A Social Democratic/Democratic Zionist Case Critically Endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

The following Resolution was not voted on at the Convention as it came up near the end of the Plenary Session on Resolutions. It was referred to next month’s meeting of the National Executive Committee. It was approved at the NEC by a close vote.

After Fifty Years of Occupation, A Social Democratic/Democratic Zionist Case Critically Endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement:

A Resolution Essay (Submitted by Sheldon Ranz & David Hacker)

Historical Preamble to the Resolution

Social Democrats USA has been unique on the Left in explicitly defending the existence and security of the State of Israel. In fact, under the former leadership, and in front groups such as the Youth Committee for Peace in the Middle East, the emphasis was on attacking the anti-Israel positions of other Left organizations. What criticisms were made of the Israeli government, even under the pro-West Bank settlement positions of various Likud governments were minor, along with a general distrust that a Palestinian leadership would arise that would seek a real peace with Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was viewed as an explicitly anti-Israel terrorist organization. In essence, SDUSA was aligned with the right-wing of the Israeli Labor Party. Only in September 1993, after the Israeli Labor government of Yitzhak Rabin signed the Oslo Agreement with the PLO, did the SD change its position on the PLO. However, the National Office began its slow disintegration after 1994; thus any evolution in the old leadership’s position after Oslo broke down in 2000 and criticisms of subsequent Israeli governments are unknown.

After the National Office closed (without informing the membership of the SD) and the subsequent reorganization of the SD by the remaining active members and one surviving Local, we still felt that it was necessary in our new Statement of Principles to have a plank stating unequivocally “WE DEFEND THE RIGHT OF ISRAEL TO EXIST.” In some versions, the title read, “WE DEFEND THE EXISTENCE OF ISRAEL AS A JEWISH STATE.” The more detailed version of this specific Principle that appears in the so-called “SD Manifesto” explained why we believe that we had to write such a plank and the historic background behind it:

The fact that we even have to make such a declaration, in our statement of principles, about an independent nation that is a member of the United Nations, is a result of the shameful view in a large percentage of the Left, worldwide that Israel is a product of ‘racism’ or ‘imperialism,’ and therefore illegitimate. We fervently disagree. It is a democratic society, though imperfect, especially in its treatment of Sephardic Jews from Arab countries and the native Arab or Palestinian citizens of Israel. Nevertheless, it should also be pointed out that Arabic is one of the two official languages of Israel and that Israeli Arabs, share the same democratic voting rights of all Israelis and also have representatives in the Israeli Knesset. Similar examples of democratic rights are denied to the citizens of most Arab countries in the Middle East. Israel’s (Labour) movement, the Histadrut, is led by Social Democrats, with the Red Flag of the international Socialist Movement proudly flying above its headquarters. During the first decades of its existence, Israel was founded and governed by a Social Democratic Labor Party. Then, what is the source of the hostility of much of the Left to Israel, in the last several decades, which goes so far as to question its very existence as a sovereign state, rather than focus its criticisms on the action of its government, as it does in the case of every other country in the world?

“A little historical background is necessary here. Up to the 1967 war, the Left was generally seen as pro-Israel and Israel, under the political domination of a socialist party, Mapai, in alignment with an even more Leftist Zionist party with Marxist-Leninist roots, Mapam, plus the Histadrut Labor Federation and the Kibbutz movement, was viewed as being on the Left and building a true democratic socialist society. The radical, independent pro-Soviet weekly newspaper, The National Guardian, was sympathetic to Israel from its first issue in 1948 till 1967. The CP-sponsored Anniversary Tours would advertise tours to the USSR, Eastern Europe and Israel. In 1948, the most pro-Israel candidate for President was Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party, which called for full de jure recognition of the State of Israel and an end to the arms embargo that the U.S. placed upon it, in its platform. In fact, the champion of Israel and the Zionist cause in the UN from 1947 to 1949 was the USSR and its Eastern European allies. A pre-state book that illustrates how anti-Cold War progressives in the immediate post war years were devoted to the cause of Jewish statehood and self-determination in Palestine was Behind The Silken Curtain: A Personal Account of Anglo-American Diplomacy in Palestine and The Middle East by Bartley C. Crum. Crum later became the attorney of the Hollywood 10. Even when publications like the National Guardian were critical of Israeli actions, such as in the 1956 Suez War, the critiques were written with sympathy for Israel’s dilemma of being surrounded by hostile Arab nations devoted to its destruction, and without any denouncing of Zionism, much less questioning the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

“Suddenly, groups like SNCC and the Youth Against War & Fascism attacked Israel, after the 1967 Six Day War, in almost identical language as the racist right-wing National States Rights Party. They, and the Socialist Workers Party, the Guardian (which purged the original founders of the newspaper and drop the word “National” from its name), and most of the radical or socialist Left, did not merely criticize Israel’s action in the war, but went on to deny its legitimacy as a sovereign state. Zionism became a new epithet on the Left. The exceptions to this anti-Israel position on the left were the Socialist Party and the two Jewish publications that came out of the CPUSA, Jewish Currents and the Morgan Freiheit. Similar reaction occurred in Leftist groups and journals around the world that were outside the social democratic movement

“Did the breaking of relations with Israel of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, with the exception of Romania, help spark this anti-Israel sentiment on the Left? Certainly, from that time, to the Gorbachev period, the Soviet Union conducted a crude anti-Zionist propaganda campaign, that was actually pure anti-Semitism, in the state-run media. Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank after the 1967 has been cited, by its critics on the Left, for the hostility toward it. The international dimensions of this campaign became so strong that the United Nations General Assembly, on November 9, 1975, passed a resolution which was called ‘Zionism, a Form of Racism.’

“Thus, forgotten was the fact that from 1949 to June 1967, Jews were barred from the Old City of Jerusalem, including the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall. Now imagine how Catholics would feel if they were to forbidden to visit Vatican City and Moslems were banned from their sacred cities of Mecca and Medina? Also forgotten were the100,000 Jews living in the Arab world, many for 1,000 years, who were forced to flee after the establishment of Israel in 1948. When Egypt occupied Gaza from 1949 -1967 and Jordan, East Jerusalem and the West Bank, during the same period, there were no calls from anywhere for a Palestinian state to be created in that area. Where were the criticisms of those occupations? In fact, from the late 1950s to the 1967 Six Day War, the call in the Arab world was Pan Arabism, the unification of all the Arab states into one central country. That is why Egypt under Gamal Abdal Nasser was called the United Arab Republic. His plan was for Egypt to be the center of a united Arabia. It was only after 1967 that Palestinian nationalism arose and replaced the cause of Pan-Arabism.

“Accordingly, we are unconditional advocates of Israel’s right to exist, and that our support does not depend on its being “nice” in order to deserve our defense. But that doesn’t mean that we are never uncritical of its governmental policies. We oppose the settlements policy of the right-wing Likud government. We support Israeli democratic ideals and those who work for them. Whenever those ideals are compromised, we will vigorously protest because we are pro-Israel. Sometimes, being pro-Israel means being critical of the policies of its government. Rather our slogan is Israel is here to stay and also Israel must be saved. But at times, we could add, Israel must be saved from itself, if we believe that some governmental policy or action that it is engaged in would be detrimental to establishing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, etc.”

Since that statement was written in 2008, the political situation, and the fate of democracy itself, has greatly deteriorated after 50 years of occupation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. Rather the slogan, Israel must be saved from itself, is becoming more and more the relevant cry for those of us on the Left who care for the survival and security of Israel. Palestinian citizens of Israel have had their rights to vote threatened and their Knesset members threatened with expulsion. There have also been calls in Israel’s parliament to drop Arabic as being one of the official languages of the nation. Freedom of the press and the right to dissent has been attacked by the Israeli government. Representatives of American Zionist organizations such as the New Israel Fund, who oppose the occupation, have had travel restrictions placed on them coming to Israel, as have Jews who merely support a limited boycott of goods that are produced in Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

The collapse of the Oslo Agreement in 2000 has led to more restrictions on the Palestinians who live under occupation, along with continued expansion of Jewish settlements, making it almost impossible to envision a viable Palestinian state, next to Israel, needed to achieve the goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. More and more, it is become clear the present right-wing Israeli government’s true aim is a Jewish-dominated one-state solution, without any national rights for the Palestinians.

Rather than fill up this Historic Preamble with pages giving the ugly details of the current situation, we are reprinting, as an appendix to the Resolution, an essay by Dr. Alon Ben-Meir entitled “Fifty Years of Immoral Occupation.” Dr. Ben-Meir is a professor and Senior Fellow in the Center for Global Affairs at NYU and Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute. Dr. Ben-Meir is an expert on Middle East affairs specializing in international negotiations and conflict resolution, and was actively involved in the past two decades in various negotiations between Israel and its neighboring countries and Turkey. In addition, Dr. Ben-Meir has written two open letters, one to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the other to Palestinian Authority President Abbas, that give a balanced critique of each side’s activities and positions, the general gist of which should inform how Social Democrats USA views the conflict. The letters can be found at http://alonben-meir.com/writing/unfinished-six-day-war-open-letter-prime-minister-netanyahu/ and http://alonben-meir.com/writing/fifty-years-occupation-whats-next-open-letter-president-mahmoud-abbas/. His latest article is at http://alonben-meir.com/writing/gaza-disaster-making/

Dr. Ben-Meir doesn’t discuss in these essays what should be the policy of the United States or political organizations in light of the real facts on the ground. U.S. governmental calls for the Israeli government to stop building settlements in the West Bank has fallen mainly on deaf ears. And how serious could the Israeli government take these calls when there are no threats of cutting off economic and/or military aid to Israel? Rather, Israel defies the U.S. and the U.S. responds by raising military aid to Israel to record levels.

This has led Middle East analyst, such as Nathan Thrall in his new book The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine, to conclude that “the United States has consistently sheltered Israel from accountability for its policies in the West Bank by putting up a facade of opposition to settlements that in practice is a bulwark against more significant pressure to dismantle them.” Therefore only coercion by the United States, such as cutting economic and military aid to Israel and UN sanctions can pressure the Israeli government to change its intransigent position, or the citizens of Israel to elect a new government which would negotiate, in good faith with the Palestinians a successful and just two-state solution of the crisis.

This directly leads this organization that has always been a friend of Israel, though often times critical, equipped with a sharp sense of knowing which critiques of Israel and Zionism are constructive and which are merely code words for the expression of anti-Semitism, to consider the current Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We have been skeptical and suspicious of the motives behind the organizers of BDS. We remember the Arab State’s economic boycott against Israel after the Jewish State’s creation in 1948. Is BDS actually a boycott against Jews, in general, when academic bodies vote to exclude at their conferences Israeli scholars, even if they have been openly critical of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank? Thus, we have been wary of engaging, much less, endorsing the BDS movement and have turned to other less coercive methods of pressuring Israel, including boycotting products that were made on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Nevertheless, all similar efforts short of BDS have failed thus far, and the crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is only getting worse, with no peaceful solution in sight. Therefore, we, as members of Social Democrats USA, as lifelong Democratic Zionists, sons of Holocaust resistors and survivors, urge Social Democrats USA to formally vote at this National Convention to critically support BDS from a Democratic Zionist, Social Democratic / Democratic Socialist standpoint. There is simply no alternative. In other words, we ask our fellow members & friends who would disagree with the SD giving critical support to BDS, what are the alternatives that other Comrades would support, in place of BDS, since nothing else has worked thus far to move the Israel government to agree to a just resolution to the crisis between Israel and Palestine?

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RESOLUTION

While the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement started in 2005 with little media attention, it has now burst on the public scene to such an extent that attempts in Congress to criminalize advocacy of BDS now make front-page news. Over 170 Palestinian non-governmental groups formed the BDS National Committee to promote the boycott of Israel, divestment from Israel and international sanctions against Israel. Inspired by a similar campaign against apartheid South Africa, the now-global BDS movement calls for Israel to meet its obligations under international law by complying with these three demands: ending the occupation of surrounding Arab lands that began with the Six Day War of 1967; recognizing the fundamental rights of Israel’s Palestinian Arab citizens to full equality, and instituting and promoting a Palestinian Right of Return that allows Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and property in Israel in accordance with UN resolutions.

Increasing numbers of US student bodies have endorsed it; so have the Connecticut branch of the AFL-CIO and the United Electrical Workers Union. Two of Bernie Sanders’ delegates to the Democratic Party platform committee, John Abourezk and Cornel West, are outspoken advocates of BDS. Depending on how authorities choose to enforce anti-BDS laws, supporters of BDS would be subject to fines, jail time, or both. This is such a clear threat to civil liberties that one initial co-sponsor, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), withdrew her support after protests erupted.

The BDS movement, which is non-violent and recognizes Israel, has had slow but steady success in getting international corporations to divest from Israel, especially from the Occupied West Bank, where egregious violations of the human rights of the Palestinians occur daily. By contrast, a smaller, less organized tendency among those whose views fall within the dovish part of the Israeli spectrum to boycott only products made in West Bank settlements has not produced a single known success.

So, can Zionists & Social Democrats support BDS? That question needs to be answered first with another question – what kind of Zionists? From an institutional framework, there are two kinds of Zionism: State Zionism and Democratic Zionism. Democratic Zionism posits that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and the state of all its citizens, period. State Zionism is the doctrine that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people and the state of all of its Jewish citizens who are to enjoy a wide range of privileges over its Gentile citizens. No State Zionist, by definition, would endorse the demands of BDS.

Looking at the three demands of BDS from a Democratic Zionist perspective results in the following:

  • Demand #1 calls for an end to the 1967 occupation, a long-standing goal of Israel’s Peace Now movement and Left Zionist opposition.

  • Demand #2 calls for Israel to live up to the words of its own Declaration of Independence:

“…THE STATE OF ISRAEL…will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants…it will ensure complete equality (emphasis mine) of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex…WE APPEAL…to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions…”

However, immediately after the State of Israel was born, its Arab inhabitants were subjected to military rule; their movements restricted; they were deemed a security risk. After Israel imposed this military rule, it rolled out other laws discriminating against its Arab, indeed, against all of its Gentile inhabitants. Today, there are around fifty such laws; one of the most odious is the law, enshrined by the Jewish National Fund, barring Gentiles from owning land. Looking at these laws as one package led the Black Lives Matter movement to characterize not just the occupied West Bank but Israel as a whole as an apartheid state. While this label is controversial, these laws clearly undermine democracy and promote bigotry.

  • Demand #3 appears on first glance to play into fears that it would force Israel to accept a flood of Palestinian refugees that would turn Israel’s Jewish majority into a minority. Not only is this highly unlikely, since Jews have never flooded Israel under the Jewish Law of Return, but the demand’s wording only deals with the principle of the Right of Return and does not concern itself with its actual implementation. More importantly, Israel owes recompense to its loyal Arab citizens who were victimized by false promises of equality, and this should include repatriation of some of their displaced relatives from the Palestinian Diaspora.

In summary, all three demands actually promote the spirit and substance of Democratic Zionism.

Why is BDS especially important right now? The current direction of Israel paints a bleak picture. In 2014, its government launched an unprovoked attack on the Gaza Strip. This resulted in the deaths of over 1800 Palestinian civilians, including 500 children. This was the first time in Israel’s history that it directly committed mass murder. Israel is now led by the most right-wing government in its history, featuring a Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, who has called for the extermination of the entire Palestinian people, and a Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu, whose followers cheered the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Labor Party chief who helped negotiate the Oslo Agreements.

Although Netanyahu is the Prime Minister, Shaked is the true face of Israel. She will be so in the future if the BDS movement does not succeed. We believe that the most effective way to help this movement is to do so as Democratic Zionists. It is not necessary to be Jewish to support Democratic Zionism. American taxpayers should be appalled that billions of our tax dollars are being sent every year to Israel, whose government is saying and doing all these terrible things.

If the BDS movement fails, then this most right-wing government in Israeli history, joined with this most right-wing government in American history, will plunge the entire Middle East into a regional apocalypse. BDS is the last best hope for a genuine lasting peace with justice between Israel and Palestine.

Therefore, we resolve that Social Democrats USA not only oppose any restrictions on the right to advocate BDS, but join in its advocacy. We support pressuring our government to, in turn, pressure Israel, our largest foreign aid recipient, to adhere to its own founding documents by complying with the three demands of the BDS movement.

However, as defenders of the right of Israel to exist and militant opponents of any kind of anti-Semitism, either subtle or overt, Social Democrats USA reserves the right to engage critically with the BDS movement and disengage from supporting it, if we discover that the movement has been hijacked by extremists.

It is in that sense that we believe DSA’s resolution endorsing BDS at their recent national convention will alienate not only dovish Jewish organizations such as Americans for Peace Now, Partners for a Progressive Israel or J Street but also the majority of American Jews who feel an emotional attachment to Israel and who, historically, have comprised a critical constituency for any social justice movement. DSA’s resolution, mean-spirited and prosecutorial in tone, reads like a list of demands on Israel, and Jews in general, without addressing the understandable fears of American Jews. There is only a pro forma reference to anti-Semitism in the document. Similarly, it does not try to reach out to Gentiles on the democratic Left who both care about the survival and security of Israel and are strong critics of Israeli governmental policies. The resolution is ahistorical, oblivious to the fact that the merger agreement that created DSA explicitly committed the organization to support American military aid to Israel.

What the DSA resolution also lacks is the acknowledgment that just as there were bad actors and extremists in the anti-Vietnam War movement and the anti-South Africa apartheid movements, so there are among those who advocate BDS against Israel. The Chicago Dyke March Coalition expelled three Jewish lesbians from its event after they were seen marching with a Jewish Pride flag and interrogated by other marchers as to their views on Zionism. Members of the Coalition hurled anti-Semitic epithets, including the term ‘Zio’ coined by Klansman David Duke, at a transgender Jewish reporter for writing honestly about the March. Then, two noted Jewish anti-occupation groups, Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now, piled on, endorsing the expulsions, as did Alicia Garza, one of the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement. SDUSA condemns the Chicago Dyke March for its actions and expresses great disappointment with the other aforementioned groups, who contradicted their own stated goals to oppose all forms of bigotry.

We firmly believe that it is our critical backing of the BDS movement, without ideological blinders, that can move it to be accepted by the mainstream American Jewish community, Democratic Zionists, and the democratic Left, in general.

Therefore, SDUSA view that the final resolution toward a two-state solution of Israel living in peace and harmony with a united sovereign state of Palestine that incorporates the Occupied Territories, while situating their respective capitals in Jerusalem, will only occur when they both have a commitment to a secular, democratic and social democratic future in their respective states.

It is in this spirit that we resolve that Social Democrats USA will assist in whatever way it can to promote BDS in a principled, anti-racist manner.

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APPENDIX

Fifty Years Of Immoral Occupation

By Dr. Alon Ben-Meir

Today, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank has reached the milestone of 50 years that will be recalled in shame.

Fifty years that have dehumanized both the occupier and the occupied; years of failing to muster the courage to right the wrong.

Fifty years that bred nothing but hatred and contempt for the other; years of illusions trying to deny the other the right to a home of their own.

Fifty years of yearning for peace only to be crushed time and again; years of submission to hopelessness and despair.

Fifty years of pessimism, paralysis, and abdication of responsibility; years of fearing to grasp the only solution but choosing instead to hold onto self-delusion.

Fifty years of disingenuous engagement with one another for the worthiest cause of peace; years of mutual victimization and finding comfort in self-pity and stolen dreams.

Fifty years of occupation that transcends the pale of human decency, subjecting the Palestinians to dejection and despair; years of colonization, home demolitions, terrifying night raids, uprooting of olive trees; years of usurping Palestinian land, robbing them of their dream to be independent and free.

Fifty years of inflicting pain and anguish that spared but a few; years of constant fear of administrative detention and incarceration, with thousands of political prisoners languishing in jails; years of being deprived of their basic rights, not knowing what tomorrow will bring; years of outcry of Palestinian youth, born and reared under occupation with no hope and no prospect of being unshackled from the chains of dishonor and despair.

For fifty years, Israel denied the Palestinians self-determination, justifying it in the name of national security—but nothing threatens its security more than the continuation of the occupation. Breaching the moral law and flouting the Palestinians’ human rights only nurtures another generation who live to resent, live to hate, and live to harm, for there is nothing left for them to lose.

For many Israelis, fifty years of occupation seems to pass as if it were normal, conditions to which they have simply become accustomed—never mind that moral erosion has infected the Israelis’ social fabric, defying the moral principle on which the state was erected.

They have been led astray by corrupted leaders with no courage of conviction to change direction, exempting themselves of the moral obligation to be just and fair. They have become indifferent and complacent, blind to the light, with little concern about where Israel will be in ten or fifteen years if they do not end the inhumane occupation.

Israel has spent fifty years preparing its youth for the next violent battle, injecting the poison of hatred into their veins, and viewing the Palestinians as objects that can be dispossessed without any sense of moral culpability.

To end the occupation, the Palestinians must do their share. Years of misguidance, division, and violent extremism, while remaining bent on destroying Israel and inciting the people to violence, was nothing but self-defeating.

Plagued by factionalism and blind rivalry, the Palestinians missed one opportunity after another to reach out for peace, choosing instead to fight hopelessly unwinnable wars, leaving them shattered yet still holding onto the illusion they can prevail.

Palestinian leaders have spent fifty years squandering resources for personal gains, guarding their power while riding on the backs of the poor and despondent. They have victimized one generation after another, robbing them of a promising future, alienating and leaving them languishing in the darkness of their despair, rather than defying the Israelis by building a free, independent, and flourishing country in which they can take pride.

When will this all end? How many more children must die for an elusive goal that defies reality and common sense? Those Israelis and Palestinians who believe in a shared destiny must never agree to cooperate with the corrupt leaders who are oblivious of how ominous the future will be if there is no change.

Israeli leaders must end the occupation and stop reveling in the lies of their own creation. It is time to recognize that the occupation is an albatross choking every Israeli ever so slowly, sapping their spirit, corrupting their soul, and stripping Israel and the Jews the world over of the values of what is right, what is just, and what is caring—the pillars of their very survival.

I call on every man and woman of conscience to bring the madness of this debilitating conflict to an end. No Israeli or Palestinian child should die in another violent conflict between the two sides that will change nothing but bring more suffering, despondency, bloodshed, and sorrow.

As the late President Kennedy said in the 1960s, “[the] people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high…”

It is time for both sides to rise and demand that their leaders compromise and come to terms with a reality that neither can change, and seek a just and fair solution that must bring an end to the occupation.

If the Israelis and Palestinians continue to hate, resent, and kill each other, they will be consumed by the land they are fighting for. But if they learn to live in harmony and peace, together they will make the land exude milk and honey, ushering in a renaissance the likes of which has never been seen before.

36 thoughts on “A Social Democratic/Democratic Zionist Case Critically Endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

  1. The Palestinians have rejected three peace plans that would have allowed them to recover virtually all the occupied territories (in 2001, 2008 and 2014). Furthermore, Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians have decimated Israel’s peace camp. Israelis know very well that if they evacuate the West Bank, this territory is likely to be turned into a launching pad to fire rockets on Israel. By boycotting Israel you are rewarding Palestinian rejectionism and Hamas which did its best to destroy Israel’s peace camp. Don’t be the useful idiots of pro-Palestinian extremists. You should have a minimum of self-respect!

    • The peace plans you mentioned did nothing of the sort. Most of the settlers would have remained and the territory would have become a cross-hatched grid of segregated roads in which it would be virtually impossible for the Palestinians to get around in a normal way. As for Hamas’ attacks, the peace camp was decimated in the 1990’s due, first and foremost, to the assassination of Rabin by a right-wing Zionist opposed to withdrawal from the West Bank and then, the subsequent waves of suicide bombings.

      It should always be remembered that Israel did a lot to create the Hamas that now stands before us, having given it material support in the 1980’s to fight Arafat’s PLO.

      Israelis do not “know very well”. Many feed themselves comforting falsehoods to rationalize their current privileges, just like Trump supporters do in the US. The Sinai desert was not turned into a launching pad against Israel by Egypt when Israel withdrew because it was done in the context of a peace treaty; there was no peace treaty with the Gazan authorities when Sharon unilaterally evacuated the settlers from Gaza, and that is part of the reason why there is conflict there. SD USA does not advocate unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank.

      Pro-Palestinian extremists don’t support BDS because it does not specify a preference for a One-State Solution and because it is an non-violent movement. Extremists openly advocate violence, which puts them in the same category as the current, nuclear-armed Israeli government, whose Justice Minister openly calls for the extermination of the Palestinian people (women and children included)

  2. What you’ve said about the Clinton parameters (in 2001), Olmert’s offer (in 2008) and Obama’s framework (in 2014) is just untrue. According to these peace plans, the Palestinians would have recovered 94-96% of the West Bank (for the 4-6% remaining, there would’ve been a land swap). As for Hamas, it is clearly the main reason why Israel’s peace camp collapsed. Left-wing voters did not dissapear all of a sudden. Many of them moved to the right because of Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians. BTW, there is no Hamas in the Sinai. Hence, your comparison between Egypt and Gaza is not relevant.

  3. I never said Hamas was in the Sinai. The point of my comparison was that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was not successful because it was unilateral; Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai WAS successful because it was bilateral and enshrined in a peace treaty.

    What I said about the parameters was true; you ignore the fact that the territory offered to the Palestinians was not contiguous and impossible for them to navigate. If you count the square feet in the territory offered to the Palestinians in the numerous areas sectioned off from each other, I suppose it adds up to over 90%, but so what? Jews would never agree to live like that; why should the Palestinians?

    Israel’s peace camp collapsed for a combination of reasons: many of its supporters just left Israel outright; the younger Russian immigrants hated anything that smacked of socialism and voted right-wing; Sephardic Jews resented the largely-Ashkenazic peace camp and voted likewise. These last two groups respected Rabin, but once Rabin was gone, they were Likud-bound no matter what Hamas did.

  4. I would expect this kind of response from the far-left, not moderate Social-democrats. The Clinton parameters, Olmert’s offer and Obama’s peace plan, all provided the Palestinians with a contiguous state. The Palestinians do not deny that. They merely claim that Israel should not be allowed to keep more than 2% of the West Bank, that ALL of the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif should fall under Palestinian sovereignty, and that the Palestinian refugees are entitled to a right of return to Israel proper – although they promised not to use it for more than 350,000 refugees. They gave no guarantee though that They would never change their mind! The US offered them a symbolic right of return to “historic Palestine” instead, but the Palestinians rejected this compromise because the only part of historic Palestine where the refugees would be free to exercise the right of return without any restriction is the future Palestinian state – Israel would be free to determine the number of refugees it wants to absorb. As for Israel’s peace camp, it did not dissapear for demographic reasons. Let’s not forget that in 2006, even Moroccan Jews (like myself), voted Kadima. Likud got only 12 seats. However, thanks to Hezbollah and Hamas, Likud came back to power in 2009. Disregarding the fears of the Israeli population is a big mistake.

  5. Bernard, I am a very reluctant supporter of BDS, unlike Sheldon. Sheldon, however, has been a life long active Zionist, whose parents are Holocaust survivors. His father has written about his experience. You can read his account in the archives of “Jewish Currents” magazine.

    As for my own background, I was not involved in the New Left as a teenager. I was a little too young. Rather, after the 1967 Six Day War, I discovered a newspaper called “The Jewish Press” and became a devotee, especially of the paper’s star columnist, Rabbi Meir Kahane, who wrote two articles each issue. One was a survey of anti-Semitic political extremists of both the Right and the Left. The other was a general column. The first issue of “Jewish Press” that I read showed pictures of Jewish cemeteries and tombstones that had been destroyed and used as latrines in the old city of Jerusalem, when it was under Jordanian rule. (Remember, from 1949 to June 1967, Jews were barred from the Old City of Jerusalem, including the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall.  Now imagine how Catholics would feel if they were to forbidden to visit Vatican City and Moslems were banned from their sacred cities of Mecca and Medina? )  To make a long story short, I was a charter member of the JDL, saw all the occupied territories as being liberated, supported Jewish settlements in our ancient land and then became delusion with the JDL, after I saw the racist side of JDL and Kahane coalition with the mafia led Italian American Civil Rights League. I also heard rumor of Kahane’s double life.

    Ironically, my first non-Jewish political activity was with the so-called “New Politics” Democrats in the New Democratic Coalition. It was at a NDC conference, that I discovered “Israel Horizons” and the “Americans for a Progressive Israel”. It was the first time that I saw an alternative pro-Israel view on the Left. At the time most of the Left was anti-Israel. API also supported self-determination for the Palestinians. I never heard a pro-Israel group take this position. However, all groups from Left to Right were opposed to the PLO. Therefore, by 1970, I was no longer a JDL supporter, though I was still close to their position on Israel. (The API view was still too much of a minority view, though over the years, I would move closer to them, by the time I became involved with “Jewish Currents”.) 
     
    A little historical background is necessary here.  Up to the 1967 war, the Left was generally seen as pro-Israel and Israel, under the political domination of a the socialist party, Mapai, in alignment with an even more Leftist Zionist party with Marxist-Leninist roots, Mapam, plus the Histadrut Labor Federation and the Kibbutzim movement, was viewed as being on the Left and building a true democratic socialist society.  The radical, independent pro-Soviet weekly newspaper, The “National Guardian”, was sympathetic to Israel from its first issue in 1948 till 1967.  The CP Sponsored Anniversary Tours, would advertise tours to the USSR, Eastern Europe and Israel.  In 1948, the most pro-Israel candidate for President was Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party, which called for full de jure recognition of the State of Israel and an end to the arms embargo that the U.S. placed upon it.  In fact, the champion of Israel and Zionist cause in the UN from 1947 to 1949, was the USSR and its Eastern European allies.  A pre-state book that illustrates  how anti Cold War progressives in the immediate post war years were devoted to the cause of Jewish statehood and self determination in Palestine was “Behind The Silken Curtain: A Personal Account of Anglo-American Diplomacy in Palestine and The Middle East” by Bartley C. Crum. Crum later became the attorney of the Hollywood 10.  Even when publications like the National Guardian were critical of Israeli actions, such as in the 1956 Suez War, the critiques were written with sympathy for Israel’s dilemma of being surrounded by hostile Arab nations devoted to its destruction, and without any denouncing of Zionism, much less questioning the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
     
    Therefore, I grew up believing that the Left was naturally pro-Israel and the Right was anti-Israel.  Imagine my shock. as a young teenager, to see groups like SNCC and the Youth Against War & Fascism attack Israel, after the 1967 Six Day War, in almost identical language as the racist Right National States Rights Party.  They, and the SWP, the Guardian (which purged the original founders of the newspaper and drop the word “National” from its name), and most of the radical or socialist Left, did not merely criticize Israel’s action in the war, but went on to deny its legitimacy as a sovereign state.  Zionism became a new epithet on the Left. The exceptions to this anti-Israel position on the left was the Socialist Party and the two Jewish publications that came out of the CPUSA, “Jewish Currents” and the “Morgan Freiheit”.
     
    At the same time, Right wing publications, such as “The National Review” backed and defended Israel in the Six Day War.  I was confused by all this at 14 years of age.  I had identified Israel with anti-Fascism, since many Israelis were refugees from Nazi Germany and the death camps.  Therefore, how could a group called “Youth Against War & Fascism” be anti-Israel?  In any event, as hard as it may believe today, I originally didn’t see being involved with the JDL as being inconsistent with the rest of my political positions.
     
    I did have one last involvement with the JDL in 1972, at my college, Hofstra University. We had a student who was a Nazi and he flew the Nazi flag from his dormitory window, which was on the 12th floor of the 12 floor building. This created a great controversy on the campus, as you can understand. Ironically, it was one of my professors who was an anarchist, who campaign to force the student, David Kerr, (I remembered his name after all these years.) to take down the flag. Other students flew American or Israeli flags, from their dorm windows. In any event, Hofstra had a very active Hillel chapter led by a popular Lubavitcher rabbi. Rabbi Kahane was invited to speak as part of the protest to the Nazi on campus. Prior to his coming to the campus, there was a secret meeting of the JDL on campus. My girlfriend at the time, Kyle Weiner, was very active in both Hillel and in the McGovern campaign. Well, I spoke about Rabbi Kahane to her, a little too well. She went to the meeting with me and became a convinced JDL member. However, that meeting persuaded me to be an opponent of the JDL. Why? Everything was revealed at this confidential meeting. In 1971, and 1972, there had been attacks at the Soviet Mission to the UN, and Sol Hurick’s office. A group called, I believe, The Jewish Armed Resistance claimed responsibility. The JDL said that it wasn’t responsible, but could understand it. Well, at this meeting, my old JDL comrade Dov Fitch (I don’t remember the exact spelling of his last name) stated, “We stated we didn’t do it. Of course, we did it. The JAM was our front group.” I will never forget this as long as I live, his admitting that the JDL committed acts of terrorism.

    Nevertheless, it was at this meeting that it was revealed that Rabbi Kahane didn’t see any future for Jews in the United States. Rather, Rabbi Kahane and the JDL were going to move to Israel and settle in and around Hebron. This city was chosen because it was the second holiest city in Judaism and where Jews were forced to leave in a pogrom in 1929 and 1936. Well, Kyle chooses to go after the end of the semester in 1972. Was I going to go with her? It was a very tough decision to make, as we had just started to get close. Had I gone, I could have become another Baruch Goldstein. I decided not to go. She did and we were supposed to stay in touch. I had the phone number of the new settlement where she was staying. I never called. She came back to the U.S. and Hofstra, a year later for a visit. She was happy there at the JDL settlement and that was the last I heard from her. In any event, Rabbi Kahane did have a great influence on me.

    In March of 1985,I attended the Mobilization for Survival sponsored “Breaking the Silence” conference about the Middle East. This was a four day camp-like setting in Hackenstown, New Jersey, attended by Jews, Arab-Americans and non Arab Christians, whose organizations had accepted a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine dispute. We were divided into several groups, where for 4 days and nights, Jewish and Arab-Americans, etc., had to sleep, eat and live together, while also attending workshops and panel discussions concerning the many issues of the Middle East. Several times, during the four days, each group would come together in a process session, with a facilitator, and discuss their reaction to the various workshops and panels. Thus, we, Jewish Americans and Arab-Americans, were, perhaps for the first time, forced to confront each other and discuss how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

    As a result of this conference, and meeting the other side for the first time, I joined the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Palestine Human Rights Campaign. I also became involved in the International Jewish Peace Union. I also organized for PeaceSmith, a Middle East Study Group, which ran for two years, 1986-86. I was able to get some of the speakers I heard at the “Breaking the Silence” conference to come and speak at our workshop. Thus, after I became a member of the “Jewish Currents” Editorial Advisory Council in 1987, I was usually a Left critic of the editorial line on the Middle East Peace process, including the Oslo agreement. My views were close to Maxim Ghilan and his “Israel & Palestine Political Report”. Morris U Schappes,JC editor, disliked Ghilan and would cut me off every time I mentioned something he wrote or quoted from the I&P Report.

    I wrote the Historical Preamble to the Resolution and Sheldon, the Resolution itself. Originally, I was surprised to learn last year that Sheldon endorsed the BDS movement. Then, I heard his talk “Can A Democratic Zionist Support the BDS movement?” at the SD’s post-election conference in Buffalo, NY last November. I became a reluctant convert to his position. My rational is the main point in the preamble. I came to this viewpoint explaining the evolution of my, and we believe, the SDUSA should take on BDS:

    “We have been wary of engaging, much less, endorsing the BDS movement and have turned to other less coercive methods of pressuring Israel, including boycotting products that were made on Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Nevertheless, all similar efforts short of BDS have failed thus far, and the crisis in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is only getting worse, with no peaceful solution in sight. Therefore, we, as members of Social Democrats USA, as lifelong Democratic Zionists, sons of Holocaust resistors and survivors, urge Social Democrats USA to formally vote at this National Convention to critically support BDS from a Democratic Zionist, Social Democratic/Democratic Socialist standpoint. There is simply no alternative. In other words, we ask our fellow members & friends who would disagree with the SD giving critical support to BDS, what are the alternatives that other Comrades would support, in place of BDS, since nothing else has worked thus far to move the Israel government to agree to a just resolution to the crisis for both Israeli and Palestinians?”

    Bernard, this is the critical question that Sheldon and I pose to you and other critics of BDS,”we ask our fellow members & friends who would disagree with the SD giving critical support to BDS, what are the alternatives that other Comrades would support, in place of BDS, since nothing else has worked thus far to move the Israel government to agree to a just resolution to the crisis for both Israeli and Palestinians?”

    Bernard, this is my question to you. You are against BDS. Fine. Then, what do you propose that the SD should support as an alternative that put pressure on this Israeli government? That is my challenge to you.

    • Everyone should remember that the so called occupied territories were a direct result of the attempt of “Palestinians” and surrounding nations to eradicate the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland. Multiple nations attacked and lost to Israel and now expect Israel to step away from a much needed security zone. Unless and until Israel’s security is guaranteed no peace will be achieved. Further “Palestinians “continue to deny Israel right to exist. BDS is another way of attacking Israel. Remember that the vast majority of modern day Palestinians reside in what is known as Jordan. How about asking them to “return” Palestinian lands? BDS on its face is antisemitic. The pressure for resolution should be placed on the Palestinians and surrounding nations.
      I am socialist and a proud American. (I am a gentile) Israel has always been America’s friend, shouldn’t we return the favor? Socialism exists in America in large part due to Americans of Jewish heritage. Don’t be fooled Groups Like Hamas, PLO, Hezbollah do not support the objectives of American Socialists. The are using us as a tool to d3ny Israel’s right to exist and exist safely. I

  6. Hello David,

    I understand your despair, but I still don’t believe that a boycott of Israel is justified for the following reasons:

    1) The Palestinians have rejected three peace plans that would have allowed them to recover virtually all the West Bank. The last time it happened was in 2014 when Obama was in power. After 2001 and 2008, I was among those who said that we must give the Palestinians the benefit of the doubt; that if Barak and Olmert had stayed a few more weeks in power, a peace agreement would’ve probably been signed. However, the Palestinians have no excuse for rejecting the Obama/Kerry framework of 2014.

    2) In my opinion, those who boycott Israel reward Hamas. Hamas did everything it could to destroy Israel’s peace camp (with Arafat’s support who did nothing to stop Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians) and it worked.

    Now, here is what the Zionist left should do to fight the occupation:

    1) Instead of boycotting Israel, the Zionist left should pressure Western governments to impose a peace plan on Israel (and the Palestinians). It is much more effective than boycotting left-wing Israeli artists such as the Bat Sheva dance company. (And don’t pretend that it’s possible to boycott Israeli institutions without boycotting individuals. Israeli artists and academics are not rich enough to work without public funding.)
    Had all the energy spent to grow BDS over the last 12 years had been used to start a real campaign aiming to pressure Western governments to impose a 2 state solution in the Middle East, it would’ve been very difficult for Western leaders to ignore it.

    2) I do not oppose the boycott of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In fact, I don’t purchase Israeli products made across the green line.

    3) The Zionist left needs to talk to Sephardic Jews who live in remote parts of Israel. It’s possible to win them over. Although they won’t become Peace Now supporters anytime soon, let’s not forget that most of them voted Kadima in 2006. Telling them that the occupation is evil is useless. We need to address their fears as well. Israeli generals who oppose the occupation have begun to do so by showing how Israel can protect itself in the framework of a 2 state solution.

    http://twostatesecurity.org/about/

    http://www.centerpeace.org/explore/security-first-by-commanders-for-israels-security/

    Finally, let’s not forget that the Israeli-right is not that powerful. In 2013, it got only 61/120 seats. In 2015, the right lost its absolute majority in the Knesset. Netanyahu managed to remain in power only because the Kulanu party did not have the guts to topple him. This is why Avi Gabbay left the party and joined Avoda. Furthermore, close to 85% of retired IDF generals have spoken out against the occupation. If one of these generals takes the lead of the Israeli peace camp, Netanyahu is in serious trouble.

    All the best,

    Bernard Bohbot

    • “However, the Palestinians have no excuse for rejecting the Obama/Kerry framework of 2014.”

      Seriously??

      According to Kerry himself, it was Israel, not the Palestinians, that was the key to undermining the Obama/Kerry Plan. He testified in April 2014 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and, as the New York Times reported(April 9):

      “Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that Israel’s announcement of 700 new apartments for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem precipitated the bitter impasse in peace negotiations last week between Israel and the Palestinians.”

      “Poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

      What did the Obama/Kerry Plan offer the Palestinians? First, it totally excluded Gaza, not consulting the democratically elected Hamas government. Secondly, the Palestinians would have to recognize Israel as a “Jewish” state, which no country on Earth does. (The US, Egypt and Jordan, for example, just recognize Israel as the state of its citizens). This means that Palestine would have to approve of the institutionalized discrimination foisted on Israel’s Gentile citizens. Thirdly, according to Martin Indyk, the State Department’s lead envoy for negotiating the Obama/Kerry Plan, Israel would annex West Bank territory containing 75-80% of the settlers, and Palestine would receive an unspecified amount of land as part of a trade-off. Fourthly, there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees. Fifthly, US and NATO troops would replace Israeli troops as West Bank occupiers.

      The Obama/Kerry plan was actually worse than Olmert’s proposal, since at least he talked about allowing 25,000 Palestinian refugees back into Israel, did not insist on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state (although he brought it up), and, technically, was willing to cede more of the West Bank than the Obama/Kerry Plan.

  7. First, you say, “In my opinion, those who boycott Israel reward Hamas.” Then you say, ” I do not oppose the boycott of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In fact, I don’t purchase Israeli products made across the green line.” But this is a contradiction – how is not rewarding Hamas to engage in a settlement boycott? Any boycott, by your logic, is a sop for Hamas. The only difference between the two boycotts is in the size of the reward.

    As I have pointed out, the settlement boycott has been a total failure in pressuring Israel, which is precisely why it gets support from liberals who want to have it both ways – claiming to regard Palestinians as human beings but doing nothing effective so as to preserve the privileges and perks of first-class Israeli citizenship. But the BDS boycott has had many successes in getting companies to get out of the West Bank (Sodastream is just one example) and putting the Palestinian Question on the map of many labor unions worldwide. That’s why Bibi has outlawed BDS, not the settlement boycott. That’s why there’s legislation pending in Congress to ban BDS, not the settlement boycott.

    Your alternative to BDS is not new – it has been tried for decades, along with the settlement boycott. Like that boycott, it has proven to be an abject failure. It amounts to sitting on your hands, doing nothing, and blaming the Palestinian people as a whole for being stupid.

    BDS and the need for an imposed solution are not in conflict – you can’t have an imposed solution without the BDS movement providing the grass roots support. The BDS movement in South African functioned in exactly the same way, and it succeeded. And, just as that movement boycotted artists connected to South African institutions, so does the current BDS movement. With one exception – the BDS movement against Israel does not make it mandatory – only optional – to boycott Israeli individuals with no current institutional connection. [The BDS movement against South Africa did not spare white individuals). That is why there has been no worldwide BDS-led boycott against the film “Wonder Woman”, despite the fact that its star, Gal Gadot, supported Israel’s Operation: Protective Edge in 2014.

  8. Hi Sheldon,

    Once again I beg to differ. Haaretz published Obama’s offer a couple of months ago: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.794292

    1) There has been no serious boycott of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. I’m still looking forward to the day the European Union will ban settlement products from its territory.

    2) You are right when you say that Netanyahu is responsible for the collapse of the peace talks in 2014 – that Kerry sought to revive. That said it doesn’t change anything to the fact that Abbas refused to respond to Obama’s offer.

    3) It is not true that Obama’s offer referred to an unspecified amount of land that Israel would have to give to the Palestinians in exchange for the annexation of the settlement blocs. In fact, Obama’s offer clearly referred to the 1967 border as a starting point, with swaps. BTW, 78% of the settlers live in less than 4% of the West Bank. According to the Israeli map expert, Shaul Arieli, Israel has enough arable land to compensate the Palestinians for less a 3-4% swap, not more.

    4) There is nothing new about Obama’s proposal to replace the IDF with a multinational force in the Jordan Valley. It was proposed both by Olmert and Clinton – Abbas said yes in 2008.

    5) As for Israel’s Jewish character, it’s not new. The Clinton parameters referred to 2 states for 2 people. You also fail to mention that Obama’s offer contained a provision stating that Israel (as a Jewish state) would be compelled to give equal rights to all its citizens. Had Abbas accepted this framework, it would have allowed Palestinian-Israelis to use this document before Israeli courts to fight for their civil rights.

    6) Obama’s peace plan didn’t say that no Palestinian refugee would go back to Israel. It clearly said that MOST of them would go back to the future Palestinian state. In fact, it also specified that some of them would be allowed to go back to Israel.

    7) Israel is not South Africa. More than 40% of Israelis still support parties that oppose the occupation – we both know that Lapid is not serious when he tries to speak like a right-winger. He’s just trying to make inroads among Likud voters.
    If only 10% of Israelis opposed the occupation, I’d support blanket sanctions against Israel. However, so far, the only two sectors of the Israeli society that suffer from the boycott are academics and artists who are overwhelmingly part of the peace camp. There is still a potential for change in Israel. Let’s not forget that we came close to defeat Netanyahu twice in 2013 and 2015. White Liberals in South Africa were a tiny minority in the 1970’s.

    8) We are part of the same camp Sheldon. We are both disgusted by the occupation. However, I’m not as pessimistic as you are. I still believe that we can win over Sephardic Jews; not all of them of course. About 65-70% of Mizrahi Jews vote for right-wing parties. If we can shrink this proportion to 55%, the peace camp is back in power.

    Best,
    Bernard

  9. By the way, there is a way to reconcile the right of return of Palestinian refugees with Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, it is called a confederation (two associated states with an open border). That would allow both Israelis and Palestinians to live on both sides of the border while remaining citizens of their respective state.
    Interestingly enough, the ”official” BDS movement forced 2 states 1 homeland to cancel its launching event in the West Bank by threatening to disrupt it.

    I know you don’t support the official BDS, But as long as they will seek the destruction of Israel, most Jews won’t be able to make a distinction between you and those extremists.

    • “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state…” No. David and I are Democratic Zionists, and as such we oppose the existence of Israel as a State Zionist enterprise. If you had read the resolution carefully, you would have known that.

      Oh, but David and I do support the BDS movement. You are trying to confuse matters by creating some strawman “official” BDS movement. This is typical of “hasbara” (Israeli state propaganda).

      You act as though you have not read anything except what you wish to see, and that makes you someone who argues in bad faith and whose sources and cites simply can not be trusted.

  10. Did I insult you Sheldon? All I said is that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state that gives equal rights to all its citizens ( this is what UN General Assembly Resolution 181 says). It means the same thing as your own definition of “Democratic Zionism”. By the way, If you refuse the distinction between “Official BDS” (Norman Finkelstein coined this term, not me) and people who agree with a boycott of Israel without supporting the goals of the BDS movement, then I guess you endorse what BDS did to the 2 states 1 homeland movement as well. I may be an Israeli propagandist but at least I’m not Omar Barghouti’s bedfellow…

    • What did the BDS movement do to the ‘2 states 1 homeland’ movement? Where is your supporting evidence, and does it come from a reliable source? The BDS demands do not take sides on ‘2 states vs 1 state’

      Oh, so now you claim to support the verbiage ‘Jewish state’ as the UN meant it back in the 1940s. That’s nice, but given that the tone of your responses have up to this point been in line with some of Bibi’s defenders, you have only yourself to blame for the confusion.

      By the way, yesterday the National Executive Committee of SDUSA voted 4 – 3 to endorse the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, supporting the resolution posted on this website written by myself and David Hacker.

  11. No problem. It’s just a misunderstanding.

    Here is the evidence that BDS disrupted 2 states 1 homeland’s activities:
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-35428457

    As for the Jewish character of Israel, Obama’s peace plan clearly called for Israel to be recognized as a Jewish state that gives equal rights to all its citizens.

    Sheldon, you have the right to support BDS, but Social-democrats – unlike radical leftists – are supposed to have a nuanced worldview and not look for a scapegoat.

    We obviously disagree on who is responsible for the failure of peace talks in 2001, 2008 and 2014. However, no one can deny that Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians is the main reason why Israel’s peace camp is in tatters. The truth of the matter is that without Hamas and without Hezbollah, the peace camp would have remained in power.

    Best,
    Bernard

  12. I] The Ha’aretz article you mentioned is unobtainable as it is behind a paywall.

    II] All of BDS’s efforts are serious. Some campaigns take more time than others. The BDS movement against South Africa began in 1960 and ended, successfully, in 1994. That’s 34 years. The BDS movement against Israel started in 2005 – that’s 12 years. So, the night is still young. I listed some of the successes BDS has achieved in my talk at the SDUSA educational conference last November (posted on this blog).

    III] Obama did not specify the size of the swaps. Last I checked, Shaul Arielei does not speak for Obama.

    IV] Palestinian-Israelis have tried to combat institutionalized discrimination by Israel since 1948, but those laws still stand. So why would the result be any different if Abbas “accepted this framework” and then this whole ball of wax gets thrown back into the laps of the very Supreme Court that supports second-class citizenship for all of Israel’s Gentiles? How many more decades do the Palestinian need to wait while the Israeli government keeps adding and expanding settlements?

    V] “Interestingly enough, the ”official” BDS movement forced 2 states 1 homeland to cancel its launching event in the West Bank by threatening to disrupt it.” The BBC link you provided does not support your contention. First, nowhere is “official BDS movement” mentioned. Secondly, the event was never cancelled – the venue was simply shifted: “Its inaugural public conference last June was moved from the Palestinian city of Beit Jala to nearby Jerusalem after Palestinian supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement threatened to disrupt the gathering.” The article does not mention how the gathering was supposed to be disrupted. Perhaps the organizers did not want to deal with a loud but peaceful protest? If so, that does not speak well for the organizers.
    Your link also makes clear that the Two States – One Homeland group that you speak so fondly of is not only against the settlement boycott (let alone full BDS), but against the Peace Now movement: “”Today, what is called the ‘peace camp’ talks only to itself. It sees settlers and the entire right-wing as a kind of enemy,” said Mr Rapoport, noting that this strategy has only resulted in failure…Instead, Two States – One Homeland is actively reaching out to settlers for support.”
    While some West Bank settlers are there for material reasons, most are theocratic fascists who applauded the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Their evil was on full display in the Oscar-nominated 2012 documentary, “5 Broken Cameras”, where they were seen harassing unarmed Palestinian farmers.

    VI]“I know you don’t support the official BDS.” Really? Then what was that resolution all about that is at the top of this blog thread? Not only does ‘the official BDS” not support the destruction of Israel, but one of its leaders, Omar Barghouti, speaking for himself, actually wants the Jewish settlers to remain in their settlements. Perhaps you and Omar can get together on that, despite your – finally! – honest admission that you are an Israeli propagandist. There’s hope for you bedfellows yet!

    VII] The very length of SDUSA’s BDS resolution makes absurd any claim that it is lacking in nuance and looking for scapegoats, but you say that, really, because you are scapegoating the BDS movement. And also, Hezbollah! Hezbollah is Lebanese, not Palestinian, so what does it have to do with anything here? It bespeaks of your desperation that you just grab anything available and throw it against the wall, hoping it sticks.

    IX] “There is still a potential for change in Israel.” So we’re just to sit on our hands and wait? Perhaps workers should not go on strike and just wait for the boss’ potential for change to work its magic?

    ************************************************************************************************

    No, we’re not part of the same camp, Bernard. Your attempts to get inside my head is a crude form of gaslighting that is the mark of a sociopathic personality.

    NOTE: As far as the 2008 negotiations between Olmert and Abbas, the Times of Israel (November 19, 2015) reported an incident that is pretty damning of Olmert:
    http://www.timesofisrael.com/abbas-admits-he-rejected-2008-peace-offer-from-olmert/
    Abbas stated that he turned down Olmert’s “generous offer” because Olmert showed him a map of his proposed peace plan as it impacted the West Bank, but did not allow him to study it:

    “He showed me a map. He didn’t give me a map,” Abbas said. “He told me, ‘This is the map’ and took it away. I respected his point of view, but how can I sign on something that I didn’t receive?”

    Olmert did not deny this. This is so typical of Olmert – he’s like a used-car salesman that is pushing you to buy the car while keeping you away from the part of the car that is most visibly damaged. Shortly thereafter, he dropped out of the talks because of his involvement in a scandal with similar chicanery. He was later convicted on bribery and corruption charges. But, NOOOOO, let’s blame Abbas!

  13. Sheldon, stop insulting me. I didn’t tell you that all your arguments are baseless- even though they are – because I’m not disrespectful. The truth of the matter is that you don’t know what you are talking about so stop embarrassing yourself.

    1) You fail to mention that Abbas was supposed to meet with Olmert the following day to respond to his offer, but he never showed up.

    2) Now let’s be clear. I did not insult you and I’m not an Israeli propagandist. In fact, I’m a Peace Now member, I boycott the settlements and I support the idea of a confederation because it’s the best way to reconcile the right of return of Palestinian refugees with Israel’s right to exist as a JEWISH state in which ALL citizens have equal rights.

    3) The reason I mentioned Hezbollah, is very simple. When Israel withdrew from Lebanon, Hezbollah was a small militia. It is now more powerful than the Lebanese army and its military capacities are now comparable to that of most Western armies. Israelis fear – with good reason – that if they pull out of the West Bank, Hamas will because as powerful as Hezbollah. Once again, without Hezbollah and without Hamas, the Israeli peace camp would have remained in power. By the way, Hezbollah may not be a Palestinian group but it is still committed to the destruction of Israel.

    4) Sheldon, you fail to answer why Israelis who voted for moderate governments in 1992, 1999, and 2006, are now voting for right-wing governments. It has nothing to do with demography. In 1999, Barak got close to 40% of the Sephardic vote, and in 2006, most Likud voters voted Kadima.

    5) We’re obviously not part of the same political family. I feel close to Meretz, Peace Now, Yossi Beilin, Amos Oz… Not BDS.

    6) Feel free to claim that BDS doesn’t call for the destruction of Israel, but even Omar Barghouti and Ali Abunimah claim that their claims are in contradiction with Israel’s right to exist.

    7) You claim to be a Social-Democrat? Give me a break. You’re the useful idiot of the BDS movement. BTW, can you name me one single Social-Democratic party in the West that supports BDS? You can’t because they all oppose it.

    8) All your arguments all flawed. First, you say that the Clinton parameters did not offer the Palestinians a contiguous state – the Palestinians never said that. They merely claim that Israel should not be able to keep more than 2% of the West Bank. They also said that the right of return Clinton granted them to ”historic Palestine” was merely symbolic. They insisted on the fact that they were entitled to a full right of return although they promised to be flexible when it comes to its implementation… I don’t exactly know what that means…

    Then you claim that the peace camp collapsed because of the Russians and the Mizrahim. However, you fail to mention that in 1999 and 2006, a large segment of this population supported the peace camp.

    What you said about Olmert is ridiculous. He begged Abbas to respond to his offer and he still believes that if were allowed to stay in power, he would’ve struck a deal with Abbas – unfortunately, Abbas’ rejection of Obama’s offer proves that he is wrong.

    What you are saying about Obama’s offer is ridiculous. He said that Israel should be allowed to keep 75-80% of the settlers on the Israeli side of the border. 75% = 4% of the West Bank; 80% = 5-6%. Feel free to pretend that Obama wanted to bisect the West Bank but this is completely ridiculous.

    Go on, boycott Batsheva and other left-wing Israeli artists! What a mensch!

    Shana Tova,

    Bernard

  14. All you do is repeat, in different combinations, the same arguments with no new rebuttals. The sources that you say support your claims? They actually support mine; indeed they strengthen my case. The Times of Israel is not a leftist paper, but it provided a dynamite expose of Olmert’s con artistry and Abbas staying classy throughout. There was nothing in that article that said Abbas was supposed to meet Olmert the next day.

    Israel never tried to negotiate a peace treaty with Hezbollah. Which makes sense, because it was Israel who started the 2006 Lebanese War (under Olmert’s watch); Hezbollah did not provoke it.

    Your claim to be a Peace Now member and support Two States – One Homeland at the same time. But as I documented earlier, TSOH opposes Peace Now and supports the settlers staying in the West Bank, just like Omar Barghouti does.

    Many of the points in my response you simply don’t respond to – don’t think that doesn’t go unnoticed here.

  15. Correction: who started the 2006 Lebanon War is a bit more complex. The Hezbollah leader, Nasrallah, claimed that Israel had broken a prisoner-exchange deal with Nasrallah, and so seized two Israeli soldiers to effectuate a prisoner swap. Israel, under Ehud Olmert responded with an invasion of Lebanon and the war was on.

    According to the (British) Guardian’s Israel correspondent, Conal Urquhart:

    “Preparations for Israel’s war in Lebanon last summer were drawn up at least four months before two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hizbullah in July, Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, has admitted.

    His submission to a commission of inquiry, leaked yesterday, contradicted the impression at the time that Israel was provoked into a battle for which it was ill-prepared. Mr Olmert told the Winograd commission, a panel of judges charged with investigating Israel’s perceived defeat in the 34-day war, that he first discussed the possibility of war in January and asked to see military plans in March.”

  16. Abbas was supposed to meet with Olmert to discuss his offer but he never showed up: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/world/middleeast/28mideast.html

    Peace with Hezbollah? Hezbollah calls for the destruction of Israel. It even opposes the Arab Peace Initiative…

    As for the settlers, if they agree to live under Palestinian sovereignty, I don’t see why they should not be allowed to become Palestinian residents. Don’t forget that the 2 states 1 homeland movement also calls upon Israel to give Palestinian refugees the right to live in Israel.

    As for Hezbollah, I’m not denying that Israel’s retaliation to its July 2006 attack was disproportionate. What I’m saying is that you have a militia dedicated to the destruction of Israel at Israel’s Northern border.

    Finally, the 2 states 1 homeland movement was forced to relocate its launching event in Jerusalem to avoid BDS’s threat in the West Bank.

    I think I addressed all your points. If I forgot any, let me know.

    • The NY Times left out a lot of important details.

      Olmert gave a ‘conditional’ resignation speech on July 30, 2008, saying that he would officially step down when his Kadima party would choose a new leader. So at this point, Abbas is negotiating with Olmert, a lame duck, soon to be facing corruption charges for which he will eventually be convicted and imprisoned. It would have been understandable if Abbas dropped out of the negotiations right then and there; after all, how much power did Olmert have to deliver on his side of any peace agreement?

      However, Abbas, being quite sincere about pursuing a lasting peace with Israel and hoping against hope that something good could come out of all this, kept on negotiating and meeting with Olmert numerous times, reaching agreements with him on several key points of contention.

      On September 16, 2008, Olmert showed Abbas a highly-detailed map of the proposed Palestinian state. Abbas, who is not a cartographer, asked Olmert to allow him to study the map and consult with his advisers to ensure that the map accurately reflected their tentative agreements. Olmert refused, saying that he would let him have a copy of the map only if he first signed off on those agreements. They agreed to meet the next day (September 17), but Abbas’ chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, called Olmert the next day requesting a week-long postponement since Abbas was already scheduled to be in Amman that same day. Olmert did not object.

      But, just four days later (September 21), Olmert officially resigned as Prime Minister and the new Kadima leader, Tzipi Livni, became Prime Minister-Designate – three days before Olmert’s next scheduled meeting with Abbas (September 24). So what if Abbas didn’t show up for it – why negotiate anything with someone who has just officially resigned?

      There are those (of which you are one) who assume that Israeli negotiators are innocent until proven guilty and Palestinian negotiators are guilty until proven innocent. All evidence of error and dishonesty on the part of the former is overlooked and forgiven; even the slightest hint of imperfection on the part of the latter is enough to convict all Palestinians of being a bunch of deceivers, terrorists, or, as Israel’s Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, posted on her Facebook account years ago, “snakes” who must be dealt with “efficiently”.

      NOTE1: Bernard Avishai is an adjunct professor of business at Hebrew University and author of The Tragedy of Zionism. Having seen Olmert’s map, he posted on his blog (May 4, 2009) that to annex the territory of the major settlement blocs, “Israel would require sovereign roads and land bridges that cut the Palestinian state into four enclaves, two north of Jerusalem and two south of it, while cutting East Jerusalem from the descent to the Dead Sea. More important, these annexations would leave the most ruthless Israeli settlers in isolated pockets that are bound to become targets for ruthless insurgents on the Palestinian side.” The enclaves would be non-contiguous; the settlement blocs reside on key water and agricultural resources, making the proposed Palestinian state less viable. In short, they violated the tentative Olmert/Abbas agreements.

      NOTE2: In an earlier part of the 2008 negotiations, Saeb Erekat met with then-Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the King David Hotel on May 4. The Palestinians kept detailed minutes of the proceedings, which were leaked to Al-Jazeera. They brought their own maps containing the borders of the proposed Palestinian state to the meeting. When Livni asked, “Can we have the maps?”, Erekat answered, “…you deserve to have a copy of it(sic). What matters is that we have begun to participate and cooperate.”

      NOTE 3: “…the 2 states 1 homeland movement was forced to relocate its launching event in Jerusalem to avoid BDS’s threat in the West Bank.” What threat? BDS is non-violent. Unless you mean the ‘threat’ of peaceful protest…

  17. “Peace with Hezbollah? Hezbollah calls for the destruction of Israel. It even opposes the Arab Peace Initiative…”

    Actions speak louder than words. Hezbollah has not undertaken any unprovoked assaults against Israel and they have engaged in prisoner exchanges with Israel in the past.

    Israel achieved peace with the PLO despite the words in its original Covenant, and now that document is history. So too can peace with Hezbollah be achieved – if Israel really means it. The fact that you need to be reminded of something so basic shows you are not of Peace Now. All you do is regurgitate Bibi’s talking points, which I suppose makes sense since you did admit earlier to being an Israeli propagandist – “I may be an Israeli propagandist but at least I’m not Omar Barghouti’s bedfellow…”- and your initials are BB.

  18. Ok Sheldon, let’s end the conversation here. Ine not in the mood of discussing with someone who insults me. Furthermore, I don’t think I can change your mind.

    Let me just tell you that if Abbas and Olmert had reached an agreement in principle, Livni would have win the 2009 election. As for the settlement blocs, you fail to understand that this concept means different things for different people. swapping just 4% of the West Bank is not the same as swapping 10% of the territory. Finally, you should remember that Abbas rejected Obama’s offer despite the fact that it clearly called for the Palestinian state to be contiguous.

    Once again, I gave the Palestinians the benefit of the doubt in 2001 and 2008, but not in 2014. They have just missed too many opportunities.

    By the way, you cannot compare Hezbollah to the PLO. The PLO became a partner for peace in 1988, after it recognized Israel. As long as Hezbollah will seek the destruction of Israel, there will be nothing to negotiate with these people. I would love Hezbollah to become similar to the PLO in the future. But blaming Israel for Hezbollah’s extremism makes very little sense to me.

    Happy new year,

    Bernard

  19. What ‘conversation’? It’s hard to have that with someone who claims to be a Peace Now supporter but who spends the bulk of his time here echoing Likud talking points. .

    Like Hezbollah, the PLO began as rejectionist. The PLO did not just out of the blue recognize Israel. It did so after diplomatic efforts were undertaken by both sides for years. Apart from prisoner exchanges, Israel has not undertaken diplomatic efforts to moderate Hezbollah.

    There is no guarantee that Livni would have won the 2009 election. Neither of us have a crystal ball, and the Israel electorate is notoriously unpredictable.

    If the 2014 Obama/Kerry plan did not call for 100% settler evacuation or zero annexation (via land swaps) that gives resource-rich West Bank territory to Israel, then Bernard Avishai’s analysis (quoted above) still holds. It’s just Olmert’s plan with an American accent – no land contiguity there.

  20. This is my last post, Sheldon.

    I’m not a Peace Now supporter, I’m a Peace Now member. I do agree that I’m slightly more right wing than most Peace Now members, but my views are not marginal.

    Shlomo Ben Ami and Amos Oz both criticized the Zionist left for failing to blame the Palestinians for their flaws. Yet, no one expelled them from the peace camp. By the way, no one within Peace Now ever insulted me the way you did.

    Abbas never said that Olmert did not offer them a contiguous state. He actually said that if Olmert had stayed in power a few more months, a peace agreement would’ve been signed. Arafat said the same thing about Barak in 2001. As I said, at the time, I did give them the benefit of the doubt but with their rejection of Obama’s offer in 2014, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do so.

    Hence, I came to believe that the international community must impose a peace agreement because neither side is serious about peace – although Netanyahu is much less serious about peace than Abbas.

    In my opinion – I can be wrong – Abbas wants Israel to give the Palestinian refugees a right of return but he also believes that it is possible to convince most of these refugees not to use it. This is a non-starter for Israelis. What if the refugees refuse? What if BDS convinces them to exercise their right of return?

    Israelis can only accept Clinton’s formula i.e. a symbolic right of return to ”historic Palestine” (which includes Israel) with Israel absorbing only a limited number of refugees.

    Finally, let me ask you what Israel can do to make peace with Hezbollah? Before 2000, people used to say that after Israel pulls out of Lebanon, Hezbollah would become irrelevant. It’s obviously not what happened.

    All the best,

    Bernard

    PS
    You should read Elie Podeh’s book which talks a great deal about the missed opportunities to strike a peace agreement. It blames both Israel for not responding to the Arab Peace Initiative and the Palestinians for failing to respond to Clinton and Olmert.
    https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/podeh-chances-for-peace

    BTW, I’m not an Israeli propagandist. I was cynical…

  21. Ben Ami and Oz started out criticizing a succession of Israeli governments for failing to make peace. It was only years later, after having established their credentials, that they started to criticize the Palestinian leadership, all the while acknowledging that it is the Israelis who are the more powerful party with the ability to do more. On the other hand, you started out on this blog going after the Palestinians and only grudgingly admitted to errors made by Israeli leadership. You’re like the Bizarro World version of Peace Now.

    “Abbas never said that Olmert did not offer them a contiguous state.” Really? According to an August 12, 2008 article from the Reuters News Agency:

    “RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected an Israeli peace proposal because it does not provide for a contiguous Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, Abbas’s office said on Tuesday. Nabil Abu Rdainah, Abbas’s spokesman, told the official WAFA news agency Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plan showed a “lack of seriousness”.

    “Before 2000, people used to say that after Israel pulls out of Lebanon, Hezbollah would become irrelevant. It’s obviously not what happened.” Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon was unilateral, like the one in Gaza. Such maneuvers only work in the context of a bi- or multi-lateral peace treaty (see: Egypt).

    On the Right of Return: both Olmert and Abbas should be criticized for not commissioning a survey of Palestinian refugees to see how many actually want to take advantage of this right. There was one mention of such a survey (which has now disappeared from Google, alas), which puts the number at 50,000 – hardly a demographic deal-breaker, if true. It is not BDS which is going to convince the refugees to use that right, but their own assessment of conditions in Israel. How many of them really want to return to a country where they would be immediately surrounded by millions of hostile Jews? Only the desperate, the crazy, or both.

    Elie Podeh’s credibility is nothing to write home about. In the May 21, 2017 Jerusalem Post, he writes: “Olmert’s far-reaching offer, supplemented by detailed maps, was made in September 2008, after he had been forced to resign, and when US president George Bush had only a few months left in office.” Podeh and you choose to ignore that Abbas was never allowed to take back with him a copy of those maps for him and his negotiating team to study.

    “By the way, no one within Peace Now ever insulted me the way you did.” You sound like a bully who has finally encountered a target who fights back hard. This is what more leftists (including those joining SD USA) are like here, and why the fascists don’t own the streets in the US like they do in Israel, according to Israeli journalist Larry Derfner. Welcome to Bernie Sander’s America.

    PS: Anyone with a sincere interest in the matters dwelt with here should read Larry Derfner’s No Country for Jewish Liberals (2017):

    https://www.amazon.com/Country-Jewish-Liberals-Larry-Derfner/dp/1682570649

  22. Sheldon,

    1) Abbas never said that the offer made on September 16, 2008, did not provide him with a contiguous state (I’m not talking about offers made earlier). However, you should know that the Palestinians are known for distorting Israel’s offers. After Camp David, Arafat claimed that Barak offered him less than 80% of the territories and that he wanted to ”cantonize” the West Bank. It turns out that Israel offered them 92% of the West Bank.

    2) Abbas wasn’t allowed to take Olmert’s map but he was supposed to meet with him the following day. He never showed up.

    3) The Palestinians never claimed that the Clinton parameters did not offer them a contiguous state. In fact, they argue that they accepted this offer with several reservations. Revisionists like Norman Finkelstein claim that Israel also had reservations, but they fail to mention that Israel dropped them during the Taba summit.

    4) Strangely enough, even Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky believe that the Clinton parameters are a good basis to negotiate a final agreement. You’re the only one -with Larry Derfner – who claims that they didn’t provide the Palestinians with a viable state.

    4) Obama’s plan did not mention which Jewish settlement Israel would be allowed to keep. It just referred to the 1967 border with landswaps. Yet, Abbas said no. BTW, you claim that Obama did not offer the Palestinians a contiguous state but you know virtually nothing about this offer. You can buy the Haaretz article which explains it in depht.

    5) Yossi Alpher, the former head of the Jaffee Institute who is close to Peace Now also claims that the Palestinians have rejected decent peace offers. Is he a ”wacko”, ”bizarro” Netanyahu propagandist?

    6) How could Israel withdraw from Lebanon in the framework of a peace agreement?Hezbollah refuses to negotiate with Israel. Interestingly enough, Nasrallah just said that the Jews should leave Israel if they don’t want to get killed.
    https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5023275,00.html
    The fact of the matter is that Israel negotiated with Arafat after he recognized Israel. Thus, your comparison between the PLO and Hezbollah is baseless.

    7) Fascists may not own the street in the US, but they own the government. I just hope that American Social-democrats know that most of what you are saying is wrong – even the Palestinians don’t claim that the Clinton parameters or Olmert’s offer did not provide them with a viable state.
    BTW, Larry Derfner moved to the right during the second intifada before moving to the far-left recently… Let’s say that he’s not very consistent.

    8) Derfner refers to Sephardic Jews like me as ”poor Whites” who vote Netanyahu because they are bigots. How does he explain then that 40% of Sephardic Jews voted for Barak in 1999 and most of them voted Kadima in 2006?
    It is possible for the peace camp to make inroads in this community. But first, you need to address their security fears. My great-aunt who lost her son during the Yom Kippur War spent the summer of 2014 in a bomb shelter. I won’t allow a well to do American Jew disregard her fears. Interestingly enough, the new head of Peace Now in Israel, Avi Buskila, said that the great sin of the left is that it ignored the legitimate fears of the Israeli population? Are you going to insult him as well?! https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4869856,00.html

    9) You claim that only 50,000 refugees want to go back to Israel but several other opinion polls show the opposite. The Clinton parameters offered the refugees a symbolic right to return to ”Historic Palestine” but it clearly said that most of the refugees would have to go back to the future Palestinian state – Israel would absorb only a limited number of refugees. The Palestinians said no. You can’t give the Palestinians a full right of return and then beg them not to use it. Even the Meretz party said that it would not go beyond the Clinton parameters when it comes to the refugee issue. You should not disregard this major stumbling block.

    10) I won’t respond to any of your posts anymore. Feel free to insult me as much as you want!

    • Apology accepted.

      Let’s look at your prior post, point by point:

      1a)”Abbas never said that the offer made on September 16, 2008, did not provide him with a contiguous state.” Did he ever say it DID provide him with a contiguous state? Why is Abbas obligated to repeat himself when in earlier versions of Olmert’s counteroffers, his spokesman explicitly criticized them for including a state that is not contiguous? Any careful reading of Olmert’s final map, as undertaken by Professor Bernard Avishai, revealed how the Palestinian state would be divided into four separate – and therefore non-contiguous – enclaves. It’s really not necessary for Abbas to say anything at this point – anyone with good eyesight can see it for themselves.

      1b) First you say, “However, you should know that the Palestinians are known for distorting Israel’s offers.” but then you tell David Hacker, “I never said that the Palestinians do not want peace.” The contradiction in your statements is glaring: why would a people interested in peace distort peace offers? Aren’t such distortions evidence of opposition to peace? Also, be careful how you generalize Palestinians, especially since I’ve shown in this thread how Israel has distorted its own offers, especially under the leadership of convicted felon Ehud Olmert. According to the Ha’aretz link you provided, Bibi has lied as well on such matters.

      1c) As the Wikipedia entry I quote below (Point 3), Arafat was correct about the cantonization. The 80% vs 92% issue was intentional obfuscation on Barak’s part, and the Palestinian negotiating team registered concerns about the lack of clarity here: “The negotiation team opposed the use of percentages. First, the Israelis were to make clear which reasonable needs they had in specific areas; without a map, the percentages given were also ambiguous, as the Israelis did not include all disputed land or part of the Dead Sea.” (Wikipedia entry on the Clinton Parameters)

      2) “Abbas wasn’t allowed to take Olmert’s map but he was supposed to meet with him the following day. He never showed up.” I already posted a detailed rebuttal to this charge – see my September 19 2:00 am post, paragraphs 4-5.

      3) “The Palestinians never claimed that the Clinton parameters did not offer them a contiguous state.” Wrong! Wikipedia’s entry on the Clinton Parameters states the following: “On 1 January (2001), the Palestinian Negotiating Team (NAD) published an open letter, explaining why the proposals would “fail to satisfy the conditions required for a permanent peace”. They claimed that the parameters divided the Palestinian state, including East Jerusalem, into separate cantons and unconnected islands, and protested the surrender the right of return of Palestinian refugees and lack of clarity and details. Clinton’s proposal was not accompanied by a map; only the Israelis presented a map, which would allegedly render the Palestinian state unviable and lacking direct access to international borders. The Palestinians opposed the Israeli annexation of settlement blocs in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which they claimed subordinated the contiguity of the Palestinian state.”

      4a) “You’re the only one – with Larry Derfner – who claims that they didn’t provide the Palestinians with a viable state.” The only one of what, exactly? The only Jew? The only Zionist? The only human? By the way, does Bernard Avishai not count?

      4b) On the one hand, you claim that Chomsky and Finkelstein are credible because they “believe that the Clinton parameters are a good basis to negotiate a final agreement.” But earlier, you attacked Finkelstein’s credibility: “Revisionists like Norman Finkelstein claim that Israel also had reservations, but they fail to mention that Israel dropped them during the Taba summit .” Why would you care what Finkelstein says if you’ve already established his flawed argument? You’re trying to have it both ways, and that’s just wrong. I use sources that are consistently reliable in their field of expertise.

      4c) Yes, I managed to navigate the Ha’aretz paywall, and sure enough, Amir Tibon’s June 9, 2017 article confirmed my initial statements about the Obama-Kerry Plan. While it is true that the plan called for a ‘contiguous’ Palestinian state, there was no map or detailed outline provided as to what this would actually look like. The Clinton Parameters also used the word “contiguous”, but that turned out to be untruthful. Nevertheless, Abbas did not formally reject the plan, he just did not respond: “Abbas was disappointed by the fact Netanyahu’s government was planning to delay a promised release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners, and that he felt the Obama administration could not truly “deliver” concessions from Netanyahu.” Subsequent developments supported Abbas’ concerns. As Tibon notes, “Netanyahu, meanwhile, backtracked publicly from the positions he expressed during his conversations with Kerry, and later also lied to the Israeli public multiple times during the 2015 Knesset election about what he agreed to during the 2014 negotiations.” In Tibon’s view, Netanyahu is a liar, but Abbas is not.

      5) On Yossi Alpher: “Is he a ”wacko”, ”bizarro” Netanyahu propagandist?” That depends on how he builds his case.

      6a) “Hezbollah refuses to negotiate with Israel.” And we know this how, exactly? Has Israel ever tried to make any contact with Hezbollah with that intention in mind? If not, then we’ll never know for sure.

      6b) “Interestingly enough, Nasrallah just said that the Jews should leave Israel if they don’t want to get killed.” The link you cited does not support your implicit take on that statement – that Hezbollah is going to gleefully slaughter them. Quite the opposite: Nasrallah points the finger at Netanyahu, saying that Bibi will lead Israel on a needless misadventure that will lead to a lot of Israeli lives lost: “So don’t allow a stupid and condescending leadership to take you on an adventure that could prove to be the end of this entity.” Nasrallah and I will never be friends, but when he’s right, he’s right.

      6c) “The fact of the matter is that Israel negotiated with Arafat after he recognized Israel. Thus, your comparison between the PLO and Hezbollah is baseless.” Incorrect. Prior to the open negotiations, Israel and the PLO both made diplomatic overtures and behind-the-scenes bargaining. Israel, especially under Rabin in the 1990s, used noted Israeli doves such as Mattityahu Peled, Arie Lyova Eliav, Uri Avnery and other stalwarts from the Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace to do just that.

      7a)” Fascists may not own the street in the US, but they own the government” Really? Then why is SD USA still existing? If they own the government, how is this blog able to function and why am I not in jail? Why would anyone here doubt what I’ve been saying when you post such things?

      7b) See the aforementioned Point 3 where Palestinians do claim that the Clinton Parameters undermined the viability of a Palestinian state.

      7c) The fact that both Larry Derfner and, might I add, David Hacker moved from the right to the left shows a remarkable personal evolution and maturation. How odd of them to pay attention to the facts!

      8a) “Derfner refers to Sephardic Jews like me as ”poor Whites” who vote Netanyahu because they are bigots. How does he explain then that 40% of Sephardic Jews voted for Barak in 1999 and most of them voted Kadima in 2006?” Derfner does not claim that non-Ashkenazic Jews only vote for Netanyahu. This is what he wrote in 2015: “I want to stress that I am referring only to poor, generally under-educated Mizrahim who make up the base of Likud supporters. I am not talking about middle-class, well-educated Mizrahim, who I have a strong hunch leaned away from Likud and toward the more liberal parties in the election.” (“What’s a Ashkenazic Leftist to Do?”, 972.com, March 23, 2015)

      8b) Since Israel has at least 100 nuclear bombs at its disposal, and its neighbors in the Levant do not, the ‘security fears’ argument is weak. When Eisenhower and George Bush, Sr. threatened Israel with a cut off in support in the 1950s and 1990s, they did not address the fears of the Israeli public. Instead, said public snapped to attention and complied because the most important thing that matters to that public is its lifeline to Uncle Sam. I’m more interested in addressing the growing fears of American Jewry, who now have to contend with an Israeli government that has entered into an alliance with US neo-Nazis and Hungarian fascists to target Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

      9) “You can’t give the Palestinians a full right of return and then beg them not to use it.” According to BDS’s demand #3, the Right of Return to Israel does not apply to all Palestinians, just to its refugees. This same demand cites UN Resolution 194, which limits the implementation of the Right of Return to what is “practicable.” This gives Israel plenty of leeway at the negotiating table. And, as I said earlier, most refugees won’t want to return to an Israel where they would be surrounded by millions of hostile Jews, so those refugees will instead request financial compensation.

  23. Please cease fire Bernard & Sheldon. Bernard, you are a good Comrade who makes many valid points. Your viewpoint is matched by a large minority of the members of Social Democrats, USA, including our National Chair Patty Friend. What I do not like is the tone of this discussion between you and Sheldon. Here, in the SD, we are trying to build an organization that espouses social and political democracy from the bottom up. We believe that a group cannot advocate democracy until it first practices it in the structure.

    We believe that we will be able to attract many new members and keep them in the organization, when they see that both the leaders and the rank and file members act decently toward one another. In other words, socialists are really social able. The word “comrade” is not just a political term addressing a fellow member, but also describes how SD members treat one another in a comradely manner. New people will be welcomed when they come to our meetings. They will not be alienated by being ignored and feeling that they do not belong. Moreover, personal attacks will be strictly banned at public meetings and in meetings of the NC.

    This was the worse practice of the old leadership of the SD, going back to the days when the organization was still the Socialist Party. A Bolshevik style of debate was brought into the organization, after the merger with the Shachtmanite Independent Socialist League in 1958. This Bolshevik style was an inheritance from Max Shachtman’s early political activities within the Communist Party and was continued in the Trotskyist movement, which the ISL came out of. The tactics of this form of debate would to be to attack your fellow Party member and “comrade” who belong to a different faction of the organization in the bluntest of personal terms, much sharper than one would attack a capitalist enemy. Personal feeling had no place when one is engaged in a political battle,even with one’s comrades. This Bolshevik style of debate had a very detrimental effect on Max Shachtman and the Shachtmanite movement, Right, Center & Left. Later there would be his attitude to the early young New Leftists in SDS where his patient guidance could well have preventing the group from its later Maoist craziness. Rather, he could have help SDS become a radical but anti-Stalinist mass organization that might still be vibrant this very day. Mike Harrington in his angry response to the Port Huron Statement was exhibiting the worse aspects of this Bolshevik style that was an inheritance from Max’s early political activity in the CPUSA. And Ernie Erber also became a victim of this “Bolshevik style” during his time in the WP after he wrote his resignation statement. Later, David McReynolds and his allies in the SP would also suffer under this style ofdebate from Max and his closest allies in the SP. This is why David remains so bitter about his experience to this very day. And, I am sad to say, it seems that Sheldon has inherited this “Bolshevik-Shachtmanite” style, in the present discussion over BDS similar to the right-wing SDers that he would most likely fervently denounce.

    But it was the old leadership of the SD that completely practiced this Bolshevik style in their internal life of the organization, which they inherited from Max, even while at the same time loudly proclaiming their devotion to the spread of democracy everywhere in the world.

    Bernard, Sheldon is a relatively new member of our organization. He, and you, should know that the revived SDUSA, firmly rejects this debating style. Rather we will have learned from the feminist movement to encourage people who may not be that intellectual or knowledgeable about a subject, shy in public and new to the movement, to speak without fear at our meetings. Whenever difference arise over an issue or strategy, we will encourage an open dialogue in our internal discussion bulletin, Hammer & Tongs and in public meetings of state and local organizations, up to the NC itself. These dialogues would be conducted in an atmosphere that would be respectful of each comrade’s opinion, no matter how deep the difference may be. NC meetings will begin on a empathetic note, Good and Welfare, where each member will express their individual well being, along with describing the activities of their Local,

    As a result of the revived SDUSA having a supportive and empathetic democratic internal life, we believe that we will be able to attract new members who may have been alienated from their experiences in other political organizations. Our goal is to create a multi-tendency, broadly-defined and active internal life and a perspective of a much larger and geographically-dispersed membership. Special emphasis should be put upon bringing about a real and independent youth organization in the YSD/YPSL. Finally, with the revolutionizing of the world scene, uniting with former antagonists is in order. The democratic Left in America needs all the friends it can get.

    Bernard, in the full statement on Israel in the SD’s Statement of Principles, we maintain the following standard:

    Moreover, our support for Israel’s sovereignty does not mean that we are anti-Palestinian. Rather, the question of when a Palestinian national consciousness developed among the Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza, and in the Diaspora, (a name taken from the Jewish experience in exile) doesn’t matter, it has been a reality for the last 40 years. We support a just resolution for the Palestinians that grant their legitimate national aspirations without fatally compromising the legitimate security concerns of the Jewish State.

    “SDUSA, being a democratic organization, its members will have differing views on how the above can be accomplished, in establishing a two state solution for Israel and the
    Palestinians. Their opinions range from the right wing of the Israeli Labor party, leftward to Meretz/Yahad, Peace Now and Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc. (Today, we can add different attitudes toward supporting the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Movement.) These differences will be freely debated in our publications and in public meetings. In fact, a principle test of our commitment to having an empathetic internal environment will be how we will conduct a discussion and debate over the usually very divisive Israeli-Palestinian issue, by respecting and understanding everyone’s position on the topic. At the same time, we are proud of our fraternal relations with the Israeli Labor party and Meretz/Yahad party, who represent their nation in the Socialist International. We are also allied to organizations and publications of both the Jewish and non-Jewish Left that strongly defend the existence of Israel, no matter how critical they made be of its governmental policies, and welcome the new Pro-Israel –Pro Peace, J Street Organization.

    “Some of our members will also come from a pro-Palestinian background. And we welcome members of the Arab-American community. However, all members must agree to the proposition, whatever our difference over how to achieve it, that a just resolution for the Palestinians that grant their legitimate national aspirations can only be accomplished without fatally compromising the legitimate security concerns of the Jewish State. Moreover, many members of the SDUSA view that the final resolution toward a two state solution of Israel living in peace and harmony with a united sovereign state of Palestine, over almost all of the territory that Israel occupied in 1967, while sharing a capital in a united Jerusalem, will only occur when they both have a commitment to a secular, democratic and social democratic future, in their respective states. This means Israel as a Jewish state, that in the words of Rabbi Michael Lerner, is “a state that gives affirmative action in regard to immigration to Jews who have a reasonable claim to fear of persecution where they
    are currently living-but not a state that is run by Jewish religious law except in the cultural sense that Jewish holidays are given the same official public priority in that state that Christmas is given in the United States.” And a Palestinian state that is govern not by Islamic fundamentalists, such as Hamas, but secular and moderate Palestinians, both Moslem and Christian, which also embraces a pluralistic democratic social and religious policy that respects and defends the holy sites belong to Moslems, Christians and Jews, alike.”

    Bernard, the SD also has a plank in our Statement of Principles which states the following:

    WE INCLUDE AMONG THESES IDEOLOGIES OF OPPRESSION, ANTI-
    ZIONISM.

    SDUSA is not a Zionist organization. Members may be pro Zionists or non-Zionists. They may even be critical of aspects of Zionist theory and historical development, especially of the Revisonist/Herut/Likud version of nationalistic Zionism.
    Similarly, some members may have a critical historical view of Labor Zionism’s myopic relations with Arab residence of pre-Israel Palestine, and its own post 1967 Settlements on the West Bank. This is not anti-Zionism. Rather, it is constructive criticisms of aspects of Zionist ideology and history of the movement. However, the political anti-Zionism that is expressed on both the Neo-Nazi far Right and on the Left in Europe and even in the United States, is another matter altogether. Instead, “like its predecessor,anti-Zionism aims to divide the Jewish people from other peoples of the world. Anti-Semitism denied that Jews were human beings with all the rights of human beings. Anti-Zionism denies that Jews are a nation with the right of national self-determination. We are deeply concerned by the rise of anti-Zionism and even open anti-Semitism within the socialist parties (and in the wider Left) and favor an aggressive and spirited campaign to drive anti-Zionism from our ranks” (This statement also came from “Democratic Socialism: Points of Departure” by Eric Lee and Alex Spinrad.)

    My final comment is this. How can we talk about peace and reconciliation among Israeli and Palestinians when we cannot achieve a detente between Sheldon Ranz & Bernard Bohbot? I will only ask of Bernard, what I asked in my first comment. I know that you are critical of BDS and Sheldon’s position. Therefore, what are the alternative positions that the SDUSA could take that you would recommend, in place of BDS that you believe could lead to a just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

  24. David, as far as the tone of this exchange goes, Bohbot’s very first post stated, “You should have a minumum of self-respect.” That was clearly a personal attack void of any connection to the issues discussed herein. Even then, I did not respond in kind right away.

  25. Hi everyone,
    I agree that my first post was not appropriate. I should’ve been more careful.
    Sorry Sheldon

    Best,
    Bernard

  26. Hi David, I forgot to answer your question yesterday.

    But first, I would just like to add one thing: I never said that the Palestinians do not want peace. I said that they rejected three reasonable peace offers. In 2001 and 2008, the Palestinians said that if Barak and Olmert had stayed a few more weeks in power, a peace agreement would’ve been signed. I gave them the benefit of the doubt at the time. However, the same cannot be said for 2014. They clearly rejected Obama’s framework.
    I was told by many Peace Now members that the Palestinians said no because they did not want to make concessions to Netanyahu who is unreliable. That was obviously a terrible mistake. Although Netanyahu is clearly unreliable – the mere fact that in 2014, he increased the pace of settlement activities to torpedo the negotiations with the Palestinians proves it -, Obama was the most pro-Palestinian president ever. They’ll never get a better ally at the White House.

    But let us assume that the Palestinians did not miss great opportunities to strike a fair deal with Israel in 2001, 2008 and 2014 – which is what most of the peace camp believes. I don’t think anyone can deny that the Second Intifada (which was launched when the Israeli left was in power), and Hamas’ attacks against Israeli civilians have destroyed Israel’s peace camp. This is why I believe that a boycott of Israel is unacceptable – whether the Palestinians are responsible for the failure of peace talks or not.

    Now I’ll answer your question. According to the Israel Policy Forum, Trump is about to present his own peace plan that is likely to be very similar to the Clinton parameters. If Netanyahu says no, there should be gradual sanctions on Israel but not a blanket boycott – suspending the free trade agreements between Israel and Western countries makes more sense than boycotting left-wing Israeli artists or academics. However, if both Israel and the Palestinians say no, there is no reason to impose sanctions on Israel alone.

    Best,

    Bernard

    PS
    Now I understand why Sheldon was so aggressive. My first post was obviously offensive but I did not mean to hurt anyone. Let’s move on.

  27. Dear Sheldon and David,
    In comradely spirit, I would like to add my voice to concern for what I think is an extraordinarily naive resolution that will not help build two states for two peoples. The official BDS movement does not endorse two states, but one state, and constantly refers to Israel as an “apartheid” state. This movement has strengthened Israel’s right, done nothing to secure the Palestinians a state and weakened the Israeli peace camp because it is tarred with this effort. Though I am not an SDUSA member, and nor am I any longer a leader in DSA (I wrote agains the DSA endorsement of BDS here: http://fathomjournal.org/bds-and-dsa-the-american-left-loses-its-way/ , I strongly urge that this be rejected. The BDS movement among the Palestinians was initially endorsed by and promoted by the PFLP, a formerly Mao-ist inspired Palestinian group. As weak as the Israeli social democratic left may be, there is virtually no support for bDS among that camp, aside from support to bycott settlement products (which I do support along with my allies in Peace Now). It is really ironic that this is where SDUSA finds itself. I hope that saner voices will prevail.

    • Hello Joann:

      The official BDS movement does not endorse a One State Solution. The three BDS demands do not mention either a One State or Two State resolution to the conflict – the official BDS websites are quite clear on avoiding selecting one or another and prefer using a rights-based approach. While some have dubbed this approach
      “agnostic”, it is what it is. While some leaders of BDS have a personal preference for One State (Tel Aviv University graduate Omar Barghouti), others do not (Nadia Hijab, senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies).

      I find it fascinating that to discredit BDS, you would resort to what sounds like red-baiting. So what if one group among the 170 NGOs that formed BDS in 2005 is formerly Maoist? Perhaps you would like to discuss that among the ranks of DSA members are former members of the Communist Workers Party, which took a grievous hit when some of its members were murdered by the KKK during the 1979 Greensboro Massacre?

      How can one be sure if the BDS movement has strengthened Israel’s hardliners? Any externally-sourced criticism of Israel, even a settlements-only boycott, can arguably do that.

      Calling Israel an apartheid state says nothing about what should be done to fix that. It’s just a political diagnosis. SDUSA’s remedy for systemic discrimination against Israel’s Arab citizens would be Democratic Zionism, as the resolution makes abundantly clear.

  28. Hello Sheldon and Bernard,

    In my opinion, you are both right. Olmert’s offer did comply with the Clinton parameters, but it was a problematic peace plan because it sought to annex two settlements (Ariel and Maaleh Adumim) which disrupt the territorial integrity of the West Bank. They do not bisect the West Bank per se, but they harm its territorial contiguity by leaving two ”fingers” that stretch deep into the Palestinian heartland.

    Of course, Israel can annex both settlements without damaging the territorial integrity of the West Bank. It can build a tunnel connecting Ariel to Israel and annex Maaleh Adumim without the E1 corridor. This is why Avishai said that Olmert’s offer was a good basis to negotiate a final agreement but it really had to be improved.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/magazine/13Israel-t.html

    Nevertheless, even though Olmert’s offer wasn’t generous enough, I don’t think a boycott of Israel would be fair at this point. After all, both sides are responsible for the collapse of the peace process. In 2000, the Palestinians responded to the Camp David offer by launching the Second Intifada. Barak’s offer was definitely not good enough (he offered just 92% of the West Bank) but there was no reason for a violent uprising, especially since Israel was about to improve the Camp David offer.

    It is also true that Arafat didn’t start the Second Intifada himself. However, once it began, he decided to support it. In 2003, the BCC revealed that he gave $50,000 a month to the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades. In 2004, Fatah declared officially that it supported this organization. As for Hamas, it destroyed the remnants of the Israeli left. Arafat and Hamas have both killed the Israeli left. That said, I would never buy anything made in a Jewish settlement!

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