A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Israel on its Independence Day

Today is the day Israel celebrates its independence day according to the Hebrew calendar. Bernard Avishai has a fairly grim piece at The New Yorker reflecting on the dilemmas Israel faces following the latest collapse of the peace process, and many other such pieces have appeared in moderate Arab media.

I didn't post previously on the firestorm over John Kerry's "apartheid" remark, but the irony is, of course, that such remarks are regularly expressed in Israeli media and on the floor of the Knesset, but are still taboo for a US politician. But the question remains: if there is no two-state solution, and settlements continue to spread, then a one-state solution offers a choice between giving up either Israel's democratic system, or, if that is retained and the Palestinians in the occupied territories are given the vote, seeing Israel's Jewish identity disappear due to demography.

As Avishai notes, there are elements in Israel today for whom the democratic values of the state are secondary to ultranationalist goals, and who indeed envision a sort of Palestinian apartheid as a solution. But, as Jimmy Carter could have told John Kerry, an American  can't use the word without a firestorm. The recent decision by the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations not to admit J Street, which takes positions comparable to many Israeli center-left parties, is another indicator of how opinions held by many Israelis outside the present Likud-led coalition somehow tend to be denounced as "anti-Israel" in he US.

No comments: