Refusing the dichotomy

What if we’re wrong: litmus tests on Israel and Palestine by Penina Eilberg-Schwartz, which I’m posting in the spirit of paying attention to bridge builders and thoughtful people.

2 Responses to “Refusing the dichotomy”

  1. Mira Vogel Says:

    I’ll just get my points of disagreement out the way early. This is a piece very much of its place (San Francisco, or at any rate some place with a very self-confident Jewish community), tacitly responding to arguments within the author’s movements.

    “the only reason the litmus tests of the left aren’t dangerous yet is because we don’t have power yet.”
    Yes, and it’s this which makes some (though not all) of her points about privilege questionable. And, picking up on this language of privilege, I’m thinking about how the piece doesn’t relate well to British Jews as a minority suffering a higher proportion of hate crime than any other British minority group, mostly in the name of anti-Zionism, from what I can gather.

    Which is why, unlike the author, I think it very definitely is the “job of anti-Zionists to make non-Zionists [and Zionists] feel safe”. Unless, perhaps, they’re universalist anti-nationalists – but it’s clear that most anti-Zionists are simply fixated on Israel.

    “BDS isn’t trying to change minds, nor should it. It’s trying to mobilize people who already believe that the occupation must be stopped and offer them a collective action that could force Israel’s hand. I think we need this movement desperately.”

    Disagree. BDS can’t work precisely because it doesn’t address the causes of Israeli defence-mindedness. Boycotts outside the Green Line seem like they have potential to drive wedges but whole-Israel boycotts are senseless, futile, don’t empower the progressives, and are as such, harmful. These things are unexamined in the piece.

    The strengths of the piece, to me, are the refusal to be an equal and opposite reaction to any antagonistic force, and a commitment to examining the arguments from different angles, without dogma. And I’m cheered up by the gentle, open-minded resilience, which is rare these days.

    But I would love to see the Jewish US and Israeli left care more about Jews who are minority groups outside Israel, under attack from people who hate Israel to the point of antisemitism.

  2. vildechaye Says:

    RE: The strengths of the piece, to me, are the refusal to be an equal and opposite reaction to any antagonistic force, and a commitment to examining the arguments from different angles, without dogma. And I’m cheered up by the gentle, open-minded resilience, which is rare these days.

    Disagree. I don’t believe she’s examined the arguments from “different angles,” or she wouldn’t end up being so close to anti-zionists, she wouldn’t participate quietly in demos where “from the River to the Sea” is shouted as though that’s OK. And of course, she’s Jewish. It would be nice to hear an Arab/Muslim voice being as “reasonable” from the other side, but of course it won’t happen, if only because unlike her, they have to fear the reaction of their co-religionists/fellow Arabs. In my view, it takes a lot of cheek to take advantage of your “privilege” — not the privilege she talks about, which is bullsh*t, but the privilege of being in a society, and from a people, where freedom of expression is allowed, and where disagreement is tolerated.


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