Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Irrational Exuberance

I don't know why, but over the last couple of days, I've been feeling awash in a wave of unsupported optimism about the state of Jews in the world--especially global views towards Israel. There's no particular reason for this to be so--certainly, most of my recent posts give me no grounds for it, nor is there a shortage of contemporary news that normally would send me into a heap of depression. And yet, here I am.

Some of it stems from having heard of a growing segment of the Muslim community that is expressing, openly, its view that Israel is a legitimate state that deserves respect and equal standing in the international community. Such a view, of course, does not negate the stance that Palestinians deserve a state as well--nor should it. But it seems to me a possible signal of a broader fatigue with spending infinite time and energy to trying to dislodge the Jewish state from its tiny perch on the Mediterranean. Am Yisrael Chai, as the Jewish saying goes, and the sooner everyone accepts that reality, the faster we can progress. The years since the second intifada began have been dark ones for supporters of the Jewish State. But they have likewise shown the Palestinian people that spending seven years throwing themselves in blind fury at the Jewish State does nothing except sap resources (and lives) that could better be spent coming to a long-term consensus. The (belated) recognition by many Palestinians that Hamas is perfectly willing to plunge their nation into anarchic civil war for no perceptible gain is the straw that might finally break this camel's incredibly resilient back.

But I think a significant part of my feeling of optimism stems from blogging at Harry's Place, a (I believe) British-based site that talks about Israel from a position that, to my ears, seems to a) be unabashedly progressive and b) take seriously issues of anti-Semitism that inform contemporary anti-Israel and anti-Zionist discourse around the world. I first linked to Harry's Place at this post, where I explored how a progressive view of democratic nationalism requires all on the left to support both an Israeli (Jewish) and Palestinian state. This has been my position for some time, but for much of it I've felt quite lonely--I haven't felt like there has been the development of a left-wing theory of anti-Semitism that would buttress such a stance, hence, the normal pillars of theoretical and philosophical support I depend on were missing. Harry's Place has helped fill that gap, and told me that I am not alone in my instincts on this matter. It has also pointed me to the Engage Website, currently working against the boycott Israel movement in the UK, which is exploring similar themes.

I firmly believe that the only way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is via a progressive stance that adequately takes into account the positions, interests, lives, and aspirations of both Jews and Palestinians. Until now, I've felt like I've had very few comrades in this endeavor. But now I know I have at least a few fellow travelers. And that makes all the difference.

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