Letters to the Editor - December 14, 2012

Out of the box
Regarding “Altered States,” Nov. 30

“I dream about a leader who embarks on peace talks more easily than he embarks upon a military operation,” writes Eyal Megged. Most of us agree that what we and our neighbors in the Gaza Strip are experiencing is an ongoing disaster. That is why we have to get away from the familiar script of firing, cease-fire, firing, cease-fire and so on; and away from the belief that we aspire to peace and the goal of Hamas is to destroy us.

In order to escape from this endless cycle, we have to take the initiative, “get out of the box” and publicly announce a different policy to the world: our willingness for rapprochement with Hamas; our willingness to open the crossings and cancel the maritime closure; our willingness to help as much as we can to improve the quality of life in the Strip. All this would be conditioned on a commitment by Hamas to stop the firing and the acquisition of combat materials. Hamas’ commitment would be reinforced with the support of the leading countries in the world, including Egypt, and the United Nations.

We will always retain the options of a military response and of self-defense. Let’s try the other option. The more the quality of life in the Gaza Strip improves, the greater the chance of reducing the option of shooting and fire. A substantial change in the Strip is likely to improve the chance for agreements in the entire Palestinian sector, parallel to efforts at rapprochement with the Palestinians on the West Bank.
Will any of our leaders dare to change direction?

Gadi Kaufman, Kibbutz Ma’ayan Zvi

State in the air

In his article, Eyal Megged writes about a “revolutionary” idea. Not a binational state in a shared territory from the sea to the river, and not “two states for two peoples,” which would force us to part from territories that are the “foundation of our existence” and part of the “Promised Land.” In his utopian idea, he tries to square the circle: “Full sovereignty for each of the nations, but without being attached to the land” − in other words, a state in the air and in space.

The basic characteristics of every ethnic group that is defined as a people or a nation and constitutes a defined nationality, are defined borders of the territory in which the group lives. Most of the nations in the world, since the late 19th century, have defined themselves in delineated territories. After the first and second world wars, the territories of nations were defined − Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, dozens of countries in Africa and Asia, Latin America and the Pacific islands. We saw the parade of national delegations in the most recent Olympic Games − more than 200 countries with defined territories, flags, anthems, and so on.

Megged’s solution contradicts one of the main Zionist ideas: To concentrate the Jewish people in a sovereign political territory. This idea cannot be implemented without our having exclusive rights to the territory. The same is true of the Palestinian people.

The utopian idea, like every other utopian idea, will come to pass when there are no longer nations and peoples. Humanity does not seem to be marching in that direction.

Dan Yahav
Tel Aviv

Call me, maybe
Regarding “Me? A Jew? Anti-Semitic?” November 30

Unlike Prof. Eva Illouz, I don’t get upset when they curse me by calling me “anti-Semitic,” just as I am not horrified by Holocaust deniers. Despite Illouz’s accurate statement that “something fundamental about universalist morality is becoming increasingly flawed in the Israeli polity,” she did not indicate what we should conclude about this intolerable situation.

In my opinion, Zionism is a colonialist movement that tried to solve the problem of the ‏(European‏) Jews while imposing expulsion, suffering and destruction on the local inhabitants of the country, and which in the past 45 years has become even more devoted to systematic robbery and oppression of millions of Palestinians who are subject to the despotism of the military and the settlements.

Paradoxically, a country was established here that has become the least safe place for Jews to live. I believe that Judaism is a religion and not a nationality, and therefore the Gordian knot that ties together religion, nationality and state should be cut, and a civil nationality without tribalism should be defined.

The time has come for Israel to be a civil state only, and stop being the temporary refuge for the Jews of the world. The Law of Return should be removed and a fundamental conceptual revolution should take place here, which will change the relationship between the state and its citizens on the one hand, and between the state and the Jews of the Diaspora on the other. And let them call me an anti-Semite.

Dr. David Gilad
Hod Hasharon