Sunday, December 30, 2007

Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's "Rabbinic Guide to 40 Years of Occupation": Methadone for the Masses?

Sam Bahour sent around Brit Tzedek v'Shalom's booklet, curiously titled, "Rabbinic Guide to 40 Years of Occupation" (What they meant was "A Guide for Rabbis"). The booklet is "aimed at encouraging hundreds of rabbis across the United States to use the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War to lead their congregations in reflecting on the implications of Israeli occupation."

I read quickly through the Guide, and, as usual, came away with mixed feelings. On the one hand, one finds the usual liberal Zionist credo that Israel's fall from grace began in 1967, or more accurately, with the beginning of the settlement movement, the Original Sin. The nostalgia for the "paradise" that existed before 1967 is palpable in the booklet.

The Guide has poems, memoirs, and statements from sixteen Jews and two Palestinians. Not surprisingly, the only two mentions of 1948 are by the Palestinians, one of whom points out, correctly, that the tragedy of 1967 grew out of the tragedy of 1948. Well, those numbers aren't exactly correct: one of the Jews mentions 1948 when he writes "The period from 1948-1967 established Israel is a fact." So much for the Nakba, and the eradication of Palestine by the Jewish state within the armistic lines.

And yet...there is much in the pamphlet to commend. Brit Tzedek ve-Shalom is tuned into a lot of the activism that is going on in Israel, and uses their knowledge to fine effect. The raison d'etre of the booklet is the list provided of Israeli organizations that sponsor tours to the Occupied Territories. (The organization "Encounter" is not listed. Why not?) Yes, the narrative is entirely liberal Zionist (Prof. Irwin Wall's short history occasionally cites the Palestinian viewpoint, but in its selectivity and choice of language, it is clearly a partisan document.) Still, given that the organized Jewish community is so far to the right, anything to its left is commendable.

Frankly, I look at documents like these -- and other positions taken by liberal Zionists in the US -- as akin to methodone. They are useful for weaning American Jews from the truly dangerous Israeli spin and mythology. But they are also dangerous and addictive in their own right. If the authors say to themselves, "Well, we have to sound 'balanced' in order to be heard," I can clench my mouth shut and support the effort. Ever the wimpy liberal (I have decided to support Obama rather than Hilary, so you can see how "left" I am), I can still hope that, despite their repeated failures of forty years, the liberal Zionists will make a dent in the Occupation.

But if the authors actually believe that 1967 is the root of all evils, and that 1947, or 1917, or even 1897, had nothing to do with 1967 -- well, then they are part of the problem and not the solution. And, like so many times, in the past, the next Intifada will knock them off-balance, disappoint them (remember the "disappointed left" last time?), and send them back to the tribal tent -- only to reemerge after the next quiet spell.

For remember -- you can be against the Occupation, think it a disaster for Israel, feel sorry for the Palestinians -- and still be a liberal hawk, or a neocon. Some of my worst enemies oppose the Occupation.

Are you, liberal Zionists, going to stand with them when the going gets tough, as you have done for the last sixty years (mirroring the ever-recurring collapse of the Israeli "left" in support of the short-sighted and disastrous policies of Israel's "chauvinist center (ha-merkaz ha-leumani)" to use Hayim Baram's well-chosen phrase)?

Or are you going to stand with the Palestinians and Israelis who put everything, including Zionism, on the table, who want a historical reconciliation based on 1897, not 1967?

19 comments:

GBacharach said...

Israel’s international “birth certificate” was validated by the promise of the Bible; uninterrupted Jewish settlement from the time of Joshua onward; the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the League of Nations Mandate, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration; the United Nations partition resolution of 1947; Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949; the recognition of Israel by most other states; and, most of all, the society created by Israel’s people in decades of thriving, dynamic national existence.

^ From the excellent Myths and Facts.



Didnt the Palestinians start a war against the Jewish state?

Didnt Israel lose 1 percent of its population in that war?

Didnt the Palestinians prevent immigration to Israel/Palestine causing many Jews to die?

Didnt the mutifi, considered the voice of the Palestinian people Edward Said, ally with Nazis and according to many sources cased the deaths of many Jews?

Didnt many palestinians support pan-arabism, as in they didnt want a state?

Didnt the Arab states cause there to be more Jewish refugees than there were Palestinian refugees?

Didnt widespread Palestinian nationalism not exsist untill 1967?

Didnt Jordan and Egypt control for 20 years what is now considered the palestinian territories? Why didnt anyone care untill Israel took control?!

Didnt those same Arab states that opposed the division of Palestine support the creation of Pakistan?(It seems to be in the news right now).

"who want a historical reconciliation based on 1897, not 1967?"

Here's the problem; you want to go back a century! That is ridiculous. Palestine was not empty that year but it wasn't full. Not even close. But that's besides the point. You want to go back a century!

Ill conclude by asking you this question: If the Palestinians had won the 1948 war(which they started) what would have happened to the Jews in Palestine?

Jonathan Mark said...

The Palestinian case as put forward in the United States is almost always based upon ending the occupation of the West Bank, after which the Palestinians will supposedly accept the existence of Israel.

Therefore, according to this theory, Israel is to blame for the conflict, since if only it would withdraw from the West Bank then there would be peace.

To the extent that Palestinian activists demand more than a mere withdrawal from land and insist upon land-plus-right-of-return-plus... (MZ says something about injustices from 1897!) they undercut the Palestinian cause as most Americans understand that cause.

I personally think that it is good when Palestinian activists demand more than just the return land captured in 1967, if that is what those activists really insist upon.

There is no benefit to Israel in its critics putting on a false pretense of moderation.

Jerry Haber said...

gbachrach, once again your comment has little to do with my post. But since I am in an expansive mood, I will answer yur questions.

>Didnt the Palestinians start a war against the Jewish state?

No.

>Didnt Israel lose 1 percent of its population in that war?

I don't know. Do you know the percentage of the Palestinian population that died or was expelled? A lot more than 1%.

>Didnt the Palestinians prevent immigration to Israel/Palestine causing many Jews to die?

No. The British did. More Jews got into Palestine before 1948 then Palestinians got into Israel after 1948. Of course, the British were not as effective as the Israelis in stopping infiltrators- they did not shoot them on the spot.

Didnt the mufti, considered the voice of the Palestinian people Edward Said, ally with Nazis and according to many sources cased the deaths of many Jews?

He was sympathetic to the Nazis. So what? The Nazis were even more sympathetic to the Nazis. Build a Jewish state in Germany, if yoy like.

>Didnt many palestinians support pan-arabism, as in they didnt want a state?

No. The Palestinians wanted self-determination. Pan-Arabism is not opposed to self-determination.

>Didnt the Arab states cause there to be more Jewish refugees than there were Palestinian refugees?

No; the tragedy of the Jewish refugees was caused, in part, by the founding of a Jewish state. In fact, Ben-Gurion managed to help create two sets of refugees, Arab and Jewish. But of course, according to Ben Gurion, there were no Jewish refugees, since the Jewish homeland was Israel, and you can't be a refugee if you are returning to your homeland.

>Didnt widespread Palestinian nationalism not exsist untill 1967?

No. Read Kimmerling and Migdal's book on Palestinian nationalism.

>Didnt Jordan and Egypt control for 20 years what is now considered the palestinian territories? Why didnt anyone care untill Israel took control?!

Israel cared, which is why it worked together with Jordan to thwart Palestinian nationalism, acquiescing in the Hashemite take-over of the West Bank. I don't want to say that this was orchestrated by Israel, but Israel gained by it. Read Avi Shlaim's well-documented book.

>Didnt those same Arab states that opposed the division of Palestine support the creation of Pakistan?(It seems to be in the news right now).

I don't know, but assuming they did, so what? There was a sizeable *native* Muslim population in India/Pakistan, and this was in their interest. By contrast, there was a tiny minority of Jews in Palestine until the 1920's.

"who want a historical reconciliation based on 1897, not 1967?"

>Here's the problem; you want to go back a century! That is ridiculous.


>Palestine was not empty that year but it wasn't full. Not even close. But that's besides the point. You want to go back a century!

Tell you what -- I won't go back a century and you won't go back two thousand years. End of Zionism. You have a lot of chutzpah on this one, gbachrach.

And by the way, the paragraph you cite from Myths and Facts is more myth than fact. The Balfour Declaration did not speak of a Jewish state. Neither did the League of Nations mandate. The partition resolution called for two states -- since you reject Palestinian statehood along the partition lines, you accept that part of the deal you like (Remind me not to sell you a car....) You also reject all the other UN resolutions that the propagandist Bard dismisses or doesn't mention (B-G:"Oom, shmoom"); the admission of Israel to the UN give as much validity to its regime as the admission of Communist China, the USSR, and apartheid South Africa to theirs. The society created by Israel's people, while it has many, many virtues, is racist, materialist, and has produced rather nasty perversions of Judaism.

>Ill conclude by asking you this question: If the Palestinians had won the 1948 war(which they started) what would have happened to the Jews in Palestine?

>Some would have been massacred; others would have been expelled; others would have been protected by the Arab legion. The map of Palestine would have looked around the same as it did in 1947. I suppose that the amount of ethnic cleansing that the Arabs would do to the Jews would be about the same as the Jews did to the Arabs. But, it is not likely that there would have been a vast influx of Palestinians to Palestine the way there was in the case of the Jews.

The Zionists would have formed a government-in-exile. Some would go back to diplomatic lobbying. The Jewish terrorist organizations that existed before the state would thrive, and the Masada suicide-bomber squad would wreak havoc on the population.

Well, that's one scenario....

Jonathan Mark said...

"""">Didnt Israel lose 1 percent of its population in that war?

I don't know."""

About 5000 Jews died in the 1948 war out of a Jewish population of 650,000.

What do you claim that you are a professor of, again?

"""
>Didnt the Palestinians prevent immigration to Israel/Palestine causing many Jews to die?

No. The British did."""

At the behest of the Arab nations and the Palestinian Arab population of Palestine.

"""Of course, the British were not as effective as the Israelis in stopping infiltrators- they did not shoot them on the spot. """

There are lots of horror stories involving British behavior towards Jewish refugees fleeing to Palestine, but the worst was the Jewish refugee ship the Struma.

It was in Istanbul for repairs. The British demanded that the Turks not repair it, and the Turks towed it out to sea and set it adrift. Either a Soviet sub torpedoed it or it sank on its own. Killing 768 Jews.

"""Didnt the mufti, considered the voice of the Palestinian people Edward Said, ally with Nazis and according to many sources cased the deaths of many Jews?

He was sympathetic to the Nazis."""

Haj Amin El Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was more than sympathetic to the Nazis. He spent the war in Nazi Germany, reviewed (Yuguslavian) Muslim troops in the German Army. A transcript exists of a meeting between the Mufti and Hitler, in which Hitler offers the Mufti his private assurances to destroy the Jews of Palestine but the Mufti wants a public promise.

"""So what? The Nazis were even more sympathetic to the Nazis."""

We disagree on this. The mufti was a Nazi, living in Nazi Germany and supporting Hitler and the Nazis.

"""Build a Jewish state in Germany, if yoy like."""

Don't you claim to live in Israel? Why don't you move to Germany, and LEAVE THE OTHER ISRAELIS BE?

The Israelis won't move to Germany in part for the same reasons that you won't, assuming that you are who you claim to be.


""">Didnt many palestinians support pan-arabism, as in they didnt want a state?

No."""

The pan-Arabist Nasser was popular in the 60s, and many, many Arabs (including Palestinian Arabs) were pan-Arabists. The major demand back in the 60s was for "right of return," not for a Palestinian state.

Saddam was also a pan-Arabist, one of the few remaining ones. The ideology is now dead, but it was very much alive 40 and 50 years ago.

You may recall that Syria and Egypt formed a brief union in the early 1960s based upon this theory of Pan-Arabism.

"""The Palestinians wanted self-determination. Pan-Arabism is not opposed to self-determination."""

Pan-Arabism opposed the existence of separate Arab states, including a Palestinian state.

""">Didnt the Arab states cause there to be more Jewish refugees than there were Palestinian refugees?

No; the tragedy of the Jewish refugees was caused, in part, by the founding of a Jewish state."""

Some Jews were fleeing from Arab nations because they feared what would happen to them if they stayed. You can call that "expelled" if you wish, or you can call it by another name. The Jews from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt etc. are just as much refugees as the Palestinian refugees.

""">Didnt widespread Palestinian nationalism not exsist untill 1967?

No. Read Kimmerling and Migdal's book on Palestinian nationalism."""

It didn't exist in the sense of demands for a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Again, that was considered defeatist.

""">Didnt Jordan and Egypt control for 20 years what is now considered the palestinian territories? Why didnt anyone care untill Israel took control?!

Israel cared,"""

This claim is foolish. The PLO didn't claim the West Bank until 1974. Until that time the PLO accepted Jordan's claim to the West Bank. Israel in 1974 had no control over what the PLO demanded.

""">Didnt those same Arab states that opposed the division of Palestine support the creation of Pakistan?(It seems to be in the news right now).

I don't know, but assuming they did, so what? There was a sizeable *native* Muslim population in India/Pakistan, and this was in their interest. By contrast, there was a tiny minority of Jews in Palestine until the 1920's."""

Modern Israel came into being in 1948, not prior to the 1920s. In 1948 Jews were one-third of Palestine. Moslems were not one-third of India in 1948.



"""Tell you what -- I won't go back a century and you won't go back two thousand years. End of Zionism."""

Umm, if no one goes back in time then the situation remains as it exists now, in 2007. I don't see how the current situation constitutes the end of Zionism in our lifetimes.

Everything will probably end someday. Even life on this planet. But that is not what you are claiming. You are claiming that Zionism, a Jewish state, requires reversion to a world of 2000 years ago. That is false, because a Jewish state exists today. Now.

You claim to live in it, so you would know that.

"""The Balfour Declaration did not speak of a Jewish state."""

The Balfour Declarion states that "His Majesty's Government accepts the principle that Palestine should be reconstituted as the National Home of the Jewish people."

"""since you reject Palestinian statehood along the partition lines, you accept that part of the deal you like"""

The Arab nations did not accept the partition deal. They invaded Israel in 1948 to prevent partition. Remember?

"""(Remind me not to sell you a car....)"""

Remind me not to get invaded by seven Arab nations and the Palestinians in 1948.

"""the admission of Israel to the UN give as much validity to its regime as the admission of Communist China, the USSR, and apartheid South Africa to theirs."""

Israel is a "regime" now? Like China, USSR and SA?

Israel is a one-person-one-vote Democracy. I don't care for Balad, but its supporters vote.

"""The society created by Israel's people, while it has many, many virtues, is racist, materialist,"""

Then WHY DID YOU IMMIGRATE THERE, as you claim to have done? And why do you remain?


"""and has produced rather nasty perversions of Judaism."""

As opposed to your version of Judaism, which is TRUE while the others are false and perverted.

""">Ill conclude by asking you this question: If the Palestinians had won the 1948 war(which they started) what would have happened to the Jews in Palestine?

>Some would have been massacred; others would have been expelled; others would have been protected by the Arab legion. The map of Palestine would have looked around the same as it did in 1947. I suppose that the amount of ethnic cleansing that the Arabs would do to the Jews would be about the same as the Jews did to the Arabs. But, it is not likely that there would have been a vast influx of Palestinians to Palestine the way there was in the case of the Jews."""

This is what I don't understand. You claim to be an American Jew who immigrated to Israel. If so, then you are part of that "vast influx" that you complain about.

"""The Zionists would have formed a government-in-exile. Some would go back to diplomatic lobbying. The Jewish terrorist organizations that existed before the state would thrive, and the Masada suicide-bomber squad would wreak havoc on the population.

Well, that's one scenario...."""

Perhaps. Aren't you glad that the Israelis won in 1948, and your nightmarish scenario of an Arab victory didn't happen?

David L said...

Jerry-

Brit Tzedeck's guide is a major step in the right direction as it is asking American synagogues to do a major paradigm shift on the Arab-Israeli conflict. It may not be perfect but as Michael Collins once said, "we have to work with what we have!"

Jerry Haber said...

Jonathan,

I suggest that if you want to make a observation, pick one or two points. Your point-by-point practice is quite uneven. gbachrach asked a lot of questions, and I patiently answered them. But, of course, in those circumstances, some answers could be hardly adequate.

I immigrated to Israel when I was a liberal political Zionist. I now belief that I was indoctrinated with a lot of crap that is not true; or at best, half-true. In the meantime, I married an Israeli and have four married children living in Israel. So I am stuck in Israel. I happen to think that Israel is not without hope. I like the people. I like the weather. I like the food.

But I also like the US, which is why I am fortunate that I can live in both countries. I would hate to live in Northern Virginia, though, from what I hear about the traffic reports on WTOP.

Jonathan Mark said...

""" I was indoctrinated with a lot of crap that is not true;"""

It may be that the blog format is not sufficient to communicate why you nowadays believe that what you believed in before was a lot fof crap.

Certainly to me, being an American who last visited Israel in 1988, your current opinions seem odd. Especially the part about grievances dating back to 1897, the date of the first Zionist Congress.

Many people in America don't care about Israel or Palestine. When proponents of the Palestinians pitch to average Americans, the pro-Pal people try to focus on an easily understandable demand, such as "end the occupation."

And certainly there are people here in the USA who believe that if only Israel left the West Bank and did nothing more then there would be peace. You don't appear to believe that, and neither do I.

Now your invective is in some ways more realistic than the simple end-the-occupation pitch that one sometimes hears in America. You say that the Palestinians are also demanding, in addition to withdrawal, "right of return" and much else besides.

I don't really know what grievances dating back to 1897 would be, but attempting to present them to an American audience will probably lose the Palestinians more understanding than it gains them.

As for you convincing your fellow Israelis of whatever it is that you believe about 1897 and 1917 and so on's grievances, I don't think that you will succeed.

About half of Israelis and half of Palestinians would settle for a straight land-for-peace deal that didn't involve settlement of refugees in Israel, but did involve the vast majority (97%) of the West Bank, much of East Jerusalem and all of Gaza.

I think selling that deal, which is essentially the Clinton Plan from 2000, is the best hope for peace in the Mideast.

Whatever it is you are talking about regarding redressing 1897 and 1917 grievances, selling it will be an uphill fight in America in a post-911 environment.

You might wish to revise your approach. OK, what you believed 30 years ago was crap. Fine. But what if some of what you believe now is crap also, no offense intended?

A typical response might be usually, "well I live in Israel, you don't, so I know." But the vast majority of people who live in Israel don't believe what you do, so your living in Israel isn't persuasive as an argument-from-authority.

GBacharach said...

once again your comment has little to do with my post.

why not? your upset about liberal Zionists thinking 1967 is the problem when you think 1987-1948 is the problem caused by Jews.

Mark responded almost exactly how I would respond to your responses to my comments, just so you know. Will you continue this debate or are you going to let Mark/me have the last word?

The society created by Israel's people, while it has many, many virtues

Im glad that you acknoledge this.

btw Do you think Israel is more racist than its Arab neighbors?

Im curious to know which books shape your view of the conflict the most. You cite Avi Shlaim a lot. Would you recommend his books to show how you arrived at your viewpoint?

bar_kochba132 said...

Mr MagnesZionist said:
----------------
I immigrated to Israel when I was a liberal political Zionist. I now belief that I was indoctrinated with a lot of crap that is not true; or at best, half-true. In the meantime, I married an Israeli and have four married children living in Israel. So I am stuck in Israel. I happen to think that Israel is not without hope. I like the people. I like the weather. I like the food.
------------------


All I can say is that if you really are who you claim to be, then you are living a lie, and you are part of the whole "oppressive Zionist machine" that you are always complaining about. You joined the MERETZ party which is a "liberal Zionist" party, while at the same time you decry this liberal Zionism. You wrote in an earlier blog about the famous Mishna in Baba Metzia about "two people holding a garment, each claiming it is wholly theirs" and then say we should split it in the name of fairness, yet you rewrite history by forgetting that in 1922, the Zionists already gave away something like 80% in creating 'Transjordan' which was part of the "Palestine Mandate" that the Balfour Declaration was originally applied to. All I see here is historical revisionism and inconsistent "morality" on your part.

"Nationalism" , by that I mean, the desire and right to have a sovereign, independent state in Eretz Israel, whose boundaries are clearly defined in the Torah, is an inherent, integral part of Judaism. Certainly, the "galut" (exile) is part of our history, but the dream of returning has always existed, even at the darkest hour (e.g. as early as the Tribe of Efraim trying to return during the Egyptian exile). Your attempt to redefine Judaism is more historical revisionism. You can try to invent your own form of Judaism, but you can't speak for the large majority of the Jewish people who reject your views.

Jerry Haber said...

Dear me, I don't know where to begin. I thank you all for your comments. I thought that in previous posts I made my position clear. I favor a two-state solution in which neither state will dominate the other, and past that, a trans-national federation. I consider myself a Zionist in the tradition of Ahad ha-Am and Magnes, (who also called for a federation, as I will write up next week. He called it the United States of Palestine.) I am also for solutions which have international consensus, withdrawal to 67 borders, establishment of Palestinian State. There is no international consensus against Israel's recognizing the right of return, or against implementing UN Resolution 194, or of letting Palestinian refugees return to their home. The practical question of how that is to be implemented, etc., needs to be discussed, and this window is not the place to discuss it.

My personal opinion is that the Clinton Bridge Proposals, while having merit, are not viable, and simply will not work as proposed. Jonathan, you seem to think that implementing a flawed plan that has American support is preferable to nothing. I supported Oslo, a very flawed plan, and, for all its merits in changing the psychology of the Israelis, it failed. Point the fingers wherever you like, but it failed. At least I opposed the invasion of Iraq, which I thought was stupid and immoral and would lead to a quagmire, with billions of dollars going down the drain.

I joined Meretz for one reason -- to vote for Yossi Beilin as head of the party. The last time I voted for Meretz was 1992, the last time there was a fairly decent government in Israel. Since then I have voted Hadash, and if I were not terminably lazy, I would go to its offices and switch my party affiliation.

The Zionists have always been magnanimous about giving things away, haven't they? A tiny group of Polish and Russian citizens, with a smattering of Western Europeans, born Jewish, "gave away Transjordan to Abdullah". Is there anything more self-delusional than that? Next thing you will tell me is that when a Jews says shema, he effects a cosmic harmony between the various aspects of the Godhead.

And spare me the Zionist myths about Jewish statism, exile and return, etc. The vast majority of Jews were not Zionist before the State of Israel, and the vast majority of orthodox Jews -- who believed in the Jewish people -- were opposed to a Jewish state. The Zionist revisionism might have had some purchase around the time of the Holocaust, but it is nauseating today, and historically inaccurate. And by the way, I am a professor of medieval Judaism, so I know whereof I speak.

Finally, gbachrach, as I think I told you, it wasn't really any particular book that got me thinking the way I did. I am an old-fashioned liberal democrat, and I was told that Israel was a liberal democracy like America, with a few differences. After living here for close to thirty years, I see that this "democracy" is not really liberal, and democratic only if you are Jewish. And then I understood why -- it was founded by Eastern Europeans (mostly Russian) whose ideas of "democracy" were very different from ours.

Is there hypocrisy in my living in Israel? You know, once Magnes gave a speech to a Zionist forum, after he had urged it to negotiate with the Arabs and to limit Jewish immigration, if necessary. Ben-Gurion called out, "You didn't ask the Arabs for permission when you yourself immigrated." Magnes's reply was that he did not immigrate in order to create a Jewish state, but to create a spiritual center for Jews in Eretz Yisrael. (Well, something to that effect -- the precise quote will be in next week's post.) Magnes was willing to have a large Jewish minority with a large degree of cultural autonomy in a binational state (this was before the declaration of the state, of course.)

Of course, now that there is a Jewish state, a Palestinian could argue that no matter what my views are, the mere fact that I am here, and my children are here, still adds up to the number of Jews living here. I have no answer to that -- but, you know, I have never met or corresponded with a Palestinian who insists that I should leave Israel. And I have corresponded with some Palestinians who think that the Palestinians should return to Israel by the million.

Edward Said, who was not exactly a Zionist, was once asked whether the Jews who emigrated to Palestine and who were living in Arab homes, should be transferred out to make room for the Palestinian refugees. He said that one doesn't rectify injustice with more injustice. I certainly would be willing to be move out of my home, which was built on top of an Arab house, if I received compensation. (I would be willing even without, but I couldn't afford to). Once it was indeed an Arab position that Jews who came to Palestine after the Balfour declaration would have to leave. But I haven't heard that from a while. On the contrary, you have one-statists or two-statists, but you don't have expulsionists, to my knowledge (if I am wrong here, please correct me), except among the Jews, who call for expelling (aka 'transfer') Palestinians.

And don't write me about the ideological settlers, who I consider -- as a group, but not as individuals, of course -- to combine the worst flaws of racism, ultranationalism, and Eastern European socialism. No American republican who has any republican, conservative, not to mention libertarian, principles, can support the settlers, who have been coddled with enormous government handouts from the beginning, and who whined their way to huge government handouts and subsidies, one of the most unproductive sectors of the Israeli economy (following the haredim, of course.)

An American republican supporting the Gush Katif settlers? Mow that's big-time hypocrisy. Apparently, "big government" is bad, unless it is for your own tribe....

Jerry Haber said...

To David,

Hence, my ambivalence....

Best
Jerry

Jonathan Mark said...

"""I favor a two-state solution in which neither state will dominate the other,"""

What does "two-state solution" mean? Most people think that it means a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. But my reading of MZs words is that he opposes a Jewish state.

"""There is no international consensus against Israel's recognizing the right of return,"""

There is no international consensus demanding it either.

Israel can agree to this Palestinian demand if it wants to, but it is not a requirement of peace, as President Clinton said in 2000 when describing the Clinton Plan.

"""or against implementing UN Resolution 194,"""

General Assembly Resolution 194 is not binding because General Assembly Resolutions are only binding as they pertain to the operations of the United Nations itself.

SECURITY COUNCIL Resolutions are binding. However, SECURITY COUNCIL resolutions 242 and 338 do not require Israel to settle Palestinian refugees inside of Israel's pre-1967 borders.

"""or of letting Palestinian refugees return to their home. The practical question of how that is to be implemented, etc., needs to be discussed, and this window is not the place to discuss it."""

In mathematics this logical error is called "hand-waving." Someone makes a dubious statement in a proof and then declares that the dubious statement is trivial or obvious and leaves it at that.

MZ is "hand-waving" on the issue of settling Palestinians inside of Israel. He insists that it must happen without even describing what it is that he thinks must happen, and then leaves it at that.

"""My personal opinion is that the Clinton Bridge Proposals, while having merit, are not viable, and simply will not work as proposed."""

Nothing will work as proposed. Dusting off the theories of Judah Magnes (who died in 1948) won't work as proposed.

"""Jonathan, you seem to think that implementing a flawed plan that has American support is preferable to nothing."""

Palestinian negotiators have so far rejected land-for-peace. The Clinton Plan cannot be implemented now because in 2000/2001 and now the Palestinian side insists instead upon right-of-refugees-to-return-plus-land-for-peace

It would take the agreement of Palestinians to implement it. However, advocating the Clinton Plan is preferable to advocating nothing.

"""I supported Oslo, a very flawed plan, and, for all its merits in changing the psychology of the Israelis, it failed."""

Failed compared to the pre-Oslo status quo? How so?

"""Point the fingers wherever you like, but it failed."""

More hand-waving. How did it fail compared to the pre-Oslo status quo? We are left to guess.

"""At least I opposed the invasion of Iraq, which I thought was stupid and immoral and would lead to a quagmire, with billions of dollars going down the drain."""

This statement in a discussion of Israel and Palestine is about as relevant as "at least I am a heterosexual who didn't contract AIDS" in a discussion of proper gardening techniques.

"""Next thing you will tell me is that when a Jews says shema, he effects a cosmic harmony between the various aspects of the Godhead. """

I say the Shema every night. Why I do it is irrelevant, and actually none of MZs business.

"""The vast majority of Jews were not Zionist before the State of Israel,"""

The modern state of Israel declared its independence in 1948, before I was born. A world in which Israel, a Jewish state, exists is the only world we know. We have "reified" it, as the humanist Marx referred to existing facts which people do not question.

It matters little whether Jews in 1708 believed in a Jewish state, if Jews in 2008 see that this state exists and oppose its destruction.

"""and the vast majority of orthodox Jews -- who believed in the Jewish people -- were opposed to a Jewish state."""

Not nowadays, honey.

Yearning for a putative better world that existed generations ago before most of us were born is not likely to produce a peace agreement in 2008.

Anyhow, who said the world before 1948 was so great? There was a Holocaust then, and discrimination against Jews was institutionalized, even in the USA.

Life for Jews is better now, in 2008, than it was before 1948.

"""The Zionist revisionism"""

Is MZ speaking of Revisionist Zionists, e.g., the Herut ca. 1946? Or is he using the term revisionism broadly, to refer to Zionists in general who he suggests rewrite history? I cannot tell.

"""might have had some purchase around the time of the Holocaust, but it is nauseating today, and historically inaccurate. And by the way, I am a professor of medieval Judaism, so I know whereof I speak."""

Actually, Maimonides favored a Jewish nation or kingdom. Maimonides stated that the Messianic era would differ from the world that he lived in only in that there would be a Jewish kingdom, independent of the non-Jews.

But even if, hypothetically, Maimonides had agreed with MZ and disagreed with me it wouldn't matter one whit. No rational person would base his current beliefs primarily on the writings of medieval religious authorities.

There are anti-Zionist religious Jews nowadays, also. I have met them. One said that he thought it would be better if the Arabs ran Israel. The Satmar are anti-Zionist.

But it makes no difference. Orthodox anti-Zionism has failed. It isn't even a majority of Orthodox.

"""Magnes was willing to have a large Jewish minority with a large degree of cultural autonomy in a binational state"""

Since MZ calls himself "Magnes Zionist" the above statement could possibly explain one reason why he wants 300,000 Palestinian refugees to settle in Israel. It would hasten the day considerably when Magnes' dream is realized and Israeli or Palestinian Arabs are a majority of Israel.

But that is precisely why most Israelis reject MZs demand.

"""I have never met or corresponded with a Palestinian who insists that I should leave Israel."""

Nor do those of us here who disagree with MZ. Israel is probably a slightly better, stronger place because MZ is (usually) in Israel.

No one here is telling MZ to leave Israel. Far from it. We respect him more for being there.

To the extent that his pseudonymous identity is real, and it probably is, we may even come to this site because it is different from the usual American-ragging-on-Israel-from-a-distance fare on other Jewish leftist blogs.

bar_kochba132 said...

Thanks for the response. A couple of questions:
(1) What brought about your change of mind regarding Zionism? Tony Karon ("Rootless Cosmopolitan") says he turned against Zionism because of reading Uri Avnery's book "Israel Without Zionism"-did you have some such cathartic experience, or was it gradual?

(2) I read your comment about Magnes in the previous thread. If he was more of a "liberal rabbi", as you put it, and not an "intellectual", why was he given the job of running the University? After all, they did have some heavyweight backers like Einstein. Was it because he was American and the board figured he would be best at raising money in the "Goldene Medina"?

Anonymous said...

On the issue of "in 1922, the Zionists already gave away something like 80% in creating 'Transjordan' which was part of the "Palestine Mandate" that the Balfour Declaration was originally applied to" of course I agree with Jerry's observation of the ridiculousness of the claim in any case.

But it is interesting that this factoid, while it appears in many scholarly books, is nothing but a very successful fabrication by Jabotinsky and his revisionists. The point is that the Palestine Mandate and the Balfour declaration were never promised to cover Transjordan, which was added to the mandatory territory in 1921-22, not severed from it. See Bernard Wasserstein's Israelis and Palestinians .. ca p. 100 for an accurate account.

In Weizmann's autobiography, Trial and Error, (ca p. 212 iirc) one can learn that Weizmann, the relative moderate, cared about Jordan being part of the mandate proper, but the fire-eater Jabotinsky convinced him that Jewish settlement east of the Jordan was not necessary! So they both then formally approved "giving Transjordan to Abdullah" in 1922. Later Jabotinsky completely reversed himself and made up his successful fairy tale about how the Zionists were robbed, but his revisionists never mentioned that he was one of the robbers. :-)

Jerry Haber said...

Jonathan,

Thanks for your comments. The non sequiturs are wonderful. This is, perhaps, my favorite.

"""Next thing you will tell me is that when a Jews says shema, he effects a cosmic harmony between the various aspects of the Godhead. """

"I say the Shema every night. Why I do it is irrelevant, and actually none of MZs business."

I would like to think that bons mots like these flow naturally to your typing fingers....

bar kochbah, I did not have a conversionary experience to cultural Zionism and away from political Zionism. I tried to think what seems to work about Zionism and Israel and what does not; what should be preserved and what should. I would like to live in an Israel that looks like a Jewish America, i.e., a multicultural state, in which a main, if not the main of the Israeli national culture is Hebraic/Jewish. I would like a Palestinian state to arise where Jews would be welcome to live.

By the way, I am an admirer of Ury Avnery, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, and the other Zionists who have tried to point out the illiberal nature of Israeli society. More about Leibowitz in a post, soon. It has been argued recently that the Lebanese war radicalized Leibowitz, who only then began to take *moral* stands against the state (he advocated active resistance to the army.) If you like, the second intifada "radicalized" me; it certainly led to break with the Peace Now crowd, and that opiate of the masses, the Peace Process.

Anonymous, thanks very much for your comment.

Jonathan Mark said...

"""I would like to live in an Israel that looks like a Jewish America, i.e., a multicultural state, in which a main, if not the main of the Israeli national culture is Hebraic/Jewish."""

Sounds very reasonable. S'okay with me.

But what confuses a lot of us is the rhetoric on some of your posts, such as "Or are you going to stand with the Palestinians and Israelis who put everything, including Zionism, on the table, who want a historical reconciliation based on 1897, not 1967?"

It is better for a reconciliation to be based upon 2008. A Jewish state exists.

In fact, a "reconciliation based upon 1897" would never be possible, because Palestine, which at that time included what is now Jordan, was occupied by Turkey in 1897.

Too much has happened since then. The Turkish Sultanate would not return to govern Tel Aviv or Nablus or Amman.

In fact, Tel Aviv did not exist in 1897, another reason why what you propose is nonsensical.

GBacharach said...

I would like a Palestinian state to arise where Jews would be welcome to live.

Do you think thats possible? One of the reasons why I distrust Palestinians wanting the 2-state solution is because there will likely be no Jews in the Palestinian state.

nodo said...

um I have an essay to write about jabotinsky, magnes and edward said to compare and contrast and also to analyze conclusion of palestnian question and also to write about liberal/post zionism and the 67 war impact and conflicts generated and christian zionism and begin's 77 election . can someone help me come up with these essays for the final? how should i go about comparing those 3 figures?

Jerry Haber said...

nodo,

it takes real chutzpah to use the blog a Jewish Studies professor to ask for help on a final. That is called CHEATING, my friend. Do the essay by yourself, without any help from anybody