Goldberg’s political fantasy

Israel/Palestine
on 14 Comments

The new rightwing coalition in Israeli politics allows Jeffrey Goldberg  to describe his political fantasy:

here’s my fantasy: A unity government of the mainly secular Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu party and a new, mostly secular centrist party that would have the votes to actually make progress on synagogue-state separation issues.

Goldberg elaborates on the fantasy; and it is all about the liberalization of Israeli society. But there is absolutely no reference to Palestinian freedom here. To what power such a “secular centrist” party would have over Israel’s fundamental problem: occupation and apartheid rule over more than 4 million non-Jews.

My political fantasy is that if all the governed were granted the right of consent to their government– a principle we’ve enunciated in the U.S. for more than 200 years– then liberal Israelis and liberal Palestinians would form a political coalition to marginalize the fundamentalists in both societies.  Put another way, if blacks didn’t have the right to vote, Virginia would be squarely in the Romney column right now, and everyone would be thankful he’s not Sarah Palin. That’s Israel.

P.S. That’s not a fantasy for Zionists. Two years back Peter Beinart made this statement in a dialogue with Jeffrey Goldberg:

PB: I’m not asking Israel to be Utopian. I’m not asking it to allow Palestinians who were forced out (or fled) in 1948 to return to their homes. I’m not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I’m actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel’s security and for its status as a Jewish state. What I am asking is that Israel not do things that foreclose the possibility of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, because if it is does that it will become–and I’m quoting Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak here–an “apartheid state.”

Just imagine an American writer saying he wasn’t interested in full, equal citizenship for Jews? Goldberg would have been all over it. This passed without comment.

14 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    October 26, 2012, 1:21 pm

    Phil: “all the governed were granted the right of consent to their government– a principle we’ve enunciated in the U.S. for more than 200 years” ??

    ALL? 200 years ago? Well, not women, not black slaves, not native Americans, not Chinese when they arrived to work in the West. Not the vote, anyway. Not always the right to testify before a court.

    However, the American experiment has run a long course, in many ways a good one, and Israel might have done better to follow some of our ideas rather than returning to the Middle Ages — and the upside-down-anti-Semitism of Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.

  2. Donald
    October 26, 2012, 1:23 pm

    The strongest critiques of Israel and Zionism itself come from people who think they are defending them. Just listen to how they think and compare it to what liberals would say in any other circumstance, which is what you did here.

  3. Krauss
    October 26, 2012, 1:28 pm

    Gets worse.

    Larry Derfner in +972 mag is basically trotting out the ‘liberal’ Zionist line about how Bibi was a “moderate” and that some people who came to Israel “even admired him”.

    And, with this, Bibi has more or less, in so many words, turned to the dark side.

    This also dovetails nicely with Ari Shavit, a Haaretz columnist no less, who wrote this:

    The right’s big bang is undoubtedly a dark development. It turns Israel’s ruling liberal nationalist party into an extreme nationalist party. It turns Israel’s center-right prime minister into a prime minister held captive by dark forces. If until yesterday, Netanyahu could still claim to be the Israeli Ronald Reagan or Rudy Giuliani, yesterday, he turned into Glenn Beck

    Bolds are mine. See the pattern? ‘Liberal’ Zionists are so predictable.

    It’s like the Republican equivalent on economic policy. There are facts(with a well-known liberal bias) and then there is the parallel universe. Same is true here, but for Israel and instead of Republicans we have the ‘liberal’ Zionists.

    In this parallel universe, that only they see(for reasons they refuse to share), Bibi is this mythical moderate figure who is ‘held captive’ by ‘dark forces'(Shavit/Haaretz) and is ‘admired’ around the world(Larry Derfner/+972 mag).

    Also note that Likud is presented as a liberal nationalist party(the irony of this oxymoron is, sadly, completely lost on all these ‘liberal’ Zionists)
    Again, all this just shows once and for all that the ‘liberal’ Zionists are just as racist as their brethren.
    Some of them are probably not aware of this, others(like Goldberg) probably are but don’t care.

    Either way, it is striking how similar the rhetoric is. Israel has to be saved in their own mental world, so they create this alternative universe, in order to soothe their own consciences and their support for an Apartheid state.

    • Donald
      October 26, 2012, 4:37 pm

      I found the Derfner piece–

      the lieberman deal a wake up call to the world about israel”

      I can’t tell for sure what Derfner thinks himself, but I wonder who he is talking about when he says some in the rest of the world thought Netanyahu was a moderate figure and was admired. Really? Aside from the usual suspects in the Lobby and the Congresscritters who gave him dozens of standing ovations, who thought that Netanyahu was a moderate? Even some Democratic politicians were starting to get a little openly disgusted when Netanyahu was pushing Obama a little too hard on the issue of Iran.

      • piotr
        October 27, 2012, 6:38 am

        There are good reasons to believe that Netanyahu is every bit as extreme as Lieberman. The main difference is American education of Netanyahu plus traditions of his elite group within Israeli society, namely to use somewhat more polite language. When Lieberman proposed to bomb Asuan Dam he did not mean it, it is kind of “barroom rhetoric”, and Netanyahu says something nice about piece process, he also does not mean it (not that he says anything of the kind with some alarming frequency).

        What really clinches the case for Likud being pretty equivalent to Israel Beitenu is the rhetoric and parliamentary initiatives of the other members of these parties. Feiglin is as messianic fascistic as one can get (short of adding Palestinians to your regular diet). But Danny Danon is one of the top party figures and he represents pretty close parallel to Lieberman. Lieberman himself started his carrier in Likud.

        For that matter I was genuinely surprised that Likud elders like Begin or Rivlin “represent democratic traditions of Jabotynski”. Frankly, the Jewish part of my family was “Leftist” so basically the first reference I have ever heard about Jewish politics was “that fascist Jabotynski”. Perhaps they were biased, but Revisionists DID had very proper relationships with Benito Mussolini, youth summer camps in Italy in that period, etc. And yet, they DO have a democratic tradition. I would attribute it to bitter years that Revisionists spent in opposition, when THEY were a minority with rights that could be trampled.

  4. MarkF
    October 26, 2012, 2:31 pm

    ” I’m not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. ”

    After reading Peter’s “Crisis” book, I think he may have changed that position. Unless I missed the point, he now argues that Israel must give up the West Bank, or as he calls it, Undemocratic Israel. I thought he wanted eveyone in Democratic Israel to have full equal citizenship, and any settler remaining in territory that will be a Palestinian state to either be entitiled to Palestinian citizenship or move back within the green line.

  5. Patrick
    October 26, 2012, 2:48 pm

    “I’m not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state.”

    Why should he opposed full and equal citizenship to all Israelis? His support for discriminating against Arab Israelis certainly seems racist. Has Beinart ever explained himself on this? Has his position evolved over the last two years, or does he still hold this view?

  6. atime forpeace
    October 26, 2012, 4:32 pm

    Where does that inate need to be racist and segregationist come from?
    It would seem to me that the biggest outcries, protesting the formation of a racist and segregationist state anywhere on the earth would come from one and the same people that are now arguing for just such a State.

    The best lawyers and the best legal minds couldn’t be up against a more formidable assignment.

    But please do not let anyone else notice the irony of it all.

    ‘ I’m not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. ‘

    • Mooser
      October 27, 2012, 12:55 pm

      “Where does that inate need to be racist and segregationist come from?”

      Zionism, I would think. Since that is the ideology which governed the actions of the Zionists, and the ideology (in its forms from bad to worse) which has governed Israel before and ever since its inception. Zionism, in any practical form which has ever manifested itself beyond a prayer, is racism.
      Next question?

  7. DICKERSON3870
    October 26, 2012, 6:41 pm

    RE: “here’s my fantasy: A unity government of the mainly secular Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu party and a new, mostly secular centrist party that would have the votes to actually make progress on synagogue-state separation issues.” ~ Jeffrey Goldberg

    SOME BACKGROUND FROM URI AVNERY (VIA BERNARD AVISHAI), Feb. 2010:

    [EXCERPTS] The Israeli Interior Ministry recognizes 126 nations, but not the Israeli nation. An Israeli citizen can be registered as belonging to the Assyrian, the Tatar or the Circassian nation. But the Israeli nation? Sorry, no such thing.
    According to the official doctrine, the State of Israel cannot recognize an “Israeli” nation because it is the state of the “Jewish” nation. In other words, it belongs to the Jews of Brooklyn, Budapest and Buenos Aires, even though these consider themselves as belonging to the American, Hungarian or Argentine nations. Messy? Indeed.
    THIS MESS started 113 years ago, when the Viennese Journalist Theodor Herzl wrote his book “The State of the Jews”. (That’s the true translation. The generally used name “The Jewish State” is false and means something else.) For this purpose he had to perform an acrobatic exercise. One can say that he used a white lie.
    Modern Zionism was born as a direct response to modern anti-Semitism. Not by accident, the term “Zionismus” came into being some 20 years after the term “Antisemitismus” was invented in Germany. They are twins. . .
    . . . Herzl understood that the new reality was inherently dangerous for the Jews. In the beginning he cherished the idea of complete assimilation: all the Jews would be baptized and disappear in the new nations. As a professional writer for the theater, he even devised the scenario: all Viennese Jews would march together to St. Stephen’s cathedral and be baptized en masse.
    When he realized that this scenario was a bit far-fetched, Herzl passed from the idea of individual assimilation to what may be called collective assimilation: if there is no place for the Jews in the new nations, then they should define themselves as a nation like all the others</b, rooted in a homeland of their own and living in a state of their own. This idea was called Zionism.
    BUT THERE was a problem: a Jewish nation did not exist. The Jews were not a nation but a religious-ethnic community. . . Herzl had to ignore this difference. He pretended that the Jewish ethnic-religious community was also a Jewish nation. In other words: contrary to all other peoples, the Jews were both a nation and a religious community; as far as Jews were concerned, the two were the same. The nation was a religion, the religion was a nation.
    This was the white lie. There was no other way: without it, Zionism could not have come into being. The new movement took the Star of David from the synagogue, the candlestick from the Temple, the blue-and-white flag from the prayer shawl. The holy land became a homeland. Zionism filled the religious symbols with secular, national content. . . The first to detect the falsification were the Orthodox Rabbis. Almost all of them damned Herzl and his Zionism in no uncertain terms.
    When Herzl originated the Zionist idea, he did not intend to found the “State of the Jews” in Palestine, but in Argentina. Even when writing his book, he devoted to the country only a few lines, under the headline “Palestine or Argentina?” However, the movement he created compelled him to divert his endeavors to the Land of Israel, and so the state came into being here.
    When the State of Israel was founded and the Zionist dream realized, there was no further need for the white lie . . .

    . . . [W]hy do the words “Jewish state” appear in our [Israel’s] Declaration of Independence? There was a simple reason for that: the UN had adopted a resolution to partition the country between an “Arab state” and a “Jewish state.” That was the legal basis of the new state. The declaration, which was drafted in haste, said therefore that we were establishing “the Jewish state (according to the UN resolution), namely the State of Israel.”…
    . . . LIKE MOST of us at the time [of the founding of Israel in 1948], David Ben-Gurion believed that Zionism had supplanted religion and that religion had become redundant. He was quite sure that it would shrivel and disappear by itself in the new secular state. He decided that we could afford to dispense with the military service of Yeshiva bochers (Talmud school students), believing that their number would dwindle from a few hundred to almost none. The same thought caused him to allow religious schools to continue in existence. Like Herzl, who promised to “keep our Rabbis in the synagogues and our army officers in the barracks,” Ben-Gurion was certain that the state would be entirely secular. . .
    . . . BUT THE white lie of Herzl had results he did not dream of, as did the compromises of Ben-Gurion. Religion did not wither away in Israel, but on the contrary: it is gaining control of the state. . .
    . . . And, most important: the ugly weeds growing in the national-religious field – the fanatical settlers – are pushing the state in a direction that may lead to its destruction. . .

    SOURCE – link to bernardavishai.blogspot.com

  8. piotr
    October 26, 2012, 6:54 pm

    I was looking for some suitable jokes, and this actually fits:

    Fantasy in Blue (1975) – IMDb
    Rating: 8/10 – 5 votes
    Leon and his wife Angelique have lost their sexual creativity. They have relationships with other people but discover that they prefer each other.

    Bibi and Avigdor have lost their political creativity … I think Goldberg plot is no more realistic.

    —–

    One thing to remember is that the discussion on reducing the privileges of ultra-religious in Israel are there in Israel for a long long time and it never happens. Why, this very summer there was a grand coalition to do exactly that! Lasted a week. One has to analyze why “secular Israelis” are not able to execute such a reform. It is clear why they contemplate such a reform: ultras annoy the secular with their lifestyle, on occasion they may attack the secular, say, for attempt to drive and park on Saturday, or walk with immodest girls to school, insist on utterly impractical education, demand large subsidies to get apartments and devote themselves to “Torah studies” and so on. There are also things like marriage laws etc.

    In principle, secular parties can get together at ANY time and pass all secular reform one can dream of (most listed by Goldberg). But that would upset the religious parties (not just the ultras) while the ultras would be morose or rebellious or both. And the secular parties cannot allow for that to happen. They start with strongest convictions and then the vision of the ultras being dejected is more that the seculars can bear. Why?

    Because this is a Jewish state, created so the Jews can be as Jewish as one can be, and more! A Jewish state where you can be more Jewish than anywhere, and you are proud of it. And who is more Jewish than the ultras? Perhaps they are despicable, but they are so Jewish!

    • Mooser
      October 27, 2012, 1:01 pm

      “Because this is a Jewish state, created so the Jews can be as Jewish as one can be, and more! A Jewish state where you can be more Jewish than anywhere, and you are proud of it. And who is more Jewish than the ultras? Perhaps they are despicable, but they are so Jewish!”

      Ran this one through my Moderation Algorithm (Vers. 2.5a, by my count) program, and it comes back clean, as long as you don’t say ‘despicably Jewish’.
      You cut it pretty fine, piotr, but you made the cut. Good work.

  9. ToivoS
    October 26, 2012, 7:39 pm

    Every time Goldberg offers an opinion it raises that perpetual question: Is he really that stupid or is he just a liar? I tend to believe the former.

    • Mooser
      October 27, 2012, 1:04 pm

      ” Is he really that stupid or is he just a liar?”

      Goldberg is a total rationalist, and takes a strictly Menckenistic view of his earnings.

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