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What Comes Next: We must enter a new Israeli discourse based in equality, justice and freedom

Israel/Palestine
on 11 Comments

This post is part of “What Comes Next?: A forum on the end of the two-state paradigm.” This series was initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace as an investigation into the current state of thinking about one state and two state solutions, and the collection has been further expanded by Mondoweiss to mark 20 years since the Oslo process. The entire series can be found here.

I have listened very attentively to the contemporary discourse of the Israeli Right. Some of the speakers express remorse, others wonder “What has happened to us?” while yet others lament: “They are going against us, these youth who riot.”

whatcomesnextverticalThey have one common denominator: the Left is a terrible, shady enemy, a cunning and elusive devil that controls the media, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau and world diplomacy. Were it not for the Left, all the Right’s good would have been understood by everyone, the hooligans complain as they make themselves look wretched. It is interesting how long they will be afraid of this scarecrow which does not impress even itself any more.

For the better part of the past 30 years, the Right has controlled the government. The Labor Party freed it from its grasp only for a very short time. The historical Labor Party never would accept the fact that Israelis preferred the Likud and its satellites. It never agreed to give up being part of the government in order to become a fig leaf par excellence, the kashrut certificate for the failures of the right in every sphere – and the chief purifier of all its vermin.

The Right is there alone. All this dirt belongs to them and they must clean it up alone. That is what a right-wing party looks like when it doesn’t have a worn-out babysitter. This is their dream coalition – right-wing legislation, simplified nationalism and cruel economics. That is who they are. That is whom the nation elected and that is whom they got.

We must not disturb them. Let them go all the way until the end. Until the end of their legislation and until the end of their political understanding. Let them rule. Not only is it forbidden to interfere, one must refrain from any kind of conversation with them. When they bring their idiotic laws up for a vote, one must not be a partner to the voting. Let them not say that they passed the legislation by a majority over a minority. One must not collaborate with this democratic act of pulling the wool over our eyes. Those votes in the Knesset must take place without any of the minority present, only the religious right-wing dictatorship.

The opposition must no longer initiate peace moves of its own; they merely worsen the situation. They create an illusion at home or abroad that the present reality is temporary. That it is still possible to put the fattened genies back in their small bottle. But that is cynical deception because it’s not possible. Because we have crossed all the red lines and all the points of no return.

So enough of the illusions. There are no longer two states between the Jordan River and the sea. Let the right-wing MKs, the Katzes and the Elkins, travel around the world and show the beauty of their faces without the deceptive layer of makeup we provided.

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.

Avraham Burg
About Avraham Burg

Avraham "Avrum" Burg is chairman of Molad --The Center for Renewal of Democracy—and formerly Speaker of the Israeli Knesset.

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11 Responses

  1. kayq
    kayq
    October 29, 2013, 10:17 am

    I agree, Avraham.

    Thanks.

  2. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    October 29, 2013, 11:16 am

    High hopes, expressed best here:

    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.

    But I see no mechanism to take power out of tthe hands of the “right”. Israel was always a hooligan state (to say nothing of pre-state, what with IRGUN and the other terrorists organizations) but had (for a long time) a veneer of “leftish” civilization.

    Would the Nazi regime ever have been defeated had Germany not decided to invade all of Europe, even including USSR? Doubtful, even with full international knowledge of the holocaust. Today, it’s 65 years since 1948 and 46 years since 1967, and the nations have watched and done nothing. the notion of “human rights” is a pretty distraction for “the people” and “the lefties”, but not “actionable” for most governments, especially not with the USA opposing action.

    Now, as I read “GOLIATH” (Max Blumenthal) and this essay, the veneer is gone, the fig leaf is gone, at least in a sort of reality.

    But the other reality is that AIPAC still rules the USA, that the USA (either because AIPAC rules it or because of other possibly darker reasons) still supports Israel — with all its warts — just as it has long supported dictators everywhere (think Mubarak, think the Shah in Iran, think so many Central American dictators USA’s supported). And USA rules the world.

    So — in short — why should today’s apartheid in OPTs (and inside green-line Israel, also) not prevail and get worse, and thereafter continue to prevail?

    Where’s the force, the power, the mechanism, for a change against the Israeli hooligans?

    • Mike_Konrad
      Mike_Konrad
      October 29, 2013, 10:08 pm

      But the other reality is that AIPAC still rules the USA …

      Do you have any clue how much the Saudis influence our government and colleges and universities?

      I am not deny AIPAC’s power, but it is not unique.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        October 30, 2013, 8:01 am

        “Do you have any clue how much the Saudis influence our government and colleges and universities?”

        LMAO. If you mean to suggest that SA has anywhere near the ability to influence the USA, you are a fool. AIPAC (and those to whom it is loyal) has an Alien-facehugger grip on our government that nothing, save perhaps the NRA or AARP, can even hope to come close to.

  3. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    October 29, 2013, 11:45 am

    I like the last paragraph, in which Burg calls for a state of all its citizens (regardless of race). But who supports that goal? And does Burg represent anybody besides himself?

  4. October 29, 2013, 3:27 pm

    Burg was a major disappointment as a politician who belonged to a younger generation of the Labor Left and who (together with several other similar disappointments) was supposed to take over the leadership from the historical (so called) giants like Peres and Rabin. Instead all which happened was lots of noise and words and this continues with the newer generation too.

    Interestingly Labor did not complain when they were at the power for 30 non interrupted years leading Israel to “building socialism ” in economy almost of the USSR style.

    But the voting pattern of Israelis who continue to give power to the right is completely determined by what the Palestinians and groups like Hezbolah have done
    (and are doing) after Oslo. We trust them less and less and what is going on on this and similar blogs is a part of the proof that Israeli voters are right.

    • DICKERSON3870
      DICKERSON3870
      October 29, 2013, 5:27 pm

      RE: But the voting pattern of Israelis who continue to give power to the right is completely determined by what the Palestinians and groups like Hezbolah have done (and are doing) after Oslo. We trust them less and less . . . ~ fnlevit

      URI AVNERY ON THE “BRAINWASHING” OF THE ISRAELIS:
      “Israel’s Weird Elections”, by Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, 1/04/13:

      [EXCERPTS] . . . The Israeli media are already to a large extent neutralized, a creeping process not unsimilar to what the Germans used to call Gleichschaltung. [SEE: Gleichschaltung @ Wikipedia – J.L.D. ]
      All three TV channels are more or less bankrupt and dependent on government handouts. Their editors are practically government appointees. The printed press is also teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, except the largest “news” paper, which belongs to Sheldon Adelson and is a Netanyahu propaganda sheet, distributed gratis.
      [Naftali] Bennett repeats the ridiculous assertion that almost all journalists are left-wingers (meaning traitors.) He promises to put an end to this intolerable situation. . .
      . . . In the coming four years, the official annexation of the West Bank to Israel may become a fact. . .
      . . . If the government continues on its present course, this will lead to certain disaster – the entire country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will become one unit under Israeli rule. This Greater Israel will contain an Arab majority and a shrinking Jewish minority, turning it inevitably into an apartheid state, plagued by a permanent civil war and shunned by the world.
      If pressure from without and within eventually compels the government to grant civil rights to the Arab majority, the country will turn into an Arab state. 134 years of Zionist endeavor will come to naught, a repetition of the Crusaders’ kingdom.
      This is so obvious, so inevitable, that one needs an iron will not to think about it. It seems that all major parties in these elections have this will. Speaking about peace, they believe, is poison. Giving back the West Bank and East Jerusalem for peace? God forbid even thinking about it.
      The weird fact is that this week two respected polls – independent of each other – came to the same conclusion: the great majority of Israeli voters favors the “two-state solution”
      , the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders and the partition of Jerusalem. This majority includes the majority of Likud voters, and even about half of Bennett’s adherents.
      How come? The explanation lies in the next question: How many voters believe that this solution is possible? The answer: almost nobody. Over dozens of years, Israelis have been brainwashed into believing that “the Arabs” don’t want peace. If they say they do, they are lying.
      If peace is impossible, why think about it? Why even mention it in the election campaign? Why not go back 44 years to Golda Meir’s days and pretend that the Palestinians don’t exist? (“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people…It is not as though there was a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away. They did not exist.” – Golda Meir, June 13, 1969) . . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/01/04/israels-weird-elections/

    • Peter in SF
      Peter in SF
      October 30, 2013, 5:52 am

      But the voting pattern of Israelis who continue to give power to the right is completely determined by what the Palestinians and groups like Hezbolah have done (and are doing) after Oslo. We trust them less and less and what is going on on this and similar blogs is a part of the proof that Israeli voters are right.

      Could you inform us of what part of what is going on on this and similar blogs you’re talking about, and how this is a part of the proof that Israeli voters are right?

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      October 30, 2013, 7:40 am

      “But the voting pattern of Israelis who continue to give power to the right is completely determined by what the Palestinians and groups like Hezbolah have done
      (and are doing) after Oslo. We trust them less and less and what is going on on this and similar blogs is a part of the proof that Israeli voters are right.”

      Typical zio, blaming the victim. No doubt, fnlevit, you would support the rapist who complained that the rape victim’s struggles justified the rapist punching her teeth out.

  5. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    October 29, 2013, 5:15 pm

    RE: “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.” ~ Avraham Burg

    FOR A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON AVRAHAM BURG, SEE:
    “Avraham Burg: Israel’s new prophet” ~ By Donald Macintyre, The Independent, 1 November 2008
    Avraham Burg was a pillar of the Israeli establishment but his new book is causing a sensation. It argues that Israel is an “abused child” which has become a “violent parent”. And his solutions are radical, as he explains to Donald Macintyre.

    [EXCERPTS] . . . The son of a long-serving government minister, from the time of David Ben-Gurion’s government, he has a classic top-drawer Israeli profile. True, he was on the left: after army service as a paratroop officer and graduating from Hebrew University he was a star of the movement against the first Lebanon war – his charisma if anything enhanced by the fact than unlike many of his comrades he was religious. He was injured in the grenade attack by a right-wing fanatic on a Peace Now protest in 1983 which killed another demonstrator, Emil Grunzweig. But he was quickly swept into mainstream public life, becoming first an adviser to the then Prime minister Shimon Peres, then a Knesset member, then Speaker of the Knesset, head of the Jewish agency and the World Zionist Organisation and the almost-victorious candidate for the Labour Party leadership in 2001. . .
    . . . But his book “The Holocaust is Over: We Must Rise from its Ashes” – published this week in Britain – caused a much bigger sensation when it came out last year in Israel, at once becoming a best-seller and provoking a furious reaction not only from the right but from many of Burg’s former colleagues on the political centre-left. In the book – a compelling mix of polemic, personal memoir, homage to his parents and meditation on Judaism – Burg argues that Israel has been too long imprisoned by its obsessive and cheapening use – or abuse – of the Holocaust as “a theological pillar of Jewish identity”. He argues that the living role played by the Holocaust – Burg uses the regular Hebrew word Shoah or “catastrophe” for the extermination of six million Jews in the Second World War – in everyday Israeli discourse, has left Israel with a persistent self-image of a “nation of victims”, in stark variance with its actual present-day power. Instead, the book argues, Israel needs finally to abandon the “Judaism of the ghetto” for a humanistic, “universal Judaism”.
    The implication of Burg’s analysis, one that perhaps only an Israeli would have dared promote, is that the fostered memory of the Holocaust hovers destructively over every aspect of Israeli political life – including its relations with the Palestinians since the 1967 Six Day War and the subsequent occupation. “We have pulled the Shoah out of its historical context,” he writes, “and turned it into a plea and generator for every deed. All is compared to the Shoah, dwarfed by the Shoah and therefore all is allowed – be it fences , sieges … curfews, food and water deprivation or unexplained killings. All is permitted because we have been through the Shoah and you will not tell us how to behave.”
    For Burg, whose own father Yosef was a German Jew, and for many years leader of Israel’s National Religious Party, the “real watershed moment” in this deforming process was the trial and subsequent execution in 1962 of Adolf Eichmann, which Yosef Burg vainly opposed from inside the Cabinet. Instead of Eichmann’s death symbolising, as it was meant to do, “the end of the Shoah and the beginning of the post-Shoah period,” he says, in reality “the opposite happened… The Shoah discourse had begun.” . . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21133.htm

  6. MRW
    MRW
    October 30, 2013, 6:37 am

    This guy always makes profound sense to me.

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