Bernie Sanders’s call for reciprocity for Palestinians and Israelis in understanding the others’ narrative actually erases the Palestinian experience of Zionism and imposes a Zionist frame on the history of the conflict, Joseph Levine writes. Sanders’s concern for the “just claims” of Israeli Jews turns the moral and historical facts of the case upside down and show the incompatibility of his democratic Socialism and his Zionism.
Should Zionism be protected from criticism because many Jews take Zionist doctrine to be essential to their own self-conception. No, Joseph Levine says, because it is reasonable in considering the history of the Zionist project to argue that it is unjust, without being written out of the discourse as a bigot.
Zionism was founded on the Romantic nationalist idea that Jews really are a people apart from other peoples and that’s why we deserve a homeland, Joseph Levine writes; and liberal Jews who rejected the idea worried that Zionists would undermine their status in western countries. So dual loyalty was an issue long before US Rep. Rashida Tlaib was accused by Marco Rubio of raising an anti-Semitic “canard.”
When activists learned that the Northampton, MA, police chief had accepted an invitation from the Anti-Defamation League to train with Israeli “counter-terrorism” experts, they mobilized and the chief decided not to go. The ADL is seeking to enforce a highly-politicized mission of supporting Israel on law enforcement agencies that are supposed to be above partisanship. More and more police forces in the Northeast are declining to go.
The world rightly condemns Holocaust denial whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head, and yet denial of the Nakba is still commonplace. Joseph Levine writes, “the Holocaust – as horrible as it was – ended in 1945. The Nakba, in one form or another, continues to this day. This is what the Gazan Great March of Return is all about. We are still here, they are saying, and we will not stand for another day of Nakba denial. Why should they?”
Roger Cohen argues in the New York Times that the right of return is code for pushing Jews into the sea. Joseph Levine issues a challenge to Cohen and other liberal Zionists: “It’s time to stop the scare tactics, stop using loaded language about “destruction” and “throwing into the sea” and face the consequences: either defend liberal democracy consistently or admit that one is willing to sacrifice it for ethnic nationalism.”
Professor of philosophy Joseph Levine takes apart the argument that BDS is anti-Semitic because it establishes a “double standard” for Israel. There are many reasons to single out Israel as a target for boycotts, rather than other oppressive nations. Because Palestinians have issued such a call as part of their struggle. And because of western complicity in the history of colonialism.
Rabbi Susan Silverman describes Israel as a place of refuge in a NYT piece denouncing plans to deport thousands of African refugees. But the piece never mentions Palestinian refugees. “We are the people who expelled over three quarters of a million people in our war of conquest in 1948,” Joseph Levine writes.
Reading JMN Jeffries’s reissued 1940 study of the Balfour Declaration, scholar Joseph Levine concludes that it is true that there are two narratives about the foundation of a Jewish state in Palestine — but only one of them, the Palestinian one, has much connection to reality.
When Bret Stephens, the new super-Zionist columnist at the New York Times, states that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the “ancestral Jewish homeland,” who can take him seriously? Joseph Levine states, “My roots can be traced back to Eastern Europe, and earlier than that is all speculation and conjecture, nothing that can compete with the Palestinians’ actual residence on the land for the past hundreds of years.”