I’ve found Eric Alterman, a CUNY professor of journalism, a columnist for The Nation magazine and an outspoken liberal, to be a welcome voice on Israel. The following are conclusions toward the end of his long article, “Israel at 60: The State of the State,” in The Nation issue dated Sept. 22:
… As Prime Minister Barak admitted to the Jerusalem Post in 1999, “Every attempt to keep hold of this area as one political entity leads, necessarily, to either a nondemocratic state or a non-Jewish state. Because if the Palestinians vote, then it is a binational state, and if they don’t vote, it is an apartheid state that might then become another Belfast or Bosnia.”
Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy makes the point that the solution to the Iranian crisis is the same as the solution to most of the rest of Israel’s security problems. “Imagine peace with the Palestinians, the Syrians and most of the Arab world,” Levy writes. “Would Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dare threaten Israel then, too? On what pretext? Imagine that Israel announces it will not attack Iran until all other means have been exhausted, simultaneously calling on the West to talk to Iran about security guarantees. Does it sound unreal? Will we not contribute more this way to reduce the danger?”
As Moshe Halbertal [a politically liberal, albeit religiously Orthodox, Israeli professor of philosophy and law] notes, Israel “tried to get a peace agreement and that failed. Next we tried a unilateral withdrawal and that turned into a base for radical Islam to launch attacks on us.”
Friends of Israel and the Jewish people must understand this, but understanding is not enough. We must also help Israel look beyond the relative comfort of the present moment toward the nightmare that awaits it just down the road should it continue in its current direction. Menachem Brinker, who notes that Israel will never find a “better partner for peace than [PA President Mamoud Abbas, aka] Abu Mazen,” avers that “without an element of enforcement of the international community as there was in the Balkans,” most Israelis cannot even envision the possibility of peace in the near term. “We need to be forced into good sense.” Many of his compatriots concur. “I have been very much disappointed with the American Jews who do not oppose settlements,” explains A.B. Yehoshua. “They have been educated on liberalism and democracy. And they could see what is happening here and help us. I understand the idea of automatic solidarity, but all their good democratic values vanish when it comes to Israel.” …
Click here to read this entire article online.
I am not happy, at all, with Alterman’s article.
It is, I readily agree, thoughtful and moderate, unlike so much other material that appears in The Nation. But that does not erase its basic bias: it is Israel, according to A., and essentially Israel alone, which could achieve peace if only it had a better attitude. No need, according to Mr. A., at least not in this article, for any improvement of Arab or even Iranian attitudes.
For example, there is talk in this article about “inhumane Israeli policies on the West Bank;” of a failure, on Israel’s part, to assure Iran of its peaceful intentions, etc. But there is no mention at all of the century-long Arab and now, increasingly, Islamic warfare against Israel and a Jewish presence in Palestine.
I do agree that there is room for a critical approach to Jewish and Israeli policies vis-a-vis the Arabs. But when such criticism is leveled without any reference whatever to Arab actions, the criticism is biased.
Our prospective Arab peace partners need to appreciate that (except for, shall we say, very special venues like The Nation) even the most sympathetic of Jews are frightened by the continuing anti-Semitic propaganda in even mainstream Arab media and textbooks, by the PA’s continuing public support of the “martyrdom” of the suicide murderers, by an Arab public opinion that blames 9/11 on the Jews, by that same public opinion that grants no historical presence to Jews in ancient Palestine, etc. etc.
The Jewish communities, both in Israel and in the diaspora, are aswarm with peace movements of all shades. Where do we find anything at all comparable in the Arab world ?