Tag Archives: anti-Zionism

A very short history of antisemitism

Britain’s Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is widely admired as an eminent intellectual and a great writer. His most recent article provides an excellent example of his remarkable ability to bring the crucial aspects of a complex subject into sharp focus. Writing about the widely criticized decision of a German court to effectively outlaw the circumcision of male babies or children, Sacks addresses the broader context and outlines in just a few sentences some of the salient features of European antisemitism:

“I have argued for some years that an assault on Jewish life always needs justification by the highest source of authority in the culture at any given age. Throughout the Middle Ages the highest authority in Europe was the Church. Hence anti-Semitism took the form of Christian anti-Judaism.

In the post-enlightenment Europe of the 19th century the highest authority was no longer the Church. Instead it was science. Thus was born racial anti-Semitism, based on two disciplines regarded as science in their day: the “scientific study of race” and the Social Darwinism of Herbert Spencer and Ernst Haeckel. Today we know that both of these were pseudo-sciences, but in their day they were endorsed by some of the leading figures of the age.

Since Hiroshima and the Holocaust, science no longer holds its pristine place as the highest moral authority. Instead, that role is taken by human rights. It follows that any assault on Jewish life — on Jews or Judaism or the Jewish state — must be cast in the language of human rights. Hence the by-now routine accusation that Israel has committed the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide and crimes against humanity. This is not because the people making these accusations seriously believe them — some do, some don’t. It is because this is the only form in which an assault on Jews can be stated today.”

The observations offered by Sacks here are all the more important because nowadays, we tend to think of racism and bigotry as somehow “primitive” resentments that are fed by ignorance and a lack of education. But Sacks is obviously right to point out that historically, antisemitism was justified by the elites – first the Church, and then by “science.” Indeed, it was the effort to introduce a pseudo-scientific racial component into the debates about Jews in Germany that motivated the German agitator Wilhelm Marr to use the term “antisemitism” instead of Jew-hatred.

Obviously, the assertion that contemporary antisemitism has found a new source of moral authority by utilizing the language of human rights will be denounced most loudly by those who view Israel as a serial perpetrator of monstrous human rights violations that fully justify singling out the Jewish state at the UN and in political campaigns.

In this context, it is interesting to consider the writings of Anthony Julius, author of the widely acclaimed book “The Trials of the Diaspora,” which provides a comprehensive history of antisemitism in England. In a short excerpt of the book, Julius argues that in the past few decades, socialist agitation for revolutionary transformation has been replaced by NGO activism:

“A human rights discourse now dominates politics; there is a powerful human rights ‘movement’. It is the new secular religion of our time. […] This new ‘human rights-ism’ accords great value to the United Nations – notwithstanding its inability to enforce its decisions, and its refusal to make practical demands of its members to be democratic or respect the human rights of their citizens. […]

This is, in any event, a post-left, one reconciled to the impossibility of revolutionary transformations […] its transitional demands have been resurrected in the shrill discourse of human rights and their ‘abuses’. The new militant is not the party sectarian but the NGO activist.”

It was of course exactly this kind of militant NGO activism – with the Jewish state as its preferred target – that prompted Robert Bernstein, the founder and long-time chairman of Human Rights Watch, to “publicly join the group’s critics” and denounce its obsessive focus on Israel. Eventually, Bernstein decided that it was best to start all over again, and he founded a new organization named Advancing Human Rights.

Yet another revealing feature of the “human right-ism” of recent years is that since Israel is its favorite target, antisemitism is usually either ignored or even excused as understandable “anti-Zionism” or entirely justified “criticism” of Israeli policies.  Needless to say, such views have been eagerly embraced by Arab and Muslim regimes. In this context it is also important to see that the observations of Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks about Europe’s Jew-hatred are equally valid for the Muslim world.

Just like the medieval church legitimized Christian anti-Judaism, Muslim religious texts, including the Koran, provide plenty of “justifications” for Jew-hatred, and Jewish communities under Muslim rule experienced not only the indignities associated with their subordination as “dhimmi”, but also outbreaks of violence and communal persecution.

Even in our times, Muslim scholars see nothing wrong with rehashing quotes and passages from Islamic texts that incite hatred of and violence against Jews. And while it is often emphasized that Nazi-style antisemitism is “just” an import in Muslim countries, it has been championed right from the very beginning by influential Muslim leaders, most notably the notorious Haj Amin Al-Husseini – also known as “Hitler’s mufti.” Nowadays, there are Muslim leaders like the very popular cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi who combine traditional Islamic incitement against Jews and praise for the Holocaust. In an Al-Jazeera program in January 2009, Qaradawi declared:

“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption […] The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hands of the believers.”

As Mark Gardner and Dave Rich have documented on the basis of Qaradawi’s writings and statements:

“Qaradawi personifies the combination of theological anti-Judaism, modern European antisemitism and conflict-driven Judeophobia that make up contemporary Islamist attitudes to Jews.”

Yet, Qaradawi is widely regarded – and indeed admired – as the “Global Mufti.” The fact that this “Global Mufti” of our times is an avowed Jew-hater who is a fervent believer in a divinely ordained battle between “all Muslims and all Jews” is clearly of no concern to the champions of “human right-ism” who would eagerly mobilize to denounce any Christian or Jewish leader espousing views even remotely comparable to the ones Qaradawi has long been preaching.

The Global Mufti: The Phenomenon of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Bettina Graf, Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen, C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (20 July 2009).

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

Prominent Iranian ‘anti-Zionist’ shows his true colors

A few days ago, I quoted from a post by Walter Russell Mead on “Iran and the Bomb.” Mead is one of the very few influential political analysts who regularly highlights and comments on instances of antisemitism. In his recent post on Iran, he argued that the debate about the question whether Iran’s theocrats were rational actors who would be deterred from using nuclear arms by MAD, i.e. “Mutual Assured Destruction,” was pointless because “anti-Semitism is never a rational policy, yet it persists.”

Just a few days later, Iran’s Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi was kind enough to prove Professor Mead’s point by stunning delegates at a UN-sponsored conference on combating drug-trade with a speech that the New York Times (NYT) described as “baldly anti-Semitic.”

Rahimi declared that the “Zionists” control the illegal drug trade and announced: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict […] They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade.”

Rahimi also used the opportunity to talk about “gynecologists killing black babies on the orders of the Zionists;” he noted that “the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was started by Jews”, adding that “mysteriously, no Jews died in that uprising;” and he also mentioned his view that “the Talmud teaches Jews to think that they are a superior race.”

Commenting on Rahimi’s speech, Israeli Iran expert Meir Javedanfar described it as an “unprecedented, public anti-Semitic tirade in front of local and international dignitaries.” In Javedanfar’s view, Rahimi was breaking with “the usual practice of the Islamic Republic — which demonizes Zionists while purporting to respect the Jewish religion.”

But according to Javedanfar, Rahimi’s “outburst” also marked “the culmination of a recent rise in the public use of anti-Semitic language in Iran.” Javedanfar notes that in the Iranian media, “the term ‘Yahoodi Sefat’ meaning ‘of Jewish character’ is being heard more often as a character assassination tool.”

It is noteworthy that Javedanfar traces this “new trend” all the way back to late 2005:

“The new trend appears to date to Ahmadinejad’s public denial of the Holocaust in a speech on Dec. 14, 2005. On that day, Ahmadinejad became the most senior politician in Iranian post-revolutionary history to adopt this narrative. More significantly, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not stop Ahmadinejad. The president’s frequent Holocaust denial appears to have legitimized the shift from public attacks against Israel to attacks against Jews and Judaism.”

I’m doubtful that in our fast-paced times, it makes much sense to describe an almost seven year old “trend” as “new”. If there is anything new here, it is arguably the willingness of Javedanfar and others to finally acknowledge the persistent antisemitic incitement by Iran’s regime.

After all, ever since this “new” trend clearly emerged at least seven years ago, prominent guardians of political correctness have tried their very best to downplay the viciousness and danger of the unrestrained hatred against Israel that has regularly and openly been voiced by Iran’s leaders. Documenting some of these efforts, Sohrab Ahmari and James Kirchick emphasized:

“There is something deeply pernicious about the attempt to whitewash the grossly anti-Semitic ideology of Iran’s leadership—as if nitpicking over repeated mistranslations of one statement could exonerate Iran when nearly two dozen other choice utterances refer to Israel in eliminationist terms. Reasonable people can disagree about what should be done with respect to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but not about the overt hostility embedded in the Iranian leadership’s rhetoric on Israel.”

The problem here is of course that Iran’s theocrats know all too well that “overt hostility” against Israel is widely and wildly popular not just all over the Muslim world, but also in the West.

Javedanfar emphasizes that Iranian regime officials usually take great care to talk only about “Zionists” and not about Jews, and he points out that Iranian efforts to downplay Rahimi’s remarks followed exactly this tried-and-true recipe: “where Rahimi said in Farsi that ‘Jews see others at their service,’ [Iran’s] Press TV changed that to ‘the Zionists regard themselves as the master race and they view the other races as their slaves.’”

While it is pretty ridiculous to claim that Zionists regard themselves as a “race,” the damage controllers at Press TV had every reason to think they had done their job – after all, the claim that “anti-Zionism” is usually just an innocent and above all politically-correct consequence of opposing Israel’s policies is one of the most sacred cows of the Jewish state’s many devoted critics all over the world.

This deceit is greatly helped by the reluctance of Western media to report about the widespread demonization of Jews and the Jewish state throughout the Muslim world. Organizations like MEMRI and Palestinian Media Watch document how frighteningly common this demonization is, and one could therefore perhaps argue that something that is a regular phenomenon doesn’t qualify as news. But there is no doubt that many in the mainstream media share the concern once so memorably expressed by NYT correspondent Isabel Kershner, who agonized that media reports about anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement in the Middle East could be turned into politically inconvenient “propaganda points.”

Against this backdrop, I think one can only welcome the fact that Iran’s vice president chose an international forum to deliver a speech that even the NYT couldn’t help describing as “baldly anti-Semitic.” In a lengthy blog post devoted to the question “What Should We Make of Iranian Anti-Semitism?,” Adam Garfinkle makes exactly this argument:

“From my perspective, Vice President Rahimi’s remarks in an open international forum are very welcome. They demonstrate to all who care to listen the true nature of the Iranian regime, and they do so at a time when the U.S. government is pressing its allies to join very stringent sanctions against Iran on account of its nuclear ambitions in the hope that some non-violent solution to this problem can be achieved.”

The caveat here is of course that not everyone might “care to listen.” Well-qualified experts such as the historian and acclaimed author Daniel Jonah Goldhagen have long emphasized that “Iranian leaders speak of Israel using Nazi-like language and metaphors” and that “such speech has been shown to be the rhetorical prelude to genocide;” similarly, prominent public leaders and professionals like Robert Bernstein, Irwin Cotler and Stuart Robinowitz have made the case that with its persistent “genocidal anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric,” Iran has already violated the United Nations Genocide Convention, which is intended to prevent acts of genocide and therefore also outlaws incitement to genocide.

Yet, as Garfinkel rightly notes in his post, it is remarkable “how reluctant supposedly serious analysts are to credit the significance of the Iranian regime’s anti-Semitism in their assessment of the dangers inherent in the Iranian nuclear program.”

But this reluctance is arguably only part of a much broader phenomenon. Garfinkel provides a short outline of “how modern Muslim anti-Semitism came about,” where he points out that “many governments in the Muslim world have actively engaged in anti-Semitic propaganda as a means to deflect discontent onto others.” If “supposedly serious analysts” were to take this into account, the contemporary debate about the Middle East and the Arab/Muslim conflict with Israel would look very different. The unabashed antisemitism expressed by Iranian Vice President Rahimi may have made a difference for a few days, but it will soon be conveniently forgotten and it will remain as popular as ever to defend the “anti-Zionism” of those who believe that doing away with the tiny Jewish state will bring peace and harmony to the Middle East and the world.

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

Cheering Assad for Palestine

The English version of Al Akhbar – a site that has been aptly described as the “Lebanese address for the red-green alliance of leftists and Islamists” – published this week a post that provides an excellent example of the delusions induced by full-fledged Palestine derangement syndrome.

The author of the post is Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a former assistant professor of political science at the Lebanese American University and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center (CMEC), where she was billed as a “leading expert on Hizbollah.”  She now has a blog named “Counter-hegemony unit: A propagandist-in-chief’s war on intellectual imperialism and pursuit of a resistance episteme.”

Yes, it sounds promising – and her post in Al Akhbar doesn’t disappoint. She begins by arguing that the divisions caused by the Syrian uprisings have led to the formation of an “anti-interventionist ‘third-way’ camp,” and she then explains why this is a most dreadful development [my emphasis]:

“Third-wayers, comprised of intellectuals and activists from academia, the mainstream media and NGOs, support elements in the home-grown opposition, reject the Syrian National Council (SNC) on account of its US-NATO-Israeli-Arab backing, and reject the Assad leadership on account of its repression of dissent and its alleged worthlessness to the Resistance project.

While the third-way camp is anti-Zionist and pro-Palestine in orientation, this hardly constitutes a political position. The Palestinian cause has become deeply etched in the Arab collective subconscious and has even become an increasingly pervasive slogan in western liberal activist discourse. Now the real litmus [test] of Arab intellectuals’ and activists’ commitment to the Palestinian cause is no longer their support for Palestinian rights, but rather, their support for the Assad leadership’s struggle against the imperialist-Zionist-Arab moderate axis’ onslaught against it.

Supporting Assad’s struggle against this multi-pronged assault is supporting Palestine today because Syria has become the new front line of the war between Empire and those resisting it. The third-way progressive intellectuals are failing to see the Syrian crisis through this strategic lens. They have shown an inability to “take a step back from the details and look at the bigger picture,” to quote Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.”

And no, you don’t have to read the whole thing, it goes on and on like this – a great illustration of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the anti-Zionism-anti-Americanism-fixation that is a core tenet of the leftist-Islamist alliance and its pro-Palestinian activism.

It seems that Ha’aretz columnist Ari Shavit is blissfully unaware of the appeal of this ideological fixation among the “pro-Palestinian” crowd. Under the title “A deafening silence,” he writes in his recent column:

“During one year, the secular Arab nationalism of Bashar Assad has spilled more innocent blood than the Zionists have in decades. This Arab tyrant, who in the past was the darling of Arab Knesset members, is massacring his fellow Arabs in a way that Israel never did. Arab cities are being bombed, Arab women are murdered, Arab children are slaughtered. An Arab society is being shredded, and an Arab state shattered into fragments.

Despite all this, the The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel is not demanding that the United Nations intervene to stop the bloodshed. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is not petitioning the International Criminal Court in the Hague to put the war criminals on trial. Large Land Day type demonstrations have not been called. Protesters who take part in mass marches every October aren’t marching. Arab students who mark the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 aren’t coming out against the Syrian Nakba of 2012. Israel’s Arab minority and its anti-Zionist left are watching as thousands of Arab are massacred – and are standing idly by.”

Shavit then goes on to argue that the failure to protest the slaughter in Syria reveals the hypocrisy of the anti-Israel crowd:

“But the Syrian tragedy has serious ramifications for Israel’s anti-Zionist community as well. The inability of this community to directly confront Arab evil undermines the moral basis for its battle against Israeli evil. Its unwillingness to demand that universal values be upheld in Hama and in Homs pulls the rug out from under its demands that universal values be upheld in Ramallah and Nazareth. Its silence when faced with the butcher of Damascus makes its condemnations of the State of Israel sound hollow. […]

Communism in the West was destroyed in the 1950s because it tolerated Stalin’s bloody dictatorship. Tolerance in the face of Assad’s bloody murderousness is liable to have the same effect on Arab-Jewish radicalism in Israel.”

I sure wish Shavit was right – but I doubt it. After all, the oppressive and brutal nature of the Assad-regime was never really in doubt, and the same holds true for Libya’s Gadhafi or the Iranian regime.

Yet, in 2010, a large delegation of Israeli-Arab leaders – including Knesset members – met with Gadhafi to affirm that they are “part of the Arab world” and to share with him their “problems.” One of the problems was apparently that Israeli-Arab Knesset members couldn’t visit all the Arab dictators and autocrats – which, as one of them fumed “angers us and violates our basic rights.” But as everybody knew, Gadhafi, ever the humanitarian, had already formulated a solution for all those terrible problems and human rights violations: get rid of the Jewish state and replace it with “Isratine.”

To be sure, there was a bit of embarrassment a year later, and all of a sudden, some members of the delegation felt it was time to come forward with some less glowing impressions from their visit.

Yet, there is also MK Haneen Zoabi, who reportedly said that in her view, “Iran’s role in Palestinian affairs was ‘more useful’ than that of regimes like Jordan and Egypt, in that Iran stood more firmly ‘against occupation than a lot of the Arab countries. This is our interest.’” She also reportedly believes that Iran’s quest for nuclear arms is to be welcomed since the specter of “Mutually Assured Destruction” would be the only way to curb Israel’s aggression.

These were the views Zoabi expressed in spring 2009, and she probably didn’t like it very much that a few months later, crowds of Iranian regime opponents used the Khomenei-ordained “Quds Day” – when Iranians are supposed to show their support for the Palestinian cause – to chant “Na Gaza, na Lebnan, jaanam fadaaye Iran” (Not Gaza nor Lebanon, I give my life for Iran).

But of course, the Iranian regime prevailed with its unrestrained brutality, and its well-practiced thugs can now afford to help Assad suppress the Syrian uprising.

Who cares as long as Iran’s role in Palestinian affairs is “useful”…

Palestine ÜBER ALLES!!!


A piece published today by the British writer and researcher Shiraz Maher provides yet another example of the same ideological fixation for the British politician and Viva Palestina campaigner George Galloway. Maher notes that Viva Palestina’s most recent “aid” convoy to Gaza was scheduled to pass through Syria, but that apparently nobody in the organization thought of “aiding the tens of thousands of Syrians who have been systematically tortured, abused, or displaced in that country.” As Maher points out:

“This is boilerplate hypocrisy for Galloway who has spent his career in obsequious servitude to any tyrant on condition that he has money, is anti-Israel, and anti-Western. In Iraq he famously told Saddam Hussein, ‘Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability – a man who arguably killed more Muslims and Arabs than any other leader in the region. But Saddam is no more, so on to the next. In Iran, where President Ahmadinejad crushed the ‘Green revolution’ Galloway has showered the regime with fawning praise and unfettered encomiums. In Damascus, where no political parties are allowed, where no elections take place, and where human rights are a mere fantasy, he told a handpicked audience, ‘Syria is lucky to have Bashar Al-Assad as her president.’”

(h/t Martin Kramer)

Another very relevant piece is a previous article by Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, where she sets out to explain, or rather justify, “Why Hezbollah Supports the Assad Regime.” Her central point is that

“Syria’s strategic value does not merely lie in its arms’ supply role [for Hezbollah], but derives from its status as the Arab linchpin of the resistance front, or to borrow Nasrallah’s words, “the only resistance regime in the region”. On balance, “the Syrian leadership can be credited with the preservation and maintenance of the Palestinian cause,” for Hezbollah. So indispensable was the Assad regime to Palestine that Nasrallah boldly declares: “the continuation of this Syrian position” (and by implication, the preservation of the regime), is “the precondition to the continuation of the Palestinian cause.” Accordingly, any threat to the regime’s security and survival is a “danger” not only to Syria, but to Palestine and — considering its role in ending the Lebanese civil war — to Lebanon as well.”

(h/t Bella Center)

The relatively short article published in Al Akhbar is supposedly only part of a larger “study” that, according to a note at the end of the piece, “was originally published by the Conflicts Forum.” However, following the link only leads to the homepage of the notorious organization and a “page not found” notice; a search on the website also fails to turn up the piece. Could it be that Saad-Ghorayeb’s unabashed shilling for Hezbollah and Assad was a bit too much even for the conflict-promoting Conflicts Forum?

Anyone unfamiliar with this organization should check out the excellent exposé by Hussein Ibish and Michael Weiss, who point out:

“Conflicts Forum, which received $708,000 from the EU between 2007 and 2009, is the brainchild of Alastair Crooke, a former long-serving British intelligence agent and adviser to the former EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. In recent years Crooke has emerged as the leading Western champion of Arab and Muslim extremists and anti-Western regimes. Conflicts Forum, in other words, does not seek to resolve conflicts but rather exacerbates them. […]

Most of the publications on the Conflicts Forum website reflect official Iranian ideology and foreign policy, including articles explaining ‘Iran’s commitment to the Palestinian cause,’ attacking the Palestinian Authority, strongly supporting Hamas, celebrating the ‘principled foreign policy of Ayatollah Khamenei,’ and casting the Arab Spring as an Iranian-style ‘Islamic awakening.’”

Quote of the day

“We can tell that this hostility to Israel is as artificially constructed as any antisemitism by looking at the list of theatre groups [performing at the Globe Theatre World Shakespeare Festival in London] against which the enlightened ones organized no boycott. Antizionists have created a whole new ‘-ism’, a worldview, around their campaign against Israel. Within it, a caricature of Israel is endowed with huge symbolic significance which relates only here and there to the actual state, to the complex conflict and to the diversity of existing Israelis. If the Palestinians stand, in the antizionist imagination, as symbolic of all the victims of ‘the west’ or ‘imperialism’ then Israel is thrust into the centre of the world as being symbolic of oppression everywhere. Like antisemitism, antizionism imagines Jews as being central to all that is bad in the world.”

From the truly brilliant reflections by David Hirsh on the Habima Theatre’s performance of “The Merchant of Venice” in London. David prefaces his post with the often debated question: “Is the Merchant of Venice an antisemitic play or is it a play which intimately depicts the anatomy of persecution, exclusion and bullying?” The way David tackles this question is particularly powerful because he combines his impressions from the play with his thoughts about the BDS protesters who tried to disrupt the performance.


At CiFWatch, Adam Levick has an excellent post on the review of the Habima production by the Guardian’s theatre critic, who, unsurprisingly, happens to be an enthusiastic admirer of Caryl Churchill’s antisemitic play “Seven Jewish Children.” It’s only natural then that the Guardian’s theatre critic can’t help herself when she sees the broken Shylock at the end of the play: why mention anything about antisemitism if you feel so strongly that it’s “impossible not to think of other displaced people, too, most particularly the Palestinians”…

With lies against Israel

Avi Mayer documented today how so-called pro-Palestinian activists on Twitter spread lies about invented Israeli atrocities:

IsraellyCool has a post with the relevant information about the photos in question, documenting that both photos are several years old and have nothing to do with the current Israeli response to the rocket barrage from Gaza and that the little injured girl was the victim of an accident.

Long after the photos were shown to be old, irrelevant and misleading, one pro-Palestinian activists finally suggested that it was time to stop spreading lies, and this tweet was retweeted by Ali Abunimah:

However, Doherty/bangpound did so perpetuating the lie that the little girl was killed by Israeli bombs: he linked to an old post of the “Angry Arab,” i.e. Asad AbuKhalil, Professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus:

No, this is not Zionism — these are just some of the endlessly repeated Palestinian lies about Zionism.


It turns out that the person who originally tweeted the photo of the badly injured girl and claimed that this was “another child killed by Israel” happens to work for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – and guess what her job is? Information and Media Coordinator… (EXPOSED: UN Media Official Responsible for False Photo Tweet)

I also wanted to link to another recent fake anti-Israel photo that went viral a few weeks ago and was exposed by blogger Omar Dakhane: it’s again a photo of a “Palestinian” girl lying on the ground, with an “Israeli” soldier about to stomp on her – all courtesy of a 2009 street theater performance in Bahrain.

Showcasing Israeli wrongs: +972 and the BDS campaign

Last Thursday, a terrible accident involving a Palestinian school bus and an Israeli truck killed eight children and left an additional 36 children injured; some of the victims suffered serious burns caused by a fire that broke out after the crash. As the Jerusalem Post reported, Israeli rescue services were immediately mobilized, and some of the seriously injured children were evacuated to Israeli hospitals to receive the most advanced care.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was abroad, offered the Palestinian Authority (PA) ”any aid requested,” and President Shimon Peres telephoned Palestinian President Abbas to convey his condolences.

However, as the Jerusalem Post also reported, several Palestinian officials immediately blamed Israel for some of the deaths, claiming that rescue services were prevented from quickly coming to the scene of the accident and didn’t treat the injured adequately. Israeli officials rejected these accusations and pointed out that all of the injured had been evacuated to hospitals within 30 minutes after the accident.

In a post aptly entitled Where Also The Truth Goes Up In Flames, Aussie Dave at IsraellyCool concluded that the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to blame Israel” and pointed out that this was a “sickening accident and sickening attempts to exploit it as part of the demonization campaign against Israel.”

However, the far-left online magazine +972 chose to highlight a very different angle. Completely ignoring the attempts of Palestinian officials to exploit the tragedy for political purposes, a blog post by  Fady Khoury, an intern at Adalah, an organization promoting Arab minority rights in Israel, focused on a selection of disgusting reader comments at the Facebook page of Israel’s Walla News.

Khoury noted that “there were a lot of readers who condemned these and other racist comments,” but he justified highlighting the repulsive comments:

Israelis tend to accuse Palestinians of being immoral because once and again [sic] the Israeli media shows Palestinians gloating and celebrating over the death of innocent Israelis. The reaction of these ordinary Israelis to the death of Palestinian children shows that the “moral” party in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not so moral after all.

[…] My only intention is to show an example of the consequences of continuous occupation, which is affecting Israeli society as well as Palestinian society. […] there cannot be any doubt that these individuals feel comfortable openly expressing their hateful and racist opinions in a public domain mainly because discriminatory political discourse has legitimized this type of expression.

In my view, these comments should cause concern to Israelis more than Palestinians. Once hateful speech becomes legitimate, even if not explicitly, it tend [sic] to seep inwards, and in a divided and fragmented society – which is clearly the case in Israel – the risk is even greater.

It is worthwhile to read Khoury’s words carefully, because he provides an excellent example of the efforts to mainstream the demonization of Israel.

Presenting himself as fair-minded and objective by acknowledging that the repulsive comments were immediately criticized, he appeals to an audience that is not a priori ready to condemn Israel. However, Khoury then goes on to claim that the comments illustrated “the consequences of continuous occupation” and that “these individuals feel comfortable openly expressing their hateful and racist opinions in a public domain mainly because discriminatory political discourse has legitimized this type of expression.”

Khoury’s short post offers no evidence to back up his assertions; indeed, his own acknowledgment that “there were a lot of readers who condemned these and other racist comments” obviously contradicts his subsequent claims that a “discriminatory political discourse has legitimized this type of expression.”

The plain fact of the matter is that in every country, you will find individuals who are posting vicious comments about their objects of hate – and evidence for this can easily be found by looking at talkbacks for articles about Israel…

It is also important to note that +972’s professed goal is “to provide fresh, original, on-the-ground reporting and analysis of events in Israel and Palestine;” in addition, the name of the site – derived from the telephone area code that is shared by Israel and Palestine – is presumably meant to convey the message that events should not be seen in a compartmentalized way, but as interconnected.

This is therefore a site where you can expect to find a commentary on Israel’s social protest last summer complaining about the protesters’ lack of interest in discussing the occupation of the West Bank.

But when it comes to appalling comments, it’s apparently fine and dandy to simply highlight that they can be found on Hebrew websites and to tout this as proof that Israel is “not so moral after all.”

The obvious implication is that Israel has no reason to complain when Palestinians glorify terrorism – but the obvious problem is that there are countless well-documented examples showing that, very different from Israel, this is a mainstream phenomenon in Palestinian society that is openly endorsed and promoted by political, religious and social leaders, and that Palestinian criticism of this phenomenon is quite rare.

Any “fresh, original, on-the-ground reporting and analysis” of this by +972?

If there is anything “fresh” or “original” about yet another website that joins the already crowded field of sites that push the simplistic narrative of Israel as the perpetrator and Palestinians as the victim, it is perhaps the fact that +972 usually refrains from the shrill anti-Zionism and scrupulously tries to avoid the open antisemitism that is quite popular among the “blame Israel firsters.”

But like so many others, +972 pushes the popular notion that “without dramatic pressure from abroad […] Israelis will continue the occupation and the current political trends forever.” While this message ultimately reflects a deep despise for the majority of mainstream Israelis, there is definitely an audience that appreciates the endless repetition of this empty claim.

The traffic attracted by +972 has reportedly “grown exponentially since its inception” in the summer of 2010 – driven presumably also by the fact that some well-placed writers like the New York Times Lede editor Robert Mackey have repeatedly quoted the site – and, in addition to some smaller funds,  +972 has recently received a one-year, $60,000 grant from the Social Justice Fund intended to “help support the site becoming a sustainable operation” as well as a $10,000 grant from the Moriah Fund.

Given that the New Israel Fund wants to help +972 to become “a sustainable operation,” it should be legitimate to scrutinize the basic world view propagated by the site.

The initiative for +972’s establishment came reportedly from Noam Sheizaf, who serves as editor in chief and CEO. According to a recent admiring feature by Sarah Wildman in The Nation, Sheizaf is “magnetic, intellectual and articulate” – and Wildman assures her readers that  the “same is true” for all the other +972 contributors she has spoken to. However, Wildman admits that the “writers are fringe,” though she insists that “they are on the whole far smarter and more nuanced than most who attract that label.”

But all the smartness and nuance cannot conceal that ultimately, +972 has as little sympathy for the experience of the mainstream Israelis who, after supporting the Oslo process in the 1990s, learned from the bloody violence of the Al-Aqsa intifada and the continued rocket threat from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip that their hopes for “peace now” were not realistic.

While +972 writers may feel that they “are all part of a process of redrawing the Israeli political map,” there is reason to think that, unwittingly or not, they may actually be part of a very different process: it turns out that editor in chief and CEO Noam Sheizaf  thinks that the “Palestinian problem is a human rights problem disguised as a diplomatic problem; this was Israel’s greatest success, making it look like a geopolitical issue.”

This is of course exactly the position of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that campaigns frantically to delegitimize Israel as an “Apartheid state” – indeed, this issue was highlighted in the tempestuous debate that followed Norman Finkelstein’s recent criticism of BDS. Consider the following passage from a scathing rejection of Finkelstein’s criticism published by +972:

There is an increasing consensus among Israel’s critics to see the issue as one of civil rights, rather than a conflict between two nations. Indeed, some BDS activists harbor a desire to see the end of the Jewish state, and others believe this is the inevitable outcome of a civil rights movement, whether they desire it or not. But many others, I would argue most Palestinians among them, simply don’t care about this abstract One State v. Two State argument. They just don’t think civil rights – indeed human rights – can be trumped by someone’s nationalist claims.

Very different from Sheizaf’s spiteful notion that it “was Israel’s greatest success, making it look like a geopolitical issue,” it is actually the BDS movement’s greatest ambition to ignore the history of the conflict and repackage the rejectionist Palestinian view that Israel’s mere existence as a Jewish state constitutes some basic violation of Palestinian “rights” into slogans that will appeal to activists – many of whom care primarily about human rights violations that can be blamed on Israel.

The BDS movement is dependent on a steady stream of stories about Israel’s wrongdoings – whether real, invented or just liberally embellished – and by showcasing Israeli wrongs without much regard for context and reinforcing a simplistic perpetrator-victim narrative, +972 is doing its part, even if its writers may not openly support BDS.

Moreover, ignoring the long history of Arab and Palestinian rejectionism and pretending that the conflict is a “human rights problem disguised as a diplomatic problem” inevitably implies that efforts to negotiate a two-states-for-two-peoples solution will not solve the Palestinian “human rights problem.”

That is exactly the message BDS activists want to get out – and, couched in Islamist terms, this also happens to be the message of Hamas:

From time to time there are calls to hold an international conference in order to seek a solution for the [Palestinian] problem. Some accept this [proposal] and some reject it, for one reason or another […]  However, the Islamic Resistance Movement […] does not believe that these conferences can meet the demands or restore the rights [of the Palestinians], or bring equity to the oppressed.

I think anyone who agrees with the view that the “Palestinian problem is a human rights problem disguised as a diplomatic problem” and that this “disguise” is somehow due to Israel’s nefarious machinations should wonder what exactly distinguishes this position from the stance of Hamas.

Moreover, anyone who sincerely believes that the Palestinian problem is exclusively or primarily a human rights problem should insist that this problem is illuminated in all its aspects – including abuses by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, and including the longstanding severe discrimination suffered by the descendants of Palestinian refugees who are denied citizenship and related rights in the countries they were born.

Anyone who is interested in Palestinian human rights only when their violation can be blamed on Israel is not a human rights activist, but an anti-Israel activist – and there is absolutely nothing “fresh” or “original” about that.

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

Apartheid activists unmask themselves

Once again, anti-Israel activists are busy organizing their annual “Israel Apartheid Week” hullabaloo, which they apparently hope to stretch out over some three weeks from mid-February to early March.

It is a pathetically undignified spectacle – indeed, if the intention was to discredit the Palestinian cause, it wouldn’t be all that easy to come up with something more embarrassing.

As Professor Gideon Shimoni, who authored a book about the Jewish community in apartheid South Africa, has pointed out, it is utterly disingenuous to transform “the term ‘apartheid’ from the description of a singular historical phenomenon in a particular time and place – South Africa from about 1948 to 1994 – into a generic concept. This deceptive device functions much like use of the term ‘holocaust’ to describe any and all human disasters.”

Shimoni also emphasized that there can be no comparison between the conduct of the African National Congress (ANC) and the PLO and other Palestinian factions:

“In South Africa the blacks started with a tradition of non-violent resistance. They tried in every peaceful way to argue their case, only turning to violence as a last resort, because the other side refused to negotiate. Even when the African National Congress (ANC) turned to violence, its nature was incomparable with the barbarically indiscriminate practice not only of the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad but even of the PLO. […] Comparing the Palestinian struggle to that of the ANC is an absolute insult to the latter’s historical record.”

Moreover, Shimoni argued that

the Israel=apartheid fallacy can serve as a litmus test for distinguishing between those who are hostile to Israel’s very existence and those who are conscientious critics of the policies and actions of Israel’s governments and public.

This is a crucial point, because all the activist verbiage about “legitimate” Palestinian rights, justice and equality cannot obscure the fact that those who have made a career of demonizing Israel as an apartheid state plainly share the Iranian president’s view that Palestinian “rights” will only be fully realized in a “world without Zionism.” In other words, this view posits that the realization of Palestinian rights requires the denial of the Jewish right to self-determination and the abolition of the Jewish state.

But professional demonizers of Israel like Ali Abunimah tend to tailor their message. When Abunimah addresses a broader audience, he will emphasize “Palestinian rights and international law,” but when he addresses primarily his faithful fan club, he will leave no doubt that “apartheid”-activists like him have no interest in a Palestinian state alongside Israel:

As these tweets demonstrate nicely, Israel doesn’t have to do anything to be demonized: the fantasies of Ali Abunimah are enough to get him going.

In the screenshot above, you also see a retweet from benabyad, aka Ben White, a fellow-blogger at Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada and author of a book on “Israeli Apartheid.” White tweeted his pride in being quoted in a Knesset debate by MK Hannen Zoabi, who contributed a Foreword to his most recent book – which is in itself a splendid illustration of “Israeli Apartheid:” an Arab – excuse me: Palestinian – MK who, with impunity, spends a lot of time engaging in activities designed to undermine the state in whose parliament she is serving, all the while complaining about discrimination… Where else in the Middle East could she do this?

Ben White is of course also convinced that there shouldn’t be a Jewish state in any borders – indeed, his CV consists only of anti-Israel activism – but he often prefers to put it in a less than straightforward way. For example, when he was recently interviewed on the website Jadaliyya, he was asked what audience he was trying to reach with his new book and what impact he hoped for:

I hope that this book can be a useful resource for university students, and also for human rights/solidarity activists, seeking to have a better grasp of Israel’s discriminatory policies towards Palestinian citizens. But I also would like this to be read by those people who have an interest in the issue or region as a whole, and who have never had a chance to seriously unpack the implications of Israel’s definition as a “Jewish and democratic” state. There are insights here, I believe, that are crucial for an approach to the conflict that realistically appreciates what it will take to reach a settlement.

As is evident from all of Ben White’s writings, the “approach” he hopes to popularize is one that demands the abolition of Israel as a Jewish state.

The interview is followed by a short excerpt of Ben White’s new book, which starts with these assertions:

The Negev, or al-Naqab in Arabic, is an area that has been consistently targeted by Israeli governments, along with agencies like the Jewish National Fund (JNF), for so-called “development,” i.e. Judaization. In parallel to the indigenous Bedouin Palestinians being expelled and forcibly relocated (see Chapter Two), private resources have been mobilized in order to “settle” the Negev with Jews.

Well, could there be anything more outrageous than Israel planning to develop part of the state’s underdeveloped territory???

Notice also that the Bedouin are now “Bedouin Palestinians” – and what should we make of the fact that Ben White is so utterly opposed to having Jews moving to the Negev? Sounds like he’s in favor of a Jew-free Negev, or maybe some kind of apartheid???

But what is perhaps particularly ridiculous is that Ben White hopes that his book will be read by people “who have an interest in the issue or region as a whole.” Follow benabyad’s (oh, the spell-check would prefer beanbag…) tweets for a few days, and you’ll see that he has absolutely no interest in the “region as a whole.” The region doesn’t exist for him, even the Palestinians exist only insofar as their affairs can be related to Israel – Ben White is truly a one-trick-pony, and for him, it’s all about the Jewish state.

So no, Ben White wouldn’t know a thing about the Bedouins in the Sinai, and since they are probably not “Bedouin Palestinians” and it would be tricky to blame any of their grievances on Israel, Ben White couldn’t care less. Oh boy, what he is missing – of course there could be an Israeli angle! As Amr Yossef explained in a Foreign Affairs article last September:

Ever since 1982, when Egypt restored its control over the Sinai Peninsula after 15 years of Israeli occupation, the Bedouin majority who live there have been framed by the government in Cairo as outlaws. They are culturally and ethnically apart from Egyptians of the Nile Valley and share largely nomadic and clan-based social connections that extend beyond national borders. Bedouins were also long suspected of being collaborators during the Israeli occupation, accused of taking jobs with Israeli companies and starting new businesses under Israeli control.

As a result, Sinai Bedouins have long faced state discrimination: Almost a fifth are refused Egyptian citizenship, and all are denied the right to own land for fear that they would resell it to Israelis. Bedouins are also excluded from Egypt’s mandatory conscription, prohibited from joining police or military academies or from holding key positions in Sinai’s two governorates.

These discriminatory policies have been compounded by economic marginalization. Only a tiny fraction of Bedouins were able to find work in Egypt’s tourism industry, the country’s largest economic sector. In fact, many Bedouins believe that they were better off in terms of employment, education, and medical services under Israeli administration.

No doubt, the Sinai Bedouins are desperately in need of being educated by Ben White. So here’s a worthy cause for the activist networks he relies on: organize a Sinai book tour for Ben White!!! But of course, he would consider this only if Israel re-occupied the Sinai…

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Cross-posted from my JPost blog

Quote of the day

And if PennBDS is particularly disturbed only by the oppression of Palestinian Arabs, then one wonders why they are not protesting the governments of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Syria, or others in which the Palestinians have suffered extreme discrimination, violence, and forced expulsions.

In Gaza, under the authority of Hamas, political freedom, religious freedom, and freedom of association are severely curtailed, women’s rights are limited, human rights activists are targeted, and homosexuality is a criminal offense.

Upon any serious consideration, it becomes clear that BDS actually has no problem with oppression, no problem with oppression of Arabs, and no problem with the oppression of Palestinian Arabs. BDS actually has a problem only with Israel and it can only be deduced that their problem is truly with Jews.

Sarit Catz, Bigotry under the umbrella of a great university, commenting on the forthcoming 2012 National Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Conference at the University of Pennsylvania campus on Feb. 3-5, organized by a university-recognized group called PennBDS. Many excellent posts about the hollow BDS claims can be found at PennBDS-Oy.

Much more hypocrisy to be discovered

A recent NYT/IHT op-ed that decries the hypocrisy of Hezbollah’s resistance will disappoint any reader who hopes for a cogent analysis of the hollow “resistance” rhetoric of the militant Islamist group that has built a state within a state in Lebanon.

Larbi Sadiki, a senior lecturer in Middle East politics at the University of Exeter, argues that by failing to support the Syrian uprising against the Assad regime, Hezbollah’s leaders “expose themselves as hypocrites.”

Reminding his readers that not so long ago, the “Syrian masses […] worshiped the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah,” Sadiki points out that they now “curse him when they parade in public squares. The posters of Mr. Assad and Mr. Nasrallah that once adorned car windows and walls throughout Syria are now regularly torched.”

Sadiki then explains why the Hezbollah leader had been so popular:

Until recently, Mr. Nasrallah, a Shiite, was a pan-Arab icon. His standing as Hezbollah’s chairman and commander of the 2006 war against Israel elevated him to new heights of popularity among Shiites and Sunnis alike, reminiscent of the former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s political stardom following the nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956.

Not only did Mr. Nasrallah fight Israel next door; he defied pro-American Arab states, trained and protected Hamas in Lebanon, backed Moktada al-Sadr’s Shiite militia as it killed Americans in Iraq, and showed absolute loyalty to Iran. His fans were in the millions. The Arab multitude from Casablanca to Mecca saw him as a genuine hero who talked the talk and fought the good fight.

It seems that as far as Sadiki is concerned, everything would have been fine and dandy if only Hezbollah, this “wildly popular resistance movement,” had been clever enough to voice some support for the Syrian protesters – or if Hezbollah had at least been as “politically savvy” as their fellow resisters in Hamas, which, according to Sadiki, impressed “onlookers by what it didn’t do and say rather than what it did or said.”

It is also instructive to check out another op-ed by Sadiki on the same subject, entitled “Hezbollah and the Arab revolution” that was published last June by Al Jazeera.

There, he recalls Nasrallah’s “victory” speech after the war with Israel in August 2006:

The sea of people I saw in August 2006 that came to greet and listen to Nasrallah after the 34-day war with Israel related to these messages [i.e. what Sadiki calls the “Che-Khomeini rhetoric: the language of ‘world imperialism’ mixed with meaning about ‘the oppressed’, ‘down-trodden’, ‘justice’, ‘self-determination’ and ‘liberty’”]. They still do. Many more do the same from Rabat to Sana’a.

Nasrallah’s oratory in the “Divine Pledge” [al-Wa’d al-Sadiq] before hundreds of thousands, was electrifying – as ever, the oracle of the down-trodden, crushed by injustice and occupation. In Nasrallah’s mantra of change via resistance, or muqawamah, they find solace, a kind of redemption, and hope for reconstitution as equals to all free human beings.

It’s almost pathetic to contemplate this mindless cheerleading for a “hero” that recklessly provoked a war that brought considerable devastation and suffering to Lebanon.

What Sadiki overlooks in his romantic ravings about Hezbollah’s “resistance” is the fact that, once Israel had withdrawn to the internationally recognized border in May 2000, Hezbollah’s “resistance” could hardly be regarded as promoting Lebanon’s interests or the concerns of Lebanon’s poor. But since it was in Hezbollah’s narrow partisan interest, the group continued harassing Israeli positions near the border and, in October 2000, also crossed into Israeli territory to kidnap three soldiers. It was later established that the three soldiers had been killed and that their attackers had posed as UN personnel; after many similar “resistance operations,” Israel finally responded in 2006 to these attacks that, after all, constituted acts of war.

In an interview with a Lebanese TV station, Sadiki’s erstwhile hero Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged shortly after his supposedly “divine victory” in August 2006 that he had not expected “that the capture [of Israeli soldiers] would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.”

Obviously, this also implies a justification for Israel’s forceful response, because Nasrallah’s message is that as long as they could kidnap Israeli soldiers and stage cross-border attacks with impunity, they would continue to do so.

To be sure, Sadiki has a point when he emphasizes how truly popular Nasrallah and Assad were not so long ago – and one could add Ahmadinejad, who also ranked among the most popular leaders in a 2008 Arab opinion poll. But while Nasrallah and Assad now have their pictures torched, they and their regimes are no different now than they were when they enjoyed broad popular support for their “resistance” pose.

Ultimately, the “resistance” ethos that Sadiki so ardently defends can only be sustained if millions of Arabs willingly continue to serve as “useful idiots” for political leaders who expect their constituency to subordinate mundane concerns about the lack of economic opportunity or social and political development to an ideology that demonizes Israel and the West as the enemies of the Muslim world. As long as this ideology is popular in the Arab world, the Arabs will get the leaders they deserve – no matter how many springs pass.

Just one variant of anti-Zionism

In the flood of commentary elicited by Newt Gingrich’s remarks about the ‘invention’ of Palestinian national identity, a more than two decades-old article by Daniel Pipes has been referenced by several writers. Under the title “The Year the Arabs Discovered Palestine,” Pipes reviews the events of 1920 and explains why the developments of this year gave rise to the first expressions of Palestinian nationalism .

Since I’ve argued in a recent post that would-be peacemakers all too often overlook the problematic fact that Palestinian national identity is to a large degree based on opposing Zionism, I was intrigued to read that Pipes also emphasized:

Ultimately, Palestinian nationalism origi­nated in Zionism; were it not for the exis­tence of another people who saw British Palestine as their national home, the Arabs would have continued to view this area as a province of Greater Syria. Zionism turned Palestine into something worthy in itself; if not for the Jewish aspirations, Sunni Arab attitudes toward Palestine would no doubt have resembled those toward the territory of Transjordan — an indifference only slowly eroded by many years of governmental effort. Palestinian nationalism promised the most direct way to deal with the challenge presented by Zionist settlers.

Putting it perhaps even more starkly, Pipes notes in his conclusion that “Palestinian nationalism is just one variant of anti-Zionism.”

Reading this, I remembered that at the beginning of the article, Pipes describes Palestinian nationalism as “the most widely supported but possibly the least successful nationalist cause of this [i.e. the 20th] century.”

Maybe, just maybe, there’s a connection somewhere?

But since Daniel Pipes seems to be not everyone’s favorite and most trusted Middle East expert, let’s see who else thinks that anti-Zionism is a central part of Palestinian identity: writing in the Guardian almost exactly four years ago, Ahmad Samih Khalidi, a former Palestinian negotiator who is now at Oxford, described the re-emergence of a distinct Palestinian identity that, according to him, had been “lost” in the wake of the “nakba”:

It was only after the 1967 debacle that a new Palestinian national identity began to take shape. At its core was the notion of the armed struggle as a galvanising force. Armed struggle, according to Fatah, restored Palestinian dignity and gave the Palestinians a say in determining their future.

Statehood and state building had no real place in this scheme. Indeed, the first tentative proposals to establish a state in Palestine (ie the West Bank) were rejected as defeatist and a betrayal of the national cause. […] Today, the Palestinian state is largely a punitive construct devised by the Palestinian’s worst historical enemies; Israel and its implacable ally, the US. The intention behind the state today is to constrain Palestinian aspirations territorially, to force them to give up on their moral rights, renege on their history and submit to Israel’s diktats on fundamental issues of sovereignty.

Khalidi concludes his article by suggesting that the Palestinians might pursue a “one-state-solution” or that they “could simply continue to say no to a state that does nothing to address its [sic] basic needs.”

His final sentence is:

Either way, it’s hard to see how Israel can win this struggle in the long term.

In April of this year, Khalidi argued in another Guardian article that there was

a slow but sure manifestation of a new transnational movement, centred less on statehood and more on forging a national project that will traverse the existing Palestinian divides – diaspora, occupied territories and Israeli Arab citizens – and bypass the notion of an independent Palestinian state on part of Palestinian soil. […]

What this approach, still in nascent and tentative form, reflects may be profoundly important for the future of the struggle; a move away from seeking the ever-shifting goalposts of an inevitably constrained and incomplete form of statehood that would come at the expense of equally fundamental rights to a much broader interpretation of self-determination that includes all the divergent Palestinian constituencies, and a much wider and continuing confrontation with the Zionist enterprise in Palestine.

Well, if Pipes is right that Palestinian national identity first began to emerge in 1920, it’s just a few more years until the Palestinians will be able to mark the 100th anniversary of their “continuing confrontation with the Zionist enterprise in Palestine” — 100 years of national anti-Zionism.