Can You Be Progressive and For the State of Israel? A Plea to Progressive Jews
The carnage and genocide in Gaza has created an opportunity for us to ponder and evaluate what it means to be “progressive”. Some who consider themselves progressive and even leftist, who frequently talk about injustices against women, minorities of color, immigrants, gays and workers and have been supporting fair or living wages, more humane treatment of immigrants, universal healthcare, women’s right to choose, equal pay for equal work, as well as against racism, wars, drone attacks which kill innocent people, including children, corporate greed, and influence of big money in politics, have either suddenly and inexplicably gone silent or are continuing with their “fight” for social justice, without a word about the massacre taking place in Gaza. Curious, isn’t it? some others have had something to say about it: they have been lamenting that antiemetic comments and slurs against Jews have increased in recent days, which granted, they’re probably right and racism against Jews is as despicable and ugly as racism of any other kind and which must be addressed and dealt with. But, again, curiously enough, this group of “progressives”, too, have nothing more than that to say. Still, others may not condone, at least not publicly, the indiscriminate and one-sided nature of the so-called “war” and bombing and killing of civilians, including children and targeting homes and hospitals and destroying water facilities, causing hundreds or thousands of deaths, by the time it’s over, but they also don’t condemn, and if they do criticize the indiscriminate massacre, they also blame Hamas for firing their “rockets” into Israel, which ultimately presents the situation as being a “war” started by Hamas, which forced Israel to react, which “unfortunately overreacts”. In other words, they may not agree with the scale and level of Israel’s reaction, at least not publicly, and may call for ceasefire, but they also don’t have a fundamental difference with it and believe that their reaction, if not its degree, is understandable. This group of self-designated “progressives”, who, incidentally also consider the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren “progressive” (both staunch supporters of Israel), are generally for a “two-state solution”, which is code word for the continuation of Zionism, ethnic cleansing and occupation, with a wall separating the two peoples and denying Palestinians the Right of Return to their confiscated homes from refugee camps and instead giving Palestinians a Bantustan, with Israel surrounding and controlling it from all sides and through check points in between the disjointed pieces, as well as its airspace, water, food, import/export and diplomacy with no independent military, Air Force or navy and no independent foreign policy, with Israel ready and able to invade at will in the name of security and arrest its political leaders.
One thing I must point out here which is crucial to understand is that being against Israeli policies is not the same as being against the state of Israel. These are two very different things. If you’re for the continued existence of the state of Israel, you’re still a Zionist, whether or not you’re for a “two-state solution”. And if so, you cannot also be “progressive”, and here’s why: you can’t have a colonial settler state created and maintained through ethnic cleansing and taking a people’s land and demolishing their homes and settling others who are of the “desired” religion and ethnicity and not commit massacres, war crimes, mass imprisonment and genocide. Creating and maintaining such a settler state for a particular race, at the expense and exclusion of others who aren’t of that particular race will naturally and necessarily invoke resistance which will then have to be crushed, time and again, if the settler state is to continue to exist for the “chosen” race. This creates an unending cycle of repeated massacres, which amounts to genocide. This is why you cannot be for the existence of such a state, which is built on racism and ethnic cleansing and which functions through apartheid and whose existence depends on continued massacres and still be progressive. If you are for such a state, you must also be for what it takes to maintain such a state, which is apartheid, oppression, home demolitions, check points, massacres presented as “wars” and ultimately genocide. That’s why there is a large scale massacre, every few years. The reason why all this comes with a colonial settler state for a particular race is the resistance which will always be there unless somehow you manage to exterminate the entire population of the undesired race? Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, ask survivors of the Holocaust whether that sounds familiar to them or not.
My point is that if you want to be true progressives and for social justice and against racism, wars, massacres and genocide, you must make a moral, philosophical and political decision and break with Zionism, once and for all, and in its stead, be a brave voice for true justice and progress and advocate a single secular and democratic state with equal rights and voice for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, which will let Palestinians who have lived in refugee camps and have suffered for so long return to their homes, instead of building homes on confiscated land and giving them to settlers for their preferred race. Justice and racial discrimination are incompatible. And, so is being progressive and advocating an apartheid settler state.