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.
“The decline and demonization of ‘the left’ represents a historic change in Israeli politics,” notes Mark MacKinnon, the Globe and Mail’s senior international correspondent.
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.
Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) encourages and promotes a thoughtful discussion among Canadians on the Israel/Palestine issue, including a well informed and sensitive discussion about solutions. CTIP encourages serious people who disagree with any column to make comment. Disagreements respectfully offered are welcome. To learn more about what CTIP does, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shaqued seems to be a courageous and honest person. I respect that as a Palestinian-Canadian. The problem, though, with Peace Now that it is still running on an outdated platform. Israel has totally destroyed the two-state solution, and they can not pretend otherwise. For example, it rejected a historic offer in 2002 when all Arab states offered Peace Initiative based on a 2SS and full normalization of relations with Israel:
Israel has a different agenda: ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in all historic Palestine. Israel is working to expel and force all Palestinians out.
Peace Now may argue that their platform was progressive 25 years ago. Today, the context has totally changed and this platform is irrelevant. Israeli election results demonstrate that. I believe they need to choose a new path. One option is to work with Palestinians and international human rights activists towards a new vision based on equality for all and addressing the rights and needs of Palestinian refugees.
“The idea of protecting Israel” belies the idea of a “principled call” to anything. Same old problem of ghastly immorality: all that matters to these people is what is arguably beneficial to Israel, damned be the Palestinians. Zionist left and right differ only on how damned they ought to be.
Precisely why the pseudo-debate inside Israel at best is irrelevant to a just peace.
Hey Robert, Thanks for your comment.
My main concern is the debate inside Canada, not in Israel. And here, I don’t believe it is a “pseudo debate”, I think it is real.
Most Canadian Jews are fearful of what might happen to Jews if they didn’t have a strong state of their own. Many liberal Zionists know about and are concerned about the injustices inflicted on the Palestinians but fear that the injustices that might be inflicted on Jews could be much worse (e.g. some kind of expulsion, massacre, etc. etc.)
I don’t share that assessment of risk, but it is not groundless. it has to be addressed seriously. With respect, I don’t think “damning” them will help move things forward.
Peter, I beg to differ. You’ve entirely missed my point:
The two-state solution is as dead in the water as a too many right whales. Israel had condemned it to it’s doom years ago. Pretending otherwise is disingenuous.
This “most Canadian Jews are fearful” canard is as old as the hills. Canadian Jews have a strong state for them: it’s called Canada. Any “state of their own” as you put it, you mean Israel perhaps, requires that they disenfranchise if not dispossess those who are not not “their own.” Please re-assure us you don’t support this.
Yet as long as we use fear to rationalize evil, evil will prevail. The Palestinian Church has called the occupation “evil.” Full stop. My faith commitment refuses to allow me to provide a fig leaf for evil.
Damning won’t move things forward: Precisely. Zionists left or right, two-state, three-state or no-state, continue to damn Palestinians to dispossession, servitude, and misery. You disagree?
Hey Robert, sorry if you think I have missed your point. Would you mind restating it?
I don’t think that the statement that “most Canadian Jews are fearful” is a canard. I think it is a statement of reality. I base it on quite a bit of experience in my courses, public speaking and private conversations with Jews.
You and I may think that that fear is exaggerated (or even completely unfounded) but that does not make the fear any the less real, or powerful as a motivator.
I don’t agree with Zionism – of any variety. But I know that most Jews, and probably most Canadians, do accept the Zionist idea that Jews need/deserve to have a state of their own. (This is even accepted by the NDP, Elizabeth May, the United Church of Canada, etc. etc.). I wish this were not the case, but damning it doesn’t really help much.
The fear of which you write is both real and deep. It has been carefully planted and nourished. Some adults cynically expand and exploit it to justify their actions,
As children, we hear two kinds of stories:
The first are origin tales. Both in Hebrew School and in our family we hear stories from Biblical times. In these stories, the protagonists and heroes are invariably Jews. When other people appear they are usually quite secondary and often characterized as barbarians, invaders, or people to be conquered by the Israelites. The Jewish heroes capture cities, repel invaders, and build. The others invade and destroy. From these stories we get the impression that Jews were the dominant group and the righteous owners of what came to be known as the “holy land”.
These stories are sometimes elaborated to the point that they contradict the Hebrew Bible. Recently, I read claims that the Jews are the ones who first settled Jerusalem whereas the Bible says that King David conquered it from another group and made it his capitol.
Archeological research does not always support these stories but they persist. Pro Israel writers seize on every bit of Archeological evidence of early Jewish presence but rarely mention the many pieces of evidence that others were also there.
I imagine that all cultures use such stories to build a sense of identity. I know that I heard the same kind of identity-building stories in Ireland and read them in older German books. They remind me of the “Cowboy and Indian” stories that I also heard as a kid. In those stories, cowboys were the heroes and did no wrong. The Indians were just in the way of progress.
The second class of stories we hear as children are Holocaust stories and stories of Progroms. These were often personal stories told originally by from family members who had experienced true antisemitism in Europe and escaped the holocaust. We never heard of the suffering of non-Jews at that time..
It is the combination of these two sets of stories that is the source of the fear that we need to fight. I have met Jews who are fully aware of the bias and incompleteness in these tales but deliberately distort events to justify the conquering and “cleansing” of Palestine. This allows them to interpret every anti-semitic act as evidence of the need for Israel and every criticism of Israeli policies as anti-semitic.
Discussion of the scandalous mistreatment of non-Jewish people in Palestine does not defeat these stories. It only leads to groups like Peace Now who recognize the policies as wrong and want to stop the mistreatment of Palestinian Arabs but insist on (and believe strongly in) the need for a Jewish State.
The fear is also strengthened by the understandable but counterproductive rhetoric of some Palestinians who claim to want to kill or exile the immigrant Jews and their descendants. Such statements are frequently quoted in pro-Israel literature as evidence that Israel needs to do what they are doing.
I think that the only way to fight the fear is with other stories. The origin stories must be matched by origin stories by other groups represented in Palestine. The Holocaust stories must be supplemented by other tales of racist behaviour in Europe and elsewhere. If the stories are complete enough, people will understand that they cannot build their group’s security by making others insecure.
Peter, rather than restate, here’s clarification. On damning (as in “condemning”: Zionists of all stripes have and continue to “damn Palestinians to dispossession, servitude, and misery.”
On fear: on previous posts you have been rightly questioned about for speaking about “most Canadian Jews,” hence “canard.” Such a claim merely parrots what some Zionist organizations want us to believe.
Moreover, to then make “Jewish fear” the issue that needs to addressed, rather that the evil of dispossession, violence, war crimes and occupation that is rationalized by fear perverts any hope of a just peace, something Zionists have successfully done at least since Oslo. Why? By making Jewish fear the issue that its Palestinian victims must solve, rather than what has been done to the Palestinians the problem that Israel, its perpetrator, must solve, turns justice on its head. A parallel would be making white man’s fear the problem in Canada, and one that aboriginals here must solve, rather than vice-versa.
You are correct when you say that it is “the evil of dispossession, violence, war crimes and occupation ” that must be addressed and defeated. However, to do that, the fear that Peter wrote about must be recognized and understood. Understanding and reducing that fear is a means to the end, not the end itself. Defeating a fear does not mean accepting it or yielding to it. It means recognizing it and getting people to deal with it themselves. When people recognize that their fear is irrational, they can stop using it as an excuse to do evil.
Peace Now envisions a small “unarmed state”. I consider that an oxymoron.
Moraq says “Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence envisions a democratic Jewish state with equality for all citizens regardless of race, religion or sex,” That too contains an inherent contradiction. It is the word “Jewish” that introduces the inconsistency, It is completely unnecessary.
When Israel was being founded, many Jews sought a refuge, a safe place. By trying to make their refuge a state that was biased against other inhabitants, they made it unsafe for all. By insisting on having a Jewish State, they created a state where someone wearing a T-shirt bearing the Hebrew word for Peace is arrested and considered to be a traitor.
For Israel to be a place of safety for all Jews, it needs to be a place of safety for all.
About all you can say now is that if Israel rejects the last chance for a 2 state solution, either advanced by the Israeli left or the international community, it should expect the international sanctions and shunning recently proposed by the UN Palestinian rights UN rapporteur Michael Lynke and every kind of resistance by the Palestinian people through all means both violent and non violent. And if Canada is still able to speak frankly to its friend Israel it shld make clear that the worst is coming and Israel should never expect to be accepted as a Jewish democratic civilized state free from conflict.
Israel de facto already had rejected the last chance for a 2-state solution years ago; if there was any doubt, Trump supported them in sealing its fate.
This dead horse being flogged serves only as a convenient diversion for the ever-deepening nakba, while providing a fig leaf for its supporters such as our government.
Thanks for this thoughtful, important discussion. As a Jewish anti-Zionist, I’d offer these thoughts to put in context (while opposing) the position of liberal Zionists:
(1) Israel is a colonial settler enterprise, like Canada, Australia, South Africa, the US, and others. Like them, it privileges “white” settlers, some of whom originally were fleeing oppression, but it mainly serves international capitalist interests. Like them, Israel uses claims of victimhood and divine right to justify expelling, killing, and oppressing original peoples.
(2) In the case of Israel, Zionism is the specific ideology used to justify conquering, expelling, killing, and oppressing Palestinians. Zionism is not Judaism. It violates core Jewish values. It is based on Christian Zionism, was founded by secular Jews hostile to Judaism, and historically was opposed by the three major branches of Judaism and by most secular Jews.
(3) However, mainstream Jewish organizations and many Jews now identify as Zionists, confused by Zionist rhetoric of defending and representing Jews. Zionists play into their fears and pride in Israel. This is especially so since Jews have been granted white privilege largely because of Israel’s legitimacy. (On the other hand, a significant and rising proportion of Western Jews, especially young Jews, now reject Zionism and criticize Israel.)
(4) The oppression of Jews in the Christian West was brutal for over 1500 years. Most imperial powers collaborated in the Holocaust and refused to admit entry to fleeting Jews. Instead, they supported the creation of Israel as a Jewish state. Zionists exploit the resulting fear and distrust that Jews feel toward Gentiles (and also the guilt of Christians) to claim Jews “need” and “deserve” a Jewish state.
(5) Historically, Christian rulers set up a few elite Jews as middle agents—the visible face of oppression. When peasants rebelled, rulers would direct their rage against “the Jews,” often resulting in violent expulsion. Then other Christian rulers would defend Jews, and welcome them–until the next round of attacks, creating a cyclical pattern of antisemitism. Israel now functions as the middle agent, the most visible face of global corporate oppression. Its anti-Palestinian oppression and its allegiance with global oppressive powers fuels real rising antisemitism against all Jews. This terrifies many Jews, who cling even harder to Israel as their only source of security.
(6) Zionists now claim that criticism of Israel, as “the collective Jew” constitutes “the new antisemitism.” Western governments (spurred on by the Israel lobby) attack as “antisemitic” valid criticism of Israel by progressives (such as Jeremy Corbyn, CUPW, and the World Social Forum). This confuses Jews and well-intentioned Gentiles who dread being called antisemitic and chills valid criticism of Israel.
(7) Like liberal Whites, liberal Zionists try to appease their guilt and appear virtuous by calling for toothless reforms, while supporting the underlying oppressive system. The “two-state solution” and a diplomatic “peace process” overseen by the US are the last remaining straws of credibility to which liberal Zionists cling. The “two-state solution” was never just and is no longer even feasible. The US was never a disinterested honest broker. And Israel now has abandoned any pretence of supporting either a Palestinian state as it continues to expand and consolidate its total control. Liberal Zionists refuse to get off the fence and choose between justice and Zionism. Their credibility is shrinking, while that of non- or anti-Zionist Jewish groups is rising.
(9) While I agree with Peter that Jewish fear helps to explain why so many Jews are Zionists, it is not an excuse for oppressing Palestinians and Zionism is a false god which actually jeopardizes the security of Jews.
thanks for your thoughtful comment.
I hope there is no doubt in anyone’s mind – I do not agree with Zionism and vigorously oppose the oppression of Palestinians.
Our common objective, is to change the minds of Canadians and in the end to change Canadian policy towards the Israel/Palestine issue.
In my view, in order to do that we need a clear idea of why people think the way they do.
Most Jews think that the idea of Israel as a Jewish State is good and justified, though the liberal ones are opposed to some of Israel’s policies.
That is also the position of most Canadians, including ALL of the political leaders, ALL of the Church leaders and almost ALL of the union leaders.
Our challenge is to change their minds. Best.
Thanks Diana, for this great overview. Peter, I think it’s a bit categorical to say that ALL political leaders, church leaders and union leaders think that the idea of Israel as a Jewish state (assuming that means a state that gives Jews more rights than others) is good and justified. From where I sit in faith-based advocacy for Palestinians, I think there is increasing ambivalence, if not outright disagreement with that notion. I think that’s true of union and political leaders as well. The United Church of Canada, Mennonite Church Canada, Friends, and the Unitarians are challenging Zionism in various ways, especially now that the “left” is being squeezed out.
Thanks for your comment. Yes I was a bit categorical, point taken.
On the church side, I was thinking mostly of the old line established churches like Anglicans, Catholics and UCC. I am not in a position to speak for ALL church leaders.
And I don’t want to disparage the excellent work done by folks like Sabeel, UNJPPI, Mennonite Central Committee, Unitarians for Social Justice, etc.
However, as far as I know, its still the official position of the all the big churches that the answer to the Israel/Palestine issue is a 2 state solution – in which one state will be the Jewish State of Israel. This is the same position as the liberal Zionist organizations like Canadian friends of Peace Now.
To focus on the United Church, for example, the resolution they adopted after their big convention about 10 years was to support the right of return of Palestinian refugees “while maintaining the demographic balance of Israel”. I.e. to make sure Israel remains a Jewish state.
Of course, I don’t know what Church, or union or political leaders believe in their hearts. But the public positions they almost ALL take reflect a liberal Zionist view.
If you know of some who take a different view, please let me know. I will happily stand corrected.
Thanks Diana for your clear insights. Your last point is salient: fear is no excuse for oppression. The remedy is justice, not this interminable project of addressing the Hydra of fear.
Peter, you know not whereof you speak: “the old line established churches like Anglicans, Catholics and UCC…all the big churches that the answer to the Israel/Palestine issue is a 2 state solution – in which one state will be the Jewish State of Israel.This is the same position as the liberal Zionist organizations like Canadian friends of Peace Now.”
As someone who has devoted a good chunk of my life working with these churches on I/P, I say your statement is simply false, not least the claim about support for “the Jewish state of Israel, and is defamatory. Please retract.
I would be happy to retract if you can show where I am wrong. But I don’t think I am wrong.
Which of the 3 churches I mentioned does not support a 2 state solution (which means of course supporting the idea of a Jewish state?) How are the Anglican, Catholic or UCC positions different from that of Canadian friends of Peace Now? In fact, I would say CFPN has been more aggressive in denouncing the occupation than any of the others. But on the fundamental idea of a Jewish state, all are in agreement as far as I know.
This is not to disparage the intelligence, hard work or dedication of people like you who work in those churches. Nor to disparage the leaders, who are bound by agreed church policy.
I hope you (and others) can effect changes in those organizations. But I don’t think it has happened yet.
Peter, I can’t show you where you’re wrong, because, to my knowledge, you’ve just invented this stuff. Read the Church-endorsed KP document. Read the subsequent NCCOP document. Your false claims are specifically therein rejected by the Churches.
Please show us where you’re correct. You say, “the fundamental idea of a Jewish state, all are in agreement as far as I know.” Specifically for the Catholics and Anglicans whom you smear, you are obliged to show us the evidence. All the Churches have their positions in print. Which documents are you using to make this specific claim about support for “a Jewish state”?
Hey Robert, Thanks for your question.
I am sorry you think I am “smearing” anyone. I do not intend to do so. As I said before, I am very appreciative of the work done by those Churches (including the Pope), and by the progressive people who are active there.
But I stand by what I said. I think its true.
How about this quote from an official UCC document.
“The United Church and the Canadian government both hold to a vision of a state for Palestine and a state for Israel, each within internationally recognized borders, living at peace with one another and their neighbours in the Middle East. The differences arise in how to arrive at that vision.”
Of the 3 mainline churches, I believe the UCC has shown the most sympathy for the Palestinians. Good for them. But it is essentially the same position as that of Canadian Friends of Peace Now, or any other liberal Zionist organization.
I thought I might help by researching the Anglican (Canadian) position and the Kairos document
Here are the relevant parts of what I found at — https://www.anglicanjournal.com/anglicans-pass-hotly-debated-palestine-israel-resolution/
(dated July 6, 2013 — is there something more recent?) … After a long and passionate debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meeting in Ottawa has passed a resolution on the issue of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.
The resolution reiterates the established positions of the church, which “recognize the legitimate aspirations, rights and needs of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace with dignity within sovereign and secure borders; condemns the use of all kinds of violence, especially against civilians; calls for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza); and calls upon Israel, as an occupying power, to recognize the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer and settlement of its citizen in occupied territories. ”
However, it also calls on Canadian Anglicans to take some new steps, including educating themselves more deeply.
The resolution commits the church to act with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and other ecumenical partners to:
enable deeper church-wide awareness of and response to the call of the Kairos Palestine document: A Moment of Truth (see below)
educate the church about the impact of illegal settlements on the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis; about imported products identified as produced in or related to the illegal settlements and misleadingly labelled as produced in Israel
explore and challenge theories and beliefs that deny the right of Israel to exist
There was also a concern that this resolution followed in the footsteps of a United Church of Canada resolution that called for a boycott of goods produced in the occupied territories that are labelled as Israeli products. Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster responded, saying this resolution “calls for nothing approaching that. It calls us to learn more about these products.”
I looked at the kairos document. It mentions the occupation 28 times and refugees once. It allows for violent resistance. It is mute on one-state/two-state (unless I missed something).
It stipulates that Jerusalem must be united: “… and it is on this prophetic vision and on the international resolutions concerning the totality of Jerusalem that any political solution must be based. This is the first issue that should be negotiated because the recognition of Jerusalem’s sanctity and its message will be a source of inspiration towards finding a solution to the entire problem.
It supports boycott “of everything produced by the occupation” and does not mention BDS: “4.2.6 Palestinian civil organizations, as well as international organizations, NGOs and certain religious institutions call on individuals, companies and states to engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation. We understand this to integrate the logic of peaceful resistance. These advocacy campaigns must be carried out with courage, openly sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice.”
hey Arthur, thank you for your diligence.
I looked at the “NCCOP document” that Robert referred to, (if I am correct) an open letter from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement.
It differs from the Canadian position in three important ways …
1. It is passionate and, not surprisingly, has a tone of desperation: “Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. The current status-quo is unsustainable. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land.”
2. It supports a boycott and, implicitly, BDS: … our right and duty to resist the occupation creatively and nonviolently. We ask that you speak in support of economic measures that pressure Israel to stop the occupation and go further to support sport, cultural and academic measures against Israel until it complies with international law and UN resolutions urging the ending of its occupation, Apartheid and discriminations, and accepts refugees to return to their home land and properties. This is our last peaceful resort. In response to Israel’s war on BDS, we ask that you intensify that measure.
3. It uses the term Apartheid to describe Israel: “That you call things as they are: recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law …”
4. It asks that the WCC “unequivocally condemn the Balfour Declaration as unjust …; It was his infamous declaration, after all that laid the ground for the concept of an ethno-religious state – the very same thing our region is suffering today.”
But it is silent on one-state/two state.
Thank you again, Arthur,
I was not familiar with the NOOCP document. It is quite good. But it comes from Palestine, of course and is not the position of any of the Canadian churches as far as I know.
Its position is quite different from that of Canadian Friends of Peace Now. It not only calls for ending the “occupation” but also refers to ending the discrimination inside Israel and accepts the right of return of the refugees.
It does not endorse the idea of 2 states living side by side, etc. (as all the Canadian churches do).
Thanks Arthur. Precisely!
Peter, so you’ve read Arthur’s references. Your wrong. Walk this back. And please stop pretending you know what the churches are doing on Palestine, and stop smearing us. CFOS is suing B’nai Brith for smearing us. True allies for peace don’t do this kind of thing.
Specifically, there is absolutely nothing in Arthur’s quoted Anglican Resolution A172 (which I helped craft and was on the floor as an invited resource person for the entire “long and passionate debate”) to substantiate your smear that as to the Anglicans, “the fundamental idea of a Jewish state, all are in agreement as far as I know.” It is the exact opposite for the Anglicans. Furthermore, Arthur quotes the resolution’s reference to Kairos Palestine.
Likewise the Catholic position. In the years I served as the only ever representative of all the Canadian mainline churches in Jerusalem, as Executive Director of that office of the Middle East Council of Churches, I was invited to hear the Vatican emissary address these issues after the Vatican recognized the state of Israel. He therein repudiated any idea of a Jewish state — he later became known as the Holy Father Pope Benedict. Neither he then, since, nor his successor Pope Francis, have given so much as nod or a wink to the idea of a Jewish state, nor would they.
Peter, tell the truth. Walk back your smears, not least about Anglican and Catholic support for a Jewish state and our holding “essentially the same position as … any other liberal Zionist organization,” if you wish to be taken seriously anymore.
Hey Robert, Thanks again. I’m sorry to get under your skin. I am sure that with a little more discussion we will come to agreement.
You say “Peter, tell the truth. Walk back your smears, not least about Anglican and Catholic support for a Jewish state and our holding “essentially the same position as … any other liberal Zionist organization,” if you wish to be taken seriously anymore.”
Robert – here is (part of) the quote Arthur found (and you referred to) from the Anglican Synod (which if I understand correctly, you were involved in”:
“The resolution reiterates the established positions of the church, which “recognize the legitimate aspirations, rights and needs of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace with dignity within sovereign and secure borders; ”
Doesn’t that mean recognizing Israel??
A little further on it also calls on Canadian Anglicans to “explore and challenge theories and beliefs that deny the right of Israel to exist”
Doesn’t that also mean recognizing Israel?
ROBERT, I CAN READ. SO CAN YOU.
IS THERE A DIFFERENT WAY TO INTERPRET THAT OTHER THAN A DECLARATION OF THE ANGLICAN SUPPORT FOR A JEWISH STATE?
This is not about “smearing’ anyone. This is about having a clear understanding of what different organizations stand for. For example, it is also Elizabeth May’s position. To say that is not to “smear” her, it is to say what position she holds.
I am happy to be proven wrong. If so, I will happily retract. But the evidence shown so far affirms my position.
Peter, you’re getting under my skin because you are being intellectually dishonest in support your smears.
Yes, we, the churches have recognized the state of State of Israel. If you bothered to consider what I wrote, “the Vatican recognized the state of Israel. He therein repudiated any idea of a Jewish state,” you wouldn’t be raising this straw man argument. The Anglicans and Catholics, while recognizing Israel, have never supported a Jewish state, or any ethno-religious state. Unlike you, who seem to be holding a Zionist position on this, these churches will not equate Israel with a Jewish state anymore than they will a Palestinian state with a Muslim state. Thus your specific accusations I quoted in my immediately prior reply are patently false, and smears. Worse, to equate Israel and Jewish state plays into the hands of those who would call the actual Church’s position anti-Semitic.
The Anglicans most prominent South African supporter of Palestinian liberation, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, likewise recognized the state of South Africa but never a white state. In fact he called for BDS in opposition to that false equation.
And if you need any context, know that most Palestinian Christians in historic Palestine live in Israel. The Church, of which they are a part, simply could never accept that dubious equation.
Interesting disagreement. For Robert, it’s extremely important that while Canadian Catholics and Anglicans support a two-state solution and Israel’s “right to exist,” they do not recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” Peter equates the two: “Which of the 3 churches I mentioned does not support a 2 state solution (which means of course supporting the idea of a Jewish state)?”
At one level, it’s a simple misunderstanding. Can you support a two-state solution or Israel’s right to exist without supporting the idea of a Jewish state? Clearly, you can. The Christian organizations support the former but not the latter. Israel complains constantly about the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state. Palestinians won’t; and neither do the Christian churches. I think that’s important, so I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think Peter should equate recognition of Israel or a two-state solution with recognition of “the Idea of a Jewish state.”
(And this after I did more research to show that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops support a two state solution! They do, but they don’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state.)
Is this a distinction without a difference? I think not. It’s important to not accept a state’s preferential treatment of religious groups (except in “cultural” ways; like Canada paying more attention to Christmas than Eid or Rosh Hashanah). If we recognize Israel as a Jewish State does that mean it is permitted to discriminate against non-Jews? That’s the fear, of course. Does it mean that it pays special attention to Jews in danger elsewhere? It’s complicated. Clearly Israel can do far better a treating its citizens equally; and it’s getting worse. I think we should distinguish between “Israel” and “the Jewish State”, as do the Palestinians and the Christian Churches and Robert. I think Peter should do so, too.
I would be happy to retract if you can show where I am wrong.”
Peter, I think it’s important that you have the last word. There should be no ambiguity now about “where are wrong.”
Do the right thing, please: retract.
Hey Robert, Thank you.
After your personal attack about my being “intellectually dishonest” and “smearing” etc. I was not inclined to continue a discussion that did not seem likely to be productive or enlightening.
However, since you insist, perhaps I could ask you, to restate in a couple of lines – 2 or 3 at the most – what it is exactly you would like me to retract.
I will be happy to read it and respond, retracting if I think that is appropriate.
Interesting, complicated and important discussion, I think.
Robert agrees that Canadian Catholics and Anglicans support a two-state solution and recognize Israel’s “right to exist.” But he insists they do not recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.”
Peter equates the two: “Which of the 3 churches I mentioned does not support a 2-state solution (which means of course supporting the idea of a Jewish state)?”
For Peter, the equation is, Israel is a Jewish state, so if you recognize its right to exist, you are, ipso facto, recognizing it as a Jewish state.
I think I agree with Robert. Just because you recognize a state, does not mean you recognize what it does.
I believe we “recognized” South Africa in the 80s. That doesn’t mean we recognized it as an Apartheid state. We can recognize and boycott it at the same time.
We recognize the U.S. That doesn’t mean we have to “recognize” it’s right to invade Iraq.
We recognize Saudi Arabia; does that mean we recognize it as a Muslim state?
I think it’s an important distinction.
States may break international law; do they lose their right to exist?
(I understand that “legally” countries have no “right to exist.” I mean it in a more common sense way. I don’t think that we want to argue that because we don’t like things that Israel or Iran do, it’s fine to invade them and engage in “regime change.” (Of course, that doesn’t prevent the subjects of those regimes from resisting, even violently.)
So if someone asks me if I support Israel’s right to exist, I will say yes. Do I recognize it as Jewish state? No. None of my business. I don’t “recognize” it as anything. Let it call itself a “people’s democratic republic” if it likes. (But I am free to criticize and boycott, etc.)
Just to complicate it further, what does Jewish mean? Is it a religion, an ethnicity, a culture, a nationality? And what do people mean by Jewish state? Some religious Jewish Israelis think Jewish law should take precedence over secular law and that rabbis should run the country. Liberal Israelis want there to be sizeable majority of Jews (which is why they favour ending the occupation) and then would want essentially a liberal, secular society in what remains.
I think if you recognize Israel, you are recognizing that it has a fair bit of freedom to act within its own borders. That doesn’t mean you recognize anything it does within or outside its borders.
I think we should distinguish between “Israel” and “the Jewish State,” as do the PLO and the Christian Churches and Robert. I think Peter should do so, too.
With all respect, I think you are equating a lot of very different situations.
1) Saudi Arabia is a Muslim State. Sunni Islam is the basis of its laws and government. Its Motto (on its flag) is the Muslim creed in Arabic: “There is no god but Allah: Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
2) South Africa became independent and a member of the commonwealth (which it still is today) in the 30s. It did not officially introduce apartheid until 1948. Although it was recognized as an independent country, most countries did not recognize its attempt to split off “homelands” or “bantustans” to exile its black majority and turn them into foreigners. That is what the two-state solution would do in Palestine. If we followed the same policy in Palestine as we did in South Africa (which we did not), we would not recognize the right of the carved off Israel to exist as a separate country. When South Africa became a truly democratic country in the 90s, the homelands disappeared. That gives me hope.
3) Generally, recognition of a state does not imply approval of its policies. It is only supposed to imply that the government recognized has control of its territory. Unfortunately, some states have recognized states or governments that do not have control of their territory. For many years a government in Taiwan was recognized as the government of China even though it controlled only a tiny Island. A recent example is the recognition of Guaido and his allies of convenience as the government of Venezuela even though all his attempts to actually control the country have failed.
4) Israel does have control of its territory and many countries recognize that fact. However, it gained control of that territory by mass immigration, ethnic cleansing of people who had been living there for many centuries, seizure and condemnation of private properties, some massacres, and destruction of many indigenous villages. I do not see that as a righteous process and I don’t think you do either. Thus, while I recognize that Israel does exist, I do not think it has any right to exist; it just does.
David, don’t we agree on #1? Countries recognize Saudi Arabia as a sovereign state but, as far I know, they don’t recognize it as a Muslim State. Can we treat Israel the same?
#2. “If we followed the same policy in Palestine as we did in South Africa (which we did not), we would not recognize the right of the carved off Israel to exist as a separate country.” South Africa is a very bad analogy. It was the international community — the UN — that recommended partition and then recognized Israel; and then the PLO recognized Israel and the Arab League said they would recognize Israel under certain conditions. The Czechs and the Slovaks created two states out of one, along ethnic lines. Should we refuse to recognize them? Not all “partitions” are South Africa and its homelands.
#3. I think I agree. Did I write something that makes you think I don’t?
#4. “While I recognize that Israel does exist, I do not think it has any right to exist; it just does.” I technically agree, as long as you apply that to every other country. As far the nefarious way in which Israel came into existence, well, join the club. Apparently the Roman conquest of the Celts was no picnic.
“The right to exist.”
I’ve been told by people who should know and whom I respect that there is no such thing in international law as the right of states to exist. But according to the UN, there is a right of states to not be invaded and conquered. And we all complain when states attempt “regime change” on other states. “Westphalian sovereignty, or state sovereignty, is the principle in international law that each state has exclusive sovereignty over its territory. The principle underlies the modern international system of sovereign states and is enshrined in the United Nations Charter” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westphalian_sovereignty). All that seems to me to amount to a state’s right to exist. When states recognize each other, they recognize each other’s right to exist. Member states of the UN have a de facto right to exist; other states or organizations cannot arbitrarily interfere with that right. A clear example is Iraq and Kuwait. When states interfere, without UN sanction (as the U.S. did in Iraq War II), it’s a breakdown of international law.
At a formal, legal level, I’m happy to hear counterarguments. But I’m interested in its tactical, practical effects. Someone gets interviewed and criticizes Israel and is asked: “Yes, but does Israel have a right to exist?” — as happened to Tamika Mallory when she was interviewed on The Firing Line (see https://forward.com/opinion/417930/does-israel-have-a-right-to-exist-is-a-trick-question/). And they stammer. I think Mallory refused to answer that question. It looked bad. If an interviewee is prepared, they might say, “That’s a trick question,” or “No. No state has a right to exist.” Which is all fine for a university class or debating club, but in real life it sounds like you’re saying it would be perfectly okay if Iran bombed Israel into oblivion. Or that terrorist attacks are just fine. If you’re looking for a way to scare Jews (inside Israel and here at home) and liberal non-Jews about your real intentions, just say very clearly: “Israel has no right to exist.”
I would answer, “Yes. Of course.” And if pressed, I’d add “The legacy of the Treaty of Westphalia is that all countries have, essentially, a right to exist.” (Of course, nations do not have a right to become states. See, Kurds, Québécois, etc.)
I’d continue now onto the Treaty of Westphalia and its implications for BDS and the one- and two-state solutions, but I’ll give you all a rest.
I raised South Africa and Saudi Arabia because you compared their situation to the situation in Palestine and I consider the 3 situations so different that comparisons can be misleading. I do not want to divert this dedicated blog to a discussion of the problems of those two countries.
1. We do disagree on Saudi Arabia. Whether or not we use the phrase, we recognize Saudi Arabia as a Muslim State. It identifies itself as such and always has; the vast majority of its population would identify itself as Muslim, and it’s laws are explicitly based on Islamic law. Saudi Arabia was not formed by the dubious process that we once euphemistically called “population exchange”.
I don’t think we can treat Israel in the same way. It has a substantial minority that does not identify as Jewish; its population was drastically changed by population exchange; it has not declared that Jewish law is its law. My point was, and remains, that the situations cannot usefully be equated.
2. We agree that “South Africa is a very bad analogy.” That was my point. You raise another bad analogy, the division of former Czechoslovakia. That was a friendly split initiated by the local population without the use of force. It was not forced on the local population by an external body. Incidentally while the UN did recommend a partition of Palestine, I think it was a mistake and it wasn’t fully accepted by either side. I don’t think that the UN had any right to force that partition on a population that did not accept it.
3. I talked about the meaning of recognition because many of the arguments in the thread seemed to be based on the assumption that recognition implied some sort of approval. I am glad that we agree that it does not
4. When we discuss the rather fuzzy concept of “right to exist”, we cannot ignore the history of the state being discussed. If the state came into being without the use of force or population exchange and has the approval of a sizeable majority of its inhabitants it has some right to exist. If, in contrast, it came into existence as a result of the use of violence, destruction, and ethnic cleansing, I see no such right. If it was forced on its inhabitants, and many of those who did not approve were driven out it has no such right. There are many states whose “right to exist” is questionable because they were the result of conquest and population exchange. A state that is the result of an invasion does not have a clear protection against a later invasion that seeks to undo the previous invasion and conquest.
5. Saying that a state does not have an inherent “right to exist” is not the same as saying that some other country has a right to bomb its inhabitants “into oblivion”. If someone were to ask me if Israel had a right to exist in its present form, I would say no. If they asked whether that justified a war by an external force against it, I would also say no.
I found this (https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4335&context=ylj): “Irrelevant Tests of Recognition of Statehood. The existence of the conditions of statehood outlined above — external independence and effective internal government within a reasonably well-defined territory — may be and has often been controversial in reference to particular situations. But, in essence, these conditions are definite and exhaustive. They have nothing to do with the degree of civilization of the new State, with the legitimacy of its origin, with its religion, or with its political system. Once considerations of that nature are introduced as a condition of recognition, the clear path of law is abandoned, and the door opened wide to arbitrariness, to attempts at extortion, and to intervention at the very threshold of statehood.”
That is: Conditions of recognition of a state … “have nothing to do with … the legitimacy of its origin, with its religion …”
In other words, Saudi Arabia is recognized without reference to its religion; Israel (and the U.S. and Canada and Australia and all of South America (and ultimately everywhere else) are recognized without reference to their origins. We don’t have to like it, of course, but that’s what state recognition means; and as has been said so many times it’s turned into a cliche: You can have your own opinions, but you can’t have your own facts.The PLO and the Churches and the UN recognize Israel and Saudi Arabia; they doesn’t mean they recognize them as Jewish and Muslim states, respectively (and they don’t). And in terms of recognition, Israel (in its 1948 borders) is as legally a state as any other recognized state.
That quotation from Yale just takes us back to something that we had already agreed on. It only says that recognition does not imply approval or any other judgement of that state. We agreed on that in the last round.
I believe that when we recognize a state, we recognize that it is what it claims to be.
Our discussion had moved on to the question of “right to exist”. You have already stated that that is not a question that the law talks about and I have accepted that. If the law is silent on that issue, then it becomes a matter of opinion and judgement. To address that fuzzy question, I ask how the state became a state, e.g. how it obtained power and came to control the territory that it claims. That leads me to conclude that Israel has no such right. I do not know your opinion or even if you have one.
I could also point out that the hostilities that have led to Israel having control over the area historically known as Palestine (all of it) never ended. Palestinians continue the fight and Israel continues to claim that residents of the Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza) will not be judged by civil law but are to be tried in military courts. It stations soldiers everywhere in the West Bank and feels entitled to use those forces in Gaza whenever it wants. The wars continue. Israel does not have the rights against invasion that it would have if it had signed a peace treaty and ended hostilities.
As for recognizing that a state is a Muslim state or a Jewish state or any other kind of state, I apply what is known as the Duck Test. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. I recognize that Saudi Arabia passes the Duck Test for Wahibi Sunni Muslim State and Israel is trying very hard to convince itself, and the rest of the world, that it is a Jewish State.
It seems to me that we are using “recognition” inconsistently, sometimes as a legal, formal diplomatic term and sometimes in an everyday sense. You are saying Saudi Arabia quacks like a duck. Clearly we can construct a hierarchy of theocratic states, from Canada close to the secular end and Saudi Arabia at the theocratic end, with Israel somewhere in the middle. No disagreement there. I am saying that with respect to legal recognition, none of that is relevant. When a state is recognized in a formal sense, it has “nothing to do with … its religion.” So the Christian churches and the UN (and you and I) can recognize (in a formal sense) Israel or Saudi Arabia without recognizing their religious status, even though we recognize (in a common sense way) their religious status.
With respect to right to exist: in a legal sense, it seems no country has a right to exist. If you want to create a moral hierarchy of existence (the Parnas Code), you are free to do so, but it has no basis in international law, according to which countries born in sin have exactly the same legal right to exist (apparently none) as countries born in purity.
With respect to “Israel does not have the rights against invasion that it would have if it had signed a peace treaty and ended hostilities,” can you find any basis in international law for that statement or is that another example of the Parnas Code? The salient information is that Israel is recognized as a state by the UN, not whether it has signed peace treaties, etc.
(I would argue there is a legal basis for invasion to free the Occupied Territories from Israeli rule, because here Israel is acting outside its recognized territory. But the same would be true for any member state of the UN.)
I think when we are speaking of recognition or right to exist we need to specify whether we are taking about international law; or about our own moral sense.
If recognition were the black/white decision that you think it is, we would have quite a different world. There are territories that are recognized as states by some countries and not by others (e.g. Kosovo), there are governments recognized by some countries but not by others (e.g. Venezuela), there are areas that are disputed (e.g. Crimea, Taiwan). In all three cases it is the history of the area that determines the decision of each country about the territory in question.
When one country recognizes the existence and government of another, it is recognized as being what it says it is. Things become more difficult if the country changes what it says it is is or if the country doing the recognition changes. In the case of Israel there are countries that have recognized Israel, countries that have withdrawn recognition, countries that have suspended or cut relations with Israel and countries that have never recognized Israel. Some recognize Israel as a Jewish State some do not. Some accept the borders that Israel claims, some do not.
It is also obvious that countries differ in the way that they interpret recognition of Israel.
The only thing we can do on this blog is give our personal opinions and explain why we have them. I recognize that Israel is in control of the area historically called Palestine. However, I think that the methods it used to gain control and the way it continues to maintain control are immoral and apparently (to a non expert) illegal. Thus, I do not think it has a right to exist. Further, I think that the wars Israel fought to gain control were never finished and it may eventually lose control. I hope that no blood is spilled in that process but I do not think that the groups involved are wise enough to prevent further bloodshed.
What exactly is your personal opinion?
Peter, this is my final comment on the matter, directly addressing what you raised in your last post:
As to “smear”, to quote you:
Peter: “This is not about “smearing’ anyone. This is about having a clear understanding of what different organizations stand for. For example, it is also Elizabeth May’s position. To say that is not to “smear” her, it is to say what position she holds.”
My response: Precisely, 100% correct.
But IF you were to falsely “say what position she holds”, accusing her of holding a position she does not hold that could damage her reputation, that’s a smear . You have accused us — the Anglicans and Catholics — of holding reputation-damaging positions we do not hold: smears. That has been proven to you in several posts, which so far you haven’t walked back.
Peter: “restate in a couple of lines – 2 or 3 at the most – what it is exactly you would like me to retract”
My response, as I previously wrote (2-3 lines) :
“Walk back your smears, not least about Anglican and Catholic support for a Jewish state and our holding “essentially the same position as … any other liberal Zionist organization,” if you wish to be taken seriously anymore.””
Peter: “since you insist”
My response: I don’t insist anymore. It’s your integrity and character that are on the line. That’s not my call. This also allows you the space to choose to do not only the right thing, but just as importantly, for the right reasons.
I don’t think it’s about justice. There’s been too much injustice. It can’t be fixed. It’s about a compromise that Palestinians can accept.
I disagree with Peter that we have to worry about Jews’ feelings and fears. The vast majority of Jews in Israel will never accept a compromise acceptable to Palestinians. And Israeli Jews don’t care what Jews outside Israel think. American Evangelical Christians are more important to them.
There are only two ways the Palestinians can win an acceptable compromise or better:
1) The Arab world (with some Muslim allies) will get strong and united enough to wipe out Israel. Given the numbers imbalance, there’s no reason it can’t happen. Given the current state of affairs, there’s no reason to expect it soon.
2) The international community forces Israel, through sanctions or invasion, to accept a compromise acceptable to Palestinians.
3) (If you have a third way, insert here.)
Let’s consider #2.
At present, a small majority of Palestinians prefer a two-state solution (2SS), of the kind envisioned by the Arab Peace Initiative. (I’m surprised that in all the talk about justice and what Israelis and liberal “Zionists” want, there is little consideration of what is wanted by or acceptable to Palestinians. Instead, we prefer to substitute our “analysis” for what Palestinians might actually want.) Also at present, almost every country, foreign organization and Palestinian organization is on record as supporting something like the API. Proving that Israel opposes the 2SS/API is irrelevant, since Israel opposes any solution that might be acceptable to Palestinians.
So one question is: “What is the international community more likely to do — Force Israel to dissolve itself in favour of a single state? Or force Israel to end the occupation so that a Palestinian state can be established?
If the 2SS is not an acceptable solution for the majority of Palestinians and their organizations, they can insist on a single state. But either way, they will still need help from the international community.
Let’s look at how they might get that help.
Edward Said apparently said that it’s the bad luck of the Palestinians that they’re the victims of the victims of the Holocaust. The West carries a great amount of shame about what it did to European Jews. (It should carry a great amount of shame about its betrayal of the Arabs after WW1, but it doesn’t.) So this is where Peter’s concerns about fear come in. It’s not Jews’ fear that must be allayed; it is the West’s. Palestinians must convince the West that Jews will be safe in any new configuration of Israel/Palestine. How can the Palestinians do that?
It is never too late for justice. We cannot change the past but we can work to change the present; we can work to make the future just.
Life is full of compromise. We have to comprise with reality but we do not have to compromise with evil. We certainly do not have to support evil policies and that is what Canada and many other countries are doing now.
Most Israeli Jews do care what Jews elsewhere think. How else can you explain the many programmes (such as Birthright) which are intended to get their support. Many Israelis are uncomfortable with the support that they get from Evangelical Christians. They sense that they (Israeli Jews) are just a means to an end.
We should not be telling Palestinians what they want (and they should not listen if we do) but we should be working to give them a voice and a choice. Right now, their voice is being suppressed and they have almost no choice.
I hope and believe that when Palestinians have a choice, they will make the same kind of choice that South Africans made when their country accepted universal suffrage or the choice that the Republic of Ireland made when it won independence from England. In both cases, the people chose equal rights over reverse prejudice or revenge. Both countries are better off because they did not make any of their citizens feel unsafe.
Too many people are killed in the name of justice. I prefer compromise. Fanatics rarely speak of compromise.
“We should not be telling Palestinians what they want.” But we seem to spend a lot of time telling Palestinians what they SHOULD want.
In South Africa and Ireland, blacks and Catholics, respectively, made up a large majority of the population, which might explain they were fine with giving democratic rights to their small minorities. Israel/Palestine would have close to a 50-50 split, leaving far more room for concern on all sides.
“Most Israeli Jews do care what Jews elsewhere think. How else can you explain the many programmes (such as Birthright) …” Birthright was initiated by North American Jews more than 20 years ago. Far more indicative of Israeli concern for Jews elsewhere is Israel’s treatment of the concerns of Conservative and Reform Jews, who make up a vast majority of American Jews. (There’s a million articles but here’s one: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-for-israel-and-liberal-american-jews-netanyahu-s-next-government-is-end-of-the-line-1.7139880)
I recently spoke to a young women who went to Israel on Birthright two years ago. One evening they sat around and talked about the Holocaust in their lives — grandparents never met or with tattooed arms or deep grief; or visiting Auschwitz — and everyone cried. The next day they heard stories from soldiers about what it’s like to hold your best friend as he dies in your arms. “Nothing has changed, they still want to kill us,” they were told and told each other.
I went to Hebrew school for seven years and grew up with the same stories you did, David. I lost all my grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins in the Holocaust. My father was a follower of Menachem Begin, who was an occasional visitor to our home in Montreal. But I never developed the fear. I don’t know why. I left home when I was 18 and pretty much lost all contact with the Jewish community and religion — until I was also 40 and started to write about Israel/Palestine. I’ve never experienced anti-Semitism and feel quite privileged. I don’t know where the fear comes from, though clearly it real and not just pragmatic and it also has a rational basis (the Holocaust), though clearly the Israel lobby does everything it can to heighten the fear.
How do we get over it? More a question for psychology than political science, I suspect. Or maybe time. Are young Jews less fearful than their parents? Has anyone studied this?
Is it relevant to achieving an honourable compromise for the Palestinians? I don’t think so. As I said before, “(Unless Palestinians and their allies have the military power to overwhelm Israel) it’s not Jews’ fear that must be allayed; it is the West’s. Palestinians must convince the West that Jews will be safe in any new configuration of Israel/Palestine.”
A just agreement is often a compromise, but not all compromises are just. Only a just compromise can fix Palestine.
I think that the near 50-50 split makes it easier to reach an agreement in which all feel safe. It is when one group is far larger or far stronger that the minorities are afraid.
Few of the Israelis that I know are deeply religious. In fact, most do not like the ultra orthodox. They are nationalistic but not especially religious. I found them to be very concerned that North American Jews continue to support Israel. I do not consider the extremely orthodox rabbis who sometimes disparage other branches of Judaism to speak for the average Israeli,
Our backgrounds are similar although I have experienced antisemitism., I fear extremists of all sorts but do not believe that antisemitism is fundamentally different from other forms of prejudice and racism. We agree that the West must end its position of unconditional support for Israel. However, I think that when Jews stop believing,“Nothing has changed, they still want to kill us,” the West will be free and could be fair.
You can be sure that whatever compromise is reached by Israel and Palestine, some people will denounce it as unjust — and will resort to violence.
“I think that the near 50-50 split makes it easier to reach an agreement in which all feel safe. It is when one group is far larger or far stronger that the minorities are afraid.” I can’t take that seriously. You should retract it. Of the two examples you provide (SA and Ireland), the population split is nowhere near 50-50. In Israel proper, where Jews are an overwhelming majority, Palestinians have decent political rights (though lack severely in other rights). In “Greater Israel”, where there is a close to 50-50 split, most Palestinians have almost no political rights. Also, almost every country has many minorities that are nowhere close to 50 percent. Jews and Jamaicans and Tamils in Canada, for example. How will they ever feel safe?
The Israel Jews I know are outraged by Israeli policies. That says more about the Israeli Jews I know then it does about Israeli Jews. If you want to know about the Jews of Israel, look at how they vote — about 6 percent for anti-occupation parties.
You write: “When Jews stop believing,’Nothing has changed, they still want to kill us,’ the West will be free and could be fair.” If Palestinians are dependent on Jews no longer believing “they still want to kill us,” it’s hopeless. Extreme examples, like Hamas and its semi-amended mealy-mouthed charter, must be denounced harshly if there is to be any hope for the West acting on Palestine. The same with terrorist attacks against civilians. But we must not give in to Jewish fears that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Those fears must be ignored or challenged, but not given in to.
I agree with your first paragraph. There will always be extremists who want it all. We can only hope that they are a small minority and not the ones who take control.
As far as the the 50-50 split, I did not say that it was a necessary condition for reaching an agreement. I just don’t see it as a barrier and I think that it can make it easier to find an agreement in which both sides feel safe. However, with wise leadership, the fear of being overwhelmed can be overcome.
In the Republic of Ireland, the Protestant minority was afraid that they would be treated the way the Catholics were treated before independence. Many considered moving North. Some did. However, the people who wrote the Republic’s constitution seem to have been very wise. They resisted the pressure to make Roman Catholicism the state religion. They realized that they had been fighting for equality and religious freedom and that’s how the constitution reads. Its an interesting document with a number of good ideas and worth reading.
I don’t know South Africa as well but my impression is that Mandela was unusually wise for a victorious leader. I have very distant relatives who left in fear of a black majority government. When I met them (in Australia) they seem to regret leaving for a variety of reasons. Their fears had not been realized and they lost a lot by leaving.
In the few weeks that I spent working in Israel, I tried to discuss (mostly listening) the situation with quite a few( clearly not a representative sample). My impression was that, like many here, they were voting against someone not for someone. In other words, they . voting for the least bad person that they thought could win. Several (independently) told me that that they would prefer a peace based on equality “but they just want to kill us”. I heard that from both sides. One problem is that we hear the extremists and assume that they are typical.
Finally, ignoring the fears is, in my opinion, the way to prolong the problem. They will continue and any peaceful solution will meet insurmountable resistance. They must be allayed but that requires a type of leader that I do not see on the horizon. It won’t be easy.
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