Video / Prof. Avi Shlaim: Settlements turned Israel into apartheid state
Historian tells London summit Zionism went wrong by replacing universalism with 'religious messianism.'
British-Israeli Professor Avi Shlaim joined a handful of academics in London earlier this month to debate the future of Zionism, in a panel entitled "Israel at 60: What happened to the Zionist dream?"
Shlaim, a historian of the Arab-Israeli conflict at Oxford University, made headlines last year when he decided to speak at an Oxford Union debate in favor of the motion, "This house believes that one state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict."
But Shlaim, an opponent of campaigns pursued by some of his British colleagues to boycott Israeli universities, has always been a fervent supporter of the two-state solution, a stance he repeated in this month's event, which was organized by the Institute of Ideas.
He continues, he said, to believe in Israel's legitimacy to exist within its pre-1967 borders, but "rejects uncompromisingly the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line."
In his talk, entitled "Obsession with Territory Post-1967," Shlaim blasts the settlements, which he says have turned Israel into an apartheid state, as the primary source of failure for peace efforts with the Palestinians.
Shlaim believes Zionism was derailed from its course after the Six-Day war, when its universalist principles were replaced with "religious messianism and secular nationalism." Israel must give up land, he says, not just as a concession to the Palestinians, but because "a people that oppresses another cannot itself remain free."