The politics of Hope smashed into the Iron Wall that Israel continues to build to enclose Zionism in its own security blanket.
What happened when the Politics of Hope hit the Iron Wall of security?
Settler settlement growth increased; an Hamas leader died under suspicious circumstances in Dubai; more targeted Israeli Defense Force attacks struck West Bank citizens; Gaza still lies in ruins, its people unable to rebuild.
Meanwhile, the Gaza blockade is made even stronger with Egypt’s cooperation, reducing the flow of food, medicines, and building supplies into Gaza from the south.
Israel’s security blanket remains a prison wall surrounding all of Palestine.
The Goldstone Report is slowly disappearing. Once considered a serious theat to Israel, given the careful manner in which the Report was assembled under the leadership of the respected Jewish Judge Richard Goldstone, the Report languishes in UN file cabinets.
How do we know the Report is no longer a threat? We have that reassurance from a reliable source, David Horovitz, editor of the Jerusalem Post. (See spelling correction below.)
Horovitz spoke with “insider friends” in Washington, you know, those folks who are oozing with love, admiration and support for Israel (the Israel Lobby for short) and Horovitz was assured, as he wrote in a recent Post editorial, that the Goldstone threat is fading, thanks to Israel’s staunch ally, Barack Obama:
They stress that the administration has been rock solid on the Goldstone Report – voting in vain against its adoption in the United Nations Human Rights Council in October, and again in the General Assembly in November.
While countries from which we might have expected better failed to stand up for what amounted to Israel’s right to self-defense, and while certain European nations have now become no-go zones for Israeli leaders facing a genuine fear of arrest for purported war crimes, they point out, the US is firmly in Israel’s corner.
Why should readers of the Jerusalem Post worry about a little thing like the United Nations? Ethnic cleansing continues to run rampart over every UN resolution adopted since 1948. The politics of Hope cannot touch ethnic cleansing. It cannot even dent the Iron Wall behind which Israel lives in his secure military enclave.
True enough, the minority Republican party in Washington remains, in Time magazine’s Joe Klein’s terms,”paralyzed by cynicism and hypocrisy”, but that is just fine with Horovitz, so long as the Republican paralysis remains, again, in Klein’s words, “undergirded by inchoate ideological fervor.”
It is because of this Washington political paralysis, and the Republicans’ “inchoate ideological fervor” that Israel is able to fend off the Goldstone Report, and ignore angry world opinion outside the US.
Should Jerusalem Post readers worry about American voters who are facing “financial strains more acute than they have been for decades”?
No problem, Horovitz’ DC insiders assure him: Foreign aid to Israel will remain “untouched, secure and considerable – in the familiar region of $3 billion this year.”
Of course, Horovitz adds, there is still that pesky matter of those idealistic young protestors on American campuses.
A ferocious assault on Israel’s legitimacy is under way at innumerable American university campuses – the disease of British academia spreading across the pond. But the administration is robust. We’ve really only got one significant partner in this particular aspect of the battle against our delegitimation, they add, but if you’ve only got one ally, thank goodness it’s America.
In her review of M. Shadid Alam’s new book, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism, political analyst and author Kathleen Christison traces the changing understanding of Zionism.
Until recent years, the notion that Zionism was a benign, indeed a humanitarian, political movement designed for the noble purpose of creating a homeland and refuge for the world’s stateless, persecuted Jews was a virtually universal assumption.
In the last few years, particularly since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada in 2000, as Israel’s harsh oppression of the Palestinians has become more widely known, a great many Israelis and friends of Israel have begun to distance themselves from and criticize Israel’s occupation policies, but they remain strong Zionists and have been at pains to propound the view that Zionism began well and has only lately been corrupted by the occupation.
From the Persian poet and philosopher Rumi, the quote reads, “You have the light, but you have no humanity. Seek humanity, for that is the goal.”
Alam, professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston . . . follows this with an explicit statement of his aims in the first paragraph of the preface.
Asking and answering the obvious question, “Why is an economist writing a book on the geopolitics of Zionism, he says that he “could have written a book about the economics of Zionism, the Israeli economy, or the economy of the West Bank and Gaza, but how would any of that have helped me to understand the cold logic and the deep passions that have driven Zionism?”
Alam demonstrates clearly, through voluminous evidence and a carefully argued analysis, that Zionism was never benign, never good—that from the very beginning, it operated according to a “cold logic” and, per Rumi, had “no humanity.” Except perhaps for Jews, which is where Israel’s and Zionism’s exceptionalism comes in.
Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz, did not use the term exceptionalism, when he wrote that his colleagues in Washington had reassured him that one year into the Obama administration, nothing had changed on Israel’s other “home front”.
But there is certainly something exceptional about the undying loyalty US elites and leaders feel for Israel.
Israel’s loyal teammates in the US include the Congress, the media, and the ever faithful military-industrial complex.
Essential for the US-Israel axis, carefully cultivated in each new generation, are the cautious, excessively civil and reliably timid, American churches. Lets face it, Israelis are smart. They know it never hurts to have God on your side.
Over time, this could begin to change. Increasingly of late, courageous and aggressive Protestant activists have stepped up their travel to, and personal interaction with, Palestinians. They have returned home shocked at what they have seen and experienced.
A scene at the end of the highly effective DVD produced by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a vivid testimony from one traveler, spoken to his fellow travelers on the last day of a trip to Palestine/Israel.
The study book, which includes the DVD, is Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace, produced by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, part of the denomination’s education program.
The speaker is the Rev. Andrew Rosencranz, a Presbyterian pastor. With barely restrained anger and frustration, Rosencranz, says: “I did not know that I did not know”.
This, of course, is Israel’s greatest nightmare, American pastors and laity discovering the Palestinian narrative.
Among all the American denominations, and I am not revealing secrets here, it is the Presbyterians, bless their orderly Reformed hearts, who have taken the lead in the effort to push a Palestinian justice and peace agenda.
This is still a minority movement. Church leaders are especially slow to even acknowledge the issue. The harsh reality remains, as the old saying goes, “the higher the steeple, the more timid the church below will be.”
Every church member or pastor who has taken an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel knows, perhaps hidden deep inside, that Zionism has successfully targeted Protestant circles of power for a very long time.
They are still at it, of course. Look for Zionism’s representatives at judicatory meetings. They will be pushing for “fair and balanced” resolutions.
Could that be where Fox News got its operative slogan?
Then there is the silence of the American media. Forget about the overt Zionists like Friedman, Goldberg, Will, and the Fox crowd.
As in the church and the Congress, you will find an abundance of PEPs in the media. (A PEP, in case you did not get the memo, is a Progressive Except on Palestine.) You know who they are, especially if you watch MSNBC.
There will always be well meaning folks in both the media and in the churches, who will respond to earthquakes in Haiti, and hunger in America. But these same folks quickly shy away from the “complications” involved in discussing the “Palestinian issue”. These are the people who can’t afford to “offend” others or harm “fragile” relationships.
Uri Avnery, the veteran Israeli peace agitator, activist, and author, recently called out Israelis who support worthy causes, but who have allowed themselves to become Israeli PEPs, Progressive except for Peace.
He is speaking to Israeli Jews, of couse, but if American progressives will just lift their sights a bit, they will find that the shoe fits here as well.
Avnery starts by listing the good causes that Israelis embrace, especially the younger activists.
The struggle for preserving the environment and the future of the planet.
The struggle for democracy against fascist trends.
The struggle for human rights and civil rights.
The feminist struggle.
The struggle for the rights of gays and lesbians.
The struggle for social justice and social solidarity.
The struggle for equal rights for Israel’s Arab citizens. The struggle against the discrimination of Oriental Jews.
The struggle for the separation of religion and state.
The struggle for animal rights. Etc. etc. etc.
What do all these causes have in common?
All of them belong to the liberal, “progressive” world view. Each and every one of them deserves full-hearted devotion, especially of young people. But after all, all of them serve today as substitutes for the main battle – the struggle for peace with the Palestinian people.
There is a danger that all these struggles will become something like “cities of refuge” for young idealists, who desire to devote themselves to a noble cause, but have no desire to take part in the main struggle.
Since every one of these struggles is indeed important and is for a good cause, no one can argue with these activists. Scores of organizations are now active in these fields, and thousands of wonderful people – male and female, old and young – are devoting themselves to these causes.
I, too, would willingly join every one of them, were it not – – – Were it not for the fact that all of them – all together and each of them separately – are now draining the life out of the struggle for peace.
Avnery has lived in Israel since before the modern state was created. He was, as a young man, a soldier in the Israeli Defense Force. Later, he was active in forming a political peace party and was elected to the Knesset.
His love for Israel is that of a Jew who wants only the best for his land and his people. So it is understandable that he sets the mark higher than an American might. But we who live on this side of the Atlantic, far from the daily struggles in Israel-Palestine, have to acknowledge the prophetic wisdom in his conclusion:
As I see it, peace stands above all other aims, not least because the success of all other struggles depends on the outcome of this fight.
The unending war creates a reality of occupation and oppression, of death and destruction, brutality and cruelty, moral degeneration and general bestiality.
Can any ideal be realized in this situation? Can feminism, for example, achieve its aims in a country that is in the throes of an unbridled chauvinist militarism?
Avnery knows all about what M. Shadid Alam describes as the “cold logic and deep passion” of Zionism. He also knows that an unchecked Zionism will be the ultimate downfall of Israel as a democratic state.
A Correction: An earlier version of this posting misspelled Post Editor’s David Horovitz‘ name as David Horowitz, leading readers to mistake him for the David Horowitz who is a well-known American conservative writer and activist who recently wrote critically of Howard Zinn. My apologies to both Davids.
The picture at the top is by Jim Watson, an AFP/Getty image. The picture of Uri Avnery is from Wikipedia