The slogan "to free Palestine from the river to the sea" means the undoing of the State of Israel. It's really very obvious. And, yet, in an anti-Israel website there seems to be an inability of just saying what is the clear agenda of anti-Israel activism. Jonathan Ofir brings to our attention a letter of Ben-Gurion from 1937, and he quotes the Likud party platform from 1999 - instead of just stating his position (that he believes there shouldn't be the State of Israel).
Jonathan then brings us a quote from Miko Peled in which he claims that "it has become basic strategy to always cry 'anti-Semitism' when the Zionist narrative is challenged". Ironically, this quote is followed by a quote from Maha Nasser in which we hear about "Islamophobic assumptions about who the Palestinians are and what they want". Actually, it's really funny: To raise a grievance of antisemitism is quite silly, but to raise a grievance of Islamophobia is absolutely normal.
Jonathan Ofir would have us believe that the discussion at hand is all about Zionism ("the elephant in the room"). Well, no, it's not so. The issue is ending the conflict. There is a call for a single state from the river to the sea, but there is never any promise that the realization of this demand means that the conflict would be over. It wouldn't, of course, and we all know it. You would think that (even from a tactical point of view) an anti-Israel activist would like to convince the supporters of Israel to give up on the Jewish state by promising them that a "free Palestine from the river to the sea" would bring about harmony and good will and an end of the animosity. Read again the quote from Maha Nasser: The notion that a "free Palestine" would mean the "mass annihilation of Jewish Israelis" is supposedly a type of racism - and yet he doesn't actually deny it either.
Jonathan Cook tells us that the Palestinians "are now caught between a rock and a hard place". In other words, both the possibility of Israel's going to war against Gaza and the possibility that Israel would prefer having a cease-fire with Hamas are equally bad news for the Palestinians. I would have thought that reasonable and concerned viewers of the conflict would be pleased that there is an agreement for a cease-fire, but apparently the anti-Israel world has a logic of its own. It seems obvious that it is impossible to express any satisfaction with Israel, so it has to be a "you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't" presentation of the events.
I think that it would have been alright if Jonathan Cook had stated that he is relieved that a cease-fire was achieved. He can be pleased that war was avoided and still be firmly anti-Israel. No one would have thought that he has suddenly recognized the legitimacy of the state in which he has asked for and received citizenship. It would also be just fine if someone would suggest to the Palestinians to end the weekly demonstrations by the border fence. You can criticize the Palestinians for their self-defeating and pointless ideas, while (at the same time) you can still consider yourself to be anti-Israel.
Anyway, since I'm not a member of the anti-Israel cult, I'm allowed to use the normal logic of concerned (and sane) people, so here it is: It's good news that a cease-fire was agreed upon, and the weekly demonstrations at the border fence are self-defeating and pointless.
Jonathan Cook tells us that it has been leaked that the US "may propose a separate entity in Gaza". Let's assume that this information is correct. Well, that's the reality in front of our eyes. Gaza is a separate political entity (i.e. it is a state) with its own government, its own armed forces, its own legal system and its own foreign policy. Statehood is quite an impressive achievement, and the Gazans deserve a warm "mabruk" from us all.
So, if Lara al-Qasem is detained (and not allowed to enter Israel), it is about "draconian Israeli laws which constitute thought-police". I assume that this is very, very bad. However, on the other hand, if she wins her case in the High Court (and apparently there isn't a draconian law system or a thought police), then there is a vindication of "liberal Zionism" and a delegitimizing of BDS. I assume that this, too, is very, very bad.
Here, then, is the summary. It's bad if she doesn't enter Israel, and it's bad if she does. So, what is the recommendation of Jonathan Ofir? Does he want us to be in favor of her being detained, or should we support her fight in the High Court? Perhaps, it is the anti-Israel argument that is "draconian". There doesn't seem to be any hint as to what would win Jonathan's approval.
Anyway, I think that it's absolutely fascinating that Lara al-Qasem won her case in the High Court. It's quite a special story. I can't imagine that a foreign citizen who was denied entry into any state in the world (except "draconian" Israel, of course) would be able to fight that state in its supreme court. Moreover, it's hard to imagine that a foreigner would be able to reach the highest court in the land in just eleven days (and win against that state). I guess we'll have to concede that Israel has the nicest draconian legal system in the world.
annie - On the one hand you are wondering why the Jews didn't return during the course of 2000 years, and on the other hand you're not "that interested" in the Middle Ages. It's almost as if you are wondering why objects tend to fall to the ground, but you're not "that interested" in hearing about gravity.
In these ideological debates, there is a phenomenon of "shooting the arrow" and then "drawing the target" afterwards - and quite amazingly, it's always a "bull's eye". In other words, you are first anti-Israel ("shooting the arrow"), and then afterwards you find the explanation that supposedly justifies the anti-Israel perspective ("drawing the target"). You oppose the Jewish claim that they are a people whose roots are in Palestine, and then afterwards you "wonder" why the Jews didn't return during 2000 years. Well, you're not really wondering about the reality of Jewish history; rather, you just wanted to say that you're against Israel.
You tell me that the Holocaust is "behind us". Why did the issue of the Holocaust come to mind at all? Well, allow me to guess. You understand that for many people in this world, the Holocaust is the justification for the birth of Israel. Just as the issue of "yearning for 2000 years" has to be put away as irrelevant, so too the impact of the Holocaust has to be put away as irrelevant (it's "behind us"). I don't think that any serious observer of Jewish history would claim that the Holocaust is behind us. It is the most important event in the history of the Jewish people, and it will be on the agenda of the Jews for centuries. The only reason that you claim that it's behind us is that you felt the need to draw the target around your arrow.
annie - The phenomenon of returning to Jerusalem could not have occurred before the advent of modernity. The modern world has provided the tools of organization and communication. Moreover, the phenomenon of secularism in the Jewish world is very late (19th century). So, indeed, the yearning to return to Jerusalem is at the very center of the Jewish civilization. The Jews always saw themselves as an exiled nation that will ultimately be redeemed to their ancient land. However, your expectation that this should have happened at some point in late antiquity or during the Middle Ages is really quite silly. You are projecting your modern world onto people of the Middle Ages. Individuals and small groups of Jews, indeed, returned to Jerusalem throughout the ages, but a political movement that sets goals and organizes their realization is a recent phenomenon. Obviously, in traditional life, people are passive, and they have faith in divine control of history. In modern times, the there is a secular Jewish public which wishes to determine its own destiny through its own actions.
The rise of Israel, therefore, is an expression of the ancient Jewish aspiration to return to Jerusalem. It's obvious. Why would one dedicate one's life to building a Hebrew society in the face of such hostility and dangers? People wish to fulfill their dreams, and the modern world enabled it to happen.
You noted that one half of the Jews haven't moved to Israel. I remember as a child going to Hebrew school that the teacher would belittle Israel, telling us that "there are more Jews here in NYC than there are in the entire Land of Israel" (and it was true). Today, as in your comment, that has to be corrected to "one half". In other words, the trend in the Jewish world is clear. In our old age, we might be hearing a further correction to your demographics: "Why is it that a third of the Jews don't want to live in Israel..."
Steven Shenfield - The Reform Movement didn't "cave into Zionism" nor did Reform Jews "betrayed their own principles by accepting Jewish peoplehood". The movement came into existence in the 19th century, and meanwhile in the 20th century some very dramatic events touched the lives of all Jews. Already in 1937, the Reform Movement in its Columbus Convention expressed its support and sympathy for the settlement of Jews in Palestine. Obviously, this change in ideology is a reaction to the evil Nazi regime. You might call this "caving in" because of your anti-Israel perspective - but you have to see the world in the eyes of the Reform Jews. The phenomenon of Nazism was unthinkable in 1885, but it was a fact of life in the 1930's. How could the movement pretend that assimilation and integration are still relevant? The change of course was a natural reaction to the changing realities of the Jewish experience.
Another dramatic event that is impossible to brush aside is the revival of the Hebrew language and the rise of an independent Jewish state. It's rather difficult to maintain a position that the Jews are no longer a people when, in front of your eyes, the Jews are obviously a people. You call it "betraying principles", but again you are viewing things only through your anti-Israel perspective. From the perspective of Reform Movement educators, it's rather obvious that Jews speaking the ancient language of Israel and living in the ancient land of Israel are not just a "religious community". They're a people, and obviously the Reform Movement understands that they are "our people".
You should try and see things in the eyes of others. The story of modern Israel is a gigantic drama, and it is certainly the biggest success story of Jewish history. The Reform Movement has decided that it must be part of it.
“We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore expect neither a return to Palestine... nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state”
CitizenC - This above quote from the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform of the American Reform Movement is by no means a rejection of Jewish peoplehood. Quite the contrary - it is an affirmation of Jewish peoplehood and the collective aspirations of the Jews. When someone declares that "we consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community", that someone is admitting that until now (1885) the Jews considered themselves to be a nation, not merely a religious community. Moreover, there is even an affirmation that the Jews until now (1885) were concerned with the restoration of the Jewish state - a decade before the appearance of Herzl's book, "Der Judenstaat". The rabbis in Pittsburgh decided that they no longer consider themselves a nation, but in so doing they are admitting that other Jews do consider themselves a nation. And, since the 1999 Pittsburgh Platform, even the Reform Movement defines the Jews as a people and encourages immigration to Israel.