19 March 2009

Debate Over Zionism a Distraction?

In my understanding, violent Zionism is a main root of the problems that exist between Israelis and Palestinians. Not Zionism necessarily, but a zionism that is violent, oppressive, tyrannical and brutal in nature.

Lincoln Shlensky, of Jewish Peace News, thinks that the debate over Israeli Zionism is a "red herring." Lincoln raises some very sensible arguments. Read on:
...the wrong topic -- Zionism and anti-Zionism -- is under debate. This ideological argument serves to distract attention from the desperate need for a renewed discussion of human and political rights that must set the agenda for any negotiations toward a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
the debate between Zionists and anti-Zionists is a red herring, in my view, a diversionary tactic that merely postpones crucial negotiations and decisions that could enable an equitable and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians. The real debate needs to be over how to politically enshrine -- with the necessary help of the international community -- the rights of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews in a future political compact. Unless Israeli Jews can be presented with a plan, whether national or confederational, that guarantees their political freedoms and allows them to live without fear of being politically overwhelmed by shifting demography, then peace, with reparative justice for the Palestinians, will remain elusive. Without such an internationally backed guarantee of rights and security, negotiations can only be experienced as a zero-sum equation in which Israeli Jews have everything to lose. This far more important debate over how to assure the rights of Jews and Palestinians will not happen without the impetus of broad-based popular political activism, the involvement of the key global political players, and sincere compassion for both sides. Until widespread demand mounts for the negotiation of an internationally backed agreement that preserves the mutual rights and political freedoms of Israelis and Palestinians, the stronger party in the conflict will continue to prevail -- at an inexcusable expense to itself, to the weaker group, and to the entire region.

--Lincoln Shlensky


  1. Thanks for the citation, Robert. I wouldn't want your readers to get the idea that I only care about making Jews feel safe -- that's not the point at all (and my whole post as well as others make that context clear). I know that many more Palestinian civilians have died in this conflict, and that Palestinian life has been made difficult -- even unbearable -- to an extent that Israeli Jews can hardly fathom. But I want the conflict to end and sanity and freedom to prevail. For that to happen, a peace plan initiated and backed by the international community must be pursued. And that plan will only succeed if Israelis feel that their security needs are met, and if Palestinians know that they are getting a fair deal that includes recognition of the suffering and displacement of refugees. I can't say what the exact shape of that plan would be, but at a minimum it would include a complete end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. I like your statement on peace and justice, and I hope that minds like yours are the future. --Lincoln Shlensky

  2. Thanks for commenting and clarifying, Lincoln. I am sorry if my partial excerpt made it seem that you were somehow insensitive to the suffering of Palestinians.

    I fully agree with you about the importance of an international peace plan, and I fully agree with you about the need for Israelis to be secure...

    What troubles me is the intense nationalism that is occurring, on all sides of the conflict.

    It would be nice if we had a world without national borders, where all people could co-exist peacefully and harmoniously, being tolerant of personal differences...

    Perhaps one day that reality will be. I know it is possible.

    I really appreciate the Jewish Peace News. I know that Judaism is a deep and meaningful religion, and culture. I wish I knew more about Judaism and what it means to be a Jew. (I was raised Catholic - half-heartedly at that - long story!) I know that the Jewish people are not a monolith - and that there is a tremendous diversity of views and opinions. Fortunately I have some friends who are Jewish, and I am hoping to find a way to learn more about the Jewish faith. - Anyway, I do appreciate JPN and JVP and the consistently thoughtful analysis. It's very important to realize that there are a great many Jews who do not accept the status quo of violence and militarism of the State of Israel.

    It troubles me to see hatefulness expressed toward the State of Israel - because I know there are a great many Israelis who are altruists, and who believe that all people deserve to be able to live meaningful, happy and dignified lives... well now I am rambling.

    So please- to you and the rest of the JPN editors, keep up the good work, I appreciate the steady stream of insightful commentary. And I will be more careful in the future, when excerpting from articles. Sometimes I go too fast. Thanks for being kind.