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Posted by on Feb 18, 2019 in Haaretz | 2 comments

Rashida Tlaib and Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-Zionist Alliance

I am not that worried about Ilhan Omar and the threat that she may or may not pose to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. In my view, in fact, Omar has gotten more attention than she deserves.

(Credit: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

I am far more worried about Rashida Tlaib and Benjamin Netanyahu and the anti-Zionist alliance that the two of them are cooking up.

Does this sound extreme, bizarre, over-the-top? Hear me out.

Tlaib and Netanyahu, while approaching the subject from different angles, have both emerged as advocates of a single state from the river to the sea, encompassing what is now Israel and the occupied territories.

For Tlaib, the state will be Greater Palestine; for Netanyahu, it will be Greater Israel. But whatever it is called, it will not have a Jewish majority, and therefore will be neither Jewish nor Zionist, in any meaningful sense of those terms.

Rashida Tlaib, to her credit, is at least honest about her intentions.

Unlike Ilhan Omar, who formally favors a two-state solution – that is, a Jewish and Palestinian state, existing side by side – Tlaib wants one state, where issues of religion and ethnicity are irrelevant and where those who are now Palestinians and Israelis coexist in a single political entity.

Unlike Omar, Tlaib is of Palestinian origin, and her grandmother still lives in the West Bank. And unlike Omar, the Israel-Palestinian conflict has shaped her political consciousness and is central to her political outlook.  “My social justice and passion for human rights was birthed in Palestine,” she says.

I am not dismissing the significance of Omar’s words. To suggest that American politicians support Israel because they have been bought off by Jewish money is anti-Semitism, pure and simple. Still, on Jewish and Israeli issues, Omar often comes across as befuddled and inconsistent.  When she says something offensive, she apologizes and seems responsive to Jewish concerns, but then proceeds to say something offensive again. Whether she will ultimately get her bigotry under control remains to be seen, although it is unlikely that Israel will be her major political interest.

But Tlaib will take hold of the Palestinian issue and will not let it go. More expert, experienced, and focused than Omar on Middle Eastern matters, and completely obsessed with her vision of a Greater Palestine, hers will be the anti-Israel voice that will matter most in the next two years.

And it will be a dangerous voice because her tone is one of honey rather than hatred. Most of those who demand Israel’s disappearance speak a language of anti-Israel bigotry; they despise Israelis and sympathize with terror against Jews. Israelis, they imply or say outright, are to be militarily defeated and expelled from their homes.

But Tlaib speaks another language altogether. With constant references to the civil rights movement, she calls for a single state with equality and justice for all its inhabitants, Arab and Jew alike. Her goal, she says, is integration of Israelis and Palestinians, including Palestinian refugees now dwelling in other countries, with no discrimination against people based on their faith or skin color.

Does Tlaib really believe in this vision of a single state, fully integrated and with equal rights for all? Or is it a cover for the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish sentiments usually expressed by Palestinian leaders? It is hard to say.

Many of those who support her do not hesitate to compare Zionists with Nazis and to sympathize with Hezbollah, with its fantasies of driving the Jews into the sea.  But Tlaib angrily rejects any effort to associate her with the demons of war and extermination, pointing out her long-standing call for a just and peacefully-arrived-at one-state solution.

The problem, of course, is that even assuming her sincerity, her idea of a single Jewish/Palestinian state in which Jews and Palestinians live together and enjoy equal rights is a complete pipedream.

The long, violent history of the conflict between Palestinians and Jews and their radically different national narratives mean that the creation of such a state would lead to chaos, terror, mob violence, and ongoing civil war. The answer to the conflict is not mixing hostile populations but separating them.

There is not a single country in the Middle East that could serve as a model for a workable, peaceable, bi-national country of seven million Jews and seven million Palestinian Arabs. To these considerations must be added the simple fact that the Jewish people and the Palestinian people are each entitled, as a matter of fundamental justice, to a state of their own.

And so surely the leaders of the State of Israel are opposed to Tlaib’s preposterous proposition, right? After all, the majority of the citizens of Israel still favor a two-state solution. So how could Jewish leaders, inspired by Zionist principles, possibly favor a single state that lacks a stable Jewish majority?

And yet Benjamin Netanyahu has moved to precisely that position, leading a party that openly advocates annexation of the West Bank and a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Only nine years ago, it will be recalled, speaking at Bar-Ilan University, Netanyahu called for two states, and it was assumed that he spoke for Likud in doing so. But in recent years, except very occasionally when dealing with foreign diplomats, references to two states have disappeared from Bibi’s vocabulary. And while he has personally been cagey about specifically endorsing a one-state solution, the party he heads has moved openly into the one-state camp, with his silent acquiescence.

In fact, out of the 30 Likud members who currently hold Knesset seats, 28 have made statements or signed a declaration in support of applying Israeli sovereignty to the West Bank – in other words, support for annexation and a single state. Apart from Netanyahu, the only Likud MK who has not formally backed annexation is Benny Begin, who is retiring from politics.

And Bibi, while remaining quiet on annexation but winking his approval to his far-right allies, has presided over a surge in settlement building that has made a single state likely, if not inevitable.

And so, in an ironic twist, Rashida Tlaib and Benjamin Netanyahu find themselves in alliance. The strangest of bedfellows. Partners in the crime of destroying the Jewish state. After all, a single, bi-national state is not Zionism; it is anti-Zionism, which is the position that Tlaib and Netanyahu embrace.

Which is why I am hoping for an electoral victory by Benny Gantz. Or Yair Lapid. Or anyone who will deny Tlaib her victory. Anyone who will separate Israel and the Palestinians, and will keep Zionism and the Jewish state alive.

 

2 Comments

  1. Rav Yoffie says. “And so, in an ironic twist, Rashida Tlaib and Benjamin Netanyahu find themselves in alliance.” This “alliance” exists only in the writer’s mind. Half of the Jews on the planet live in Israel. Israel comprises 1/650th of the land mass of the Middle East and is the size of New Jersey. The Israeli per capita income is higher than that of the UK, France or Japan and Israel’s principal asset is the minds of her people. Absent oil, one gets a fair comparison of the education, energy and ethics of Israel compared to her jealous, contentious warlike neighbors. There is plenty of conflict in the Middle East without Jews, and the presence of Israel provides another convenient pretext for conflict. While one can argue that trading “Sand for Peace” is beneficial, the wisdom of doing so by a nation that one can literally see across (from Ramot Shapira) is questionable.

    A good way to foster tikkun olam is to recognize the outstanding achievements of Jews and in particular Israel (the inordinate award of Nobel and other prizes for technological and medical achievements). Peoples of all nations have benefited. About a decade ago, it was noted that Israel contributed more medical advancements than all of Europe combined. Israeli contributions to water conservation and agriculture are legendary and she has reached out to offer aid to poorer nations, including those who are her sworn enemies. Israeli C-130 aircraft preloaded with field hospitals are ready to embark at a moment’s notice to any place struck by natural disasters, and will respond to any land that requires assistance, regardless of their politics or policies toward Israel. Israel is making an outsized contribution to “Repair the World.” I stand with Jabotinksi. Israel must be defended. There are those, like Rav Yoffie, who would rather see the Sunni/Shia/Alawhite/ PKK ISIS/ISIL/Turk/Kurd/Ba’ath/FSA/ ISIQ/ Brotherhood/Peshmerga/Bedouin/Persian/Hezbollah/ Amazigh/HAMAS/Fatah/Rafallah al-Sahati/PLA/al Qaida/al Nusra/ Polisario/ Libya Civil War burn Israel alive than defend it. Modern “Palestine” was created by the KGB and Yassir Arafat out of land that used to belong to Jordan and Egypt. When someone starts running on about the “nation” of Palestine, ask them where Palestine was before 1967. Ask them to show a Palestinian passport dated before 1967. Any display of Palestinian unity under Jordanian or Egyptian rule would have been met with violent repression. The Palestinian political organization behaved itself so well in Jordan after King Hussein allowed them to take refuge there that he conducted a massacre and tried to kill them all. This massacre was called “Black September” and spawned the most violent and cowardly organization of the same name that murdered Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972. The Palestinians were also thrown out of several other Arab nations after starting civil wars and attempting coups against their hosts. Few nations in the region, in their modern guise, are much older than Israel. The Sykes-Picot agreement (1916) divided up the Middle East with borders to favor the interests of major European powers. The Arabs point to this “egregious colonialism” as an excuse for their lack of development, Muslim sectarian wars etc. It seems that no matter how the borders are drawn, the Arabs will find some pretext for war among themselves, or with Israel.

    • Mr. Sergeant,

      I believe in an Israel that is a Jewish and democratic state, and if creating such a reality is not possible now, Israel should do what she can to keep the option for such a state viable for the future. There are many plans available; I would suggest starting with “Catch-67” by Micah Grossman. A bi-national state is not Zionism, and those who support it are not Zionists.

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