“Why continue to build the settlements?”

Today’s recommended reading [published during the last week]: Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Beast on “Why Continue To Build The Settlements?” — a review of the much-discussed book [or, polemic, as Sullivan writes] by Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism. Sullivan writes: “Let us be clear. The Israeli government is systematically taking and holding the land that could be the Palestinians’ future state. They have been doing so for decades.
The deliberate population of occupied land violates the Geneva Conventions. The occupation itself enrages the Arab and Muslim world and creates a huge drag on the US’s strategic need to build up allies among emerging Arab democracies, and defuse Jihadism across the globe. And Peter’s book is explicitly about this problem. It lies at the center of his argument. And yet it is all but ignored by his critics”… Sullivan’s take is published here.

    UPDATE: On 10 April, Peter Beinart [author of the book, The Crisis of Zionism] wrote an Op-Ed for the NYTimes in which he explained his own position this way: “I’m too young to have seen the terrifying wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973, when Arab armies threatened to vanquish the Jewish state. I’ve never known an Israel that didn’t occupy the West Bank. But like the older man, I’ve seen whole communities of Jews take refuge in Israel. Among my formative memories of the Jewish state are the pictures of Anatoly Sharansky, fresh from a Soviet jail, descending onto the tarmac at Ben-Gurion airport and the images of nearly destitute Ethiopian Jews, separated from the rest of our people since the days when the Temple stood, entering the planes that the Jewish state had sent to take them home. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my book argues that Jews need a state for self-protection and cultural expression, but worries that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank menaces the democratic ideals upon which the state was founded. Some in the organized American Jewish community think this places me on the left. I disagree. I actually occupy a shrinking center of American Jews fiercely committed to Israel’s existence but profoundly troubled by its current course. Our most high-profile critics sound like the man at my University of Maryland talk, unwilling to confront any contradiction between a nation whose declaration of independence promises ‘complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of race, religion and sex’ and an occupation that has held millions of Palestinians as non-citizens for more than forty years … The more permanent Israel’s occupation of the West Bank becomes, the more American Jews will be forced to choose between a Jewish state that is not fully democratic and a binational state that loses its Jewish character. And faced with that choice, a great chasm will divide American Jewry: with most older American Jews on one side, and many non-Orthodox, younger American Jews on the other. Saving Israel as a democratic Jewish state and preserving the Zionist consensus in American Jewish life are two sides of the same struggle. Since my book came out, I’ve sometimes been called a controversial, polarizing figure in the American Jewish community. The accusation makes me sigh. I’ve seen enough questioners like that those at the University of Maryland to realize that if the two state solution dies, the real polarization will be yet to come”.

This could be paired with the Hussein Ibish piece also published in The Daily Beast during the last week, entitled “Show, Don’t Tell: Why the Apartheid Analogy Falls Flat”, which argues why the “A” word [Apartheid] should not be used [and also against a one-state solution]. In this piece, Ibish, who works for the American Task Force on Palestine, writes:
* Because they do not understand what life under occupation means for Palestinians, most Americans are not ready to accept at the outset of any conversation that Israel practices apartheid.
* [I]t is much more effective to simply describe the realities: Every aspect of daily life in the occupied Palestinian territories for every individual is defined by whether the Israeli government categorizes them as an Israeli settler, and therefore a citizen of the state with all the rights and responsibilities accruing to citizenship, or a Palestinian noncitizen living under occupation.
* This discrimination applies to the laws people live under: where they may live; what roads they may use; what access they have to resources like land, water, education, and social services; whether they may be armed for self-defense; whether they may travel freely or have to pass through rigorous checkpoints with the permission of a foreign army; whether they may leave their country with any reasonable expectation of being able to return unimpeded; whether they have any say in the government that rules them or are totally disenfranchised; and whether they are routinely subjected to severe abuses under detention and military tribunals. All these, and almost all other aspects of daily life in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel, are all radically separate and unequal on an ethnically-defined basis.
* The system of ethnic discrimination imposed by military force and Israel’s ‘civil administration’ in the occupied territories is by far the most extreme form of discriminatory abuse anywhere in the world today. When they learn these details, audiences conclude for themselves that this is a wicked, immoral and indefensible system.
* The implied one-state solution suggests that Israel is simply practicing extreme discrimination within an already-existing single state. This effectively lets Israel off the hook completely when it comes to the occupation. And, worse, it suggests that the expansion of settlements is merely construction taking place within that existing state rather than illegal colonization in occupied territories.
* No decent person who is made aware of the realities of life under occupation for Palestinians can fail to see its immorality…
This is posted here.

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