The answer — the only answer — to Israel/Palestine is equality. But Haaretz, stuck in the old, now-meaningless paradigm of so-called ‘peace,’ is promoting an Israel Conference on Peace in Jerusalem on July 8. The biases are striking. Nowhere in the conference program is there a clear focus on equality, human rights, international law, or the rights of ethnically-cleansed Palestinians to return to their homes. It’s an Israeli Jewish dominated conclave, stacked with mostly liberal Zionists and a few right-wing Revisionists, with a token smattering of Palestinians. Quite J Street-ish. Sample sessions from the program include:
The economic angle: What will the economy gain from an agreement — and what will it lose without one?
The conflict and peace — Views from the Diaspora
The diplomatic angle — How can we get closer to peace?
Ofer Neiman provides this translation of Haaretz’s Hebrew invitation to the conference, which further reveals the liberal Zionist/Israeli-centric biases:
The kidnapping of the three youths demonstrates the brutality of terror, and the entire state shares the pain of the families, and prays for the release of the sons.
In spite of terror’s determination to prevent Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, it is vital now of all times to deeply understand the failures which have held back the attainment of peace, and the ways which may bring it.Come and say shalom.
But what does ‘peace’ really mean? In the context of liberal Zionism, ‘peace’ means: never allowing for equal rights for the indigenous peoples of the land. Cementing, in perpetuity, the pre-planned, orchestrated ethnic cleansing of pre-1967 Israel. Never admitting that crimes against humanity made the state of Israel’s existence possible. Never considering the possibility that Israel/Palestine’s natural citizens, including those who were expelled, should have the right to return to their homes and to vote in free and fair elections. Pretending that Israel is a benevolent democracy inside the Green Line and that its oppression of the Palestinians only started in 1967, and only in the occupied territories.
Peace is a nearly meaningless word, for which anyone can inject virtually any meaning they want. It can mean merely “the absence of war,” which often comes as the result of a lopsided, oppressive victory. Colonial conquerors who defeat their indigenous enemies/victims enjoy the peace of graveyards, the peace of ethnically cleansed lands. No wonder Israel’s most right-wing U.S. apologists love to show up at protests armed with signs proclaiming “Israel wants peace.” What a brilliantly misleading P.R. move! They sound like anti-war hippies! It’s a Hasbara home run! And yet, Israel’s apologists are speaking quite honestly: Israel very much wants the peace, the absence of conflict, that will come with complete suppression of any Palestinian political movement. Liberal Zionists want precisely the same sort of peace, only one in which the oppression of the Palestinians is somewhat reduced, and they give up forever on returning to their rightful homes inside the green lines.
The desperate liberal Zionist dream of forever maintaining a militarily-enforced ethnocracy inside the Green Line is dead, it’s over, the expiration date has long since past, and Haaretz is one of the last organized voices in Israel promoting it. The conference’s slogan, “It’s time for peace,” might have been relevant years ago. Today it’s farce. Haaretz is a great newspaper, one of the only worthwhile sources of genuine news reporting in Israel, and thank heavens for its opinion pages. But the impetus behind this conference has no future, no more that a South African Peace Conference organized by white Afrikaaners in the 1980s, with only a few cherry picked, co-opted blacks as presenters, while Nelson Mandela languishes in prison.
But all is not lost. At least two in Haaretz’s fold knows what’s coming. Gideon Levy has made the point clear. Amira Hass appears to be on the same page. I believe Haaretz’s editors will let go of the old dream, and embrace the new one.
A few years from now, when the unstoppable moral tide of history transforms the narrow ideologies behind this conference, Haaretz will be partners in a rainbow coalition promoting a Palestinian-Israeli Conference on Equality. A Conference devoted not to the liberal Zionist self-interest of “how do we preserve what we conquered?,” but, “how do all live here together as equals?”
P.S. – Speaking of peace/equality, I believe Jewish Voice for Peace should change its name to Jewish Voice for Equality. Every usage of the word ‘Peace’ hurts our cause and helps the cause of J Street, AIPAC, and the rest of those who seek to shield Israel from genuine pressure to end its oppressive policies. Every usage of the word ‘Equality’ helps our cause and hurts the cause of those who wish to defend Israeli oppression. Israel’s apologists cannot co-opt a word that, in the U.S., and around the word, clearly means the civil rights movement, the end of South African apartheid, integration, ending discrimination, human rights. Let us trumpet equality from the rooftops, and let us cease using the meaningless, counter-productive, empty word ‘Peace’, a word that has been a bludgeon in the hands of Israel’s machine of colonization and expulsion, a ‘Peace Process’ that over the course of 20 years has created the peace Israel wants; the peace of conquest and domination.