Thursday, February 13, 2014

Four Reasons Why Israel Must Be Recognized As a Jewish State. By Ari Shavit.

Four reasons why Israel must be recognized as a Jewish state. By Ari Shavit. Haaretz, February 13, 2014.


Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan thinks the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is nonsense. But it is not nonsense – it is the most natural and justified demand imaginable. For four different reasons we must support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who are placing the demand at the top of the diplomatic agenda.
The first reason: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not start in 1967 and does not revolve around the occupation and the settlements. It is a deep national-religious-cultural-social conflict, whose foundation is blindness. For decades Zionism refused to see the Palestinian people and in doing so refused to recognize its right to establish a Palestinian state. To this day the Palestinian national movement refuses to see the Jewish people and recognize in this way its right to a Jewish state. This double and continuing blindness is what ignited the 100-year war between us and them. That is why, in order to end this war, we must recognize their nationalism and their state, and they must recognize our nationalism and our state. Just as peace is impossible without a Palestinian state, peace is impossible without a Jewish state.
The second reason: The great achievement of the Oslo Accords was in their bringing the Israelis to recognize the fact that there is a Palestinian people in the land of Israel with legitimate rights. The great achievement of the Camp David peace summit was in Israel recognizing the need to establish a Palestinian state. The cumulative result of Oslo and Camp David was a revolution in Israel. The people living in Zion finally saw that there is another people in this land and admitted that it is entitled to a different state, which will express its right to self-determination. Thus, there is no reason that the people residing in Palestine cannot open its eyes finally and see that there is another people in the land, and that it is entitled to a different country that will express its right to self-determination. Reciprocity is not a sin. Symmetry is not a war crime. Those who believe the Israelis and Palestinians are equal have a moral obligation to demand from the Palestinians exactly what they demand from the Israelis.
The third reason: The Palestinians will not give up on the demand for the right of return. The trauma of the Nakba is their foundational trauma, and the experience of the refugees is the experience that molded them, and there is no Palestinian leader who will declare that the Palestinians will never return to the cities and villages they lost in 1948. If there is any solution at all to the refugee problem, it will be a superficial and insignificant one. But because it is actually impossible to demand from the Palestinians that they change their spots and convert their identity, it is required to demand they recognize this: that the Jewish people is a people of this land, and it did not arrive here from Mars. It is necessary to demand of them to admit that the Jewish people has a history of its own and a tragedy of its own and its own justification. The Palestinians must concede that the Jews are not colonialists but legal neighbors. There will not be peace if the children growing up in the Deheisheh refugee camp will not know that the country across the border is a legitimate Jewish state of a true Jewish people, whom they are decreed to live with. It is those who give up on the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state who are actually giving up on peace.
The fourth reason: An Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is to a great extent a one-sided agreement in which Israel gives and the Palestinians receive. Only the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state would turn the longed-for agreement into a two-sided one. While Israel will transfer concrete assets to its neighbor, territory and rights, the Palestinians will give the only gift they are capable of giving: legitimacy.
Meir Dagan is an Israeli due a great amount of respect. His biography is a heroic one of “by the rights of power.” But peace is not made by the right of power but by the power of right. Without the Palestinians’ explicit recognition of our name, identity and rights, there will not be peace.

Judah Magnes to Chaim Weizmann on His Rejection of Political Zionism.

Judah Magnes to Chaim Weizmann, September 7, 1929. Dissenter in Zion: From the Writings of Judah L. Magnes. Edited by Arthur Goren. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982, pp. 276-278. Also here.

Toward Peace in Palestine. By Judah L. Magnes. Foreign Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 2 (January 1943).

J. L. Magnes and the Promotion of Bi-Nationalism in Palestine. By Rory Miller. The Jewish Journal of Sociology, Vol. 48, Nos. 1-2 (2006). Also here.

The Binationalist. By Daniel P. Kotzin. Journal of Transnational American Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1 (2012). Also here.

Judah L. Magnes: A Pacifist Leader Who Was More Prophet Than Politician. By Laurence Zuckerman. The Jewish Daily Forward, January 5, 2011.

Binationalism and the sad story of Judah Magnes. By Jim Denham. Shiraz Socialist, May 7, 2012. Includes Benny Morris’s discussion of Magnes from One State, Two States, pp. 50-56.


To Chaim Weizmann
Zurich, September 7, 1929
Dear Dr. Weizmann,
You asked me over the telephone last night to write you my views on the present situation. I wanted to have a long talk with you, and for that reason had been trying to get in touch with you for several days. Writing is a poor substitute for an oral exchange of opinions, and I shall try to be brief.
I think that the time has come when the Jewish policy as to Palestine must be very clear, and that now only one of two policies is possible. Either the logical policy outlined by Jabotinsky in a letter in the Times which came today, basing our Jewish life in Palestine on militarism and imperialism; or a pacific policy that treats as entirely secondary such things as a “Jewish State” or a Jewish majority, or even “The Jewish National Home,” and as primary the development of a Jewish spiritual, educational, moral and religious center in Palestine. The first policy has to deal primarily with politics, governments, declarations, propaganda and bayonets, and only secondarily with the Jews, and last of all with the Arabs; whereas the pacific policy has to deal first of all with the Jews, and then with the Arabs, and only incidentally with governments and all the rest.
The imperialist, military and political policy is based upon mass immigration of Jews and the creation (forcible if necessary) of a Jewish majority, no matter how much this oppresses the Arabs meanwhile, or deprives them of their rights. In this kind of policy the end always justifies the means. The policy, on the other hand, of developing a Jewish spiritual Center does not depend upon mass immigration, a Jewish majority, a Jewish State, or upon depriving the Arabs (or the Jews) of their political rights for a generation or a day; but on the contrary, is desirous of having Palestine become a country of two nations and three religions, all of them having equal rights and none of them having special privileges; a country where nationalism is but the basis of internationalism, where the population is pacifistic and disarmed—in short, the Holy Land.
The one policy may be termed that of militarist, imperialist, political Zionism; the other that of pacific, international, spiritual Zionism; and if some authorities will not choose to call the latter idea Zionism, then let it be called the Love of Zion, or the Return to Zion, or any other name that you will.
We have been toying with the words “Jewish State,” “majority,” “Jewish Palestine,” “politics,” “Balfour Declaration,” etc., long enough. It is time that we came down to realities. We have passed resolutions concerning cooperation with the Arabs, but we have done very little seriously to carry them out.
I do not say that this is easy of achievement nor do I absolutely know that it is possible. The Palestine Arabs are unhappily still half savage, and their leaders are almost all small men. But this policy of cooperation is certainly more possible and more hopeful of achievement than building up a Jewish Home (National or otherwise) on bayonets and oppression. Moreover, a Jewish Home in Palestine built up on bayonets and oppression is not worth having, even though it succeed, whereas the very attempt to build it up peacefully, cooperatively, with understanding, education, and good will, is worth a great deal, even though the attempt should fail.
The question is, do we want to conquer Palestine now as Joshua did in his day—with fire and sword? Or do we want to take cognizance of Jewish religious development since Joshua—our Prophets, Psalmists and Rabbis, and repeat the words: “Not by might, and not by violence, but by my spirit, saith the Lord.” The question is, can any country be entered, colonized, and built up pacifistically, and can we Jews do that in the Holy Land? If we can not (and I do not say that we can rise to these heights), I for my part have lost half my interest in the enterprise. If we can not even attempt this, I should much rather see this eternal people without such a “National Home,” with the wanderer’s staff in hand and forming new ghettos among the peoples of the world.
As you know, these are not new views on my part. I was read out of the Zionist Organization of America in 1915 because among other things, I contended that the Jews should ask for no special privileges in Palestine, but should be content with equal rights. When the Balfour Declaration was issued and the Mandate signed, I did not rejoice. I wrote two modest newspaper articles and delivered a speech (which is printed) in the sense of the views as given above. When you and Felix Warburg and I were discussing matters in Palestine, you with your usual keenness referred to me as believing Zionist policy was altogether too political. I have, as you also know, done what little I could to help bring about a united front for Palestine ever since the beginning, and I must confess that I had hoped that the non-Zionist members of the Agency might give the whole movement a non-political, non-imperialist turn. But your great persuasiveness has carried them with you on the political issues also, and it was mainly on this account that I could not accept the invitation to participate in the Agency. It is also for this reason that I have resolutely tried to keep the University entirely distinct from the political organization.
All these years I have kept silent, not wishing to obtrude what appeared to me my minority views, and I had thought that by devoting myself wholly and without deflection to the University, I could make a contribution to my kind of Zionism. But I cannot keep silent for Zion’s sake in these tragic days, and I want to do what little I can to give voice to the views to which I have been trying hitherto to give expression through work alone.
You said you would want to convey my views to the meeting of the Actions Committee, and you are at liberty to read them this letter if you think it worthwhile.
I am sending a copy of this letter to Felix Warburg.
I sympathize with you in the fearful burden you now have to bear, and I can only pray that you may be led to walk in the right path.
Yours truly, JLM

Philip Seymour Hoffman: A Talented Leading Man Exits. By Ben Shapiro.

A Talented Leading Man Exits. By Ben Shapiro. National Review Online, February 2, 2014.

Ben Shapiro Actually Blames Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death on “Broken Leftist Culture.” By Matt Wilstein. Mediaite, February 3, 2014.

SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson: Three Comments. By Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch.

SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson: Three Comments. By Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch. The Huffington Post, February 10, 2014.


Three comments on SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson:
Scarlett Johansson has given a clinic on how to stand up to bullies.
The world is filled with people who preach love but are full of hate. They project humility but are full of arrogance. They are consumed with passionate intensity – but for the wrong things. They prostitute words and pervert values. They say they are for peace, but their actions promote war.
Roger Waters, the legendary Pink Floyd rocker, criticized Johansson for giving him the wrong impression that she believed in truth, human rights and the law of love. They are Comfortably Numb to truth, human rights and the law of love. Under the guise of tolerance and humaneness many of them are really the most intolerant of people. Under the guise of liberalism many of them are really the most illiberal preachers of a fundamentalist philosophy.
And Scarlett Johansson showed the proper response to these folks. When Oxfam wagged its big moral finger at their global good-will ambassador, warning Johansson that Oxfam opposes trade with Israeli settlements in the West Bank and that she should reconsider her relationship with SodaStream if she knows what’s good for her, it was Johansson who reconsidered her relationship with Oxfam. In a rather stunning turn of events, it was she who terminated the relationship, citing “a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.”
In effect, this Scarlett said to Oxfam: “Frankly, I don’t give a damn.” What a relief; what an inspiration.
Boycotts of Israel are absurd.
BDS (Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions) activist, Omar Barghouti, makes no attempt to hide the true objective. As he asserts: “The right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and lands from which they were displaced and dispossessed in 1948.”
Leave aside that the Palestinians are the only group in the world whose refugee status is transmitted automatically to subsequent generations – that the grandchild of a Palestinian refugee who might be a native-born accomplished and wealthy citizen in any country in the world – can, nonetheless, be considered a refugee by the United Nations: under that definition millions of Americans whose grandparents escaped Europe could still be considered refugees;
Leave aside that the reason many Palestinians became refugees in the first place was that the Palestinian Arabs joined surrounding Arab states in a war of extermination against the infant State of Israel in 1948, a war that they lost; leave aside that Israel came into possession of the West Bank in the first place because of a war of extermination that three Arab states launched against Israel in 1967 and lost;
Leave aside that the PLO launched a vicious war against Israeli civilians in the heart of Israel that killed a thousand and maimed ten thousand – and lost – and as a result of that – the security barrier and other security measures were implemented; leave aside that they launched this war after rejecting President Clinton's Camp David proposals, accepted by Israel – and that they rejected two additional peace proposals primarily because they refuse to sign an end-of-conflict provision that would settle all outstanding claims against Israel once and for all; leave aside that every day Palestinians try to inflict terror on Israel and that the reason they don't succeed is Israeli security measures;
Leave aside that Omar Barghouti, himself, is a graduate of Tel Aviv University and the university resisted a world wide petition to expel him, upholding the values of free thought and speech, awarding him a Masters degree in philosophy;
Leave all that aside: the return of millions of Palestinians to Israel is code for ending the State of Israel. It is anti-Israel venom wrapped in the honey of human rights rhetoric.
Those who support boycotting Israel are often blinded by hatred. They single out Israel as the world's worst oppressor. They do it to delegitimize Israel in the eyes of the world. As a small country surrounded by enemies and dependent on international trade, Israel is vulnerable to this pressure and Israel haters know this.
A hundred miles from the SodaStream factory there are millions of Syrian Arab Muslim refugees; over a hundred thousand have already been killed. If you are a humanitarian worker where would you advise Palestinians that they are better off – Aleppo, Homs, Damascus, Cairo, Beirut, Riyadh, Tehran – or Ramallah?
None of this implies that Israel cannot do more to bring about a two-state solution; it does not excuse Israeli wrongdoings. But frankly, the Palestinians, too, have done many wrongs.
And where is the context? Where is the proportionality? The Middle East is burning with the fires of anti-Western, anti-democratic anti-humanitarian savagery, torture and anarchy and SodaStream is the cause of all evil in the world and the primary preoccupation of those who supposedly advocate for truth, human rights and the law of love?
How wonderful it is to sit in London and to boycott Israel, the only reliable Western ally left in the Middle East. Oh what feelings of self-satisfaction and high principle. There is no need to think about Palestinian excesses and Palestinian incitement.
Things might look a bit different from Sdereot, but never mind. There are no good Israelis and there are no legitimate Israeli concerns, so what do I care if Israeli children cannot go to school because they are fired upon indiscriminately by Palestinian terrorists? It is their own fault. Israel was born in original sin and therefore, by definition, is the problem of every problem.
Partial boycotts are boycotts.
Oxfam’s official position is that it is not in favor of boycotting Israel (despite troubling reports that it is funding BDS organizations), only Israeli products that have even the smallest connection to the West Bank. Scarlett Johansson pointed out the hypocrisy of this position. She did not distinguish between partial boycotts and BDS. She called it for what it is: A partial boycott is a boycott.
To advocate for a policy of partial boycott is to speak the language of boycott. It is to place yourself with those who call for boycotting all of Israel. It is to give aid and comfort to Israel’s enemies. It is to legitimate the delegitimizers. It also takes the Palestinians off the hook, as if they are merely potted plants and not independent actors who could end this struggle quickly if they really wanted to.
Partial boycotts are also unworkable in practice. It is impossible to limit such a boycott to products beyond the Green Line. More importantly, it often undermines those who are in favor of compromise and coexistence – the very thing that the partial boycotters say they want.
SodaStream is a perfect example. Its main manufacturing plant is in Maaleh Adumim, which under any conceivable arrangement will remain within the permanent borders of Israel. SodaStream employs there approximately a thousand people. Five hundred of them are Palestinians who receive equal benefits and equal pay. There is a mosque on the premise.
The Palestinian workers, themselves, do not want SodaStream boycotted. What is Oxfam’s solution: To close down the factory and send five hundred well-paid Palestinians into unemployment and poverty? If SodaStream were to pick up and relocate would this would further the interests of the Palestinian workers, and better promote coexistence and peace?
What should we who believe in truth, human rights and love be doing? We should continue to support and advocate for a two state solution. We should continue to promote coexistence. We should continue to support those in Israeli society who believe in territorial compromise and continue to urge them to make the necessary compromises for peace. We should continue to support those in the Palestinian community who believe in territorial compromise and continue to urge them to make the necessary compromises for peace.
If you own an I-Phone made in China; if you wear high fashion made in Asian sweat shops; if your home is heated with oil from Russia or the Persian Gulf, you may want to reconsider these purchases first. They affect millions more people than SodaStream.
And you may also want to reconsider the next contribution to Oxfam.

Asking About the Palestinian Culture of War. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

Asking About the Palestinian Culture of War. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, February 12, 2014.


Almost all of the focus in the mainstream media on the Middle East peace process tends to be on the decision taken by only one of the parties involved in the negotiations. The perennial question from pundits and even veteran kibitzers like the New York Times’s Thomas Friedman is whether or not the Israelis are ready to take risks in order to achieve peace. That was the conceit of his latest column, “Israel’s Big Question,” and if it seemed familiar to readers, it was no accident. Friedman has been writing the same column for decades in which he asks Israelis whether they will leave the West Bank in order to retain both the Jewish and democratic identities of their nation. If they don’t, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative fails, Israel’s doom is, he says, sealed.
There are two problems with his reasoning and they are the same that apply to every other stale Friedman article on the subject that has been published since the Clinton administration. One is that Israel has already tried to trade land for the promise of peace and failed. The Palestinians turned down three offers of statehood in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem. And there is every indication that they will turn down a fourth offer of up to 90 percent of the West Bank that is being mulled by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government. Israelis have made the decision to take risks and make peace several times in the last 20 years and seem prepared to do it again if real peace—which means the end of the conflict rather than merely a pause in it—is on the table.
But the part of the equation that Friedman and the rest of the foreign-policy establishment always ignore is whether the Palestinians are ready to make peace. They’ve made it clear they won’t recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn and won’t give up the “right of return” for the 1948 refugees. But Friedman’s assumption—as well as that of many of Israel’s critics—is that if the Israelis are sufficiently forthcoming those problems will disappear. Instead, they should be asking what it is about the political culture of the Palestinians that makes such intransigence not merely possible but inevitable. The answer comes in two separate stories that touch on what it is that both the PA’s negotiators and Hamas believe. Both make for instructive reading for those who treat the question of peace as one that is solely to be decided by the Israelis.
In Gaza, the Hamas government of the strip has apparently rejected the textbooks provided for schools by UNRWA, the United Nations agency that serves Palestinian refugees and their descendants. UNRWA has hired Hamas terrorists as staffers and has been rightly accused of helping to perpetuate the conflict by not seeking to resettle refugees so as to keep them in camps as props in the long Arab war against Israel. But while the textbooks they’ve published for Gaza schools apparently accept the Palestinian narrative of victimization and the illegitimacy of Israel, they are also seeking to encourage non-violence. The Hamas education ministry is particularly angry since the books emphasize the examples of peaceful protests. As the Times of Israel reports, Education Minister Mu’tasim Al-Minawi had the following objections:
The vast majority of examples [in the books] refer to [Mahatma] Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Helen Suzman, the Soweto Uprising, the Magna Carta and Apartheid, even though Islamic-Arab-Palestinian alternatives exist,” Al-Minawi said. “There are many models which could be used which are closer to the students’ understanding.”
But perhaps worst of all, the books focused on “peaceful resistance as the only way of achieving freedom and independence.” The entire eighth grade curriculum, Al-Minawi lamented, is “not dedicated to human rights but to domesticate the psyche of the Palestinian pupil, fostering negative feelings toward armed resistance.”
This tells us that Hamas is educating the children of Gaza not just to hate Israel and Jews but also to reject the Western frame of reference about human rights, even in the context of support for anti-Israel activism, which was clearly the intention of the UNRWA curriculum.
Also instructive is the mini-controversy inspired by Saeb Erekat, the man who represents the Palestinians in peace talks with the Israelis. Earlier this month at the Munich Security Conference, Erekat told his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni that asking him to recognize the Jewish state was impossible since it would force the Palestinians “to change their narrative” about their history. Not satisfied with that, he claimed that his family—and the rest of the Palestinians—has a prior claim over the land to the Jews since they are descended from the biblical Canaanites and were there when Joshua Bin Nun “burned my hometown Jericho.”
The patent absurdity of this claim is such that even anti-Israeli academics have been slow to pick it up. Suffice it to say that there is no evidence that Palestinian Arabs have any connection with the inhabitants of the country prior to the Arab conquest that occurred in the seventh century C.E.
This can be dismissed as irrelevant to the problems of Israelis and Palestinians today. Like the debate about whether a separate Palestinian Arab identity is a 20th century invention, it is a moot point. Like it or not, the Jews returned to the land and aren’t leaving. By the same token there are millions of Arabs there who call themselves Palestinians and their aspirations must also be taken into account if the conflict is ever to be ended.
But if even Erekat—whom we are told by the media and the U.S. government is a man of peace—is determined to cling to a historical narrative that is based in rejection of Jewish rights to any part of the country, then what hope is there for peace?
Both Fatah and Hamas continue to educate their peoples in a culture that is not only steeped in hatred of Jews and Israel but in a worldview in which the rejection of Zionism is integral to Palestinian identity. The question Kerry, Friedman, and others who continue to hound Israelis to do what they have already tried several times to do—make peace—should be asking is when will the Palestinians give up their culture of hate and embrace one that would give peace a chance? Both the Hamas education ministry and Erekat show us that that such a decision is nowhere in sight.

The B.D.S. Threat. By Roger Cohen.

The B.D.S. Threat. By Roger Cohen. New York Times, February 10, 2014.

Roger Cohen’s Zionist Take on BDS. By Charles H. Manekin. The Magnes Zionist, February 10, 2014.

NY Times’ Roger Cohen “is a bigot, not a liberal,” says Omar Barghouti. By Ali Abunimah. The Electronic Intifada, February 11, 2014.

West Bank Boycott: A Political Act or Prejudice? By Jodi Rudoren. New York Times, February 11, 2014.

Omar Barghouti, who helped found the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in 2005, said activists had every right to pick their causes and where to focus their energy.
“He can say anything he wishes, but immoral? Resistance to his immoral policies can never be immoral,” Mr. Barghouti said of Mr. Netanyahu. “The litmus test is are you boycotting a group of people based on their identity, or are you boycotting something — an act, a company, a business — that you disagree with.”

NYT Reporter Treats Israeli Boycott as Immoral and Anti-Semitic, Reminiscent of Nazis. By Philip Weiss. Global Research, February 12, 2014. Also at Mondoweiss.

BDS on a Roll? Not So Fast. By Evelyn Gordon. Commentary, February 12, 2014.

Cutting through the BDS BS. By David Gerstman. Legal Insurrection, February 14, 2014.

NY Times plays Sympathy for the BDS. By David Gerstman. Legal Insurrection, February 9, 2014.

Boycott supporters plead for Universities to ease pressure on American Studies Association. By William A. Jacobson. Legal Insurrection, February 7, 2014.


This is just more of ASA and the boycotters refusing to accept that American civil society rejects its anti-Israel boycott. Playing victim is just a way of trying to turn the debate around.

John Kerry’s loose lips may sink peace ship. By William A. Jacobson. Legal Insurrection, February 6, 2014.

With All the Boycott Israel Talk, What Is BDS? By Marc Tracy. The New Republic, February 2, 2014.


The best argument for BDS is that it is a response to the occupation that originated in Palestinian civil society and is physically nonviolent. (This distinguishes it from a religious liberation, sometimes-violent movement such as that espoused by Hamas, which governs Gaza.) The best argument against it is that, at best, BDS is not clear about what its endgame is, and at worst its endgame would go well beyond ending the occupation and toward ending Israel itself—something supporters of a two-state solution should obviously want to avoid.
“BDS does not take any position on the political outcome or resolution of the question of Palestine,” Barghouti told me. Barghouti said he personally supports a single democratic state. That evinces a keen understanding of the movement, whose position on refugees almost forces it to oppose the continued existence of the Jewish homeland.
BDS is tied inextricably to the demand for the right of return for the roughly five million Palestinian refugees, most of whom descend from those created in and around 1948. Barghouti confirmed this to me, writing, “The BDS movement upholds the basic rights of all Palestinians, including the right of return.” Or, as he put it in one interview, “‘If the occupation ends, would that end your call for BDS?’ No, it wouldn’t. . . . The majority of the Palestinian people are not suffering from occupation, they are suffering from denial of their right to come back home.”
Practically, the return of all Palestinian refugees would almost certainly spell the end of the Zionist project. As prominent liberal Zionist Gershom Gorenberg has explained, “Implemented without restriction, [the right of return] would make a two-state solution meaningless, since Palestinians would reclaim property in West Jerusalem and throughout Israel, creating a new class of displaced Jews in a bi-national state. (When peace negotiators on either side are realistic, they dicker about what limited number of Palestinians would return to Israel, in a symbolic acknowledgment of the Palestinian tragedy.)” Similarly, the liberal Zionist group Americans for Peace Now acknowledges that the Palestinians would “agree to find solutions for the Palestinian refugee issue largely outside the borders of the state of Israel” as part of a series of tough compromises by both sides on the path to a two-state solution. It is telling that both APN (the sister organization of a prominent left-wing Israeli group) and J Street are American liberal Zionist organizations that support a two-state solution and oppose BDS, while the more left-wing Jewish Voice for Peace supports BDS and is officially agnostic on whether there should be two or one states.

Russia’s Right Turn. By William S. Lind.

Russia’s Right Turn. By William S. Lind. The American Conservative, February 11, 2014. From the January/February 2014 issue. Also here.

What is the Real BDS Endgame? The Elimination of Israel. By Ehud Rosen.

What is the Real BDS Endgame? The Elimination of Israel. By Ehud Rosen. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, February 12, 2014.

The Boycott Industry: Background on BDS Campaigns. NGO Monitor, February 3, 2014.

BDS is a long term project with radically transformative potential. By Ahmed Moor. Mondoweiss, April 22, 2010.


Ok fine. So BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state. But can’t I see the value in reaching across the aisle, so to speak? The movement may be burgeoning but remains too small. Why shouldn’t we indulge in ad hoc partnerships to get things done? Richard Silverstein, Richard Goldstone, and many other self-proclaimed Zionists have done an immeasurably positive amount of work in skinning the Zionist cat (That’s a deliberate analogy. I don’t kid myself about how difficult it must be for a Jewish person to criticize the Zionist state), shouldn’t they be asked to join the BDS movement?
To be sure, I’m not dogmatically against cooperating with people whose views I find objectionable. If it came down to it, I’d be happy to work with the racist up the street to get the city to fix a neighborhood pothole.
Likewise, I’d work with a liberal Zionist to break the Zionist siege of Gaza, whose people really have no use for protracted ideological jockeying. There is an immediacy there that demands action from any quarter.
But I view the BDS movement as a long-term project with radically transformative potential. I believe that the ultimate success of the BDS movement will be coincident with the ultimate success of the Palestinian enfranchisement and equal rights movement. In other words, BDS is not another step on the way to the final showdown; BDS is The Final Showdown.
This belief grows directly from the conviction that nothing resembling the ‘two-state solution’ will ever come into being. Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself. That’s because, as Yair Wallach writes, “The occupation appears increasingly as a de-facto permanent feature of the Israeli system of government, rather than as a set of temporary policies and security measures. And inevitably, the occupation involves the disenfranchisement and denial of collective political rights for the Palestinians.”
Therefore the success of the BDS movement is tied directly to our success in humanizing Palestinians and discrediting Zionism as a legitimate way of regarding the world.