The Bed of
IN HEBREW legend, the bed of
tells how God decided to obliterate
In political life, there is more than one bed like this. On the Right and on the Left, there are people who put every problem in such a bed, cut off limbs and stretch limbs, until reality matches theory.
sixties on, doctrinaire leftists tended to put every situation into the bed of
That was convenient. It is much easier to draw conclusions when there is no need to consider the complexities of a particular conflict, its historical background and its local circumstances.
LATELY, A NEW bed of
South African situation arose in particular historical circumstances that took
centuries to mature. It was not identical with the problem of the aborigines in
Of course, there is always a superficial similarity between different regimes of oppression. But if one is not ready to see the differences between the diseases, one is liable to prescribe false medicines - and risk killing the patient in the process.
NOW THIS is happening here.
It is easy to
put the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the South African bed, since the
similarities between the symptoms are obvious. The Israeli occupation of the
Palestinian territories has been going on for 40 years now, and almost 60 years
have passed since the Naqba - the armed conflict of
What to do? One
has to learn from
redemption could only come from the outside. And indeed, world public opinion
saw the injustice of apartheid and imposed a world-wide boycott on
This is how it
is going to happen: justice-lovers throughout the world will convince world
public opinion to impose a general boycott on the State of
THIS WEEK I
listened to a lecture by Professor Ilan Pappe of
There is no
sense in opposing just the occupation, nor any other particular policy of the
Israeli government. The problem is the very essence of
everyone who strives for a just solution must aim at the establishment of a single
state, to which the refugees of 1948 and 1967 will be invited to return. This
will be a joint and egalitarian state, like today's
There is no
sense in trying to change
It sounded logical and convincing, and the speaker did indeed gain applause.
THIS THEORETICAL structure contains several assumptions with which I have no quarrel. The Zionist Left has indeed collapsed in the last few years, and its absence from the field of struggle is a painful and dangerous fact. In today's Knesset, there is no effective Zionist party that is seriously fighting for real equality for the Arab citizens. Nobody is able today to call out into the street hundreds of thousands, or even tens of thousands, in order to pressure the government to accept the peace proposal of the whole Arab world.
There is no doubt that the real disease is not the 40-year long occupation. The occupation is a symptom of a more profound disease, which is connected with the official ideology of the state. The aim of ethnic cleansing and the establishment of a Jewish State from the sea to the river is dear to the hearts of many Israelis, and perhaps Rabbi Meir Kahane was right when he asserted that this is everybody's unspoken desire.
professor Pappe, I am convinced that it is possible
to change the historical direction of
believe that we have already attained impressive achievements: the recognition
of the existence of the Palestinian people has become general, and so has the
readiness of most Israelis to accept the idea of a Palestinian state with
Also, the notion has lately gained acceptance in Israel and other countries, that peace will be achieved only if we succeed in overcoming the gap between the Israeli and the Palestinian narratives and in integrating them into one single historical account, which will recognize the injustices which have been committed and which are still going on. Nothing is more important. (Our path-breaking booklet "Truth Against Truth" was the beginning of this process.)
surface, it appears that we have failed. We have not succeeded in compelling
our government to stop the building of the wall or the enlargement of the
settlements, nor to restore to the Palestinians their freedom of movement. In
short, we have not succeeded in putting an end to the occupation. The Arab
THE IDEA of the "One-State Solution" will harm this effort very much.
It diverts the effort from a solution that has now, after many years, a broad public basis, in favor of a solution that has no chance at all.
There is no
doubt that 99.99% of Jewish Israelis want the State of
The belief that a world-wide boycott could change this is a complete illusion. Immediately after his lecture, my colleague Adam Keller asked the professor a simple question: "The entire world has imposed a blockade on the Palestinian people. But in spite of the terrible misery of the Palestinians, they have not been brought to their knees. Why do you think that a boycott would break the Israeli public, which is far stronger economically, so that they would give up the Jewish character of the state?" (There was no answer.)
In any case, such a boycott is quite impossible. Here and there, an organization can declare a boycott, small circles of justice-lovers can keep it, but there is no chance that in the coming decades a world-wide boycott movement, like the one that broke the racist regime in South Africa, will come about. That regime was headed by declared asmirers of the Nazis. A boycott of the "Jewish State", which is identified with the victims of the Nazis, just will not happen. It will be enough to remind people that the long road to the gas chambers started with the 1933 Nazi slogan "Kauft nicht bei Juden" ("Don't buy from Jews").
fact that the government of the "State of the Holocaust Survivors"
had close relations with the
That is the
problem with the bed of
THE IDEA of
the "One-State Solution" can attract people who despair of the
struggle for the soul of
Statistically, the Israeli Jews constitute, as of now, the absolute majority between the sea and the river. To that, one must add an even more important fact: the average annual income of an Arab Palestinian is about 800 dollars, that of a Jewish Israeli is about 20,000 dollars - 25 times (!) higher. The Israeli economy is growing every year. The Palestinians would be "hewers of wood and drawers of water". That means that if the imaginary joint state did indeed come into being, the Jews there would wield in it absolute power. They would, of course, use this power to consolidate their dominance and prevent the return of refugees.
Thus the South
African example could come true retroactively: in the
forward an argument that looked a bit strange to me: that a Single State
already exists in practice, since
wholeheartedly want to help the occupied Palestinian people would be well
advised to keep well away from the idea of a general boycott of
boycott against specific organizations and corporations that actively
contribute to the occupation can indeed help in convincing the Israeli public
that the occupation is not worthwhile. Such a boycott can achieve a specific aim
- if it is not aimed at the collapse of the State of
"TWO-STATE SOLUTION" was and still is the only solution. When we put
it forward immediately after the 1948 war, we could be counted on the fingers
of two hands not only in
One can say:
OK, we will accept the Two-State Solution because it is realistic, but after
its realization we shall endeavor to abolish the two states and establish one
joint state. That is alright with me. As for myself, I hope that in the course
of time a federation of the two states will come into being, and relations
between the two will become close. I also hope that a regional union, like the
EU, will be established, consisting of all the Arab states and
But first of
all we must treat the wound from which we are all suffering: the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not by patent medicines, certainly not by a bed
THE 18th CHAPTER
of Genesis tells of Abraham trying to convince the Almighty not to obliterate
him not to destroy the town if there were 50 righteous in it. Abraham haggled
and brought the Almighty down to 45, then 40, 30 and 20, finally settling for
10. But in
I believe that