I confess I found these extracts from Bernie a breath of fresh air in the hypoxic fug of presidential contender rhetoric. Yes, he didn’t/can’t say “apartheid” or “Bantustan,” but I got the impression that he’s being honest. That could mean he simply hasn’t progressed yet to associating Israel with apartheid but would do so when it’s put under his nose, perhaps by unfolding events (e.g., collapse of the PA and an ensuing Palestinian anti-apartheid campaign).
Would he? That is, if the Palestinians launch an anti-apartheid one-state struggle and Bernie must decide what to do, will he accept that Jewish statehood, as a political project, is rotten to the core and Mandate Palestine must be reunified somehow? Or will he pull up short to protect his Zionism and redeploy the frayed fantastical hope that Israel can go back to being a virtuous state if it can just rid itself of this pestilential occupation?
That’s the Liberal Zionist trap, isn’t it? Sticking to the fraudulent notion that the Palestinians will ever have their a sovereign state plays right into the present annexation strategy. And Bernie comes off to me as a deep Liberal Zionist. That’s a very fragile position, because while it seems to its adherents as even-handed and principled, it relies on selective blindness because the full truth about Israel’s racism crushes Liberal Zionism like a tinsel hat.
All intelligent and politically literate LZs, at least those who know the Palestinian problem as well as Bernie does, must be resorting to willful blindness or they wouldn’t be LZs. They do brood and lament, clinging to the idea that Judaism’s higher moral principles and Israel can fit somehow. This self-torment itself is a LZ trait. Some LZs almost seem to take their own moral pain as an adequate substitute (absolution?) for seriously tackling Zionism’s impossible moral contradictions. I feel bad and so am absolved.
Re Bernie, whom I admire in many ways, I’m further tilted toward pessimism by reading his reference to “Netanyahu’s policies.” Anyone who thinks Israel’s occupation policy and its brutality are “Netanyahu’s policies” hasn’t been paying attention, although that’s a classic LZ myth. It should be obvious to the quickest perusal of Israel’s history that it has done ALL these awful things from the start, its policies toward Palestinians and their land (in the OPT and in Israel) represent a multi-decadal strategy and features like the settlement policy won’t change a whit whether Bibi stays or goes. Not encouraging to see Bernie in this double-think.
The downside of detesting Netanyahu is indeed the illusion that he’s the problem. This leads LZs into one of two equally damaging positions when Netanyahu finally loses an election (or is arrested or whatever). If the new PM is a silver-tongued-avuncular racist like Peres or a gravitas-emitting racist like Rabin, the great majority of LZs will likely happily reenter the hall of mirrors that represents Israel as a virtuous and well-meaning state facing perplexing circumstances. If the new PM is a brash-ethnic-cleanser racist like Avigdor Lieberman, they’ll doubtless be dismayed at the “direction” Israel is taking but, in thinking it’s a direction (i.e., Israel is changing for the worse), still not grasp that Israel itself hasn’t changed at all. They don’t realize the Shimons, Bibis and Avis as different masks on the same actor commanding the same stage, shouting the same lines in velvety or harsh tones. Some will cling to the idea that Israel can be restored to its former goodness; others will withdraw in disgust from an Israel they “no longer can support”. Either position leaves the Palestinians screwed.