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The perennial dilemma of liberal Zionism

For over a century, liberal Zionists have attempted to reconcile universal humanism with Zionist nationalism. A review of two prominent thinkers who failed.

By Ran Greenstein

The prospect of impending doom facing Liberal Zionism has been raised time and again in recent months, from the inane apologetics of Ari Shavit to the more sophisticated discussions of Jonathan Freedland in the NY Review of Books and Roger Cohen in the New York Times, culminating with the highly critical approach of Antony Lerman, also in the Times.

While the war in Gaza played a role in this wave of lamentation, it is in no way a new phenomenon. In fact, it has been a feature of discussions in the Zionist movement from its inception, forcing Liberal adherents to choose, at times of crisis, between their universal values and ethnic political loyalties. Historically, dropping the Liberal component has been the most common response to such dilemma, with only a few dissidents opting rather to abandon Zionism.

The core arguments used in such debates have changed little over the years. It would be instructive here to look at one movement, the epitome of Liberal Zionism in its time. Brit Shalom, which operated between 1925 and 1933 and was known for its advocacy of bi-nationalism, experienced tensions between its broad Liberal principles and the narrow demands of the Zionist project. These were captured in particular in the work of its founder, Arthur Ruppin, known as “the father of Jewish settlement.” He was torn between his Labor Zionist allies, who regarded Brit Shalom as “delusional,” and his radical colleagues who called for a representative government in Palestine, in line with universal democratic values but against the wishes of the Zionist leadership.

Arthur Ruppin

Arthur Ruppin

Ruppin’s concerns, expressed in his diaries from the late 1920s/early 1930s, stemmed from the “very serious contradictions of interest between the Jews and the Arabs.” It was impossible to reconcile “free immigration and free economic and cultural development” for Jews – the essential conditions for Zionism – with the interests of Arab residents of Palestine: “any place where we buy land and settle people on it, of necessity requires that the current cultivators be removed from it, be they owners or tenants.” Further, although the principle of Hebrew Labor was “in accordance with our national interests,” it “deprives the Arabs of the wages they used to earn.” Therefore, it became impossible to “convince the Arabs rationally that our interests are compatible.” Given a chance, the Arabs as a majority in the country “would take advantage of the rights guaranteed to them by the constitution to prevent any economic advancement of the Jewish minority,” thereby “putting an end to the Zionist movement.”

Ruppin’s dilemma intensified at times of acute conflict – following the 1929 riots. Violent clashes between mutually exclusive nationalist visions led him to distance himself from Brit Shalom and its bi-nationalism. His conclusion was stark: “we must recognise that in our entire history of relations with the Arabs we have not made an effort to find a formula that will satisfy not only the essential interests of the Jews but also the essential interests of the Arabs.” Paradoxically, this meant: “What we can get (from the Arabs) – we do not need, and what we need – we cannot get. At most, what the Arabs are willing to give us is rights of a Jewish national minority in an Arab state, similar to the rights of [minority] nationalities in Eastern Europe.”

The problem in that, he continued, was that minority rights could not be guaranteed:

The fate of the Jewish minority in Palestine will forever depend on the good will of the Arab majority holding power. Such an arrangement definitely will not satisfy Eastern European Jews who are the majority of Zionists; on the contrary, this would diminish their enthusiasm for Zionism and Palestine. A Zionism willing to reach such a compromise with the Arabs [making Jews a permanent minority in the country] will lose the support of Jews in Eastern Europe and will quickly become Zionism without Zionists.

What could be done then? In Ruppin’s view, using language that echoes all the way to the present:

No negotiations with the Arabs at present will allow progress, since the Arabs still hope to be able to get rid of us … it is not negotiations but the development of Palestine to increase our share in the population, and to strengthen our economic power, that might lead to reduction of tensions. When time comes and the Arabs realize that they are not called upon to grant us something we do not have already, but to recognize reality as it is – the weight of facts on the ground will lead to reduced tensions … It may be a bitter truth, but it is The Truth.

Ruppin’s words from 1936 illustrate the logic of creating ‘facts on the ground’ and building an “Iron Wall” (in Jabotinsky’s infamous words) to deter Arab opposition, a logic that continues to shape Israeli policy today. But, it is important to realize, not all Liberal activists moved in the same direction. A contrary example was that of Hans Kohn, who broke off with the Zionist movement and eventually left Brit Shalom following the 1929 uprising.

Kohn identified with Zionism as a “moral-cum-spiritual movement” that was compatible with his pacifist and anti-imperialist position. It became increasingly difficult for him to sustain this approach alongside the official Zionist line. The uprising of 1929, he said in private correspondence, was carried out by Arabs, who “perpetrated all the barbaric acts that are characteristic of a colonial revolt.” But, they were motivated by a deep cause:

We have been in Palestine for 12 years [since the Balfour Declaration of 1917] without having even once made a serious attempt at seeking through negotiations the consent of the indigenous people. We have been relying exclusively upon Great Britain’s military might. We have set ourselves goals which by their very nature had to lead to conflict with Arabs. We ought to have recognized that these goals would be the cause, the just cause, of a national uprising against us.

This attitude meant that: “for 12 years we pretended that the Arabs did not exist and were glad when we were not reminded of their existence. Without the consent of local Arabs, Jewish existence in Palestine could become possible only, “first with British aid and then later with the help of our own bayonets … But by that time we will not be able to do without the bayonets. The means will have determined the goal. Jewish Palestine will no longer have anything of that Zion for which I once put myself on the line.”

Kohn’s main concern was the development of Zionism into “the militant-reactionary wing of Judaism.” His colleagues, Kohn felt, were unwilling to take a decisive step in line with their values that would lead them away from Zionist practices, such as the “immeasurable barbarity” of evicting tenants from their land, led by people such as Ruppin. Instead, Brit Shalom formulated lofty peace proposals disconnected from concrete reality and bypassed the real issues. This, it “enveloped itself in a cloud of naivety” with no public impact. Under these circumstances, Kohn saw no point in continuing his membership of the movement.

Ruppin and Kohn offered opposite solutions to the same dilemma: the difficulty of reconciling universal humanism with Zionist nationalism. When crisis erupted, Ruppin chose nationalism while Kohn chose universalism. Other Liberal activists continued to believe there was no inherent contradiction between the two sets of principles, but their impact dwindled. Although they formulated a solid conceptual alternative to mainstream state-oriented Zionism, they failed to reach out beyond limited Jewish intellectual circles and did not gain any Arab support. Why? A number of reasons can be suggested:

Before 1948,  Liberal Zionists worked among the one segment of the Jewish people least willing to support integration. Jews happy to live together with non-Jews as equals, or uninterested in political sovereignty, stayed in their home countries or moved to other destinations that allowed them to live long and prosper without worrying about politics and nationalism, such as the U.S. or Argentina. On practical grounds, the Liberal Zionist case in Palestine was undermined further by the absence of an equivalent force among the Arab population. Many Jews regarded it as offering unilateral concessions that were not reciprocated, and thus were pointless.

Why, then, was it not reciprocated? The Palestinian Arab leadership rejected the compromises offered by Liberal Zionists because it feared that any concessions to the legitimacy of Jewish political presence in the country would undermine its own negotiating position, without curbing the forward expansion of the Jewish settlement project. This was the case since the Liberals were a minority in the Jewish community: agreements with them were not binding on the dominant forces in the Zionist movement, who continued to pursue their own agenda.

In addition, nothing was more fatal for the willingness of Jews to make concessions than the sense that Arab hostility would continue unabated regardless of political compromises. In particular, armed attacks against local integrated communities, as happened in 1929 in Hebron and Safed, reinforced internal Jewish solidarity, undermined dissent, and created a militant and militarist atmosphere that made the prospect of fruitful political dialogues increasingly remote.

Perhaps most crucially in retrospect, the responses of the one side shaped those of the other. Nationalists could embark on their own course of action unilaterally, but Liberals could not. Potential Arab partners responded not only to what Liberal Zionists said or did, but also – perhaps primarily – to what the leading forces on the Jewish side said and did. This reinforced the Liberals’ structural disadvantage: the dominant trends in both nationalist camps collaborated, so to speak, in making the environment increasingly polarised. This benefited those on either side who urged unilateral action and weakened those who argued for mutual consideration.

How these factors continue to shape the fate of Liberal Zionism today will be discussed in a follow-up article.

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.

Related:
Can one be a liberal and a Zionist without being a liberal Zionist?
A sad commentary on the state of liberal Zionist discourse

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    COMMENTS

    1. Richard

      While Hamas guns down protesters in Gaza and UN peacekeepers flee Syria for Israel, BDS hacks spew theoretical nonsense from 100 years ago to prove that “liberal” Zionism doesn’t exist. Not in touch with reality, not worth publishing.

      Reply to Comment
    2. The definition of terms will keep evolving. Martin Buber was a liberal Zionist and he believed in a one state solution, but ironically so does Reuven Rivlin. The “liberal” is crucial, a commitment to all of humanity, and I think Rivlin sincerely believes that his solution is the most humane. I honestly think that the phrase “liberal Zionism” can and should survive but it should be hotly contested as to what can truly be called ‘liberal’.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Gustav

      “forcing Liberal adherents to choose, at times of crisis, between their universal values and ethnic political loyalties.”

      It isn’t really that difficult. Especially in the Middle East at this time in history.

      The only reason a small minority of liberals can afford to make the choice in favor of “universal values” (their definition of it) is because either they are not here in Israel to face the consequences (they can let others face it instead) or if they ARE here, then they rely on other more down to earth practical folk to make practical decisions to override them so that they can have the best of both worlds. They can puff out their chests and claim: “hey – I am the best. I chose ‘universal values'”, and they can still live to tell the tale because his fellow Israelis save him from the consequences of what he advocated.

      Hey, fellows, let me remind you: “universal values” only work if everybody abides by them. Do the likes of Hamas abide by “universal values”? No? Not so much? Then we too need to do what we need to do or DIE!

      Reply to Comment
    4. Jacob

      If Zionism is fundamentally at odds with universal democratic values, then it is one’s obligation to repudiate Zionism. This is not only a moral imperative, but to do otherwise would be to create a world in which nobody is safe. This will no doubt be uncomfortable and even painful for many Israelis to consider, but it’s the truth.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn8

        Hahaha. I have news for you. The world does not need to be “created”. It already exists. This world is one where “universal democratic values” are not even remotely universal and this may be uncomfortable and painful to you to consider, but nobody is indeed safe, and that is the truth.

        The first and primary moral imperative is survival. So far “universal democratic values” have been a giant disaster in terms of helping people survive and those that promote “universal democratic values” consistently stand by and watch people get slaughtered. In other words, “universal democratic values” are what people in safe countries espouse between going shopping and smoking weed. Put them in any situation in which their families are at risk and the “universal democratic values” will be the first to go as they seek out other people that will stand with them in order to help them survive.

        Zionism is the belief that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and the willingness to fight and contribute towards the survival of the Jewish people in their homeland. If that gets replaced with the values of going shopping and smoking weed then we might as well chop our own heads off right now. So, thank you for your advice, but we are not planning on sacrificing our heads on the chopping block of your naive ideas.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          I am with Kolumn8. Very well put.

          I bet Jacob cannot and won’t mount any viable counter arguments. At best he will come back with slogans and motherhood statements.

          Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          Well, my, my, who is not for survival and safe countries? What a deceitful straw man you pose. The deceit and the hypocrisy in this account of yours is that it works both ways, and much more the other way than your way. The Palestinians are the ones, actually, who are fighting for their very survival against a ruthless, insatiable settler state, the “vanguard” of which is a bunch of cowardly settlers, often transplanted zealots from the United States, living a Disney Land version of Leon Uris’s kitsch ‘Exodus’ (while their comfortable AIPAC funders in the USA live a thrilling, vicarious version of same) backed by a United States-backed IDF, armed to the teeth. Settlers who would never be so “brave” in beating shepherds and burning olive groves and hogging water and stealing, stealing, stealing, if not backed by their army day and night, armed to the teeth. You perpetuate the (really tired by now) big lie that poor little Israel these days is David threatened by the Palestinian Goliath, when in fact the opposite is much closer to and more often the truth but you’d never know it from the version of “reality” that floats around inside your mind and that you really tirelessly propagate here. Will there ever by a day when you acknowledge, even just a tiny, tiny little bit, the gross injustice done to the Palestinians day in and day out in the West Bank and East Jerusalem? The huge imbalance of power that exists? The injustice backed by huge power? The fact that every retired Shin Bet chief (“The Gatekeepers”) has confirmed what I am saying? NONE of them thinks you need to occupy the West Bank for your security—in fact they know the occupation UNDERMINES your security. NONE of them thinks you need troops in the Jordan Valley long term for security. Etc. Etc. I mean, come on, come on, really? REALLY? Just WHO do you think you’re kidding? How do you say this stuff here with a straight face? You think this +972 forum is the “APIAC Message Board for Practicing How to Stay on Message?” If Meir Dagan were reading these missives of yours about “survival” he would snort in derision.

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Brian the deluded one. He speaks ‘half truths’ and he distorts reality.

            FACT 1:
            Hamas openly claims that their ultimate aim is Israel’s destruction.

            FACT 2:
            Yes, Israel is much stronger in conventional military terms. But is that the end of the story?

            FACT 3:
            … of course not because Hamas does not fight a conventional war. Only dishonest people like Brian pretend that organizations like Hamas cannot cause havoc. Dishonest is the right way to describe them because we are not talking ancient history. All we need to do is look at what happened for 6 long years, between 2000 and 2006 when on average, Hamas and their cronies, the PLO too carried out on average two suicide bombings per week in Israel’s major cities, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. They murdered and maimed about 8000 Israelis this way and disrupted Israel’s economy big time.

            FACT 4:
            People like Brian claim in a cavalier fashion that Israel can afford to ignore all that because Israel is “a military Goliath”. But here is the rub: every time Israel uses it’s military to squash the terrorists, they, the Brians of this world, scream like stuffed pigs and make the vilest of accusations against Israel.

            CONCLUSION:
            The Brians of this world are not humanists. They don’t believe in universal values. They believe that we Jews have no right to be here. They believe that we are just European colonists who stole Arab lands and they want to hector us till we lose heart, panic and collapse. I have news for them. It ain’t gonna happen. We are staying whatever it takes and we will continue to ignore the Brians of this world and do whatever is necessary to ensure that we are not the ones who will be squeezed into the corner but Hamas and their cronies will, till they collapse and give up or they will die.

            Kapish Brian?

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Brian’s crazy logic goes something like this:

            He says, why do you Israelis pretend to worry about Hamas so much? Just end the occupation, they can’t do anything to you because you are a goliath compared to them.

            When something does happen though, Brian and his ilk scream at us with shrill voices and say: how dare you use your overwhelming military strength against puny Hamas, you Israeli monsters.

            Stupid isn’t? They say we should just give up lands without expecting peace in return because we would have no problems defending ourselves but when we do defend ourselves, they scream. Go figure.

            Well Brian, guess what, we know what you are trying to do but it won’t work. No, you won’t drive us crazy. We will drive YOU crazy instead. And before long, you won’t have time to worry about us in any case. You will be too busy instead in your own homes, trying to stem the massive backlash from right wingers which is heading your way. Trust me on this, Brian. You are facing a Tsunami from right wingers as history unfolds and the massive backlash against Islamists, your darlings, is coming your way in ALL Western countries. Just wait and see and don’t say you have not been warned.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Yet another straw man you set up to knock down. It is simply not true that I “believe that we Jews have no right to be here…are just European colonists who stole Arab lands and they want to hector us till we lose heart, panic and collapse.” I think Jewish Israelis have now, today, and in the future, some balanced right to be there and that in order to secure that morally and practically they need to share (return, that is) at this point a mere 22% of The Land (and yes, it is more or less stolen, lets not whitewash that business). You haggle endlessly over 22% and wonder why the world thinks there is something wrong with you. Instead of simply, humanely, doing that, Bibi and his water carriers such as yourselves here concoct any number of fear-based rationales for why you can’t do that. It’s always something though. As Meir Dagan knows, the Israelis know full well that they could nurture and work with the leadership of a Palestinian state to ensure security, but they don’t WANT a strong, secure Palestinian leadership, they WANT and endlessly divided and corrupt leadership. It’s all part of the plan. I think you really do know this on some level and have trouble being honest about it. There was a nice article in the New Yorker by Gourevitch in which Amos Oz is interviewed and it’s title is “An Honest Voice in Israel.” As the author points out, Oz takes to task BOTH sides honestly, but at the core he wants the following: “a two-state solution and coexistence between Israel and the West Bank: two capitals in Jerusalem, a mutually agreed territorial modification, removal of most of the Jewish settlements from the West Bank.” At the core, you do NOT WANT the foregoing. In important ways, it really is as simple as that.

            Reply to Comment
          • Whiplash

            Brian, your reasoning leaves out the consideration of some salient facts:

            1. 78% of Mandate Palestine was set aside for an Arab state of which approximately 70% of its population are Arab Palestinians. This state is called Jordan;

            2. Israel is told that it must share the remaining 22% with the Arab people. Israel already shares 78% of the remaining 22% of Mandate Palestine with an Arab population of 1.7 million Arabs in Israel.

            3. Israel is told that the 4.0 million Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza cannot tolerate any Jews living in their country. Israel seeks to incorporate its Jews in Judea and Samaria and their lands into Israel and has offered land swaps on an one to one basis.

            3. Israel’s security requires a demilitarized Arab state with an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley and the retention of settlements with would help thwart the use of the highlands of Judea and Samaria as rocket firing positions on central Israel.

            4. There are multiple issues dealing with Jerusalem. Israel is not going to withdraw from East Jerusalem. Olmert offered Abbas a sharing of Jerusalem which Abbas did not accept.

            5. There are multiple issues concerning water resources and waste treatment plants.

            6. There are issues with the both the PA and Hamas inciting hatred and violence against Israel and the Israeli people 21 years after and in contravention of the signing of the Oslo Accords.

            7. There is no major Palestinian faction which supports negating the alleged right of return of descendants of Palestinian to move to Israel. The Palestinian factions see a state inside the 1949 armistice lines as stage one to acquiring all of Mandate Palestine.

            8. The PA has opposed in every negotiation that a peace agreement be a conflict ending agreement which will require both sides to give up all claims against the other. A Palestinian state is only stage one to be followed by a second Arab state in Israel by flooding Israel with Arab refugees.

            9. The ideology of Hamas and Islamic Jihad do not permit the giving up of lands in Israel or any right of return. Hamas has said give us all of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank together with implementing a right of return of 6 million Palestinians to Israel and compensation to boot and it will consider giving Israeli a breakable 10 year Truce with out any guarantee of peace or an end to the conflict.

            10. Hamas would use the West bank as a firing range to target central Israel if given a chance.

            11. Hamas has used and will again use its own population as human shields for its military endeavors against Israel.

            12. As long as Hamas and Islamic Jihad exist as militant and terrorist organizations any peace agreement would deteriorate into another armed conflict because Hamas and Islamic Jihad used the room provided by Palestinian sovereignty to carry on the conflict with Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Not the “Jordan is Palestine” cockamamie again! Please that’s bush league JPost-level talkback stuff. Have to do better than that on +972. This is the big leagues. We might have to send you back down there junior. Next batter!

            Reply to Comment
    5. Richard Witty

      Zionism itself can only be liberal Zionism.

      It is inherent in the definition of Zionism, and the basic laws of Israel as Jewish #AND# democratic.

      There is no contradiction. There is though a tension, a healthy tension, requiring emphasis of either at varying times and settings.

      Israel, the state and the community, is physical, real, not a dream, not a thesis, not a feeling.

      All real things contain tensions of forces. That is one definition of the term physical (a balance between centrifugal and centrifical forces).

      Reply to Comment
    6. bir

      Liberal Zionism has nothing to do with anything. I am a liberal Zionist and so are most Zionists and Israelis. This piece is about those Zionists who simply don’t want to face the truth.

      What is the truth? The truth is that Arab and Muslim societies have always considered Jews to be inferior and a people to be oppressed in one way or another. For example, back when Jews were a small minority in Ottoman Palestine, they were not permitted to build synagogues. Back when the British gave Arabs authority over the Western Wall, they severely restricted access to Jews and that was ended altogether when Jordan took over.

      The truth today is no different. Even an anti-Zionist, perennial critic of Israel is not permitted to set foot inside a Palestinian UNIVERSITY because… wait for it… because… as she (Amira Hass, no less!) herself puts it, Palestinians

      “…do not differentiate between those who support the occupation and those who are against it, between those who report on policies to forcibly evict the Bedouin or those who carry out that policy; for us, there is only one place for every Israeli Jew – outside.”

      http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.618007

      Only the truly self-deluded, the suicidal, the naive, the hypocrites who dare not look themselves and their family in the face, would look at this hatred – hatred that has existed well before 1967 and 1948 – and blame themselves instead of those who hate them and wish them ill.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Gee we only steal their land and oppress them every day of their lives. Can’t figure our why they don’t like us. Those ingrates. The nerve of them.

        Reply to Comment
        • bir

          Haha, Amira Hass agrees with you completely.

          And they rejected her from a university setting.

          By the way, the university is now backtracking and saying they don’t really have this policy in place, merely one against “Israeli organizations.” You can’t even trust them to be truthful about this!

          Reply to Comment
    7. Gustav

      “Yet another straw man you set up to knock down. It is simply not true that I “believe that we Jews have no right to be here…”

      OK, if you say so, then I take that one back. But even if YOU don’t say that, THEY, the Arabs say it. Hamas say it. And YOU support THEM.

      “are just European colonists who stole Arab lands and they want to hector us till we lose heart, panic and collapse.”

      And yes, THEY, the Arabs, Hamas AND the PLO formed a tag team to do exactly that. And YOU support them Brian.

      “I think Jewish Israelis have now, today, and in the future, some balanced right to be there and that in order to secure that morally and practically they need to share (return, that is) at this point a mere 22% of The Land”

      Sigh, how many more times do you want to ignore peace offers which successive Israeli governments made which included exactly that? And the response of the Arabs was either extreme violence or at best, they just ignored the offers because the offers did not include their cherished so called right of return demand. Why are you shutting your eyes to those offers and willfully ignoring them as if they never happened?

      “(and yes, it is more or less stolen, lets not whitewash that business).”

      Well then, this just negates your above comment above about “my straw man”. It wasn’t a straw man at all. You DON’T really believe that we the Jewish people have the right to be here at all …

      But of course you are WRONG. And at the least your position is self contradictory and at worst, you are lying through your teeth about what you really believe and want for us.

      “You haggle endlessly over 22% and wonder why the world thinks there is something wrong with you.”

      Actually, I don’t wonder about anything. My feet are firmly on the ground. Unlike you I am fully consistent and I know what “the world” thinks of us, Brian. But unlike you, I know that people like you are NOT the world! There are plenty of right minded people out there who know exactly why this conflict has been so protracted. It has been protracted because of Arab nationalism, supremacism and intransigence.

      “Instead of simply, humanely, doing that, Bibi and his water carriers such as yourselves here concoct any number of fear-based rationales for why you can’t do that.”

      Let me remind you again: this conflict did not just START when Bibi came to power. So even if you claim that Bibi is the world’s worst. Why didn’t the Arabs make peace with us before Bibi? Heck, why didn’t they set up their Palestinian state in 1947 when Bibi didn’t even yet exist? Or between 1948 and 1967 when Egypt and Jordan controlled the West Bank and Gaza respectively? I’ll tell you why not: because they wanted ALL of Israel too.

      “It’s always something though.”

      Are you addressing that sentence to me? You should address that to your Palestinian Arabs instead.

      “As Meir Dagan knows, the Israelis know full well that they could nurture and work with the leadership of a Palestinian state to
      ensure security, but they don’t WANT a strong, secure Palestinian leadership, they WANT and endlessly divided and corrupt leadership. It’s all part of the plan.”

      BS! I don’t know what Dagan really said but if he really says that, then he says it in entirely different context and he is making an entirely different point than the straw man which you are trying to construct here. Maybe you could post a link to a non extremist site which outlines what he really says?

      “I think you really do know this on some level and have trouble being honest about it.”

      The ONLY dishonest person between the two of us is YOU, Brian. I proved it when I highlighted your self contradictory statements in this very post.

      “There was a nice article in the New Yorker by Gourevitch …”

      Sigh … I feel another self serving diversion coming on. Booooring …

      “in which Amos Oz is interviewed and it’s title is “An Honest Voice in Israel.” As the author points out, Oz takes to task BOTH sides honestly, but at the core he wants the following: “a two-state solution and coexistence between Israel and the West Bank: two capitals in Jerusalem, a mutually agreed territorial modification, removal of most of the Jewish settlements from the West Bank.” At the core, you do NOT WANT the foregoing.”

      I think that you will find that what Amos Oz supports is removal of the smaller outlying settlements but retention of the main settlement blocs with land swaps. Two past Israeli PMs already made such offers but the Palestinian Arabs in effect said no, because it did not include the so called right of return.

      “In important ways, it really is as simple as that.”

      Only in your simple one sided mind.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        And one more thing Brian …

        I find it interesting why you don’t mention interviews like these with Amos Oz:

        “Amoz Oz: I would like to begin the interview in a very unusal way: by presenting one or two questions to your readers and listeners. May I do that?

        Deutsche Welle: Go ahead!

        Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

        Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

        With these two questions I pass the interview to you.”

        He is the peacenick whom you quoted so readily to try and prove your point. He is not Bibi. Yet it seems to me that even he agrees with Bibi about what happened in Gaza.

        Wanna eat your words now, Brian?

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          And since you chose to quote Amos Oz, Brian, you may be interested in this too …

          “A leading guru of the Israeli Peace Now movement, Oz makes an extra effort to reiterate that Palestinian stubbornness led to the failures of Oslo and the July 2000 Camp David summit. Oz suggests that the Israeli peace camp finally succeeded in convincing the irrational Palestinians that they must accept the red lines of the Israeli left. These red lines, according to one of Oz’s colleagues, represent a huge sacrifice on his part since he is “ready to relinquish no less than a part of my religious faith, inasmuch as I am prepared to agree, with a broken heart, to Palestinian sovereignty on the Temple Mount.” Further on, Oz resorts to similar propagandistic symbolism, declaring that “we surrender sovereignty in parts of the Land of Israel where our hearts lie.” What, then, are the chief problems of Oz, and the Israeli Geneva school that he so aptly represents, so far as Israeli public opinion is concerned?”

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            You’re really something. Oz’s huge sacrifice and broken heart. Funny how for you it seems it’s only Jews who get to claim ownership of huge sacrifices and broken hearts but when Abbas says he knows he will never return to Safed except as a tourist you perceive no huge sacrifice and broken heart. You do not grant him (and millions of Palestinian Arabs) the same human heart and soul. The narcissism of the Israeli right AND center is breathtaking.

            Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          … the above is the opinion of Arab loving critics of Amos Oz in an article published in ‘The Middle East Research and Information Project’

          Even he is not “peace loving” enough for them. That is what they say about Amos Oz’s views, go figure …

          Reply to Comment
    8. Mikesailor

      Liberal Ziuonism? There is no such animal. For the “universal” in liberalism is in direct conflict with the tribalism inherent in Zionism. And, unfortumately, the adage of “scratch a Jew. find a Zionist” is almost all too true. For a liberal would see a “Jewish” state as abhorrent and unworkable. Yet, Zionism is predicated on an ideal of “Judenstadt”, a country where citizenship and rights are based on religion and a faux ethnicity. And no matter how much a “liberal Zionist” might “kvetch”, very few advocate an Israel as a “state of all its citizens” rather than an ethnocracy. And fewer still would predicate the funding of Israel, from the Diaspora and other countries, on such a basis as realizing true democracy and human rights and the dismantling of the edifice of Jewish privelege.

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      • Gustav

        Behold … Mikesailor … in all his glory … the authority on Jews and Zionism …

        Hatred of Jews oozes out of every pore of his jaundiced skin.

        Eeeeeeevil Jews, he says. Eeeeeeevil Zionists for wanting our own state with a majority Jewish population and a 20% minority Arab population who have it “so bad” that they are horrified at the mere suggestion of the Liberman plan to hand over the Gallilee to the proposed Palestinian state together with it’s Israeli Arab citizens, with all their possessions including lands. No, they cry: how dare you even think of depriving us of our Israeli citizenship?

        Yea right Mikey, they have it so bad in here that they don’t want to depart from us?

        Now let’s talk about the Islamic Arab ethnocracies, shall we Mikey? Places like the Arab Gulf states. Places like Libya and Algeria, or maybe the non Arab but Islamic Iran? Have you got any complaints about them Mikey? Or is it just us who stick in your throat?

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        • Sure you will

          yea what about it Mikey? Wanna apply those universal human rights to any other country in the region? Or do you just wanna keep hating on Israel?

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    9. Brian

      As Haaretz’s spot-on editorial today (“Netanyahu has a policy: to keep the occupation going”) outlines very well, Netanyahu has never had any intention of making peace under any circumstances. He will never pay a remotely fair price. The editorial makes clear, convincingly to all except those who will not see, that “His passivity is usually depicted as a tactic to stay in office at minimum risk, and as an alternative to true statesmanship. But the prime minister does have a policy, which he promotes tirelessly: to deepen and perpetuate Israeli control over the West Bank.” The editorial explains. Don’t tell me Aluf Benn doesn’t know what’s going down.

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      • Kiwi

        Gustav pointed out to you that this conflict existed before Netanyahu. Why are you ignoring that Brian?

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        • Brian

          Gustav, and you, want to pretend that Abu Mazen = Yasir Arafat. That the sea is the same sea. That no one and nothing has evolved. This is false. It is a deliberate distraction. You want me to be distracted by it and run down rabbit holes after you chasing this distraction. I will not be so diverted. Nor will the West be diverted by that more recent chaff mad bomber Bibi is dispensing in midair: “Hamas = ISIS.”

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          • Kiwi

            Abu Mazen too had his chance to make peace before Netanyahu came to the scene. Why didn’t he Brian? Where is the rabbit hole there?

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    10. Mikesailor

      So Gus and Sure: What is your problem? Your defense of an ethnocracy is silly to say the least and your denial of that fact is truly laughable. What exactly is your game other than to ensure a Jewish predominance and keeping all non-Jews a second-class citizenry, free to be brutalized and abused by the “master” race? Why lie about it? Is showing and deploring Israeli policy antisemitic? Is the truth antisemitic? If so, then I plead guilty to your label. But your label is pure BS. And you are both too cowardly to admit the truth; that Zionism is a racist political philosohy and has no redeeming features.

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      • Gustav

        Both Brian and Mikesailor ignore my detailed rebuttals to their accusations but repeat it as if I said nothing. As if they are just robots.

        Unless they rebutt my rebuttals, I will ignore them now.

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      • Kiwi

        Gustav proved to you that the Arab citizens of Israel don’t want to relinquish their Israeli citizenship even though they could keep all their lands and assets and be part of a new Palestinian state. Why would they behave like that if things are so bad for them in Israel, Mikesailor?

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    11. Average American

      We’re witnessing Zionism in action, and I don’t think it’s “liberal” Zionism. That’s something it seems some posters here don’t understand: we can SEE for ourselves what’s happening.

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      • JohnW

        Yep we can see what is happening exactly.

        Arabs and their apologists are projecting their own sins guilt and intentions on Israel.

        Just look at ISIS, right now they are at the first stages of trying to form their world wide chaliphate. In their endeavour to conquer and enslave the rest of the world, Arabs right now sow fear, hatred and death wherever they go. Yet their apologists in magazines like these are trying to deflect by blaming Israel for defending ourselves from like minded supremacist Islamists like Hamas.

        They won’t succeed.

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