Hypothesis: Cappuccino Israelis will be radicalized against apartheid

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Last night a friend reminded me that when he visits our site, he enters a hailstorm of criticism of Israel, and the weather never changes! Well, here are two great pieces by Israelis from over the weekend reminding us that many Israelis also share a desire for transformative change of their society. Ofer Neiman sent along the first article with the exquisite hypothesis in my headline, and Neiman wasn’t being snarky.

That first piece is “An Apology to My Killer in the Event of My Death in the Current Wave of Violence,” published in Haaretz; Rogel Alpher says that he can only fairly expect to be killed in a terror attack because Palestinians are unequal and they are justly incensed about it. Something that might surprise Americans to read. And note that Alpher has no problem with equality in a binational state. A point I have always tried to make to American Zionists during their struggles on the Amtrak or the commuter train: Would it really wreck your political dreamlife so much if tomorrow Zionism went poof and no one had to die; wouldn’t that be an exchange you’d make gratefully? Alpher says  yes; and it’s his life on the line. Excerpts:

In the event of my death in the current wave of terrorism, in the event that a terrorist, male or female, runs me over or stabs me, I would like to announce in advance that my final words are:
I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. Really. What took you so long? Countless times, while passing a construction site on one of the city streets during the quiet, early hours of the morning, I’ve wondered why one of the Palestinian laborers there didn’t grab a drill bit or shovel, a saw or a hammer, and murder me.
I have never believed in the myth of coexistence in this country. I don’t believe in coexistence based on extreme inequality when it comes to human rights, social status and economic opportunities….

I always abhorred tours of Jerusalem’s Old City. I spotted the look that the Palestinians in the alleyways gave, a combination of humiliation and anger. If I die in the current wave of terrorism, in talking about me, I want you to say that I refused to eat the hummus [symbol of co-existence]…
On the other hand, someone who has refused to go for hummus would not be surprised at the current wave of terrorism, but instead just surprised that it took so long to come. And such a person’s political position doesn’t change now, when instead of wiping hummus off their plates, they’re wiping blood off the streets….
And if my murderers also die, I apologize to them at this time, in advance; not because I deserved to die, and not because they have the right to kill me, but so my death is worth something, so it has some value, some significance, no matter how small. I have no God. I don’t need the Temple Mount. I have no problem living with the Palestinians as full equals in a binational state or as a peace-loving neighbors in my country and next to their own. What use would I have for revenge on my behalf after my death? I apologize for my paltry role in the injustice of the occupation. Even after my death.

Notice Alpher’s secular declaration re the Temple Mount. How absurd that this should even be an issue; but it is to religious-archaeologist Jeffrey Goldberg!

And on that theme, Uri Avnery at antiwar.com says that the “real battle for Israel” has begun, a religious/political struggle between the old-order secular Laborites in Tel Aviv and the peripheral-settler-zealot-warriors who have taken over the government. He says the settlers captured the government because they are the frontier warriors for the society; and that’s how history works:

[A]fter the conquests of 1967, the “national-religious” group suddenly became a moving force. The conquest of the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem and all the other biblical sites filled them with religious fervor. From being a marginal minority, they became a powerful driving force.

They created the settlers’ movement and set up many dozens of new towns and villages throughout the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. With the energetic help of all successive Israeli governments, both left and right, they grew and prospered. While the leftist “peace camp” degenerated and withered, they spread their wings.

The “national-religious” party, once one of the most moderate forces in Israeli politics, turned into the ultra-nationalist, almost fascist “Jewish Home” party. The settlers also became a dominant force in the Likud party. They now control the government. Avigdor Lieberman, a settler, leads an even more rightist party, in nominal opposition. The star of the “center”, Yair Lapid, founded his party in the Ariel settlement and now talks like an extreme rightist. Yitzhak Herzog, the leader of the Labor Party, tries feebly to emulate them.

All of them now use settler-speak. They no longer talk of the West Bank, but use the settler language: “Judea and Samaria”…

[E]ven.. “comfort” settlers become extremists, in order to survive and defend their homes, while people in Tel Aviv enjoy their cafes and theaters. Many of these old-timers already hold a second passport, just in case. No wonder the settlers are taking over the state.

The process is already well advanced. The new police chief is a kippah-wearing former settler. So is the chief of the Secret Service. More and more of the army and police officers are settlers. In the government and in the Knesset, the settlers wield a huge influence.

Some 18 years ago, when my friends and I first declared an Israeli boycott of the products of the settlements, we saw what was coming.

This is now the real battle for Israel.

Notice Avnery’s respect for the boycott tool. An idea that American Zionists struggling on the Amtrak and in nice restaurants in Soho are against. (And yes; Jews in the U.S. must divide, too.)

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I’d love to agree with you, Phil, but unfortunately I can’t. In fact, I think the opposite is much more likely. Far from belatedly realising the error of their ways, the current ‘cycle of violence’ is much more likely to encourage ”liberal” Zionists to drop the mask, and come out as what the majority of them really are – hard-core anti-Palestinians. When the chips are down, Israelis always circle the wagons – remember that upwards… Read more »

… I have no problem living with the Palestinians as full equals in a binational state or as a peace-loving neighbors in my country and next to their own. … Assuming that by “my country” he means… – a secular and democratic Israel of and for all of its Israeli citizens, immigrants, expats and refugees, equally; and not – a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews, …I offer my… Read more »

I have come to accept that the standard operating procedure for those of the Judaic persuasion here in the U.S when discussing Israel and the dilemma of the Palestinians seem to be similar to how i would have imagined it could have been like if some Germans in Germany were openly discussing the condition of Jews in the Warsaw ghetto in Poland over a glass of some good quality Riesling at their favorite eating establishment… Read more »

I hope things work out as you hope regarding the transformation of Israel’s society, but I have no basis on which to comment further on your hypothesis. I would like to see a transformation of American society’s attitude on the topic. A fantasy along those lines was prompted by WaPo’s report that, pursuant to federal law, the U.S. is withholding 15% of budgeted aid to Mexico because the State Department has concluded that Mexico has… Read more »

“Alpher says yes; and it’s his life on the line.”

And he is a brave man. Now he will have to watch his back, too, as well as see what is in front of his eyes.