SAM BAHOUR, CounterPunch, July 16, 2020
The timer is now ticking on Israel. While Israel historically put Palestinians on the slow burner, gnawing at their lands and livelihoods, time was in Israel’s favor as the world turned a blind eye. Those days are over.
Israel must now choose, allow the state of Palestine to emerge, or have it imposed upon them. The traditional options of two-states vs. one state of Israel without equality for all its citizens have passed long ago. Israel can accept Palestine in all the occupied territory of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip, or ultimately be forced to accept Palestine from the river to the sea.
For us Palestinians, like any normal human beings on this earth, it is natural for us to expect to be viewed as a people worthy of our rights, freedom, and independence. The days when this can be ignored are over too.
Today, all have been exposed to the naked eye. Thanks to decades of denial by Jewish Israeli citizens and the Jewish diaspora, US President Trump and his messianic entourage of Jared Kushner and David M. Friedman, Israel’s state-sanctioned settlement enterprise, financier Sheldon Adelson’s fanaticism, Christian Evangelicals bent on personally witnessing the Armageddon, and none other than Israel’s own extremist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s annexation frenzy, a frenzy on steroids attempting to divert his path to jail on three corruption charges.
To force the timer to tick even faster, outgoing Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, in an interview with Stephen Sackur of the BBC Hardtalk program, proudly proclaimed, “I represent not only the people of Israel, I represented [sic] the Jewish people in the U.N.”. He went on, “We [Jews] do have biblical rights to the land. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, or Jew — you read the Bible, you read the stories of the Bible — it’s all there.” It got worse. He went on to say, “This is our deed to the land. That’s biblical.” This from Israel’s top international diplomat! Regardless of how one views the Bible, it’s a religious text, not a document that can be submitted in a case of international law.
The further back Israel goes in time, the faster today’s timer is ticking. Below I will touch on three momentous developments lubricating the timer.
Peter Beinart, Zionism, and the ‘Jewish State’
Enter Peter Beinart. A prominent and outspoken observant Jewish American columnist, journalist, political commentator, and professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his parents were Jewish immigrants from South Africa. He is a self-defined Zionist, albeit from the flavor that most Israeli Jews would dismiss.
Earlier this month, Beinart penned a long-read essay titled, Yavne: A Jewish Case for Equality in Israel-Palestine, and then followed it up with a New York Times opinion piece titled, I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State. He makes a monumental shift from supporting a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine side by side, to arguing that Zionism does not require a ‘Jewish State’ at all and calls for his fellow Jews to come to this understanding.
It is interesting to note that Palestinians have always made the point that they have nothing against Judaism, rather they view Zionism as having hijacked this noble religion to the detriment of Israelis and Palestinians alike. To be clear, the only version of Zionism Palestinians have experienced is the one that is a political ideology based on supremacy. This Zionism has held conferences starting in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, and has left behind an incriminating and bloody paper trail.
Peter is my friend. We have interlocked as editor and writer, spoke on the same panel at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, and he has attended many of the talks I have given to Jewish American audiences when they visited Bethlehem. He has universal values and does not discriminate when applying them. He knows how to actively listen, ask probing questions, and analyze in relation to reality rather than blindly forcing reality to fit a set of Israeli state talking points. Most importantly, he has opened the Pandora’s box of global Jewry. For this, he will go down in history next to notable early Zionist thinkers such as Ahad Ha’am, Martin Buber, and Judah Magnes, among others.
There is much to discuss about Peter’s new revelation, but that’s for another day. For now, he will have his hands full within his Jewish communal circles. It’s a shame that Israeli Jews are, for the most part, missing out on this conversation. Israeli media has chosen to pretend that the call for equal rights in one state does not exist.
Yesh Din, Israel, and Apartheid