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(DV) Petersen: The Zero-State Solution







Principles Over Realism
The Zero-State Solution 

by Kim Petersen
November 14, 2006

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On 11 November, I received an e-mail from Jeff Blankfort who is perseverant in the struggle against the crimes of Zionism:


Several days ago, I sent to this list an article by Alan Dershowitz smearing Israeli professor Neve Gordon and US professor Norman Finkelstein. [1] I had not yet seen Prof. Gordon’s response to Dershowitz [2] and read the following lines [with my comments in brackets and in red] with which he introduced that response and attempted to establish his bona fides as a “loyal Israeli.” At least, in that respect, he succeeded all too well.

Jeff B

Gordon wrote:


Despite Dershowitz’s claims, I never compared Israelis to Nazis, [and why not? Is there no basis for making comparisons?] and I certainly am not a neo-Nazi or anti-Israeli [which, presumably, in Prof. Gordon's opinion, included those who deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.] Like Dershowitz, I am an American citizen, yet unlike him I have chosen to live in Israel [Is he chastising Dersh for not having chosen like the good Zionist, Gordon, to live in Israel and become another colonial settler?] and invest a large portion of my time struggling for social justice [as if the entire existence of Israel did not represent an attack on “social justice”]. I served in the Israeli paratroopers and was critically wounded defending the northern border. [How, we must ask, does Gordon's shedding of blood in defense of the Zionist enterprise fit in with his concept of ‘social justice’?]


Following the great [?] Jewish tradition, I try, however modestly, to be critical of Israel whenever its policies violate principles of justice or human rights. [Is there a single second in Israel's existence when it has not violated the basic principles of justice and human rights as incorporated in international law?]


Ironically, about two years ago Dershowitz invited me to contribute a chapter to a book he was editing called What Israel Means to Me. At that time he was not questioning my commitment to Israel. What, then, has led him to change his mind? [That’s a good question. Clearly Prof. Gordon is committed as much as Dershowitz to preserving Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, just one that is less oppressive to the Palestinians who he would support having a small, non-threatening state of their own somewhere in what was once Palestine. Dersh says he would go for that, as well. ]


...Unlike Dershowitz, however, when choosing between truth or dare I always side with truth. [There goes Gordon’s “modesty,” and the truth with it.]


I spoke to Neve Gordon about Blankfort’s questions. Gordon replied that Blankfort’s letter was “ludicrous” and that there was no basis for comparing Zionists to Nazis. Said Gordon, “In 40 years, the Israelis have killed 6,100 Palestinians. The Nazis put people in ovens. The Israeli occupation is brutal, but it is not ethnic cleansing and genocide.”


Ovens? And what was the Nakba in 1948 if not ethnic cleansing?


He pointed to Iraq and pointed out that the US occupation forces kill more Iraqis in a month than the Zionists have killed Palestinians during forty years of occupation.


Blankfort asked, “Is that really a basis for comparison? The insurgents in Iraq are armed like any other resistance and have outside support. The Palestinians are largely defenseless against Israel’s sophisticated army.”


Gordon said, “Jeffrey doesn’t know the history of the occupation.” Gordon didn’t deny that the occupation is brutal and ruthless but denied that there is a comparison with Nazism.


Blankfort replied,


My first trip of four months to the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan in 1970 is what led to my involvement in the struggle for Palestinian rights. Consequently I have come to know the history of the occupation quite well. I have not only witnessed that occupation in Gaza and the West Bank, the latter in 1983 when I spent two and a half months in Israel and Occupied Palestine, but also in Lebanon under Israeli occupation where I spent an additional two months the same year. Gordon, like most so-called “Left Zionists,” and like the Western media, seems to have amnesia about that war in which, in the space of a few weeks, the Israeli military killed an estimated 17,000 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians and yet paid no price, politically or economically.

Before going to Lebanon, I interviewed a number of members of Yesh G’vul, the resistance movement of Israeli reservists, who described the war crimes they had seen committed by their colleagues in the IDF, and who chose prison rather than return to what they saw as an illegal war.

Gordon, apparently, views the occupation as being only of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. If so, it clashes with his contention that “history is important while Blankfort’s notes are for the most part ahistorical.” Is contemporary Israel not ahistorical?


And why should the occupation be considered from the 1967 “borders”? Why should the occupation even be considered from the partition “borders” of 1947? To avoid ahistorical views, why not consider the entirety of the historical landmass of Palestine?


The death and destruction wreaked by Zionism is not confined to the Gaza Strip and West Bank. The state of Israel is birthed through terrorism, driven by racism, and has spawned many wars with its neighbors. Zionism has long outlasted Nazism. As for the violence in Iraq, the Jewish Lobby has a bloody hand in the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by the US-UK forces.


The scourge of Nazism was, for the most part, wiped out after World War II. But, consequent with the demise of Nazism was the catapulting of the sociopathology of Zionism.


Gordon said, “I’m not anti-Israel.”


Gordon put his support for Israel in an historical perspective: “Israel was born out of a holocaust. The Jews were refugees. Think of what it meant to have no home.”




This is the commonly accepted myth, but the infrastructure of the state was in place well before the holocaust. In fact, even while the Nazis’ crackdowns on Jews were taking place, the Zionist position, as expressed by Ben-Gurion, was that Jews should only come to Palestine and nowhere else and there are statements from him, as Gordon must surely know, that attest to this. He must also know how the Zionists in Palestine collaborated with the Nazis while sabotaging other efforts to rescue Jews.
Gordon asks us to think of “what it meant to have no home.” I ask him to think of that in the case of the Palestinians, and ask him who is responsible?


It brings to mind Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s unanswered question to the Europeans: “If you committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?” 


Gordon asserted, “Israel has the right to exist in its internationally recognized borders.”


Blankfort: “Curiously, it was Henry Kissinger who came up with the unprecedented notion that ‘Israel had a right to exist’ and that the PLO must recognize that in order for the Israelis as well as the US to speak to it. No other state asks for anything but the recognition that it, in fact, exists. Asking the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist is tantamount to asking them to legitimize, to approve, in retrospect, Israel’s dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians and the destruction of over 400 villages in 1948. This is no different than asking a rape victim, years afterward, to approve the crime committed by the rapist. In sum, states have no rights, per se, people have rights, but not to oppress other people regardless of the cause.”


I asked Gordon, “Can a country gain a right to exist through a wrong?”


Gordon replied, “Time passes and time changes the situation. Every country is born on the destruction of others.” He emphasized, however, that a solution must be found for the Palestinian refugees that did not entail kicking people out of Haifa and Jaffa.


Gordon denounced Blankfort’s view that Israel does not have a right to exist; Gordon called it the same as throwing Jews into the sea.


Blankfort: “I have long believed in a single state in historic Palestine and should that state eventually have an Arab majority, as would be natural for that region, it would be both just and appropriate. Israel is essentially a European settler colony in a non-European region and like a foreign body, surgically implanted, the host has continually rejected it. Had the settlers been Catholic, there would have been a similar conflict. We have seen what has happened to other settler colonial projects in Africa and elsewhere in modern times, and sooner or later, they evolve or disappear. Were Israel not backed by the US, the world’s leading imperial power, in which the Zionist lobby holds its Congress in thrall, Israel might already have taken this path.”


Gordon opined, “People need to have a feel for the politics, a feel for the history, a feel for what’s going on.” Blankfort lacks the “sense of history,” according to Gordon.


Gordon added, “People need to have a sense of the region.”

Blankfort: “I find this statement extraordinary coming from any Israeli and particular from an American Jewish settler. I suspect that Gordon, like most Israelis, has never traveled outside of Israel's borders except as part of an invading or occupying force. Does he think he has more of a sense of the region than do Palestinians who were born there and whose families been living there for centuries? But this kind of arrogance goes with the territory when it comes to Israel's apologists. They are the ones who are ‘the realists.’”


One assumes that Gordon has “a feel for the politics, a feel for the history, a feel for what’s going on.”


So what, then, is the solution?


Gordon sees the one-state solution as ideal, but finds the “realistic” solution is two states. “A one-state solution won’t pass,” said Gordon.


It is noteworthy, and of great concern, how the proffered reasoning or realism overrides (exculpates) principles.


This argument based on a perceived realism (reality depends on the observer, hence the aphorism “perception is reality”) is problematic. The argument could well be used against Israel in the future. The logic Gordon posits is that if a people become refugees and they have sufficient wherewithal to eventually steal the territory of another people, then, with the passage of time, the reality of the situation will be such that the land seized will belong to the thieves. What is to stop land seizure then? Is this not a recipe for a never-ending cycle of conquest by the powerful?


The reality, for this writer, is that if someone is forcefully expelled from their home, they will likely fight until they get their home back; otherwise, the struggle will pass to their children and to their grandchildren.


Besides, according to Gordon, states are born on the destruction of other states. Indeed, what does this claim imply? It implies that statehood is the problem. Therefore, rather than arguing over a one-state versus two-state solution for Palestine and Israel, shouldn’t the correct solution be the zero-state solution?


Imagine there’s no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for

-- John Lennon


Gordon averred, “My objective, Jeff’s objective, and your objective are the same. We all want social justice.”


Social justice is based on principles.


Are principles and elementary morality constrained by perceptions of reality? Some people fighting for social justice make this self-defeating argument and apply it to the case of Palestine. As a comparison, should Iraqis then capitulate to the reality of their occupation? The reality points to a sacrificial struggle against a Zionist-imperialist aggression-occupation. Should Iraqis accept 14 permanent US military bases on their land, surrender their oil to foreign multinationals, and allow outsiders to determine how they will be governed?


Reality, somewhat contradictorily, is to some extent the product of people’s imaginations. Why then should people yield their principles to a human construct? Those interested in the struggle for social justice might best stand by their principles and focus their efforts on the victims of injustices rather than protecting the perpetrators of injustices.


Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives on the outskirts of Seoul in southern Korea. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org




[1] Alan Dershowitz, “Neve Gordon can’t take criticism,” Jerusalem Post, 7 November 2006.

[2] Neve Gordon, “Dershowitz's Smear: Anti-Semitism? You Just Don't Like What I Say!,Counterpunch, 8 November 2006.


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