Friday, July 29, 2011

A most interesting piece in Dissent magazine by Michael Walzer:

In a “solidarity” march for an independent Palestinian state earlier in July, roughly 90 percent of the marchers were Israeli Jews, but all the flags were Palestinian. Israeli flags were banned at the insistence of the Palestinians, who said that they wouldn’t join the march unless their flags were the only ones carried. In the event, not many of them joined anyway. The Israelis agreed to the ban (though many of my friends were unhappy about it), arguing that their flag had become the symbol of occupation and oppression. But that was only true because the settlers and their far-right supporters always march with the flag, while the Left has given it up. And that may help explain why leftist demonstrations and marches are so small these days.

There are many reasons, of course, for the current weakness of the Left. But its militants might begin to overcome their weakness if they were seen by their fellow citizens to be insisting, with a strong (rather than a bleeding) heart, that solidarity has to be a two-way street. They should say to the Palestinians: we will march with your flag only if you march with ours. And they should say to all Israel: our program, two states for two peoples, offers the best hope of securing the national sovereignty that this flag, which we carry proudly, is supposed to represent.
This is a picture-perfect example of hope running roughshod over reality.

Let's say you are walking down a city street and see someone wearing this pin:

What are the chances that he or she is Palestinian Arab?

The answer - as everyone knows, even Mr. Walzer - is zero. The market for these pins ends at the Green Line.

Let's pretend that the Left actually insists that Palestinian Arabs march with the Israeli flag, that if they really want co-existence they must show it in a tangible way. How would the other side react?

They would flat-out refuse. They would insist that the Israeli flag represents apartheid, and genocide, and ethnic cleansing. Their faces would blanch at the thought of it. They would tell the leftists - sorry, but even if it means we lose your support, we will never hold an Israeli flag unless it is to burn it.

As has been pointed out before, there is no equivalent to the Israeli and Western leftist/peace movement among Palestinian Arabs. There is no voice - at least none that can be seen in the Arabic media - demanding that Mahmoud Abbas make "painful compromises" for peace, no peace rallies, no op-eds demanding a resumption of negotiations. Is there a single Palestinian Arab dissident, willing to go to prison, for demanding Abbas give up anything for peace?

This article inadvertently proves that real peace is impossible. And pretending that it will happen if Israel does X, Y and Z is pure wishful thinking.

(Other posts on why peace is impossible: Here, here, here, here..)

(h/t Zach N)

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