Wrestling With Zion: Round 2

I very much appreciated Brad Pilcher’s comments last night on Section One of Wrestling With Zion. I am in concurrence with him on most of his points. I only begin to take issue around here…

The 1920s was hardly an era when Zionists were willing to barter a two-state deal with the Arabs. They accepted the Partition Plan in 1947 out of political necessity moreso than genuine desire to compromise along two-state lines.

Pilcher fails to make note of the fact that, yes, while perhaps Zionists had not been pondering the idea of a two-state deal, in the early 1930s, some leaders of Mapai, the majority (and I might note, socialist) Zionist faction, were brokering a deal with Palestinian leaders for a binational state in which Jews and Arabs would be treated as equal citizens under the law. It would seem that many Zionists favored the binational state, and in fact, one may argue that the majority did. But a vanguard group decided that they knew what was in the Jews’ best interest, better than they themselves, and that they were going to subvert the democratic process of the Zionist Organization and do things their own way.

Along with Chaim Weizmann, the man chiefly responsible for broking the binational deal was Chaim Arlosoroff, a bright and pioneering young man, looked upon by Zionist leaders as one of the great future leaders of the Jewish people. Over the course of several months during 1933, Arlosoroff and Weizmann met with various Arab leaders to discuss the future of Jewish life in Palestine. However, when Mapai-rival, Revisionist leader and fascist-capitulator, Vlad Jabotinsky learned of these negotiations with the Arabs, he demanded, in every Yiddish daily across the European continent, that Arlosoroff be executed as a traitor to his people, insisting that all of Palestine shall belong to the Jews, and the Jews alone. Soon after, Arlosoroff was shot and killed by a couple of Revisionist thugs, as he was walking the beach with his wife in Tel Aviv.

Arlosoroff’s murder became the primary focus of the 18th Zionist Congress, later that year, during which Mapai leaders attempted, unsuccessfully, to boot the Revisionists out of the World Zionist Organization. Years later, embodied as the Irgun, the Revisionists began a terror campaign against the British and Arabs and, which, as far as I’m concerned, got us into the whole mess we’re in today. And if you weren’t aware, just so you know, Likud is the name the Revisionists adopted in 1992, when they merged with the General Zionists and the Zionist Organization of America.

Thus, Pilcher is technically correct, the Zionists were hardly willing to barter a two-state deal. Rather, and more nobly, they were interested in bartering a single-state deal in which Jews and Arabs were equals—the very situation most Leftists (as well as some Jews and many Palestinians) desire for Israel now. And such a scenario may very well have transpired. That is, until Jabotinsky conspired against it.

Pilcher goes on to criticize, to a minor extent, the position I took yesterday in response to Ami Eden’s initial posting of our discussion:

That being said, Mobius swings too far to the other end of the spectrum. I agree with the core of his argument, but it’s worth making the point, at least in some small degree, that most left-wing anti-Zionists are as guilty of ignoring the sins in their own camp as are Zionist zealots.

I’m curious to know which “sins” in particular he’s purporting to exist in the left-wing anti-Zionist camp. This too sounds as though it is an assertion, like Eden’s, that people who take this position are somehow apologists for terrorism, which is an absurd and insulting contention. But that’s not even the point. Pilcher’s doing what Eden’s done, which is, once again, to change the subject. We are discussing the problems inherent in the Zionist doctrine, the horrors commited in the name of nation-building, and the failure of modern mainstream Jewry to reconcile its past. But Eden would rather we discuss Palestinian terrorism, and apparently Pilcher would like to turn our discussion towards the misdeeds of anti-Zionists. Why? Both are irrelevant.

Further, I must note, that while many of the points I’ve raised here are often invoked by anti-Zionists, I myself am not one of them. To be anti-Zionist is to be against the right of Jewish people to self-determination, freedom from oppression, and the right to dwell in their ancestral homeland. I am against none of these things. However, I must say, the means by which we sought, and continue to seek, the latter of those three rights, may not justify our entitlement to it, and thus we must revist the issue.

Now on to Mr. Eden’s post this morning, “The Pilcher Pincher.” In contention of Pilcher’s and my own suggestion that Eden was dodging responsibility for the Jewish hand in the current conflict, Eden writes:

My argument was simply that by failing to take into account contemporary Palestinian actions – i.e. the current terrorist onslaught – Kushner and Solomon (as well as several other contributors) are offering up an outdated, intellectually lazy critique of the current situation and the moral state of Zionism.

My whole point is that you can’t take into account “the current terrorist onslaught” without taking into account the Israeli actions which may have provoked it. You’d rather keep talking about terrorism as if it weren’t on the front page every morning, as if we don’t hear about it every day, as though it’s not a part of our lives, or hell, something we’re even used to. You want to keep on and on about things we’re already more than fully aware of. How long can you flog that horse? Can’t we talk about those darker areas that aren’t so clear?

Eden asks, “How can one take moral stock of the West Bank fence and its damaging impact on Palestinian society, without understanding Israel’s motives in erecting it?” To which I can only respond, we know Israel’s motives. We’ve heard the reasons time and time again, beating like a drum in our heads since our births. We’ve heard it from our parents, our grandparents, our Rabbis, our teachers, our communal leaders, our classmates, our friends. Show me a Jew who is unaware of Palestinian terrorism and the horror it wreaks. Show me a Jew with anything knowledgable and intellectual to say about this conflict who is unaware of Israel’s side of the story. Show me a Jewish newspaper in America that portrays Israel in a negative light. Show me a synagogue where the Rabbi criticizes Israel (and doesn’t get fired). We’ve had the arguments of Joan Peters and Alan Dershowitz stuffed down our throats since before we were even old enough to comprehend them. From Tzivos Hashem to birthright israel, we have been conditioned and indoctrinated to love Israel and to despise Palestinian terror throughout our natural lives. You should hear the awful things my twelve year-old nephews say—the things they learn from their teachers and classmates in their yeshiva—that we should wipe the Palestinians off the face of the earth, that G-d should destroy them all. That they are Amalek!

We don’t need to hear Israel’s side of the story anymore—we know it by heart. We’ve been parroting it to our critics since childhood without ever having stopped to think about the reasons why. And now that we’re questioning the party line, the “official stance” of the Jewish people, it’s a problem for you? Well good. I hope it bothers the hell out of you. It should bother every Jew. It should keep us all up at night. Because until this conflict is resolved, we shall never truly be free of the burden it places upon all of us, nor the contempt it fosters towards us.

Eden continues:

It’s hard enough to get people to think through the long-term ramifications of security policy and demographic trends when their children are being blown up on buses. How does it help matters to reopen the very question of a Jewish state?

This statement is a delegitimization of Palestinian concerns. It infers that Palestinian militants are somehow ruthless killers and Islamic “moonbats” who operate solely out of a hatred of Jewish people, rather than for legitimate reasons, like the wholesale acquisition of their country from beneath their feet. [No it’s not. I need to read more slowly.] Eden apparently can not see, however, that the question of the Jewish state is precisely the basis for 55 years of war and conflict, and a new rising trend in antisemitism. If we are to heal the wound, we must open it to clean it!

Oh and this… This is just priceless. Nearing conclusion, Eden writes:

And, please, oh pretty please, enough with this argument about the need for Zionists to finally confront the reality of their movement’s past. Israeli society has made great strides during the past 15 years in recognizing the reality of Palestinian suffering and recognizing their legitimate nationalist yearnings: Ehud Barak was elected prime minister after remarking that had he been born a Palestinian, he probably would have ended up a terrorist. Ariel Sharon lectures his cabinet about the folly of occupying another people. Amram Mitzna, who was in charge of the West Bank during the first intifada, ran for prime minister insisting on the creation of two states – and polls indicated that thought the voters didn’t trust him in the drivers seat, they liked the map he was promising to use. I could go on and on.

Just for the record, Ehud Barak continued to expand settlements in the West Bank at a rate rivaled only by Ariel Sharon in his current administration. And please, please don’t even get me started on Sharon. I swear to G-d, if I hear one more meatheaded Israeli call him a war hero I’m going to burst a blood veseel.

You know, when George W. Bush was campaigning for president, he presented himself as a champion of state’s rights. But when he got into office, that didn’t stop him from overturning states’ decisions on medical marijuana, nor sending federal agents to threaten doctors with the revocation of their licenses for prescribing it to sick patients. Or how about after September 11th, when Bush said “The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him.” Only six months later, Bush is quoted as saying, “I don’t know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don’t care. It’s not that important. It’s not our priority.”

Yeah, hi, they’re politicians! They’re professional liars! That’s what they do for a living! A politician will say whatever it takes to get into office, and once he’s there, whatever he must to placate the masses. They are all full of shit. You’d think a journalist should know this.

Beneath the speeches and soundbytes, under all the placating and kowtowing, underneath all that rhetoric, the actual policies being carried out paint a very different picture of Israel: one of a brutal and humiliating occupation, under which the expansion of illegal settlements continues, and under which Palestinians continue to be persona non gratta.

Some fucking stride that is. Children are acceptable collateral damage and everything is just peachy-fucking-keen. Ami, ask yourself—why should Palestinians negotiate with Israel for a two-state solution when Israel treats them as if they were subhuman? “Call us back when you get over it,” huh? You want us to get over why we’re partaking in ethnic cleansing, and just get on with the cleansing, is that it? Or perhaps a better question for you, sir—if Israel is to be a Jewish-only state from which Palestinians are to be expunged, forced behind barbwired fences, and shot on sight if they attempt to traverse it, what truly makes Israel all that different from Nazi Germany? If you can answer that question without throwing a hissy-fit—without indignantly demanding, “how dare [I] draw such comparisons!”—if you can answer that question logically and coherently and show me what truly amounts to a fair difference which justifies Israel’s actions, I’ll buy you a smoothie.

In the meantime, the question of the Jewish state is still on the table. And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

4 thoughts on “Wrestling With Zion: Round 2

  1. “Or perhaps a better question for you, sir—if Israel is to be a Jewish-only state from which Palestinians are to be expunged, forced behind barbwired fences, and shot on sight if they attempt to traverse it, what truly makes Israel all that different from Nazi Germany?”

  2. Mo,
    As soon as you take a deep breath you will see how silly your comment above is.
    1. Israel would prefer to not have to do these things. They do them because they feel they have to. A large majority of Israelis would love for the Pals to accept a decent offer, take their own state and be done with it.
    2. Defending the border of your own country from hostile parties by force is not nazism. It is basic international norms.
    We may disagree on method, but to compare it to nazism is a distant and inappropriate comparison.

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