RAN GREENSTEIN wants to get us bogged down in the detail of wording and of who said what. But what is important is whether we choose to embrace the politics of peace and reconciliation between Israel and Palestine; or whether we choose the politics of siding with one set of ardent nationalists in their war against the other.
Greenstein does not support a peace between Israel and Palestine. He insists instead that Israel and Palestine should be thought of as one divided people who are ruled over by an apartheid regime.
He wants to dismantle Israel, like the apartheid regime in South Africa was dismantled, and he proposes instead a regime of individual rights within a new state.
But Israel is a nation, the nation descended from those who were driven out of Europe, out of Russia and out of the Middle East by 20th century anti-Semitism.
Israel is not an apartheid regime, it is a life-raft state, and it will not allow itself to be dismantled. Given this fact, Ran’s plan for treating Israelis in the way that the apartheid regime was treated, can only be a programme for conquest. The conquest of Israel is, hopefully, impossible and would in any case, never lead to a democratic outcome.
It is quite wrong to tell Palestinians that Israel must be finally defeated before they can be free, because it is like telling them that they can never be free.
But Palestinians can be free. Even the most terrible and entrenched conflicts between nations come to an end. They don’t come to an end with the final defeat of one or the other, but with a peace agreement between the two.
President Barack Obama was right when he outlined the deal: an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and both nations to recognise the sovereignty of the other.
Greenstein’s “Boycotts, Divestments, Sanctions” slogan tries to exclude Israelis, and only Israelis, from the cultural, academic, sporting and economic life of humanity.
It is war by other means, it is not peace and reconciliation. And such a politics of exclusion, aimed at the descendents of the Jews who have already been boycotted and pushed out, is a politics which is insufficiently sensitive to the history of anti-Semitism which not only hangs over Jews, but over us all.
Ran Greenstein, who has given up on Israelis, has despaired of building the Israeli peace movement, imagines that peace in his homeland can be built by demonising them here, and in the UK and around the world.
He thinks that anybody who disagrees with him should be denounced as supporters of apartheid.
Instead of the politics of anger and desperation, we should back those in both Israel and Palestine who want peace and who stand against the demonisation of the other.
Goldsmiths College, University of London