Saturday, January 15, 2005
Simon Jones - One State as a Jewish Liberation Struggle
I decided to ask a few of these people if they would be willing to consider articulating elements of this paradigm to share with a general public, and I decided to begin with an ideological viewpoint, rather than a pragmatic or organisative one. Several had immediately consented to this proposal, others asked for more time to ponder whether it was an issue which they wanted to write on, still others didn't follow the rather detailed request to address the issue in a very specific way and to avoid any generalisations, so that some exchange of ideas could take place, starting from some philosophical principles rather than political ones. And, expectedly, but still disappointing to me, a few never replied to the commission request one way or another! Do I blame it on the Holidays? On the Question? Or is this medium not seen as being worth the energy? I don't know, but I am grateful to those who accepted, and I hope that the people who read this find some interesting insights and commentary.
I attempted to gather the thoughts of people from a relatively broad framework, be it their political affiliation or their intellectual focus, selecting them specifically for the variety of approach and background that they seem to represent. But, all of them are active in "peace" efforts for the Middle East and most are activists in Palestinian solidarity, and that is the common denominator which links them all.
The FIRSTquestion, which was stimulated by a series of exchanges on a One State Yahoo Group bulletin board between myself and another member, (and which all of those interpellated had been sent a copy, along with other reference material to aid in directing the focus to one specific question) is whether or not the ONE STATE solution can be considered as being part of a LIBERATION MOVEMENT which will benefit the JEWS.
The following is the first intervention in the series.
Simon Jones - The one state solution as the liberation struggle for the Jews
Simon Jones is a North American journalist/ translater living in Uzbekistan.He has written articles about 911, the (post) Soviet Union, Judaism,Uzbekistan, and the peace movement for Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, YellowTimes and other online alternative media. He welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
My own road to Damascus concerning the one-state solution has been a long one. While always a critic of Israeli expansionism, I went along with the conventional wisdom that somehow the suffering of Jews in WWII justified at least the existence of the state of Israel, that there was nothing to be done about what from the word "go" was an injustice, so 'Let's support the attempts to create a Palestinian state, even a rump one – get over it, move on, etc.'
It was only with Slick Willy's Oslo 'accord', backed by the ‘peace movement’ of Israel, but which did nothing to stop more and more settlements from sprouting in occupied territory, and which made no restitution to a half century of dispossessed and murdered Palestinians, that what was really afoot began to dawn on me. ‘Hey, Jews are getting billions in reparations for persecution by the Nazis. What about the Palestinians?’ I thought. Oslo was understandably rejected by the Palestinians and then resoundingly by the Israelis (though Slick Willy still stoutly defends it on CNN). It finally became clear to all except US presidents that Israeli politicians of all stripes have NEVER had ANY intention of allowing a Palestinian state, even a rump one, to be set up.
Sharon's cynical march onto Temple Mount further made clear for even the most naive well-wishers (again excepting US presidents) that the real political agenda of Israel is nothing less than Greater Israel and the driving of all Palestinians – Muslims and Christians – out of Palestine. Ben Gurion's "It doesn't matter what gentiles say; it only matters what we do" became Sharon's "It doesn't matter what WE say; it only matters what we do." Road maps and peace processes continue to be touted - yes, the dog barks, but the caravan moves on.
911 merely drove the point home. Whether or not Mossad was behind it all, Israel is no longer just a wart, a minor irritation which could be tolerated and hopefully would go away or at least not get worse. It is a cancer, growing more lethal by the day to the entire world, the engine of WWIII against the Muslim world. So the only solution is to oppose the very existence of Israel as a racist state, to fight to bring it down, just as the Muslim world has demanded from the start. Sorry for taking so long, guys!
Confronting the Jewish century
How naive we liberals, socialists, goys, even so-called anti-Zionist Jews were. But then we are the product of the Judaic secular culture which has triumphed in the West. As the enthusiastic reviewer of Yuri Slezkine’s The Jewish Century (Princeton University Press 2004) claims in a NYRB ad, "the Modern Age is the Jewish Age - and we are all, to varying degrees, Jews." According to him, not only have Jews adapted better than many other groups to living in the modern world, they have become "the symbol and standard of modern life everywhere."
Of course. Capitalism and psychoanalysis are, after all, our alpha and omega. Doyen of Israeli journalism Amos Elon said in a recent interview, "German Jewry was the secular elite of Europe. They were the essence of modernism - leaders who made their livelihood from brainpower and not from brawn, mediators and not workers of the land. Journalists, writers, scientists. There hadn't been anything like it since the Renaissance." http://www.counterpunch.org/shavit12272004.html So this claim of cultural hegemony is neither new nor especially controversial, though for the American academics to boast about it so openly (also fresh from PrincetonU, Jews and the American Soul by Andrew Heinze sporting the Statue of Liberty clutching a menorah) certainly marks a new boldness in the Jewish agenda.
If we assume there is more to life than acting out the role of shabbas goy, we must confront this in-your-face Jewish cultural hegemony, which it can be argued includes not only control of intellectual commanding heights, but less prettily, holocaust worship, denial of the spiritual dimension in humanity and the rule of money. For Jews, it means radically rethinking their very identity as Jews whatever cabbage leaf they might have been born under.
And for the rest of us, the Zionist plan for a world Knesset in Jerusalem (as recently announced by the Israeli president) is about as acceptable as the much reviled Comintern, and underlines the danger to host countries of these powerful citizens with dual loyalties. Which leads inexorably to the conclusion that this is wrong, in fact treasonous, and must be stopped. Jews of France should be French. Likewise, Jews in the US should be first and foremost American. And AIPAC is indeed the agent of a foreign power. And THAT leads to the conclusion that Jews in Palestine should become Palestinians.
It is not necessary to convert to Christianity, the traditional way that Jews have assimilated. However it is essential for diaspora Jews to end their dual loyalty, or rather their loyalty to Israel above loyalty to their host countries. And what is this about ‘host countries’, a term in fact coined by diaspora Jews? Enough already. They are your/ their countries every bit as much as they are for the goys that live down the street, who protect the borders, fight the wars and pay the taxes.
Jewish Israeli, not Israeli Jew
This reassessing of Jewish identity is already underway in Israel. Hundreds of Israelis have petitioned the Supreme Court of Israel demanding their ‘Jewish nationality’ being stricken out and replaced by ‘Israeli’ or ‘Palestinian’. Two million Israeli citizens – Palestinians, Russians and Ethiopians – already are not considered ‘Jews’ by the Jewish state and do not wish to be. Many more (largely from the former Soviet Union) are considered ‘Jews’ but nevertheless want to give up their Jewish exclusivity. They want to be first Israelis, or Palestinians – not Jews.
As Israel Shamir states in "Not Cricket" (19/12/4 www.israelshamir.net), "the Israeli soul is the scene of struggle between two forces, between two loyalties: that to the land and that to the world-wide Jewish People. The loyalty to the land can eventually form a basis for complete unity with the native Palestinian people. The loyalty to world Jewry (Am Israel) is the basis of our xenophobia, of the Wall, of the apartheid state." The Palestinians are denied equal rights in order to sustain the ‘Jewish character’ of the state, and the murder and displacement of Palestinians is done in the name of the Jewish People.
It is the very Jewish character of Israel that is the source of the problem and must be done away with. Jews are not a nation, though Israelis could be, but only by cutting the umbilical cord with the Jewish Lobby abroad. Removal of the special ties between Hebrew-speakers in Palestine/Israel and the Jews abroad is, in a way, a true declaration of Israeli independence. Only when all Israelis are treated the same will the state of Palestine/ Israel be a nation, governed by the principle 'one person, one vote', with basic human rights guaranteed for all. Yes, Israelis will fear retribution for their half century of plunder, murder and duplicity. But when you treat Muslims with dignity and respect, they reciprocate. In any case, Israeli Jews will just have to take this risk. There is no other solution. Israel has made its bed and must lie in it.
Beware half measures
There can be no half measures such as the "replacement of the Jewish state of Israel by an Arab-Jewish democratic, secular Palestine" as proposed by some. ‘Arabs’ and ‘Jews’ are not two nations. ‘Arabs’ are a linguistic and cultural group of peoples which includes Palestinians, Syrians, Egyptians of all religions, the Jews are a religious caste, ‘class-people’ as Abram Leon has termed them. There is no way around it: Israelis should be de-Judaised, i.e., de-linked from the Jewish People overseas, so that they can assimilate with the native Palestinians.
This is just recapitulating Marx in "On the Jewish question", which predates Zionism, but which is as timely as ever. When he states that "the emancipation of the Jews is, in the last analysis, the emancipation of mankind from Judaism" he is referring to the historical caricature of the selfish, vengeful, racist tribe of the Jewish diaspora, which was a lightning-rod for prejudice, and is calling on Jews to assimilate into their societies and disown their identification with these negative human traits. Shylock is to be condemned for embracing the caricature, not empathized with, as in Hollywood’s latest soft-pedaling of our cultural heritage. Similarly, Zionism and Greater Israel must be rejected, not condoned.
Jean Daniel's The Jewish Prison argues that Zionism was viewed early on as an "escape from the stifling closure and ghetto constriction" of Jewish family life, a secular vision of Jewish liberation without Marx. Moses Hess, an erstwhile ally of Marx, envisioned this, not assimilation, as the road to liberating both Jew and mankind. But the result – Israel – has proved to be just another closed system, this time, not the family or shtetl, but a state. Zionism replaced one hell with an even worse one, merely spreading the misery around. Just as Marx’s formula remains valid, so does the adage ‘You can take the Jew out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the Jew.’
And just as traditional anti-Jewish sentiment was based on resentment of the unwillingness of Jews to assimilate, growing anti-Jewish sentiment today is a result of the world Jewish Lobby actively supporting Israeli crimes in the Middle East and claiming Jewish loyalty first and foremost to Israel.
When universities, the Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches try to take a moral stand against Israeli crimes, even such supposedly peace-loving groups as Rabbis for Human Rights decry divestment as an act of ‘anti-Semitism’ or like Noam Chomsky say it isn't 'effective', and Jewish terrorists threaten to burn Presbyterian churches. But disinvestment in Israel is not a policy against Jews, despite the frantic attempts of the Jewish Lobby and RHR to portray it as such. It is directed against Israeli crimes. It is this age-old refusal to assimilate, now compounded by conflation of the interests of diaspora Jews with the crimes of Israel, that is the cause of anti-Jewish sentiment, not some mental aberration peculiar to goys. End this identification, assimilate, and you cut the anti-Jewish hydra off at the neck.
Like the logic of disinvestment, this compelling logic of assimilation is met with cries of "You marry this shikse and you help finish off what Hitler tried to do!" But as Elon says, "If people want to assimilate to the point that they disappear within the general society without a trace – that's their right. I don't think it's a tragedy. It's not the end of the world." Then we have the pseudo-assimilationists: "But I am a good American. I am assimilated." This Slezkine-style ‘assimilation’ is like that of the aliens in the sci-fi cult movie "They live!" (1988), who look for all intents and purposes like natives (only of course superior), and slowly colonize Earth, taking control of the economy, politics and culture. They can only be detected with special sunglasses. Of course the hero sees through this ruse and the goys (oops, I mean earthlings) triumph, in the Hollywood tradition.
Oivey – where is there such a magic bullet in real life! There isn’t; however, the break-up of world Jewry will be a wonderful development precisely for Jews. The vast majority will be able to become just Americans, or just Brits, or just French; a small unthreatening ultra-Orthodox Jewish community will remain with us like the Amish or other tiny observant minorities. Palestine will be united, the native Palestinians restored to their natural position and those Jews who decide to stay will strike real roots in the soil of their adopted land.
The ex-Israeli psychologist Avigail Abarbanel argues that Israeli identity is built upon fear, that it is a political construct that has been used to create a paranoid identity. Ex-Israeli writer and musician Gilad Atzmon goes further, calling the Israel identity a form of schizophrenia. Yes, there is the pressing need to convince Jewish Israelis that they won't be annihilated as many were in WWII (along with communists, homosexuals and Roma), and we must support those enlightened Jewish Israelis who see integration with the native Palestinians as their own liberation struggle, liberation from the lethal racist core of Judaism.
In biblical terms, Jews must come to grips once and for all with their 'chosen people' status - meaning they must give it up. That is the real meaning of 'chosen'. In the spirit of Buddha and Jesus, spiritual fulfillment is achieved through renunciation rather than racism and war. Now that the "Jewish century" is behind us, we can say that Jews were 'chosen' by history (God, whatever) to lead the way to universal hegemony of the spirit over matter. The brilliance of Jewish scientists, capitalists, philosophers, etc. is justly recognized. However, the two secular solutions to 'the chosen people achieving liberation' tried in the Jewish century – utopian communism and racist Zionism – proved to be tragic failures for both Jews and gentiles. In practical terms today the solution requires signing off on such wild schemes, renouncing the flesh-and-blood Jewish state and embracing the one-state solution. Only by receding from the world's headline news and trying to blend into societies wherever they find themselves can Jews be liberated from their tragic history, and find genuine integration with the human race as equals.
I cannot emphasize enough: Jews who wish to remain in Israel will have to become first of all citizens of Palestine (a rose by any other name smells sweet), renouncing the mythical blood ties with Jewish citizens of other countries. The longer Israelis continue to dispossess and murder the native population in pursuit of a perverse dream of Greater Israel and the hegemony of world Jewry, the less likely any integration of Jews in Palestine will be possible and the more anti-Jewish sentiment will grow everywhere.
I'm not at all sure that this radical transformation is even possible. If it is, in addition to assimilation of diaspora Jews into their societies it will mean a new nationalism in Palestine, presumably with a hearty dose of universalism á la Canadian 'nationalism'. Unfortunately, change will require, as in South Africa, external pressure and unrelenting criticism of the apartheid that Zionism implies, but – good cop, bad cop – we must help both Israelis and diaspora Jews understand that, as in South Africa, both master and slave benefit from ending injustice. Long live a united Palestine!