Friday, April 30, 2010

Israel's choice: Make peace or disappear

Israel's choice: Make peace or disappear
By Tzvia Greenfield

The student senate at Berkeley University in California recently passed a resolution calling for divestment from Israel. Prof. Judith Butler, the feminist theoretician, expounded to the enthusiastic audience on her new "Jewish" vision, which calls for renouncing the State of Israel. In this way, the intellectual elites once again expressed their strong belief in the theological principle whose basis is opposition to Western culture.

For these intellectuals, the Palestinians' struggle against Israel symbolizes the heroic uprising of the rejected and oppressed against the conquerors who have deprived them of their humanity and delegitimized their local narratives. And in this mythological and theological arena, there is no chance whatsoever of holding a sane debate based on facts and common sense.

Treating Israel as the worst representative of Western colonialism is particularly ironic given the Jewish people's minuscule size and Europe's virulent anti-Jewish history. Neither Russia's control of the Chechens, Irish grievances against the British or Basque grievances against the Spanish evoke the harsh criticism that Israel does. Perhaps because it does not pay to confront the Russians, while Britain and Spain really do offer their minorities democratic equality and full civil rights.

Israel, on the other hand, continues to control the Palestinians and the territories by force. And in order to maintain its Jewish identity, it also has no intention whatsoever of granting them equal civil rights. One does not have to be a critical intellectual to understand that this internal contradiction, in a state that considers itself advanced, Western and democratic, is untenable.

There is thus no way to avoid a solution that chooses one of two options - either withdrawing from all of the West Bank and establishing an independent state for the Palestinians, or granting full rights to everyone who lives under Israeli control, Palestinians as well as Jews. In that case, of course, Israel would lose its Zionist identity as the state of the Jewish people - and if it is even possible for Palestinians and Jews to live together after 100 years of hatred, the Jewish residents of Palestine would immediately turn into an insignificant minority that is at the mercy of the millions of Muslim Arabs round about.

A development of this kind, which would destroy the Zionist project, would cause most Jewish residents of the former Israel to abandon their country and try to find new solutions for themselves on an individual basis - assuming, of course, that what happened before the Holocaust would not repeat itself, and that the millions of new Jewish refugees would be able to find safe havens for themselves in the democratic countries of the West. A horrific scenario like this would take the entire Jewish people back to its historic situation of weakness and victimization, and it is hard to imagine it could take place without a tremendous upheaval.

Yet another terrifying possibility, of course, is that Israel would consciously renounce its own self-definition as a Western democracy. It would then gradually turn into a dictatorship that defines itself as Jewish. It would use armed force to continue to control all the territory west of the Jordan River, and would continue to deny the Palestinians' right to either freedom or equality. A choice of that kind would destroy Israel as a modern state, and accordingly also its ability to defend itself and to develop as a secure, flourishing, 21st-century society.

In this case as well, it is clear that most of the country's intelligentsia, and indeed anyone with initiative, would leave Israel. Israel would remain with its religious population and its rightists - some of whom are capable of defending it, but most of whom are devoid of high-level development and management skills. The Israeli-Jewish dictatorship would thus suffer from a substantive weakness that would eventually lead to its defeat at the hands of its Muslim enemies.

It is sad to think that this process has apparently already started: The collapse of education and higher learning, together with the political corruption and the tremendous growth of those sectors that are not prepared to share the social, economic and military burden, is encouraging the more talented and diligent Israelis to leave the sinking Jewish ship....

Even if treating Israel as the country that embodies the ultimate evil in fact expresses a new and ugly incarnation of traditional anti-Semitism, which always viewed the Jews as the representative of all the world's ills, the truth is still simple, but difficult to face: An Israel that does not allow the Palestinian situation to be resolved has effectively announced its own inexorable death, via the gradual destruction of the resources of knowledge and talent that have enabled it to develop and defend itself until now. In order to save Israel, we must immediately separate from the territories and their inhabitants.
Israel is frightened of defining itself. Lack of defined borders is the physical representation of this fear, inability to choose between one state and two state is the mental representation of this fear. Those who want neither two-state nor one-state because of a logic already laid out by many commentators that does not need re-elaboration here, harbor a hope that things will resolve themselves by events, never mind how they happen or what the hardship, that see the remainder of the Palestinians both within and without the Green Line somehow ending up somewhere else. Few will say so in so many words, but that`s how it is. Would even Jabotinsky have enjoyed the spectacle of today`s East Jerusalem and teenage settlers displacing Arab refugee families from their homes in our name? Ms Greenfield is right about such a path, Einstein was right, Yishayahu Leibowitz was right, but who`s listening?

RIDICULOUS....! I am pissed that you would characterize those of us Jews who don't think like you do as somehow enabling another holocaust or opposing Jews and Israelis who defend themselves....

That's what infuriates me about conservative Jews. These big bearded, torah tapping phonies just assume that the poor Israelis are just trying to protect themselves and those evil Arabs always try to kill them....

No one is listening to you anymore. Israelis are just as capable of committing atrocities as anyone else, including Nazis. It's ironic that many conservative Jews implore us to remember the holocaust while encouraging the very same thing to be done to those dirty, less than human Arabs....

Luckily, most of us Jews know how to think for ourselves and aren't fooled by our backward, outdated relics who bleat and whine about protecting Israel. Newsflash: Israel has become immensely powerful. We must monitor them as we monitor those with power to make sure that they don't abuse it, as they have done for decades in Lebanon and Palestine and most recently in Gaza....