A very interesting clip attracted my attention yesterday, “Jews talk Justice.” It immediately captured me with the opening question: “Ever wonder why some of the brightest and most passionate Jews end up becoming Israel’s worst critics?” It pushed aside the knee-jerk answer that self-hatred and a desire to be accepted by the surrounding gentile society as explanations. Instead, it laid some of the blame on the pro-Israel establishment for failing to address young Jews’ concerns about justice, equality and oppression.
What does the pro-Israel camp emphasize? Except for narrow mindedly rejecting Palestinian grievances, pro-Israel movements push superficial slogans about Israeli hi-tech, drip irrigation and hot babes on Tel Aviv beaches. When pro-Israel movements do address the conflict, they often say things like Israel just wants peace – this is an empty slogan as it suggests the non violent version of today’s status quo to be ideal. But our young Jew was taught his entire life to think critically and to care about justice and human rights. So he weighs between the cases he has heard. When he does not hear a compelling story from the pro-Israel camp, he chooses the message that resonates best.
So far, I was entirely on board and intrigued. I too believe that the current status quo cannot and should not be sustained. I too think that pro-Israel organizations advocate shallow talking points that obscure reality rather than confront it. Yet I had never heard of the Alliance for a New Zionist Vision, asking for my vote for the World Zionist Congress, and targeting young Jewish college students. But something smelled fishy, and I started looking into what and who is behind this Alliance for a New Zionist Vision.
The Alliance’s election platform for the World Zionist Congress is entirely empty rhetoric. It says they “inspire Jewish teens and young adults to view themselves as participants in Jewish history and active characters in the story of their people.” Who could possibly disagree with that? Compare this empty fluff to the clear mission-oriented Hatikvah platform, which calls for refugee reform, a robust social safety net and freezing settlement activity, to give but a few examples. Who are these people? I couldn’t make sense of it.
Then I encountered a South Park-style clip entitled “Understanding the Tribe,” which told an imaginary story of an indigenous Alaskan tribe which was exiled from their land by “mean aliens” and “one day after many generations the Eskimos finally get to come home.” The clip reduces the conflict to a minor mishap – “Yeah, they might run into some problems learning to get along with some of the newer inhabitants of Alaska. Yeah, it might take a few generations, but eventually they’ll get it.”
And I finally got it — The Alliance for New Zionist Vision isn’t exactly an alliance of grassroots youth leaders. It was “brought together” by the heavily funded radical right wing movement Lavi-OIami. It adopts the language of justice to deceive young WZO voters. I say heavily funded because not only could they afford to hire good artists (who live in settlements) to work on their WZC campaign, but they regularly conduct leadership retreats in Barcelona, Santa Barbara, California and New York City.
I say deceive because fundamentally they speak the language of justice while undercutting its very meaning. Their justice is a zero-sum game. By shifting the discussion from justice to Palestinians to an understanding of the Zionist movement as justice for Jews, they erase the Palestinian claim to justice. But “our young Jew [who] was taught his entire life to think critically and to care about justice and human rights,” surely will see right through that.
Not necessarily. Take for example their advertised Israel trip to help students “Create a larger narrative inclusive enough to encompass both ostensibly rival narratives,” and allow them to “Participate in Jewish-Arab dialogue groups committed to achieving peace based on justice for both sides.” Really? If they think about the conflict merely as the result of the native Eskimos “learning to get along with some of the newer inhabitants of Alaska,” can they speak of justice for both sides?
And then consider their rejection of the status quo – according to their mission statement, recorded on the Israeli nonprofit certificate Lavi Olami’s mission is to:
intensity Jewish Zionist Education in Israel and the Diaspora. Encourage immigration of Jews to Israel. Strengthen ties between Diaspora Jews to Israel. And empower Jewish settlement in all regions of the land-of-Israel.
The man behind the parent organization Kumah, Yishai Fleisher wrote in the Jerusalem Post that
“Every generation has its Pharaoh. […] The two-state mantra has now become our mental bondage, our Pharaoh, and we keep returning to our two-state Pharaoh when our slavish minds refuse to come up with an alternative formula to the one to which we have been conditioned.”
So what is this Alliance for New Zionist Vision and its parent organizations Lavi Olami, Kumah and Doreinu? From what I have learned, they are front groups designed to answer the left threat on American college campuses by deceiving students to believe that they share their values. Their financial and legal status is difficult to discern. Lavi Olami is a registered Israeli nonprofit that in 2013 had expenses of 70,305 shekels, out of which 70,000 were covered by a short-term loan. Kumah is a registered 501(c)3, but strangely enough Guidestar offers only its 2005 990 report. It is almost impossible to find information about Doreinu, except for the fact that when you press the donate button on their website, you find yourself donating to Kumah. Kumah appears to be the personal operation of Yishai Fleisher.
One thing they state clearly – they are running for election to the World Zionist Congress, because the World Zionist Organization “controls a significant portion of the collective money and resources of the Jewish People. […] Indeed the World Zionist Congress is the Jewish People’s best kept secret.” Elsewhere they state their “plans to work within the World Zionist Organization to direct funds towards those grassroots efforts truly making an impact on the ground and away from the foreign-funded “peace industry,” “NGOs merely serving the political agendas of their donors.”
Here is a response to this article from the Alliance for New Zionist Vision:
Maya Haber of the Hatikvah slate attacked the Alliance for New Zionist Vision in this post. For too many years, the most bourgeois westernized sectors of Israeli society and the broader Jewish world have monopolized our relationship with the Palestinians, promoting a “two-state solution” that would ultimately leave both peoples disenfranchised.
The ANZV believes that peace must be achieved through the coming together of those Jews and Palestinians actually living the authentic aspirations of their peoples. Jews deeply connected to their own history, culture, identity and destiny – including and especially those living just next door to Palestinians in “the territories” – should be the ones engaging with Palestinians to solve our conflict.
The “liberal Zionist” model of “peace” promoted by Hatikvah is one that promotes forced segregation and envisions Israel as a tiny American-backed colonial fortress in the Middle East serving as a bastion of western civilization alienated from its neighbors (while Palestinians would be forced to live under a Fatah-led police state). It’s time we begin to consider alternative models for achieving justice and peace that will benefit all inhabitants of our tiny country. This is what the ANZV is all about and we invite everyone genuinely interested in solving the Middle East Conflict to join our conversation and participate with us in creating a new vision relevant to our generation.
As young Jews who self-identify as active participants in the story of our people (these words are actually NOT empty rhetoric for us Maya), we view genuine peace as a Zionist goal on par with reviving the Hebrew language and liberating our homeland from British rule. But our approach to peace refuses to betray Jewish history and seeks to reconcile the deepest aspirations and grievances of both Jews and Palestinians while promoting a vision wherein the State of Israel might actually become an organic part of the Middle East.
And to answer a couple of your specific accusations, Maya:
1. We’re happy to learn that a yearly budget of 70,305 NIS ($17,576.25 according to today’s exchange rate) – and 70,000 NIS of which you reported to have been a loan – takes us out of the “grassroots” category (maybe now we can join Hatikvah as part of the establishment). We’re also not so sure our many candidates and supporters still waiting to get reimbursed for money they paid out of their pockets for campaign events would agree with your depiction of us as “heavily funded” wink emoticon
2. Our “Understanding the Tribe” and “How a Jew Fills Out a College Application” videos don’t focus on the conflict because they are part of LAVI’s efforts to “decolonize Jewish identity” (efforts you might personally benefit from), which we believe to be a crucial prerequisite to productive Jewish-Palestinian dialogue. We hope to release our conflict-related videos shortly so please stay tuned…
In the meantime, you might actually enjoy this video exemplifying the type of new conversation we’re talking about: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4iaeRHTWrg
As Zionists, we of the Hatikvah Progressive Zionist Slate competing in the current World Zionist Congress election, share the New Zionist Vision’s pride in the profound achievement of reestablishing Jewish sovereignty in our ancient homeland. We also share Yifat’s professed belief that genuine peace is a profoundly important Zionist goal.
We do not understand how this important goal can be met without moving toward a two-state solution that the New Zionist Vision explicitly rejects. Nowhere do we see anything in this so-called New Zionist Vision that explains how an alternative can be achieved. Instead, we see name-calling.
In response to Miguel, we most assuredly do NOT favor expelling hundreds of thousands of Jews, nor Palestinians, from their homes. Instead, we favor negotiating borders between Israel and a new Palestinian state that would incorporate most of the Jewish population residing beyond the 1949-’67 Green Line within Israel, in the context of an exchange of territories. And we would hope that those Jews living in the territory to be incorporated in the new Palestinian state would be given the choice to remain there, either as resident aliens or as Jewish citizens of the new state.
really ralph? partitioning the country into two states is the ONLY possible way to achieve peace? without getting into the impossibility of such a solution ever working or the injustices it would impose on both peoples, why are liberal zionists so closed minded to the notion of one state where jews and palestinians live together?
if we take the time and care to actually approach the conflict with some creativity i’m sure we can do better than a tired solution that hasn’t worked since first being promoted by the western powers nearly a century ago. palestinian society is by and large way past the two-state paradigm. especially the palestinian left. why cant we get past it too?
Ben, I’m guessing that you’re arguing from the left, but I’m not totally sure, since one-state boosters now populate both left and right-wing extremes.
I’m perfectly happy with Jews and Palestinians living together, and hope that many will continue to do so as citizens of Israel. In fact, it was the left-wing antecedents of our movement (e.g., Hashomer Hatzair) who advocated one bi-national state in the 1930s and ’40s. A minority of Zionists supported this notion then, but Arabs overwhelmingly and violently rejected it.
The sad fact is that a single state (as exists today) has proven that it doesn’t work. Today, Israeli Jews dominate in unfair ways, and in the future, an Arab majority may dominate over Jews. Besides, are you comforted by the record of Arab countries today in tolerating its religious and ethnic minorities?
you’re correct ralph. i am arguing from the left. but the real left (not the jewish left) 😉
and as a leftist i have to say that i find much more in common with the alliance for new zionist vision than i do with hatikvah (despite not being 100% comfortable with the term ‘zionism’).
if support for one state is growing on the israeli right as you say it is, i think this trend should be greeted with critical support and not condemnation. i think yifat is correct in saying that jews with the strongest connection to jewish history and destiny should be the jews leading our engagement with the palestinians.
i’m also very critical of movements like hashomer hatzair who in the 30s and 40s cooperated with british imperialism because the occupation benefited kibbutzim and companies like solel boneh economically while they actively worked to suppress the real anti-imperialist forces within the jewish yishuv. if anything the real zionist left of the 1940s was lehi (in the maoist tradition) because natan yalin-mor and other lehi leaders actually applied marx’s method to the jewish people as the jewish people have collectively self-identified for thousands of years.
What some people seem to forget is that binational states have a very strong record of spectacularly failing. Before taking a binational state seriously, it would be smart for ANZV to put out a roadmap for making it work. “Honest dialogue” is simply feel good rhetoric, does not achieve the goal of making a single state possible, and furthermore, needs to be done regardless of whether or not there is a single state or two separate states, given that whatever solution is reached, the citizens of each state will likely be tightly connected regardless.
//We do not understand how this important goal can be met without moving toward a two-state solution //
It is very hard to understand something you have been brainwashed to reject… Hatikva is J-Street. J-Street has 1 mission – 2 States. Regardless of the circumstances or consequences. It is a cult that hides behind liberal rhetoric.
I don’t know much about this alliance but it is funny to me that Hatikva blames them of exactly what they themselves do… Deception.
A vote for Hatikva is a vote for J-Street. Do not betray Israel.
Maya and the Hatikva slate is emblematic of the Jewish establishment: they think they have monopoly on Justice. I’m sorry but kicking hundreds of thousands of Jews out of their homes and ethnically cleansing parts of our homeland of Palestinians, while cleansing other parts of Jews is not justice. The Alliance for a New Zionist Vision is the only slate running for seats in the World Zionist Congress that I am aware of that actually promotes honest dialogue with real Palestinians to build understanding and to tread a path forward where both people can live freedom in all of Israel/Palestine.
I ran through this post while surfing through a progressive Zionist fb group. I have to say that I have heard very little about either one of these groups or the WZC. Nonetheless, this article makes me sick. I am sick of petty Jews trying to make other Jews look bad. I am sick of this baseless demonization. If you are going to go out of your way in trying to de-legitimize someone, at the very least come with some facts. Everything this Maya person has posted here is speculation at best… You are obviously not a professional writer. Stick to what you actually know how to do… And if that is nothing then you might as well just do that.
In my humble opinion you have done more to hurt your group than help them as I am certain many people out there are just as sick of this whining and finger-pointing. If your group can’t get enough votes on their own they don’t deserve the seats. Stop going after others with your petty jealousy.
Yifat, Ben, Miguel, and any other ANZV folks present,
I am very interested in what you have to say, I love the “conversation” video (but not so much the racist “Eskimo” video), and I have some questions:
1) Do you all agree that in a single Holy Land state Jews and Palestinians would have fully equal rights and citizenship from the beginning?
2) Do you envision this state as bi-national? non-national, liberal-democratic? What are your own questions about what the nature of this state might be?
3) I assume that you would want this United Holy Land state to maintain some version of the Law of Return for any Jews around the world who choose, or need, to come home to it. Would the state you envision also have a Right of Return for any Palestinians in exile who wish to return home?
4) States where citizens have formally equal rights under the law can still be rife with injustice and oppression (e.g., white supremacy in the USA). Israeli Jews, collectively, have vastly more resources than Palestinians. Wouldn’t a unitary state likely develop a sort of economic apartheid with one people as the masters and one as the subjects? Wouldn’t state sovereignty give Palestinians a better chance at independent economic development?
5) Finally, I want to turn Ben’s question back to you: Is one state the ONLY possible way to achieve peace? If the Israeli government and the PA negotiated a two-state agreement, would you accept it?
My thanks to both Hatikvah and ANZV for this dialog.
Haiyyim, interesting questions. Let me preface by saying that I do NOT speak for the alliance for new Zionist vision. I only recently discovered their movement and I find them very inspiring but I am not involved with them in any way. To answer your questions, my vision for Israel is that of a one state from the Sea to the Jordan (and perhaps one day the Sinai and East of the Jordan too) where Jews and nonJews have equal rights and enjoy the same protections under the law. The state will be a jewish state that will have Torah inspired authentic Jewish values and institutions that are also inclusive of nonJews. This is not something that would happen over night but would be worked at over time. The state would also be independent and will not be influenced by Western powers. As far as granting a right to return to the decendants of Palestinian refugees… I would be open to this if a fair reparation scheme could be reached for the Jews and their decendants that were ethnically cleansed from middle eastern countries. Most importantly, if the state is a real Jewish state, I would not be threatened by Palestinians or other nonJews. At the same time, those that take up terrorism/violence must be suppressed with full force. As to your question- would i support a negotiated two state solution? The answer is no. We have not yearned to return to Israel, to return to Hevron, to Bet El, to Jerusalem only to see these places lost after liberating them in 67′. I am not willing to comprise on the division of my homeland.
Thanks for your substantive response, Miguel. You wrote:
“We have not yearned to return to Israel, to return to Hevron, to Bet El, to Jerusalem only to see these places lost after liberating them in 67′.”
I’m not sure what you mean by “lost.” It’s not like we wouldn’t be able to find them. Do you mean we would no longer be able to live in them, to return to them? If so, why do you assume a two-state outcome would inevitably proscribe our doing so?
Perhaps you mean lost from Jewish sovereignty, but therein lies what I can only see as a deep contradiction in your reply:
“one state . . . where Jews and nonJews have equal rights and enjoy the same protections under the law. . . a jewish state that will have Torah inspired authentic Jewish values and institutions that are also inclusive of nonJews.”
Will this Jewish state also be a Palestinian (Arab) state with authentic Arab values (perhaps religiously inspired) and Arab institutions that are inclusive of non-Arabs – i.e., a binational state? If not, there is no equality. You can’t have it both ways.
Final comment, I’m sure you will agree that the need to suppress those who would turn to terrorism and violence does not apply only to non-Jews. That’s a mental association worth making some effort to avoid, I think.
thanks hayyim for engaging in a real conversation. i actually don’t officially represent any campaign but i do very much identify with what the alliance for new zionist vision is saying. so i can answer your questions for myself but won’t speak for anyone else (in any case i don’t see the anzv as pushing a specific solution the way hatikvah is but trying to push a new conversation, which is what we’re doing now).
2. the single state should be socialist with a vibrant participatory democracy (not a representative democracy – there goes the demographic threat) and one that palestinians experience as a democracy where they enjoy full equality and jews experience as the fulfillment of our national aspirations over the centuries. this seems to me like the best way to start getting there: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Progressing-beyond-Zionism-347320
3. yes i have no problem with a right of return. it’s obviously much more important to palestinians that a flag and should be part of any meaningful discussion moving forward.
4. i’d favor a redistribution of wealth and resource and i’d anyway argue that the conflict is actually much more about the monopolization of resources than territory. the two-state discussion barely addresses the relevant issues.
5. no i wouldn’t because i think it would be unjust for both peoples. i also don’t recognize fatah as a legitimate representative of the palestinian people so nothing they say or do has any validity for me. i also recognize that any israeli leader capable of winning a democratic election wouldn’t agree to a two-state solution if not for imperialist pressure from the united states. so in regard to a agreeing to partition our tiny country, the israeli government would be functioning in as anti-democratic a role as the palestinian authority.
Interesting how different your reply is from Miguel’s, Ben. Religious nationalist and secular socialist united by the principle of a single state – though your visions of it seem quite different. Perhaps incompatibly so?
Thanks for the intriguing (but too vague to be satisfying) “beyond zionism” link, and especially for your thoughtful answer regarding the possibility of two states, a perspective I’d not heard before – a rare experience for me on this topic. I’ll be rolling around with that one for a while, I think.
whether or not my vision for the country can work with miguel’s would depend on what he means by certain statements. i can’t claim expertise on ancient jewish sources and don’t really know what he means by “a jewish state that will have Torah inspired authentic Jewish values” but some of his statements – like professed jewish-palestinian equality, openness to a right of return, and israeli independence from imperialist powers – resonate with me and i’d be open to further conversation. i’ve spent a lot of time in the west bank in both jewish and palestinian communities and i’ve come to see some of the religious nationalists there as more part of the solution than the problem. you say you found that yehuda hakohen op-ed vague but i’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc8fYgC86rA
The video is much more clear, and mostly appealing, but with a few problems (I’ll ignore the trivial ones, like his distaste for the terms ‘settlements’ and ‘settlers’):
1) The United Nations has a western colonial heritage (going back to the League of Nations and currently represented in the veto power of permanent Security Council members), but it also represents the entire international community (more precisely, the community of governments of countries), including international law. As UNSCResolution 242 famously says, that law prohibits a state from acquiring territory by war, and from transferring (or allowing the transfer of) any part of its population to territories it holds under military occupation. There are other interpretations of international law by which Israeli settlement activity in, or annexation of, the territories acquired in 1967 would not be considered violations, but those interpretations have been rejected (unanimously!) by the International Court of Justice, which is the final arbiter of such questions. I’m willing to consider an argument for violating international law, but it’s a serious question and must be addressed. Yehuda HaKohen touches on elements of this argument – international policy in the Holy Land, as in Cyprus, India/Pakistan, and elsewhere – has been one of ethnic cleansing and apartheid, graphically illustrated by the results of the Oslo process – but he needs to make it explicitly. Maybe he does so elsewhere?
2) Yes, Jews are indigenous to the Holy Land and have every right to return there. And yes, zionism has been from its inception a western nationalist movement, rife from the beginning and to this day with colonial (racist) consciousness. That can’t be wished away by preferring the indigenous heritage to the colonialist one. What Yehuda presents as fact about the Jews of the zionist state of Israel (that they are an indigenous people who merely “behave like,” but really are not, western colonialists) is not a description of reality, but a political program for a revolutionary transformation of consciousness that has yet to be realized. (It’s very similar to early zionist doctrine that “Jews are a nation,” which really meant that the zionist project was to reconstitute the exiled and dispersed Jewish people as a nation – which, to a significant extent, it did.) This holds also for Mizrachi and other non-EuroAmerican Jews who have been largely assimilated into zionist consciousness.
3) The inclusion of diaspora Jews as full members of the nations among whom we live preceded the EuroAmerican ‘Enlightenment,’ extended beyond the ‘West,’ and is a good thing. from which millions of Jews, myself included, have benefited greatly – not only materially, but in being able to freely develop, individually and communally, as Jews and as humans.
4) “It was George Bush who forced us to abandon the Gaza region.” Nonsense. It was in defense against the feeble efforts of the West to bring about a two-state agreement (in particular, against the gathering momentum of the Geneva Initiative) that Ariel Sharon and Dov Weisglass brilliantly devised the successfully deceptive “withdrawal” from Gaza.
5) It’s of central importance that Yehuda accepts the right of return for Palestinians as well as Jews to the whole of the land. But on the other core issue – sovereignty – he hedges: “[Jews] need to experience independence there….Palestinians need…to feel that they have full equality in a democratic state.” The former suggests a relationship of domination; the latter precludes Jewish independence. Later he gets the political requirement for a viable one-state solution right: “I don’t believe we should be deciding what policies our one state will be on our own… Any future state that we and the Palestinians share here will have to be built together; we’ll have to come up with solutions jointly.” Such a state offers Jews not independence but free national development in a context of interdependence – not unlike the free cultural development of Jews in the West.
6) Yehuda speaks of what Palestinians need on the basis of conversations and experiences he has had. It’s fine and inevitable for him to form impressions in that way, but it is not up to him to decide what Palestinians need. There are many who, like many Israeli Jews, feel the need for independent statehood, unencumbered by the immediate presence of the ‘other’ with whom there is a history of distrust, fear, violence, rejection, mistreatment, etc. Both peoples are divided on this question of whether their stronger attachment is to the whole of their common historic homeland or to the opportunity for self-rule. For Palestinians, as I mentioned before, the need to protect a fragile economy so that it can mature free from the depredations of the massively more powerful concentration of Israeli Jewish wealth that might otherwise perpetuate a single apartheid state, is an additional incentive for national independence. It’s fine for Yehuda, or anyone, to have a strong preference (personally, I do not) and to argue for it, but it’s a political error, in my view, to delegitimate or dismiss the alternative or those who prefer it.
7) Not in direct response, but I want to add that I see the origins 0f the conflict in the early 20th century (C.E.) as a shared responsibility, stemming from two ‘original sins.’ The Palestinian sin was the rejection of the Jews’ right of return – ironic in light of the centrality of that right in their own struggle since 1948. The zionist sin was the (colonialist) expectation of exclusive sovereignty. That is still the basic clash. Its resolution requires 1) the ability of both Jews and Palestinians to live anywhere in the Holy Land – not in segregated communities, but as neighbors and equal citizens; and 2) the sharing of sovereignty either within a single, binational state, or as two neighboring nation-states each with full democratic and human rights for the national minority within its borders, or as a union of two such states under a single, federal government – a sort of united states of the Holy Land.
Thanks to Maya Haber for alerting us to the existence of a new actor within the WZO, “New Zionist Vision.” Examining their website, I find that their platform contains the following:
“We act to ensure the natural right of all Jews to live wherever they wish within an independent State of Israel between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River while equally striving to recognize and act upon our obligation to ensure justice, freedom, equality and a sense of enfranchisement for all inhabitants
of our country, Jew and non-Jew alike. Today it is clear that we are beyond merely resisting the partition of our homeland. Rather than defend an unsustainable status quo, we aim to focus our efforts on creating within our homeland a uniquely Hebrew civilization that will apply our deepest concepts of justice and
morality to the complexities of modern nationhood, serving as a beacon of light to humankind.”
This quote, from the platform of the “New Zionist Vision,” insures the right of all Jews to live wherever they wish within an independent State of Israel between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan Rivers, a single undivided state. This state will ensure justice, freedom, equality, and ‘a sense of enfranchisement’ for all inhabitants of this single state, whether Jew or non-Jew. But why only a sense of enfranchisement? Is this to be a democratic state? Then why not real justice, meaning actual enfranchisement? Nothing is said about this single state being a democracy, which must give equal rights, meaning the vote, to Arab and Jew alike. Are Arabs, too, to receive the right to live anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea? Is all the settler housing on the West Bank to be integrated and be equally open to purchase by Arabs and Jews? Is all the segregated housing in Israel proper be similarly made available to both Arabs and Jews?
And how can this single state have a “uniquely Hebrew civilization” and meet the aspirations of the two peoples who inhabit it? Must it not have a uniquely Palestinian-Arab civilization as well? Does it not need to be bi-lingual? Can its name indeed, be Israel, if it is to express the aspirations of two peoples and be a bi-national state? Such a state, it would seem to me, could only bear the name of Palestine. And it will be likely one day to hold a Palestinian majority, which will have the responsibility of giving “a sense of enfranchisement” to its Jews in turn.
Advocates of one state are indeed either Likudniks who want to keep the Palestinians permanently under military occupation or one-staters whose real objective is in fact eliminating the current state of Israel as we know it in favor of a democratic bi-national state composed equally of Jews and Palestinians. Such a state can hardly express a New Zionist Vision, or even a Jewish vision at all. We may need a new Zionist vision, but it will have to democratic and Jewish if it is to express the ideals of its founders. It can only be realized once the present monstrous occupation is ended and the land divided into two states for two peoples.
My name is Sharona and I am an official spokesperson for the Alliance for New Zionist Vision. I appreciate the fact that Maya and Hatikvah have opened up this discussion (although there might have been a friendlier way to do so) and I appreciate that so many of you are taking the time to read our materials (although I hope you are all doing so with an open mind and not just searching for ammunition to use against us). We really do welcome your participation in challenging outdated ideological paradigms and formulating a new vision for advancing Jewish history.
As I’m sure you know, we are a coalition of different movements working to force a new conversation in the Jewish world that will ultimately lead to a “new Zionist vision” for our generation moving forward (www.newzionistvision.org). Although we all agree on very crucial basic principles, the ANZV is not ideologically monolithic and the text on our site is worded in such a way that represents all of our coalition partners.
When we speak about “our obligation to ensure justice, freedom, equality and a sense of enfranchisement for all inhabitants
of our country” we say “sense of enfranchisement” instead of just “enfranchisement” because in addition to the “justice, freedom, equality” already stated explicitly, it’s important that all people of our country actually FEEL a sense of enfranchisement (a subjective feeling of fully belonging to our state and having a personal stake in its future). For example, even though many Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship may technically enjoy all the legal rights and privileges Israeli Jews do, many are unfortunately not made to FEEL like equal citizens. So in addition to actual equality and justice, a SENSE of enfranchisement is also important.
To put your mind at ease, we’re not Likudniks (they have their own slate) looking to keep Palestinians under military occupation or one-staters trying to destroy the State of Israel. And yes we do support democracy, although many of us would prefer a more participatory model.
I think I have a decent idea of ANZV’s views, as I am good friends with one of your top slate members, and we’ve discussed what the party stands for. I am somewhat interested by your platform, but there are several issues I have. Ultimately, they all boil down to: is what you dream for feasible? I would be interested in hearing how ANZV would deal with these complications:
1) It is well known that there is a large financial disparity between the West Bank and Israel. Furthermore, the economy in Gaza is a shambles, for fairly obvious reasons. Supposing there was a political and economic union including West Bank, Gaza, and Israel, it seems to follow that there would be a net outflow of revenue from Israel proper to the newly integrated areas. Indeed, we can see the cost of unification in Germany, where West Germany paid 100 billion dollars a year to bring East Germany up to par, and thus went through a significant slump. Considering these facts, is it not reasonable to believe that a period of pronounced economic downturn in Israel would lead to a backlash by especially Jewish Israelis against the new citizens, magnified because of entrenched ethnic resentments? This is in my mind a crucial point that proponents of a binational state need to address, especially those that consider themselves socialists, because any solution that leaves the two sides of the issue battling on ethnicity or religion, rather than class, is in itself a defeat for socialism.
2) What also needs to be asked is what would happen is whether a national referendum on Israel’s Jewish nature be allowed. This, while not being of remarkable importance to me, is important to many people, and it would be nice to have comment on that.
3) Again, for socialists on the slate: one has to keep in mind that unlike in Israel, where Arabs are currently the backbone of the communist left, the territories don’t have a powerful left. Fatah of course isn’t left, Hamas is not left, PFLP are (from what I understand) wannabe leftists who are actually spoiled rich kids with too much time on their hands, and after that it’s basically no one. Also to keep in mind is that even more so than in Israel, tribal and clan politics predominate, and so there is not particularly fertile ground for a genuinely left movement.
Again, this may be a very nice dream (I’m still unsure of this because of the vagueness of the platform) what is needed is a down-to-earth plan for how to implement this radical transformation. If there is no plan, especially with as Herculean a task as this, you may be unintentionally laying the groundwork for yet more sectarian strife.
great questions samuel.. i love that we’re having a real grown up discussion here.
1. i’d support a redistribution of wealth and resources. especially in regards to gaza. just like the armistice line between israel and jordan was arbitrary and had no real significance, so was the line between israel and egypt. lets erase it, rebuild the jewish communities that were destroyed by ariel sharon, and offer the palestinians there a better life as israeli citizens. part of that would be financial incentives for gazan palestinians to move into the negev and participate in the economic boom taking place there. in a one state solution both peoples should be able to live where they choose so theres no law that says palestinians need to stay in gaza. for a certain limited time palestinians could get preferential benefits and consideration for employment until things level a bit between us.
2. i’ve heard several suggested solutions proposed for this but what’s important to me is that the nature of israel’s jewish character be such that non-jews don’t feel excluded. right now israel seems like a european style nation-state with hard and shallow jewish decorations. i’d prefer a deeper yet softer jewish character that is either almost invisible to non-jews or inclusive enough that they feel part of our society. in general i think one of the new conversations the alliance for new zionist vision is trying to force us to have is “what does a jewish state mean?”
3. i think you’re being a little unfair to the pflp but yes the clan heads are the organic leadership of palestinian society and they should be empowered in place of the american-backed palestinian authority. they’re the leaders that actually matter so real peace would have to take them into consideration. when oslo began, rabin and peres actually helped arafat wrestle power from the clans so now israel would likely have to help the clans retake power from fatah.
Interesting points. However, again, I think we’re kind of talking at cross purposes here:
1) I am not concerned about the issues of wealth redistribution in Israel for economic reasons, but rather for political reasons. According to CIA World Factbook, the GDP per capita of Israel is $33,400. In the West Bank it is $4,900, barely 1/8th that of Israel. Not only that, but over 20% of Israelis are living in poverty as we speak. ANY type of redistribution that could remotely close the gap between Israel and Palestine would necessarily result in the impoverishment of hundreds of thousands if not millions more Israelis. No Negev, no population shift, no nothing can change that big a gap. And I can guarantee you, when that happens, there will be a populist, maybe Bennett, maybe someone else, who will ask why is an upstanding Israeli paying for a lazy welfare queen living in a West Bank village. It will make the Wallace ’68 campaign look magnanimous and just. And the worst part is, lots of Israelis will buy it, because that’s the sort of thing desperate people buy. It will get even worse if you have refugees returning from impoverished refugee camps, except they will be portrayed as aliens and invaders, and it will rub off on Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, and even those living in Israel, because that’s what demagogues do, and what they do well.
I have said before and I will say again, that the conflict will only be solved when Israelis decide that their done feeding the insatiable mouths of Israeli oligarchs and their Military Industrial complex. Therefore, for a party to win, it needs to promise both peace AND prosperity. If it fails to deliver on the latter, despite it’s noble objectives, it WILL be swept out of power, and demagogues will return emboldened.
2) My view is that while the question “What does a Jewish state mean” needs to be answered at some point, the far more pressing question is “How can Israel best serve its citizens as well as those living under it.
3) The clans to me have both good and bad points. One good point is that they provide a source of backbone and stability. However, they are not present in the refugee camps, and this is where Yasser Arafat’s base was. Since we are both self-defining socialists, I would also argue that clans are naturally inconducive to spreading left-wing ideology, as they are often traditionalist, and introduce fault lines beyond those of class. While they are nevertheless important to spreading left-wing consciousness, the camps I feel is where true egalitarianism could sprout up, if anywhere. And while Yasser Arafat was not the man for socialism, one ignores the camps at their peril.
To come back to the first point, in order for any kind of conclusion to the conflict to be long lasting, MUST be able to say they are better than before. And ultimately, it comes down to economics. That’s why how Israel’s economy adapts is so crucial to engineering a successful Israel. And that’s why any attempt to bring about a one state solution right now is premature at the best, debilitating at the worst. A successful union can only be brought about when there is relative economic parity. Fortunately, with responsible management of both Israel and Palestine, this could occur within a few decades, well within our lifetimes.
the ANZV movement seems to be outlining a Utopian platform- a vision based on our heritage but skipping the place we are now. Reinstituting justice via Ger Toshav is fine as a concept, a Utopian one..but actually doing it require acting within the real time and space of now.. If the ANZV would be active showing how jews (no matter where they live) really care about the injustice that our present system creates it would be helpful. It would mean having to relate to the other in the now, as he sees himself, even if in the future the relationships will develop otherwise. it means that people who live in all of the Land of israel must stand with their “non-jewish” neighbors who suffer from a system that controls and effects their lives. To empathize when the suffering is necessary due to security issues..and to fight for their rights when the suffering is due to our desires to fulfill our “national aspriations” while ignoring their rights as indiviiduals and communities.
From what I have read and heard, it looks like many Alliance for New Zionist Vision Activists live and work with Palestinians and are very conscious about the “other” in Israeli society. You should google or youtube Yehuda HaKohen, for instance.
leah karchmer of the alliance for new zionist vision officially responded to this article here:
also.. i’m not sure why but i’m not able to hit reply to the questions posed by hayyim and samuel above (two threads)…
Yeah, but that was a very bad article. Completely bad definitions of “Left” and “Bourgeois”.
Also if you could respond to my comments here that would be great (since it seems there’s not enough room in the previous thread).
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