Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Encountering Peace: Is my Zionist dream dead?


I see a great disaster about to unfold. I simply cannot understand why people are not shouting “don’t let this happen!”

I am really quite concerned. I see a great disaster about to unfold. I simply cannot understand why people are not shouting “don’t let this happen!”

Where is the prime minister? Where are all of the Zionist leaders? Where is the world Jewish community? The option of peace with our neighbors will soon no longer be a possibility. How much longer will we be able to speak about two states for two peoples? There obviously is no partner for this solution on the Israeli side; soon there will be no partner for it on the Palestinian side. The real advocates of this solution in Israel are already a tiny minority. Soon even they will disappear. I just don’t understand what comes next. I am not trying to be provocative, I really don’t understand.

What do we do when partition is no longer possible? How will we deal with the Palestinians who live under our control but no longer wish to live under the lie that they will have a state of their own? More and more Palestinians are waking up to the lie and are saying, “I don’t want to lie to myself anymore and I don’t want my leaders to lie to me. I don’t want the world to lie to me.”

Let’s be honest for a change. There is no chance that the government of Israel will ever relinquish control over the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. They have built such elaborate systems of control, how will it ever be undone? The State of Palestine will never exist if it is up to Israel to decide.

If they perceive having UNESCO designate the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem as an International Heritage site under the designation Palestine as a threat to Israel, then what chance is there that there will ever be a State of Palestine? Zero. What do they think, that Bethlehem is not in Palestine? Is it part of the State of Israel? If they feel threatened by this, then they think it must be.

Let’s face it: No government of Israel has ever decided to support a two-state solution. It was part of a nice, well-received speech of the prime minister at a right-wing religious university. It served its purpose, to dispel the fears of the world for a while, but how long can the speech’s effect last?

The two-state solution is not the official policy of the State of Israel. It has never been decided on by any government. There has never been a proposed law in the Knesset to support the two-state solution. The policies of the government certainly don’t support it. It is no more than a speech, empty words on paper with absolutely no value anymore. Who believes Binyamin Netanyahu was serious? Even his late father said on the day after the speech that “he didn’t mean it.”

I have really dreamed my whole life about living here in Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people, which is democratic and ensures full equality for all of its citizens. This dream state can only exist when it is not in conflict with all of its neighbors. There can be no equality in an Israel which is in conflict with the Palestinians. One million Palestinian citizens of Israel cannot be equal when they are always subject to be questioned about their loyalty. Of course they will be loyal to their own people when their own state is fighting against them, denying them basic rights and refusing to grant equal citizenship to those who were born as citizens.

ISRAEL CANNOT live in peace with its Palestinian neighbors as an occupier. It can only live in peace with them if Israel grants them their freedom from Israel’s control or when Israel makes them full citizens of the country. Those are the only two options I can see.

Maybe expulsion? “Jordan is Palestine”? I have heard that from people on the Right – including a lot of talkbackers to my articles. They say, “those who want to have a Palestinian identity, let them go to Jordan.” Well, what about those who refuse to leave their land, their homes and heritage? What if they also refuse to live under continued Israeli subjugation?

What if millions of Palestinians say ok, no Palestinian state, fine, but we will not leave, we will stay and we will fight for equal rights. And we will fight with any weapon we have. You have experienced that before. Sure, we will pay a heavy price, but what choice do you give us. Now tell the world that Israel is not a new form of apartheid.

Really, someone help me here. I am really trying to understand.

Mr. Prime Minister, what do you think? What do you want to do? I have always thought that the two-state solution is the best expression of a realistic Zionist dream and vision. Practical Zionism. Pragmatic Zionism.

I have not been ashamed to be a Zionist. I have believed in the Zionist vision. The book The Zionist Idea was practically my Bible when I was young. I still have it; its pages thin from being read so many times. But really, what is the Zionist vision now? Where is the Zionist dream taking us?

Is it Beit HaUlpana in Beit El? Is taking private Palestinian land and converting it into Jewish land the Zionist ideal? Is that what it is all about? If it is, then why lie about it? Let’s just do it and get it over with.

Tell the Palestinians they have no rights. Eretz Yisrael l’am Yisrael – the Land of Israel for the People of Israel. Is that it, Mr. Netanyahu? Please tell me. I want to know where I stand.

I want to understand if there’s a place left for me in this country. I want to know if my Zionist dream has any validity any more. Is there a place in the State of Israel for a Jew, a Zionist who believes that Zionism means living in peace with our neighbors so that we can devote our energies to making this country the exemplary place that it could be?

Is there any chance that you, Mr. Prime Minister, will ever have any real intention of implementing a two-state solution? Or are you just lying to us?

The writer is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, a radio host on All for Peace Radio and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit.


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