I like to say that the most disputed territory in the Middle East is the space between American Jews’ ears. If American Jews could actually be convinced to believe in democracy, in Israel/Palestine– wow, the effect that would have on the ground. Ravishing. That’s what the Beinart moment is about: space is opening up here to acknowledge what Israel is and allow Jews to embrace liberal values.
And, as always, even more space is opening up in Israel. Gideon Levy in Haaretz seems to have announced himself as an anti-Zionist. Who lost Israel? The Jews did.
Levy’s column is about a Palestinian Member of Knesset, Ahmad Tibi.
Tibi, of course, will never be prime minister here, and it’s doubtful whether he’d want to. His heart is with his people, the Palestinians. But the left wing, yes, the left, disqualifies him in advance. This disqualification doesn’t stem merely from his opinions. It stems first and foremost from his origin. For even if Tibi supported the Greater Land of Israel and believed that the Israel Defense Forces was the most moral army in the world, even if he were wondrously gifted, he’d still be ineligible, unfit, disqualified forever and in advance. At least the right-wing racists don’t hide their racist views. But the (national ) left is tainted with nationalism, too.
Is it even permitted to ask in these parts whether Tibi is more qualified than Bibi? Perhaps as prime minister he’d be less inactive than Benjamin Netanyahu? Perhaps he’d cause Israel less damage? Perhaps he’d bring on us fewer wars and less occupation? Perhaps he’d be more concerned about social justice for all the country’s citizens? Perhaps he’d be more liberal than a nationalist Jew? Maybe the election of a minority representative would one day make society more enlightened? Maybe it would send an amazing message to the world and ourselves?
But all these questions are entirely irrelevant. Tibi is an Arab, and an Arab – talented, moderate and even an Israel-lover – would never gain our confidence.
Why? Because he is an Arab. Period. This is true regarding the position of prime minister, and it’s true regarding the owner of the garage where we have our car fixed.
So let’s all take the masks off. When we say "a Jewish state" we mean a nationalist state. For how else could it be described? Moreover, when we say Jewish state, we are denying the chance that it would ever really be democratic.
Democracy? Only for the Jews in this state.