Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wake Up, Make a Move

Jewschool dispenses some much needed wisdom from Gershom Gorenberg, who just gave a talk in DC entitled "What We Talk About When We Talk About Israel". Among them:
++ Few on either side of the Israeli/Palestinian divide seem to understand that their opponents will react the same way as anyone else would under attack: through increased militarism and solidarity. Israel’s actions strengthens Hamas, just as Hamas’s actions strengthen the Israeli right-wing (Likud and beyond).

++ The Zionist project was to create a Jewish state, which would be a democracy, on the full historic Jewish homeland. Two of these three things are currently feasible. Which would you drop?

++ The meaning and importance of having a ”Jewish state” is based in experiencing living as a majority: the feeling of being at home, where the external trappings of life/culture correspond to the internal/family ones. Of being unexceptional and ‘in tune’.

++ The one-state solution will not work because nationalism won’t go away for the forseeable future. At best, Canaan/”Israstine” would end up a basketcase like Belgium – at worst, a bloodbath like Bosnia or Lebanon.

The first, in particular, has to be kept in mind. Of course, that doesn't mean the attacks are irrational -- if you want to maintain the conflict between Israel/Palestine, then acting to create a cycle of radicalization makes perfect sense. And there are plenty of people who would prefer a state of conflict than a state of peace.

On the Israeli right, the existence of conflict allows them to justify aggressive "security" measures, continuing the occupation, and maintaining the settlements, or at least allows them to postpone discussing these issues -- a discussion which could rip the Israeli right apart. On the Palestinian right, groups like Hamas want to maintain conflict because they believe that world opinion will turn in their favor and don't want a peace plan to occur before they can secure maximal gains (namely, utter elimination of Israel). Allowing a bona fide peace camp to emerge in Israel may permanently take off the table their dream of greater Palestine.

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