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Snapshot into the foundation of Beinart’s “democratic Israel”

By Yaniv Reich on April 1, 2012

Peter Beinart’s new book, The Crisis of Zionism, tries hard—really, really hard—to distinguish between what he calls “non-democratic Israel”, i.e. the occupation and settlements, and “democratic Israel”, which seems somehow in his and other liberal Zionists’ brains as immune from the theft, murder, and grinding ethnic cleansing of the big-o Occupation.

It’s a charming but silly, ahistorical attitude. The fiction of “democratic Israel”, based on a solid Jewish demographic majority, was artificially constructed via violent as well as legalistic ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Consider this story, as recounted by a Jewish soldier present at the time of the massacres in al-Duwayima, Palestine, 1948:

“I wish to submit to you an eyewitness report given to me by a soldier who was in al-Duwayma on the day following its occupation… The man is one of us [member of the United Workers’ Party (MAPAM)]…

“He opened his heart to me because there are not many hearts these days that are willing to listen. He arrived in al-Duwayma immediately after its occupation. The conquering army was the 89th battalion… They killed some 80–100 Arabs, women and children. The children were killed by smashing their skulls with clubs. There was not a single house without dead. The second wave of the army consisted of the battalion of the soldier who gave this eyewitness report… In the village there remained Arab women and men who were put in houses without food or drink. Then the sappers came to blow up the houses. One officer order a sapper to put the two old women into the house he was about to blow up. The sapper refused, and said that he would obey only such orders as were handed down to him by his immediate commander. So the officer ordered his own soldiers to put the women in, and the atrocity was carried out. Another soldier boasted he had raped an Arab women and then shot her. Another Arab woman with a day-old baby was employed in cleaning jobs in the yard… She worked for one or two days in the service, and then she was shot, together with her baby…

Cultured and well-mannered commanders who are considered good fellows… have turned into low murderers, and this happened not on the storm of the battle and blind passion, but because of a system of expulsion and annihilation. The fewer Arabs that remain the better.”

Quoted by Eyal Kafkafi, ‘A Ghetto Attitude in the Jewish State’, Davar, 6 September 1979, as cited by Uri Davis in Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within.

This is why when Israeli right-wingers flyer Jerusalem with ads saying “All of Israel is a settlement”, they are way more precise and honest than is Beinart about the brutal history of Zionism. The difference between the land-obsessed colonialism, ethnic cleansing and violence of “democratic” and “non-democratic” Israel is merely the pace at which the crime is committed.

This is why the artificial distinction between “democratic” and “nondemocratic” Israel can only exist through a historical amnesia that “liberal Zionists” seem far more willing to make—surprise!—than Palestinians.

November 9, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Two-State Solution or Illusion?

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By Lawrence Davidson | Al-Ayham Saleh | September 21, 2013

Part I – The Two-State Solution

Peter Beinart is a “liberal Zionist” who has written a piece in the New York Review of Books of 26 September 2013 entitled “The American Jewish Cocoon.” In this essay he laments, “The organized Jewish community [is] a closed intellectual space.” By this he means that most American Zionist Jews (it is important to remember that not all Jews are Zionists) know little or nothing about those who oppose them, particularly Palestinians. They also seem to have no interest in changing this situation. For these Zionists the opposition has been reduced to an irredeemably anti-Semitic “them.”

Beinart goes on to tell us that such is the political clout of the organized Zionist community that this know-nothing attitude has come to characterize the “debate about Israel in Washington” and the opinions offered in the mass media as well. While Mr. Beinart does not say so, I can tell you that this has been the basic situation since the early 1920s. Beinart does note, however, that over time this situation has led Palestinians and those who support them to show less willingness to dialogue with Zionists, most of whom they consider irredeemably racist.

Beinart thinks this prevailing ignorance is a disaster. Why so? Because he feels that Jews betray the lessons of their own past by failing to understand the meaning of the “dispersion and dispossession” of the Palestinians. They do not seem to care that this particular people has had its “families torn apart in war – [continue] to struggle to maintain [their] culture, [their] dignity, [their] faith in God in the face of forces over which [they] have no control.” This sort of situation, according to Beinart, is something “the Jews should instinctively understand.”

Be this as it may, achieving such an understanding is, for Beinart, a means to an end. That end is realizing a two-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian struggle. For this to happen the Zionists have to essentially feel the pain of the Palestinians and the Palestinians have to understand their no-win situation so that everyone agrees to a Palestinian mini-state on “22 percent of British mandatory Palestine” along with “compensation and resettlement [for the] people whose original villages and homes have long ceased to exist.”

 Part II – The Two-State Illusion

An important question is whether Mr. Beinart’s two-state solution does not itself represent a goal whose practicality has “long ceased to exist”? That certainly is the opinion of Ian Lustick, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. In the Sunday Review section of the New York Times of 15 September 2013, he published an op-ed piece entitled “Two-State Illusion.”

According to Professor Lustick, the two-state idea has become something of a fraud behind which lies opportunistic political motives. For instance, the Palestinian Authority (PA) keeps this hope alive so that it can “get the economic aid and diplomatic support that subsidizes the lifestyle of its leaders, the jobs of tens of thousands of soldiers, spies, police officers and civil servants.” The Israeli government keeps this hope alive because “it seems to reflect the sentiments of the Jewish Israeli majority and it shields the country from international opprobrium, even as it camouflages relentless efforts to expand Israel’s territory into the West Bank.” Finally, the U.S. government maintains the hope of a two-state solution to “show that it is working toward a diplomatic solution, to keep the pro-Israel lobby from turning against them and to disguise their humiliating inability to allow any daylight between Washington and the Israeli government.”

Lustick believes the two-state solution is an impossible hope that has produced periodic negotiations which have always been “phony” and have prevented new ideas for positive change from being seriously entertained. This long-term stifling has also set the stage for possible “sudden and jagged” events that can send the conflict off in catastrophic directions. Oddly enough Lustick finds this prospect of heightened conflict a necessary one.

He tells us that only when the “neat and palatable” two-state solution disappears – and with it the PA and its policies of collaboration – will we get the “mass mobilization, riots, brutality, terror, Jewish and Arab emigration and rising tides of international condemnation of Israel,” along with the subsequent withdrawal of unconditional U.S. support for the Zionist State. At that point

“Israeli leaders may then begin to see, as South Africa’s white leaders saw in the late 1980s, that their behavior is producing isolation, emigration and hopelessness.” Then, finally, they will become reasonable, and something new and acceptable (a one-state solution?) will be possible.

Lustick’s necessary scenario happens to be Peter Beinart’s nightmare and in the latter’s essay it is called “civil war.” Beinart’s call for greater mutual understanding is designed to prevent this violence. One can assume that, for Professor Lustick, things have gone too far for this understanding to suddenly prevail. “Peacemaking and democratic state building require blood and magic,” he tells us. Delaying the inevitable with false hopes will only make things worse.

By the way, Lustick is not alone in his view that the two-state formula is a dead end. One of Israel’s very best historians, Ilan Pappe, who now is the director of the University of Exeter’s European Centre for Palestinian Studies, believes that this prospect has been dead for over a decade. What killed it, and what keeps it dead, are “Zionist greed for territory and the ideological conviction that much more of Palestine [beyond the 1967 borders] is needed in order to have a viable Jewish State.” It is worth noting that it is just this ideological conviction that renders Peter Beinart’s plea for more understanding of the Palestinian position by American Zionist Jews a nonstarter. Any ideology that can justify incessant ethnic cleansing has to make its adherents incapable feeling their victims’ pain.

Part III – Conclusion

If Beinart’s hope for mutual understanding is naive, Lustick’s hope that more “blood” will lead to the “magic” of a positive outcome is not at all assured.

One might ask just how much disaster is necessary before the hard-line Zionists who have long controlled Israel will compromise their ideological commitment. Keep in mind that the Israeli political elites, right and left, have always been expansionist. Even Peter Beinart is not pushing for a return to the 1967 Green Line and an evacuation of illegal settlements, as far as I can tell. In the past, the Israeli elites have judged their terror and brutality to be justified. They will do so in the future as well. Some of them will interpret any increase in Jewish emigration (a process already ongoing) as a weeding out of weak elements. Militarily the Israelis can probably maintain superiority over their neighbors even in the face of reduced American aid, and as far as world opinion is concerned, most of them care little about it. If this assessment has any validity, the Israelis could go on ethnically cleansing for a very long time.

In my view, the only viable weapon against such vicious stubbornness is a worldwide comprehensive economic boycott on the South Africa model. However, even this may not be the last page in the drama. Such an economic boycott may prove strong enough to undermine the will of some Israeli ideologues, but not all of them. And then, unlike South Africa, you may need an intra-Israeli Jewish civil war to finally bring the curtain down on the tragedy of Zionism.

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel, The Day After

By Gilad Atzmon – September 12, 2012

Last week, an interesting article by Daniel Gordis appeared on Tablemag.com. Gordis, a committed Zionist intellectual, is concerned about the inevitable collapse of the Jewish state and its impact on world Jewry in general and American Jews in particular.

Although it’s reassuring that Zionist scholars are now realising that that the Jewish State is on its way out, even more importantly, Gordis’ article gives us a glimpse into contemporary Jewish identity politics, Jewish culture and Zionist collective psychosis. And interestingly, Gordis reaffirms each and every critical argument I myself raise in my latest book The Wandering Who.

Gordis is tormented by polls that suggest that the centrality of Israel within Jewish American life is declining. Apparently, a recent survey suggests that 50 percent of young Jewish Americans (35 years old and younger) would not see the destruction of Israel as a ‘personal tragedy’.

In his attempt to explain such a dramatic change in Jewish Diaspora Jewish attitude, Gordis refers to Peter Beinart’s take on the subject: that young American Jews feel safe, and unlike their parents, do not fear anti-Semitism. Beinart is correct. Western Jews are no longer anxious. On the contrary, contemporary Jewish political arrogance knows no limits. AIPAC and similar Western Jewish lobbies have been openly pushing for interventionist wars for more than a decade and some influential Jews have been open in exploring different forms and aspects of Judeocentric domination of the media, banking, culture and politics. In fact it seems that many Jews are not troubled at all by a possible rise of anti Semitism and are unconcerned with any possible consequences of their own actions.

To a certain extent this sense of Jewish omnipotence may be seen as a direct continuum of Israeli strength; when young American Jews witness their American elected politicians dancing shamelessly to AIPAC’s Klezmatic noise, naturally they are filled with a sense of invincible might and it is this that is the essence of contemporary Jewish collective power – a power that can only be realised in connection with Israeli strength.

Pre Traumatic Stress Again

Gordis is there to shake Jewish Diaspora confidence by reintroducing the old tribal collective fear. He writes: “Theodor Herzl did what he did and wrote what he wrote because Jewish life in the Diaspora had become, to use Hobbes’ phrase, ‘poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’” According to Gordis, contemporary Jews are too self-possessed and feel far too safe. “What happened back then, they assert, could not happen today.”  But Gordis believes they are deluded. “American Jews’ confidence resembles that of the Jews of Cordoba—who were forcibly converted, burned alive at the stake, and summarily expelled in the Spanish Inquisition.” Similarly, he asserts that, “the Jews of Berlin in 1930 also believed they had found the ultimate enlightened home, that the dark days of Europe would never return. And in the space of but a few years, German Jewry was erased.”  Here, Gordis conveys a clear message – in the light of a new potential Shoa “American Jewish life as it now exists would not survive the loss of Israel.”

In The Wandering Who I explore the impact of Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre-TSD) and I refer in particular to that uniquely Jewish collective tendency to be culturally, spiritually and politically shaped by some phantasmic, imaginary, future, disastrous event. Jewish politics is always formed by future trauma. Accordingly, Gordis message to his fellow Jews is clear. It isn’t the Shoa of the past that should unite us, it is actually, the Shoa ahead that should reawaken our Zionist bond.

Gordis message to American Jews is clear. A strong Israel together with AIPAC’s control of American foreign policy is good for the Jews and any alternative is a recipe for disaster. “When some 400 mostly Orthodox rabbis marched on Washington in the October 1943, President Roosevelt simply refused to meet them and departed the White House via a rear door. There were no mass protests, no caravans of buses to Washington to demand help for their European kin.”  Nowadays, the situation has changed dramatically. The presidency of the USA is a democratically elected position reserved for that candidate who has bought the trust of the Jewish Lobby.

“Jews today no longer think of themselves as a tiptoeing people,” says Gordis. And why should they? Thanks to Israel and its powerful lobby, they regard themselves as the most influential and powerful ethnic group on the planet. In America, AIPAC dominates  foreign policy, in Britain 80% of leading party MPs are members of the powerful CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) and in France CRIF runs the show. Take it from Gordis a Zionist official mouthpiece; “Israel has changed the existential condition of Jews everywhere, even in America. Without the State of Israel, the self-confidence and sense of belonging that American Jews now take for granted would quickly disappear.” In short, Jews can run the show – but only as long as Israel is unbeatable.

And he’s not wrong. Like so many Zionists, Gordis is both honest and consistent – a quality I rarely find within the Jewish anti-Zionist discourse. Gordis openly admits that we are dealing here with a clear paradox. The sense of belonging and security that leads many American Jews to believe that they do not need the state of Israel is itself a product of that very same state of Israel. That lethal arrogance that led Zionists such as Bernard Henri Levi, or Jewish Chronicle writer David Aaronovitch to advocate interventionist global wars should be seen as the outcome of a strong Jewish State – a state that quite literally gets away with murder.

Symbolic Identifier

In The Wandering Who I suggest that Israel operates as a key Jewish symbolic identifier so that Jews construct their identity in reference to their Jewish state. This is not only true for Zionist Jews but is also the case for those so-called ‘anti Zionist Jews’ whose identity is inherently tied to their opposition to Zionism and Israel.  The disappearance of Israel would leave their political identity stark naked.

Gordis detects a similar pattern amongst American liberal Jews. “Though many American Jews, especially the younger among them, now believe the loss of Israel would not be tragic, Israel continues to energize them in ways that no other issue does.” Gordis continues “Israel is not just a homeland to Israelis. It is also a ‘state unto the Diaspora’; the state that, even from afar, secures the life and instils the passions of Jews all over the world.” This is true not only for Zionists, but also to those very few Jewish anti-Zionists who, by means of negation, ‘passionately’ cling to Israel.

Apocalypse Soon

Gordis seems to realise that, for Israel, the game is over, but he realises that this may also entail a collapse of Jewish power. “The loss of Israel would fundamentally alter American Jewry. It would arrest the revival of Jewish life now unfolding in parts of Europe. And Israeli Jewry would be no more. The end of Israel would, in short, end the Jewish people as we know it.”

The current ‘Jewish golden epoch’ is coming to its inevitable end. Yet, the question that remains is whether our Zionist and Israeli leaders would let our planet survive the collapse of their latest Jewish empire?  Following Netanyahu, Barak and AIPAC’s relentless push for Armageddon, and bearing in mind that collective suicidal narratives such as Samson and Masada are so precious within the Zionist and Israeli discourses, we should stay on high alert.  Sadly, turning our planet into dust is fully consistent with the Israeli and Zionist mission.

It is down to world leaders to dismantle Israel and its powerful Jewish lobbies wisely and carefully, accepting all the time that we are dealing with a very lethal entity. But it’s also down to each one of us to be fully attentive to Gordis’s exchange with his fellow Diaspora Jews. It’s down to us to oppose any form or symptom of Jewish power: Zionist, ‘anti’ Zionist and Sabbath Goyim alike. It is down to us to save ourselves and our universe, but also to save the Jews who are, unfortunately,  once again, about to bring yet another disaster on themselves and on us all.

September 12, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments