While Israelis and Jews worldwide were celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Jewish state, A.B. Yehoshua and the Haaretz newspaper were busy burying it.
When sane people were recommitting themselves to the bright future of Israel, extremists on the hard Left of the so-called “peace camp” – radically demoralized and ideologically impoverished – were pushing for the demise of Israel.
I’m referring to an essay published last week, specifically on Independence Day, by one of the Gods of the progressive Left in Israel, the novelist, playwright, Israel Prize laureate and peace activist A.B. Yehoshua. His 7,000-word broadside, trumpeted on the front page of Haaretz, sets out a plan for the end of the Jewish state.
He wants to replace Israel as we know it with a binational state, an Israeli-Palestinian federation of some sort.
The details of Yehoshua’s plan – dark and unrealistic as it is – are not important. What is important and scary are his motivations. What motivates Yehoshua is not Jewish nationalism or identity, but what he calls “humanity.”
It goes like this: Yehoshua begins by admitting that the two-state solution is apparently and almost certainly dead. “It is time to say goodbye” to this dream, reads the headline of his article.
“It is no longer possible to divide the Land of Israel into two separate sovereign states. Similarly, the possible partition of Jerusalem into two separate capitals with an international border between them is becoming increasingly untenable.
“The entire peace camp,” writes Yehoshua, “had hoped that the international community would exert economic and diplomatic pressure on both sides so as to force them to find the way to a historic compromise.
“But that vision is no longer viable in practice,” he admits. Which leaves him and his camp in self-declared “weariness and fatalism.”
And therefore he reaches the conclusion that defense of a Jewish state in the historic Land of Israel is no longer possible. It can no longer be his paramount concern. “It is not [Israel’s] Jewish and Zionist identity that I fear for, but something more important: our humanity and the humanity of the Palestinians in our midst.”
And this overriding concern for “humanity” requires abandonment of the dream of independent Jewish sovereignty in Israel, the dream of Jewish generations and the entire modern Zionist movement.
There is no choice but to “stop the apartheid process in principle” and to unilaterally (even without formal Palestinian agreement, at least at first) decamp into some form of “de facto binational partnership.”
I WON’T EXHAUST OR DISGUST readers of this column with additional details of Yehoshua’s defeatist manifesto.
What does require attention is the trajectory on which Yehoshua arrived at this nadir; a path of deception and ideological bankruptcy that willy-nilly led from the Oslo Accords to Yehoshua’s Independence Day funeral oration for the Jewish state.
Let’s consider the historical record of arguments employed by the hard Left over the past three decades to advance the “two-state solution,” and then when having despaired of it, to dump the idea of Israel all-together.
Back in the 1980s, the radical Left told us that only if Israel agrees to talk directly to the PLO could peace become a possibility, despite that organization’s monstrous terrorist record.
Then, we were informed that only if Israel allows the creation of the first self-governing authority in Palestinian history, in Gaza and Jericho, could peace ensue.
Many Israelis said fine – we’ve had enough of the conflict; we will live with this, for the sake of peace; a Jewish state alongside pockets of Palestinian autonomy.
But then we were told by Shimon Peres that the Palestinian Authority could sustain itself only if Yasser Arafat got himself a police force with tens of thousands of rifles and other military equipment. It was further explained to us that only if we turn a blind eye to PA human rights abuses and virulent antisemitic propaganda could the peace process continue. And we reluctantly swallowed our bile and said fine – we will somehow manage this.
Next, it was imperative to give Arafat more land in Judea and Samaria. Only if Israel gives him more territory could he “solidify his regime,” we were told. So Israel signed the Oslo II accord, and then the Wye accord, which put 98% of the Palestinian population of the territories under Arafat’s control, along with about 45% of the land and some important mountain aquifer resources.
But that wasn’t enough. Only if Palestinian prisoners were released could the peace process prevail, we were told by many “peace activists” (including, I remember, A.B. Yehoshua).
So Israel began freeing from jail Palestinian security offenders “without blood on their hands,” and ended up freeing many terrorists whose hands were significantly smeared with Jewish blood. Israelis then suffered more than two years of terrorist violence and suicide bombings before launching Operation Defensive Shield and beginning to build the security fence.
But the “only if” syndrome of the Left still held sway. Only if Israel conceded a fullfledged state to the Palestinians was there a chance of peace. So at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001, and Jerusalem in 2008, Israeli leaders presented offers of statehood that would have given the Palestinians virtually all of the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem.
But PA rejected these offers, arguing that only if we gave them 100% of everything they were demanding including the so-called “right of return” might they be willing to continue talking to us.
In 2012, Mahmoud Abbas sought to turn the established framework for peace upsidedown; to get his statehood “declared” by the international community without having to compromise with Israel; to claim the end result of the peace process without having to engage in any process.
Rewarding Abbas’s intransigence and belligerence, the glorious UN “recognized” the virtual PA state, against Israel’s objections. And how did A.B. Yehoshua and friends respond? They called upon Israel to embrace this recognition, and withdraw unilaterally from the territories.
They launched a new argument; the “demographic and democratic” argument. Peace wouldn’t necessarily ensue from Israeli withdrawal, they admitted, but divesting of the territories was necessary nevertheless in order to ensure Israel’s Jewish majority.
AND HERE’S THE RUB: Having now despaired of a two-state peace with the Palestinians, and having realized that substantial Israeli unilateral withdrawals are unlikely (for very good reasons, in my view) – the hard Left is now throwing in the towel.
The movement that ostensibly was deeply concerned for Israel’s Jewish character, can no longer support independent Jewish statehood if the Palestinians can’t obtain full national rights, too. That is the upshot of A.B. Yehoshua’s essay.
This ideological denouement is as striking as it is sad. There always was a tension between the Jewish and democratic principles underlying the drive for Israel, going back to the writings of the early Zionist ideologues and the diplomatic positions of David Ben-Gurion.
Yet the historic claim of the Jewish people to independent Jewish statehood in Israel always won out, whatever degree of impingement on Arab/Palestinian rights this entailed. After all, the Arabs have quite a few other territories across the Middle East.
But alas for A.B. Yehoshua and his ilk this calculus no longer holds. For them, there is now something more important than Jewish statehood: “our humanity and the humanity of the Palestinians in our midst.”
Which leads on Israel’s 70th birthday to A.B.
Yehoshua’s call for a one-state confederated “solution”; meaning the dissolution of Israel.
This is the inevitable end result of a long process of loss of Jewish-Zionist identity that afflicts the hard Left, an identity that has been overwhelmed by fealty to ephemeral “humanity” and extremist liberal principles that apply nowhere else and to nobody else.
Indeed, nowhere else! I hear no global clamoring for confederation of any of the crumbling 21 Arab states. Only the sole Jewish state in the world must become half Arab, you see.
Ugh! The author is vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, jiss.org.il. His personal site is davidmweinberg.com.
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