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Avraham Burg: World must tell Israel it can’t be ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ & the last colonial occupier in the Western world

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Former Israeli Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg endorses boycott of settlement products in The Independent — what Peter Beinart calls Zionist BDS:

[The world must] tell Israel that it is impossible to be treated as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, while it is also the last colonial occupier in the Western world.

It is not anti-Semitic and not anti-Israel to convey these messages. On the contrary: the settlers, the conquerors and their political allies – including Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel – are the real enemies of Israel’s future…

I have decided to not buy any product that comes from the settlements. I do not cross the Green Line, not to promote public causes and not for family events.

So-called Honest Reporting, an Israeli propaganda outfit, calls Burg “Peter Beinart on steroids” and compares him to neo-Nazis (see above image).

Matthew Taylor

Matthew A. Taylor is co-founder of PeacePower magazine, and author of "The Road to Nonviolent Coexistence in Palestine/Israel," a chapter in the book Nonviolent Coexistence.

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20 Responses

  1. FreddyV on June 8, 2012, 2:39 pm


  2. seafoid on June 8, 2012, 3:01 pm

    What Peter Beinert calls Zionist BDS

    As distinguished from his own Zionist BS.

  3. seafoid on June 8, 2012, 3:09 pm

    “World must tell Israel”

    I think it has to be a mixture of the world and Diaspora Judaism. A joint effort.
    Explain that the current policy setting is national suicide. And that it will soon have financial consequences.

    • Inanna on June 8, 2012, 10:17 pm

      Very few societies willingly gives up privileges in the absence of some force that will make giving up the privileges preferable to other consequences.

      Les libertes ne se donnent pas, ils se prennent.

      • seafoid on June 9, 2012, 2:44 am

        And Israeli Jews are looking at a 20/30% drop in living standards once the occupation collapses. The longer they procrastinate the harder the fall.

    • Angel on June 9, 2012, 11:14 am

      Don’t make us laugh. Burg’s sheer lunacy is what would lead to national suicide. Good thing the majority of Israelis today have recovered from the collective Oslo delusion. Seems that a small segment, to which Burg clearly belongs, prefer to still dream of solutions that would in effect mean the end of Israel. Now, how about focusing a little more on the bloodbath in Syria next door instead of wasting everybody’s time on non-issues?

      • Avi_G. on June 9, 2012, 1:27 pm

        instead of wasting everybody’s time on non-issues?

        To this day, there are Palestinian present absentees in Israel who are not recognized by Israel. They are refugees in their own homeland, many of whom Israeli courts have prevented from returning to their homes. A small number of them, a mere handful, were allowed to return to their homes after ‘PURCHASING’ their own homes from the state that ethnically cleansed them from their homes.

        To this day, there are hundreds of thousands of such refugees, not to mention the millions in refugee camps throughout the Middle East.

        And you have the audacity, the gall and temerity to call this a non-issue.

        Do you suppose Israelis will ever return any of the personal property they looted from Palestinian homes in 1948, or 1967?

        Just yesterday I spoke with an 82 year-old Palestinian-American who was forced at gun point by the Hagannah out of his home in Ramllah in 1948. A week later, his own house was occupied by a family from Poland.

        Well, if this is a “non-issue”, then certainly no one should give a flying hoot anymore about the holocaust that started and ended more than 60 years ago while the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine continues unabated.

      • justicewillprevail on June 9, 2012, 4:28 pm

        Avraham Burg is a giant, one of the few who dares say it like it is. You, Angel, on the other hand are an inconspicuous hasbarist, faithfully trotting out the usual claptrap. Syria? Yes, of course appalling, no different to Cast Lead or the slow strangulation of Palestine. Let’s focus on that too, as opposed to your non-issues of diversion.

  4. MHughes976 on June 8, 2012, 3:12 pm

    You heard of this first from me yesterday, I’ll have you know. I really would like Burg to explain why he is so explicitly against the 67 conquest and so – at least implicitly – for the conquest of 48. What if 67 was logically necessary to maintain 48, as I rather think it was? What a strange concoction Liberal Zionism is.

    • evets on June 8, 2012, 4:35 pm

      It’s a pretty gutsy and honorable statement by Burg. Why not give him some credit? He’s gone out on a limb. Does it help to chop it off?

      • ToivoS on June 8, 2012, 6:25 pm

        My sentiments about Beinheart also. These guys are taking risks. They deserve the support of well thinking people everywhere. Of course, their positions contain the usual logical inconsistencies of liberal Zionism. But we all some of those to lesser or greater degrees in our political affiliations and moral standards.

      • seafoid on June 9, 2012, 8:10 am

        I think Burg deserves more credit too.

      • on June 8, 2012, 10:20 pm

        Precisely because he’s capable of a gutsy and honorable gesture, chopping off that limb will help him, or his supporters, see one step further ahead and think.

      • American on June 9, 2012, 3:32 pm

        “Does it help to chop it off?”..evets

        I think the problem is it’s impossible to keep one foot in the zionist camp and one foot out.
        Although Berg deserves credit when is some Israeli finally going to say to the Palestines as a peace agreement…..”We took your land and claimed your dispossession was justified by the ‘higher good for the Jews” , we were wrong, let us make amends and still remain here”.
        What else can they honestly say?…Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
        The dispossession of others for the good of the Jews is zionism and Israel. If they can’t admit that and change that they won’t ever change.

      • MHughes976 on June 10, 2012, 9:36 am

        Evets’ question to me is highly understandable, of course. No doubt Burg is risking his standing within his community to a certain degree, a greater degree than I for one have ever faced. But his position is that the ‘colonial occupation’ (it isn’t really that; it is a conquest in progress) should be ended specifically and emphatically because that is in the interests of Israel, ie of maintaining the conquest, already nearer completion, of 1948. I can’t applaud that or regard it as honourable.
        American is quite right to say that if you try to put just one foot into Zionism you fall flat on your face, though Burg is actually claiming to be a foursquare, both feet Zionist.
        It is justified to ask Burg, Beinart and the like what difference they see between 48 and 67. The question may be asked calmly and without rancour but it should be asked.

      • annie on June 10, 2012, 9:55 am

        i went to see burg speak a coupleyears ago, he said he thought the best outcome was for one state with equal rights.

        Meanwhile we must consider how we can enter into the new Israeli discourse. It has intriguing potential. The next diplomatic formula that will replace the “two states for two peoples” will be a civilian formula. All the people between the Jordan and the sea have the same right to equality, justice and freedom. In other words, there is a very reasonable chance that there will be only one state between the Jordan and the sea – neither ours nor theirs but a mutual one. It is likely to be a country with nationalist, racist and religious discrimination and one that is patently not democratic, like the one that exists today. But it could be something entirely different. An entity with a common basis for at least three players: an ideological right that is prepared to examine its feasibility; a left, part of which is starting to free itself of the illusions of “Jewish and democratic”; and a not inconsiderable part of the Palestinian intelligentsia.

        The conceptual framework will be agreed upon – a democratic state that belongs to all of its citizens. The practicable substance could be fertile ground for arguments and creativity. This is an opportunity worth taking, despite our grand experience of missing every opportunity and accusing everyone else except ourselves.

        Burg: Defining Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end

        keep in mind just because berg says he supports boycotting the settlements doesn’t mean he is against boycotting israel.

      • MHughes976 on June 10, 2012, 5:06 pm

        Yes, indeed, Annie, he was saying much better things a little while ago. You’re quite right that ‘boycott the settlements’ doesn’t imply ‘don’t boycott Israel’ but it doesn’t sound to me as if Burg is ready to go much beyond anti-settlement sentiments at the moment.

  5. Talkback on June 9, 2012, 7:52 am

    “HONEST reporting”, “Israel DEFENCE force”, “most MORAL army of the world”, “DISPUTED territories”, “only DEMOCRACY in the middle east”. Orwell would crack up.

  6. eljay on June 10, 2012, 1:00 pm

    >> [The world must] tell Israel that it is impossible to be treated as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, while it is also the last colonial occupier in the Western world.
    >> It is not anti-Semitic and not anti-Israel to convey these messages.

    Nicely put.

    >> I have decided to not buy any product that comes from the settlements. I do not cross the Green Line, not to promote public causes and not for family events.

    Well done.

    >> Indeed, anyone who wants to erase the pre-1967 border is essentially asking to erase the basic values on which the State of Israel was established: democracy, equality, the rule of law, secularism and modernity.


    The most basic value on which the State of Israel was established is a “homeland” of and for people of the Jewish faith from around the world, regardless of their actual homelands or nationalities.

    It was not established as an egalitarian nation state of and for all people (or their descendants) of the region of Mandate Palestine that it currently occupies, and it does not treat all its citizens equally.

  7. Sonja on June 16, 2012, 8:56 am

    In the same article Burg claims the the Green Line is some sort of moral boundary between Good Israel and Evil Israel. And he believes that when Israel would only cut off the Evil part of Israel, Mr. Hyde Land, exactly on the Green Line, letting it go, than Israel would be all Good again and live happily ever after. A ridiculous idea, because Israeli minorities within Dr. Jekyll Land are also repressed, discriminated and persecuted, by the same spiteful and racist mob. Who’s power is still growing.

    Avraham Burg believes that Israel will never have a fascist regime because, his exact words, Jews have an “inbred” dislike of totalitarian regimes, a “built in genetic ‘balancing anarchy'” that would put an end to this development. His optimism is praiseworthy, but his distorted idea about the suggested moral superiority of Jews, over non-jews, because of their genes, makes me sick. And his perception of reality is lamentable.

    In the end, the good Dr. Jekyll cannot control the hidious criminal Mr. Hyde anymore, because his antidote elixer slowly loses its magic. The writer, Robert Louis Stevenson, decided that the best way to end the story is to have Dr. Jekyll commit suicide. Avraham Burg’s ending would probably be building an impenetrable wall around Dr. Jekyll Land to keep Mr. Hyde out. Or else: simply deny that Dr. Hyde exists. But that wouldn’t be a good ending either.

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