On August 4, Ali Jarbawi, a political scientist at Birzeit University and a former minister of the Palestinian Authority, wrote an Op-Ed in the International New York Times titled, “Israel’s Colonialism Must End.” In it he argued intelligently for the need to end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. He also shed some light on some very troubling instances of anti-Palestinian racism coming from ministers in the Knesset.
For the most part, we agree with Mr. Jarbawi’s column; Israel must end the occupation and growing extremism in Israel runs counter to Israel’s own values. But he made some suggestions about the Israeli left that we firmly disagree with. Below is my response. (Click here to read it on the NY Times website.)
Re “Israel’s colonialism must end” (Opinion, Aug. 5) by Ali Jarbawi: The most difficult task for those embroiled in an intractable conflict is setting aside their national narrative. Mr. Jarbawi attempts to do this by shedding light on a serious obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace: growing Israeli racism and extremism. We who advocate for social justice and human rights in Israel are alarmed that Israeli opponents of the war in Gaza have been attacked by bands of right-wing extremists.
But Mr. Jarbawi’s statement that the Israeli left is, “a relic, all but extinct” is not only false, but also shortsighted. Zehava Gal-On, head of the left-wing Meretz party, has tirelessly fought racism. There have also been numerous demonstrations protesting the latest war, and Meretz party members have had a presence at all of them. Support for Meretz grew sharply in polls prior to the Gaza war, revealing a renewed interest in their message among Israelis.
Mr. Jarbawi’s assertion that the Palestinian national movement has no support in Israel is false. The prevalence of this idea has impeded Israelis working for equal rights and a two-state solution. There are many Israelis pushing for resolution of the conflict, beginning with an end to the occupation. In fact, there are Israelis who are willing to be attacked by right-wing racists while marching against Israeli violence. These people exist, and they often work with like-minded Palestinians toward a united movement for peace.
Nathan Hersh, New York
The writer is managing director of Partners for Progressive Israel.