Israel’s culture of superiority and birthright entitlement

Before he was murdered by the Gestapo in April 1945, the Lutheran martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer distilled this wisdom:

There remains an experience of incomparable value. We have for once learnt to see the great events of world history from below, from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated, the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled – in short, from the perspective of those who suffer 

In discussions with Palestinian Canadians, one quickly hears the deep pain not only  of what was lost in the Nakba of 1948 but the stunning inability or chosen blindness of the public to acknowledge the truth of their violent dispossession. Most Canadians  are incapable of cutting through massive Israeli propaganda and are terrified of being branded anti-Semitic.

For Canadian Jews, many highly educated, have resorted to an uncritical tribalism, devoid of authentic Judaic values.

The brilliant Israeli writer Amira Hass has internalised  Bonhoeffer’s ”history from below.” 

Israelis’ Shock at Police Violence at anti-Netanyahu Protests Is Quite Shocking

Amira Hass

For a moment I thought I would begin by writing that I welcome every blow delivered by a Jewish police officer to a Jewish demonstrator on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street. But I changed my mind. Violent police – who are arousing such shock among the mainstream media these days – are situated on the same continuum as individual and gang rapists, sexual harassers, nursery school teachers who abuse toddlers and social media bullies. I changed my mind because in my search for a lead for this article, this literary stratagem (“I welcome every blow,” etc.) does not apply to all parts of that continuum.

All those individuals are people with power and physical strength, who resort to violence in order to harm and cause pain to others – just because they can. To feel strong and superior, to scare and silence. And in order to enjoy themselves. Let’s not forget that dimension. Enjoyment and satisfaction are an important component in demonstrating superiority, in the act of causing pain to another person.

All the recent expressions of shock are encouraging: from the spontaneous demonstrations against rape culture and the forgiving attitude toward acts of rape and harassment, to the condemnations in the media that are putting the police on the defensive. Such shock is evidence of the health of a society.

That’s on the one hand. On the other hand, however, the shock at police violence on Balfour Street is surprising. Or to be more precise – it’s shocking. It demonstrates that Israeli society does not understand how deeply mired it is in a culture of superiority, of birthright entitlement and of the divine right to exercise our muscles to attain satisfaction, real estate and a cheap and submissive work force.

Or again, to be precise: Israeli society is living in a state of conscious denial. It refuses to internalize the scope of violence that it is nurturing. And I refer not only to police violence against Palestinian in East Jerusalem or against Palestinians who are Israeli citizens.

Fifty-three years of military, police and Shin Bet security service domination over about 5 million people are exactly that: violence. Supremacy. Satisfaction with the violence and the supremacy. Every floor tile in every house in every Jewish settlement is just that: arrogant, prolonged violence, which is defended day and night by brigades and generations of our delicate and armed children.

As part of their calling to garner real estate in the West Bank, they go out to make arrests every night, including of minors. They throw them to the floor of their jeeps, handcuff and blindfold them. In about 50 percent of the cases they hit minors. A slap here, a kick or shove there. Because they can.

Open the website of the B’Tselem human rights organization to the “Updates” section. You’ll find several examples there of kicking, laughter abuse by Israel Defense Forces soldiers in uniform. Yes, I know. The right-wing propaganda has succeeded. For you the testimony of an Arab about an attack – not documented in full in a video clip, from every angle, and preferably on the smartphone of the soldiers themselves – is worthless. By the way: That’s also violence, to first believe the version of events espoused by the ruler, the one in power. The strong one, which is us.

And still, maybe the physical blow delivered by a police officer did upset something in the collective denial mechanism, and you’ll realize the connection between it and the routine violence by soldiers, only an iota of which reaches the B’Tselem website. Not killing. Not serious injury. Just incidental violence, along the way. Because they can.

Jump from there to another website of bleeding hearts, that of Yesh Din rights organization. Read the statistics: The chances that a Palestinian complaint about a soldier’s violence against him will lead to prosecution are 0.7 percent. And is there any need to mention the extent to which Jewish Israeli citizens who harm Palestinians and their orchards, in most instances, receive immunity from a police investigation and prosecution?

From January through August 10, 2020, the United Nations counted 163 incidents of assault by Jewish Israelis, from the settlements, against Palestinians. Of them 49 were physical attacks that caused wounds and bruises. There were 114 attacks against orchards, crops, fields and other property. What is the systematic turning of a blind eye to these attacks, if not a blow delivered by Israeli society – again and again?

UAE Spacecraft Brings No Hope for the Palestinians

O Brave New world that has such people in it. And every country has such thoughtful, prophetic people like Hagai El-Ad the executive director of B’Tselem, Israel’s voice for human rights.Though a secular organization, B’Tselem was not able to run past or deny the authentic Judaic bedrock when Ben Gurion and the secular Zionist cabal created the stller colonialist state. This human rights organization takes its name from the bible: Genesis 1:27: “And God created humankind in His image. In the image of God did He create them.” The name expresses the Jewish and universal moral edict to respect and uphold the human rights of all people.Since the Nakba of 1948 israel has made a mockery of such a vision

Hagai El-Ad

The United Arab Emirates’ spacecraft heading for Mars is called Hope. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made sure to mention this in his announcement of the peace treaty with the UAE. After all, Startup Nation is happy to gaze into space, the heavens, the Persian Gulf or any other conceivable place, just as long as it doesn’t have to look straight at the Palestinians.

The Palestinians, unlike that spacecraft, didn’t merit a place of honor in the prime minister’s speech. The Palestinians, unlike that spacecraft, aren’t heading for Mars. The Palestinians, alongside us, live on the ground of reality.

The setting aside, at least for now, of the formal annexation of part of the West Bank allows us to direct our attention to that very place – the ground of reality. For in reality, with or without U.S. President Donald Trump’s backing, the ground between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is home to 14 million people. And all of them are subject to the same authority.

Millions of them – all Palestinians – live without rights, vulnerable to state violence, dispossessed, displaced, killed and oppressed. Israel considered for a time whether to make this aspect of reality official by announcing an “annexation” or “applying sovereignty.” Some people questioned the practical implications of such a move, since Israel already acts as if this territory were its own.

In the end, Israel forged the deal announced by Netanyahu. The declarations will be put on the shelf for now, but the Palestinian people will not. With or without the UAE, and with or without annexation, there is already a consensus in Israel about continuing to rule over the Palestinians. The argument is only over the details and the amount of lip service to be paid.

Netanyahu simply announced his preferred alternative for continuing the existing situation – without formal annexation (for now), but with the UAE. Yet under any possible scenario, anyone who wakes up tomorrow morning in Ramallah or in Khan Yunis will wake up to the same reality, one in which they are subjects with no rights and in which almost every aspect of their lives is controlled by Israel.

Netanyahu wants to talk about Abu Dhabi, but life itself, to use a favorite term of his, is attached firmly connected to Hebron and Nablus, Gaza City and Jerusalem. Because even after the Hope enters Mars’s orbit in a few months’ time, all of us here – Jews and Palestinians alike – will remain in the same shared orbit.

Look straight into the eyes of the people living under a regime of checkpoints, permits, military orders and walls dividing us. What hope – not in space, but here on earth – do they have in the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege for 13 years; in the Jordan Valley, where dozens of communities have no water and are repeatedly expelled from their hopes; in the bantustan of Ramallah, whose residents are surrounded by settlements and checkpoints; or in the Jenin refugee camp?

The moral questions that must be answered are, first, how our life here on earth will look when millions of people are already in the sixth decade of this rotten reality. And second, how we can oppose a regime whose essence is one group’s supremacy over another so that we can live in a completely different reality, one with justice and rights for all.

The answers to these questions won’t be found on another celestial body or through disruptive technologies. They won’t be found in the prime minister’s speech or in Washington. They are simple, fundamental answers that all decent people can find when they look other people straight in the eye.

Look closely at them. Then look inward. You know the answers.

Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B’Tselem.

Rashid Khalidi: Victory for Arab Reaction

As per usual it was Amy Goodman of Democracy Now who alone had one of the most thoughtful persons on the Middle East  Rashid Khalidi speak  to the announcement  that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have reached an agreement to fully normalize relations after years of secretly working together on countering Iran and other issues.The UAE is the first Gulf Arab country to normalize relations with Israel and just the third country in the Arab world to do so, after Egypt and Jordan.

Rashid Khalidi, is the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, author of several books his latest, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine was interviewed  on August 14.

Rashid Khalidi       Edited

In a sense, this is  another campaign in the hundred years’ war on Palestine. This is a great victory for Arab reaction. It’s a great victory for the annexationist government in Israel. It’s also a boost for President Trump. The Trump regime, which is one of the most authoritarian in American history, has now gotten a diplomatic victory.

So, I don’t see that it has anything to do with peace, of course. The United Arab Emirates was never at war with Israel. On the contrary, it makes the chance of a just, equitable and sustainable peace much, much, much harder.

 Well, it came about partly because of the blowback against the Trump-Netanyahu plan to overtly annex territories, which, as Rashida Tlaib said, are already under Israeli control, and, as Netanyahu said, he still plans to annex. But the blowback was so severe that both Trump and Netanyahu were forced to recalibrate.

And this is something that has always been ongoing, the plan to bring the most reactionary, most absolute monarchies in the world into an open public alliance with Israel, as part of the Netanyahu-Trump obsession with Iran, which is something that these regimes are also obsessed with, given that they have — they do not depend on consent of the governed, they do not have any kind of domestic legitimacy, they’re anti-democratic. They are the forces that fight against democracy throughout the Arab world. The United Arab Emirates is not a force for peace. It’s at war with the people of Yemen. It’s at war in Libya. It has never been involved in a war with Israel.

So, this is making overt a relationship that was already covert. This is making even more salient an alliance against Iran, which is the wet dream of both Netanyahu and Trump, to dangle Iran in front of people’s eyes to distract them from the kinds of reactionary dictatorships or absolute monarchies. Those monarchies are so reactionary that they make Henry VIII and Louis XIV look like Tom Paine and Robespierre. They are the most absolute monarchies in the world today. The fact that the United States is supporting them is an absolute disgrace.

the United Arab Emirates has never been engaged in war with Israel. On the contrary, the United Arab Emirates’ air defenses, its missile defenses, are manufactured in Israel and are probably controlled from Israel. So, this is an ally of Israel in practice. It always has been. Now this has been made public.

Israel still  the coloniser

Whatever the president and his ambassador to Israel say, I would take Netanyahu at his word. There is no change in his plans. He said it. You ran a clip from him, speaking in Hebrew. They will continue the ongoing colonization of the West Bank. They will continue to control it absolutely. Israel will continue to be the only sovereign between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. And it will continue its discriminatory policies whereby Israelis have one set of laws and Palestinians, under occupation, basically have the law of the jungle, i.e. military occupation, military courts, in which everybody is always guilty and in which about 20% of the Palestinian population has been sent to prison. So, we’re talking about a jackboot regime which is going to be sustained and continued by this deal. That’s not peace. That’s continuation of colonization and occupation, whatever the president says.

Conflict with Iran?

Rone of the greatest falsehoods that these people peddle is this idea that there is a conflict between the Arabs and Iran. There is a conflict between nonrepresentative, anti-democratic regimes and Iran.Arab public opinion considers Israel a great danger. There are polls every couple of years, run by the Arab Center, which show that across a dozen Arab countries, the Arabs, the people, most of them unrepresented by these dictatorships and absolute monarchies, consider Iran a minor threat. It’s a problem, but it’s not the number one problem.

For these regimes, which have no domestic legitimacy, which do not depend on consent of the governed, of course Iran is a problem. Moreover, they need the United States and Israel, because they can’t defend themselves, given the fact that — against their people, let alone against external threats, because they have no domestic legitimacy.

So, I think this is not something between the Arabs and Iran. This is something between unrepresentative and undemocratic Arab regimes, notably the absolute monarchies of the Gulf, and Iran.

US Leadership

I think that the leadership of the Democratic Party, from Biden to Senator Harris to the people who run it, the Schumers and the Pelosis and the Clintons and the Obamas, all of them are behind the times. The Democratic Party, its base, the people who are going to vote for the Democrats and will hopefully defeat Trump in November and take back the Senate and increase the progressive trends in the House, don’t feel that way. They strongly believe that Israel should be sanctioned for its violations of Palestinian human rights. They don’t have the position that the Democratic Party leadership has.

This is not new, and it’s unfortunately been further entrenched by Biden and Harris becoming the nominees for the party. There were several other candidates — obviously, Senator Sanders and Senator Warren, but others — who had more nuanced positions, much more in tune with the base of the Democratic Party on this issue, on the issue of Palestine. So, a lot of work is going to be necessary to force a leadership, that is, as I’ve said, completely blind to Israel’s faults and doesn’t see the Palestinians, to do the right thing.

Karcher on Weiss

Bari Weiss  is the very whiny former NYT editor who was catapulted into a cushy job based on her father’s AIPAC connections and her own hard right Zionist beliefs. She  has been caught out many times on her poor me “cancel culture” trope. Her own cancel culture activity included  her fanatical attempts to get Palestinian professors at Columbia fired, then her bigoted editorial work circumscribing progressive Jewish  and Palestinian voices voices from ever appearing in the NYT

The real significance of Bari Weiss’s resignation from the New York Times

Carolyn Karcher

Change is in the air and the Israel lobby can no longer stamp it out by using its gatekeepers to censor and malign opposing voices.

Bari Weiss’s letter of July 14 announcing her resignation as an editor of the New York Times opinion page has received considerable publicity and has won praise from prominent right-wing spokespersons, including Donald Trump, Jr., political commentators Ben Shapiro and Bill Maher, and U.S. Republican senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Kelly Loeffler.   In that letter, posted on her website, Weiss accuses her colleagues of “bullying” her and silencing writers whose views clash with the Times’s “orthodoxy.”  “Intellectual curiosity,” she claims, “is now a liability at The Times.”  These claims are breathtakingly dishonest, coming as they do from an editor who has herself engaged in systematically barring from the Times any op-ed or letter to the editor contrary to the orthodoxy of the pro-Israel establishment she represents.  

Although Weiss emphasizes the “necessity of resisting tribalism, and the centrality of the free exchange of ideas to a democratic society”—principles I fully support—nothing could better illustrate “tribalism” than the censorship of voices criticizing Israel or pointing out the inherently undemocratic nature of a state that privileges Jews over non-Jews. 

 A flagrant example of the tribalism that the Times opinion page exhibited under Weiss’s editorship is its publication of an op-ed titled “On the Frontlines of Progressive Anti-Semitism” by Blake Flayton, a sophomore at George Washington University, and its failure to publish a single one of the letters that poured in from Jewish students at George Washington and other universities contradicting Flayton’s allegations about both antisemitism among progressives and about quasi-universal support for Israel among young Jews.  Frankly, the Times is much better off without Bari Weiss.  Perhaps now the Op-Ed and letters to the editor page can finally begin reflecting the remarkable shift that has been occurring in Jewish attitudes toward Israel and Palestinians, as indicated by Peter Beinart’s two articles, “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State”, and “Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine” and by Eric Alterman’s “In New York, Zionism and Liberalism Faced Off—And Liberalism Won.”

Both Beinart and Alterman describe a long process of grappling with the contradictions between their ideal of Israel as a haven for Jews that could also be a democracy for its Palestinian citizens and their growing awareness of the brutal repression Palestinians endure under Israeli rule.  Confronted by more and more evidence that “With each new election, irrespective of which parties enter the government, Israel has continued subsidizing Jewish settlement in a territory in which Palestinians lack citizenship, due process, free movement, and the right to vote for the government that dominates their lives,” Beinart concludes: “The painful truth is that the project to which liberal Zionists like myself have devoted ourselves for decades—a state for Palestinians separated from a state for Jews—has failed. . . .  It is time for liberal Zionists to abandon the goal of Jewish-Palestinian separation and embrace the goal of Jewish-Palestinian equality.” 

 Similarly, Alterman acknowledges: “As Israel grows increasingly illiberal—embracing not only annexation but also official racism, theocratic governance, and increasingly anti-democratic restrictions on the freedoms of its Arab minority . . . Liberal Zionism—a cause to which I have committed myself for my entire adult life—has come to look like a contradiction.” 

Alterman’s article actually comments on another example of what his subtitle calls “a sea change for American Jews”: the defeat of Eliot Engel, the powerful chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, by Jamaal Bowman, an African American former middle school principal.  As Alterman notes, Engel used his position to deliver “one hundred percent support for Israel” in lockstep with AIPAC and the ultra-conservative Zionist Organization of America, while neglecting the needs of his constituents, nearly 60 percent of whom are Black and Latino.

  Bowman, in contrast, balanced his commitment to “the right of Israelis to live in safety and peace” with an affirmation that “Palestinians are entitled to the same human rights, safety from violence and self-determination in a state of their own.”  Instead of his stand’s costing him the election, as it probably would have in years past, however, “Bowman won in a landslide,” and Engel did not even carry the district’s Jewish voters.  As Alterman explains, the result showed that “Israel had lost its centrality” among constituents who were “reeling under the threat of the pandemic and inspired by the politics of racial reawakening.”  They also showed that whereas in the past, liberals “chose just to make an exception for Israel while sticking with the rest of their left-leaning agenda,” this time liberalism had clearly won out over Zionism.

In short, change is in the air, and the pro-Israel lobby can no longer stamp it out by using its henchpersons to censor and malign opposing voices.  This is the real significance of Bari Weiss’s resignation from the New York Times.

Carolyn L. Karcher is Professor Emerita of English, American Studies, and Women’s Studies at Temple University. Her latest book is Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation,

Seth Rogen wakes from his sleep

Seth Rogen much like so many privileged Canadian and American Jews who have absolutely no idea  of how the indigenous Palestinians live, six years ago actually signed a petition supporting the  2014 IDF massacre  in Gaza.This was  an ignorant tribal action with absolutely no forethought or understanding. No thoughtful Jew in touch with biblical Judaic values would ever do such a thing. It was simply a reflex action. Now Rogen in this time of COVID has awakened from his ethical slumber.


Jonathan S. Tobin writes in Haaretz

Like so many other celebrities who have gotten into trouble with wayward comments or tweets concerning the Jews and/or Israel, Seth Rogen now says he was misunderstood.

He may have been joking when he told host and fellow Jewish comedian Marc Maron on the hugely popular “WTF” podcast that the existence of Israel “doesn’t make sense to me.” But the response from much of the Jewish world was immediate and angry.

Coming on the heels of author Peter Beinart’s broadside published in The New York Times calling for replacing the Jewish state with a bi-national entity, a rant from an actor whose image and roles have generally portrayed him as a stereotypical Jew, seemed to be just one more indication of the growing divide between Israel and the Diaspora.

Critics of Israel couldn’t be faulted for jumping on the interview as proof of opposition to Zionism and the policies of the Netanyahu government. Rogen claimed that, “As a Jewish person I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel my entire life! They never tell you that — oh by the way, there were people there. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the fucking door’s open! … They forget to include the fact to every young Jewish person.”

Many of those pro-Israel voices that responded to Rogen emphasized what they rightly considered his seeming ignorance of the history that made a Jewish state a necessity.

A native of Vancouver, Canada, Rogen went to Jewish schools as well as a Jewish camp and his parents met while volunteering at a kibbutz in the 1970s.

The actor, says he doesn’t want anyone to think that he believes Israel shouldn’t exist even though that was the plain implication of his podcast comments. But his words resonated specifically because they are very much in tune with the opinions of the woke Jewish left that tends to predominate in Hollywood as well as among non-Orthodox Jews.

Despite the arguments of the Jewish left, the growing Israel-Diaspora divide has little to do with opinions about the settlers or even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closeness with President Donald Trump, who is despised by the vast majority of American Jews like Rogen. The difference between these two Jewish tribes goes far deeper than politics. The American Jewish problem with Israel is not with what it does but with what it is.

The two nations are bound together by support for the values of democracy and are natural allies in the context of the contemporary Middle East. But there is a profound difference between the American experiment in democracy, which is avowedly non-sectarian, and a nation state whose purpose is to provide a home and security for one specific people that had been persecuted for 20 centuries. Like most other nations on the planet, Israel is an expression of particularism. Its priority is to reconstitute and defend Jewish sovereignty in the ancient homeland of the Jews and not to be the last and best hope of all mankind.

The inherent tension between a state whose purpose is sectarian but which seeks to govern itself democratically and with respect for the rights of the religious and ethnic minorities within its borders is a perennial theme of Israeli debates. But even in its most idealized form, a particularist project such as Zionism has been a difficult sell for American Jews.

Having found a home in which not only were they were welcomed and granted free access to every sector of society but also in which the non-Jewish majority proved willing to marry them, it is unsurprising that many American Jews have always had difficulty coming to tP With non-Orthodox Judaism having embraced social justice as its primary focus, support for Jewish nationalism is at odds with the mindset of American Jewry’s leading activist and faith organizations.

The Holocaust and then the drama of Israel’s creation and early wars effectively squelched anti-Zionist sentiment as an active political force for a time. But that seeming consensus ended once the murder of six million Jews — who had no homeland to flee to before there was an Israel — was safely in the distant past.


Next post, Phil Weiss laments that Seth Rogen’s serious concerns about human rights and Zionism have turned into dispiriting Jewish shtik

Young Jews breaking away

Inn the time of Covid 19 and Black Lives Matter and with no sports to keep us distracted, more people are unpacking  the settler colonial movement of Zionism and the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people. 

To the consternation of their elders many of whom traded in the authentic values of Judaism for Zionism young Jews are discovering a deeper truth.

Among the latest is the Canadian actor, comedian Seth Rogen who recently unloaded on a podcast.

His confession is very similar those who now have had time to analyse their less  than honest education.

Rogen whose parents met on a kibbutz in Israel, says when he was younger he attended Jewish camp.he was told  that the Jewish state was created on on land that became the Jewish state but the fact that  Palestinians were living there was omitted I was fed a huge amount of lies about Israel.

They never tell you that, ‘Oh, by the way, there were people there’. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the fucking door’s open.”

More than 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes or fled fighting in the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation. Today, those families and their descendants make up around 5.6 million refugees

Younger than Rogen are Izzy Goldstein and Eli Green  who wrote

As 17-year-old Jewish-Americans, our formative experiences included our community trying to hide the ugly reality of Israel’s occupation from us. At Jewish Summer camp, we were told that Israel was the dream: a safe haven for the Jews, a democratic country with equality for all, a progressive oasis in the midst of a dangerous Middle East. But what about the Palestinians? 

Wedidn’t talk much about them, but when we did, we were told that the Jewish state was so committed to democracy that it even included Arabs in its Parliament. Conveniently left out of these conversations was the systematic and intentional denial or equal rights to Palestinian citizens of Israel and the brutal systems of occupation, siege, and apartheid that 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza live under.

But that was then. Now there are Jewish organizations that tell the truth. Since its small founding in 1996, today Jewish Voice for Peace has 60 chapters across the U.S. If Not Now holds regular training for young Jews on how to protest for Palestinian rights. CODEPINK and other organizations have been so effective in their campaigning that swaths of lawmakers no longer want to be associated with AIPAC.

Over 80% of Democrats believe that the U.S.-Israeli relationship should be questioned. Popular liberal Zionist Peter Beinart finally just embraced a one-state-solution. And Senator van Hollen — not known for being a leftist member of Congress — has legislation to condition U.S. military assistance to Israel so that it does not fund annexation.

on July 2, Van Hollen spoke on the Senate floor: “I do not believe that the United States government and the United States taxpayer should be aiding and abetting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan to unilaterally annex the West Bank.” he preached. That very same day, he introduced the amendment “Prohibiting U.S. Funds from Supporting Israeli Annexation of the West Bank,” adding it to the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

 While applying to colleges right now, we are proud to proclaim that our Jewish identity requires us to support the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. As we do all that we can to build a future that disavows racism in America, we cannot ignore that Israel is an all-out apartheid state that is funded and supported by the U.S. The way the DNC is trying to hide the Palestinian struggle is shameful and we can’t allow it.

Levy on Beinart

The sky is falling in the Zionist world. One state, impossible? There will be terrible violence as if palestinians have not already borne the brunt of the last settler colonial state. The wise man Gideon Levy lays out some common sense.

The New York Times (a day after the piece appeared in the paper’s U.S. print edition): “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.” No, the significance of this cannot be overstated. Peter Beinart, one of American Jewry’s most prominent liberal intellectuals, an observant Jew who was raised in a Zionist home, who was 28 when he became the editor of The New Republic, and who later became a senior columnist at Haaretz, has said goodbye to the two-state solution and in effect issued a divorce decree to Zionism, at least in its current format.

In an impressive essay that has already made waves in the United States, he writes: “It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.” Beinart is not a lone voice in the United States. American Jews are beginning, if belatedly, to take a clear-eyed look at Israel, its darling. The Democratic Party is also doing so, slowly. Now we can hope that Beinart’s op-ed will motivate more and more intellectuals and others to look honestly and bravely at reality, as he has done, and to say what is still considered heresy, a betrayal of Israel and not politically correct in the United States.

Beinart has seen the light. An end has come to years of a pleasant, intoxicating belief that it was possible to be a liberal Jew and still support Israel, by dint of the illusion of the two-state solution, which Israel and the U.S. never intended to carry out. Now Beinart too realizes that there is an inherent contradiction that cannot be resolved. As long as the occupation continues, no liberal, Jewish or not, can support Israel. Beinart realized that the die has been cast: The two-state solution died because of the irreversible number of settlers, to which the annexation plan was recently added. “The goal of equality is now more realistic than the goal of separation,” Beinart writes, expertly describing reality a moment before being attacked with the claim that the one-state solution isn’t realistic. (Anshel Pfeffer did so later  in Haaretz.)

Yes, the followers of the two-state solution are “realistic” and those who are for the one-state solution are delusional. It’s hard to think of a more delusional mirage. For 53 years there has been a single state here, its apartheid regime is becoming entrenched with sickening speed and to speak of regime changing in this single state is to speak unrealistically. When only two options remain, a single democratic state or an apartheid state, the democratic option doesn’t even come up for discussion in Israel, and barely does in the United States or the rest of the world.

The remnants of the imaginary possibility of a Palestinian state have long since been torn, but we must continue to hope for it, to long for it and to pray for its establishment. A Palestinian state? Where? How? Not here. Not now. Instead of launching the only struggle that offers a just vision – equality; one person, one vote – the liberals continue to sing paeans to a past that will never return, to a train that has left the station and will never return. Instead of taking the necessary conclusions, they continue to shut their eyes and scatter illusions. It’s more comfortable for everyone; for Israelis, for the Palestinian Authority and the world. A Palestinian state will surely come to be, just you wait and see.

The standard weapon of the “realists” for burying the last just solution is the threat of the terrible bloodshed that would occur in the binational state. The 53 years of the apartheid state generated the most terrible bloodshed of all. Things can only get better. Beinart, whose parents emigrated from South Africa, knows from history that when a government of equality is established in a binational state, and all its inhabitants win freedom and can exercise their rights, violence declines and even disappears. It happened in Northern Ireland as well as in South Africa. But the Zionist chorus will continue to paint a terrifying picture of the unknown and cling to the status quo, the steady, institutionalized situation of apartheid, which is the worst of all

Beinart misses the day when he saw Israel as a source of pride, like many Jews. Myself included. Now Beinart is himself a source of pride: an American Jew who heralds a change that gives hope.

Peter Beinart Doesn’t Go Far Enough Jeff Halper

Liberal Zionists are belatedly waking up to the only just alternative: a single state, shared by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. But if Israeli Jews won’t endorse a one state solution, will they have to be dragged unwillingly into it?

Whether or not annexation actually happens, it has already had far-reaching effects. 

It has forced liberal Zionists like Peter Beinart and Gershon Baskin, pro-Israel figures like Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel, and even some Israelis – albeit mainly readers of Haaretz – to confront the political and moral flaw at the heart of Zionism: its inability to reconcile Jewish national rights and Zionism’s exclusive claim to the Land of Israel, with the national rights and existence of the Palestinian people. 

This inherent conflict was evident and recognized from the very first days of Zionism. The essayist Ahad Ha-am wrote about it. As a member of Brit Shalom, Arthur Ruppin, the head of the Palestine Office of the World Zionist Organization, supported a bi-national state. Jabotinsky confronted it in his famous “Iron Wall” doctrine.

And in 1942, when the intention to establish a Jewish state (and not merely a “national home”) was finally admitted,

Ben-Gurion himself said plainly: “[This is a] decision based on force, a Jewish military decision…We want the Land of Israel in its entirety. That was the original intention.”

Indeed, the idea of “transfer” was in the air decades before the right-wing racist Meir Kahane and his followers arrived on the scene in the 1970s. Yosef Weitz, the Director of the Jewish National Fund’s Land Settlement Department and an architect of “Judaizing” Palestine, wrote in 1948: “It must be clear that there is no room in the country for both peoples…The only solution is a Land of Israel without Arabs….” 

Since 1967 the two-state solution played a key role in covering over this inherent, unavoidable and finally fatal flaw. As a tool of conflict management, it held out the illusion that Jewish claims to the Land of Israel and Palestinian claims to Palestine could somehow be reconciled.

We accept the “notion” of two states, we keep the illusion of “two sides” alive by creating a collaborationist Palestinian Authority, we negotiate (or not) forever, and in this way we avoid having to deal with the underlying reality that Zionism has set up a zero-sum game: either “we” win or “they” do. And in the midst of the stalemate we continue the 125-year Judaization of the country. 

Annexation did not expose the illusion – any informed person knew it existed – but rather made it impossible to sustain. The two-state solution rested on the notion of “occupation.” This implies that a country has taken control of a territory that does not belong to it and must be prepared to negotiate its final status, which may or may not result in annexation

International law does not permit unilateral annexation. For this reason Israel has always rejected the idea that it even has an occupation – it prefers to speak of “disputed territories,” a concept with no legal legitimacy – and therefore has never applied the Fourth Geneva Convention which prevents settlement, harming the local population and, of course, annexation. 

Ever the master in legal manipulation, Israel’s current government therefore rejects the term “annexation,” speaking instead of “extending Israel’s sovereignty.” Whatever it’s called, Israel’s intention of incorporating 30 percent of the West Bank makes it impossible to sustain the two-state illusion anymore.

And so the anguish of liberal Zionists. Where do we go from here? Peter Beinart has raised the possibility of a bi-national state in a New York Times op-ed and a longer Jewish Currents essay. “Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex parts of the land that Israel has brutally and undemocratically controlled for decades. And watching all this unfold, I have begun to wonder, for the first time in my life, whether the price of a state that favors Jews over Palestinians is too high,” he writes. 

“The painful truth is that the project to which liberal Zionists like myself have devoted ourselves for decades — a state for Palestinians separated from a state for Jews — has failed. The traditional two-state solution no longer offers a compelling alternative to Israel’s current path. It is time for liberal Zionists to abandon the goal of Jewish –Palestinian separation and embrace the goal of Jewish–Palestinian equality.”

Gershon Baskin, another leading voice of liberal Zionism and a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, recently published a piece entitled “Israel and Palestinians Must Join Forces in Creating a New Shared Vision.” That shared vision means a single state shared by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. 

A single state is the only alternative to what exists today, and what annexation plainly offers for the future: apartheid. Some have suggested confederation, but that fails for the same reason the two-state solution does, Israel is simply unwilling to provide the Palestinians with any meaningful political or economic space.   

Fortunately, there are Israelis and Palestinians who are giving Beinart, Baskin and, indeed, Israel itself, somewhere to go. The One Democratic State Campaign has formulated a political program that calls for a single democracy of equal rights, the homecoming of the refugees and the emergence of a shared civil society. It goes even further, recognizing that Zionism and Palestinian nationalism can co-exist within a pluralistic democracy – and both may eventually transform into something new, shared and vibrant. 

Will Israeli Jews buy into it? No, of course not. Why would they? To such a degree do they enjoy the benefits of an apartheid regime, that the occupation and Palestinian rights have been reduced to a non-issue. 

The refusal of most whites in South Africa to willingly dismantle apartheid resembles that of Israeli Jews. So Palestinians and the few Israeli partners that share the vision of a shared society must take a leaf from the ANC playbook. 

Like the ANC, we must create a direct link between the international public, for whom Palestinian rights is a major issue (including among a growing proportion of young Jews), and our one-state movement. In that way we render Israeli apartheid unsustainable, as the ANC did in South Africa, finally bringing the Israelis into the transition process when they have no choice but to cooperate.

The struggle for a single state, for justice, should be seen as a challenge to all of us, not as a threat. South Africans, the Northern Irish, Black and white Americans in Mississippi and many other peoples once locked in seemingly endless conflict discovered that when issues of inequality and justice are addressed, their “irresolvable” differences become manageable. 

Beinart, a die-heart Zionist to this day, reaches the only conclusion possible. “It’s time,” he says, “to envision a Jewish home that is a Palestinian home, too.” Zionism’s very purpose was to restore our self-determination. Well, here’s the challenge. 

Are we going to become actors in creating a state for all of us living in this country, in which we enjoy both democratic rights and, within that framework, a national life in our country shared with others, or will we have to be dragged unwillingly into it?

Jeff Halper is an Israeli anthropologist, head of the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions

Bob Rae liberal Zionist

Peter Larson’s column to follow is an excellent exposé of Bob Rae’s Zionism. Just as many young Jews are leaving the ersatz Zonist creed and returning to authentic Judaism and liberal Jews like Peter Beinart are acknowledging their historic blindness about Palestine, we are seeing the last gasps of tribal retrenchment among the old guard. Witness the sad but fruitless support of the longtime New York congressman Eliot Engel by Nancy Pelosi, Andrew Cuomo and that great israel supporter Hilary Clinton.

But never fear Canada and Justin Trudeau are sill holding on hanging on to a rear view reading of history. Note the JNF podium Rae stands behind, the Jewish National Fund


Bob Rae, Canada’s newly appointed Ambassador to the United Nations, is generally regarded as “progressive” on many issues. However there is one big exception – human rights for Palestinians. He is an active supporter of Israel and involved in many Zionist organizations in Canada and in Israel. Read more…

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Bob Rae, a respected former Canadian politician, as Canada’s new Ambassador to the United Nations. Rae is a skilled lawyer who is known for having adopted many progressive causes over his long career. Among other things, he was arrested defending the land claims of Indigenous People in Temagami, and most recently he investigated the expulsion of Rohingya Muslims from Mayanmar and pleaded for the rights of the refugees.

A talented and experienced negotiator Rae prides himself on understanding various sides of any issue. And when it comes to the Israel/Palestine conflict, Rae likes to show that he understands the “two narratives”. 

Rae travels to Israel regularly and is proud to say that he sometimes meets with senior Palestinian officials. 

But in words and deeds, he makes it clear he sides with Israel and supports Zionism.

Rae has been honoured with a doctorate from Haifa University in Israel (a distinction he shares with a few other well-known Canadian Zionists including Irwin Cotler, Jason Kenny and Avi Benlolo). 

He can be described as a “liberal” Zionist. He is a frequent speaker at events organized by J-Space Canada which describes itself as a “progressive” Zionist organization. J-Space supports the right of Jews to have a state which Jews control, based on the land that was taken from indigenous Palestinians in 1947/48. 

Most “progressive” or “liberal” Zionists hope that by letting Palestinians retain a small piece of historic Palestine (less than 22%), Israel’s right to control the rest will be secured. This is often referred to as the “Two State Solution”.)

In addition to his honorary doctorate, Rae is also a member of Haifa’s University’s Board of Governors. Its annual meeting brings together over 300 members from around the world every year. 

Haifa University is one of Israel’s most important. Among other things it is the home for Israel’s three military colleges which “form the backbone of the IDF’s elite training program”. According to the university’s newsletter, “This program is partially supported by donations from the Canadian Friends of Haifa University”, registered Canadian charity of which Rae is a member.

The IDF is responsible for the killing of thousands of Palestinians civilians. It seems odd that Canadian taxes should support foreign military colleges, particularly those whose graduates are being investigated for war crimes by the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Rae is on record as strongly opposing the legal and nonviolent Palestinian protest movement called Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS). Rae has said that BDS is “wrong at every level‘.

It is not clear which of 3 demands of the BDS movement Rae opposes. Is it:
• Its demand to “end the occupation” which is overwhelmingly supported by the UN General Assembly and by Canada’s official foreign policy?

• Its demand for “equality” for all citizens of Israel, whether Jewish or not? Equality and democracy are values that Canada supports around the world?

• Its demand for the “right of return” for the Palestinian refugees whose claim has been confirmed by the UN and endorsed by Canada’s official foreign policy (and would appear to be no less valid than that of the Rohingya refugees)?

Rae also helps fundraise for JNF Canada, a registered Canadian charity.   A recent CBC investigation found that JNF Canada is funding projects linked to the Israeli military. 

On November 24th 2019, Rae was a headliner at JNF Toronto’s 71st annual Negev Dinner.  “The event was a sold out success with 1,500 community members in attendance who all took a stand to help combat anti-Zionism and antisemitism,” according to the JNF FB page. Many JNF projects support the dispossession of Palestinians from the West Bank (including in Canada Park and East Jerusalem) and inside Israel itself through the actions of KKL Israel and its subsidiaries.

Rae’s views on the Israel/Palestine issue accurately reflect those of the two faces of the Trudeau government which, while publicly claiming to be “a friend of both Israel and the Palestinian people”, actually does the opposite. In fact, Canada supports Israel and undermines the Palestinians in dozens of hidden (and not so hidden) ways at the UN and elsewhere.

Every fall, a series of resolutions is presented to the UN General Assembly on the Israel Palestine issue. Canada regularly casts its lot with Israel, the USA, and a handful of tiny countries against the overwhelming majority of UN members. Based on his public record, we can expect that Mr. Rae will happily continue the pattern.


Beinart abandons 2 state

They stayed throughout the centuries and remained the people of the land with a dynamic identity. In the sense Palestinians today stand in historic continuity with biblical Israel .The native people of the land are the Palestinians.

faith in the Face of Empire, Mitri Reheb

Phil Weiss as usual puts it all in context

In the last day everyone has been talking about Peter Beinart’s article abandoning the two-state solution in Jewish Currents. Beinart says the effort to create a Palestinian state has failed, and it’s time for liberal Zionists to endorse equality between Jews and Palestinians. Beinart went further on Twitter, praising Ali Abunimah’s groundbreaking book of 2006, One Country, (which treated the two-state solution as apartheid), and in an op-ed in the New York Times today, in which Beinart deplores the idea of “separation” of Palestinians and Jews.

The goal of equality is now more realistic than the goal of separation. The reason is that changing the status quo requires a vision powerful enough to create a mass movement. A fragmented Palestinian state under Israeli control does not offer that vision. Equality can. Increasingly, one equal state is not only the preference of young Palestinians. It is the preference of young Americans, too.

Beinart pointedly abandons an argument that he had made on numerous occasions, that a binational state doesn’t work. Now he says what Yousef Munayyer said in his 2015 debate with Beinart, it won’t be easy but one democratic state has to be the vision.

Any discussion of Beinart’s shift must acknowledge his status and sincerity. This is a writer of establishment prominence. He was once Martin Peretz’s righthand man at The New Republic–so he had to be an ultra-Zionist. He gave private talks at AIPAC, the rightwing Israel lobby group. He wrote a book supporting the Iraq war, and later renounced his own position. His 2010 piece in The New York Review of Books on the failure of the American Jewish establishment, itemizing its moral collapse in enabling the occupation, was hugely significant in that Beinart was importing ideas from Walt and Mearsheimer and B’Tselem too into the mainstream. He followed that up with a book, “The Crisis of Zionism”, that opened with the author’s horror at Israeli human rights violations and later skewered DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for leading standing ovations for Netanyahu. Beinart became a hero at liberal Zionist gatherings. Young people wore t-shirts that said, Beinart’s Army, at J Street conferences.

Beinart’s stature in liberal Jewish communal life means that his new opinion represents a potential Walter Cronkite moment, as Robert Herbst puts it. The moment when America’s leading broadcaster came back from Vietnam in 1968 and said that America was not winning the war, it was a “bloody… stalemate;” and Lyndon Johnson famously said, he’d lost the country.

A lot of people will tell you that Beinart’s political revelations are not original, and while I agree, I would respond that he is charismatic and a gifted writer. I won’t forget him telling a large hall at J Street some years ago that if Israel/Zionism fails, Jews will be walking through the rubble of that error for generations… And here is a fine passage from the Jewish Currents piece:

For generations, Jews have seen a Jewish state as a tikkun, a repair, a way of overcoming the legacy of the Holocaust. But it hasn’t worked. To justify our oppression of Palestinians, Jewish statehood has required us to see them as Nazis. And, in that way, it has kept the Holocaust’s legacy alive. The real tikkun is equality, a Jewish home that is also a Palestinian home.

Beinart joins a list of liberal Zionists who have abandoned the two-state solution, and his joining that list means it is only going to grow. Some of the liberal Zionists who have preceded him are… Gershon Baskin in the Jerusalem Post last year:

Those of us in Israel who have supported and struggled to bring about a two-state solution are now forced to accept the new reality that [Netanyahu] will create, and we will have to join the ranks of the Palestinian people who will fight for democracy and equality in a non-nation-non-ethnic-secular state.

Ian Lustick in his book of last year, Paradigm Lost-– Lustick who had once been a two-state activist, now calling for a struggle for equal rights.

Or Eric Alterman saying that liberal Zionism is a contradiction in terms, in the Nation… Lara Friedman of Foundation for Middle East Peace, formerly of Americans for Peace Now, calling for sanctions… Larry Derfner publishing his book “No Country for Jewish Liberals” and supporting BDS…. or decades ago, anti-occupation legend Jeff Halper abandoning his Zionism…

Beinart’s defection from the two-state/separation camp puts huge pressure on the leading liberal-centrist Zionist organizations J Street, Americans for Peace Now, New Israel Fund, and Israel Policy Forum, to stop the beastly talk of “separation” and demographics and move further to the left. J Street is already under a ton of pressure. Its opposition to annexation has been lip service and ineffective, in the view of the alumni of its own youth branch, and these young people, many of them communal Jews, are surely exulting in Beinart’s new opinions– and trying to outdo him. I bet that IfNotNow endorses BDS before long…

Conservative Zionist David Harris lately complained that both the Jewish donors and Jewish bleachers are pressuring him to take a “macho” stand against Israel. Donors and bleachers both! The organized Jewish community is plainly in flux on Israel and the left can take credit for driving this discussion. Beinart’s endorsement of Ali Abunimah shows that the Palestinian narrative of Zionism is now in the Jewish tent, and it’s never leaving.