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On democracy: There's nothing "left" about the Zionist left

Any democratic process must start by admitting two unbearable atrocities: first, the exclusiveness that Jews have over political power in a shared space, and second, the Judaizing system that uses state resources to maintain a brutal colonizing process.

By Muhammad Jabali

Asking the Palestinians to accept the creation of a Jewish state back in the 1940s was unfair, insulting and even dehumanizing. It meant asking almost 40 percent of the population of this Jewish state to accept being underprivileged until the end of time. To accept living with fewer political rights than the ruling population, which in modern times means accepting being less “human” and less deserving of “human rights.” Moreover, it meant asking the “Palestinians” (who had superficially won the right to an independent state through the partition plan) to forgo all political, cultural and economic influence in a landscape to which they had been wholly linked.

Unfortunately, this is still the ruling discourse of the “peace process,” as it is understood in Israel and internationally. The Palestinians are still being asked to accept “The Jewish State,” instead of using a rights-based discourse, in which the logic of “securing Jewish existence” in the land would be primary – meaning, securing the right of Jewish people to live and practice their Israeli life. In the present discourse, there is a total equivalence between the “Jewish People” and the “Jewish State.” One can’t begin to call to change the regime, to stop the wheels of the Judaizing machine, without being accused of wanting to destroy the “Jewish People.”

Palestinians are scattered all over the space that Israel controls politically, with different levels of deprivation of their political rights. Of course this deprivation is highest of all in in the West Bank and Gaza. The recent statistic showing that the conviction rate of Palestinians charged in Israeli military courts stands at 99 percent is but one example of this control.

The main factor ignored by people who insist Israel is a democracy is that creating both the Israeli state and the Israeli people has entailed a process of Judaizing a space that was neither empty nor Jewish to start with. It is a physical territorial project of clearing the space of anything that doesn’t fit into the story, and deleting the rest from view and memory. This is what makes the creation and the self-image of Israel a very violent act: the focus on the homogeneity of the Jewish nation-state, and the claim that the right of Israel to exist as the “Jewish democracy” is the right of the “Jewish nation” to self-governance.

The space was never empty. In order to claim democracy and liberalism, Israel attempts to draw parallels to the predominately white and liberal United States. But the parallel fails. The forced attempt at an American-style nation-building narrative is one of the least discussed problems in Israeli existence.

Israel is one big gated community. Jewish towns scattered between Arab towns and villages all sport a prominent gate at the entrances. In the predominant Israeli liberal discourse, this is justified by the need to defend the towns. In that discourse, it seems, these towns were always there, but out of a sudden deep-rooted hatred in the hearts of the Palestinians, the threat of violence against the Jewish towns just appeared.

This process of settling the land and taking political power is at the core of the ongoing construction of Israel, and is at the core of the Israeli regime. It forces Palestinians not to interfere in the return of the Jews to their promised land, even if it means being pushed eastward over the course of a full century. Any attempt to resist this tsunami – or even just to shout, “Hey its our space too, we should be part of decision-making” – is reacted to in violence. Call those reactions price tag attacks. Usually carried out by state mechanisms, not by individuals.

Much of the hate that culminated in Rabin’s assassination was the result of the fact that the Oslo Agreement passed in the Knesset with the support of Arab MKs. After more than a decade of political feuding between the “Right” and “Left” inside the Jewish democracy, the Arabs became citizens – for a moment. And then Rabin was assassinated.

Now, regardless of whether Oslo was a sufficient starting point for negotiations – especially considering there was no clear precondition to stop settlement activity in the West Bank – we should consider the reaction of the “Israeli left” to the assassination. Its primary concern was with the fact that a Jewish leader was killed by a Jew, and with the rift that the peace process created within the “Jewish people.”

This move made the claim for a “Jewish majority” in any “crucial” political decision-making a legitimate claim. It destroyed the possibility of creating what is so essential for any democracy: a public that believes in change though majority, based on ideas and not on an ethnic belonging to a privileged majority produced by force.

A dangerous process was launched. The democratization and reconciliation project offered by the leadership of Palestinian Israelis became a target. The so-called Zionists assumed the Supreme Court would maintain the liberality and equality of the “Israeli regime,” while taking full part in portraying Palestinian democrats as “national radicals,” contributing to the claim that calling Jewish privilege unjust is a radical Palestinian statement. This helped in rebranding Israeli democracy as one that must control two radical sides: Palestinian nationals on one hand and Israeli extremists on the other.

Holding fast to the myth of Jewish democracy, the Israeli left brought back the idea of “moving populations” as a legitimate political solution. The Nakba is legitimized as “inevitable and necessary“ for “Jewish existence” This Jewish existence, as it is presented, masks the fact that Israel is actually a regime that preserved the colonial British skeleton of the mandate, with all of its centralized control over “others.” It went on to produce an even more brutal system of laws relating to land, public spaces, and property, which can’t be described as anything other than theft. More than just theft: the armed robbery of land, public property, public space and wealth.

The whole system was developed in three stages: First with the help of the British bureaucratic legacy, then later through military law. The third stage began in 1967 and continues until today: improving the means of control over the populations of the West Bank and Gaza. It has become a science fiction-like system of electronic fences, sustained through regulation and monitoring, with the help of flying vehicles controlled from afar – like a computer game.

And let us not forget that Israel is a state where the secret police declares clearly that it sees as a security threat anybody that works against the Jewish nature of the state – even through legitimate, democratic ways.

So, if the mere act of claiming equal rights over land and political power is viewed as a security threat, then not only does moving populations become a legitimate topic for the negotiation table, but for the army as well – two years ago, security forces trained for the scenario of evacuating villages and creating huge detention camps.

This is why it should be clear first and foremost that to take on a genuine “leftist” position in any discussion regarding this conflict, one must start by admitting two unbearable atrocities: first, the exclusiveness that Jews have over political power in a shared space, and second, the Judaizing system that uses state resources to maintain a brutal colonizing process. All of this could happen if a few semantics are internalized: for example, the difference between claiming Israel is THE Jewish Homeland, and claiming Israel is A Jewish homeland. Instead of calling Israel the Jewish state, Israel should be called a democratic regime for all its citizens, which preserves the right to a Jewish life and and Israeli cultural existence (linguistically, artistically, etc.). Instead of talking about a peace process between two sides, talking about how to produce a democratic social life.

That’s why there is nothing “left” about the “Zionist Left.” And there’s a clear connection between voting for Tzipi Livni or Shelly Yachimovich, and supporting a Price Tag crime. The difference is encapsulated by your stance on the Altalena Affair: it is an internal discussion within the colonial forces. Whether colonization should be carried out with by more or less force, and whether it should consider international law or not. There is nothing in all of that to help you produce your social democratic identity in a shared space.

Muhammad Jabali is a Palestinian Israeli activist and facilitator. He is a coordinator for the Ayam Association’s Jaffa Project-Autobiography of a City, which works to reconcile memory and space for a cosmopolitan Jaffa. He writes for Palestinian media and blogs within Israel, and has published poems in both Hebrew and Arabic. He is also a part of the Palestinema Group, which promotes films from the Arab world inside Israel-Palestine. He is also an occasional DJ. Visit his personal website here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. And then people wonder why American Jews aren’t running at the chance to support Palestinian statehood (which I strongly believe they SHOULD be doing). Noam Chomsky was right when he said people like Muhammed use discourse that encourages violence, not equal rights (http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20040330.htm).

      Reply to Comment
    2. Bosko

      @Matan Lurey
      .
      Thanks for that link showing Chomsky’s take on the one state solution. I haven’t been a fan of him (to say the least) and I probably am still not a fan, but my esteem for him because of his view on this issue rose a notch.

      Reply to Comment
    3. AYLA

      I love this: “(Israel’s Statehood) is a physical territorial project of clearing the space of anything that doesn’t fit into the story, and deleting the rest from view and memory. This is what makes the creation and the self-image of Israel a very violent act”.
      *
      And this: “Israel is one big gated community.”
      *
      And this (in which I learned something contextually new, thank you): “After more than a decade of political feuding between the “Right” and “Left” inside the Jewish democracy, the Arabs became citizens – for a moment. And then Rabin was assassinated.”
      ***
      Although I agree that this should be a state for all her people, and not a “Jewish State”, but a State with certain Jewish interests in its constitution, I think it’s naive to believe that Rabin’s assassination shouldn’t have alarmed Jews because it was carried out by a Jew. Rifts within the Jewish World, which are deep deep deep (just read 972 comment threads for evidence), are understandably disturbing for Jews, and especially in regard to Israel, which brings up every possible issue of identity, just as this land does for Palestinians. I agree that hateful infighting should not have been the only concern about Rabin’s assassination, and that Jews (Leftist Jews, according to the terminology of this post) and Palestinians should join together much more often in response to injustices that concern us together and/or toward a common goal. But I recognize and honor the implications of Rabin’s assassination on and for the Jewish people (no air quotes).
      *
      Although I agree that there can be no Jewish State that is also a democracy (and this is not a democracy, currently. period.), and therefore I agree that we should not call Israel a “Jewish State”, I have to say, I do feel it’s the Jewish Homeland. Hear me out. Not only ours! This land is holy for so many, and I don’t want to argue that it’s more holy for us than for Muslims. I know that argument, and I find it meaningless. Holy is holy. You can’t divide holy; it’s mathematically indivisible. That said, although individual jews and jewish families have other homelands of origin, this is our spiritual homeland. Ethiopian Jews knew to walk here, through Sudan, risking and giving their lives to come here, and they had no media outlet telling them to do so; they had only the Torah. Not all jews feel connected to Israel that way, which is fine. Not all jews have ever once read the torah, and more (I’d guess) have never been to Israel, and that’s all fine, too. But from a religiously historical perspective, it’s our one and only homeland. What we seem to forget, speaking or erasing stories, is how humbly God insisted that we enter and care for this land. Abraham/Ibrihim and Sarah are rolling in their Hebron graves.
      *
      Just as it is violent to erase each other’s histories and stories (something we all do, systematically (in our schools) and personally, whether it be consciously or naively)–it is also violent to deny each other’s deep and true connection to this land. Not only are we all deeply connected, here; our biblical histories, blood, are one and the same.
      *
      Although I don’t disagree with any argument you’ve made about being a leftist zionist, here’s the thing: I’m left left left. I’m also a new immigrant to Israel who left an objectively good life to be here. I’m for everyone. I take my right to be here as a responsibility to fight for Palestinian rights. I do not feel guilty about my life. I do not feel hypocritical. I believe that through daily interactions on this land, my life is contributing to the good here, more than the armchair critics in Philadelphia’s. Here we are. I see the injustices. I do not accept them. Let’s join hearts to open others’ and do something about this mess.
      *
      thank you so much for posting here and taking this ongoing dialogue to yet another level. You’ve enriched this dialogue.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Richard Witty

      To take on a genuine humane position on the Israel/Palestine issues (the anti-Zionist “left” position also conflicts with prior leftist values) would include to my mind:

      1. Equal due process before the law (everyone, including Jewish Israelis, Palestinian Israeli residents, refugee Palestinians with possible title claims, also settlers)

      If you would deny equal due process before a color-blind court to settlers, then you are not advocating for equal rights but for a pendulum swing of preferential rights.

      As, if you would deny equal due process before a color-blind court to resident or refugee Palestinians, then you would not be advocating for equal rights.

      2. Commitment to peaceful reconciliation of grievances.

      Leftist justice is in the present. It does not result from who should have been in the land, but who is in the land.

      As harsh as it is say, that conflicts with the leftist advocacy for unlimited right of return of Palestinian refugees.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Volodinjev

      I just love an article that starts like this: “Any democratic process must start by admitting two unbearable atrocities”. I love it because the author is honest: from the outset, he makes it absolutely clear that he wants war.

      The warmonger is easily recognized by his vengeful rhetoric, his insistence on the “justice” of settling old scores.

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    6. “A clear connection between voting for Sheli Yehimovitch and supporting a Price Tag crime.” Bullshit. The Zionists of old didn’t have a state, they were akin to refugees themselves, and they fought for a country where they wouldn’t be treated like shit, which was their lot in Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East. They won the war and immediately made the Arabs citizens (second-class citizens, that’s damnably true). The post-67 settlers, backed by the govt, took over another people’s land when they ALREADY HAD A STATE, and subjugated them completely. That’s the difference between Israel and the occupied territories, that’s the difference between the Zionist Left and the Zionist Right. I don’t expect Palestinians to have anything good to say about Zionism of any sort, but when say the Zionist peace camp is no different from Kach, I’m reminded of Jews who say “all Arabs are alike.”

      Reply to Comment
    7. aristeides

      This is an excellent and insightful essay, proving once again that the basic problem is Zionism, and the Zionist tendency in Israel to place Jewishness above everything, particularly justice and rights.

      .
      But it illustrates the reason I wish the discourse would abandon the use of the term “left.” What does “left” mean? Left of what? “Liberal” has a meaning, but if “left” means “liberal,” let’s say so.

      Reply to Comment
    8. aristeides

      Larry Defner displays the vast blind spot in his comprehension of Zionist history. “They won the war and immediately made the Arabs citizens (second-class citizens, that’s damnably true).”

      .
      Aren’t you leaving something out? Like the fact that “the Arabs” were not made citizens of Israel, but that the majority of them were made stateless refugees, citizens of no state at all. The Zionists had the luxury of conferring citizenship on a small remnant population of Arabs because they felt they were a manageable minority that wouldn’t threaten the Jewishness of the state, and they could point to this fact as evidence that they had conformed to the UN partition requirements, when in fact they had not.

      .
      And while giving citizenship to the Arabs, the Israelis proceeded to confiscate their land in a manner more blatant in many ways than the confiscations on the West Bank, which Defner finds so very different. Or haven’t you heard of Land Day? Or the “internal exiles” who, despite being citizens of the state, were driven at gunpoint out of their homes so they could be taken over by Jews.

      .
      This is a convenient memory lapse that allows Derfer to reject the fundamental truth that Jabali is declaring here: Zionism is Zionism, and when it wants Arab land, it takes it. In this, there is no difference between “right” and “left.”

      Reply to Comment
    9. AYLA

      @Aristeides–what is your real name? What do you do in Philadelphia that informs what you consistently seem to believe is an expertise? Personally, I feel privileged to listen in on a dialogue between Larry Derfner and Muhammad Jabali, since both have been living on this land for over a quarter of a century and Muhammad, I take it, was born here. Both of them, too, have devoted their lives, in different ways, to this conflict on this land. Have you ever been here? (Very possibly the answer is Yes–sincere question). If so, have you ever been here in a non-touristic way? Can you at least concede that you can’t understand a place as an expert entirely with intellect and what you read? You have the gaul to accuse my life of being outrageously (was that your word?) hypocritical, when in fact, there is absolutely nothing hypocritical about my life. the only way to see my life that way is to see things all from the neck up. I’d object to your comments a lot less if you didn’t assume such false authority. How boring, to know so much. How divisive and empty. As a jew, which you are (right?), it must make you feel very good to separate yourself from the enterprise of the whole state of israel since you feel it is Bad. Despite all of your intellectual capacity, which you exercise well here, your thinking is ultimately coming from a terribly easy place.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Apa

      Ayla – Aristeides brings up a series of facts that Larry conveniently ignores. Then you proceed with an ad hominem attack.

      The very point of this article is to point out the blind spot Larry so clearly exhibits. I wonder, given the situation of the jews in 1948, would he agree with the ‘necessity’ of ethnic cleansing that Richard Witty seea.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Volodinjev

      @Apa

      You can get Israelis to admit the wrongs of 1948 if it’s for an apology on their part and nothing more, but the moment they think such an admission would have them paying through the nose with real stuff (turning into a binational state, or even the “Go back to Europe and America” suggested by fanatics from time to time), the response is going to be “Nuts!”

      There’s a schizophrenic attitude among the writers and posters of +972 Magazine: on the one hand, they say the “ancient history” of the Jewish claim to Palestine is null and void when set against the “here and now” reality of the Palestinians, but when they’re told that keeping the old score of 1948 alive and punishable is detrimental to peace, they get fired up and reprove the pragmatist for “supporting a miscarriage of justice”.

      Reply to Comment
    12. aristeides

      Ayla – the term was “obscenely hypocritical.”

      Reply to Comment
    13. Mitchell Cohen

      Aristeides, if you wish for Israel to disappear (or at least by Jew free), then what is the point of your participating on threads like the state of Israel’s educational system? If you consider Israel to be illegitimate, then what does the state of Israel’s educational system (for example) matter to you?

      Reply to Comment
    14. aristeides

      So now we hijack the thread by making it about Aristeides instead of Jabali’s essay? Let’s not.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Zvi

      I think that Larry’s comment is spot on: “I don’t expect Palestinians to have anything good to say about Zionism of any sort, but when say the Zionist peace camp is no different from Kach, I’m reminded of Jews who say “all Arabs are alike.”” There is not much space for dialog about this article.

      Israel came into existence in a very particular period. Had the state been founded twenty years earlier (ie upon the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire) we would not be having this discussion. And the state probably would not have been founded post 1960….

      Many nation states which were founded in the 1947-1951 era had very traumatic “births” which often involved huge numbers of refugees. And many of these “modern” states continue to struggle with a whole range of issues, but do we continue to question the legitimacy of these other nations?

      Reply to Comment
    16. Sinjim

      @Larry: You once again moon the poor people who visit this website with your obscene mythology. Whether pre-state Zionists were refugees or immigrants by choice is besides the point here. They came to build a state that would exclude the vast majority of the indigenous population. They expelled the majority of the Palestinians from the territory that they came to control and placed the rest under an oppressive military regime. You nevertheless imply Israel should be commended for granting Palestinians, who you call “Arabs,” some bizarre thing known as citizenship that didn’t at all resemble real citizenship.
      .
      And now you are defending the contemptible coward Shelli Yachimovich, who has visited settlements in her political capacity, defending them as a “consensual move” (link).
      .
      Jabali says Yachimovich’s Zionist positions, such as the defense of the settlements as entirely legal, means there is a connection between her and the price tag vandals, who originate in the settlements. However, you take this opportunity to equate Zionism with Jews and then accuse Jabali of anti-Semitism for criticizing her and the other cowards that populate your political system.
      .
      As I said in another post, with liberal allies like this, why would Palestinians ever need enemies?

      Reply to Comment
    17. Sinjim

      @Matan: Jabali never once mentioned a one-state solution. What he did say was that Israel should become a state of its citizens, which nevertheless preserves Jewish life and culture just not exclusively. This is a Palestinian who is advocating for Jewish culture as a matter of policy. How on earth ought that to understandably encourage violence?
      .
      @Zvi: We talk about the legitimacy of Israel’s system of government because its victims demand to talk about it. Jabali is a citizen of Israel, and he is allowed to write about what is wrong with this state and what needs to be done to fix it.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Zvi

      @Sinjim – I generally have little patience for people who use excessive “key words” (including the “quotes”) in their dialog, but I do welcome Jabali’s post here! I just wish that I could find a way to engage with it in a more constructive manner. I am sure that he & I could have a very interesting conversation on the topic but I am a bit at a loss for how to contribute to that “conversation” here via written comments.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Sinjim

      @Zvi: I would first start out by not accusing Palestinians of anti-Semitism just because they put forward the legitimate point that Avodah’s policies are at their root connected to the settlements and the price tag vandalism. After all, Yachimovich, who Jabali mentions by name, supports the settlement enterprise. He isn’t saying “All Jews are the same” when he says that’s a problem.
      .
      Secondly, I would say there is plenty of room for dialog and conversation here. Here is a Palestinian saying that he wants a state with equal rights for all before the law that affords explicit protections of Jewish identity and culture, and he is met by those who a) accuse him of encouraging violence, b) accuse him of hatred, and/or c) don’t know how to respond to him. I’m honestly bewildered by this.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Tom P.

      very well written.
      Only quibble- you make the analogy with the U.S. without saying anything about Native Americans. The parallels are greater than you present them.

      Reply to Comment
    21. sh

      Wow. The sticking point is demography isn’t it. I’m wondering: is there another country the legal system of which is deliberately constructed to ensure that a particular sector of its populace will remain a majority?
      .
      I do happen to think that there is nothing left about what’s called the left in Israel. Hitching the word Zionist to left is a frill that provides a convenient diversion for those who don’t want to discuss what’s left of the left.
      .
      Israel-Palestine-the Holy Land, whatever you want to call it, was, is and always will be the Jewish homeland, whether any Jews live in it or not. What is at issue is whether Jews need to own it all in order to ensure their place in it.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Henry Weinstein

      “The Judaizing system” Digested: Death to Isreality.
      Ultra dense study to deconstruct Israel as if Israel was a text. In my opinion, the talented author should write a Sci-Fi fiction. ‘Zionix’, something like that.
      Nota bene: ultra violent punctuation.
      .
      .
      # Best Of, track one: “The Palestinians are still being asked to accept “The Jewish State” instead of using a rights-based discourse, in which the logic of ‘securing Jewish existence’ in the land would be primary-meaning securing the right of Jewish people to live and practice their Israeli life”.
      .
      What remains of Israel the state with this logic? The Israeli Jews.
      That is proof the author is not a realist.
      .
      Is another logic possible? Let’s try something else:
      Maybe Israeli Jews think the reason-why for the state of Israel is to secure their right to live an practice their Jewish Israeli life. Maybe they are not willing to accept “the logic of ‘securing Jewish existence’ in the land”, if it means they wouldn’t had anymore a state, “a Jewish nation-state”, dedicated to secure their Jewish existence in the land of Israel, their country. Maybe Israeli Jews are not interested in deconstructing Israel, even if it’s logical; after all they have spent the last 63 years buiding Israel and it wasn’t easy.
      .
      # Best Of, track two: “One can’t begin to call to change the regime, to stop the wheels of the Judaizing machine, without being accused of wanting to destroy the “Jewish People”.”
      .
      So calling “to stop the wheels of the Judaizing machine” means “to call to change the regime”, i.e the “Jewish State” aka “the Judaizing system”, but that doesn’t mean “wanting to destroy the “Jewish People”, i.e the Israeli Jews.
      In other (satirical) words, one can’t begin to say ‘Death to Israel’ without being accused to say ‘Death to the Jews’, and it’s unfair because ‘Death to Israel’ means ‘Death to the Judaizing system’.
      .
      But later the author explains that “the claim for a “Jewish majority” in any ‘crucial’ political decision-making (…) destroyed the possibility of creating what is so essential for any democracy: a public that believes in change throught majority, based on ideas and not on an ethnic belonging to a privileged majority produced by force”.
      .
      So “to call to change the regime” doesn’t mean “wanting to destroy the “Jewish People”, i.e the Israeli Jews, but means to call to change the majority, “the privileged majority produced by force” i.e the Israeli Jews aka “The Jewish People”.
      Some ‘people’ may have a problem with this logic and with this program.
      .
      .
      Deconstructing Israel is easy, building dialog & peace is very hard.

      Reply to Comment
    23. aristeides

      Zvi – like Derfner, you ignore the inconvenient. Yes, there were upheavals during the postwar period and millions of refugees. But what group of refugees still remains stateless because of the refusal of the Israeli state to do what the law requires and allow their return to their homeland?

      .
      There is a REASON why the legitimacy of Israel is denied by so many. If the members of the UN had withheld recognition until the solution of the refugee problem, we would indeed be having a different discussion now.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Bosko

      1947 was a year when the legitimate national aspirations of two peoples came to a climax. Were the national aspirations of the Jewish people legitimate? Was it ligitimate for them to aspire to self determination and escape dependence on host nations and periodic but ongoing historical persecutions? Of course they had the right.
      .
      Were the aspirations of the local Arab population of Palestine legitimate? Of course they were. They had the right to shed the colonial rule and become part of the larger Arab nation.
      .
      Now, put the aspirations of the two peoples together and any thinking person should recognize that there was a conflict of interest between the two legitimate national aspirations. No solution existed that would deliver everything to BOTH peoples. Only a rogue or a hopeless idealist would expect to be able to deliver 100% of the expectations of BOTH peoples. So a compromise solution was needed. That compromise was the proposed two state solution of UN resolution 181. Both the Jews and the Arabs would have liked to get more than that compromise but of the two peoples, the Jews were the ones who were more willing to compromise. The Arabs mistakenly believed that they could do better by resorting to war. They openly stated their intentions about what the outcome of that war if they would prove to be the winners. Their aim was to eliminate Jewish national aspirations and not just aspirations. There would not have been too many Jews left in Palestine if the Arabs would have been the victors. As it turned out, the Jews ended up doing some of the things that the Arabs aspired to do to Jews.
      .
      Was that just? No! Was it fair? Not necessarily. Was it unique in history? Not on your nelly. Just about every new nation that was born in history involved bloodshed, and suffering to one or more parties. The birth of Israel was no more or less moral than the births of most other nations. It could have been somewhat fairer and less bloody had the Arabs accepted the UN compromise as the Jews did. 
      .
      In summary, the only difference between Israel’s birth and the births of other nations is that it happened somewhat more recently. It is also a sure bet that once the die was cast for war, suffering and losd for both sides was assured. The Palestinian Jews lost 1% of their population in that war. There were ethnic cleansigs of both sides but the Arabs suffered from it on a much larger scale. Later on Jews from Arab countries too were ethnically cleansed on a same scale. The rest is history. And history that no one should be proud of!!!
      .
      We now have two choices: 1) We can try to wind the clock back and opt for more suffering on both sides. Or 2) Move on and look for a compromise solution. The question is, have we learnt the lessons of the past?

      Reply to Comment
    25. AYLA

      SH–I love this that you wrote, “Israel-Palestine-the Holy Land, whatever you want to call it, was, is and always will be the Jewish homeland, whether any Jews live in it or not. What is at issue is whether Jews need to own it all in order to ensure their place in it.”
      *
      You know I can’t stand our engagement with the word “zionism” anymore (not yours; ours). However, in response to your hypothesis about why some attach “leftist” to “zionist”, (and I realize you’re engaging with the author’s terms) I think it’s more simply because liberals on Israel are so dismissively called “anti-israel”, and it’s their way of responding. Sadly, humans usually respond on the level on which others engage with them. With this in mind, we can only try to rise above ourselves–our own defensive reactions–and raise the bar for dialogue and thought. You are one of the people who often does so. Thank you.
      *
      @Everyone: I think we’d have more honest, meaningful dialogue if we weren’t allowed to use ANY terminology that labels ideas or beliefs. Just say what you mean, and speak for yourself, from your heart.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Bosko

      We saw what the world was like when the Jews were guests in someone else’s land. Don’t be so sure that things have changed so much. Don’t be in such a hurry to give up what you have.
      .
      I know that most of you here will ignore this message. Some of you, because you are just unrealistic dreamers and some of you for other reasons of your own. But fortunately most Israelis already know this truth. They don’t even need to hear it from the likes of me.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Berl

      Bosko,
      the day that you will write one word about the settlements we will start to take in account your enlightened advices.
      AYLA,
      I fully agree with what that you have written:
      “Although I agree that there can be no Jewish State that is also a democracy (and this is not a democracy, currently. period.), and therefore I agree that we should not call Israel a “Jewish State”, I have to say, I do feel it’s the Jewish Homeland. Hear me out. Not only ours! This land is holy for so many, and I don’t want to argue that it’s more holy for us than for Muslims. I know that argument, and I find it meaningless. Holy is holy. You can’t divide holy; it’s mathematically indivisible.”
      However, you should always remember that religion is first of all something private between you and your God. In the name of God you can justify so many things; moreover, if you have an ideology you can put in the mouth of God all your certainties.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Zvi

      @SH – I also liked your “What is at issue is whether Jews need to own it all in order to ensure their place in it.”

      And I very much agree with Ayla and others that certain “code words” can stifle dialog instead of promote it. Although there is probably not much that we can do about that in such a forum.

      @BERL – this reminds me of something from one of William Shatner’s spoken word songs (highly recommended – seriously!): if these Gods are so omnipotent and everything, WHY CAN’T THEY JUST GET ALONG WITH EACH OTHER?!

      Reply to Comment
    29. Bosko

      Berl: “the day that you will write one word about the settlements we will start to take in account your enlightened advices”
      .
      This thread is not about settlements. However you want to hear from me about the settlements? Here, listen: The Jewish quarter of East Jerusalem is not a settlement. Gush Etzion is not a settlement. Even though everyone of your political persuasion calls those places settlements. I am sure you are not interested in hearing me explain why I feel that way so I won’t give you the benefit of my enlightened advice (to use your words). No point in arguing with closed minds. And I don’t want to be accused of hijacking this thread.

      Reply to Comment
    30. BERL

      Bosko,
      that’s all the the things that you know and you have to say about the settlements? East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, that’s it?
      As many others wrote you on this site, you should be less ideologic and, most of all, a little bit more informed

      Reply to Comment
    31. Bosko

      Berl
      .
      Just because we hold differing opinions, it does not mean that I am misinformed. I don’t respect anyone who wants to dismisses the other without knowing what the other knows or does not know. I see such people as self serving. Plenty like that around here. Then again, you are not unique, both sides of politics engage in such tactics.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Bosko

      Berl
      .
      You are the one who asked me to talk about settlement’s. Now that I mentioned the Jewish quarter of East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, which I think, your side of politics deems to be settlements, why do you object? Or am I wrong? Don’t you consider those places to be settlements??

      Reply to Comment
    33. Cortez

      “The Jewish quarter of East Jerusalem is not a settlement. Gush Etzion is not a settlement. Even though everyone of your political persuasion calls those places settlements”

      LOL political persuasion? How about the whole world except for Costa Rica? A supermajority of countries, the Hague Convention, the Geneva Convention and other official documents do not recognize Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Bosko

      @Cortez
      .
      Despite what you may imagine, ridicule is not proof that you are right. Let me ask you this, regarding the Jewish quarter: As the name suggests, East Jerusalem’s Jewish quarter was inhabited continuously by Jews for over 3000 years, except between 1948 and 1967 after the Jews who lived there were ethnically cleansed by the Arab legion and Palestinian Arab irregular forces.
      .
      So in your opinion, because of those 19 years of Arab rule, the Jewish quarter has now become irrevocably Arab land?

      Reply to Comment
    35. Bosko

      Cortez: ” A supermajority of countries, the Hague Convention, the Geneva Convention and other official documents do not recognize Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem”
      .
      I was not talking annexation, Cortez. I was talking about Jews building and living in the Jewish quarter of East Jerusalem. Why do youinsist that doing so is tantamount to establishing a settlement?

      Reply to Comment
    36. Bosko

      Oh by the way, Cortez, the last time I heard, a supermajority of nations did not recognize Jordan’s annexation of East Jerusalem while it administered it between 1948 and 1967.
      .
      In fact, the UN voted, in 1947, for East Jerusalem to be an imternational city. Having said that, it was only a non binding GA vote. So, let’s face it, the legal status of East Jerusalem is indeterminate. But what would an ignorant ideologue like me know about such things, right Cortez?

      Reply to Comment
    37. I second Berl’s comment, above, on Alya’s
      “Holy is holy. You can’t divide holy; it’s mathematically indivisible.”
      worth keeping in memory.
      .
      And Richard Witty’s:
      “Leftist justice is in the present. It does not result from who should have been in the land, but who is in the land.

      As harsh as it is say, that conflicts with the leftist advocacy for unlimited right of return of Palestinian refugees.”
      .
      Bosko, you are one stead fast guy.
      .
      I have never seen so much evolution of thought through engagement with others as I have on this site, this thread an example. You’re not going to solve it all, but something is happening here.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Bosko

      Greg
      .
      I am not convinced I see evolution of thought by those with whom I engage. But if you mean evolution of thought by me, then let me hasten to add that you probably haven’t seen it either. I have always held the views that you see me express on this thread. Of course you may not have seen me express them before because I was not involved in this particular discussion.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Bosko

      Then again, I must say, I did not come here expecting people to change their minds. Things just don’t work that way. I am very much aware of that.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Berl

      Bosko,
      Settlements are much more than East Jerusalem. Even the latter, that the entire international community does not recognize as the “indivisible capital of Israel”, can be considered “not occupied” by Israel only if Tel Aviv recognizes the legitimate rights of the Palestinians on their properties in West Jerusalem. The problem is that people like you are never satisfied: they just want everything, as every colonialist in the history.
      Uru-Shalem, i.e. the “city of Salem” founded by the Jebusites 2,000 years before the conquest of King David, was never only Jewish and will never be: Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal and indivisible” capital, is a solipsistic, immoral and biased way of considering a 5,000 years old city.
      We did not come here expecting people to change their minds: you have a colonialist and selective approach and no one doubt that you will stick with this weak ideology.

      Reply to Comment
    41. Bosko

      Berl: ” The problem is that people like you are never satisfied: they just want everything”
      .
      Berl, once again, you don’t know what I want other than by what I said since I came here. And no where did I say that I want everything. I want peace, but not peace at all cost. That’s what I want.
      .
      But since you started on the “what people like me want”, I’ll reciprocate. All you people want is to beat your collective chests about all the bad things that Israel has done and is still doing. Then you listen to the other side and allow them to tell you ‘how high Israel has to jump’ for “peace” and pretend that by doing so there will be a peace worth having for the Jewish people of Israel. I am here to tell you that it won’t.

      Reply to Comment
    42. Bosko

      Berl: “Uru-Shalem, i.e. the “city of Salem” founded by the Jebusites 2,000 years before the conquest of King David, was never only Jewish and will never be: Jerusalem as Israel’s “eternal and indivisible” capital, is a solipsistic, immoral and biased way of considering a 5,000 years old city”
      .
      Again, you are telling me what I think. I never talked about annexing all of East Jerusalem. I talked about the Jewish quarter and I’ll tell you that the Jewish quarter had Jews living in it, continuously for over 3000 years except for the brief period of 19 years between 1948 and 1967 when the Jews were ethnically cleansed by the Arabs. So why do people like you insist that the Jewish quarter of East Jerusalem is a settlement? Just because the Arabs and those who attach more importance to oil than integrity, say so?
      .
      By the way did you know that both Barak and Olmert in their respective peace offers of 2001 and 2008 offered to share East Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine? What would be your problem with that Berl??

      Reply to Comment
    43. Bosko

      @Berl
      Since you started talking about people like me and I responded by talking about people like you, here: read an article written by a non Jewish American journalist, Bill Frezza, about how he sees Jews. You might want to read it and tell me who you recognize in it, people like me or people like you?
      .
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrezza/2011/07/12/back-from-lebanon-an-attempt-to-explain-the-israelis-attitude-toward-the-palestinians/
      .
      Perhaps a bit simplistic but I believe that there is a lot of truth in what he says even though it isn’t flattering. Anyway, I’d be interested in what you have to say about it.

      Reply to Comment
    44. AYLA

      @Berl–if by “you” you actually mean me, preaching to the choir, but/and, Yes.

      Reply to Comment
    45. Ben Israel

      Bosko-
      Thanks for posting that brilliant column. Although you may think it is simplistic, it certainly explains the disconnect between America’s liberal/”progressive” Jews and Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    46. Ben Israel

      Bosko-
      The “Jewish Quarter” of the old city of Jerusalem is a recent artifact. Before 1948 Jews lived all throughout the old city and throughout what is now referred to as east Jerusalem.

      Reply to Comment
    47. Bosko

      Ben Israel: ” it certainly explains the disconnect between America’s liberal/”progressive” Jews and Israelis”
      .
      Yes, that was my reaction too when I first read the article, Ben.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Bosko

      Berl: “you have a colonialist and selective approach”

      Poor Berl cannot respond to facts and logic so the reaction that he feels is anger. His long cherished views are threatened so he lashes out.
      .
      “Anger is one of the most misunderstood and overused of human emotions. First, anger is a reaction to an inner emotion and not a planned action. Second, anger is easier to show: everyone has anger issues. Third, the feelings underlying the anger reaction make us feel vulnerable and weak; your anger makes you feel, at least momentarily, strong and in control”
      .
      What made him angry with me? The fact that I elected to discuss a topic on which his long held views clearly don’t hold water. Since he cannot defend those views, his reaction was anger. Instead of either arguing his case or admitting that he is wrong on that particular issue, he found it easier to lash out and project beliefs on me which I may or may not hold. His reaction was the classic reaction of those who feel threatened. Fight AND flight (in his case both :))

      Reply to Comment
    49. Bosko,
      Reading your last text I feel as though I am being laughed out of some group. I do not see shadenfreude as any better than anger.
      .
      I’ve read the piece by Frezza. Non violence is not “passive cowardice.” Clearly so if you look at some of the events surrounding Gandhi and King. But Israel is not so much in a position of being an actor in nonviolence (if ever) rather than being its target. As to interchanging Dispora Jews and Israeli Jews, you would get about what you have now if the population structure remains unchanged, after a period of shock (which would go both ways; supporters of Liberman might find America a bit difficult; I guess they could worry about Mexico).
      .
      Actually, Bosko, people do change their views–and that is the greatest worry of the Knesset, I think. For there are many supporters of this Knesset who are so because they see nothing else, have been told there is nothing else. I do not have answers. But I do know malice when it comes (the recently killed young Palestinian male protestor). And I believe, with as much faith you have in your God, that at least partial answers exist.
      .
      I prefer the parent who knows, or allows, that his children may turn out differently from him. I am not interested in confronting the many sides out there. I am interested in seeing how people can, together, develop a new path. I know I will not be on that path. But perhaps I shall see them walk to a new place. Is it that no one evolves/changes on this site, or that we are not allowed to do so?

      Reply to Comment
    50. Bosko

      Greg: “I’ve read the piece by Frezza. Non violence is not “passive cowardice.” Clearly so if you look at some of the events surrounding Gandhi and King. But Israel is not so much in a position of being an actor in nonviolence (if ever) rather than being its target. As to interchanging Dispora Jews and Israeli Jews, you would get about what you have now if the population structure remains unchanged, after a period of shock (which would go both ways; supporters of Liberman might find America a bit difficult; I guess they could worry about Mexico)”
      .
      Actually, Frezza did not use that term in reference to Israel. He used it in reference to generations of Diaspora Jews and their survival mechanism as a means for at least some of the group to survive. At least until they were confronted with mass extermination on an industrial scale by the third Reich. After which, some of them, those who ended up in Israel, realized that such a survival tactic does not always guarantee survival to ANY of the group. Unfortunately, the Berls of this world still have not learnt that lesson.

      Reply to Comment
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