Last week I wrote about the outdated feeling the debate over the occupation renders. One commenter wondered why both Larry Derfner (who also commented on the article) and I are “disappointed” with Knesset members from Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, even though they say the very same thing we write about on this site.
I didn’t vote for Lapid, but his pact with the extreme right is enough of a reason to dismiss any hope that he will contribute to the end of the occupation in the foreseeable future. However, the issue here is not the existence of one, or two, or 40 Israeli MKs who are ready to speak about the need to end the occupation, but rather the entire logic of the debate.
In Israeli eyes, the urgency of changing the status quo, or even the whole notion of ending the occupation, is something for Israelis to discuss “democratically.” As long as there are two opposing camps – “pro peace” and “pro settlements”, or any other name one might chose – things are just fine. Those wishing to end the occupation can try to help the “pro peace” camp win, just as president Obama did in his Jerusalem speech.
It is a very twisted view. There is nothing “democratic” about debating – for almost half a century – the right of millions to basic human and civil rights. And what if Israelis decide, and one might say they already have, not to end the occupation? What if they choose to leave the Palestinians under military law for good? Is that an option we should accept, because it was reached in “a democratic way?”
Israeli democracy is meaningless when it comes to the Palestinian issue, since most of the Palestinians are not allowed to take part in this debate, let alone vote. Israelis can debate how they end the occupation, but not whether they do it at all. This is why I feel very comfortable with supporting outside pressure that would force Israelis to change their mind.
Thus, we shouldn’t be impressed with some Knesset members who speak out against the occupation, but rather ask ourselves what steps they are taking to end it. In the case of MKs from Lapid’s party, who respect their alliance with the settlers and help maintain a right-wing, pro-occupation coalition, the answer is pretty clear.
In Israel, a conversation about the future of occupation is part of the occupation
Survey: Israeli Jews tolerate settlements, status quo
Giving the occupation an expiration date: A way out of the diplomatic dead end.