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The many denials of liberal Zionism

From its origins until today, liberal Zionism has been unable to reconcile Israeli policies of dispossession and military control with the image of a democratic state. Is it merely a matter of semantics, or inherent to the ideology? Part two of Ran Greenstein’s analysis.

By Ran Greenstein

As discussed in the previous part of this article, liberal Zionists like Arthur Ruppin and Hans Kohn responded in divergent ways to the challenge of reconciling broad universal values with narrow Zionist aims. What they shared with other activists and intellectuals, though, was full realization of the costs involved in their choices. This is not the case for most present-day Israeli liberals, who take the post-1948, post-Nakba realities for granted, as the starting point for looking at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One way of looking at the dilemmas facing liberal Zionism today is through the notion of denial, or the refusal to acknowledge historical context, which continues to shape our political scene. This context reflects long-term processes and can be broken down by the key dates with which these processes are associated. In each case they built on existing trends to set in motion a new round of developments that shaped the subsequent period. Let us consider each in turn and discuss their implications.

Israelis take part in a protest calling for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian, Tel Aviv, on August 16, 2014. Thousands of demonstrators gathered on Saturday for a pro-peace rally under the slogan: 'Changing Direction: Toward Peace, Away From War.' (photo: Activestills)

Israelis take part in a protest calling for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, Tel Aviv, on August 16, 2014. Thousands of demonstrators gathered on Saturday for a pro-peace rally under the slogan: ‘Changing Direction: Toward Peace, Away From War.’ (photo: Activestills)

The denial of 1917

This was the year of the Balfour Declaration, which asserted British support for the quest of the Zionist movement to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, based on the understanding that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities” in the country. It set in motion a process of mass immigration of Jews into the country and the re-construction of the Jewish community as a separate political entity, on its way to independent statehood. It also led to the formation of a Palestinian-Arab national movement, which opposed immigration and land acquisition by Jews, and demanded democratic government based on majority rule. The growing conflict between these mutually exclusive forces led to the 1947-48 war, the Nakba and the creation of the State of Israel.

Liberal Zionists deny that the Balfour Declaration was illegitimate from the perspective of Arab residents of the country, until then the unchallenged majority of the population. The British subordinated their prospect of independence to that of a new group of immigrants, and facilitated the creation of a ever-growing zone of social and economic exclusion, from which all Palestinians were barred (as rights-bearing residents, employees, tenants). Their natural response was resistance. It is hard to think of a single group of indigenous people in history who reacted differently to a similar situation. Yet, the liberal Zionist perspective finds it impossible to contemplate this basic reality, as it would raise questions about settlement and dispossession, colonialism and indigenous rights, which cannot be answered easily within its paradigm.

The denial of 1947

The UN partition resolution, which called for Palestine to be divided into Jewish and Arab states, was supported by the Zionist movement and the majority of Jews, and rejected by the majority of Arabs (in Palestine and elsewhere). One of the core beliefs of liberal Zionism is that these attitudes reflected the logic of compromise, which was adopted by Zionism historically, but was abandoned after 1967 and needs to be restored today. In contrast, the Arabs adopted a rejectionist position that undermined their chances to gain independence then and ever since.

In what way does this way of looking at 1947 constitute a denial? Seen from the perspective of the time, the partition resolution was inequitable. It granted the Jewish community territory it did not possess and took from the Arab community territory it did possess. Only 10,000 Jews – 1.6% of the total Jewish population – were expected to live as a minority in the area allocated to Arab state while the equivalent figure for Arabs in the Jewish state was 400,000 – 33% of their total. Jews, a third of the population, were allocated 56% of the territory, while Arabs who were two-thirds of the population were allocated only 44%.

Read more: The perennial dilemma of liberal Zionism

Beyond the specific details of the resolution, it gave a seal of approval to a process that had seen Palestinians losing their overwhelming demographic and territorial domination, unable to block the rapid growth of the organized Jewish community, and marginalized in their own homeland. Rejecting partition did not lead to a positive outcome for them, but they could not agree to have large chunks of their country given away to a group of people they regarded as unwelcome guests, most of whom had been there for less than a generation. That the foremost leader of the Jewish community at the time had built his career on opposition to sharing land, employment and residence with local Arabs, did not help build trust in a future under Jewish rule or alongside an expanding Jewish state.

An ultra-orthodox Jewish man walks in the depopulated Palestinian village of Lifta, located on the edge of West Jerusalem, Israel, March 4, 2014. During the Nakba, the residents of Lifta fled attacks by Zionist militias beginning in December 1947, resulting in the complete evacuation of the village by February 1948. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

An ultra-orthodox Jewish man walks in the depopulated Palestinian village of Lifta, located on the edge of West Jerusalem, Israel, March 4, 2014. During the Nakba, the residents of Lifta fled attacks by Zionist militias beginning in December 1947, resulting in the complete evacuation of the village by February 1948. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

The Nakba that followed the partition resolution was, in a sense, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Ethnic cleansing was both a result of the actions of Zionist forces, putting into effect plans for creating a contiguous defensible Jewish territory, and the re-actions of Palestinians, at times anticipating violent expulsion by fleeing the advancing military forces. The crucial point is that regardless of the circumstances of their departure or their participation in the events (as militants or peaceful residents, who were passively cleansed or actively fled their homes), all those who became refugees in 1947-48 were denied re-entry into the new State of Israel. The result was not merely the displacement of large number of people but the destruction of an entire society.

The liberal Zionist paradigm can digest these events only as the tragic but ultimately fortunate outcome of the quest for Jewish national self-determination. That it transformed the conflict into a struggle for restoration of people and their rights, forever marking it by the imperative to redress the “original sin” of dispossession, cannot be contemplated however. Rather, we need not dwell on the past, move on with our lives and wait for the “salmon syndrome” – using Ehud Barak’s horrible phrase – to die out.

The denial of 1967

It is only with the war of 1967 and its aftermath that liberal Zionism truly came into its own. It deserves credit for having opposed the occupation, settlements and creeping annexation for decades. Is it fair then to charge it with denial? The answer is yes. Let us examine why.

The liberal stand against the occupation suffers from its refusal to consider the historical context of 1967, seeing the war as an aberration, a disruptive force that changed democratic, egalitarian little Israel into a right-wing oppressive state dominated by messianic settlers. Missing from this picture is the extent to which pre-1967 Israel was an oppressive state towards groups excluded from the mainstream: Palestinian refugees who were denied physical and political presence; Palestinian citizens who were physically present but also absent from full-fledged citizenship, having been subject to military rule and massive expropriation of their land; Mizrahi Jews who were given political rights but remained socially and culturally marginalized.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, Gen. Rehavam Ze’evi (right) and Gen. Uzi Narkiss walk through the Old City of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967, during the Six Day War. (Photo by GPO/Ilan Bruner)

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, Gen. Rehavam Ze’evi (right) and Gen. Uzi Narkiss walk through the Old City of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967, during the Six Day War. (Photo by GPO/Ilan Bruner)

Exclusionary practices developed in the pre-67 period (in some instances – secretive methods of land acquisition and dispossession – already in the pre-48 period), were extended to the occupied territories, with some important modifications. The ethnic cleansing and the massive destruction of villages in 1948 were not repeated on the same scale in 1967 (though about 300,000 fled or were expelled from the newly occupied territories into neighboring countries, many of them refugees from 1948). The residents of the territories were allowed to work in Israel but were denied civil and political rights. Land was confiscated (and continues to be to this day) but on a smaller scale than what was expropriated from Palestinian citizens in post-48 Israel.

The resulting system of control is unique, yet displays many family resemblances to other oppressive Israeli practices, which were applied – to varying degrees – to different groups of Palestinians. It is the refusal of liberal Zionism to see the continuity between such practices, and the links they form within a common logic of exclusion, that constitutes denial. A struggle against the occupation that regards it as a mere territorial dispute, and refuses to consider its ideological and historical foundations – what Meron Benvenisti refers to as the “genetic code” of Zionist settlement – is bound to fail.

The denial of 1987

And yet, there was a period of time in which liberal Zionism seemed to be winning. With the First Intifada of 1987 and the processes it facilitated, culminating with the Oslo Accords of 1993, awareness of the occupation and support for its termination were at an all-time high. It was just a matter of time until the process of Israeli withdrawal was completed, so believed many liberals, and a genuine two-state solution would come into being.

Israeli soldiers search a Palestinian at an IDF checkpoint. (photo: Breaking the Silence)

Israeli soldiers search a Palestinian at an IDF checkpoint. (photo: Breaking the Silence)

As we learned in subsequent years, this widespread expectation failed to materialize. Instead of coming to its end, the occupation has shifted shape from direct to indirect rule, shedding responsibility for the welfare of its subjects, and excluding them even further from any share in the rights and resources associated with citizenship. While Israel has entrenched its control over the territory and material resources (agricultural and residential land, water and so on), occupied Palestinians have faced more serious restrictions on their movement, political organization, and ability to run their lives than ever before.

What was presented until then as a temporary military rule for ‘security’ reasons, has hardened into a mode of rule combining permanent inclusion of land and resources for the use of military and civilian authorities, catering exclusively to Jewish settlers, with the permanent exclusion of indigenous residents as rights-bearing citizens. In other words, an apartheid-like system that enshrines radically different levels of access to entitlements and resources based on ethnic-religious distinctions.

Not surprisingly, the response of liberal Zionists has been characterized, once again, by denial. Instead of coming to terms with the new realities, and developing appropriate strategies that would take into account the changing modes of rule, settlement patterns and demographic conditions, they continue to recite in vain the mantra of separation of Jews and Arabs in their own states.

Illustrative photo: An activist puts a Palestinan flag on the Separation Wall facing the Modi'in Illit settlement (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills.org)

Illustrative photo: An activist puts a Palestinan flag on the Separation Wall facing the Modi’in Illit settlement (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills.org)

The fact that the conflict can no longer be seen as merely territorial in nature (if it ever were so) makes no noticeable difference. All changes are eternally deferred to an indeterminate future, when Jews will become a minority (as if domination of 51% of the population over the other 49% were more legitimate than the reverse), when Israel has to choose between its ‘democratic’ and ‘Jewish’ aspects (as if ruling for half a century over millions of people denied political rights had not decided the matter already), when the prospect of a two-state solution is no longer viable (as if 20 years of futile diplomacy, resulting in entrenching the occupation were not enough), when the window of opportunity for a negotiated solution is closed (as if it were still open).

What is the essence, then, of the liberal Zionist denial? It is the refusal to recognize anything that makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unique and different from normal territorial conflicts: the colonial origins of initial settlement, the dispossession of 1948, the historical logic of exclusion, the permanent nature of the “temporary” occupation. As long as our well-published liberal Zionists continue to ignore such foundations of the conflict, their feigned anguished calls for a change of policy on moral grounds will remain little more than empty rhetoric.

Related:
The perennial dilemma of liberal Zionism
Can one be a liberal and a Zionist without being a liberal Zionist?

Ran Greenstein is an associate professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. His book Zionism and its Discontents: A Century of Radical Dissent in Israel/Palestine will be published by Pluto Press, UK, in October 2014.

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    COMMENTS

    1. bir

      The primary denials of liberal Zionism is when B’Tzelem denies that one of its key researchers, a man who also happens to be a key guide into Arab Israel and Palestinian culture, is a Holocaust denier.

      As for the rest of this article, I guess if you subscribe entirely to the Palestinian narrative while denying Palestinians and other Arabs all agency, then perhaps you’re a “liberal Zionist” according to the author.

      Most people aren’t that silly.

      Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        I’m sure you can name that person and provide us with links that support your claim? Why must I ask for this all the time?

        Reply to Comment
      • ***The primary denials of liberal Zionism is when B’Tzelem denies that one of its key researchers, a man who also happens to be a key guide into Arab Israel and Palestinian culture, is a Holocaust denier.***

        Your attempt at trolling by dragging something totally irrelevant into this thread shows how little you have to try and refute the author’s substantive and well understood points.

        Next you’ll tell us Arafat was gay, as if that has anything to do with anything either.

        You are truly pathetic.

        Reply to Comment
        • bir

          For someone who thinks I’m “trolling” you sure do respond a lot to my comments.

          If I’m trolling, shouldn’t you be expending your energies with someone serious who isn’t trolling?

          Reply to Comment
    2. Samuel

      One important date was left out of this narrative: 1937, the year of the Peel Commission proposal. It is often reported that the Jews accepted this plan while the Arabs rejected it. This is an oversimplification. The plan called for the relocation of all Arabs inside the Israeli side of the border to the Palestinian side. while th epalestinians would have had nearly two thirds of the land, some would have been held by Britain and one third would have been a Jewish state, the Jewish Agency accepted the plan in principle, but rejected it in detail while Jabotinsky and his followers rejected it completely.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Mikesailor

      Bore: Once again you fail to refute the author and bring up a complete non sequitur as your “argument”. Frankly, I wouldn’t care if anyone was a “Holocaust denier” for I have never met one yet. There are questioners, yes, for much of the mythos surrounding the Holocaust is questionable to say the least. And the way it has been used is despicable and a disservice to the memory of the victims. For instance, it has been announced that what was originally claimed as gas chambers at Sobibor were not gas chambers after all. Yet, all those who questioned the original story were tarred as either “antisemitic” or Holocaust deniers” by hasbaristas like yourself. Funny how it is now accepted wisdom although I haven’t heard one apology from a Zionist for getting the history wrong. Furthermore, the figure of 6 million was a guess-timate by good old Raoul Hilger who advocated more study and did not want any figure to be etched in stone. Well, the archivists have had all the German records of the time, both official and “unoofficial” their possession since 2002. Have you heard a definitive report from those guys? I am still awaiting even a preliminary report but all we get is silence. Are they dokn g anything? Why? If they revise present day “understandings” and conventional wisdom whixh is maily Zionist propoganda, are they afraid they will be tarred as “Holocaust deniers’? Funny how this game works, isn’t it? No matter what, go against the Zionist narrative and you might be ruined without regard to truth. What a racket the Holocaust has become. No ownder hatred of those exposing the racket are so unpopular and the Zionists never attemtp to refute them. They merely try to personally destroy them and use ad homminem attacks rather than any facts, logic or reason.

      Reply to Comment
      • bir

        Let me guess, you’re also a B’Tzelem researcher? Perhaps you advise Gideon Levy at Ha’aretz? That was a nice bit of Holocaust history so you should be able to get a job with one or the other – they have an opening now.

        My comment was on target. I mocked the author’s views and demonstrated what liberal Zionists such as he and the folks at B’Tzelem are doing, namely listening to, assisting and supporting people who not only hate Israel, but Jews.

        Reply to Comment
        • Felix Reichert

          Instead of supporting people that hate not only Arabs, but Muslims? Ergo the Israeli government?

          Are you coming up with one argument that refutes any of the actual claims in this article, or do you prefer using straw-men, as you usually do?

          Reply to Comment
          • bir

            Now that you’ve read the link about the B’Tzelem researcher, you’re embarrassed for having stuck your nose in here, right?

            Reply to Comment
      • Stan Nadel

        So does +927 have no problem with giving a platform to Antisemitic Holocaust minimizers (if not open deniers) like Mikesailor?

        Reply to Comment
    4. Richard

      More irrelevant, abstract chum that nobody who cares about what’s happening in reality should bother reading.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Witty

      Self-talk sadly.

      Everyone accuses the other of denial.

      The danger that the author steps right in is the strawman danger, that of attributing the “majority view”, to his canned caricature.

      Other’s perspectives are relevant, present. But, so are one’s own.

      Change happens.

      The FAR more important question is of the future. Things are changing fast.

      Like in the global warming discussion, the consequences of current fossil fuel consumption are already imprinted. There is no stopping it by changes in behavior right now.

      What is changable is the response. Who will get to live where? Who will get to establish coherent community.

      There is NO restoration of the past. As much as I wish for a resumption of the green line as authoritative, there is little chance of undoing what has already been done.

      If you are committed to a single state (a dual haven), then the path to that is normalization, NOT political anti-normalization.

      Its not normalization with the occupation, but normalization with ALL of the people.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Whiplash

      The Nile is a river in Egypt. Denial is a state, a state of mind ascribed by writer to liberal Zionists. There is no denial here. Zionists, liberal and others, know that the Balfour Declaration, Paris Peace Conference proposals for a Jewish entity, the San Remo Declarations and the Mandate for Palestine to reconstitute the Jewish Home in the area set out in the mandate was the work of progressive society. The setting aside a small piece of the Ottoman Empire for a Jewish entity was affirmative action of the international community to correct 20 centuries of wrongs against the Jewish people by Christian, Muslim, Western and Eastern Societies. Even the Arab delegate to the Paris Peace Conference thought and said the land was properly Jewish and supported the apportionment of an area for the Jewish people.

      The Palestinian Mandate created Jordan and other states at the same time such as Syria and Iraq. No one is suggesting that the creation of these Arab states was unfair to the peoples occupying them because they were not consulted and had no vote on the outcome of the governments which ruled them. Yet the writer thinks this is the case with the Arabs of Palestine. He thinks they should have had rights political rights as a group even though there was no Arab polity in Mandate Palestine.

      The country of Mandate Palestine was formed by the British. One of the three parts contained Jerusalem which was a majority Jewish city. Arabs were majorities in the the other two provinces of the Ottoman Empire but The Arabs had no political grouping in the Ottoman Empire as a people. They had no political rights as a group.

      The British sliced off 78% of Mandate Palestine for the Arab state of Jordan. No one asked and no one but the Zionists considered it illegitimate of the British to create another Arab state out of Mandate Palestine leaving only 22% of Mandate Palestine for the Jews to establish as their home.

      If the Arabs of the Ottoman Empire had been asked or the Arabs of Jordan had been asked whether if it was legitimate for Arabs to have received the states and lands they did and then 78% of Mandate Palestine in addition would they have said this was illegitimate? Or would they have traded their share for the Jewish share of 22% of Mandate Palestine which amounted to 0.6% of the Ottoman lands?

      It would be Arab denial and rejection of the two state solution to further divide the remaining 22% of the original Mandate Palestine between Jews and Arabs. This split would have left 88% of the territory of Mandate Palestine in Arab hands and only 12% in Jewish hands. Further 70% of the Jewish area was desert. The Jewish state was not to include Jerusalem and the over 100,000 Jews who lived there. The Jewish state was not to include Jaffa or the port of Haifa.

      The reality on the ground for the Yishuv was that they were never getting back the part of Mandate Palestine given for Jordan and they would have to share the remaining portion to get a state of their own. The Arab community could not make the same compromise and chose war as an arbitrator to define the rights of the Arabs and Jews. The Arabs inflicted upon themselves a major loss and a hammer blow to Palestinian Arab society such that a National Program of Palestinian Arab people would not arise for another 20 years or more.

      The Arabs choice of attempting genocide against the Jews in the 1947-49 war was a colossal miscalculation. Arab society fractured long before the first shot of the war occurred. Those with money left. The AHC followed suit. The men of the West Bank preferred to let Jordanians and other Arabs fight for them. Most of the Arabs of Israel fled their homes.

      Following the war, the Palestinian Arabs and Arab brothers continued in their own state of denial of the realities on the ground. They continued to deny a Jewish state legitimacy and sought to destroy the Jewish state as a means of validating their own existence.

      Hamas and the PA continue in this denial of a Jewish state. Hamas openly calls for Israel’s destruction while the PA calls for the return of the descendants of Arab refugees from the 1948 war to flood Israel and destroy its Jewish character. Palestinians are in denial if they think Israel is ever going to consent to its own destruction.

      Reply to Comment
      • pegi

        Whiplash please I have difficulty to accept that it s ok for Great Britain to have any decision regarding that area. And for me it s difficult to understand that some land does nt belong to people who live on that land. Please I d like to hear why you think opposite of me?

        Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        You should read up on your history, dude.

        Many of the moves by European powers to create a Jewish state in the first half of the 20th century were fueled by Anti-Semitism.

        “Let the Arabs deal with the Jews, so we don’t have to. Best of all: we can impose it on them!”

        Reply to Comment
        • Pedro X

          Lord Balfour’s 1922 speech shows why he made his declaration:

          “But their [Jews’] position and their history, their connection with world religion and with world politics is absolutely unique. There is no parallel to it, there is nothing approaching to a parallel to it, in any other branch of human history. Here you have a small race originally inhabiting a small country, I think of about the size of Wales or Belgium, at any rate of comparable size to those two, at no time in its history wielding anything that can be described as material power, sometimes crushed in between great Oriental monarchies, its inhabitants deported, then scattered, then driven out of the country altogether into every part of the world, and yet maintaining a continuity of religious and racial tradition of which we have no parallel elsewhere.

          That itself, is sufficiently remarkable, but consider-it is not a pleasant consideration, but it is one that we cannot forget-how they have been treated during long centuries, during centuries which in some parts of the world extend to the minute and the hour in which I am speaking; consider how they have been subjected to tyranny and persecution; consider whether the whole culture of Europe, the whole religious organization of Europe, has not from time to time proved itself guilty of great crimes against this race. I quite understand that some members of this race may have given, doubtless did give, occasion for much ill-will, and I do not know how it could be otherwise, treated as they were; but, if you are going to lay stress on that, do not forget what part they have played in the intellectual, the artistic, the philosophic and scientific development of the world. I say nothing of the economic side of their energies, for on that Christian attention has always been concentrated.

          I ask your Lordships to consider the other side of their activities. Nobody who knows what he is talking about will deny that they have at least – and I am putting it more moderately than I could do – rowed all their weight in the boat of scientific, intellectual and artistic progress, and they are doing so to this day. You will find them in every University, in every centre of learning; and at the very moment when they were being persecuted, when some of them, at all events, were being persecuted by the Church, their philosophers were developing thoughts which the great doctors of the Church embodied in their religious system. As it was in the Middle Ages, as it was in earlier times, so it is now. And yet, is there anyone here who feels content with the position of the Jews? They have been able, by this extraordinary tenacity of their race, to maintain this continuity, and they have maintained it without having any Jewish Home.

          ….

          Surely, it is in order that we may send a message to every land where the Jewish race has been scattered, a message which will tell them that Christendom is not oblivious of their faith, is not unmindful of the service they have rendered to the great religions of the world, and, most of all, to the religion that the majority of your Lordships’ House profess, and that we desire to the best of our ability to give them that opportunity of developing, in peace and quietness under British rule, those great gifts which hitherto they have been compelled from the very nature of the case only to bring to fruition in countries which know not their language, and belong not to their race. That is the ideal which I desire to see accomplished, that is the aim which lay at the root of the policy I am trying to defend; and, though it be defensible indeed on every ground, that is the ground which chiefly moves me.

          What has been the result? The result has been that they have been described as parasites on every civilization in whose affairs they have mixed themselvesvery useful parasites at times 1 venture to say. But how~ ever that may be, do not your Lordships think that if Christendom, not oblivious of all the wrong it has done, can give a chance, without injury to others, to this race of showing whether it can organize a culture in a Home where it will be secured from oppression, that it is not well to say, if we can do it, that we will do it. And, if we can do it, should we not be doing something material to wash out an ancient stain upon our own civilization if we absorb the Jewish race in friendly and effective fashion in these countries in which they are the citizens? We should then have given them what every other nation has, some place, some local habitation, where they can develop the culture and the tradi~ tions which are peculiarly their own.”

          Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        I’m not going to bother refuting any of your other ridiculous claims. Anybody who reads this and believes it:
        read a History book.

        Reply to Comment
      • ***The setting aside a small piece of the Ottoman Empire for a Jewish entity was affirmative action of the international community to correct 20 centuries of wrongs against the Jewish people by Christian, Muslim, Western and Eastern Societies. Even the Arab delegate to the Paris Peace Conference thought and said the land was properly Jewish and supported the apportionment of an area for the Jewish people.***

        If you believe that the people behind the early Zionists machinations had any considerations for genuine past Jewish suffering then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell to you. Most were anti-Semites by today’s standards, no question about it.

        Land, BTW, isn’t Jewish: it belongs to those who hold the deeds to it. Some of it was owned by Jews, much of it not.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mikesailor

      Balfour and its illegitimate progeny all suffer from the same problem: a foreign power giving poperty belonging to the indigenous inhabitants “A” to a second party with no property deeds or any real present day ties to the land “B”. How illegitimate can you get, especially when “A” is never consulted? The same infirmity infects the UN Resolution 181 and makes it an utter joke along with any resolution recognizing a “Jewish” state. Especially since the Geneva Convenytions which forbade many of the actions in which Israel has engaged and is now engaging. Sorry. The only people who had the right to decide the future of the area were the inhabitants, not the invaders. Now, of course, with the passage of time, you have a Northern Ireland situation. The invader is too ensconced in the status quo that he cannot be removed. However, the continuation of illegal activity should be immediately halted and redress given for the past illegal acts against the Palestinian natives..

      Reply to Comment
    8. Bruce Gould

      It’s not hard to find Israeli military guys who will tell you that eliminating the settlements beyond the 67 borders (and eliminating the tax breaks people get for moving to them), requiring the IDF to actually protect the Palestinians and their olive groves (anyone see “Five Broken Cameras”?) and generally acting like mensches (unilaterally, if necessary) will only improve Israel’s security. As it is, the Israeli Jews are ruling over a slightly larger population of non-Jews – it’s looking more like apartheid era South Africa every day.

      Reply to Comment
      • bir

        Tell that to the Palestinian government. Just last month they were saved from a Hamas coup by the same Israeli soldiers.

        Oh, and there’s no apartheid in the territory.

        Reply to Comment
        • Felix Reichert

          You’re right. It’s worse than Apartheid.

          Reply to Comment
          • bir

            Must you demonstrate your ignorance repeatedly?

            Reply to Comment
      • Indeed true

        It should be obvious to anyone with even the slightest understanding of the role of an “occupying power” in a “belligerent occupation” that Bruce is right on the money.

        The role of an “occupying power” is to act as a temporary substitute for the absence of an effective “sovereign power” since – du’oh! – the act of invading and subjugating a territory acts to remove any pre-existing authority over that territory.

        So the role of an “occupying power” involves, inter alia, protected the occupied (you know, the “protected persons” of int’l humanitarian law) from the predations of carpet-baggers and army camp-followers.

        Which is all that these “Jewish settlers” really are i.e. they are all carpet-baggers and IDF camp-followers, and the correct role of the IDF is to….. stop them at the Green Line and turn them back into Israel.

        But they won’t, because the IDF has been ordered to do everything in its power to assist in that illegal activity.

        Q: Who issues those orders?
        A: Why, the carpet-baggers-in-chief.

        Q: Who are?
        A: The Government Of Israel.

        Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Very true, astute comment, Bruce. As usual Bir’s reply makes no sense and gets things backward: the measures you and those Israeli military guys recommend, Bruce, are exactly the ones that would DIMINISH Hamas’ power to do mischief in the West Bank. As you know. But there’s no talking sense to some people.

        Reply to Comment
    9. Gustav

      nsttnocontentcomment

      Reply to Comment
    10. Gustav

      .

      Reply to Comment
    11. Gustav

      Enjoy debating with yourselves fellows. If you won’t publish my posts because it contradicts your politics, maybe you are not as liberal as you would like to pretend?

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        My post which this magazine steadfastly refuses to publish, contains nothing but facts and my interpretation of those facts.

        The fact that you people are so reluctant to let it see the light of day, tells me that it scares you and it reinforces my belief that what I am saying in that post is the truth. Nothing but the truth …

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          One last try in two parts:

          By what objective criteria was Palestine a solely Arab land?

          ANSWER: By none. Let’s just examine how a people may claim the land to be uniquely theirs and no one else’s:

          1. Recognized sovereignty. On that score, the answer is no. The sovereign power over the land for hundreds of years were first the Ottomans, then the Brits.

          2. By sole occupation of the and. On that score the Arabs fail again because at all times in history, non Arabs, including Jews lived in Palestine. So while the Arabs do have a partial claim, they have no sole claim on the land.

          3. By history? Again it is a no because the Jews too have a long history and association with Palestine. Even longer than the Arabs. So again, the Arabs have no sole claim to the land.

          4. By having private title to the land? The answer is again no because much of the land was crown land and Jews too had private titles to land in Palestine.

          To be continued …

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Too little too late but I will try and post the second part too.

            Let’s see if you’ll delay that one too … ?

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            5. By default because Arabs made use of all the lands and cultivated all of it? No, they fail on that score too because in the mid 1800s when the majority of Jews started joining Jews who already lived there for millennia, most of the land was neglected and uncultivated. In fact, there were only about 400,000 people living in the whole of Palestine, a land which today accommodates around 10,000,000 people and there is still room for more.

            6. By claiming majority rule? The answer is again no because different ethnic groups do have the right to claim self determination and independence from the majority. Just like in the case of Muslims in India who claimed independence and formed Pakistan. Or the Muslims of Bosnia who separated from Serbia.

            7. Because there was room only for one state? Such a claim is obviously false. There is room in The land which the Romans renamed from Judea to Palestine, for at least two states. And if need be, even more …

            So the claim of Palestinian Arabs for sole ownership of Palestine, fails on all scores. Unless of course one is biased and favors Arabs over Jews, for whatever reason or ideology …

            Reply to Comment
    12. Josh

      Mikesailor has never met a Holocaust denier…rofl…Just look in the mirror, scumbag. Your “questionable” bullshit is exactly that. And you know that very well, fascist pig.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Mikesailor

      Josh: You’re so cute when you’re so ignorant. And apparently an intellectual midget to boot. There are many questions concerning the Holocaust. The strangest part is that most of the more ignorant buy the myth and not the reality. For instance, I have often heard that the United States was somehow at least partially guilty of not saving the Jews 1) by turning away the St. Louis and its Jewish passengers and 2) by not bombing concentration camos. The ifirst is a wonderful rewriting of history for “death” was not a part of the concerntration camp lexicon until after Wannsee in 1942. As to the second, the US was fighting a war and 1)didn’t have bombers to spare (have you ever seen the loss rates for bomber missions at the time?) and 2) all you would have done is allowed more inmates to starve to death. In fact, the pictures of the liberated are akin to the pictures of the Andersonville captives at the end of the US Civil War. Extreme malnutrition because supply lines destroyed and the inmates couldn’t be fed. As to the numbers, disease was killing many and, in fact, probably accounrs for the majority of all civilian deaths in the war, including those in the camps. Actually, I am sick of the Holocaust and the attempt to make this a solely Jewish pogrom for which the rest of the world should be guilty. The US is guilty of slavery and the extermination of the Native Americans. For those we should have a museum, not one for the Jews which somehow all but neglects the sins we did commit.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kiwi

        Nice rant.

        Reply to Comment
    14. “What is the essence, then, of the liberal Zionist denial? It is the refusal to recognize anything that makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unique and different from normal territorial conflicts: the colonial origins of initial settlement, the dispossession of 1948, the historical logic of exclusion, the permanent nature of the “temporary” occupation. As long as our well-published liberal Zionists continue to ignore such foundations of the conflict, their feigned anguished calls for a change of policy on moral grounds will remain little more than empty rhetoric.”

      Sums it up perfectly.

      Thanks so much for this post. It’s refreshing to read analysis with a clear eye for historical truth and the inherent contradictions in LZ rationales.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Annette

      I’m not in denial. As a liberal I support Israel because they have a liberal society. As someone who fought for a long time for LGBT rights in America, I will support any country who offers it’s citizens equality. Israel was one of the first countries to do that. Israel is at the forefront of animal rights, veganism and environmental justice. We should look to emulate them as liberals, not condemn them. We can’t change history. We must move forward and work for shared values for citizens everywhere. I am liberal and I will always support Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • M Parker, New Zealand

        Nicely done Annette. You have provided the perfect example confirming everything Mr Greenstein says. In the unlikely event you are actually genuine, I recommend you consider a comparative history of Israel and my home country New Zealand: similar history of European colonisation, dispossession and denial of rights of the indigenous people. But fortunately for all New Zealanders we attempt with some degree of success to address the crimes of history: compensation or the return of dispossessed land, investment in Maori culture and language, and a recognition that failure to recognise and address the wrongs of the past would hold our country back. New Zealand has a vibrant pacific culture, with indigenous Maori putting much of the past behind, and graciously sharing their fantastic culture with undeserving white New Zealanders. We may have a long way to go to fully address the wrongs of the past, but by contrast, Israel not only turns the blind eye in denial, it continues to deny human rights for indigenous Palestinians, and continues to dispossess them of land and water resources. No you can’t change history Annette, but Israel’s problem is that it is hell bound (words not chosen lightly) on repeating its mistakes – and worse, is building on them. Anyone who claims Israel has a “liberal” culture simply has to be deluded. From the outside world, Israel seems more like a society with a death wish.

        Reply to Comment
    16. Average American

      Whiplash – “The British sliced off 78% of Mandate Palestine for the Arab state of Jordan. No one asked and no one but the Zionists considered it illegitimate.” Are you saying Jordan belongs to The Jews??

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        No, he is saying Jordan – Eastern Palestine (80% of historic Palestine) belongs to the Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs.

        The rest of Palestine – Western Palestine, (20% of historic Palestine) belongs to the Jews.

        Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          I see, thanks.

          Reply to Comment
    17. Gustav

      I hope the irony does not escape those who decided to ban my post.

      This article is about criticizing liberal Zionists for not being liberal enough.

      Yet here they are banning posts purely because they contradict party lines.

      Some liberals, huh?

      Reply to Comment
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