Discussing life ‘after zionism’ in Israel/Palestine

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
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After Zionism

The drive from East Jerusalem to Tel Aviv takes around one hour. It’s a stinking hot day and I’ve come from Ramallah in mid-August 2012. Despite flying into Ben Gurion airport in the morning I am stopped and initially refused entry by the Israeli border guard police when trying to come back into Israel. I’m on a private Palestinian bus, taken at the Qalandiya checkpoint, and asked to get off to explain who I am. 

I don’t have any Israeli stamp in my passport because I requested at the airport for the officials to stamp a separate piece of paper to avoid troubles when travelling around the Muslim world. A customs official took that paper as I exited and I’m told by activists that this is an increasingly utilised tactic that only affects people who want to travel back and forth between Israel and the occupied territories. 

Even when I arrive at the airport I am held and questioned for more than one and a half hours and asked why I have recently visited places such as Pakistan and Afghanistan and “how many Muslims did you speak to there?” 

Of course, none of this harassment comes close to what Palestinians and minorities face on a daily basis in Israel proper and Palestine. 

I am in Israel and Palestine for an independently organised tour of my new book, After Zionism (co-edited with Ahmed Moor). It’s a collection of new essays on today’s reality and examines the ways in which a one-state solution could be implemented. It features chapters by John Mearsheimer, Sara Roy, Jeff Halper, Omar Barghouti, Diana Buttu, Joseph Dana, Jonathan Cook, Phil Weiss and many others.

The owner of East Jerusalem’s Educational Bookshop, Mahmoud, drives me to Tel Aviv. He tells me that the Israeli establishment is increasingly keen to censor views they don’t like. He recalls stories of having books briefly impounded at Ben Gurion airport, and some stolen, that feature examination of Hamas, Hizbollah and the armed Palestinian struggle. He laughs that sometimes the books are taken simply because there’s photo on the cover that features a gun. Mahmoud fears that outright censorship of books in English, currently an unknown factor, is likely in the coming years considering the amount of anti-democratic legislation in the Knesset. 

The event in Tel Aviv has been complex to plan. The message of the book should clearly be heard by Israeli Jews – the destruction wrought by Zionism, the failures of the Israeli Left to bring justice for occupied Palestinians and the growing and blatant racism within Israeli society – but Ahmed and I wanted to make sure any event complied with BDS conditions. 

Associating with any Israeli government organisation or one supported in any way by the Zionist state is frowned upon and I didn’t have any desire in discussing our book that backs BDS with an event that ignores its key points. This would be hypocrisy on a grand scale. 

I emailed Palestinian Omar Barghouti to ask his thoughts. He said he wouldn’t personally appear in Tel Aviv and didn’t see the point anymore in engaging liberal Zionists but he suggested one venue, run by the feminist group and BDS national committee partner Coalition of Women for Peace, in the heart of Tel Aviv. It’s an organisation that has fought a long-running battle against Israel’s more draconian policies and paid a price for doing so. 

The event attracts a full house and features +972’s Noam Sheizaf and political activists Hadel Badarni and Yael Ben Yefet. It’s a humid evening with an engaged crowd. 

I begin by explaining the rationale behind the project, a desire to move away from the tired and redundant arguments about one-state or two and instead provide concrete examples of why true justice for Palestinians and Israelis can only come through one state. More essentially, I argue that Zionism itself is the issue. It can’t be reformed, re-defined or re-imagined. From its beginning, it was about subjugation of the Arab, a desire to colonise as much land as possible in the name of Jewish liberation. 

From that perspective, the ideology has been remarkably successful at achieving complete domination of the land and today’s reality, something I see during my visit with hours waiting at checkpoints and clogged roads waiting for teenage IDF soldiers to let us pass, is now irreversible. The occupation is integral to Israeli society and resisted by very few. I tell the audience in Tel Aviv that it’s now our responsibility to both acknowledge the crimes in 1948, 1967 and beyond and imagine an inclusive future for both Israelis and Palestinians. What that state or entity will look like is the challenge. In my own personal view, it must equally include Palestinian and Israeli (not Zionist or exclusionist) culture and history. 

Sheizaf says that his political journey has brought him to confusion today. A supporter of Oslo, then the two-state solution and finally the one-state and now uncertainty. He recalls a recent survey of Israeli public opinion that finds a majority of Jews happy with the status-quo. That’s my sense of the vast bulk of the Jewish Diaspora. Some are undoubtedly pained by the ongoing occupation but do little apart from mouthing platitudes against it. No sanctions. No boycotts. No divestment. A plea for both sides to return to the negotiating table. Just empty words. 

Sheizaf talks about the website 972’s attempt to broaden the conversation about questions ignored in the Israeli mainstream but there are lines (and laws) that will not be crossed. It is often a liberal Zionist site, not that this stops Sheizaf calling Israeli behaviour “apartheid” – and they clearly struggle ideologically and even legally to openly discuss some of the more controversial issues of the day, including boycotts, a one-state equation and de-Zionising Israel. 

The conversation with all the speakers – the Israeli women articulate well the challenges in getting past the ingrained Israeli fears towards Arabs, Palestinians, Iranians and non-Jews and Badarni especially acknowledges the struggles within Israel to imagine a country that treats all citizens equally – is indicative of that rare thing in Israel today; deconstructing Zionism from the Left and wondering what could replace it. 

The Q & A session is spirited. Many of the questions express despair at mainstream Israeli opinions and the disconnect between what’s happening down the road in Palestine and the desire for many Israeli Jews to simply not care. It’s less known that most Israelis continue serving in the IDF reserves until 45 years of age, often in the occupied territories, so a continual connection to the conflict is there every year. 

One older woman says she’s been arguing for years that the Israeli Left has fundamentally refused to tackle the underlying issues here, namely that believing in a two-state solution paradigm has perpetuated the strife. Nobody with any power has ever had any serious desire to implement it. Up to 700,000 illegal Jewish colonists in the West Bank make that clear.

A number of audience members question the viability of the one-state solution, wondering how Israeli Jews will be convinced to give up their privilege. I respond that they won’t – white South Africans didn’t voluntarily end apartheid because they suddenly loved blacks – but increasing isolation and condemnation may well reveal to more of the world that a fundamentalist Jewish state is what the country’s leaders and many in the public have always wanted. Deciding between Jewish and democratic is easy; the former was the goal from day one. 

It’s a fascinating evening, not least because I’m told such discussions are so rarely held here. The Palestinian issue has largely been pushed out of public discussion, a deliberate ploy by the government and Right, with the supposed threat of Iran dominating the media (a point I explained on BBC Persian TV recently). It could be argued that many in the settler movement are far more engaged in a future reality for themselves than the Israeli mainstream and Left. “Feckless” is the way a good friend describes the Israeli Left’s unwillingness or inability to challenge the pro-colonist reality in the last decades since the Oslo peace accord. Some anti-occupation protest here. Involvement in the Palestinian non-violence movement there. But virtually no differences on the ground itself.

The following evening After Zionism is discussed in East Jerusalem with independent journalist Joseph Dana and Palestinian Diana Buttu at the New Educational Bookshop. Before the event begins, famed nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu arrives, we make eye contact and he sits on his own in the back of a packed room. The audience is mostly Palestinians and foreigners. A few Israelis, too. 

Dana argues that discussing one or two states ignores the broader questions, namely recognising the core of the problem, Zionism. “Israel long ago decided whether it wanted to be Jewish or democratic, it can’t be both.” It chose the former. Dana explains that spending any time in the occupied territories makes it very clear what Israel has had in mind since the beginning; colonisation, occupation and repression. Every Israeli leader has wanted the same thing and achieved its goal with perfection. The international community is neutered or complicit, including the EU. 

Some of their diplomats are in the audience, including a senior one from Holland, who tells me afterward that the issue of Zionism never enters discussions with Israeli officials though the EU is trying its best to provide assistance to the Palestinians. I say that the EU is far too often happy to economically boost the Jewish state, including the recent news to upgrade Israel’s special trading status.

Buttu explains how the Oslo period has entrenched the rot inside the Palestinian Authority and allowed a Western and Israeli backed entity to manage the occupation for the Zionist nation. She offers no particular solution to this issue but states that the challenge for Palestinians especially is to create and imagine a different political reality where dignity and self-determination are central. She implies that neither Hamas or the PA will ever be able to prove this. The need for an independent Palestinian political movement, with mass appeal, is surely desperately needed. Buttu continued her arguments on a recent Al Jazeera English program filmed in Ramallah. 

During the Q & A, a number of people questioned the viability of a one-state solution and Israel and the West ever allowing it to happen. The obstacles, detailed in After Zionism, are undeniably great, but the first step is once and for all excising the two-state equation as either feasible or just. It’s then the responsibility of all major players, both inside and outside of the region, to forge a future that brings peace with justice through a political framework.

Vanunu asks one of the last questions. “Tell me”, he says, “where is this conflict going?” Tough question. We all argue that that until there’s acknowledgement that the status-quo isn’t working, we’ll be stuck in the same tired formulations. A solution won’t come through a sound-bite or a return to “negotiations” with two unequal sides. Dana is perhaps the most pessimistic about the future, believing that any serious talk about one-state today is pointless when this falls into the trap of a paradigm that is tired and favours the more powerful entity, Israel. Besides, he continues, we haven’t even admitted what’s been happening since 1948, ethnic cleansing by force and stealth. With Israel’s huge natural gas reserves, its economic stability will need to be challenged in a variety of creative ways. 

I disagree with some of Dana’s points, as surely it’s important to imagine a different, more just outcome. After Zionism offers some practical examples. 

Speaking personally, I believe that until there is less ignorance in the West about Israeli behaviour – how often do we continue to hear talk about “democratic” Israel and its striving for peace in the region? – the responsibility of writers and other engaged parties is to remind the world that the Oslo rules were broken from day one and benefitted the occupier. If the idea of being an “intellectual” means anything substantial, it’s about not accepting the frame given by a state and its proud adherents and offering an alternative vision. 

Speaking to The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) founder, Jeff Halper, during my stay confirms this paralysis. He, like so many other people I see, realise that there are increasingly limited spaces for any interaction between Israelis and Palestinians, as the anti-normalisation movement deepens

***

A few days after the East Jerusalem event, I watch with Dana the wonderful new documentary, Under African Skies, about Paul Simon and his controversial visit to apartheid South Africa in the 1980s to record Graceland. It’s mainly about the glorious music but the issue of Simon breaking the cultural boycott of the country is canvassed. It’s relevant today, in the context of Israel, where Simon played last year, because the film reveals Simon to naively believe that music and art can overcome oppression and boycotting South Africa was not something Simon, without consulting the ANC, who strongly backed BDS, had any intention of following.

I find the film moving on a number of levels; being in Palestine and Israel and talking about the ways in which today’s deadlock can be shifted. BDS is one way of pressuring Israel and it’s already having a major psychological effect (with minimal economic pain, thus far). The black South African musicians were desperate to be heard internationally, despite the cultural boycott technically blocking locals playing outside the country. Their position was understandable, if still contentious. But Simon, who speaks the language of reconciliation, admits to arriving in South African with no real understanding of apartheid. He soon becomes an unlikely critic of the regime but willfully ignores the demands of the cultural boycott movement because he believes he’s more important than the wishes of an oppressed people’s leadership who were calling to completely isolate a repressive state. 

Similar arguments are made today by musicians and artists who want to come to Israel. Talking will help. Understanding can only come when both sides get together. But this fundamentally ignores the inherent power disparity in the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. Intellectual independence is vital in any political struggle but individuals don’t have the right to oppose a liberation movement with clear political goals if they believe that collective action is the only way to bring down oppression. 

Simon’s recent visit to Israel shows he understands nothing more today than in years past, completely oblivious to the solidarity required. Any cultural association with the Israeli government (Artists Against Apartheid explain) must not happen because Palestinian civil society has demanded it. Groups under occupation are in a far better position to dictate these rules than (sometimes) well-meaning people in the Diaspora. However, it would be wrong to say that there aren’t Palestinians who challenge BDS dictates, including at the movie theatre in the West Bank town of Jenin

***

The final event for After Zionism is in Ramallah at the Quaker’s Friends Meeting House with Omar Barghouti and Joseph Dana. Being the last night of Ramadan, the space was still quickly filled with a smattering of Palestinians, Western aid workers and writers. Barghouti explains how the challenge for a democratic future is to decolonise Israel both ideologically and practically. There needs to be a just way to compensate all citizens, Jews, Palestinians or others, who have been expelled since 1948. He says that a distinction between public and private land and property would be taken into account in one, democratic state. Barghouti’s chapter in After Zionism outlines how this could happen. 

His key point is that colonial privileges currently enjoyed by Jewish colonists in the West Bank must stop immediately, like at the end of apartheid South Africa. I like his line that Jews living in Brooklyn can’t behave in a brutal way towards Arabs as they do if they move to the occupied territories. Barghouti sounds an optimistic tone by arguing a combination of the Arab Spring, BDS and a multi-polar world is making it easier to imagine the end of Zionist exclusion. It will be increasingly hard to maintain a ghettoised Jewish state in the heart of a democratic region. 

I’m encouraged to hear Barghouti say that in the last 12-18 months, BDS is suddenly taking off across the world. He says he can’t keep up with the number of university campuses wanting to initiate programs against Israel firms and campaigns to convince Western musicians and artists not to play Israel. I’m told that Israeli music promoters are paying 2-3 times the normal rate to convince foreigners to come because the political price for doing so is growing. 

Cultural isolation for Israelis is far from complete but it’s undeniably on the rise. For example, the fact that Madonna recently felt the need to try and bring peace activists from both sides during her show – Israeli liberal Zionists came while anti-occupation activists refused – shows the campaign is starting to bite.

During the Q and A – many in the audience were Westerners working for Western NGOs in Palestine – there was a palpable frustration with the role of these organisations in perpetuating the conflict rather than solving it. “Are we helping manage the occupation for Israel?”, one Australian asks. Some Palestinians, while liking the idea of a one-state solution, wonder how it will be achieved with such a powerful Zionist state next door. Dana says that now is not the time to be talking about the composition of a future state but rather we should better understand today’s reality and act accordingly. I say that Western audiences are yet to be seriously exposed to the idea of a anything other than the two-state equation and a “peace process” so if not now, when? Similar discussions occur during book events in London, including at the Frontline Club and SOAS. 

Palestine is a contradiction. Dana and I hang out at a public pool in Ramallah. It’s full of parents with their children swimming in the cool water. There’s a pool bar serving beer on tap. Palestinian women are sitting in skimpy bikinis. This is not the image of Palestine that we’re used to seeing. Ramallah is a relatively liberal and Christian-dominated city and it’s unlikely many other places in the West Bank, and certainly not Gaza, would allow such behaviour, but despite growing conservatism, liberal life goes on. It’s yet another example of the Ramallah bubble.

About Antony Loewenstein

Antony Loewenstein is an independent journalist and the co-editor with Ahmed Moor of After Zionism (Saqi Books, 2012)

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44 Responses

  1. Citizen
    August 24, 2012, 11:40 am

    “If the idea of being an “intellectual” means anything substantial, it’s about not accepting the frame given by a state and its proud adherents and offering an alternative vision. ”

    Ditto for being a “journalist.” Old school, that is-we don’t cultivate such journalists in America when it comes to anything about Israel and the US “special relationship.” It’s nearly the same with America’s career “intellectuals.”
    Our ivy league spawn brings us hasbarists (and MBAs who bet on bets, the derivative game).

    Look at Chelsea Clinton and her hubby for what is valued in America today.

  2. Abu Malia
    August 24, 2012, 12:21 pm

    The title of this article brings glad tidings to my darkened heart!

  3. seafoid
    August 24, 2012, 12:25 pm

    Israeli Jews have to see the economic writing on the wall before they can think post zionism.
    Their whole society will have to be restructured. Teachers and soldiers will have to be reskilled. The status quo is much easier.

  4. Blake
    August 24, 2012, 12:49 pm

    “After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine by Antony Loewenstein, Ahmed Moor

    Synopsis

    After Zionism brings together some of the world’s leading thinkers on the Middle East question to dissect the century-long conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians, and to explore possible forms of a one-state solution. Time is running out for the two-state solution because of the unending and permanent Jewish colonization of Palestinian land. Although deep mistrust exists on both sides of the conflict, growing numbers of Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs are working together to forge a different future. Progressive and realist ideas are at last gaining a foothold in the discourse, while those influenced by the colonial era have been discredited or abandoned. Whatever the political solution may be, Palestinian and Israeli lives are intertwined, enmeshed, irrevocably. This daring and timely collection includes essays by Omar Barghouti, John Mearsheimer, Karma Nabulsi, Ilan Pappe, Sara Roy and Jonathan Cook.”

    Looks like a great read full of optimism and hope. Definitely be purchasing this book.

  5. Annie Robbins
    August 24, 2012, 1:27 pm

    antony, i really wish i could have been there. i was online at the time when the tweets were coming in during and after the event (including that wonderful photo of you sitting in the chair). there was an element of excitement communicated by attendees..this was a really important event and there needs to be much more discussion and engagement ..it’s an important book you have written and i look forward to reading it. thank you. and are you coming to the US, we need this conversation here.

  6. Mondowise
    August 24, 2012, 2:00 pm

    meanwhile, back at the zionist ranch, the z’s lounge proudly shining their diabolical knuckles on their chest thinking: “HAH! we did it! we won! HA HA!!! slowly, bit by bit, day by day, and only by breaching international law, we have indeed created a ‘reality on the ground’ that everyone is finally..FINALLY (whew!)..convinced cannot be changed. my, my…aren’t we the ever-so-clever ones! those idiots have no idea. zionism WILL rule forever! let us be very clear: do NOT fool yourselves, we will NEVER allow this one-state jargon to touch our privileged existence! HA HA!!!” …..and everyone else just sits there and says, “well, yeah, true…[sigh]”

    NOT ONCE in this article did anyone ever bring up enforcing international law, nor did they even touch upon the possibility of other states/countries bringing iZrael to account for such breaches. plus, not one mention of consequences: no punishments, no sanctions, no end of aid, no kicking them out of important groups…absolutely nothing! another CLEAR SIGN that the world has given in to zionism and thus helped cement their apartheid goals. an apathetic complacency has befallen humanity globally…and it is WE, the international community, who thus fail the Palestinians as much, if not more, than the psychopathic Z’s.

    if anyone thinks a one-state solution is the answer, wait until they see the civil war that naturally erupts. the war-mongering, power-hungry, paranoid narcissistic ideology of zionism is far more resilient and stronger than what most realize, it is the very core of their identity, it IS their very stability. they are nothing without it, they cannot thrive, period. no creature on earth will willingly stop breathing upon request, and if it’s forced…well, survival mode kicks in. imagine the ensuing bloodshed. THAT is the reality.

    it’d be far easier to remove 700,000 illegal squatters back beyond the green line, whether they like it or not…law is law…and send in NATO or UN troops to maintain peace at the borders. in addition, the international community needs to grow a pair of gonads and really tighten the screws on izrael. if anything could be successfully ‘forced’ onto the zionists, it should be compliance with international law.

    • Annie Robbins
      August 24, 2012, 2:38 pm

      NOT ONCE in this article did anyone ever bring up enforcing international law, nor did they even touch upon the possibility of other states/countries bringing iZrael to account for such breaches. plus, not one mention of consequences: no punishments, no sanctions, no end of aid, no kicking them out of important groups…absolutely nothing! another CLEAR SIGN that the world has given in to zionism and thus helped cement their apartheid goals.

      you must be new around here.

      • Mooser
        August 24, 2012, 6:17 pm

        “you must be new around here.”

        Well “Mondowise” may indeed be fairly new, but what has that got to do with his/her ability to read the article?

        Annie, Zionists don’t have to do what we would like them to do, or what we think they should do. They don’t have to go out in a Samson Option Masada, they may be able to see their way clear to pulling back, regrouping, and keeping every inch of ground and whatever else they can. And it sure looks like they ground is being prepared for this, should it become necessary. And thus “not a Zionist” could become ‘not in favor of further Israel expansion by war’ and “after Zionism” can mean ‘we keep what we’ve gotten, no accounting, no penalties’. While poor Israel shrieks and moans over the ‘loss’ of its Zionism, and maybe sacrifices some settlers or settlements.
        Seems to me that as long as Israelis are there and organised as such, Zionism is still ascendant. Now, while that may be (out of concern for innocent victims of violence on both sides, ostensibly) what has to be settled for (no pun intended) there’s no point in pretending it doesn’t represent a triumph of Zionism. The only thing we would gain by calling that “after Zionism” would be the dangerous illusion that Zionism has been defeated, and a lot of self-congratulation. There would nothing to prevent Israel, after the one-state set-up in inaugurated, from repeated the entire sordid history of the American South after reconstruction and through the end of Jim Crow.

        As far as I can see, any “one-state” solution which does not involve some outside force occupying Israel and imposing the solution on Israeli Zionists is a farce. In fact, as Hostage pointed out, in a “one-state” set-up, all the people within Israel’s borders will be Israeli subjects, and how they are treated, and how rated or delineated as Israeli citizens is Israel’s business. There’s no law saying Israel must adopt the US Bill of Rights or notions of the rights of citizens.

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 8:40 am

        /As far as I can see, any “one-state” solution which does not involve some outside force occupying Israel and imposing the solution on Israeli Zionists is a farce./
        Who would you suggest as the occupying force and how do suggest
        they implement that occupying bit of a nuclear (according to foreign sources)
        power.

      • Shmuel
        August 25, 2012, 8:55 am

        a nuclear (according to foreign sources) power

        LOL. Was that tongue in cheek, or do you really never let your hasbara guard down?

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 9:02 am

        It always amuses me when hear it in our press…

        What do you think about Moosers assertion ?

      • Shegetz
        August 25, 2012, 9:23 am

        You’re a bit behind the times if you’re still trying to pretend…


        Calls for Olmert to resign after nuclear gaffe

        PM admits on TV that Israel has atomic weapons
        Blow to longstanding policy of ambiguity

        Silly foreigners.

      • Shmuel
        August 25, 2012, 9:35 am

        It always amuses me when hear it in our press

        No one ever writes it seriously any more, which is why I found your deadpan delivery in a forum not that familiar with “our press” a little strange.

        What do you think about Moosers assertion ?

        I think he has a point about how a single state might end up, but the rest of it is pretty silly. Israel cannot feasibly be occupied and forced into radical change any time in the foreseeable future, but it can probably be pressured into relenting on some of its more egregious human rights violations.

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 9:50 am

        /I found your deadpan delivery in a forum not that familiar with “our press” a little strange./
        One of the greatest problems of this forum is that it’s not familiar with a good many things.

        /but it can probably be pressured into relenting on some of its more egregious human rights violations./
        Can you elaborate on that one.

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 9:58 am

        Shmuel
        I found this whole articles conclusion
        about the need for De Zionisation of the Israeli Jews (it wasn’t stated in those terms the author was shy about it but i think you will agree with me that it was implied by his premises about Zionism) to be extremely
        delusional.

      • Shmuel
        August 25, 2012, 10:40 am

        One of the greatest problems of this forum is that it’s not familiar with a good many things.

        Is this also a joke, or are you back in persona?

        Can you elaborate on that one.
        I have: link to mondoweiss.net

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 11:13 am

        Ah yes i remember reading it already .
        It’s interesting that you assume the BDS tactic can reach certain concessions from Israel.
        I doubt it, the BDS (justly i think) is perceived by the Israeli public (that actually is aware of it) as another attempt this time using the human rights rhetoric to bring on the end of the Jewish state as it’s ultimate goal.
        Therefore any attempts of appeasement are perceived as futile in the first place and will continue to be so as long the public will see BDS in such a light.

      • justicewillprevail
        August 25, 2012, 11:19 am

        Delusional only to those who take no time or effort to understand the problem and its roots.

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 11:32 am

        Right so besides the slur against me
        do you have anything substantial to add.
        How do you propose that this De Zionisation should come to reality.
        What power will enforce it upon Israel by what means in what circumstances
        etc, etc…
        Come on hot shot tell me how “justice will prevail “?

      • Shmuel
        August 25, 2012, 11:55 am

        Therefore any attempts of appeasement are perceived as futile in the first place and will continue to be so as long the public will see BDS in such a light.

        That all depends on the extent and nature of the pressure. Not all Israelis think in terms of “appeasement” – or even think at all, beyond their immediate concerns. If the pressure is felt – first and foremost by members of the economic and cultural “elite” – there will be internal pressure to do something about it. How strong or effective that internal pressure will be remains to be seen.

        Besides, the more egregious violations of human rights are the real motor behind BDS. A smart Israeli leader might actually figure that out, if properly motivated. I’m sorry to say this, but westerners, on the whole, don’t give a damn about the refugees or discrimination against Palestinian Israelis. It’s the occupation, stupid.

      • justicewillprevail
        August 25, 2012, 1:13 pm

        Since you don’t seem to have read or understood the article, here is an extract:

        The obstacles, detailed in After Zionism, are undeniably great, but the first step is once and for all excising the two-state equation as either feasible or just. It’s then the responsibility of all major players, both inside and outside of the region, to forge a future that brings peace with justice through a political framework

        This is a discussion based on the book, postulating how a modern, democratic state with equal rights could exist in place of a state with a 19th century undemocratic ideology which practices colonisation, dispossession and segregation. Zionism precludes such a modern state. So the discussion is based around whether that can happen and what it would be like. You should read Omar Bhargouti’s essay to answer your questions, instead of reacting in your usual belligerent fashion. It is not delusional to imagine and think about ways in which equal rights for all can be achieved. That is the first step. It would be good for Israelis as well. Incidentally, what are your hot shot ideas for a solution (which don’t involve the usual cliches)?

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 4:54 pm

        So basically you have no concrete answers just a bunch
        of slogans like
        “It’s then the responsibility of all major players, both inside and outside of the region, to forge a future that brings peace with justice through a political framework”
        Some more slurs and a suggestion to read Omar Barghoutti.
        Thought as much.

        With you kind of friends the Palestinians are really in trouble.

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 5:00 pm

        / If the pressure is felt – first and foremost by members of the economic and cultural “elite” – there will be internal pressure to do something about it./
        The cultural elite as you well know it does not enjoy the general public support.
        The economic is also interested in ending the conflict obviously but they
        are too much of pragmatists to think that what you are talking about will solve the problem.

        /Besides, the more egregious violations of human rights are the real motor behind BDS./
        I don’t think it is Shmuel maybe for some parts of the BDS movements
        but not for the majority they really think Israel was born in sin and want it Israel to end so they are not fooling anybody.
        This article is a good example.

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 5:09 pm

        “Justice” if you were referring to
        this article by Barghoutti
        link to huffingtonpost.com
        Then in it Barghoutii reaffirms my assertion that BDS end goal is the destruction of Israel.And it also does not contain any concrete measures
        (besides lets boycott Israel) as to how that
        ” secular, democratic state in the entire area of historic Palestine, where everyone enjoys equal rights, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or any identity attribute.”
        should be achieved.
        It’s completely useless and provides no answers regarding the feasibility
        of such a Utopian end game.

      • Shmuel
        August 25, 2012, 5:54 pm

        I don’t think it is Shmuel maybe for some parts of the BDS movements
        but not for the majority

        You hang around MW too much. If BDS will ever make any difference, it will have to go well beyond the core, ideological advocates. Cast Lead, Goldstone, the first flotilla, the wall (along with the highly publicised campaigns of Bil’in, Na’alin, etc.) – these are the things that have drawn larger numbers into supporting BDS. Again, sadly, the refugees and discrimination within Israel just don’t do it for most people – even caring, lefty, activist people. That is why BDS, PACBI, Who Profits and other groups have focused on the occupation, on settlement products, companies profiting from settlement construction and the military occupation.

        If Israel ever manages to convince second and third tier activists as well as the members of the divesting boards and funds and unions, that it is seriously addressing these, high-profile, high-empathy issues, BDS will wither and die.

        One more comment on “internal pressure”: It may very well come from the “diaspora” communities Israel takes for granted and generally treats rather shabbily. On this subject, see this recent article by Antony Lerman: link to guardian.co.uk

      • OlegR
        August 25, 2012, 6:28 pm

        /You hang around MW too much./
        Indeed i do , i believe that it’s representative of the ideas that float around
        in the non Palestinian part of the BDS movement.

        / It may very well come from the “diaspora” communities Israel takes for granted and generally treats rather shabbily./

        Well if such an influential community as in the USA decides to part way with
        Zionism then indeed the pressure on Israel will be tougher no doubt.
        I don’t see it happening in the near to medium future despite of
        what Philip might think of his achievements in the area.

      • justicewillprevail
        August 25, 2012, 8:48 pm

        So you have no interest in understanding the discussion, bother to read the articles, or have any points to make other than sniping at anybody who does. No surprise there. No solutions either. The palestinians are in trouble, and no thanks to blockheads like you who are indifferent to the suffering Israel inflicts on them.

      • OlegR
        August 26, 2012, 5:21 am

        By the way Shmuel
        The fact that the Palestinian society
        showed the much talked in this article and others “Palestinian Civil Society ”
        the middle finger and en masse 130000 i believe were the numbers
        went to the beaches in Israel that they were supposed to boycott.

        link to haaretz.com

        What do you think it tells us about the BDS?

      • Shmuel
        August 26, 2012, 5:37 am

        How do you figure that an occupied and ghettoised population exercising their right to freedom of movement violates or challenges the boycott movement in any way?

        As a supporter of BDS, I echo Gideon Levy’s sentiments:

        The sign at the beach exit says “see you again.” Will we see them again? One of them, a resident of Akraba, near Nablus, asked me, “Why only once a year? Can’t it be twice?”

        Tomorrow they will return to their depressing reality, to their lives of occupation and unemployment behind the roadblocks, and nothing will remain of their day at the Tel Aviv beach except a sweet, fading dream.

        So really, why can’t it happen twice a year? In fact, why not every day, damn it?

        One of the goals of BDS is to end the occupation. Allowing Palestinians out of their prison – even for a single day – is entirely consistent with that goal.

      • OlegR
        August 26, 2012, 5:50 am

        A boycott means a boycott.
        You either participate in it all the way until you reach your goals or you don’t.
        You don’t suspend it because it’s convenient and you want to go to the beach.
        My take on it the those Palestinians simply didn’t care about the boycott or the BDS movement , otherwise they would have stayed at home.

        It reasserts my claim that BDS is an external political movement
        and the the huge and numerous Palestinian civil society that supposedly backs it up is a joke.

      • Shmuel
        August 26, 2012, 6:13 am

        A boycott means a boycott.

        You still haven’t explained how Palestinians exercising their right to go to the beach in their historical homeland violates the boycott part of BDS.

        Furthermore, BDS is a strategy, not a religion, and its application by those living under occupation necessarily differs from its application abroad. South African blacks living under apartheid or South African occupation were never expected to lend a hand to their own oppression by denying themselves access to the few rights they actually enjoyed.

        Your “take” is thus entirely without basis.

      • OlegR
        August 26, 2012, 6:29 am

        Shmuel don’t play dumb.
        The are not exercising any right.
        The were given passes by the state of Israel which they supposed to be boycotting en masse to enter it’s borders go to it’s public beaches
        shop there have a nice time swim in the sea and go home.
        Don’t tell me this is not breaking a boycott.

      • OlegR
        August 26, 2012, 6:31 am

        /Furthermore, BDS is a strategy, not a religion, and its application by those living under occupation necessarily differs from its application abroad. South African blacks living under apartheid or South African occupation were never expected to lend a hand to their own oppression by denying themselves access to the few rights they actually enjoyed./

        So you agree with me that BDS is a foreign movement that has almost no
        meaning in the lives of the Palestinians themselves , they certainly don’t boycott Israel.
        Fine.

      • Shmuel
        August 26, 2012, 6:59 am

        Please, Oleg. Palestinians need Israeli permission to do just about anything. They are living under occupation, in case you haven’t heard. You are also callously minimising the importance of this event by suggesting that it’s just like any other bit of fun enjoyed by anyone else, anywhere in the world. The injustice lies in the fact that 20-year-olds have never even seen the beach only a few kilometres from their homes, or even left the general vicinity of their villages. BDS does not require that they remain prisoners in their homes to “spite” the Israelis.

        BDS is not a foreign movement, but a strategy (and it is a strategy – i.e. not applied where it is unlikely to have any effect) based on the actions of those living outside the OT and Israel. It is a Palestinian request that outside solidarity be channelled in a certain manner. Have a look, for example, at the material published by the Israeli “Boycott from Within” about the role of those “outside” as opposed to those “inside”. This is, of course, even more pronounced for those who live under the severe restrictions of the occupation.

        So how exactly did these people violate BDS (a campaign with rules, not a general “have nothing to do with Israel or Israelis” imperative)?

        By accepting Israeli permits to do something they should be able to do without them? Should Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Area C refuse the few building permits they are granted? Should Palestinians die rather than apply for permits for medical treatment in Israel or permits to leave the country or return to it?” That is not resistance, but suicide that actually borders on collaboration in their own oppression.

        By buying an ice cream on the beach or buying something in an Israeli shop? BDS is not a boycott of all Israeli goods and businesses.

        By allowing Israelis to see them enjoying themselves? Yeah, let’s suffer. That’ll really show that Netanyahu. Let’s NOT go to the beach. Netanyahu will beg us to allow him to withdraw and dismantle the settlements, but we won’t answer the phone. As that chap Oleg said: “Boycott means boycott!”

      • OlegR
        August 26, 2012, 7:13 am

        Refusing to cooperate with the occupation forces in every aspect of life is the only viable strategy in a successful civilian disobedience act.
        As far as i understand it.

      • Shmuel
        August 26, 2012, 7:17 am

        Refusing to cooperate with the occupation forces in every aspect of life is the only viable strategy in a successful civilian disobedience act.
        As far as i understand it.

        The Palestinian leadership of BDS has taken a somewhat different and more targeted approach, but if you write to them and tell them they’re doing it all wrong, I’m sure they’ll take your opinion into consideration.

      • OlegR
        August 26, 2012, 7:23 am

        / but if you write to them and tell them they’re doing it all wrong, I’m sure they’ll take your opinion into consideration./

        Oh no Has ve Halila i want them to keep the same way they are going.
        Leadership, a couple of two guys that can’t get more then a few hundred of their own people to go for a demonstration.

        I wasn’t interested in their opinion i was interested in yours.
        I got it, thanks.I think you are fooling your self but that’s not important.
        Nice talking to you Shmuel.

  7. Cliff
    August 24, 2012, 2:03 pm

    Just bought the kindle version for my ipad! Looking forward to this. Cheers~

  8. Miura
    August 24, 2012, 4:33 pm

    …many in the audience were Westerners working for Western NGOs in Palestine–there was a palpable frustration with the role of these organizations in perpetuating the conflict rather than solving it.

    Yes, the long term effects of Western NGOs have not been good across most of the poorer parts of the world. The places where NGOs are firmly entrenched tend to go downhill faster than they would have had the natives been left to their devices. Paul Theroux revisited Africa 4 decades after his Peace Corps stint there and found most places were reasonably well served by NGOs and their Toyota Land Cruiser driving staff, it’s just the populations that were in worse shape than what he had seen in his youth:

    Mine is not a complaint, merely an observation, because hearing horror stories about uneducated starving Africans, most Americans or Europeans become indignant and say, “Why doesn’t someone do something about it?”

    Much was apparently being done–more than I had ever imagined. Since the Kenya government cared so little about the well-being of its people, concerns such as health and education had been taken up by sympathetic foreigners. The charities were well established. Between the Bata shoe store and the local Indian shop you would find the office of World Vision or Save the Children–“Blurred Vision” and “Shave the Children” to the cynics. These organizations had grown out of disaster relief agencies but had become multinational institutions, permanent fixtures of welfare and services.

    I wondered, really wondered, why this was all a foreign effort, why Africans were not involved in helping themselves. And also, since I had been a volunteer teacher myself, why, after forty years, had so little progress been made?

    An entire library of worthy books describe at best the uselessness, at worst the serious harm, brought about by aid agencies. Some of the books are personal accounts, others are scientific and scholarly. The findings are the same.

    “Aid is not help” and “aid does not work” are two of the conclusions reached by Graham Hancock in his Lords of Poverty: The Power, Prestige and Corruption of the International Aid Business (1989), a well-researched account of wasted money. Much of Hancock’s scorn is reserved for the dubious activities of the World Bank. “Aid projects are an end in themselves,” Michael Maren writes in The Road to Hell: The Damaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity (1997). One of Maren’s targets is Save the Children, which he sees as a monumental boondoggle. Both writers report from experience, having spent many years in Third World countries on aid projects. While these writers are kinder to volunteers in disaster relief than to highly paid bureaucrats in institutional charities, both of them also assert that all aid is self-serving, large-scale famines are welcomed as a “growth opportunity,” and the advertising to stimulate donations for charities is little more than “hunger porn”.

  9. sydnestel
    August 24, 2012, 5:22 pm

    Antony

    Re “More essentially, I argue that Zionism itself is the issue. It can’t be reformed, re-defined or re-imagined. From its beginning, it was about subjugation of the Arab, a desire to colonise as much land as possible in the name of Jewish liberation. ”

    Did you read the last chapter in your own book? – the one by Jeremiah Haber? It challenges the above statement. It is, IMO, both a factually accurate and strategically wise position.

  10. MK_Ultra
    August 25, 2012, 5:04 pm

    Discussing life after Zionism in Israel/Palestine is like discussing life after the empire in the US. A chimera at best.

  11. Newclench
    August 26, 2012, 2:11 pm

    “It’s less known that most Israelis continue serving in the IDF reserves until 45 years of age, often in the occupied territories, so a continual connection to the conflict is there every year. ”

    This is seriously false. I’m a little saddened to see such a statement thrown around casually – the kind of misinformation that adds to cynicism and skepticism about a non-Zionist narrative.

    While I’m not sure about the numbers, I vaguely recalling that less than half of all Jewish men in Israel ever complete the required three years of military service. Even if every single one of them was doing reserve duty, and it always included some service in the OT, that would still be less than a quarter of all Israelis.

    To understand the real numbers, listen to the ‘reservists movement’ who complain about the unfair distribution of the burden of security. (What I would call the burden of maintaining the occupation.)

    A more accurate view is that Israel is successfully turning the occupation into an elite occupation done by a smaller and smaller number of people, who represent a shrinking fraction of the Israeli population, even as the numbers of settlers grows. This is part of the normalization and invisibilization of occupation. IF ONLY every Israeli adult male had to spend a month doing occupation, we might see more resistance to it, as was the case during the first and second Intifada.

  12. mthunlan
    September 5, 2012, 12:22 pm

    It must be believed that reading these conclusions of this Mr Lowenstein that somebody can write more nonsense in fewer words.
    If he would have taken care and researched ALL historical documents about the investigations of building up a home for Arabs and Jews in Palestine together, he would have realised that ALL ways no matter under what constitution (Federation, Confederation, Binational State, Arab State with an autonomous Jewish minority etc.) would have FAILED!
    And now he comes with this glorious conclusion: Why not building up one state for both?
    It’s like two girls are fighting for one puppet and now he declares that this puppet belongs to both. And the girls will hugh themselves with tears in their eyes?
    If it gives him comfort, he should believe that, but keep his words off the conflict.
    I bet, it wont be even enough to remind him even how sooooo civilised Western countries with multilingual ethnics like Belgium or CANADA (where today a man had been shot after a winners party of the Bloc Quebecois!)!!) have their troubles, he’ll keep on naively believing, especially in this region, which is far beside the Palestinian/Israeli conflict one of the most instable parts of the world (Syria, Iraq, Iran etc.) , a binational state will succeed. It’ll end in another Arab state where Jews are only a more or less, depending on the haphazard of the current Arab ochlokrat/oligarch, tolerated and by him heteronomous minority like it was the two millennias in the orient before.

  13. mthunlan
    September 6, 2012, 4:36 pm

    Additionally comes what this GENIOUS Loewenstein completely ignores or simply doesn’t realise is the fact that even until 1988 de jure and 1992 pro forma and de facto not until today the PLO even denied any ethnical identity of a Jewish people i.e. the main period of the fight against I. wasn’t even a question of fight against an adverse ideology (=Zionism) it was a fight against a fictional nation in their sense.
    But despite that he still comes to the glorious conclusion, wouldn’t have been any Zionism wouldn’t have been any separation between Jews and Arabs.
    BTW: Arafat was forced to accept Uno-R 181, 242 and 338 (together with some others)in 1992 , which are the base of the peace process after his adventure with Saddam Hussein VERBALLY (*). But the revised version of the PLO-Charter isn’t still available. But this is peanuts so or so: since under Abbas the PLO has its first at least on a low level convincing leader (but even far without any criticims) the PLO faces a decline in popularity that even some fools here, who erroniously see themselves as liberals / leftists, show unmasked sympathies for the Hamas and other terror-groups.
    (*) it’s curious that all Arafats terrible flaws he had made over decades (!!) had been forgiven, while the Israelis are still blamed moreover original sinned for anything they did until Theodor Herzls days.

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