Quote of the Day: What is Self-Determination?

Is there room in the Zionist culture for Palestinians?

There a very impassioned article in Haaretz this morning by Merav Michaeli lamenting the inherent racist backbone of many Israeli policies.  The whole piece is worth a read, but unfortunately does not provide any new information on the occupation.  For anyone who has paid any attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Michaeli’s sorrowful musings on the racism that is readily apparent in minds of the more extremist Zionist (you know, the one’s running Israel) are unsurprising.  Put in any other context, the discrimination that Michaeli describes would be appalling; in Palestine, it has been normalized.

Michaeli does use several quotations that, when juxtaposed, clearly demonstrate the battle within Zionism:  can you be a Zionist without being a racist?  (my emphasis):

“The harm we are inflicting on the Palestinian population has become far more mortal,” said MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud ). “It’s impossible to go on like this, with a situation in which my Palestinian neighbors have to cross three checkpoints to get from one village to another,” said Emily Amrousi, former spokeswoman for the Yesha Council of settlements. “The worst solution is apparently the right one: a binational state, full annexation, full citizenship,” said Uri Elitzur, former chairman of the Yesha Council. “If Zionism means ‘as little as possible for the Arabs,’ I have to say that I do not accept that,” said former defense minister Moshe Arens. “Whenever I hear about a demographic threat, it comes first of all from a type of thinking that says Arabs are a threat. … I am appalled by this kind of talk,” said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud ).

I was more shocked to hear those words coming from Likud members than I was when, further in the article, I read:

“I want it to be clear that I do not recognize national rights of Palestinians in the Land of Israel. I recognize their human rights and their individual rights, and also their individual political rights – but between the sea and the Jordan there is room for one state, a Jewish state,” said Hotovely.

So in any case the Palestinians are inferior people, whose human rights do not include national self-determination, and anyway we decide what happens to them and for them.

The two quotations certainly reveal the possible ideological struggle within Zionism.  Moreover, it shows that the rift within Zionism is two-fold: is Zionism synonymous with racism?  And can a Zionist support a binational state?  I would like to read about more Israelis thinking and acting as if they believed in the first quote.

Unfortunately, though, living in the West Bank, gives constant reminders of the dominance of Hotovely’s mindset: passing daily though military checkpoints; listening to Israelis lament about the Arabs (“the Arabs are always the problem.  Wherever there are Arabs, there are problems” – a Sephardi-Jewish taxi driver in East Jerusalem), watching construction continue in settlements, being denied access to the many Israeli only roads crossing the West Bank…  The list goes on.

There is an internal struggle in Israeli society – the Haaretz article is a good example of the growing issues – but, in Palestine, the normalization of racism and discrimination continues.

Photo from York Against the War


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