‘Forward’ slams Ehrenreich for questioning Zionism and Palestinian villagers for throwing stones at soldiers

Israel/Palestine
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Yesterday’s cover story in the New York Times Magazine on resistance in occupied Nabi Saleh, by Ben Ehrenreich, is already having a huge effect. Rashid Khalidi praised the piece on WNYC this morning. While the liberal Zionist editor of the Jewish Forward, Jane Eisner, is pushing back. She doesn’t like the fact that Ehrenreich has questioned Zionism:

“In 2009, Ehrenreich published a direct attack on Zionism in the Los Angeles Times entitled ‘Zionism is the Problem’. In the article, Ehrenreich castigates not only the ‘deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in Gaza and the West Bank’ but ‘the Zionist tenets on which the state was founded’ as well.” [Per Chemi Shalev in Haaretz]

Ehrenreich continues: “Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion… or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.” He concludes by calling for a secular, pluralistic, democratic government in Israel and Palestine, and the abandonment of the Zionist dream….

Ehrenreich is hardly a disinterested observer of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… Ehrenreich’s politics are so evident and his sympathies so decided that it is difficult not to see his bias running through the long magazine story.

I wonder if Eisner ever spotted bias when Zionists were penning articles?
She titles her piece, “Real Non-Violence Doesn’t Look Like This,” and offers advice to Palestinians on how to resist occupation:

My husband has long argued that if the Palestinians really wanted a state side-by-side with Israel, all they would have to do is adopt a nationwide, non-violent strategy. Peaceful demonstrations up and down the West Bank, continuously, steadfastly, would prick the world’s consciousness and give Israeli and Palestinian leaders no choice but to negotiate and do what they needed to do to end the occupation and secure Israel’s democratic future…
Throwing stones — not little pebbles, but at times stones that can damage or even kill — is a violent act. Gandhi didn’t do it. The courageous African Americans who stood at the bridge in Selma didn’t do it. It takes great determination, character and patience to engage in such protest, and I can understand how, after decades of occupation, it may be difficult for the villagers of Nabi Saleh to restrain themselves. But that’s unarmed resistance. Anything else is a misnomer…
 Not that Eisner is for the occupation:
And it’s too bad that the picture he paints will now be discredited, because we need to be reminded of the costs of occupation and the continued drain on Israeli and Palestinian moral behavior.

Here’s an excellent comment on the piece from Matt Berkman:

Ms. Eisner uses this line from one of Ehrenreich’s previous op-ed pieces to discredit his reportage: “Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion… or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.”

I’d like to know which part of this statement she disagrees with. Does she not believe that states based on ethnic or religious domination “lead inexorably to politics of exclusion” (a truism), or does she not believe that Zionism set out to establish an ethnic Jewish hegemony over a land already populated by non-Jews (an historical fact)? Or does she not believe that a “politics of exclusion” or “wholesale ethnic cleansing” constitute a “problem”?

Which is it, Ms. Eisner?

 

Who is driving this conversation now? Anti-Zionists, non-Zionists. If you’re a smart young Jewish kid, what gang would you want to be in…

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