In his latest Haaretz column, Bradley Burston dares to go where he has never gone before, taking the first tentative steps toward consideration of the one-state solution. Burston strikes me as a true “liberal Zionist,” one whose expressions of decency are genuine rather than cynical, but he has never, to my knowledge, allowed himself to question the continued existence of the Jewish State, until now.
Burston draws inspiration from both left and right. He cites the recent revelation that as early as August, 1967, none other than Menachem Begin proposed granting citizenship to any West Bank Palestinians who desired it (a proposal kept secret until now). He notes that in a 2010 Haaretz article, Noam Sheizaf reviewed right-wing voices who have broached the subject of citizenship for OPT Palestinians. Burston even credits Peter Beinart, who has publicly favored a limited boycott, for moving the dialogue, even though Beinart lags behind on even the possibility of a 1ss.
Interestingly, Burston does not arrive at this position out of placing the fundamental concept of equality for all above the notion of the Jewish State. He is purely motivated by the increasing physical impossibility of achieving the two-state solution, referring to himself as someone who still believes that two independent states would provide Israelis and Palestinians with their best chance for a future of freedom, justice, security and well-being. I disagree with him there, and disagree even more when he blames the disappearance of a potential 2ss on both Israelis and Palestinians: There is no denying, however, that settlement construction, Palestinian disunity, and other factors are fast rendering the two-state concept impracticable.
Still, Burston comes a long way, seeing “something of a Jewish Spring in rethinking the future of Israel and its relationship to the Palestinians, the Mideast, and the Jewish people.. He agrees that Israel, if left to its druthers, will probably choose to continue the status quo of “temporary” occupation, which he recognizes is profoundly immoral. He also knows that most Israeli Jews, himself included, would be fearful of remaking their state less committed to preservation of an inherent Jewish character, but he concludes with a plea to think what had previously been unthinkable:
In another week, it will be Pesach. The enemy of fear. Time to cast out the chametz, which is everything we put up and hoard and refuse to part with and acquire and consume too much of, as our insulation against everything that scares us. Ideas included. Time to burn it. Time to burn what we are so comfortable believing, knowing to be true. It’s Spring. Time to start again. Time to think again, to leave behind what we know. Time to hit the road. Even if we can see that the route leads between gigantic, threatening walls, with nothing visible holding them from falling in on us, drowning us, annihilating us. Nothing, that is, but faith and a willingness to try something we hadn’t, until now, considered.