An obscure notion suggesting that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority be dismantled and replaced by a single Arab-Jewish state has suddenly entered the media mainstream, with references ranging from large outlets like CNN to small, rural papers that carry the Associated Press.
The populations are increasingly entangled, Jews donít want to abandon the West Bank and Palestinians donít want to abandon claims to mainland Israel, say the Israeli intellectuals who floated the idea this summer. So, their reasoning goes, forget about borders, let everyone live where they want and let a non-ethnically specific government be created to clean the streets and deliver the mail.
This neo-Canaanite movement, referring to the landís aboriginal name, is now the talk of Israel. The AP reports (Nov. 1) it ìhas become a matter of intense discussion on [Israeli] talk shows and editorial pages.î
The New York Times (Oct. 31) finds the idea ìinsidious,î a ìcode for the end of Israelî that ought to be ìstrenuously opposed. The problem is that its proponents do have a point ó with every passing year of increased Jewish settlement in occupied areas, the possibility of cleanly dividing the land between two peoples fades.î
Two states are best, but time is running out, writes Aaron David Miller in Haaretz (Nov. 3). Miller, president of Seeds of Peace and adviser to six secretaries of state, warns that Palestinians feel the ìdemographic advantage is on their side and it is only a matter of time before they will become masters of all Palestine.î The Israeli waiting game, says Miller, may lead to ìno game left to play at all.î
Bret Stephens in the Jerusalem Post (Nov. 2) reminds us that it was Israelis who ìblazed this particular trail,î referring to arguments made in Haaretz back in August by peace advocate Haim Hanegbi and Jerusalemís former deputy mayor Meron Benvenisti. They concluded that ìIsrael as a Jewish state can no longer exist here.î Nor did it deserve to, they said, after the mess it made with the Palestinians.
Israel is guilty as charged, said former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg in an article in Yediot Achronot. ìThe reality of Israel is a colonial state, run by a corrupt clique which scorns and mocks law and civic morality,î he said.
An old Jewish proverb says that negativity is like a bag of feathers released into the wind; they fly away beyond retrieval. Burgís article was reprinted around the world in The International Herald Tribune, Le Monde (Sept. 11), The Guardian (Sept. 15) the Suddeutsche Zeitung and the Forward (Aug. 29).
So it was no surprise that a subsequent poll in Europe found 59 percent agreeing that Israel is the single greatest threat to world peace. After all, no other country but Israel has so many leaders pleading guilty.
The Christian Science Monitor (Oct. 9) said the one-state idea is being forced by Jewish settlers who ìwant to stay in the luxurious communities that hefty government subsidies have provided.î Writer Helena Cobban compares Israel to the old criminal state of South Africa, where eventually ìsupporters of apartheid figured out that no amount of repressing or fencing off blacks and no amount of punishing military raids against the countryís neighbors could bring them peace, [so] they finally settled for that good old standby of democracies: a one-person-one-vote system within a unitary state. So why not in Israel/Palestine?î
The end of Zionism? Yes, but ìit could be the start of a hopeful new chapter in human history,î Cobban says.
Tony Judt in The New York Review of Books (Oct. 23) quotes Burg, adding that ìthe choice is between ìan [Arab-free] ethnically cleansed Greater Israel and a single, integrated, binational state of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians.î No word about a Palestinian state ethnically cleansed of Jews.
Judt says a Jewish state is ìan oddity Ö an anachronismî in a world of ìintermingling and intermarriage.î In the clash ìbetween open, pluralist democracies and belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno-states, Israel actually risks falling into the wrong camp.î
Judtís article, whose rage and range can best be appreciated full length in The New York Review of Books, was reprinted as an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times. An article in The Nation (Nov. 3) by Daniel Lazare echoes Judt, Burg and Benvenisti.
Interestingly, the rebuttals in the pro-Israel conservative media focus their anger on Judt, as if the Israeli neo-Canaanites and Burg, whom Judt cites and footnotes, had nothing to do with raising these issues in the first place. Rebuttals worth reading are Leon Wieseltier in The New Republic (Oct. 24), David Gordis [davidgordis.org], an Internet essayist, and David Frum in the National Review (Oct. 14).
Frum points out the sham of those who blame anti-Zionism on human rights, open frontiers and international law, none of which exist anywhere in the Arab world. Frum warns a one-state solution would expose Jews everywhere ìto persecution, expropriation, political oppression, exile and murder.î This goes beyond anti-Semitism, says Frum, and into the realm of ìgenocidal liberalism.î
Meanwhile, Israeli courts overturned a Knesset bill licensing Arutz Sheva, a pirate radio station broadcasting from a ship in international waters, ruling it must be shut down for various technicalities.
Arutz Sheva, the voice of the settler movement for 15 years, still operates an Internet site [israelnationalnews.com] with audio, music, news and religious essays. Legislation is being considered to fine and jail advertisers. Some leftist Knesset members are calling for the Web site to be closed and its operators indicted for ìincitement to murder and racismî based on an Arutz Sheva op-ed that suggested Israel wage war with maximum force.
Baruch Gordon, manager of the Web site, responded via the Internet: ìAccording to the warped definition of democracy professed by the extreme left, nationalist-camp opinions are simply wrong and therefore illegitimate.î The harassment of Arutz Sheva represents ìstepping-stones along [a] ruthless path toward [the] total silencingî and isolation of the settlers.
Some in the Sharon government want Arutz Sheva silenced, too, for the stationís critique that military restraint and gestures for peace have only led to Jewish death.
Pirate radio ships are an Israeli tradition. A ìpeace shipî run by Abie Nathan for 22 years aired an unlicensed leftist radio station for 22 years until Nathan deliberately sank his ship in the early 1990s.
A Jerusalem Post (Oct. 22) editorial said Arutz Sheva proved itself ìprofessionally capable and exceptionally popular,î and urged legislation to democratize the airwaves.
ìThereís no reason an outfit like Arutz Sheva should not be able to legally obtain a broadcasting license,î but the dice are loaded, says the J-Post.
Elsewhere, our old friend Ed Koch was disgusted when Paul Krugman of The New York Times (Oct. 28) showed understanding for the motivation behind the recent anti-Semitic statements made by Malaysiaís Prime Minister Mohammed Mahthir. Krugman wrote that the anti-Semitic statements were ìalmost surely part of Mr. Mahathirís domestic balancing act.î
Koch tells us he wrote a letter to the editor but the Times rejected it because, the ex-mayor reports, they wanted ìto give ordinary people a chance to respond,î and Koch had a letter published less than two months ago.
Nevertheless, Koch thought Jewish Week readers might appreciate what he had to say about Krugman.
Writes Koch, ìThere is a French expression, ëTo understand everything is to forgive everything.í Using Krugmanís logic, we should understand Hitlerís needs and forgive him as well. He needed to blame Germanyís defeat in World War I on the Jews. Krugmanís defenses are lame and his column is lame-brained.î n