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Israeli left leader praises Trump and bewails ‘Palestinian majority’ and ‘Palestinian narrative’

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One of the featured speakers at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington last weekend was Israeli leftist Stav Shaffir, a 32-year-old Labor member of Knesset who burst to fame during the famous tent protests in Tel Aviv in 2011. Shaffir is also a regular at J Street, the liberal Zionist organization, because she is trying to save the two-state solution.

Shaffir made an urgent appeal for the two-state solution at AIPAC on Monday (video here). But many of Shaffir’s arguments are similar to rightwing nationalist arguments based on ethnic interests– ideas usually disturbing to American liberals.

Here are some of Shaffir’s passionate comments at AIPAC: in favor of a Jewish majority, of separation of Jews and Palestinians, and of Israeli militarism and Donald Trump.

On the need to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel with the support of the army and the U.S.:

The Israeli Palestinian conflict is one big challenge that actually is probably the easiest one to solve among the other security challenges that we have and the one that is most important in order to keep Israel Jewish and democratic, with a Jewish majority. For these challenges we will need not only our very strong army and security system, we will need the support of the global community and here in the States, the support and the backup of the United States in the decisions that we will make and in the steps that we will have to take forward, and here I feel today we are in a very good situation.

Shaffir praised Trump.

We appreciate very much the care and the friendship with the U.S. and with the current administration and the care for Israel at present and in the future.

She celebrated his decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. Notice her very Jewish definition of Israeli society (which is 20 percent non-Jewish):

The embassy move is something that every Israeli is happy about. There is no left and right distinction on that. For us, Jerusalem is our capital– it’s not something that is in doubt, it’s just a fact. And we’re very happy about the embassy move. I would like to see that as part of a strategy to reach a solution with the Palestinians. This is a must. This is not a time to be naive or passive.

She extolled the two-state solution as a separation of Jews and Palestinians, and faulted the idea of equality between Jews and Palestinians.

Today 99 percent of our security establishment supports and promotes the two-state solution. Literally everybody who understands security understands that we need to have a clear border between us and the Palestinians. Everybody who understands our national and social and security needs knows that we don’t need almost 3 million Palestinians to become part of Israel, a situation that will cause a civil war, two peoples in fear, trauma and distrust toward each other, who are just going to bleed into each other for decades to come, and for Israel to need to choose between being a democracy equal to all of our citizens, to being Jewish. This is not something we can afford.

But young American progressives are falling for the Palestinian “narrative,” and that’s “a danger.”

I come here to the States to talk to young people in the universities, and I feel that the direction that many young people, Jews and non Jews alike, are taking and the perception that they have about Israel is a very different perception to what Israelis want to have about ourselves. The distancing that young people here feel that Israel is taking from their values is something that is a great risk to our strategic interests and to our future.

And the other part of it that is at risk is the bipartisan character of the support of Israel here in the States. When I look at the latest Pew Poll, that shows that amongst Democrats the perception of Israel is becoming  less and less positive, and in some areas you even see a greater link and identification with the Palestinian narrative, that’s a danger to our future. In ten, fifteen years time, these people who are now in universities are going to sit in very influential positions. We need them to be with us. We need them to understand our security interests. We need them to promote together with us solutions to the challenges that we have, we just can’t wait for that to arrive…

Shaffir praised her rightwing host, AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (whose new president supports settlements), for active plans to counter Palestinian “campaigns.”

I see AIPAC is working on that very well currently. We all need to be part of this campaign… Today we see a lot of campaigns coming from the Palestinians. We don’t see enough campaigns coming from the Israeli side.

She attacked the rightwing elements of Israeli leadership for wanting to annex the West Bank, which would bring millions of Palestinians into Israel. Describing the violence of Palestinian intifadas, she characterized Palestinians as Israeli “enemies.”

I don’t trust the Palestinians to [be] that perfect partner…These are our enemies… Yes we have a very strong military and ability to protect ourselves. But still this is our reality. I don’t want us to wait and to rely on the Palestinians in order to have a future for ourselves. They have a different interest. By the way for them– time is actually serving them. Time is actually serving their interest in having a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Sea. This is not a risk that we can take.

Shaffir attacked the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS) that targets Israel and said the best response to BDS is American pressure on the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel for a two-state solution. If there is no two-state solution, there will be a Palestinian majority– “and that will be the end of things.”

There are a lot of young people here who for some reason are mistaken to think that working with BDS or supporting boycott of Israel is somehow effective and productive for the two-state solution. That’s a huge mistake. Those who support the BDS are actually contributing to moving Israelis farther to the right, to making Israelis distrustful of the global community, to encouraging that feeling of Israelis that the world doesn’t understand our security interests…. That’s a big mistake because it’s not promoting the two state solution. That’s actually promoting just a continuation of just things as they are, that will eventually lead to a Palestinian majority, and that will be the end of things. We cannot let that happen.

She slammed the Iran deal (even as she said it should not be nullified), and spoke of the Iranian threat:

Iran is needless to say a major threat and a real one, one that in order to overcome we have to work together. This is not for one country to overcome alone. Israel with all of our military capabilities. We need the cooperation of the US as the leader of the global community to put more sanctions on Iran and especially on Iranian involvement with terrorism. Iran today is the Number one investor in terrorism globally. We need the ability to create a much stronger deal. The current deal with Iran is far from being a perfect deal, it’s not a great deal.

The obvious takeaway from Shaffir’s remarks is that Israeli Jewish society is far more rightwing than the U.S. press informs us; everyone there likes Trump; and this leftwing darling has far more in common with rightwing Zionists than American liberals. This was much the same point that alt-right leader Richard Spencer made in his dialogue with a liberal Jewish rabbi, when he said, We want white Zionism in the U.S.!

(P.S. I don’t contend that getting to a one-state democratic outcome will be a walk in the park; there is wisdom in Shaffir’s projections; there will be a lot of violence in any outcome. The problem is that no liberal Zionist can offer any real scenario of getting to the two-state solution: Shaffir’s own prescription is to keep the two-state solution on ice and not increase the number of settlements, in anticipation of the day it will be effected, 20 years from now, or who knows when. And meantime Palestinians are living a one-state reality, without rights, for 50 years; which is why Henry Siegman and Avraham Burg have called as realists for equal rights for Palestinians, and why those young Jews who baffle Shaffir say, If not now, when?)

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About Philip Weiss

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26 Responses

  1. eljay
    eljay
    March 7, 2018, 3:09 pm

    Ms. Shaffir demonstrates that “leftist” or “rightist” doesn’t matter fundamentally when it comes to Zionism: All Zionists want Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine. The main difference is who does the dirty work and who “holds their noses”.

    • johneill
      johneill
      March 8, 2018, 12:29 am

      it’s no wonder progressive americans are abandoning israel, when israeli leftists keep defending the demography instead of the democracy.

  2. annie
    annie
    March 7, 2018, 6:19 pm

    We need them [people who are now in universities] to promote together with us solutions to the challenges that we have, we just can’t wait for that to arrive……I don’t want us to wait and to rely on the Palestinians …….– time is actually serving them. Time is actually serving their interest in having a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Sea. This is not a risk that we can take.

    ‘promoting solutions’ is not a replacement for changing policy, which israel refuses to do. she “just can’t wait” for young people to get back on board supporting israel and promoting israel but doesn’t seem to realize it’s palestinians suffering the burden of waiting, and their supporters, including young people, can no longer ‘just wait’ around for israel to change.

    bottom line, she’s barking up the wrong tree. she’s in the knesset and it’s her fellow MPs and israelis she should be yammering up (and her so called “99%” of israel’s security establishment allegedly supporting 2SS).. because people lose faith in ‘promoting solutions’ when the very people doing the promoting don’t follow through. if she doesn’t “want .. to wait and to rely on the Palestinians” then make 2 viable states. and if she can’t, or won’t, then she should embrace BDS, which appears to be the only effective way to pressure israel.

    and if she represents israeli “left”, oy vey!

  3. Paranam Kid
    Paranam Kid
    March 8, 2018, 6:44 am

    @Philip Weiss: can you please, please, please explain what a liberal Zionist is? You keep using that expression regularly but I fail to understand what it means, so please elucidate.

    • Paranam Kid
      Paranam Kid
      March 9, 2018, 8:40 am

      As usual, Philip does not want to get into this discussion, probably because he knows Liberal Zionism is a complete misnomer, and has no way to explain/defend/justify it because it is a term widely used by Zionists trying to hide their racism.

  4. Tzvia
    Tzvia
    March 8, 2018, 8:37 am

    Stav Shaffer is a racist Zionist. As such, she, along with her party, cannot be considered left. Shaffer is not a left leader, she, along with the big majority of Israelis continues to oppress the indigenous people of Palestine.

  5. Elizabeth Block
    Elizabeth Block
    March 8, 2018, 10:22 am

    This is a leftist?
    This is why, when people ask me What about the Israeli left? What about the Israeli peace movement? I tell them that for practical purposes there isn’t any.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 9, 2018, 11:35 am

      Shade of things to come: California Democratic Party failed to endorse Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who has been a member of the United States Senate since 1992. In that position, she’s been one of the most reliably hard-Left members of the body. She wrote the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994

  6. genesto
    genesto
    March 8, 2018, 12:59 pm

    Ah, the ‘two-state solution’ again! Reminds me of one of my all-time favorite film noirs, “The Night of the Living Dead”. No matter how much you try to kill it and move on, it stays alive in its own despicable way, causing nothing but misery for the living.

    I’ve yet to see an analysis by these poor liberal Zionists, clinging with a death grip to this nonsensical ‘solution’, of what to do with the hundreds of thousands of settlers who would have to be moved in order to create this mythical state. Would you carve out a piece of Jordan to accommodate them?? Then what do you do with the Jordanians??

    Absurd? You bet!!

  7. James Canning
    James Canning
    March 8, 2018, 1:38 pm

    I continue to think BDS is actually a good thing for Israel, in that it may facilitate eventual withdrawal from the occupied West Bank.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 9, 2018, 11:40 am

      “Eventual” for sure. US government, including state and local governments are trending to penalize anybody & any business that supports BDS. Right now, I think there are about two dozen state anti-BDS laws in effect.

  8. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    March 8, 2018, 1:52 pm

    @PanamaKid
    I think I can help on this one. A Liberal Zionist is one who can just about be allowed to wander about in the halls of the institution. A Right Wing Zionist is one who definitely belongs in the padded cells. The “Centrist Zionists” and “Left Wing Zionists” as is now very clear never really existed.

    The 2SS which she referred to is patently a Dodo. Zioloons refer to it along with the classic”can only be achieved by direct negotiations” as a standard front to mask incessant and incremental land theft.

    This hypocrisy ridden pseudo-liberal woman and her Ziologic would be shredded in any truly independent interview or debating forum but I hope that she and her ilk be allowed to continue self polluting the Zionist well with their coy ravings.It will serve to confirm and enhance the “distancing” of young Americans which is panicking the AIPAC Elders.

    BTW She said:
    “the perception that they have about Israel is a very different perception to what Israelis want to have about ourselves”

    Was the “want to have” perhaps a Freudian slip as in = self delusion. I wonder if she will get a bollocking from her handlers for that one when she returns to Zioland.

    • annie
      annie
      March 8, 2018, 2:27 pm

      all this handwringing from israeli jews over what people think of them bores the heck out of me. i’m reminded of a quote i read in a nyt book review:

      “The deepest truth is that Israel so far has not tried the one thing that could address the underlying grievances that give life to its terrorist enemies, trading land for peace. ….. it still means that the most obvious approach Israel might try to find a strategic end to the problem of terrorism is off the table.”

      https://twitter.com/nytimesbooks/status/971777668873113600

      the eternal victims, more worried about what people think than fixing the problem.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        March 8, 2018, 4:18 pm

        all this handwringing from israeli jews over what people think of them bores the heck out of me

        It may be boring but it is the only key to any successful boycott movement or any non-violent action against Zionists. The only thing that would non-violently shake up the Zio invaders is their being rejected by the West, considered Oriental barbarians and pariahs. That’s why shunning individual Zios, too, is essential.

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      March 8, 2018, 3:13 pm

      A Liberal Zionist, in the sense surely long used on Mondoweiss, is someone who, making some reference to liberal ideas, believes that a ‘two state solution’ is both possible and desirable. That belief may be absurd but that doesn’t stop the definition from making sense: absurdities can be identified and described. Calling them liberal Zionists doesn’t commit us to thinking that they hold liberal ideas in a coherent form. There seem to be a lot of them, including the vast majority of established and influential figures in the political, religious and cultural life of the Western world. Some participate in our discussions. So it’s best to have a name for them.

      • Paranam Kid
        Paranam Kid
        March 9, 2018, 8:45 am

        “Calling them liberal Zionists doesn’t commit us to thinking that they hold liberal ideas in a coherent form.”

        That does not make sense. Why use the adjective liberal if that is not what it means? It only adds to the cover up of what Zionism really is: a racist ideology. There is no such thing as a liberal racist. Period.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        March 11, 2018, 11:43 am

        It means sometimes paying attention to and sometimes proclaiming liberal ideas. I think that’s sufficient to make sense of the label.

    • Paranam Kid
      Paranam Kid
      March 9, 2018, 8:48 am

      You are right, and that is why a don’t understand why Philip insists on using the term. I keep challenging him on it but he refuses to explain’ so I guess he cannot explain or is too afraid to do so.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 9, 2018, 11:48 am

      @ Ossinev, yeah I notice that “the perception that they have about Israel is a very different perception to what Israelis want to have about ourselves.” This is very telling, a version of the cliche “Freudian slip.” It means the Zionists are struggling to believe in their own lies in the face of the facts pouring out from the BDS movement in the age of alternative internet news, news no longer confined by the mainstream media.

  9. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    March 8, 2018, 3:48 pm

    This young lady is ignorant. Netanyahu has spelt out the position very clearly. No deal. There isn’t going to be any separation. Israel is committed to apartheid. And what the goys think becomes very important. Because in strategy you never make up time wasted. And Isreal wasted 50 years.

  10. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    March 8, 2018, 4:26 pm

    Israelis like Trump because he will roll up in Jerusalem and mouth the words. Eternal capital. They don’t understand that he is putting dynamite under the US.

    And they don’t realise that political patronage and Jewish money are as useless as the nukes. Israel has struggled with the Palestinian question since the 1880s and it no has no way forward. The Israeli future is not linear.

    • Citizen
      Citizen
      March 9, 2018, 11:52 am

      Trump’s ham-handed treatment of the Palestinians via his bombastic, ignorant pro-Israel righteousness moves and rhetoric may actually advance the BDS cause?

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        March 9, 2018, 5:51 pm

        Indirectly. Trump will blow up neoliberalism and shrink Jewish wealth. Israel bet the house on a dying economic system. The collapse of neoliberalism will really hurt Israel and force it to change.

      • catalan
        catalan
        March 9, 2018, 7:30 pm

        “The collapse of neoliberalism will really hurt Israel and force it to change.” mag
        and I take it, when neoliberalism goes, it will be replaced with democratic socialism. So all soon to be 13 billion of us humans will live together, in harmony; we will stop polluting the oceans. Things like education and healthcare will be free for all, everywhere. And the pretty girls will share several guys so everyone gets some of that too. No more greed, and capitalists, and religions also will be removed. Just humble workers everywhere, sharing the land, living to ripe old age. Denmark and Gambia will both have the same wealth, and Gaza too. I like it. And the leaders will be kind and generous people, never thinking of taking more for themselves.

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        March 10, 2018, 3:42 am

        Catalan

        It won’t be socialism. There will be controls on debt . Same as pre 1979.

  11. iResistDe4iAm
    iResistDe4iAm
    March 9, 2018, 10:04 pm

    “The Israeli Palestinian conflict is one big challenge that actually is probably the easiest one to solve among the other security challenges that we have”

    ==> Correct, the Israeli Palestinian conflict can be solved as soon as Israel takes concrete steps to comply with UN resolutions, human rights conventions and international law.

    “the one that is most important in order to keep Israel Jewish and democratic, with a Jewish majority”

    ==> You can’t have both Jewish and democratic unless Israel continues to militarily subjugate the Palestinians. And you can’t manufacture a Jewish majority forever without either imports or exports, or a combination of both (importing more Jewish people from around the world via immigration/Aliyah, or exporting more indigenous Palestinians through more war and ethnic cleansing).

    “Today 99 percent of our security establishment supports and promotes the two-state solution”

    ==> Prior to 1994, it could also be claimed that 99 percent of South Africa’s security establishment supported and promoted the eleven-state solution (1 self-proclaimed white state and 10 ‘independent’ bantustans).

    “Everybody who understands our national and social and security needs knows that we don’t need almost 3 million Palestinians to become part of Israel, a situation that will cause a civil war, two peoples in fear, trauma and distrust toward each other, who are just going to bleed into each other for decades to come”

    ==> This reminds me of the decades-long bloody civil war that was predicted to happen if the blacks ever gained power in South Africa. EXCEPT, that civil war didn’t happen. However, the mass bloodletting that did occur happened under Apartheid rule, and was instigated by the Apartheid regime (including instigating civil wars between tribal factions).

    “for Israel to need to choose between being a democracy equal to all of our citizens, to being Jewish”

    ==> I thought Israel was both Jewish and democratic (as per 2nd point above). If so, why does ‘Israel need to choose’? WAIT, I get it … the inevitable demands for equality brought about by the pending Palestinian majority (as per last point below).

    “This is not something we can afford”

    ==> Nonsense, think of the billions of shekels Israel will no longer have to spend to maintain a disproportionately large military/security system made up predominantly of one ethnic/religious group for the purpose controlling the other ethnic/religious groups. Think about the savings on massive concrete walls & watchtowers, checkpoints & roadblocks, land air & sea patrols, sieges, blitzkriegs, ongoing surveillance of millions, mass arrests torture & imprisonment, the separate governmental & judicial systems, etc. Don’t forget the needless expense of home demolitions & evictions, and the banality of having to count calories for certain segments of the population, etc.

    “I feel that the direction that many young people, Jews and non Jews alike, are taking and the perception that they have about Israel is a very different perception to what Israelis want to have about ourselves.”

    ==> What’s the fundamental reasons for these very different perceptions?

    “in some areas you even see a greater link and identification with the Palestinian narrative, that’s a danger to our future.”

    ==> Why is the Palestinian narrative a danger to your future? Why is any narrative a danger to your future?

    “By the way for them – time is actually serving them. Time is actually serving their interest in having a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Sea. This is not a risk that we can take.”

    ==> Why is this a risk you cannot take. It’s a risk Israel has previously taken and addressed effectively using war and ethnic cleansing. In fact, Israel was created by ethnically cleansing 750,000 of the 1,237,000 non-Jewish Palestinian population in 1947-1949 (61% of total, or 85% of those living in the areas that became the state of Israel). More than 500 Palestinian villages were depopulated and later destroyed to prevent the return of the Palestinian refugees. During and after the 1967 war, Israel ethnically cleansed a further 320,000 Palestinians from their homes (35% of the population of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip).

    “That’s actually promoting just a continuation of just things as they are, that will eventually lead to a Palestinian majority, and that will be the end of things. We cannot let that happen.”

    ==> Those who manufactured a temporary majority by killing, depopulating & ethnically cleansing the real indigenous majority (67% of population in 1947 before the creation of Israel), should stop whining about ‘majorities’ and ‘demographic threats’.

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