September 11, 2014
If the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas holds, it should be an opportunity for Israel to revisit its policy and offer Hamas a comprehensive deal which it cannot reject without losing its support among the Palestinians and any sympathy it may have gained abroad.
While the war united the Israelis, it didn’t bridge the political divide in the country. We’ll probably see a lot of political wrangling and disagreements about the war and Israel’s future. The recent Israeli decision to declare land close to one of the settlement blocs in the West Bank as state land, to satisfy the settlement lobby, is the opposite of the confidence-building so much needed.
However, a majority of Jews in Israel and around the world continues to support a two-state solution which will preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Their voices aren’t always heard abroad. International media has a tendency to publish marginal opinions denouncing support to Israel as either “too” liberal or non-liberal.
Take for example an article by the Israeli editor Shmuel Rosner published in International New York Times (INYT, August 8), where he was mocking “non-Israeli liberal Jews” and accusing them of not paying attention to Israel’s best interest in war time.
Being “liberal” and critical of Israeli government policy has suddenly become a reason to exclude a person from the “Jewish family”. My country, right or wrong, is obviously Rosner’s slogan.
This is strange to hear from a presumably liberal political editor representing a liberal democracy which prides itself of prosecuting ex-ministers for corruption, respecting freedom of expression and protecting minority rights.
The current situation is not sustainable and will only erupt in new wars without a serious peace process. Israel as the home land of all Jews will be less attractive and Israelis themselves who cannot stand the political and economic situation will leave in growing numbers.
Rosner continued in the same vein in another op-ed in INYT (September 7) titled “Who killed the Israeli left?” This time he claimed that the Israeli left was emigrating from Israel because they had lost influence in the country due to the support they had been receiving from the international community.
That ordinary Israelis are leaving, or would like to leave Israel if they could, because of the economic-political situation in the country has obviously escaped the attention of Rosner. He ignores also the fact that rightist parties and causes are funded and supported from abroad.
In the current situation a majority of the population is kept hostage by rightest parties lobbying for an increasing minority living in the settlements where they are enjoying economic benefits at the expense of poor development towns inside Israel. How do we reverse this policy?
Another example on the other end of the political spectrum was an article (INYT August 23 – 24) by Antony Lerman, a former director of the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research. Lerman who describes himself as a former “liberal Zionist” has completely lost faith in Israel.
He has adopted the Palestinian narrative of the events in 1948 and thinks seriously that a “joint Israeli-Palestinian movement” will bring peace and happiness for both peoples if they only lived in one state.
Where is the model for such a state? The Arab countries are breaking apart because of their sectarian and ethnic divides. In the Western Balkans, where multi-ethnic forms of governing were introduced after the civil wars, state-building is slow.
One would think that Lerman, as a British Jew who feels ashamed of Israel, would rather feel ashamed of Britain’s policy before and during the Second World War – not to speak about its role in more recent wars.
We all know the notorious White Paper in 1939 which restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine to appease the Arabs. During the war years the allied powers suppressed information about the Holocaust and opposed rescue operations to avoid receiving any significant numbers of refugees.
I would like to recommend a book by Daniel Tilles: “Passive Accomplices or Helpless Bystanders? British and American Responses to the Holocaust, 1941 -1945” (2008).
Lerman has obviously totally forgotten the lessons learned from the Holocaust when he questions the right of Israel to exist. It’s strange that Israel, so many years after its establishment, still have to prove that it has a right to exist as an independent nation state in a world full of nation states or failed states.
With all its flaws and problems Israel is the fulfilment of the right of national self-determination of the Jewish people and a more liberal democracy than many other Western countries.m.apelblat