Liam Getreu in the Drum

I could call this the arrival of Amos Oz liberalism in Australia. Tepid, politically uncourageous, but a major shift to the Left for Australia’s articulate segment of establishment friendly Jews.  This is his op ed in the Drum. He criticises Newt Gingrich for saying the Palestinians are an “invented” people. But “it’s probably fair to say that the Palestinians are a new people, more so than the Jews”. Note how even when criticising this ultra-right Zionist propaganda, he has to stake a superior claim to Jews than Palestinians.

Factually, I think it’s a pretty dubious claim. I mean, I reject all nationalisms. But suppose we were to accept either as legitimate. Baruch Kimmerling and Joel Migdal trace Palestinian nationalism back to the mid 19th century. This obviously pre-dates modern Jewish nationalism. I mean, think about modern Jewish nationalism. Herzl was by no means a major representative figure. Many Jews who moved to Palestine didn’t do so for ideological reasons: they moved because they were fleeing persecution in Europe. And as more and more Jews fled Europe, they went to Palestine because they couldn’t escape to anywhere else. Maybe the argument can be made that after the Holocaust Zionism was more generally accepted among Jews. Ok, but if we’re to date the acceptance of modern Jewish nationalism among Jews from the 40s (or even, to be generous, the 30s) – I think it’s hard to argue that makes Jewish nationalism more recent than Palestinian nationalism. It could be argued the yishuv embraced Jewish nationalism, but they were – then as now – a small minority of the world’s Jewish population. Most Jews today accept Zionist claims, whether in the diaspora or in Palestine – this is a recent innovation.

Note also this, as is typical in writings by Amos Oz type “liberals”.

They’re clambering for support from the hawkish Jewish Right, trying to prove that they, more than any other, are the true ‘pro-Israel’ candidate. The only thing is, in doing so, they’re ultimately being destructive to Israel’s own interests.

Obviously, this is the only issue that matters. Trivial issues like the Palestinians don’t matter, because they’re not people, so we don’t even have to consider what interests they might have.

There are also the factual issues which Getreu has no grasp of at all

For example, since the Six-Day War, US foreign policy has held that Israeli settlements over the Green line are illegal, putting its interpretation of the Geneva Convention in line with everyone else’s. That policy has formed the basis of American support of the two-state solution to this day – that the West Bank and Gaza are temporarily occupied by Israel in the expectation that one day soon they will disengage, with minimal agreed swaps, to create a Palestinian state.

The US might say settlements are illegal – that’s not the same as saying it is US policy. The obvious fact is that settlements are basically bought with US aid money, and have been for decades, and with diplomatic support at the UN, as Getreu probably knows. Put that aside. When has the US supported a two state solution? It has overwhelmingly supported Israel blocking the two state solution, against the rest of the world. And when Getreu says the “Zionist dream” of a Jewish and democratic Israel – what he leaves out is an Arab free (or at best, minority) Israel. The issue is obvious, so he obscures it. Why not annexe the occupied territories? Because it would give Israel too many Arabs. Why are there millions of Palestinians in refugee camps? Because of the Zionist dream.

Look at how he deals with the Nakba by the way: ” as 750,000 Arabs living in Palestine were expelled and/or fled as a result of the end of the British Mandate and the establishment of Israel”. They fled because of the end of the Mandate and creation of Israel. Not because of, say, the Zionist militias forcibly expelling them from Lydde and Ramleh and so on, or from terror after seeing what happened at Deir Yassin and Dawayima and so on.

But let’s go on

Perhaps the only thing clearer is that today the Palestinians have a well-defined desire for statehood, not only independent of the Israeli occupation, but also of their neighbouring Arab states.

The Palestinians don’t have any relevant rights that Israel is violating. No, they have a mere desire for self-determination. Getreu concludes with waffle about the “peace process”. That presumably means something like this: Netanyahu and Abbas should conduct “negotiations” “without preconditions” – that is, Israel can build more settlements on Palestinian land, whilst refusing to negotiate with Hamas (who the Palestinians elected). Tragically, Getreu complains that “There is no hope their position of an honest broker can be sustained by a president with such a view.” Plainly, he considers Obama, Bush, Clinton et al honest brokers.

Note also – when talking about “counter-productive” contributions to his imaginary peace process, he doesn’t mention any of Israel’s policies (or the US’s for that matter). It’s just the Republicans holding Israel back. Ok, I guess if the Republicans were more reasonable there would be peace. Except Obama is more hated in the Arab world than Bush, Clinton oversaw the rise and fall of Oslo and the 2nd Intifada, and Carter oversaw zero progress on Palestine but at least the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Incidentally, that was when the world first started supporting a two state agreement, which the US began blocking in 1976.


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