The best thing about Michelle Goldberg’s column in the New York Times on the death of the two-state solution is its tone. She’s not that upset about it. Yes, she says the end of a Jewish state would be “disastrous,” in passing, but she knows that what Israel is practicing is apartheid and she insists that American Jews won’t prop it up in the long run. (However long that is! Stay warm in jail, Ahed.)
Supporters of Israel hate it when people use the word “apartheid” to describe the country, but we don’t have another term for a political system in which one ethnic group rules over another, confining it to small islands of territory and denying it full political representation.
Goldberg repeatedly detaches herself from Israel’s supporters; and the only expert she quotes is a Palestinian! Nobody from J Street gets to tell you how to think.
“If the Israelis insist now on finishing the process of killing the two-state solution, the only alternative we have as Palestinians is one fully democratic, one-state solution,” [Mustafa] Barghouti says, in which everyone has “totally equal rights.”
And though Israel will not accept democracy, Goldberg concludes, “most of the world– including most of the Jewish diaspora” will have to support a “Palestinian campaign for equal rights.”
Israel’s apologists will be left mimicking the argument that William F. Buckley once made about the Jim Crow South. In 1957, he asked rhetorically whether the white South was entitled to prevail “politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically.” The “sobering answer,” he concluded, was yes, given the white community’s superior civilization.
It’s impossible to say how long Israel could sustain such a system. But the dream of liberal Zionism would be dead. Maybe, with the far right in power both here and there, it already is.
Goldberg’s apostasy is a reminder that the most disputed space in the conflict is the space between American Jews’ ears: Are we allowed to come out for equal rights instead of Jewish nationalism? Notice the immediate pushback from a liberal Zionist, Daniel Seidemann:
Maybe you’re right Michelle. We are under attack from Netanyahu’s government, viewed with contempt by the ideological left, and the facts are the facts. But there is no alternative to 2 states. Destroying it doesn’t create an alternative out of the ashes. There is no giving up.
The reason that Israeli liberals are viewed with contempt by the left is that they have more pity for themselves than for the people under the Israeli boot. They cannot offer anyone a credible program for how Palestinians will get rights, and when. Instead, they passively endorse an idea of managed conflict, as Ori Nir of Americans for Peace Now does when he rejects even Ahed Tamimi’s form of resistance, slapping an occupying soldier.
And they reject the only thing Israel seems to fear, international pressure in the form of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions). Goldberg (a friend of mine) ought to take the obvious next step here and endorse BDS. That would be a real slap at the occupation, and the least an American can do to support nonviolent resistance.
H/t Scott Roth.