Shin Bet Declares War on Israeli Arabs
The first substantive western media coverage of the Azmi Bishara affair has been published in The Nation by Israeli academic, Neve Gordon. While she doesn’t go into the level of detail that I have about the rumored charges against Bishara, she provides an excellent summary of the brewing “war” between the Israeli security establishment and the rising tide of Israeli Arab nationalism:
…Political activists and members of the Palestinian intellectual elite within Israel…have drafted four documents that articulate how they conceive the state’s future. The underlying assumption of all of these documents is that as long as Israel is defined as a Jewish state, its laws will always fall short of basic democratic principles and, more particularly, the right of all its citizens to full equality.
The authors of the document called “The Democratic Constitution” maintain that the Arab citizens of Israel should be considered a “homeland minority” with national rights. The idea is to transform Israel into a bilingual and multicultural democracy for all its citizens, rather than a Jewish democracy, which they argue is an oxymoron. Such transformation would inevitably mean changing the laws of citizenship and immigration so that citizenship would no longer be granted automatically to any Jew wishing to immigrate but rather to anyone born within Israel’s territory or whose parent or spouse is a citizen, or to people persecuted due to their political beliefs.
Gordon presents the Bishara charges in the context of that anti-Arab “war” and brings home just how deadly it could become. She quotes statements from Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin which I hadn’t heard before and may make your hair stand on end:
Not long after the documents’ publication…Ma’ariv, reported a meeting between the head of the security agency, Yuval Diskin, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. During the meeting Diskin warned Olmert that the radicalization of Israel’s Arab citizens constitutes a “strategic threat to the state’s existence.” Diskin added that “the proliferation of the visionary documents published by the different Arab elites in Israel is particularly worrisome, [since] the documents are united by their conception of Israel as a state for all its citizens and not a Jewish state.” The head of the security services concluded that “the separatist and subversive patterns represented by the elites might engender a new direction and mobilize the masses.”
Balad sent a letter protesting Diskin’s assertions, arguing that legitimate political activity whose aim is to change the state’s character should not be considered subversive or dangerous. According to Ha’aretz, the Israeli Security Agency replied that it “would foil the activity of anyone seeking to harm Israel’s Jewish or democratic character, even if that activity was carried out by legal means.”
Diskin’s words are telling. He admits not only that anyone who strives to alter the Jewish character of the state is considered an enemy and will be treated as such but that the secret service has no respect for democratic practices and procedures. It is precisely within the context of the four historic documents that one should understand the recent accusations against Bishara. More than anything else, Bishara constitutes a symbolic threat, since he personifies the recent demand of the Palestinian elite to transform Israel from a Jewish democracy to a democracy for all its citizens.
Similarly, it is precisely within the context of this assault on “democratic practices” that one must understand the Shin Bet’s gag order. While gag orders are common enough in Israeli jurisprudence, they are rarely if ever as draconian as this one. There can only be one purpose to this–to allow the Shin Bet to prepare for this battle in the war under cover of darkness and secrecy.
Even if one is a Zionist as I am, Bishara and his movement pose powerful questions that must be addressed by Jews as well as Arabs whether they wish to or not. But the Shin Bet’s campaign is the absolute worst way to address these issues. There is no way in heaven to stamp out Arab nationalism by force or persecution. This will only lead to further radicalization and resistance much like what Israel has seen in the Occupied Territories.
I’m not sure I accept the premise that Israeli Jews and Arabs cannot achieve full equality in a way that would satisfy both sides, but require compromises. Jews and Arabs often pose this argument as either/or. Either Israel is an exclusivist Jewish state with a dominant Jewish majority and subservient Arab minority; or Israel is a binational democratic state rid of any hint of what Yoav Peled calls ethnocracy. I think it is asking too much of Israel Jews to expect them to rid their state of all vestiges of its Jewish identity. Just as I think it is preposterous to expect Israeli Arabs to accept living under the thumb of the majority. I’ve read proposals that call for Israeli Arabs to have special autonomous rights within Israel. There may be ways of ridding Israel of some of its worst theocratic excesses to diminish the impact of religion within Israeli society. I don’t have clear answers to these questions right now. But the current social structure simply doesn’t work. To pretend that the answer is to declare war on uppity Arabs like Bishara is to bury ones head in the sand.
The next time you hear a pro-Israel apologist trumpet Israel as “the only democracy in the Middle East” just remember what you read here. Israel is not a full-fledged democracy. It is evolving slowing in that direction. But progress is fitful and there is much backsliding represented by cases like this one.
25 thoughts on “Shin Bet Declares War on Israeli Arabs – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Isn’t Neve Gordon a bloke?
You write, ‘There may be ways of ridding Israel of some of its worst theocratic excesses to diminish the impact of religion within Israeli society. I don’t have clear answers to these questions right now.’ I think the reason you are not coming up with clear answers is because you are, as you write, a Zionist. As such, you are attached to the idea of Israel’s ‘Jewish character’ and are disinclined to understand that a ‘Jewish democracy” really is an oxymoron. Diskin and that mob are right. Introduction of equal rights and democracy will inevitably erode and obliterate Israel’s Jewish character. Nor is it any surprise that they are prepared to deploy antidemocratic methods to ensure that Israel remain Jewish and undemocratic. It goes with the territory. You can’t have it both ways. I can understand how a liberal who hates racism and nastiness, but thinks that a Jewish state has a ‘right to exist’, would be conflicted. Fortunately, if you can’t handle the conflict, sooner or later you’re going to have to take sides – either for Zionism, or for democracy and equality.
Oops. You’re right.
I am a Zionist, but a progressive one. Which means that I’m in favor of the state including some expression of its Jewish roots. But I am not in favor of Jewish supremacy or exclusivism. The lessening of the Jewish character of the state is something I’d be all in favor of as long as you didn’t “obliterate” it. Conversely, I’m all in favor of giving special recognition as well to the ethnicity of the Israeli Arab minority. My goal would be to get as close to equality as possible. Canada, which is somewhat messed up itself on this score, accords special status to its Quebecois minority. Why couldn’t some of those concepts be transferred to the Israeli Arab minoirty? I don’t know if you could get fully there & satisfy both sides. But Israel can do a damn sight better on this score than it has up till now.
I understnad that you mean well Richard, but ‘progressive Zionist’ makes about as much sense to me as ‘Jewish democracy’. Among the questions that arise are: What relics of ‘Jewishness’ do you reckon would preserve the Jewish ‘character’ of Israel, but not disadvantage or insult the non Jewish population? The flag? The law of Return? Hatikva? Would you be satisfied if Hebrew were one of two official langauges, say, full stop? Would that consitute a Jewish state in some meaningful sense for you? What aboit for otheer progressive Zionists? Is that the kind of Jewish state that would satisfy their aspirations? Including freedom of movement and residence throughout historic Palestine, of course. What about demography? Does progressive Zionism give full civil and political rights to the residents of Gaza and the West Bank? What about the right of return? How does progressive Zionism implement that, in accordance with justice? I believe if you think it through, you will find that the minimal just redress for the crimes of 1948 and since will result in a Jewish minority, or bare majority…
Whoops! That should read, ‘… Does progressive Zionism give full civil and political rights to the residents of Gaza and the West Bank? Including freedom of movement and residence throughout historic Palestine, of course….’
That would be a start. But not an end.
BTW, I am not wedded to any particular national flag or anthem. In fact, I don’t see how you can expect Israeli Arabs to sing such an anthem or salute such a flag. Those symbols would have to change.
I would like to rid Israeli civil society of all vestiges of Jewish religious intrusion & turn religious issues into private matters not sanctioned by the State, much like the situation here in the States (i.e. separation of Church & State).
I am not in favor of full immediate implementation of the Right of Return for Palestinians to their historic homes in Israel proper. I am in favor of the Geneva Accord’s symbolic implementation of the Right of Return which would combine financial compensation along with the physical return of selected refugees to Israel. I believe that once there is a stable peace that the Right of Return could & should be reexamined with a view to fuller implementation.
My version of it does under the banner of an independent Palestinian state. Those 1948 refugees who are not accepted for settlement within Israel would resettle within the new Palestinian state.
In short, six decades in exile is not punishment enough for the Arabs who had the bad sense to allow the Zionist militias to force them out at gunpoint? They can wait longer until the Jewish state, on whose behaldf they were exiled in the first place, determines in it’s wisdom and generosity that conditions are suitable – ‘a stable peace’? And select which of them it deems worthy to exercise their right? That’s what I love about the Geneva Accord – a symbol of justice, but not the genuine article!
Sorry if it wasn’t clear, but what I was asking was whether Gaza and WB residents would have freedom of movement and residence anywhere in historic Palestine, not in the imaginary ‘State of Palestine’. As for the relics of Jewishness, what I meant to ask was whether you think you and other progressive Zionists would be content to live in a democratic secular state with roughly equal Jewish and non Jewish populations, where the only evidence of its Jewish ‘character’ was the preservation of Hebrew as one of the official languages. I certainly agree the flag and the anthem and the name of the state all have to go. I suppose it would be ok to have official Jewish holidays, as well.
Ernie: I have had these debates with other anti-Zionists before. The problem is that you are in favor of pure justice, which in theory is an excellent concept. I’d like pure justice myself if I could get it. But unlike you, I’m in favor of integrating justice with what is possible, what is pragmatic. You don’t wish to grapple with the fact that there are several million Israeli Jews living in Israel who have opinions and a voice in this matter as well. But they are there and there views must be consulted too whether we like it or not.
You may reject the Geneva Accord. That’s your prerogative. But to me it’s the best proposal that’s been put forward by both sides ever. I would like to see you put forward a plan that would be accepted by even a significant minority of Israeli Jews.
I think my previous response made clear my answer under the terms you present would be “No.”
Sorry, Richard, ‘That would be a start. But not an end.’ doesn’t really answer anything. What is the end? A Jewish majority? The :’Law of return’?
I was really expecting a more nuanced argument from you than, ‘You are a puerile idealist, I am a mature realist. That was then, this is now.’ Obviously, we’re not going to see anything resembling ‘pure justice’ while institutions like the state persist. The issue is whether we will see any kind of justice at all as long as the opinion of ‘several million Israeli Jews’ is the principal consideration that the several million Palestinian refugees’ opinions count for squat. Before you tell me that ‘only 10% of the refugees would actually return’, I recommend you consult the analysis of the 2003 Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research study in my post entlted, ‘Who ordered herring’ (http://bureauofcounterpropaganda.blogspot.com/2007/03/who-ordered-herring.html) or the survey results on the PSR site (http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2003/refugeesjune03.html) and the thinking on the meaning of ‘refugee choice’ (http://www.badil.org/Publications/Bulletins/Bulletin-04.htm).
These arguments are just a version of the ‘facts on the ground’ argument that Israel has been preparing for the last forty years. What it means is that those who can perpetrate injustices over a long enough period of time will be rewarded for their crimes and the victims must just cop it. Apart from what it means in the Palestinian context, you can imagine what kind of precedent that sets. It’s nothing other than ‘might makes right’, a view I’d have expected you to want to distance yourself from.
Ultimately, I think the problem is that you seem to proceed from an assumption that a Jewish state – a state that is ‘Jewish’ in some more meaningful sense than just language and celebration – is a good idea, has a ‘right to exist’, and come what may must continue to exist as such. Anyway, that’s what I think people mean by ‘Zionist’. If you were to try and approach the issue from the perspective of how best to promote peace and human solidarity, you would come to far different conclusions and have to jettison an assumption like that
Resolving the entire Israeli Palestinian conflict on behalf of the combatants isn’t my main priority in life. I’ll let them figure out what would acceptable or not acceptable to ea. other. It’s foolish for either of us to prescribe what a resolution should look like. You have yr vision & I have mine. But mine, unlike yours isn’t fully mapped out nor do I feel it needs to be. Make of that what you will.
I didn’t say you were a “puerile idealist” nor did I say that I was a “mature realist.” I rather believe that you are a pure idealist and I am a pragmatic idealist. But no doubt you’ll scoff at that as well. I’ve learned that unfortunately a good number of anti-Zionists find people who are not anti-ZIonists hopelessly muddled. That’s their or your prerogative. It certainly leaves you with less to talk about since you appear to have all the answers & others have none of them.
History and events will force those several million Israeli Jews to deal with the the rights & obligations they have to their Israeli Arab minority. As for the Right of Return, that too will eventually be resolved and no doubt not to yr satisfaction nor to the satisfaction of a minority of Palestinians & Arabs. But it will be resolved. Certainly Israeli Jews have some say in the matter since you cannot force such an outcome on them against their will unless you believe you can somehow force them to accept the return of the refugees without their consent.
That’s probably fair though I do not believe that such a state should be an exclusively Jewish state. In other words, I believe their should be rights & privileges assigned to Jews and Arabs respectively. Those rights & privileges should be enshrined in a constitution & protected by law. Maybe you could call that a binational state. I’m not sure. The state in some way must be shared between both groups.
In yr view ethnic or religious solidarity precludes human solidarity, a view I do not share.
We never talk of that OTHER ‘right of return’…namely the one Israel insists on extending to Jews in Papua, Ft Worth, Teaneck NJ, the Trobriand Islands and everyplace else. “Cmon over! The more the merrier! Become an instant citizen of Israel and take up residence on one of the various lush propereties we have stolen by force from under their rightful indigenous owners, (whose homes we blew up with dynamite, whose children we shot in the back and whose olive groves we bulldozed into the ground…all for your benefit! Hey–what are you waiting for?”
Would you do away with THIS right of return, which continues to populate the so-called ‘holy land’ with hebraic interlopers and Nazi-inspired garbage of the lowest order? Just curious.
R: First let’s lay out some rules. Using the term “Nazi” to describe either side here will earn you either a deleted comment or banning. I’ve been called a ‘Kapo’ by Steven Plaut & his Kahanist minions. I DO NOT like it. So don’t you do it either. To me, such histrionic harranguing is a lazy man’s excuse for an argument. I don’t go for red flag political argument. So try it again & you’re toast.
As for the Law of Return, I see it differently than you. I do not believe that every Jew needs the right to emigrate to Israel. But I do believe that Jews who are in fear of persecution or oppression need that right. In a similar way I am in favor of allowing some 1948 refugees to return. So I am in favor of a limited right of return for Israeli Jews and Arabs.
Make of it what you will.
Well Richard, in fact, I don’t claim to have any solutions or answers, but:
a) Jabotinsky was right – the Palestinians will not accept their colonial dispossession any more than any other colonised people ever has. ‘Solutions’ that fail to take this into account are inherently unrealistic.
b) Israel makes the claim that is was established and acts on my behalf and for my benefit. This gives me the right and the obligation to declare, ‘Oh, no, you don’t! Not in MY name!’
c) the idea of establishing an ethnically exclusive Jewish state anywhere, or a Jewish majority in Palestine, offends me as an opponent of racism. Zionism from its inception was always intended as colonial and always recognised the necessity of ethnic cleansing. You may argue that there is a long tradition of ‘Zionists’ who, like you supported binationalism, but I don;t think they really were or are Zionists as I tried to define it and you seemed to agree. In any case, what is binationalism but a paternalistic concession, ‘Oh, ok, we’ll let you stay!’
When you say you’re for a limited right of return for Israeli Jews and Arabs, I gather you mean that some Israeli Jews who move overseas to study or work or visit relatives will be allowed back, but non Sabras will have no such right? Because clearly, you don’t agree that birth in a place confers a right to leave and return, contrary to the widely recognised UDHR.
Have you ever seen Roman Polanski’s ‘The pianist’? If not, I recommend it very highly. The best movie I’ve seen in yonks. If you have, or when you do, I hope you’ll reflect on what the quotidian routine closures, roadblocks, Aryan only roads, beatings, and humiliations of the Warsaw Jews depicted remind you of, before condemning your interlocutors’ terminology.
I have seen the film. I am deeply offended that you feel you have to teach me lessons in comparative morality. I know what happened in the Holocaust. I have done far more research, writing, reading & thinking on this subject than you can ever know. I know what is happening in the Occupation. I know the parallels and the differences. What do you take me for? A moral block of ice? DO NOT try to tell me I’m morally insensitive if I don’t view the issues the way you do. I’ve dedicated almost my entire life to criticizing Israel’s behavior toward its Arab minority and the Palestinians. I will not be lectured to or have anyone insinuate that I am less than morally pure because I don’t view Israelis as Nazis and Arabs as Holocaust victims.
Did I challenge your morality, a subject that concerns me not at all? Did I challenge your erudition? Or your knowledge of the issues? No, I challenged your knee jerk reaction to the appearance of four characters on your screen. r used the expression ‘Nazi-inspired’ and you jumped to conclusions. And I tried to gently draw your attention to an example of evidence that some Israeli actions may indeed be inspired as he describes them. In any case, so similar in character that one could be forgiven for thinking so. And doubtless you’re as aware as anyone of the other examples. But obviously a raw nerve has been exposed precluding the possibility of any further rational dialog.
Yes, the fact of the matter is that Israeli behavior is NOT “inspired” by the Nazis. The fact that in some ways it mimics Nazi treatment of Jews and other victims has nothing to do with Israel being “inspired” by Nazis. Rather it has to do with time old patterns of power, subjugation and oppression that happen whenever one people attempts to dominate another.
Anti-Zionist use of the term “Nazi” to describe Israeli policies is a lazy persons way to argue. I use historical analogies in my writing but I’m very careful about them and especially careful about such a loaded topic as the Holocaust.
Trying to defend that tiresome, insulting, grandstanding jackass r here in this thread is a losing proposition anyway.
I get pissed off at what I perceive as yr. cheap shot & you dismiss my anger as claiming it shows I can’t engage in rational dialogue. That’s another cheap shot. Unlike Sara Roy I am not a child of survivors, but I lost great uncles in the Holocaust. I don’t take well to people insinuating that what Israel is doing to the Palestinians, horrible, unforgivable and immoral as that is, is genocide or anything approaching the Holocaust. Even Sara Roy agrees with this position in her latest Counterpunch essay.
You’re the first one to bring up the issue of genocide, speaking of cheap shots, Richard, as if you were trying to confirm my view about your knee jerk reaction. Yes. I suppose it’s conceivable that it’s just a coincidence about the Palestinian violinist and so forth, and not literally ‘inspired’ by that history. But by the same token, you’d kind of expect people who derive the whole justification for their existence from the Shoah to be particularly careful to avoid acting in any way that even hinted at similarity, wouldn’t you? Particularly when they go around boasting about their fabled purity of arms and such. The most moral army in the world. You know, thinking about it makes me feel angry. And then there’s you flying off the handle because some idiot uses what you regard as the wrong word to describe it.
I just went back to r’s comment & you truncated it so as to avoid the worst of its offensiveness:
I didn’t ban him merely because he used the term “Nazi.” I banned him for the hate in his comment. I banned him for denying the holiness of Israel for many Jews. I banned him for calling Israelis “Nazi-inspired garbage.”
As for “genocide,” I’m sorry but when you use terms like Nazi & Holocaust to describe Israeli policy toward the Palestinians that term comes to mind. Many anti-Zionists use it & r undoubtedly has no problem with it. If YOU didn’t have it in yr mind then I apologize to you.
I’m confused about yr reference to a “Palestinian violinist” in “The Pianist.” I don’t remember such a reference. Am I forgetting something in the movie?
I completely agree with everything you’ve written here. If you read my posts about the Occupation, I’ve done more than my share of ranting about Israeli policies. I know about the cruel ironies involved in Israel’s brutal subjugation of the Palestinians. I’ve been so angry here at times that one idiot hardline pro-Israel type suggested I was mentally imbalanced.
What annoys the shit out of me is people like r getting on their anti-ZIonist high horse & hectoring the rest of us who aren’t sufficiently ideologically pure in our analysis of the conflict. My view is that there should be room for many varieties of critique of Israeli policy including anti-Zionism. Just because I’m not an anti-ZIonist doesn’t mean I deny any validity to your arguments. I just wish the more intolerant anti-Zionists (not you) would accord the rest of us similar respect.
Let me just clarify something here, Richard. I’m definitely not defending ‘r’ – I’m attacking your position. It was you who pulled the word ‘nazi’ out of context in the first place ‘Using the term “Nazi” to describe either side’, so I think it’s a bit rich belabouring me for inadequate context now.
You may say ‘that term comes to mind’, but I think you need to be aware that that’s just a turn of phrase. What’s really going on is that you’ve established the cognitive/neural links that make it ‘come to mind’ – metaphorically ‘programmed’ yourself to make the association. I think you need to take some responsibility for that kind of ‘coming to mind’ – it doesn’t just happen – it’s something you do.
As for the Palestinian violinist, obviously that wasn’t what was depicted in the Pianist, and The Wall and other Warsaw Ghetto inspired works. It was a Jewish violinist. In fact the image of Nazis tormenting Jewish violinists is a kind of an icon, for me, anyhow – something I’ve programmed myself to associate with Nazism. I’d be kind of surprised if that had no resonance for you,and indeed probably for any Jew, particularly one brought up in the Israeli educational system. The reason it’s relevant is the little incident in November 2004 involving Palestinian violinist Wissam Tayam being forced to play his violin for the entertainment of the soldiers at the Beit Iba checkpoint near Nablus. It was filmed by Machsom Watch and reported in Ha’aretz and the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1361552,00.html).
As I said before, I’m sure you know all about Israeli atrocities and have done your bit to condemn them. Your credentials and bona fides aren’t really at issue, as far as I’m concerned. What I think the issue is is that the atrocities committed in the name of Israel and all Jews – the treatment of the Israeli Palestinians, the occupation, the refusal of the right of return, the invasions of Lebanon… all arise from the fundamentally racist and colonialist character of Zionism. As you know the Zionist texts much better than me, I’m not going to bore you quoting Herzl and Jabotinsky and ben Gurion. I get the impression that for you as for many, probably most, maybe all, ZIonists, there’s a visceral, emotional feeling associated with the Jewish state. I don’t know if it’s exactly the ‘holiness of Israel’ you mention, but I think I understand this warm and fuzzy vague glow of Israelity, as I experienced it myself as a child. Now if you proceed from that kind of starting point, then clearly there is no question of tolerating anything that would undermine Israel’s precious ‘Jewish character’, like welcoming the refugees, or giving Israeli citizenship and civil rights to the occupied population after forty years. If you feel comfortable justifying this kind of unfairness in the name of ‘ethnic or religious solidarity’, I’m not going to be able to reason with you. From my perspective, defending the Jewish state and condemning the checkpoints, etc. is like telling a lung cancer patient, ‘Have another cigarette, and we must do something about that cough of yours.’
I’d heard about that incident & of course found it repulsive. But you should try not to speak in shorthand & assume that I or my readers will understand such references w/o their context. We don’t all read the same publications or remember the same things, etc.
It isn’t “holy” for me as it is for many Jews. But it IS a visceral, deeply emotional feeling as you say.
Not true. I’ve told you I don’t accept this proposition. I wish to preserve the Arab character of the state as much as I wish to preserve the Jewish character. But I wish to create a state in which both sides compromise their vision, hopes & dreams in order to be able to co-exist together in the same land. In yr vision, the Arabs would cram themselves down the throats of the Jews. And you believe in my vision the reverse would happen. If both sides don’t figure out a way to co-exist & compromise their maximalist positions the state will remain forever unstable, unviable and fraught with conflict.
And in yr vision of what should happen, the Jews will turn into precisely the force for instability, grievance and conflict that the Israeli Arabs now represent within Israeli society now. Neither side is going to get everything it wants. But if one side wins far more than the other it is a recipe for never ending bloodshed.
I thought it was the kind of incident that would stick with people like you who pay attention to what’s going on in the region. I wasn’t really thinking about the audience.. You’re right, though, a quick google search suggests that the incident didn’t receive any coverage in the US press, apart from the IHT and Counterpunch. But then, nobody really who’s serious about wanting to know what’s going on in Palestine relies on JUST the US media, do they?
Jewish colonists ‘cramming themselves down the throats of the Palestinians’ is not something that ‘would’ occur. It’s a historical fact. For me, one of the central issues is whether it was ok to do that, and since I don’t agree that it was, how to redress the injustice. There is no question of ‘preserving the Arab character’ of Israel. As you know quite well. Apart from the little matter of ethnic cleansing, which was quite explicitly intended to deArabise the area, there is the humiliating way that the remaining Arab population has been forced to prostrate itself before the Jewish character of Israel, precisely the Issue in the case of Azmi Bishara under discussion here. And then there was the quite deliberate deArabisation of the hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews who immigrated to Israel in the 1950s and since. If Israel is to have some Arab character, it is something that will have to be reintroduced, and on a trivial note, I don’t think the state is likely to be known as ‘Israel’ in that case.
Actually, Richard, I haven’t articulated any ‘vision’. You’re just surmising that because I argue that partition can’t deliver justice and never could, that I advocate a one state solution. In reality, I do advocate a unified secular state incorporating the WB and Gaza, but more as a slogan than as a vision. To be realistic, I don’t think there is a solution to ‘the Arab-Israeli crisis’ within the bounds of historic Palestine. It will take very profound changes throughout the region, and probably the world. What I envisage in the medium term is the completion of the wall and some form of ‘disengagement’, transforming the WB into the kind of pressure cooker that Gaza has become. The ‘Palestinian state’ will probably incorporate the Little Triangle and involve other mechanisms for Israel to shed as many of it’s Palestinian citizens as possible, as per Liebowitz, and Beilin, actually, at least as I read the Geneva document. Those with the option to do so will emigrate over time. Israeli shelling, ‘targetted assassination’ and so forth will take their toll. There will probably be ongoing clashes, if not all out civil war, and in due course somebody, probably the ‘international community’ will beg Israel to take control, at which point I anticipate another Nakba at least on the scale of 1948-49. I sure hope I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s the only direction partition can take.
There is broader and broader support for a boycott of Israel, but unsurprisingly, I am not optimistic. In the case of South Africa, the anti Apartheid movement was much more univocal in support of the sanctions, some of which actually received UN and government support eventually. The situation was much more propitious, with an overwhelming Black majority on the ground and white SA absolutely reliant on black labour for its prosperity and survival, and a strong Black labour movement, to boot. Even then, it took a full 35 years from the time the sanctions were proposed in 1959 before the end of apartheid.
God, that is a depressing set of prospects for what could happen bet. Israel and the Palestinians. It’s of course quite possible in a worst (or almost worst) case scenario (one learns never to be optimistic in this part of the world). But I hope it doesn’t come anywhere close to being this bad.
I remain hopeful (somewhat) that both sides can use their human ingenuity and instinct for survival to work out a compromise that minimally satisfies both sides.
I’m sympathetic to a boycott/divestment strategy but not because I’m enthusiastic about it. Rather, because I’m dispirited about everything else that’s been tried & not worked in getting Israel to end the Occupation.
Oh, don’t me wrong, Richard. For all my ‘miserablism’, I’m very optimistic. Ali Abunimah reckons it’s up to the victims to be the ones who are generous. Obviously, I don’t think that’s very fair. But he may be right that it’s necessary, and given the post apartheid experience in S Africa, even possible. Still, it takes two to tango, and there will be no resolution until Israel shows some desire to find one. Indeed, the scenario I described in my last post is kind of the pre Hamas scenario, not too different, I don’t think, from the kind of thing Pappe envisages. The way the Israelis have been using the Hamas election as an excuse to avoid doing anything further, however, suggests the possibility of acceleration.
THE single most important thing is for the US to stop bankrolling Israel. I don’t know how to achieve this, but I’m quite sure that it is not going to depend on who’s elected the next president of the US. In fact, the worst thing would be to stop organising real political actions that involve people to campaign for Obama or something, like the peace movement did for Kerry.
That’s very possible. There are certainly candidates who would be disastrous like Giuliani. But I’m more favorable toward Obama than Clinton. While Obama’s not perfect he’s at least not fully in AIPAC’s pocket like Clinton is. But even with half way decent presidents on the ME, AIPAC does its best to mire them in phony bullshit issues like moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
I like that term “miserablism.” It’s evocative.
It’s not really much of a word. Tony Cliff coined for wet blankets like myself during a period when there were much more hopeful signs for the movements than now.
Obama may not appear to be entirely in the pocket of AIPAC now, but I think he’s made it clear that that’s where he aspires to be. In any case, if he should be elected president, he soon would be. Kind of academic, really, as Clinton will probably clinch the Democratic nomination, anyway. I don’t know anything about Giuliani, but can’t imagine that he’d be any worse on Palestine than Clinton. Indeed, insofar as one can distinguish between the Republicrats and the Tweedledumbers, I think the Dems aspire to a more hawkish position on Afghanistan and you certainly won;t find me anywhere near Iran if a Dem is elected!
BTW, what did you mean ‘half way decent presidents on the ME’? You mean like, before oil?