Tipping Point (5 Minutes Past Midnight in Israel-Palestine)

For a long time, I wondered at what point the Israeli occupation of the territories would have reached the tipping point beyond which there is no way back from the creation of a single, bi-national state with a Palestinian majority in all the territories between the Jordan and the Sea).

Meron Benvenisti was talking about this already in the 1980s. For me, as a liberal Jew and an old Labor Zionist, I didn’t see it that way. I think, though, that we’ve already passed the tipping point. I don’t know at what precise “point” in time this happened. I’m pretty sure that there is no such single precise point.

But I think you can actually indicate at what point you have passed the tipping point by noting clear precise points that are public and political. In my own estimation, I can identify three such moments:

[1] the establishment of a government with Avigdor Lieberman, and the clear fascist tendencies represented by him,

[2] Netanyahu’s declaration, in public before the UN, rejecting the Palestinian statehood bid on the grounds that withdrawing from the territories is too dangerous,

[3] the recent Levy Committee Report that the settlements in the West Bank are legal because there the territories are, in its estimation, not “occupied.” Even if the Attourney General refuses to adopt the report, the cat’s out of the bag with lots of damage done.

Has Israel crossed the tipping point? If the territories aren’t occupied and it is too dangerous for Israel to leave them, then it’s time to grant the Palestinians, if they want it, the right to vote in sovereign, democratic Israel, imperfect as that young democracy may or may not be. Otherwise, what we’re looking at really is a form of apartheid or some other form of fascism.

I don’t see how it works any other way. To be sure, all sorts of things can happen all of a sudden, and there is no way to predict even the near future. But is it possible to turn back the clock when you are five minutes past midnight?

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. http://religion.syr.edu
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