I am not a political analyst nor a fortuneteller. Nevertheless, I want to register a prediction so that in due time I can fall back on this divination and shake a prophetic finger with an I-told-you-so gloat. More likely it will be a he-told-you-so reminder by someone else.
My forecast is based on the fact that Haaretz has allowed an advertisement on its website in support of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The ad is sponsored by six of the civil society organizations in the USA whose activist leaders have been banned from entering Israel. I think that this is significant as a milestone event, a defining moment. To me it marks the tipping point, the beginning of the swing of the pendulum away from mounting fascism and toward a less racist Israeli public opinion. It is the start of Israel’s return to sanity, slow and decades-long as it is likely to be.
The ad is succinct and strikingly clear: It sums up concisely the three demands, all fully rooted in international human rights law, that the representatives of the Palestinian civic society asked the international community in 2005, and never stopped asking since, to press Israel to fulfill: “Until Israel ends its occupation of Palestinian land And recognizes the full and equal rights of Palestinian citizens And respects the right of return for Palestinian refugees.” This is followed by the insignia “Boycott” in big letters screaming at the reader like a biblical curse. It is followed by a schematic rendition of the Apartheid Wall with a military watchtower at its center. It ends by identifying the sponsors.
Haaretz is a formidable, solid Zionist institution that has survived since the days of the Balfour Declaration. It is the oldest newspaper that has been continuously published in Israel. In internal politics, it has maintained neutrality in terms of party politics while keeping a strategically-centered position at the heart of the liberal Zionist left. Perhaps because of financial considerations, its management seemed to want to please everyone among its clientele. In line with such a strategy it managed to leave its editorial gate wide open to rightist militants and fundamentalists. In a balancing gesture, it even continued to accommodate the likes of Gideon Levy and Amira Hass in their antizionist views. But its news-reporting and range of coverage never seemed to stray far from the Israeli mainstream media. With the noted few exceptions its editorial policies as well fed into the overall accepted Zionist dogma of Israel’s exceptionality and its veneration of the holy cows of security and Western culture. Pssst, New York Times! Your turn is next.
Several years ago, I had a short flirtation with the head of the English edition of Haaretz about the possibility of contributing an occasional op-ed of my own. The conversation lasted very briefly. He expressed his readiness to give my voice a chance to be heard from the pages of his paper. But, quickly I concluded that the editor was interested in having my voice be heard but only as I spoke his truth, not mine. I ceased and desisted. After that, every once in a while I would catch myself smiling wryly as I read the writing of the new Arab commentator that was added at the time.
I hope my prediction is not all wishful thinking. Strange as it sounds, on occasion, when in a self-congratulatory mode, I find myself puffing my chest and declaring to fellow Palestinian citizens of Israel that it is our fate and God-assigned duty to save Israel from itself. We are familiar with each other enough to get along if forced to do it. When all of the required struggle for a single, secular and democratic state is behind us, we should credit Haaretz with aiding and abetting us by permitting this landmark advertisement.
And Ahed Tamimi deserves our thanks as well for spanking the occupation out of her front yard and out of the way of the coming peace. Happy Birthday, Ahed. Will you, please, remind everyone of my hopeful prediction.