I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to post about Israel quite so soon, but I wanted to say something about the group of maps that appeared over at Juan Cole’s “Informed Comment” ( blog on Middle Eastern politics. The maps are fairly self-explanatory. Or not really. Maps are funny things. This one is bivalent. On the one hand, map #4 it marks the territories under current Israeli de facto sovereignty. On the other hand, it obscures the demographic fact that the majority of the people in those territories will very soon be Palestinian. The small dots representing Palestinian holdings surrounded by a mass of Israeli territorial holdings will soon require another small set of marks denoting Jewish population centers concentrated increasingly along the country’s coastal plain. Will this map look increasingly like map#1 (representing Jewish territorial holdings in Palestine prior to the establishment of the state in 1948)?!

For my part, I am more than prepared to argue for the rightness of Labor Zionism, as a historical phenomenon and a political-cultural platform, warts and all. My feelings for the country were always about the sense of space, air, and connection that I felt there as a Jew and as a person. (The exigency of spatial platforms and spatial dimension are part of the upshot of Buber’s letter defending the Zionist project to Gandhi from 193?). While my thoughts still travel in circles defined by the now reviled liberal-left, I have strained friendships and increasingly my own credulity defending vociferously Israel’s right to defensible border and the right to self-defense against recent Hezbollah and Palestinian “resistance.”

It hardly matters anymore. If map #4 (representing Area A now “controlled” by the Palestinian Authority) is the basis of this Israeli government’s negotiating position (and not map #3 representing the 1967 borders), then I guess the one-staters are right and it’s all over. This is not the basis of a viable state, not even a mini-state hemmed in by larger interests and powers. I was always wondering when this would happen. I finally felt this viscerally when Bibi went to the UN last September (2011) to declare the 1967 borders with minor adjustments was too dangerous to contemplate. Because if it’s too dangerous to leave the territories, then t’s time to hand over the keys and give the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians the right to vote.

It was not me who came to this decision. It was from the right, not from the left, whose optimism about the prospects of a one-state solution I don’t share. I hope very much that this is not the last word. It’s not for me and the likes of me to decide. Let’s see what happens in the next elections.

Anti-Zionists almost always contend that there is a fundamental contradiction between Zionism and democracy. They also argue that Zionism is a form of apartheid. Looking at the map over at Informed Comment, I now actually think that the converse is true. Zionism always subsisted as a modern political movement on the basis of international agreements and socialist-liberal political frameworks. This was something understood by Herzl, Ben Gurion, and Begin. There is a corrigible tension between Zionism and democracy. Between Zionism and apartheid it’s a fundamental contradiction. If you end up with the other, you can’t have the one.

(Please note: I will only be posting comments that are substantive in character.)

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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