- that understandably aggrieved Palestinians would think that random attacks on Israelis would in any way improve their people’s lot;
- that understandably alarmed and angered Israelis would lash out randomly against Palestinians, including fellow Israeli citizens, in mobs shouting “death to Arabs” and occasionally in individual revenge attacks;
- that most Israelis would not see how decades of unilaterally expanding Israel’s population and presence in territories that need to be negotiated over — to the detriment of its Palestinian Arab inhabitants who have virtually no legal rights — would constitute a fuse waiting to be lit;
- that Jewish religious-nationalist claims to the Temple Mount, especially when coupled with ill-considered Palestinian rhetoric to “defend al-Aqsa,” constitute playing with fire in proximity to this fuse.
GL: Zionism has many meanings. For sure, the common concept of Zionism includes the occupation, includes the perception that Jews have more rights in Palestine than anyone else, that the Jewish people are the chosen people, that there can’t be equality between Jews and Arabs, Jews and Palestinians. All those beliefs which are very basic in current Zionism, I can’t share them. In this sense, I can define myself as an anti-Zionist.
On the other hand, the belief about the Jewish people having the right to live in Palestine side by side with the Palestinians, doing anything possible to compensate the Palestinians for the terrible tragedy that they went through in 1948, this can also be called the Zionist belief. In this case, I share those views.
DC: If somebody was to call you a moderate Zionist would you have any objections?
GL: The moderate Zionists are like the Zionist left in Israel, which I can’t stand. Meretz and Peace Now, who are not ready, for example, to open the “1948 file” and to understand that until we solve this, nothing will be solved. Those are the moderate Zionists.
He mischaracterizes Zionism as including the “chosen people” idea, which is a traditional Jewish religious principle. But Zionism was mostly a secular movement that didn’t incorporate such religious constructs. He does not seem to endorse a majority-Jewish state, but rather a bi-national vision which some early Zionists had also advocated, yet proved impractical when the Palestinians violently opposed the Jewish community in the 1930s and ’40s. He is either ignorant of, or willfully ignores, this history.
He hates the “moderate Zionists,” exemplified by Meretz and the Shalom Achshav/ Peace Now movement, which he erroneously asserts has nothing to say about the wrongs committed by Israel during the 1948 war (the “1948 file”). In fact, Meretz ministers of education in the Rabin and Barak governments (Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid) promoted more complete and fair-minded classroom instruction and textbooks in Israeli schools about what happened to the Palestinians in 1948. Meretz and other dovish politicians also support compensation and resettlement for Palestinian refugees and their descendants — with most “returning” to what would be the new Palestinian state and to third countries rather than Israel — as formulated in the Geneva Initiative. So he’s blatantly wrong on this.