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Thoughts on a joint but unequal Palestinian-Israeli struggle

Israeli activists have joined Palestinians in demonstrations throughout the West Bank for a decade, in what some have come to bill a ‘joint struggle.’ But the apparent disparity between the daily realities of Israelis and Palestinians beckons the question: What is the role of Israelis in the Palestinian struggle for liberation?

By Noa Shaindlinger

Activists from Anarchists Against the Wall in West Bank. Sign reads "resistance" in Arabic and Hebrew (Photo: Tamimi Press)

Since 2003, a growing number of Israeli activists, primarily affiliated with Anarchists Against the Wall, have been joining the Palestinian popular struggle against the separation wall and settlements. Israelis accompany Palestinians in weekly demonstrations throughout the West Bank in villages like Bi’lin, Nil’in, Nabi Saleh, Beit Ummar and al-Ma’asara.

Recently, I have become aware of an internal debate in the circles I am a part of and privy to in Ramallah, Nabi Saleh and in the virtual circles of Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere. This debate has spilled into activist circles I frequent and aroused an array of responses, most of them quite emotional. Some people, Palestinian and others, have begun calling into question the participation of Israeli activists in Palestinian demonstrations against the wall and even challenge the efficacy of a joint Palestinian-Israeli struggle in general.

An accusation I have heard is that, as Israeli Jews, we enjoy privileges denied to Palestinians and that, moreover, unaware of these privileges, we show up at various demonstrations in the West Bank demanding to be treated as equal partners in the struggle. One person dismissed offhand Israeli activists’ often harrowing experiences of arrest, injury or harassment by the state’s security apparatus because we cannot understand what it’s like to live under military rule, fearing daily for oneself and loved ones.

As a result, I’d like to attempt to address some arguments I have heard from certain activists in recent conversations and blog entries, about the role of Israeli activists in the popular Palestinian struggle. I am speaking only for myself and do not represent any other activists.

Yes, we are painfully aware of our colonial privileges as Israeli Jews. We articulate that every time we get into our cars, driving back to Tel Aviv from Nabi Saleh or Bil’in, leaving our Palestinian friends behind to deal with repercussions, including night raids and brutal arrests. We recognize the dire implications these joint actions carry for Palestinians.

We do not wish to be treated as “equals” or to lead the struggle. On the contrary: we do not make demands, and we are not attempting to lead or be decision-makers in this process. At most, we see ourselves as allies, junior partners in a joint struggle. “Joint” does not mean equal partnership, but it does indicate our deepest commitment to and solidarity with the ongoing Palestinian struggle for liberation from the shackles of colonialism and apartheid. The fight to end racial oppression must entail a joint struggle that brings together people of different ethnicities and creeds, including those who enjoy colonial privileges, to demand an end to a racist regime.

I take issue with what feels like a dismissal of incidents of injury of Israeli or international activists. We also suffocate from tear gas, get hit by rubber bullets and stink from skunk water. Several of us have, over the years, sustained life-threatening injuries, lost an eye or wound up in a coma for weeks. Was this suffering meaningless?

The mere existence of Israeli solidarity activists, or our presence in West Bank demonstrations, should not be taken for granted. For someone who was born into the occupation and indoctrinated to be a proud colonizer, idolize the military and partake in the ongoing erasure of Palestinian history, the road to dissent is far from clear. And those of us who have turned our backs on the state and its racist ideology are often shunned by our family and friends, and constantly threatened by Zionist activists and state agencies. The life of an anti-Zionist activist in Israel is a lonely one; I sometimes find myself envious of the tsumud (Arabic for “streadfastness”) I see in the West Bank.

But what I find most disturbing about the argument that we should not attend West Bank demonstrations is the assumption that, after the liberation of Palestine and the end of occupation and Zionism, Jews will just leave, “willingly or not,” as one activist boldly told me. It saddens me, not just because at the heart of a joint struggle should lie a vision for a just postcolonial society, but because it speaks to the lack of understanding by some that Israeli Jews are rooted here, have a profound sense of belonging and attachment to their place of birth, and that another wave of mass displacement will never be a just solution. This realization is vital, if not only for the shifting dynamics of the current struggle, but more significantly – for the imagined future of Palestine and the shape its society takes. I’m afraid if we maintain the separation the current regime desires, between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, post-liberation Palestine might become a dystopia of inter-ethnic, interfaith discord and mutual suspicion that will descend into further conflict.

Noa Shaindlinger is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, a human rights activist and citizen journalist.

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    1. Richard Witty

      Everyone has to figure out what they are fighting/working for, honestly.

      I understand the theme “this land is ours, not yours, all of it”, to be a fascist theme, whoever articulates it, however it comes to be understood.

      There are ways to do good, to help to improve the well-being of the other, more sustaining ways to do so, than to be accepted at demonstrations.

      Its a good test and clarification of one’s convictions to be asked to not participate, even unkindly.

      Its happened in every movement. At one point Gandhi asked European sympathizers to not participate in the Indian struggle for independence. Malcolm X refused white sympathizers any role.

      The ANC invited joint struggle.

      One area of clarification occurs in what is your goal. For Israeli sympathizers it has to shift from anger to a more compelling determination.

      For me, my maturation of idealism/activism, shifted to an attitude of ethical participation in “all my relations”, literally. Not, to politicize all my relations, but to sincerely seek other’s and my well-being.

      Its a quandry with angers, firmed up into ideology, as I see that as devolving often to an addictive and utterly personally and politically dysfunctional complex. I feel obliged to object to that addiction, to the recruitment to that addiction, to point out where and how it hinders the commitment to “all my relations”.

      Palestinians are engaged in multiple struggles, objective and subjective. So long as violence is directed, please respect their growth.

      But, don’t dismiss what you experience, nor shut up about what you see and conclude. If a movement constructs harm long-term, self-harm and harms to others, its better that activists get to decide coolly and clearly, rather than be constrained by lack of insight, even uncomfortable insight.

      Every person lives in a constant internal dialog between universal we and particular i/we. Our bodies are separate. Our families are different families. Our communities are different communities. Constructing an us that is distinct from them.

      Health is constructed by refreshing both: universal I (basis of sympathy), and distinct I (basis of attention to one’s own well-being).

      Reply to Comment
    2. BOOZ

      If you are really sincere in your desire to end occupation and racism ( I am dismissing the “apartheid” word as totally unappropriate to the I/P situation ):

      – Stop dismissing Israeli Jews fears as if they were paranoid . Even paranoid have enemies!

      -Stop from making alliances with people and organizations who disregard the historic experience of Zionism as a national liberation movement assuming it is the result of an international imperailist conspiracy. Some of the self-proclaimed supporters of the Palestinian cause need not skunk water to stink.

      -Consider the possibility that some fractions ( and not small ones, at that) of the Paliestinian opinion would like to see the Jews leave not only the settlements, but Haifa, Tel Aviv, Rishon Le Zion & Petach Tiqva.

      Everything you wrote reinforced me in my 2-stater position and the necessity to oppose all 1-staters , irrespective of their being extreme-rightists or extreme-leftists.

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    3. Noa, I take it you’re responding to Bekah’s posts? She’s an American Jew married to a Palestinian, who became Israeli so that she could live with her husband without worry of being compelled to leave. She was writing for other internationals and Israelis. I think you need to make that clear, and perhaps link to the things she wrote rather than trying to summarise them yourself, especially as your summary of this debate does not seem to be accurate. There were a few specific incidents that led her to write those posts, such as one Israeli activist selling photographs of Palestinian women activists (without their permission) and defending it on the grounds that it’s ‘good for them’ to get the exposure.
      Bekah never claimed that Israelis should not attend West Bank demos – quite the opposite, she said that it’s good that they go. I also didn’t notice any of the other people who were discussing this on Twitter and Facebook saying that they shouldn’t be there. She was concerned with the attitudes she has encountered in some of them (internationals too), not their presence.
      I disliked several things she wrote in her first post (the second was better) but I have also encountered the attitudes that she talks about, and I do see traces of them in your post, particularly this sentence: “The mere existence of Israeli solidarity activists, or our presence in West Bank demonstrations, should not be taken for granted.” This sounds quite petulant, almost as though you’re asking for gratitude. If you want to struggle alongside these people, you need to get out of the mentality that you are doing them a favour. Israeli government policy is making Palestinian lives miserable; to Palestinian protestors, taking action against that is the only principled thing to do, so they aren’t going to see the Israeli activists who arrive in the villages as something rather special but as people doing the natural thing. And surely that’s better?
      This sentence is also troubling: “The life of an anti-Zionist activist in Israel is a lonely one; I sometimes find myself envious of the tsumud (Arabic for ‘steadfastness’) I see in the West Bank.” Yes, it’s lonely to be an anti-Zionist in Israel. It’s also lonely to be a Palestinian in solitary confinement (something that is unlikely to happen to you). Sumud isn’t about having a sociable gaggle of neighbours around you who all see things in the same way and it’s not a garden party, it’s a mentality and a spirit that should be able to buoy you up even if you ARE alone. There’s no need to be jealous of it, and write as though the lucky Palestinians surrounded by watchtowers have got something you haven’t; you can access it wherever you are. And if you ever do feel too isolated, you can easily travel to meet with friends – your movement isn’t restricted, and you should make the most of that.

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    4. Marco

      Comment deleted and user banned

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    5. Noa Shaindlinger

      Hi Vicki,
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. Writing this text I had to keep in mind potential responses, even angry ones, and I do wish to clarify a few things:
      First, Bekah’s two recent posts were part of my motivation to write this, but not the only motivation. I’ve been involved in quite a few debates, including, for instance, the one around Zochrot and its proposed visit to Ramallah. I heard a lot of that over there, and most people used a much harsher language than Bekah. She herself I think is a bit ambivalent. On the one hand she writes, and I quote: ” I don’t give a fuck how many demonstrations they’ve been to; until they live under military occupation or apartheid, they have no fucking idea what resistance is about. And yes, that means they should defer to you, and not be arrogant asses. Concretely, that means they should follow your lead in any relationship: if you want to invite them for coffee, or to work on a project, right on, but they shouldn’t be inviting themselves along. And dear God, if they start talking about their arrests/injuries/treatment by Israeli forces, tell them to live in constant fear of having their house raided in the middle of the night and incarceration for years without charge, and then come talk to you (or me).” Then, of course, she doesn’t completely reject us from participating in these demonstrations, but she talks about the differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ solidarity activists in ways that are somewhat contradictory to the spirit of the previous section. But then again, being ambivalent about such things is actually fine with me. Other have been a lot more direct.
      As for your other comment about the road to anti-Zionism and our presence there – yes, it’s natural to be in solidarity with the oppressed, for me, at least, but when you look at how Israeli Jews are indoctrinated from birth, it’s really a wonder to see someone able to question all that and get over everything they need to get over (stereotypes, fear etc) in order to get there. Overcoming Zionism is something one needs to consider here.
      Sumoud for me is something that is absent in my life. I have guilt and shame, I have solidarity, and I have admiration for Palestinian activists. But something that I don’t have is this sense of steadfastness that gives Palestinians hope time after time, even with all the brutality. Sometimes I feel I get strength from them, because coming back to Tel Aviv, one cannot but drown in despair. In my daily life, I am surrounded by greed, racism, brutality and a society that I am incredibly alienated from.
      I never meant any of it to be read as somehow dismissing the everyday plight of Palestinians in solitary confinement or anxiety over restrictions over movement.
      I hope that clarifies it.

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    6. Kolumn9

      Apparently fighting to be kicked out of your country is not a future that even the anarchists against the wall are looking for. As such, when you drive back to Tel Aviv try to remember that your Palestinian friends see Tel Aviv as territory occupied by Jews that will one day be liberated of Jews. At its core the struggle you identify with isn’t so much a struggle against Zionism as policy, but against the very idea that Jews have any justifiable place in the land of Israel. Once you realize this perhaps you will also realize that your participation in such activities is the most absurd form of self-loathing and self-delusion. No worries though, once you realize your folly you are always welcome back where your home really is, because were your Palestinian friends to succeed you surely will have none.

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    7. XYZ

      I think the comment the Palestinian activist made to Noa is very telling:
      But what I find most disturbing about the argument that we should not attend West Bank demonstrations is the assumption that, after the liberation of Palestine and the end of occupation and Zionism, Jews will just leave, “willingly or not,” as one activist boldly told me.

      In Rhodesia and South Africa, the black liberation movements almost unanimously stated that they viewed the Whites as an integral part of the country and should feel a part of it after majority rule was obtained.
      Here, the Palestinians are making their claim that Jews have NO place whatsoever here, showing their struggle is on a totally different plane. The blacks in southern Africa under white rule were struggling for equal political rights. The Arabs/Muslims, are struggling for what they view as their rightful destiny…Arab/Muslim SUPREMACY. Now, it may be claimed that this fellow is an “extremist” and not representative, but that has yet to be demonstrated….this is the what the current government’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” means…that they state that Jews are an inherent part of the country as well. All Arab spokesmen reject this. How do I reach this conclusion? Whites first appeared in the Cape Colony in 1652 and in Rhodesia only in 1890, yet, as I said, the blacks accepted them as fellow citizens. Jews, who were here 4000 years, even before the Arabs, are not given such recognition.
      The bottom line is that this once again shows that a compromise peace agreement is not attainable and everyone had better get used to it.
      It was announced a short while ago that Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was elected President of Egypt. As I understand it, the number 2 of his party, at a rally , announced their program was to “march on Jerusalem and build the new Caliphate on the ruins of the Jewish city” or something to that effect. That doesn’t sound too friendly. This marks the official end of the “peace process” that began at Kilometer 101 at the end of the Yom Kippur War, almost 40 years ago, when Israelis convinced themselves that the fact that Sadat allowed his officers to discuss a cease-fire face-to-face with Israelis and his later signing of a “peace agreement” with Israel marked a new era in which the Arabs were supposed to be “more realistic” and finally willing to accept Israel. Now we are told that this was done by a dictator against the will of his people. Thus, we see the official end of the “peace process” of the last 40 years. We are in a new era. Get used to it.

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    8. Richard Witty

      You do however dismiss much of the Israeli experience.

      Maintaining sympathy with the dual narrative is what marks a humanist, universal human sympathy.

      You might find sumud for that value, determination, but it will conflict with the less complicated sumud of Palestinians (who only have to think of their own community’s liberation).

      Deferring to a cause that might (not necessarily) hate and harm your parents, cousins, aunts/uncles, grandparents, is a more difficult moral jump.

      I think it would be more authentic to speak your own truth, even about Palestinian decisions, than to voluntarily subordinate your own full experience for the position of a political stand.

      Those Palestinians that seek to permanently remove Israelis are advocating a fascism, not that much different than intentional annexation and forced removal.

      I’m not sure how a committed humane activist addresses that in fact.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Hi Noa,
      I remember the Zochrot incident (if you remember, I was talking to you about it on the night it happened – username bethlehemballet) and I think it’s important to separate what happened there from the arguments made by Bekah and others. That was a disgusting example of bully-boy mob mentality. Arguing against the tendency of some Israeli and international activists to try and present themselves as experts on occupation, co-opt village protests, or engage in ‘activist tourism’ is not the same as indiscriminate and vicious lashing-out purely on the basis of someone’s nationality.
      That said, in light of your Ramallah experience, I see why you’d conflate the two things – after that episode it must be important to you to feel welcome when you visit the West Bank on other occasions (especially if you’re not comfortable in Israeli society). If you’re feeling a bit beleaguered and isolated, you’re naturally going to be extra sensitive to any criticism of ‘bad solidarity’. But this is a separate thing from the debate about the role of Israelis and internationals in the village protests. It needs attention in its own right – if you’re tired and dispirited there is a limit on what you can do, and all debates on what you should do become irrelevant anyway. I have more to say, but I’ll write to you off-thread. 🙂

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    10. David G


      Mursi has been quite explicit that he intends to honor the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel (in spite of the fact that Israel hasn’t fulfilled all of the conditions).

      Your comment about indigenous Jews not being allowed to be fellow citizens by Palestinians is not true. It was accepted even in 1948. Asking for a “Jewish state” is not the same as asking for a state in which Jews can be equal citizens. If it were, the USA would be a Jewish state.

      The fact that one activist has expressed a desire for “Jews to leave” (and it is unclear whether they mean from the Occupied Territories or Israel proper) does not mean that this is desired by Palestinians as a whole. I have seen polls that suggest up to 29% of Israeli Jews consider wholesale expulsion of Palestinians from Eretz Israel to be justified. During the anti-apartheid struggle, a number of black activists expressed extremely hostile attitudes towards whites. After all, there too a terrorist campaign was conducted.

      Morally we are compelled to make the leap: however frightening it is, the Palestinians must be granted freedom.

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    11. I do not see myself as a part of the Palestinian liberation struggle simply because it is a national struggle, & I am not a nationalist, I want equal rights for all people here regardless of nation/ ethnicity/ religion.

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    12. Noa,
      I am no fan of purity control. That control can take the form of denying purported Israeli Arab citizens their civil rights, prophesizing the expulsion of all Jews from Israel made Palestine, demolishing homes or entire villages in the Bank, or being told what solidarity means and is. Ostracism has many forms, and to be told by one’s family and former friends that one engages in race betrayl is ostracism; it can limit career and partners, leaving one alone most nights. Just about everywhere, most people just want to get by, not change the world. Getting by can force one into protest through socio-economics; but that is temporary. When resistence becomes perpetual, something in the social economy makes it so.
      The State of Israel is not going to go away. If you are told that otherwise, and doubt what is said, it strikes me as a good thing to say so. I say this not out of any love of patriotism, but long term reality. Israel will have to change, but it will do so from what it now is; not vanish into the creation of someone’s utopia. I don’t know what you really believe, nor should I (I am nothing–an aging man far distant from your home country), but believe it for your own sake, not solidarity control. Doing so, you offer all you can to what you believe and those who struggle daily in what must seem a futile hope on many days. Those who engage in such struggle with any hope of nonviolent resolution should recognize that neither they nor their opponents will be the same at struggle’s end; and they should also recognize that, at that end, these networks of solidarity will vanish–social struggle is transient, destroying is own environment when finally successful.
      Precisely because Israel will not just go away, you are as important as Palestinians in this struggle. You are one of the early faces of future encounter. Why be ashamed of this? If you, they, want to win, know no one will win fully.
      Finally, purity control is another win for Israeli State policy; that policy wants no interaction across the defined racial lines (but I do recall some high level security functionary saying that the monitoring Israeli NGOs have done Israel service by letting the apparatus know how it is doing from the ground; good or bad, you decide).

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    13. Noa Shaindlinger

      Hi again Vicky,
      Of course I remember. I think the incidents are separate not not entirely. That is to say, the TONE was harsher in the Zochrot debate, but it does reflect a certain position, I’m not even sure how widespread, among Palestinian activists. And those arguments I’ve heard again and again online but also face to face – from intelligent, friendly and very committed women. None of them can ever by called a bully. And I understand that position, especially after 64 years of occupation. If I may digress, one day, when I was living in Toronto, I attended a function organized by Palestine house, which is a community centre for the rather sizeable Palestinian community in the area. A bunch of us, solidarity activists, including Jews, also participated, and were warmly welcomed.
      At some point, I sat by a little girl. She was relatively new to the country, from a village somewhere near Ramallah. When she realized I was Jewish and ‘Israeli’ she asked me: “so what are you doing HERE? you’re not with us, you’re the enemy.” Her mother, who heard it, apologized profusely, explaining to me that all the girl has ever seen were settlers and soldiers. I was actually touched by that exchange because it says alot about the everyday nature of occupation.
      So that story was meant to show that arguing against our presence there is not something I don’t understand, but it’s very hard for me to accept exactly because of its implications for the future. I don’t know if I can convince anyone about the potential of a joint struggle. But I just wanted to say I at least believe in that.

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    14. Oleg

      If the Palestinian Authority could be convinced to appoint someone like Norman Finkelstein, Miko Peled, or Noa Shaindlinger as its foreign minister I think it would be a tremendous positive step and dispel fears that Jews will leave “willingly or not.”

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    15. Kolumn9

      Oleg, all those people already left or never came in the first place, which is a good thing. Noa is quite apparently pursuing the ‘struggle’ in Canada where she has hopefully found a wall to protest against and native Palestinians to be submissive to. The ‘struggle’ will clearly be won via many encounters between left-wing ex-Israelis and Palestinians abroad.

      Greg, blah blah on the purity control. Check your logic. It is the Palestinians that are discussing exercising purity control by excluding the Israelis from the ‘struggle’, not the ‘Zionists’. The leftists severely overstate their social isolation or ostracism in Israel. Their views are despicable but there is plenty of room for them in prominent Israeli society, perhaps even too much. Just check the local university.

      David, What precisely was ‘accepted’ in 1948? The expulsion of Jews was the explicit goal of the Arabs in 1948. In nearly every Arab country it was implemented as policy. Yes, it is extremely common for Palestinians to declare that the Jews have no place in the land of Israel and that they will have to leave. The prevailing Palestinian narrative states that Jews have no connection to the land and that all proof to the contrary are Zionist lies. The only moderation is of those that say that they don’t have the power to expel the Jews… yet. As for Mursi, we’ll see. Odds are that the MB isn’t going to act to fulfill its obligations in securing the border with Israel which will inevitably lead to escalation. Israel has fulfilled all the condition of the peace accords with Egypt. What Arab propagandists claim is in the accords is just not there. There is no commitment to leave Judea and Samaria. There is no commitment to a Palestinian state. All that is in there is the concept of ‘autonomy’. For implementation see the Oslo accords. Go ahead. Read the Camp David agreement yourself. Feel free to post parts here in reply.

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    16. XYZ

      David G-
      Note that Noa, a Jew, stated the occupation began in 1948, not 1967. The “activist” who told Noa that all Jews must leave is referring to WITHIN THE GREEN LINE. Please note that the charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization said that all Jews who arrived after the Balfour Declaration in 1917 are ILLEGAL immigrants.

      Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood have made numerous contradictory comments regarding relations with Israel, just as the Palestinian leadership had done over the decades. Their official position is whatever you want it to be. Those who want the agreement to continue will have MB quotes to that effect and those who want to end it also have quotes to that effect. What is ultimately important is the situation on the groud. A little history is instructive…during Arafat’s suicide bomber war he kept telling the Americans that he still was part of the “peace process” and that he had “no control” over the bombers. That kept the Americans and EU continuing giving him money and at the same time, the terrorists knew he was quietly supporting and even directing their terror onslaught against Israel. Egypt will do the same…they will claim that they have no control over the Sinai, rockets will be fired at Israel and Mursi will wring his hands in front of the Americans and say he is too weak to do anything about it and that they should give him more money. He will also claim he has the Salafists breathing down his neck so he can’t do much to improve relations with Israel and if Americans do pressure him too much, the Salafists will come to power and they are “worse”. It is the old game. The “peace process” is officially dead and buried.

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    17. K9:”Greg, blah blah on the purity control. Check your logic. It is the Palestinians that are discussing exercising purity control by excluding the Israelis from the ‘struggle’, not the ‘Zionists’. The leftists severely overstate their social isolation or ostracism in Israel.”
      I was pointing out that purity control has many forms; and, if you read again, you may see I was refering to that coming from the Palestinian side, too, as germane to the post. Try reading more than the first sentence next time.
      When it is acceptable for a MK to say leftists should be placed in camps along with infiltrators, and this by a women once holding high IDF rank, I’d say leftists, or rather any who question Israeli State policy, can reasonably say they feel isolated. Yes, universities tend to be more to the left, but that is a small world which does not make up a large share of the population. I have no doubt that at present careers can be harmed if leftist politics are admitted.
      You belittle Noa for the sake of belittling. And so you show your weakness. Everything must be us or them. So you surf 972, you or the tag team group you may be, to silence the oppostion with the truth of war. Submit or war; but there are other alternatives, and I think you hate what you fail to understand.
      As to the Presidency of Mursi, the Brotherhood (of which he now is no longer a member, for what that’s worth) has to revive the economy. Already there are indications that the Brotherhood is urging Hamas restraint; and, if you want greater Siani control, you will have to let more Egyptian military into the area. No one expects a smooth ride, but progress will require moves beyond fear–your major weapon.
      Go be afraid somewhere else.

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    18. Kolumn9

      @Greg, You can pretend all you want that your post has double meanings and is universally applicable but you singled out Israeli actions and policy, not the obvious fact that the whole topic of the article is about Palestinian purity control.

      The Israeli left’s cries of being ostracized or isolated are self-serving confidence building measures. They are heavily represented in all spheres of public life, including universities and mass media, and no careers aren’t ‘harmed’ by admitting being left. That is totally baseless and in many fields the precise opposite is true. They left just can’t win an election so they scream really loud from the sidelines because without attention the left is nothing. The modern left runs on the fumes of ancient revolutionary fervor, no longer possessing actual ideology, but constantly seeking to revisit the high of mass revolutionary struggle. The thing about the left is that when it is out of power if it can’t claim to be suffering or oppressed then they can’t claim to be part of the ‘struggle’ and it loses its raison d’etre.

      I am amused by Noa’s Canadian struggle and her conceptual confusion with the fact that her cause and the cause of her Palestinian collaborators are two different causes and that they are contradictory in nature. She dropped nationalism for left-wing humanism and post-nationalism but her Palestinian collaborators are still very much stuck in a nationalist, anti-colonialist struggle and to them she will remain a colonist regardless of her actions. The common struggle is an empty slogan papered over by self-delusion on one side and expediency on the other. My weakness is being too perceptive, literal and logical. Always has been and I admit it.

      There have been several adjustments to the Egyptian forces allowed into the Sinai in the past years. The Egyptians have all the capacity they need to establish security in the Sinai but over the past 1.5 years but have had no will to do so. Their police forces have been running away from the Sinai. This is documented. More forces aren’t going to help where no will exists and if you see the Egyptians make the argument for more forces then it is really just meant to signal the continued lack of will to interfere with terrorist activity against Israel and not an statement of fact.

      Mursi is going to try to revive the economy. It is a tough job and he isn’t likely to succeed, primarily because Egypt is an economic headcase. Too many people, minimal natural resources, a terrible education system, a corrupt bureaucracy, massive debt, huge current account deficit, a very expensive subsidy system, very high expectations, a tradition of state/crony capitalism, military monopolies, etc, etc, etc.. When the MB fail in fixing the Egyptian economy they are going to mobilize their supporters somehow…

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    19. Noa Shaindlinger

      FYI everyone, the PLO charter about 1917 as the cutoff year for determining who is an illegal immigrant and who isn’t is long dead and buried.
      I am somewhat affiliated with the PFLP, and other than the unfortunate complicity in Oslo and the PA, most people I know (within the party and without, including activists affiliated with Fatah and even Hamas) absolutely agree that no Jew would be displaced, especially not within 48. There will be no ethnic cleansing. This is why when I heard a few activists assuming we are all going to live rather than live in postcolonial Palestine, I was first hurt, but then I decided this position is also the product of decades of occupation and can change. I am currently involved in a project that aims to reimagine and plan this future postcolonial society in Palestine during and after the return of the refugees. Our conclusions may surprise you yet.

      Reply to Comment
    20. XYZ

      Noa-I completely reject your statement that the PLO Charter’s claim that all Jews who came to the country after 1917 is “dead and buried”. Statements claiming such a thing are made by the various groups in the Palestinian movement contradict one another and are often made to get support from well-meaning Israelis and Westerners. For example, there was a statement put out by someone a couple of years ago saying that the Palestinians were prepared to allow Israel to continue to control the Western Wall in the wake of a peace agreement. This was vehemently denied by other spokesmen the next day. Thus, you can choose whichever one you want, but what is operative is what they tell their own people.
      Your rejection of Israel as a state and Zionism does not, it seems to me, give you much common ground with your Palestinian friends. True, you agree on those two things, but that doesn’t mean they want a future like you want. While it is very popular among the Left/progressives to reject all forms of nationalism and religion as a social force (as opposed to individual belief which is making a comeback among parts of the Progressive/Left), this certainly doesn’t seem to be the drift in the Arab/Muslim world. The kind of de-Judaized, de-Israelized Palestine you are dreaming of is not the same as the Palestinians are thinking of. This is why Uri Avnery opposes “1-state” and says Israel should continue to exist as a separate, sovereign state. The two peoples would not be able to co-exist in a single state. As K9 pointed out, the Jews have been driven out of every Muslim Middle Eastern state since the Second World War, (the same is happening to the Christians as well), so I don’t see how the Palestinians would ever agree to what you want. Just look around at what is happening in the neighborhood.
      Regarding the PFLP-as I recall that was a Marxist organization run by George Habash who was a Christian Marxist. If I am correct, then I would come to the conclusion that this group is passe and irrelevant and whatever promises they make you are meaningless.
      To be frank, you, like so many of the Left/Progressives I am encountering, seem to think that imaginary constructs you come up in your mind can come true if you really, really wish very hard. You make excuses for extremist positions they take and then say “it can change”. HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT?

      Reply to Comment
    21. BOOZ

      NS is affiliated to the PFLP?

      Just like Wilfried Böse and Brigitte Kuhlmann ?

      Birds of a same feather, then….

      Reply to Comment
    22. Noa Shaindlinger

      No one can ‘know’ what is going to happen. Hence my final point in the article – that if we do not plan for and imagine a shared future for Jews and Palestinians here, and if we don’t work towards it, then, I’m afraid, some of most pessimistic scenarios might actually come true. That is why instead of just talking about an abstract right of return – plan for it, discuss it in earnest, maybe address some of the fears and anxieties a few of the commentators here alluded too.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Maya

      Noa, first of all, thanks for the article which is a very important voice in the present discourse on the joint struggle. Secondly, I think what lacks in these voices from both Palestinian and Israeli side, is the conviction, that the struggle is not only for the liberation of the Palestinian nation, but the struggle is for the liberation of all the people living in Israel/Palestine from the regime that under which we live. Of course as Israeli Jews we don’t experience the atrocities of the military occupation as the Palestinians within the WB and Gaza do. Of course as Israeli Jews we don’t experience the discrimination as the Israeli Palestinians do everyday. Of course as Ashkenazi Israelis we don’t experience the discrimination of the Arabic Jews in Israel. and so on and so on. But me as Israeli Ashkenazi Jew (supposedly the most priviliged that one in this country can be) I jointed the struggle in the WB and within the green line, not only to show the solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian nation, not only I joint to stop the military occupation, but primarly to END the undemocratic regime under which all of us live (both Palestinians and Israelis) and which implications influence are lives daily (though in different ways). Nobody runs in the contest “Who suffered more?”, cause obviously none of Israelis activists suffered the military occupation. But we are the part of the struggle, because we DEMAND democracy, equality for all the people in this land. I would never come to the Palestinian village in the WB claiming that I am equal to the organizers, i am always “a guest protestor”, nevertheless the protest and struggle is also mine, the fact that I happen to have privilages doesn’t mean that I am not credible to demand DEMOCRACY from lack of which we (Palestinians and Israelis) all suffer. I think that the biggest mistake in the mainstream thinking and presentation of the joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle by the Israeli activists is the emphasize on the Palestinian pledge and Palestinian liberation, instead of emphasize on the common liberation from the Zionist regime.

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    24. XYZ

      You leave me confused. Since you are an anti-Zionist and talk about the “1948 Occupation” are you a “1-stater”? If so, how are you going to convince the 95% of Israeli Jews who support Zionism to give up their state and throw themselves on the mercy of your friends from the PFLP and the others from the disfunctional Palestinian political front? Or are you like Yossi Gurvitz who also views Israel as a racist, militarist, basically illegimate state but somehow convinces himself that some sort of a Jewish but de-Judaized majority state will continue to exist and that the Arabs will reconcile themselves to this injustice?

      Reply to Comment
    25. Niz

      1- When Israelis ask palestinians security guarantees and it happens a lot and goes like this “We know the occupation is bad, but shit, we’re afraid…so what’s the guarantee that you won’t kill us all when this all over”… I know Noa you’re not saying that, but don’t you think that these issues are part of the engrained psychology of occupation. Either they deserve it because they hate us or they don’t deserve it, but by now they hate us anyway. So the occupation has to go on.
      2- I think it’s correct to question the post-apartheid Palestine/Israel. I think this birth has to happen exactly in what you are doing, in the field- direct action. What the middle east needs is liberalism. If the Palestinians are liberated and then kick all the jews we’re back to square one- we would have just switched roles. That is why the struggle has to transform both communities- breaking the dichotomies into equal rights.

      good luck from the other side of the borders.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Noa Shaindlinger

      Maya, I basically agree with you that this is a liberation struggle for everyone in Palestine from a racist colonial regime. I would even say that Mizrahi Jews are also, to a degree, colonized themselves. The problem is, of course, that most Israeli Jews not only refuse to see themselves as colonized and oppressed by an apartheid state, but also support it, serve in its army, denounce dissenters and so on. Because the balance of power is the way it is, and because Palestinians suffer the most from it, I think it is wise to defer to them when it comes to strategy and tactics, as well as the overall agenda, while at the same time ask ourselves how do we, as Jews, imagine this place after regime change, as well as our place in the region.
      XYZ: Yes, I’m an avowed 1-stater, and I believe that the Zionist regime should completely disappear off the map and be replaced with a democratic one. I am also painfully aware that most Israeli Jews would not so easily give up their colonial privileges. I therefore think at this point, it’s useless to try and convince them to join the struggle or support it. Look at J14. They speak of ‘justice’ but refuse to acknowledge their own complicity in denying it from Palestinians. Most of them therefore, do not have any role in the current stage of the struggle. change will come from outside – from Palestinians and allies, and from a strong int’l BDS movement. After liberation, I believe most Jews would remain here, and they will have to adjust to the new situation. Since most of us by now were born here, we are attached to this place and the attachment to colonial privileges can be broken and replaced with other forms of solidarity and sense of collective belonging. That’s my hope anyway.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Richard Witty

      Do you see any dangers to your hope, any ironies at all?

      Reply to Comment
    28. XYZ

      I don’t doubt your sincerity but I don’t know how you came to the conclusion that you have the right to make war against Israel. Your values are yours alone. You do not speak for us Israelis nor do you speak for the Palestinians, as they have made abundantly clear to you. You claim you want a “democratic” state. Where in the Middle East is a “secular, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional democratic state” like this that you could point to as a prototype? Lebanon or Iraq or Syria, maybe? Have your forgotten that almost half the Jews in Israel came from the Arab/Muslim states of the Middle East and don’t have fond memories of that experience? Ashkenazi Jews also had the pleasure of living in various “secular democracies” in Europe and I don’t have to remind you of how that ended up 70 year ago. Jews also lived in the Soviet Union where major efforts were made to stamp out “ethnocentric” and “particularist” tendencies by way of the Yevseksia which spouted the same sort of ideas you are doing now, backed up by concentration camps and mass executions to reinforce the point. Fortunately, it failed and today over 1 million Jews from the former USSR have joined us here in Israel.
      Meanwhile, your Palestinian friend, with whom we are supposed to join, live in a basically disfunctional society that is far from being a “secular democratic” one. After all, their constitution says they are an “Arab state, part of the Arab people” (the first clause in their constitution) and they have Islamic Sharia law as a basic instrument of their legislation. Thus, we see they are at least as “racist, militarist, and corrupt” as you claim we are. So how are we supposed to join with them. Is it based on the promises of your PFLP friends, who aren’t in power anyway and are a negligible force in Palestinian politics?
      Few people in the world share your belief in a stateless, non-ethnocentric world. I don’t see how you can claim the right to try to impose it on us, or the Palestinians, for that matter. This posiition again reminds me of the joke they tell about the belief of the the Left/Progressive Jew, based on Mordechai Kaplan’s philosophy which he used to create the Reconstructionist Judaism movement in the US:
      “The Jews are a Divinely chosen people who whose heavenly directed mission is to bring mankind the message that there is no Deity, and the Jews are no different than anyone else.”
      Apparently many of your Palestinian acquaintances have seen through this.

      Reply to Comment
    29. BOOZ

      And for the record, PFLP has been, and remains, acriminal organization.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Niz


      What is the substitute for a democratic multi-ethnic state? The substitute is perpetual war between the Jews and Arabs and endless occupation. Is it a two state solution? The settlers have buried this long time ago. The only choice left is either one state or the continuation of the status qou- the system of segregation and apartheid. These are the choices and there is no other choice! You can of course and it is according to your free will to choose to dominate over other people and it is our choice to fight back. This is precisely the parameters of our struggle- battle!

      Of course imbedded in the vision of one state is a transformation of Israeli and Palestinian identities. After the breakdown of the apartheid regime, the concept of Israeliness like the concept of palestinian-hood has to be expanded to reconcile Jewish-non-Jewish identities which under the system of apartheid are put as polar opposites (which is bullshit)…a generation has to pass that has savored the taste of equality before getting into a post-zionist society. It’s going to be hard, but as Antonio Gramschi says “pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will”

      Reply to Comment
    31. BOOZ

      @NIZ :

      There are 2 categories of 1-staters

      -The proponents of a secular state ( French-style, implying the notion of laïcité where the state distances itself from all religious and ethnic denominations). This has worked for France ( to a certain extent : see Corsica & Basque country. In Israel/Palestine this stands for a tiny ans inaudible minority. Other countries like Belgium have been giving it a try and it has been a failure ( I will illustrate my assumption with a “Belgian ” joke later).

      -Those on both sides who have a hidden supremacist agenda.

      Which category do you belong to ?

      Reply to Comment
    32. Tal

      Noa, The PFLP was involved in suicide attacks against israeli civilians in and out of Israel proper. Isn’t it morally wrong to affiliate with a such a movement?

      Reply to Comment
    33. Noa Shaindlinger

      just for the record, 1-staters cannot be so neatly divided into two categories. Neither fits me. I am opposed to the French notion of laïcité, or libery-democracy of any kind, and I don’t want an imperialistic imposition of political practices in Palestine. I’d like the future polity here to be organic, evolve out of local dynamics and histories and definitely not something imposed from outside by the US, UN or any other int’l body.

      Reply to Comment
    34. BOOZ

      @Noa :

      Wishful thinking on your part.

      The local dynamics you are calling for is just another word for civil war.

      Let the 2 people heal their wounds on 2 sides of a mutually accepted border.

      The rest will come later.

      Reply to Comment
    35. BOOZ

      PS : you may remark that leading 1-staters are

      -The Hamas on 1 side

      -And the settlers on the other side.

      Reply to Comment
    36. XYZ

      The “local dynamics and histories” that Noa is hoping will spawn future governments in the Arab Middle east is primarily anarchic tribalism, Islamic theocracy frequently with iron-fisted Imperialist rule superimposed on such, such as the Ottomans or other outside conquerers. I fail to see how this can evolve into anything a Left/Progressive like Noa could find very agreeable to live under.
      Don’t forget that Germany and Japan, which are now peaceful, successful countries, had democracy rammed down their throats by the victorious Allies.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Niz


      Again, I understand the obstacles going to face a one state solution. The heroes of the new state have to be invented, created, forged by the struggle against Zionism. Thinking about the future, I am always bombarded by Israelis who acknowledge that the occupation is bad, but somehow insinuate that there is no better solution or that the substitute is unacceptable to them. This is due to the fact that the status quo is the best preferred outcome from an Israeli perspective. Status quo equals: Jewish state, control over all of territory and huge economic benefits with relatively low cost to Israelis. To the palestinians it means our annihilation as a culture which is being conducted as I write. This is why, I believe that the status quo has to be shaken making it too painful for the Israelis to sustain. This idea is what drove the Palestinians to employ suicide bombings, rocket launching and so on and so forth. It is looking for a balance of deterrence and not some wild irrational motive to destroy the jews. Negotiations were also driven by the assumption that the international community will conduct the proper pressure -according to international standards and some how achieve a form of balance of power or constraints on the most powerful. This did not occur and so we are now being administered by the PA- a form of colonial native apparatus.

      Back to options: I prefer a state of continuous instability than to a state where I have to live in a cage and treated like a sub-human or even worse being slowly ethnically cleansed from my land and home. The joint palestinian-Israeli action then starts from an already unequal platform. For Israeli activists they stand against the occupation out of a liberal moral view point towards the conflict (rights based). That is commendable. However from the point of view of palestinians, standing against the occupation is a basic human drive to survive and not the luxury of the ‘informed’ or an exercise of human benevolence. If the system of occupation has framed the game and its options as a zero sum game, then the palestinians have no choice but to fight back even if this means the annihilation of all of our community.

      In the absence of a real possibility for a dignified life under a two state solution (which is not a solution by now, realistically speaking)- we have to start the new phase of the struggle, that is to achieve equality with Jews under law. By the nature of the struggle itself and its dialectics the Palestinians cannot appeal to a chauvinistic concept of identity nor can they appeal to a religious one. By the nature of the conflict, they will have to appeal to basic human rights and liberal values (no discrimination under law on religious or ethnic basis). This means the Palestinians will have to change the rules of the game, by convincing Israelis through various tools (including international sanctions) that the game does not have to be a zero sum game. We are still far from that as the palestinians forces in the struggle have not matured yet, but I can see that this is the only possible direction that we can take. This might fail as well – then we are to be annihilated. This always hovers around our heads like a black craw, but that is our condition and we have to accept it, while rejecting it.

      I do not believe in an Islamic solution neither do I believe in a Jewish solution. I believe that there is a possibility for human beings to gather in a polity regardless of their religion, gender or ethnic background and I do not see a big difference between Arabs and Jews other than what has been imposed on us by the Zionism itself.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Niz


      “I fail to see how this can evolve into anything a Left/Progressive like Noa could find very agreeable to live under.”
      again you do not give a solution other than the status quo- that is the Israelis have to continue with occupation and the past policies because according to you- no other solution is possible- i.e. zero sum game.

      Before we start looking into options, we have to agree that the current status quo is not acceptable because it entails the subjugation of one group by another. If you accept it, then you would have to accept that it was permissible for various states in Europe to subjugate the Jews or discriminate against them. The logical conclusion is that there is no morality, and who ever is stronger has the right to take it all (no moral boundaries to violence- total war).
      If you accept that the status quo is not morally permissible, then we can look at options in the context of struggle against it. The options can vary from loose decentralized system or a form of federalism that guarantees certain autonomy to the two communities. I agree that we need to examine such options.

      Reply to Comment
    39. XYZ

      The current situation, as difficult as it is IS sustainable. It has laster 45 years so far. There have been periods of great violence, which primarily happened because the Israeli gov’t foolishly, criminally, allowed a terrorist infrastructure to be built under its nose, and it caused much suffering to the Israelis and even more, to the Palestinians.
      It has been stated many times, that Israelis would be willing to coexist with an independent Palestinian state along with expelling the settlers IF IT WOULD MEAN REAL PEACE. But, as we see that there is no possibility of this happening. No one expects the Palestinians to agree to compromise peace with Israel when Egypt is looking to abrogate its own agreement with Israel. No authoritarian leader will be able to defy public opinion in the future the way Sadat and King Hussein did in making their agreements with Israel.
      So now that we see that there isn’t going to be peace, we simply have the continuation of the current situation.
      If the Arabs want confrontation with Israel, then our relationship with them will be a zero-sum game. If they want an UNOFFICIAL modus vivendi, along the lines Sari Nusseibeh is talking about, then we can go a long way to improving the lives of the Palestinians and everyone will benefit.
      You worry about “subjugation”. This situation exists all over the world in many countries, but I don’t hear the Left/Progressives worrying about it in those places. For example, in India many minorities resent the rule of the Indian central gov’t. The Baluchis feel subjugated by the Pakistani gov’t, so do the Mohajirs. Many minorities are subjugated in the new, post-Communist Russia. In many countries in Latin America, the Indian population resents rule by the mestizo and white populations. In South Africa, the whites still control the economy and the income gap between whites and blacks has only narrowed slightly since the end of the apartheid regime in 1994. In the rest of African, tribes that are not in power in the country they live in resent the tribe that is in power.
      The Berbers in North Africa resent control by the Arabic-speaking groups. I could go on and on.
      Thus, inequality is a fact around the world.
      Your comparison with possible discrimination against Jews in Europe is irrelevant, because as I have pointed out, the Palestinians haver repeatedly refused to make peace with Israel, and most people in the world understand this.

      Reply to Comment
    40. max

      NIZ – I very much like your way of reasoning, but have the impression you fall into the same trap you’re warning against.
      In essence, you say that the status-quo is neither moral (addressing the Jewish-Israeli side) nor acceptable (by the Palestinian side), and therefore has to be changed.
      Further, you declare that the 2-states solution is not practical anymore, so there needs to be a change towards a 1-state solution.
      The change can only be driven by transformation, and at least for the J-I side it may imply outside pressure. For both sides, it implies a vision of a state with no ethnic and/or religious advantages.
      Finally, you acknowledge that this solution may also fail –
      and you accuse XYZ of not providing an alternative.
      And yet, what about the other side’s view?
      Granted, the status-quo is immoral, but the alternative you provide has never been tested, and – as you’ll certainly agree – a people won’t get into such a risk on its own will.
      How is the 1-state solution any more realistic than the 2-states one?
      Also, what would be the instrument you’d suggest to drive the Palestinian side towards the transformation, which – based on the ME context – seems even less likely to succeed?
      The common bottom line you share with XYZ is the acceptance that a solution isn’t around the corner.
      This realization, possibly, is the most important aspect to accept, and with the accepted much larger time horizon commonly build up trust for its own sake.
      Currently, I think, neither leadership is ready to do, and I’m not aware of precedences in which such transformations have been achieved from the ground up.

      Reply to Comment
    41. niz

      “the Palestinians have repeatedly refused to make peace with Israel, and most people in the world understand this.”
      This statement is just blatantly not true. the palestinians repeatedly for the past 20 years have been trying to get a settlement. Israel in fact used the ‘peace process’ to further and deepen its control. This is understandable given the disparity of power between the two and the absence of a restraining force. Your solution is also unacceptable to me, you are asking me to relinquish my right to a dignified life solely based on the fact that there are other people who suffer similar instances in the world. That is just unreasonable. The fact that things are common does not make them right. (also your comparison is flawed since the Palestinians are not considered citizens nor are they considered an occupied nation). However, you could argue for total war and for sustaining the occupation- Israel already does so. You are in this case my enemy- our battle continues until I can make you and through various constraints to moderate your position (violence could be one tool). Your position I have to say is boring- it comes from a depressing realist perception to human affairs, one that discounts imagination and cooperation- sees our species living in a hobbesian state of being.

      @Max- okay- One state solution has not been tested: I think we are already living in one state. An Israeli can cross to the west bank freely, live there, take subsidized bus trips to Tel-aviv and come back. Only the Palestinians, due to their ethnic background are not allowed. Let us suppose that Palestinians tomorrow got full citizenship and equality. What would guarantee we won’t descend into full civil war? You mean what we are having now is not a civil war? Now of course, for Palestinians any solution is better than the current affairs, they have nothing to lose really. Jews on the other hand, have the system of privileges to lose, they will cling to it till the end. We have to be conscious of that. The Israelis will not take the risk, they have to be pushed through demonstrations, boycotts, civil disobedience, mass invasion of pyscho-therapists to heal their beloved ‘security’ complex- we have to be creative! But I know that as Palestinians we have been afraid of the big bear developing in our midst for long, the psychological response is to fight it, while the best response is to embrace it. South Africa could be a model- the whites eventually had to accept and the transformation is still underway. The transformation is not mechanical, it is a process. The process starts by acknowledging that 1- the current situation is not sustainable, 2- Equality among men is a value by itself. Transformations are always from the ground up.

      Can we live together? If you take a Palestinian and an Israeli and put them in NewYork in a different political context, they will live fine. It is not the people, but the political system that defines you. If the system defines you as a Jew or as an Arab, you will act upon these identities. if the system defines you as an individual, then you will act up on that. Identity is forged by what we oppose and is conditioned by how others define you.

      I do not want much except freedom of movement across this region- from Istanbul to Tehran to Jerusalem to Cairo. That is the normal state of things in this part of the world. Checkpoints are a historical anomaly and so are borders. We will get drunk in Yafa sooner or later- the more the waiting the more the pleasure!

      Reply to Comment
    42. niz


      Also, the palestinians have not yet understood or conceived of the ability to live together with Israelis in one state. Maybe they have, but it resides in their unconscious- probably too afraid to acknowledge it. You have to understand that this conflict – like Israelis- has become part of our narrative, of how we see the world. This is a historical process. The Palestinians and Israelis through non-violent actions and as this article testifies have started conceptualizing such an outcome. The bankruptcy of the PA, Fatah, and Hamas will pave the way for new political forces. As i said before it has not matured yet. It will gradually manifest itself. This gradual process is also occurring in Israel. The solution that I have is not real- it is still floating like an unfulfilled vision for thundering Elijah. But in order to get the bicycle moving you only need direction. The direction is clear: No separation, equality, & freedom of movement.

      Reply to Comment
    43. Richard Witty

      You should offer some appreciation for the change of heart that Zionism represents in the Jewish people.

      We are not passive any more. We are free in ways that weren’t possible really anywhere confidently a century ago.

      That shift in consciousness, that pride, is not as soluble as idealists would imagine. There is a substantive basis to it.

      To my understanding, the two-state approach, with features to facilitate interaction and relatively free travel, then free residence, then possible federation, is a much quicker and much much less violent path to bi-national integration, than any resistance movement.

      Reply to Comment
    44. Richard Witty

      Gershom Gorenberg made an interesting point at the J Street convention, in a panel with Mustafa Barghouti.

      That is that both communities currently think of their rights as national, at least as pronounced as they think of their rights as individual.

      An individual rights campaign is likely to be effective. A national rights campaign is likely to be a zero-sum (war).

      But, for Palestinian nationalists to adopt an individual rights campaign, is to adopt living in New York, when they don’t live in New York. Their claim to identity is a continuity with the more provincial past, transformed into a national movement, not into an individual civil rights movement.

      Its a difficult decision process I’m sure. That decision process is the Palestinian community’s responsibility.

      One can blame Israel for difficulty and suppressions, but not for the failure of the Palestinian community to discuss, to unify, along principles that are feasible in the modern world (which include consideration of what would be ratifiable among Israelis.)

      Reply to Comment
    45. max

      NIZ – you made your point clear enough for me to understand (I wish there were many many more expressing views as you do), and I failed to do the same. Sorry.
      The other side’s view, which would – as I see the possible balance between its major driver and the moral aspects – drive towards a 2-state solution, isn’t that of the individual but the collective. What may not be relevant for the solution but most likely for the mutual understanding is that Zionism, which precedes Palestinian national aspiration by either 2,000 or about 100 years – and specifically during the past 150 years – is a national movement, not a road for the peaceful existence of the individuals; the Palestinian movement is still struggling to define itself within these dimensions: the right to return to specific homes and the national aspirations.
      Granted, Zionism exhibits similarities with its own ‘right to return’, but not based on the individual’s- but the collective’s rights.
      The point is that these aspirations, similar to those of the vast majority in the world – and we’re not discussing utopia here, I hope – aspirations enhanced by a long history of suffering as a collective and a recent trauma, will only be addressed within a less-than-utopian reality, that of a 2-state solution.
      To keep such a reality moral and liberal, I guess on both sides but I’ll only refer to the Jewish one, that state has to have a guaranteed Jewish majority to ensure the Jewish Home idea, while providing equal rights to all.
      With no threat to their ideal, the Jewish population would find no excuse for the current state of affairs.
      So as I see no argument to support the claim that a 1-state solution is more feasible than a 2-state one, and as a 2-state one would be easier to manage internally, the latter is the one I aspire to.
      The optimistic aspect is that we both advocate a similar road for the near & medium future, driving understanding, creating trust and of course continuously improving personal rights.
      The pessimistic aspect is that neither society, resp. leadership seems to be ready to accept this vision.
      And, while I understand your reasoning about violence, I am convinced that with the current and foreseeable international context, it won’t work the way you hope for.

      Reply to Comment
    46. Niz

      I agree with your description and I acknowledge that there is no consensus among Palestinians about this issue (national movement vs. civil rights movement). However, I have to point out that the PLO was demanding a democratic state for Jews and Palestinians in the Mithaq of 1968. So they are not very far from it- ya’ani a state with equal rights for both people. To start a civil rights movement then is to acknowledge the state that was created and embrace it- to transform it. It’s definitely hard and against the psychological tendency. However with the collapse of the national movement, Palestinians – as individuals- will start demanding that. (ps. I feel sometimes that we will lose all the battles but still win the war). A one state solution will not be demanded by Palestinians except when they understand that the two state is not feasible anymore.

      @Max- I want to go further into Zionism and Judaism. Zionism was not created 2000 years ago. Zionism is a bi-product of European nationalism- it’s purely an Ashkenazi delirium. The Sephardim never produced such an ideology for many reasons that we still see it until today. The Ottoman empire and the Arab world are not a racialized place. If you speak Arabic even if you are in Sudan you become an Arab. The jews were not seen in the Arab east as a ‘race’ but as a ‘millet’. Till now the Arabs cannot conceive of the jews as a race or an ethnic group. The jews in Europe were seen as a race, this is why they were never assimilated. Basically the Jews in Europe could not do anything about their condition- they were going to be eternally “dirty” because of their ethnicity. In the Arab east that was not the case, Jews were seen as part of the ethnic composition, they were seen Arab- part of the fabric (this does not mean that they were not discriminated against). It makes sense that zionism then started in Europe and not in the Middle East. The Arab Jews they continued the Jewish tradition of looking at ‘Israel’ as a religious utopia and not a physical ethnic origin. Until today and you have to understand that, the Arabs look at the Jews as ‘European’- and do not conceive of them as an ethnicity. They are either a religion or an imperial imposition. Zionism for me destroyed beautiful communities of Yemeni Jews and Iraqi Jews while all the symbols of oriental Judaism was appropriated by the Ashkenazi narrative. That is a real tragedy to Judaism itself. (I claim my Jewishness as well by the way- Elijah is also our prophet- Elias dots the Levantine streets from Palestine to Damascus, Egypt, Iraq and beyond). This is why i do not acknowledge the Jews as an ethnic group, and i separate the Sephardim from Ashkenazim and so on and so forth). The disease- the real disease is nationalism.

      @ Richard,

      ehhh… I forgot to mention that when you say Zionism was an emancipatory experience for ‘jews’, again you refer to a strictly European Ashkenazi experience. The Arab jews were obliterated in the process toward a monolithic conception of Jewishness. Of course the Baath and Arab nationalist parties did the same- eradicated difference for a constructed fictitious understanding of what it means to be an Arab.

      Reply to Comment
    47. Tom o' Bedlam

      @NIZ, XYZ, MAX:

      For long, we thought about an endgame to the conflict, and having decided that endgame, we went ahead and decided our immediate steps. I don’t think we should do that anymore. I think NIZ gets close to the better approach when he says that for now we “only need direction,” and the direction is to fight against violations to basic human rights and dignities.

      I agree that Israel, being in the comfortable place it is, will not simply choose to end its injustices and must be brought to end them. But what I’m asking you to remember is that bringing Israel to that point will take not only so many years, but also so much integration, universality, interdisciplinary and cross-cultural exchange, cooperation of civil-societies — it will take so much of these things (along with their ensuing social implications on both societies) to a point where what we now think is “unrealistic” will seem readily plain and implementable then.

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    48. Rana Nazzal

      I agree with most of your comments but I think these thoughts would be more complete if they were shared among other Palestinian thinkers as your thoughts cannot be complete without their perspective.

      What came to mind for me is that my father still holds the key to his house in Tabaria which his family was forced to leave. He still lives on the hope of return to that home which his grandfather built.

      Because of the suffering of the occupied Palestinians from the very beginning of the state of Israel, I believe they have the right to lead the resolution of this conflict. Palestinians have been denied autonomy and unfortunately even many of the activists who wish to support their struggle end up overpowering their voices. Solidarity activists should in my opinion support Palestinians’ right to autonomously choose the outcome of their country which was invaded by an ethnic-cleanser and occupier not so long ago.

      Instead, many activists from Israel and abroad, holding on to what I consider the colonial mindsets of their home countries, believe they can ‘know better’ what a just solution is.

      No, expelling all Israeli Jews is not practical and is rarely discussed as a solution in Palestinian circles. However, a just right-of-return must be negotiated and to me this means returning to the original villages (if still standing) and homes.

      In South Africa when apartheid ‘ended’, the land was never returned to the black owners and thus the power remains in largely white hands and the slums remain exclusively black.

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    49. bobz

      you say you represent yourself..(and u are a minority among israelis in the way yo think)yet you use the word we… i would like to make clear to you that most criticisms ever made were towards zionist left or zionist liberals and not anti-zionists…

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    50. Portia

      NIZ dropping truth on people. AMAZING.

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