wrongly).

    You refer to the sniping and other attacks on Jews, while omitting the drive by shootings, bus bombings by the Zionist terror gangs. What’s more, your explanation for what led to the creation of the Stern, Hagana and Irgun does not explain why the attacks were also aimed at the British forces.

    And there was absolutely no doubt, none, that the intention of those Arab states was the ethnic cleasning of the Jewish population. Had they succeeded, I wonder if you would be taking the same approach to the moral dimensions of this complex and tangled saga.

    This is simply a false premise, and reminds one of the false defenses used to justify the Iraq war because “everyone thought Saddam had WMD”.

    No Sovereign Israeli territory was attacked in 1948. If the Arab League had launched a war of aggression on Israel’s newly Declared Sovereign Boundaries, there would be the customary UNSC resolution condemning it. Instead, UNSC Resolution 49; May 22, 1948, merely asks all parties for a ceasefire. The Arab League Informing the UNSC on 15th May 1948 that they were attacking Israeli forces in Palestine, not Israel, which was no longer a part of the non-state entity of Palestine.

    Under the UN Charter Article 52 it was the The Arab League’s right and as representatives of the non-state entity of Palestine at the time, their duty to protect it from the aggression the Sovereign state of Israel had inherited from Plan Dalet, from the moment Israel declared. What had been a civil war, became a war waged by a state on a non-state entity.

    Based on what you have written, you might believe that all of the anti-Jewish violence BEFORE the Arab invasion of 1948 was not only understandable but justified. But it is irresponsible to pretend that it didn’t exist. Happy New Year.

    I would be very reticent to describe the Arab violence as justified, but I would argue that it was understandable. I would also be reticent to describe the violence as anti-Jewish, so much as anti colonialist.

    Anyway, like I said Dan, I enjoyed your article and I admire your honesty. Comming from someone who clearly empathizes with the Zionist ideology, it is an excellent piece.

  56. “You refer to the sniping and other attacks on Jews, while omitting the drive by shootings, bus bombings by the Zionist terror gangs.”

    Dan did articulate a time line, in which the anti-immigration riots and “small” massacres and snipering of purchased civilian residences, preceeded the formation of Irgun.

  57. Richard-
    I presume you are including the massacre in Hevron in 1929. Something like 70 people were killed and many more wounded among the completely unarmed Jewish population of Hevron (they were offered arms beforehand but rejected them. It was also a non-Zionist population with little contact with the official Zionist leadership of the new yishuv).

  58. It was also a non-Zionist population with little contact with the official Zionist leadership of the new yishuv

    Not true. The Jews that were targetted were Ashkenazi Jews, not Mizrahi.

  59. Your rationalizations are sickening Shingo.

    Read.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929_Hebron_massacre

    The survivors interviewed in the film say that the Arabs from the villages essentially wanted to kill only the new Ashkenazim, because they saw Ashkenazim as more vulnerable and less chance of retribution to follow. When the riots started, representatives of the Arabs came to the chief Hebron Rabbi, Rabbi Slonim Dwek, with a proposal – if he allowed them to kill 70 students from the yeshiva in Hebron, they would not kill the other Ashkenazim or the Sephardim. Rabbi Slonim Dwek told them, “We Jews are all one people.” He was the first person to be killed in the riots, as he held his eldest son, 4 years old in his hands, who was also killed.[29] Noit Gevas’s aunt thought that it all happened because in Hebron, there was an alienated Jewish community that wore streimels, unlike the Sephardi community, which was deeply rooted, speaking Arabic and dressing like Arab residents. Noit Gevas’s mother had never wanted to tell the family anything. But in the contemporary article, she had told how Abu ‘Id saved them and that the Arabs in Hebron were friends of the family, it had been Arabs from the villages and not the ones from Hebron who had done it. And she said that it all happened because of the Ashkenazim.

  60. Shingo,
    You still haven’t substantiated a claim of 200,000 expelled by the Zionists in 1947. Yes, 300,000 fled in 1948 during the civil war portion of the war–a war which began with Arab attacks on vulnerable Jewish populations in Jerusalem and in isolated settlements as well as widespread sniping against civilians in Tel Aviv from Jaffa.

    I never claimed that there was a convention in the 1940s, but a norm. There are two main sources of international law: bilateral and multilateral treaties on one hand and customary law on the other. Customary law is based on the practice of nations–it is in some ways the international equivlant of common law. The practice in the 1940s was that when a nation carries out aggressive war against its neighbors, its ethnic allies in those states that were attacked are then expelled. You still have not established what changed this norm, suddenly, between 1944-46 when it occurred in Central Europe and in 1948 in Palestine. The Geneva Conventions on warfare were not until 1949.

  61. Shingo,
    You claim that no Israeli territory was invaded. The Syrians invaded across the Jordan River into the area south of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). This was included in the Jewish area under the UN partition plan.

  62. I see, it is legitimate to kill streimel-wearing Ashkenazi Jews because they are “different”, but Sefardic Jews who speak Arabic are “off-limits” as targets. Where was the famous multi-culturalist tolerance the Muslims keep telling us about?

  63. T Your rationalizations are sickening Shingo.

    And yours are infinitely more sickening Witty. You’ve rationalized every war that Israel has stared, meaning the murder of tens of thousands.

  64. You still haven’t substantiated a claim of 200,000 expelled by the Zionists in 1947. Yes, 300,000 fled in 1948 during the civil war portion of the war–a war which began with Arab attacks on vulnerable Jewish populations in Jerusalem and in isolated settlements as well as widespread sniping against civilians in Tel Aviv from Jaffa.

    Read my link again Tom.

    It says that 300,000 Palestinians ALREADY had been expelled from their homes or had fled the fighting. That’s before the 1948 war began, and no Tom, they didn’t flee, they were expelled.

    The total number ended up being 750,000.

    I never claimed that there was a convention in the 1940s, but a norm.

    That is false regardless, becasue the Geneva Conventions had already been established. The norm was illegal and an accepted violation of human rights by that stage. Ethnic cleansing has never been letitimized by common law, especially as it violates property rights.

    The practice in the 1940s was that when a nation carries out aggressive war against its neighbors, its ethnic allies in those states that were attacked are then expelled.

    But the civil was was not between nation states, but between 2 populations and you are making he erroneous assumption that it was the Arabs who did the atatcking.

    You still have not established what changed this norm, suddenly, between 1944-46 when it occurred in Central Europe and in 1948 in Palestine.

    Ummm, a littel something called WWII.

  65. Tom,

    You claim that no Israeli territory was invaded. The Syrians invaded across the Jordan River into the area south of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee). This was included in the Jewish area under the UN partition plan.

    Correction. The Syrians crossed the Jordan River during the fighting, it was not an invasion.

  66. Y. Ben-David,

    I see, it is legitimate to kill streimel-wearing Ashkenazi Jews because they are “different”

    I didn’t say that, I an arguing your false calim that there were no Zionists in Hebron. Please don’t misrepresent my argument when you’re proven wrong.

  67. What’s the difference-are Zionists subject to the death penalty? But you are showing you ignorance of Israel and Jews….the “streimel-wearing” Ashkenazim were NOT ZIONISTS.

  68. Shingo,
    I thought that you were arguing that the massacre in Hebron was “not that bad”, that they only sought out the Ashkenazi yeshiva students.

  69. What’s the difference-are Zionists subject to the death penalty?

    Please stick to the question I was addressing. The one and only point I was debating was whether there was a zinist presence in Hebron, nothing more. That doesn’t mean I support the crimes that were perpetrated on anyone. I am opposed to all violence.

    On what grounds do you claim that shtreimel wearing Ashkenazim were not Zionists?

  70. Witty,

    All violence sickens me. I may appear to be more moved by the current Palestinian suffering, but that is only becasue it is on a far greater scale than what Israelis are experiencing.

  71. Shingo,
    You APPEARED to sanction the lesser of two evils:

    Murdering the 65 Ashkenazi and 2 Mizrahi, rather murdering the 500 total.

  72. I mentioned the presence of the Ashkenazi Jews to argue whether there were Zionists in Hebron. If 65 Ashkenazi were killed, then they were there.

    Nothing more.

  73. The Ashkenazi killed were yeshiva students and teachers, not Zionists.

    The ultra-orthodox were primarily anti-Zionist at the time.

    “Nothing more”.

  74. “The practice in the 1940s was that when a nation carries out aggressive war against its neighbors, its ethnic allies in those states that were attacked are then expelled. You still have not established what changed this norm, suddenly, between 1944-46 when it occurred in Central Europe and in 1948 in Palestine.”

    This is bizarre on several levels. First, since when did anyone take the horrific atrocities that occurred in Central Europe during and immediately after WWII as some sort of moral norm? Well, outside of the context of justifying what Israel did in 1948, I mean.

    Second, doesn’t this presuppose that the “Arabs” were the aggressors? But isn’t that a little hard to establish? From the Arab point of view, the Zionists got their foothold with the help of a colonial occupying power. And everyone seems to agree that it’s a little hard to tell who fired the first shots in late 1947. And are we supposed to think that whoever it was determines which side was rightfully expelled?

    Shingo–on one point I think Tom Mitchell has a point. It’s my understanding that the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians began in early 1948, not 1947.

  75. The Geneva Conventions were ratified in August of 1949.

    Both contained aggressors in more than one way. Zionism itself was not aggression, but settlement of a largely refugee community.

    There were aggressors among Zionists.

    Anti-Zionists similarly contained aggressors, opportunists.

    Israel’s charter was ratified by the UN in April, 1948, legal by international law, even though a minority of states have never recognized its existence.

    Defense of that chartered state is rational and legal.

    Accusations of excessive military and prejudice have strong substantiation. Accusations of illegitimacy are weak and tinged with racism.

  76. Shingo,

    One reason it is virtually impossible to have a productive conversation about what happened in ’47 and ’48 (or, for that matter, between 1896 and 2010) is that people use the sources that suit them. If you rely on the likes of Chomsky and Pappe(who are not trained historians), you will get one story. If I rely on Benny Morris, I will get another story. I think, although Morris clearly has ideological proclivities, he is determined to get the facts and find the truth, whatever it happens to be. I think that Pappe and Chomsky find the facts that fit the version of the story they want to tell. That doesn’t mean they are always wrong. But many people reflexively accept what they claim without looking at other sources. Not sure if you are in that category but if you are, I would suggest you are not getting the full picture.

  77. Shingo,
    I realize that you must regard Chomsky’s writings as a sort of holy scripture, but he is wrong about November 1947. Go to the newspapers of record of the time and look or from a reliable history. Chomsky is probably metaphorically referring to November 1947 because of that being the month of the UN partition resolution.

    The Zionists did not go on the offensive until the spring of 1948 with Operation Nakhshon. The war began with Palestinian offensive operations in January 1948 with attacks on local targets. This is why it is known as the 1948 war. If so much had happened in 1947 it would be known as the 1947 war or the 1947-48 war.

  78. There was civil conflict between Zionists and Arabs/Palestinians in November, 1947 Tom, when the UN first determined to support partition.

  79. Richard,
    The partition plan was announced on Nov. 29, 1947; for the next month the conflict consisted of Arab riots and pogroms against vulnerable Jewish populations. Remember, the international press initially reported the Rwandan genocide of 1994 as “centuries-old ethnic conflict.” Apparently when unarmed Tutsi attempted to escape that counted as resistance.

  80. “for the next month the conflict consisted of Arab riots and pogroms against vulnerable Jewish populations. Remember, the international press initially reported the Rwandan genocide of 1994 as “centuries-old ethnic conflict.” Apparently when unarmed Tutsi attempted to escape that counted as resistance.”

    Oh brother.

    I happen to have the first edition (1988) of Benny Morris’s book “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem”. At the bottom of page 41 he says “The intermittent shooting of December culminated in an IZL bombing at the gates of the Haifa oil refinery, the vengeful Arab massacres of Jewish refinery workers and the Haganah reprisal of 31 December at Balad ah Sheikh…”
    The IZL is Irgun.

    Golly, there, Tom, it doesn’t sound quite the way you described it. It’s almost like it was a conflict, with atrocities on both sides, rather than a massive one-sided genocide.

    Mike Davis in his interesting little history of the car bomb (“Buda’s Wagon) also has a section on what Irgun and the Stern Gang were up to in 1946-1947, but by all means just carry on with your absurdly one-sided analogies.

  81. Dan,

    You don’t strike me as overly prove to hyperbole, so I will take your labelling of Chomsky and Pappe as liars, or denuncation of Pappe as not being a true historian as uncharacteristically inflamatory.

    While Benny Morris did break ground with Righteous Victims, and as an ardent Zionist, it would have been difficult for him to write what he did. Nevertheless, his theories fail to address some fundamental outcomes that cannot be easily easplained as unpredictable consequences of
    war.

    1. That Israel would not exist today were it not for the ethnic cleasing of Palestine
    2. That the Zionist founders had openly discussed the need to transfer or remove the Arabs to realize their dream of a Jewish state since the time of Hertzl
    3. That the 1948 war produced this perfect outcome, yet Morris would have us believe that it was simply an perfect accident.

    One could argue that Morris found no evidence to support the theory that the expulsion was planned in advance, but that does not mean it wasn’t.

  82. Morris is more accurate in his research, more candid in the material that he conveys (he includes evidence that conflict with his theses as well as evidence that supports it), and more plausible in his conclusions.

    Propaganda vs scholarship.

    Propaganda is only effective when there is some truth in it, otherwise the gullible (non-questioning) would have nothing to stand on. But, it does not reach the standard of reliable truth, truth worth standing on.

    The same standard applies to biased Israel-right or wrong propaganda, as to biased anti-Israel.

    If there would have been no Israel, that would have been an injustice.

    If there would have been no Palestine, that would be an injustice.

    Which one is exclusively true? Neither. Which one requires work to accomplish currently, the formation of Palestine.

    Which one requires misrepresentation to accomplish currently, the urge to eliminate Israel.

  83. Shingo,
    You keep mentioning Herzl as a source supporting ethnic cleansing. This demonstrates that you’ve never read Herzl. Herzl in his novel “Altneuland” (Old-New Land) has Israel in the future as a central European style country with the Arab inhabitants quite happily assimilated into the population. This may have been quite naive, but it wasn’t genocidal or advocating ethnic cleansing.

    Donald,
    If Morris reports that, I won’t argue with you. I never claimed it was a genocide, I merely used Rwanda as an example of how one-sided killing is reported as conflict. But offensive operations by both the Hagana and the Etzel aimed at capturing territory did not begin until late in the winter of 1948 and the spring of 1948.

    I’m not familiar with Davis’ book. The IRA was using car bombs in the 1980s by forcing innocent civilians to drive into British bases with explosive-packed vehicles by holding their families hostage and threatening to murder them. British deserters to the Arab cause also used a vehicle to attack the Palestine Post in 1948. I believe the Etzel use of trucks was as delivery vehicles for bombs on a rail system.

  84. Tom,

    Hertzl made it abundantly clear in his Diaries that he envisioned the removal of the the indigenous populations, though it wasn’t clear to him at the time where there Jewish state would end up.

    On 12 June 1895, Herzl confided to his diary his programme for the removal of the indigenous non-Jewish population from the Jewish State and the expropriation of private property by the Jewish State.

    In those days, countries consisted of the few rich landowners and the multitude of poor, and Herzl had plans for each of these classes of population. With regard to the landowners, Herzl wrote in his diary: “When we occupy the land, we shall bring immediate benefits to the state that receives us. We must expropriate gently, the private property on the estates assigned to us.”(1) For the remainder of the population, he wrote in his diary on the same day: “We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries whilst denying it any employment in our own country.”(2) We can thus see that the means Herzl envisaged to transfer non-Jews out of the Jewish State, was to deny them sources of livelihood in the Jewish State, and find them employment elsewhere.

  85. Its funny how “ethnic cleansing” gets the anti-Israel “progressives” going, yet the far more extensive ethnic cleansing and mass killings that accompanied the Muslim demand to set up an ethnocentric state on the Indian subcontinent never merits a mention, especially considering how Pakistan is more dependent on American aid than Israel is.

    Same with the ethnic cleansing that inevitably accompanyed the break-up of Yugoslavia. The “progressive” Europeans encouraged that. I don’t understand that, either.

  86. Shingo,
    1895 was when Herzl published The Jewish State (or The State of the Jews–a more accurate translation from the German). At this point he still hadn’t decided where the state was going to be and mentioned both Palestine and Argentina/South America. The World Zionist Organization was created after the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland in 1897. Altneuland was published in 1902.

    From the quote it seems that Herzl was concerned about voluntary transfer of non-Jews. Herzl wanted all the population to be citizens and wanted the state to be a democracy as well as to be a Jewish state. Now he could have conceived of the state as a typical as a typical Middle Eastern state–a monarchy or a military dictatorship (with a hereditary republic to boot!) and that would have solved the problem.

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