There is no practical solution, and that is why I talk about rights

A couple of weeks ago, Jerry Slater posed some questions about a comment I had made on a previous thread. I regret that I was unable to answer immediately, as I had intended, but better late than never.

First of all, thank you for addressing my comment and giving me the opportunity to clarify my position.

You asked:

First, you do not appear to reject my argument that in principle there is no inherently irreconcilable conflict  between a formal recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and the treatment of its Palestinian citizens as full equals. Rather, you say that this was the   way it was supposed to be, but it hasn’t worked. Does that imply that it can never work?

The “original sin” of Zionism, as pointed out by Ahad Ha’am as early as the 1880s, was the belief that the wishes of the native population of Palestine were irrelevant to the Zionist project. Zionist leaders truly believed that the establishment of a Jewish homeland would benefit the local non-Jewish population (whether they liked it or not), and socialist, liberal – and even revisionist – currents in the Zionist movement envisaged a society in which all would enjoy political and civil rights. Since these beliefs and visions were entirely self-referential however, bad actions repeatedly belied good intentions, yet the Zionist self-image remained untainted. Arab resistance to the Zionist project was thus perceived as inherently unfair and irrational– offering further justification for hostile actions, without having to shoulder any of the responsibility.

It thus seemed perfectly logical by 1948 to profess a commitment to full equality in the Declaration of Independence, while engaging in ethnic cleansing of the non-Jewish population of Palestine. The gap between “Jewish and democratic” has only widened over the years, certainly with regard to the territories under (semi-) permanent Israeli occupation, but also within the “green line”. To answer your question, it may technically be possible for Israel to be a Jewish state while affording full equality to its (minority) Palestinian citizens, but as long as the parameters of the state’s “Jewishness” and “democracy” remain entirely self-referential – i.e. based on and controlled by the sensibilities of the (majority) Jewish population, the balance will inevitably tip toward “Jewish” at the expense of “democratic”. To attempt the creation of such a state (or rather modification of the existing state) as part of a pragmatic art-of-the-possible approach to the conflict – i.e. giving preference to the concerns and wishes of the stronger side – would necessarily lack recognition of the principle of equality, and would therefore necessarily fail to provide actual equality.

Second, if so, what is the alternative?  If I understand your argument correctly, the implication of “the un-nuanced one man/one-vote approach” that you favor would require a single binational state.  If so, why would you consider that a more realistic alternative than relatively small privileging of Jews in a Jewish state? That a binational state would be morally preferable in an ideal world is not the issue–we don’t live in that world.   If the Israelis won’t grant full equality to a minority currently constituting 20% of a de facto Jewish state, what possibility is there that they would do so if they became a minority in a binational state?

I think we are all operating under a fallacy here, and that is that there is a realistic solution to the situation in I/P. There is no realistic solution, and a viable two-state solution is no more realistic than a viable one-state solution. The fact that the words “two states” are tossed around a lot, and even “accepted” by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians, has little if any bearing on a an actual solution based on two states. One state may or may not be acceptable to a majority of Palestinians (there are very strong undercurrents favouring such a state among Palestinians, but it is often dismissed because “the Israelis would never agree”), but it is certainly unacceptable to a majority of Israelis. So what is the alternative? Forget about solutions and focus on Palestinian rights and their constant and flagrant violation. The one-state idea is utopian, but it represents a vision of true equality that is useful in describing and promoting Palestinian rights, even in the absence of a solution. Since talk of unrealistic solutions does come up from time to time however, I see no reason not to espouse the better vision.

Third, I agree that the need–or alleged need, if you prefer–for a specifically-defined Jewish state would be greatly and maybe completely alleviated if the Jewish “right of return “ to Israel could be maintained. Can you develop this?  Has it become part of the negotiating process, even informally?  Would that work even in a binational state?  And if immigration were unlimited for Jews but not for others, why wouldn’t that be an inequality?  And if you concede that it would be, then wouldn’t that undercut the argument that other inequalities–which you agree  might be nominal–cannot be allowed?

The issue of the Law of [Jewish] Return has never been on the negotiating table, formally or informally, because the agenda has always been set by Israel, which does not consider the LOR negotiable in any way, shape or form. In the context of our utopian musings however, I can envisage some Palestinian accommodation of Jewish/Israeli concerns in this matter. Assuming that the issue of Palestinian ROR has been satisfactorily resolved, I see no reason why an article cannot be included in the Israeli or Isratinian constitution affording preference in immigration (not automatic citizenship) to Jews suffering religious persecution (the main argument in favour of the need for the LOR), and even Jews in general – based on a “point system”, that would also recognise Palestinian, Arab and Muslim identities and concerns.

Here’s my own bottom line.  Given the history of the Jews, it was necessary to establish a Jewish state, somewhere, and in  light of that same history, it cannot be said that the need for a Jewish state—de facto or formal—has definitively ended, for all time. That the creation of that state in Israel in a land already inhabited by another people created an injustice is undeniable, but the dilemma of Zionism—there was an imperative need for a Jewish state, but no place to put it—could and of course should  have been mitigated in many ways by the Israelis, none of which they did.

My approach is somewhat different. I don’t believe there was ever a need for a Jewish state, and the establishment of such a state created more problems than it resolved. I believe that democratisation, international humanitarian law, and greater acceptance of diversity in our societies, have done far more to combat antisemitism (and all forms of racism) than Zionism ever has or ever will. I believe that it is the de facto existence of a Jewish state that has in fact created the “need” for such a state, in the minds of its supporters and beyond. That is my opinion, but there is little point in arguing alternate histories.

It’s not too late to mitigate the inevitable injustice to the Palestinians, but given Israeli attitudes,  not to mention the inevitable consequences of more than 80 years of binational conflict, the most that can be expected is an end to the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state, along the lines accepted by practically everyone, including, it now appears, the West Bank leadership.

As have I explained above, I don’t believe that a two-state solution is any more pragmatic than a one-state solution, both because there is little agreement as to what such a solution would actually look like (despite the mantra “we all know what the final agreement will look like”), and because an agreement that perpetuates inequality would bear the seeds of its own potentially-disastrous disintegration.

To conclude: we live in an imperfect world, full of injustices, tragic dilemmas, and circumstances we can’t control.  There is no perfectly just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, even in principle, let alone in practice.   If those who rightly abhor Israeli policies give up on a two-state settlement in favor of a binational state that under all present and foreseeable circumstances is pure fantasy, they will get nowhere at all.

On a practical level, I agree that there is “no perfectly just solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict”. In fact, I don’t believe there is any solution at all, which is why I support a rights- rather than solution-based approach. On a theoretical level however, I believe that there is an idea – one secular democratic state – that offers the possibility of maximum justice for all parties. It also offers a consciousness-challenging vision, regardless of the specific solutions we may choose to strive for. A two-state solution might indeed be a better idea, but not if it simply duplicates the problems that lie at the heart of the conflict.

About Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel

Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel is a Canadian-Israeli translator living in Italy.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 285 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Avi says:

    Shmuel,

    This is a very good response. I find myself agreeing with all your points.

    I would also like to add that Slater’s premise is lacking.

    He asserts that since we do not live in an ideal world, the most reasonable solution is the most popular of them all (i.e. a Jewish, but democratic state).

    However, instead of advocating for a sustainable solution, Slater is in effect postponing the inevitable. That is to say that a Jewish, yet democratic state will be no more sustainable or durable than today’s Israel.

    Slater’s solution may mitigate current conditions, but much in the same way Israel’s leadership has sought to patch up the failed democratic model (Jewish, but equal), in the last 63 years, so will Slater’s model should it come into fruition. Solutions are meant to solve problems, not provide them with proverbial crutches.

    Finally, since Slater asserts that current conditions do no lend themselves to a perfectly just solution, why is he advocating for a least-of-the-worst solution that will find acceptance and support in the Jewish world, instead of advocating for a solution that meets universal standards of justice and law, thus earning wider acceptance among the world’s population and certainly the people in the region?

  2. pabelmont says:

    Slater: “If so, why would you consider that a more realistic alternative than relatively small privileging of Jews in a Jewish state?” Ignoring the issue of what “that” is, I add a question: “What about a very large privileging of Jews in a relatively small state?”

    In the old days, ghettos were imposed, not chosen, and they were (I suppose) small. But where, as here, a population (Israel) has chosen a rather large space and then declared it a fairly exclusive Jewish Ghetto, fairness to the then-existing (1948) and now-existing non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine (as the territory now called I/P was called in 1947) requires that the highly-privileged self-imposed Jewish Ghetto be small.

    Not impossibly small. Not unreasonably small. Not a prison like Gaza.

    But small enough that the remainder of Palestine will be large enough to accommodate the Palestinian people (including returning refugees from 1948 and 1967) and whichever of the Jewish people (a new population of Palestinian Jews) would prefer to live in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural non-denominational, democratic state with some or all of the Palestinian Arabs.

    As to “realistic”, well I don’t understand that word. It sounds too much like all those code-words, “extreme”, “stable”, “terrorist” which end up meaning merely that the speaker likes or dislikes the object of description.

    If “realistic” means, “Israel’s present government would agree to it”, then it ignores what others (including some Israeli Jews) want; and especially ignores the possibility that in the post-Arab-Spring time frame, the government of Israel will come to see things as “reasonable” that they do not see that way today.

    Circumstances change and governments and peoples change with them. Just as Britain turned over the problem of Palestine to the UN in 1947, Obama, by his recent veto (it really needs a name, doesn’t it?) has turned over his small attempts at management of I/P to whoever, if anyone, wishes to pick up the burden. If no-one else does, management will remain with Israel, and we already know what “reasonable” means today: a one-state non-democratic triple-apartheid solution, with Palestinian Arabs living uncomfortably under strict Israeli law, some in Israel, some under occupation, and some outside.

    But there are other possibilities and one can imagine (and hope for and work for) other externalities which would modify what Israel (and USA) think “realistic”.

    • RoHa says:

      “In the old days, ghettos were imposed, not chosen,”

      I’m not an expert on the topic, but I was given to understand that many ghettos were chosen so as to have a ritually pure space free from Gentile-germs*. Have I been misled?

      (*Like girl-germs, but harder to wipe off on your best friend.)

  3. VR says:

    I think that what seems to be inconceivable to both posters (original and response) is essentially Israel is a failed colonial state.

    “In order to firmly secure its existence – as firmly as that is possible for any state – a settler state has to overcome three challenges. It has to solve the native problem; break away from its mother country; and gain the recognition of neighboring states and peoples. It can be shown that Israel has not met any of these conditions.”

    One may argue that there have been settler colonial enterprises that have lasted much longer than this like Algeria, but they have collapsed eventually. Some may argue about the Western settler colonial states, but there is hardly a comparison in the flow of events. I would point you to this article (link below) -

    ISRAEL: A FAILING COLONIAL PROJECT

    Israel will thrash about to a greater degree with time, it will become more intolerable and will eventually implode by both internal and external realities. In the meantime it ratchets up its pariah status, and is set adrift from the region as it claims a pseudo-democratic status. In the article (link above) there is a peculiar prescient statement that foresaw today’s reality in the region (interestingly, the article was written on the 4th of July 2010) -

    “Israeli gains on this front are more apparent than real. The Arab regimes that have recognized Israel, or are eager and ready to recognize it, have little legitimacy. Should these regimes collapse, their replacements are likely to resume their early confrontational posture towards Israel. “

    • Citizen says:

      But, if Israel is a colonial state, it is unlike any other I recall from history.
      You could have described apartheid S Afrika as a colonial state since it was settled by citizens of Holland and England, who fought a war over control of it. Certainly Algeria was a French colonial state, and so on. But what is the state of Israel? It is a state created by people who had come from around the world who had no primarily ethno-state of their own at the time of its creation. The Austro-Hungarian empire was not an ethno state, nor was the Ottoman empire, although each had a religious majority. The USA was set up as a Constitutional proposition nation, although for a long time the white Christians who founded it were the de facto rulers due to simple demography of its citizens. There is no fairly precise historical analogy to the state of Israel, is there? Neither the Orient nor Arabia furnish anything somewhat the same except that they are ethnic states, and to the extent any states therein are democracies, they are only so as between their mostly the same ethnic constituencies. Israel proclaims itself the state of all the Jewish people, and domestically, it rules without a constitution or a supreme court to interpret one; rather it has “basic laws” interpreted by its judicial system and disregarded often by its other branches of its government, a form of government that is self-described as Jewish and Democratic. It stands alone in the world as malleable as the definition of who is a Jew? The international Talmudic games can go on forever; the reality of non-Jews under the power of this nuclear-armed and mighty military mini state is there for anyone to see if they but open their eyes. In the end, the UN is as weak as the handful of state that have veto power in its security counsel. Presently, Uncle Sam holds the future of the world in his hand, and Uncle Sam is not as powerful as
      AIPAC’s command of US political campaign dollars and MSM complicity with it. Given the sin of anti-semitism, hence the Jewish self-determined power to recognize that sin, and the fact that Israel was created by Jewish citizens from Goy nations, and is maintained by Jews in the Diaspora, good luck with any non-violent change in the status quo worthy of the name–Israel is a Zionist state, and Zionism’s premise is that the whole Goy world is its eternal enemy, more or less, depending on the balance of power at any moment in time.

  4. MRW says:

    Great piece, Shmuel.

  5. Rafi says:

    “I don’t believe there was ever a need for a Jewish state” even during 1939-1945? huh, i forget, you don’t like alternative history.

    the maximum-justice-one-state you “envision” bear the seeds of its own potentially-disastrous disintegration, one men one vote one time.

    • Antidote says:

      “I don’t believe there was ever a need for a Jewish state” even during 1939-1945? huh, i forget, you don’t like alternative history.
      __________

      Please explain how the Poles or Germans or Soviets, among other people in Europe, fared any better from 1939-45 than European Jews, even though they did have a state? Did that make them safe and sound, or is there some alternative history I’ve missed?

      “Potentially-disastrous disintegration” is the result of “maximum justice”? Do you prefer the disintegration reached by maximum militarism and expansive settlements?

      “A short historical quiz: Which state… Arose after a holocaust in which a third of its people were destroyed? Drew from that holocaust the conclusion that only superior military forces could ensure its survival? Accorded the army a central role in its life, making it “an army that had a state, rather than a state that had an army”? Began by buying the land it took, and continued to expand by conquest and annexation? Endeavored by all possible means to attract new immigrants? Conducted a systematic policy of settlement in the occupied territories? Strove to push out the national minority by creeping ethnic cleansing? For anyone who has not yet found the answer, it’s the state of Prussia. But if some readers were tempted to believe that it all applies to the state of Israel – well, they are right, too. [...] When I first brought up the similarity between Prussia and Israel (in a chapter dedicated to this theme in the Hebrew and German editions of my 1967 book, Israel Without Zionists) it might have looked like a baseless comparison. Today, the picture is clearer. Not only does the senior officers corps occupy a central place in all the spheres of our life, and not only is the huge military budget beyond any discussion, but our daily news is full of typically “Prussian” items. For example: it transpires that the salary of the Army chief of staff is double that of the prime minister. The minister of education has announced that henceforth schools will be assessed by the number of their pupils who volunteer for army combat units. That sounds familiar – in German. After the fall of the Third Reich, the four occupying powers decided to break up Prussia and divide its territories between several German federal states, Poland, and the USSR. That happened in February 1947 – only 15 months before the founding of the state of Israel. Those who believe in the transmigration of souls can draw their own conclusions. It is certainly food for thought.”

      link to original.antiwar.com

      • antidote- On a percentage basis the Soviets and Poles suffered far less than the Jews. As far as the suffering of the Germans, I feel to include them in the list alongside the Soviets and the Poles is obscene.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          While you wax indignant, WJ, you ignore antidote’s point – there is nothing in a state that offers a nation protection from a determined aggressor. The Soviet Union was the largest state in the world, it was invaded and only freed itself at the cost of millions of deaths.

          If you look at the history of the “land of Israel” you will see that it was overrun and conquered throughout most of its history. Having a king of its own was no protection at all.

        • Potsherd- Shmuel asserted that the Jews did not need a state, he didn’t specify the “land of Israel”. The various propositions for a state or homeland for the Jews included Argentina and Uganda and of course Palestine. None of the three were captured by the Nazis.

          Secondly, if Israel had existed and the Nazis were in fact inclined to other solutions besides extermination, then the state would have provided a place to ship the Jews.

          Third, if, as in fact, the Nazis had not reached Palestine. And if the Jews had a state there, they could have given the Jews a destination to escape to.

          I am not a strict statist. It is not a cure all at all times and in all circumstance. But the Jewish territorialist (not referring to the specific territory but to the need for some territory) impulse for a state was that of self emancipation, and to deny that independence was not a worthy goal seems to be to deny the dire straits existing for Jews during WWII. If it would not have sufficed, then one could say, we tried, but it wasn’t enough. But the impulse for a state was spot on (unfortunately) for what Europe had to offer the Jews during WWII.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          And if Hitler had indeed been inclined to extermination, and the Jews of Europe had congregated into a state, what would have protected them? We’re talking alternate history here, and it’s not at all unlikely that the German army could have conquered Palestine. Or failing this, bombed it. How would a flag have protected the Jews under those circumstances?

          Consider this – how did the Jewish survivors survive? By immigrating to a state far enough and strong enough to be safe from German aggression. The factor is not the Jewishness of the state but its strength. And the Jewish population was never sufficient in itself to have the strength for defence against a force as strong as the Nazis. It would have been reduced to begging for help from other, stronger states. Or been obliterated.

        • Potsherd- My point is that the Zionists sensed the danger to the Jewish body and suggested a cure- take our future into our own hands and do something about it. The specific nature of the actual danger that wiped out most of European Jewry is besides the point. Rather the need to take action independent of the fickle good will of others.

          Jan Karski, when faced with the coldness he encountered when reporting the fate of Poland’s Jews, commented that the Jews had no nation and therefore their fate took a back seat. I think Karski is as good a witness as one can get on this issue.

        • Citizen says:

          WJ, the average German back in those days had no more power than the average Israeli Jew has had for a much longer time now; in fact the average German had less, both before Hitler took power, and of course afterward. Better be careful, given Israel’s history and current situation, of your notion of obscenity–it might come back to bite you.

        • andrew r says:

          WJ – Anyone with a cursory knowledge of Nazi plans for Europe would know the Polish and Soviets lost a smaller percentage because Germany lost the war. Himmler planned to eliminate all Poles inside of 20 years. The USSR was a union of republics and Latvia lost 1/3 of its people during the war. Let’s not play the numbers game, huh?

        • Antidote says:

          WJ – on a percentage basis the Jews suffered far less in Palestine than the Palestinians over the past century. So by your logic nobody should give a damn about the Jewish victims in this conflict, past, present and future.

          The Germans suffered as much and more than anyone else because on top of their high military and civilian casualties as a result of both the war and the ‘peace’ that was forced on them, they’ve been told for decades that they deserve such suffering, and must only mourn and pity non-German victims. That’s an ongoing psychological violence other WW II victims did not and do not have to deal with. It’s like they have to approve their own destruction.

          Incidentally, that has also been the Zionist message for the Palestinians for generations.

          What’s obscene is your opinion. A victim is a victim. Once you let go of that, you let go of morality.

        • MRW says:

          On a percentage basis the Soviets and Poles suffered far less than the Jews.

          That’s a bald-faced lie. (no link available, behind a a fee)

          Commentary; A Serious Case of Mistaken Identity; The U.S. is not the ‘indispensable nation,’ as a growing WWII mythology would suggest
          BENJAMIN SCHWARZ, at the time Literary Editor for The Atlantic Monthly. Los Angeles Times, Jun 22, 2000. pg. 11
          .
          Each June, Americans rightfully honor the bravery and sacrifice of the men who invaded Normandy in 1944. Recently, however, this celebration has too often lapsed into a solipsistic and deeply flawed revision of the U.S. role in World War II, which leads to equally self-congratulatory but far more dangerous conclusions about America’s purpose in the world today. If Americans are to get a more balanced view of their history and their global role, we should remember another June anniversary: today, the 59th anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Russia.
          .
          A national mythology has emerged that in 1941 the United States, appalled by the horrific policies of the Nazis, deliberately embarked on a crusade to rid the world of Hitler and to stop the Holocaust. D-Day was, according to this version of events, the decisive point in the “Good War,” when American troops, piously aware of the noble cause for which they fought, began the military operations that defeated Nazi Germany. Having beat Hitler and made possible a better world, the United States remains to this day what Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declares “the indispensable nation.”
          .
          Some reminders are in order.
          .
          First, of course, such a view slights the anti-Japanese dimension of the U.S. war, which was the real reason the United States had gone to war in the first place. Nazi Germany declared war on the United States in accord with its treaty with Japan; only then did the U.S. declare that Germany was its enemy too. For most Americans, the purpose of the war remained to exact revenge on the Japanese.
          .
          Second, stopping the mass murder of the Jews didn’t figure in any way in either American war aims or conduct. As for American soldiers and sailors, they fought the war, as historian and critic Paul Fussell declares, “in an ideological vacuum.” The war was “about your military unit and your loyalty to it.” Plainly put, they fought the war to end it so that they could go home, a point of view entirely reasonable and even courageous, but hardly high-minded.
          .
          As far as the U.S. contribution to defeating the Nazis goes, even though Time magazine anointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower as “The Man Who Defeated Hitler,” if any one man deserves that label, it’s Soviet Army Marshal G.K. Zhukov, or possibly Josef Stalin. The main scene of the Nazis’ defeat wasn’t Normandy or anywhere else Americans fought, but rather the Eastern Front, where the conflict was the most terrible war fought in history. It claimed 50 million Soviet civilian deaths and 29 million Soviet military casualties. But more to the point, Americans should recall that about 88% of all German casualties fell in the war with Russia.
          .
          Until the Normandy invasion–from June 1941 to June 1944–almost the whole of the Nazi war machine was concentrated in the East; and even two months after D-Day, well over half the German army was still fighting the Soviets. Military historians date the war’s turning point two years before D-Day when, at Stalingrad, the Soviets eradicated 50 divisions from the Axis order of battle, or nearly one year before when, at the Battle of Kursk, the Red Army smashed the Wehrmacht’s strategic tank force, breaking the Nazis’ capacity for large-scale attack. And it was the Red Army that liberated Auschwitz and bore down on Hitler’s bunker.
          .
          The moral narcissism that characterizes recent American discussion of our role in World War II breeds within too many of our statesmen a smug and reckless pride. After all, the thinking goes, if history has shown the United States to be so virtuous, then any that oppose us must be evil.
          .
          Today, Americans need not honor the Russian dead as we do our own, but we should give credit where credit is due, and we must not make exaggerated claims for ourselves. In contemplating how our WWII role influences our conduct in the contemporary world, Americans should remember that self-righteousness is bad enough, but when it springs largely from a self-serving mythology, it is insufferable.

        • CK MacLeod says:

          The figure of 50 million Soviet civilian deaths and 29 million Soviet military casualties is a total outlier. Must come from a Lancet study. More common estimates for the total number of all direct victims in all countries worldwide, civilian and military, during all of World War II are in the neighborhood of 60 million.

          link to en.wikipedia.org

          The above, consensual count, puts total Soviet military and civilian deaths at around 24 million out of a population of 169 million, or ca. 14% – a truly monstrous figure, in no need of exaggeration. There is, as the above-linked article points out, some wide variance in casualty estimates, but most of it in the upper ranges approaching 100 million comes from uncertainty about the numbers in Asia, China especially, and also with disputes about which conflicts deserve to be counted under the rubric “World War II.”

    • Rafi,

      The Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe didn’t need a Jewish state; they needed escape, assistance, safety and the eventual defeat of the Nazis. Many were fortunate enough to have benefited from these things without a Jewish state, and many more were not. There is no reason to believe that the mere existence of a Jewish state would have been sufficient to provide some or any of these things in any significant way. Furthermore, to the extent that these things could have been provided by a Jewish state (as long as we’re playing the alternative history game), they could have been provided in equal or greater measure by other conjunctures or the anticipation of other historical developments.

      • Shmuel- I think your answer to Rafi’s question is weak.

        • Avi says:

          wondering jew March 6, 2011 at 3:40 pm

          Shmuel- I think your answer to Rafi’s question is weak.

          A strong argument as ever. Hey, wj, you’ve convinced me.

          In other news, I’m rubber and you’re glue.

        • Citizen says:

          Just not as horribly weak as your response to Shmuel’s answer to Rafi’s question, WJ. Live up to your own mouth.

        • eljay says:

          >> Shmuel- I think your answer to Rafi’s question is weak.

          1. Rafi didn’t ask a question.

          2. Shmuel is correct: The answer to oppression is not a state to which citizens of various nations can be shipped off to. It is to uphold and enforce human rights, and to hold accountable those who commit crimes.

          Else, one might gather that the answer to the I-P conflict is to ship Palestinians off to their own state rather than uphold their human rights and hold Israel accountable for its transgressions and crimes.

        • I agree that Shmuel’s response is weak relative to the historical liberation of the Jewish people.

          The critical variable that made Israel the compelling destination was the failure of other democratic states to accept the migration of more than a token number of Jewish European refugees.

          There was no “escape, assistance, safety and the eventual defeat of the Nazis” even after the eventual defeat of the nazis.

        • The Zionist movement was a Jewish movement to take fate into their (our) own hands. It was comparable to advocating building a dike because a flood is/was coming.

          Shmuel asserts that the response to the Nazi genocide of the Jews was escape, assistance, safety and defeat of the Nazis.
          Let me just deal with the escape clause of that statement.
          Where were the Jews to escape to? In the crucial years before the war when the gates of America and much of Western Europe were closed to immigration (Jewish and otherwise, but most notably for this discussion Jewish), there was nowhere to escape to. If there had been a Jewish state there would have been somewhere to escape to.

          But as I have pointed out above in my response to Potsherd, the Zionist movement was about the Jews taking their fate into their own hands. The specifics of where and how are besides the point for this discussion. Leon Pinsker published Auto Emancipation in 1882 and his contention was that emancipation offered by some of the countries of Western Europe was not sufficient, for it was extended as a result of an intellectual decision and thus was superficial and flimsy, rather than emotional and deep rooted as is one’s devotion to one’s own nation, which is solid. Therefore depending on the fickle goodness of the enlightenment movement would not suffice (when the storm would come) and the Jews had to emancipate themselves. This concept of self help, the need for a territory for the Jews to call their own and on which they could free themselves, this was the essence of the movement.

          In fact the need for such a state was proven during the storm that eventually came the way of the Jewish “people”. After the war, in reaction to the war and as a result of the umbrella/occupation provided/coerced upon the people of Europe by the United States and the 45 years between that umbrella/ occupation and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the new philosophy of humanism took root and I feel that today the Jews are (more or less) safe in Western Europe and America.

          But to dismiss the concept that “we must defend upon ourselves. we need a territory and independence in order to build up our ability to defend ourselves” and instead to proffer the common humanity of 1990 as the basis of what might have saved the Jews is to base the idea of saving the Jews on a process that required 1. the invention of the nuclear bomb and 2. the imposition of a power from across the Atlantic that at the time (1882) was quite distant and 3. a process that took 45 years and the devastation of two major world wars before it came about. To dismiss the need for the self help advocated by Pinsker and those who came after him on the basis of limiting the needs of Europe’s ill fated Jews to escape, assistance and defeat of the Nazis is overly specific to the actual storm that wiped out more than half of Europe’s Jews.

          If the Zionists advocated building a dike for the flood that was coming, Shmuel is advocating sending the people to higher ground or providing boats or waiting for the flood to recede. It is feasible to say that the flood would have overcome the walls of any dike that would have been built. But the essence of Zionism, in its independence and statist aspect rather than in the specifics of where, is that one must do one’s utmost to build one’s own dike and not depend on the boats and the access to the mountains provided by others.

          Again as I pointed out to Potsherd above, when Jan Karski brought news of the Nazi genocide of the Jews to the allies he received a cold reception. Years later when asked to comment about that do nothing reaction, he stated: the Jews had no state, no power, so of course their needs took a back seat to defeating the Nazis. If they had a state and some power, the allies would have reacted differently.

          I trust Jan Karski on this.

          Shmuel’s answer was very weak. Very, very weak. Jan Karski’s answer was strong.

        • RoHa says:

          “the historical liberation of the Jewish people.”

          Jews in Australia always were, and still are, as liberated as any other white Australians.

          “the failure of other democratic states to accept the migration of more than a token number of Jewish European refugees.”

          A failure that resulted from Zionist lobbying, and which does not excuse the behaviour of the refugees who arrived in Palestine.

        • RoHa says:

          “Where were the Jews to escape to?”

          American, Canadian, Australian, British, Iraqi, Iranian, Argentinian, etc. etc. Jews did not need to escape. There were a lot more Jews in the world than just the European Jews.

          “when Jan Karski brought news of the Nazi genocide of the Jews to the allies he received a cold reception. …Actually, the reception was one of scepticism.”

          And it was 1942.

          “that do nothing reaction”

          Britain had endured a bombing campaign against its cities that killed more than 40,000 people, injured close to 50,000, and destroyed more than a million houses (two of them my parent’s) as well as factories and other infrastructure.
          Thousands of sailors were being killed in the Atlantic. (Being in the merchant marine was more dangerous than being in the armed services!) Thousand of soldiers were being killed in fierce battles in North Africa.

          And so on and so forth.

          The other Allies were a bit busy, too.

        • RoHa says:

          And finally, WJ, regardless of the historical questions, how to you get from
          “Jews want a state” and “Jews need a state”
          to
          “Jews should have a state” and “Jews should have a state even if it means trampling on the rights of some non-Jews”?

          What moral principle enables you to make such a transition?

        • CK MacLeod says:

          A failure that resulted from Zionist lobbying, and which does not excuse the behaviour of the refugees who arrived in Palestine.

          A failure that was accompanied by some Zionist lobbying. Attributing the failures to accept larger numbers of immigrants to “Zionist lobbying” is incredibly simplistic, and approaches denialism.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          WJ – your fallacy is to equate “somewhere to go” with safety and strength. Shmuel is correct and Karski’s position unfounded. A state confers no power. A state can be ignored as much as a stateless people. Where was the power supposed to come from? And if there was power, why the need for a state to exercise it?

          I also remind you that the Zionists used their non-state power to close the immigration routes that might have saved Jewish lives.

        • RoHa- Shmuel made a specific statement: “I don’t believe there was ever a need for a Jewish state”. I was dealing with that specific statement. Am I not allowed to take that statement alone and argue that it is false and a type of mockery of reality?

          My advocacy for a two state solution at this point of time is not based upon morality, but rather upon the realities at this time.

          I am not sure what Jan Karski thought the Allies could do that they didn’t do. I didn’t mean to say that they were do- nothings, but rather that regarding the Jews they had a do nothing attitude. Of course, as a Jew not that far removed from the events involved, there is a tendency to believe that things could have been done to stop the slaughter that was taking place. (In fact my relatives, my great grandparents who were murdered were in all probability killed by einsatzgruppen in the autumn of 1941, and there was little that could have been done to stop them and by the time of Jan Karski’s mission they were in all likelihood already buried in common graves in the Ukraine and Byellorussia.) In recent times we have watched as hundreds of thousands were murdered in Rwanda as France, the UN and the US state department dithered. Of course a war was being fought against Germany and her allies and millions of soldiers were dying in that war and so the effort was obviously far greater against Nazi Germany than against the murderers in Rwanda.

          The major point that I was making was not in regards to the specifics of what could have been done if the Allies had wanted to. I think there’s no question that states are more powerful than nonstates: ask the Palestinians, if you do not believe me. Ask the Roma if you do not believe me. Ask the Armenians if you do not believe me. I think the impulse towards statehood was an impulse towards self defense and life and therefore it came from a valid moral place.

          The situation today is more complicated and less simplistic than that.

        • Potsherd- the routes for immigration were closed due to the depression and the anti immigrant spirit that prevailed in the aftermath of WWI. The Zionist arguments regarding immigration before WWII might have been used by countries to justify their mostly closed borders, but they were an excuse not the cause.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          The Zionist pressure was certainly not the sole reason for closing immigration, but it is also likely that this same pressure, if applied in the other direction, might have succeeded in opening the gates to a degree.

          There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that the Zionist authorities in Palestine did place state-building over life-saving, which suggests that the argument that the function of the state was life-saving is vitiated.

        • RoHa says:

          “I think the impulse towards statehood was an impulse towards self defense and life and therefore it came from a valid moral place. ”

          But from the begining the impulse discounted the rights and interest of others. What is moral about that?

          It seems you condemn the Allies for indifference to the suffering of European Jews (“regarding the Jews they had a do nothing attitude”) and yet fail to condemn the Zionists for their indifference to everyone else.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          But then don’t pretend, WJ, that Zionism has to do with the survival of the Jews then. Zionism is all about isolating Jews, demanding their loyalty and tithing them to “the Jewish state.”

        • Avi says:

          The wondering one is basically saying that the only difference between Palestine and the US at the time was that the United States was able to keep Jewish refugees out, while Palestine wasn’t able to do so.

          Thus, once again, he demonstrates that might makes right.

          By the way, wj, do you live in a house that was previously inhabited by Palestinians who were forced at gun point to leave in 1948, or did you bring a prefab home with you from Brooklyn?

        • RoHa- From the beginning the impulse in too many discounted the rights and interests of others. But Ahad Ha’am and Buber and Magnes and others did not discount the rights and interests of others. And Pinsker was not even focused on the land of Israel in his initial essay.

          It is fair to characterize Zionism circa 2011 by the actions of the governments of Israel from 1948 until today. But it is unfair to characterize the statist impulse between 1881 and 1948 based upon those actions.

          How can you propose a one state solution if the only thing you have to say about the Jewish “people” are negative things? How can you be taken seriously as an advocate of “justice” if you do not deal with the history of the Jewish “people” from 1881 til 1948 with some degree of understanding? How can you be taken seriously as an advocate of “justice and morality” if you do not accept the significance of the presence of such a large percentage of the Jewish “people” in Israel/Palestine today in 2011?

        • DBG says:

          WJ with all due respect, quit making excuses for something which many of our ancestors and/or fellow Jews worked very hard for and have died for. I don’t see what the point of arguing w/ these people is on the necessity of a Jewish state is.

          The reality is there is an Israel and it isn’t going anywhere in our generation. That doesn’t mean we can’t demand the state to treat the Palestinians better and allow them to live in dignity both within Israel and in Palestine.

        • Where were the Jews to escape to?

          WJ,

          Rafi’s comment referred to ’39-’45, but the same goes for the years before the war. Some of my relatives escaped to Canada, some to South America and some to Palestine (without a Jewish state). During the war, many Jews escaped to Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Japan/China and elsewhere. Many others were given sufficient assistance to survive within occupied Europe – another kind of “escape”. Many German Jews successfully left Germany during the years of persecution preceding the war.

          It is pure speculation – speculation hyped up over the years to justify the injustices of Zionism – that the existence of a Jewish state could/would have saved any significant number of Jews – especially when one considers that it’s a theoretical game that could just as easily postulate any number of other alternatives. “Somewhere to escape to” does not necessarily imply a Jewish state, and millions of Jews, in fact, left Eastern Europe for destinations other than Palestine beginning in the late 19th century, saving countless lives in ways that probably could not have been accomplished by a Jewish state anywhere – certainly not in Palestine.

          The “cold reception” of news of the genocide of European Jews was, for the most part, shared by non-European – including Palestinian – Jews. There is no reason to believe that a Jewish state would have behaved any differently. States have interests, strategies and limitations – even Jewish states.

          What is weak, in my opinion, is the argument that there is a need for a Jewish state (and so a moral justification for Zionist immorality), because had there been one during or before the Holocaust, countless Jewish lives would have been saved. There is no possible way of proving such an assertion.

        • Ask the Roma

          WJ,

          Do you really believe that statehood (and consequently, some form of segregation) is the answer to all persecution and discrimination? A one-size-fits-all solution to racism and intolerance? The Roma are not discriminated against because they don’t have a state, and a state would not resolve their problems – or the problems of intolerance in Europe in general, whether toward the Roma, immigrants, Jews, gays, women, or any one else.

        • Shmuel,
          Why did you change the argument that you were addressing?

          “It is pure speculation – speculation hyped up over the years to justify the injustices of Zionism – that the existence of a Jewish state could/would have saved any significant number of Jews”

          Wondering Jew and I are not saying that the existence of a Jewish state would have saved the masses of holocaust victims. We are saying that the promise and existence of Israel saved holocaust survivors, that were unwelcome in MANY locales that they returned to.

          They migrated to where there was a possibility of home.

        • Why did you change the argument that you were addressing?

          I didn’t. The argument I have been addressing all along is the idea that a Jewish state is/was ever needed to ensure Jewish safety. I don’t believe that it ever was. WJ has argued, here and elsewhere, that a Jewish state could have saved significant numbers of Jews from Hitler. That is the speculation I was referring to.

          If you would like to address the “need” for a Jewish state after the Holocaust that is a different argument. I don’t think there was a “need” for a Jewish homeland then either, but for swifter generosity on the part of countries that eventually absorbed hundreds of thousands of DPs, and less cynical exploitation and manipulation of the survivors on the part of the Jewish Agency and other Zionist bodies.

        • Wondering’s point, from what I read, includes the concept that we cannot revise history to declare retroactively that there was no need for Israel.

          That what we can do is act in the PRESENT to democratically preserve and enhance the rights of present living people.

          I think you allow yourself to get distracted from the conviction to support current human rights, a good one, by Sunday morning quarterbacking (now 3000 Sundays ago).

        • tree says:

          In the crucial years before the war when the gates of America and much of Western Europe were closed to immigration (Jewish and otherwise, but most notably for this discussion Jewish), there was nowhere to escape to. If there had been a Jewish state there would have been somewhere to escape to.

          Between 400,000 and 500,000 of the German Jews resident in Nazi Germany in the years prior to World War II managed to escape by emigrating to other lands – roughly two thirds of Germany’s Jewish population. Only ten percent, 40,000 went to Palestine, the rest went elsewhere.

          Throughout the twenties and thirties, the Zionist project in Palestine had a screening and selection process, preferring the young and healthy with suitable skills. Most Jews didn’t qualify. You insist on romanticizing a state that doesn’t deserve it.

          link to azvsas.blogspot.com

        • MRW says:

          The critical variable that made Israel the compelling destination was the failure of other democratic states to accept the migration of more than a token number of Jewish European refugees.

          Many Zionist organizations at the time are to blame for this. They actively prevented countries from taking them in order to populate Palestine.

        • Koshiro says:

          Well, let’s just assume that Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, facing deportation to Auschwitz were given the choice of either…
          a) A 50% chance of escape to a Jewish state or
          b) A 60% chance of escape to the United States.
          What do you think the vast majority would have chosen?

          People who are persecuted for their religion, ‘race’ or culture should have a place to immigrate to. Okay. But this does not translate into a place where only those of their religion, ‘race’ or culture should be allowed to go to. There is absolutely no rational reason why persecuted Jews should have immigrated to Palestine rather than to the US, or Australia, or Brazil or any other country traditionally open to immigration in general.

        • They weren’t permitted to. Are you dense?

          MRW’s rationalization is a racist distortion. The primary reason for US, European, African, Asia refusal of refugees was because of unemployment and scarcity problems in each post-war country. No one wanted more of anyone, particularly refugees.

        • Koshiro says:

          Yes, but what you say is that only a Jewish state could have helped the Jews. I say a more open immigration policy by other countries could have helped them just as well, or better.

          Note that neither would have helped the majority of Holocaust victims. They simply had no incentive to emigrate anywhere until the German military conquered their countries, and after that they were prevented from doing so by the German authorities.

          Also note that while it fortunately didn’t happen, there was the distinct possibility of Palestine being conquered by German forces in WW2 – which would have made the hypothetical Jewish state a decidedly less safe alternative than the countries I mentioned before. So if you’re assuming one ‘what if’, also consider other ‘what if’s.

        • Shmuel- Walker Percy in his book “The Last Gentleman” describes a southern character (southern United States rather than Sicilian or Negev dweller) who was a civil war buff who whenever he read an account of some battle was always looking for a way that the war might have turned out better for the south. If only a few more troops here or a different decision there and the course of the war might have gone differently were the thoughts of that character whenever he read of the Civil War.

          Of course any Jew with sensitivity to the Jewish plight during WWII and the loss of such rich human Jewish material as a result of that war will tend to react to reading about that war with similar “what if’s”- if only Stalin had not signed the Molotov Ribbentrop treaty. If only France and/or England had wised up to Hitler’s evil a few years earlier when he was weaker. And so on.

          Until now I have respected your position on I/P, accepted your realism versus utopia arguments regarding the lack of a solution on the horizon and even your leftist tendencies as acceptable given your superior intellect and younger age and different perspective. Until now.

          It is possible that living on (what I still consider ) that cursed continent, that I have only visited and never lived on affords you a different perspective on history and thus some wisdom on the issue at hand. Possible, but unlikely.

          Until now I have accepted that the lesson from WWII was not necessarily applicable to all other periods and all other situations. Indeed my reference to statelessness and the Roma and the Armenians was not well thought out, I have not studied their history nor their current situations with any depth and maybe statehood would not help the Roma currently or have helped the Armenians during WWI. It is not one size fits all.

          Yet regarding the plight of the Jews during the 30′s, do you deny that the immigration of Jews to Palestine (which increased the Jewish population in Palestine from 170,000 in 1929 to 400,000 in 1939) was an accomplishment of the Zionist movement despite the fact that it was not the result of statehood? Do you doubt that if the British had lifted all limits on immigration that more Jews would have immigrated? If there had been a state or something similar to a state in Palestine, do you doubt that more Jews would have reached the shores of Palestine by 1939? Do you question whether there were Jews who wished to leave Europe in the 30′s and were not able to do so because of the lack of a destination that would accept them?

          I accept the critique of Zionism based upon the harm done to the Palestinian people, but do you think that Pinsker was evil or stupid because he advocated auto emancipation? Maybe Uganda or Argentina or that hard to pronounce Soviet Biridzozand home for the Jews would have been a better solution for Jewish helplessness rather than Israel/palestine because of the specifics of the harms done to the Palestinians pre 1947 and especially since, but do you really question the impulse of Pinsker to encourage the Jews to act as a group and to foster self help as a group rather than as individuals? Was that not a noble thought even though it led to an ignoble result?

          If you can answer these questions I would appreciate it. Otherwise I feel that you are guilty of the reverse of the Zionists. They apply the lessons of 1933 to 1945 to today as one size fits all. You seem to be applying the lessons of 1945 to 2011 to the period of 1933 to 1945 one size fits all.

        • tree- In the 30′s when the influx of Jews out of Germany was happening, the Zionist project was still in its infancy and therefore had to emphasize Jews who had the ability to help the project (young and healthy) rather than those who could benefit from it. Also the British placed limits on the number of Jews who could enter the land, forcing the Zionists to be selective.

          I will take your word on the limited number of German Jews who were able to take advantage of Zionism. But as I pointed out to Shmuel, the number of Jews in Palestine increased by over 230,000 between 1929 and 1939 from 170,000 to 400,000. Many (if not most) of these Jews then came from Poland, where Jew hatred was quite intense between the wars and which eventually became a vast killing field for the Jews, so these Jews were saved by Zionism.

          Further the impulse of Zionism or even auto emancipation is my emphasis and if the fulfillment of the idea was lacking that does not denigrate the original impulse. Auto emancipation was a move towards self help self reliance and survival based upon achieving some level of independence in a territory somewhere in the world. It was a noble impulse.

        • WJ,

          Glad to have had your respect until now (despite those nasty leftist tendencies of mine). It was fun while it lasted.

          Jewish immigration to Palestine ’29-’39 was an accomplishment of the Zionist movement, rendered possible by the British Mandate, despite its belated attempts to restrict immigration. The lives of many Jews unable to obtain visas for their countries of choice (Palestine was plan B for my grandparents) were thus saved. There is no reason to “deny” this. It’s hard to know how many more Jews would have immigrated, had the British lifted restrictions entirely (if you have data, please share). It’s also hard to know how many the country could/would have absorbed, how it would have affected strained relations with the majority Arab population, and a whole bunch of other stuff. It is equally hard to know how a state (with what economic, political, demographic, ideological constraints) would have behaved – especially in light of the fact that such a state would have lacked our sense of retrospective urgency (as did the Jews of Europe – most of my relatives thought things weren’t that bad and would only get better in Poland).

          The idea of auto-emancipation in and of itself was not a particularly bad one at the time (although most Jews didn’t seem to like it very much). It probably would have failed outside of Palestine, and would not necessarily have avoided the crimes committed in its name in Palestine (Birobidzhan is a somewhat different story, but it never really stood much of a chance either). The problems with Zionism obviously pertain to the harm it has done – to Palestinians and to Jews – not to the idea of “self help”. That is a far cry however from seeing Jewish statehood (not a sine qua non for “self help” by the way) as a panacea for antisemitism and a (partial) cure for the Holocaust (before, during and after).

          You are playing what if, WJ, and – directly or indirectly – using your what-if conclusions (which depend on innumerable premises about what would and would not have happened in the world) to find extenuating circumstances for Zionist wrongs. It is the official Zionist narrative (God knows I had it drummed into me), but that doesn’t make it so.

        • lyn117 says:

          In fact there were other “democratic” states willing to accept large numbers of Jewish refugees, there just wasn’t a good way to get there once WWII started (most of Europe being a war zone), and before WWII started they didn’t have a compelling reason to go unless they were in Germany or Austria. The vast majority of German and I believe Austrian Jews did in fact escape. The U.S. took in about half of them.

        • RoHa says:

          “But Ahad Ha’am and Buber and Magnes and others did not discount the rights and interests of others.”

          Yet those rights and interests were discounted. There was no butter on the parsnips.

          “How can you propose a one state solution if the only thing you have to say about the Jewish “people” are negative things? ”

          I am not planning to live there myself. But perhaps you could suggest some positive things about the Jewish “people” for me to say?

          “How can you be taken seriously as an advocate of “justice” if you do not deal with the history of the Jewish “people” from 1881 til 1948 with some degree of understanding? ”

          There is no single ‘history of the Jewish “people”’ for that time. The history of Australian Jews is different from the history of Iraqi Jews and Polish Jews. And how would an understanding of the history mitigate the fundamental wrongness of Zionism? (This is not a rhetorical question.)

          “How can you be taken seriously as an advocate of “justice and morality” if you do not accept the significance of the presence of such a large percentage of the Jewish “people” in Israel/Palestine today in 2011?”

          Have I suggested any injustice to the Jews of Israel/Palestine?

        • LeaNder says:

          I am not sure what Jan Karski thought the Allies could do that they didn’t do. I didn’t mean to say that they were do- nothings, but rather that regarding the Jews they had a do nothing attitude.

          It’s worth repeating it: Not even the Jewish community in the US did believe Karski, at least the US administration send him their representatives to tell his story. …

          (In fact my relatives, my great grandparents who were murdered were in all probability killed by einsatzgruppen in the autumn of 1941, and there was little that could have been done to stop them and by the time of Jan Karski’s mission they were in all likelihood already buried in common graves in the Ukraine and Byellorussia.)

          That’s how it started. In the Nazis eyes it was a world-view (to not use their term: Weltanschauungskrieg) fight. Communism and Judaism mysteriously merged in their heads. … The Russians could have informed the West pretty well about what was going on, but unfortunately that was the enemy the Nazis shared with the rest of the Western elites.

          History is never a one-way road, and the Zionists aren’t only visionaries, they are deeply entangled in their times and it’s Zeitgeist. Just as Zionism didn’t start with the Nazis. If you take a step back, you will find common ground. The ideal state as a state of a “pure” ethnicity. Max Nordau coined a later very, very Nazi term: Entartung (degeneration). They were the counter face of European racist nationalism, they offered to clean the European states of their Jews, with a little help of the diverse “empires”. There were quite a few German Jews who even in the late 19th century thought similar to Shmuel, or pretty much as we do today, as they considered the Zionist’s ideas pretty dangerous at the time. Unlike the Zionists they thought antisemitism had to be fought.

          What about another Zionist vision? The idea that antisemitism would vanish once the Jews had a state of their own. Thus it didn’t have to be fought. Was it slightly helpful for their aims? This state once founded would in fact have good relations with the European racists, even with the Nazis, they (en)”visioned”..

          What happened with this part of the Zionist vision?

        • LeaNder says:

          MRW, this is too simplistic.

          I actually wondered about several people’s fate from a more close up perspective. One example was an slightly elder couple. The man was arrested by the Gestapo first. The wife got him out, she had all the papers needed for emigration, even tickets to South America, too old for the Zionists, the papers helped to get him out. But then they didn’t leave. You have to understand that the Germans invented something ( a law an emigration tax, depression remember?) even before the Nazi, and the Nazis conveniently squeezed it a bit to serve their aims.

          Why didn’t they leave after they had satisfied the whole bureaucratic machinery, had all the necessary papers? Why wait to end in the equally bureaucratic extinction machinery. Was it the emigration tax, was that the last straw? Imagine what it means if you are older and everything is taken from you, in the end the little bit you still possess via a huge emigration tax. Was it that, or did the Judenrat, the Jews that did the job for the Nazis to register and later inform the people and calm them down? I’ve read some of these letters. Or did they postpone it till it was too late, and they couldn’t leave anymore?

          There are people that left and returned. People that fled from one European country to another. People that were sent back from Switzerland. Complex.

          But yes the Zionists cooperated and their Haavara agreement was one of the better chances to get out at least a part of your possessions, so long as it lasted. But even the Zionists experienced rising restrictions. Were they not helpful enough? The Nazis really hated the limits to emigration into Palestine, initially, tried to block transit emigrants to get more of their own out.

          Then Sondereinsatzgruppen showed it could be done much faster.

        • Shmuel- “I don’t believe there was ever a need for a Jewish state” was your statement that began my participation in this discussion, a few days ago.

          I think this is ahistorical. Your pose that all people who oppose this statement are engaging in “alternate history” shows that the statement needs to be amended for it to be anything other than preposterous, ridiculous, silly, callous and much worse than just “weak”.

          Obviously statehood alone could not suffice to save Jewish lives. If Jews immigrated to a hypothetical Jewish state (or the eventual place of the Jewish state) and there were met by starvation and utter poverty, then statehood would have proved useless. And in fact the absorptive capacity of the economy of Palestine under the mandate undermined the worth of pre state Palestine in providing the refuge that was needed. So if one asserts that statehood alone would be sufficient to save Jewish lives, one is incorrect.

          But still to make a blanket statement, that “there was not ever a need for a Jewish state” is still profoundly ahistorical.

          The fact is that there was a mass movement of Jews out of Eastern Europe in the years 1881 to 1921 and the primary destination of those Jews were destinations other than Palestine. It was not an idealistic emigration per se. but an emigration away from a situation of persecution and poverty. After 1921 the destinations provided for that massive immigration changed their rules making it much tougher to gain entrance to most places. If the gates of the world had been wide open to immigrants between 1921 and 1939, then the statement “there was no need for a Jewish state between 1921 and 1939″ (a time period covered by “ever”) would in fact be accurate. But the gates were not wide open.

          I did not assert that countless Jews would have been saved. But for those Jews who wished to emigrate and could not and thus were not saved there was a need for a state.
          If one extra Jew could have been saved, there was a need for a state. (It would then be accurate to assert that the salvation of one Jew should not negate the rights of hundreds of thousands of indigenous. Then the statement would be- I don’t think there was ever sufficient need for a Jewish state to overcome the inevitable injustice that was done to the indigenous. That was not the statement that you made.)

          In the aftermath of the war thousands were killed when they tried to return to their homes in Poland and elsewhere. If there had been a state, some of those Jews could have been saved. Was there no need for them to survive rather than be killed by their neighbors? Again there was a need for a state. Was it sufficient to overcome the injustice accomplished by that state? I accept that a concern for humanity rather than a concern for Jews could negate and overcome that need for a state. But again that was not what you made.

          If your statement was true you would not have to back it up by saying, “alternate history” “what if”. The fact is that Jewish lives could have been saved by a Jewish state. (If penicillin had been invented earlier lives could have been saved, is that alternate history or fact). And for those individuals there was a need for a state. Your original statement was very weak.

        • Your pose that all people who oppose this statement are engaging in “alternate history” …

          No pose, WJ. What I wrote is: “That is my opinion, but there is little point in arguing alternate histories.” I never suggested that my view is History and everything else is “alternate”. Nor was I the one to assert that things would have been different if only. I merely pointed out that there is no way of knowing, and that if we are going to play if only, there are other equally possible scenarios that do not include the existence of a Jewish state.

          Which “alternate history” statement is weaker? a) The establishment of a Jewish state during or prior to the Holocaust would have saved many lives, therefore there was a need for a Jewish state; or b) A Jewish state may or may not have saved lives, but other solutions (such as freer immigration, post-WWII-style international law, earlier US participation in the European arena, etc.) could have accomplished the same or more, therefore there was no need for a Jewish state.

          The latter seems far stronger to me (if only because it questions the validity of reaching a certain conclusion on the basis of a vast range of uncertain and unknowable premises, and thus seeks to disprove a positive rather than a negative), but this really is a pointless argument.

  6. Danaa says:

    Shmuel, I couldn’t agree with you more – especially this:

    “I think we are all operating under a fallacy here, and that is that there is a realistic solution to the situation in I/P. There is no realistic solution, and a viable two-state solution is no more realistic than a viable one-state solution. The fact that the words “two states” are tossed around a lot, and even “accepted” by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians, has little if any bearing on a an actual solution based on two states. One state may or may not be acceptable to a majority of Palestinians (there are very strong undercurrents favouring such a state among Palestinians, but it is often dismissed because “the Israelis would never agree”), but it is certainly unacceptable to a majority of Israelis.”

    I think that’s really the crux of the matter – the liberal zionists – even the most enlightened among them, such as Slater (though I am not sure he would agree with the label of “liberal zionist”) simply cannot bring themselves to look at the Israeli reality the way it is. Partly because of the potentially tragic dimensions this implies. Partly because it is in the nature of any “liberal” to believe in the possibility that human’s better nature can and will prevail – if only we could get through to people what “their” best interests are.

    In further support, I’ll bring up a couple of quotations from Nir Rosen who said recently (in a post quoted at MW):

    link to nirrosen.tumblr.com

    “And now Israeli combat units and the Israeli military in general are gradually falling into the hands of Jewish Taliban. There was a time when it was the secular elites from the kibutz who dominated the combat units and senior levels of the military, but as Israel has changed from a socialist apartheid state to an extreme capitalist apartheid state the only people left willing to fight and die for Zionism will soon be extreme religious Jews. And Israeli society is getting more and more open in its racism against its native Palestinian population (Israeli Jews like to call them Israeli Arabs and pretend that they are not Palestinian too).”

    Another realistic take from Israel is from the always clear sighted Noam Sheizaf (also brought up in a post here):

    link to 972mag.com

    “Right now, there is no political force in Israel which is able to carry out the evacuation of settlements necessary for a peace deal, or to sell the Jewish public the return of dozens to hundred of thousands of Palestinian refugees. Without those, there would be no peace. There could be some intermediate treaty or a unilateral withdrawal, but it won’t bring peace.
    The current Israeli leadership can’t even agree on a peace plan that would hand the Palestinians 60 percent of the West Bank, as some ministers proposed [and that Netaniahu is now said to be contemplating – my comment]. The Knesset has a block of 60-65 members that would never agree to the concessions offered by Ehud Barak in Camp David, let alone those negotiated by Olmert. That’s the reason for the absence of peace talks – there is nothing to discuss.”

    Your take, Shmuel, that the only viable approach for those who care – inside or outside Israel – is to focus our attitudes and efforts on the issue of Human Rights – that is indeed the ONLY alternative. Not because the “one state solution” is practical or viable in the immediate or even the far future, but because there is really no other choice. For what is likely to unfold – far more likely than any mythical American “intervention” to enforce a “peace solution” – I’ll bring up Rosen again:

    “Israeli society is going in one inevitable direction. They will try to expel (transfer is their preferred nomenclature) the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Its integral to the logic of Zionism. You have a state created by ethnic cleansing and maintained by ethnic cleansing (so that they can call themselves a Jewish democracy- cant have too many non-Jews). But now in historic Palestine you have about fifty percent Jews ruling the other fifty percent of non Jews who have different categories (citizens, occupied) but are all inferior in their status and basically without any guaranteed rights. But the non Jews are increasing. What do you do? You have to get rid of some of them.”

    That is the scenario that we must try to forestall, and I would love to see people like JS come to see this as a real – and dangerous – possibility, given Israel’s current and evolving climate. But that, I fear, would require him to take off what’s left of his rose colored glasses when it comes to Israel, and more challengingly – come to see an Israel rapidly descending into the grips of retrograde Messianism as the ultimate threat not just to the Jewish people, but to Judaism itself. A tall order indeed, for anyone.

    • David Samel says:

      Danaa, respectfully, I don’t think Jerry Slater has rose-colored glasses when it comes to the dangers posed by the current Israeli regime, or the very disturbing trends in the Israeli polity. That being said, you make an excellent point that the potential for mass expulsion of Palestinians is very real. In fact, I’d say that a worldwide viral outbreak of anti-Semitism that Jerry feels justifies the continuation of a Jewish State is far more unlikely.

      • Danaa says:

        David, I stand spectrally corrected; but that’s the trouble with pastels, isn’t it? I was looking for a unique hue (Jerry certainly deserves one all his own) and rose pops up – straight out of the blue. At least it wasn’t beige….

        Thanks (as always) for bringing precision into the optic mix….

        • The realistic solution to the conflict is the same as in all conflicts, a process (not a solution), of assertion of human rights universally, including for Jews, and including the assertion of their human right to self-govern.

        • RoHa says:

          “including for Jews, and including the assertion of their human right to self-govern.”

          When you say “self-govern” you really mean “have a state run by Jews for Jews”. And there is no right to have that.

        • fuster says:

          RoHa, arbiter of state’s rights. you believe that there’s a right to run Saudi Arabia only by and only for people who believe in Islam?

        • RoHa says:

          No.

          Arabia should be run by and for all its inhabitants.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          Why don’t you ask RoHa if he thinks Mars should be run only by and only for Martians? At least then your straw man would by funny as well as stupid.

        • fuster says:

          you mean that Saudi Arabia should be run by the ones left after their ethnic cleansing?

          What was Yathrib like before it became known as Medina?

        • Donald says:

          Fuster, do you really want to defend Israel by pointing to Saudi Arabia?

        • RoHa says:

          “At least then your straw man would by funny as well as stupid.”

          But it wouldn’t help to hide the amphiboly that RW depends on. We use the term “self-govern” to mean the inhabitants of a territory collectively govern the territory, and we tend to think that’s a good thing.

          RW uses the same term to mean that the members of an ethnic/religious group govern a territory, regardless of other inhabitants, and hopes that we will think that too is a good thing.

        • pjdude says:

          except they don’t have a right to self govern. its one of these “rights” that you made up that only applies to jews as a reason to steal from others

        • Citizen says:

          Witty, any process applying universal human rights must logically include specified limits to anybody/entity’s right to self-govern. You always ignore that. What did the Nuremberg principles mean, if not there is a limit to what any state regime can be allowed to do under its right to self-govern? “Never again” is a universal principle, isn’t it?

        • fuster says:

          Donald, my purpose is not to defend Israel, it’s to inquire about the underpinnings of RoHa’s assertion.

        • RoHa says:

          I mean that self-governance is the right of all the inhabitants of a territory to govern the territory collectively. Contrary to RW’s peculiar assertions, it is not a right of ethnic groups.

          Australians (Jews and non-Jews) have the right of self-governance in Australia. Israelis (Jews and non-Jews) have the right of self-governance in Israel.

          But Jews do not have the right of self-governance qua Jews.

          Of course, the right of self-government does not include the right to behave immorally, even if the people agree unanimously. There can be no right to do wrong.

        • RoHa says:

          So what has Yathrib got to do with this?

          I know the stories that in the Prophet’s time (assuming he existed) there were Jews in Yathrib. (Treacherous bunch, too, according to the traditions. But Muhammad dealt with them far too cruelly. He appointed a Jew to judge them and punish them according to their own brutal law.)

          I know that are no Jews there now. I don’t know what happened to them. Did they convert to Islam? (Plenty of Jews have done.) Did they decide they didn’t want to live so close to the centre of Islam and leave? Were they driven out? Did they all die of apoplexy?

          I don’t know. If anyone does, and can back it with trustworthy sources, please let us know.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          fusty has ceased to be amusing

        • lyn117 says:

          So you would also agree with the human “right” of German Aryans to self-govern, including expelling, denying citizenship to and killing Jews as well as excluding them from positions of power in the German state in order to ensure Aryan supremacy.

        • “Witty, any process applying universal human rights must logically include specified limits to anybody/entity’s right to self-govern.”

          Agreed, hence my advocacy for “enough Zionism” in contrast to “greater Zionism”, and in contrast to “no Zionism”.

        • fuster says:

          yezz, fusty is becoming as soul-dead as the rest of you.

          the sanctimonious righteousness must be contagious.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          Why do you say stuff that’s deliberately attempting to troll — especially when you have to lie or use faulty tactics to do so — and then act so wounded and surprised when your hostility is responded with hostility in kind, fuster?

          You’re like our own personal version of the IDF. And your crocodile tears fool no one.

        • pjdude says:

          there will only be enough zionism when there is no zionism. their is no place for any ideology that demands from another their rights and property. and no witty most of the property in Israel( real estate wise) is not the property of the jewish “owners” for they did not gain it legally

      • Elliot says:

        Shmuel, thank you for your clarity and courage.

        Danaa, this quote you brought us from Nir Rosen is spot on:
        “And now Israeli combat units and the Israeli military in general are gradually falling into the hands of Jewish Taliban. There was a time when it was the secular elites from the kibutz who dominated the combat units and senior levels of the military, but as Israel has changed from a socialist apartheid state to an extreme capitalist apartheid state the only people left willing to fight and die for Zionism will soon be extreme religious Jews.”

        As you know very well, the Israeli military is a powerful institution. It is a symbol and vehicle of unity in a fractious, multi-ethnic immigrant society. The exploits of the young men in uniform fill the imagination of Israelis. The retired senior officers are guaranteed senior business positions and political careers. The military is a key stepping stone on many career paths in Israel.

        I came to the realization that the disproportionate number of kibbutznikim in junior elite officer corps had been superseded by the Messianic settler religious community a while back. This was a strong contributing factor in my decision to leave Israel. Where the junior officer cadres go, goes the whole military and, eventually the Israeli political elite.

        Consider, for instance, the Messianic settler generals Yaakov Amidror and Efi Eitam.

  7. jnslater says:

    In the next week or so I will be posting a long essay on my own blog (jeromeslater.com) which will address all these interrelated issues: Zionism, Post-Zionism, the Jewish state issue, the binational vs. the two-state solution. For now, just a few brief comments:

    Shmuel writes: “it may technically be possible for Israel to be a Jewish state while affording full equality to its (minority) Palestinian citizens, but as long as the parameters of the state’s “Jewishness” and “democracy” remain entirely self-referential – i.e. based on and controlled by the sensibilities of the (majority) Jewish population, the balance will inevitably tip toward “Jewish” at the expense of “democratic.”

    Undoubtedly–but how would a binational state differ? In such a state the Jews would still have overwhelming political, economic, and military power. You can’t solve such problems by definitional stipulations, such as saying that in a binational state everyone would be equal

    To be sure, Shmuel concedes that the practical obstacles to establishing a binational state are overwhelming, but argues that the 2-state solution is equally so. This leads him to this conclusion: “So what is the alternative? Forget about solutions and focus on Palestinian rights and their constant and flagrant violation. The one-state idea is utopian, but it represents a vision of true equality that is useful in describing and promoting Palestinian rights, even in the absence of a solution. Since talk of unrealistic solutions does come up from time to time however, I see no reason not to espouse the better vision.”

    I disagree on two grounds. First, on practical grounds: if one says that the 2ss is dead, then the 1ss solution is even deader–for either to be realized would require major changes in Israeli attitudes. However, the required Israeli attitudinal changes that would make a 2ss feasible are far less than those that would make a 1ss feasible . I would put it this way: given Israeli attitudes, a 2ss solution is improbable, but not unimaginable; whereas for the Israelis to agree to a 1ss, the necessary changes are indeed unimaginable.

    Second, I disagree that a 1ss is the “better vision,” even in principle. Given the disparities in power, as well as the history of conflict, a two-state solution, one that led to a genuinely viable and truly sovereign Palestinian state, would better ensure Palestinian self-determination, control over their own destiny, equality, and democracy–and it would have a far better chance of creating a lasting peace than a binational state, which today and into the foreseeable future is a recipe for instability and conflict.

    Finally, Shmuel concludes that because he doesn’t believe “there is any solution at all,” he supports “a rights- rather than solution-based approach.” I don’t know what this means. If one says that no solution will work, then you are also saying that Israel must continue to occupy and control the Palestinians. So what would a “rights-based” solution look like in that context? Does it mean that the Israelis would grant somewhat more freedom to the Palestinians, so long as they did not challenge Israeli rule? That would make it an “enlightened” colonialism, or at least somewhat more enlightened, but would not end colonialism or the occupation, just make it somewhat less oppressive. Moreover, it would be easily reversible by Israel if the Palestinian resistance became a serious threat to continued Israeli occupation and rule.

    It’s been said many times, but it can’t be said too often: “the enemy of the good is the perfect.” To persist in an utterly quixotic venture like an imaginary perfectly just binational state is to ensure that the Palestinians will receive no justice at all.

    • Jerry,

      I disagree on two grounds. First, on practical grounds: if one says that the 2ss is dead, then the 1ss solution is even deader

      Here our perceptions of reality differ. I don’t see either solution as any more improbable than the other – certainly if we are speaking about a 2ss that even begins to approach viability (which is the kind you have described).

      Given the disparities in power, as well as the history of conflict, a two-state solution, one that led to a genuinely viable and truly sovereign Palestinian state, would better ensure Palestinian self-determination, control over their own destiny, equality, and democracy–and it would have a far better chance of creating a lasting peace than a binational state

      The distinction between principle and practice, utopia and pragmatism, gets a little blurry. The basic idea that Israeli Jews and Palestinians need a “time out” is certainly sound, but would an unequal partition (the only remotely “imaginable” kind), with continued Israeli control over Palestinian life, resources (primarily land and water), freedom of movement, etc. really have any less chance, “in principle”, than a single state with equal rights for all? A 2ss or federation of some kind is not a bad idea, but some semblance of equality really is a sine qua non for stability and an end to conflict.

      If one says that no solution will work, then you are also saying that Israel must continue to occupy and control the Palestinians. So what would a “rights-based” solution look like in that context?

      I recognise the fact that Israel will continue to occupy and control the Palestinians, regardless of the solutions we may seek. A rights-based “solution” would look like a binational state or 2 states founded on principles of equality, human rights and international law, but that’s not what I’m talking about. A rights-based approach insists on human rights and international law as the basis for negotiation (fertile or sterile as it may be), and refuses to accept the deferral of Palestinian rights to some vague future date, when all other issues have been resolved. In this way, I believe that significant gains can be made, for the mitigation of Palestinian suffering – particularly in terms of the most flagrant violations, in Gaza, the WB and East Jerusalem – and a trajectory for future recognition of these rights (primarily internationally, but also among a minority of Israelis) can be established.

      It is often true that “the enemy of the good is the perfect”, but it also goes without saying that there are many different kinds of imperfection, and not all possess even the bare minimum to achieve any good at all.

      • Potsherd2 says:

        Shmuel – I have to see your position as impossibly optimistic. The fundamental problem is that insufficient force can be applied to Israel in order to bring about any solution. In all cases, Israel simply says: I don’t wanna and you can’t make me, nyah nyah nyah. If it isn’t possible to force Israel to accept either a 2ss or 1ss, what would make it possible to force Israel to grant rights to the Palestinian population?

        In fact, I believe it would be far more difficult. Establishing national boundaries is a bilateral matter, involving international supervision. Establishing rights for the citizens of a state is a purely internal matter, over which international entities are powerless.

        Until there is effective force that can be applied to Israel, there will be no solution and no amelioration, either.

      • jnslater says:

        Shmuel:
        You ask whether “an unequal partition (the only remotely “imaginable” kind), with continued Israeli control over Palestinian life, resources (primarily land and water), freedom of movement, etc. really have any less chance, “in principle”, than a single state with equal rights for all?”

        The standard two-state solution, embodied in every serious proposal– including the Clinton proposals, the Beilin-Abu Mazen plan, the Geneva Initiative, the Arab League proposal.and the abortive Olmert-Abbas negotiations– is NOT based on continued Israeli control over Palestinian life, land, water, freedom of movement, etc. If it did, it would not be a two-state “solution” but a slightly modified continuation of the status quo, and no one who refuses to give up on the creation of a genuinely viable and free Palestinian state would approve of such a non-solution.

        • Jerry,

          To the extent that such proposals may once have been viable (and they had many flaws – primarily unsatisfactory arrangements for refugees and access to Jerusalem), they are no longer so, due to the massive and irreversible construction of settlements and transfer of Israelis to the OT. Even with land exchanges and the dismantling of settlements outside “blocs”, Palestinian territorial contiguity would be a nightmare and resource division would necessarily be unequal. Furthermore, Israel has insisted upon issues of border control, airspace, demilitarisation, etc. that would give Israel complete control, to be exercised whenever and wherever it likes. All of this seems to me to be a recipe for humiliation, resentment and disaster, even if a certain amount of Palestinian autonomy were to be achieved.

        • The existence of settlements or any feature of Israeli control in the West Bank and Gaza, is not necessarily permanent.

          If all of the settlers remained in Palestine, per Fayyad’s invitation (compensated), they would comprise 10% of the population. If only they could vote in Palestinian elections, and the 90% could not, then that would be oppression, apartheid.

          If however they were law-abiding Palestinians citizens, civilians, that would be a wonderful outcome. Rather than an ethnically cleansed West Bank, one that has and respects minorities’ rights.

        • Donald says:

          “f however they were law-abiding Palestinians citizens, civilians, that would be a wonderful outcome. Rather than an ethnically cleansed West Bank, one that has and respects minorities’ rights.”

          Wonderful indeed. They would have acquired property in occupied territory at the expense of Palestinians and gotten away with it. One final victory for facts on the ground, I guess.

        • Dear Mr Slater,
          You are absolutely correct. a state with continued Israeli control, including no control over its borders, defence, water, airspace, finance, radiofrequencies, movement within its borders, ability to sign treaties, or to prevent armed incursions is not in any respect a state. such a nonstate cannot even develop economically. It is in fact a large, open air prison, just as the west bank is today.

          Based on the Palestinian papers, and publically available information, none of the negotiations in the last 10 years have been based on a genuine Palestinian state. The Israeli requirements have been based entirely on a fragmented nonstate closely following the Allon plan. What the Palestinian side were reduced to begging for would have been less extreme, but I am not persuaded that it would have been any more successful.

          Actually, I am not persuaded that the original Geneva plan would represented a viable state either. It still imposed severe fragmentation, and too much of the putative economy depended on israeli good will, with poorly paid palestinian workers crossing into israeli financed and controlled areas that could be cutoff at a moments notice.

        • They would have compensated the victims of history, so as to reconcile and avoid permanent war.

          In a situation where the status of property is “contested”, the BEST that can occur is a fair transformation to “consented”.

          That you remain resentful, rather than seek resolution, is a bad sign.

          The only reason that I propose that the settlements remain, and as Palestinian sovereign territory, is because they are NOW someone’s actual home.

          If the homes were abandoned by force, and others came to occupy them free, subsidized by a state expropriation, THAT would also be an injustice, a forced taking, an ethnic cleansing.

        • Citizen says:

          How about this line of thought: There is no solution that will work except one that draws Israel’s borders as the newly declared state of Israel itself recognized them to the UN in 1948, that is, as delineated under the UN partition plan and with allowance of all Palestinians to return ASAP. That itself is already unfair to the Palestinians and a reward for forced land theft. A Palestinian state would take the rest of the land, and all Jews in that land who came
          after 1948 should be forcibly removed to Israel. Palestinian refugees could elect to return to their land in Israel or to go to the new Palestinian state, a state that should have every sovereign right that the state of Israel has. After the mandate end, the UN provided this solution, just as it provided world recognition of the self-declared 1948 state of Israel. The rest is just land-grabbing by Israel to increase Israeli control beyond its own originally described borders either to enhance its practical security or for mythical reasons, or both. After the new Palestinian state is set up, as configured geographically and demographically above, anyone volunteering to immigrate from one state to the other should be allowed to do so by either state, just as in the rest of the free world.

        • Donald says:

          “The only reason that I propose that the settlements remain, and as Palestinian sovereign territory, is because they are NOW someone’s actual home.

          If the homes were abandoned by force, and others came to occupy them free, subsidized by a state expropriation, THAT would also be an injustice, a forced taking, an ethnic cleansing”

          One can’t help noticing the flexibility of your concern about ethnic cleansing–somehow it always ends up where you favor Israeli Jews keeping what has been stolen, while Palestinians must settle for whatever hasn’t been taken from them. That’s the problem with your approach.

          I like Shmuel’s rights-based approach as I understand it. Assume Palestinians have equal rights as Israeli Jews as one’s basic axiom and then work towards a solution from there.

        • I favor kind actions in the present. 1948 was 6 years before I was born.

          I also like the equal rights approach, but expressed in distinct sovereign states. Equal rights for Jews in Palestine. Equal rights for Palestinians in Israel. Equal due process in color-blind courts of law.

          I don’t think that you do affirm that Donald, in urging the forced removal of 550,000 current residents, rather than compensation to perfect title.

        • eljay says:

          >> Equal rights for Palestinians in Israel. Equal due process in color-blind courts of law.

          If all Israelis are entitled to the same rights, the same benefits and the same standing in front the law, then Israel becomes an Israeli state. The term “Jewish state” becomes meaningless.

        • The term “Jewish state” is only meaningful in the definition of boundaries that comprise sovereignty.

          It is still possible to preserve the Jewish majority democratically, as is the case with any definition of national jurisdiction.

          Ultimately, boundaries are intrusions onto rationally connected communities. A mountain boundary is an actual divide. A line in the sand is arbitrary. A river is more of a linking between communities than a divide. (US-Mexico with the Rio Grande as boundary. Close to home for me, Vermont- New Hampshire as boundary with the Connecticut River as boundary. Arbitrary separations. Close to this argument, Palestine – Jordan with the Jordan River as boundary.)

        • Citizen says:

          Witty, in context, if 550 thousand Israelis are compensated, then shouldn’t 4 plus million Palestinian refugees be compensated? 43 years ago is not very long ago, especially to people who had lived in the land they were coerced out of, or even 63 years ago. If Israelis can claim rights from biblical days to the land in question, then…. what rights come with Russian immigrants in the 1990s and Brooklyn immigrants in 2011? You turn common sense about who’s the dispossessed native on its head.

        • eljay says:

          >> The term “Jewish state” is only meaningful in the definition of boundaries that comprise sovereignty.
          >> It is still possible to preserve the Jewish majority democratically, as is the case with any definition of national jurisdiction.

          You always manage to say so much and yet say nothing.
          Earlier, you stated: >> Equal rights for Palestinians in Israel. Equal due process in color-blind courts of law.
          I commented: >> If all Israelis are entitled to the same rights, the same benefits and the same standing in front the law, then Israel becomes an Israeli state. The term “Jewish state” becomes meaningless.

          So, I ask: What does “Jewish state” actually mean if all Israelis – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, etc. – are completely equal in a secular, democratic state?

        • The 550,000 should be the one’s compensating.

          And, yes, those that have legal claims against the state of Israel or other parties resulting from 1948 should have their day in a color-blind court with the prospect of compensation for land takings.

          Law.

        • “What does “Jewish state” actually mean if all Israelis – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, etc. – are completely equal in a secular, democratic state?”

          It means that the jurisdiction could/should be intentionally adjusted by consent to facilitate a Jewish majority, if the demographics change naturally. And, other than that it is poetry.

          The concept of Zionism is Jewish #and# democratic, not Jewish #or# democratic.

          If you are serious about a single state, then assist in the formation of non-nationalist political parties in Israel and Palestine. Make it happen already.

          Talk is cheap without that electoral substantiation.

          I suggest that those parties be moderate parties, not radical, so as to have the prospect of attracting a critical mass of adherents from both Israeli and Palestinian communities.

          Its a test. A test of whether you and others mean what they say that they support. Put it into practice. Let the proof be the pudding, not the imagination of the recipe.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “And, yes, those that have legal claims against the state of Israel or other parties resulting from 1948 should have their day in a color-blind court with the prospect of compensation for land takings.”

          The vast majority of those who have claims have claims not based on land takings, but based on human rights violations. Every Palestinian who was ethnically cleansed, and their descendants have such claims. Should they be fully compensated??

          And a court of law is only an appropriate place for resolving such grievances if the burden of proof is on the Israeli government to establish beyond any doubt that a person seeking compensation is not entitled to it, or is not entitled to the amount being claimed. Otherwise you would be purpetrating another crime against humanity by giving the evildoers(i.e., the Israelis) a benefit of the doubt.

        • eljay says:

          >> It means that the jurisdiction could/should be intentionally adjusted by consent to facilitate a Jewish majority, if the demographics change naturally. And, other than that it is poetry.

          That paragraph tells me nothing. Neither do your five other paragraphs of blather. So I’ll ask again and hope that you can provide a concise, direct answer: What does “Jewish state” mean if all citizens of Israel are completely equal in a secular and democratic state? (Why would Israel not be an “Israeli state”?)

        • Koshiro says:

          “They would have acquired property in occupied territory at the expense of Palestinians and gotten away with it.”
          That’s the gist of it.
          Israel, and Israelis, should suffer no negative consequences from the occupation whatsoever.

          You might want to ask questions about how he supposes settlers will integrate into Palestinian society, if they are going to give up their disproportional shares of water and land, learn Arabic, give up Israeli citizenship etc., and what is going to happen if Palestinian land owners don’t want compensation, but their land back.

          But you really need not bother. Richard never answers this kind of question, because the only thing important to him is that the precious little Jewish settlers are not inconvenienced in any way.

        • Could you be more specific about what you are looking for?

          Woody,
          The only claims that can be made are legal ones, and in specific cases. I don’t know if human rights cases from three generations ago, that do not revolve around property, are actionable.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          Why encourage more blather?

        • Koshiro says:

          Compensation, compensation, compensation. What a broken record.
          When you steal something – and the settlers as well as the Israeli state did steal the land – you have to give it back. To settle for compensation instead is pure generosity on the part of the victim. It is not an obligation.

          What Jews have to do in order to live in a future Palestinian state is simple:
          1. Vacate stolen property.
          2. Apply for immigration, fulfilling whatever conditions the Palestinian state has for this.

        • Koshiro says:

          “I favor kind actions in the present.”
          So if I beat you to within an inch of your life, you won’t go to the police? Because your severe injuries cannot be undone anyway, and it would be terribly unkind for me to be put behind bars?

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “I don’t know if human rights cases from three generations ago, that do not revolve around property, are actionable.”

          And that demonstrates the vacuousness of your preening on about morality. When one side inflicted human rights violations against another in an attempt to steal property, it is immoral to claim that only the property issues can be resolved.

        • eljay says:

          >> Why encourage more blather?

          I’m not looking for blather. I’m actually trying and hoping to get a clear, concise answer on what “Jewish state” actually means if all citizens of Israel are equal in a secular, democratic state. So far, RW hasn’t been able to provide a clear, concise answer. (And his comment that it’s “poetry” is beyond stupid.)

        • fuster says:

          Koshiro, that IS funny.

          –What Jews have to do in order to live in a future Palestinian state is simple—

          the Jews aren’t going to stay in a future Palestinian state. If they did, they may not live there. They’ll all come running back to Israel,
          crying and complaining and demanding compensation.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          …which in turn will pass the costs off to the American taxpayer. Like they always do.

        • Citizen says:

          Dick Witty, I urge you to watch that show repeating on the History channel that will bring you up to date on Nazi hunters and their old prey; obviously human rights cases from three generatations ago that do not revolve around property are actionable in 2011. Or, just google the subject and filter by date, you can lose your ignorance in a few minutes–that is, unless its intentional.

        • Koshiro says:

          “the Jews aren’t going to stay in a future Palestinian state.”
          Some will want to. I’m not against finding a solution for those few who a) want to live in the West Bank for religious reasons and b) positively prove that they are willing to be good citizens and neighbors.

        • pjdude says:

          you don’t make legal claims. you make claims that are based on ignorance of the law.

        • pjdude says:

          1. Vacate stolen property.

          you do know like 90% of Israel is stolen property right?

        • fuster says:

          no, nobody knows that.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          Ignorance isn’t really a good excuse, but fuster elevates it to an art form.

          Facts are facts, fuster. Five hundred villages were pillaged and razed. That’s theft.

        • pjdude says:

          what the Israeli supreme court rules is in the end irrelevant. a criminal enterprise’s own ruling can not be used to defend the actions of the criminal enterprise. what your asking would be tantamount to a mob appointed judge being able to throw out all cases involing the mob as having of no grounds

    • lyn117 says:

      To jnslater,
      My problem with your logic, that there is a “necessity” for the Jewish state of Israel, is that creating that state requires mass murder and terror against the indigenous Palestinians. So by logic, you’re stating that it is in this case a necessity to kill people because of their religion. It seems by inference you’re also claiming it’s good and just to round up people from a village, blindfold the men (some small number of whom may have acted in defense of their village from your invading forces, or not), and shoot them en mass, because they live in the land you covet for the Jewish state and aren’t Jewish. I just have a problem with that.

      • There is a great Jewish prayer that states “your wrath exists for but a short period. When it is past, there is long life and joy.”

        That is our work, to make sure that the conditions of harm, mutual harm – war, change. Partially for our own good, and partially to make the world resemble God’s natural actions, and not impose endless mutual harms.

        The only way that I can perceive changing the conditions of mutual harm is by mutual acceptance, including the mutual acceptance of the rights of the people to choose to either self-govern collectively (single state), or to choose to self-govern separately (two state).

        ANY imposition of a single-state onto communities that desire to self-govern separately is a neo-conservative like imposition, and to the extent associated with BDS is enforced by “non-violent” force.

        The only way that democracy yeilds a single-state is by consent of the governed.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          When the Jews in Palestine (i.e., the land from the Med to the Jordan) give the Arabs in Palestine a full and equal democratic voice in the government or governments administering that land, then your concerns might be worth consideration. Until then, it is more sqawking by a Zionist with the goal of continuing the crime. Nothing more.

        • A tension then.

          If you are an advocate of HUMAN rights, then be one, including Jews, including Palestinians. (Individuals and communities).

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “If you are an advocate of HUMAN rights, then be one, including Jews, including Palestinians. (Individuals and communities).’

          The problem in your thinking is to believe that communities (or anything other than individuals) can exercise rights, especially human rights. Only individuals have rights, and to the extent that we speak of on any other scale, it is merely shorthand for the aggregate exercise of many individual’s rights.

          The road to fascism (real fascism, not the pretend name-calling) starts with the assertion that a community can have a right which supersedes an individual’s human rights.

        • I agree that it is more reasonable to speak in terms of individuals’ rights.

          I thought you were advocating for the collective rights of the Palestinian people, independant of individual claims.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “I thought you were advocating for the collective rights of the Palestinian people, independant of individual claims.”

          No, I am advocating for the restitution for the injuries and losses inflicted on millions of individual Palestinians, which were inflicted based on the false view that something other than an individual (such as a state, or a community, or a religion, or an ethnicity) has rights.

        • Citizen says:

          Witty, David Duke has long made your argument. He thinks the white race in America is being slowly erased. Oddly the demographic trends seems to bear him out.

  8. piotr says:

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has concluded that a final peace deal with the Palestinians cannot be reached at this time and is weighing alternatives to try to prove that it is interested in keeping peacemaking with the Palestinians alive, officials said Thursday.

    The bottom line is that the Israel would have won if it could decide where to stop. And for the reasons of internal politics, it cannot.

    But the status quo is very convenient to the vast majority of Jewish Israelis, so no government can change the status quo absent of some general conviction that this is the best way of averting a national calamity. Thus the peace is impossible unless such calamity is somewhere on the horizon.

    Thus there are several questions:

    1. Is it realistic that it will change in 5 year horizon?

    2. How about 10-20 years?

    3. What is the most productive strategy of the opponents of the status quo?

    I will start with point 3: is it productive to go true details of what would be acceptable to the state of Israel? Given that NOTHING is acceptable but the status quo of continuing repressions and dispossession, not really. It is better to stick to clear principles that have international acceptance. And the most clear is the alternative: parameters of “Arab initiative”, basically, 1967 borders, or a binational state with equal rights to all. And in the case of two state solution, Israel and Palestine should give some guarantees for the treatment of minorities, preferably using standards used within EU, where the tension between the national character of states and individual and collective rights of minorities is a known and largely solved problem.

    Conserning the possibility that a deep crisis can affect Israel in the next 5 years (or a bit more). Israel can count on unconditional support from USA for quite a while. Within Europe the support is wearing thin. Within Middle East, there are three large states: Egypt, Turkey and Iran. Collectively, they may have a huge influence, culturally, militarily and economically. A broad coalition centered on those three countries may sway Europe, resulting in the isolation of Israel, S from BDS.

    In the meantime, USA has many levers to use in Europe, but the enthusiasm to use those levers may be waning. And our influence may wain too.

    Recent revolutions changed the time scales: the previous 30 years witnessed very little change, the next 5 may see much more.

  9. David Samel says:

    Shmuel hits the jackpot with this:

    I believe that democratisation, international humanitarian law, and greater acceptance of diversity in our societies, have done far more to combat antisemitism (and all forms of racism) than Zionism ever has or ever will. I believe that it is the de facto existence of a Jewish state that has in fact created the “need” for such a state, in the minds of its supporters and beyond.

    Even accepting Jerry Slater’s concern about a potential resurgence of anti-Semitism, the Jewish State is not the answer. I would add that not only has Zionism not reduced anti-Semitism, that is as much by design as by accident, because there is a perverse symbiotic relationship between Zionism and world-wide anti-Semitism. Zionism depends on the latter, or at least the appearance of it, to justify the necessity for a Jewish State.

    Shmuel further argues that any “agreement that perpetuates inequality would bear the seeds of its own potentially-disastrous disintegration.” That is surely true as well. Inequality based on ethno-religious heritage is becoming more and more indefensible in polite society, and Israel even now must do its best to camouflage that its very foundation rests on inequality. Even more importantly, inequality has never been tolerable for its victims, and it is inevitable that the justifiable permanent Palestinian resentment of it will be met with more and more sympathy in the years to come.

    I’m not quite sure I understand Shmuel’s distinction between rights-based and solution-based approaches. Surely the focus on rights is designed to lead to some sort of solution. Emphasizing the right of Palestinians to enjoy what almost all of us take for granted – the right of equal citizenship and opportunity in the land of our birth – would be pointless without the hope and even expectation that some day, that will be achieved. If it is to be realized, what would it look like? It is hard to reconcile this “utopian” vision with the continuation of a “Jewish State,” which, by its very nature, would seem to preclude true equality. ( I quote no less an authority than Alan Dershowtiz, who proclaimed: “The Muslim Brotherhood[‘s] . . . very name undercuts ElBaradei’s claims that ‘every Egyptian has the same rights’ and that ‘the state in no way will be based on religion.’ Christians, women, secularists and other dissenters will not have the same rights as Muslim men.”). On the other hand, Shmuel, if you are suggesting that the dialogue is more likely to move forward if there is an emphasis on equal rights between Jews and non-Jews, rather than discussion of the end of the Jewish State, which surely will be misleadingly characterized as “destruction” or even “genocide,” I see your point.

    • David,

      I tried to clarify my understanding of rights- vs. solution-based approaches in my answer to Jerry, above. Of course there are final goals, but 1) I think there are more likely (i.e. less unlikely) to be achieved if they are on the table from the very beginning, as a basis for interaction; and 2) that they allow far more leeway in the interim, as they do not depend on the results of negotiation or quid pro quo horse-trading. Palestinians can enjoy greater rights even without an agreement, whereas the current focus on a “solution” tends to avoid discussions of rights, because those issues will either be worked out in an agreement or become moot once an agreement is reached.

  10. otto says:

    “Zionist leaders truly believed that the establishment of a Jewish homeland would benefit the local non-Jewish population”

    Horse manure.

    • Otto,

      The fact that many Zionist leaders believed that bringing “European civilisation” to the Levant was an incredible boon for the “natives” is all over the place in their writings, and there is no reason to doubt it. Some (e.g. Ben Gurion, Ben-Zvi) even believed, for a time, that Palestinian Arabs would be eager to join the Jewish nation. Ungrateful savages!

      • Citizen says:

        What you say is true, Shmuel, and true of all European countries that colonized foreign lands. A combination of Western science, technology, capitalism, and a combination of (more or less) Enlightenment & (more or less) Christian values was suppose to bring a higher life to the backward natives. Interestingly, as the West did generally, the Zionists enlisted Enlightenment principles and values (more or less) in their win-win scenario too–with the twist higher Jewish values replaced Christian values. Yet the early Zionists found Enlightenment principle & values in Europe too intellectually based and too subject to the whims of the then PTB to afford them any confidence Jews would be thereby protected, so why did they think that the Palestinian natives would not have the same objection to the Jews who had come claiming to make their lives better?

        • Citizen,

          Definitely classic colonial mentality. Seeing the irony however, would require an exceptional amount of self-awareness (whether the subjects happen to be Jews or Puritans or Huguenots – sharing the “enlightenment” of their suffering with others).

      • LeaNder says:

        It’s interesting that this was a German idea once, I think 18th century, I forget who suggested it, (Kant?, Herder? …) that the Jews could be used as some kind of “cultural bridge” into lands of the savages. You know, bring them culture. So they were considered potential carriers of culture, somehow. I am trying to look closer into the the history of the Hebraist (the Semites, as they were called in the 19th century) and later Arabist. The Arabic Studies seem to initially have been a branch of Hebraism in Europe, apart from two centers, Paris and Leiden? So there may be deeper historical and academic roots to this. Admittedly I haven’t read Said yet.

        I really love this exchange, Shmuel, very, very good.

  11. CK MacLeod says:

    This piece clarifies many issues, and is very well thought out. So, thank you, Shmuel. On the other hand, it makes me very angry with you, since, feeling I had to strike while the iron was hot, I have now spent a couple of hours working on a reply (somewhat along lines we’ve previously discussed), even though I really don’t have time for this stuff today!

    I’ll leave the other stuff to some other day, and confine myself for now to relatively brief, abstract and theoretical remarks that I don’t expect to be of interest to anyone who isn’t inclined to that kind of thing.

    In a conflict with no apparent solution, the form of the conflict, its material expressions and their underlying ideological or subjective content, provide the outline of the actual solution – the solution already in hand, just not yet comprehended. In other words, saying that there is no solution can only ever mean that we are not yet able to describe the situation satisfactorily. To stand by the claim of “no solution” would be the same as claiming that there is no problem – that the problem isn’t a problem at all, but reality itself. But this cannot be so, because “time marches on,” and the ideal, unnameable resolution draws us nearer whether we like it or not. Being human means being drawn to seek agreement and common ground. All of the parties to this conflict – a group that eventually includes everyone alive – are trapped by this reality as much as by a situation of seemingly irresolveable injustice. They are therefore merely two different expressions for the same thing.

    • CKM,

      Glad you liked it, sorry it came at an inopportune time ;-)

      I’m afraid I don’t have as much faith as you do in human nature. I think there is a basic difference in perception between oppressor and oppressed – exacerbated by the difference in power, voice, influence, freedom – that makes it very difficult to envisage a point of encounter. The two sides lack a basic common language – thinking and saying very different things when they use words such as “justice”. Focusing on rights tries to create or utilise a more objective frame of reference, for those not directly involved – international arbiters – and maybe even for some of those involved. Until such a frame of reference is established, progress is highly unlikely.

      In the past (before your time), I have used a Rabbinic dictum to explain how it is possible, and even necessary, to strive for goals that seem highly improbable, if not actually impossible: “The task is not yours to complete, nor are not free to avoid acting toward it.”

      • CK MacLeod says:

        Now you’re really pissing me off. ;) This discussion was my initial reason for visiting this Mondo.

        The Rabbinic dictum says the same thing that you discount as unjustified faith in human nature: What it means to be human in the full sense as opposed to merely being a bag of chemicals pushed from material predicament to another is to follow that dictum.

        • Now you’re really pissing me off. ;)

          My pleasure.

          The Rabbinic dictum doesn’t say things will work out in the end, just that one must do the right thing regardless of the fact that one knows full well that they might not. It is less about faith in others than about faith in oneself.

        • CK MacLeod says:

          There is no faith in oneself that does not depend on others for positive content and realization – for meaning – even as we stand alone before God the Eternal/Allah/Atheistic-What-Have-You: The rest of the religion takes care of what the Rabbinic dictum leaves out – but going much further on this subject would require religious-philosophical definition of nettlesome terms like “things,” “will,” “work out,” and “the end.”

        • going much further on this subject would require religious-philosophical definition of nettlesome terms like “things,” “will,” “work out,” and “the end.”

          Do you mean to say that you find the conjunctions self-explanatory? Lucky devil ;-)

        • Citizen says:

          Difference in POV between oppressor and oppressed. During the US Revolutionary War period the English thought it only fair and just that that the colonials be taxed for the services provided for them by the Crown, e.g., protecting them from the wild natives, and from the French–hence the English thought the quartering of redcoats in colonial homes was also fair and just. Of course some of the colonials agreed, and some did not; the latter cried out, “No taxation without representation.” The issue legally boiled down to the respective duties of subjects of the Crown and the Crown’s obligations to its subjects. The War of 1812 revealed that this issue had still not been settled as the match was provided by the impressment of now independent colonists by the Crown’s navy. Or, just watch Braveheart. In the end, I also agree with Schmuel that “do the right thing” is an imperative for the self, regardless if other’s join one’s challenge to one’s lesser instincts, although of course it is much easier to maintain such a lonely challenge if other’s grow to appreciate it, and some even join with you. Only in that limited sense do I also agree with CKM that “there is no faith in oneself that does not depend on others for positive content and realization–for meaning.” Religion has no monopoly on “do the right thing.” And we all know Religion gets it wrong, arguably as much as it gets it right, when it comes down to DOING the right thing.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          Please. DON’T watch Braveheart. It’s for one thing 500 years off.

        • Citizen says:

          Even as historical fiction, it makes a point, showing the differing POV of the oppressor and the oppressed. How much is that point dulled by being 500 years off?

  12. fuster says:

    —Please explain how the Poles or Germans or Soviets, among other people in Europe, fared any better from 1939-45 than European Jews, even though they did have a state?—-

    that’s got to be some sick joke, I suppose.

    please explain your understanding of fractions, and your understanding of being specially selected on the basis of religious affiliation and being placed in ovens.

    • pjdude says:

      but that’s just it jews weren’t the only ones selected for the ovens. I suggest you read the book the forgotten holocaust it might enlighten you.

      • fuster says:

        pj, I’m sure that many others, also considered degenerates and enemies, were selected and put to death. that doesn’t change the fact that the Jews were the main targeted group and the most frequently slaughtered.

        • pjdude says:

          except they weren’t. the fact that they suffered a higher percentage of death’s had nothing to do with them favored as a target. they were the most easily recognizible segment and the one least likely to have other stick up for them. hell they weren’t even the first to be killed by the Nazis. the “fact” you mention is nothing short of propaganda that Israel and it supporter put forth to erase the non jewish victims of the holocuast and pretend it was solely about people of the jewish faith.

        • annie says:

          do you know how many people were killed because of the nazis fuster?

        • CK MacLeod says:

          the fact that they suffered a higher percentage of death’s had nothing to do with them favored as a target.

          An incredibly ignorant statement – the insistence on it makes it rather shameful, since to insist on something about which one is ignorant is to bear false witness.

          The Jews were always a “favored” and very “special” target of Adolf Hitler the political leader and the movement and later the nation that he led.

          Congratulations at least for admitting that the Holocaust happened and that it was kind of a bad thing. Otherwise, we’d be left to conclude that you do not share the same planet, the same knowable world, with the rest of us.

        • pjdude says:

          !. it nice to know you bout the propaganda.

          and secondly screw you. my grandfather my GERMAN has the numbered tattoos of the camps on him. I recognize the holocaust more so than people like you because I recognize ALL the victims. the fact you think it an ignorant statemant tells me the only narrative you care about or think is valid is the holocaust was a uniquely jewish event it wasn’t.

          if jews were so special as targets why weren’t they the first to start being killed?

        • Citizen says:

          Fuster, obviously you don’t know how the Roma were targeted, prioritized, and dealt with–

        • Chaos4700 says:

          And homosexuals. As well as intellectuals who didn’t heave to the racist state ideology. Bud fuster, partial Holocaust denier.

        • Citizen says:

          It works for awhile. Ask Pol Pot.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          pjdude is quite correct that Jews were not the first targets of the Nazis. The first to be sent to the concentration camps in the 30s were the political opponents of the Nazis, such as the Communists. These were not, however, extermination camps, and some of those sent there were actually released to serve as a lesson to others not to oppose the regime.

        • pjdude says:

          I was thinking more in the lines of the mentally ill who never got to the camps they were just killed out right

  13. jnslater says:

    David Samel writes: “Even accepting Jerry Slater’s concern about a potential resurgence of anti-Semitism, the Jewish State is not the answer. I would add that not only has Zionism not reduced anti-Semitism, that is as much by design as by accident, because there is a perverse symbiotic relationship between Zionism and world-wide anti-Semitism. Zionism depends on the latter, or at least the appearance of it, to justify the necessity for a Jewish State.”

    First, do you really want to defend the argument that Zionism “by design” creates anti-Semitism, so as to justify its existence?

    Second, how do you know that Zionism has not reduced anti-Semitism, since it is an observable fact that anti-Semitism as a global phenomena has declined since the creation of Israel? To begin, you are lumping Zionism together with the behavior of Israel to the Palestinians, which was not an inevitable outcome of Zionism–although I know that some will contend that it was. Of course, those who so contend will have to explain “liberal Zionism,” which holds to the desirability or need for a Jewish state, even as it detests Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

    Beyond that it is perfectly plausible that admiration of the Jewish state–whether or not it was deserved is a different question–has led to a decrease rather than an increase in anti-Semitism. Not only perfectly plausible–but highly likely to be true in the case of the United States, and probably also Europe.

    Further, to say that Zionism “depends” on anti-Semitism, or even “the appearance” of it, seems to suggest that Zionism manufactures it, to justify its existence. That is a very odd argument. Zionism grew out of very real anti-Semitism, not the appearance of it. Nor does its justification depend on a resurgence of “worldwide viral anti-Semitism,” just on the historically-justified concern that it could reappear someplace. Do you think it could be ruled out in Russia, for example? Evidently the hundreds of thousands of Jews who left Russia to go to Israel in the 1980s didn’t think so.

    • Potsherd2 says:

      First, do you really want to defend the argument that Zionism “by design” creates anti-Semitism, so as to justify its existence?

      Let’s say, “perpetuates.” If the existence of antisemitism is considered sufficient to justify the creation of Israel, then its disappearance would seem to threaten this justification. The constant fearmongering Israeli politicians certainly argues for the proposition.

      Second, how do you know that Zionism has not reduced anti-Semitism, since it is an observable fact that anti-Semitism as a global phenomena has declined since the creation of Israel?

      Post hoc, ergo propter hoc? If it is an observable fact that antisemitism declined after the second WW, this is far more likely to be attributed to the knowledge of Nazi atrocities against the Jews as the creation of Israel. There is no logical means by which the creation of Israel could be seen to cause the diminution of antisemitism, whereas the horror of the Nazi genocide is a very obvious cause.

      • jnslater says:

        Potsherd2
        1. Agreed, as I carelessly stated it, my comment was post-hoc, ergo propter hoc. I should have said that Samel has no basis to assert that Zionism has not resulted in a lessening of anti-Semitism, since it is an observable fact that it the lessening of anti-Semitism and the victory of Zionism in Israel have coincided. Granted, that doesn’t prove a causal relationship between the two, but it does shift the burden of evidential proof to Samel’s argument, not mine.

        2. You say “There is no logical means by which the creation of Israel could be seen to cause the diminution of antisemitism;” rather it was a reaction to the Holocaust. But I didn’t say it was the creation of Israel, per se, that led to diminished antisemitism, I said it was “it is perfectly plausible that admiration of the Jewish state–whether or not it was deserved” had that effect. During the cold war, Americans fell in love with Israel’s brand of tough anticommunism and its military prowess, and for a long time after the cold war–maybe still today–Americans admired Israel for its alleged toughness on terrorism. And that translated into reduced anti-Semitism.

        Of course, the Holocaust had the same effect. Thus, the explanation for the decline of anti-Semitism is multicausal, but what doesn’t stand up is the proposition that since the creation of Israel anti-Semitism has increased–at least at the global level, and at least, not yet.

        • Jerry,
          My in-laws survived the holocaust, Hungarian. When they returned to their former villages, they were harrassed, chased out, beaten, and that didn’t change radically over a few years.

          The premise that anti-semitism declined in the world as a reaction to the abuses of the holocaust was true in the US, and even that limited. My mother described being confronted every Easter (even after WW2) with “you Jews killed Jesus”.

          I think there is supporting evidence that the presence of Israel proved that Jews could be a proud self-governing, liberated people.

          Is it a relevant question at all anyway?

          Self-governance is a persuasive reason in itself, no?

        • Potsherd2 says:

          I can’t agree with your chronology. The decisive events that led to Israel’s increased popularity in the US were the victorious 1967 war (and only because of the coverup of the Liberty massacre) and the sympathy accruing to Israel from the 1970 terrorist attacks. The latter in particular aroused Holocaust echoes that further tended to discredit antisemitism. They reminded the world of the victim status of the Jews. The terror campaign was a gross strategic failure on the part of the Palestinians. It created sympathy for their enemies while utterly failing to make the point that they were the victims of Zionism.

        • Potsherd2,
          Who knows what you are talking about.

          “increased popularity”?

        • Chaos4700 says:

          He’s typing English, Witty. I know, I know, you’ve already demonstrated that mastery of the language escapes you almost as quickly as your compassion for anyone who speaks Arabic.

        • The presence of Israel conveyed that the Jewish people are capable of self-governing, of organizing and administering a sophisticated, functional state and economy. Even more than that, of self-governing, of organizing and administering a sophisticated, functional state and economy, while under decades of attack and forced isolation ( you think BDS is new?).

          The prior prejudice was that Jews were only victims, or at best assimilated into the Anglo or Arab world.

          That we live is a source of pride, earned pride. That Israel did that is a shift from dependant to independant people, a liberation.

          Its historical existence is a GOOD in the world.

          Its present existence is the question that Slater and Sermonetta are arguing. I think that revolution is only compelling if the comparison between a revolutionary state (single-state) is definitively more just and more functional than a reformed state (two-state).

          There is no question that some significant change is necessary, but the single state is remote (in possibility and in time), while the two-state is plausible.

        • Citizen says:

          Witty, maybe he’s talking about the fact that Americans felt pity and (unearned) guilt when they found out about Auschwitz etc and around this time in the immediate years following WW2, the US press & movie theatre news heavily covered the plight of Jews trying to leave Europe for Israel, the ship being turned back, etc. This pity and (Christian) guilt morphed to admiration when Exodus was published in 1958, and much more so in 1960 when the handsome Paul Newman starred in Exodus with his beautiful blonde companion, the movie; this romantic and kick-ass image was enhanced due to Israel’s military prowess in 1967–hence Israel’s increased popularity with the American masses. No doubt if they had been told in detail about the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty this popularity would have dissolved overnight. And, if the details of the I-P conflict, and the US blind support of Israel ever get told to the American masses, no PR company or author on earth will be able to resurrect the old painted image of Israel.

        • Citizen says:

          Whether or not the originally and currently dispossessing, nuclear-armed, pretexual (preemptive/preventive) war-leaning & discriminatory & long occupying state of Israel has been a net good (no caps) in the world, and whether it has been, and will continue to be so regarded by the world in the future–is NOT a given. The simple fact is that the whole world does not subscribe to the Zionist moral/ethical conception of means and ends. I’d say the recent vote in the UN that Obama alone opposed is a pretty good sign this is true. As is the 4th lowest world popularity ranking of Israel discussed in another article here on this blog over the last few days. The right and pride of independent self-governance is not divorced from the means criticism as to Israel, anymore than it is as to the nations taking the first 3 lowest world opinion rankings this year. You, Witty, should also take note of the fall of US prestige in the world since Bush Jr unilaterally attacked Iraq and Uncle Sam alone defends the illegal settlements at the UN.

    • David Samel says:

      Jerry, I stand by what I said. Israel is always seeking to add to its Jewish numbers, promoting emigration, which of course is much easier if Diaspora Jews feel threatened than if they are comfortable. Btw, I would suggest that Israel generally “promotes” anti-Semitism more than “creates” it. (Potsherd’s formulation is quite agreeable as well.)

      Though I don’t have time to research it right now (and I usually hate to publicly claim what I have not checked), there are several incidents which support my theory. First, a few years ago, there was an incident in Paris where a woman, who later turned out to be mentally unstable, claimed that she had been attacked by Arab-looking men who mistakenly believed her to be Jewish. PM Sharon publicly lectured French Jews that they could only be safe by emigrating to Israel, and Prez Chirac was irate at the suggestion. The fact that the claim turned out to be a hoax was beside the point. In the early 1950′s, in an effort to frighten Iraq’s large Jewish population into emigrating, Israeli spies set off a series of bombs in Baghdad’s Jewish quarter. The effort was successful, though some of the Israelis were apprehended. (This was around the same time period as the Lavon affair, where Israeli spies set off bombs against US and British interests in Cairo and also were caught.) I’m sure if I had time, I could think of and support other examples.

      No doubt the rise of Zionism was a reaction to very real anti-Semitism, but as that phenomenon has greatly diminished worldwide, Israel does feel the need to promote at least the perception of it.

      Finally, the reduction in anti-Semitism here coincided with a reduction of prejudice against most minorities. As late as 20 to 30 years ago, it seemed impossible that an African-American would be elected President, and it was perfectly tolerable for people to express rather loathsome contempt for homosexuals. Gay marriage was not even a dream, nor was openly gay soldiers. In fact, there was a strong movement to curtail gay parenting and even gay teachers. Progress has not been 100%, but there’s been a sea change in attitudes toward minorities. It seems much more plausible to attribute a decline in anti-Semitism to this overall change than to “admiration” for the Jewish State. In fact, you have explored as well as anybody how Israel over the past few decades has committed atrocious acts of aggression. Your hypothesis that Israel contributed to the better atmosphere for Jews elsewhere is as speculative as mine, only I think I’m right and you’re not.

    • LeaNder says:

      Beyond that it is perfectly plausible that admiration of the Jewish state–whether or not it was deserved is a different question–has led to a decrease rather than an increase in anti-Semitism. Not only perfectly plausible–but highly likely to be true in the case of the United States, and probably also Europe.

      Richard Witty made a similar argument several years ago made. He told, Phil probably, and us that Israel is the main reason for American Jewish success? Could it be that the huge wave of sympathy for the Jews post Holocaust could be a reason too? The many, many Jewish intellectuals and academic who have left Europe? The larger US developments? The fight for equal rights?

      What about Sharon a couple of years ago, when he still could talk, telling French Jews to better come to Israel? What about the latest New Antisemitism?

      Israel has some extraordinary scholars, but I am also puzzled by some. As I am puzzled by certain things. I’d suggest that you read the three English articles by Michael Hagemeister ( red links) and tell me for three years now, he has to update his already accepted articles from IN PRINT 2008, 2009, 2010? I have never witnessed something like that. Is it since he is challenging the myth and counter myth celebrating fictionalized history of the Protocols by Hadassa Ben-Itto? I agree with him, the more you add to a myth, the stronger you make the fiction. Why?

    • LeaNder says:

      Beyond that it is perfectly plausible that admiration of the Jewish state–whether or not it was deserved is a different question–has led to a decrease rather than an increase in anti-Semitism. Not only perfectly plausible–but highly likely to be true in the case of the United States, and probably also Europe.

      Richard Witty made a similar argument several years ago made. He told, Phil probably, and us that Israel is the main reason for American Jewish success. Could it be that the huge wave of sympathy for the Jews post Holocaust could be a reason too? The many, many Jewish intellectuals and academic who have left Europe? The larger US developments? The fight for equal rights?

      What about Sharon a couple of years ago, when he still could talk, telling French Jews to better come to Israel? What about the latest New Antisemitism?

      Israel has some extraordinary scholars, but I am also puzzled by some. As I am puzzled by certain things. I’d suggest that you read the three English articles by Michael Hagemeister ( red links) and tell me why for three years now, he has to update different already accepted articles from IN PRINT 2008, 2009, 2010 in several books? I am waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I have never witnessed something like that. Is it since he is challenging the myth and counter myth celebration of the fictionalized history of the Protocols by Hadassa Ben-Itto? I agree with him, the more you add to a myth, the more color and dubious characters, the stronger you make it. Why?

  14. ToivoS says:

    Schmuel, thanks for this excellent analysis. This reminded me of an argument I heard from Omar Barghouti last year during a debate with an Israeli. He refused to engage in any discussion about the relative merits of a 1 or 2 state solution, or any points that had been covered in the negotiations beginning with the Oslo process. He insisted that the only issue to be discussed was justice for the Palestinians and until that was placed as the central issue then the Palestinians had no choice but to continue their resistance (non-violent, of course).

    That made perfect sense to me. Over the past 20 years the PLO/PA have made concession after concession without receiving anything much in return. If negotiations started yet again at the point of “everyone knows what a final deal looks like” they will be required to make even more concessions without the basic question of justice being covered.

    What Omar is arguing is that politically the Palestinians must give up the current useless diplomatic “negotiations” and return to a popular struggle for civil rights. This likely means the removal of the current PA leadership and its replacement with a younger generation of leaders who will lead from the Palestinian street. This movement plus the international BDS movement will define the outcome. How the conflict resolves itself is unpredictable so it is now premature to propose any specific solution. As Omar said (to paraphrase) ‘I don’t care if the final solution is one state, two state or five states, what we demand is justice’.

    Shmuel’s argument that all of the specific proposals currently being debated are equally improbable makes perfect sense from this perspective. We will have to wait to see the outlines of a synthesis after further political conflict (to borrow from Hegelian dialectics).

    • Thank you, ToivoS. I also heard Omar Barghouti last year – alone, in front of a pro-Palestinian audience. He made the same argument, but added that he personally (not the BDS movement) supported the idea of a single state, as the solution most in keeping with principles of justice, equality and democracy. The important thing is not to put Palestinian rights on hold until a “solution” is found, and to be open to any solution that will uphold those rights.

      • MRW says:

        Correct. Horse before cart.

      • Citizen says:

        I agree. Just as an historical note, Truman originally favored a singe state solution (with Jews, then still a minority demographically, basically living in disconnected bantustans), but then he publically said he favored partition; he then tried to retract that stance as he had grown very upset with Zionists, but the USSR followed suit and declared it favored partition, so Truman felt he was stuck with partition as the way to go. It’s also important to note that Truman never recognized a “Jewish State.” He explicitly rejected recognition of such a state, and instead, recognized a non-ethno-religious state called “Israel,” and its (only) provisional government.

        What to do: “The important thing is not to put Palestinian rights on hold until a “solution” is found, and to be open to any solution that will uphold those rights.”

  15. clenchner says:

    Condemning to the Palestinians to have to share power with Israelis in the same state feels like some version of forcing a victim of domestic violence to have to go back home to her husband as part of the therapy for overcoming the ‘difficulties’ in the relationship.
    The state created by and run by Jews on Palestinian territory is run by, essentially, deranged people. As a first step, with lots of options open for various utopian futures, it is necessary to liberate as many Palestinians as possible from any kind of military, economic, or bureaucratic control exercised by those Israeli Jews, but without resorting to (criminally) dispossessing those very same Israeli Jews.
    Maybe after Israelis figure out they want to be followers of Ahad Ha’am we can talk about bring the troubled couple back together again.

    • VR says:

      People seem to dance around the periphery of the issue we are discussing, the only way you get a one state solution which is viable is by doing away with Zionism as it exists today. I think this was amply shown by Michel Warschawski with his answer to Uri Avnery in regard to the latter not thinking BDS answered anything (2009).

      “Unlike Uri, our goal is the fulfillment of certain values like: basic individual and collective rights, end of domination and oppression, decolonization, equality, and as-much-justice-as-possible. In that framework, we obviously may support “peace initiatives” that can reduce the level of violence and/or achieve a certain amount of rights. In our strategy, however, this support for peace initiatives is not a goal in itself but merely a means to achieve the above mentioned values and rights.

      That difference between “peace” and “justice” is connected to the divergence concerning the second assumption of Uri Avnery, the symmetry between two equally legitimate national movements and aspirations.

      For us, Zionism is not a national liberation movement but a colonial movement, and the State of Israel is and has always been a settlers’ colonial state. Peace, or better, justice, cannot be achieved without a total decolonization (one can say de-Zionisation) of the Israeli State; it is a precondition for the fulfillment of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians – whether refugees, living under military occupation or second-class citizens of Israel. Whether the final result of that de-colonization will be a “one-state” solution, two democratic states (i.e. not a “Jewish State”), a federation or any other institutional structure is secondary, and will ultimately be decided by the struggle itself and the level of participation of Israelis, if at all.”

      Note particularly the last paragraph of the quote, he calls it a “de-Zionisation,” and when discussing a one or two state solution he says he is not speaking about a “Jewish State.” Integral to Zionism (whether introduced later or at inception) is ethnic cleansing, land theft is its bread a butter – part of its vision. Endemic to Zionism is its racism, it is bent on speaking and embodying the inferiority of the indigenous people and the surrounding nations. You cannot help but see, even with a cursory examination, the multitude of policies and the commitment of state apparatus to the above described vision of Zionism. Therefore, Zionism as it exists today is not compatible with democracy as it is known today. If you do not believe me why not seriously consider someone who has been long in the battle, inside of Israel, on this matter under discussion – Michel Warschawski:

      “YES TO BDS!” AN ANSWER TO URI AVNERY

      The absence of this elephant in the current conversation is inexcusable.

      One more quote from the article –

      “The political goal of Uri Avnery is “an Israeli-Palestinian peace”, i.e. a compromise that should satisfy the majority of the two communities, on a symmetrical basis (in another important article, he called it “truth against truth”). Such symmetry is the result of another important political assumption by Avnery: the conflict in Palestine is a conflict between two national movements with equal legitimacy.”

      Straight up, we do not have two movements of equal legitimacy in this conflict, I’ll leave the facts for you to sort out.

      • Citizen says:

        “Zionism as zionism?” For me it’s hard to ignore that zionism originated as a national liberation movement and simultaneously as a colonial project. Today, in deed regardless of creed, Israel is not about liberating
        and maintaining the liberty of anyone other than Jews. It’s settlement land grabs don’t stop. The only secular justification for this reality is that Israel always needs more land the better to defend itself as a practical matter because it’s little and surrounded by current and probable big deadly enemies. There’s a problem as soon as one asks, in Kantian manner, how far can the worried world let this Israeli real politic strategy go? How many ways has this strategic justification been spun in the past? How many will be copycats in the future? And, meanwhile, who’s doing the daily suffering here? And how long has this, and will this be allowed by the world?

  16. Keith says:

    Well, here we go again! The Zionist argument that Israel is some sort of refuge for persecuted Jews. How many times do we have to go over this? Zionism never was a program to “rescue” Jews. It was always intended as a means for rescuing the Jewish people from the dangers of assimilation. A means to preserve Jewish tribal solidarity. Palestine was totally inadequate to absorb millions of refugees prior to World War II, most of whom preferred the western democracies to Palestine. Need we revisit quotes about one cow in Palestine being worth all of the (non-Zionist) Jews of Poland? Or the episode of Dr Rudolph Kastner who cooperated with the Nazis in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews so that he could “rescue” about 600 Jewish Zionists? Is Zionist apologia more like a vampire or a zombie? What will it take to drive a stake through the heart of this BS?

    • Keith- The fact that the early Zionists- Hess, Pinsker and Herzl first sought to assimilate and only turned to Zionism as a reaction to Jew hatred, those are BS? The fact that every Zionist awakening was preceded by pogroms, whether in 1881 or 1905, this is BS? When will you back up your statements with something other than Rudolph Kastner? What will it take for you to study Zionism with an open mind? A miracle.

      • andrew r says:

        WJ, you’re leaving out the fact that Herzl (Not sure about Pinsker and Hess) legitimized this Jews hatred. He himself believed Jews were abnormal and in his diplomatic activities pandered to the royals’ demagoguery on socialism. Ruppin developed this tact much further, embracing eugenics, propounding the inferiority of Semites and doing his level best to exonerate European Jews of being a Semitic people, although he eagerly put that designation on Mideastern Jews. Actually, Yiddish Jews were a mix of Aryan and Semitic blood and it was his task to find the Aryan Urjude buried under that genetic rubble. This is what you find studying Zionism with an open mind. And he created no less than the autonomous political leadership in Palestine. His goal was not rescuing Jews from pogroms and his administration of the colonies vetted potential olim. I posted a block quote from Etan Bloom’s thesis here and the rest of the section this is lifted from has more juicy details on how the Palestine Office was so not interested in saving the Jews most in danger.

        link to mondoweiss.net

    • jnslater says:

      There is no question, as David Samel and others have pointed out, that Israel cries “anti-Semitism” when it doesn’t exist, that it has encouraged Jews to flee some countries when it was not necessary or justified, that it shamelessly exploits the Holocaust to rebut all criticisms, and that if there were little or no anti-Semitism, the major justification for Zionism and Jewish state argument would be insupportable, or nearly so.

      It’s the next steps in this chain of logic, however, that are fallacious: just because Israel exploits the Holocaust doesn’t mean that there wasn’t one and that it clinched the argument for a Jewish state, and just because Israel cries anti-Semitism when it isn’t justified, it doesn’t necessarily follow that anti-Semitism cannot revive once again–just as it has dozens of times in the past–justifying the continued need, in extremis, for a Jewish state.

      I do think I should add that I owe Keith an apology. He is justifiedly losing patience with those who continue to think that the purpose of Zionism was to rescue Jews from death, rather than from assimilation. The Russian pogromists wanted nothing more than to convince the Jews to assimilate, and of course that was also Hitler’s goal.

      Keith has explained this to us repeatedly, and yet I just can’t seem to remember.

      • Potsherd2 says:

        It’s the next steps in this chain of logic, however, that are fallacious: just because Israel exploits the Holocaust doesn’t mean that there wasn’t one and that it clinched the argument for a Jewish state,

        There is the missing link in your logic, jnslater. It begs the very question that the Holocaust justified the creation of the Jewish state. This is the precise link that many of us explicitly deny.

        and just because Israel cries anti-Semitism when it isn’t justified, it doesn’t necessarily follow that anti-Semitism cannot revive once again–just as it has dozens of times in the past–justifying the continued need, in extremis, for a Jewish state.

        And again, if the continued existence of a Jewish state proves to be the cause of increased antisemitism, it only argues that the state should be eliminated for the sake of reducing the possibility of antisemitism.

        • “The Russian pogromists wanted nothing more than to convince the Jews to assimilate, and of course that was also Hitler’s goal.”

          Jerry,
          Are you really serious?

          The Russian pogromists were scapegoating to distract the rabble from dissent against the Russian power-structure and corruption. Hitler “successfully” killed millions of entirely assimilated Jews, those that had renounced Judaism.

          Potsherd,
          There is no laboratory experiment yet to conclude that Israel’s existence causes anti-semitism. It is certainly used to invoke anti-semitism, but “causes”?

          Only in the environment of universal acceptance of Israel (never yet happened), could you conduct that experiment, that you could conclude that ‘Israel’s entirely independant actions cause animosity’.

          Right now the invocation of hatred of Jews, is Rohrshach.

        • jnslater says:

          Potsherd2:

          “There is the missing link in your logic, jnslater. It begs the very question that the Holocaust justified the creation of the Jewish state. This is the precise link that many of us explicitly deny.”

          Yes, you’re right: deny that link and there is no place to go in this discussion. I don’t “beg the question,” rather I have repeatedly argued that not just the Holocaust but 2000 years of often-murderous anti-Semitism made the case for a Jewish state a prima facie one. True, it did not establish the case for the location of that state in Palestine, a much more complicated issue that can’t be addressed here, but which I shortly will.

          To be sure, “prima facie” cases can be refuted, but that requires an extended argument, not just mere assertions, like “we deny it.” Whether or not Israel should continue to define itself as a Jewish state, privileging Jews over nonJews, is a serious question, with substantial arguments on both sides. However, whether or not the creation of a Jewish state was justified when it was created by the UN in 1947 was a much less serious question, at least in the minds of historically-knowledgable and well-intentioned people and governments throughout the West.

          And again, it is possible that they–we–may be wrong, but the burden of proof is the other way around: you have to make a strong and convincing argument, not merely assert, that the history of anti-Semitism is irrelevant. If you fail to do that, it is your argument that is irrelevant.

          Potsherd2: “if the continued existence of a Jewish state proves to be the cause of increased antisemitism, it only argues that the state should be eliminated for the sake of reducing the possibility of antisemitism.”

          Talk about begging the question. There is no evidence that the existence of a Jewish state has increased antisemitism; I won’t repeat the argument that I made earlier, addressing this question. And even if it did, it hardly follows that the Jewish state should be “eliminated,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.

        • David Samel says:

          Richard, not that Jerry Slater needs me to speak for him, but no, he was not serious. He was sarcastically responding to Keith. Apparently he has not yet learned, as I have, that sarcasm almost never achieves a 100% perception rate.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          jnslater: “Necessity” is a very strong claim. It requires very strong arguments to support it. I haven’t seen that argument. I haven’t even seen “necessity” defined in this context.

          The claim seems to be: “Antisemitism makes a Jewish state necessary.”

          What does this mean? That a Jewish state will save Jews from antisemitism? Does that mean only Jews living in that state, or Jews worldwide?

          (A) The argument that a Jewish state will save the Jews is not well-founded. How will this salvation take place? Shmuel has argued – I think successfully – that a state can not ensure safety for its citizens. Jews in a Jewish state, facing an enemy motivated by antisemitism (Your argument seems to rest upon the perpetual threat of antisemitism, which makes this point particularly relevant.), would probably be more, not less vulnerable. It is easier to attack a state militarily than within a larger population. This is a terrible strategy for survival. And because it can not be sufficient, it can’t in this case be considered necessary.

          The Jews who were safe in the WWII era were the Jews of the Diaspora, protected from the antisemitic Nazi regime both by distance and by the power of other states in which they lived. If the desired end is the safety of Jews from antisemitism, the lesson of WWII is not that they should establish a Jewish state but that they should establish secure escape routes and champion the rights of refugees (cue irony).

          It is true that WWII made many Jews into Zionists, that Israel was established in the believe that it would ensure the safety of Jews, but this was clearly a mistake at the time, based on the conjunction of trauma and propaganda.

          (B) The argument that the existence of a Jewish state will eliminate? reduce? antisemitism is very confused and contradictory. At one point, you rest your argument for necessity on the eternal existence of antisemitism, or at least the fact that it might recur at some future point. This is not consistent with the proposition that the existence of the Jewish state will elminate the phenomenon.

          (1) There is nothing to suggest how this elimination/reduction is supposed to occur. You argue unconvincingly that antisemitism was reduced in the world because of the foundation of Israel, a claim I have refuted – that the post-WWII reduction in antisemitism was due to widespread reaction to the revelation of the Nazi genocide.

          (2) If anything, there seems to be an increase of antisemitism in the last couple of decades, due to the increasing reaction to the increasingly criminal behavior of the Jewish state.

          You deny this, but make no case.

          The problem of proving the proposition is complicated by the lack of reliable statistics. Organizations like the ADL claim a sharp rise in antisemitism, but these claims are unreliable because
          (a) the ADL’s existence depends on the existence of antisemtism
          (b) the goalposts are constantly being shifted, so that the definition of “antisemitism” has become meaningless.

          However, it is certainly a regular claim of non-Israeli Jews that the behavior of the Israeli Jewish state is endangering them by causing a backlash against Jews worldwide. I believe the claim is reasonable. I certainly believe you can’t claim that the behavior of the Israeli Jewish state in the last two decades has in any way decreased the worldwide incidence of antisemitism.

          So I ask you this: if the purpose of the Jewish state is to eliminate antisemitism, and the actual existence of a Jewish state has only exacerbated the problem of antisemitism, does it not defeat its purpose? And if it defeats its purpose, why should it exist?

        • CK MacLeod says:

          jnslater,

          You write:

          Yes, you’re right: deny that link and there is no place to go in this discussion. I don’t “beg the question,” rather I have repeatedly argued that not just the Holocaust but 2000 years of often-murderous anti-Semitism made the case for a Jewish state a prima facie one.

          I still think that formulation puts the case purely in a negative form, as does the entire question of Zionism as “self-defense.” The notion seems to be that the state of Israel is being brought before a tribunal for murder of Palestinians, and everyone thinks that a merely negligent homicide mitigated by self-defense would be sufficient for acquittal. There might even be some truth to that, but it remains ahistorical and anachronistic.

          For the Zionists, as for the Palestinians now, the concept of “a room of one’s own” is not just a practical means to self-defense, it is an urgently desired basis of identity – which, again, is a mere abstraction, when the nation-state in this discourse stands for the field of self-realization, for attaining, nurturing, advancing the highest positive contents of human life.

          The reliance on an at best vague definition and concept of the state also goes directly to the main weakness of the Sermoneta-Gertel option of fighting for rights in the absence of a viable state concept. As any dialectical materialist once upon a time would have reminded us earlier, there is no coherent theory of “rights” that does not correspond to or imply a theory of the state. The rights that Shmuel wants to fight for are the so-called universal rights weakly advocated and defended by the international community – that is, by the weak “world state of states.” We are still enough in the age of nation-states rather than the the global age (which Shmuel might also recognize as the messianic age) that no one, or hardly anyone, will stake his life on, risk his life for, or realize his life in the “international community.”

          That also means that the Palestinians will remain fundamentally unsatisfied under the SSG option, and efforts merely to protect their rights will continually, and in my view correctly, be criticized as merely facilitating their oppression in perpetuity (in part by legitimizing Israeli rule). But that also means that attempts to enforce upon the Israelis measures that would mean the destruction of the Israeli state will also founder. Why would the Jews ever accept being turned into “Palestinians” again? They had thousands of years of that.

          Every argument in favor of the Palestinians getting a state is an argument in favor of the Israelis defending theirs – to the last.

          Much more could be said on this subject. I can understand why your promised essay is a long one! I’ll reserve further comments until I’ve read and absorbed it.

        • jnslater says:

          “So I ask you this: if the purpose of the Jewish state is to eliminate antisemitism, and the actual existence of a Jewish state has only exacerbated the problem of antisemitism, does it not defeat its purpose? And if it defeats its purpose, why should it exist?”

          First, at the risk of repeating myself, the purpose of the Jewish state is not to eliminate antisemitism; on the contrary, it assumes its continued existence. Therefore its purpose is provide a refuge against particularly severe outbreaks.

          Second, there is no evidence that the existence of the Jewish state has exacerbated the problem of antisemitism–certainly not in the west, and plausibly not even in the Middle East. The fact that the decline of anti-Semitism coincides with the existence of a Jewish state makes it pretty hard to make the case that the Jewish state has led to an increase in anti-Semitism.

          Third, what do you mean, “why should it exist?” I hope by that you don’t mean that Israel should literally cease to exist, but it doesn’t help establish your credibility if you don’t make that explicit.

          Let’s assume that what you mean is that Israel as a formally-recognized Jewish state should “cease to exist.” As I’ve argued, such a case can be made, but so can a case for its continued existence. What it comes down to is this: if Israel insists that recognition of its continued existence as a Jewish state is a necessary part of any overall two-state settlement with the Palestinians, then that is not an unreasonable demand and the Palestinians should accept it.

          Of course, what I mean by an “overall two state settlement” is a fair settlement that embodies the best ideas of various two-state proposals. If Israel accepted all those proposals, but continued to insist on the Jewish state idea, would it be wise for the world or the Palestinians to refuse it?

          And if the Palestinians accepted the Israeli insistence–and there are already signs that many of its leaders would, in the context of an overall settlement–would you and other anti-Zionists accuse them of selling out?

        • CKM,

          Were there a “viable state concept”, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. So in the unfortunate absence of such a concept, we do the best we can: adopting an undeniably weaker strategy – the success (at least partial) of which is not entirely without hope or precedent (probably in conjunction with somewhat less noble forces than the idea of universal rights); and refusing to stand idly by in the face of oppression (“standing on the blood of our brothers”), regardless of our presumed chances of success.

          Regarding identity, we have touched upon this before (you and I). The “room of one’s own” approach has been catastrophic for Jewish identity and life. Debate and change are desperately required within Judaism (with some help from our friends), and I believe we are seeing the beginnings of such debate. I am not convinced that a comparable “room of one’s own” approach exists among Palestinians.

        • jnslater says:

          CK writes: “The notion seems to be that the state of Israel is being brought before a tribunal for murder of Palestinians, and everyone thinks that a merely negligent homicide mitigated by self-defense would be sufficient for acquittal.”

          Actually, that wouldn’t be my argument. If I thought that the murder and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians had been a “necessary” and unavoidable consequence of the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, then I would agree that the Jewish state should not have been established there. So my argument is that there were a number of alternatives to the Nakba, none of which the Israelis even contemplated, let alone tried. To be developed…

          By the way, as you can guess, I am in entire agreement with your criticism of SSG, that it is hard to see how Palestinian rights can be realized in the absence of their own state.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          First, if the purpose of the Jewish state is the safety of the Jews against endemic antisemitism, then you have failed to address the arguments that it is not the best means to ensure this and may even place the Jewish population in greater danger.

          Second, your assertion that antisemitism has declined flies in the face of many, many reports that it has increased. The claim also weakens your argument for the continued necessity of a Jewish state, which rests on the existence of antisemitism. You seem to be arguing both sides at once.

          Third, what I would prefer is that Israel had never come into being. It was not necessary, even if some people believed at the time that it was. It was criminally irresponsible for the UN to have recognized the state without first ensuring the return of the Palestinian refugees, and its behavior since has only proved that its existence is an evil.

          I would certainly prefer that Israel, being unnecesary and harmful, cease to exist. Its population could be transfered or chose to remain as residents of the Palestinian state. Failing this, I would have no real problem accepting the existence of Israel within the 1967 borders, demilitarized, and either allowing the return of the 1948 refugees or compensating them as called for by the UN resolution.

          I would add that before Israel demands that anyone recognize it as a “Jewish state,” it ought to first be required to define what this means.

        • CK MacLeod says:

          Were there a “viable state concept”, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

          My view is that the problem is just the opposite: Too many viable-enough state concepts for the area of historical Palestine, each perceived to have its major pluses and major minuses, because no nation-state arrangement truly solves, or can solve, the fundamental bases of oppression and can therefore be thought of as truly just, eternally stable. That’s as true in the U.S. or Vanuatu as in the future Palestrael or in any of the alternative merely relatively just, relatively stable concepts.

          (Have you perchance ever read Kojeve on Hegel and on Strauss/Tyranny?)

        • Now you’re playing semantic games with me :-)

          First, viable doesn’t mean perfect or terrific; it means that it can work (enough). The term “viable-enough” you have invented is thus superfluous. Second, you make an unnecessary jump from “state” to “nation-state”. If you mean that the situation in “normal” states is far from perfect, you won’t get any argument from me (I’m with VR there, but have to operate on at least two different levels, for the sake of my sanity). But I/P has that certain extra something that can and must be addressed all on its own. We can talk about the Revolution later.

          No, I haven’t read Kojeve (and little Hegel and no Strauss for that matter).

        • “Richard, not that Jerry Slater needs me to speak for him, but no, he was not serious. He was sarcastically responding to Keith.”

          Thanks for the clarification. It seemed odd.

          In writing here, so many cues get missed, and misinterpreted.

        • Donald says:

          “So my argument is that there were a number of alternatives to the Nakba, none of which the Israelis even contemplated, let alone tried. To be developed…”

          That will be interesting to see. (I say without meaning any sarcasm, in case that needs to be pointed out.)

        • Citizen says:

          If so, Witty, right now it’s a very manipulated Rohrshach, always blown way out of proportion. Truman is on record as saying Jews have no sense of proportion–he was specifically refering to zionist Jews. And he also said that like other human peoples (he listed a bunch), when they gain power they become uberdogs instead of under dogs, caring for no one but themselves.

          BTW, mischling had privileges under Hitler; many served in the Wehrmacht. As Germany grew weaker during the course of the war, the mischling privileges eroded. Similarly, initially, German Jews with military records from WW1 were also privileged compared to other German Jews, and ditto for mixed marriage couples, even those without any children. Hence Hitler started out deferring to assimilation, and ended up declaring eternal war on all with any Jewish blood. War is war–as some Israelis say, and some Americans, recently, such as PEP Weiner.

        • fuster says:

          Richard, Slater was not at all serious. Not EVERYBODY on the blog is nuts.

          It justs seems that way sometimes.

        • pjdude says:

          As I’ve argued, such a case can be made, but so can a case for its continued existence

          Mr. Slater your making a logical fallacy assuming that just because you can make a case for means that it is a good one. you can make cases for lots of things that doesn’t mean what your arguing for is good or that any rational decent human being should accept yet. yes you can make a case for Israel existence. but only if you think its ok to violate international law which appartently you do.

          I don’t know how you were raised but I was raised to believe everyone had to follow the same set of rules. To argue for special treatment because of the group one belongs to as you have for Israel and the jews is to the way I was raised bigotry. and Mr. Slater that is aexactly what you are doing. you can sugar coat and hide it behind pretty words all you like but at the end of the day your asking us to accept the full out rape of a people’s legal and natural rights simply because a group wanted them and that people’s property.

          Israel’s purpose is irrelevant Mr. Slater, its creation and its existence is a criminal denial of palestinian rights.

        • pjdude says:

          CK writes: “The notion seems to be that the state of Israel is being brought before a tribunal for murder of Palestinians, and everyone thinks that a merely negligent homicide mitigated by self-defense would be sufficient for acquittal.”

          Actually, that wouldn’t be my argument. If I thought that the murder and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians had been a “necessary” and unavoidable consequence of the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, then I would agree that the Jewish state should not have been established there. So my argument is that there were a number of alternatives to the Nakba, none of which the Israelis even contemplated, let alone tried. To be developed…

          By the way, as you can guess, I am in entire agreement with your criticism of SSG, that it is hard to see how Palestinian rights can be realized in the absence of their own state.

          your alleged naivity and arguably than willful ignorance is justification for your support of a crime. Really the creation of a state for a religion on land inhabited and collectively “owned” for political rights by another could be created by not stealing from them. How exactly since you claim their was another way??

        • LeaNder says:

          Jerry, I can understand this makes you angry. But admittedly I admittedly can’t read too much of the “news from Palestine”, it does make angry too. A really interesting question is, if Israel changed it’s attitude towards the Palestinians, would the eliminatory terminology remain? Could it? Only then we would ultimately know what is pure antisemitism or “new antisemitism”.
          ************************************************

          thanks David, since I am a bit late, I thought I better look since somebody already pointed this out to our spiritual leader. I don’t think, by the way, his cynicism was hard to see, given the context.

          Jerry,
          Are you really serious?

          are you serious? Sometimes you are really amazingly daft, the English would say. Balmy, bonkers, maybe?

      • Keith says:

        JNSLATER- In discussing the purpose of Zionism and the motivation of early and current Zionists, your opinion regarding pogroms and the Holocaust hardly makes the point. What did the early Zionists say and do? You are unaware of the Ben-Gurion quote regarding saving only half the Jewish children in Israel being preferable to all of the children in England? You are unaware of Israel prior to World War II refusing refuge to “undesirable” Eastern European Jews in favor of young American Zionist Jews? There is a long history of Zionist perfidy which you seem to be in denial of. I’m out of town and away from my references or I would supply you (and WJ) with ample references for those who care to look. The harsh reality which you and other Zionists choose to ignore or misrepresent is that Zionism, far from providing refuge for persecuted Jews, needed the Holocaust to achieve its goal of a Jewish state in Palestine and acted accordingly.

        As an alternative, let us discuss Israel’s relationship to Diaspora Jews. Simply stated, Israel needs the Diaspora a lot more than the Diaspora needs Israel. In order to succeed, the Jewish state required Imperial sponsorship. Herzl and other Zionists attempted to “sell” Zionism to the various European powers as an imperial outpost, an oasis of civilization in a sea of barbarity is how I recall Herzl phrased it to the Ottoman Sultan. Israel has always been hegemonic and Western oriented, never trying to fit in with the Middle Eastern culture that, in fact, more accurately reflects the roots of historical Judaism. Israel cannot be a warfare state hegemon on its own, it and its economy are too small to fund the massive outlays necessary for a Jewish Sparta. This means that Israel is dependent upon US sponsorship and US funding. This means that Israel is dependent upon the Jewish Zionist Diaspora to secure that support and funding. The current reality which you and other Zionists choose to ignore is that Israel, far from providing a safe haven from anti-Semitism, needs a strong Zionist Diaspora to achieve its hegemonic ambitions. Israeli warmongering is hardly conducive to peace and security. Likewise, fanatical Jewish Zionist support for Israel is hardly conducive to positive relations between American Jews and American Gentiles.

        • Citizen says:

          Keith, thank you for sharing your thoughts here, hurried as they are due to your being away from home and corresponding demands on your time at the moment. What you say is well documented. It’s all been documented on this blog many times in the past by credible sources.

          Most pointedly, this is very true: “…Zionism, far from providing refuge for persecuted Jews, needed the Holocaust to achieve its goal of a Jewish state in Palestine and acted accordingly.” There would be no state of Israel today but for the Holocaust, the proximate cause of the recognition and Gentile support of the state of Israel, which served as its prime justification, especially for nearly all Americans, who at the crucial time never met a Zionist, let alone the Zionists Truman tried to ban from his WH door, and would have except for his weak spot for his old Jewish business partner. One can only imagine if Truman’s old business partner had been, say of Lebanese extraction, let alone Palestininian or Syrian. He sure didn’t like that Cleveland Rabbi Silver pounding his fist on the oval office desk. He was so upset he had to have his Jewish helper Niles intercede, act as his conduit for his response to the Zionists since he recognized he was spouting classical anti-semitic verbiage as reaction to Zionist arrogant and humilating demands to a US President. (Also, goys actually don’t like to be so labeled or called, despite the considerable success of Philip Roth et all into the top rungs of US literature. Of course Joe The Plumber never even heard or saw the term at all. It’s not hard to imagine what Joe would say once he learned about the term “goy” and its derivative “goyishekopf.”)

  17. Shmuel and Jerry,
    Thank you for a stimulating and civil conversation.

    I think it is obvious that the two-state “solution” is MUCH closer diplomatically than the single state, and should be invested in.

    Shmuel,
    I was confused by your early declaration that both proposed solutions are fundamentally flawed, and that I thought you inferred that neither was better than the other ultimately. Then, later in a response, you spoke of a preference for the single-state.

    To Israelis, the assertion of human rights combined with single state, is a very different approach than just human rights (implying human rights within the context of partition).

    • Chaos4700 says:

      Witty, Israelis CANNOT be trusted to respect the Human rights of any of their neighbors. There isn’t a country Israel neighbors that they haven’t A) drawn first blood in a preemptive strike or B) deliberately attacked civilians. And often, both, and at the same time.

      • fuster says:

        Chaos, maybe Israel’s neighbors aren’t really big on respecting human rights either, not even the rights of their own populations. not a single one of those neighbors can be trusted to upheld standards of human rights.
        it’s not like living in Wisconsin, kid.

        • Citizen says:

          Gee, fuster, after all US political leaders have directly implied living in Israeli-controlled country is exactly like living in Wisconsin?

        • Chaos4700 says:

          Which is kind of prescient, actually, considering Governor Walker has been threatening to arrest Democratic politicians and call out the National Guard.

      • ToivoS says:

        Chaos why do you try to engage RW in rational discussion. He says:

        To Israelis, the assertion of human rights combined with single state, is a very different approach than just human rights (implying human rights within the context of partition).

        This makes no sense whatsoever. Why do you argue with such nonsensical rhetoric? If he lacks the ability to communicate with the rest of the English speaking world, maybe he should just be ignored.

        • Shmuel is arguing that he is not combining BDS with single state, that he is not advocating for the combination of single state with human rights as emphasis.

          I’m stating that the argument for human rights alone is compelling and motivating, but that the combination in any formulation of single state with human rights is an advocacy for the elimination of Israel, revolution, externally coerced regime change.

          Something different in Israelis’ eyes.

          Too difficult to understand?

        • What’s difficult to understand is your convoluted syntax. However, you appear to have argued that Israel is by definition incapable of granting universal human rights without acceding to its own elimination. As pithy a summation as any and one in which the leaders of Israel seem to agree, which is why they apply such aggressive violence to making sure it can’t happen.
          In other words, Israel can only exist by recognising rights for Jews alone (regardless of their origin), and denying them to others, specifically the indigenous people. How right you are.

        • Richard,

          The idea of a single state is merely one logical conclusion of the human rights argument. There are other possible conclusions, but they are all equally onerous to most Israelis, because it is the principle of Palestinian equality that they reject, not the number of states (or “externally coerced regime change”).

        • To the extent that the BDS or human rights movement literally does not contain the desire that Israel not exist as Israel, then the human rights efforts will be seen as human rights efforts.

          Human rights work will be applauded by many. BDS will be harder to digest as it is definitively selective and punitive.

          To the extent that human rights work is associated with the single-state, it will be perceived as a blatant assault on what Israelis and sympathizers regard as very dear.

          Human rights efforts are health. They are required for any national state to remain national AND democratic.

          Revolution efforts are by definition purgative.

          The association between BDS and Palestinian nationalism and single-state advocacy is out. That it is regarded proudly, makes it present, not just a passing concept.

          That single-state advocacy is primarily approached as a component of Palestinian nationalism is also out, seen.

          The single state is not currently presented as an actually intended effort for universal human rights on its own, with corresponding party formation, documentation of commitment to universal civil rights, and respect for existing democratic institutions.

          It is presented only as dissent, only as radical, only as condemnation.

          And, therefore it FAILS to persuade, if it intended to.

        • eljay says:

          >> To the extent that the BDS or human rights movement literally does not contain the desire that Israel not exist as Israel, then the human rights efforts will be seen as human rights efforts.

          Desiring the existence of Israel as a supremacist “Jewish state” would not be a human rights achievement. It would be an achievement of Zio-supremacism and fraudulent “humanism”…which explains why you’re all for it.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          The point of BDS in South Africa wasn’t to persuade people like Jack Abramoff to stop supporting apartheid, anymore than BDS is intended to persuade you to stop supporting Zionist apartheid.

          The point is to make Zionism unprofitable for you, and therefore you will abandon it.

        • “And, therefore it FAILS to persuade, if it intended to.”

          Like your perverse murder of the English language fails to persuade, let alone make coherent arguments. It is apparent you haven’t been able to understand the myriad of arguments put forward here, as you fail to discuss the implications of failed solutions and human rights.

        • kapok says:

          makes no sense Thus ToivoS.

          You must be new here. I’ve been wondering the same thing since the early days of this blog.

        • If the goal of BDS is to affect a change in Israeli policies, from denial of civil rights to affirmation of civil rights, then it has to persuade Israeli voters.

          I assert that if it is stated contemptuously and threatens the existence of Israel, which Israelis hold dear, then BDS and everything associated will be rejected and dismissed, ignored.

          If the goal is to improve the condition of Palestinians, it is then better to pursue an approach that is not ignored.

          Israel IS a democracy. It is not a single party state, not a dictatorship of an individual. The path to making change in a democracy is electoral.

        • Citizen says:

          Naw, Witty, it’s easy to understand what you are saying: 2S solution is best because no Palestine state will be accepted by Israel that is a fully sovereign state like Israel. Jews must maintain over all control of all the former mandate land, no matter the nature of the solution. Full equal civil rights for all will never be allowed by Jews in a 1s Israel, and in the 2s solution, there will be a veneer of sovereignty for any Palestine rump state, which is the most they will get. In short, 2s is best for Brand Israel PR.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Israel IS a democracy. It is not a single party state, not a dictatorship of an individual. ”

          These are not the only two ways in which a state is not a democracy. For example, you could only permit 1/2 of the people under the rule of the government to have a say in the policies of that government. Such a state is not democratic, even if privileged half vote.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          The boycott of South Africa didn’t persuade South African voters, Witty — not the least of which being that the majority of the country had no vote to persuade. Because they were African.

          I don’t care what white European squatters vote in Israel. They’re criminals and terrorists. If they did the shit on US soil that they do to Palestinians, nowadays, they would be felons and they would not be able to vote.

          There is no persuading Zionists to be reasonable, Witty. You prove that for us on a daily basis.

        • Israel does employ one-person one-vote among its citizens. As I said, it is feasible to form a-nationalist parties, that can attract Jewish and non-Jewish voters.

          An ANTI-Zionist party would likely not achieve much besides division. A party that sincerely was a-nationalist, even with a commercial orientation, could achieve participation in the government.

          It takes work, not just talk.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          One-person one-vote only existed after the half the native, predominantly non-Jewish population were run out in a hail of gunfire and explosions. And you more than ever insist that it’s only worth existing as long as and only if Jews are the majority.

          “Seperate but equal” was proven to be a morally bankrupt, fraudulent concept in the 1960′s. Where were you, Witty?

  18. James North says:

    I want to thank Shmuel and (most of ) the commenters for an extraordinarily thoughtful discussion, quite possibly the best I’ve ever seen on Mondoweiss.

  19. Lots of good points here. If I may add one point: this discussion revolves around the notion of a solution, and whether we can realistically envisage one. Shmuel is right, I think, to challenge the superficial commitment of many Israeli supporters to a ‘two-state’ solution, as if it somehow excuses them from the endemic violent prejudice of their state. Approving a two state solution, whilst they think it burnishes their liberal credentials, is almost never accompanied by a serious analysis of what that would mean and how it would be achieved. The beauty of it, for them, is that they can sound reasonable, without ever having to change anything about their current lifestyles. For the ‘however-many-states’ solutions are all aspirations – dreams, ideals whose chief characteristic is that they all exist in the indeterminate future, far enough away to safely ignore for the time being, that fulsome lip service can paid to them.
    In that sense, Shmuel and Bhargouti are correct – what can we do now, right now, to move things forward, and alleviate the suffering of a stateless people with no rights? The assumption of the ‘solutions’ camp has always been that a state, however stunted, will grant the Palestinians rights and freedom. However, one of Zionism’s (many) Kafaesque strategies is to continually make vague overtures to ‘peace’ and a ‘solution’, whilst doing everything in its power to ensure that the day on which these events may occur never comes to pass. There is always an obstacle, the time is not right, there is no-one to talk to, the pre-conditions aren’t acceptable, etc etc etc. for ever more. This IS the solution for Zionism – never having final status talks, while everyday another family is evicted, another home destroyed, another orchard razed. The solution is never giving in, never meeting the Palestinians on equal terms, never defining borders or agreements which have to be kept. And all the time making vague references to future scenarios, all safely residing in a fantasy fit for media and Congress dupes.
    Therefore arguing what version of the ‘state’ solution is the right one is as pointless and diverting as its opponents would like. As long as the talking and arguing go on land is taken, roads are built, evictions go on.
    So to my mind Schmuel and Barghouti are right not to waste time on it. Sure, you can make cogent arguments, as people here have done, that the two state solution is easier to envisage, but that doesn’t make it any more likely to happen – certainly not a proper independent Palestinian state, as opposed to a series of enclave and ghettos ruled by Israel. For me S and B are simply saying the never-to-be state will not finally grant Palestinians human rights if it never materialises. Better to reverse the argument – Palestinians should be granted full human rights now, and then in the fullness of time a state, or two states will emerge from the exercise of their free and democratic rights. It is about process and not solutions. There is absolutely no reason why Palestinians should not have the same civil, democratic and human rights as Jewish people whichever part of Greater Israel they inhabit. That should be the focus of any negotiations or demands, and should be implemented BEFORE the endless prevarications and excuses that Israel hides behind. Waiting for a benighted, stunted state to somehow grant rights which should be there now is exactly what Zionist are happy with, because it will always be put off, deflected and ultimately rejected.

    • The significance of the two-state solution resulting from an agreement is that at that point the expropriation of land, the prohibition from Palestinian active civil rights, is ended.

      The nakba is then ended.

      There will still be people affected by the residue of that history, but thats it. (Refugees still denied citizenship in Lebanon, Syria, after three generations born their.)

      If Palestinians and their solidarity are angrier than they are hopeful for a decent liberated life, then they will continue to advocate for the elimination of Israel, RATHER than focusing on their community health.

      Its not there yet, but distractions from the two-state approach, reduce the likelihood that it will occur. As it is the only game in town currently, and that relatively free transit and a more federal state is possible to morph from the two-state, then it is a good path.

      • You illustrate my point perfectly. All talk and vague waffle, no substance. But it no doubt makes you feel righteous talking about a good path. So what, when the path has been there for decades and not a single Israeli official has ventured anywhere near it. In twenty years time you will be saying exactly the same generalised hot air. Did you read the article or this thread? Because if you have, you haven’t understood a thing.

        • eljay says:

          >> The significance of the two-state solution resulting from an agreement is that at that point the expropriation of land, the prohibition from Palestinian active civil rights, is ended.

          Poor Israel, its hands are tied. Until a two-state solution comes to pass, Israel has no choice but to continue to oppress, steal, colonize, destroy and kill. No matter how much it would like to stop, it cannot, it MUST not! It is a victim of circumstance. Poor, poor Israel.

          A hateful Zio-supremacist AND a pathetic apologist. Will wonders never cease.

        • It makes me clear on what is the appropriate, just, and plausible goal.

          You seem to indulge in the fantasy that dissent and condemnation is equivalent to commitment, to support of Palestinians, people.

          Work for Palestinians well-being already. Work to improve their condition, their experience, their earned dignity.

          To that, Israel is a model of a people bootstrapping, determining to form a functional, robust, humane (yes), democratic government.

          The revolutionary impulse that ends there accomplishes nothing. To succeed at revolution even, requires thinking and acting for the next steps, the revival of community, the development of institutions of self-governance. Form after chaos.

          And, if you are going to start thinking about actual community building, most likely you will make common cause with those of good intention that have already done so.

        • Just remind us, will you, what work you do to practically assist the Palestinians struggle for human rights.

        • I speak, write, sympathize.

          In the past, I’ve been involved in facilitating the fundraising for a joint Israeli/Palestinian solar display system supporting a clinic that did not have access to a reliable grid. (That was a long time ago, and I wasn’t a leader of that in the slightest. I wrote a single fundraising letter.)

        • Chaos4700 says:

          …And this is what Witty sympathizes with.

          Israeli Jets Level University Buildings in Gaza
          (11th headline down)

          This is what you pay for, Witty, when you give to Israel. When you participate and support fundraising for the IDF.

          Do you really think that compensates for the smaller gestures you make toward tossing crumbs to the Palestinians? When a bomb or an angry settler destroys that solar power array, what does that mean about what the money you’ve spent on Israel and on Palestine has accomplished overall?

        • eljay says:

          >> I speak, write, sympathize.

          RW sympathizes:
          >> I cannot consistently say that “ethnic cleansing is never necessary”.
          >> If I was an adult in 1948, I probably would have supported whatever it took to create the state of Israel, and held my nose at actions that I could not possibly do myself.
          >> Currently [ethnic cleansing is] not necessary.

          I can only imagine how it must warm the hearts of Palestinians when you share these vile tidbits of Zio-supremacism with them.

        • Eljay,
          Hopefully, Palestinians will respect the determination to save people, create a viable self-governing state, and HEAR my present views of support for improvement in their conditions, self-governance, legal claims.

          Not all employ misrepresentative litmus tests to determine potential friendship.

          That you do NOT express sympathy for the plight of post-WW2 Jewish refugees is an inhumanity that I expect Palestinians desiring loyal and committed alliance would have some doubts about.

          The present is more important.

        • eljay says:

          >> That you do NOT express sympathy for the plight of post-WW2 Jewish refugees …

          I do express sympathy for the plight of post-WW2 Jewish refugees. What I don’t express, among other things, is:
          - a belief in your supremacist ideology;
          - agreement with your hateful assertion that ethnic cleansing could ever be necessary; and
          - the desire to reward criminals and punish victims.

          You pretend you’re a “humanist”, but you have demonstrated time and again that you are, in fact, a Zio-supremacist, a fraud and a hypocrite.

        • Eljay,
          What do you think of removing 550,000 Jews in the West Bank? You approve, or do you disapprove, in the PRESENT, not an academic exercise about events that happened 6 years before I was born.?

          What do you think? Should they be forced to leave?

          If you say yes, then in the present, you are advocating for current ethnic cleansing, when other options are possible.

          What is more a subject of ethical question, an academic question about events 6 years before my birth, or the present?

          You do note that in the present I oppose current ethnic cleansing of Palestinians? Yes?

        • fuster says:

          Witty,
          when the land reverts and the settlers are offered a chance to swear allegiance to Palestine and Palestine’s laws, when they’re offered a chance to show that they’re living on land to which they hold good title under Palestinian law or to vacate, when few or no settlers will swear or can show good title and are treated accordingly, will you say that the settlers aren’t being justly served?

        • Cliff says:

          Those illegal settlers are illegal settlers. That’s their identity first and foremost.

          You can paint them as Jews first to garner sympathy from Christian Zionists and the naive, but you’re not fooling anyone else.

          You are a hypocrite. You tolerate ethnic cleansing when it is in your favor. You are intolerant of international law when it is not in your favor.

          So now, you are opposed to the removal of illegal settlements and colonialists but have no problem with the colonization of Palestine up til now.

          Your opinion means nothing.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          “Forced to leave?” Witty, I think they should be forced to obey the law.

        • I’ll say that law that is color-blind honors a residents’ rights over a theoretical one, and that residents should have the opportunity to perfect the title to their land by compensation.

          The exclusive nature of the settlements will be gone. The Israeli government subsidy will be gone. The protection of the Israeli military will be gone.

          If the Palestinians desire to establish an ethnically distinguished law, rather than a color-blind preference for residence (as would be required to validate the assertions of the former fellahin), then they will be applying an ethnically prejudicial basis of law, rather than a democratic one.

          What will you say? Throw them out, they are interlopers.

          Would you say the same thing to Arabs that claim relative title by squatters’ permission within Israel (that is not a pejorative “squatter”, but a status of residence with precedent among fellahin).

        • Cliff,
          You tolerate ethnic cleansing when it is in your favor.

          I actually don’t. I assert that in the present (the world that I can impact and “judge”), that to displace en masse is a cruelty.

        • eljay says:

          >> Eljay,
          >> What do you think of removing 550,000 Jews in the West Bank?

          Here’s what I think.

          >> If you say yes, then in the present, you are advocating for current ethnic cleansing, when other options are possible.

          Damn, you’re lame. Israel has stolen and the settlers have gladly partaken of that which has been stolen. To deprive thieves of stolen goods is not “ethnic cleansing”. And I am far from suggesting that the settlers be shoved away at gun-point and herded off into ghettos. Here’s the specific paragraph from my linked-to post, just in case you’re too lazy to click the link:
          ————————————————
          4. Former Israeli settlements on or near the mutual border may revert to Israeli control pursuant to a fair and equitable negotiated “land swap”. All settlements built prior to 1993 Oslo Accords remain intact. All settlements built after 1993 subject to review. While most post-1993 settlement should remain untouched, contentious ones may be partially or fully dismantlement. In case of a dismantlement:
          - Palestine to cover the costs (including FMV compensation for property) of relocating any formerly-Israeli civilians (i.e., Israeli settlers) to elsewhere in Palestine.
          - Israel to cover the similar costs of relocating any formerly-Israeli civilians to somewhere in Israel.
          ————————————————

          >> You do note that in the present I oppose current ethnic cleansing of Palestinians? Yes?

          I note that you consider it “currently not necessary”. I also note that you: “cannot consistently say that ‘ethnic cleansing is never necessary’.” So, while you currently oppose it, you approve of its implementation in the past and you may very well approve of its implementation in the future. Not exactly comforting, and certainly not how anyone who cares about human beings should ever view ethnic cleansing.

        • annie says:

          don’t play stupid richard. the settlements are illegal because the land is stolen, not because it is stolen by jews. unlike the jewish ethnic cleansing of palestinian no one is being asked to leave because they are jewish, it is because the land does not belong to them in the first place. go look up the crime of ethnic cleansing the operative word being ‘ethnic’.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          I think this is funny (and tragic) that Witty is so solipsist, he doesn’t care that what Zionists did was a crime against humanity. Different laws apply to Jews than to anyone else, and so therefore a special exception must be made for Jewish criminals.

          The problem is, Witty is right — double standards are applied, as a matter of course, when it comes to US policy in many fields of government and commerce. That explains yonira’s conversion and a lot of like-minded peoples, I suspect. And also the flood of Russian “Jewish” immigrants that Israel imported from the former Soviet Union to bolster an ailing, artificial white majority.

        • Potsherd2 says:

          It’s not a game, annie, it’s the real thing.

        • pjdude says:

          in other words you thin criminals being brought to justice is cruel. I hope that you will be the victims of many a crime and see how you like that attitude toward those that harmed you.

        • pjdude says:

          they don’t have a good title as they aren’t bona fide purchasers. why do you think jews should be above one of the most fundemental aspects of property law?

        • But, removing 550,000 by force (your statement differs from Eljay’s summary) would be stealing as well. Its not stealing land, but stealing buildings, roads, swingsets, even swimming pools.

          And, sadly, as ONLY Jews would be evicted, and without any proposal of due process before the law, it is ethnic cleansing.

          One rationalization for displacing most of the Palestinians that were displaced was “they don’t have valid title to the land, they are fellahin, squatters”.

          My recommendation is one for a preferably kind legal remedy, NOT a claim that the settlers have a right to own land that they don’t, individually or collectively.

          It is homes, it is not anonymous commercial property, not stocks and bonds.

        • Sumud says:

          But, removing 550,000 by force (your statement differs from Eljay’s summary) would be stealing as well.

          Who is actually talking about removing illegal Israeli settlers by force, other than you? Fayyad’s offer that illegal Israeli settlers may stay in Palestine if they choose to become Palestinian citizens and abide by Palestinian law is more than any of them have the right to expect. So the illegal Israeli settlers now have a choice: return to the country where they are citizens, or give up their Israeli citizenship and remain in Palestine. You’re always banging on about self-determination; exercising that choice, and possibly taking up Fayyad’s generous offer is a fine example of self-determination.

          Now – what do you think will be Israel’s reciprocal offer to the millions of Palestinian refugees who are rightly Israeli citizens?

          And, sadly, as ONLY Jews would be evicted, and without any proposal of due process before the law, it is ethnic cleansing.

          Just. silly.

          One rationalization for displacing most of the Palestinians that were displaced was “they don’t have valid title to the land, they are fellahin, squatters”.

          Orientalist rubbish. Land ownership in Palestine pre-1948 was well documented. Who are you quoting with those quotation marks Richard?

        • Cliff says:

          No Witty, your ethnically cleansing State is still stealing land and demolishing homes. It’s still as racist and hateful as it ever was because Zionism is a destabilizing logic in a region that is not predominantly Jewish.

          You characterize the removal of illegal settlers and settlements as ethnic cleansing when it has nothing to do with their ethnicity or religion. It has to do with land theft. It’s not their land. They stole it. They colonized it. They are still doing this. They do it daily.

          You are a propagandist and a hypocrite. You are not fooling anyone. There is no such thing as liberal Zionism. You don’t create a Jewish State in Palestine without getting rid of the natives.

        • Koshiro says:

          “Its not stealing land, but stealing buildings, roads, swingsets, even swimming pools.”
          If they find a way to take those with them, they’re welcome to.

          “And, sadly, as ONLY Jews would be evicted, and without any proposal of due process before the law, it is ethnic cleansing.”
          Don’t you worry: All Christians, Muslims or Shintoists among the settlers have to be evicted as well.

        • fuster says:

          Chaos, whose law? which ones?

        • fuster says:

          pjdude, good titles aren’t going to be found for other people, either.

          titles are going to be a problem.

        • Koshiro says:

          “Would you say the same thing to Arabs that claim relative title by squatters’ permission within Israel”
          Israeli Arabs are Israeli citizens. Settlers are not Palestinian citizens. If they want to become Palestinian citizens, they should go through the immigration process. They actually need not wait for the establishment of a Palestinian state, they can try to do so right now.

        • Donald says:

          Richard operates by a rule that is simple–Israeli Jews get to benefit from crimes while Palestinians should only expect to receive what hasn’t yet been stolen. It’s fair for 500,000 Israeli Jews to profit from war crimes–it’s unrealistic and anti-peace to demand for Palestinians the right to return to their own land.
          And Richard isn’t just some monstrous solipsist that thinks he’s a peace advocate–yes, he’s that, but he’s more than that. He’s representative of how many unconsciously racist Westerners think.

        • Citizen says:

          Israel is a model of a people bootstrapping? It gets its boots from
          Uncle Sam’s Thrifty Gift Store. The Palestinians have no shoes. How can they strap them up, let alone strap up boots?

        • James North says:

          Donald: This is exactly why I stopped taking Richard at all seriously. By his logic, the Jewish settlers who moved into the giant West Bank settlement complex of Har Homa over the past few years — knowing that Har Homa is illegal under international law — are entitled to have their property “rights” protected. But the Palestinians who were expelled to build the complex should forget about their rights in order to promote justice in “the present.”
          I also agree with you that we must recognize that Richard’s tortured views are all too representative. All I can add is that the tremendous and growing reach of Mondoweiss proves that a more just view is growing, particularly among the young.

        • Chaos4700 says:

          You’re not worth arguing with, fuster. I have no respect for monsters who don’t know and don’t care about cornerstones of modern human rights like the Geneva Conventions.

        • CK MacLeod says:

          Get off your high horse for once, Chaos. What’s happened to the Palestinians is atrocious, but it’s not the only flaw in an otherwise perfect world picture, and there’d be no picnic awaiting whoever took over after the Israelis all went into their corner and mortified themselves for shame.

          Regarding the almost-crime of the century of the founding of the state of Israel and associated events, consider what else the world was dealing with in 1948: 2 million more Germans were in the process of dying off, largely un-mourned by the world, mainly the more vulnerable among the ca. 16 million who were being ethnically cleansed from areas of the former Reich across the Oder-Neisse. Many had been living in those areas continuously for centuries. Refugees in the millions heading the other direction, including veteran Red Army soldiers, were returning to diverse Hells on Earth, and hardly anyone was in a position to more than wring their hands and cry crocodile tears over it. A bit closer to the ME, 1 million Greeks were being displaced by a civil war that would go on to claims 10s of thousands of lives. A few thousand miles away, the Communist-Nationalist Chinese Civil War was at its height, with armies in the millions facing off and 100,000s of civilian deaths – 150,000 by starvation in the siege of Changchun alone. Around 1 million people are estimated to have been killed in the aftermath of the partition of India, during the transfers of ca. 12.5 million between newly divided India and Pakistan.

          Meanwhile, the two global empires were facing off under the shadow of potential nuclear war, with the full division of the entire wrecked continent of Europe still in play.

          Just some highlights, just the year 1948. People were still playing a lot of hardball in those days, though to a large extent it was just national-industrial scale versions of what’s been going on since forever.

          Morality arises within states, rarely between them – that’s one of the main reasons people value them and will fight and kill to keep them, my country right or wrong. The main exception to that rule in the modern era tends to be associated with Wilsonism, though it of course had a pragmatic and self-interested side, as well as a compromised application. One of its fundamental precepts was ethnic self-determination – often accomplished through land swaps and population transfers. It led to one of the main ideas underlying the United Nations – a state for everyone and everyone in a state. Yet what the UN was meant to finish and sort out justly instead continues world round to this day.

          Real people’s real lives are at stake in the Holy Land, and the devilish Israelis may not be the worst devils available. And that’s not “hasbara,” that’s just the way things are.

        • pjdude says:

          But, removing 550,000 by force (your statement differs from Eljay’s summary) would be stealing as well. Its not stealing land, but stealing buildings, roads, swingsets, even swimming pools.

          tough. if they were dumb enough to spend money investing in stolen property its not the fault of the owners of the property

          And, sadly, as ONLY Jews would be evicted, and without any proposal of due process before the law, it is ethnic cleansing.

          because only jews broke the law in this regard. So in you mind the only way to get rid of the thieves would be to expell legal residents who legally own their property?

          One rationalization for displacing most of the Palestinians that were displaced was “they don’t have valid title to the land, they are fellahin, squatters”.

          one that was false and rascist

          My recommendation is one for a preferably kind legal remedy, NOT a claim that the settlers have a right to own land that they don’t, individually or collectively.

          no your recomendation is ignoring the victims of crimes so the criminals can be happy. what you want is amoral and a violation of the law, human decenvy, and common sense.

          It is homes, it is not anonymous commercial property, not stocks and bonds.

          again tough they shouyld have thought of that before living on stolen property. why does it matter that it is a home for a bunch of jewish thieves but not for the displaced legal owners.

          Witty your just a rascist thug who thinks its ok for jews to steal.

        • pjdude says:

          wrong. good titles can be found for the real owners. we can go back to british cencus documents to show this

        • Chaos4700 says:

          Not to mention Ottoman records.

        • Koshiro says:

          “Meanwhile, the two global empires were facing off under the shadow of potential nuclear war”
          Considering that the USSR did not yet have nuclear weapons – not likely.
          In any case: None of what you write is an argument of any kind. For one, it’s a strawman fallacy, because Chaos never claimed that it was ‘the only flaw in an otherwise perfect world picture’. In addition, it’s what I’ll call for lack of a better term a ‘perfect world fallacy’. Just because something objectionable happens often, it does not mean that any single instance of it is less objectionable. Nor does it mean that one’s objections are less valid unless he objects to all instances at once.

          Sorry, man, you just wasted a lot of words on false arguments. And you didn’t do your historical research.

        • CK MacLeod says:

          Koshiro, first one the minor historical point:

          Considering that the USSR did not yet have nuclear weapons – not likely.

          There were serious advocates of the U.S. exploiting its temporary monopoly in nuclear weapons to overcome the U.S.S.R.’s vast advantage in conventional arms and manpower. The Soviets had the blueprints, the materials, and a very active program, and would do their first bomb test in 1949. A pre-emptive war would have been nuclearized, and the prospect of a civilization-destroying nuclear war was already filling people’s imaginations while the wreckage of the prior world war was still being cleaned up. The more salient point is that the two powers were already squaring off and sizing each other up. Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech was given in 1946.

          To the main point, Chaos, like many here but more so, constantly lashes out at anyone who tries to cope with the reality of the situation or to put it in context.

          You’re not worth arguing with, fuster. I have no respect for monsters who don’t know and don’t care about cornerstones of modern human rights like the Geneva Conventions.

          A monster? Compared to whom? Or are we all monsters? If we’re all monsters, then every monster will do whatever monstrous things to safeguard its monstrous interests.

          Actually, I think fuster does know a little bit about the Geneva Convention, but Chaos in a state of such constant overflowing self-superior rage over the Naqba that he doesn’t pause even to think about what other people are thinking or saying, or to employ even a tiny bit of humility about the moral perfection of Israel’s major critics and their priorities.

          It’s the kind of attitude that, in the real world, leads almost invariably to one of two things, pathetically hypocritical and childishly absurd self-gratifying gestures that are laughed off by grown-ups, or, in the rare cases of success, results are even worse than whatever harm-above-all-harms is being combated.

  20. MHughes976 says:

    I’d just like to put it to Professor Slater – my third attempt – that the idea of a state where there is a special position for some but an equal position for all is so plain a logical contradiction that we don’t need elaborate surveys of history to show that it won’t work.
    Rights are the heart of the matter because Zionism is essentially a claim of right – Jewish people, and only they, have a right to a share in sovereignty over the holy land. You have only to look at the words and ideas contained in this claim to see that no proposition about anti-Semitism, however true, could offer it logical support. The only logically valid support comes from the theory of divine donation, whose truth is open to much dispute.

    • That is the inherent tension in EVERY national state. (the struggle to preserve the #and democratic# character).

      It certainly would occur within a two-state Palestine, and within a single state.

      The basis of Israel currently as a state, as Israel, is the concept of self-governance, self-determination.

      Its role as haven from persecution is diminished currently. That does not mean that that will never again be its role. One can hope that that is the case.

      It still is the site of the consent of the governed, of the Jewish majority.

      • Citizen says:

        Gotta love those separate but equal eating and toilet facilities. So a Palestinian should be Steppin’ Fetchit?

      • MHughes976 says:

        A contradiction is a contradiction. ‘All have equal rights’ and ‘some have special rights’ is a contradiction and you can’t struggle to reconcile the tension between them, since one is true and one is false and there’s nothing anyone can begin to do about it. Either all men are mortal or some men aren’t: not both. There is no point in looking elaborately for examples of a contradiction where both opposites are true, since there cannot be any, no more than there can be examples of two and two adding up to five.

    • CK MacLeod says:

      (I’m going to withdraw my prior provisional agreement with your definition, MHughes, even as a functional definition, and I’m wondering if you’re repeating it unaltered from your original statement of it. “Only they”? I think Zionism presently stands for a Jewish “share in sovereignty” over some part of the Holy Land, not necessarily an exclusive share.)

      • annie says:

        I think Zionism presently stands for a Jewish “share in sovereignty” over some part of the Holy Land, not necessarily an exclusive share.

        you wouldn’t have some source confirming Zionism presently stands for a Jewish “share in sovereignty”….. would you?

        • CK MacLeod says:

          you wouldn’t have some source confirming Zionism presently stands for a Jewish “share in sovereignty>

          Logic and observation. “The Holy Land” can be defined in various ways, but it generally refers to a region that at its furthest extent includes present-day Israel, the OT, Jordan, and even some of Lebanon. To state the obvious, no one of any significance in Israel asserts anything remotely satisfying MHughes’ definition.

        • Citizen says:

          Maybe I misinterpret MHughes. I read that he is directly implying “full sovereignty,” not merely some aspects of same, nor full sovereignty on paper easily avoided de facto in all the usual ways. I think my direct implication is justified by looking at the context, the whole thread here MHuges has been commenting within.

        • MHughes976 says:

          I’m sorry if I’ve been puzzling.
          It hadn’t struck me, Citizen, that you had misinterpreted me. I take Zionism to claim a right, which is indeed about ‘full sovereignty’ in that it is the right to help – certainly in genuine reality, not just for show – elect a government. That would be the government of a certain territory, fairly commonly called the Holy Land. This term is certainly not very precise, but to my mind, CK, this imprecision is appropriate because the extent and boundaries of the territory have never been made clear. What is clear is that there exists a substantial and important territory to which the claim applies.
          I think it’s clear that Zionism concerns a right that some people have simply because they are Jewish, a birthright. It does not concede a birthright based on race or religion to anyone not Jewish and to this extent is ‘exclusive’ – a matter of ‘the Jewish people and only they’ in their unique position.
          However it is fully possible within this definition for Zionists to extend a share in sovereignty, voting rights etc., to non-Jewish people on the basis of grace and generosity. Most Zionists have in fact been anxious to do this, so long as it remains clear that others are not heirs to the HL, true heirs with birthright of race or religion, in the sense that Jewish people are.
          Well, if anyone thinks that this definition is misleading I’m fully open to correction. I think it’s helpful to consider definitions because if many of us meant different things by ‘Zionism’ confusion would ensue.

        • CK MacLeod says:

          I still don’t think that works, MHughes. The main authorities for this sole sovereignty would be Biblical, but the shape of ancient “Israel” (which as I understand it in Biblical terms is actually more the name of the people than a defined geographical entity) changes over the course of the Bible. What is clear is that God the Eternal orders the Jews to abide by his commandments, but, in rather significant and even definitional ways, working with history, of course, divorces them from the land.

          This goes to the essence of Judaism, and therefore travels well beyond the scope of this discussion, even if, arguably, the two discussions become inextricably intertwined at some point. An interesting though obviously speculative question to me is whether the idealization of the Jewish Law couldn’t be the basis for a Jewish – or perhaps a Judaic – state whose shape in the Law, anyway, would be a greater burden on the Jew, but otherwise rely on absolute “Noahchide” equality before the law.

          In the meantime, Zionism mainly has a functional definition – chiefly to be derived from the public statements and actions of Zionists, which have indicated a willingness to share or yield sovereignty even at the holiest of holy sites.

      • pjdude says:

        if you think that you have your head in the sand and refuse to deal with reality

  21. pjdude says:

    to claim that a jewish state was necesary is to claim war crimes were neccesary. at best that makes you a thug at worst it makes you an evil racist.

    • Citizen says:

      I guess if you’re running from the Devil, you get to hide an/or defend yourself anywhere. The question is, for how along? And do you get to take over the whole place. Again, for how long?

      • MHughes976 says:

        I have problems with this. Surely we can’t say that someone whose life is threatened gains the right to do anything to anybody and take anything from anyone, so long as it helps preserve his life, even in the short term. This unlimited right would itself threaten many lives and those threatened would gain the same unlimited right and it would spread far and wide, making a grand moral anarchy.
        If there’s something to which you have absolutely no right then you can’t gain a right to it by being in mortal danger or on any condition at all. I suppose we could reject the whole idea of ‘absolutely no right’ but that’s an unattractive option, don’t you think?

        • Citizen says:

          MHughes, I had problems with my comment when I wrote it, hence the use of the term “the Devil.” The real question is does anyone have the absolute right to do what they think they need to do to physically survive? Or even, does such a person have the absolute right to do what in fact they need to do to literally survive? How about, in either case, a whole group of people?

        • CK MacLeod says:

          Survival need doesn’t produce an absolute right, but always presents some mitigation in human terms. Of course, it’s also a great crime, or sin, to pretend survival need when there was none, and this question revives when people suggest that the Zionists were acting out of pure, unalloyed self-interest and opportunism, not authentic need. Yet even this crime is mitigable, and none of us is equipped to look into the soul of every Zionist or all the Zionists and know, in case we conclude their argument is ill-founded, what they actually believed with any degree of certainty.

          We are spiritually confused, linguistically and philosophically confused, about the nature of “judgment,” and the whole point of it. In judging the Israelis – or anyone else doing what he or she or they or we thought survival-necessary – each of us can first acknowledge, “There but for the grace of God…” Part of the point of the recitation of the history ca. 1948 was just to remind some of us how incredibly brutalized the humanity was, and perhaps always has been, and what a struggle it is for anyone to rise above that brutality. Perhaps we can say that the Israelis failed, world-historically failed, but each of us fails, our presence here in this discussion confirms the certainty that we have all somehow failed, even before we start searching for the ownership and historical records for the names of the people who were dispossessed or ruined or killed so that we could comfortably sit around discussing and denouncing.

          The point of judgment in the law is to preserve society as for the sake of human beings, not to glory vainly in supposed superiority to the denounced criminal. The point of punishment in the monotheistic tradition – Jewish, Christian, and Islamic – is, as much as possible against competing priorities (public safety, public morality), to preserve or restore the criminal’s opportunity to redeem himself, to save his soul and our own souls, something that we sometimes conclude also requires punishment and restitution.

  22. Elliot says:

    Shmuel
    A rights-based approach insists on human rights and international law as the basis for negotiation (fertile or sterile as it may be), and refuses to accept the deferral of Palestinian rights to some vague future date

    This is a crucial point. All the talk about 1ss vs. 2ss is a way of evading the present by talking about a distant, if not impossible future. If we focussed all our energies on ameliorating Palestinian suffering, then we would not have time for this debate. After establishing in concrete reality the basic principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same human rights as Jews, then future options can be discussed in a meaningful way.

    It’s easier to talk long term possibilities than to consider the present reality, but not very helpful.

  23. RoHa says:

    “the basic principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same human rights as Jews,”

    The tough part will be convincing the Zionists of that.

    • While I think the tough part will be convincing the militant solidarity activists of that.

      You know the right to self-govern (Zionism), and the right to self-govern (Palestinian nationalism).

      • Citizen says:

        You know the right to self-govern (squatters), and the right to self-govern
        natural land owners for many, many generations). Germans were hanged at Nuremberg for not knowing the difference. A new world order commenced–get with the program, Witty.

      • RoHa says:

        “You know the right to self-govern (Zionism), and the right to self-govern (Palestinian nationalism).”

        Wrong on both counts.

        Self government involves a state. A state requires a territory. The right of self-government is the right of the inhabitants of the territory. Neither ethnic groups nor “national” groups have the right.

      • pjdude says:

        their is no right to self govern least of all to foriegners( as they haven’t legally became part of the country( palestine) they are all foriegn. even less so for a religion. Israel is a crime witty. the palestinians have the right to choose the political staus of palestine and choose who is allowed to become citizens of the state.

      • Chaos4700 says:

        So now Rachel Corrie was a militant? Tristan Anderson is a militant? Furkan Dogan? Emily Henochowitz?

        This is what it means to be a fifth column, by the way. When you are so beholden to a foreign country, you see that country’s assaults on your fellow citizens as justified.

  24. MHughes976 says:

    Very true. It’s also strange to say that the consent of the governed is required in a tone which suggests that the Israeli state does not govern the Palestinians.

  25. jnslater says:

    Re CKM’s great commentary on what else was going on in 1948, demonstrating that “the devilish Israelis may not be the worst devils available.” No, of course not. However, for us Jewish “liberal Zionists,” they are the most salient ones, because they are OUR devils. You may not fully realize the extent to which we Jews, at least of my generation (I’m 76), imbibed with our mother’s milk that the Jewish people, as a whole, were both smarter and more moral than the goyim, as a whole. Not only that, you could make the case that we weren’t ENTIRELY foolish, as lots of the gentile elites expected more from us, which was a great compliment. So Israel comes not merely as a rude awakening, but an absolute betrayal of what, for we secular Jews, was the main point of being Jewish.