Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Israel Exists. That's Reality. What Next?

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." -- Philip K. Dick

Israel exists. It is not going anywhere. It is not going to allowed itself to be wiped off the map, it is not going to be pushed into the sea, its denizens are not going to go "back to where the fuck they came from". Israel exists. No matter how many quotes or asterisks or decapitalizations you put in its name, no matter how much chanting and chest-thumping you might hear about how the Zionist entity's days are numbered and its collapse is imminent and Israelis better start learning "how to swim", Israel's existence is a reality. Refusing to believe it doesn't make it go away.

This fact -- the reality of Israel, the fact that it is there and is not going away -- is often cited against those chest-thumpers who every day boldly predict anew Israel's demise. It is a gesture of defiance, a nyah-nyah to those who have since 1948 promised the destruction of Israel will be any day now, just you wait. It tells people who still dream of rolling back the clock to before 1948 that they are only dreaming, and they need to snap out of their nightmarish fantasizing.

I certainly don't have any objection to this usage, but there is another implication of understanding Israel's existence as a reality that I think doesn't get the attention that it should.

If Israel's existence is reality, such that other people refusing to believe it so will not make it go away, then many of the more existential questions that sometimes loom large in discourse about Israel no longer seem as salient. When we debate, for example, the proper response to Israel's occupation of the West Bank, or the legal rights and entitlements of its non-Jewish citizens, or the valid claims that non-citizen Palestinians could legitimately have vis-a-vis the Israeli state in the event that it ends up establishing permanent formal sovereignty over the West Bank and/or Gaza, we are not having a debate about whether Israel "exists", now or into the future. Israel does exist, and, as we've stipulated, that isn't going to change. So the actual issue at stake in all these questions is not "should Israel exist", but rather "what should the state of Israel, which by stipulation absolutely does exist and will continue to exist, do in the course of living out its existence?"

It is no response to note the many, many people who continue to loudly and angrily deny Israel's existence, or who kick up dust challenging its "right to exist", or who brashly predict its forthcoming dissolution. If one actually does believe that Israel's existence is reality, then their beliefs, however passionately held, do not change reality; reality is that which, when one stops believing it, doesn't go away. Israel has not and will not go away in the face of these non-believers, this is the whole point of asserting that Israel is a reality. 

So for my part, I say let's leave the non-believers to their fantasies. The rest of us can live in the real world. This is a world where Israel exists, and will continue to exist, and so our primary salient questions are how this extant state will behave as a state today, tomorrow, and outward into the future.

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