Shaqued Morag, being arrested by Israeli police during a recent demonstration in Jerusalem. In May, she was on a 3 city speaking tour in Canada. Over a hundred concerned Canadian Jews came to hear her speak in Ottawa. Her criticism of the illegal Israeli settlements, and her argument that Israel should end its occupation of the West Bank is popular among many Canadian Jews, but very unpopular in Israel where her organization is regarded as “extreme leftist”. Read more.
Shaqued Morag, executive director of Peace Now, a liberal Zionist Israeli organization, was invited to do a three city speaking tour in Canada by its Canadian counterpart – Canadian Friends of Peace Now (CFPN). Morag hopes for an Israel that is “both Jewish and democratic”. She is trying to convince liberal Canadian Jews that the 2 state solution is not only still possible, but necessary, if Israel is to continue to exist as a Jewish State.
Peace Now argues that allowing the Palestinians to have a small unarmed state of their own is in Israel’s best interest because making some compromise with the Palestinians will increase security and prosperity for Israel.
The idea of protecting Israel by the creation of a mini state for Palestinians is a relatively easy sell to many Canadian Jews. But in Israel, the “left” (i.e. defined as those would support ANY accommodation with the Palestinians) has been reduced to a tiny number.
Those who (…) support a 2 state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are a dwindling band. In the April election, they (…) won a combined total of just 10 seats in the 120 seat Knesset.
Marc Mackinnon, Senior International Correspondent, Globe and Mail
“The left in modern Israeli politics, is a term conflated with anyone who opposes the increasingly nationalist right-wing consensus (…). Leftists are, in the inflammatory words of Mr. Netanyahu’s son Yair, “traitors.”, notes Mackinnon.
Morag’s attachment to what she calls the “original vision” of Zionism as a Jewish State is very clear. She refers to the lofty ideals expressed in Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence, which was promulgated at the very same time Zionist forces were forcibly expelling Palestinians and confiscating their lands.
“Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence envisions a democratic Jewish state with equality for all citizens regardless of race, religion or sex,” says Morag, in a CFPN summary document called Morag Speaking tour – 7 takeaways. “But that inspiring vision is being undermined through a right-wing ethos that champions Jewish supremacy above all.
“The regressive Nation-State Law, declared last year, emphasizes Israel’s Jewish character but omits mention of democracy and equality. The military rule of 2.8 million disenfranchised West Bank Palestinians is supposed to be temporary. But the increasingly entrenched settlement enterprise threatens to make the occupation permanent”.
Liberal Zionists – friends or not?
Morag and her small organization show considerable courage in the face of vicious attacks by an increasingly right wing Israeli society which brands her a “traitor” (and worse). As an Israeli Jew, her principled call to end the occupation of the West Bank is admirable and deserves support.
But ending the occupation, and creating a Palestinian mini state (less than three times the surface area of Ottawa) does little to help the five million Palestinians who remain, and would remain, refugees living in appalling conditions in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan (not to mention Gaza).
Those who believe in the principles of democracy and equality will have a difficult time accepting Morag’s willful blindness to Israel’s “original sin” – the creation of a Jewish State through the forcible removal of over 750,000 Palestinians in 1947/48 (“the Nakba”).
That event, and the ongoing consequences for the refugees who are denied their right to return so that Israel can remain a Jewish State, have to be acknowledged and dealt with.
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