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Jewish, Palestinian activists try to build a cinema in Hebron

As soldiers and settlers look on, dozens of foreign Jews join Palestinians in the segregated city of Hebron try ‘to make the unbearable a little more bearable.’ Police detain six Israelis among the group, prevent others from even joining.

The streets in the Israel-controlled section of Hebron were sunny and silent at 9 a.m. on Friday. The Palestinian shops on the main streets were all shut, as most of them have been for over 20 years. Jews were home preparing for Shabbat.

On a sloping street rising through the Tel Rumeida neighborhood where, in April, a Palestinian stabber was wounded, then executed, there is a small commotion. A scattered group of Israeli soldiers, blue-uniformed police, and a few local Israeli settlers are hovering around a battered fence, peering inside as if looking into a cage at a zoo.

Inside there is a group of a few dozen diaspora Jews, many of them American, and a few Israelis. They are singing songs and their shirts say, “Occupation is not our Judaism!” In between protest songs from the 1960s civil rights struggles in the U.S., they chant: “Diaspora Jew say: ‘dai l’kibush!’” [end the occupation], and in accented Hebrew, a chant that translates as: “You have no shame! There’s nothing holy about an occupied city!” Occasionally they sing traditional Jewish melodies, such as the anti-war “lo yisah goy el goy herev” and “hineh ma tov u’ma naim.”

But their main activity is cleaning. The fenced-in plot of land where they are working contains a few dilapidated structures, filled mostly with trash – twisted metal objects, rocks, rusted barrels and ancient piles of natural detritus. With their bright blue shirts and long yellow rakes, the activists project cheer as they rake, shovel, and pass heavy debris along a line of activists.

The group, called “Center for Jewish Non-Violence,” (CJNV) was invited by Youth Against Settlements, a Hebron-based Palestinian organization to help establish a movie theater in Palestinian Hebron, because the city doesn’t have one. “We want to make the unbearable a little more bearable,” said one of the Jewish participants, who asked not to be named due to professional sensitivities. “We will work until we can’t work anymore.” Their intention, she says, is to work until the day is done, or until they are stopped.

The CJNV group has been in the Palestinian territories for a week of activities, helped planned with another activist group, All That’s...

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Teen's murder is a reminder that we are all settlers

Just as we must mourn Hallel Yaffa Ariel as a human being and a slain child, we must also mourn her as a settler — because all Israelis are responsible for her presence in the West Bank.

Superlatives are inadequate to tell the sorrow of recent weeks. Thirteen-year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was stabbed to death in her bed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba Thursday morning. Forty-four people were blown up in Istanbul’s airport, nearly 50 shot to death in Orlando. Mahmoud Badran, a 15-year old Palestinian boy, was killed by Israeli forces, “by mistake,” coming back from the pool with his friends.

I can’t keep up enough to write about each one, but nation, identity and politics mean little to me when faced with innocent deaths.

Some think the Israeli and the Palestinian killings are different, somehow less innocent than the others. Mahmoud was mistaken for a stone-thrower, as if this justifies his death. Hallel was a settler. Yet she was a civilian and a child — no more guilty than Mahmoud.

I’ve written in the past that Israelis on the left must sympathize with such victims as human beings. Now I want to emphasize that we must also mourn Hallel as a settler, for her presence in the West Bank is the responsibility of all Israelis.

The Left blames much on settlements. Many view the settlement enterprise as the heart of the occupation – those who live in settlements actively choose to steal land and resources from Palestinians, to enforce apartheid rule over people living next door, through military law.

After all, settlements are a tangible, visible manifestation of occupation. Just look at those perfect new housing units in tidy rows, perched on hills overlooking vast and underdeveloped Palestinian cities or parched clusters of tents and shacks.

Getting outraged is rewarding because it lets the outraged party off the hook. If it weren’t for those darn wild-eyed-religious-messianics, many on the Left feel, Israel would transform into a Jewish and democratic state and all would be right with the world.

But people who think like that are actually sitting on an outrageous hilltop of their own. From their perch they look down on the settlers and say, we’re the good guys. We’re not complicit.

For some Israelis, settlers are becoming the main...

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Brexit and the Israel-Palestine problem

More and more people are stuck with each other in this world, even as rejectionists pretend — if only for a minute or two — that we’re not.

I wasn’t much of a political junky as a kid, and I was certainly no wunderkind at foreign relations. The Cold War was a fact of life, as solid as the skyscrapers of New York. The world was divided by ideologies of life or death — the bad guys threatened to take over, “and that’s the way it is.”

The war just ended one day when I was 17. Peace was suddenly a real possibility, not just an abstraction in my mind, and right away it felt far superior to both hot and cold wars.

Soon to follow was the belief that exposure to people who are different is healthy and leads to discovery of human similarities. This might seem natural for someone growing up in the big city. It was not. Violent crime rode on the backs of constant class and racial rage. Stereotyping and self-segregation were an easy recourse even in a city as diverse as New York, and many took it. My dreamy ideals about people knowing, appreciating and learning from each other earned me little more than condescension, or painful derision.

But when the wall fell, I saw things differently; maybe I felt vindicated before I truly knew the word. This new world became a place I was excited to enter, having learned that huge things could change — for the better.

An experiment in openness

I entered university just in time to have those early days of post-Cold War euphoria blasted by ethno-nationalist hell: Yugoslavia, Rwanda, post-Soviet wars and bitter racial violence in the U.S. My professors told us that nationalism, stifled for a short century, was rearing its bloody head.

It was no time for illusions or cockeyed optimism. The only conclusion to reach, we were told, was that human beings contain a great and a terrible instinct to hurt each other.

Yet how to explain, I wondered, the equally powerful human urge to do good, to be kind, to cooperate, to connect? Are these less important? Children can make friends before they even share a language. Adults fall in love. And countries cease to be at war. The dueling urges to draw boundaries and break them is the contradiction that defines humanity.

In that confusing decade of the...

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Go ahead Herzog, join the coalition

The fact that the head of Israel’s opposition could soon join forces with Netanyahu may actually bode well for the Israeli Left and Palestinian citizens alike.

The Israeli media has been beside itself this week with the possibility that the head of the opposition Isaac Herzog, leader of the Labor Party cum Zionist Union, may join Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition, the executive branch of the Israeli government.

Roughly two weeks of chatterbuzz about Herzog-Netanyahu negotiations have yielded the usual five stages of rumors: from denial (“there are no negotiations”); to low expectations (“they’re just talks, they won’t lead to anything”); to portfolio handout speculation (“it’s a done deal, he’s about to get justice minister and communications”); followed by the classic bait and switch (“we didn’t mean it, looks like Lieberman will join instead”); and then finally acceptance (“Herzog can’t turn back now”), as two radio political commentators decreed this morning.

I am not sure why anyone is surprised. Labor has never shied away from sitting in the rightest of right-wing governments in recent years. I remember how many in the Labor camp were shocked when the party joined Ariel Sharon’s government in 2003. Amir Peretz led the party into Kadima’s government in 2006, taking charge of the Defense Ministry and nearly ruining his political rise. The party then joined Netanyahu’s government in 2009 (among the most extreme in Israel’s history) under Ehud Barak, prompting the loss of one of its more promising members, and eventually splitting the party. Labor/Zionist Union actually has some committed people and fresh faces in its faction, but the party as a body seems to have a mind of its own – one with suicidal inclinations.

The failure of this “can’t beat em so join em” move — every single time it is tried — makes apathy an extremely tempting response. Until I realized that there are several excellent reasons Labor should do it (disclosure: In my day job I am a pollster and political consultant, and I have advised on four national election campaigns for Labor, including in 2015):

Be you. Labor should stop pretending to either its voters, members or legislators to be anything other than what it is — a status-quo preservationist institution. If the party breaks (again) – well, when a waiter drops a glass in a Tel Aviv café it is...

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ADL's Armenian genocide recognition sends powerful statement — to Israel

A major Jewish-American organization breaking with Israeli policy, especially regarding Jewish universalism and the Holocaust, is a statement in and of itself.

The Anti-Defamation League, American Jewry’s foremost civil rights organization, has made a powerful statement recognizing the Armenian genocide by the crumbling Ottoman regime in the early 20th century. Last Friday, CEO Jonathan Greenblatt posted a blog on the organization’s website in which he stated:

The statement will certainly be cathartic for Armenian advocates in the diaspora who have made genocide recognition absolutely central to their national identity – even to a fault, as the highly thoughtful Armenian-American writer Meline Toumani has written. But the vast majority of Armenian activists have been frustrated for years by the reticence of ADL’s longtime previous director, Abe Foxman. Greenblatt ended years of just such equivocation under Foxman’s leadership (though the latter eventually used the word in a 2014 speech). The public support of a major Jewish organization could lend clout to the Armenian attempts to attain Congressional recognition, a cause generally stymied by the sensitivity and importance of U.S.-Turkey relations. That’s why Armenian activists watch for such statements with extreme play-by-play attention.

But the recognition may prove to be more important for Jews and for Israel than for Armenians themselves. It symbolizes a crack, and together with similar developments, perhaps seismic shifts in the relationship between diaspora Jewry and Israeli society.

First, the move breaks with Israeli policy. Israel’s government has long resisted formally acknowledging the term “genocide” for the Armenian experience, for what is widely understood to be political interests in Turkey and Azerbaijan, including powerful economic ties.

Foxman mostly mirrored this resistance. He was apparently disinclined to compromise the Jewish monopoly on the Holocaust, and held purported political concerns for relations between Turkish Jews and their government – these are the reasons given by a former ADL regional director and powerful advocate for recognition, who was ultimately fired for his stance on this issue. Or perhaps Foxman didn’t want to expend political capital on the Congressional recognition campaign. Either way, the ADL today is no longer aligned with Israeli policy on this matter.

Next, Greenblatt not only changed course – he did so just over a week after Israel’s commemoration of Holocaust Day. In recent years, the commemorations in Israel have erupted into debates about whether the experience of genocide belongs uniquely to the Jews or has universal lessons or comparable precedents. Rising nationalism has...

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The deeper meaning of IDF general's Holocaust comparison

The deputy IDF chief of staff came under a barrage of criticism for saying trends that prevailed in pre-WWII Europe can be seen in Israel today. But if Israelis took a minute to reflect on his comments, they would realize that they were more solemn than slanderous.

Headlines in Israel are blaring this Holocaust Day over a statement by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the IDF, General Yair Golan, comparing trends in Israel to those in Germany leading up to the Holocaust. At the official state ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday evening, Golan gave a short speech in which he said, among other things:

“If there’s one thing that scares me about Holocaust memory, it’s identifying revolting trends that took place in Europe in general, and Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago, and finding evidence of them amongst ourselves, today, in 2016.

After all, there’s nothing easier and simpler than hating the stranger. There’s nothing easier and simpler than fear-mongering and sowing terror. There’s nothing easier and simpler than to become thuggish, morally bankrupt, and self-righteous.” (my translation – the whole speech is here, in Hebrew, courtesy of Haaretz.)

Of course all nuances were destroyed in the media storm that ensued. Many Israelis listening to the news will take away a bastardized version that goes like this: Golan  thinks that trends of hatred in Israel mirror the hatred in Germany that led them to commit genocide. By association, what Israel does today is like what Germany did then. Not surprisingly, the IDF and Golan himself issued a statement on Wednesday clarifying that this is not what he meant.

But reactions were swift, angry, and reached partially across political lines. Right-wing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Israel Radio that Golan was “got things completely wrong.” Elazar Stern, a legislator from Yesh Atid and a retired army man as well as a staunch centrist who has sometimes bucked right-wing narratives, allowed that the spirit of the speech might have been legitimate but that the timing was wrong. The Haaretz reporter and analyst Chemi Shalev wrote a post on Twitter before Golan’s comments, and therefore unrelated: “The attempt to draw parallel outlines between the situation of Jews in the Holocaust to Israel’s situation today verges on Holocaust denial and contempt for Zionism together.” (my translation) But as I noted, the one-dimensional headline...

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Netanyahu responds to Leahy with a strange string of lies

The prime minister shoots off a sharply worded letter to a senior American senator who dared question Israel’s human rights record. That Netanyahu thinks anyone reading it will do anything but howl is worrying sign about his judgement.

In mid-February, Senator Patrick Leahy, together with 10 other Democratic Senators, wrote a letter asking U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to investigate the possible violation of human rights by Israel, as a U.S. foreign aid recipient. The letter, which only made news in Israel on Wednesday, was prompted by suspicions of numerous extrajudicial killings of Palestinian suspected attackers over the last year.

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Senator Leahy, and posted this excerpt of his letter on Twitter:

Reading it, I think Netanyahu must know deep in his heart that he is lying his face off, lying obscenely, to the point of absurdity — surrealism. Does it mean that he has, as Solzhenitsyn said, no other means of justifying our violence? That there are no other accurate arguments that effectively justify what happens here?

Reading it more closely, I realized that every single line in the graphic rendition of his letter contains a bald-faced lie, or at best an egregious omission. For those who think I am exaggerating, here is the annotated version:

It did, just last week. And its soldiers executed a 14-year-old girl in 2005 (acquitted). And the Shin Bet executed captured and bound hijackers in 1984. Those are the very obvious cases. There are numerous suspected executions over just the last year, when many were killed for attempted stabbing, killed for being a troubled child, killed for suspicion. There were the two teens killed for demonstrating in Beitunia in 2014 – the IDF closed its investigation into that last case just today. The cases over the last year generally involve at least two, and often a group of heavily armed soldiers killing individual suspects grasping knives, or in one case, a pair of scissors.

The military regime governing the West Bank is not a defensive mission. The soldiers were not present last Thursday in Hebron to defend the State, but in order to enact military rule over a population lacking civil rights under conditions most of us wouldn’t suffer for a day.

The military does of course defend settlers, but the settlers aren’t there to defend Israel either....

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Israeli public opinion solidly backs Hebron soldier

Only one-fifth of Israelis say the prime minister, defense minister, and the IDF chief of staff did the right thing when they condemned the killing. Fully 68 percent believe otherwise.

Based on the condemnations from top levels of the political and defense establishment, it appears that Israelis were actually disturbed by the video of an IDF soldier killing a wounded Palestinian who lay motionless on the ground. The issue still topped the news media on Sunday, with new details emerging: Haaretz reported on early investigations indicating the soldier acted of his own accord, then updated that the soldier had said “the terrorist has to die” before shooting the motionless man, who had been on the ground for approximately six minutes, according to other news reports.

But as +972’s Natasha Roth wrote, the killing of 21-year-old Abed Fatah al-Sharif happened in a climate that largely supports — rather than discourages — this sort of action. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon condemned the attack, but not long ago he and other officials called for the killing of all terrorists rather than have them arrested. The same goes for political leaders from the right and the center, as well as religious authorities. To the public, it appears that killing an incapacitated terrorist six minutes later isn’t so different from killing one in action.

The public is apparently confused and perhaps frustrated with the mixed messages. A female family member of the soldier (they have not been formally identified by the press) who sounded young enough to be his sister spoke to the news. Sobbing and shattered, she pleaded with the country to view the soldier as a hero. Her voice shook with agony; she seemed incapable of understanding how he could be a model child one minute and an enemy of the people the next.

The public is apparently on her side. A poll conducted for Channel 2 showed 57 percent of Israelis opposed his very arrest – not a conviction, not even an indictment. Actually the question asked about the “arrest and investigation” – so we can infer that the majority did not even want the investigation at all.

A plurality of respondents, 42 percent, described his action as “responsible,” while another 24 percent said it was the natural response to the situation. The first response can be qualified because the wording actually stated that shooting was a “responsible action...

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Israel's deepest divide

The religious-secular chasm may be kept at a low boil beneath the unifying factor of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. But more likely, the polarization is one reason why Israel does not take more action to end the conflict.

A recent and vast survey of Israelis by the Pew Research Center showed deep divisions of attitudes within Israeli society. Much of the attention centered on the finding of highly opposed views “not only between Israeli Jews and the country’s Arab minority, but also among the religious subgroups that make up Israeli Jewry,” as Pew’s own Facebook description read.

The survey offers many valuable findings, but the fact that Jews hold profoundly different attitudes based on how observant they are is the least original among them. Among Jews, the level of religious observance (secular, traditional, Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox self-definition) has long explained the most enduring and irreconcilable differences in Israeli Jewish political opinions. It predicts whether an Israeli Jew holds left, center or right-wing attitudes more than any other demographic — this has been true during my own 17 years of polling and all earlier data I know of.

Common perceptions that upper-class people are more left wing, or that Mizrahi and Ashkenazi ethnic background determines whether someone is right or left, respectively, are not totally wrong. But these factors are far weaker and less consistent predictors than religious observance. Isolating either education or income leads to poor correlation with ideology. While there are some broad left-and-right trends among clearly defined Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, those identities are increasingly mixed up after generations of immigration and intermarriage. Measurements vary, but in our own +972 Magazine survey, about 40 percent of Israelis self-identify as neither one – just “Israeli.” Moreover, former Soviet immigrants are largely Ashkenazi, but also largely right wing.

By contrast, the religious-secular split looms large in all data sets. What does this mean in practice?

Secular Jews consistently self-identify as left wing at higher rates — about 32 percent in a poll I conducted for the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), higher than the national average of 20 percent among Jews and over 10 times more than the three percent among national-religious respondents. Over 80 percent of the latter call themselves right wing. Those ideological labels are the most direct determinant of voting behavior.

On conflict-related policy, seculars invariably support a two-state solution — about three-quarters in a survey...

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There is nothing anti-Haredi about staying in your seat

The attempt to dismantle patriarchy does not necessarily imply hatred for ultra-Orthodox Jews. Rather it is an urgent task that extends to all spheres of daily life. A response to Orly Noy.

My colleague Orly Noy, whose thinking and writing I greatly value, wrote an article entitled “Let’s fight women’s oppression without demonizing ultra-Orthodox.” After reading Orly’s arguments carefully, I found that I disagree with nearly all of them except perhaps the title. I do not support demonizing ultra-Orthodox Jews or any other group. But even my agreement with the title is qualified, since the issue at hand is everyone’s problem.

Orly was responding to a recent case of a woman who is suing El Al with the help of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), after she was asked to move seats so that an ultra-Orthodox man wouldn’t have to sit next to her. Orly felt that the incident is being exaggerated, treated like an “epidemic.”  She believes that  Anat Hoffman, a longtime activist for religious pluralism, and others opposing this practice paint Haredim as barbaric and anti-Semitic, while presenting themselves as enlightened. She hints that IRAC is using questionable legal tactics, and possibly provoked the woman to sue.

I don’t have the data to know whether the seat problem is a “phenomenon” or not. But I have been asked to move myself.

It was a few years ago, and I had a sprained ankle. Every move on the short business trip to London had been painful. On the return flight, I negotiated for an aisle seat, near the front – more stretching and elevation, less walking. Between summer heat, a crowded plane and the extra effort of shuffling through Heathrow with an injury, I reached my seat tired and grateful, settled in and closed my eyes. The stewardess tapped me. Would I trade seats? A Haredi man seated next to a woman somewhere wished to move, and I was sitting next to a man. For a second, I wanted to cry. It had nothing to do with feeling insulted as a woman or hating ultra-Orthodox. I just hated the thought of moving.

But like Orly, who made a case I generally support for simply being nice, my instinct is to be considerate and accommodating where possible. I reflexively said yes, stifling my overwhelming desire to stay put and dreading the cramped inner seat I was offered....

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Public opinion roundup: Is Palestinian support for violence falling?

A vast majority of Palestinians polled in recent surveys say they or their families have seen a negative economic impact from the latest wave of violence. And while most Palestinians feel deeply alienated from their leaders in both Fatah and Hamas, a strong majority remain committed to the democratic process. Dahlia Scheindlin follows up her analysis of recent Israeli polls.

Four months after the start of the wave of stabbing attacks and killing of perpetrators, Palestinian support for the violence may be waning, according to a recent public opinion survey.

In the first few weeks of October 2015, when a rash of Palestinian stabbing and vehicular attacks began, the Palestinian public displayed a dramatic rise in support for a new intifada, based on survey research. That support climbed from just one-quarter in April 2015, and by October an absolute majority of 63 percent supported an immediate uprising, according to polls by the Arab World Research and Development Center. In December, Khalil Shikaki’s PCPSR study showed that two-thirds supported the use of knives in the “current confrontations,” (although three-quarters rejected the participation of young girls). Similar to the AWRAD data, 60 percent supported returning to an armed intifada in the absence of peace negotiations.

But barely three months later, AWRAD’s data shows a change. In its poll from late January, 54 percent of Palestinians now oppose a third intifada. West Bank respondents are more likely to oppose it: 57 percent compared to 48 percent among Gazans.

These results can be viewed in light of historic patterns. Throughout the prime “Oslo years,” in the mid-1990s, Palestinians opposed violence against Israelis by large margins. As the process waned in the late 1990s, opposition eroded. Palestinian public support for violence reached a peak when the Second Intifada broke out after the Camp David negotiations collapsed in 2000.

In their book where those findings appear, polling experts Jacob Shamir and Khalil Shikaki concluded that Palestinian (and Israeli) public opinion is rational: when diplomacy fails the publics turn to violence as a means of advancing their political interests. Thus it is also significant that in AWRAD’s January data, half of Palestinians believe the current violence will impede progress to a Palestinian state, compared to just 39 percent who believe it will advance statehood.

Further, the heightened cycle of violence these last few months has led Palestinians to feel that their lives are getting worse....

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Israeli Polls: Jews want to ignore the conflict, Arabs think nothing will change

The majority of Jewish Israelis think the international community will impose some sort of ‘substantial pressure’ on Israel soon. But they are disinclined to let such criticism affect the country’s policy.

A majority of Israelis see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an existential problem, according to January’s monthly Peace Index survey conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. Indeed, a stabbing a day and a war every two years is no way to live. Yet Israeli Jews regularly vote for parties who perpetuate the same policies, and rarely protest Israel’s military rule over the Palestinian people in any significant numbers.

Spoiler: recent surveys do not solve the puzzle. But they do highlight some of the competing attitudes driving Israeli political behavior.

When asked if the conflict can continue more or less like today without threatening Israel’s security or existence, 52 percent of the public disagreed in the Peace Index poll. Among Jewish respondents, fully 61 percent disagree that Israel can live with the conflict as it is today.

Arab respondents (the survey asked just a small sample) saw things very differently: over three-quarters think Israel can continue to live with the status quo. They probably base this on the last 50 years, when Israel has experienced regular injury to its security and existence in the form of wars, terror attacks and perceived international de-legitimization — and nevertheless essentially maintained its grip over the Palestinian people.

Indeed, the Jewish sense of the conflict as a grave threat barely translates into support for changing policies. The backbone of the occupation is Israel’s martial law over Palestinians in the West Bank, implemented through the army and the military courts, whereas Jews in the same territory live under civil law. But when asked about this “unequal application of the law” (referring to the U.S. Ambassador’s recent statement), half of Israeli Jews justify the situation; 40 percent oppose it (the 10 percent remainder who said they don’t know are unlikely to be agitating for change). Among the self-defined right wing, fully two-thirds justify this situation. More striking is that fact that among Jews in general, only 40 percent believe that “unequal application of the law” is the case today and a majority of 53 percent say this is not the case. Yet this is among the most basic facts of the situation – which are are not hidden, but apparently rarely seen.

International pressure

If Israeli Jews do not...

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Stop asking whether Israel is Jewish or democratic

This isn’t a choice between ‘Jewish or democratic’ — the only question is whether Israel can still become a true democracy.

For some years, the political center-left in Israel has committed itself to the idea of a Jewish and democratic state. For these mostly secular and traditional people, “Jewish” used to mean some sort of cultural character, and democracy meant free and fair elections.

This political camp is deeply committed to the balance between those two ideas and believes that when one overtakes the other, we are lost.

Thus if Israel is too “Jewish,” it risks becoming a halakhic caliphate that makes a secular or flexible lifestyle impossible. Sunday’s revelation that the Education Ministry froze funds intended for organizations promoting religious pluralism is one more worrying sign.

The center-left is just as worried about too much democracy, whose natural end-point is full equality of individual and political rights, representation and opportunity regardless of ethnicity. But liberal Zionists do want Hannukah and they don’t want an Arab prime minister, though they feel impolite saying so. So they support democracy but also its limitation to ensure Jewish political, institutional, cultural, and economic dominance.

To resolve this contradiction the center-left has embraced the cause of a Jewish majority in Israel. Some years ago I asked center-left focus groups what a “Jewish state” meant to them and a consensus quickly emerged: “it boils down to a Jewish majority” — since we agree on so little else about what “Jewish” might mean. Thus the idea of “Jewish and democratic” is more accurately translated to “Jewish majority and a democratic state.”

When it became clear that a peace process didn’t automatically translate into security, the “Jewish and democratic” narrative replaced “peace for security” as the Left’s major justification for the two-state solution, in which an end to the occupation and a return to 1967 borders would guarantee greater numbers of Jews in the state.

Then the Right created one state. With some help from the Left over the years — especially when it came to settlements — the Right has erased the Green Line, and made it unlikely Israel will ever extract itself from the West Bank. The old ‘67 borders have stretched their limbs, normalizing the large settlements blocs outside of Jerusalem, extending conceptually to include Ariel, a settlement of 18,000 people located deep inside the West Bank. Not a day goes...

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+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.

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