A Palestinian demonstrator uses a car jack to try and breach a panel of the Israeli separation barrier during a protest in the West Bank village of Bilin, on Nov. 6 2009. The protest was held ahead of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters
By Daniel Sieradski, JewSchool
February 14, 2017
Two years ago, in these very pages, I told you this would happen. I said Israel was moving towards an apartheid, one-state reality and that the American Jewish community was going to go along for the ride. My predictions were haughtily dismissed by a spokesman for the American Jewish Committee and deemed “highly improbable” by then-JCPA executive director [Rabbi] Steve Gutow. Since then, the GOP has removed support for the two-state solution from its platform, AIPAC disappeared the two-state solution from its website’s talking points, and now the cherry on top: The President of the United States has announced he will not hold Israel to the two-state solution.
For the last decade, all-out war has been declared on anti-occupation Jews in the U.S. by the organized Jewish establishment. Everyone from J Street leftwards has been shunted aside — quite forcibly pushed out of the Jewish communal tent for violating the so-called “communal consensus” on Israel. Restrictions were put in place at Federations and Jewish Communal Funds, progressive Israel groups had events canceled for fear of reprisals, Jewish Voice for Peace was listed as an antisemitic organization by the Simon Wiesenthal Center — all of this to silence Jews who did not adhere to policy prescriptions handed down from on high in Jerusalem and dictated to American Jewry by the organs of Jewish communal life.
Largely, this ostracizing has focused on Jewish supporters of BDS, purportedly because BDS supports a one-state solution to the conflict (though it doesn’t explicitly) and therefore ultimately the dissolution of Israel. However, for years there has been a double standard in play, where Jewish supporters of one state in which Arab citizens have limited human and civil rights do not have their loyalty to Israel nor the Jewish community thrown into doubt, but rather are treated as legitimate voices in our discourse.
Hence, this meme I made five years ago calling the Jewish establishment out for its hypocrisy:
If a one-state solution delegitimizes Israel, certainly members of Israel’s ruling party who have called for such should be regarded as outside the communal consensus. But that’s not what’s happened. Since that time, nearly everyone in that image is now a senior member of the Israeli government who has been feted by the American Jewish establishment and has since moved their vision of one state from the fringes into the mainstream.
And it’s our fault. The American Jewish community, which sat on its hands for years while Israel shifted to the extreme right, facilitated the end of the two-state solution. By refusing to push back and instead deferring to the Israelis, “no matter who is in power,” the institutions of U.S. Jewish life have brought us here to this moment.
And so, now we will have one state. And make no mistake, it will be an apartheid state — because for Palestinians in the occupied territories, it already is. This means that we as a progressive Jewish community are now faced with a choice: We can continue to dissemble and make excuses for Israel, we can deny to ourselves that this is really happening and that the peace process has reached the end of the road, or we can accept that this is where we’re at and that our struggle must now shift from trying to save a two-state solution that will never be to fighting for the rights and equality of Palestinians as full citizens in a binational Israeli-Palestinian state. Because there’s going to be one state whether you like it or not — and that state can either be one that is equal or one that is not.
Israeli government ministers in just the last 24 hours.
“I think all the members of the cabinet oppose a Palestinian state, and the Prime Minister first among them.” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (http://bit.ly/2kkaXj4)
“Israel needs to say loudly and clearly: no to a Palestinians state, yes to an expanded, complete and united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.” Transport Minister Yisrael Katz (http://bit.ly/2kDjb1V)
Palestinian state is a “hallucination” – “We need to say that everywhere, to every Christian and Muslim in Europe and to every Jew in Israel and in the world. The Land of Israel is ours. Period.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett (http://bit.ly/2lIKKYo)
“It can be done in a gradual manner, starting with the greater Jerusalem area and from there applying Israeli law on the entire settlement enterprise and later to sovereignty from the sea to the Jordan.” Deputy FM Tzipi Hotovely (http://bit.ly/2kLxELq)
“A Palestinian state is no solution for peace. I’ve said it many times, there’s room here for one national state – the State of Israel. Only the Jews have national rights to this land.” Culture & Sports Minister Miri Regev (http://bit.ly/2lCwvYw)
“We have an historical opportunity to begin a new era, an era in which we can speak with pride about our Israel, and go back to saying Israel belongs to the Jewish nation, and keep emphasizing it.” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (http://bit.ly/2lASgrH)
As my long-time readers know, I identified as a liberal Zionist up until only a few years ago. And I gave it up, not because I wanted to, but because I came to accept that the two-state vision is dead and that those who supported it were no longer welcome participants in Jewish life. Anyone who persists to believe otherwise is deluding themselves. Just ask our Ambassador to Israel Designate, David Friedman, who says Jews who support two states are “worse than kapos.”
It’s time to put up or shut up. Are you for humanity or are you for an exclusively-Jewish ethnostate, the kind of which inspires the likes of Richard Spencer?
Me? I’m putting up for human rights for all, not just my own people. I hope you’ll join me.