Two Comments on David Grossman and President Rivlin

 I.          It was the celebrated, rightwing French President Charles de Gaulle who said of the Leftist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, “Sartre is France too.” My friend, the journalist Amnon Lord, reminded me the words of de Gaulle when I texted him on the news coming from Jerusalem about the author David Grossman who won Israel’s most prestigious price, the Israel Price for Literature. Grossman, a known Leftist and self-proclaimed Zionist, won the Prize several months after he won the Man Booker Prize for his book, A Horse Walks Into a Bar. Grossman is well-deserved to the Israel Prize for his momentous writings and Israel is blessed by having an author like him.

However, it is a bit surprising that the celebrated Israeli author decided to accept the Prize from the government he despised most. Thus, on March 2016, Grossman smirched Israel in an interview to the EuroNews network, claiming the Israelis are “non-rational,” motivated by “primordial fears” and “unable to contain the complicated reality”. The Europeans, he argued, are entitled to mark settlements’ products and eventually Israel will be “defeated by a force bigger than us, smarter and more courageous than us, who will defeat Israel.” Having said that and other things (e.g. a false statement on the government asking him to pledge his loyalty to the country), it is a true wonder how Grossman agreed receive the most prestigious prize from a state he is so anxious to delegitimize. It appears that more than the Israelis are unwilling to accept the “complicated reality” and contain people like Mr. Grossman, the latter is unwilling to accept and contain the Israelis.


II.        President Reuven Rivlin told today that since he is for the Great Israel (Eretz Israel Hashlema), civil rights should be endowed to the Palestinians in the West Bank. “I, Rubi Rivlin, believe that Zion is entirely ours. I believe the sovereignty of the State of Israel must be in all the blocs,” he argued, emphasizing that he was referring to the entire West Bank. “Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those living there,” he said. “There is no [separate] law for Israelis and for non-Israelis… It must be clear: If we extend sovereignty, the law must apply equally to all.”

            It is well-known that President Rivlin did not abandon his nationalist positions after being elected to his post. However, it seems that Rivlin’s position favoring a bi-national state ignores the problematic situation that exists between Israel and the local Arab population. Besides the fact that the annexation of millions of Palestinians will bring about national imbalance in terms of Israel’s demography, it will also create an impetus amongst the Palestinians to carry forward their traditional plan for one Arab state between the river to the sea. Instead of one democratic and secular state of Israel, we’ll see a local Bosnia torn between two nations struggling to get their national rights. In fact, it is well-understood that a one state solution would bring about one bi-national nightmare. The problem of Israel is the absence of genuine Palestinian leadership that would accept the challenge and be committed to two state solution where the Right of Return won’t be materialized within Israel’s borders.

            The core problem of the conflict isn’t Jerusalem nor the settlements but the Palestinian refugees. It was the late Yasser Arafat who said once that in this context that no Palestinian leader was born yet to renounce this self-proclaimed “right.” In this situation, where the two states solution isn’t viable yet, the proposal of Rivlin and other right-wingers who wish to annex the West Bank is nothing but a suicide. In the long run, Israel will have to annex the big settlements’ blocks like Gush Etzion, evacuate some of the tiny settlements and stop any activities like those held in the illegal outposts. In a situation where the Palestinian leadership is unable to move toward true peace, Israel must take the lead and initiate some solution backed by the U.S. and the international community. However, as neither Prime Minister Netanyahu nor other prominent politicians are ready to step towards such a solution, all we have is the mumbo jumbo spread by rightwing politicians on sovereignty in the West Bank. Unfortunately, the bloodshed will continue to thrive.