Open Letter to Uri Avnery, Noam Chomsky and Jimmy Carter, by Roger Tucker
This essay is prompted by a piece, Bed of Sodom, by Uri Avnery (1), posted on the Gush Shalom website on April 21st. It is amusing and instructive that the article's name provides its organizing metaphor, taken from the Old Testament, but without acknowledging that the story is a Jewish version of the older Greek myth that tells the tale of one Procrustes, who insisted that one size fit all. The piece is a spirited defense of the two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, with Avnery contesting that the now popular comparison of Israel with the former South Africa is a force fit. No wonder Martin Luther said that "reason is a whore."
For those who don't know, Gush Shalom is the Israeli Peace Bloc, the oldest and largest, and one might say, most prestigious "progressive" group on the Israeli Left. Following the lead of Gush Shalom, pretty much the entire Israeli left opposes the Occupation, decries apartheid, the wall, the deeply racist character of Israeli society, the truly horrible and revolting actions of the Israeli state against the indigenous people of Palestine, and so on.
So far so good, but there's a nasty, disease ridden and contagious fly in the ointment. Gush Shalom, under the leadership of Mr. Avnery, is foursquare behind the so-called Two State Solution, along with some strange bedfellows, such as the hard line Zionist government and military, the American neo-cons, the Republicrats, the puppet Palestinian "government, " the "Christian" Zionists, and the somewhat reluctant European nations. Strange bedfellows indeed. (For links to numerous articles on the relevant subjects, click on Zionism and the Israel Lobby.)
How could this be? Bed of Sodom is a strident, one might almost say desperate, attempt to rationalize and sustain this fantasy. And how could a man as intelligent, knowledgeable, well-intentioned and courageous as Uri Avnery be party to this travesty of common sense? There is an answer, and it explains not only the Israeli Left's clinging to this horses' ass of a "solution," but the American and European Left's complicity in this tragic fraud. The answer is a narrative, a mythology or religion of sorts, a seductive ideology that has trapped tens of millions of decent people in its web - it is called political Zionism, and at its heart, the core mythology, the narrative that must not be questioned (lest ye fall afoul of the Inquisition) , is the cult of the Holocaust. (5)
The essential premise and point of the "Holocult" is that the Jews are 'perpetual victims,' who must have their own state if they are to survive. The now standard, orthodox Shoah story is used to disguise and justify actions which are in essence the same as those of the Nazis, but which nobody acknowledges as such. As Avnery himself has written, “Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the philosopher who was an observant orthodox Jew, told me once: “The Jewish religion died 200 years ago. Now there is nothing that unifies the Jews around the world apart from the Holocaust.”
A short but incisive rebuttal of the Bed of Sodom was written by Virginia Tilley (2). (Included on the linked page is a more extensive rebuttal by John Spritzler.) Ms. Tilley takes a shot at answering the aforementioned question, but she leaves out a bit of tantalizing history that is very telling. Early on, Mr. Avnery befriended Yassir Arafat, the would be Fidel Castro of a proposed Palestinian state. It seems that Mr. Avnery was infatuated, perhaps to the point of idolizing Arafat, and he speaks of this friendship as if it were the defining relationship in his life. Go figure.
Alright, let's attempt to figure it out. Mr. Avnery, this heroic figure, this lion of a man, is what I call a "closet," or "crypto" Zionist. So are Mr. Chomsky and Mr. Carter, but we'll get to them later. The bottom line of Zionism is the requirement that there be a "Jewish State." Given that this State actually came into existence in the 20th Century, a stepchild of the Western Enlightenment (and bastard child of the UN, which thereby lost its legitimacy according to its own founding principles - sacrificing the natural sovereignty, not to mention basic human and civil rights, of indigenous peoples on the altar of a state and population superimposed by dubious 'international legal' fiat. Israel had, perforce, to masquerade as a "democracy," but if you're as fond of oxymorons as I am, the notion of a "Jewish Democracy" must give you pause.
Yassir Arafat, who managed to lead the Palestinian people down the garden path to utter destruction, provided Mr. Avnery, a man of conscience who was also a Zionist, with a lifeline. Here was a true partner to people like himself who wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Had Arafat not insisted on a separate Palestininan state (of which he, of course, would be the leader) the problem would have been resolved many years ago.
There is not the space here to go into the myriad reasons why the Two State Solution is a total chimera. A visit to www.one-state. net will provide you with most of the articles ever written on the subject, and this page references all of the books. I highly recommend Obstacles to Peace: A Reframing of the Palestinian - Israeli Conflict, 3rd Edition, by Jeff Halper and Michael Younan, because any reasonably intelligent high school kid, after perusing the excellent maps therein of the West Bank, will easily grasp that the idea is absurd. The maps, and the accompanying text, illustrate the infrastructure that the Israelis have created over the years. It is now a sheer physical, geographical reality that utterly precludes a viable Palestinian state, unless, of course, the Israelis, were to pick up their marbles and leave, or just roll over and die. Not to mention that it would take hundreds of billions of (mostly American) dollars to create even the semblance of such a state - not a likely eventuality.
Now let's turn to Noam Chomsky (3). Also something of a hero, his is the uncompromising voice of the elite American leftist intelligentsia. Fiercely attacked by the troglodytes of America , as Avnery is in Israel , he has shown grit and courage in the face of insufferable insults and unremitting attacks. His analyses of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and shifting sands of the Middle East has been nonpareil. And yet he is another closet Zionist. What a shame.
With all of these people, the bottom line is the continued existence of a Jewish entity, no matter how truncated or humbled. Why do they hold on to this 19th Century colonialist, racist, indeed fascist, ideal? They can't shake it off, this mesmerizing notion, which was born as a byproduct of British Imperial strategy, was then taken up in a fit of irrational desperation by liberal Jewish intellectuals like Theodor Hertzl, and became solidified in response to Auschwitz and Belsen-Belsen. Since then it has been nurtured, maintained, and effectively marketed by some of the most ruthless, unscrupulous and genocidal characters in history.
This is not a sideshow. The Zionist disease drives the American lust for empire that imperils the whole world, both its people and the planet itself.
And now we come to Jimmy Carter, who needs no introduction. He is not the war hero turned peace activist that Avnery is, nor the towering intellectual that Chomsky is. But he is an ex-President and a Christian who actually practices what he preaches. In spite of having being deeply sunk in the noxious sewers of Washington, DC politics, and in spite of having been immersed from childhood in the heartland of (a deeply pagan) Christian Zionism, the man acts like a saint, and is admired as such by millions of people. Obeying his conscience, he pointed out the rather obvious fact that Israel is an apartheid state, extraordinarily similar to the former South Africa . (4)
But President Carter was on my list even before he published that book. For here was a man that people would listen to, someone who had seen and heard enough to have realized that the faux peace negotiations were a time honoured Israeli tactic to forestall any possibility of peace until the job was done - that job being the final expulsion and/or destruction of the Palestinians, in order to finally establish Eretz Yisroel, Greater Israel. And he had the moral authority, credibility and gravitas, not to mention the audience, to speak the truth and be heard. What he actually did was lift up the merest corner, an inch or so, of the carpet, and point to a little bit of dirt. He didn't even mention that apartheid was part and parcel of Israeli policy within Israel itself, nor did he say a word about the ethnic cleansing going on - well, let's call a spade a spade, the deliberate and methodical genocide that has openly been Israeli policy for 60 years. And all this to further the fantasy of a "two state solution." Another closet Zionist.
It is because these men are among the best, that they are admirable, decent and well-intentioned people that I take them to task. Were they to acknowledge the obvious, be willing to suffer the pain involved in letting go of a cherished but hopelessly flawed and self-defeating wish-fulfillment fantasy, they could have an enormous effect on public opinion, perhaps bringing about the necessary paradigm shift that would not only prevent further suffering for millions of Palestinians, not to mention everyone else in the Middle East, including the hapless Israelis themselves, but could be the only thing that might forestall the looming spectre of WW III.
The laudable aims of the idealistic, cultural and spirtiual Zionism that preceded the creation of the Jewish State could yet be achieved, but only in the context of what is, after all, the gold standard of modern nations, a democratic, secular and pluralistic state, not a fascist, militaristic, racist, ethnocentric, paranoid entity that can never be anything but a nuclear armed bully, reviled and resisted in its immediate neighborhood, and a permanent pariah in the world at large.
Sometimes the truth hurts, as in an operation to remove a cancer. But it is the way to health. Some people say to me "But you want to wipe Israel off the map." My answer is always the same. "Please, someone, just give me the eraser."
(1) Uri Avnery is former Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, "Ha'olam Haze" newsmagazine, served 3 Terms as member of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), founding member of the Israeli council for Israeli-Palestinian peace, founding member, "Gush Shalom" (Peace Bloc) - Independent Peace Movement, Member of Samson's Foxes (commando unit) 1948 (twice wounded in action), Member of the Irgun 1938-1942.
(2) Virginia Tilley, a professor of Political Science, is the author of The One-State Solution : A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock, and is now working at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa .
(3) Noam Chomsky is the Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at MIT. He has become widely known — especially internationally — for his media criticism and politics. Author of The Fateful Triangle: The United States , Israel and the Palestinians, he is also co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy.
(4) Avnery is battling the growing perception that Israel closely resembles the former So. Africa , and is at pains to point out the differences.
"One has to learn from South Africa that there is nothing to be gained from appealing to the conscience of the ruling people. Among the white minority in South Africa , there was no real difference between Left and Right, between open racists and liberals, who were but better disguised racists, with the exception of a few white heroes who joined the fight for freedom.
Therefore, redemption could only come from the outside. And indeed, world public opinion saw the injustice of apartheid and imposed a world-wide boycott on South Africa , till in the end the white minority capitulated. "
But he doesn't draw the obvious conclusion, that the same thing must happen in Israel/Palestine. On the contrary, he argues that such a boycott couldn't succeed. He quotes his friend Adam Keller, "The entire world has imposed a blockade on the Palestinian people. But in spite of the terrible misery of the Palestinians, they have not been brought to their knees. Why do you think that a boycott would break the Israeli public, which is far stronger economically, so that they would give up the Jewish character of the state?"
What he has conveniently left out is the well known fact that without massive American support, Israel wouldn't last a month, with or without a boycott. It is crucial, therefore, that Americans wake up and take the lead in advocating a single state. Were they to do so, the Israelis would accept the inevitable, and far preferable idea, of one democratic, secular state for all the people between the river and the sea, and the nightmare would end.
(5) Lest the reader think that I am a "holocaust denier," let me put your mind at rest. I don't believe there are any such people, unless they're locked away in some mental asylum. I am, however, an admirer of the mainstream Holocaust revisionist historians (a number of whom are languishing in prison for being so audacious as to question the official story of the Cult). Here's a very interesting article on the subject. A here's a website that publishes scholarly works in the field.
The writer is the Editor/Publisher of www.one-state. net.