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Halevi: 2000 years of Jewish aspiration, Palestinians not so much

Israel/Palestine
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Yossi Klein Halevi

Yossi Klein Halevi

Yossi Klein Halevi’s recent talk at Marist College was a masterful performance. The author of a new book, he began by being disarmingly blunt about the suffering of the Palestinian people. He had seen it himself during his service in the Israel Defense Forces and the experience convinced him that the “left argument” was essentially correct. Palestinians deserve their own state, just like the Jews.

He warned against outside pressure to settle the conflict. In his words, the more pressure from the rest of the world, the less progress has been achieved. No, Halevi understands that the solution must involve a respectful and honest “dialogue” between two very distinct “narratives” about who deserves the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Palestinians got a late start in developing their narrative, of course. In 1948, according to Halevi, the Palestinians had no national aspirations at all. Contrast this to the 2,000 years that the Jews have considered this land to be their religious and spiritual essence. Yes, these are the “intangible issues” that a lasting peace must be built upon, starting with the realization that there is “no Jewish religion without Israel.” Halevi makes no mention of the many Jewish intellectuals from Martin Buber to Judith Butler who have pointed out that this unification of religion and state is as recent as the last century, and represents an aberration in traditional Jewish teaching.

So why are Palestinians suffering? According to Halevi, it’s because Yasser Arafat blew his chance at Camp David when Israel offered almost everything the Palestinians wanted. This version of history has been so discredited that Halevi wisely moves right on. The Palestinians are suffering in Gaza “because of Hamas,” and because of the “disproportionate response” that the Palestinian people have always had to Jewish attempts to build their own state.

Halevi declares that the international community hasn’t been much better, at times acting like “an intellectual lynch mob.” He refers to the many UN resolutions against the state of Israel. Doesn’t this prove his point that the rest of the world has in fact “ghettoized Israel” in its relentless one-sidedness? There is no mention of the numerous Israeli violations of the UN charter in the settlement of occupied lands.

Halevi ended his talk with a poignant recounting of his own suffering. He will be giving up “who I am” to grant the Palestinians even a part of the land he has in his “historical memory.” His memory goes back at least 2,000 years, so that is saying quite a lot.

Fred Nagel
About Fred Nagel

Fred Nagel is a US veteran who devotes his time to a radio show (http://www.classwars.org), and Palestinian rights (http://www.mideastcrisis.org). A resident of Rhinebeck, NY, he has published several articles in "Z Magazine" and "War Crimes Times."

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14 Responses

  1. seafoid
    seafoid
    November 6, 2013, 11:11 am

    “In 1948, according to Halevi, the Palestinians had no national aspirations at all. ”

    The Sneetches want to take over Ohio for a Sneetch homeland.
    Ohio never ever had national aspirations. It was always part of the US.
    Sneetches have been baking birthday cakes with the shape of Ohio since 1000 BC.

    So next Tuesday is the handover date. Anyone Ohioan remaining in the territory by midnight on Monday will be shot on sight.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      Stephen Shenfield
      November 6, 2013, 2:02 pm

      There is no such people as the Ohioans. They are just Americans and can choose to live in any of the other fifty American states. The Sneetches have no other homeland outside Sneetchia. Their fears of being flooded by infiltrators are quite understandable.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        November 6, 2013, 2:04 pm

        And Ohioans are backward. Sneetches have won 5000 Olympic medals.

      • Brown-Eyed Girl
        Brown-Eyed Girl
        November 6, 2013, 2:58 pm

        Didn’t they also win both Nobel prizes in Chemistry?

  2. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    November 6, 2013, 11:13 am

    Are human rights to be accorded to people who suffer from amnesia whereby they can “remember back” only to 1948? Actually, my late wife’s family traced their family back 500 years and — so I was told — their surname, Totah, was proudly carried by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim families. But, hey, what’s a mere 500 years?

    But why are we to credit “memories” which are not personal memories (going back merely 2000 years! Halevi seems such a slacker! Doesn’t he count as “memories” the stories related in the Torah, etc., or does he, like me, count those as pure fiction?) but religious traditions taught to people “as if” they were memories? Has reading Shlomo Sand’s books “refreshed” his memories?

    As to the uselessness of outside intervention, does he support the REMOVAL of USA’s military and financial and diplomatic aid — on the grounds that they are outside interventions?

    HASBARA handbooks teach apologists for Israel to begin their lobbying harangues with feel-good statements of concern for all the children (Arab and Jewish). doesn’t Halevi’s statement of concern for Palestinians coupled with his statement against outside intervention sound a bit like the “consider all the children” hasbara line?

  3. eljay
    eljay
    November 6, 2013, 11:45 am

    >> In 1948, according to Halevi, the Palestinians had no national aspirations at all. Contrast this to the 2,000 years that the Jews have considered this land to be their religious and spiritual essence.

    So f*cking what? 2,000 years of (wet-)dreams about “religious and spiritual essence” did not (and do not) give “the Jews” any right to mass-migrate to Palestine, ethnically cleanse the indigenous population from their homes and lands, occupy and colonize Palestine and set up a supremacist “Jewish State” in it.

    Halevi and hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists assholes like him are truly disgusting people. >:-(

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      November 6, 2013, 7:01 pm

      eljay, for a number of years now I have had dreams of a luxury penthouse suite where I would drink champagne and spend nights of wild torrid passion* with Zhang ZiYi and Zhao Wei.

      Are you denying that my dreams give me a right to these things?

      (*Admittedly, given my advancing years, these would be more like wet Wednesday afternoons spent reading classified ads for furniture.)

      • eljay
        eljay
        November 7, 2013, 7:27 am

        >> Are you denying that my dreams give me a right to these things?

        Not that I want to discuss your carnal and lascivious essence, but:
        – unfortunately, yes; :-(
        and
        – should you realize your dreams with either – or both! – of those lovely women, I will be very envious. :-)

  4. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride
    November 6, 2013, 12:32 pm

    Two key points to focus on:

    1. Halevi, like so many other Zionists (both Jewish and Christian), is promoting the ideological fusion of Judaism with Jewish ethnic and territorial nationalism (there is “no Jewish religion without Israel”). Until this religious indoctrination is deconstructed in the Jewish and Christian religious communities, no progress will be made in achieving a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

    2. Halevi is delivering the standard liberal Zionist mixed message — expressing sympathy for Palestinian national aspirations while arguing against any effective political pressure from the United States and the international community that would halt Israel’s drive to construct new settlements in Greater Israel (the occupied territories). I think most of us have figured out by now the nature of that game — say one thing, do another — while providing cover for the expansion of Israeli settlements. Supposedly the world will be so impressed by the *good intentions* of liberal Zionists like Halevi, Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk that it will overlook what Israel is actually doing on the ground.

    Note: Halevi, like Jeffrey Goldberg, is a former follower of Meir Kahane. Certainly one should respect revisions in the points of view of human beings (and especially political opponents) — but one sometimes wonders if these conversions to more enlightened viewpoints have fully taken hold.

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      November 8, 2013, 8:20 pm

      seanmcbride: “Two key points to focus on …”

      Excellent post.

      Halevi’s arguments are so feeble, fetid, perfunctory and fallacious as to almost constitute a caricature of Liberal Zionism.

  5. seanmcbride
    seanmcbride
    November 6, 2013, 1:32 pm

    Interesting political vector:

    Israel lobby > pro-Israel billionaires > Sheldon Adelson > Shalem Center > Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies > Yossi Klein Halevi

    Would it be fair to describe Halevi as a Sheldon Adelson op?

  6. Cliff
    Cliff
    November 6, 2013, 2:16 pm

    ‘Historical memory going back 2000 years’ – Halevi

    Delusions of grandeur.

    You are a human being made up of blood, guts, bone, hair, etc. Just like the rest of us.

    You have no ‘historical memory’ and you are not ‘ancient’.

  7. braciole
    braciole
    November 6, 2013, 5:26 pm

    What is about Zionism that makes Zionists so ignorant. Hasn’t that tosser heard of the Arab Revolt in Palestine between 1936 and 1939 which resulted in the political leadership of the Palestinians fleeing abroad after the revolt was brutally put down by the British with Jewish support. I’m wrong, it doesn’t make them ignorant, it makes them liars.

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