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.

Earthquake in Zion

Jonathan Ofer below hits the nail on the head when he describes the shock heard around the Zionist world: Peter Beinart has abandoned ship. The highly respected liberal Zionist  in the always Zionist paper of record the New York Times argues:

Israel has all but made its decision: one country that includes millions of Palestinians who lack basic rights. Now liberal Zionists must make our decision, too. It’s time to abandon the traditional two-state solution and embrace the goal of equal rights for Jews and Palestinians. It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.

Ofer writes

A major earthquake has been happening in the Zionist camp this past week.

Peter Beinart, Prince of ‘Liberal-Zionism’, published a nearly 7K-word essay in Jewish Currents titled “Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine”, explaining why he is abandoning the two-state solution. It was followed up by his much shorter piece in the New York Times titled “I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State”.

I don’t need to write an essay to explain just how deeply this cuts into the Zionist heart. Equality between Jews and Palestinians is anathema to Zionism, and abandoning the Jewish State is relinquishing the conceptual means by which this inequality is maintained.

These advocacies in general are not novel. Many others as well as this writer have been making them for years. But the person who is now voicing them is part of this story which makes it that much more explosive.  The prince has just abandoned the castle. Even though Beinart seems keen to soften the blow by suggesting that Zionism continue more as “essence” rather than “form”, that is, become a kind of cultural signifier without a Jewish nation-state as such, for Zionists today, this is still very much tantamount to a death blow.

And yet, the liberals can’t just throw Beinart off as yet another negligible anti-Semite cuckoo. They know he has too much clout for that. Thus come the attempts to both be respectful yet dissenting.

Chair of J Street Jeremy Ben Ami starts out with greetings then lowers the boom

“Peace process” personas such as Martin Indyk and Aaron David Miller express disapproval

These critics need to hold on to their orthodoxy in the face of this shift. Beinart has moved on from the charade of the two-state solution that only prolonged Israeli oppression, and he has abandoned the camp. Although he ostensibly offers Zionists, including himself, a conceptual refuge of identity in “essence” but not “form”, this is not a refuge these Zionists seek. They want to maintain that form.

Enter Anshel Pfeffer of Haaretz, and the critique becomes somewhat more crass.

Pfeffer’s Haaretz piece   is titled “Peter Beinart’s One State Solution Sounds So Perfect It’s Practically Utopian”, 

So, to recap Pfeffer:

Zionism is not about morals, but it is of course moral, and that’s beyond discussion. And it’s also beyond discussion currently, because it doesn’t exist anymore, and that’s why Beinart is wrong and utopian.

This is not just disingenuous argumentation – it is reactionary. “Our” pragmatism trumps all other moral considerations, because it’s singularly moral for us to survive, come what may.

Michael Sfard, Yesh Din and Israeli Apartheid

Just a couple of days after Beinart’s bombshell, came another, from another direction. The respected Israeli NGO Yesh Din which focuses on human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories published a legal opinion titled “The Occupation of the West Bank and the Crime of Apartheid”.

The claim: “[T]he crime against humanity of apartheid is being committed in the West Bank. The perpetrators are Israelis, and the victims are Palestinians.”


“Continued creeping legal annexation, let alone official annexation of a particular part of the West Bank through legislation that would apply Israeli law and administration there, is an amalgamation of the regimes. This could mean strengthening the argument, which already is being heard, that the crime of Apartheid is not committed only in the West Bank. That the Israeli regime in its entirety is an apartheid regime. That Israel is an Apartheid state.”

“Right. When I started writing the opinion, I had only Israel’s acts on the ground to prove its intention to perpetuate domination. For 50 years the Israeli government was saying the ‘right thing’ — that the occupation is temporary until peace agreements will replace the ceasefire agreements. But then the gap between the Israeli statements and the Israeli actions disappeared. With their own words, Israeli officials have shattered their own alibi — a very lousy alibi that couldn’t hide the deeds anyway. Today my work is much easier.”

This is a good moment to reflect upon Aaron David Miller’s “honest answer”, that there is “no way out”. Oh, it’s so much easier for the privileged stratum to say that there’s just “no way out” and “no solution”, when that “no solution” is by default an acceptance of Apartheid, without one having to say so explicitly. Moshe Dayan said it a bit more clearly in 1967. He proposed saying to Palestinians:

“We don’t have a solution, and you will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants will go, and we’ll see how this procedure will work out”.

The education of Peter Beinart

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.

Peter Beinart

The Jewish monolith is crumbling thanks to the  appalling arrogance of Israeli leaders who kept thumbing their nose at international law and pouring illegal settlers  (“facts on the ground”) into Palestinian territory. The world conveniently turned away as a whole society was destroyed.

Now the two state solution is dead and there is only one way forward, a democratic country  where no religious group is privileged, one person, one vote. That’s what a democratic state is.

Peter Beinart  is a liberal Zionist  whose analysis of the chaos created by Great Britain  only begins in 1967. Like  many Zionists he has never dealt with the original sin of 1948, the dispossession of 750,000 indigenous Palestinians by Jews from Central Europe. His vision has improved.

I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State NYT July 8 Peter Beinart

For decades I argued for separation between Israelis and Palestinians. Now, I can imagine a Jewish home in an equal state.

I was 22 in 1993 when Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn to officially begin the peace process that many hoped would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. I’ve been arguing for a two-state solution — first in late-night bull sessions, then in articles and speeches — ever since.

I believed in Israel as a Jewish state because I grew up in a family that had hopscotched from continent to continent as diaspora Jewish communities crumbled. I saw Israel’s impact on my grandfather and father, who were never as happy or secure as when enveloped in a society of Jews. And I knew that Israel was a source of comfort and pride to millions of other Jews, some of whose families had experienced traumas greater than my own.

One day in early adulthood, I walked through Jerusalem, reading street names that catalog Jewish history, and felt that comfort and pride myself. I knew Israel was wrong to deny Palestinians in the West Bank citizenship, due process, free movement and the right to vote in the country in which they lived. But the dream of a two-state solution that would give Palestinians a country of their own let me hope that I could remain a liberal and a supporter of Jewish statehood at the same time.

Events have now extinguished that hope.

About 640,000 Jewish settlers now live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the Israeli and American governments have divested Palestinian statehood of any real meaning. The Trump administration’s peace plan envisions an archipelago of Palestinian towns, scattered across as little as 70 percent of the West Bank, under Israeli control. Even the leaders of Israel’s supposedly center-left parties don’t support a viable, sovereign Palestinian state. The West Bank hosts Israel’s newest medical school.

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fulfills his pledge to impose Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, he will just formalize a decades-old reality: In practice, Israel annexed the West Bank long ago.

Israel has all but made its decision: one country that includes millions of Palestinians who lack basic rights. Now liberal Zionists must make our decision, too. It’s time to abandon the traditional two-state solution and embrace the goal of equal rights for Jews and Palestinians. It’s time to imagine a Jewish home that is not a Jewish state.

Equality could come in the form of one state that includes Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, as writers such as Yousef Munayyer and Edward Said have proposed; or it could be a confederation that allows free movement between two deeply integrated countries. (I discuss these options at greater length in an an essay in Jewish Currents). The process of achieving equality would be long and difficult, and would most likely meet resistance from both Palestinian and Jewish hard-liners.

The process of achieving equality would be long and difficult, and would most likely meet resistance from both Palestinian and Jewish hard-liners.

But it’s not fanciful. 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.

Critics will say binational states don’t work. But Israel is already a binational state. Two peoples, roughly equal in number, live under the ultimate control of one government. (Even in Gaza, Palestinians can’t import milk, export tomatoes or travel abroad without Israel’s permission.) And the political science literature is clear: Divided societies are most stable and most peaceful when governments represent all their people.

That’s the lesson of Northern Ireland. When Protestants and the British government excluded Catholics, the Irish Republican Army killed an estimated  1,750 people between 1969 and 1994. When Catholics became equal political partners, the violence largely stopped. It’s the lesson of South Africa, where Nelson Mandela endorsed armed struggle until Blacks won the right to vote.

That lesson applies to Israel-Palestine, too. Yes, there are Palestinians who have committed acts of terrorism. But so have the members of many oppressed groups. History shows that when people gain their freedom, violence declines. In the words of Michael Melchior, an Orthodox rabbi and former Israeli cabinet member who has spent  more than a decade forging relationships with leaders of Hamas, “I have yet to meet with somebody who is not willing to make peace.”

Rabbi Melchior  recently told me that he still supports a two-state solution, but his point transcends any particular political arrangement: It is that Palestinians will live peacefully alongside Jews when they are granted basic rights.

What makes that hard for many Jews to grasp is the memory of the Holocaust. As the Israeli scholar Yehuda Elkana, a Holocaust survivor, wrote in 1988, what “motivates much of Israeli society in its relations with the Palestinians is not personal frustration, but rather a profound existential ‘Angst’ fed by a particular interpretation of the lessons of the Holocaust.” This Holocaust lens leads many Jews to assume that anything short of Jewish statehood would mean Jewish suicide.

But before the Holocaust, many leading Zionists did not believe that. “The aspiration for a nation-state was not central in the Zionist movement before the 1940s,” writes the Hebrew University historian Dmitry Shumsky in his book, “Beyond the Nation-State.” A Jewish state has become the dominant form of Zionism. But it is not the essence of Zionism. The essence of Zionism is a Jewish home in the land of Israel, a thriving Jewish society that can provide refuge and rejuvenation for Jews across the world.

That’s what my grandfather and father loved — not a Jewish state but a Jewish society, a Jewish home.

Israel-Palestine can be a Jewish home that is also, equally, a Palestinian home. And building that home can bring liberation not just for Palestinians but for us, too.

Peter Beinart (@PeterBeinart) is a professor of journalism and political science at the Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY and editor at large of Jewish Currents.


Where are the Liberal politicians afraid to defend international law?

Where are the Tories also MIA as Palestine burns?

Bravo to the Independent Jewish Voices for standing in the footsteps of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos et al

Israel is not a Jewish state, it is a Zionist state built on the dispossession of an indigenous people.

The world is now waking up to this massive, ongoing injustice which flies in the face of the universal ethical values of biblical, prophetic Judaism.

Canadian politicians representing nearly 60 MPs sign pledge opposing Israeli annexation plans

July 7, 2020 IJV Canada


Tuesday 7 July 2020 – Canadian politicians representing nearly 60 Members of Parliament have signed a pledge calling on the government to “show meaningful opposition” to Israeli plans to annex portions of the occupied Palestinian territory. The pledge also called on the government to “consider all reasonable diplomatic and economic options to stop annexation and prompt Israeli compliance with international law.” 

A total of 29 MPs have signed onto the pledge, including the foreign affairs critics of three out of four opposition parties, a few Liberals and one Independent. The number of MPs represented is expanded to 57, considering that three MPs affiliated with the Bloc Québecois–Stéphane Bergeron, Mario Beaulieu and Alexis Brunelle-Duceppe–signed on behalf of the entire Bloc caucus of 32.  

The pledge is the product of an online email campaign launched by several high profile civil society organizations representing millions of Canadians, including the United Church of Canada, the Canadian Labour Congress, Mennonite Central Committee, the Canadian Federation of Students, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East and Independent Jewish Voices (IJV). Nearly 6500 Canadians have participated in the campaign thus far.

“This pledge should send a strong message to the Trudeau government that words are not enough and that serious action is required,” said Corey Balsam, IJV National Coordinator. 

Trudeau has expressed that his government opposes annexation, but has yet to announce any measures to either dissuade or punish Israel if it proceeds. As recently as in May, Trudeau discussed strengthening relations with Israel and building on the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), which includes settlements in the occupied West Bank that Israel intends to annex.

“If Canada is serious about its opposition to annexation, it needs to do something about it,” said Balsam. “The Trudeau government has imposed sanctions and spoken out forcefully against Russia for annexing Crimea. It would only be consistent for it to act in a similar way with respect to Israel.” 

Canadian MP signatories join hundreds of European politicians who have signed on to statements opposing annexation, including a letter signed by 130 UK MPs calling on the Johnson government to “make clear publicly to Israel that any annexation will have severe consequences including sanctions.” Palestinian civil society has also called for sanctions.

A recent IJV-sponsored EKOS poll showed that 74% of Canadians want the government to express opposition to Israeli annexation, and 42% want to impose economic and/or diplomatic sanctions should Israel’s plan proceed.

The MP Pledge campaign is still open for signatures.

“It’s not too late for MPs to stand on the right side of history, concluded Balsam, “but the window may soon close.”

For the full list of pledge endorsements, click here. For media requests, please contact

It’s Palestine,stupid : Salutin

It was  nice to see Rick Salutin the former rabbinical student state what  other columnists or editorial writers won’t dare say about Trudeau’s snub  for the Security Council seat. It’s Palestine, stupid! 

Salutin, like Philip Roth and Mordecai Richler has always been a pain in the ass  to the Jewish community and he seldom writes about Israel any more but the column below was a welcome riposte. 

In the 90s Mordecai Richler left the Zionist train.While admiring many accomplishments of the state he told the truth “that  much of it was achieved on land where another people, however unambitious, was rooted. ‘And their failure to cultivate their gardens does not justify their displacement by a stiff-necked people turning up and saying, “This is the turf God Almighty promised me and mine thousands of years ago. we took it by force of arms  in the first place…Now we’re back, what’s left of us so move over or get out.”

Over the years those three scribblers drove  the tribalists crazy and then moved on, tired of the drubbing they got  of the  “self-hating Jews” rap.

In this day of plunging print subscribers  no mass circulation paper wishes to offend the Zionist truth squad which gets angrier week by week as Israel continues to shoot itself in its head with  its failure to deal with the elephant in the room, the brutal occupation. This is the grievous original sin which created the state, and produced  the Nakba, the  catastrophic dispossession of 750,000 indigenous Palestinians.

What is really bugging the Jewish establishment  is not so much old guys like Salutin but the defection of their children from the false Zionist narrative which took the place of the  universal values of Judaism.The kids have woken from this bad dream and rediscovered the true beating heart of Judaism, social justice. Salutin, partially edited,  follows below. Globe June 25.


There is one and only one reason, IMO, for the resounding defeat of Canada’s bid for a Security Council seat at the UN: Palestine. It has been a UN focus — almost obsession — since the vote for partition in 1948, though it’s taken various forms. The current version is opposition to Israel’s intention to annex large chunks of the occupied territories that it conquered 53 years ago, on which it has planted many settlements.

UN attention to this issue is so intense that you can readily access voting stats of contenders for the seat, the way you could once check how teams are doing in the sports world. So, just in this century, on votes backing, somehow or other, the Palestinian cause, our rivals for the seat, Ireland and Norway, voted yes 251 and 249 times, while Canada did so 87 times — and 85 of those were from 2000 to 2010. Post-2010, one of our only two yes votes came last December, with the Security Council vote looming. So that might merit an asterisk, like this year’s World Series winner, if it’s played.

On these effectively “pro-Palestinian” motions, Canada voted no 166 times. The other two never did.

None of the other arguments mounted by critics, especially Canadians, really mattered: our failure on climate targets, the government purchase of a honking big pipeline company, or our mining companies that ravage African and Latin American countries. Those countries though, have many votes at the UN and long memories of bitter settler and colonial experiences.

I’m not saying former colonies are morally pure. Power warps everyone and foreign policy is a swamp. But Palestinian rights are iconic in most of the world, as opposing apartheid once was. That regime’s few supporters, like the U.S. and U.K., used to complain there were lots of situations as bad or worse that didn’t get the same attention. Canada made a similar argument to justify why it voted against pro-Palestinian resolutions: that they unfairly singled out Israel.

In the vote for the Security Council seat, it was irrelevant. The world has made up its mind on this. Can’t anyone at Fort Pearson count?

Liberals whose judgment I trust have told me the main reason for the “anti-Palestinian” tilt is electoral concern about a batch of ridings that Stephen Harper snatched by portraying himself as a staunch “friend of Israel.” If that’s how they want to play it, fine. But I don’t understand why they thought they could pull off a Security Council seat with the lofty slogan “Canada is Back.” The problem isn’t the hypocrisy; that’s perfectly normal. But it’s stupid and obtuse.

They show a similar dimness on their other high-minded promises, like our climate obligations or rectifying the relationship with Indigenous peoples, which would mean eliminating the Indian Act. Or Justin’s proud boast in 2015 that we’d never see another first-past-the post election. They dropped that casually one day as they crossed the street and haven’t mentioned it since.

Oddly, the one area where they’ve been brave and bold is their economic response since COVID. They’ve shaken off the timidity about deficits that hobbled Chrétien and Martin, and which makes all Tories cower. And given the money not to the rich, as in 2008, but to those in real need, for the most part.

Do I have a theory on why they’ve unexpectedly done that in the face of the rest of their rancid record? Not a clue, I’m afraid.

Canada’s embarrassment at U.N. shows there’s a price for bowing to Israel lobby

Not wishing to antagonise the outsize power of the Canadian Zionist power brokers, both the Star and the Globe did their level best to totally ignore the obvious reason for Canada’s failure to get a seat on  the  UN Security Council. It’s Palestine, stupid! Then there’s our ridiculous $14 billion arms  sales to the peace-loving Saudis killing Yemenis at  breath taking speed. Add to this our chintzy foreign aid (0.3%) never ever approaching the !% agree to decades ago.

The real game changer is Palestine and there can be little doubt that Canada would  have done Israel’s bidding as she always has.   The fact that we bought the shameless IHRA definition of antisemitism which conflates BDS  with anti-Semitism is cause enough to distrust our genuflecting to the oppressive policies of Israel, its scorning of international law and persistent human rights abuses

Yves Engler  laid it all out.

Canada’s embarrassment at U.N. shows there’s a price for bowing to Israel lobby

Canada’s defeat in its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council is a major victory for Palestinian solidarity. It also puts Canada’s Israel lobby on the defensive.

Israeli politicians and commentators have begun to publicly bemoan the loss, to rivals Ireland and Norway, which will gain seats on the council. Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, told the Jerusalem Post, “we are disappointed that Canada didn’t make it, both because we have close ties with the country and because of the campaign that the Palestinians ran against Canada.” In another story in that paper headlined, “With annexation looming, Canada’s UNSC upset is bad news for Israel, US,” Deputy Managing Editor Tovah Lazaroff labels Canada’s loss “a sharp reminder of the type of diplomatic price tag Israel’s allies can suffer on the international stage.”

Inside Canada the Security Council defeat is a blow to the Israel lobby. While the Canadian media has generally minimized the impact Canada’s anti-Palestinian position had on the vote, the subject is being raised. In a Journal de Québec column titled “Why did Canada suffer a humiliating defeat at the UN?” Norman Lester writes, “it is the support of the Trudeau Liberal government for Israel, like that of Harper before him, that is probably the main reason for Ottawa’s two successive setbacks. Ireland and Norway have more balanced policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than Canada.” He concludes the article by noting, “Canada has no chance of returning to the Security Council in the foreseeable future unless there is a radical change in its position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

By acquiescing almost entirely to the ‘Israel no matter what’ outlook of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and B’nai B’rith, the Trudeau government undercut its bid for a seat on the UN’s highest decision-making body. The Israel lobby’s point people in the Liberal caucus, Anthony Housefather and Michael Levitt, are no doubt hoping to avoid too much blowback for their role in this embarrassment. 

Housefather ought to be prodded on his contribution to the Trudeau government’s anti-Palestinian voting record at the UN since he repeatedly boasted that it was more pro-Israel than Stephen Harper’s.

Canada’s voting record at the UN was at the heart of the grassroots No Canada on the UN Security Council campaign. An open letter launching the campaign from the Canadian Foreign Policy Institute noted, “since coming to power the Trudeau government has voted against more than fifty UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights backed by the overwhelming majority of member states.” A subsequent open letter was signed by over 100 civil society groups and dozens of prominent individuals urging countries to vote against Canada’s bid for a Security Council seat due to its anti-Palestinian positions. That letter organized by Just Peace Advocates stated, “the Canadian government for at least a decade and a half has consistently isolated itself against world opinion on Palestinian rights at the UN. … Continuing this pattern, Canada ‘sided with Israel by voting No’ on most UN votes on the Question of Palestine in December. Three of these were Canada’s votes on Palestinian Refugees, on UNRWA and on illegal settlements, each distinguishing Canada as in direct opposition to the ‘Yes’ votes of Ireland and Norway.”

Just Peace Advocates organized 1,300 individuals to email all UN ambassadors asking them to vote for Ireland and Norway instead of Canada for the Security Council. In a sign of the campaign’s impact, Canada’s permanent representative to the UN Marc André Blanchard responded with a letter to all UN ambassadors defending Canada’s policy on Palestinian rights.

Not only has Canada’s voting record on Palestinian rights undercut its standing within the General Assembly, the Canadian public doesn’t want the government pursuing anti-Palestinian positions. A recent Ekos poll found that 74% of Canadians wanted Ottawa to express opposition to Israel’s plan to formally annex a large swath of the West Bank with 42% of the public desiring some form of economic and/or diplomatic sanction against Israel if it moves forward with annexation. “The Trudeau government has not only isolated Canada from international opinion regarding Palestinian rights at the UN, but its positions contravene the wishes of most Canadians regarding the long-beleaguered Palestinians,” explained Karen Rodman of Just Peace Advocates.

While the impact of the loss shouldn’t be exaggerated, Justin Trudeau’s brand is linked to the idea that he is liked internationally. Additionally, the Liberals’ base supports the UN and the international body is closely connected with how they market their foreign policy.

Kowtowing to CIJA, B’nai B’rith and Israeli nationalists such as Housefather, Levitt, etc. on Palestinian rights at the UN helped scuttle Canada’s Security Council bid — that’s a fact Trudeau and the Liberals must face. More important, the international community’s rejection of a government enthralled to the Israel lobby weakens Israel diplomatically and is a victory for Palestine solidarity.

Murder in Minneapolis and Hebron

When a Jewish child is hurt, all of Israel shakes, when a Palestinian child is hurt, Israel yawns.

Gideon Levy

If an Israeli soldier shoots a Palestinian in the head in Hebron, and there’s no camera to film the act, does he still become “man of the year?”

+972 Magazine

In the USA and literally around the world visceral anger took to the streets over the murder of Afro-American Floyd George.Caught on camera by an unidentified Afro-American woman, it brought to the surface the generational institutional racism of American police forces.

A few days after Minneapolis, Gideon Levy wrote 

In Jerusalem’s Old City, Eyad Hallaq, a 32-year-old autistic man, was on his way to the Elwyn Center for disabled people. Border Police officers claimed they believed he was holding a gun – there was none – and when they called out for him to stop, he started running. The penalty was death. The Border Police, the most brutal of all units, knows no other way to overpower a fleeing autistic Palestinian except to execute him. The cowardly Border Police officers fired some 10 bullets into Hallaq as he fled, until he died. That’s how they always act. That’s what they’ve been trained to do.

But this wanton and cruel act was nothing compared to the cowardly murder of Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron on March 24,2016. The Palestinian al-Sharif was laying prone on the ground, totally incapacitated when he was shot in the head, killed by a 20 year old medic Elor Azaria, who then shook hands with Baruch Marzel, a notorious, violent ultra-nationalist who lives in an illegal settlement in Hebron.

Like Derek Chauvin,  the policeman who lynched George Floyd, Azaria was  also caught on film by a real “Jew of Conscience” a volunteer from excellent Human Rights  group B’Tselem named  Imad Abu-Shamsiyeh. This video too went viral with quite different results.

Instead of becoming a cowardly pariah, to many in Israel Azaria was cheered and supported from the top down. The far-right ministers in Netanyahu’s coalition immediately demanded a pardon and  the culture minister, Miri Regev, said he should not have faced a criminal trial. 

Despite massive support from the right wing the senior military officers now under a global spotlight, pushed for his conviction and the three-judge military panel responded with  a slap on the wrist conviction of 18 months making it clear clear Azaria was a serial liar who changed his stories about the circumstances of the killing on multiple occasions.

He was back on the street in nine months

The Prime Minister Netanyahu crowed, “I called for a full pardon for Elor Azaria from day one,” as he embraced the “Hebron shooter’s” entire family. At his home in Ramle, southeast of Tel Aviv,  he was greeted with Israeli flags and signs saying “It’s so good to have you home, the soldier of us all,” and “Welcome home, Elor the hero.”

A Tel Aviv club owner said he is cheered every time he appears, people demand to have their picture taken with him.

Such a national treasure. The night club owner told the press:

“In my opinion, he is an Israeli hero. My brothers and I served in the Golani [Brigade] and we would do exactly the same thing that he did, or even shooting off some more bullets.” 

The American billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s media outlet Makor Rishon, selected Azaria as one of their people of the year. As well  a Jewish American millionaire offered him an all expenses paid vacation.The Israeli news site Mako wrote that Azaria regularly converses with other Israelis serving in the military, who turn to him for guidance about how Palestinians should be treated.

Two additional observations here.

Azaria is the son of a Moroccan Jew.This alone is significant for two reasons.

First, he  is a classic example of the “black peons” despised by the Ashkenazi elite.The Mizrahim as Arab Jews are called, were taught to despise  other Arabs..They are literally de-Arabized so they can fit in and please  a society dominated by the dominant Ashkenazim.This immature 20 year old is a classic case of self-hatred.

Secondly, poor Azaria was a medic, sworn to deliver aid to anybody in distress. All Israeli medics are trained to treat with respect, and to consider their  “actions with understanding, wisdom, and love of humanity.” Azaria has shown no remorse for his killing of a “terrorist murderer.”

Azaria was convicted, his defence was justifiably mocked by the three judge military panel and it was clear he was a serial liar who changed his stories about the circumstances of the killing on multiple occasions.

Palestinian Knesset member Yousef Jabareen at said the expressions of support for the soldier “turn Azaria from being a murderer into a hero and lay the ground for the next murder. It was  “outrageous” that he was released  today (May 7,2018) after nine months of incarceration. “His release  sends the difficult message that the blood of the Palestinian is up for grabs.”

Compare this embarrassing miscarriage  with  that of Derek Chauvin and Garrett Rolfe, the officer who fatally shot 27-year-old Rayshard Brooksi in Atlanta  and who has been charged with felony murder.

Gideon Levy sums it up

There, they shoot black people, whose blood is cheap, and in Israel they shoot Palestinians, whose blood is even cheaper. But here, the killing puts us to sleep; there it sparks protest. The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, who happens to be Jewish, was quick to apologize to the black community of his city.

Robert Fisk cheers Independent Jewish Voices

Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) tired  of Jewish officialdom’s blindness on Palestinian suffering and the betrayal of Judaism’s ethical code only began  twelve years ago in 2008. The organisation is a model of integrity and intelligence on how society must change and how putative Jewish leaders have to cease being PEPS, progressive except for Palestine. The silence of the rabbinate and Jewish organizations on this matter  is sad to watch. Tribalism is no substitute for prophetic biblical speaking.

Young people justly calling for similar change in societal structures would be wise to follow IJV.

On June 10 we saw an excellent example of IJV’s impact when the British journalist Robert Fisk flagged their prophetic witness on the Trudeau government’s absolute craven approach to both Israel’s perennial snubbing of international law and Canada’s unwarranted position on the UN’s Security Council. Fisk below.

Justin Trudeau’s government has offered up nothing but empty words over Israel’s annexation plans.

The brave and pioneering Independent Jewish Voices was the first to cry “Whoa, boy!” at Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s pusillanimous response to Israel’s projected annexation of much of the occupied West Bank. “Given Trudeau’s frankly disappointing record on the Israeli-Palestinian file,” IJV said cynically, “we are relieved to some extent that he even went so far as hinting at concerns over the annexation plan.” But it wasn’t much of a hint.

Maybe Trudeau, the liberal dream, the clean new voice of Canada which followed the long and dark years of Conservative rule under Stephen Harper – who equated even criticism of Israel with antisemitism – is worried about Donald Trump. Or too deep in the toils of Covid-19. But all he’s done since the Benjamin Netanyahu-Benny Gantz revolving-chair premiership in Israel, which promises to gobble up even greater tracts of Arab land for colonisation, is to congratulate the happy pair on their political marriage. And waffle a bit about – ahem – “the rules-based international order” to which Canada is supposedly committed in the Middle East.

International Jewish Voices-Canada – whose courageous defence of human rights in what was Palestine is second to none – has stated quite baldly that Netanyahu’s annexation plan is an attempt to see how far Israel “can push its immunity on the world stage”. Given the EU’s pitiful reaction to the colonial ambitions of Netanyahu and Gantz – much huffing and puffing about labelling products from Jewish settlements and the possibility of cuts in scientific funding – it’s therefore a relief to find that IJV is not alone.

For now along come 58 former Canadian diplomats, ex-ministers and politicians with a rousing letter urging Trudeau “to protect Canada’s good name in the international community by speaking loudly and clearly on this issue”. John Allen, who was Harper’s first ambassador to Israel, is among the signatories and has told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that annexation “is likely to provoke the collapse of the Palestinian Authority” but also represents a threat “to Israel and its future as a Jewish and democratic state”.

The fact that former ambassadors to Israel who served under both Conservative and Liberal Canadian governments have signed the letter – as well as other diplomats who have endured postings in the Middle East – makes this an unprecedented demarche. Despite the Harper interregnum, millions of Canadians still believe that their country should concentrate on peacekeeping, international law and even neutrality in the Middle East.

On taking office, Trudeau swiftly abandoned Harper’s one-sided perspective on the region and put a stop to all Canadian military air operations there. But even the Canadian foreign ministry – now cringingly called “Global Affairs Canada” – could produce only a silky reply to the former diplomats which claimed that the Canadian government was “very concerned that Israel moving forward with unilateral annexation would be damaging to peace negotiations and contrary to international law”.

“Concern” is somewhat less than the Trudeau administration expresses over Russia’s continued annexation of Crimea. Only three months ago, Canada’s foreign minister Francois-Philippe Champagne marked the sixth anniversary of what it called “this violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and of international law”. And he added much condemnation of Russian human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, torture and detentions in the annexed territory – over which Canada has imposed severe sanctions.

Furthermore, suggesting that the unilateral annexation – in other words, further land theft – might be “damaging” to peace negotiations, is preposterous. If one set of negotiators is stealing territory from the other set of negotiators (“unilaterally”, as Canada points out), it means there is no peace to be had. There was a time when Canada, the US and the EU described the building of such settlements on Arab Palestinian land as “unhelpful” to peace – but this latest reply to the ex-diplomats is ridiculous.

Their letter begins in very sober fashion. “We are writing to you as retired Canadian diplomats, proud of Canada’s historical commitment to multilateral institutions and its reputation for supporting the rule of law,” it says. “As you know, Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced publicly his intention to ‘annex’ in the coming weeks a significant amount of land that Canada, and the international community, recognise as Occupied Palestinian Territory … Territorial conquest and annexation are notorious for contributing to fateful results: war, political instability, economic ruin, systematic discrimination and human suffering.”