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If you believe in two states, why aren’t you slamming Netanyahu?

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People are talking about this inspired attack by Juan Cole on the "burly former Israeli military prison guard at the notorious Ketziot detention camp" — former IDF Corporal Jeffrey Goldberg. 

The accomplishment of this piece is that when Cole is not pointing out the confused loyalty issue that pervades our discourse (the Washington Post worries about Obama’s approval rating in Israel; why not George Bush’s in France), he demonstrates that he is restrained with respect to Palestinian rights (would extinguish right of return with compensation), but when you look at the other side, that portion of the Israel lobby that claims to believe in two states, they are extremists. By failing to criticize Netanyahu on a colonial project, by lining up behind the vigilant organizations and political thugs who want no daylight between the US and Israel, by denying that Palestinian grievances have anything to do with our woes in the Middle East, by always arguing against ANY pressure on Israel, etc.–what credibility do these peaceniks have? None. They will always line up with Israel out of parochial concern, even Israel the oppressor.

If these folks had any credibility, they would emulate Indiana University professor Rafael Reuveny, who wants two states, and has boldly denounced the settlements for what they are: a "colonial" project that is rejected everywhere in the world. Or they might openly call for regime change (per AFP, and Bruce Wolman); for everyone knows that Netanyahu has no desire to make a Palestinian state. As Cole says, the only way you can say you favor two states is if you actually are working to create a viable Palestinian state alongside the Jewish one; and Goldberg is doing none of that difficult labor. J Street is trying, but even its plan seems Bantustanish. And so no wonder Cole suggests, as any realist does, that we have passed the point of partition, and the future is either apartheid or a binational state. (And maybe American Jews who enjoy minority freedom should be deploying their liberal history and imagination, rather than their militant ethnocentrism, on behalf of the two peoples of the Holy Land.)

The real issue here, as Cole states, is not about states as such; it is that you can’t dither on a people’s freedom forever through a "peace process" that delivers only more dispossession. Jewish refugee camps in Europe demanded a moral response, and Truman favored partition on that basis, and lo, the Jews got a state within three years. The complete denial of the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people for 60 years now as everyone else and their brother have gotten states is a moral outrage. Their condition is something that all American moderns should wake up to. You cannot endlessly deny political rights to a group that has national identity. And as Petraeus has said, that’s why they hate us.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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