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November 4, 2012 2:09 pm

The End of Israel Will Have to Wait: On the Patient Anti-Zionism of the Guardian Left

avatar by Adam Levick

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An anti-Zionist poster. Photo: Gigi Ibrahim.

One of the more misunderstood dynamics of Israeli politics is the Jewish electorate’s move to the right.  The increasing popularity of center-right parties in recent elections – and the increasing marginalization of left-wing parties – is typically characterized (at least in its national security policy context) by many in the media in a manner using “right-wing” in a pejorative manner: meaning less flexible, more hawkish, less open to peace, etc.

In fact, the degree to which Israelis have moved right on the issues of peace and security can be attributed to the failure of Oslo ‘peace process’ – and the broader failure of the ‘land for peace’ strategy, per such unilateral Israeli moves as their withdrawal from S. Lebanon in 2000, and the Gaza disengagement in 2005.

While a strong majority of Israelis still support, in principle, a two-state solution, and a large majority support the evacuation of a substantial portion of the settlements in return for a peace agreement and the end of the conflict, the most important Israeli consensus is almost never reported: A large majority of Israelis assume that the two-state solution will NOT actually resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

So, it’s not that most Israelis don’t passionately support peace.  Rather, most, based on experience, believe that the creation of a Palestinian state will actually make their lives less secure.

As Yoram Ettinger argued:

“The Palestinian Authority’s track record in the 19 years since Oslo has been heavy on hate-education, incitement, terrorism, non-compliance, corruption, repression of fellow Palestinians, support of arch terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, support of anti-U.S. terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, and friendships with Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and other enemies and rivals of the U.S. and Western democracies.

The seismic “Arab Street” has exposed the endemic vulnerabilities of “peace treaties” in the Middle East, highlighting the Arab Middle East as the role model of intra-Arab violence, treachery, unpredictably, instability, fragmentation, non-compliance and violation of human liberties.”

The prospect that the new state of Palestine will become another Gaza-style launching pad for terrorists – with extremists able to operate freely upon IDF withdrawal – is a very real fear, one which much of the left typically ignores.

Further, few Israelis are under the illusion that most Palestinians are prepared to accept peace with a Jewish state within any borders – fears that are very well founded.

In addition to the fact that Palestinian leaders have rejected two offers of statehood since 2000, we’ve noted one especially depressing poll demonstrating that only 23% of Palestinians believe in Israel’s right to exist as the national homeland of the Jews.

Additionally, ignored by most of the mainstream media, the same poll indicates that over 60% of Palestinians express support the two-state solution “(Israel and Palestine”) but eventually hope that one state − Palestine − will prevail.

As I’ve argued previously, the bi-national idea is not only a dead letter for the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews – but represents a political solution which would be militarily resisted if any party tried to impose it.

David Wearing, one state and two states:

You’d could almost believe that David Wearing’s latest ‘Comment is Free’ piece, ‘A two-state solution is the most practical solution‘, Nov. 2, represented a rare expression of support for the two-state solution at the Guardian – where the one-state delusion finds the most fertile ground – but you’d be wrong.

In fact, a hint that the headline is not a quiet accurate reflection of Wearing’s intentions can be found in the strap line of the piece.

“Those calling for a single bi-national state are in the ascendancy but this would entail the end of Israel, which is not realistic.

Note that the end of the Jewish state is characterized not as anything especially undesirable, or immoral, but as simply an idea lacking in practicality…for the moment.

Wearing writes:

“The case for a single, bi-national state is now reasonably familiar. Israel’s illegal settlements are so entrenched that uprooting them to make way for a viable Palestinian state has become impossible. We should therefore call instead for a single, democratic state in the whole of the former British Mandate for Palestine.

But the logic is incomplete. Declaring the two-state solution unrealistic does not, by itself, make self-evident the greater feasibility of one bi-national state. The latter would entail the end of Israel, and of Zionism, as we understand those terms today. Is this really a more likely scenario than the colonial infrastructure in the occupied territories being dismantled?

Recent polls showing alarming levels of racism in Israeli public opinion, reflected in the new hard-right alliance between Likud and Yisrael Beitenu, suggest a polity that is not currently minded to dissolve itself under any amount of political pressure.“ [emphasis added]

Israeli Jews, per Wearing, are not only racist, but quite stubborn to boot – as they are not currently inclined to entertain the notion of their state’s demise.

Wearing continues:

“...the most practical route to a bi-national state may lie in securing a modicum of justice and peace as soon as possible through a two-state settlement, thus establishing the conditions most likely to lead, through dialogue and consensus-building over the longer term, to a more enduring bi-national state.”

David Wearing is convinced in Palestinian ‘staying power‘, confident in their ability to eventually overcome the Jewish state’s existence.

In the meantime, Wearing is willing to wait Zionism out.

Anyone who follows this blog shouldn’t be surprised that the Guardian continues to morally sanction voices advocating for the end of the Jewish state, as the London-based paper has been in the forefront in legitimizing, not merely Zionism’s end, but, often, the most radical, reactionary, violent (often Islamist) voices within the region.

However, the ubiquity of such anti-Zionism at the Guardian shouldn’t blind those (on the left or right) who genuinely support a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict to the danger such political extremism poses.

If Israelis like myself are to take the profound risks necessary for peace, and support the two-state paradigm, then we must have faith that any deal with the Palestinians will truly bring security and mean the final end of the six decade assault against our existence.

Those advocating for a bi-national state – whether immediately or over time – necessarily are working to, in effect, irreparably erode our confidence in the efficacy of territorial concessions and other painful compromises which we are continually asked to make.

As long as Palestinians, and their supporters, can not inspire confidence that a deal with the PA will achieve a final and lasting peace, and will result an end to all historical grievances, then Israelis will continue to soberly view demands they disengage from land across the 1949 armistice lines as mere cynical ploys in a continuation of the sixty-four year Arab war against Israel, albeit by other means.

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  • Tootynoon

    There is only one solution for Israel and this is it. As the so called palestinians have no rightful claim to any of the land of Israel I would suggest they go home to there land namely Jordan. As has been stated by arab leaders in the past including the king of Jordan, Jordan is in effect the land of the Palestinians. Israel must continue to build as many as possible new towns in Judea and Sumerea for the Jews of Israel as it is there land There cannot be an occupied land in your own country. There will only be peace in Israel when only Jews live on the the land which is ritefully theres

    • Norton Mezvinsky

      The attitude of “Tootynoon” (sic|)is unfortunately the attitude of too many (thankfully not all)Israeli and Zionist defenders and apologists. This attitude is factually incorrect insofar as the documented history of this world is concerned.

      Those people who believe that God gave Jews an eternal deed to historic Palestine, or the present land of the state of Israel, will find it difficult to convince millions of Palestinians,as well as many more other people, of this belief and argument. The Tootynoon position, if pursued further, can only lead ultimately to further oppression, fighting, war and bloodshed. That will benefit neither Jews nor non-Jews. Those who advocate the Tootynoon position will have to rely upon God, perhaps even in the coming of Moshiach, to save them and others. Those who advocate the Tootynoon position obviously care not about democracy or democratic principles for non-Jews within the present borders of the state of Israel.

      Norton Mezvinsky

  • Norton Mezvinsky

    The essence of the argument in this article is that the Zionist, Jewish state of Israel and the concept of one truly democratic state in the present territory of Israel are incompatible. One democratic state would grant equal rights to Jews and non-Jews (mostly Palestinians). The Zionist state grants certain rights and privileges to Jews that are not granted to non-Jews and presents its rationale for such a set-up. The discussion would be more honest if this distinction were clearly stated.

    Norton Mezvinsky

    • Norton Mezvinsky

      What does “awaiting moderation” mean? I hope it does not mean censorship.

      Norton Mezvinsky


    • re: “The Zionist state grants certain rights and privileges to Jews that are not granted to non-Jews and presents its rationale for such a set-up.”

      Not true, Norton. In less you’re talking about immigration rights (which is a much different discussion) Jews do not have rights in Israel that non-Jews don’t have.

      • Norton Mezvinsky

        Adam, what I wrote is definitely the case. In addition to the Law of Return, which applies only to Jews, there are numerous examples of Jews’ being granted by law rights and privileges not granted to non-Jews.. Only Jews, for example, by law can buy, rent and/or lease land, designated as Jewish National Fund Land in Israel. The large percentage of arable farm land in the state of Israel of pre-June, 1967 borders has been designated Jewish National Fund land. There are certain areas, to cite another example, where only Jews can live. Other examples exist. One could also argue that in the West Bank and Gaza, occupied by Israel since 1967, Palestinians, who are the indigenous population and who now number over three and one-half million total, are not allowed to be citizens of the state and thus cannot vote. The nearly one-half million Jewish settlers in the West Bank area are, of course, citizens and can vote. I suggest that ,at least, should be openly honest about the facts, regardless of our opinions the morality involved.

        Norton Mezvinsky

      • Norton Mezvinsky


        I shall be even more specific in answering your response.

        Palestinian citizens of Israel, about one-fifth of the population, numbering at least 1.5 million, cannot benefit from any of the institutions reserved for Israeli nationals. These quasi-state institutions include the Jewish National Fund, the World Zionist Organization, the Israeli Land Authority and the Jewish Agency.

        The Israeli Land Authority controls one-third of the water resources of the state, controls 92% of the land of Israel and operates according to regulations issued by the Jewish National Fund, an affiliate of the World Zionist Organization. These regulations deny the right to reside, to open a business and often to work to anyone who is not a Jew. Jews, by contrast, are not prohibited from working anywhere within the state of Israel. Jews, who are settled on National land, are “strictly prohibited” from sub-renting even part of their land to Arabs, punishable by heavy fines. The land of Israel is administered for Jewish development and cannot be transferred to others.

        In 1958, the Knesset passed the Israeli Lands Law, which prohibits the transfer of land ownership, whether by sale or in any other manner to those not eligible to benefit from the Law of Return, i.e. non-Jews.

        There is more to all of the above. There is no legitimate way to reconcile what I have specified with a democratic state. Again, let us at least be honest with the facts, and we then might be able to have a legitimate discussion of the morality involved.

        Norton Mezvinsky

        • Mr. Mezvinsky makes much of being “openly honest” in argument. Accordingly, let’s note that he has grossly mischaracterized “the essence of the argument in this article.” He says it is that

          “the Zionist, Jewish state of Israel and the concept of one truly democratic state in the present territory of Israel are incompatible.”

          I say quite differently that the essential point of the article is to account for the “rightward” turn of the Israeli populace in regards to negotiations with the Palestinians, and to find the source of that turn in the gross failure of Oslo, horrific violent rejectionism, and a long and still current culture of Jew hatred amongst Palestinians and other Arabs. Odd that Mr. Mezvinsky takes note of none of this. He takes note of none of this while writing causally that “[o]ne democratic state would grant equal rights to Jews and non-Jews (mostly Palestinians).”

          The perfect solution, no doubt. We all recall how after several centuries of border disputes and territorial adjustments accomplished by war, the Germans, Poles, and Russians, who have enjoyed the same inspiring fellowship as Arabs and Jews, chose to solve settle their misunderstandings by joining together in one trinational state.

          It has worked out splendidly, too. Thanks to Mr. Mezvinsky for advocating it.

          • Norton Mezvinsky

            The argument I have made is unfairly attacked by Mr. Adler. My argument is, and has been throughout this exchange, that the present Zionist character of the state of Israel is not compatible with the concept and/or the reality of a democratic state. I provided documentation for my argument. My argument refers to one aspect of the article by Adam Levick.

            If we wish to discuss honestly and fully some of the other points, made by Mr. Adler, we would also need to point out hatred of Palestinians and Arabs that is prevalent among many ( thankfully not all) Israeli Jews and other defenders of and apologists for Israel and Zionism. We additionally would need to consider the numerous Israeli rejections of proposals for peaceful settlement of the conflict. Mr. Adler conveniently disregards these considerations in his response.

            I do not argue that one democratic state in Israel-Palestine is imminent or will be easy to achieve. I am merely pointing out that the Zionist character of the state of Israel is incompatible with any reasonable concept of a democratic state, made up of Jews and non-Jews. (And there are presently at least as many non-Jewish Palestinians in the present one state of Israel, which includes the territories occupied since 1967, as there are Jews.)I, of course, am in favor of one democratic state for Jews and non-Jews.

            Norton Mezvinsky

        • Briefly, because this likely not worth my time, but you’re conflating three things. KKL (the Jewish National Fund)is not part of the government. It operates independently, and in fact only owns 13% of the land in Israel. Additionally, as the Israeli gov’t owns most of the rest of the land in the country, it DOES NOT discriminate against non-Jews.

          Second, Israeli immigration policy is no more suggestive of racism, in favoring Jews, than Greek immigration policy which favors people of Greek ancestry, or other EU countries which favor those who share an ethnic/national background with the majority population.

          I say again, despite your other non-related, vitriolic comments, Jews and non-Jews share the same “civil rights” in Israel

          • Mr. Mezvinsky, responds that his argument was about “one aspect” of Adam Levick’s article. Ah, but visibly that is not so. He referred to it not as “one aspect” of Levick’s article but the “essence” of it:

            “The essence of the argument in this article is that the Zionist, Jewish state of Israel and the concept of one truly democratic state in the present territory of Israel are incompatible.”

            I have countered that mischaracterization, but note this: now Mr. Mezvinsky states again, as his own position:

            “I am merely pointing out that the Zionist character of the state of Israel is incompatible with any reasonable concept of a democratic state.”

            Seem familiar? Mr. Mezvinsky has actually misattributed to Levick’s article, as its essence, his OWN position.

            The credibility of the speaker is lost in the throat clearing.

  • Shlomo Dror

    This opinion piece by Adam Levick expresses everything I believe on this topic better than I could have said it myself. I would like to share it with friends and family who are on the other side, but I restrain myself because they do not seem able to engage calmly in a regular exchange of views.

  • Did you say THE GUARDIAN or DER STURMER. I couldn’t quite hear you…..