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Posts tagged ‘liberal Zionism’

Amos Oz: The enduring myth of the liberal Zionist

Long marginalised in Israel by an ascendant nationalist right, the so-called “Zionist Left” has retained significant moral and intellectual influence abroad. Author Amos Oz, who died aged 79 on 28 December, was perhaps the best-known embodiment of this political current and was widely revered internationally – as The New Yorker put it in 2004 – as “the godfather of Israeli peaceniks”.

Yet this image of the liberal artist or prophet, aided in no small part by political shifts in Israel that mean even mild critics are now denounced as “traitors,” is in stark contrast to Oz’s views on events past and present, and in particular on what Zionism has meant for the Palestinians. Read more

The two-state mirage: A fake promise that gives cover to Israel’s land grab

There is a growing consensus that the status quo in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is fatal to the possibility of an independent Palestinian state.

This was the take-home message of a recent, high-profile speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and, as pointed out recently by Yousef Munayyer, the diplomat himself warned four years ago that the window for the “two-state solution” would definitively close in two years.

Versions of this warning, that Israel’s colonisation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank is becoming irreversible, have been issued by Palestinians, Israelis and international diplomats and commentators for decades. Read more

Self-pity and privilege: Etgar Keret and Israel’s ‘liberal left’

Etgar Keret, according to some, is “the most loved and widely read Israeli writer working today.” Hailed as “one of the most prominent Israeli writers on the international literary scene”, Keret has recently published a memoir, his first non-fiction book following five short story collections.

To mark its release, Keret is doing the media rounds, where a recurring theme has been, in the words of The Guardian, “the difficulties faced by the Israeli left.” In fact, the real ‘difficulties’ faced by the so-called Israeli left are all self-inflicted – as Keret himself ably demonstrates. Read more

Bibi boosts BDS – Israel’s opposition proves it is necessary

In his speech to AIPAC last year, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred 18 times to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. A year on, and it is clear that for Bibi, BDS is the new public enemy number one. Denounced as an antisemitic “strategic threat,” the Palestinian-led, global campaign to pressure Israel into ending systematic rights violations is now very much in Tel Aviv’s cross-hairs.

Ironically, it is during Netanyahu’s time in office that BDS has made considerable headway. His ambiguity over Palestinian statehood (in public, veering between rejection and unreliable endorsement) is exacerbated by the unambiguous views of his hard-right ministers and coalition partners. Then there was the unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, also under Bibi’s watch, and a slew of anti-democratic, hyper-nationalist legislative initiatives. Read more

The moral bankruptcy of liberal Zionism

On the day of the Israeli elections, PM Benjamin Netanyahu sounded a warning. Palestinian citizens – “Arab voters” – were “heading to the polling stations in droves”, he announced, before urging Jewish citizens to do their bit and protect the right-wing government.

The Likud leader’s naked racist incitement, particularly in the context of an election, prompted widespread international condemnation, including from politicians and pundits supportive of Israel. Bibi is an easy villain – even some of Israel’s strongest supporters will condemn him. Read more

Excusing ethnic cleansing: Liberal Zionists, Israel and the Nakba

The Nakba, Arabic for ‘Catastrophe’, was the ethnic cleansing by pre-state Jewish forces and the Israeli military of up to 90 percent of all Palestinians inside the newly-established State of Israel. It is marked annually on 15 May, the date in 1948 when Israel was born in a process of conquest, expulsion and settlement, dating broadly 1947-’49. An estimated 400-500 Palestinian villages were destroyed; refugees attempting to return were shot dead.

For those who self-identify on the left, who support liberal causes and advocate social-democratic politics, this should be an open and shut case. This is as clear a case of ethnic cleansing as you could wish to see. Read more

Israel’s High Court of Injustice

Dubbed ‘leftist’ by hawks in Israel, the High Court of Justice actually reinforces colonial policies, writes author.

Last week, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled against a petition brought by female students from the Gaza Strip, upholding the state’s refusal to allow them to study in the West Bank.

The women, four of whom were registered for a Master’s in gender studies and one aiming to pursue a law degree, brought a case that challenged an Israel-imposed ban that has been in place since 2000. In twelve years, only three Gaza residents have been allowed to study at West Bank universities (and only because they had received US government scholarships). Read more

‘Jewish democracy’ founded on ugly battles

Israel has a Jewish majority today because of the expulsions and denationalisation of most Palestinians living there.

Among the many good reasons for marking the anniversary of the Nakba are two which speak to the intensifying debate about Israel’s “democratic values”: firstly, the fact that the Nakba is ongoing, in the daily acts of piecemeal ethnic cleansing from the Jordan Valley to the Negev, and secondly, the way in which the historical facts of “transfer” undermine the mythology of Israel as a supposed “Jewish and democratic” state. Read more

Israel and Palestine: Two states, two peoples

Israel’s idea of ‘two states’ is based on expulsion of Arabs, so the Jewish character of its country is not threatened.

The slogan “two states for two peoples” has long been used by those who support the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Ironically, however, such a framework risks cementing Israeli apartheid and Jewish privilege, evoking the same sorts of arguments put forward by defenders of South Africa’s historical regime of systematic discrimination. Read more