Earlier this week Gideon Levy wrote an important column in Haaretz rejecting the claim that Israel’s critics are seeking to “delegitimize” Israel. Israel exists, he said; and the fearmongering over delegitimization is just an effort to absolve Israel of responsibility for a regime of occupation and religious nationalism, which is the source of the loss of legitimacy.
I excerpt his column below. Levy is eloquent, and you should read him for yourself.
What I find interesting is that this rightwing campaign, as Levy describes it, has been completely and utterly imbibed by the Obama administration, which regurgitates it at every turn. I count about a dozen references to countering delegitimization at the White House website.
The White House is obviously reflecting a theme of the Israel lobby. Here are some of the oppositions to delegitimization uttered by Obama, and then Joe Biden’s more loquacious and impassioned statements:
2011: “For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure.”
2011: “On my watch, the United States of America has led the way, from Durban to the United Nations, against attempts to use international forums to delegitimize Israel. And we will continue to do so.”
2012: “When attempts are made to delegitimize the state of Israel, we oppose them.”
2013, Biden speaking to AIPAC: “Let me tell you what worries me the most today — what worries me more than at any time in the 40 years I’ve been engaged, and it is different than any time in my career. And that is the wholesale, seemingly coordinated effort to delegitimize Israel as a Jewish state. That is the single most dangerous, pernicious change that has taken place, in my humble opinion, since I’ve been engaged.”
Biden in 2011 again to a Jewish group: “this is the most concerted effort in my 36 years in the Senate and two and a half years as Vice President that I have seen an effort to literally delegitimize Israel as a nation state. It’s occurring in Europe. It’s occurring around the world.”
Now here is Gideon Levy, explaining why “delegitimization” of an occupier and a Jewish state are actually legitimate arguments:
When the right screams ‘delegitimization,’ it purposely exaggerates. Even the most heated criticism of Israel is directed at the regime: most of it deals with Israel being a regime of occupation – an overtly illegitimate reality – and some of it is directed at its definition as an ethnic-national state, the Jewish state.
There is no other state that carries out such an occupation, nor another state that defines itself according to its ethnic, religious or national purity. France is not the state of the French, nor is Germany the state of the Germans. They’re both the states of their citizens….
The fear mongering of delegitimization is aimed at obscuring reality and allowing Israel to ignore responsibility for its actions, which is the source of the Israeli regime’s lack of legitimacy. Precious few seriously discuss destroying Israel, and in any case, no one has the power to do so. Israel’s critics and haters – and unfortunately there many of these – question Israel’s regime and policies, not Israel’s existence. They believe that the values of natural justice dictate a different Israel: not an occupier and not (only ) Jewish…
We would be better off facing reality honestly, with a sober outlook rather than a brain-washed one: A state that was established in large part on the ashes of the Holocaust, whose creation was enthusiastically supported by most nations and whose existence is supported by an even larger majority today, has veered off the path and lost its way; that is the reason for the outcry against it.