The Arab citizens of Israel, traditionally ignored by left and right Zionists as a "barely tolerable" minority, embody the impossibility and futility of the attempt to achieve ethnic purity by means of division. A few years of rising racism inside Israel turned its Arab citizens into a "ticking bomb" of the "demographic danger", and unleashed unprecedented attacks against them by the right wing, with little to no response from the Zionist left. Avigdor Lieberman gained his startling achievement in Tuesday's elections by riding this wave to its natural conclusion. His revolutionary idea - giving up not only territories in the West Bank and Gaza but even territories of Israel proper, in order to get rid of as many Arabs as possible - confused and embarrassed the Zionist left. It had also exposed the absurdity and moral unacceptability of the whole Zionist idea by taking it to its only rational conclusion. If having a Jewish state is the most desirable goal, than getting rid of the nonJewish citizens is the only rational way to go about it. And hey, it is all to take place in a very benign way: no more talks of "transfer", but an adoption of the "lefty" slogans of division. And all this under the new sinister banner "No loyalty - No citizenship".
The fact that Lieberman can easily claim to be a genuine successor of Israel's founder, Labourite David Ben Gurion, should be an alarm bell in the ears of any Israeli liberal. It is time for any Israeli with an enlightened selfimage to look at the mirror and see Avigdor Lieberman staring back. It is time to stop the procrastination over the question whether Israel can be both Jewish and democratic. Lieberman provided the answer loud and clear: it cannot. At this late hour, when the shadow of protofascism is hovering over the land, it is time to join forces with Palestinian citizens in the battle against ethnic purity, and for a true democracy. It is time to stop fidgeting, and to admit that monoethnicism cannot be a framework for liberal values. It is time to apologise to MK Azmi Bshara, who was dabbed "an Arab nationalist" by Israeli liberals because of his call for "a state of all its citizens". It is time to rethink Zionism. (( "It's time to rethink Zionism," by Daphna Baram, The Guardian, February 17, 2009. Daphna Baram is a freelance writer and journalist. Her features and articles have appeared in the Guardian, New Statesman, Independent, Jewish Quarterly, Ha'aretz and Yediot. Born in Jerusalem 1970, she worked as a human rights lawyer in the military courts in the Went Bank and Gaza, and later as a feature write, commentator, news editor and deputy editorinchief for the Jerusalem based weekly Kol Ha'ir. Her book Disenchantment: The Guardian and Israel (2004) was written during a fellowship period at the Reuters Foundation programme and a year as a senior associate member at St Antony's College in Oxford. Her translation into Hebrew of The Nuremberg Interviews was published in March 2006 (Ivrit). She is based currently in London.))- Advertisement -
Other critical voices from Israel's political circles include the late Livia Rokach, (also transliterated as Rokah) the daughter of Israel Rokach, Minister of the Interior in the government of Moshe Sharett, second prime minister of Israel; ((Livia Rokach, Israel's Sacred Terrorism: A study based on Moshe Sharett's Personal Diary, and other documents, (Belmont, Massachusetts: Association of ArabAmerican University Graduates Inc, 1986). See also "Livia Rokach Israel's Sacred Terrorism: A Study Based on Moshe Sharett's Personal Diary and Other Documents," Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 18, 1985, p. 11. Review by Richard Curtis.)) and former General and Knesset Member Mattityahu Peled who headed the Progressive List for Peace; ((On the 1967 "Six Day War" General Mattityahu Peled, a member of Israel's general staff in 1967, opined that "the thesis according to which the danger of genocide weighed on us in June 1967, and that Israel struggled for its physical existence is only a bluff born and developed after the war." Le Monde, June 3, 1972, p. 4; For an example of his views see, "IsraeliPalestinian Peace: If Not Now, When?" by Mattityahu Peled. keynote speech given at the Breira National Conference in 1977; see also, "The Palestinian Position: An Exchange," by Mattityahu Peled, and Reply by Bernard Avishai, New York Review of Books, Volume 27, Number 3 - March 6, 1980. See The Other Israel for commemorative articles published in his honor after his death including, "A 'traitor' before his time," by Teddy Preuss, Translated from Davar, March 12, 1995; and "I shall not see his like again," by Uri Avnery, translated from Ma'ariv, March 3, 1995.)) his daughter Nurit Peled-Elhanan a lecturer in Language Education at Hebrew University; (( "On education, racism and murder," by Nurit PeledElhanan, Jerusalem, March 16, 2006, translated and published in Occupation Magazine, November 24, 2007; and In the State of Israel the Jewish mother is disappearing," by Nurit PeledElhanan, speech given to the Israeli Peace group Women in Black, on December 28, 2007, translated and published in Occupation Magazine, January 6, 2008. She blamed Israel's policies for the death of her daughter Smadar. Smadar (14 years old) was killed by an Arab suicide bomber on September 4, 1997.)) and his son Miko Peled; ((See "Fighting for peace," by Judd Handler, San Diego Jewish Journal, October, 2003; "It's Time To Visit Gaza," by Miko Peled, Electronic Intifada February 17, 2007. "Torture: Read it in the Israeli press," by Miko Peled, The Electronic Intifada, April 4, 2007, republished in Occupation Magazine on April 5, 2007; "A crack in the wall," by Miko Peled, The Electronic Intifada, October 1, 2007; "Pardon me, But I'm Jewish," by Miko Peled, Activist Magazine, October 15, 2008. "They like to call it war," by Miko Peled, Occupation Magazine, September 20, 2009. He is an Israeli peace activist and writer living in the US. Peled is cofounder of the Elbanna Peled Foundation in memory of Smadar Elhanan and Abir Aramin.)) and Meron Benvenisti, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. (( "A ridiculous war against the gaps," by Meron Benvenisti, Haaretz, June 29, 2006.))
This article only reviews a portion of the critical debate in Israel from Israeli politicians. There is much more debate and critical examination of Zionism and of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. Serious discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must include the full spectrum of opinion in keeping with democratic values, free speech and much needed critical inquiry. In Israel, there is a vibrant political debate, and while this debate and democratic discourse is coming increasingly under attack, this debate contributes to the vitality of Israeli society as it deals with the Palestinian issue, the nature of a "Jewish State" and how to govern its society.
America, which provides a great deal of financial, military and political support for Israel, needs to be aware of this debate in Israel and in Jewish circles, and to understand the ramifications of uncritical support for the policies and actions of Israel toward the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors. To stifle and censor the discussion of these important issues does no favors for the United States or for Israel or the Jewish people.