I went on vacation for a week and in that time, Israel got delegitimized. That is the striking impression from the news. The two-state consensus is now in a complete shambles in the U.S. discourse, and many Americans on both right and left are beginning to support one democratic state in Israel and Palestine, which of course would mean the end of what Benjamin Netanyahu calls “the one and only Jewish state.”
Here are those events:
–Birthright trips– the free indoctrination trip to Israel for Jews under 26, sponsored by Republican Sheldon Adelson and Democrat Haim Saban– are reportedly down in numbers by as much as 50 percent this winter following a campaign by the renegade Jewish group IfNotNow to get young Jews to avoid the propaganda tour.
–Israeli actress Natalie Portman says Israel’s new nation-state law is “racist.”
–Incoming-congresswoman Rashida Tlaib refuses to bend one iota in her support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, thereby actually planting the flag for BDS in Congress, alongside newcomer Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. This is a massive symbolic victory at a time when Congressional leaders are seeking to criminalize forms of BDS advocacy; and Tlaib says she will wear a traditional Palestinian robe at her swearing-in, bless her heart.
–New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg responds to the Tlaib news by asserting that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism and, acknowledging that the two-state solution is over, all but calls for equal rights for all in one state. The piece was a blow to the consensus establishment position, and instantly elevates Goldberg to a leadership role, maybe THE leadership role in mainstream media at a time when four NYT columnists justify the slaughter of unarmed Gaza protesters. And indeed Goldberg’s piece necessitated a nasty response from the right/center/liberal bloc, Bret Stephens of the New York Times and Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL.
–Shibley Telhami of Brookings released a bombshell poll showing that virtually equal numbers of Americans support a one-state outcome (35 percent) as those supporting a two-state outcome (36 percent). And NPR’s Michel Martin interviewed Telhami, fairly; and he said directly what Michelle Goldberg was also saying:
[M]any people, particularly on the left, worry that advocating the two-state, even if they want it, if it’s not possible anymore, it’s in a way legitimizing the status quo that they see as unjust.
That is a breakthrough moral statement. It is a challenge to liberal Zionists: you are worse than rightwing Zionists, because you dangle over the Palestinians a delusional solution that you know will never eventuate, thereby putting off any real struggle for freedom.
And of course it is a challenge to the mainstream media, which has not reflected these views at all but stuck by the cruel peace process charade. In fact, and quite brilliantly, Michel Martin introduced Telhami by saying that Marc Lamont Hill was fired by CNN for saying there should be one state between the river and the sea, but “a new poll from the University of Maryland finds that many Americans share the views expressed by Hill.”
It should not be missed that Martin, Telhami and Hill, as well as Tlaib and Omar, are all people of color; and it has been a longterm goal of the Palestinian struggle to elevate those potential allies in the US discourse. That’s happening. Women of color are about to change Congress. And Jews of conscience are going to be right alongside them.
As usual I focus on the liberation of Jews and elites from Zionism, so let me return to the Michelle Goldberg piece of December 7. Goldberg has a history as a liberal Zionist, but the piece had an anti-Zionist backbeat. Titled “Anti-Zionism Isn’t the Same as Anti-Semitism. American Jews have nothing to fear from the new congressional critics of Israel,” the essay began by saying that equating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism means “treating Israel as the embodiment of the Jewish people everywhere.” Which is Zionism 101. But it’s an “absurd” claim, Goldberg said, especially in light of Israel’s embrace of fascistic European leaders.
Helpfully, Goldberg noted the long tradition of Jewish establishment anti-Zionism, and the capture of American Jewish organizations by Zionism in the 70s.
In 1950 Jacob Blaustein, the president of the American Jewish Committee, one of the country’s most important Jewish organizations, reached an agreement with Israel’s prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, in which Ben-Gurion essentially promised not to claim to speak for American Jews. “Jews of the United States, as a community and as individuals, have no political attachment to Israel,” said Blaustein at the time.
Decades later, such a statement from the committee — or any major, mainstream Jewish organization — would be unthinkable. A consensus set in “that Jewish identity can be reduced to Israelism,” Eliyahu Stern, an associate professor of modern Jewish history at Yale, told me…
She went on to her main heresy: that two states is over, and people have a perfect right to advocate for equality.
Israel has foreclosed the possibility of two states, relentlessly expanding into the West Bank and signaling to the world that the Palestinians will never have a capital in East Jerusalem. As long as the de facto policy of the Israeli government is that there should be only one state in historic Palestine, it’s unreasonable to regard Palestinian demands for equal rights in that state as anti-Semitic. If the Israeli government is going to treat a Palestinian state as a ridiculous pipe dream, the rest of us can’t act as if such a state is the only legitimate goal of Palestinian activism.
She concluded by saying that today’s Zionism is incompatible with liberalism.
[P]eople with an uncompromising commitment to pluralistic democracy will necessarily be critics of contemporary Israel.
The blow here is that Goldberg is in a stable of Jewish NYT columnists almost all of whom advocate unceasingly for Israel on its terms. She has struck out on her own, and while her arguments won’t be original for our readers, they are for the Times. Interestingly, J Street did not retweet Goldberg’s column, though Goldberg has appeared there. So her piece is an apostasy; and it affirms the fact that J Street is the new AIPAC of the Democratic Party.
Bret Stephens’s response in the Times was unhinged. He said with his usual sniggering tone that anti-Zionists are fostering child murder by Hezbollah.
Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way than, say, readers of The New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms…
When you find yourself on the same side as Hassan Nasrallah, Louis Farrakhan and David Duke on the question of a country’s right to exist, it’s time to re-examine every opinion you hold.
Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL promptly sided with Stephens:
Strongly agree w/@BretStephensNYT who addresses not abstract theory, but the actual reality that we see in our work monitoring hate around world: anti-Zionism *is* anti-Semitism. It’s fine to question Israeli policy but it crosses a line when you seek to destroy the Jewish state.
Once again, Greenblatt is arguing that white nationalists and anti-Zionist progressives are two sides of the same coin. And Michelle Goldberg is saying, that’s horsesh*t.
Goldberg is poised to have a leadership role here; because the public is demanding support for equality in one state. They want mainstream journalists to be their voices. Let’s go back to Telhami. Here’s what he said on NPR about the news his poll represents:
[A] few years back, we started seeing a decline in the two-state solution support and a rise in the one-state solution, but still, the two-state solution way ahead. This is the first time where we find roughly the same number of people who support two states also support one-state.
One headline is the American public, especially Democrats, are really far from where the mainstream media is and congressional politicians are on this issue. Second, there’s no question in my mind that there is a rising interest in the one-state solution. There’s many reasons for it, in part, because it’s been legitimized from both left and right, to be honest, including this administration, the right in Israel as well as not just the left but also because of a creeping recognition that maybe two states are not possible.
And many people, particularly on the left, worry that advocating the two-state, even if they want it, is if it’s not possible anymore, it’s in a way legitimizing the status quo that they see as unjust.
That support is across the board, by the way. Democrats still favor two-states by 48 to 36 percent, but Republicans favor a one-state solution over a two-state solution by 33 to 24 percent.
Telhami told me via Twitter that the Democratic numbers seem to reflect the fact that two states is “a highly stressed issue among Democratic politicians,” from Beto to Bernie. And as for the Republican support for one states, that “seems to be a principled position related to commitment to equality.” (Telhami says that when he drills down into the youthful (18-34-year-old) support for one-state, it’s 38% of young Republicans, 43% of young Democrats and– are you sitting down– 46% of young Independents.)
So there you have it. The two-state discourse, the faith of the liberal establishment for the last 20 years, is a wreck.
Thereby fulfilling ten-year-old prophecies of Ali Abuminah, and of Howard Kohr. It was in ’09 that Kohr, the head of AIPAC, gave a fearful barnburner of a speech, on the “Predicate for Abandonment”, saying that the delegitimizers and BDS’ers were taking over the campuses, and Brooklyn and Berkeley and Brookline, but we are going to hold out in the castle of Washington and set the moat on fire, etc…
What we are witnessing is something more than simple defamation. What we are witnessing is the attemped delegitimization of Israel—the systematic sowing of doubt, that Israel is a nation that has forfeited the world’s concern, a nation whose actions are in the strict meaning of the term, indefensible…
I am not saying that these allegations have become accepted. But they have become acceptable. More and more they are invading mainstream discourse… These voices are laying the predicate for abandonment.
Well, that is what has come to pass. The delegitimizers are taking over the progressive discourse. Americans prefer a democratic state to a Jewish state. The lobby is holding on to Capitol Hill and the official media. But progressives are climbing the castle walls…
Thanks to Scott Roth, Adam Horowitz, James North, Yakov Hirsch, and Nada Elia.