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Israeli group's call for Palestinian statehood ill-conceived

This evening (Thursday), an event conveying Israeli support for Palestinian statehood will be held on Rothschild Blvd. (former hub of Tel Aviv tent encampment) across the street from where David Ben-Gurion officially declared Israeli statehood on May 14, 1948. It is organized by the Israeli branch of the OneVoice movement and will be attended by figures such as Yael Dayan, Yehuda Bauer and Yoram Kaniuk.

Yesterday I noticed it advertised in Hebrew on Facebook, as several people called attention to the awful title given to the event: “Giving a chance in September. Disconnecting from the Palestinians  and reconnecting to the world.” I can’t say I’m very surprised by the title, as it is reminiscent of the approach of Meretz-style center-leftist Israelis who were strong advocates of the Oslo Accords – then it was more of an economic issue that attracted them: let’s give Palestinians what appears to be some authority so that we can stop spending so much money in the occupied territories and pretend like the Palestinian “problem” is no longer ours and life can go on. This time it is about diplomatic concerns surrounding Israel’s isolation, trying to sell Israelis the notion that “giving” Palestinian statehood “a chance” is in Israel’s interests and will improve its standing in the international community.

As if we are in a position to “give” them a state. Not only does this patronizing position assume that Israelis must bequeath permission to Palestinians to declare statehood (did anyone ask Palestinians what they wanted when Israel declared statehood?) but it disregards the fact that “disconnecting” from Palestinians (similar to the so-called “disengagement” from Gaza, which we all know Israel still controls militarily by air, sea and land) cannot simply be done. It is not like tearing off a band-aid.  We live on top of each other, and our economies and fates are intertwined, whether we like it or not – so we cannot simply “disconnect” from Palestinians and go on with our lives, no matter what disingenuous term – whether “disconnect,” “disengage” or “detach” – Israelis find for it.

And in all this enthusiasm about disconnection and supporting the Palestinians, not one word about ending the infrastructure of occupation. The text of the declaration (here below) signed by many Israeli artists and intellectuals does not once mention the occupation. Correction: A reader called my attention to the fact that at the end of the statement, there is the specific call to end the occupation.

Moreover, the Masada metaphor to express that Netanyahu is committing national suicide is problematic since the story of Masada tells that Jews killed themselves in order to prevent being killed. In this situation, Israel’s leadership is simply digging its own grave, without the threat of being killed by anyone but itself.

The list of signatories is impressive and includes some people I know and respect very much, and while I doubt they would agree with the event’s title and some of the text’s language, I assume they feel obligated to show support for such a move, if nothing else, in order to show the Israeli government and the world that they do not agree with the government’s policy.

However, a more effective document would address the fact that a return to 1967 borders is practically impossible due to facts on the ground constantly determined by Israel unilaterally (yes, unilaterally!), with absolutely no deference to the concept of negotiations that the government (and the US) keep reiterating as justification for opposing the Palestinian bid.

Recognition of the Palestinian State – and then negotiations – rather than another Masada. In front of our very eyes, an insane drama is being acted out. The Prime Minister of Israel is leading his citizens to Masada. Human morality, Jewish history and the interests of Israel – all clearly show the way to being the first state in the world to recognize, in the United Nations, our neighbor state and them to enter into negations, based on equality, regarding territorial exchanges and security arrangements. After all, the Palestinian State recognizes the State of Israel in the “67 borders. The Jewish People arose in the Land of Israel, there they developed their identity. The Palestinian People arose in Palestine, there they developed their identity. Therefore, we sincerely welcome the expected declaration of independence by the Palestinian State, Israel’s neighbor, and within the borders at the time of our independence which were determined at the end of the War of Independence in 1949; the borders more commonly known as the ’67 borders. This is the natural right of both the Jewish and the Palestinian people – as written in Israel’s Declaration of Independence “to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State”. The independence of both peoples strengthens one and the other, it is both a moral and basic necessity at one and, the same time, it is the foundation upon which good, neighborly relations are built. We, the undersigned, call on all persons seeking peace and freedom, and upon all nations to join us in welcoming the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, to support it and to work and act together in order to encourage the citizens of both countries to live together in peace, based on the ’67 borders and mutual agreement. A final and complete end to the occupation is a basic condition for the freedom of both peoples, for the realization of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and a future of peaceful coexistence.

Initial list of signatories

Larry Abramson, Artist and Prof. of the arts

Maj Gen (Ret.) Avraham Adan (“Bren”), former Commander of the Armored Corps

Prof. Chaim Adler, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Joseph Agassi, Philosopher

Gila Almagor-Agmon, Israel Prize laureate

Shulamit Aloni, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Eva Illouz

Oriella Ben-Zvi

Prof. Elie Barnavi, former Ambassador to France

Ilan Baruch, former Ambassador to South Africa

Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Haim Ben Shahar, former President of Tel Aviv University

Prof. Miriam Ben-Peretz, Israel Prize laureate

Daniel Blatman,Head of the Department for Contemporary Judaism

Prof. Menachem Brinker, Israel Prize laureate

Dr. Rafael Braun

Prof. Judith Buber Agassi

Maj Gen (Ret) Nehemiah Dagan, former Chief Education Officer

Dr. Yossi Dahan

Yael Dayan, former Member of Knesset

Brig Gen (Ret.) Prof. Eran Dolev, Commander of Health Services

Prof. Yehuda Elkana, former President of the Central European University

Brig Gen (Ret.) Yitzchak Elron, former Military Attaché in South America

Prof. Yaron Ezrahi, winner of the Political Science Society Award

Prof. Menachem Fish

Yona Fischer, Israel Prize laureate

Ari Folman, Golden Globe laureate

Prof. Haim Gans

Maj Gen (Ret.) Shlomo Gazit, former Head of Military Intelligence, Chairman of the Jewish Agency and President of Ben Gurion University

Yair Garbuz, Emet Prize laureate

Moshe Gershuni, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Galia Golan

Prof. Amiram Goldblum

Prof. Naomi Graetz

Tal Gutfeld

Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, former President of the Hebrew University

Tal Harris, CEO One Voice

Prof. Galit Hasan-Rokem

Prof. Ruth Hacohen

Lahav Halevy

Prof. David Harel, Israel Prize and Emet laureate

Dr. Shmuel Harlap, Chairman of Colmobil Limited

Prof. Naomi Chazan, former Knesset member

Yoram Kaniuk, Sapir Prize laureate

Dani Karavan, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Avnet Katz

Prof. Elihu Katz, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny, Israel Prize laureate

Ofer Lalush

Alex Levac, Israel Prize laureate

Savyon Liebrecht

Dr. Alon Liel, former Director General of Foreign Ministry

Ram Loevy, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Avishai Margalit, Israel and Emet Prize laureate

Hanna Maron, Israel Prize laureate

Sami Michael, Emet Prize laureate

Hillel Mitlepunkt

Ohad Naharin, Israel laureate

Raz Naftali

Amoz Oz, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Dov Pekelman

Michal Peleg

Izhar Petkin, Artist

Prof. Itamar Procaccia, Israel Prize laureate

Sefi Rachlevsky, expert on Jewish theology

Prof. Gabi Salomon, Israel Prize laureate

Dr. Aliza Savir

Prof. Hillel Schocken

Prof. Alice Shalvi, Israel Prize laureate

Maj Gen (Ret.) Nathan Sharoni, President of Council of Peace and Security

Prof. David Shulman, Emet Prize laureate

Joshua Sobol, Theater Award laureate

Prof. Zeev Sternhell, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Carlo Strenger

David Tartakover, Israel Prize laureate

Dan Tsur, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Zeev Tzahor, President of Sapir College

Micha Ullman, Israel Prize laureate

Lia van Leer, Israel Prize laureate

Prof. Menahem Yaari, Israel Prize laureate, President (Emeritus) of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Dalia Yairi

Prof. Yossi Yonah

Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel, Israel Prize laureate

Clil Zisaphel

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    1. Alex

      I’m confused…your argument in large part hinges around your claim that the statement doesn’t once mention the occupation, but what about the last sentence?? “A final and complete end to the occupation is a basic condition for the freedom of both peoples, for the realization of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and a future of peaceful coexistence.”

      Reply to Comment
    2. Mairav Zonszein

      Alex – thanks for calling attention to that, I must have missed it, which is certainly my mistake. However, my argument rests on the patronizing tone, on the fact that it does not condemn Israel for unilateral action and on the fact that 1967 borders are no longer realistic because of those unilateral actions.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben Israel

      Meirav asks if anyone asked the Palestinians when Israel proclaimed a state. Did you forget they attacked and attempted to wipe out the yishuv? Don’t you think an act like that, plus all the violence they have intiated since then including their refusal even to agree to a peace with Israel has anything to do with our attitudes?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ben Israel

      Of the names I recognize, the majority, maybe even most are elderly people. This is the morally bankrupt MAPAI-MERETZ peace gang. Still living in the past with their quasi-Marxist-socialist ideology, which Meirav correctly points out. They still don’t understand that the conflict is not economic, it is not about “rights”, it is not about “the occupaton”…it is an existential struggle.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Gil Franco

      Meirav, don’t you have anything better to do than to attack people who largely agree with you? Very productive.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ezequiel Kopel

      I like very much that somebody start to talk about the “patronizing position” Israel (and israelis in particular) express all the time vis-a-vis with palestinians.
      Yesterday talking with a friend who live in Kfar sava and belongs to the “liberal left”(?), he said something like this: “If I WILL GIVE THEM a state, who will be in front of my balcony, i will ask them to follow some commitments, right?”.

      PD: the list of the signatories is impressive but is full of people who follow the theories of “there are no partner in the palestinian side”, “disengagement from the palestinians is our national interest” and who advocate for a war against Gaza in 2009. MAybe they can agree with you, but you dont have to agree with them.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Eze, I prefer you to accurate with your words when you quote. 1. I used the word “i give them” because I don’t know how to describe the action that israel is there and than not.
      2. what I say is that I’m expecting everybody to stop the conflict in the moment that everybody has his own country. both sides will have to learn to give up for something, both sides will must learn that none of the side is going to leave, and we will have to learn to live together. its the time two live like good cousins and not like two kids in the kidengarden.
      that what i said.

      Eze, I can tell you with my words, and I never lie. even the people in gaza wanted to smash the hamas, and I know it from people from there.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Ben Israel

      I feel a need to partly apologize about what I said about the signatories, calling them ‘peace gang’. We do owe that generation a debt of gratitude in fighting many wars for Israel and doing much to build up the country. It is just sad that their sacrifices and their well-intentioned wishful thinking about peace has blinded them to reality.

      Reply to Comment
    9. John

      This is just another example of the stupid division within the left (particularly in Israel…) that allows the right to tighten its grip on the country. You agree with what this group are doing and what they’re calling for, but pour scorn on their efforts because you object to a tiny fragment of the language (some of which you admit you misread)
      Until the left strengthens itself and calcifies around what unites them rather than what divides them, people like Bibi & Lieberman will continue to make common cause and win over the moderate majority of the country. Ever seen the Life of Brian? A lovely little film which happened to be set in Biblical Israel:

      Brian: Excuse me. Are you the Judean People’s Front?
      Reg: Fuck off! We’re the People’s Front of Judea!

      Reply to Comment