Mondoweiss / December 10, 2022
It is surely shocking to hear advertisements for racial separation in an American progressive space, but last weekend’s J Street conference featured an Israeli politician, Yair Golan, putting forward a frank description of Jim Crow Israel as the only solution to the Palestinian problem:
“Israel’s only chance is to choose the option of separation… The fulfillment of the Zionist vision is a homeland for the Jewish people with a solid Jewish majority– and we need to admit that. This is the only route to a free, equal and democratic state.”
Golan, a retired general, is on the far left of Israeli Jewish politics, a former member of parliament in the Meretz Party, which did not even make the cut in the last Israeli election.
VIDEO : ‘Separation with solid Jewish majority’ –an appeal for Jim Crow Israel at J Street – Mondoweiss
So this is your leftwing Zionist argument in Israel, hosted by liberal Zionist cheerleaders in America; and it’s the ideal of segregation.
In his speech from the main stage of the conference Sunday, Golan described the Palestinian issue as an “existential threat” to Israel.
“The Palestinian issue threatens to tear up Israeli society from within. There is no more controversial issue than the future of the territories. No other issue has caused so much political violence in Israel, and no issue requires reaching decisions as tough as those required by the Palestinian issue.
“In fact, Israel has two options, one destructive and the second very difficult. Israel must choose– the sooner, the better– annexation or separation.
“Remember that, annexation or separation. These are the only two options looking ahead to the future. Annexation will destroy the Zionist dream. Between 2.6 to 3.2 million Palestinian people live in Judea and Samaria [biblical term for the West Bank]. 2.1 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip. The messianic right in Israel aims to annex Judea and Samaria, reoccupy Gaza and rebuild Gush Khatif [settlements in Gaza]. It’s crazy.
“This messianic vision is a complete madness. Israel’s only chance is to choose the option of separation. I will not explain now, but separation can be implemented practically…
“The fulfillment of the Zionist vision is a homeland for the Jewish people with a solid Jewish majority– and we need to admit that. This is the only route to a free, equal and democratic state. All other attempts to force together two different populations, roughly the same size with a long history of animosity and war, is destined to fail. The challenge of creating a true and equal partnership with a large Arab minority, the Arab citizens of Israel, is challenging and difficult enough.
“Separation won’t be easy to carry out either but it is the only chance for a future of security and peace for Israel. The process of executing the separation may have to involve unilateral, bilateral and multilateral actions, and Israel as original power must take initiative and lead the cause.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s all about initiative, and I am ashamed to say that we lost this ability to take initiative.
Meretz fell below the 3.25 percent threshold for representation in the parliament after a political campaign in which the Palestinian issue was never even discussed by Israeli parties.
Golan’s appeal for segregation is consistent with other such arguments offered at J Street, like the late Amos Oz’s prescription for separation of the Palestinian and Jewish communities.
Liberal Zionist speakers often relate their fears of the violence that would ensue if there was one state, with Jews and Palestinians vying for power. Those fears are understandable, but there is a one-state reality now and a lot of violence is being meted out to Palestinians that is not addressed by liberal Zionists. And maybe they should stop speaking of the “dream” of Zionism as something to be preserved, when Zionism is surely responsible for “a regime of Jewish supremacy” from the river to the sea (as the country’s leading human rights group labels the apartheid reality).
Golan did acknowledge the power of American Jews over these matters:
Israel is the homeland of all Jewish people. As a devoted servant of Israel and a true Israel patriot I ask you to continue to take all action possible. We in Israel need your wisdom, your insight, your unique Jewish culture, your organizational capabilities, your political knowledge, and all other means you may commit and share. I thank you for your incredible work you have done already.
It seems to me that liberal and leftwing American Jews need to assert themselves, and stop deferring to Israelis, and be honest about apartheid, and offer the civil rights movement in America as a model for change. Not the segregationist south. Palestinian politician Ayman Odeh did just that at the J Street conference, called on Americans to help Israel and Palestine experience a great transformation akin to the unfinished civil rights work in the U.S.
Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006