The other day I wrote that now that non-Zionists are finally gaining a voice in the discourse on Israel/Palestine, we have to bring our bat and ball– positive ideas about how to solve things in the Middle East, not just a litany of Palestinian suffering. I’m planning to have a rolling roundtable on this question. Especially as Obama and Netanyahu conduct a smoldering conflict over an issue– a settlements freeze– that for all its appeal on the American lib-left does little to alter the lineaments of Israeli colonization. Here is Antony Loewenstein’s response to my challenge:
Proposing ‘positive’ ideas is essential to move the debate forward. It’s not surprising, however, that all of us in various ways want to document the daily abuses that occur in Israel proper and the territories. They are numerous and largely unreported by the mainstream media. The blogosphere is therefore a necessary reckoning and chronicler of life in or around a ‘Jewish state’.
In my own work, in Australia and beyond, I’m often asked to say what I think should happen now and into the future and it’s something I’ve extensively discussed in a forthcoming edition of my book (My Israel Question), namely the many reasons a one-state solution is the most just outcome. It’s vital not to preach to either side, however, but provide space for varying narratives to be heard. Yet not all sides are equal (witness the LA Times on the weekend publishing a piece in defense of the West Bank settlements).
Most of us (I think I can presume this?) question the viability and morality of the two-state equation. Reaching one-state is currently highly unlikely but I believe an important conversation. So, how about proponents of this being given air-time and counter positions published, too? A conversation is the only way to tease out the future. Not preaching, engagement.
Journalists don’t have to provide answers; I’ve always thought this. We can suggest, cajole and encourage, but reporting and activism is a strange beast, something I constantly struggle how to manage. I can’t sit on the sidelines and not complain about what goes on in the Mid-East. One has a moral responsibility to provide possible solutions. And be willing to have those ideas pulled apart.
We could issue occasional statements with ideals, gathering signatures. We could more forcefully challenge the J Street line about ‘preserving a Jewish state.’ Criticism of the status-quo isn’t illegitimate, it’s essential. We have to know what we’re against before we know what we’re for. And frankly, we don’t have to all agree. How terribly boring if we do. Justice for all sides and peace with justice for historical wrongs.
We can be a sounding-board for ideas, some positive, some not. There doesn’t need to be a party line, and I would urge us to avoid it. My experience tells me that those who still strongly back a two-state solution remain uncomfortable with being too close to Arab life and culture. An unspoken racism, perhaps? Naivete about co-existence?
One of the more important things we could do is challenge the supposed necessity of maintaining a Jewish state. Being opposed to religious states – including in, say, Iran, where many young Iranians I met there in 2007, during research for my book, The Blogging Revolution, urged a more secular future – is a humanitarian position. It’s not just against Zionism, it’s a far wider ideology…