(Ted Belman) Shaul Magid, professor of Jewish Studies at Indiana U, asks, “What if the Left Abandonned Israel?” and suggests that Israel would go to hell in a handbasket. “Be careful what you wish for,” he warns.
For him, the left are “basically liberal-minded and believers in civil rights and the rights of the oppressed — at least in the abstract.” He suggests that the “messianics and revisionists” of the right, on the other hand, aren’t. Everyone believes in civil rights in the abstract. It’s when you deal with reality other considerations and values come into place.
I also believe in the “rights of the oppressed,” but I differ with the left in that I see the Jews in Israel as the oppressed ones, not the Palestinians (at least, the Palestinians are not oppressed by the Jews).
We Israelis are oppressed by everyone, including the U.N., the State Department, the EU, and the Muslims, including the Palestinians. We are oppressed by 60,000-plus rockets aimed at us by our immediate neighbors and by threats of annihilation. And for what? It’s either because we exist, which the left and the Arabs think is a crime, or because we are “occupiers,” which much of the world finds unconscionable. They forget that UNSC Res. 242 authorized Israel to remain in occupation until she had recognized and secure borders. They argue that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies, even though Israel is not occupying the land of another signatory to the treaty as provided therein.
But even if the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply, Israel’s primarily obligation is to treat the people occupied humanely. In this regard, 95% of the Palestinians are totally governed by the Palestinian Authority. Nowhere in the treaty does it say that the occupier must end the occupation. In any event, the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is fully set out in the Oslo Accords or 1995. There is no suggestion in it that Israel must end the occupation without a negotiated agreement. So spare me the crocodile tears about the “occupation.”
The condemnation of Israel is based on the belief that the disputed territories are Palestinian. How so? They have never exercised sovereignty over said lands.
The Arabs rejected the Partition Plan in 1948 that would have led to their sovereignty and invaded Israel instead. For the next nineteen years the West Bank was under Jordanian control, and no one ever called for a Palestinian state. In 1967, the Arabs were utterly defeated in a war they began. As a result, the UNSC passed Res. 242, which does not require Israel to withdraw from all the territories. At the Khartoum Conference, the Arabs rejected Res. 242 and agreed on the three nos: no recognition, no negotiations, and no peace. Arafat accepted Res. 242 because such acceptance was a precondition to entering the Oslo Accords, but he never agreed to its terms. And now they reject negotiations.
Israel, on the other hand, can claim sovereignty over these lands, pursuant to the San Remo Resolution of 1919 and the Palestine Mandate of 1922 which granted the Jews the right to reconstitute their homeland in Palestine and the right to close settlement of the land. She can also claim sovereignty over these lands by virtue of a continuous presence in the land for 3,000 years, by virtue of 1,000 years of sovereignty, by virtue of acquiring the land in a defensive war, or by insisting that only the Jordan River would constitute secure borders.
Magid quotes Zachary Braiterman with approval:
I used to think that American Jews had the right and obligation to stake ideological claims in Israeli politics. I was wrong. I don’t have anything to say. Legalize outposts? Go ahead. Beat the hell out of Hamas or Hezbullah? I won’t object. Hit the Iranians? I hope you all know what you’re doing, because the mess is yours if you make it, and there is not a lot that the American Jewish community will be (able) to do if things go south. Desecrate mosques, uproot olive trees, beat up a Danish demonstrator, pass racist legislation, muzzle criticism, harass people at the airport?
Each one of these complaints shows a profound ignorance of the law or the context. Each one can be rebutted to the satisfaction of a fair minded person.
Historically, the Zionism of Braiterman was the norm. Even given the less-than-charitable things Ben-Gurion had to say about the Arabs and the ways in which Israel treated its Arab population during times of conflict, the Zionist mainstream was committed to a humanistic and liberal ethos, even as it failed in significant ways.
This is true, but why did it fail? Because the Arabs would have none of it. And that’s the point: why it is no longer the norm. The Jewish left prefer to ignore the reality. The Arabs are dedicated to destroying the Jewish state, in phases if necessary. The charters of both Hamas and Fatah say so. Sharia says so. The incessant preaching of hatred says so. The support for terrorism says so. The unwillingness to compromise their maximalist demands says so. Yet the left blame Israel for the lack of peace.
The unspoken merger of the messianic and neo-revisionist right, coupled with the politicization of the haredi has given rise to an increasingly uncompromising ethnocentrism and, arguably, a redefined Zionism.
True enough. But by characterizing the new Zionism as “ethnocentric,” Megid is opening up a can of worms. He is embracing the canard that Zionism is racism. He is arguing against the Jewish particular in favor of universalism or multiculturalism. Those values might be appropriate for America, though I prefer the melting pot to multiculturalism. In fact, so do most Americans and Europeans. Multiculturalism has proven a failure, and its bitter fruits have yet to be realized in full.
Megid regrets that Israel was not able to “attain a balance necessary for its rightful place as a society among the nations of the free world.” But why must Israel be like everyone else? Why can’t it remain a pumpernickel in a store of white bread? Besides, Israel is in the Middle East, which is not part of the free world. The Arabs are barring Jews and Christians from Arab countries. In Egypt and Nigeria and elsewhere, they are killing Christians and burning churches. No multiculturalism for them. No universalism for them, except when Islam dominates the world.
While the Jewish left embraces the Muslim Brotherhood at home and abroad — and, I believe to America’s detriment — Israel prefers to keep her distance from the forces which are bent on destroying her. In order to defend herself, she must embrace her ethnicity, not eschew it.
I accept that many Jews who embraced the Zionism of their youth “understand quite well and are deeply informed — not only about the political realities but about the underlying history of the conflict.” But so are the Jews who embrace the new Zionism. The difference being that the former want Israel to be a state of all its citizens rather than a Jewish state.
The latter apparently is too Jewish for them.
In the end, it’s not about old and new Zionism, but rather about survival. The left wants Israel to give in to the demands of the Arabs and the international community in order to survive, though history does not support this belief. The right believes that doing so would lead to Israel’s destruction. The right prefers peace through strength.
Anyone left in the left who isn’t dealing with these issues is in denial.