Thursday, May 16, 2013

Up to the Moment, with Uri Avnery

Dear Friend,

I'm leading a day-long seminar at 1st Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor this Saturday. We will cover Christian Zionism and Kairos USA, (the US response to Kairos Palestine). Pray for us.

Below is a critique of a recent post by Uri Avnery, the aging lion of Israeli dissidents. By clicking on the link (in the article), you can go directly to his post, which prompted my critique and updating on how the I/P "conflict" is being played out up to the moment.

I'll be joining the Chicago Presbytery ME Study group as they travel to I/P June 15-29.

I was hopeful that President Obama's visit there earlier this year would prompt new efforts at rapprochement between Israelis and Arab Palestinians. We'll check it out and let you know.

Today, Peace Now, (an Israeli-based rights group with an American affiliate), reported the government seems ready to give the go-ahead to four new settlements, heretofore deemed "illegal". Not a hopeful sign.

We are still not at the tipping point. Yet, more and more Americans are becoming aware of the systemic injustice of having your property confiscated, your home demolished, your olive orchard destroyed, leaving you no place to live on land that was once your own. JRK for FPI

One-State, Two-State, Bi-National State

John R. Kleinheksel Sr.

In his May 11, 2013 Gush Shalom piece, Uri Avnery rejoins the One-State, Two-State, Bi-National State debate. There is a lot of grudging respect for this aging gadfly-critic of his beloved Israel. Even when he calls her “a defacto evil State of oppression and brutality” (!) Read it first-hand here:>

Though critical of the Occupation, he doesn’t want to turn Israel into a Bi-National pluralistic State, thus losing her Jewish identity.

What a dilemma. Each people group wants their own (One) State, but only Israel already has it—on land stolen from the Palestinians, who remain stateless.

Through the years, there have been those willing to share the land in a pluralistic democratic State, but the wars of 1948 and 1967 basically gave the edge to the transplants, at the expense of the natives. To the victors go the spoils, though “the world” is strongly opposed.

Uri Avnery, now well into his eighth decade, knows the injustice of it all and sees the settlement movement as the key impediment. Unlike many others who see the growth of the settlements as the “death of the Two State” solution, Mr. Avnery firmly believes the spread of the settlements can be “reversed”, citing the evacuations of the Sinai and Gaza settlements as precedents. Where there is the will, there will be the ways to solve this issue, he writes.

He doesn’t like the comparison of Israel with (Apartheid) South Africa and thinks “leftists” expect the world will eventually compel Greater Israel to grant full [citizenship] rights to the Palestinians “and Israel will become [bi-national] Palestine” [with no Jewish majority](5th paragraph from the end).

Frankly, the international community would be content with either a separate Palestinian State or a Bi-National pluralistic State, if the two peoples could just resolve their issues peacefully. The present Israeli government (with US support), will allow neither an autonomous Palestinian State nor a Bi-National one. Mr. Avnery argues that if Israel refuses to allow a Palestinian State now, why would she allow world opinion to dictate that they dismantle the Jewish State to make way for a Bi-National one? So, how does this advance us to a solution? The lukewarm response to the renewed Arab Peace Initiative, trumpeted by Sec. John Kerry, is not a good sign.

The unmentioned elephant in the closet is the fear that the Palestinians will go to any lengths to wrest control from the Israelis and treat Israelis as harshly as they were treated! Distrust is deep and visceral.

How is fear to be addressed? We can continue sharing narratives with each other for starters, walking in the shoes of “the other” as urged by President Obama on his recent visit to both sides. Very few are talking about “love”. At least Mr. Avnery allows that “the birth of new love between the two peoples” would be “wonderful, even miraculous” even though there is no sign of it. He betrays the cynic’s disguised yearning for Israelis and Palestinians to find “their common values, the common roots of their history and languages, [and] their common love for this country”. He might have added that then there might be mutual respect and a willingness to coexist in peace.

Moshe Arens, the respected retired Israeli diplomat, argues in a May 14, 2013 Haaretz op-ed that Israel is already a Bi-National State. He urges the government to double the immigration of Jews from 20k to 40k/year and work to better integrate Arab citizens into Israeli society—even allowing as many as 30% of citizens to be Arabs (instead of the present 17-20%).
On the other hand, Ali Abunimah reminds us of the Occupation and confiscation of historic Arab Palestinian land. Lauding Stephen Hawking’s boycott of a scientific and economic conference in Jerusalem, he writes: Israel cannot continue to pretend that it is a country of culture, technology and enlightenment while millions of Palestinians live invisibly under the brutal rule of bullets, bulldozers and armed settlers.

Secretary of State John Kerry has the unenviable task, not of compelling but of persuading the settlement-strengthened Netanyahu administration to rein in the settlers. How likely is that? And how long will the US support the injustice of it all? How long?

It will come down to the newer generations of Israelis (and Palestinians) heeding President Obama’s plea and pulling their elders along: “Put yourself in their shoes. Don’t you want for them what you want for yourselves? Don’t you care?”

Indeed! I see this approach bearing fruit plus a more vigorous BDS campaign (Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions) reluctantly but doggedly pursued by more and more people with more nonviolent demonstrations, to bring the powers-that-be to their senses. John Kleinheksel