I was originally outraged to hear that Marcel Khalife’s concert at the Joan Kroc Theater was cancelled by the Salvation Army, which owns the facility. But I decided to call the venue administrators to hear their side of what happened. I’m glad I did because hearing the other side was instructive regarding the deep mistrust that has developed between Arab-Americans and the rest of American society.
I spoke with Capt. John VanCleef who told me that when first approached, an individual was to rent their hall for the Khalife concert. But in the course of time this changed and a group named Al Awda took the place of the individual as sponsor. The Salvation Army would have had no problem with an individual renting the hall for this concert. Nor would it have had a problem with most Arab organizations renting the hall. But as part of the vetting process, the Theater asked Al Awda to present information about its mission. After reading this information, the Army decided it could not allow this group to rent their facility:
Al-Awda unequivocally supports the fundamental, inalienable, individual and collective rights of all Palestinian refugees to return to their original towns, villages and lands anywhere in Palestine from which they were expelled…All Palestinians are entitled to the rights to self-determination, to political, economic and civil equality, and to live in a single democratic state for all its citizens in all of Palestine.
I want to pause here to say that while I do not agree with Al Awda’s one state solution and its demand to full implementation of the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees, I would not have refused them the right to rent the hall. However, given that I am not the Salvation Army and they have larger community issues to consider, I can understand why they chose not to go forward with the concert.
Because of Al Awda’s perceived sectarian agenda, the Army felt it could not open its hall to the group. I asked VanCleef whether an interfaith Jewish-Arab group working for peace between Israelis and Arabs would have been allowed to rent the hall. He said Yes.
Capt. VanCleef also made clear that Al Awda had not yet signed a contract so there was no legal breach. But one thing that distressed me was when I asked him whether he returned to the original individual and told him he could rent the hall without the concert having any affiliation with Al Awda. The Army did not give this man the opportunity to do this. I think that is unfortunate.
The Salvation Army director also told me his staff helped Al Awda find another community venue in which to hold the concert.
I have to say that before I spoke with the Captain I was prepared to be all over him about this incident. After I spoke to him, while I disagreed with a few things he said, I didn’t feel that the Army was nearly as in the wrong as they’ve been made out to be.
But one thing this incident does point out is how poisoned the well is for interfaith-interethnic dialogue about the Middle East conflict in this country. If you read the statement I quoted yesterday from Khalife’s management you can hear the hurt. You can hear the sense of grievance against the Army’s decision. And listening to the Army’s representative today I could hear his real attempt to grapple with the issues knowing whatever decision he made he would hurt someone’s feelings. Thanks to 9/11 and George Bush’s response to it religious tolerance and dialogue has been set back a decade at least.
Finally, I have to apologize to the Army for the way I characterized this incident in my two earlier posts. I still don’t believe they did everything they might have to make this work out for the best, but I think they came damn close and deserve a good deal of credit for that.
Johnny Laird says
You deserve huge credit for presenting this update, Richard.
You have my respect.
Peace & blessings
Al Awda’s perceived sectarian agenda? Well do not most Jewish organizations have a perceived sectarian agenda? With the same grounds most Jewish organizations should not be able to rent any place for their” meetings”.
Their justification would only make sense if they would also ban any Zionist association (which also has designs on the land of Palestine and how it should be politically administered) from performing there. I doubt they would, and if they did it would be just as stupid as the decision to ban al-Awda.
Good on you making the effort to call the Kroc theater — I tried several times but the person responsible was always out of the office (and it’s not exactly convenient to call California from Cairo).
Richard Silverstein says
I can see how that would be true fr. yr. perspective. But you should keep one thing in mind: there are many Arab organizations which likely would’ve been allowed to host this event there. CAIR, for instance. Or another local organization which didn’t have a single-issue focus.
Again, I’m not defending the decision, which I wouldn’t have made myself. But I understand it fr. their pt. of view.
It is unclear to me what is their point of view. Most Christian, Muslim and Jewish organizations have their own agenda. That is natural and everybody certainly knows that. The right of return for Palestinians is hardly different than the issue of Jews right to “return” to their ancient homeland. Now Salavation Army made a political decision that it doesn’t support the Palestinians right to return by labelling the whole organization. What if JNF (or and equal organization) would have organized a fund-raising event for Israel, would the Salvation Army rented the facility? Undoubtedly without hesitation.
So far that I can read from the Al-Awda’s internet pages it is a interfaith international loose organization.
Why not admit honestly that Salvation Army made the decision because it wanted not be “harassed” the Jewish pressure groups, which they do constantly, and get unwanted publicity. Well now it got unwanted publicity.
Richard Silverstein says
I agree w. you for the most part. Certainly the Army was projecting it would be attacked by the local Jewish community & it prob. would’ve been. And that’s why I called them because I wanted to ascertain for myself what their reasoning was. If they had told me that they would never have an Arab musician hosted by any Arab organization I would’ve continued booing them as I did in my first 2 posts about this matter. But they told me they WOULD host an Arab musician hosted by a diff. type of Arab political organization. That made me feel they were taking a middle ground position, though I can understand that you don’t feel that way.
I would hope that the Army would not host sectarian Jewish groups like the Jewish Defense League or Zionist Organization of America which are basically opposed to any reasonable resolution of the conflict. And I want you to know that I made a point of asking the Captain to understand how his decision looked to the Arab community which would’ve felt disenfranchised by their refusal. He did not deny the possibility of hurt as some in his position might have done. While I don’t fully agree w. what he did, I don’t think he was hard-hearted or unfeeling about this. Again, I know this doesn’t satisfy you & prob. wouldn’t satisfy me if I were in yr position.
Johnny Laird says
Why don’t you ring them, and ask them?
It’s good to talk.
Peace & blessings
The Golem says
I think I’m getting lost in agendas. The Salvation Army, which has a Xtian supercessionist and homophobic agenda refuses a Muslim group with a pro-Palestinian agenda, because they might set off organizations with a right wing Zionist agenda. Something is definitely out of wack here.
Talk about the day the music died.
It is puzzling to me that one should be sympathetic to the Salvation Army at all. They claim to have canceled the venue because they do not agree with the Palestinian right of return, a right supported by nearly the entire world community and arguably even the United States. What other political positions has the SA taken? Would they, perhaps, also refute the Jewish right to return to, say, Eastern Europe or any of the Arab countries? Perhaps the next time they ask me to donate I should first ask them for a list of all the political stances they support. Would anyone have reacted so understandingly if they’d denied a venue to group advocating the Jewish right of return? I doubt it very much.
Oddly enough, and perhaps tellingly, no where has any one claimed that the artist would have been doing anything more than play his damn oud. Nor are there any complicated “issues” to grapple with – its very simple: If the pro-Israel Jewish community of San Diego feels slighted by not having a Jewish musician on the same stage as an oud-player, then they can go ahead and rent another venue and put on their own damn show. That’s how things were done once in this country before political and racial intolerance became politically viable.
One should also note that issues of one-state vs. two, or anything else dealing with Israel/Palestine, is completely immaterial. What is at issue who we are as Americans and how we want to live and argue and carry-on as a pluralistic democracy. What the Salvation Army has done is colluded in a blow against the open marketplace of ideas, the cornerstone of everything we claim to believe in as Americans.
Richard Silverstein says
I hope you’ll read a post I wrote after this one & after I’d spoken with an Al Awda rep. I was less sympathetic to the SA there.
But I do think some of yr claims are wildly overstated:
I’d like to see any support you have for that claim. Feeling sympathy for the plight of Palestinian refugees & wanting justice for them is not the same as supporting Al Awda’s mission which is full implementation of the physical right of return. THere would be almost no support for this in the U.S. & while more support would exist in other places it wouldn’t come clear to being a majority. Show me a poll or any supporting evidence that I’m wrong.
Just read your later post and thanks for directing me to it – although I do have a few quibbles with it. But to your second point first: The Palestinian right of return was first confirmed by UN General Assembly Res. 194 in 1948, since then it has been reconfirmed more than 40 times by all the nations of the world except for the US, Israel, and probably the island state of Vuanuatu. I believe, although I might be mistaken here, that the US even supported back in 1948. Articles 13 (2) and 17 (2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also support this right: “[e]veryone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his own country.” and “[n]o one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, signed and ratified by Israel, states: “[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” Since Israel has actually carried out such mass population transfers of Palestinian refugees by means of force and psychological warfare, it stands in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Then there is the “International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination” ratified by Israel in 1979, and the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” signed by Israel in 1966 and ratified by the same in 1991. There is also the GA resolution 3236 of 1974, which overwhelmingly passed in support of the Palestinian right of return.
That you a Jew would deny the rights of those driven from their homes in such a brutal manner as was openly admitted by Israel a matter of only few years ago (you do read the Israeli press don’t you?) is not only extremely disconcerting but just demonstrates that no one is immune to the siren call of ethnic/religious nationalism, even those who suffered the most from it over the last century.
Whether the Palestinians should, or would, or would even care to, return to Israel proper as opposed to being compensated for their losses (which Israel also refuses to do) can only be determined within the framework of their right of return first being fully acknowledged by Israel. As I understand it, the overwhelming majority would not, but insist on their right being acknowledged and Israel admitting their responsibility.
As to your claim that anti-Zionism is a fringe notion in the US, I think you’ll find that support for Israel in the US is far thinner than you assume. Yes, when asked the same very general and vague question the polls nearly always ask, “Who do you view more favorably . . . ” Israel over the last decade or so measures in with 40% to 63%, depending on how honest the press has been of late, and depending on how frightened people are of being called an anti-Semite (yes, even in blind polls people respond to these sorts of fears), but there have been a few polls over the last same period where specific questions have been asked concerning approval of specific Israeli policies – the occupation, equal treatment, human rights, etc., then the support for Israel drops like a rock. You can look them up yourself.
As to Al-Awda not being a Human Rights organization: Here is their “mission statement”:
“Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, is a broad-based, non-partisan, democratic, and charitable organization of grassroots activists committed to comprehensive public education on the rights of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and to be granted full restitution of all their confiscated and destroyed property in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International law and the numerous United Nations Resolutions upholding such rights.”
There is nothing there that is incompatible with support for human rights. Tell me you do not support these same rights for all Jews driven from Europe (Rights which Germany has explicitly recognized for decades) or Jews driven from numerous Arab countries? Yet rights you freely demand for your own you would just as freely deny others?
You complain of Al-Adwa that “it does not recognize a Jewish right of national self-determination,” and essentially argue that the Salvation Army was in a legitimate bind for such a stand might “might very well have caused bad feeling with some elements of the Jewish community.” Oh dear me, now the human rights of others are to be sacrificed for others “bad feelings.” But all you argue for is tribalism, Jewish tribalism is this case, ethnic nationalism, a force which has given the world nothing but misery for the last 100 years and destroyed 6 million Jews, along with millions of others. Perhaps you support also the White Protestant right of national self-determination as you do the Jewish right of national self-determination?
I. F. Stone, the great Jewish-American independent journalist once wrote, that “Israel has turned American Jews into schizophrenics; for what they would abhor anywhere else they ardently support in Israel.” He wrote that some 30 years ago, I think he would be pleased today to see many more American Jews have come to their senses, but he is absolutely right. What American Jew would support America suddenly declared a Protestant State, with minority groups discussed as “demographic threats,” or how many would support – better, how many DID support – the segregated housing and schooling of the Jim Crow era? Damn few, if any. Yet all that is embraced when it comes to Israel. Essentially you argue that your desire for Jewish Nationalism trumps the human rights of Palestinians to the land and homes they were driven from by Zionists in 48 and 67.
You claim the right of every Jew in the world to “return” to Israel after an absence of some 1500 years, yet deny the right of Palestinians to return after an absence of only 40 to 50 years? And this you believe is moral and decent and right? Only the madness of ethnic nationalism could drive someone to such tortured extremes
There is at least one country in the world that is a refuge from anti-semitism, but it is not Israel and never will be. Since the end of WW2 more Jews have met a violent end in Israel than in all the other corners of the world combined. The safe place for Jews – if “safe” is what is being looked for – is the United States (along with Canada and others) and not because we embraced ethic nationalism but because we finally rejected it in favor of true democratic pluralism. We restarted that fight for equality in about 1948 just as Israel was starting her fight for ethnic supremacy between the river and the sea. Now compare them both all these many years later and which nation treats Jews better? Israel, with its Orthodox control of family law and its rampant discrimination against Mizrahi and Ethiopian Jews, to say nothing of its shameful and horrendous treatment of Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line? Or the United States where law and custom now dictate that all have equal rights no matter the race, creed, or color?
Israel will never be worth a damn as a the Western democratic nation it always claims to be until it gives up ethnic nationalism and finally becomes a state of all its citizens, and the first step is recognizing the Palestinian right of return.
Richard Silverstein says
No one in the world except you, Al Awda and others on the anti-Zionist left expect Israel to welcome back hundreds of thousands of refugees and their families within the Green Line. I know all the arguments you present. It’s certainly true that Israeli violated the Geneva convention in expelling the refugees in 1948. But there will not be a full implementation of the Right of Return. Full stop. You can call me names. It doesn’t affect the fact that there will not be pure justice in this case. There hardly ever is pure justice in the world. That’s just the way it is. Compromises are made and somehow we go on with our lives.
I urge Israel to acknowledge the Right of Return, but as defined by the Geneva Initiative and the Saudi Arab League 2002 peace initiative. But even if I urged Israel to in theory allow any refugee to return it wouldn’t do so. So fulminating against me won’t do you much good though have at it if you wish.
I didn’t mention support for Israel, which is quite high. I mentioned support for anti-Zionism, which is infinitesimal. Yes, Americans dislike the Occupation, settlements, etc. But that does not translate into being willing to throw Israel overboard or supporting a single state solution.
I see. So a Hamas dominated Palestinian state would NOT be tribalist? Gimme a break. Who’re you fooling?
Unfortunately, even I.F. Stone didn’t “come to his senses” as you claim AMerican Jews have done. He wasn’t anti-Zionist & quoting him as if he was is a real distortion. Being a critic of Israel is NOT the same as being anti-Zionist.
You have no idea what I believe on these questions & until you do you’ll come across here as a ranting idiot. I don’t believe in a racist Israel. I don’t even believe in Israel being a Jewish state as long as it guarantees the rights of all ethnic & religious groups within the state.
No, I don’t & you’re just making yrself look stupid. If you don’t do any research to find out what I really believe on these issue you make yrself look like a blithering idiot.
I want to warn you that a good number of anti-Zionists have made a pt. of excoriating me for my views & trying to argue the entire history of ZIonism in the comment threads. I know that’s where this is going & I have no interest in going there. So you get one more response here in this thread & then the tap is turned off. If you wish to comment on other posts here or other subjects you may. But after yr next reply this thread is closed to you.
Ah let’s see. since this is my last shot I suppose I ought to make it a good one. Nowhere do I fulminate against you. I merely have responded to what you have written and the logic of it.
“I know all the arguments you present. It’s certainly true that Israeli violated the Geneva convention in expelling the refugees in 1948. But there will not be a full implementation of the Right of Return. Full stop.”
You originally stated “I’d like to see any support you have for that claim” and the claim referenced was world support for Palestinian right of return. I did so. Then you essentially agree with me but dismiss it all as immaterial because Israel will never accept it. You most likely are correct. Israel has certainly never given any sign that she will so far, I doubt she will ever do so. I wrote that even the Palestinians are, for the most part, not interested in “full” implementation, if you mean by that all 4 million streaming back in. Of course, there will never be a peaceful solution to any of this until Israel does, but what the hell . . .
“There hardly ever is pure justice in the world. That’s just the way it is. Compromises are made and somehow we go on with our lives.”
Now it’s a demand for “pure” justice. How unreasonable of those Palestinians, there they go demanding “pure” justice again. How easy of you to dismiss it all. Unfortunately that “compromise” you refer to has been made by Israel with other people’s lives – always an easy compromise to make. And under the present circumstances it seems rather difficult for them to “go on with their lives.”
You then claim that you urge Israel to accept the right of return “as defined by the Geneva Initiative and the Saudi Arab League 2002 peace initiative.” Yet there’s barely a hair’s difference between Al-Adwa’s and the Saudi proposal, both want Israel to acknowledge the right of return. If such an event ever occurs then what happens next is up to the Palestinians and the Israelis to work out. The Saudis do not presume to tell the Palestinians what they must accept or demand, and neither does Al-Adwa.
“I didn’t mention support for Israel, which is quite high. I mentioned support for anti-Zionism,”
This is a distinction with little meaning. Zionism is the state ideology of Israel, without it Israel is an entirely different kettle of fish. If American support for Israel or her methods does drop through the floor then support for the ideology that drives those methods also drops. You can’t separate Israel from Zionism any more than you could separate the Soviet Union from Communism.
“Yes, Americans dislike the Occupation, settlements, etc. But that does not translate into being willing to throw Israel overboard or supporting a single state solution.”
If one asked Americans “Do you believe Palestinians and Israelis would be better off living in one state with guaranteed rights for all?” you would, I wager, receive overwhelming support for the proposal. If on the other hand you asked, “Would you support a one-state solution if it meant the destruction of the Jewish State,” you might very well get an entirely different response. Polls are all in the asking. Try asking “Do you believe the United States should take sides in the Israel-Palestine question?” The answer you will get is overwhelmingly No. Poll after poll have shown that Americans believe we should be a neutral arbiter. Is that “throwing Israel over”? Perhaps so, if you believe the United States should be obligated to Israel. Is that anti-Zionist? perhaps not, but it certainly is not pro-Zionist or pro-Israel.
“So a Hamas dominated Palestinian state would NOT be tribalist? Gimme a break. Who’re you fooling?”
Are you arguing that if a Hamas-dominated Palestine came into being that whatever tribalism it represented would be justification for the past half-century or more of Jewish ethnic nationalism? I fail to see the logic here. Isn’t the horse supposed to be in front of the cart? But aside from that lets assume that Hamas did come to power in some fancied Palestinian state and that state was just as you say, how would that justify equally poor behavior on the part of the Israelis? And what of the Israeli-Arabs? Why should the actions of Hamas condemn them to living as second-class citizens under a reign of Jewish Nationalism? Why not condemn all ethnic nationalism equally – Jewish as well as Arab/Muslim?
“He wasn’t anti-Zionist & quoting him as if he was is a real distortion. Being a critic of Israel is NOT the same as being anti-Zionist.”
I never claimed he was an anti-Zionist. I just quoted the guy concerning the myopia of many Jewish-Americans at time some 30 or more years ago, you concluded his statement was anti-Zionist. .But I suggest you go back and reread your Stone. while it is true that in 1939 he was honored by the Haganah for his reportage on the attempts to reach Palestine, he became disillusioned when he published the book of that reportage and was asked to change his conclusion which advocated one-state for Palestinians and Jews alike (hardly a Zionist stance). While he remained sympathetic he firmly rejected the racist tribalism that animates the state and was known to advocate one-state solutions. He believed Jews and Arabs could live side by side in one state – that is not Zionism.
“I don’t even believe in Israel being a Jewish state as long as it guarantees the rights of all ethnic & religious groups within the state.”
I’m not quite sure what you mean here. Are you saying if Israel DID NOT guarantee the rights of all then you would support it being a Jewish State? All I can say is that Israel is clearly a Jewish State and it clearly does not guarantee the rights of its non-Jewish citizens (and many Jewish as well) and that is part and parcel of it defining itself as an ethnocracy instead of a democracy. You seem to be agreeing with me here.
“No, I don’t [agree with the Jewish law of return] & you’re just making yrself look stupid.”
Well, lets see, you don’t support the right of Aliyah but you support the “Jewish right to national self-determination.” You are a Zionist who supports the Palestinian right of return only if none or damn few of them actually show up but you say you don’t support (I’m guessing, anyway) Israel as a Jewish State if it doesn’t give equal rights to all. Excuse me, but just how is the “Jewish right to national self-determination” to come to fruition without unlimited Jewish emigration, especially with the faster birth rate of the non-Jewish population and the rising number of Jews leaving the state? And you believe in complete equal rights for all in Israel yet oppose aliyah and the single state while still supporting the Jewish State? Either you are very very confused or it is you who is stupid. If you believe in everything you claim to believe in then why are you criticizing Al-Adwa and why are you upset with me?
“I want to warn you that a good number of anti-Zionists have made a pt. of excoriating me for my views I know that’s where this is going & I have no interest in going there.”
I don’t see how I have excoriated you, but I see enormous blind spots in your support for Israel that you refuse to approach, perhaps that heat you feel comes from you trying maintain liberalism and Zionism at the same time. You want a Jewish State yet speak of equal rights for all, you argue against the Palestinian right of return unless no one actually opts to return while essentially conceding they morally have a right to return, you oppose the Jewish Law of Return yet support Jewish nationalism. And through it all you dance around the very clear moral questions: if Jews had a right of return to Europe, a right to their land and property, then why not Palestinians? If one agrees with the concept of equal rights for all, as you claim to, then why oppose a single-state, and if not then how can there be equal rights for all under a state defined as Jewish? Would Jews have equal rights in an America defined as Baptist? Damn few, I’d wager.
“So you get one more response here in this thread & then the tap is turned off. If you wish to comment on other posts here or other subjects you may. But after yr next reply this thread is closed to you.”
Well, I certainly understand why you would shut me off this thread, and why you get so upset discussing this issue. It must be exhausting trying to maintain support for Zionism and the Jewish State of Israel while not really supporting Zionism and the Jewish State of Israel and while still trying to maintain one’s belief in democracy and pluralism and equality, I mean, golly, a fellow could blow all his fuses with so many raging contradictions – and to be Jewish as well and seeped in that long tradition of seeking after justice and the knowledge of the Holocaust and the ghettos and discrimination and yet still deny the justice you accord to your own tribe to the Palestinians ethnically cleansed by Zionists, which is merely the right to live in their own land where they’ve lived for god knows how many centuries. The effort of keeping all that in your head at once must be very painful. I’m surprised you don’t wake up screaming in the middle of the night
Richard Silverstein says
No, you presented United Nations resolutions & claimed that this represents unified world opinion in support of full implementation of the Right of Return, which is simply not true. Do the United Nations resolutions say that every single expelled refugee has a right of physical return to Israel? It depends how you interpret the language but it is perfectly reasonable to say this isn’t the case. And even if it were hardly anyone in the world would agree that Israel has an obligation to accept this interpretation.
Ah, this is one of the first reasonable things you’ve said. As long as Palestinians don’t demand “full” implementation and, as you say, by and large most except for Al Awda & similar groups don’t–then there’s a lot for both sides to talk about.
I’d like you to provide a statement fr. Al Awda that acknowledges yr interpretation of the similarities of the 2 positions. The Saudi proposal calls for Israel to acknowledge a Right of Return but leaves completely open for both sides to work out an acceptable interpretation & implementation of this Right. I have no problem w. this & in time Israel will prob. come around to this view as well. That is NOT my understanding of Al Awda’s position. If it is (& I doubt it is) then Al Awda is more reasonable & flexible than I gave it credit.
This is patently false & all public opinion surveys of U.S. opinion bear this out. Despite strong opposition to various Israeli policies there is still strong support for Israel. One can argue that as long as Israel continues w. its disastrous policies that American support will erode. I agree w. that position & it’s why I urge Israel to abandon those policies.
I agree with this position. I’m not in favor of America showing Israel special treatment nor of supporting Israel’s disastrous settlment or Occupation policies.
What you don’t understand is that even in a unitary or binational state there will still be ethnic nationalism. The issue is not as you claim to eradicate it which is impossible; the issue is to find a way to channel it productively & safely so it does not destroy whatever cohesiveness is necessary for the functioning of that state.
No, once again I didn’t conclude he or his statement was anti-Zionist. I told you he wasn’t. I told you his valid criticism of American Jewish notions and Israel is NOT anti-Zionist. I agree with what Stone said. So what are we arguing about?
If he was advocating a binational state similar to the one proposed by the Brit Shalom movement composed of Martin Buber, Judah Magnes and others, then it most certainly IS a Zionist stance though not a type of Zionism you may be familiar or comfortable with.
Whaddaya know. I do agree with much of what you say though I’m not as dismissive & denunciatory as you. I’m prepared to rid Israel of much of the trappings of superiority granted to Jews; but only on one condition–that the rights of all ethnic & religious groups, both majority & minority are fully guaranteed in a constitution. Again, this means I don’t want to rid the state of national identity, ethnic affiliation, languages, etc. I want all traditions to be welcome & respected. If they’re not then this won’t work.
A Jewish right to national self determination can be achieved within the type of state I envision as long as Jews have the right to be Jews & express their religious & ethnic identity within the state. Just as Jews should be allowed to emigrate in controlled numbers to this new state (not the same as a full RIght of Return) so should Palestinians, again in controlled numbers be allowed to return to the state. I don’t know what those numbers should be. It should be a joint political decision also based on the economic ability of the state to absorb the new immigrant/returnees.
That is not true. The Geneva Initiative provides for the actual physical return of Palestinian refugees though not in the numbers you or Al Awda would want. As I wrote, I agree with this.
That’s a rather stupid & inane conclusion but if that’s to be yr last word in this thread then so be it. And no, I don’t wake up screaming in the middle of the night.
Back again says
SINCE YOU ASKED: “I’d like you to provide a statement fr. Al Awda that acknowledges yr interpretation of the similarities of the 2 positions.””
“While the right of return is a collective right, the option to exercise it is an individual choice. No comprehensive study of the question exists, but many refugee rights advocates acknowledge that while some refugees will opt for return, many would prefer to resettle elsewhere.” – from a link on the Al-Adwa site that directs reader to “more detailed information.”
“No, you presented United Nations resolutions & claimed that this represents unified world opinion in support of full implementation of the Right of Return,”
To argue over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin is merely tendentious. The UN GA, the largest world body in existence, has reconfirmed the right of return more than 40 times. To insert the term “full” as though the word must be present in order for the resolution to have meaning is just childish. The UN does not play word games of “gotcha!” The meaning is clear and there is no rational argument for your interpretation.
“And even if it were hardly anyone in the world would agree that Israel has an obligation to accept this interpretation.”
As it is a General Assembly Resolution and not a Security Council Res. legalistically I would venture that no Israel is not legally obligated to 194. The interpretation of 194, however, it has no ability to reject. And there are many other legally binding treaties which I’ve named before that Israel is bound to obey and which do mandate the return. Although, I might add that arguably it was a GA Resolution that first gave the independence to Israel. Are we pick and chose which we shall adhere to?
“I’m prepared to rid Israel of much of the trappings of superiority granted to Jews; but only on one condition–that the rights of all ethnic & religious groups, both majority & minority are fully guaranteed in a constitution. Again, this means I don’t want to rid the state of national identity, ethnic affiliation, languages, etc. I want all traditions to be welcome & respected. If they’re not then this won’t work.”
The impetus of Zionism for the last one-hundred years, from the very beginning, has been for the formation of Israel as a Jewish State. A state for the Jews, of the Jews, by the Jews. No bones were made about it. The logical consequence of this was the massive ethnic cleansing beginning in 1947. By your quote above you wish to be a Zionist but without Zionism, you wish for the Jewish national self-determination, but in name only. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. That was and remains the fatal flaw in claiming Martin Buber’s vision of a bi-national state as representative of Zionism. The original Brit Shalom he helped found rejected the Balfour Declaration, rejected the notion of a Jewish State. In fact Buber was quite content for Jews to live as a minority in Israel. The fact that a few like Buber argued as they did does not make Zionism any less nationalistic or wrong-headed. To argue that Jews should have the right to live where ever they please, including the land between the river and the sea, is not Zionism. If that were all there was to it, there would not be the mess there is today. If Buber were alive and teaching today the tolerance for his thought would be far less than it was a half-century ago, I dare say he’d be run out of Jerusalem on a rail.
“The Geneva Initiative provides for the actual physical return of Palestinian refugees though not in the numbers you or Al Awda would want.”
That Initiative is pretty much a dead letter as are all others before it, but what I want is for all to have the right of return whether they wish to accept it or not, including Jews. There is plenty of room for all and I have no doubt they can all learn to live together. But it is a moot point no matter which tack is chosen – Israel has no intention allowing any return of Palestinians and has no intention of allowing a viable Palestinian state in either the WB or Gaza. Israel will continue on exactly as she is now until forced onto another path. The only country capable of that is the United States, and that will not happen under the present political situation, or in the foreseeable future. All this is the logical outgrowth of the ethnic nationalism that has defined Zionism for 100 years. It is the Zionism of Jabotinsky and his Iron Wall, and of his spiritual sons, Begin and Shamir and Sharon and the rest (not that Ben Gurion was any better). Buber and Co., Gush Shalom and Amira Hass and all the rest who had and still have their humanity are only voices in the wind. To attempt to define those faint cries as some form of viable Zionism is to fool oneself. The argument was over long ago.
I see, so you ask me a direct question, I answer it, but then you refuse to post the answer. Gutless.
Richard Silverstein says
Back Again (formerly known as ‘Grif’): You are the personification of chutzpah. First, I ask you politely after mutliple comments in this thread not to post another reply. And of course you decide that whatever pearls you have to offer are more important than respecting my request. Second, your reply gets caught by my comment filter & moderated & you immediately presume that I’ve deliberately refused to publish it and call me “gutless.” If that isn’t the height of presumption I don’t know what is.
BTW, I even gave you the opportunity to apologize for yr churlishness & yr response was the most backhanded, half hearted apology one could imagine basically saying you could give 2 shits. But since you’ve challenged me with such an insult I’ve published yr comment. And to save you the trouble of being tempted to reply (& since you seem to have no interest in respecting my previously expressed wishes) I’ll save you the trouble by giving you an enforced vacation fr. this blog.
Interpreting the language of UN resolutions is neither”childish” nor a game. It is very serious business. The wording of the Geneva Initiative is such that it attempts to adhere to the UN resolutions in question in a creative way. The fact that you reject such an attempt but much of the rest of the world would accept such a resolution speaks volumes about yr extremism.
I repeat: no member of the UN (except perhaps the Muslim/Arab states & not even all of them) nor any significant number of people in the world demand full implementation of the Right of Return. Period. I don’t care what the resolutions say. There is absolutely no clamor whatsoever within the UN or anywhere else for such a policy except among hardline anti-Zionist activists.
That’s ridiculous. Why would I call myself a progressive Zionist but be in favor or Jewish national self-determination in name only? I believe that those Arabs & Jews living within Israel can both live together and express their separate ethnic, national & religious identities in the same state. There’s no law saying that two peoples can’t share a homeland. You somehow want to deracinate this state so that it is empty of nationalism, which is both foolish and impossible.
He wasn’t exactly provided a king’s welcome back then either. But Martin Buber was as much a Zionist as I am. Martin Buber is a silk purse Zionist and you’re not going to turn him into a sow’s ear anti-Zionist.
Not at all. Whatever peace agreement is achieved will most assuredly follow the general outlines of Geneva.
Again, not at all. They are the still small voice of Jewish liturgy whispered in the desert. But that voice still resonates and strongly. It’s the sole purpose of this blog. Your smug dismissal of all that we hold dear only shows your intolerance & lack of perspective regarding Zionism. But you hold tight to yr distorted, wrong headed views about Zionism. The Zionist doves will win & be redeemed in the end no thanks to you.