Why I Am Not a Liberal Zionist: A response to the Huffington Post’s ‘Liberal Zionists Speak Out’

Israel/Palestine
on 32 Comments

In March 2001 I was interviewed on Israeli TV, on a prime-time talk show, which had the interviewer, Dov Elboim, talking leisurely and deeply with the interviewee for half-an-hour. Lots can be said in half-an-hour. Those were the early days of the second Intifada, a few months after the dismal failure of Camp David II, when Israelis of the Liberal Zionist badge retreated into their shells, went underground, or, most crudely, moved to the right. Those were the days when several mantras were established — by Ehud Barak, among other manipulators of public opinion — such as “we offered them generous concessions and they retorted with violence” or “there is no partner for peace.” Only a few of us held our ground, insisting that the offers at Camp David had not been generous at all (as several reports subsequently attested) and that the Palestinians were equally justified in claiming they had no partner for peace. Those of us who refused to be swept into the general right-swing that, as we now know, demolished the Israeli left were labeled “radical left.”

One of the first questions that Elboim posed, wanting to clear up the terms of debate, was, “What does it mean to be a radical leftist today in Israel?” I recall answering in three parts. First, I said, a real Israeli leftist believes that Israel is unequivocally in the wrong in holding on to any of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (the OPT) and must therefore vacate all those lands unilaterally. Secondly, a real Israeli leftist recognizes the Palestinian right of return. (Rights, as we know, can be realized in various ways; and when there is a clash between rights, solutions have to be worked out. But before any realizations and solutions can come about, the rights must be recognized.) And finally, a real Israeli leftist puts the democratic values that Israel purports to ascribe to before the Jewish values that it insists on ascribing to when these are in conflict.

Within the hour phone calls started streaming in — to the TV station, to my home and to my mother, who is of that unique generation, the Palmach generation, credited with bringing the Jewish State into existence. The consensual attack was based on stupefaction: How could I deny Zionism? As a matter of fact, I do not remember having used the word Zionism, or, for that matter having talked about Zionism in the interview. This was an immediate inference made by listeners: one could not say what I had said and remain a Zionist. So unspeakable was my transgression that a few days later, at a family event, then Minister of Finance, Avraham (Baiga) Shochat, came up to me with a derisive smile and said: “Would you really want an Arab living next door to you?” The stupefaction was then — and still is — on my part. That a serving government minister could so bluntly voice such a racist comment is something that any person with democratic proclivities shudders at. That far more racist epitaphs are now regularly expressed by Israeli officials, and that the possibility of refusing Arab citizens residence in certain communities has now passed into law in Israel, is a sign of where we’ve come since then, and where we’re headed.

*****
It’s been over a decade since those opening, unsettling times of the second Intifada. It has been over a decade that those of us who are accused of being post-Zionist or, god forbid, anti-Zionist have been working out the implications of our deeply held democratic convictions. Things have become clearer (though they are muddied up viciously by those who equate either post- or anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism). Although many would like to redefine Zionism, there is no getting away from the fact that Zionism was and is the articulated project of creating and buttressing a Jewish state for the Jewish people. So contrary to what Michael Walzer claims, that this being a project based on Jewishness (peoplehood) rather than Judaism (religion) makes it different, the insistence on a Jewish state makes it impossible for those who are not of that people, not to mention that religion, to be equal citizens. Minority groups in Norway can be Norwegian; minority groups in England can be English; even minority groups in Israel can be Israeli, but they can’t be Jewish! And if Jewishness is a matter of peoplehood rather than religion, then we are indeed saddled with a formal ethnocracy, not much better than a theocracy. (It is poignant to see that Walzer begins his thoughts by connecting to his Bar Mitzvah, an explicitly religious ceremony. Not for naught is this whole series taking place on the Religion page of the Huffington Post…)

More significantly, it seems that liberal Zionists will never forsake the Jewish majority as the essence of the State of Israel since precisely that majority is what — they think – makes the state a democracy. But no democracy should determine or foretell the identity of its citizenry. What shall we do in a century or two from now if or when Israeli Arabs, i.e., Palestinian citizens of Israel, just naturally become a majority (through natural reproduction rates, or Jewish emigration, or any other unforeseeable vagary of history)? Shall we cast all Arab sons born into the sea?

So, beyond all the casuistic debates and long-winded conceptual to-and-fros, the impossibility of being a consistent liberal Zionist derives, as I realized in that interview long ago, from the dead-end one reaches with the conflict between values. If Zionism has been based on a set of values — any values — that “override whatever injustices statehood has brought” (Walzer), then it has taken us as far as one can get from the set of values that undergird liberal democracy. Holding on to those values means cherishing the option of a Palestinian living next door, and rejecting Jews who refuse the Palestinian next door. I would rather be righteous than self-righteous.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post in response to its series Liberal Zionists Speak Out.

About Anat Biletzki

Anat Biletzki is professor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University and Albert Schweitzer Professor of Philosophy at Quinnipiac University. She has been active in the peace movement and in human rights in Israel for decades, serving as chairperson of B’Tselem -- the Israeli Information center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories -– in 2001-2006. In 2005 she was chosen as one of “50 most influential women in Israel” by Globes, the Israeli business monthly, and was nominated among the “1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005.”

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32 Responses

  1. PeaceThroughJustice
    May 9, 2012, 3:57 pm

    Finkelstein gets a full half-hour on BBC HardTalk–

    • FreddyV
      May 10, 2012, 5:16 am

      Thanks for the PTJ.

      I was a little confused by Sarah Montague’s line of questioning. It seemed she didn’t care less about I/P, but all about how Finkelstein presents his case. It was like, ‘can’t you just be a bit nicer about it?’

      I don’t really know how you can be nice about criticising Israel. Calling out human rights violations, ethnic cleansing and land theft (and that’s just today) isn’t going to sound pretty coming out of anyone’s mouth and as far as criticising his book The Holocaust Industry, I find it amazing when Netanyahu is up on podiums right now with his stomach churning invocations to blackmail support for an attack on Iran and Sarah Montague didn’t bat an eyelid at that comparison when it was made.

      Simply, by criticising Israel, you’re attacking another’s nation, political affiliations, religion, etc. Nobody is going to like it, but I think Finkelstein’s method, whilst unpopular with his adversaries, is clinical, direct and concise. He doesn’t leave any room for debate and lets the facts speak for themselves.

      That’s the truth in the matter. It’s not him, it’s the inescapable truth he presents that they don’t like. I’d guess this is why he’s holding to the two state position when it’s all but dead. I agree with him that it’s the only enforceable method to arrive at any kind of justice. The one state solution will be the way it goes, if any, but we’re all hoping for a radical shift in thinking in Israel and a lot of pressure from outside nations and then we may see a massive repentance and change. I don’t think Finkelstein’s mind allows for those variants and he’s sticking to what has served him best.

      I don’t know Sarah Montague’s position or affiliations. Whether she went out to get a hard journalistic piece on Finkelstein or whether she’s got an axe to grind, I can’t say, but it seems she wanted to go after the interviewee, rather than discuss the subject of I/P.

      • FreddyV
        May 10, 2012, 6:40 am

        I should have put it more simply. It’s just come to mind. Montague was more interested in ‘shooting the messenger’.

      • asherpat
        May 10, 2012, 10:17 am

        No, Freddie, Montagu was doing true “hardtalk” and at one point she caught Finkelstein out, look at the YouTube clip at 09:00 onwards – he said that Israel Lobby in the US are “paid agents of a foreign country”…bad (and mad) thing to do. It wud work with Steven Sakur’s “Softtalk” but not with Montagu. She grills Noam for that, and for good reason – if you want to appear righteous, dont make false and “wishful” statements – or you will be caught out.

      • FreddyV
        May 10, 2012, 12:27 pm

        @Asherpat:

        I think we all know that AIPAC is a quasi Israel Government body, much like the JNF, it’s just that there’s nothing there to connect the dots. However, to say it where and to who he did, Finkelstein dropped the ball.

        ‘if you want to appear righteous, dont make false and “wishful” statements – or you will be caught out.’

        I couldn’t agree with you more and I think Norman underestimated his debater here.

      • Hostage
        May 10, 2012, 2:57 pm

        he said that Israel Lobby in the US are “paid agents of a foreign country”…bad (and mad) thing to do.

        asherpat when the FBI stated its investigation of AIPAC staffers, the first person they notified was Rafi Barak, the Israeli deputy chief of mission.

        Israel does issue credentials to agents like Michael Orin and Rafi Barak, and there are also non-credentialed agents, including law firms and consultants, who are registered with the Justice Department as agents of Israel. They are all in Israel’s employ and lobby on its behalf. Finkelstein didn’t mention any specific names or organizations @ 9:00, so the correct answer to the non-specific follow-up question about whether the generic Israel Lobby is paid-for by the Israeli government is tautological – of course it is. He never claimed that AIPAC was paid for by Israel, the interviewer simply asserted that he had. When she finally asked if Israel paid for AIPAC, he said he didn’t know. They presumably are part of the periphery that he had spoken about in his earlier comment.

        It looks to me like she’s being combative and playing grab-ass while attempting to sensationalize his remarks.

        Does it matter much to readers if Tom Friedman meant AIPAC, rather than Israel, when he said that Netanyahu’s standing ovations were all bought and paid for? I seriously doubt it.

      • Hostage
        May 10, 2012, 2:18 pm

        I’d guess this is why he’s holding to the two state position when it’s all but dead. I agree with him that it’s the only enforceable method to arrive at any kind of justice.

        FreddyV, he is once again just presenting us with the inescapable facts. International law is based upon opinio juris, the consensus reached by the international community of states on any particular subject as evidenced by conventions, customs, and UN resolutions. At this particular moment in time, the international consensus is that Israel has the same rights as any other state, e.g. the right to exist in peace and security and have its territorial integrity respected. At the same time the majority of the international community have recognized the State of Palestine. The international consensus is that the Palestinians are entitled to their territory and their own state and the right to exist in peace and security and have their territorial integrity respected.

        In order to pursue any other solution, you would have to repeal Security Council resolutions 1515, 1860, & etc. and General Assembly resolutions 48/158D, ES-10/15, & etc. It would also be necessary to have those two UN bodies endorse another definite solution to prevent Israel from treating Palestine as a dependent territory like Puerto Rico or American Samoa.

      • FreddyV
        May 10, 2012, 3:48 pm

        @Hostage:

        ‘Israel does issue credentials to agents like Michael Orin and Rafi Barak, and there are also non-credentialed agents, including law firms and consultants, who are registered with the Justice Department as agents of Israel. They are all in Israel’s employ and lobby on its behalf.’

        Great call out.

        I’ve been reading all this stuff for two years and whilst it gradually goes in, I envy those like yourself that has such retention of information. Metaphorically speaking, it’s like I know shit smells bad but when I smell shit, I know it’s bad but I can’t seem to put a name to it.

        On Finkelstein’s viewpoint. I largely agree, but I’m also torn. I’d love to see those ideological pricks get told that if they want to stay past the Green Line, they’ll have to make friends with a few million ‘crazy Arabs’, I’d love to see Israel defend 242 and claim their borders are indefensible when an F15 can get to any part of Israel in 80 seconds and I would love East Jerusalem to be handed back, essentially destroying the false theology of millions of evangelical Christians (my personal bugbear),

        But I don’t see enough people getting behind him.

        I think the 1SS is too utopic and given the level of racism in Israel, I think we’re asking people who actually don’t give a shit to suddenly start wearing flowers in their hair and there’s no pressure to do so, but that’s where opinion seems to lie.

        I don’t know. I just feel that something is better than nothing.

      • MHughes976
        May 10, 2012, 4:43 pm

        I’d suggest that the reasons why we haven’t got a 2ss are firstly that is contrary to the deepest, most mistaken, principles of Zionism, since it would concede that non-Jewish people can exist in the Holy Land by genuine right. Secondly, that the Palestinians could not possibly accept it with any sincerity, since it would be, on any non-Zionist principles, unjust to the uttermost degree and to some degree tangibly brutal in its principles, in its implications, in its daily implementation. Their acceptance could never be anything other than a barely concealed pretence, like the Weimar acceptance of the Versailles Treaty. Annie tells me that the darkest hour is before the dawn and I’m sure she’s right but just for now I think we’re all of us, Israelis too, in the position of the James Thurber characters for whom the night was dark and getting darker and the road long and getting longer.

      • FreddyV
        May 11, 2012, 6:57 am

        @MHughes976:

        Hence the ‘flowers in their hair’ comment. Finkelstein’s 2SS argues within the parameters of the law, whereas 1SS requires an immense amount of faith. Israelis think the Palestinian problem is gone in the West Bank because they’re not in fear of their lives any longer from them. I agree it’s going to be a long road, or it’s going to take a major catalyst like a second Obama term or a new Israeli Government to create a fork in the road.

  2. evets
    May 9, 2012, 4:20 pm

    ‘Minority groups in Norway can be Norwegian; minority groups in England can be English; even minority groups in Israel can be Israeli, but they can’t be Jewish!’

    I’m surprised someone as intelligent as Walzer didn’t see this obvious counter to his statement.

  3. seafoid
    May 9, 2012, 4:30 pm

    Israel isn’t run by people who think strategically. It’s run on the thinking of Benzion Netanyahu. He should have been treated for trauma . Instead he influenced a nation. It’s a tragedy. It’s a car crash in slow motion.

    link to ft.com

    No one doubts Netanyahu’s role in shaping Benjamin’s world view – instilling in him the sense that Jews will always and everywhere be at risk of persecution and annihilation.

    Netanyahu’s bleak vision of Jewish history was encapsulated in his most famous work, The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain, which was published in 1995 and ran to almost 1,400 pages. The book makes the case that Spain continued to persecute Jews even after they had converted to Catholicism, motivated by sheer racial hatred. That murderous loathing, he argued, would never go away. Or, as he told David Remnick of The New Yorker in 1998: “Jewish history is in large measure a history of holocausts.”

    One lesson from history he drew as a young man was that the Jews needed a country of their own – a country that should be as large, as strong and as uncompromising as possible
    .

    • American
      May 9, 2012, 5:02 pm

      “One lesson from history he drew as a young man was that the Jews needed a country of their own – a country that should be as large, as strong and as uncompromising as possible”

      A lot of zionist believe that and that’s the main reason why I have called them the stupidest people on the face of the earth. Here we have a cult representing people who according their view of history have been holocausted and run from one corner of the earth to another by major powers of the world in every period of time and they learned what from it?…..that having a bigger more violent power with a Jewish face is gonna prevent that?
      Like they will ever be as powerful as Germany was, or Russia, or the British Empire ,or the Romans or Ottomans if you want to go way back….and they never noticed that every single big, ‘uncompromising” power bit the dust one way or another?
      What would they do if ( or when) the US superpower bites the dust for all practical purposes where Israel is concerned.
      Bet they believe that can’t happen either….fools and their delusions.
      I have seen for long time exactly how it could and is happening to the US….one tiny bite at a time.

    • pabelmont
      May 9, 2012, 5:21 pm

      Some say Zionism recognizes Jewish “peoplehood” but — returning to original formulations — it is clear that (in the Zionist context) by “peoplehood” (which otherwise usually means self-identification as a single people and deliberately keeping separate as a people apart) is meant victimhood as a people oppressed and, sadly, this has been held to justify energetically assuming the behaviors of victimizer-hood.

      How ironic that we have, in America, a group of vastly wealthy thugs who are about as powerful as people ever get these days and who hold the entire American political class hostage/prisoner, whilst crying “we are victims” and “we need Israel as a place of refuge”. (Hint: I’m not talking about the bankers, who also hold America hostage, even though in demanding bailouts, they too seem to describe themselves as victims.)

      • eljay
        May 9, 2012, 6:54 pm

        >> How ironic that we have, in America, a group of vastly wealthy thugs who are about as powerful as people ever get these days and who hold the entire American political class hostage/prisoner, whilst crying “we are victims” and “we need Israel as a place of refuge”.

        No one ever said aggressor-victimhood was easy. Thankfully, Zio-supremacists have their hatefulness, their immorality and their belief in gawd-given supremacy to keep them going when lesser human beings might have succumbed to reason or to decency.

      • asherpat
        May 11, 2012, 11:33 am

        @pablemont: “in America, a group of vastly wealthy thugs who are about as powerful as people ever get these days and who hold the entire American political class hostage/prisoner”

        Can you say who exactly these “wealthy thugs” are, not just innuendoes?

      • Hostage
        May 11, 2012, 2:39 pm

        Can you say who exactly these “wealthy thugs” are, not just innuendoes?

        You aren’t new here. The archives contain plenty of articles about Israel Firsters, like Kenneth Abramowitz, Irving Moskowitz, Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, and many others. There’s no innuendo involved, since these individuals have publicly announced their support for Israel plays a deciding role in the way the spend their money to influence our elections, institutions, and public opinion.
        link to mondoweiss.net
        link to mondoweiss.net
        link to mondoweiss.net
        link to mondoweiss.net
        link to mondoweiss.net
        link to mondoweiss.net
        link to mondoweiss.net

      • asherpat
        May 11, 2012, 9:55 pm

        @Hostage,

        are these “thugs” Jews? Is Soros also a “vastly wealthy thug”?

      • Hostage
        May 12, 2012, 9:56 am

        @Hostage, are these “thugs” Jews? Is Soros also a “vastly wealthy thug”?

        Yes they are all Jews. I would have no problem limiting campaign contributions, government partnerships, and the political influence of Mr. Soros as well. Even though he doesn’t run around shreying that “we need Israel as a place of refuge”, there are reports which indicate that his actions aren’t entirely motivated by altruism, e.g. link to antiwar.com

  4. pabelmont
    May 9, 2012, 4:33 pm

    Anat Biletzki stated her version of what it means to be radical leftist (not a liberal szionist — she says she never said “Zionist”) in Israel: to support the full program of goals (if not of means) of Palestinian BDS: end the occupation, RoR, democracy.

  5. Annie Robbins
    May 9, 2012, 4:38 pm

    What shall we do in a century or two from now if or when Israeli Arabs, i.e., Palestinian citizens of Israel, just naturally become a majority (through natural reproduction rates, or Jewish emigration, or any other unforeseeable vagary of history)?

    something tells me we won’t have to wait a century or two to find out.

    • seafoid
      May 9, 2012, 5:22 pm

      The situation is deteriorating on so many fronts- settlers, poverty, oligarchy, misogyny, orthodox, income distribution, neoliberalism that Israel is going to hit an existential crisis rather sooner than 2112.

    • Bing Bong
      May 10, 2012, 8:19 am

      That something telling you this, is the worry that all Israel has to do is run out the clock. Your way of thinking means you have to say and believe that Israel’s disintegration is inevitable.

      If not and Israel is still the Jewish state in 200 years won’t those living in Israel be regarded as the indigenous people? Nobody identifying themselves as Palestinian living in Brooklyn in 200 years time will have any kind of claim of returning to their ‘homeland’ which has been the recognised sovereign state of Israel for nearly 300 years.

  6. MHughes976
    May 9, 2012, 6:15 pm

    I don’t really see what leftism, radical or otherwise, has to do with this. In its normal meaning, leftism is about a comparatively important role for the state, somewhat at the expense of private enterprise, and about promoting equality in the economic sphere. You don’t really have to be ‘on the left’ to accept universal suffrage or lack of racial discrimination.
    I would hope that many people who are ‘on the right’ or believe in capitalism and private enterprise would accept that Zionism is unjust, not because it stands for a particular economic order but because it claims rights on a race-related basis, which is a moral mistake.

    • Nevada Ned
      May 9, 2012, 6:45 pm

      MHughes976:

      While there is no reason in principle that stops someone who is politically conventional from being an advocate of Palestinian rights, there are some practical reasons that advocates of Palestinian rights are typically either leftists or Arabs (or both). Leftists are opponents of institutionalized racism. Arabs feel the oppression of their Palestinian relatives, and opposition to Israel’s racist policies should not be surprising, just as opposition by African-Americans to South African apartheid is not surprising.

      I am old enough to remember the Civil Rights movement in the South during the 1960′s. A significant number of white northern college students went south to help the oppressed African-Americans register to vote. Lots of those students were liberal or leftist idealist activists. Couldn’t they have been politically conventional? Yes, in principle they could have been, but they weren’t. The politically conventional were avoiding anything controversial.

    • PeaceThroughJustice
      May 9, 2012, 7:11 pm

      Thanks, MHughes. I do hope people remember your comment. Whether you approach it from the perspective of restoring Palestinian human rights, or of mending U.S. corruption of the political system, this is really not a “left/right” issue. Treating it as one plays into the hands of those who want to divert and distract. One of the strengths of Mondoweiss is that Phil in the past has recognized this.

    • Hostage
      May 9, 2012, 9:16 pm

      I would hope that many people who are ‘on the right’ or believe in capitalism and private enterprise would accept that Zionism is unjust, not because it stands for a particular economic order but because it claims rights on a race-related basis, which is a moral mistake.

      The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4133, the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 today. Explaining his opposition, Rep. Ron Paul told his fellow lawmakers:

      “This bill states that it is the policy of the United States to ‘reaffirm the enduring commitment of the United States to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state,’” said the congressman. “However, according to our Constitution the policy of the United States government should be to protect the security of the United States, not to guarantee the religious, ethnic, or cultural composition of a foreign country. In fact, our own Constitution prohibits the establishment of any particular religion in the US.”

      link to rt.com

      In fact, the prohibition is not limited in scope to the United States: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

    • piotr
      May 10, 2012, 12:20 pm

      Perhaps the normal meaning of “left” is the opposition to “right”, which means correct, i.e. common wisdom of the majority or the ruling class.

      In a parliament, the right would favor autocracy of the king and the left would oppose, hence the seating arrangement would reflect the monarch’s favor, the right thus would be both “correct” and “favored by the King”. The actual issues would vary, but the separation of left/right would reflect “free thinking” versus, hm, “constrained thinking”.

      In particular, the labels “progressive”, “reactionary”, “liberal” circulated in post-Napoleonic states like France and Spain and they predate socialist movement.

      The fate of various political labels is quite interesting. “Radicals” usually were very moderate, and at some point in France Radicals were dubbed “possibilists” or “opportunists” and for a while they used those labels themselves. What remains true till today that there is a strain of politicians and thinkers (think-tankers) who are radical in their opportunism. They tend to hate anti-opportunists, i.e. those who do not wait for a proper opportunity to raise an issue. Disputes among the opportunists often focus on who is in the mainstream, and who is not, mainstream being the location of best opportunities.

      And here comes our Anat who does not even care if she is in the mainstream. In Israel, “mainstream” and “Zionism” are used somewhat interchangeably. Therefore we see streams of arguments that operate in quite different thinking systems. “Leftists” (or “human rightists”) think that a position is right or wrong regardless of its popularity, and “radical opportunists” spend time arguing that these positions are unpopular — which one their terms disqualifies them from further discussion, as not presenting political opportunities. By the way, this means that Anat kind of looks into herself to decide what is right or wrong. This “though crime” is sometimes labelled “narcissism”, or “individualism”.

      Then there is the concept of human rights. American mainstream thinking is that all good people are endowed with certain rights which are alienated as soon as we discover that they are not good. So radical human rightists spend time arguing that some rights spelled here and there are violated, and the mainstream folks reply with arguments that the respective people are not good.

      Zionist applications of such principles are perhaps further reaching, because Palestinians are not good for reasons that are so numerous that different factions of Zionism center of their favorites, like (a) they are Amelak (Amalek?) (b) they are Nazi (c) they are suicide bombers (d) culture of death (e) homophobia (f) Muslim (g) they do not exist. “Liberal Zionism” tends to favor (e). However, more narcisstic Liberal Zionists, like Peter Beinart, seem to avoid the issue of evility of Palestinians altogether, but instead postulate, quite reasonably, that we have to figure some compromise on the issue of rights to avoid a disaster.

      And this is a conundrum that I do not know how to aswer. Logical application of laws (especially the Constitution which was apparently written by well meaning idiots) would unravel social order in USA. For example, testimony offered in exchange of something of value is invalid. Half of the trials use testimony obtained in exchange for reduced sentences and similar quid-pro-quos. Hence the courts adopted interpretation that a promise to be freed from jail/prison has no value. That seems to violate common sense, so I guess that the courts had to value the rights of the bad people, already in prison, against the rights of the good people who are afraid of the bad ones. And this is what: about a million of potentially dangerous criminals released among 300 millions.

      In Israel, applying logic and justice could release 2-4 million among 6-7 millions. So I guess that Anat abandons all possibilist principles, if she had any, and Peter tries to explore a possible solution.

      • MHughes976
        May 10, 2012, 2:59 pm

        Thanks for many interesting comments in reply to mine. I don’t take issue with anything said. I would still regret any idea that belief in Palestinian rights follows in logic only from Marxist or way out political views and that those who take moderate views need not concern themselves with the matter.
        There was, come to think of it, a time when Zionism had a leftist face. The supposed special rights of Jewish people in Palestine were justified because this was the chance for a socialist experiment that others would eventually follow. Some say that Chomsky still holds this view, being outraged basically because the chance for humane socialism has never been taken rather than because the special Jewish rights were so effectively claimed. I attended a talk by Mike Marqusee in which he spoke movingly of his grandfather, a dodgy New York lawyer, far-leftist and Palestinian-despising Zionist. If there’s an understandable way of getting to think like that it maybe comes from the Marxist idea that the progressive force is militant workers plus middle class radicals (many Jewish people in pre-War Europe in both categories) and that the peasants could only be secondary helpers, needing to be purged of their superstitions and of their kulak leaders. And from the idea that the Palestinians were the peasantry of the Levant.
        Zionism was once defended because it was a vital left-wing force, now defended because it is a bulwark against leftism. Ho hum.

  7. LanceThruster
    May 9, 2012, 6:51 pm

    Is the phrase “Zionist bully” redundant?

    I’ve seen so much low rent behavior on the interwebs in this regard that none of the real world transgressions surprise me.

  8. Keith
    May 9, 2012, 7:20 pm

    “Secondly, a real Israeli leftist recognizes the Palestinian right of return. (Rights, as we know, can be realized in various ways; and when there is a clash between rights, solutions have to be worked out. But before any realizations and solutions can come about, the rights must be recognized.)”

    This is an excellent formulation of this essential principle.

  9. kalithea
    May 10, 2012, 12:03 am

    “I would rather be righteous than self-righteous.”

    True. But I would rather you said: I would rather be righteous than a Zionist (of any stripe).

    Don’t hitch you wagon to a pipe dream that one day a miracle will happen and settlers will vacate occupied Palestinian land and Palestinian refugees will be bestowed with their right of return. It’ll NEVER happen.

    Here’s more plausible scenarios: Israel will become the first country in modern history where APARTHEID will be legalized OR Apartheid will finally provoke such outrage worldwide that Israel will be forced through sanctions and other pressure to succumb to a one state solution with rights for all. What I see is the former, Zionists having their every whim fulfilled through the ultimate corruption via the influence they wield and then one day karma will FINALLY get the last word…and if Zionists don’t take the humane and righteous route, then I hope I live long enough to witness the karma.

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