Lenin, in his Swiss exile, once inquired about the party affiliation of a newly elected member of the Duma. "Oh, he is just a fool!" his assistant asserted. Lenin answered impatiently: "A fool in favor of whom?"
I am tempted to pose a similar question about people touted to be neutral in our conflict: "Neutral in favor of whom?"
THE QUESTION came to my mind when I saw an Israeli documentary about the US intermediaries who have tried over the last 40 years or so to broker peace between the Palestinians and us.
For some reason, most of them were Jews.
I am sure that all of them were loyal American citizens, who would have been sincerely offended by any suggestion that they served a foreign country, such as Israel. They honestly felt themselves to be neutral in our conflict.
But were they neutral? Are they? Can they be?
My answer is: No, they couldn't.
Not because they were dishonest. Not because they consciously served one side. Certainly not. Perish the thought!
But for a much deeper reason. They were brought up on the narrative of one side. From childhood on, they have internalized the history and the terminology of one side (ours). They couldn't even imagine that the other side has a different narrative, with a different terminology.
This does not prevent them from being neutral. Neutral for one side.
By the way, in this respect there is no great difference between American Jews and other Americans. They have generally been brought up on the same history and ideology, based on the Hebrew Bible.
LET US take the latest example. John Kerry is carrying with him a draft plan for the solution of the conflict.
It was prepared meticulously by a staff of experts. And what a staff! One hundred and sixty dedicated individuals!
I won't ask how many of them are fellow Jews. The very question smacks of anti-Semitism. Jewish Americans are like any other Americans. Loyal to their country. Neutral in our conflict.
Neutral for whom?
Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)