Global, Israel

Down to Earth

With all the recent posts about J Street and the politics of politics, I wanted to just take a moment and bring our attention back down to the ground, where the key questions are not about intermarried Jews or how many states it takes to make a solution, but about the basics of shelter and dignity. Just warms your heart, don’t it? As always, I’m so proud of the little Jewish state that could.

11 thoughts on “Down to Earth

  1. Hm. Until I read the article you linked to, I was more sympathetic to the Palestinian residents. But it looks like the Israeli landlords (who I didn’t even know existed, from previous accounts) have somewhat of an argument.

  2. It’s a flagrantly biased argument unless you also argue to give those Palestinians the same rights to their homes in West Jerusalem, and do the same for the descendants of all the hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from what is now Israel. Besides, even that is assuming the documentation for the home in question is legitimate, which isn’t always the case, this being one example.

  3. Has anyone else seen the interview with Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force for Palestine (ATFP) in The Atlantic?
    He’s about as moderate and pragmatic in tone as anyone I’ve ever read on the conflict, Jewish or Arab. He has just written a book on the impossibility of a one state solution, essentially rebuffing his erstwhile friend and political arch enemy in the Pali activist community – Ali Abunimah of electronicintifada (who wants to destroy the Jewish state through a one state solution).
    Abunimah is a Marxist radical who will fight Israel until he’s dead, even if there is peace, because that’s all he knows how to do. Ibish wants his grandchildren applying to Harvard, not manufacturing plastic explosives in their basement. The only question is, who does Ibish speak for? Does he represent the Palestinian national movement in Washington, or the interests of Washington in Ramallah?
    I’ve just read a few sections of the book put out by ATFP against the one state solution concept (link). It is a surprising document, which deals quite openly (again, surprisingly so!) with traditionally very secretive subjects in the Pali activist community. I’m simply floored. They name names and expose agendas in a way I’ve never seen Pali activists do to each other before, at least in public. This is the kind of information I’ve spent years cultivating relationships with Pali activists for, and now it’s available to anyone!
    In case you’re interested, well, you probably aren’t… let’s just put it this way… The reason this book was written was that Abunimah launched a full frontal assault, a very public and humiliating one, on the legitimacy of ATFP and Ibish in particular, ruining their friendship and splintering the activist community between the die-hard Marxists and Islamists and the more moderate elements in various stages of integration with American society, who wanted to work through the political system.
    Anyway, be sure to check out the book. It’s free and available online in HTML form, which is what I linked to above.

  4. What makes you think we would not be interested, that sounds like a great
    book. Thanks for flagging it.
    One thing. Maybe I’m just sensitive, but I find the diminutive “pali” to be rather condescending.

  5. Your call to “bring our attention back down to the ground” reminds me of an interaction during the lobby day at the end of the JStreet conference. A genuinely supportive Congressman who we spoke with asked us what we thought was an immediate short-term goal. Of course we had been very insistent that realizing a two-state solution was quite urgent. But short term… end new settlements? Yeah, that’s a good start.
    Then he presented his short-term priority: the humanitarian situation in Gaza. How did no one think to say that? Bringing it back to the imperatives for justice that motivate us, regardless of Zionism, “pro-Israel” sentiment, ect.

  6. The book is definitely worth reading, CoA. I covered a few more chapters since my last post. It should really become a manual for rebuffing the one state apocalyptics.
    You’ll find the book responding to various white papers that develop the strategic thinking behind modern Palestinian nationalism, resistance to occupation, etc., from the Palestinian perspective, in both strategic and tactical arenas. The development of this kind of “open source” strategic thinking, common in the West – in other words, open to public viewing – is significant for the Palestinians. It represents the maturation and normalization of the movement, away from radical revolution and towards the risk/reward calculus of rational actors, and the desire to be perceived as such.
    By interested, I meant in the internal activist gossip of how this book came about. I don’t know if anyone here is plugged enough into to the Palestinian-American activist scene to care about how the internal dynamics play out. It’s a very small core community. I know many here are from the NY/Boston area, which I am not familiar with at all, but I don’t think there’s much happening there in terms of Palestinian activism anyway. I’m more in touch with the Chicago/Washington DC crowd – I used to be much more than I am now – which is where much of the national action is.
    Regarding “Pali”, you might be right… lazy shorthand on my part.
    This discussion seems kind of out of place on Jewschool. In all the time I’ve been here there has been a lot of discussion of issues crucial to the Palestinians, but very little in the way of engagement with Palestinians; not on the pages of Jewschool, at least. I don’t know why that is. We spend our days wrestling over the framework for living next to three million of these people, but we spend very little time actually communicating with the people we’ll be neighbors with. One of the first things I did after getting into Israel activism was invite the local Palestinian activists out to dinner, at the very least to see what I was up against. A couple of us even became friends, without budging from our starting positions even a millimeter, in five years.
    Anyway, just my few cents.

  7. Avigdor – this post is not about politics, its about Israel evicting people from homes they have lived in for tens of years, while claiming that assets held by Palestinians in Israel proper do not belong to them anymore, but are “assets of missing persons”. My tax shekels and my police have taken people out of their homes to the sidewalks so the same settlers who have no problems taking private land elsewhere can live there. It’s sickening.

  8. …and before anyone makes a silly comment about how settlers aren’t taking anyone’s land, and how they’re all about good neighborliness, I’ll send you to be an Arab neighbor to a settlement for a week or two. Perhaps work there and be kicked out at nightfall so the settlement can be “Arab-free” at night.

  9. My tax shekels and my police have taken people out of their homes to the sidewalks so the same settlers who have no problems taking private land elsewhere can live there. It’s sickening
    It’s really not your concern, Amit. AIPAC and J-Street should determine how to deal with such issues.

  10. unlikely outsider,

    A genuinely supportive Congressman who we spoke with asked us what we thought was an immediate short-term goal. Of course we had been very insistent that realizing a two-state solution was quite urgent. But short term… end new settlements? Yeah, that’s a good start.
    Then he presented his short-term priority: the humanitarian situation in Gaza. How did no one think to say that?

    The Israeli leadership can end the humanitarian situation in Gaza whenever it likes, just like it can end the settlement expansion whenever it likes. However, they like to keep people distracted with the former while continuing the latter instead, ever reducing the possibility of a two-state solution. Put simply, the congressman tricked you into focusing on a situation created by the very same government which continues to undermine your long term goals. I hope you might take this as a lesson to be lest trusting of politicians, as most are anything but genuine.

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