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Israeli Criticism of Zionism and of Israel's Treatment of the Palestinians: The Politicians

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Short of being Prime Minister, Burg could not be higher in the Zionist establishment. His father was a Cabinet minister for nearly four decades, serving under Prime Ministers from David BenGurion to Shimon Peres. In addition to a decadelong career in the Knesset, including four years as Speaker, Burg had also been leader of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel. And yet he did not obey the commands of pedigree. "Defeating Hitler" and an earlier book, "God Is Back," are, in combination, a despairing look at the Israeli condition. Burg warns that an increasingly large and ardent sector of Israeli society disdains political democracy. He describes the country in its current state as Holocaustobsessed, militaristic, xenophobic, and, like Germany in the nineteenthirties, vulnerable to an extremist minority. (( "The Apostate: A Zionist politician loses faith in the future," by David Remnick, The New Yorker, July 30, 2007.))

In 2003 Burg published an article titled "The end of Zionism." In it he wrote:

Israel must shed its illusions and choose between racist oppression and democracy.

The Zionist revolution has always rested on two pillars: a just path and an ethical leadership. Neither of these is operative any longer. The Israeli nation today rests on a scaffolding of corruption, and on foundations of oppression and injustice. As such, the end of the Zionist enterprise is already on our doorstep. There is a real chance that ours will be the last Zionist generation. There may yet be a Jewish state here, but it will be a different sort, strange and ugly.
(( "The end of Zionism," by Avraham Burg, The Guardian, September 15, 2003.))

In 2007 another article was published in Haaretz on Avraham Burg. He is quoted: "to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end. A Jewish state is explosive. It's dynamite." In the interview Burg said that he was "in favor of abrogating the Law of Return and calls on everyone who can to obtain a foreign passport." This statement one of the strongest antiZionist pronouncements yet made by the former leading member of Israel's Jewish establishment. Burg, who was interviewed on the occasion of the publication of his book "Defeating Hitler" said "the strategic mistake of Zionism was to annul the alternatives. Israeliness has only body; it doesn't have soul." (( "Burg Defining Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end," by Ari Shavit, Haaretz, June 7, 2007. See also "Leaving the Zionist ghetto: Interview with Avraham Burg," by Ari Shavit Haaretz June 8, 2007.))

Here are the words of another veteran Israeli politician, Yossi Sarid, on the comparison of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians and Apartheid. Sarid served as a member of the Knesset for the Alignment, Ratz and Meretz between 1974 and 2006. A former Minister of Education and Minister of the Environment, he led Meretz between 1996 and 2003.

The white Afrikaners, too, had reasons for their segregation policy; they, too, felt threatened - a great evil was at their door, and they were frightened, out to defend themselves. Unfortunately, however, all good reasons for apartheid are bad reasons; apartheid always has a reason, and it never has a justification. And what acts like apartheid, is run like apartheid and harasses like apartheid, is not a duck - it is apartheid. Nor does it even solve the problem of fear: Today, everyone knows that all apartheid will inevitably reach its sorry end. One essential difference remains between South Africa and Israel: There a small minority dominated a large majority, and here we have almost a tie. But the tiebreaker is already darkening on the horizon. Then the Zionist project will come to an end if we don't choose to leave the slave house before being visited by a fatal demographic plague. It is entirely clear why the word apartheid terrifies us so. What should frighten us, however, is not the description of reality, but reality itself. Even Ehud Olmert has understood at last that continuing the present situation is the end of the Jewish democratic state, as he recently said. (( "Yes it is apartheid," by Yossi Sarid, Haaretz, April 25, 2008.))

Another prominent Israeli politician who served many years in the Knesset, Shulamit Aloni, has also been scathing in her criticism of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. (( "You can continue with the Liquidations, by Shluamit Aloni, January 18, 2002 published in "The Other Israel, Voices of Refusal and Dissent," Foreword by Tom Segev and Introduction by Anthony Lewis, edited by Roane Carey and Jonathan Shainin. (New York: New Press, 2002) p. 85-87; and "Murder of a population under cover of righteousness," by Shulamit Aloni, Haaretz, March 6, 2003; "Just make sure we don't know," by Shulamit Aloni, YNet News, April 8, 2006. Also see "First Lady of Human Rights: A Conversation with Shulamit Aloni, Former Knesset Member Who Headed the Meretz Party," interview with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now, August 14, 2002.)) Aloni, is the Israeli Prize laureate who once served as Minister of Education under Yitzhak Rabin. She wrote, "Jewish selfrighteousness is taken for granted among ourselves to such an extent that we fail to see what's right in front of our eyes. It's simply inconceivable that the ultimate victims, the Jews, can carry out evil deeds. Nevertheless, the state of Israel practises its own, quite violent, form of Apartheid with the native Palestinian population." (( "Indeed there is Apartheid in Israel," by Shulamit Aloni, Yediot Acharonot, May 1, 2006. The article is was published in Israel's largest circulating newspaper in the Hebrew edition but not in the Englishlanguage YNetNews. It was translated by Sol Salbe, an Israeli-Australian editor and translator, and distributed through the Australian based Middle East News Service sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The Hebrew original is here.))

Aloni also defended former U.S. President Jimmy Carter:

The US Jewish Establishment's onslaught on former President Jimmy Carter is based on him daring to tell the truth which is known to all: through its army, the government of Israel practises a brutal form of Apartheid in the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fencedin, or blockedin, detention camp. All this is done in order to keep an eye on the population's movements and to make its life difficult. Israel even imposes a total curfew whenever the settlers, who have illegally usurped the Palestinians' land, celebrate their holidays or conduct their parades. (( "Indeed there is Apartheid in Israel," by Shulamit Aloni, Yediot Acharonot, May 1, 2006. The article is was published in Israel's largest circulating newspaper in the Hebrew edition but not in the Englishlanguage YNetNews. It was translated by Sol Salbe, an Israeli-Australian editor and translator, and distributed through the Australian based Middle East News Service sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The Hebrew original is here.))

On the Palestinian issue she argued:

...Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us. We should remember that we too used very violent terror against foreign rule because we wanted our own state. And the list of victims of terror is quite long and extensive.

We do limit ourselves to denying the [Palestinian] people human rights. We not only rob of them of their freedom, land and water. We apply collective punishment to millions of people and even, in revengedriven frenzy, destroy the electricity supply for one and half million civilians. Let them "sit in the darkness" and "starve." (( "Indeed there is Apartheid in Israel," by Shulamit Aloni, Yediot Acharonot, May 1, 2006. The article is was published in Israel's largest circulating newspaper in the Hebrew edition but not in the Englishlanguage YNetNews. It was translated by Sol Salbe, an Israeli-Australian editor and translator, and distributed through the Australian based Middle East News Service sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The Hebrew original is here.))

Here is what Yossi Paritzky, a member of the Shinui Party who served in the Israeli Knesset and also in the Israeli cabinet, had to say about racial discrimination in Israel:

One of the clearest rules that distinguishes a democratic state from a nondemocratic state is the principle of equality when it comes to rights and obligations. In a democratic country, all citizens regardless of race, religious, gender or origin are entitled to equality when it comes to national assets, services and resources, and all citizens regardless of race, religion, gender or origin are equally obligated by national duties.

For example, in a democratic country everyone must pay taxes (although at different rates, of course,) and everyone must obey the law. On the other hand, every citizen in a democratic state is entitled to enjoy individual freedoms. One is entitled to purchase assets in the country, marry anyone he or she wish, work wherever one wants, study whatever one wishes, and express himself or herself as they wish.

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EDWARD C. CORRIGAN SHORT BIO Edward C. Corrigan holds a B.A. in History and a Master's Degree in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. Ed also has a Law Degree from the University of Windsor and was called to the Bar of the (more...)
 
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If Israel's detractors can associate the Jewish mo... by Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs on Sunday, Aug 8, 2010 at 8:27:39 AM