A day after Rebecca Steinfeld asked in Haaretz whether liberal Zionists will move left to support democracy or move right for permanent ethnocracy in the wake of the two state solution’s autopsy, Peter Beinart on cue considers — and then totally avoids — the question. Writing about J Street:
Absent some crisis that forces Washington’s hand, the U.S.-led peace process is likely dead for the remainder of the Obama presidency, and perhaps forever. The Israeli-Palestinian struggle is moving out of Washington, to the campuses, church groups, labor unions, pension funds and international courts through which Palestinians will seek to Boycott, Divest from and Sanction the Jewish state. J Street is not built for this new fight….
In the short term, [J Street] may be forced to embrace forms of nonviolent, two-state oriented pressure that it previously rejected as too controversial. Over the longer term, J Street might become the core of a new progressive Jewish movement—especially among the young—that goes beyond Israel to take on domestic issues like immigration, climate change and economic inequality.
So Beinart apparently thinks young J Streeters will arrive at the two-state solution party many years too late and embrace his Zionist BDS prescription, while studiously avoiding the real question on the table. Rather than face facts that Israel is, from the river to the sea, an apartheid ethnocracy, young Jews will in the long run keep their heads buried firmly in the sand and turn their attention to other issues like U.S. immigration? I think not. I have more faith in young progressive Jews than he does.
The shine is going to come off J Street, as its current membership will see how the organization’s advocacy for “peace talks” has helped enable Israel to continue to steal land behind the smokescreen of the peace charade. “We must preserve a Jewish majority state at all costs” is not going to be a winning P.R. formula with young, progressive Jews for very much longer. “Israel has a right to exist” is going to be upended as young Jews learn this means nothing more than “Israel has a right to exist as a racist, discriminatory state where well-off Jews from Brooklyn can move anytime they want into homes on stolen land whilst the indigenous people can never return to their rightfully-owned land.” I believe one person, one vote, one state is going to become the rallying cry of a generation that sees Israeli oppression clearly for what it is, tracing back to 1948 and before the existence of the state.
I believe most of today’s J Streeters will join the coming rainbow coalition that will advocate true equality. In the early 2000s, Students for Justice in Palestine’s slogan was “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” Some progressive Jews were turned off, because it left open the question, what happens to the Jews who immigrated to Palestine and live there now? What does it mean, exactly, for Palestine to be free? I think these sorts of slogans will evolve into more inclusive chants like: “From the river to the sea, we demand equality!”