Tuesday, June 08, 2010
My own Peace Flotilla
1. Well, suddenly the whole world is interested in organizing "Gaza Flotillas." Iran says it will organize one, Turkey wants to lead some more, the Jews for a Second Holocaust in the US and Europe want to lead one. And so on.
SO I thought it would only be fair if I also lead one.
The "Israel Democracy Institute" and the "Bi-National" Plan for Israeli Annihilation
Review of the 2010 Israel Democracy Institute Conference on the Demise of The Jewish State of Israel
University of Haifa – Sami Smooha (Department of Sociology) claims the Jewish State of Israel cannot be "both democratic and Jewish";
Sami Smooha, who is professor of sociology at the University of Haifa, said that Israel is neither a liberal nor a constitutional democracy, but something special. In the past he has termed Israel an "ethnic democracy," but he now declined to use any term containing the word "democracy" to describe Israel. He emphasizes that he is a sociologist, not a political philosopher, and as such he maintains that Israel cannot be both democratic and Jewish. ... As an antidote to Israel's specialness Smooha recommends a special kind of anti-Semitism. Smooha argues that Israel's Jews don't want a Jewish and democratic state but rather a Zionist and democratic state, which is somehow worse. A "Zionist" state maintains that it is connected to all the world's Jews and engages in Zionist "projects," such as settling Jews in Israel, trying to create an amalgamated Jewish identity out of new immigrants, and consolidating Jewish dominance through law and politics. ... Smooha's call for an "end to the millet system" is code for repealing legislation that takes into account the Jewish identity of Israeli citizens. ...Smooha's vision is an Israel without a national or ethnic identity, albeit a state with a lot of Jews—much like Florida. There would be this significant difference: Unlike Florida, in this state a particular ethnic minority does get to be recognized as an official "national minority," with cultural autonomy and other semi-national rights.
... He wants the Palestinians to be Palestinians and the Jews to be democratic, and essentially he calls on Israel's Jews to discriminate against themselves. His justification is that the Jews are colonial settlers and therefore don't really have rights. He did say that he thinks Israel's Jews have the right to self-determination though not sovereignty. But it is hard to see how Jewish self-determination could find expression if his laundry list of policy recommendations were adopted.
A Report on the IDI Conference on Turning Israel Into a Bi-national State
By Dr. Yitzhak Klein
On May 26-27 the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) conducted a two-day seminar entitled "A Bi-national [Jewish and Palestinian-YK] State: A Critical Look." A bi-national state implies the demise of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East.
The seminar included such notables as philosophers Avishai Margalit and Haim Gans, jurist Ruth Gavison, Sami Smooha, the sociologist of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, Alexander Yakovson, and Michael Walzer. Other foreign academics present included Van Parijs, of the University of Louvain, Belgium and Ivo Banac, now at Yale, who discussed the prospects of creating a bi-national state in Belgium and the failure of multi-nationalism in former Yugoslavia, respectively. The seminar produced a few surprises, though participants with a history of opposing a bi-national state largely did so and those with a history of supporting it, such as Meron Benvenisti and Sarah Ossetsky-Lazar of the Van Leer Institute, did not change their tune. Only the most significant presentations will be dealt with here.
Survey data presented at the conference were unequivocal. Israeli Jews, by an overwhelming majority, want to live in a Jewish state, not a bi-national state. They are not about to give up their country. Most Palestinians in Judaea and Samaria do not want to share a state with the Jews either. Only "Palestinians with Israeli citizenship" (a term we prefer because it makes clear which side people are on - henceforth "PWIS"), who don't want to live either in a Palestinian state or a Jewish state, favor the idea—by an 85-90% majority
Advocates and Admirers of Bi-nationalism
Meron Benvenisti repeated the argument he has made for two decades now. The territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean has become a political and economic whole. Territorial, demographic or economic disengagement between Judaea and Samaria and pre-1967 Israel is unachievable. Therefore the only choices are supposedly between a situation of inequality, where Jews rule and Palestinians are ruled, and a unified or a bi-national state in which everyone between the Jordan and the sea has equal rights. Benvenisti said that his preference would be for the Zionist vision of a Jewish nation-state, but it has become impossible to sustain one in practice.
A similar theme was sounded by Sarah Ossetzky-Lazar of the Van Leer Institute. She made clear the context of her advocacy of a joint Jewish-Palestinian state in her opening remarks: "I don't want to use the term 'apartheid,' so you won't chew me up [literally "eat me"]. Noted.
Sami Smooha, who is professor of sociology at the University of Haifa, said that Israel is neither a liberal nor a constitutional democracy, but something special. In the past he has termed Israel an "ethnic democracy," but he now declined to use any term containing the word "democracy" to describe Israel. He emphasizes that he is a sociologist, not a political philosopher, and as such he maintains that Israel cannot be both democratic and Jewish. In fact, this contradiction cannot be eliminated; but by being aware of it one can reduce its effects. As an antidote to Israel's specialness Smooha recommends a special kind of anti-Semitism.
Smooha argues that Israel's Jews don't want a Jewish and democratic state but rather a Zionist and democratic state, which is somehow worse. A "Zionist" state maintains that it is connected to all the world's Jews and engages in Zionist "projects," such as settling Jews in Israel, trying to create an amalgamated Jewish identity out of new immigrants, and consolidating Jewish dominance through law and politics. "We don't need to protect the Jewishness of the state!" Smooha cried. "It's too protected! We need to strengthen democracy!"
Smooha takes as his point of reference the official "Future Vision" document of the PWIS. He argued that, with a few changes, the PWIS' vision of Palestinian autonomy and Jews' desire for a sovereign state of their own could be reconciled. To do so would require "strengthening Israeli democracy at the expense of Jewishness" as well as creating Palestinian autonomy within Israel. To accomplish the former he recommended:
· Creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank
· Doing away with "Israel's millet system" (his term)
· Doing away with "special" security regulations (e.g., those that bar Palestinians from sensitive military positions).
· Abolishing the special status of the JNF and Jewish Agency
· Strengthening a common Israeli civic identity in the public domain.
Smooha's call for an "end to the millet system" is code for repealing legislation that takes into account the Jewish identity of Israeli citizens. Ostensibly ending the "millet system" would mean ending it for PWIS as well. But no: Smooha calls for giving the PWIS their own national autonomy by:
· Recognizing the PWIS by law as a national minority
· "Settling" the Bedouin question in Israel's south (by handing over national lands to Bedouin squatters)
· Implementing Affirmative Action for PWIS
· Implementing Arab cultural autonomy
· Paying compensation for expropriated Arab lands
· Taking PWIS parties into political coalitions and putting PWIS into positions of power.
· Consulting PWIS leaders on issues of concern to their community.
Smooha here adopts most of the PWIS wish list as it appears in the "Future Vision" document. He only omits the demand for a Palestinian right of return and the claim for an Arab veto over Israeli legislation. Surprisingly, Smooha calls for PWIS to do national service.
Smooha's vision is an Israel without a national or ethnic identity, albeit a state with a lot of Jews—much like Florida. There would be this significant difference: Unlike Florida, in this state a particular ethnic minority does get to be recognized as an official "national minority," with cultural autonomy and other semi-national rights.
Smooha's proposal for "reconciling" Jewish and PWIS aspirations turns out to be worse than other proposals for a bi-national state, because he denies to Israel's Jews the same autonomy he reserves for Palestinians. He wants the Palestinians to be Palestinians and the Jews to be democratic, and essentially he calls on Israel's Jews to discriminate against themselves. His justification is that the Jews are colonial settlers and therefore don't really have rights. He did say that he thinks Israel's Jews have the right to self-determination though not sovereignty. But it is hard to see how Jewish self-determination could find expression if his laundry list of policy recommendations were adopted.
Philosopher Avishai Margalit, once at Hebrew University, now (in retirement) at Princeton, began by claiming at the conference to be against a bi-national state, but then turned out to be one of its most passionate advocates. He thinks a bi-national state is impossible to achieve—but not that it is wrong. His remarks were devoted almost entirely to defending the idea and its advocates from the 1930s and today. In doing so he engaged in some astounding historical revisionism. His main points:
· Because Israel's legitimacy is being questioned today, the public atmosphere in Israel is tense and characterized by a search for traitors. [Warning: If you open any page on this website you are evidently "searching for traitors."] Those in power today are not prepared to admit that they are chiefly responsible for Israel's delegitimization.
· In the 20s and 30s bi-nationalists were considered a legitimate part of the Zionist camp. Ben Gurion took them seriously and debated their position. When Jews constituted no more than a third of the population of Palestine it was unrealistic to presume that Zionism would lead to the creation of a sovereign Jewish state.
· Actually Jewish bi-nationalists in the 1920s and 1930s never really had a program [thus Margalit]. They were more a state of mind than people with a program. They adopted their positions because they feared the Zionist revisionist movement, which threatened to create a Fascist Jewish state, according to Margalit. They feared a militarized state. They feared having power, having any state.
· Margalit is skeptical about their program but approves of their state of mind.
· For the past 42 years there has been an "apartheid situation" in Judaea and Samaria. Israel's presence beyond the Green Line is not about to go away. The choices Israel faces, he insists, are between being a bi-national apartheid state or a democratic bi-national state. He prefers the latter.
The debate over bi-nationalism within the Yishuv in the 1930s was between different wings of the Jewish left. However Israel today is ruled by a mutated form of the old Zionist revisionism, so the issue has become acute. We report Margalit's discourse as he delivered it, without attempting to impose a forced consistency upon his remarks. His main point was that the choice Israel faces today is not a foreign policy choice but a choice over whether or not to resign itself to the forces of darkness. But then again, he believes the choice has already been made, and it is the choice of darkness.
Astonishingly, Margalit remains psychologically trapped in the petty quarrels and antipathies of the Yishuv of eighty years ago. He sees the question of bi-nationalism through the keyhole of his bitter hatred of the Zionist Right, of that time as well as of today. He sees Zionist conservatives, then as now, as kin to fascists and as advocates of apartheid. They may have really motivated the far-leftist Brit Shalom's opposition to a Jewish state in the 20s and 30s of the last century. Margalit accuses them, and not people who label Israel as fascist and apartheid, of being responsible for Israel's delegitimization today. Margalit's positions are intellectually dishonest.
Margalit embraces and celebrates the powerlessness that characterized 20th century advocates of bi-nationalism and which made them so admirable in his eyes. But then Jews seized the power he despises—Jews who actually think Jewish power is something good, to be used to defend Jewish lives and sovereignty. In Margalit's view only the abandonment of the State of Israel can save the Jews' souls—but Margalit doesn't recommend it (wink, wink). He notes that the Jews certainly don't want a bi-national state and wouldn't feel secure in one.
One surprise in the conference was in the position of Chaim Gans, a far-leftist law professor at Tel Aviv University, whose earlier work supported the idea of a Jewish state within the 1967 borders. Gans now argues that, in theory, Zionist ambitions can be achieved by giving Jews cultural autonomy, parallel to that of the Palestinians, within a culturally neutral liberal bi-national state.
Opponents of Bi-nationalism
Some of the arguments put forward by opponents of a bi-national state were encouragingly Zionist. Ruth Gavison responded directly to Smooha by saying that sovereignty is an essential component of the Jews' quest for control of the fate of their own community and of their own public space, and that they deserve to have it. As for the PWIS—Gavison used the term "Arab Israelis"—they are not just fighting for their rights. They are fighting against the Jews' rights and the Jews' claim to sovereignty. She noted that the preliminary for achieving minority rights world over is to refrain from threatening the rights of the ethnic majority.
Gavison said that bi-nationalism might be "more just in the abstract," but only if the two nations involved actually wanted a bi-national state and viewed their future as being tied together. This was emphatically not the case in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She said that it was harmful for Jews committed to liberal Zionism to bemoan how bad things supposedly are in Israel. They need patience for what will be a long haul. The only way to achieve peace eventually is if the Palestinians are first convinced that they cannot simply wait the Jews out.
Yedidia Stern (Law, Bar Ilan and Director of Research at IDI) argued that Israel had to choose between land (beyond the Green Line) and Jewish identity, and claimed to be a partisan of Jewish identity. He advocated two positions: first, that Israel should, in his view, be a Jewish state, rejecting the PWIS' position; and second, that giving up on Judaea and Samaria would convert Israel's problem from maintaining Jewish identity to one of being fair to an ethnic minority. He said that the main problem was reconciling liberalism with the demand for a state with a Jewish identity, and that the major challenge was in determining how a Jewish state, one founded on Jewish culture and ethics, relates to minorities. He did not indicate how this was to be done, except to state forcefully that it was a job for politics and not for the courts.
Among the foreign academics at the conference, Van Parijs optimistically argued that formal bi-nationalism is a viable option to resolve the crisis in Belgium, while Ivo Banac related the sad story of how the multi-national Yugoslav state broke down. Their presentations inspired Michael Walzer to comment, "the best way to create a bi-national state is apparently to have one already."
Why This Conference?
The most significant aspect of the conference was the decision of the Israel Democracy Institute to hold it. The question of whether Israel or any other nation-state should be replaced by a bi-national state is a perfectly legitimate subject for academic inquiry. The question of whether the United States should become a bi-national state, Caucasian-Amerindian or perhaps Caucasian-Black, is perfectly legitimate—but likely to be regarded as obscure and, except to a minute community of ideological fanatics, uninteresting.
When IDI places a subject on its public agenda, it indicates that in its view that subject is, or ought to be, within the mainstream of public debate. The IDI is nominally against a bi-national state, and that came out in the conference. So why is the IDI giving the subject of a bi-national state such prominence?
Bi-nationalism is explicitly demanded in the fundamental document prepared by the PWIS leadership, "The future vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel."
For many years the IDI attempted to induce the Knesset to adopt a draft constitution for Israel, one that provided for only the thinnest veneer of Jewish identity. It made prodigious efforts to get PWIS to sign off on that IDI document. The PWIS balked at the mere definition of Israel in this text as a "Jewish and democratic state." Now the leadership of PWIS have stated formally that the State of Israel was born in sin and Zionism is illegitimate. Yet they say they are willing to let Israel's Jewish majority run its own communal affairs as long as the Jews express contrition, dismantle Zionism, accept the Palestinian right of return and give the Arabs a veto over public policy. The IDI has to decide its attitude toward the formally expressed position of this group that it once hoped would become an IDI constituency.
The notion of a bi-national state is a hot topic in leftist circles in European and American academia. IDI sees itself as close to these circles, and its desire to be considered part of them influences its agenda.
Most Israelis don't share the IDI's hang-ups, either about the PWIS or about Western Europe's intellectual elites. PWIS and European left-wing intellectuals are hitting IDI where it hurts, in the IDI's own perception of itself as a liberal institution—as defined by the European bon ton. There has always been a gap between the sentiments of the Israeli public and the preoccupations of the IDI, which claims to speak for the mainstream, but the gap is getting wider and more noticeable. As Avishai Margalit noted, none of the conference participants were tainted with the stain of conservative Zionism, that stain for which most Israelis voted last year.
All the Israeli opponents of a bi-national state were of the opinion that Israel's presence in Judaea and Samaria is a problem (some insist that it is a crime) and that Israel cannot be a just or decent place unless that presence is ended. Remarkably, the people around the table who did not share this view were the bi-nationalists, who believe that Israel and Zionism are the problem (or the crime), and that settlements in Judaea and Samaria are incidental to the problem because the real problem really centers around Haifa and Tel Aviv. Nobody who thinks that Israel has a right to settle Jews in Judaea and Samaria, or that disastrous aggression would result from Israel's abandonment of those areas, was allowed a seat at the table. Not a single person participating in the conference noted that for 17 years Israel has been begging and pleading with the Palestinians in Judaea and Samaria to govern their own affairs. As far as conference participants were concerned, what goes on in Ramallah and Shechem and Gaza still merits the term "occupation."
IDI stacked the conference carefully and the anti-bi-nationalists got most of the speaking time and had most of the intellectual firepower. Yet the assumptions of the anti-bi-nationalists made it very difficult for them to make their case. If Israel's presence, civil and military, in Judaea and Samaria is a moral problem because it oppresses the Palestinians there, then it's equally a moral problem within the Green Line because the PWIS claim to feel oppressed by Zionism and Jewish sovereignty. The Jews' arguments that PWIS enjoy Israeli citizenship and Israeli civil rights, while their counterparts in Ramallah don't, are met by PWIS leaders with a cynical smile.
If there are good reasons for Israel to get out of Ramallah—which it has done—they are equally good for Israel to get out of Umm El-Fahm, and the reasons for Israel to give up sovereignty in Ofra are equally reasons to surrender it in Sheikh Munis—sorry, North Tel Aviv. It is inconsistent to say Israel has no right to demand that Palestinians should not suffer the presence of Jews in Samaria but that they SHOULD in Raanana.
· 3. OPINION EUROPE
· JUNE 7, 2010
The War Against Israel
Terror, lies and slander are the main tools of the Leftist-Islamist alliance against the Jewish state.
The blurring of terrorist-activists and civilians that characterizes 21st century warfare took on a new dimension in the violent confrontation between the "Free Gaza Flotilla" and the Israeli Navy last week. Ostensibly, the hundreds of passengers on a ship carrying a large Turkish flag were "peace activists" on a "humanitarian" mission to bring aid to Palestinians "trapped behind the Israeli blockade." But this moral façade hid a strategy of engaging Israel in a bloody confrontation to exploit the "halo effect" (automatically granted to groups claiming moral missions) and to reinforce the image of Israelis as "war criminals."
Despite all the misreporting, Gaza is not starving as Israel allows tons of food, drugs and humanitarian aid to reach Gaza every day. The entirely legal naval blockade is designed to prevent arms, primarily from Iran, from reaching the terrorists in Gaza, from which Israel withdrew in 2005. The flotilla's aim was not to feed ordinary Palestinians, but to help Hamas break the embargo so that it can bring in weapons.
The "Free Gaza" group is a potent example of how the new alliance between radical-left Western groups and Jihadists is waging this new war. In 2001, 1,500 organizations, both Islamic and Western, participated in the NGO Forum of the United Nations Durban Conference on Racism. They declared Israel to be "a racist, apartheid state" and "a crime against humanity," while calling on the "international community to impose a policy of complete and total isolation." To advance this hate agenda, Israel's enemies would use terror attacks to provoke an inevitable response, and then strip away the context to highlight allegations of "war crimes."
The approach was implemented in the 2002 Jenin massacre myth, when Palestinian lies alleging Israeli atrocities were reported by the mainstream media and NGOs as facts. This strategy was further perfected in the 2006 Lebanon and 2009 Gaza wars, when Hezbollah and Hamas respectively attacked Israeli civilians while hiding behind their own civilian populations. Israel was then held responsible for the unavoidable death of civilians in the cause of its legitimate self-defense. In each case, false allegations of "war crimes" were published by NGOs and then adopted by U.N. inquiries, such as the deeply flawed Goldstone report.
The "Free Gaza" round of provocation and condemnation marks a major escalation. The Turkish Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation) reportedly purchased the boats and provided the crew, as well as the paramilitary forces that attacked the Israeli boarding party. As the videos from the ship's own security cameras and the IDF show (http://www.youtube.com/user/idfnadesk), the soldiers acted in legitimate self-defense as they were assaulted by a lynch mob armed with slingshots, steel bars, broken glass bottles, chairs, chains, and knives. Prior to the flotilla launch, activists chanted Islamic battle cries "[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!" Khaibar was the last Jewish village defeated by Muhammad's army in 628. The battle marked the end of Jewish presence in Arabia.
One participant told Al Jazeera, "Either the Israelis let us reach Gaza, or they can stop us . . . . We can also die as martyrs and never return, which is okay with us."
For the IHH, as in the case of other Islamist charities, the "humanitarian relief" dimension is a cover, or at best, a side show. IHH is a prominent member of the "Union of the Good," which was designated by the U.S. government as "an organization created by the Hamas leadership to transfer funds to the terrorist organization." In 1997, before the Islamist AKP came to power in Turkey, a police raid on an IHH building in Istanbul found weapons, explosives, and instructions for making improvised explosive devices widely used by insurgents and terror groups.
At a 2001 U.S. Federal trial emanating from the Millenium plot to bomb the Los Angeles airport, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, the leading French counter-terrorism investigating magistrate, gave evidence on the IHH's "important role" in obtaining weapons, documents and dispatching fighters in various al-Qaida operations. A 2006 report published by the Danish Institute for International Studies quotes from Mr. Bruguiere's legal depositions, including revelations that Turkish authorities had uncovered IHH links to Al-Qaeda in Milan and to Algerian terrorists in Europe, as well as having had a major role in recruiting militants sent to Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan.
Thus, the IHH was a logical vehicle for the Islamist-led Turkish government, headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to turn against its former ally Israel. While embracing Syria and Iran, Mr. Erdogan is fueling anti-Israel hatred in his country and throughout the region.
The second partner in this violent "humanitarian" confrontation was the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) which promotes Palestinian "resistance" and fuels the violence. On April 30, 2003, a suicide terrorist blew himself up at the entrance to Mike's Place, a popular bar on the Tel Aviv beach promenade. Three Israelis were murdered, and over 50 wounded. Just a few days before the attack, the terrorists (British citizens) had spent time with a group of ISM members.
Indeed, ISM declares on its own website that its mission is to "support and strengthen the Palestinian popular resistance" through direct confrontation with the IDF. In 2002, ISM co-founder Adam Shapiro and his Palestinian-born wife promoted both "non-violent and violent" tactics in support of the Palestinian resistance. "Yes, people will get killed and injured," but these deaths are "no less noble than carrying out a suicide operation" and "would be considered shaheed," using the Arabic word for "martyr," usually applied to suicide bombers.
The ISM's Caoimhe Butterly—a prominent Irish participant in the Free Gaza campaign—has had many run-ins with the IDF. In April 2002, following a series of Palestinian terror bombings that led to the IDF's operation "Defensive Shield," she spent 16 days as a "human shield" in Yasser Arafat's compound.
The hysteria, extreme hatred for the West, and for Israel, in particular, is a trademark of many ISM members. According to ISM media coordinator Flo Rosovski, "'Israel' is an illegal entity that should not exist." For the ISM, like IHH, labels like "peace activists" and "humanitarian aid workers" are convenient masks for this hatred.
In addition, this Leftist-Islamist alliance is supported and legitimized by mainstream NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Notwithstanding embarrassing exposes on how, in May 2009, HRW solicited funds from the Saudis by touting the need to counter Jewish and "pro-Israel pressure groups," and the documentation of its systematic anti-Israeli bias, this organization immediately joined in the condemnations of Israel. These once-respected watchdogs have become an integral part of the efforts to criminalize legitimate responses to terror through false allegations of human rights violations.
For the "peace activists" aboard the Free Gaza Flotilla, the deaths and the images of violence from their excursion are viewed as a great success. As an IHH official in Istanbul declared, "We are very thankful to the Israeli authorities." Once again, Israel is on the front lines of this strategy, but NATO and the West are next in line in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere.
Mr. Steinberg teaches political science at Bar Ilan University and heads NGO Monitor.
4. Should Jews Apologize to Turkey or Go Back to Poland and Germany?
Posted By Victor Davis Hanson