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Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, is a fixture on American television screens and op-ed pages. His defense of the Netanyahu government and its military campaign in Gaza is full throated. Just 8 days after proclaiming in the Washington Post that "to guarantee peace, this war must be given a chance," Oren delivered a powerful and personal defense of Zionism in the Wall Street Journal.

Yet it is Oren's second screed about the "astonishing historical success" of Israel and the Zionist project that is somehow more unsettling. Maybe it's because his heartfelt paean to the almost miraculously realized national aspirations of the Israeli people gives such short shrift to the dreams of those who inhabit the same land:

In view of these monumental achievements, one might think that Zionism would be admired rather than deplored. But Zionism stands accused of thwarting the national aspirations of Palestine's indigenous inhabitants, of oppressing and dispossessing them.

Never mind that the Jews were natives of the land--its Arabic place names reveal Hebrew palimpsests--millennia before the Palestinians or the rise of Palestinian nationalism. Never mind that in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians received offers to divide the land and rejected them, usually with violence. And never mind that the majority of Zionism's adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace.

But the unease with Oren's historical claims is also due to the uncomfortable similarity to those recently made by someone who is no friend of the United States. In his March 18 address to both houses of the Russian parliament, President Vladimir Putin defended his country's annexation of Crimea this way:
Everything in Crimea speaks of our shared history and pride. This is the location of ancient Khersones, where Prince Vladimir was baptised. His spiritual feat of adopting Orthodoxy predetermined the overall basis of the culture, civilisation and human values that unite the peoples of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The graves of Russian soldiers whose bravery brought Crimea into the Russian empire are also in Crimea...

Colleagues. In people's hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an inseparable part of Russia. This firm conviction is based on truth and justice and was passed from generation to generation, over time, under any circumstances, despite all the dramatic changes our country went through during the entire 20th Century.

To be sure, Putin's opportunism in the pursuit of his Greater Russia is different in kind and degree than the life or death struggle of Jews facing pogroms and the Holocaust in Europe. But Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, Ze'ev Jabotinsky and most of Zionism's giants were under no illusions that the establishment of a Jewish state in the land west of the Jordan River would require conflict, accommodation and eventual co-existence with the Arabs already living there

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(Jabotinsky's "Iron Wall" was the clearest contradiction of the Zionist mantra about "a land without people for a people without a land.")  If Abba Eban's famous line that the Arabs "never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity" achieve peace with Israel was true, so too was Jabotinsky's statement about the growing Jewish presence in mandatory Palestine, "if we were Arabs, we would not accept it either."

Fast forward to 2014 and most of Jabotinsky's heirs in the Likud Party and its allies among religious and settler parties still won't accept any Palestinian irredentism at the expense of their own. That's why Michael Oren was being so disingenuous when he wrote:

"[T]he majority of Zionism's adherents today still stand ready to share their patrimony in return for recognition of Jewish statehood and peace.

The response to date has been, at best, a refusal to remain at the negotiating table or, at worst, war. But Israelis refuse to relinquish the hope of resuming negotiations with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. To live in peace and security with our Palestinian neighbors remains the Zionist dream."

Hamas certainly does not share that dream. (After all, its charter declares that Hamas "strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.")  But hundreds of thousands of in Gaza, in the West Bank and across the Palestinian Diaspora do. As long as Israel perpetuates the status quo (or worse, unilaterally annexes some or all of the occupied territories), Oren's Zionist project will not know peace. Sadly, until Palestinians are safe and free in their own homes, Israelis won't be, either.
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Comment Preferences

  •  How could I not rec with that awesome title? n/t (4+ / 0-)

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 12:59:57 PM PDT

    •  I had to look it up. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lady Libertine, Catte Nappe

      Irredentism (from Italian irredento, "unredeemed") is any position of a state advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. It is often advocated by pan-nationalist movements and has been a feature of identity politics, cultural and political geography.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 01:25:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You are not alone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    in finding a commonality between Putin and Netanyahu.  Andrew Sullivan does it all the time.  They do appear based on their strategic goals to be natural allies.

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 01:01:46 PM PDT

  •  "IrreDENTIST"? "FIXTURE"? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CwV, Emmy, Rich in PA

    I'm glad the world's outrage put a RETAINER on Israel's assaults on the ground. They were certain to GUM up the peace process if they weren't EXTRACTED. Perhaps Putin and Netanyahu are holding secret meetings in NOCAVAINEsibirsk, on the bridge over its ROOT CANAL? That would put a CAP on the conspiracy theory. A grand one. Maybe a CROWN.

    Excuse me while I spit in my cup...

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 01:22:14 PM PDT

  •  As is often the case, Israel is berated because (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Proteus7, rduran

    it has achieved success while the Palestinians are still mired in refugee camps.  Often overlooked is that both peoples had an equal start and chance for a functional nation. In 1947 the UN created two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. (A long divisive debate can be made about the legitimacy of the UN action; but without it, there is no starting or end point to the discussion.)
    The Jews obviously accepted the state offered to them and made the best of it. The Arabs rejected their state and launched four wars to deprive the Jews of theirs. Now the question is whether both Israelis and Palestinians can stop looking back and come to a two-state solution that would satisfy the peaceful aspirations of both peoples. The missing factor for both parties is compromise. For the Israelis compromise is pulling back settlers from the West Bank so that the Palestinians have a viable nation and for the Palestinians ensuring that Israel can be secure with Palestinian neighbors.  

    •  Peace will never happen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Proteus7, rduran

      Hamas and other radical Islamic groups will never rest until the Jewish homeland is replaced by a Sharia-compliant state, just like IS seeks to achieve in Iraq.

      There seem to be many on dkos who claim that Hamas already has accepted Israel and a Jewish homeland in Israel.  I won't believe them until I see the leaders of Hamas say it loudly and proudly, not only to a reporter but to their people, publicly and in Arabic.  I'll believe it when I see those leaders offer to come to Jerusalem and shake the hands of Israeli leaders in peace, just like Answar Sadat did.

    •  Evicting WB settlers will happen (0+ / 0-)

      The only question is how.  Ideally, and Netanyahu uses this line in stump speeches, a Palestinian state would ensure the security of Jewish settlers in the region.  No one believes that's going to happen.  I suspect Likud will hold out for the best deal possible, which maximally would be compensating settlers to voluntarily relocate back to defensible territory and having Palestine (or more accurately, her international benefactors, pick up the tab).  The remainder, of course, will have to be evicted/evacuated, but that process can also be staged and compensated.

      There is still the question of a defensive frontier in the Jordan Valley.  I think this is Likud's bridge to far given that both Kadima and Labor absolutely hate the notion of annexing it--thus killing any chance at a clean separation.  I don't know if some combination of technology and doctrine can address Israel's concerns regarding this issue while simultaneously allowing her to abandon the valley.

  •  This: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    until Palestinians are safe and free in their own homes, Israelis won't be, either

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 01:37:40 PM PDT

  •  you don't say, who knew? (0+ / 0-)
    But Zionism stands accused of thwarting the national aspirations of Palestine's indigenous inhabitants, of oppressing and dispossessing them.
  •  Israel's concerns regarding the West Bank (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    1. She absolutely needs to be able to secure an interior line (let's say roughly the Green Line) against the emergent Palestinian state.
    2. She has a vital national interest in a defensible frontier  along the Jordan Valley.
    3. She cannot afford the responsibility for governing the whole of a hostile population in the West Bank.

    The settlement strategy was an understandable approach to the problem posed by 2, but in hindsight has proven to be more trouble than its worth.  As a result, a hundred thousand Israelis and more will have to experience the trauma of yet another population transfer in order to achieve separation if not peace.  

    For all intents and purposes, Israel can impose 1 unilaterally. Figure out a reasonable alternative to annexation for 2, and the remaining issues regarding final status devolve to equitable removal of the settlements and symbolic issues.

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