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Backing two-state solution, Democrats deplore equal rights, deny the Nakba, and say Jews must never be a minority in Israel

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In recent days Trump and the Republican Party have done their utmost to cast the Democrats as anti-Israel. In his speech to an Israel lobby group on Saturday night, Trump said Democrats were harboring the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS). And last week when the Democratic majority in the House passed a resolution affirming the two-state solution and expressing mild criticism of the settlement project, Republicans lambasted Democrats as anti-Israel.

The Democrats are clearly worried about the charge. The party’s base is beginning to fracture on the Israel question. Polls show younger Democrats are highly supportive of the idea of conditioning aid to Israel; and three Democratic presidential candidates have said they are open to doing so. The House resolution specifically ruled out conditioning aid, saying the $3.8 billion we send Israel is “ironclad” at a “critical” moment in history, in Rep. Ted Deutch’s words.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey said only a “splinter” group wants to condition aid. “This vote officially puts to rest the splinter view of adding new conditions on aid to Israel and reinforces our historic commitment to restoring a two state solution.”

So Buttigieg, Sanders and Warren are a splinter? In a sign of that fracture, four first-term Democrats voted against the two-state resolution because its references to Israel’s illegal occupation had been stripped. And Rep. Betty McCollum, who wants to condition aid to Israel, voted present.

The Democratic leadership is clearly worried that the Republicans are going to use the British playbook: the Dems will be accused of harboring anti-Semitism because their base is pushing for Palestinian human rights.

What leaped out to me from the House debate was how much Democrats were bending over backwards to affirm their love of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic” state. Indeed, they were endorsing “the Zionist dream,” as one liberal Zionist lobby group wrote in celebrating the vote.

Some of these Democratic Party statements were shocking in their contempt for Palestinian rights and liberal values of minority rights. Here are some of those comments:

Leading the debate for the Democrats, purposely, was Rep. Eliot Engel, the firebreathing Israel supporter from the Bronx and Westchester. Engel bewailed Jews becoming “the minority in their own country.”

We cannot get to the point where Israel’s role as a Jewish and democratic state is at risk…Do you know what a one-state solution means? It means a state where Jews could become the minority in their own country. It means one Palestinian state with no determination for the Jewish people or for the Palestinians. Israel’s right to exist as a state that is both Jewish and democratic is incompatible with a one-state solution, period.

The good progressive from Illinois, Jan Schakowsky, sounded a lot like Engel– and an old segregationist — when she said in a statement that equal rights for Palestinians is a bad thing.

All Americans need to think about the alternatives to two states. There are only 2 likely options that I see. The first is an ugly, one-state nightmare in which Israel’s government tries to retain the West Bank permanently but does not grant equal rights to Palestinians. Were this to happen, Israel would actually become an ‘apartheid’ state as many wrongly accuse it of being today. The second option is to move toward one state, but with equal rights and equal votes for all. In this scenario, in short order the Jewish population would be in the minority, and Israel as a Jewish state would cease to exist. Would Israeli Jews accept that outcome? Do Palestinians really want that shared state instead of a state of their own? Is that really a state we imagine could live in peace? Every poll we have shows us that Israeli Jews and Palestinians both still prefer two states for two people. And that’s what we should help them to achieve…

Imagine for a moment Schakowsky deploring minorities taking over an American political district, and how much white people are opposed!

Schakowsky also boldly declared her Zionism as the answer to Jewish history. Her language is very generational (she’s 75). Many young Jews don’t feel that Israel is a “miracle” and source of pride:

As both a Zionist – that is, someone who believes that the Jewish people have the right to a state of their own — and a person that believes the Palestinians have rights and deserve a viable state of their own, I felt duty-bound to help facilitate the passage of this resolution….

History has proven the necessity of a Jewish State, and the Jewish State of Israel is a modern miracle and a source of pride, as well as a valued friend of the United States of America. And history has also shown that the Palestinian people are likewise linked forever to the land.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer denied the Palestinian Nakba in his statement embracing the Jewish return to their “homeland.”

Since even before its independence in 1948, Israel has sought to achieve a secure peace with its neighbors on the basis of the principle of self-determination for both the Jewish people and for the Palestinian people…. The Jewish people deserve to live in peace and security in their ancestral homeland, and Palestinians deserve the opportunity to chart their own future of peace and opportunity in a land of their own.

That statement is pure myth. The U.N. partition resolution of November 1947 calling for a Jewish state and an Arab state led directly to the creation of 750,000 Palestinian refugees due in large part to Zionists’ militant policies aimed at ethnically cleansing as much of the land as possible, well beyond the UN’s proposed boundaries, to establish a Jewish majority in the Jewish state. Palestinians call this the Nakba, or “catastrophe.” They never got the state that they were promised in that resolution.

Hoyer refused to criticize Israeli settlements and said the big problem is Palestinian “attacks” that undermine the peace process. He sanctified the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel as vital to American security: “[T]here are few alliances as critical to America’s national security, to global stability, and to our Nation’s values as the U.S.-Israel relationship. Israel and America share common values and together are committed to the principles of democracy and individual freedom.”

Engel also denied the Nakba. Notice his focus on Jews’ human rights, not Palestinians’.

The Jews accepted [U.N. Partition resolution of 1947]. And the Palestinians, the Arabs, rejected it and tried to push Israel and the Jews into the sea. It didn’t work. The war of independence happened. In 1948 Israel was declared a democracy and a nation state….

The Democratic debate was led by Engel so that Democrats could blunt the charge that Israel has become a political football.

I would caution all Members to bear in mind that before making charges in this debate about who supports Israel and who doesn’t, about who is turning this issue into a political football, there is no Member of this body who is a stronger supporter than I am of the U.S.-Israel relationship, of Israel’s right to exist and defend itself.

Josh Gottheimer also sought to marginalize Israel’s critics inside the Democratic Party. He said that the “lifesaving” assistance to Israel should never “be subject to politics.” But Gottheimer seems to recognize he has his finger in the dike:

This language is absolutely necessary because of the extreme and misguided views of some, especially several currently running for our Nation’s highest office, who seemingly believe that assistance to Israel should be held hostage until Israel makes concessions according to their beliefs, including how Israel treats Gaza, which is controlled by the foreign terrorist organization Hamas. We must stand together in rejecting that harmful view—as one Senator called it, the view of having leverage against Israel, our ally.

Republicans are trying to push the Democratic fracture. Here’s Steve Chabot of Ohio arguing that the Democratic base is for BDS.

What is really happening here is this resolution is meant to paper over a deep division within the Democratic Party between responsible voices who understand the importance of our relationship with Israel, and many of those are here today speaking, and a campus radical left that pushes BDS, welcomes anti-Semitic attacks on Israel, and believes that Israel is the problem while the Palestinians are just helpless victims.

Forceful, principled Democratic leadership would take seriously their responsibility to educate the public and clear up these misbegotten notions. Instead, they have opted to cover over this serious problem with their flawed legislation today.

Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York:

House Democrats should bring bipartisan legislation forward with teeth that will support Israel and fight the BDS movement. But rather than move forward and build on our longstanding history of bipartisan support of the U.S.-Israeli alliance, House Democrats have decided to play partisan politics with what is a powder keg.

Back to the Dems. Here’s my pet peeve. Liberal Zionists go to Palestine, see apartheid before their eyes, then come home and say nothing about it. Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan went on a J Street trip to Israel and Palestine and was enraged by what he witnessed, in early November in the West Bank:

Yesterday, I traveled to the southern West Bank, including the Palestinian village of Susya, which the Israeli government has destroyed twice and currently denies access to water.

It was simply incredible. As angry as the situation made me, the resilience of the Palestinian villagers left an even stronger impression.

Yet we watched the government utility, right before our eyes, lay in pipes right across the village’s land to deliver tap water to an illegal Israeli outpost nearby.

The Israeli press and government came down on Levin. And when he spoke up for the two-state resolution last week in Congress, he said nothing about what he had seen. No, he just talked about attacks on Israelis.

My trip left me more committed than ever to seeing, in my lifetime, a two state solution: a democratic Jewish state living in peace alongside a democratic Palestine. That is why I am here today…

Because, make no mistake, without a two-state solution, Israel’s future as a secure democratic homeland for the Jewish people will be in jeopardy. And Israelis, like the ones I visited in Netiv HaAsara, will continue to live in fear of rocket fire that gives them 8 seconds to reach a bomb shelter.

These Democrats were well whipped! Here’s Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston saying she’s been sending young people to Israel forever:

It is well known that the United States, all of my life, has been a strong supporter of Israel, rooted in shared national security interests, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
I have sent to Israel young people, through the Mickey Leland Kibbutzim program, from my district for 25 years—almost 25 years—to develop the understanding and friendship that we continue to promote for the values of what Israel stands for.

Mickey Leland was a former civil rights activist and congressman from Houston who started a program under Clinton. It sounds a lot like the Elijah Cummings program in Baltimore to send young people to Israel.

I share MJ Rosenberg’s cynicism about the Democratic position on Israel:

Sadly, the #Democrats are historically worse on #Israel #Palestine than #Republicans. It is the Dems (Steny Hoyer, Chuck Schumer) who lead the pro-Netanyahu forces not the GOP which knows it won’t get much Jewish money & hardly any Jewish votes.
The Republicans have nothing to lose by driving this wedge; they can only gain conservative Jews and maybe some big donors. The Dems have a lot to lose. The American people will only gain from the matter finally being politicized.
Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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19 Responses

  1. jon s on December 11, 2019, 4:55 pm

    I don’t understand why the 2 state solution contradicts equal rights and implies a denial of Palestinian rights. On the contrary, implementing the 2 states solution , with two democratic states ,would be the best way to ensure those rights. Look at those who oppose two states: Netanyahu, Bennet, Lieberman and the rest of the Right, along with Palestinian extremists. Two states is still the only solution, both politically possible and morally sound.

    And right now, incredibly, we’re headed for elections again! For the third time in a year…
    Save the date : March 2, 2020.

    • eljay on December 11, 2019, 6:45 pm

      || jon s: I don’t understand why the 2 state solution contradicts equal rights and implies a denial of Palestinian rights. … ||

      Sure you do. To a Zionist like you, a 2SS means that Israel gets to remain a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” and to keep as much as possible of what it has stolen, occupied and colonized. And, as a bonus, the creation of a Palestinian state gives you somewhere to (in your mind) legitimately dump all the non-Jewish Israelis (a.k.a. “demographic threat”) you don’t want to have in your “Jewish State”.

      • jon s on December 12, 2019, 3:27 pm

        Nice to see that you know what’s in my mind. No, I have no desire to “dump” non-Jewish Israelis. I wish for them to live in peace and prosperity.

      • eljay on December 12, 2019, 5:33 pm

        || jon s: eljay,
        Nice to see that you know what’s in my mind. No, I have no desire to “dump” non-Jewish Israelis. I wish for them to live in peace and prosperity. ||

        So you’ve decided to advocate the return to their homes and lands of non-Jewish Israeli refugees and their immediate descendants? And to grant preferential immigration rights to non-Jews up to n-generations removed from Partition-borders Israel?

        Of course you haven’t. You “wish for them to live in peace and prosperity” as long as they keep their “demographic threat” out of your “Jewish State”.

        You’re a Zionist, jon s. When it comes to I-P, it’s no secret what’s in your mind.

      • Mooser on December 12, 2019, 7:06 pm

        I thought “jon s” would comment again when Israel is able to form a government, but apparently it isn’t important.

        How beneficial for Israel will the coming IDF-Rabbinate junta be, “Jon s”? Start of a Golden Age?

      • Talkback on December 13, 2019, 7:32 am

        Eljay: “Of course you haven’t.”

        It’s quite funny to see who insincere Zionists can be when they claim that they support co-existence and equality, but fail to support an Israeli state for all of its citizens and a refugee’s right to return.

      • eljay on December 13, 2019, 8:19 am

        || Talkback: … It’s quite funny to see who insincere Zionists can be when they claim that they support co-existence and equality, but fail to support an Israeli state for all of its citizens and a refugee’s right to return. ||

        Hypocrisy is a core value of Zionism and of every Zionist.

      • echinococcus on December 13, 2019, 12:49 pm

        “an Israeli state for all of its citizens”

        “an Israeli state” is a Zionist goal and request; by itself it is already a colonialist violation of the rights of the Palestinian people. If for all its citizens or some is of course important from a humanitarian viewpoint but irrelevant to this question. It is no different than, say, bringing oranges to a death row prisoner.

        The same applies to “a refugee’s right to return”: with or without return, Palestine remains an “Israeli” colonial state. Thrown out of his own home, he would be going “back” to living under colonial settler-conquerors.

    • Talkback on December 12, 2019, 1:58 am

      jon s: “I don’t understand why the 2 state solution contradicts equal rights and implies a denial of Palestinian rights.”

      First of all not even the UN envisaged a simple two state solution and “seperation”.

      Secondly it also didn’t envisage the creation of two states through war, expulsion and denationalization or a “Jewish state” as the anti-Israeli state of the Jews understands it. To the contrary. According to customary law (as reflected in the partition plan) all the residents should become ipso facto citizens of a newly created state. Just have a look at the 1925 nationalitay law of the state of Palestine. And a state which is not the state of all of its citizens legally denies equal rights. Especially to those it keeps expelled and denationalized.

      And thirdly, whose two state solution? There is an international one which is based on international law on the one hand and a Zionist one on the other which isn’t and includes illegal annexation and illegal settlements. This version has never meant anything else than a Jewish Apartheid state that controls Palestinian bantustans. (“Israeli Apartheid state” makes no sense, since there is no Israeli nation according to the Supreme Court of the anti-Israeli state of the Jews.)

      • Mooser on December 13, 2019, 3:05 pm

        “And thirdly, whose two state solution?”

        There’s no Israeli government to negotiate a ‘solution’ with. And there won’t be for a long, long time.

      • Talkback on December 14, 2019, 7:11 am

        Mooser: “There’s no Israeli government to negotiate a ‘solution’ with. And there won’t be for a long, long time.”

        There has never been any Israeli goverment willing to negotiate a two state solution. Israel is stalling and only offering modifications of Jewish Apartheid. That’s what Oslo is with the help of Palestinan Kapos.

  2. JWalters on December 11, 2019, 7:19 pm

    Steny Hoyer denies the Nakba. A common criminal ploy is to deny the crime. Steny Hoyer is like a lawyer for the mob. He is a gangster, betraying the country he publicly swore to serve. All for money from a predatory, parasitic gang of war profiteers, who hide behind insane religious claims.

  3. brent on December 11, 2019, 10:49 pm

    This article provides insights for the way forward.

    Both sides and supporters assert arguments claiming to be the actual victim. The story of Andy Levin shows that even when victimization is observed, political realities/narratives can dominate.

    Many seem persuaded a secular state will not work. For this reason, a campaign for equality under the law by Palestinian citizens in Israel would be instructive as to whether one secular state will work as an overall solution.

  4. Nathan on December 13, 2019, 4:29 pm

    “They [the Palestinians] never got the state they were promised in that [1947 Partition Plan] resolution”.

    This claim is exactly the same grievance that Mahmoud Abbas raised in his op-ed in the NY Times in Nov 2012. It’s really just propaganda meant for people who don’t really know anything about the conflict. The Partition Plan didn’t promise anyone a state. It was a proposal, not a promise. Moreover, the Partition Plan proposed that the two sides take measures to found their respective states. No one gives you your state. You have to take the trouble of founding it yourself.

    It should be added that the Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan, so it’s really silly that Mahmoud Abbas rejects partition AND gripes that he didn’t get the state that was proposed on the plan that he rejects.

    But even more puzzling is the repeat of this very unconvincing propaganda by Phil. An anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian activist is not obligated to accept every Palestinian argument blindly. It should be possible somehow to be anti-Israel while at the same time being an honest journalist who has an obligation to reporting the facts. Moreover, you don’t have to adopt the Palestinian misunderstanding of the term “self-determination”. Self-determinaion means that you have the right to set up your own state. It does NOT mean that you get a state that someone else is responsible for setting up.

    • MHughes976 on December 13, 2019, 5:23 pm

      I think that any Palestinian has as much right as I have to be a citizen that is enfranchised in a state that is sovereign.

    • eljay on December 13, 2019, 7:27 pm

      || Nathan: … But even more puzzling is the repeat of this very unconvincing propaganda by Phil. … ||

      Speaking of unconvincing propaganda, check out this bit of garbage you wrote:

      … Self-determinaion means that you have the right to set up your own state. It does NOT mean that you get a state that someone else is responsible for setting up.

      Self-determination means that the people in and of a geographic region have the right to establish a state of and for the people in and of that geographic region.

      It does NOT mean that citizens in and of homelands all over the world who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish are entitled to steal, militarily-occupy and colonize a geographic region and, at the expense of that region’s indigenous population, establish in it a religion-supremacist state for themselves and their co-collectivists.

      • MHughes976 on December 14, 2019, 3:43 am

        I don’t believe in the alleged group right of sd in any form but if you do have a right to something you surely have a right to reasonable assistance – at least verbal – in obtaining it.

    • Talkback on December 14, 2019, 5:05 am

      Nathan: “The Partition Plan didn’t promise anyone a state. It was a proposal, not a promise.”

      It was a proposal that implicitly promised international recognition for both states.

      Nathan: “It should be added that the Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan, so it’s really silly that Mahmoud Abbas rejects partition AND gripes that he didn’t get the state that was proposed on the plan that he rejects.”

      It’s even sillier to claim that Abbas rejected the partition plan in 1948 when he was 13 years old fleeing with his family and another 12 – 15 thousand Nonjews from Jewish terrorist organisation Palmach and Haganah who made Safed arabrein. Even today is is (almost) 100% arabrein.

      Nathan: “Self-determination means that you have the right to set up your own state.”

      Nope. It means that the indigenous people of a territory or state under alien domination have the right to an independent state within this territory. It doesn’t mean that a settler minority has a right to create a settler state within this territory or dependent state. And it surely doesn’t mean post 1945 that a group of people (most of them foreign settlers or refugees) have the right to create a state through war and become a majority through expulsion of its indigenous people. That’s colonialism, the antithesis to self-determnination.

      • Nathan on December 14, 2019, 11:27 am

        Talkback – Mahmoud Abbas, indeed, rejects the Partition Plan. I phrased that sentence in the present tense deliberately. The position of the PLO and the position of the Fatah movement (and Mr Abbas heads both organizations) is quite clear: The Partition Plan is illegitimate, period. So, when Mr Abbas wrote his article in the NY Times in Nov 2012, he complained that the Palestinians didn’t get the state that was promised to them in accordance to the Partition Plan (which he absolutely rejects). Obviously, he didn’t mention that he rejects the plan because that would have spoiled his angle of propaganda.

        I wonder why Phil repeats this strange grievance. I would imagine that he, too, rejects the Partition Plan. The Partition Plan calls for the founding of a Jewish state as well, so if Phil feels that the “promise” of a Palestinian state should have been kept, well, it means that he accepts the legitimacy of the Partition Plan (and that includes a Jewish state).

        You should take note of the fact that the Partition Plan does not deal with the issue of indigenous populations or immigrant populations. The Partition Plan calls on the two communities to found their respective states. The Palestinians could have founded their state, and that would have been the fulfillment of their right of self-determination. It is quite silly to cry today that the promise was not kept. Others don’t fulfill your right of SELF-determinaion. The word “self” is used also in other connections (such as “washing oneself”), so it’s clear what self-determination means.

        BTW, the grand mufti did declare the founding of an “all-Palestine state”. However, like many of the Palestinian moves, it was just bla-bla-bla. Hajj Amin didn’t really set up a state. Eventually, the Egyptians canceled the mufti’s do-nothing “government” in Gaza (and the Jordanians annexed the West Bank).

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