American foreign policy American Jews Far left Israel Zionism

The price of demonization

Some wise words from Cecilie Surasky about this little experiment here:

I personally find the whole Zionism/anti-Zionism litmus test both distasteful, often offensive, and certainly odd. It’s odd and to me artificial because the definitions are so slippery, the understanding of Zionisms so superficial.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a discussion about Zionism with someone in which it wasn’t apparent we were making completely different assumptions. Further, many of us who care about the topic of Zionism are in a relationship of engagement, exploration, questioning, and learning.

Instead, the McCarthyite tendencies– on both the left and right–force people to pick a fixed ideology as their identity, and pin it down like a moth on a display board. Clearly, both sides use it as a proxy test to check for anti-Semitism, or anti-Arabism.

Right on. To clarify: the reason I’ve brought up the Z-word from time to time is not to get into predictable arguments about what happened in 1948 or 1936 or 1898. Those arguments never get anywhere.

The reason is that I am trying to show that people who accept some of Zionism’s premises –or at least understand why those premises were accepted by Jews before and soon after the Holocaust– are not necessarily immoral demons or apologists for the brutal treatment of Palestinians. That is how they are being depicted on much of the blogosphere and on campus.

This demonization creates vast chasms between people who don’t even realize how many principles they share. Until something is done about it, it will be impossible to think about thinking about creating a political bloc that has a fighting chance to change America’s Middle East policies.

62 thoughts on “The price of demonization

  1. Like all “anti” movements, anti-Zionism is unclear and disorganized as to what is alternative proposal is.

    The key shift that I seek is to humanize Palestinians, AND to humanize Israelis.

    The presence of slogan, ideology or political logic primarily, rather than human sympathy, divides and paralyzes.

    In contrast, with humanization of the other, solutions will be evident and be rationally selected from the needs of the parties themselves.

  2. That’s a very duplicitious way for you to pass off your belief in a racist ideology.

    The understanding of Zionism is not superficial; you just need to make it sound like it’s complicated to make it not look racist.

    The reason discussions about 48 get nowhere is that Zionists will never admit the FACTS of Israel’s crimes. It’s like arguing with a neo-Nazi who’ll never admit the Holocaust and always say “it’s complicated” about everything.

    Also, no one is demonizing you; but the Zionism you blieve in is a despicable and racist ideology. I don’t really think you’re a bad person for believing it, as judged by all your fudging and attempts to not let me or anyone subject it to any criticism; you are just deluded and WANT to believe so much that this ideology you were brought up to believe in is NOT responsible for ethnic cleansing and is not racist. You are like a child who is refusing to acknowledge his mother telling him that there is no Santa, because he like the world better with Santa.

    It is this delusion that wants you to get away from all discusion and continue to tell me to discuss the future.

    The problem is this Dan: In Israel/Palestine, the racism of Zionism is ITSELF the problem; and the support that it gets from deluded Americans IS what keeps this problem going strong. Ignoring this is at best stupid, at worst ignorant.

    By your twisted logic, we shouldn’t have discussed segregation, apartheid or slavery or Fascism or Naziism; we would ignore them as a problem by wishing them away and saying that it’s complicated and that it’s hard to agree; and then you’d ask us to move on to discussing the solutions.

    We need to discuss this despicable ideology and your rabid infantile attachment to it in order to figure out a solution to this conflict.

    Any discussion that doesn’t discuss Zionism openly is pointless.

  3. Saif,

    I did not meant to imply that I was not open to discussing Zionism. Forgive me if you were given that impression. I was just explaining my principal motivation for discusing it from time to time, which is different than your motivation.

    It seems to me that calling someone “infantile” conveys that you are not actually interested in discussing anything. But I’ve given you two topics that you have decided to avoid, so let me try again. They will certainly give you an opportunity to expound on how to deal with the consequences of Zionism.

    1) Please let me know what you think of Uri Avnery’s piece, as he is an Israeli who does share many of your beliefs. Explain to me why he is wrong when he asserts that, in the real world where actual Palestinians are actually suffering, advocating a one-state solution will do much more harm than good.

    2) Please respond to my query about the Palestinians who signed and endorsed the Geneva Initiative.

    Here is what I wrote:

    “I understand why you believe it is important to prove that I should never associate myself with Zionism in any form. But please try an experiment. Consider what you think of everything else I’ve advocated on this blog –i.e., the policies and political tactics– but delete the word “Zionism.”

    “My positions. like much of the Israeli left that you disparage, are pretty much identical to the positions of the Palestinians who signed the Geneva initiative. I’d even go further than that document when it comes to Israel acknowledging its responsibility for what happened in ‘48 and apologizing.

    “Based on my experiences and interactions with Palestinians who consider themselves to be relatively moderate when it comes to Israel, most of them feel as angry as you do about the founding of the Jewish state and subsequent Israeli policy. Again, I don’t blame them. But they also understand the necessity of working with Jews who share their goals for a two-state solution because it is the only practical way to wake up from this bloody nightmare. I assume you wouldn’t consider those Palestinians “racists” because they accept the reality of the Jewish state, would you?

    “If you agree with the Geneva Initiative, what difference does it make whether I think that state has some validity, as long as I am able to make common cause with those who don’t, but want to live side-by-side with it?

    “If you don’t agree, then I’m curious to know what you think of the Palestinians who signed it…”

  4. Global warming is racism. It will force the current residents of low-lying areas to migrate upland, and either overwhelm the upland rural culture, or force their removal.

    Peak oil is racism. It will force a mass migration that will displace.

    Naziism is racism. It forced a mass migration, which displaced MANY.

    Prohibitions against Mexican immigration into the US, or of Arab immigration into France or Germany, are racism, as they are selective on racial grounds.

    Prohibitions against Jewish immigration into then Palestine, regardless of whether in the name of Zionism, or simply in the name of desparate humanity, was racism.

    The laws and policies that prohibit Palestinians from restoring title to their land in now Israel, are racist laws. The laws and policies that restrict marriage on ethnic basis are racist.

    Zionism is however social, not racial, and represents the natural method of identification (self-identification) by which nations are formed in the modern world.

  5. Policies and practises may be describable as discrimminatory. Voluntary social association is a different story.

  6. Richard writes: “Zionism is however social, not racial, and represents the natural method of identification (self-identification) by which nations are formed in the modern world.”

    I completely disagree with this assessment. Zionism is social to the extent that all ethnocentric and exclusivist nationalist ideologies are social, i.e. that they tend to permeate the societies in which they are applied. But as a matter of succinct legal definition, according to the ICERD, Zionism is both in theory and practice based upon the premise of “racial discrimination” and by extension, fundamentally racist.

    According to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Israel is a signatory and fully ratified member, “racial discrimination” is defined as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” (Article 1.1; bold emphasis added).

    Of course you may choose to define “Zionism” in some other way (see my earlier comment on “Applied Zionism”); but within the context of existing legal definitions of the term, anyone is fully justified in saying “Zionism is racist.”

  7. John,

    I am not sure what “existing legal definitions of the term” refers to. Is there a definition of Zionism that has any legal application? It never occured to me that such a thing existed, but if I’m wrong, I would like to know. Isn’t that comparable to saying there is an existing legal definition of “socialism” or “Kurdish nationalism? I thought that there was a state of Israel and it had laws, and that Zionism was/is a movement with disparate strands that motivated the people who created the State of Israel and continues to exist in disparate movements to support the state.

  8. Hi Dan,

    When discussing the “Zionism is racism(ist)” discussion, there are two terms that have to be defined; Zionism & racism. Both are relatively subjective (see my comment about “Applied Zionism” on a separate thread). You are correct that there is no “existing legal definition[s] of the term” with respect to “Zionism,” but there is for “racial discrimination” via ICERD as quoted previously. Here is a link to the Convention: http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/d_icerd.htm Israel has both signed and ratified the Convention, so it must be assumed that Israel – the product of “Applied Zionism” or Zionism in practice – accepts its definition of “racial discrimination.” The definition was cited above.

    So, one half of the equation is established in law as recognized and accepted by Israel.

    With respect to the term “Zionism” as noted in my other comment, it is very subjective. However, if you remove the subjective elements of the ideology from the equation – the intent, the motivations, the justifications – and focus exclusively on the objective facts created by and justified by the ideology of Zionism – a movement that has never denied that it was specifically for “Jewish” (I use quotes because Israel has been careful to never officially define “Jews” or “Jewish” solidly, thus many olim find themselves “Jewish” enough to immigrate, but not “Jewish” enough to marry or be buried, &c.) interests though it opted to carry this program out in a country populated by “non-Jews” (again by whatever definition).

    Zionism in practice – as I term “Applied Zionism” discarding the empty rhetoric – is undeniably based upon the concept of, and has acted in accordance with, the ICERD definition of “racial discrimination” in its ethnocentric focus on “Jewish” interests at the expense of the already resident “non-Jewish” population.

    Thus, assuming one accepts the legal definition of “racial discrimination” (expanded to help define the subjective notion of “racism”); then Zionism IS, in practice regardless of intent, effectively “racist.”

    This is the basis of the notion that Afrikaner “Apartheid” was fundamentally racist as well. In theory, the official stance of the Nationalist Party was “separate development” based on the notion that it is vital for the “cultural survival” of South Africa’s various ethnic/racial groups to maintain separate institutions and functions so as to protect the various cultures and heritages from assimilation and domination by the dominant “European culture.” Ostensibly “Apartheid” was a humane and even progressive ideology meant to protect the cultural heritage of South Africa’s non-White population groups. Of course, when one discards the rhetoric and looks as the practice – “Applied Apartheid” – the racist nature of the ideology was blindingly obvious.

    The same holds true for “Applied Zionism” as represented by the modern state of Israel and its advocates elsewhere. To make the charge that “Zionism is Racist” is perfectly legitimate if one uses the existing legal definition of “racial discrimination” found in ICERD and recognized by Israel.

  9. Your description of “Applied Zionism” illustrates my point, that it is the application that is the problem, the specific laws and policies and not the self-identification and self-governance.

    Historically, the majority of Zionists were liberal Zionists, whom did not care to harm Palestinians, but did care to not be harmed themselves. Only a minority were expansionists (that you describe as “applied Zionism”).

    The events of history (certainly the expansionists were opportunistic to use the events of history, what ideologues aren’t?) including/especially the actions of the Arab states and Palestinian resistance, were parts of the shift from self-governing emphasis to defensive emphasis (which gave validity and opportunity to the expansionists). Even with the history of prohibitions against immigration, unilateral “remove them” wars, election of “remove them” Palestinian parties, the understanding of the VERY VAST majority of Israelis is still of the inevitability of Palestine as a neighbor state.

    Zionism and apartheid are very different, and must be treated differently. The difference is in the demographics (50-50 from sea to sea and 80-20 in the partitions), the status of Palestinians (self-governing parliament with representation at the UN), international law (commitment to two-state solution).

    That is a lot of reality and a lot of progressive social commitment to fight upstream against, for a selective definition.

  10. Hi Richard,

    You wrote: ”Your description of “Applied Zionism” illustrates my point, that it is the application that is the problem, the specific laws and policies and not the self-identification and self-governance.”

    This is a very common position adopted by critical apologists for Zionism that essentially argues that the movement itself was not originally a negative thing, but that at some point (and this point varies depending on who is making the case) things “went bad” or the notion was corrupted. However, I consider this argument to be completely superfluous. Quite simply, whether Zionism started out bad, or was corrupted later, when your average contemporary anti-Zionist condemns the concept, he/she is condemning the ideology as it is practiced today. A parallel: German ethnic nationalism began originally as a liberal and progressive concept in the wake of the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic period; however, today the notion is almost exclusively equated with the German radical Right & racism because of the way the concept later evolved (e.g. Nazism). We can argue whether or not German nationalism in of itself is fundamentally negative all day, but in general parlance and usage the concept is intimately connected to Nazism, modern Neo-Nazis, attacks on foreigners and radical anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany. Whether or not the notion began as a positive development is utterly immaterial and the same holds true – at least in my opinion – with Zionism.

    You also write: ”Historically, the majority of Zionists were liberal Zionists, whom did not care to harm Palestinians, but did care to not be harmed themselves. Only a minority were expansionists (that you describe as “applied Zionism”).”

    I certainly agree that the Labour Zionism represented the majority and dominated the Yishuv and the state until Likud’s electoral win 1977; and in general Labour fits the definition of “liberal” – at least when juxtaposed against the Revisionsts & religious parties – however, that is as far as it goes. Even before the state, the “liberals” Labour Zionism DID specifically engage in campaigns whose sole purpose was to “harm Palestinians.” For example, the Histadrut spearheaded the Avoda Ivrit (“Hebrew Labour”) campaign and the “Tozeret haHaretz” (buy Jewish) campaigns. While on the surface these campaigns might be viewed as self-help; in practice they were exclusively anti-Palestinian. The Avoda Ivrit campaign demanded that Yishuv grove owners fire Palestinian labor whether or not they could find Jewish labor to replace them; the point was not to help Jewish workers but to hurt Palestinian ones. Similarly, the Tozeret haHaretz campaign demanded that the Jewish community refuse to patronize Palestinian retailers regardless of whether or not a Jewish alternative existed. These were overtly racist campaigns conducted PRIOR to the 1936 Palestinian strikes (and often considered important contributors to that uprising) and was completely orchestrated by “liberal” Zionists.

    See some of Steven A. Glazer’s work on this topic.

    So yes, the Yishuv was dominated by “liberals”, but this doesn’t mean they were not racist – in theory & practice.

    “…the understanding of the VERY VAST majority of Israelis is still of the inevitability of Palestine as a neighbor state.”

    This is, of course, the mantra of the Zionist Left (as differentiated from the anti- / non- / post-Zionist Left), but again, one has to compare the rhetoric against the action. IF we are to grant that the “VERY VAST” majority of Israelis support a viable two-state solution (i.e. not a Bantustan scheme or ghettoization scheme) and we grant that Israel is a democracy (at least for its Jewish population), then one has to ask why Israel has not acted. Of course here the Zionist reverts to “blaming the victims” – it’s the Palestinian’s fault that Israel can’t unilaterally withdraw from all the territories conquered and occupied in 1967. [And just to save you the trouble, don’t even pretend that Sharon’s Gaza “Disengagement” amounted to withdrawal, it did not and Israel today still controls every aspect of life in Gaza by total control of the borders, the sea, and the air. “Disengagement” was just a modification of occupation, not withdrawal, thus the continued resistance.]

    Realistically though, this is all utter nonsense and fully explains why the Zionist Left has lost all credibility within Israel. A full withdrawal (esp. of Occupied Al Khalil (Hevron), the Jordan Valley, and Al Quds (Jerusalem) has NEVER been seriously proposed and no Palestinian Bantustan can even pretend to being a real statelet without these concessions. The whole two-state pretense is based upon the notion that Israel would be willing to allow a truly free and sovereign Palestinian state encompassing at least most of the Occupied Territories, but there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest that Israel has any intention whatsoever of doing this. None. The Wall has already successfully converted Qalqilya into a ghetto totally on par with anything our people were ever thrown into in Poland, Al Quds is being effectively removed from the West Bank in every possible sense and the settlements in the Jordan Valley are expanding. There is not the slightest piece of evidence – despite the “VERY VAST” majority claim – that Israel has any intention whatsoever to allow for a Palestinian state that would meet the minimum requirements for such an entity, which is why the whole two-state notion is pointless, based on a completely unsubstantiated premise.

    “Zionism and apartheid are very different, and must be treated differently. The difference is in the demographics (50-50 from sea to sea and 80-20 in the partitions), the status of Palestinians (self-governing parliament with representation at the UN), international law (commitment to two-state solution).”

    Actually they have a lot more in common than you might think, but this is well beyond the scope of this comment thread and the material I’ve been compiling will easily fill a volume (I’m currently working on doing just that). However, the comparison I made previously is completely valid. IF one were to focus exclusively on the writings of the SABRA (“South African Bureau of Racial Affairs,” the National Party think-tank that formulated, justified, and defended the concept of Apartheid), then Apartheid was a truly liberal progressive idea meant to protect and nurture indigenous cultures throughout South Africa. Of course the reality was clearly something else. Similarly, if you focus exclusively on the apologetics of the Zionist movement, it is a progressive idea; but when one compares this to how it is actually applied in reality, it is anything but.

  11. John S., time doesn’t permit me to answer you in full. And truthfully after the whole Phil Weiss Observer moment I really didn’t want to get sucked into this again. But, when somebody says something so completely “off the wall” I have to jump in. You want to argue the west bank, the wall, whatever. And indulge your liberal jewish angst, fine. But if you really think that any Palestinian is living in anything that even comes remotely close to the ghettos in Warsaw, Lodz, Lublin, or anyplace else. Then my friend you are seriously in need of a history lesson.

  12. The same logic then applies to Marxism as applied by Stalin.

    Its just NOT true to characterize an ideology by a single example.

    There is a distinction between an idea and its application. If you dislike the application, address that. If you dislike the idea, then address that, but please without revising for the purposes of opportunistic condemnation.

    The Hebrew labor campaign was anything by harming. It was self-help, self-discipline, a movement TO dignify labor. It fit the description of liberal Zionists as being primarily concerned with their own community, not harming. If anything, indifference might be an accurate and partially valid criticism, but racist is an innaccurate description.

    Israel HAS acted. It treatied with the PA, and recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

    I argue for the green line as boundary for practical purposes, that it is far more defensible and comprises a more integrated community than the maze of the settlement blocs. That, and the fact that it enhances the ability of Palestine to be healthy, rather than desparate.

    I affirm that a healthy neighbor is far far more likely to be a good neighbor than a desparate one.

    The reasons that Israel has been prohibited (no choice possible) historically from a more benign relationship with Palestine includes the deferred state of war that exists with Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, not to mention the relationship with Palestine (especially following the election of Hamas, affirming its intention to “never prosecute or jail anyone that undertakes ANY action in the name of Palestinian resistance”, let alone its renunciation of prior signed agreements.)

    Now that the Saudi proposal has been ratified by all Arab states (excepting Hamas Palestine), the status of Israeli “choice” is, or will become, different.

    Zionism will shortly consent to content itself with “enough” rather than the minority and accurately racist description of “all”.

    Of course, militants can continue to derail all progress. Those include the left, the Islamicists, the expansionists.

    John,
    Please actually engage the question of the demographics to the asserted “parallel” with apartheid.

    I see them as different entirely.

    To my perspective its imprecise, innaccurate.

    The common understanding that crosses applications, of Zionism as the self-determination movement of the Jewish people, is certainly a progressive idea.

    It takes current moral attention to keep it from going south, as all progressive ideas do.

  13. Hi Bill,

    You write: ”And indulge your liberal jewish angst, fine. But if you really think that any Palestinian is living in anything that even comes remotely close to the ghettos in Warsaw, Lodz, Lublin, or anyplace else.”

    What utter rubbish. In what way to you see a difference between what Israel has done to Qalqilya and how our people were confined in Poland in the nineteenth century? You have a densely populated urban area that has been fully walled in. At least the traditional Warsaw ghetto had multiple entrances, whereas Qalqilya has one. The gates to the ghetto are controlled by overtly hostile forces and the residents/prisoners must gain approval to enter or leave at all times (though members of the Herrenvolk are allowed to enter and leave at will) and under any circumstances. Life itself – food, water, medical supplies – is completely controlled by the ghetto administrators and the residents/prisoners exist at the arbitrary whim of the gatekeepers who decide whether the residents/prisoners live or die en masse. And just to top it off, both the Polish ghetto administrators under the Czar & the IDF like to make sporadic terror raids into the ghettos too.

    You say the situations are different – in what way?

  14. Guess what John, I’ll give you two major differences. The Palestinians get the most per capita aid per person in the world. And they are and amazingly well armed population. Leaving aside the fact that they elected a bunch of psychotic Jew hating lunatics into power. Herrenvolk was a nice touch by the way, very subtle.

  15. Hi Bill,

    ”The same logic then applies to Marxism as applied by Stalin.”

    Absolutely. And Kim il-Sung and so on. I am sympathetic with some Marxist notions, but I’d never be so crass as to deny that “Applied Marxism” has been an utter corruption and failure. I fancy myself a Democratic Socialist, that takes some notions from Marx, but is certainly not “Marxist” in the common application of the term.

    ”Its just NOT true to characterize an ideology by a single example.”

    I disagree IF there is only one example to base one’s argument on. If there were a number of “Jewish States” set up by the Zionist movement your objection would be valid [And if the radical right-wing settlers have anything to say about it, that might just be true one day with a second “Jewish State” being formed in the West Bank; a more realistic possibility than an Israeli withdrawal], but as it is; the ideology can only be judged by its accomplishments as they are.

    ”There is a distinction between an idea and its application. If you dislike the application, address that. If you dislike the idea, then address that, but please without revising for the purposes of opportunistic condemnation.”

    This is exactly my point – with respect to both Zionism and the Apartheid case – one cannot separate the idea from the action if you want to make a valid analysis. The rhetoric and justifications are only valid insofar as they reflect the objective reality that stem from them. For example, the official excuse given by the Hitlerite government for the invasion of Poland in 1939 was to protect the ethnic German minorities in Poland against attacks. That was the official excuse and justification issued by the German government for invading Poland. Of course everyone knew that the Nazis coveted the Eastern lands for their own purposes that had nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the minority rights of ethnic Germans in Poland, so the excuse was completely – and justly – ignored as a brazenly transparent fig leaf for German expansionism. To follow your argument, we would have to go back and lend equal weight the Nazi excuses despite the actions. If this is your argument, I – and I suspect most people – would disagree.

    “The Hebrew labor campaign was anything by harming. It was self-help, self-discipline, a movement TO dignify labor. It fit the description of liberal Zionists as being primarily concerned with their own community, not harming. If anything, indifference might be an accurate and partially valid criticism, but racist is an innaccurate description.”

    This is absolute rubbish and clearly shows that you have no idea what you are talking about. IF the Avoda Ivrit campaign was compelling Jewish enterprises to favor Jewish workers, that would be one thing (probably still racist, but passively so); however that simply was not the case. They demanded that Palestinian labor be ousted whether or not there were Jewish replacements or not, and this completely belies the whole “self-help” argument. It was NOT a movement for Jewish labor, it was a movement against Palestinian labor. At least the South African “civilized labor” movement – that sought to replace black labor with the ‘poor whites’ – was in fact implemented in a fashion that only ousted black laborers once white replacements were already aligned. Such was not the case with the Avoda Ivrit campaign which simply sought to expel Palestinian labor whether or not it put the Jewish grove owners out of business or not.

    “Zionism will shortly consent to content itself with “enough” rather than the minority and accurately racist description of ‘all’.”

    IF this were to happen, I’ll gladly move from the anti-Zionist camp to the non-Zionist one; but as noted previously I do not believe this will be the case at all, or at least not for decades. The problem is that the Palestinian position isn’t static either and I believe that by the time Israel comes to terms with the sacrifices entailed in allowing a viable Palestinian state, the Palestinian position will have shifted into a more aggressive stance with greater demands. Of course I could be wrong, but to date I see no reason the think otherwise.

    “John, Please actually engage the question of the demographics to the asserted “parallel” with apartheid.”

    Carefully go back re-read my posts where Apartheid and Afrikaner nationalism are alluded to and comparisons are drawn. If you do so, you’ll note I have not made any comparisons (at least thus far) related to demographic concerns. I’ve made comparisons showing the difference between “official line” by state ideologues vs. the actual reality on the ground & I’ve made a comparison between the pre-state Avoda Ivrit movement and the South African “civilized labor” movement. I flatly refuse to play ball with the notion that no comparison between two notions is valid unless all comparisons between those two notions are valid, so you can save your energy, you won’t bait me with such sophomoric nonsense. The comparisons I have made are completely valid and have nothing whatsoever to do with demographics, or party politics, or so on. I’ve made specific comparisons of specific notions and you haven’t contested them in any way.

  16. Hi Bill,

    Not quite good enough…

    “The Palestinians get the most per capita aid per person in the world.”

    But only on Israeli sufferance, that is, when Israel feels inclined to let them have it. I don’t recall any instances of Czarist ghettos fully starving their residents/prisoners to death en masse either, they too allowed their residents/prisoners aid. So, no difference.

    “And they are and amazingly well armed population.”

    And this is a difference to Israeli ghettoization policy how? Despite being “amazingly well armed” by absolutely no account are they in anyway competitive with the IDF, the Palestinians of Qalqilya are as imprisoned in their ghetto as any of our forefathers were in Czarist Poland. Again, no difference.

    Try again. In what way is Israel’s ghettoization of Qalqilya different than the Czarist ghettoization of our people in Poland?

  17. Look John, I know your having a tough time with the fall of communism and those wonderful days of the gulag but aid flows in the Palestinian territories were diverted to the personal bank accounts of Arafat and his cronies on a massive scale. The 19th century Jews in Poland didn’t live in ghettos and I think that if European Jewry had the scale of weaponry that the Palestinians have Jewish history would have taken a radically different turn. Perhaps if the Palestinians would opt for peace instead of aspiring to be shaheeds then things might be different.

  18. John S,

    Let’s get back to what you said about the UN Convention. Can you cite one nation state in the world that does NOT violate the very broad indices of discrimination that are noted in that Convention, in the sense of either de facto or de jure discrimination of some sort?

    That does not excuse Israel from its violations. It does make me wonder why Israel is the only country you focus on. Look, states exist. That is how the world organizes itself. I wish it didn’t, but those are the cards we’ve been dealt. They define themselves based on certain shared characteristics –a history of residency in the same territory, shared ethnicity, shared ancestry and yes –religion. They draw lines around themselves in order to define their communities or polities. That is what makes them communities and polities.

    So what, precisely, are you objecting to? Nationalism as a whole? The nation state? If so, your arguments would have a logical consistency. If so, then I presume you would want all states with minority ethnic populations to be abolished and replaced with, uh, I can’t figure out where you could possibly go with that one…

    But, it appears that you are objecting only to manifestations of Jewish nationalism (which you call “Applied Zionism”) and singling them out as uniquely evil. Or, perhaps you are singling out the Jewish people and saying that we are, in fact, not a people, and that we do not deserve the same right of self-determination as every other people? It’s not clear.

    It’s also not clear which aspects of Israel you are referring to. Sometimes you appear to be talking about the past, the behavior of Zionists in the pre-State days, and sometimes you are talking about the present. I am going to take a deep breath and deal with the past soon, on subsequent posts, but let’s focus on the present.

    If you are talking about discriminatory laws and structures that still put Israel’s Arabs citizens at a disadvantage, I agree that the Convention is violated. There are Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs trying to change that situation. As I’ve noted, policies that prohibit Israeli Arabs from buying JNF lands are among the pre-State relics that ought to be abolished. For the most part, when it comes to the laws of Israel, Arab citizens have the same basic rights –including the right to vote, access to the court system—as Jews. The challenge to Israel now is to make sure those rights are enforced. And, while I am admittedly a minority in my community, I believe it is essential for Israel to eventually work out a way to be a state for all its citizens, including its minorities –just as the U.S. is trying figure out how to actualize equal rights for all of its citizens.

    If you are referring to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, that is an entirely different situation, in which one state is the occupying power in territory whose juridical status still needs to be defined. Are Palestinians deprived of human rights in the territories? Yes. There is no way to have a benign or moral occupation. That is why it should end.

    Are you referring to immigration policy? Again, if you look through previous posts on this blog, you will find that there are Israeli or pro-Israel Jews who would like to alter the Law of Return. I am not sure what I think about that, to be honest. But consider the following note from a friend of mine who spends part of the year in Denmark :“Our Danish attorney asked us if we had any Danish ancestors, since this would smooth our application for part-time residency (not even citizenship).”

    He also told me that his wife, a binational Franco-American, was helping count presidential votes at the French consulate in Chicago last week. A French woman told her that in order for the woman’s husband to immigrate to France with her, SHE had to prove several generations of French ancestry.

    Guest workers –mostly from Turkey–who have lived in Germany for years –even several generations—have no chance to get citizenship.

    Guy Dror (www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/571/620.html) notes that;

    “Finland, Greece, the Czech Republic, Japan, Ireland, Poland, Norway, Germany and many other countries grant a right of return, at one level or another, on the basis of ethnicity or repatriation, i.e., a return to the homeland…

    “…Even the existence of a national minority does not negate the state’s right to preserve its national character. This is the case in many countries that have recently joined the European Union, including Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Romania.

    “The immigration laws that have been passed since 2001 attest to a clear direction: a tightening of the restrictions on immigration. When there are no national or ethnic restrictions, there are economic and cultural restrictions (Denmark, Holland, France and England). In Germany and Holland there are entrance examinations with a well-known, albeit undeclared, objective, which is to prevent Muslim immigration, primarily by means of forced marriages.

    “Even the Venice Commission, which is a commission of jurists operating on behalf of the Council of Europe to discuss conflicts of this type, recognized the connection between a country with an ethnic majority to minority groups of the same ethnic origin in different countries, including the right of the Kin State to grant certain rights, including immigration, to foreign nationals of the same ethnic origin.”

    Dror also writes:

    “ Several years ago, the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram published a particularly vitriolic editorial against Israel over the fact that it dared to define itself as a “Jewish and democratic state”, which involved dreadful racism. I contacted the editor and called his attention to the fact that Egypt calls itself the “Arab Republic” and that Article 2 of the Egyptian Constitution states: “Islam is the state religion… the main source of the law is Islamic law (the Sharia). If that is the case, what is wrong with Israel being “Jewish and democratic?” I was told that an explanation would be forthcoming. More than two years have passed – I’m still waiting.”

  19. John,
    The point about demographics are that apartheid and Zionism are qualitatively different, so different that the words just don’t match.

    Zionism is still most predominately the self-determination movement of the Jewish people, and remains that.

    Anti-Zionism is equally the opposition to self-governance of a people. As a humanist, I’m not sure if my conscience could stand that selective prohibition against Jews self-governing.

    Practises, policies deserve criticism. Unifying principles of self-determination do not.

    There has NEVER been a nation that did not contain conflict implied in its ideology, nor its practise. It is NOT evidence of essential racism, but of incidental.

  20. Beyond this: “The 19th century Jews in Poland didn’t live in ghettos…” you still haven’t answered the question.

    With respect to the above, there is some truth in it in that the Jews confined to the Pale of Settlement and expelled from the country side were forced to immigrate to the urban areas where the local authorities confined them to certain areas. So they weren’t the totally walled-in ghettos of the medieval period or Palestinian Qalqiyla. You are right, the Palestinians of Qalqiyla are in a worse situation under Israeli rule than the Jews in the Czarist Pale of Settlement. Thanks for the clarification.

  21. Do you think that the most effective way to improve the plight of Palestinians is by demonizing Zionists, or by some other method?

    I personally consider the prospect of peace, and particularly at the green line, as much more better, shorter, and kinder a goal than a single-state solution so as to be obvious with pink hair.

    I can see how people feel they must be consistent with some moored ideology, and to conform to others’ interpretation of that moored ideology, but I cannot act from such construction.

    I can only consider proposing humane solution, even if it conflicts with my ideology, or others’ application of my ideology.

  22. Hi Dan,

    ”Let’s get back to what you said about the UN Convention. Can you cite one nation state in the world that does NOT violate the very broad indices of discrimination that are noted in that Convention, in the sense of either de facto or de jure discrimination of some sort? That does not excuse Israel from its violations. It does make me wonder why Israel is the only country you focus on.”

    First, just to get it out of the way, frankly you don’t know me well enough to say “why Israel is the only country you focus on” and for the record, you are wrong about that. I take a very aggressive stance on the issue here in the US as well.

    Second, to address ” Can you cite one nation state in the world that does NOT violate the very broad indices of discrimination that are noted in that Convention, [?]” You are right that most – maybe even all, I’m not sure – states do violate elements of the convention. The difference is that in most cases it is not a matter of official policy by a supposedly liberal democratic state. That is the fundamental difference, the fact that Israel’s racism against the indigenous Palestinian people is a matter of openly declared and completely official policy, exemplified by the state’s definition as a “Jewish State” ruling over a territory where half the population is not defined as “Jewish.” Compare to the U.S. where racism certainly exists throughout society but not as an official policy of the state.

    ”So what, precisely, are you objecting to? Nationalism as a whole? The nation state? If so, your arguments would have a logical consistency. If so, then I presume you would want all states with minority ethnic populations to be abolished and replaced with, uh, I can’t figure out where you could possibly go with that one…”

    For the record, I am not particularly fond of nationalism at all (no surprise there), but I agree with your synopsis; it exists and will continue to do so. The issue with Zionism is that it is being forcibly imposed on a territory where roughly half the resident population is completely excluded from the national model based upon ethnicity. To have a “Jewish State” only populated by “Jews” would be one thing, to have a “Jewish State” in a land where literally half the population is excluded from this definition is not acceptable.

    ”But, it appears that you are objecting only to manifestations of Jewish nationalism (which you call “Applied Zionism”) and singling them out as uniquely evil.”

    I’ve said nothing of the sort. However, this blog is clearly focused on discussing the Israel/Palestine quagmire and thus the focus on that issue in my responses. If you really want to start a different thread to discuss Tutsi-Hutu dynamics in Rwanda, or ethnic conflict in Kosovo, we can do that as well.

    ”Or, perhaps you are singling out the Jewish people and saying that we are, in fact, not a people, and that we do not deserve the same right of self-determination as every other people? It’s not clear.”

    If you’ve read anything of the sort into anything I’ve written, you’re right, it is obviously not clear to you. I firmly subscribe to the Benedict Anderson school of nationalist theory and if one believes that one belongs to a people or nation, no one can say otherwise. However, that has nothing whatsoever to do with the notion of imposing nationalist/ethnic/racial rule over people who are not and can never be integrated into the larger community, which is the case in Israel/Palestine.

    ”It’s also not clear which aspects of Israel you are referring to. Sometimes you appear to be talking about the past, the behavior of Zionists in the pre-State days, and sometimes you are talking about the present. I am going to take a deep breath and deal with the past soon, on subsequent posts, but let’s focus on the present.”

    Either is fine and I’ve used examples and citations from both. The fundamental logic of the Zionist ideology and its exclusivist outlook being imposed on a land where many (at times the majority, at times the minority) are excluded on ethnic grounds has not changed in any way since 1918 (prior to this there are significant differences as prior to 1918 Herzlite Zionism was only one of several competing strains). The current reality is the logical outcome of the events that preceded it.

    ” And, while I am admittedly a minority in my community, I believe it is essential for Israel to eventually work out a way to be a state for all its citizens, including its minorities –just as the U.S. is trying figure out how to actualize equal rights for all of its citizens.”

    You’ll get no objections from me here.

    ”If you are referring to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, that is an entirely different situation, in which one state is the occupying power in territory whose juridical status still needs to be defined. Are Palestinians deprived of human rights in the territories? Yes. There is no way to have a benign or moral occupation. That is why it should end.”

    This is where we completely part company. I do not believe the occupation, as it exists today with almost half a million Israelis living in the OPTs and absolutely no tangible evidence to suggest any sort of meaningful pull out is even on the agenda; or a “two-state solution” is going to happen. Yes, some sort of little Bantustan or ghettoization scheme might come into existence, but it won’t last and it won’t result in peace. So my position is that the occupation can no longer be justly separated from issues within the Green Line. Israel, from Begin on set out to erase the Green Line and for all intents and purposes have done just that.

    ” Are you referring to immigration policy? Again, if you look through previous posts on this blog, you will find that there are Israeli or pro-Israel Jews who would like to alter the Law of Return. I am not sure what I think about that, to be honest.”

    For the record, I do not suggest changing the Law of Return, I just advocate expanding it to include the Palestinians émigrés & refugees as well. I completely agree that ethnic origin often plays a role in immigration issues: Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Japan and many others; the difference is that they do not exclude half the resident population from this. Denmark extends preference to anyone with a Danish background, they do not specifically exclude Danes from Schleswig-Holstein as ethnically undesirable “German Danes” the way Israel excludes Palestinians as “ethnically undesirable” natives. The Law of Return is perfectly respectable if it is expanded to include not only Jews, but ethnic Palestinian Arabs as well.

    In all the cases you cite by Dror (except Egypt, discussed anon) the states are not excluding half the resident indigenous population from their ethnic immigration policy while Israel does. This is the difference. As for Egypt, Dror is right, I would be opposed to a state defining itself as Arabic or Islamic just as well. However, I am ethnically Jewish, not Arab or Muslim, and Egypt isn’t claiming to conduct its policy in my name as Israel does by claiming to represent all Jews. Regardless, what other states do or do not do, it does not excuse or justify the behavior of others, so what Egypt does is not a validation of Israeli policy.

    Anyway, I do recognize that you’re basically a representative of the Zionist Left and I suspect you are well meaning; but Israel and the Zionist movement (taken as a collective support apparatus) has more or less backed itself into a corner today and the options of how to extricate ourselves – as Jewish people – have significantly narrowed. The “two-state solution” is theoretically possible (in the same sense that it is theoretically possible that the US could evacuate Manhattan Island and return it to the Native Americans), but realistically there is no reason to believe that this is actually going to happen.

  23. Richard,

    As a humanist, I’m not sure if my conscience could stand that selective prohibition against Jews self-governing.

    “Self-governing” is fine if you’re only governing yourselves. The difference is when you impose your “self- governance” on people that are not – and can never be – part of the “self” based on things completely beyond their control (race, ethnicity, &c.) Jews ruling Jews in a Jewish state – no problem. Jews ruling over a state in which half the resident population are not Jews and are excluded from equal standing by definition – problem.

  24. John, I have a question for you. People with your mentality have always fascinated me. When you refer to yourself has a Jew, part of the Jewish people if you will, what exactly do you mean by that. You advocate the destruction of the worlds one Jewish state. The multiple countries that have Christiantity and Islam has their official religion seem to be ok with you. Only the Jewish state is singled out for destruction. But more than that, I’m going to take a wild guess that your not exactly a regular minyan goer, Your not the kind og guy who takes notice on Simchat Torah, or has a couple of candles going in your home on Friday night. Wouldn’t a better term for you be “apostate”. Your perfectly free to renounce your Judaism, go over to Islam, scientology, whatever. And that way your delicate sensibilities wouldn’t be offended by the evil blood sucking Jew necon Zionists oppressors.

  25. Hi Bill,

    Your little rant was quite cute, but I’m still waiting for you to backup your allegation that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in Qalqiyla is better than the fate of our people in Czarist Poland. Nevertheless, I fully understand why you would want all of us evil self-hating traitors to disappear in the name of ideological purity and eradicating Jewish free thought on behalf of tribal loyalty, but it isn’t going to happen, we’re not going anywhere. The Jewish people have a remarkable history of fighting injustice and fighting for the downtrodden of all stripes, you can hardly be surprised that at least some of us have chosen to continue that proud tradition even when it is our own people that have become the oppressors.

  26. John,
    The problem with anti-Zionism is that it does exclude. It functionally excludes Jewish self-determination.

    It prohibits anything that was not already there, or any definition that subsequently creates a minority.

    Any position excludes.

    The single-state solution excludes both Jewish and Palestinian self-governance. Thats great if there is a majority that chooses civilism. But, if not, then partition is MORE democratic than the imposition of civilism.

    The only way to not exclude is to not take a position.

    “The Jewish people have a remarkable history of fighting injustice and fighting for the downtrodden of all stripes, you can hardly be surprised that at least some of us have chosen to continue that proud tradition even when it is our own people that have become the oppressors.”

    But you are NOT fighting for the downtrodden, you are acting to make all downtrodden.

    Fighting for the downtrodden would be assisting Palestinian development, including creating the current conditions by which Palestinian development could occur.

    Repeating “Zionism is racism”, delays Palestinian development and self-governance, as it invokes opposition where reconciliation and relationship are otherwise possible.

    Again, the equal numbers between Palestinian nationalists and Israeli nationalists (each comprising the majority of their populations) is qualitatively DIFFERENT than the clear black majority and obvious relationship of oppression of apartheid’s numbers.

    Further, South Africa changed when the leaders of the ANC CLEARLY indicated that they DESIRED the whites to remain and be contributing citizens.

    In spite of much further negotiations between Israel and Palestine, only Fatah (now a minority party) has made that commitment or invitation.

    On the left and from MANY Palestinians, there is still the demand that Israel give back land to pre-1948 numbers, or go back to Europe, or simply remove all of the settlers.

    Lets fight injustice, the actions, the policies.

    Lets NOT throw the baby out with the bathwater. Lets not make the Jewish people again homeless. Lets make them home-full but as good neighbors to good neighbors, within and without.

  27. Hi Richard,

    ”The problem with anti-Zionism is that it does exclude. It functionally excludes Jewish self-determination.”

    I disagree, it excludes Jewish self-determination to the extent that this Jewish self-determination is imposed by force on a non-Jewish population of roughly the same size. However, as I noted to previously, the Israeli/Zionist policy of choosing land over the ethnic integrity of the state and effectively erasing the Green Line has painted the enterprise into a corner, but this was done exclusively by the Israeli gov’t and the global Zionist movement as a support network. Sorry, but Israel has brought it on itself, now its time to take a realistic look at the available options. This is the angle Daniel Gavron took and I completely agree with his assessment.

    ”The single-state solution excludes both Jewish and Palestinian self-governance. Thats great if there is a majority that chooses civilism. But, if not, then partition is MORE democratic than the imposition of civilism.”

    This could be true, depending though. Like the two-state option, there are many different ideas of a one-state option as well. I personally support a single democratic secular republic where all people have the exact same rights and obligations regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion based on the existing civilian state of Israel (people in my camp draw inspiration from modern South Africa). However, this is only one possible one-state scenario. Others argue for federation (modeled on states like Belgium) that does allow for self-determination subject to some federal constraints. Still others suggest cantonization (akin to the Swiss model), which would allow for even more self-determination on the local level (I personally think this is a terrible idea that would only foster separatism and violence). There are a myriad of one-state ideas out there, only some of which completely exclude ethnic self-determination.

    ”The only way to not exclude is to not take a position.”

    I personally consider that a cop out. If you don’t stand for anything, why stand at all?

    ”But you are NOT fighting for the downtrodden, you are acting to make all downtrodden. Fighting for the downtrodden would be assisting Palestinian development, including creating the current conditions by which Palestinian development could occur. Repeating “Zionism is racism”, delays Palestinian development and self-governance, as it invokes opposition where reconciliation and relationship are otherwise possible.”

    That is just silly. I do support Palestinian development, in fact I even support continued Israeli (meaning Jewish Israeli) development, further I believe the two could completely compliment one another, if only we could get past the exclusivist ideologies (on both sides) that prevent this cooperation. The Palestinians are so downtrodden today they cannot stand without both the freedom to develop AND help from someone else. Similarly the Zionist project cannot be redeemed without the freedom to progress without oppressing others (and dealing with the subsequent opposition) AND external help. Like it or not, since the Seventh Zionist Congress passed the “Resolution on Palestine” in 1905, Israeli Jews and Palestinians have become intimately entwined to an ever increasing level and neither group is going to just “vanish.” You have to deal with one another and since I see no reason whatsoever to believe that Israel has any intention to allow for a separatist two-state solution that would actually work, the sole alternative is integration.

    ” Again, the equal numbers between Palestinian nationalists and Israeli nationalists (each comprising the majority of their populations)…”

    In this first part of the sentence (the second part has no bearing on anything I’ve said) does raise a valid point, namely that the majorities on both sides support separatism right now, however, I – and others like me – believe this is changing. Nevertheless, you are right, for the time being the one-state position is certainly a minority one, but it is virtually impossible that it will remain so, especially as the actual demographics [NOTE: The first time I’ve actually mentioned demographics in one of my arguments] continue to change and the Israeli Palestinians (the “1948 Palestinians” the ones inside the Green Line with Israeli citizenship) continue to agitate for real equality.

    ”Lets fight injustice, the actions, the policies.”

    I completely agree with this summary, though obviously we have very different ideas of which actions and policies should be opposed. Like Dan F. you seem to be arguing the basic Zionist Left perspective and I still have many friends in that camp. If this assumption is correct, I’m sure you mean well too; I simply no longer believe that the separatist “two-state solution” is viable alternative. Years of listening to the same rhetoric – about the Israeli public’s vast support for a free Palestinian state and Israel’s willingness to allow this – coupled with the actual facts on the ground and practice that argues the exact opposite has completely undermined the position, as reflected in the continued dwindling of the Zionist Left’s influence in Israel today. The future is post-Zionist, Zionism has run its course and painted itself into a corner that can only be escaped by outright racist atrocity (ethnic cleansing, “transfer”) or dropping the demand for ethnic supremacy within the de facto multi-ethnic state.

  28. Facts on the ground have also included 3 unilateral wars on Israel by Arab states, pre-1948 ethnic cleansing of Hebron and other smaller Jewish communities, and restriction of immigration of Jews during the 30’s and early 40’s to the extent in some regard of functional Palestinian participation in the holocaust.

    The sad fact about a fact on the ground, is that it is in fact a fact. In contrast to an idea, which might define what should be, but cannot cross an abyss. Reality must take the possible paths.

    Sorry to be obtuse, but from many on the left advocating a single-state, there remains the fantasy of Jews just not being there, having “stolen” the land from its rightful Islamic owners.

    “Zionism has run its course and painted itself into a corner that can only be escaped by outright racist atrocity (ethnic cleansing, “transfer”) or dropping the demand for ethnic supremacy within the de facto multi-ethnic state.”

    Aside from your overuse of habitual rhetoric, one element of fact that supports the partition program rather than a single-state, is that the communities still suffer from DEEP traumas, fueled largely by the nazi initiated holocaust and pan-European upheavels, of which Zionism was a secondary ripple.

    Zionism IS relevant, and will be for an extended period. The memory is alive, and as the Arab community consistently adopted rejectionism, is currently fueled.

    Following even the end of the war, Jews were not welcomed in most of their prior home areas. Like blacks were blamed for the civil war draft during the New York draft riots, Jews were blamed for naziism (talk about blaming the victim).

    Israel was haven. While for assimilated residual or no longer self-identified Jews post WW2, the holocaust is a driver by sympathy or guilt, or the oppossite, resented, that is not the case for European Jews, nor for Israeli Jews, who experienced continued harrassment.

    In 1948, the Arab world did NOT accept the single-state solution. They rejected any Jewish immigration to the region, haven, international law or not.

    What would have happened if the Arab world accepted 1947 British/UN mandated Israel? Zionism as racism?

    An irony, that divides progressive Israeli Jews from progressive assimilated diaspora Jews. It is a concensus among Israeli Jews (with a handful of exceptions) that a two-state solution is the only current possible dignity for Palestinians.

    And, it is mostly consented by Palestinians (rather than share governance with powerful and rich and hated Israelis).

    Only the external “solidarity” movements urge the single-state solution. Is it that they know better than the parties themselves?

  29. Oh I don’t know John, possibly the fact that a preponderance of suicide bombers have come out of Kalkiya, or that Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the rest of the “lets kill the Jews” crew operates out of there. You want to know what the big difference is, the Jews in Poland didn’t want to destroy Poland the Arabs in Ramallah, Nablus and everyplace else want to destroy Israel. I know that doesn’t bother you but it does bother some of us.

    But Again, I put the question to you. What makes you Jewish, you align with our enemies and I don’t figure you for a religious guy. So, again, what makes you a Jew other than accident of birth

  30. Bill,

    As I sneak off to my Reform synagogue and break ancient laws by tapping on my keyboard, I’d like to ask you not to press John S. to discuss his Jewish identity if he doesn’t want to. You asked once and if he chose not to respond, please respect that. I’d like to keep ad hominem arguments –i.e., arguments about the person, not the ideas themselves– to a minimum on my blog, which would make it unique among blogs where people wrestle with these issues.

    It’s a relevant and interesting question you are asking, Bill. But let’s give John S. the leeway to ignore it. OK? Thanks

  31. I posted this elsewhere.

    If Israel and Palestine were combined with the current political makeup, and assuming a similar parliamentary structure.

    The parties by loyalty might currently include:

    Hamas 26%
    Fatah 20%
    Left Pal 4%
    Likud 12%
    Kadima 12%
    Labor 12%
    Meretz 6%
    Orthodox 3%
    Left Israel 1%
    Beitanhu 2%

    With that configuration there is NO convincing coalition that could possibly form to govern the country. Even the civilist parties would not prevail, unless they morphed into one another. (Fatah, Kadima, Labor, Meretz coalition – just 50%)

    Neither the nationalist Zionist, nor nationalist Palestinian, nor religious Islamic parties would acquire a plurality even in coalition.

    The only possible result of a single-state solution would be civil war.

    And those that propose single-state solution but without simultaneously supporting the efforts of the existing moderate parties that are civil predominately (moreso than nationalistic or religious), strike me as negligent.

  32. Hi Richard,

    ”Facts on the ground have also included 3 unilateral wars on Israel by Arab states, pre-1948 ethnic cleansing of Hebron and other smaller Jewish communities, … “

    If you really want, we can go through the usual digression of comparative atrocities, arguing about which were “worse” and who were responsible. This is a common digression in discussions like this to avoid talking about the real issues, much like the never ending debates on who started and was responsible for the 1967 war and/or who testified (or did not) to the UNSCOP commission and the dynamics of the 1948 partition plan. Such threads go on endlessly and accomplish absolutely nothing except honing your debating skills.

    I’d rather just deal with this directly and move on to the relevant discussion regarding possible future scenarios. I believe that all of us (excepting maybe Bill) are willing to agree that both sides have been responsible for horrible atrocities, both sides have made terrible decisions at times, and both sides have missed good opportunities that might have benefited everyone. I can certainly cite instances of each of these, by both sides, for days and I assume you folks probably can too.

    ”Sorry to be obtuse, but from many on the left advocating a single-state, there remains the fantasy of Jews just not being there, having “stolen” the land from its rightful Islamic owners.”

    Actually, being intimately involved with the anti- / non- / post-Zionist Left in Jewish circles as well as the far Left in Arabic circles – so speaking from involvement with the people you are attributing this attitude to – your statement isn’t really true at all. The only people on the Arabic side that still propose the notion of “Jews just not being there” are right-wingers, Islamists; and not even the mainstream in that community. Contrary to the endless propaganda, Hamas has accepted a two-state solution since at least 1998 and even constructed a theological argument to reconcile this acceptance with their core ideology. Only a minority of even right-wing Islamists still hold to the notion of “driving the Jews into the Sea” completely on par with the extremist Kahanist minority in Kiryat Arba and Kfar Tapuah calling for the forced “transfer” of the Palestinians. The vast majority of people on all sides of the argument recognize that the “other” isn’t leaving; the issue is how to co-exist (in separate entities or in the same entity). Anyway, I challenge you to substantiate your charge that “many on the left” imagine or advocate the “Jewish just not being there.” Of course just restitution for the refugees is a real issue, but that has nothing with the Israeli Jews “not being there.”

    ”An irony, that divides progressive Israeli Jews from progressive assimilated diaspora Jews. It is a concensus among Israeli Jews (with a handful of exceptions) that a two-state solution is the only current possible dignity for Palestinians.”

    In fact, I agree with you here, though I do not believe this will remain so. This is also the position of the Palestinian nationalists. However, the problem is that this argument – like all others supporting a two-state solution – is predicated on the assumption that Israel is willing to allow for a truly sovereign viable Palestinian state, and there is no objective reason to believe this is true. If I saw any reason whatsoever to believe that Israel had a real intention to allow for a truly viable sovereign Palestinian state, I would happily change my tune, but I see no reason whatsoever to believe that this on the agenda at all. Thus, logic dictates that we start looking at the alternatives, and that brings us to the one-state option.

    I’ve made this same point repeatedly and not one of you have tried to contest it by showing ANY objective evidence whatsoever that Israel would ever be willing to allow for a viable Palestinian state. In the absence of this, the whole two-state construct is nothing more than pie-in-the-sky fantasy lacking any empirical basis. The default is the existing reality, a de facto one-state, and the longer this default remains the de facto reality, the more people will accept it as such and change the struggle to equality within the state as opposed to ethnic separatism.

    ”Only the external “solidarity” movements urge the single-state solution. Is it that they know better than the parties themselves?”

    Actually that is not true either. There are plenty of notable Israeli and Palestinian activists – and many more less notable activists – that are slowly coming to this conclusion (see http://www.onestate.org for a sampling). It is a minority position in both camps, but will not remain so. We’re just slightly “ahead of the curve” on this one. If you think I’m wrong, then validate the two-state argument by providing some empirical reason to believe that it is a real possibility.

  33. ” You want to know what the big difference is, the Jews in Poland didn’t want to destroy Poland the Arabs in Ramallah, Nablus and everyplace else want to destroy Israel.”

    Really? So your argument that is that all the revolutionary movements that emerged at least in part from the Jewish communities of Poland and elsewhere in the Pale of Settlement did so because they supported their situation in Czarist Poland? I do believe that the various revolutionary movements, including the exclusively Jewish ones like the Bund, were fairly outspoken in their desire to “destroy” the existing order that found expression in the Czarist treatment of Jews and the Black Hundreds pogromists.

    Not surprisingly, the Jews of Eastern Europe were less than enthusiastic about Czarist rule – and actively resisted it, even using armed struggle at times – and the exact same is true of the Palestinians. Part of Czarist anti-Semitism was purely reactionary in that elements of the educated Jewish proletariat did in fact represent a revolutionary threat to the existing order; just as the Israeli “security arguments” are valid insofar as for obvious reasons the Palestinian resistance factions do represent a threat to the continued domination of the ethnocentric “Jewish State” throughout all of Israel/Palestine.

  34. Richard,

    ”With that configuration there is NO convincing coalition that could possibly form to govern the country.”

    This mistakenly assumes that all the parties would remain the same in a one state scenario. There is no reason to think this would be case. In fact, you might even see interesting new formations through shared interests and social agendas. Realistically, parties like Shas have far more in common with respect to basic policy with moderate Islamists than they do Meretz. Similarly, the Barghouti/Asrawi moderate liberal democrats have far more in common with Israeli Labour than they do with Hamas. And so on. Assuming a one-state scenario, extreme political realignment would be part and parcel of the process, similar to what happened in South Africa, where today the successor to the Afrikaner Broederbond, is now oriented with the Afrikaans-speaking “Coloured” population against Xhosa/Zulu linguistic discrimination and the like.

    ”And those that propose single-state solution but without simultaneously supporting the efforts of the existing moderate parties that are civil predominately (moreso than nationalistic or religious), strike me as negligent.”

    I agree completely with this and do support existing moderate efforts – on both side – even if we disagree on the desired outcome. Regardless of all else, closer cooperation and association as well as lasting relationships across the ethnic divide are vital to ANY peace and I strongly support all such initiatives, both in the US and in Israel/Palestine, from apolitical dialogue groups to political formations with whom I disagree in the final analysis, like Peace Now (& Americans for Peace Now) and Sabeel (& American Friends of Sabeel). ANY effort that promotes discussion, friendship, cooperation, communication – and in my view, ultimately integration – deserves all support. Further, in so doing you can see the gradual shift away from separatist agendas. Groups like ICAHD have now done everything except openly advocate a one-state option, whereas more and more people in groups that are still passionately two-state supporters – like Peace Now & Gush Shalom – are beginning to question the viability of that option. Times – and options – ARE changing.

  35. “If you really want, we can go through the usual digression of comparative atrocities, arguing about which were “worse” and who were responsible. ”

    Which were worse is not the point. The point is of the status of trauma that makes temporary or permanent separation more relevant than forced intimacy.

    “I’ve made this same point repeatedly and not one of you have tried to contest it by showing ANY objective evidence whatsoever that Israel would ever be willing to allow for a viable Palestinian state. ”

    First, you are talking about predicting the future, as to what will happen. I can speak to creating (or neglecting to create) the conditions by which acceptance CAN happen (which it objectively could not previously).

    In an experiment, one must wait for the facilitating conditions to exist, prior to concluding that the thesis did not transpire, and certainly the further conclusion that it was “inevitable”.

    The conditions necessary for the “if” to be considered, included a unity government that was in a position to fulfill promises that it made. (While Arafat was authorized as the “sole representative of the Palestinian people”, Hamas clearly indicated its rejection of Arafat’s communicating with and treatying with Israel. No OBJECTIVE authority that could possibly keep its word.

    And, Arafat dismissed his word by funding terrorist activity through other vehicles than Fatah, much as Hamas continues to fund terrorist activity but carried out by Islamic Jihad.)

    The Saudi proposal adds a great deal of momentum to it.

    Those actions themselves bring the peoples closer to a peace, regardless of history of mutual abuse.

    Another factor that I consider significant is that Israel HAS treatied with Arab states, and kept their word. The treaties have remained, because they were made in earnest by both parties. Sadat was murdered, but Egypt continued and Mubarak continued its treaty. The repitition that Israel does not keep its word is subjective, and only true relative to hopes, but not to actual treaty.

    I agree that the Barghouti is a more appealing leader and potential for civil coalition than Meshal or PFLP or Israel Beitanu. (I consider the invitation to Israel Beitanu to role in the Kadima government to be a fundamental qualitative compromise, that should have precipitated Labor’s leaving.)

    John,
    For a state to avoid civil war with a near even majority, takes a presumption of respect for the state’s continuity that is independant of the governing party structure or compromise platform of a coalition.

    Ironically, Israel has that continuity. When labor controlled the knesset even after a decade and a half of Likud governance, they didn’t leave the country, nor bomb the leaders. (The Kahane people did, and that is why it is illegal to advocate for hate in Israel, even in the name of Judaism, as Kahane and followers did. That law is not enforced sufficiently, and only enforced when gross tips of icebergs occur.)

    Palestine does not. Hamas lived in a state of deferred and present civil war with Fatah and the PLO, even after entering electoral politics. They continued their state of ambiguity relative to the continuity of the “state” by renouncing treaties that the state made.

    Netanyahu didn’t even do that. He met with Arafat, and continued staffing and funding infrastructure and humanitarian assistance to the PA, even as he did much to pull the sand out of the foundations of the agreements.

    If you express the slogan “Zionism is racism” then you do not support the efforts of moderates, you alienate the efforts of moderates.

    There have ALWAYS been tensions as to each proposal. Certainly, you can’t sincerely state that you don’t observe tensions and LARGE obstacles with the formation, development, and continued management of a single state solution.

    The degree of responsibility of those dissenters that sincerely desire a single-state, to reliably CEMENT the confidence necessary for such a solution, is profound. It would NOT be possible to remain a radical stand, spouting disrespectful rhetoric, if those truly intended to succeed at building that confidence.

    A fundamental choice would have to be made.

    I sincerely wish you would consider the math of the single-state from the estimates of party affiliation, representing perspective, that I quoted.

    There is not a current coalition possible that would secure even 51% loyalty, and in the environment of utter absence of basis of confidence in the concept, 51% would OPPRESS the 49%, and as the tensions would be high, the oppression would likely be forceful and cruel.

    In contrast, even if the treatment of minorities in what would become Palestine and Israel were brutal, 20% would be oppressed.

    With real renunciation of contemptuous statement and contemptuous action, that math could change. That changed math would make BOTH a two-state solution more viable and a one-state solution.

    From that perspective, from the perspective of wishing to not remain stuck, the trust-building is the most effective focus, FAR FAR moreso than rhetoric comparing Israel to apartheid, or repititions “Zionism is racism” (when the negligence to assert “never again” would mean death of person, community, and religious/ethical covenant to complete the mission of tikkun olam – however understood.)

  36. John S.,

    Richard’s point about “trust building” is also relevant to the potential re-shaping of American policy, which will not become evenhanded without a re-shaping of American politics.

    Specifically, we need an effective political counterweight to AIPAC et. al. if there is going to be any hope for change.

    Like it or not, that kind of counterweight cannot be heavy enough without the support of American Jews. Members of Congress or Presidents are not likely to go out on a limb without the assurance that, if AIPAC and its ilk try to punish them, they will have political cover from left-of-center American Jews who represent the views of most people in our community.

    Like it or not, a noisy -and articulate– left wing that continues to call Israel a racist and criminal state, and to promote a bi-national solution, discourages silent American Jewish doves from becoming public ones. Most Jews, even those with little connection to Israel or Jewish organizations, are not going to make common cause with people who are advocating the end of the Jewish state. I’ve been studying polls for decades and while that specific question has never come up, I am confident of the answer.

    Just as you believe –or, in your words– you “suspect”– that I have good intentions, I extend you the same compliment. And of course you should not be expected to alter your beliefs about the conflict because of political exigencies.

    But if you want to make actual changes in the actual world and to address the desparate plight of many Palestinians –as I do– you should realize that if what you advocate catches on, it is going to make effective political coalition-building impossible. As a result, it will make political change impossible.

    You should not be expected to change what you advocate if you believe in it. But your advocacy comes with a cost. It may well be too late for a 2-state solution, as you say. It might not be possible. But most American Jews, like most Israeli Jews and most Palestinians– still endorse it. As long as that is true, there is still a glimmer of a glimmer of hope.

    Unless you have a political plan that will allow the “progressive” American left to effect real change on its own, without a coalition with liberal Democrats (I have never seen the left achieve such a thing on a national scale) what you advocate will have the opposite effect of what you intend. It will drive more American and Israel Jews to the right. Without their support, nothing is going to change. And the suffering will never end.

  37. Dan,
    I don’t believe that the prevalance of AIPAC is about their program, but about money.

    If alternative Jewish lobby were constructed that only brought voice to the table, it would not be enough.

    The sequence of campaigns is that platform and personal confidence is defined at the same time as the money is raised. Money drives it.

    Right now AIPAC is somewhat of a big tent. There are MANY otherwise liberal affluent Jews that contribute to AIPAC and do participate in discussion. The presence of neo-conservatives in the tent is small ironically, and contrary to the views of many critics. The common thread is uncompromising support for the existence of Israel.

    For example, the affection for Bill and Hillary Clinton among AIPAC is strong. Cheney gets cheers only with a stacked room, not a proportional representation of AIPAC, even by $.

    AIPAC’s range of concerns is also much broader than just related to political issues, or on single questions.

    A single-issue PAC will inevitably have limited political audience as the range of concerns expressed is thin. History changes quickly, and a politician KNOWS that the winds of a particular issue can change radically in a short period of time. They cannot invest that speculatively.

    For what its worth, I read the book that Saif recommended, by electronicintifada originator, Ali Abunimah.

    His argument is simple:

    1. An isolated and subordinated Palestine is not a viable state, and therefore inevitably full of strife and anger, creating a situation in which real peace is not a prospect.

    2. The Jewish majority in the region as a whole, and even the degree of majority in Kadima-defined Israel, will gradually-quickly diminish to the point of internal civil conflict.

    3. The alternatives for Israel to respond to that demographic challenge are at best difficult, at worst inhumane.

    4. A single state solution in which both Israelis and Palestinians abandon many of their formerly cherished positions for fully civil institutional applications, is the only prospective permanent solution.

    I perceive large problems with both the analysis, conclusion, and prospects for implementation.

    And, at the same time, I greatly appreciate the comments regarding some glimmer of respect for the other’s narrative, experience, needs. (I wish there were much more of them. I also wish that the author did not frame much of his other life-work in the terms “Zionism is racism” as is reflected in the electronicintifada website, still.)

    I agree with the primary thesis of the book, that the two peoples will never disappear, that they will forever be neighbors, and therefore genuine reconciliation (in word and deed) is necessary and hopefully possible.

  38. Hi Richard,

    ”In an experiment, one must wait for the facilitating conditions to exist, prior to concluding that the thesis did not transpire, and certainly the further conclusion that it was “inevitable”.”

    However, prior to this phase of an experiment, first you must have a proposal for the experiment in the first place – What is the experiment testing? What are the potential results? What are you trying to accomplish? The point, or I should say my point, is that there isn’t even a realistic proposal – from any Israeli quarter (not counting the Israeli Palestinians) – that even pays lip service to a truly free and viable Palestinian state. In all cases – even the most liberal ones like the Geneva Initiative and Rand Proposals – Israeli “security” precludes Palestinian freedom. So in the end, no one is even proposing an experiment – a plan – that meets the minimum requirements for an acceptable Palestinian state. All Israeli supported proposals amount to a call for a dependent and controlled Palestinian Bantustan. If that remains the case then we might as well just “skip” that phase altogether – as it won’t bring peace and it won’t be sustainable (e.g. post-Disengagement Gaza) – and move on to the inevitable fate of a completely unsustainable bantustan, integration into one state.

    This is not to say that over time Israel might not reach the conclusion that its only realistic option will be to allow for a truly sovereign and viable Palestinian state, but the problem here is that by the time the Israelis reach this reluctant conclusion, it can be safely assumed that the Palestinian position will have shifted in support of even more aggressive demands and conditions. If there was a viable two-state option on the table right now, today, maybe there would be something to it, but there isn’t; and by the time Israel becomes desperate enough to offer one, it won’t be good enough.

    ”The conditions necessary for the “if” to be considered, included a unity government that was in a position to fulfill promises that it made.”

    This is also part & parcel of a common thread in one-state advocacy, namely that the PLO/PA framework is completely incapable of serving as an effective Palestinian government. The PLO began as a coalition of global resistance groups, it is completely non-democratic (and thus non-representative, just ask the Palestinian refugees), and is locked within a structural framework that makes it utterly unsuitable to serve as a government. The PA was the product of Oslo, and despite the empty trappings of a government, in practice it was meant to serve as an autonomous branch of the IDF occupation authority (the “Civil Administration”) by managing day-to-day aspects of the Israeli occupation in Palestinian population centers (“Area A”) and was never intended – nor designed – to serve as a functioning independent government. The PA failed in it primary task of serving as IDF ghetto administrators with the emergence of the Intifada and today serves two primary purposes: a) the PA Executive – the Presidency – serves as a token leader with whom Israel can “negotiate” when so inclined (compare to the ruling “Chiefs” of the South African Bantustans), and b) the Palestinian legislative elections serves as something of a “litmus test” to gauge Palestinian public opinion inside the OPTs. Neither of these institutions was designed for real governance and their failure to effectively govern is the inevitable byproduct of this.

    This is in fact one of the arguments AGAINST a two-state solution, that the basic infrastructure for a effective Palestinian government does not even exist in the OPTs, so even a 100% Israeli withdrawal (which still isn’t even on the table) might not result in a stable Palestinian statelet.

    ”Another factor that I consider significant is that Israel HAS treatied with Arab states, and kept their word. The treaties have remained, because they were made in earnest by both parties. Sadat was murdered, but Egypt continued and Mubarak continued its treaty. The repitition that Israel does not keep its word is subjective, and only true relative to hopes, but not to actual treaty.”

    This is based on the failure of Oslo and Israel’s conscious decision – primarily by Labor, though Bibi helped too – to use the relative calm to radically expand the settlements and literarily double the number of settlers.

    In 1993 almost everyone believed peace was on the way, that the Israelis were sincere in their intention to end the occupation and that a viable Palestinian state was just over the horizon. The rapid initial redeployment of occupation forces strengthened this impression. It is true that the Israeli government was very careful not to explicitly say a free and viable Palestine was on the agenda, this was the impression that they created and encouraged and everyone fell for it. The Palestinian rejectionist factions lost virtually ALL support and were literally chased out, forcing ideological opponents like Hamas & the PFLP to sit together in Damascus issuing “decrees” on behalf of the “Rejectionist Front.” Had Israel continued the withdrawal at this point, we wouldn’t be having this discussion today, and its failure to do so is why only a total idiot could believe that Israel was acting in good faith. In retrospect, I believe this was the last real opportunity for a two-state solution, though I personally didn’t become a one state supporter until much later.

    After the initial IDF redeployment, everything more or less ground to a halt and this reached a head in 1996, two years into what was meant to be a five year process. 1996 saw a major push for settlement expansion and settler violence against Palestinians which was coupled by a major Islamist suicide bombing campaign that lacked all popular support and resulted in draconian PA crackdowns on Islamists, their relatives, and people that were suspected of sympathizing. However, Israel wasn’t satisfied with the PA response and decided to take action against various Palestinians too, leading to the inevitable impression that the PA was nothing more than a quisling proxy force serving Israeli interests against their own people. This is when the rejectionists – esp. the Islamists – began to regain their standing in Palestinian society, as clearly they had been right, Israel wasn’t leaving. The election of Bibi & Likud just topped off the trend and emboldened the settlers to become even more aggressive. By 1998, many observers (including me) were already predicting a new Intifada since by that time it had become patently obvious to all observers that Israel had no intention whatsoever of really freeing the OPTs. I personally was amazed that the Palestinians held off on the virtually inevitable uprising for as long as they did, but when the Al Aqsa Intifada began it was really no surprise to anyone that was familiar with the Palestinian perspective.

    ”I consider the invitation to Israel Beitanu to role in the Kadima government to be a fundamental qualitative compromise, that should have precipitated Labor’s leaving.”

    It is interesting how events can be interpreted in radically different ways. For many people in my camp, the entrance of Avigdor Lieberman into the Kadima government was a public acceptance of the “respectability” of Israel Beitanu’s openly racist positions. A similar difference in interpretation surrounds the Hamas electoral win. Virtually without exception on the Israeli side, it was/is viewed as a popular acceptance of the Hamas political platform vis-à-vis Israel; whereas in most non-Islamist Palestinian circles (the vast majority), it was viewed as a rejection of the corruption of Fatah in favor of a political party (Hamas) with a reputation for honesty and integrity in their domestic affairs.

    ” For a state to avoid civil war with a near even majority, takes a presumption of respect for the state’s continuity that is independant of the governing party structure or compromise platform of a coalition. Ironically, Israel has that continuity. … “

    I basically agree with you and suggest that this is an argument in FAVOR of the one-state scenario, not against it. See above.

    ”There have ALWAYS been tensions as to each proposal. Certainly, you can’t sincerely state that you don’t observe tensions and LARGE obstacles with the formation, development, and continued management of a single state solution.”

    Obviously. Yes, there are plenty of obstacles and problems to overcome with a one-state idea. The difference is the point of departure. In the case of two-state advocacy, there doesn’t even exist an agreed upon theoretical framework – a goal – much less any reason to believe that if there was one that anyone would support it. On the other hand, the one-state is the de facto reality on the ground today, right now, as you read this. Right this second there is one functioning government – the Israeli one – that controls every square inch of Palestine directly or indirectly. While there is not a mutually agreed to theoretical framework – a goal – for modifying this current reality in a mutually acceptable way, at least the point of departure – the existing reality – is already there which is more than you can say for the two-state idea. We have to start with the current reality and if you do this, then ending the ethnocentric – racist – ideology of Zionism in favor of a democratic secular state based upon equality for everyone is a much more effective point of departure than starting from absolute scratch. Further, there is a firmly established track record of systematically ousting the official standing of overtly racist political ideologies, so there are plenty of examples that can be learned from. Whereas, more often than not, separatist schemes – assuming they don’t fall into total violence – only foster separation, isolation and inter-ethnic animosity.

    ”The degree of responsibility of those dissenters that sincerely desire a single-state, to reliably CEMENT the confidence necessary for such a solution, is profound. It would NOT be possible to remain a radical stand, spouting disrespectful rhetoric, if those truly intended to succeed at building that confidence.”

    This is completely incorrect. When one is fighting an ideology – which is the case for most one-state supporters – that ideology has to be attacked and discredited. That is the entire point. The status of Al Quds doesn’t have to change, no new borders need be written, no settlements have to be removed, no one has to be tossed out of their homes; all we have to do is get rid of the racist ideology of Zionism that denies full equality in all respects with the indigenous Palestinian population in full. The enemy is the underlying ideology that demands, justifies, and validates all the particular policies and practices in question, which is why people are so terrified of people who attack the ideology, the root of the problem. The standard Zionist mantra is that you’re only allowed to discuss the symptoms, but never the disease itself; whereas I say the opposite is true, regardless of how effectively you treat the symptoms, if you don’t treat the illness no wellness will result.

    ”I sincerely wish you would consider the math of the single-state from the estimates of party affiliation, representing perspective, that I quoted.”

    As I responded before, the premise of this argument is false because you’re assuming that parties and political alignments would remain the same as they are today in a future one-state scenario. As the dramatic emergence of the Kadima party graphically illustrates, political alignments change in response to circumstances. In such an overwhelming change as a one-state scenario, the shifting and realignments across the political sphere – both Israeli and Palestinian – would be extreme and can only be guessed at right now.

    And just for the record, though not all one-state supporters agree, I do advocate a transitional phase (I use the model of the reintegration of Eastern Germany into Western Germany) AND I firmly support strong constitutional minority protections.

    ”From that perspective, from the perspective of wishing to not remain stuck, the trust-building is the most effective focus, FAR FAR moreso than rhetoric comparing Israel to apartheid, or repititions “Zionism is racism” (when the negligence to assert “never again” would mean death of person, community, and religious/ethical covenant to complete the mission of tikkun olam – however understood.)”

    Not surprisingly I disagree. I do believe that the trust-building work is of absolutely vital importance and support all such projects whether I agree with their political platform or not. However, I do not think that precludes or excludes efforts – especially outside of Israel/Palestine – to undermine the legitimacy of the underlying racist ideology that is the root of the problem. In fact I could argue that the two compliment one another.

  39. The experiment is of the acceptance of the two-state proposal.

    You dismiss the statements of all of the Israeli parties (“there is no-one yet to negotiate with”) as some opportunism rather than an objective description.

    I find it to be true, that there had not been in Palestine an entity that could keep its word.

    The PLO was whom conducted the negotiation, and the PLO was verbally consented to by all of the major parties to be the “sole representative of the Palestinian people”.

    But, now you say that they weren’t.

    I say that a unity government is more able to keep its word than a community at civil war. But, the continued statement that the continuity of the Palestinian Authority is not recognized by Hamas and other parties, dismisses the concept of their word.

    You say that Hamas has a reputation for keeping their word, and opposing corruption. I personally regard that as wishful thinking, as does most of the world. They lie (for example, by supplying Islamic Jihad rockets), and they engage in “revolutionary” opportunism (for example, when their militia conducts raids or shelling, but their political people have the out of saying it was “them, we can’t control them”.)

    Well, in order for their word to be of merit, they’d either have to control them, or not.

    In opening your proposal for the intimacy of co-governing, with “your formative ideology is racist” (and not as you define it, but as the left does), you yourself indicate that you have no intention of actually pursuing what you state as goal.

    This is NOT South Africa. The populations are roughly equal, NOT a small minority governing a large majority. Both have legitimate historical and present claims to be there.

    The conclusions that “activism” will effect change for the better for either community, and activism defined nearly solely as agitation, is ignorant and dangerous.

    If you honestly regard a two-state relationship as a possible transition, why not pursue that in earnest, and THEN pursue the transition, rather than killing the prospect in advance by the rhetoric and anger?

    Please acknowledge that even if achieved, the single-state solution is at least decades away.

    Absent confident hope in your proposal, what possible political alliance could emerge from the current political allegiances. I assume by your not commenting on the actual numbers, that you accept my estimates of loyalties and sentiments.

    Mutual decency is my goal. If your approach is to condemnation, then how are you an advocate of peace?

    Isn’t peace constructed of acknowledgement, NOT of condemnation?

  40. John,

    In diplomacy, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    I keep hearing this line about all the 2-state solutions on the table being “Bantustans.” What Clinton offered in his last plan was a contiguous state. Let’s put it this way, unless he was lying and Ross was lying, it was a continguous state. They were there. The revisionists who claim otherwise were not.

    Now, the contours of the state were not ideal and were not all the Palestinians wanted. You can go on all you want to about the limitations of this offer and the mistakes made by the Israelis and American negotiators.

    But who are you to say that state would not have been “viable?” Who are you to say that what the Palestinians accepted in the Geneva Initiative would not be “viable?”

    Wouldn’t it be more “viable” than living under an occupation that neither people wants? Wouldn’t it be more “viable” than the bloodshed that has ensued since the Camp David talks collapsed?

    Do you honestly think that if the Clinton plan were back on the table and its terms were communicated to Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (which, I might add, did not happen during the negotiations), that the majority of them would reject it? I don’t. Neither does Khalil Shikaki and other Palestinian pollsters…

    I don’t see how you can say with absolute certainty that, under different circumtances, with a real and ensuring peace on the horizon,with an assurance that suicide bombers and Kassam rockets would stop, that Israelis would not accept the kind of 2-state solution proposed by Clinton.

    Would the Israelis have accepted the plan had it been agreed to under Clinton’s watch? Maybe not. Hindsight of this kind is meaningless. Most of them managed to reverse years of propaganda and accept the necessity of recognizing the PLO and giving Arafat and his bunch a chance to rule. They might have taken a deep collective breath and accepted the terms laid out by Clinton, if the intifadeh hadn’t completely shattered confidence that the Palestians could be trusted to control violence.

  41. Hi Dan,

    ”Richard’s point about “trust building” is also relevant to the potential re-shaping of American policy, which will not become evenhanded without a re-shaping of American politics. Specifically, we need an effective political counterweight to AIPAC et. al. if there is going to be any hope for change. Like it or not, that kind of counterweight cannot be heavy enough without the support of American Jews.”

    This is a bit different than the one-state/two-state or Zionism/good-or-bad discussions we’ve had thus far.

    I certainly agree that it is an issue, but I have to admit a degree of wariness with the counter-weight notion because it depends strongly on what that counter-position vis-à-vis AIPAC is. I have watched various counter-lobby initiatives and am passively supportive in general, but I also see these efforts as a potential “trick” to build new restrictions on the range of acceptable discourse as well.

    If the counter-weight enterprise supported a position that I could accept in good conscience, of course I’d become an enthusiastic supporter. However, realistically I suspect that any counter-weight would support a stance along the lines Labour or Meretz; that is a tiny utterly dependent Palestinian Bantustan beneath a Fatah strongman and under total Israeli control. If this is the “alternative” position, then I’d rather there not be a counter-weight at all as it is much easier to go after AIPAC’s brazenly anti-peace stance than it would be to deal the syrupy rhetoric of peace and understanding that drips from the Zionist Left while perpetuating what I see as a fundamentally racist enterprise.

    Anyway, in other respects it’s also not really that much of an issue. The rank-and-file of Israel-support in the United States – the people that flood their legislators with letters and the like – aren’t Jewish anyway. Something like half the school kids that attended the last AIPAC convention came from Christian Fundamentalist schools. People like John “the-Jews-were-responsible-for-the-Holocaust” Hagee and his “Christians United for Israel” are already effectively taking over mass Israel advocacy in Washington already. Of course AIPAC & gang still have the lead with respect to the money, but there are reasons to believe even that is changing.

    There are a myriad of factors that argue that the continued AIPAC influence is not likely to last even without a counter-weight. The US population is coming under a whole new array of pressures and interests and frankly, Israel/Palestine isn’t a primary concern for the vast majority of them. The current issue of the satirical newspaper “The Onion” sums it up nicely: “MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT INTENSIFIES AS BLAH BLAH BLAH, ETC. ETC.” – http://WWW.THEONION.COM/CONTENT/NEWS/MIDDLE_EAST_CONFLICT_INTENSIFIES

    ”Like it or not, a noisy -and articulate– left wing that continues to call Israel a racist and criminal state, and to promote a bi-national solution, discourages silent American Jewish doves from becoming public ones.”

    As noted above, if – as I suspect – the “American Jewish doves” you allude to are not willing to advance a just resolution – meaning a truly free and viable two-state solution or a one-state notion – favoring something like the Labour/Meretz Bantustan schemes, then frankly it serves the interests on my side of the equation if they remain silent and uninvolved. I’d rather people not advocate at all as opposed to advocating for continued racist injustice.

    ”But if you want to make actual changes in the actual world and to address the desparate plight of many Palestinians –as I do– you should realize that if what you advocate catches on, it is going to make effective political coalition-building impossible. As a result, it will make political change impossible.”

    Obviously I disagree. Once the notion of an exclusivist “Jewish State” (or “Palestinian Arab State” for the matter) is invalidated – as is happening now primarily through post-Zionism among Israelis & anti-Zionism elsewhere) whole new vistas and opportunities become possible. The stumbling block is the ethnocentric demand for exclusivity in a multi-ethnic state. For more, see my earlier comments to Richard.

    ”You should not be expected to change what you advocate if you believe in it. But your advocacy comes with a cost. It may well be too late for a 2-state solution, as you say. It might not be possible. But most American Jews, like most Israeli Jews and most Palestinians– still endorse it. As long as that is true, there is still a glimmer of a glimmer of hope.”

    I agree, except I don’t make hope dependent upon ethnocentric domination and exclusion. I connect hope to our common humanity – regardless of ethnicity – and from that perspective there is no loss of hope with the end of the exclusivist Zionist experiment. To restrict hope to the demands for special status at the expense of others is the hallmark of an ideological extremist and the world has suffered – and is suffering – enough from that sort of thing. Hope remains as long as there are people on both sides that acknowledge the fundamental humanity of the other, ideological pretenses like nationalism notwithstanding.

    ”Unless you have a political plan that will allow the “progressive” American left to effect real change on its own, without a coalition with liberal Democrats (I have never seen the left achieve such a thing on a national scale) what you advocate will have the opposite effect of what you intend. It will drive more American and Israel Jews to the right. Without their support, nothing is going to change. And the suffering will never end.”

    Realistically, in my view the Israel-support networks in the United States are already utterly dominated by the Right. When AIPAC can have an outright undeniable anti-Semite like John Hagee (who argues that the Jewish people were responsible for the Holocaust for turning their backs on God) as its keynote speaker and the subject of thunderous applause, I think the writing is on the wall. To support Israel and Zionism IS a rightist ethnocentric position and has no place on the Left at all. Zionism – like German nationalism – may have begun as a progressive notion (and even that is debatable), but it certainly isn’t today by any stretch of the imagination. Or at least that is my opinion.

  42. Richard,

    Now you’re just trying to put words in my mouth as it were. If you’re simply unwilling or unable to comment on things that I actually said as opposed to trying to build empty straw men to knock over, you’re just wasting time for the both of us and we can end this thread.

    ”You dismiss the statements of all of the Israeli parties (”there is no-one yet to negotiate with”) as some opportunism rather than an objective description.”

    I said nothing of the sort, in fact I agreed with your synopsis and consider it an argument against two-state advocacy. There is no effectively functioning Palestinian government.

    ”PLO was verbally consented to by all of the major parties to be the “sole representative of the Palestinian people”. But, now you say that they weren’t.”

    Again I said nothing of the sort, I said that the PLO is not designed to serve as an effective government and has not done so. It does serve as an effective diplomatic enterprise, but that is not a matter of governing.

    ”You say that Hamas has a reputation for keeping their word, and opposing corruption. I personally regard that as wishful thinking, as does most of the world.”

    Your personal prejudices notwithstanding, the simple fact of the matter is – and you can ask any Palestinian resident of the OPTs – Hamas DOES have a reputation for honesty and integrity, as opposed to Fatah corruption, among the Palestinian electorate and this is a big part of why they won the election.

    ”In opening your proposal for the intimacy of co-governing, with “your formative ideology is racist” (and not as you define it, but as the left does), you yourself indicate that you have no intention of actually pursuing what you state as goal.”

    Frankly I have no idea what you are talking about here.

    ”The conclusions that “activism” will effect change for the better for either community, and activism defined nearly solely as agitation, is ignorant and dangerous.”

    Interesting. Tell this to Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. – or even Martin Luther himself – or Rabbi Arik Ascherman.

    ”If you honestly regard a two-state relationship as a possible transition, why not pursue that in earnest, and THEN pursue the transition, rather than killing the prospect in advance by the rhetoric and anger?”

    Yet again you’re putting more words in my mouth. I do support a transitional phase, but not one that amounts to two separate states. As I noted previously I use the German reunification model … a joint constitutional commission and the integration governmental and public institutions. There is no second state in my idea of a transitional period.

    ”Please acknowledge that even if achieved, the single-state solution is at least decades away.”

    Yes, sadly you’re right, but the exact same is true for a viable and sustainable two-state solution too.

    ”Absent confident hope in your proposal, what possible political alliance could emerge from the current political allegiances. I assume by your not commenting on the actual numbers, that you accept my estimates of loyalties and sentiments.”

    I’ve addressed this repeatedly. Your premise is false – that all existing political alignments and formations would remain the same – so the subsequent question is meaningless.

    ”Isn’t peace constructed of acknowledgement, NOT of condemnation?”

    No, not particularly. No one was standing extending “acknowledgement” to the legitimacy white racist concerns about keep black children out of their schools or swimming pools, but there was plenty of condemnation of these “concerns” in the US civil rights struggle. I’m not overly concerned with “acknowledging” Tom Tancredo’s rants against Latino immigrants either, but – like most progressives – I’m more than happy to condemn them. The one-state argument is predicated on turning the issue from a separatist inter-national conflict into an internal civil/human rights struggle.

  43. Hi Teddy,

    ”But who are you to say that state would not have been “viable?” Who are you to say that what the Palestinians accepted in the Geneva Initiative would not be ‘viable?’”

    Physical continuity is only one aspect of viability and really not even one of the most vital. Of much more importance is a) control of their own borders; b) control of their own economic policies and practices; and c) control of their own natural resources. None of these three necessities are on the table at all or ever have been. Israel cites – fairly legitimate – “security concerns” for denying the proposed Bantustan control of its own borders, so the net result will be that the residents will be completely dependent on Israel with respect to immigration/emigration, import/export policy, and so on. From the very outset of negotiations in Madrid – and carried over to Oslo – Israel has always insisted that Israel Proper and the OPTs constitute one inseparable economic unit, thus the Bantustan is to remain always and forever and economic dependent and protectorate of Israel’s much more developed economy. Finally, natural resources – especially the West Bank aquifers, the Jordan River and the natural gas deposits found off the Gaza coast are to remain under Israeli control, and “shared” as they see fit with the Bantustan.

    ”Wouldn’t it be more “viable” than living under an occupation that neither people wants? Wouldn’t it be more “viable” than the bloodshed that has ensued since the Camp David talks collapsed?”

    That’s the point, at least from the Palestinian side of the equation there is no significant difference, it just makes the job of maintaining occupation easier for Israel, that is the sole net result of these Bantustan schemes.

    Post-Disengagement Gaza is a prime example. Yes, the settlers were removed and yes IDF troops aren’t permanently stationed inside the Strip any longer and these are improvements. BUT Israel still controls all the borders, the coast, the airspace, and so on. Gaza is now a effectively a Bantustan, completely and utterly controlled by Israel in every respect, but without the “boots on the ground.” Of course the fact that from the Palestinian perspective the occupation didn’t end at all, thus the continued resistance. Any Bantustan scheme can only result in the same. For a truly independent Palestinian state that might result in a sustainable peace, Israel will have to actually give up control, and this isn’t even being discussed, much less advanced.

    ”Do you honestly think that if the Clinton plan were back on the table and its terms were communicated to Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (which, I might add, did not happen during the negotiations), that the majority of them would reject it? I don’t. Neither does Khalil Shikaki and other Palestinian pollsters…”

    Granted. However, it wouldn’t be sustainable either. It might bring about a reduction of tensions and the like, at least for a little while (which would be a good thing), but it wouldn’t ultimately resolve the crisis and within a few years there would be open fighting again. For a sustainable peace, Israel will have to make real concessions and its made it quite obvious that it hasn’t reached the point where that is even under discussion.

    ”I don’t see how you can say with absolute certainty that, under different circumtances, with a real and ensuring peace on the horizon,with an assurance that suicide bombers and Kassam rockets would stop, that Israelis would not accept the kind of 2-state solution proposed by Clinton.”

    Granting that “absolute certainty” is a slippery slope, I think the point is that the resistance isn’t going to stop until the Israelis withdraw. Israel had that opportunity in 1993 and chose to use it to solidify its position in the Territories as opposed to withdraw, so you can’t really expect them to fall for Israeli “good faith” again. Quite simply, the ONLY thing the Palestinians have to offer that Israel really wants or needs is peace and thus it would be foolish to cash in this one bargaining chip for a slightly restructured occupation – a Bantustan. Both sides have made it crystal clear that “peace at any price” is unacceptable, thus we have to aim for peace with justice.

  44. It sounds more like imposition than solution to me as currently stated.

    I would not cavalierly divest the hard work and trauma that led to Jewish self-governance.

    Two states is still the most just by the math taht I reason.

    A single-state solution is a fundamental compromise for the Jewish people, not an incidental one.

    It is possible to make fundamental compromises, but not by agitation solely, without the skill and confidence that a Nelson Mandela could practically offer.

    Its been noted that although Gandhi personally went on a hunger strike to near death, in his commitment to human decency towards Muslims.

    There has NOT been that commitment to human dignity of Jews stated here, or elsewhere, on this issue from any Arab or Palestinian or leftist leader.

    It doesn’t get there. It sounds good to one’s own ears is all.

  45. Please consider the importance of the ANC leadership in the South African transition. It was not a trivial commitment that they consistently made in their meetings and public statements.

    That commitment DIFFERS fundamentally from the statements on the left and from Palestinians on attitudes towards Jews.

    Also consider that the Afrikaaners did NOT experience being the victim of actual attempt at genocide, and the long-term trauma that that created.

    Also consider that in compelling the severe limitation of immigration to Palestine, by the Palestinians at that time, that the Palestinians are understood to have participated in the genocide.

    This is DIFFERENT than the history of South Africa.

    The external threat of force of boycott or other agitation by the left, forces those Jews who remember history, to immediately marry their abusers.

    It also then compels Palestinians that have experience persecution and violence to similarly marry their abusers.

    A less intimate solution is FAR FAR more practical than that externally forced intimacy, and driven by agitation and slogan, RATHER than by acknowledgement of concerns.

    Peace is constructed by the personal:

    “Yes, I respect your experience.”

    rather than

    “Screw you. Your experience is fundamentally denial”.

    as much as you wish it were entirely of political.

    The political STAYS as tension, until it gets to personal acknowledgement.

  46. Hi Richard,

    “It sounds more like imposition than solution to me as currently stated.”

    That is actually a common criticism of one-state advocacy, though I do not believe this is true. In the final analysis there can be no doubt whatsoever that the people on the ground, meaning those living in Israel/Palestine will make the final decisions and so no one is “imposing” anything. We simply have different ideas of what an acceptable solution would be. However, since Israel and the Zionist movement takes the liberty of speaking on my behalf – as a Jewish person – I feel at perfect liberty to share my opinion freely in return.

    ”I would not cavalierly divest the hard work and trauma that led to Jewish self-governance.”

    I don’t. Jewish self-governance is what put Israel in its current situation. To be blunt, Israel has made its decisions and now has to live with them, the available options have narrowed and are continuing to do so as you read this. All the Palestinians have to do is stay alive and continue resisting to win their liberty sooner or later; for Israeli Jews to maintain their liberty and unique Israeli-Jewish Hebrew-speaking culture serious compromises will have to be made.

    ”A single-state solution is a fundamental compromise for the Jewish people, not an incidental one.”

    No, not for “the Jewish people” but for Israeli Jews. Propaganda and lip-service notwithstanding, the fact that the majority of Jews have never immigrated to Israel affirms the point that Israel and Zionist ideology is NOT the defining characteristic of Jewish identity. [Interestingly, just last week it was reported that Jewish emigration has now overtaken immigration for Israel]

    In an earlier post you wrote something to the effect of “don’t make the Jewish people homeless again…” and while I can’t speak to your individual circumstances, I, my family, my extended family, and many of my friends who are Jewish are not homeless and are not Israeli. It really is a sad statement about the depth of ideological indoctrination you’ve suffered if you honestly believe that the political entity of Eretz Israel and the political ideology of Zionism is what defines “Jewishness” at least for most of us living elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, when cornered by some pollster about their views on Israel and Zionism, most Jews profess support; but substantively speaking that support is rhetorical coupled with some donations to the JNF or Hadassah every now and then; not making aliyah or sending their kids into the IDF.

    ”There has NOT been that commitment to human dignity of Jews stated here, or elsewhere, on this issue from any Arab or Palestinian or leftist leader.”

    Rubbish. Your false attempt to equate your Zionist demand for ethnocentric domination and exclusivity with a “commitment to human dignity” is shameful. You specifically say this has been the case “here … on this issue” – please show me where anyone’s human dignity has been challenged. The only thing being challenged is your Zionist belief that your human dignity takes precedence over that of your victims – the Palestinian people. Equal dignity without distinction for all people is my argument, while you still demand to impose the “Jewish State” on millions of people who simply can never be fully equal parts of it by definition.

  47. “Your false attempt to equate your Zionist demand for ethnocentric domination and exclusivity with a “commitment to human dignity” is shameful… ”

    Rhetoric.

    Do you hope to win hearts and minds by such silly ad hominems? Or, do you think that you evoke the common cause of decency to Palestinians?

    You know well that the traumas of history comprise the story of the “wandering Jew” (not by choice), of which your personal circumstances are an exception.

    While for many periods in many locales Jews have had the luxury of some acceptance (often conditional on their assimilation), including pre-nazi Germany, there is NO locale in which Jews have been accepted over centuries.

    While my private reference of not experiencing persecution in Jewish suburban New York is true for me in my life, it is not true for my children, who have been the victims of anti-semitic actions, nor for my in-laws that survived the holocaust. (They survived slave labor camps.)

    That trauma is not yet healed. ONLY acceptance of Jews self-identifying as Jewish community, “live and let live” heals it.

    There is no question that expansionist Zionism abuses Palestinians, and that is worth objecting to.

    But, Zionism as the self-governance of the Jewish people (whether chosen by all Jews or not), is a liberatory action and result.

    The imposition is in two respects:

    1. The external agitation, by imposed definitions of what Zionism is and could be

    2. The forced marriage of former abusers/abused

    Its better that they separate, while continuing relations where possible, rather than to be forced into intimacy.

    Zionism is both physical and metaphorical. Jerusalem for example is both physical and figurative, figurative for the ideal community, the status of community of righteousness.

    It is an important effort to make that figurative imagination a real reference, rather than a distortion.

    But, that is not what you are talking about John.

    Historically, if property title is relevant at all, Jews were forcefully removed from the region (a couple times) but “permanently” in the first century by Romans who got irritated that Jews didn’t accept Roman rule and law.

    The residents that expropriated the property of Jews included all subsequent beneficiaries. The church occupied. Various Islamic regimes occupied. The British occupied.

    That is obviously a very long time ago, and title claims after a number of external occupations may be in fact be irrelevant.

    When does 1948 stop being relevant? (As that is the basis of the slogan “Zionism is racism”. Its now three generations. Are refugees from 1948 still refugees? Refugees from 1945 are not and haven’t been for at least 50 years).

    How far back do you want to go?

  48. Another question.

    Do you accept the concept that Jews would primarily self-identify as Jews rather than as Americans, or humans, or democrats (or greens)?

    Is that a foreign concept that you can accept even if it is not your own?

    Or, is your view that no ethnic based self-identification should continue, and why not start close to home?

    So, then as ethnic Jews comprise a large portion of historical dissent, Jewish self-identification also comprises a large portion of the initially identified obstacle to whatever assimilated “humanism” (Greek, Roman, Christian, Islam, nationalism, socialism, eco-socialism)?

  49. Well Richard, its beginning to look like the discussion is winding down and you’re running out of things to say.

    However, on your basic points…

    The Zionist notion that Jewish people are inherently some sort of bizarre pariah breed that simply can never live with other human beings (thus the need for their own self-imposed ghetto – Israel) will never hold water with most Americans – the world’s largest Jewish community. I can’t speak for your experience, but my family has lived here “over centuries” (my family came here in the 1830’s from Germany) and I just don’t have your “homelessness” complex. True, there have been times where we’ve (meaning friends & family) encountered anti-Semitism and the like, that is part and parcel of living in a multi-ethnic state. There are always tensions and animosities between ethnic communities, but that shouldn’t be – at least in my opinion – the defining feature of your life. For the record though, if this is your position, Israel isn’t any better with Neo-Nazi skinhead gangs in Tel Aviv and even open neo-Nazi groups like the “Israeli White Union” in the IDF – for more on anti-Semitism in Israel see the watchdog website: http://pogrom.org.il/eng_index.php

    With respect to your proposed historical digression, I don’t mind discussing this with you some time, but for the discussion we have been having, it is basically irrelevant. If you really want to effect change, your point of departure has to be the here and now, the current reality. The history is important for understanding how we ended up where we are today but when it comes to plotting where to go from here, its primary use is secondary in allowing you cite historical examples to substantiate predictions of future behaviors. Who was where first, who did this or that, who bears responsibility – while certainly important for reconciliation and understanding the “other’s” narrative – really has no bearing on present and future courses of action, which has been the gist of this conversation.

    Finally with respect to the self-identification and general notions of Jewish identity, this is purely subjective and in the eye of the beholder. I have no interest in questioning how you identify yourself or debating the point with you – to each their own, whatever works for you fine with me. However, the proposition I made previously – namely that the political entity of Israel and the political ideology of Zionism is NOT the primary defining characteristic of “Jewishness” is substantiated by the fact that the vast majority of non-Israeli Jews do not live their lives around Israel and Zionism. If you are different in this respect, that is fine and I fully respect your choice to define yourself however you want.

    However, I do firmly believe that the status quo in Israel/Palestine is utterly untenable and I do not believe the separatist agenda will succeed, as discussed anon. Israel still has another 29 years to go before it lasts as long as the medieval Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem did (it lasted 88 years) and today that state is little more than a historical footnote. I don’t believe it will last that long, at least not as it is. If the Israelis are clever – which I believe they are – they’ll make the necessary compromises to ensure that their unique Israeli-Jewish culture (which is native to modern Palestine and is clearly differentiated from all other Jewish communities and cultures) will survive (even if not in total control of everything) and remain in Palestine. If they are fools, they will fight to the bitter end and turn the now antiquated notion of “driving the Jews into the Sea” into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Either way, if your entire concept of Jewish identity is dependent on Israel maintaining the ethnocentric exclusionary state, it will be sorely tried as Israel is forced to deal with the reality it has created for itself.

    As for larger self-identification issues, again this is purely subjective and I’m not going to question anyone’s decisions in this respect. I’m not going to tell anyone else how to define themselves – nor will I deal with anyone telling me how to define myself – so this is a total non-starter for me (much to Bill’s chagrin).

    Otherwise, you haven’t brought up anything that I haven’t already addressed at one point or another in our exchanges.

  50. Regardless of your forcefulness, the two-state solution still sounds to me to be the most just solution proposed to date.

    The single-state solution could only be just in the environment of complete confidence that the multi-cultural haven would sustain.

    I see no basis for that confidence, given the contempt that you express for the trauma that modern and historical Jews have experienced.

    I don’t see how you will succeed at any improvement over a green line two-state solution, given the tone that you bring to this discussion.

    Saif’s tone is similar, though slightly different. Abumineh’s is similar.

    If you really believe in coexistance within a single state, appreciation of the other, validation of the other’s concerns, is a more likely path to that.

    You might “successfully” convince every other person that Jews are horrid beasts for desiring to self-govern rather than be other-governed, and isolate Israel for regarding Zionism highly(the baby and the bathwater).

    It won’t make it just, or good. It won’t improve the lives of Jews, Israelis, Palestinians. Other work does that.

    Reconciliation, mutual assistance.

    Relaxation of animosity NOT cultivation of animosity.

    The good questions are how to accomplish self-assertion while simultaneously valuing and helping the other.

    The one-state approach could be constructed to accomplish that, but so long as it is based on and infused with anger and rhetoric, it fails.

  51. And you think that dhimmi status and freedom are one, then you are also confused.

    I personally don’t think that Judaism and Zionism are one.

    As I’ve stated many times, the fulcrum of Judaism is Jewish community, wherever it is.

    Jewish nation is at best one social scale removed.

    It is most relevant in an environment of threat, or in the current status or delayed recovery from deep deep trauma. Delayed partially for consequences of formations of Jewish culture, but also delayed for the non-acceptance of its neighbors.

    Nations form for that reason, to protect themselves.

    If there was nothing to protect themselves from, then the issue of nation would not be an issue. At most Zionism would then be a community of communities.

    So, if there is some real threat that defines a need, a real organizer, a real social leader, a real social movement would address the need, not dismiss it.

  52. John,

    I must say I have found the twist and turns of your argument to be fascinating. I confess I have have not spent much time perusing the one-staters’ literature and thank you for sharing your arguments at such great length.

    But, leaving aside whether what you say is either right or practical, it is the product of an American Jewish man who is, in no uncertain terms, telling the Palestinians what is best for them.

    It is one thing to tell Israelis to renounce their core identity and give up everthing except some sort of vaguely defined Jewish-Israeli culture that you seem certain –based on no evidence–will be preserved, somehow. It is quite another to tell Palestinians that the two-state goal they have been pursuing for decades is not worth pursuing.

    It is as if, in the comfort of your home, you were reading about migrant farm workers pickers making demands of Company X in the subtropics, and telling them, “No, you should not be demanding so little. You should be demanding more. I know what’s best for you. I know Company X. You’ve been living in the subtropics with Company X for decades now, and I’ve been watching this struggle from far away in America, but I know that you should not settle for an imperfect solution. You should hold out for something more because, based on my reading of the history of the German confederation and other nation-state formations in Europe, I am confident that I have the answer…and Sari Nusseibah, and Faisal Husseini (may he rest in peace), and Yasser Abed-Rabbo and all of your other moderate leaders have not come up with it.”

    Now, it is one thing for you to believe all of this in an abstract way and discuss it on blogs. It is quite another to state that it is part of a growing political/ideological movement, and to urge others to join. There is, as I understand it, a very tiny one-state movement that shares your views in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, mostly among academics. Why do you think this movement has not caught on? Are the Palestinian people too short-sighted to understand that the half-loaf is worse than the full loaf?

    This is not exactly arrogance. You seem far too nice and well-meaning to be arrogant (I am not being facetious here). I am not quite sure how to characterize your attitude, but it does not seem to be taking the clear-cut wishes of the victims into account, due to your absolute certainty that you know their oppressors better than they do.

  53. Okay Richard,

    First, a note on context: this isn’t personal, but you’re the one that chose to turn our otherwise reasonable discussion into an exploration of your traumas and complexes, so I’m merely “playing ball” as it were. This is not the type of discourse I prefer and have consciously tried to avoid, but if you insist…

    I’m sorry if you’re traumatized and feel the need to take it out on innocents (Palestinians), and plainly you’re not alone in this camp; but I – and most fellow American Jews in my personal acquaintance – are not, nor are they wallowing in self-pity bemoaning the fate of our people, but instead moving forward as members of humanity, for better or worse. We’re all concerned about racism and anti-Semitism; but I, for one, flatly refuse to become a racist – or support a racist ideology – in order to ostensibly defend against other’s racism. If the only way to resist our enemies is by adopting their tactics and perspective, then we still lose by becoming the very epitome of everything Jewish people have abhorred over centuries of Diaspora. To quote another American Jew (Sara Roy, from Harvard):

    ”Where do Jews belong? Where is our place? Is it in the ghetto of a Jewish state whose shrinking boundaries threaten, one day, to evict us? We are powerful but not strong. Our power is our weakness, not our strength, because it is used to instill fear rather than trust, and because of that, it will one day destroy us if we do not change. More and more we find ourselves detached from our past, suspended and abandoned, alone, without anchor, aching-if not now, eventually-for connection and succor. Grossman has written that as a dream fades it does not become a weaker force but a more potent one, desperately clung to, even as it ravages and devours.

    “We consume the land and the water behind walls and steel gates forcing out all others. What kind of place are we creating? Are we fated to be an intruder in the dust to borrow from Faulkner, whose presence shall evaporate with the shifting sands? Are these the boundaries of our rebirth after the Holocaust?

    “I have come to accept that Jewish power and sovereignty and Jewish ethics and spiritual integrity are, in the absence of reform, incompatible, unable to coexist or be reconciled. For if speaking out against the wanton murder of children is considered an act of disloyalty and betrayal rather than a legitimate act of dissent, and where dissent is so ineffective and reviled, a choice is ultimately forced upon us between Zionism and Judaism.

    “Rabbi Hillel the Elder long ago emphasized ethics as the center of Jewish life. Ethical principles or their absence will contribute to the survival or destruction of our people. Yet, today what we face is something different and possibly more perverse: it is not the disappearance of our ethical system but its rewriting into something disfigured and execrable.” — From “Sara Roy: A Jewish Plea” 11 April 2007, http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story-04110750600.htm

    If your traumas and complexes demand that you stay aboard a sinking ship, please don’t expect all Jewish people to share your suicidal pessimism. Jewish people and Jewish tradition have contributed a great deal to the world and has a great deal more to contribute, but in order to do so we have to be IN the world, not cowering behind the walls of an armed ghetto fighting to oppress others.

    So no, I’m sorry if you find it “insensitive” but people are dying right now in Israel/Palestine because people like you refuse to accord the Palestinian people the equality that we American Jews have fought for – and won – for ourselves in this society. If the choice is placating your trauma or defending the very lives of Palestinian children, I’ll side with the children and life every time – every single time – without apology and regardless of tribe or ethnicity. Sorry, but the situation in Israel/Palestine isn’t some abstract intellectual game where your trauma holds equal weight with the real blood of real people – Israeli or Palestinian.

  54. Hi Dan,

    First an apology for my previous post to Richard. Frankly, one thing I have in common with Zionists is that I am terrifically annoyed with the stereotypical “whining Jew” who seems to think his complexes are of Earth-shaking importance while ignoring the real tangible world. Woody Allen was funny in the movies, but no one wants to have a serious discussion of real and important issues with one of his characters. So, sorry about my little outburst. Though I was still a bit more polite than Bill, so I assume I’m within the acceptable guidelines.

    Anyway,

    ”I must say I have found the twist and turns of your argument to be fascinating. I confess I have have not spent much time perusing the one-staters’ literature and thank you for sharing your arguments at such great length.”

    No offense intended, but I really did suspect as much, which is why I went into detail. Most of the people opposed to the one-state argument haven’t really bothered to study it in much detail, and frankly there isn’t an enormous corpus of available literature to peruse either. You can find a lot of views regarding it – both for and against – on my Online One State Bibliography site: http://www.onestate.org Whether you agree or not, at least it allows you the opportunity to hone your arguments, as some of the opposing arguments here did the same for me.

    ”But, leaving aside whether what you say is either right or practical, it is the product of an American Jewish man who is, in no uncertain terms, telling the Palestinians what is best for them. … There is, as I understand it, a very tiny one-state movement that shares your views in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, mostly among academics. Why do you think this movement has not caught on?”

    First, in all honesty, it isn’t near as marginal as you seem to think, at least not on the Palestinian side. According to the JMCC polls that have routinely asked Palestinian opinion on the desired end result (a Palestinian only state; a Palestinian state with an Israeli State, a binational one-state, and Islamic state, &c.) over the last few years, support for bi-national one-state result has consistently remained in the 25% to 35% range for years now (dipping in times of heightened violence, rising in calmer periods). It is a fringe movement largely limited to academia in Israel, but that is to be expected as the Israelis have much more to lose, thus more reason to fear the idea. Further a couple polls I’ve seen of the external refugees in Lebanon and Jordan tend to suggest even more popular support for the idea in that quarter which isn’t all that surprising. Remember, the vast majority of the Palestinian population are external refugees and completely ignored by the PA.

    So, yes, I support what is probably a minority position, but it is neither my creation and of course I have no say so in what actually happens. In all honesty, I suspect that should the idea be implemented it probably wouldn’t fit my ideal regardless (religion plays too much of a role for significant elements of both sides for a firmly secular state). But as any Israeli or Palestinian will be the first to tell you – I know many of both – they have their own ideas and aren’t looking to any external actors – me or Richard – for advice. Fair enough as in the final analysis they are the ones that have to work it out.

    Nevertheless, for where I am at – in the United States – my argument resonates very well, and since this is where I do my advocacy for the most part and it is utterly undeniable that the U.S. plays a key role, it works just fine. Assuming I turn out to be totally wrong and a realistic two-state option comes about, then I’ve wasted some of my own time, but not hurt anyone else. Assuming I am correct and this idea does represent the future, then perhaps I might be able to help in some small way, at least with the polemics here in the U.S.

    Anyway, I really do believe the only sustainable option for peace is a one-state idea and thus it behooves those of us that are thinking about to start putting the case together.

    ”This is not exactly arrogance. You seem far too nice and well-meaning to be arrogant (I am not being facetious here). I am not quite sure how to characterize your attitude, but it does not seem to be taking the clear-cut wishes of the victims into account, due to your absolute certainty that you know their oppressors better than they do.”

    Well, like any human collective (society, state, people), there is no such thing as “clear cut wishes” as individuals in the collective have different ideas and wishes (minority opinions). I am advocating for a minority that I firmly believe will become a majority at some point. Nevertheless, your observation is undoubtedly valid from the perspective of the majority supporters on both sides of the fence.

  55. “First an apology for my previous post to Richard. Frankly, one thing I have in common with Zionists is that I am terrifically annoyed with the stereotypical “whining Jew” who seems to think his complexes are of Earth-shaking importance while ignoring the real tangible world. ”

    Somewhat less than an apology, no?

    The point of speaking of current trauma is not to “whine”, but to describe the motivation that continues to drive the NEED (as distinct from the greed).

    If you think prior genocide is trivial or somehow stops being relevant a few years after a fact, then your politics are off.

    Subjectivity IS critical. Peace is constructed of reconciliation between people, not between states, not between ideologies.

    “Most of the people opposed to the one-state argument haven’t really bothered to study it in much detail, and frankly there isn’t an enormous corpus of available literature to peruse either. ”

    I did “bother” to read One Country by Ali Abunimah.

    “So, yes, I support what is probably a minority position, but it is neither my creation and of course I have no say so in what actually happens.”

    Your perspective however does represent the view of much of the left, that Israel must be punished rather than exist. And, that the inquiry into even the possibility of considering a one-state or federal solution must adopt the polito/religious conversion sequence of “Zionism is racism” as the only way to justice or peace.

    In contrast, I think it is possible to consider that a one-state solution might be a better choice than a two-state solution, but that the mutual national self-determination movements are essentially GOOD, and not incompatible with a later peace that is more intimate.

    “Assuming I turn out to be totally wrong and a realistic two-state option comes about, then I’ve wasted some of my own time, but not hurt anyone else. ”

    If you pursue a punitive approach, then your being totally wrong would have hurt others, and possibly severely.

    It itself is an important moral decision, how to dissent.

    If you genuinely are committed to the one-state solution, moreso than the one-state punishment, then you can do the work that constructs that as a possibility.

    Again, to you and to Saif, when you open with “Zionism is racism”, you browbeat RATHER than convince.

  56. “I am terrifically annoyed with the stereotypical ““whining Jew””

    hmm. well maybe you should stop being such a racist f.ck and stop seeing people as stereotypes. pathetic.

  57. Your ‘applied Zionism’ argument is based on rather disingenuous logic. One might as well argue that ‘applied Palestinian liberation’ is inherently racist as it has led to the targeted murder of Jewish civilians.

    I bet you would be the first to say that even though targeting civilians is wrong, calling all Palestinian resistance antisemitism doesn’t wash. Yet you do exactly the same with the liberation movement of Zionism.

    If you want to discuss the terrible situation in which Palestinian civilians are suffering and dying, that’s constructive, but those are the results of occupation, not inherent outcomes of Zionism. Anymore than the suffering and dying of Israeli civilians is the inherent outcome of Palestinian resistance.

  58. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book
    in it or something. I think that you could do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that,
    this is great blog. A great read. I’ll definitely be back.

    My site :: antifongique naturel [Cecila]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.