Appreciate this article? +972 depends on your support -- click here to help us keep going

Analysis News

At J-Street, new terms describe Israeli reality

There was something slightly frustrating about the J Street conference. At times, participants seemed to be discussing the same old problems, wondering why the same old solutions haven’t worked, while talking about them in the same old terms.

Meanwhile, the Middle East is undergoing enormous changes with every new minute. Old policies have become slogans, drained of meaning by failure. We need an arsenal of new ideas; empty rhetoric is a liability that must be exposed. You can’t take aim at the future with a cartridge full of blanks.

Take one example: “the peace process.” At the conference, the columnist Roger Cohen said: “When I hear that word ‘process,’ I just die somewhere inside.” He’s right. The two-state solution is still alive and urgent, but the negotiations are dead (they have not “stalled” as the media likes to say). As a result, “peace process” now equals “status quo,” and this needs to be said until it’s clear to all. There are many other examples.

When old Middle East terminology is increasingly removed from reality, when it distracts or deceives the audience, that’s called doublespeak. The J Street conference was at its best when new terms and ideas arose, or when speakers exposed the vacuity of the old ones.

Below are a few suggestions, beginning with big concepts and moving to specific policies – some are mine, some were inspired by the conference. I’d love for readers to add more.

Concepts:

1. Today, support for current Israeli government policies is mistakenly described as “pro-Israel.” Such support is hereby renamed “Pro-occupation,” the only accurate, factual description. Whatever the Netanyahu government says about wanting peace and accepting a Palestinian state is doublespeak – all it has done is entrench the occupation.

2. The new meaning of the term “pro-Israel” is: active support for a mutually acceptable resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (I personally prefer the two-state solution), and the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders – not to mention strengthening democracy and full equality of all citizens inside of Israel. People who support those developments are “Pro-Israel.” Do not confuse the new “pro-Israel” with the old, dead meaning of “pro-Israel” (see #1). Anyone not actively working for such a resolution is against Israel, because the conflict is killing us.

At the conference, Daniel Levy of New America expressed quite beautifully why believing in and striving for a peaceful resolution among two equal partners is the positive, life-affirming approach to Israel: “We are the real community of people who believe in Israel’s existence in the Middle East.” The other community believes that Israel’s critics hate Israel’s existence, not just its policies (“they hate us not for what we do, but for who we are”). That community must naturally conclude that “Israel ain’t a very good idea,” he said, because it can never live in peace in the Middle East. This narrative is used “year after year” to justify the occupation. Since this narrative involves either annihilation by permanent enemies, or the occupation of those enemies which destroys Israeli society from within, there’s a good word for people who think that way: Nihilists.

After all, if the entire world is made up of bloodthirsty anti-Israel fanatics, the only logical conclusion is that of Philip Roth’s bizarre impostor in Operation Shylock: Diasporism.We may as well pack up and go home – thanks but no thanks.

3. On J Street, some confused people seem to believe that J Street carries out “Delegitimization.” I have a new name for them: “Right-wing nut-jobs,” or just shamefully, embarrassingly ignorant. (I’ve also heard the following lately: BEI – Brilliant except [when it comes to] Israel.)

Those people don’t have to remain out in the cold: they are invited to return to planet earth, by listening to what J Street actually says. Here is founder Jeremy Ben Ami’s opening speech of the conference:

We re-affirm our commitment to and support for the people and the state of Israel. We believe that the Jewish people, like all other people in the world, have the right to a home of their own and we celebrate its rebirth …We marvel at Israel’s accomplishments …We value and share the democratic principles on which Israel was founded…We  understand that Israel does have real enemies and we defend its right to live in security and peace … We are passionately, unapologetically pro-Israel.”

4. Finally, let’s update Zionism. The term “Jewish and democratic state” served us well in the last century, but now nobody knows what it means. In 2011, I’d like to propose that Zionism means a democratic home for the Jewish people and all other citizens, such as the native-born 20% Palestinian minority.

People can be Jewish, not the state, if they want, any way they want. Want to talk about anti-Zionism? Imposing religion on citizens is anti-democratic and that’s anti-Zionist. Infecting politics with religion corrupts Judaism and is therefore anti-Zionist. Religious parties, exclusive religious authority over personal status law, legislation against those who are not of the right religion – these are anti-Zionist concepts. By the way, this true anti-Zionism is also usually chauvinist, racist, xenophobic and ethnocentric.

Now  here are some here-and-now policy terms:

5. Rejectionist ideological settlers. Author Bernard Avishai proposes calling them: “The Judeans.” I find this appropriate. “Settlers” makes them sound neutral. “Judeans” doesn’t take settlers out of the fold – they are still part of the Jewish people. But the term recalls the ancient time when the Jewish people were rent asunder, torn into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah, leading to destruction and exile. Let the Judeans prevent such destruction, by coming home to Israel.

6. The “one-state solution,” should be renamed. On this point, sharp-tongued Lara Friedman, Director of Policy and Government Relations for Americans for Peace Now, was characteristically incisive:

“One state is not a solution, it’s an outcome. Neither side aspires to share a state. I defy you to tell me how one state actually works.” After thunderous applause, members of the audience observed that the one-state outcome will probably resemble an apartheid state.

7. “Israeli-Palestinian peace” should be used synonymously with “American security interests.” The occupation is synonymous with “American security liability.” That was the overwhelming agreement of a panel with Brian Katulis, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson and Lara Friedman.

8. Supporters of a two state-solution/the creation of a Palestinian state are not necessarily left (although they may also be that). Once and for all: Supporters of a Palestinian and an Israeli state are pragmatic.

9. The basic parameters of a two-state solution: Consensus. Call it Clinton, call it Geneva; call it Taba, Saudi or Olmert, conference speakers (including Dennis Ross) reminded audiences time and again that we all know the basic outlines of the plan. Israelis, Palestinians, American Jews and all the leaders know the basic plan. We don’t have to love it – we have to get on with it.

10. Status quo. Daniel Levy nails this one with the truest possible term: “suicidal comfort zone.

11. Iran. It’s time to remember that Israel’s big “existential threat” doubles as “an existential excuse” not to make life-saving advances in Israel’s foreign policy. Kadima MK Orit Zuaretz should know – she sits on Israel’s Security and Foreign Affairs Committee. She said: “They always run to the Iranian threat and it gives them legitimization not to deal with other issues.” My own survey from November 2010 shows that no less than a 69% majority of Jewish Israelis agree that “a deal with the Palestinians will improve Israel’s relations with other countries, which will help the world unite against Iran.” Iran = a reason to make peace, not an excuse to avoid it.

Old language perpetuates myths and blinds us to new realities. More accurate language can help expose myths. And developing new terminology or meanings can help drive new ideas – which are desperately needed.

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • COMMENTS

    1. Ben Israel

      Dahlia-
      You really floored me with this one, I had viewed you as one of the more level-headed and realistic of the 972′ers, but in this one, you fall back on all the tired attiudes of the Left.
      You yourself have pointed out that the Left is a minority in Israel. Thus, how can you say the only person who is “pro-Israel” is one who agrees with the Far Left? Israel is a democracy, the government in power rules with the consent of the majority. Up until now ALL GOVERNMENTS of Israel, including those led by the so-called “Left” have supported the settlements and helped them grow at least to some extent. The people of Israel determine what Israel’s basic values are and to support them is what it means to be “pro-Israel”. The fact is that the majority of Israelis have positive feelings towards the settlements and the settlers, even if they are willing to give up some of them for a peace agreement. The rage we see here at 972 and at other Left/Progressive blogs and commentators only represent something like 20-25% of the population. This minority has every right to try to persuade the rest of its position, but it has NO right to arrogate to itself the national identity and values. Thus Bernard Avishai’s dismissing of those who don’t agree with him as “Judeans” is another way of saying that they are not “real Israelis” (actually Rabin was the first to say this). I live in Israel, I support political positions the Left doesn’t like, no one has the right to take away my identity because of my political beliefs.
      The important thing to remember is that we ALL want what is best for Israel (I do not include “one-staters” in this category-no one has a right to take away from the Jewish people the state we have worked so hard to create and preserve). You have to understand that includes the ‘pro-settlement right-wingers’. We honestly believe that the ONLY way to peace is by Israeli preserving and building the settlements because only when Israel stands firm on this matter will the Arabs come to realize that we are serious and are not going to give into their desire to get rid of us. Once that happens, a fair settlement can be reached where everyone’s interests are preserved and Jews will have a continued right to live anywhere in their historic homeland.
      Unfortunately, Israeli political dialogue over the decades has not been based on a mutual respect for each other’s views, and this goes back long before the settlements were ever an issue. The Israeli Leftist Establishment always took a position of delegitimizing the political opposition and dismissing their views with claims that they are “ignorant”, “primitive”, “fascist” or whatever. Rabin’s ” my opponents are not ‘real Israelis’ is a good example of that. The time has come to have a more mature dialogue over the issues that divide us Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Rann B

      A Jewish democratic one-state solution would indeed be an Apartheid state. However, those of us calling for a one state solution generally believe that any ‘Jewish’ state is an apartheid state, since it privileges Jews over others. A single democratic state could not and would not be a Jewish state. It would, however, guarantee the security and equality of all its citizens, including Jews and others.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Carl

      I likely agree with a lot of the points, but I think the aims are muddled between a linguistic project and a marketing campaign.

      Agreed the term pro-Israeli is vacuous. I don’t know how you can be in agreement with a sovereign entity or a bit of earth. Am I pro-British? Well I like a lot about the country, and identify with (parts of) the North of England & Scotland. The South feels like another country, Wales is somewhere on the left side, and I couldn’t feel more dislocated from the government if they shot me. As for Northern Ireland, dear God.

      Ignoring the non-ethno religious Jewish population of Israel, the country is still split in so many ways and tearing strips off each other seems to be a national pastime. Same as many other countries mind. That said, if you want to rebrand the term pro-Israel, don’t: use another term. Pro-Israel means right wing, pro-settlement, et al, and you’ve as much chance of changing that as you have of rebranding the falafel as ‘potato.’

      Redefining Zionism? I’ll leave that to those who care, but they have my deepest sympathies for the task ahead.

      One state solution as inevitable apartheid. I don’t see the logic on that: possible but not inevitable. You can certainly argue that the current situation shares characteristics with SA apartheid, but as to whether that’s technically the same is the most pointless and boring argument I ever did see. More salient is what came after in SA, though I don’t recommend the horrific murder rate. Basically, states are artificial creations. They’re messy, arbitrary, contradictory and often angry. Ours was founded by the sea. Thanks sea.

      Overall, I think there’s a lot to be said by challenging plain wrong terms, eg. ‘peace process.’ But a linguistic cum marketing campaign will do the job no better than changing ‘history’ to ‘herstory’ has aided gender equality.

      Ben, I’m not ignoring your points, I’m just not going to disagree with you today as I agreed with you earlier and I’m just not going to spoil it. No I’m not.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben Israel

      Rann-
      So therefore you consider almost all the Arab/Muslims states of the Middle East including the Palestinian Authority to be apartheid states since they favor the Muslims over non-Muslims? I bet you don’t think so, since the “apartheid” epithet is only used for Israel by the Progressives/Left.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Rann B

      The PA offered Jews (eg in Hebron) full citizenship of any future Palestinian state, so no, I don’t consider the PA an Apartheid anything.

      I am all for separation of church and state, so am not a big fan of Islam (or any other religion) as a state religion.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Friends, a spirited debate indeed. IN brief:
      Ben Israel: 1. I fail to see what is “far left” about wanting a genuine mutually-acceptable resolution to the conflict – unless by far left you mean actually pursuing it, not just talking about it. 2. I think “standing firm on settlements” accurately describes our policy for the last 43 years – rather an understatement, actually. don’t you think we’ve proved the point? 3. no one suffers from “delegitimization” more than the left. But you won’t find the words “primitive” or “fascist” on my post and I accept all points of view, but challenge them. I say “ignorant” specifically in reference to delegitimization of J Street.

      Carl, your points are definitely constructive and to the point. I agree that it is strange to think of ourselves Pro-any-country. But the term ‘pro israel’ has indeed become part of common use and it carries damaging, deceitful connotations that must be challenged.

      I certainly take your point about the impossibility of re-branding that term. Can you suggest a better one? If it’s good, i promise to start using it.

      I did not write “inevitable” apartheid – rather, that certain audience members felt it would “probably resemble an apartheid state.” I chose these words carefully. HOwever, i do think it’s the most likely outcome of a one-state reality – there will be a majority of Palestinians living under Jewish-led government that has for 63 years excluded Arab parties from leadership or any input in the national character. Minority ruling majority is apartheid and i don’t wish it upon us.

      Thanks for your critical read.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ben Israel

      Dahlia-
      Forgive me, I did not mean to imply that you yourself use the loaded terms like “fascist”, but they are still common enough among Far Left commentators and bloggers.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Marc

      Dahlia,
      Right on. I agree wholeheartedly and am sorry I did not get to attend the conference.
      Marc (AKA FLY)

      Reply to Comment
    9. FLY! Wish you’d been there too. it was like a camp reunion.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Rann B

      No one addressed my points above. I’d really appreciate a response, as this debate is fascinating and cuts to the heart of the difference between the Zionist left and the non/anti-Zionist left.

      Reply to Comment
    11. David Meyer

      Dahlia, truer words never spoken!

      I’ve been incredibly frustrated that the conversation about the conference has focused on whether J Street supporters and students value Israel or human rights more. That’s bullshit. We wouldn’t show up if they didn’t value Israel. Certain pro-peace statements get more applause because our participation in J Street is a reaction to the fact that the pro-occupation community only ever tells half the story. I reserve the right to be overly ecstatic when the other half is brought to the forefront and still call myself a pro-Israel Zionist (and take ownership over those terms). Thanks for saying all this.

      Reply to Comment
    12. David – many thanks. Much appreciated.

      Rann – sorry, it’s hard to keep up with everyone. I don’t believe any Jewish state is an apartheid state. Apartheid refers to the rule of the minority over the majority. If there is a Jewish majority, it’s basically majority rule – though in a good liberal democracy, there should be clear checks on majority power and full protections for minorities. That’s what’s missing in Israel today, which makes it not apartheid, but a flawed, perhaps at-risk democracy – as well as endemically unequal.
      A “single, democratic state would not be a Jewish state” – not necessarily true, given the current political realities. I’m all for protecting the security and freedom of all citizens; I just don’t believe at all that either side is ready to give up its ethno-national character. That’s why one state is really not workable in my view.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Brown brownie

      Dahlia:

      There is one open ended issue in your definitions, which I find very important and which was bothering me always.

      You suggest that Zionism should be defined as supporting a “democratic home for the Jewish people and all other citizens”. This sounds mostly OK to me, but it leaves undefined (unless I misunderstand you) the connection between this state and the international Jewry. More specifically, what does it mean in regards to The Law of Return?

      To be clear – I, personally, think that the ‘right’ answer to my question is that there should be no special connection between the state and non-citizen Jews. I also think that The Law of Return should be dramatically reduced to only guaranteeing asylum and a slow process of naturalization to Jews who are persecuted and discriminated against in other countries on an antisemitic basis. All other immigration should be handled according to a well-defined, legislated, process that does not discriminate between Jews and non-Jews.

      But do you think? What did you have in mind?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Rann B

      Dahlia: Apartheid does not refer to the rule of the minority of the majority. It refers to (literally) separation. In Israel, most towns are Jewish-only or Arab-only (with the exception of the three big cities, plus other small communities). Jews almost never live in Palestinian communities. This is chiefly due to a fear of Arabs; concerns about ‘dilution’ (hitbolelut in Hebrew) of the Jewish race, which translates into ‘I don’t want my daughter dating an Arab’ (try substituting ‘black man’ there and see what you get); and so on. Arabs do not live in Jewish communities, often because they aren’t wanted there (read recent surveys showing around 65% of Israeli Jews do not want to live next to an Arab–Israeli Institute for Democracy). To some extent, you could call this self-segregation, except for the fact that it is actively encouraged by Israeli gov’t policy–Arab local councils receive far less money for education, infrastructure and so on than Jewish ones, and it is much harder for Israeli Palestinians to get building permits than it is for Israeli Jews. I could carry on and give many more examples.

      In practice, Israeli gov’t policy amounts to the preservation of the Jewish race not just by the creation of secure state around them, but also by ensuring racial purity, chiefly by policy rather than by law. As far as law goes, the existence of the Law of Return actively discriminates against non-Jews, as does the Family Reunification Law and so on.

      Notice that I haven’t even mentioned the West Bank here. There, Apartheid is extremely clear and the policy of separation is enshrined in the differing legal systems that apply to settlers and Palestinians. One could argue that this is occupied land, that West Bank Palestinians aren’t Israeli citizens, and that therefore Israeli civilian law does not apply to them. However, it is equally true under international law that every Israeli settlement, including East Jerusalem, is completely illegal. Either way, Apartheid.

      I agree with you that neither side is currently willing to give up its ethnocentric identity. What I argue is that given the settler presence in the West Bank and the infrastructure built there, Israel has de facto reached a point where a contiguous, economically viable independent Palestinian state has become impossible. It’s clear to me that that has been Israeli gov’t policy at least since the mid-70′s–’facts on the ground’ and all that jazz. I therefore reach the conclusion that a two state solution, as desirable as it might be for both peoples, is just not a realistic option.

      I do not, therefore, argue against a two state solution from a ideological point of view, but rather from a purely practical one. What I see happening on the ground is a continuation of the same policies that Israeli gov’ts have followed for close to 30 years: systematic discrimination against Palestinian citizens within the 67 borders, and an expansionist colonialist policy outside the Green Line. Israel has shown no signs of being willing to stop or even reduce the rate of settlement expansion, and thus continues to sow the seeds of the destruction of its own Jewish nature by making it harder and harder for a viable Palestinian state to exist. I think the breaking point has already been passed. This, admittedly, is an arguable point, but I think many observers of the West Bank agree.

      I believe that within a few years, the Palestinian struggle will start looking less like a nationalistic struggle and more like a one man-one vote campaign. I believe that Palestinians are far more ready to live in a single democratic state than Israeli Jews are, and that this sort of transformation of the struggle will emphasize the racial nature of the Zionist state. Internationally, this will increase the perception of Israel as a racial state and could lead to its international isolation. Under such circumstances, Israeli Jews would have to choose isolation and Zionism or international acceptance and true democracy. To me, the ideal result is an acceptance of all Israelis and Palestinians as equal under the law.

      To summarize, I believe that we have reached the point where a two-state solution is unworkable, and as crazy as the idea of a state with Jews and Arabs living side by side with equal rights sounds, it is the only way to end this conflict. I’m not very optimistic…

      Reply to Comment
    15. All commentators – while I do appreciate your enthusiasm and detailed thoughts, please try to keep your comments brief. I’d like to try to respond, or let other people respond – writing too much makes it hard to have a discussion. Thanks for understanding.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Rann B

      Dahlia: While I completely understand your request for brevity, I just don’t think this subject can be treated in soundbites. Sorry for writing a short essay rather than a quick comment, but I just don’t think it’s possible to do this topic justice with brief comments.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Ben Israel

      RANNB’s comment is a very good explanation of why I say it is impossible to be a Leftist/Progressive and to support Israel at the same time. He quite clearly points out that Israel’s problem is not “the Palestinians” but, rather, the Jews. Or as the English have traditionally put it “the Jews are standoffish and pushy”. Our desire to maintain our identity offends RANNB’s universalist senstitivities, which , of course, corresponds to his own preferences as to how humanity should be organized. As Isaac Asimov once put it “the Jews bring their problems on themselves because they insist on being different”.
      But please don’t bring this canard “the Jews are racists but the Arabs aren’t” (Yes, I know he wrote that the Palestinians are “ethnocentric” as well”). Arabs will not sell land in their towns and villages to Jews or even to Arabs of the “wrong” clan. Islam prohibits adherents from converting to other religions. Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslim men. Some of these are laws on the books in the Arab countries.
      Look at how minority groups like the the blacks (people of African origin) Christians, the Yazdis, the Turkmen, the Bahais, the Copts and others are treated in the Muslim/Arab Middle East. Then tell me who the real racists
      are.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Rann, your comment is 733 words. If you can’t reduce it to a manageable 150 words, you should start your own blog.

      Please respect Dahlia’s request to be brief.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Dahlia,

      Nice to have met you at the conference; I had ran into you on Monday afternoon and told you I enjoyed your session.

      I’ll add here another set of new terms that struck a chord with me: Bernard Avishai cleaved out “Global Israel” from “Greater Israel”, which are more clear than left vs. right. It appears he’s mentioned these in print before, but perhaps a lot of people heard them first here. I did. I would not be surprised if this terminology made it to a Tom Friedman (like him or lump him, these are the sort of terms he’d eat up).

      Jon

      Reply to Comment
    20. Piotr Berman

      “Then tell me who the real racists are”.

      According to Ben Israel, the competition in Middle East is stiff, and Israel is flagging, although not for the lack of trying. Like, Muslim women are not allowed to marry non-Muslim men — it is true in Egypt AND in Israel. Among many similarities, Israel is peculiar in mistreating a minority in a very planned bureaucratic way, as befits its more advanced level in economy and education.

      But otherwise Israeli Jews strives to blend with the rest of the region. Sudan may unleash Janjaweed on disloyal Darfuris, Israel has settlers “days of rage”. Clerics issue fatwas. Parliament is debating theology. This is actually peculiar: why theology is not left to the Assembly of Experts? Iran at least gets its theology right.

      Unlike Iran, Israel is mixing prerogatives of various institution, and no institution has more varied duties than military. Apparently there is a nutrition department, calculating how little can be delivered to Gaza without creating humanitarian crisis. Another department studies and practices methods of eradicating orchards. Then there is cataloging children that may be throwing stones in the future. And of course theological duties, whose extend is currently debated. With myriad of complex duties attended with due dilligence by IDF, I seriously doubt the outcome of some future conflict with an armed opponent.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Carl

      Dahlia you’re dead right on the weight & impact of the term pro-Israel: the right tend to use it as it works. Being pro is better than anti (cf pro-life & anti-life) & hey, excepting the fringes, which Jews are anti-Israel. Yes I do have a killer term to replace it, one that would probably end the conflict within 2 weeks of me releasing it. Sadly I’ve opted to patent it and flog it to the highest bidder. Irving Moskovitz, are you reading?

      Didn’t mean to imply you said it was inevitable apartheid, that was lazy typing on my part.

      I think the core thing is the audience. You may have mileage selling ‘a democratic home for the Jewish people and all other citizens’ to some Jews, but if I were a Palestinian I’d ask why the Jewish bit. Kind of like having a door policy of no casual wear or anyone under 150 years old. I hate the whole marketing of principles thing, but the right is damn good at it and keep getting away with it, so yes, this debate is needed.

      If this comment’s too long, sorry, but some of us have work to skive.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Rann B

      Piotr Berman: You hit the nail on the head. Israel wraps its institutions in notions of democracy while maintaining many of the same religious/ethnocentric eccentricities of other countries in the region. Unlike most Americans, people in the region are acutely aware of these details and see Israel’s hypocrisy for what it is.

      Carl: Exactly. Few non-Jews who would be affected are affected by the notion of a Jewish state would accept one, especially one that acts like Israel does.

      Reply to Comment
    23. If it has been established that in rational societies combining the powers of church and state only succeed in corrupting the state and demoralizing, literally, religion, why expect the process to be substantially different in Israel?
      To date, the population of Israel, allowing for many but not enough exceptions, has become progressively more racist, troglodyte, and tribal.
      The last few governments have become increasingly a rookery of intellectual pygmies and rogues.
      The descriptive language is due for an update, but we must remake our selves and our leadership before the language can reflect a new reality.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Rann B

      Arieh Zimmerman: exactly. Changing language does little to change the facts on the ground. A bunch of activists using different terms does not result in any change in Israeli gov’t policy. Even though Israeli gov’ts now use the words ‘occupation’ and ‘Palestinian’–a relatively recent innovation, the policies on the ground have not changed.

      As far as the vast majority of Israeli are concerned, ‘pro-Israel’ means defending Israeli policy. Anti-Zionist means being against a state where Jews are protected and privileged above others. And so on and so forth. Changing language does not and will not change policy.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Mickey

      Dahlia,

      I just wanted to say that I attended the conference and agreed with everything you had to say in the “Do Israelis Care About Peace” talk and in the article above. As an American College Student I feel part of a re-awakening leftist movement, which calls for new terms to be used when discussing Israel’s future. I want to thank you for your participation!

      Reply to Comment
    26. ChicagosMonster

      Israel cannot remain a democracy and a self-proclaimed Jewish State at the same time, it’s just impossible. Israel is already now going through what America did during our Civil Rights era, and there has yet to be a clear, recognizable Palestinian Rosa Parks refusing to budge. After all, Rosa Parks not moving to the back of the bus didn’t entail having the military bulldoze her home and torture her male relatives until she capitulated.

      Israel needs to draft a Constitution granting equal rights to all, Jew or Arab, establishing clear borders, and remove racists from the airwaves (such as in Ami Kaufman’s most recent piece) as they only make Israel look worse.

      I will not lie, as an American and an anti-Zionist, I have not much love for Israel today. I see Israel as a threat to global peace and security, and it needs to implement major changes – and quickly – for its own good and the rest of the world.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Dahlia– You’ve written a real contribution–a keeper. Thank you.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Rami of Nazareth

      Excellent article Dahlia

      Reply to Comment
    29. I completely agree that language alone does not change policy. What I’ve tried to argue is that reality on the ground has already changed and since the old language is no longer relevant, it is therefore damaging. Using old terminology is locking us into policy ideas that are way past expiration date. The hope is that new language will reflect more realistic thinking and policy options.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Mikhael

      RANN B writes that Jews are afraid to live in Arab communities in Israel because of a Jewish fear of assimilation, but the fact is that more often than not Jews are made unwelcome. Recently, a young Jewish guy purhcased an apartment in the town of Ibilin (majority Christian/Muslim Arab town in Galilee) and his life was threatened.

      I think calls for not renting to Arabs in places like Tsefat must be protested against, but don’t ignore the real fact that Jews are unwanted in Arab municipalities within Israel proper either. About the only time Israeli Jews are welcomed to move into such communities is when an Israeli Jewish woman marries a Muslim man and converts to his religion.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Y.

      Yikes. It’s like a parody of Lakoff.

      A. Renaming stuff won’t help you avoid the old bad connotations. They just travel along.

      B. It is telling that all the renamings works only in English, and only among the ignorant (e.g. How does one say “Judean” in Hebrew? Weren’t the Judeans the only ones that survived the split, making them the better side? etc.). The Left is starting to give up on Israelis.

      C. I’m glad to hear that the Declaration of Independence was anti-Zionist**. Again, you can try to redefine stuff as you like – it doesn’t change what they are. It just makes other people laugh.

      Allow me to suggests this sap would only work on a very small, extremely ignorant group amongst the American Jews.

      **
      “ACCORDINGLY WE, MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLE’S COUNCIL, REPRESENTATIVES OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ERETZ-ISRAEL AND OF THE ZIONIST MOVEMENT, ARE HERE ASSEMBLED ON THE DAY OF THE TERMINATION OF THE BRITISH MANDATE OVER ERETZ-ISRAEL AND, BY VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HEREBY DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL.”

      Reply to Comment
    32. Haiku360

      re: My own survey from November 2010 shows that no less than a 69% majority of Jewish Israelis agree that “a deal with the Palestinians will improve Israel’s relations with other countries, which will help the world unite against Iran.”

      Could you explain this dynamic in a little more detail?

      When Mitchell was dispatched by BHO to survey the prevailing concerns in the Arab world (assuming it was the Israel/Palestinian issue), Arab leaders almost unanimously identified a nuclear Iran as their #1 greatest concern. The Israel/Palestinian issue barely registered (check out the wikileaks cables if you need further evidence).

      So…perhaps you should try another tack in your attempts to perpetuate the well worn and intellectually dishonest “linkage” argument.

      Just a thought. It may even make your opinion slightly less irrelevant.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Rann B

      Haiku360: “Arab leaders almost unanimously identified a nuclear Iran as their #1 greatest concern. ”

      Correct. Arab LEADERS. Not Arabs. This is one reason behind the various revolutions…

      Reply to Comment
    34. Click here to load previous comments

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Name (Required)
    Mail (Required)
    Website
    Free text

© 2010 - 2014 +972 Magazine
Follow Us
Credits

+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

Website empowered by RSVP

Illustrations: Eran Mendel