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Nationalism vs imagination — Beinart and Vilkomerson square off over two-state solution

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I have heard many positive reports from the Open Hillel conference in Cambridge last month. The discussions were unfettered, the organizers were eager to hear arguments against Zionism as well as for it. These are young people who are inside the Jewish community but believe in action – If Not Now When? as they quote the sage Hillel.

Yes, this is a conversation inside the Jewish community, although it is informed by non-Jews such as Sa’ed Adel Atshan and Rashid Khalidi. But if you believe as I do that the American Jewish community has American policy on the conflict in a hammerlock, then it’s a vital conversation: it has to happen for our politics to shift. (And this rightwing publication agrees with me; Open Hillel is “a Much Bigger Problem Than You Think” because it allows, unh, free speech.)

Only one session has been put online, a plenary from October 12 on How to Solve the Conflict in a just manner. The excitement in this session was the direct disagreement between liberal Zionist Peter Beinart and Jewish Voice for Peace head Rebecca Vilkomerson over one state or two. I have not seen such a vigorous debate between a liberal Zionist and a non-Zionist in a public forum in some time. (This is what Jewish discussion was supposed to be about!)

Below are excerpts of that debate. I apologize for not including statements by Sarah Turbow of J Street and Mark LeVine, professor of Middle East history, but transcription is very timeconsuming. And though LeVine made the great point (at minute 50) that if Israelis actually supported a two-state solution, we would have seen real opposition to hundreds of thousands of settlers moving to the West Bank and far greater rates of refusal in the Israeli army, these four statements by Beinart and Vilkomerson frame an important debate.

Peter Beinart [at about Minute 20]:

Where would I like us to be? My answer is really conventional: I would like us to be in a two state solution along the lines of the Clinton Parameters and the Arab Peace Initiative. I don’t say that because I believe those answers represent perfect justice. They don’t represent perfect justice. They don’t represent full justice for the Palestinians, for the massive number of Palestinians who were dislocated all over the world during Israel’s war of creation. They don’t even represent perfect justice for the Jewish settlers on the West Bank who I believe as a matter of principle have every right to live as equal citizens in the West Bank, but in a two state solution would amost certainly be withdrawn by the Israeli government itself because it would not take responsibility for their safety.

I believe that even with a two state solution, Israel will have to evolve in some very fundamental ways… I myself am prepared to envision quite dramatic transformations in what Israel would have to be even after it ended its occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank.

But I believe the two state solution is like democracy [per Churchill]. It’s the worst solution except for all the other potential solutions. I believe that for two reasons. First of all you can call me anachronistic. You can call me pessimistic, you can call me whatever you want. I believe that in a post holocaust world, I want one country on the planet that has the protection of Jewish life as part of its mission statement. I believe that it is hubristic and arrogant for us to believe because at this moment in this time and place that we cannot imagine a Jewish state of refuge, that no one else will need it in the future. If you talk to Jews who grew up in other communities around the world, like the former Soviet Union, or from the Arab world, or from Latin America, or my own parents from South Africa, they are less quick to to dismiss that than sometimes are American Jews who have lived here for 400 years.

And while my definition of a Jewish state is substantially more minimal than most people, for me what it should have is a preferential immigration policy especially for Jews in distress. Germany has a preferential immigration policy for ethnic Germans. Poland has a preferential immigration policy for ethnic Poles. A Kurdish state, I hope we get one, will have a preferential immigration policy for Kurds. A Palestinian state will have a preferential immigration policy for Palestinians. I believe that you can support a democracy that also has a preferential immigration policy for Jews.

I also believe in the idea of a two station solution because I believe binationalism has a very, very poor record of success. It barely works in Belgium. Czechs and the Slovaks couldn’t make it work. To support a biantional state you have to tell me what the army of Israstine is going to look like, you have to explain to me in a situation of massive land claims. Because after all the land difficulties of a one state solution are significantly greater than a two state solution– you have to tell me that the joint Jewish and Palestinian brigade of Israstine is going to go and evict a jewish Moroccan family that’s been living in its house since 1953 to replace it with a Palestinian family because they have the right deed, and when the violence breaks out as it surely will, you have to believe that army will hold together because it’s more loyal to Israstine than its members are to being Jews and Palestinians.

The left historically has had a tendency to underestimate the power of nationalism. Nationalism is not going anywhere, certainly not in that part of the world. And that’s why I think at this stage, I believe it is better to build a political solution around the reality of fierce and abiding nationalismon on both sides.

It’s not only me that takes that point of view. Quote: “If the two-state solution fails, the substitute will not be a binational one-state solution, but a persistent conflict that extends based on an existential crisis — one that does not know any middle ground.” That’s Marwan Barghouti, he’s the most powerful and important – the most popular Palestinian politician alive. The fact that he sees no good alternative to the two state solution gives me hope and I have to think he’s right.

 

Rebeccca Vilkomerson [Minute 41, then Minute 46]

This is the question I had written down for Sarah [Turbow] and Peter: Why would we get to say? I see on twitter, that Sa’ed Atshan said at one of the other sessions, “How can your feelings trump my human rights?” Ultimately I come back to Rashid Kahlidi, who said that Israelis and Palestinians need to decide, and our job as American Jews is to make sure that they can have that conversation on a relatively equal playing field. And I’m good there….

You know the question of whether people can live together peacefully in Israel and Palestine– the point is they are living together on unequal terms and they will be living together. So I think we need to make sure we’re grounded in that reality from the beginning.

I will say that I think some of the most harrowing conversations I had this summer were with friends of mine in Israel who just could not believe the level of racism, and I say this with awareness of the strength of this word, fascism, that had been unleashed in Israeli society. Absolutely terrifying. Like, literally mobs of people running the streets not only yelling Death to the Arabs but yelling Death to leftists. Mass arrests of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. That’s a genie that is hard to put back in the bottle once it’s out. It’s extremely, extremely disturbing.

That being said, I also think we need to think about the fact that one of the arguments against the civil rights struggle was like, oh, Will white people in Alabama accept black policemen coming to arrest them? So therefore that was an argument against full civil rights for black people in the south. In South Africa the period of time right before the end of apartheid was the time when white South Africans were their most xenophobic and their most racist. And that’s not to say that a utopia has been created since, but that political understanding has changed.

So I don’t think we can say based on the extreme racism that we see right now, that people can’t live together. People are going to have to find a way to live together. They’re there. So we need to have the political imagination, and we can have it because we have seen the way other struggles have played out– to believe that we can make that happen.

Beinart [48:00]:

The left has… gotten itself in a tremendous amount of trouble, I think been responsible for failures and in fact even terrible abuses when it failed to recognize, and again this is something someone like Reinhold Niebuhr emphasized…that a political solution might look very powerful on a blackboard has to respond to the particular political culture and political reality of a certain time and place.

The Lebanese constitution was also a a beautiful thing heralded by many, many people as a beautiful design for dealing with members of different ethnic groups. It didn’t really work very well. Partition is under any circumstances, I think, a tragic and painful solution, but it was the right solution for Yugoslavia in the 90s even though there was a tremendous amount of injustice. It was arguably the right solution even for India and Pakistan in the late 1940s.

I do believe that yes, Jews and Palestinians have to live together, of course partly because Israel is 20 percent Palestinian, but also because it’s a small territory. You’re going to need various movements of capital and people back and forth…

I think at this moment in time its important too recognize the deep desire for a state of one’s own that exists amongst both peoples…. The very, very real fear and the genuine concerns about security that exist among both peoples and that things that may seem anachronistic, like a flag, like an army of your own for self protection, are extremely important in situations like that– that kind of vulnerability.

Blacks and white southerners, whatever their vicious hatred and disagreements, both saw themselves as Americans. They were both responding and speaking about about our documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Even in South Africa there was a common nationality and identity– my own family comes from South Africa– of South Africanism that even crossed the massive gulf between white and black, partly actually forged in a common Christianity that both whites and blacks shared.

You don’t have that common identity among Israeli Jews and Palestinians. That’s why I think at this stage, the idea of a two state solution perhaps as a model toward greater and greater integration between those two states, is still the best option we have.

Vilkomerson [52:00]:

To me, the whole paradigm’s off. I think the whole idea that two states are good and one state is bad or the opposite, is not at all recognizing what the conversation is at this point. Because at this point there is a one-state solution. Israel has dominion from the river to the sea, and that’s a one state solution that I’m pretty sure that all of us here on this panel and in this room agree is not OK.
There is also a version of one state that is secular and binational. There’s a settlers’ sort of full annexation vision. So there’s all different kinds of one states, and similarly there are all different kinds of two states.

Theoretically I can imagine– it’s hard for me to imagine, I have to admit but– there could be some kind of some theoretical two state solution or some kind of confederation of two states that would be fair to everybody. But there’s also a lot of two state solutions– the ones that have been under discussion, that are actually, what we’re talking about would be Bantustans, things are  going to be demilitarized, and no free movement of people, and all sorts of things that would not be fair. I think one of the problems when we have this conversation where we say, I endorse two states– is that when we discuss two states, two states has become a code word for saying I support the status quo, or I support doing nothing, and the continuation of the occupation…

From the president on down, people say– Bibi Netanyahu says, I support two states. What they really mean is, we want to keep things going the way they are. So how we distinguish between an actual conversation between what’s going to happen and what that means, and this sort of way that two states has become a litmus test that cuts off conversation is really very important.

Just one comment from me. I’m struck by Peter Beinart’s statement that his parents in South Africa understood the need for a Jewish state of refuge, so: they moved to the U.S. To a place where church and state are separated, and where Jews have more power than we have ever had in history, as Beinart has acknowledged. I wonder how that experience is integrated into Beinart’s politics. Alan Wolfe of Boston College has just published a book: At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews.

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61 Responses

  1. just
    just on November 26, 2014, 12:50 pm

    In these remarks~ ‘Occupation’ is mentioned twice, once by Beinart and once by Vilkomerson. It’s THE elephant in the room…

    But, Vilkomerson gets it, doesn’t she?

    “I think one of the problems when we have this conversation where we say, I endorse two states– is that when we discuss two states, two states has become a code word for saying I support the status quo, or I support doing nothing, and the continuation of the occupation…

    From the president on down, people say– Bibi Netanyahu says, I support two states. What they really mean is, we want to keep things going the way they are. So how we distinguish between an actual conversation between what’s going to happen and what that means, and this sort of way that two states has become a litmus test that cuts off conversation is really very important.”

    (It seems that Beinart is still under the illusion that Gaza is not occupied.)

    I appreciate your comment @ the end, Phil. It’s a very good point.

    • bilal a
      bilal a on November 26, 2014, 3:21 pm

      Even if you had a Kumbayyah moment in Israel resulting in a truly democratic multicultural state, the indigeneous in Palestine would still have an oppressed minority status governed under a corrupt one dollar one vote bureaucracy. No effective self determination , rule by a hostile elite, just as in America.

      I’m awaiting these progressives to bring up the other occupation.

      (looks like the SNL Hagel skit has been edited out of history )
      http://theweek.com/article/index/239934/watch-snls-unaired-sketch-mocking-the-gops-israel-devotion

    • bilal a
      bilal a on November 26, 2014, 3:28 pm

      whoa, Bienart mentioned a Nakba Museum in Israel. We don’t even have an African slave trade Holocaust Museum in America.

  2. seafoid
    seafoid on November 26, 2014, 1:06 pm

    ” They don’t even represent perfect justice for the Jewish settlers on the West Bank who I believe as a matter of principle have every right to live as equal citizens in the West Bank, but in a two state solution would amost certainly be withdrawn by the Israeli government itself because it would not take responsibility for their safety.”

    They have zero rights in the West Bank when the guns are removed. they are only there because they have the IDF behind them. They’d never take over the centre of Rome or Manhattan- if they did what rights would they have ?

    I don’t see the point of Beinart. Israel is like a runway clown car at this stage and his triangulations, while perfectly formed, have no influence.

    • just
      just on November 26, 2014, 1:22 pm

      Bingo, again!

      “I don’t see the point of Beinart. Israel is like a runway clown car at this stage and his triangulations, while perfectly formed, have no influence.”

      I haven’t seen the “point of Beinart” for a long while. Somehow, he still gets a platform and a following.

    • eljay
      eljay on November 26, 2014, 1:35 pm

      >> seafoid: Israel is like a runway clown car …

      Thanks for that – it was damned funny! :-D

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont on November 26, 2014, 9:36 pm

      Seafoid: “Israel is like a run-away clown car” ?! Well, I wouldn’t put it quite that way. I’d rather say it’s a run-away fascism-in-birth, a Germany in 1938 sort of thing. Lawyers are fond of speaking of the dangers of “slippery slopes”. I doubt they ever had so beautiful an example of a (horrifying and dangerous) slippery slope as the one Israel is sliding down in these recent days.

      Beinart said he wanted an Israel with “protection of Jewish life as part of its mission statement.” (That’s part of the 1900 Zionist dream, I suppose.) But he doesn’t say how much poison he’s willing to allow the actual-Israel to turn into before he will realize that the dream has transmogrified into a nightmare which he will not support. Well, I suppose he will always ignore that question, but the world should not, Open Hillel should not, and we should not.

      If Joe Stalin had added “protection of Jewish Life” to his statement of USSR’s purpose, and had his henchman Beria, his KGB, his Soviet Army, enforce it, would Beinart have thought that a satisfactory Jewish state had erupted onto the surface of Planet Earth?

      Surely this is one of the questions that must be asked today, because we are living today, and this is what Israel is becoming today.

      • seafoid
        seafoid on November 27, 2014, 7:27 am

        There is something deeply absurd about Zionism. This neediness mixed with the cruelty.
        Please understand us.

        It would be more credible if they weren’t so needy. If they just went ahead and didn’t require hasbara. The great bastards of history never needed to explain.

        I wouldn’t laugh at the gratuitous cruelty if they genuinely didn’t care. But they really want to be loved. They do not know what they are doing. It’s all one big inherent mistake.

  3. seafoid
    seafoid on November 26, 2014, 1:12 pm

    “The Lebanese constitution was also a a beautiful thing heralded by many, many people as a beautiful design for dealing with members of different ethnic groups. It didn’t really work very well “-

    It probably would have if the strangers hadn’t moved in to the house next door.
    Israel has invaded Lebanon 7 times.

    • just
      just on November 26, 2014, 1:19 pm

      thanks, seafoid. He certainly spends an awful lot of time discussing other people and other countries~ perhaps to avoid the situation he was invited to speak about?

      Israel doesn’t even have a constitution…..

    • Shingo
      Shingo on November 26, 2014, 4:54 pm

      It probably would have if the strangers hadn’t moved in to the house next door.

      Or if western governments been meddling so fiercely in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

  4. 666
    666 on November 26, 2014, 1:29 pm

    just says

    “I appreciate your comment @ the end, Phil. It’s a very good point”

    wishful thinking…jewish power in america and the diaspora is linked to Israel
    …..when america becomes a south american colony jewish power will not be guaranteed.remember more than half of american cities have hispanic populations of 50% and over

    • annie
      annie on November 26, 2014, 2:29 pm

      maybe you are unaware there was a very large percentage of hispanics here prior to european arrival. many are, in fact, indigenous to the region. http://mondoweiss.net/2014/11/occupied-territories-mexico

      • rhkroell
        rhkroell on November 28, 2014, 9:35 pm

        Annie is exactly right. We have to stop dividing people up into separate racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious categories. Are bilingual Hispanic-Americans supposed to choose to be primarily loyal/faithful to Spain, Mexico, Cuba ( i.e., their Spanish-speaking ancestors), their Native American ancestors, or their (English-only speaking) white (or Black) ancestors? Do redheaded Americans and/or Israelis need to form secret Redheaded Leagues to fight discrimination?

    • Mooser
      Mooser on November 26, 2014, 9:04 pm

      “remember more than half of american cities have hispanic populations of 50% and over”

      Something wrong with that?

      • 666
        666 on November 27, 2014, 4:26 am

        There is ……jews don,t tango -they hora the tora

  5. eljay
    eljay on November 26, 2014, 1:53 pm

    Peter Beinart: … I would like us to be in a two state solution along the lines of the Clinton Parameters and the Arab Peace Initiative. I don’t say that because I believe those answers represent perfect justice. … They don’t even represent perfect justice for the Jewish settlers on the West Bank who I believe as a matter of principle have every right to live as equal citizens in the West Bank …

    Jewish settlers? I thought they were Israeli settlers. Why is Beinart being anti-Semitic? And who will compensate the Palestinians displaced by these colonizers?

    I believe that even with a two state solution, Israel will have to evolve in some very fundamental ways… I myself am prepared to envision quite dramatic transformations in what Israel would have to be even after it ended its occupation of Palestinians in the West Bank.

    Are you prepared to envision Israel transforming…
    – from a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews,
    – into a secular and democratic Israeli state of and for all of its citizens, immigrants, ex-pats and refugees, equally?

    I believe that in a post holocaust world, I want one country on the planet that has the protection of Jewish life as part of its mission statement.

    I believe we should want all countries on the planet to have protection of all life – that is, justice, accountability and equality for all – as part of their mission statements. To suggest that one country must exist strictly for the protection of Jews is both arrogant and supremacist.

    And while my definition of a Jewish state is substantially more minimal than most people, for me what it should have is a preferential immigration policy especially for Jews in distress. Germany has a preferential immigration policy for ethnic Germans. Poland has a preferential immigration policy for ethnic Poles. A Kurdish state, I hope we get one, will have a preferential immigration policy for Kurds. A Palestinian state will have a preferential immigration policy for Palestinians. I believe that you can support a democracy that also has a preferential immigration policy for Jews.

    Wow, I cannot believe he trotted out this bit of kindergarten-level sh*t!

    But, just the same, here goes: Make Jewish the bureaucratic nationality of Jewish State and grant it to all citizens of, immigrants to and ex-pats and refugees from the geographic region comprising Partition-borders Jewish State.

    That way, everyone is Jewish – including Palestinian refugees and their descendants – and all Jewish people in the world are entitled to the same right of preferential immigration to their homeland of Jewish State.

  6. just
    just on November 26, 2014, 3:08 pm

    “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to pass the controversial Jewish nation-state bill, he told the Knesset on Wednesday, saying that in Israel there is too much of a focus on individual civil rights at the expense of the rights of the Jewish state.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/1.628644?v=81351F6F8999D083D08FDCA45459ABE3

    Wonder what PB thinks about that!!!

    • eljay
      eljay on November 26, 2014, 3:30 pm

      >> “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to pass the controversial Jewish nation-state bill, he told the Knesset on Wednesday, saying that in Israel there is too much of a focus on individual civil rights at the expense of the rights of the Jewish state.”

      Benjamin “King of the Jews” Netanyahu is concerned that individual civil rights threaten Jewish supremacism in a supremacist “Jewish State”.

      IOW, he values the supremacist “rights” of Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews more than he values individual civil rights of – and justice, accountability and equality for – all Israelis.

      Just how much more clearly does the hatefulness and immorality of Zio-supremacism need to be spelled out?

    • Shingo
      Shingo on November 26, 2014, 5:04 pm

      “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to pass the controversial Jewish nation-state bill, he told the Knesset on Wednesday, saying that in Israel there is too much of a focus on individual civil rights at the expense of the rights of the Jewish state.”

      That’s text book fascism.

      • Mooser
        Mooser on November 26, 2014, 9:08 pm

        “saying that in Israel there is too much of a focus on individual civil rights at the expense of the rights of the Jewish state.”

        Ah, now we’re getting some truth. He is saying Jews are nothing more than Zionism’s raw material, and exist to serve Zionism.

  7. jon s
    jon s on November 26, 2014, 3:32 pm

    Beinart, after the Jerusalem synagogue atrocity:

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.627355

  8. Steve Macklevore
    Steve Macklevore on November 26, 2014, 4:06 pm

    I like Peter Beinart’s argument a lot, but it has one tiny weeny little flaw; the two state solution is dead.

    The two state solution has been dead for at least a decade now, more like 15 to 20 years. Israel killed it. It pains me to see such an intelligent and seemingly well-meaning man so bereft of ideas.

    He either genuinely believes a two state solution is still possible, in which case he’s a deluded fool. Or more sinisterly, he knows the two state solution is dead but keeps arguing for it anyway, since dialogue helps maintain peace while the settlers steal more Palestinian land.

    • seafoid
      seafoid on November 26, 2014, 4:39 pm

      The 2SS keeps Beinart in writing and speaking fees.
      He has zero leverage over the Zionist car crash.
      None of the Jewish boy wonders do.

      Smarter than the average bear but Yogi was more professional

      • just
        just on November 26, 2014, 4:45 pm

        perfect @ so many levels!

    • Shingo
      Shingo on November 26, 2014, 5:02 pm

      I like Peter Beinart’s argument a lot, but it has one tiny weeny little flaw; the two state solution is dead.

      It has countless flaws. Apart from the fact the two state solution is dead, as Vilkomerson points out repeatedly, the one state solution is already a reality.

      He either genuinely believes a two state solution is still possible, in which case he’s a deluded fool.

      The other possibility is that as Vilkomerson, he is clinging to the 2ss to effectively endorse the status quo and try and salvage the image of Zionism.

    • Kay24
      Kay24 on November 26, 2014, 5:18 pm

      Unfortunately Peter Beinart is flogging a dead horse. It was killed by the zionists.

  9. Shingo
    Shingo on November 26, 2014, 4:52 pm

    I think one of the problems when we have this conversation where we say, I endorse two states– is that when we discuss two states, two states has become a code word for saying I support the status quo

    Superbly put. I could not agree more.

    • jon s
      jon s on November 29, 2014, 4:45 pm

      Not only is the 2 state solution not dead, it’s really the only game in town.
      The events of the last few months have been proof that in reality, the so-called “one state solution” would guarantee a bloodbath.
      I also fail to see how supporting 2 states means supporting the status quo.The situation today is that one state controls the entire country. Achieving 2 states would mean a radical change in the situation, the very opposite of maintaining the status quo.

      • Shingo
        Shingo on November 29, 2014, 5:02 pm

        Not only is the 2 state solution not dead, it’s really the only game in town.

        No, it’s dead. The only game in town in the 1ss. The only question that remains to be answered is what that solution is – democracy or apartheid.

        The events of the last few months have been proof that in reality, the so-called “one state solution” would guarantee a bloodbath.

        It’s always amusing to hear you apologists speaking of some impending bloodbath while a bloodbath has been taking place for decades.

        I also fail to see how supporting 2 states means supporting the status quo.

        I doubt you’re having as much difficulty comprehending this as you pretend to. The 2ss has been in the works for at least 2 decades – and throughout that time, what we have had i the status quo. As Vilkomerson, anyone can claim to support the 2ss even when they clearly do no, because they are safe in the knowledge that it will never eventuate. That is why even right wing, pro settlement stalwarts like Netanyahu, can claim to support a 2ss while all those around him have publicly admitted he has no intention of allowing it to eventuate.

        Supporting the 2ss = code for nothing moving forward without negotiations = code for nothing will happen without Israel allowing it = code for no Israeli government allow it without political support = code for never gonna happen because the government will permanently remain controlled by right wing pro settlers factions.

        The situation today is that one state controls the entire country.

        That has been the situation for 48 years.

        Achieving 2 states would mean a radical change in the situation, the very opposite of maintaining the status quo.

        Which is precisely why the 2ss is dead. A radical change in the situation is not even remotely feasible.

      • Bornajoo
        Bornajoo on November 29, 2014, 6:46 pm

        @Shingo
        Great reply!

        @Jon S
        If this or any previous GOI in the last 40 years (except for Rabin who was murdered for trying) was serious about a 2ss then why have they allowed the settlers to continue building their illegal settlements in defiance of international law? Surely if they were genuinely serious about a 2ss they would of course realise that every additional settler and every additional settlement would create a further obstacle to achieving that objective. I mean why would you allow, encourage and support hundreds of thousands of settlers to build and buy homes, build schools, roads, hospitals which creates PERMANENT facts on the ground? Why would you allow that if you really believed that at some point down the road you were going to give that land back, demolish that infrastructure and pull those people back into the pre 1967 lines?

        The answer is you wouldn’t allow it if you were serious about a 2ss. These indisputable facts on the ground called settlements are the real, concrete and incontrovertible truth that the pretense of a 2ss was nothing else except a smokescreen in order to build these settlements in the first place. The facts demonstrate beyond all possible doubt that the actual objective is to annexe as much Palestinian land as possible in order to create a Greater Israel. This is exactly what the indisputable FACTS demonstrate to any right minded person (i fully accept however that Zionists are not right minded people so on that basis I am forced to accept your inability to absorb this information and arrive at the truth)

        The only thing you haven’t figured out (not yet anyway) is how to get rid of the remaining Palestinians but at least you can take comfort that the likes of lieberman and his fellow fascist psychos are thinking about it very deeply

      • oldgeezer
        oldgeezer on November 29, 2014, 5:48 pm

        Perhaps if done fairly.We know, however, that Israel has stolen (yes stolen) most of the valuable land and, more importantly, the key water resources. We also know that the envisaged second state will not be allowed to be a full state but some sort of rump statelet controlled by Israel in all key areas. The essence of a bantustan.

        The 2SS is dead as a reasonable solution and Israel is the party who has killed it.

  10. Shingo
    Shingo on November 26, 2014, 5:00 pm

    They don’t even represent perfect justice for the Jewish settlers on the West Bank who I believe as a matter of principle have every right to live as equal citizens in the West Bank, but in a two state solution would amost certainly be withdrawn by the Israeli government itself because it would not take responsibility for their safety.

    I think this argument is truly perverse. It completely ignores the reasons why the settlers have moved there:

    1. They did so knowing that it was illegal and that they were doing so at the expense of the Palestinians on Palestinian land.
    2. They did so knowing that the IDF would be there to protect them and preserve their supremacist status
    3. They did so knowing that the Israeli government would subsidize them.

    While there may be a minority of settlers who are there who are exempt from these categories, it is clear that they are fully aware their presence is malicious and criminal. Even if there were no security issues for them, it is highly doubtful that many (if any) would ever consider requesting the permission from the Palestinian authorities to live in those territories.

    So what principal does Beinart believe justifies their right to live there?

    • Mooser
      Mooser on November 26, 2014, 9:10 pm

      “So what principal does Beinart believe justifies their right to live there?”

      Because they have the “proper attire”, and their hair is perfect!

    • jon s
      jon s on November 30, 2014, 4:46 am

      I agree that succesive Israeli governments, and especially Netanyahu’s, have been insincere about supporting 2 states. Which is why I oppose the government and its policy of continuing with the settlements, which are huge obstacles to achieving 2 states .
      So if you are against 2 states – you’re in good company : you’re in line with Netanyahu and the Israeli Right on one hand and with the Palestinian extremists on the other.

      • Shingo
        Shingo on November 30, 2014, 5:00 am

        So if you are against 2 states – you’re in good company

        That’s about a meaningless as saying you and Netanyahu are on the same page, seeing as you both claim to support a 2ss.

        But you know I am not against a 2ss. Why do you think I would support the recognition of a Palestinian state if did not support a 2ss? My position should be pretty clear to you. I believe a 2ss is dead therefore I don’t waste my time cheer leading for it in that regard. What’s more, I do not support what Netanyahu and his ilk has in mind for a 2ss even if it was implemented, because we both know what that would look like.

  11. just
    just on November 26, 2014, 5:57 pm

    “Israel, U.S. attempt to fend off Geneva summit on occupation
    Diplomats say the U.S., Canada and Australia are helping Israel and exerting pressure on Switzerland and other states to thwart the conference.

    Israel and the United States are trying to dissuade the nearly 200 states that are party to the Fourth Geneva Convention from convening a special session in mid-December to address conditions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, Israeli and Western diplomats told Haaretz Wednesday.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.628704

    Oh, NO they don’t. 4 against nearly 200? This special session must go forward.

    • Shingo
      Shingo on November 26, 2014, 8:36 pm

      Israel and the United States are trying to dissuade the nearly 200 states that are party to the Fourth Geneva Convention from convening a special session in mid-December to address conditions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, Israeli and Western diplomats told Haaretz Wednesday.”

      Disgusting isn’t it? What an insane world we live in when the so called leaders of the civilized world vote against condemning Nazism in the Ukraine and are working to subvert the Geneva Conventions.

      This also further undermines the hasbara that the GCs don’t apply to the terrtories. Just like they are working to block Palestinian membership with the ICC. If they were so confident that the GCs did not apply in the West Bank, East Jerusakem and Gaza, then what do they have to fear?

  12. Bornajoo
    Bornajoo on November 26, 2014, 7:29 pm

    Vilkomerson appears genuinely concerned with justice for the Palestinians
    Beinart is only concerned with trying to salvage the zionist project

    • just
      just on November 26, 2014, 7:44 pm

      Yes.

      (Beinart’s doing what ‘liberal Zionists’ do~ they just can’t admit that it’s a hideous ideology)

      • Shingo
        Shingo on November 26, 2014, 8:31 pm

        (Beinart’s doing what ‘liberal Zionists’ do~ they just can’t admit that it’s a hideous ideology)

        Or they try to explain the current situation as an anomaly because Netanyahu is in charge.

  13. pabelmont
    pabelmont on November 26, 2014, 9:15 pm

    An observation on the voice-to-text (“transcription”) problem.

    Many people nowadays use voice-recognition software to create text files on their computers. It seems to work more or less well AFTER the speaker trains the software to recognize his own speech.

    Well, OK. So if Beinart and Vilkomerson trained s/w to recognize their speech, the transcription of their remarks could be almost fully automated. Is that how it’s done? I hate to think of human transcriber sitting there with earphones a-typing away.

  14. JeffB
    JeffB on November 26, 2014, 10:55 pm

    @Phil

    Glad to see this dialogue is happening though I’m to the right of everyone and think they are all kind of silly. The first imperative of life is survival.

    But I though I’d respond to your last paragraph

    Just one comment from me. I’m struck by Peter Beinart’s statement that his parents in South Africa understood the need for a Jewish state of refuge, so: they moved to the U.S. To a place where church and state are separated, and where Jews have more power than we have ever had in history, as Beinart has acknowledged. I wonder how that experience is integrated into Beinart’s politics. Alan Wolfe of Boston College has just published a book: At Home in Exile: Why Diaspora Is Good for the Jews

    The actual diaspora in terms of countries is a bit more troubled than that.

    Relative to the populations:
    Austria down from 4.68% to .11% mostly due to a mass slaughtering with broad public approval (Germany, Yugoslavia, Poland… similar)
    Territory of the Ottoman empire down from 1.62% to .02% due to slaughtering and later ethnic cleansing.
    Russia a collapse from 3.2% to .15% due to widespread anti-semitism
    Iran is following a similar policy having dropped their population from .4% to .01%

    The only place that the diaspora seems to even be possibly successful are the USA, France, Australia and the UK. With both the UK and France having seen sharp drops in the last generation as the muslim minority has encouraged anti-Semitism.

    So mostly there is 1 example of a place where diaspora has been good, the USA. Is it more reasonable to assume it is a statistical outlier or more reasonable to assume that actually the diaspora sucks for the Jews? The USA model where all religions quickly become flavors of Baptist, and thus a state religion is effectually maintained with broad consent, seems to be good for everyone. But so far the USA hasn’t been able to export it, we’ll see if they can as more and more of the world becomes Baptist.

    But in the meanwhile one only need look at what’s happening to the Kurds, Gypsies, Palestinians, Tamiil, Sindh, Uyghur, Hmong, Igbo to see the suffering of the Jews is nothing unique. Alan Wolfe is wrong. As a nation without a state you either capture territory, merge with another nation or die. Jews of Europe and the Muslim world choose tried to merge and failed, and then in choosing not to die had one option.

    American Jews still have some diaspora sickness. I can’t imagine Irish Americans even understanding a question like “is Ireland good for the Irish” even though the Irish are far more successful and populous in America than they are in Ireland. I can’t imagine the Chinese Americans asking if China is good for the Chinese. Capturing territory means capturing territory. It means doing injustice. The first imperative of life is survival. The Israelis realize that. They don’t apologize for survival.

    And that’s where the rest of this dialogue is just off. The purpose of the state of Israel is to serve the interests of the nation of Israel. Which is not to say it needs to be immoral but morality is always a secondary objective.

    • eljay
      eljay on November 28, 2014, 10:23 pm

      >> JeffBeee: The purpose of the state of Israel is to serve the interests of the nation of Israel.

      Israel exists as a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” whose primary purpose is to serve the interests of Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews.

      As second-class citizens in their own country, non-Jewish Israelis are less-well served by their homeland, while non-Jewish refugees from the geographic region comprising Partition-borders Israel are barred from returning to their homeland.

      And then, of course, there’s the matter of over 60 years of Israeli theft, occupation and colonization of land outside of its / Partition borders and the oppression, torture and murder of people under its occupation.

      • JeffB
        JeffB on December 1, 2014, 9:27 am

        @eljay —

        You are conflicting in these paragraphs. You can have one of the other.

        Either:

        a) The government of Israel is the government over the territory in which case it categorically can’t engage in “land theft”. The government is the ultimate authority as to who owns what, that is all the land is ultimately the government’s. It can’t steal from itself it just reallocates. Just like when you move money from your money market account to your checking account you aren’t stealing from your money market account.

        b) The government of Israel is just a party to the dispute and doesn’t have such authority. In which case it isn’t really a government over the territory you are claiming it is supremacist on.

        In particular you can’t have both an occupation and an expectation that a government represents the interests of an occupied people. I don’t think you have really thought about what a government is. You just like repeating BDS talking points which make no sense at all.

        As for serving the interests of non-Israeli Jews. The government of Israel does very little for non-Israeli Jews as a government. It infrequently is asked to represent Jewish collective interests in the same way the Republic or Ireland has ties to America’s Irish population. The only meaningful policy towards non-Israeli Jews is the government of Israel is of the opinion they should all migrate to Israel and offers them admission, social services on admission plus minor funding towards encouraging immigration.

      • annie
        annie on December 1, 2014, 5:44 pm

        had eljay made your point ‘a’ you might have a point, but he most certainly didn’t and therefore you don’t.

        you can’t have both an occupation and an expectation that a government represents the interests of an occupied people.

        had eljay claimed a government represents the “interests of an occupied people,” you might have a point, but he didn’t. however an occupying government does have duties and responsibilities towards people living under occupation.

        duties of the occupying power, protection of civilians, treatment of prisoners of war, coordination of relief efforts, issuance of travel documents, property rights of the populace, handling of cultural and art objects, management of refugees, and other concerns … A country that establishes a military government and violates internationally agreed upon norms runs the risk of censure, criticism, or condemnation. In the current era, the practices of military government have largely become a part of customary international law, and form a part of the laws of war.
        ….The United Nations Charter (June 26, 1945) had prohibited war of aggression (See articles 1.1, 2.3, 2.4) and GCIV Article 47, the first paragraph in Section III: Occupied territories, restricted the territorial gains which could be made through war by stating:

        Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_occupation

      • eljay
        eljay on December 1, 2014, 6:27 pm

        >> JeffBeee: @eljay — You are conflicting in these paragraphs.

        And you are either purposely misinterpreting my comments or you are having reading comprehension issues.

        The first two paragraphs in my previous post address your comment regarding the purpose of Israel. The third one highlights some of Israel’s actions (i.e., past and ON-GOING (war) crimes). There is no conflict between them.

      • eljay
        eljay on December 1, 2014, 6:28 pm

        >> Annie Robbins @ December 1, 2014, 5:44 pm

        All that, too. Thanks, Annie. :-)

      • annie
        annie on December 1, 2014, 9:16 pm

        eljay, my pleasure. and to your other point, my guess is closer to purposeful misinterpretation than reading comprehension. it’s a classical strawman beating down arguments that were never made. very lame and transparent tho – #loser.

  15. RoHa
    RoHa on November 26, 2014, 11:46 pm

    “I want one country on the planet that has the protection of Jewish life as part of its mission statement .,..”

    So the first item is “special arrangements for Jews”. Other considerations have to be subordinated to that.

  16. hophmi
    hophmi on November 26, 2014, 11:54 pm

    As usual, you’re ignoring every argument Beinart makes because you are too obsessed with your own POV. Beinart, as usual, is completely right; the two state solution is something both sides want, and the Left has a habit of romanticizing utopias, and foisting solutions on unwilling parties that cause a lot of people to die. Peter also exposed the BDS movement as being more extreme than Marwan Barghouti, maybe even more than Hamas, which has shown signs of interest in compromise. BDS is a movement of dangerous, deluded extremists.

    • Shingo
      Shingo on November 27, 2014, 10:10 pm

      Beinart, as usual, is completely right; the two state solution is something both sides want

      Beinart, and you, as usual, are completely tone deaf. If the Israelis wanted it, the settlements would have been dismantled long ago. For that matter, they would never have been allowed to begin with.

      Wingnuts have a habit of insisting that iPod down and black is white, war is peace and that settlements and occupation don’t hinder a 2ss but facilitate it.

      Peter also exposed the BDS movement as being more extreme than Marwan Barghouti

      Lie. Omar Barghouti and all BDS proponents have repeatedly pointed out that the BDS movement does not take a position with respect to the1ss or 2ss.

      Beinart is the one who has been exposed as deluded, and by his own admission, there is no daylight between him and the extremists.

      • Teapot
        Teapot on November 28, 2014, 7:10 am

        What do you mean, Israel doesn’t want a two state solution? Of course they do! They want the Palestinians to be in state of complete destitution, so that Israel can remain in a state of total hegemony. There, that’s two states. I really don’t know why you anti-Semites must always pick on Israel when they are trying so hard.

    • eljay
      eljay on November 28, 2014, 7:42 am

      >> hophmeee: Beinart, as usual, is completely right; the two state solution is something both sides want …

      Like you, Beinart is a Zio-supremacist and, like you, Beinart wants Israel to:
      – remain a supremacist “Jewish State”;
      – be as large a supremacist “Jewish State” as possible;
      – be located next to as small and powerless a Palestinian state as possible;
      – be absolved of its obligations under international law, including the RoR of refugees from the geographic region comprising Partition-borders Israel; and
      – be absolved of all responsibility and accountability for its past and ON-GOING (war) crimes.

  17. Bornajoo
    Bornajoo on November 27, 2014, 3:52 am

    And this is from Gideon Levy today. Spot on as usual

    “It may be better to take the right wing seriously for a change. Of course, we may despise this whole silly Jewish nation-state law affair, its creators’ lust for party primaries and greed for high ratings, and think that it will be quickly forgotten anyway. We might look at it in the context of an I’m-bigger-than-you contest among the right wing’s leadership. Of course, we might also take it more seriously and be afraid that it will harm the Arab minority living in the State of Israel.

    We might also suggest a different, much more serious and dangerous reading of the bill: It conceals a plot more far-reaching than it seems. This bill is legal preparation for the right wing’s one-state solution, the annexation of the territories and the establishment of the Jewish apartheid state. The bill is the constitutional foundation, and its acceptance is the laying of the cornerstone of the binational segregation state that the right wing is setting up quietly and methodically, unseen and unhindered.

    Israel is definitely a state ruled by law. Since its establishment, it has based all its injustices on laws. The Jewish nation-state law will one day be the first article in its constitution. Its ramifications at that point will be more serious than they appear: They will not apply only to the Arab minority, the country’s citizens, as it seems now they will; they will apply to half the inhabitants of the incipient apartheid state. That is the bill’s true purpose.

    The proof of this is indisputable. Anyone who still believes in the two-state solution will never need a Jewish nation-state law. The two-state solution is supposed to ensure a clear and decisive Jewish majority – and then, what will all the fuss be about?

    It is only in a binational state that the bill is essential. Only there must all the privileges of one nation be anchored in law, as opposed to those of the other. Only there must the precedence of the Chosen People over the inferior indigenous nation be assured. Only there is a Jewish nation-state law necessary.

    True, the right wing’s insistence on passing the bill into law stems from long-term concern over the future of the state – the apartheid state. The weakness of the center-left, which has proposed “amendments” to the bill – as if amending a nation-state bill were even possible – illustrates how the right wing’s deception has hoodwinked us as well.

    Gray characters such as Zeev Elkin, Yariv Levin and even Ayelet Shaked are incapable of giving the impression that they are motivated by any vision other than Jewish nationalism and hatred of Arabs and foreigners. No one has ever suspected Benjamin Netanyahu of being a strategist either. Yet we cannot ignore the possibility that this could be a fraud with a crucial outcome. The appearance of inaction, populism, manipulative scheming, survival and clinging to power may be concealing a well-organized, dangerous plan that is coming true before our wide-shut eyes.

    It is no accident that the Jewish nation-state bill was introduced only after the right-wing government succeeded in (almost) completely killing the two-state solution. Now that it is obvious that there will not be two states, they must start worrying about the character of the one state, which is already in the formative stages. They must make sure, at any price, that it will not be democratic and egalitarian.

    And what do we have that is more effective and vital than a Jewish nation-state law? This is how the last excuse of the apartheid-deniers, who claim that unlike in South Africa there are no racial (or national) laws here, will fall. The Jewish nation-state law will shape the character of the one state according to its spirit – the spirit of apartheid. The law will ensure what the right wing has always been saying: that this country has room for two peoples, one superior and one inferior. One with all rights, and one with none. From now on, under the protection of the law, according to which everything is done. First in sovereign, occupying Israel, and soon in the annexing and colonialist one, too.”

    • seafoid
      seafoid on November 27, 2014, 7:18 am

      Israel’s core position reduces to “we are Jews and we can do what we like”.
      They can mess around with laws all they want but they will not be able to sell apartheid to the world just because they are Jews.

  18. David Cannon
    David Cannon on November 27, 2014, 4:32 am

    Thanks Rebecca! The fundamental problem is that both Muslims and Jews claim the same LAND. The answer to this problem is not for Israel to;

    illegally occupy land in defiance of UN resolutions,
    institute indiscriminate collective punishment,
    create an open prison in Gaza,
    illegally bomb Gaza,
    execute extra-judicial assassinations,
    institute Zionist apartheid,
    atomise the West Bank with walls and illegal settlements.

    Such unacceptable and violent injustices simply create more anger. The more that political solutions are frustrated, the more that, equally unacceptable, violence will be the response. The more the West supports these injustices, the more likely the West is to be targeted by violent attacks.
    I defend the right of Jews to exist peacefully but leaders on both sides have got to look to the future not to the past. Western policies backing fundamentalist zionist atrocities are a recruiting sergeant for fundamentalist Muslim atrocities. The US, EU & Israeli arms industry laughs all the way to the bank. A single, secular state is the sole sustainable solution. Religious extremists on both sides will undoubtedly resist a secular solution but I say; roll on ‘New Jerusalem’; place of peace.
    I recommend this YouTube clip by a one time staunch Zionist called Miko Peled; https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TOaxAckFCuQ
    Miko Peled has described his 2012 book, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, as an account of how he, “the son of an Israeli General, came to realize that “the story upon which I was raised … was a lie.” The book, he has said, is based largely on long conversations with his mother, on a thorough reading of “everything my dad had ever written,” and on material about his father’s career in the Israeli army archives.
    The book, which has been characterized as “part confessional, part cinematic epic and part emotional appeal for ‘different answers’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum,” contains a foreword by Alice Walker.

    Compared to Islamic State, Israeli state violence is just as cold, calculating, cowardly, creates comprehensive carnage AND is completely counter-productive.

  19. Kolin Thumbadoo
    Kolin Thumbadoo on November 27, 2014, 4:42 pm

    I wonder why the Bienart family left South Africa. Was it because of their revulsion of Apartheid or because of its ultimate demise? In either case Peter appears to have learnt nothing from that
    history. The absurd concept of a “liberal” Zionist reminds me of a similar historical species, the “Liberal white South African” of whom it has been said thinks Progressive (Party), votes United (Party) and thanks god for the Nationalist (Afrikaaner Party).That Bienart can actually utter or infer Democracy and Jewish exceptionalism/advantage/preference in the same breath
    is beyond belief. There can be no such creature as a Liberal Zionist as there can be no such creature as a Liberal Racist.If ever there was, both aught to be extinct by now.

  20. Sassy
    Sassy on November 28, 2014, 8:01 am

    I’m interested when people like Beinart say Palestinians and Israelis don’t have a common identity when I’ve personally interviewed many of these people who talk about how they lived together peacefully before the 1930s. One Haider Abdul-Shafi told me how, during Shabbat, he would go into Jewish homes and light the kerosine lambs and do other work for the Jewish families and how they all celebrated weddings, funerals and birthdays together. I believe the common identity is the land, perhaps.

    But on another note, if Israel needs to be Israel for Jews (only, or mainly) what happens to the 20% of Palestinian citizens, continued second-class status? Also, if Israel is a refuge for the Jews why do more Jews live outside Israel than live in? These Jews certainly seem to be getting along in their respective pluralistic countries and societies. And if Beinhart thinks that, well, if the world turned against these Jews they’d need a place of refuge and tiny Israel would be that refuge, this fantastic Israel he envisions wouldn’t have the capacity, the infrastructure to handle the immigration, adding that if this happened and “the world” turned against Jews to cause this, the U.S. would probably be part of that “world” and Israel would lose its only benefactor. But, if the U.S. continued its protection of Israel, more Jews would chose to live in the U.S. than in this Beinart Israel, you know, like his parents. It’s a weak argument and, yes, anachronistic.

    And, of course, we have more and more intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews.

    It may be messy and difficult but, as Peter says, it’s the only game in town because states built on ethnic purity have never worked but “in order to form a more perfect union” (which is not yet and is always a work in progress) need not cause us to fear its possibilities and revert to an ethnic, racist alternative. Open Hillel is a good example of this kind of work in progress.

  21. rhkroell
    rhkroell on December 9, 2014, 3:53 am

    Sarah Turbow and Peter Beinart, it seems to me, are expressing views common to the generation born before nationalism was understood as a cultural artifact, an ideology patched/cemented together with the bricks left behind when the divinely-ordained ideology of dynasty/monarchy was smashed and left in ruins. “As late as 1914, dynastic states made up the majority of the world political system, but . . . [that] old principle of Legitimacy [has long since] withered silently away” (IMAGINED COMMUNITIES, Anderson, Benedict, London: Verso, rev. ed., 2006, p. 22).

    “Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist” (Anderson, p. 6). Communities larger than primordial villages used to be imagined/conceptualized as if they were ethnically or culturally homogeneous. But they were not homogeneous. Instead, they turn out to have been ethnically, religiously and culturally heterogeneous.

    We need to learn to live together, to coexist peacefully. We cannot divide our ethnic, religious and cultural communities into competing sovereign states. Ethnic, religious and cultural pluralism are all unavoidable/inescapable. Imagining a spuriously homogeneous ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community is no longer credible.

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