1. Binationalism in the eyes of Israelis. Ask most Israel supporters what they they think of binationalism, and they will say, “Look at Lebanon; that hasn’t worked out very well, has it?” But that depends on whom you ask, right? After all, a Christian in Lebanon is better off than a Palestinian on the West Bank. So what the Zionists really mean is, “We will have less security in a binational state because we won’t have total control over the Palestinians who live under our authority.”
2. Binationalism in the eyes of Palestinians. Ask most Palestinians what they think of binationalism, and they will say, “We want our own state.” What they really mean is that they are sick of Jews determining their lives, and that they have no desire to share power with Jews, especially since they will probably get the short end of the stick in a binational state. The irony is that both Israeli Jews and Palestinians think that their national identity will be compromised in a binational state. These peoples have so much in common….
3. The Israeli binationalist nightmare scenario. If there were one state, argue Israel supporters, the Palestinians would obtain a majority, start persecuting the Jewish minority, which would only grow after many Israelis leave the country. And then the nightmare would really begin. I have heard some intelligent, liberal Jews give this argument. Which just goes how deep racism is among those intelligent, liberal Jews. The group that has most to fear from binationalism are the Palestinians. After all, only one country was wiped off the map, and it wasn’t the State of Israel, was it? Who would have power in a binational state? Israeli Jews, even if there were fewer of them. Look how well they did against the Palestinians when they were outnumbered.
4. Haman in Jerusalem. I went to a reading of the Book of Esther by Israeli Litvaks. What that means is that qua Litvaks they were concerned with Jewish law; qua Israelis they raised a huge ruckus every time Haman’s name was mentioned. The reader would say Haman’s name, and the kids would explode for around 30 seconds of noise. Then, in order to ensure that everybody had heard Haman’s name (according to Jewish law, everybody should hear every word of the megillah), the reader repeated Haman’s name, this time without the noise. So Haman’s name was mentioned twice as many times as written in order to fulfill the non-mitzvah of blotting out his name. This is the logical conclusion of a moronic custom.
5. Membership has its privileges. Jews enjoy going to Israel. Even tourists feel that this a kind of home for them. If Israel were a plane, then Jews would be in Business Class; Israeli Palestinians would be in Economy, and Palestinians in the Occupied Territory would be in the luggage hold. That’s one of the reasons why Jews don’t want Israel to change. Who wants to be thrown out of Business Class?
6. Moral delusion. Ami Gluska has an opinion piece in Haaretz showing that Ben Gurion was willing to have an Arab president. Over the opposition of the religious Zionists, he argued that “A constitution that would prevent an Arab from being president is inconceivable. Rabbi Berlin has quoted so many verses against me for nothing. Any citizen can be elected president of the state, and if a majority is found to elect an Arab president, there will be no discrimination in the Jewish state. I suppose that it will also not be called Jewish State.” Gluska points out that when Ben-Gurion wrote this, he had accepted a state that had around 40% Arabs, and, together with the communists, there was a real possibility that there could be an Arab president.
What Gluska doesn’t mention is that Ben-Gurion’s acceptance of partition was merely tactical; that he fully expected a transfer of Arabs outside of the Jewish state; that at the first opportunity he acquiesced and even favored expulsion; that he placed the Arabs who remained under military government and infiltrated their society with secret service. So while theoretically it was possible that there could be an Arab president, he knew that there never would be one, nor did he actually want one. What he wanted was a state that could be an imagined democracy, a state that could be built on theoretical democratic principles without ceding any real privileges to non-Jews. Thus Arabs would have the vote so they could vote for Mapai candidates, in exchange for which the mukhtars would be properly rewarded, and they could express their opinions in the Knesset provided they had no real political power.
I don’t think this was a cynical ploy on the part of Ben-Gurion. I think it was part of a schizophrenic personality, one that insisted on liberal values on principle while violating those principles in practice. One sees this time after time in his actions as Zionist leader and then prime minister: he talked the democratic talk, but he walked the nationalist walk. In that sense, he was the quintessential Mapainik – talking about equality for the Arabs while ensuring that they stay behind.
This moral delusion – delusion, more than duplicity – is deep in the Israeli psyche and expressed beautifully in the phrase “Jewish and democratic”.
7. Israel as the Nation State of the Jews. I call myself a Zionist but many people claim that I am not, because I oppose Israel as an ethnic exclusivist state. Zionists, they say, affirm Israel as the nation state of the Jews. So by requiring Palestinians to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jews, Israel is saying that the Palestinians must become Zionists – or at least profess Zionism – for them to have their own state. That’s like Christians requiring Jews to believe in Jesus in order for Jews to have their self-determination. Or better, that’s like the rapist requiring his victim to accept the legitimacy of the rape.