My starting point is this.
All democrats - whether liberals or socialists - should support any democratic movement for national self-determination: including both Palestinian arab and Israeli jews.
I've got no real objection to people who believe that it would be best if one day, all states were to melt away. That is a matter of theology. But there are good reasons that nation states exist at the moment: in particular, that they are an effective device for securing the wellbeing of regional minorities.
Just as any supporter of Israel should be asked to make it clear whether they support a viable self governing Palestinian state, and oppose its destruction; any supporter of Palestinian self-determination should be asked to make it clear whether they support a viable self governing Israeli state, and oppose its destruction.
The coalitions which are behind much of British pro-Palestinian politics are led by political parties, campaigns and individuals, many of which seek the destruction of the State of Israel.
They do so explicitly, by calling for a single state. They do so implicitly by calling for the right, not of compensation, but of "return" of the descendants all all those who left Israel in 1948, with no thought to the position of the descendents in Israel of the refugees from tyrannical and hostile Arab states. Increasingly, many also openly ally themselves with Hamas which unapologetically promotes genocide of jews.
The coalitions and advocacy organisations which are active in Left politics at the moment at times seem to shy away from making it clear what, exactly, they would like to see happen in the Middle East. I would like them to spell it out.
Will supporters of boycotts, speaking tours, and trade union motions tell me: are you an advocate of a single state, and of the imposition by force of a Hamas or Arab nationalist government on the regional minority of jews? Or are you opposed to such a solution?
As far as I can tell, the Socialist Workers' Party and many of the other leading campaigners on the issue of Palestine are in favour of precisely that. I might have misunderstood them. If that is not where they stand, and they have some other plausible vision of what the triumph of their politics would mean, I would like to hear it.
What, exactly, are you campaigning for?
Wouldn't it be better if, instead of motions about the "occupation" (Of the West Bank? Or from the "Jordan to the Sea"?) and "the right of return of the 1948 refugees (and their descendents)", they just said:
"Yes, we are in favour of the replacement of Israel and Palestine with a single state, ruled by a Palestinian regional majority. If that means the Hamas or the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is left with a free hand to deal with the jews, then that is what must happen. You can't make an omlette without breaking eggs. Remember: the jews are colonisers of Arab lands, and we must offer unconditional support the liberation struggle of Palestinian people, by whatever means they find necessary, to secure such ends."
If it was clear that this is what the campaigners around the issue of Palestine were aiming for, wouldn't that be much better? We would all know where we stood.
I want to say that "starting point" is worth stressing on both ends. The post focuses on the position of leftists who want to see Israel wiped off the map. But I have no common cause with right-wing "pro-Israel" (in quotes because I don't think keeping Israel in a perpetual state of anti-democratic dominance and cataclysmic conflict with its neighbors is by any stretch "pro-Israel") speakers who are unwilling to demand that Palestinians deserve a state, full, equal, and sovereign, to live side-by-side with Israel. Such a demand does not absolve such a state from its obligations to live peacefully with its neighbors--but responsible state behavior has as a pre-requisite the existence of a state. Israel, as Tom Friedman long ago noted, can be Jewish, democratic, and in control "from the sea to the river"--pick two. The former two are far more important to me than the last. Or perhaps my nominal "friends" on the right would like to inform me as to which of the first two they would jettison?
But that point exists in common with the focus of the post. The abolishment of Israel--however it is phrased--would do critical damage to the well-being and safety of Jews. If we're very lucky, it won't lead to a genocide. However, I think its advocates are far too sanguine at playing dice with Jewish lives. When its your life at stake, you can roll the dice; until then, Jews have a right to some measure of control over their own bodies. "We cannot live without our lives," to quote Barbara Deming. And even if genocide didn't occur, a binational state with Jews as the minority would almost definitely deprive Jews of the unconditional protection of the country, which is something I think we can legitimately demand of the world community today. Israel may have been justified in 1947 because of the Holocaust, but if Israel had already existed in 1933 there wouldn't have been a Holocaust in the first place. And definitionally, such a state would mean the end of a "Jewish" state. The post author is right: states can serve as very important protectors of regional minorities. Jews should not have to be perpetual minorities. There is room, in this big wide world, for a place where Jews are not dependent on and subservient to someone else. We have the right to a place where are the norm, and not the margin. We have a right to be the center somewhere.
And, in different form, Palestinians have the same rights. Such is the demands of democratic nationalism. And so it is that one-staters--on either side, for whatever reason, have the fundamentally wrong idea. They show insufficient respect for the bodies of both Jews and Palestinians. And as such, they are playing dice with the lives of people who have bled for too long.