In English publication, Israeli Palestinian pol calls for — sit down — liberal democracy

Israel/Palestine
on 30 Comments

Oh my, why isn’t this in the American press? The New Statesman interviews Haneen Zoabi, the Palestinian Member of the Knesset who went on the Gaza flotilla and is now a subject of widespread hatred in Israel. The New Statesman even has a nice picture of her. Jeez. Oh and I wonder: Did the flotilla experience transform Zoabi’s views? Every day are more Palestinians losing faith in the idea of freedom through Partition? And if so, why should liberal Americans adhere to that idea? But how can we even discuss these ideas if our journalists regard the following sort of conversation as taboo? So many questions! Samira Shackle of NS, asks Zoabi:

Do you endorse a two-state solution?
The reality of Israel’s actions shows us that it’s unrealistic to have a real sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as the capital. The more realistic solution is one state with full national equality for both national groups.

Is the west right to refuse to engage with Hamas?
No one can tell the Palestinian people whom to choose as a government. Hamas is not a terrorist organisation. I don’t think that Hamas has a clear political vision, but regardless of whether I disagree [with it], the international community cannot mediate neutrally if it starts to label the organisations of the Palestinians as illegitimate.

Are you against the very idea of Israel?
We do not want to throw Jews into the sea. We are not against Jews. We are against Israeli policies and the definition of Israel as a Jewish state.

How does the struggle in the Palestinian territories compare to your own in Israel?
This is the difference – as citizens of Israel, we are utilising all the tools that we have, but those in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have given up resisting occupation.

What about the Palestinian Authority?
The PA seems more focused on building a state than ending the occupation. It’s irrational; you can’t negotiate borders while Palestinians are under siege and Israel is expanding settlements.

What is your hope for Arab citizens in Israel?
I have a vision of our rights as indigenous people. We didn’t migrate to Israel; it is Israel that migrated to us.

You’ve been quoted as saying that it would be a good thing for Iran to have nuclear weapons.
That is inaccurate. It cannot be that someone who is struggling against oppression is calling for nuclear weapons. But if the world doesn’t prevent Israel from having nuclear weapons, why does it prevent others?

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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30 Responses

  1. Chaos4700
    August 26, 2010, 10:09 am

    I have a vision of our rights as indigenous people. We didn’t migrate to Israel; it is Israel that migrated to us.

    That is the most incisive comment about the Israel-Palestine situation that I’ve yet heard.

  2. Richard Witty
    August 26, 2010, 10:09 am

    Equality for both national groups. National groups.

    That is Lebanon, NOT “liberal democracy”. Why would you post such a misleading description. If other articles contribute to that conclusion about her views, then post them. This one didn’t.

    It is important to negotiate for viable, potentially healthy state.

    To declare that Hamas is not a terrorist organization is very surprising and upsetting. She was in Jerusalem five years ago ONLY, when Hamas suicide bombs killed Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis alike.

    • Chaos4700
      August 26, 2010, 10:47 am

      The Israeli Defense Force killed over three hundred children in less than a month, Witty. Is the Israeli Defense Force a terrorist organization?

      There are still Lebanese civilians who are being wounded and killed by literally dump truck loads of cluster bomblets that the Israeli Defense Force littered across the countryside. Is the Israeli Defense Force a terrorist organization?

      How come you only apply the word “terrorist” to Arabs?

      • rmokhtar
        August 26, 2010, 12:54 pm

        Chaos, I wish I had your patience.

      • Chaos4700
        August 26, 2010, 7:35 pm

        Phh. I’m not patient, I’m merely persistent.

  3. Jim Haygood
    August 26, 2010, 10:51 am

    Israel, arguably, was founded on the back of terrorist acts and ethnic cleansing (pending release of its 1948 archives).

    If the term had existed at the time, King George would have labeled the US Founding Fathers as terrorists. Like the Afghan insurgents, many were irregulars, not observing the accepted late-1700s formalities requiring ranks of soldiers to line up and fire at each other. Instead, the colonists and their Indian allies would strike without warning, and then disappear into the woods. Clearly, terrorist behavior.

    So the label ‘terrorist’ is pointless and counterproductive. Hamas’s participation in the Palestinian elections indicated a willingness to ‘go respectable.’ The disgraceful rejection of the election results by the US/Israeli ‘managed democracy’ gang taught Hamas some powerful lessons, including that the highly-touted western ‘rule of law’ is actually quite discretionary and tendentious.

    • Richard Witty
      August 26, 2010, 4:05 pm

      They are not yet “not a terrorist organization”.

      They continue to publicly state that terror is a potentially legitimate means of “resistance”. Their current position is that terror is an ineffective tactic merely. (Its true.)

      • tree
        August 26, 2010, 4:36 pm

        And Israel continues to state that collective punishment (terror) is a legitimate means of “self-defense”, or, in other words, maintaining the occupation. You haven’t distinguished a difference between Israel and Hamas that would justify labeling one and not the other as a purveyor of terror.

      • Chaos4700
        August 26, 2010, 7:35 pm

        Who broke the ceasefire, Witty? Who chose violence?

      • Chaos4700
        August 26, 2010, 7:36 pm

        Here’s a little hint for the factually impaired…

        How Do Cease Fires End?

      • Richard Witty
        August 26, 2010, 9:17 pm

        Israel is STILL an internationally recognized state with binding treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and letters of agreement with Palestine.

        Hamas remains alternately a political party (when it fits its objectives), and a militia (when that fits its objectives).

        The period of time since it unilaterally conducted horrendous suicide missions in Israel, and largely for the purposes of disrupting negotiations, is still very thin.

        Phil got his conversion during the Iraq War, but ignored the period of Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs suicide bombings.

        It doesn’t just disappear.

        The questions of Israel are twofold:
        1. Failing to clarify borders (but that takes two to tango)
        2. Apparent excess in military response (December, 2008 was in response to Hamas rocket fire, and the Lebanon War was in response to an abduction within Israel and shelling of Israeli civilian towns.)

        Its response was not innocent, but neither was the shelling or abductions.

        Resistance is a nice word, but it distorts the politics, and the military relations there. It divides.

        “We see it this way.” “No, you racist pig, it was really this way”.

      • Chaos4700
        August 26, 2010, 10:55 pm

        How do cease fires end, Witty?

      • Avi
        August 26, 2010, 11:20 pm

        It’s nice to see that Phil Weiss’s idea of debate is to allow such fabricated narratives to be spewed by family members. That’s you, Dick. If only Phil could muster the courage to put his foot down on a matter as simple as banning a racist hypocrite relative from a blog, imagine what he could accomplish on a larger scale concerning the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people and their land.

        In other words, Phil Weiss is cheapening his blog and himself by allowing such trollage from a privileged family acquaintance.

        And the moderation procession marches on……

      • sherbrsi
        August 27, 2010, 10:27 pm

        <I. Israel is STILL an internationally recognized state with binding treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and letters of agreement with Palestine.

        That recognition also comes with obligations and conditional tenets (as per UN resolutions and the Balfour Declaration) that need to be upheld whenever Israel as a recognized state is asserted. Otherwise, it is merely a “fact on the ground” with rapidly declining legitimacy and no definable sovereignty or borders.

        Hamas remains alternately a political party (when it fits its objectives), and a militia (when that fits its objectives).

        Then Hamas is no different than Israel. Concurrently a Jewish state (when it fits its objectives), and a “democracy” (when that fits its objectives).

        Resistance is a nice word, but it distorts the politics, and the military relations there. It divides.

        So we can expect you to condemn Zionist “resistance” the same way you treat Hamas “resistance”? Or do you wish to divide how you apply the standards to both parties?

      • eljay
        August 28, 2010, 12:04 am

        >> Hamas remains alternately a political party (when it fits its objectives), and a militia (when that fits its objectives).

        By your very own, recently-devised slogan-logic, Hamas is “a rock in the stream. If you’re trying to get somewhere, you paddle around it. Its just there. The better argument is the content, not the rock.”

        So, where is Israel’s “better argument”? Why is Israel not paddling around the rock that is Hamas? Or is Israel once again excused from your hypocritical slogan-logic? (Rhetorical question – the answer has been and continues to be very clear.)

        “Remember the Holocaust!”

      • Sumud
        August 28, 2010, 2:53 am

        I concur Avi.

      • Antidote
        August 28, 2010, 9:27 am

        “Israel is STILL an internationally recognized state”

        So what? Hitler’s Germany was an internationally recognized state. Meaningless moral distinction.

        “Hamas remains alternately a political party (when it fits its objectives), and a militia (when that fits its objectives).”

        So what? Israel remains a ‘safe haven/homeland for all Jews” (when it fits its objectives), and a state that bars Jews like Chomsky or Finkelstein from entering Israel or the OT, or launches viciously slanderous PR campaigns against critics like Goldstone and countless others (when that fits its objectives). A great many political leaders of Israel have been/are military leaders.

        “The period of time since it unilaterally conducted horrendous suicide missions in Israel, and largely for the purposes of disrupting negotiations, is still very thin.”

        Would you describe the various failed suicide missions aimed at eliminating Hitler and other Nazi leaders as ‘horrendous’? It their civilian targets are what disturbs you in the case of Hamas, the number of Palestinian civilian victims of Israeli terror is much higher, as you know and can’t deny.

        “The questions of Israel are twofold:
        1. Failing to clarify borders (but that takes two to tango)
        2. Apparent excess in military response (December, 2008 was in response to Hamas rocket fire, and the Lebanon War was in response to an abduction within Israel and shelling of Israeli civilian towns.)”

        1. it takes one party only, the occupying power, to withdraw behind internationally recognized borders which are also accepted by Hamas. Only Israel thinks of the WB and EJ as ‘disputed territory’.

        2. not my understanding of the context and chronology of events

      • Sumud
        August 28, 2010, 2:54 am

        Proof of your assertion Richard?

      • Danaa
        August 28, 2010, 9:33 am

        Witty – if I understand you correctly, nothing Israel does, regardless how heinous, qualifies as “terror”. But anything Hamas does (or Hezbollah or, the Taliban) to resist the occupation is, by definition, “terror”, rather than “resistance” just because they are not a “proper” state actor.

        Surely, there are more than a few people in the US military kicking themselves in the head for failing to label the Vietcong as “terrorists”, or the milder “insurgent”.

        By your interesting definition (gotta be an agent of a “state” to be something other than a “terrorist”), Garibaldi would have to be labeled terrorist, as were Ben Gurion, Dayan, Troumpeldor and of course, Begin and Shamir, who represented Pre-state agents using violence to accomplish their means. By definition, the Hagana would be every bit the equivalent of Hezbollah, as they were a mere pre-state militia, who donned uniforms, but carried out the acts of insurgents everywhere.

        And let’ not forget the American revolutionaries – now, what were they exactly? freedom fighter? terrorists?

    • MRW
      August 26, 2010, 8:18 pm

      Jim, check this out. Dr. William Cook found classified documents donated by the Deputy Chief of Criminal Investigations of the British Mandate in the Oxford Library two years ago. He got permission from the rights holder, Sir Richard Catling, to declassify and publish them.
      link to intifada-palestine.com
      link to mondediplo.com

      And then there is this from the Yale Archives:

      Unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. . . .

      His Majesty’s Government regard any such expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time contemplated . . . the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture in Palestine. They would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the (Balfour) Declaration referred to, do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded IN PALESTINE. . . . His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State.
      (Command Paper 1922, from the Avalon Project at Yale Law School, 1996–2000), link to avalon.law.yale.edu.

      David Ben Gurion absolutely loathed, detested, despised Menachem Begin, and to a lesser extent Yitzak Shamir. He called Begin and Shamir “terrorists.” I heard this directly from the man to whom Ben Gurion said this over and over and over again.

      • Philip Weiss
        August 26, 2010, 8:49 pm

        thanks mrw, this moves the ball down the field…

      • American
        August 26, 2010, 10:05 pm

        You should order this.
        Canbridge has published all the British documents and other reports from the British National Archives in book form concerning Israel and zionism in Palestine and England and the US.

        link to archiveeditions.co.uk

      • thankgodimatheist
        August 26, 2010, 10:43 pm

        David Ben Gurion absolutely loathed, detested, despised Menachem Begin, and to a lesser extent Yitzak Shamir. He called Begin and Shamir “terrorists.”

        The truth of the matter, MRW, is that both Begin and Shamir were just as terrorists than Ben Gurion was. The difference was in the method.. But in many other ways he was even worse than both combined. He gave the ethnic cleansing, the slaughter and the land theft the deceptive and acceptable mask of “nation building” when the others were doing the dirty work unmasked. While his unstoppable troops were destroying villages by the hundreds he was sending emissaries to the US and Europe; “Go and ask for aid and money ..Go and tell, we’re on the verge of a second holocaust”..

      • RoHa
        August 27, 2010, 6:47 am

        I note that the Command Paper not only denies that it is British policy for the whole of Palestine to be a Jewish State, it does not use the term “State” for what is to be founded in Palestine. It is not clear whether the term “Jewish National Home” means a state or some other sort of arrangement.

      • annie
        August 28, 2010, 2:06 am

        MRW, more from the British White Paper of 1939

        In the view of the Royal Commission the association of the policy of the Balfour Declaration with the Mandate system implied the belief that Arab hostility to the former would sooner or later be overcome. It has been the hope of British Governments ever since the Balfour Declaration was issued that in time the Arab population, recognizing the advantages to be derived from Jewish settlement and development in Palestine, would become reconciled to the further growth of the Jewish National Home. This hope has not been fulfilled. The alternatives before His Majesty’s Government are either (i) to seek to expand the Jewish National Home indefinitely by immigration, against the strongly expressed will of the Arab people of the country; or (ii) to permit further expansion of the Jewish National Home by immigration only if the Arabs are prepared to acquiesce in it. The former policy means rule by force. Apart from other considerations, such a policy seems to His Majesty’s Government to be contrary to the whole spirit of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, as well as to their specific obligations to the Arabs in the Palestine Mandate. Moreover, the relations between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine must be based sooner or later on mutual tolerance and goodwill; the peace, security and progress of the Jewish National Home itself requires this. Therefore His Majesty’s Government, after earnest consideration, and taking into account the extent to which the growth of the Jewish National Home has been facilitated over the last twenty years, have decided that the time has come to adopt in principle the second of the alternatives referred to above.

  4. tree
    August 26, 2010, 11:06 am

    Israel, arguably, was founded on the back of terrorist acts and ethnic cleansing (pending release of its 1948 archives).

    Quite a few of the archives have already been released and prove your statement above. There is no need to have further archive releases to prove that point. All the as yet unreleased material will ultimately do is reinforce and illustrate the comprehensiveness of the terrorist acts and ethnic cleansing. If they were somehow “exculpatory” Israel would have released them on schedule.

    • Chaos4700
      August 26, 2010, 7:38 pm

      If there was anything that was exculpatory of Israel’s choice to annihilate Palestine through force of arms, we wouldn’t be needing to have this conversation.

  5. Shingo
    August 27, 2010, 9:57 pm

    “To declare that Hamas is not a terrorist organization is very surprising and upsetting. She was in Jerusalem five years ago ONLY, when Hamas suicide bombs killed Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis alike.”

    Why is it upsetting Witty? Because it blunts your efforts to demonize them and position Israel as the legitimate party? It’s clear you have no problem with terrorism per se, so long as it’s Israeli terrorism.

    “They continue to publicly state that terror is a potentially legitimate means of “resistance”. Their current position is that terror is an ineffective tactic merely. (Its true.)”

    That would be a lie Witty. Hamas has never referred to acts of resistance as terrorism, though like Israel, it reserves the right to defend itself.

    • Richard Witty
      August 28, 2010, 3:42 am

      You think mass murder of people on a bus, or an integrated cafe, or hotel in which senior citizens are celebrating Passover, is “resistance”?

      At least you acknowledge that Hamas’s defense is defense of itself, its own party, and NOT defense of the people, as a responsibility of a government.

      An organization that continues to regard collectively punitive gruesomely murderous assaults on civilians only as “defense” deserves severe and fundamental criticism.

      For all but a few incidents in Gaza, there were plausible (even if rationalizations) military purposes for what looked on the ground to be attacks only at civilians. And, it is a truth that the Israeli military has courtmartialed many for violations of its internal rules of engagement as agency for violations of international law.

      Israel responded to the requirement of the Goldstone report by an internal review, with the results reported to the UN and published. Hamas did not!!!

      The UN report did state that the Israeli investigation was not complete. But, the Hamas investigation was non-existent.

      • Chaos4700
        August 28, 2010, 12:31 pm

        You think mass murder of people on a bus, or an integrated cafe, or hotel in which senior citizens are celebrating Passover, is “resistance”?

        Well, you seem to think storming an aid convoy with automatic weapons and opening fire on its unarmed passengers and crew are “self-defense.” You also seem to think the razing of literally hundreds of Arab villages is “Jewish self-determination.”

        Terrorist, heal thyself.

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