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« Israeli Settlements in East Jerusalem | Main | "[W]e at the College are part of a global family...." »

04/10/2010

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Robert Hockett

Without intending to express any opinion one way or the other about Israel's settlement policy - which seems to me to be very ably argued from all sides, 'right to 'left,' in Israel itself - I must say that I find Cook's writing here quite unhelpful and dangerously counterproductive. Every 'national idea' or 'constitutional culture' recognizes certain 'fixed point' positions as constitutive of the nation itself. This is true even of those polities that recognize a very broad swathe of ideological positions as 'legitimate' or 'on the menu.' (Would the great number of vastly differing Italian political parties running from Communist to Conservative, say, be accurately describable as 'all the same' if they all agreed that German should not be made the official language of Italy, or that the penal code should not require women to dress as if they were 1950s-era Catholics, complete with veils hanging from their hats?) A nation with a grand tradition of Fabian socialist - Labour - rule on the one hand, in addition to more conservative rule - e.g., Kadima, Likud, and others - on the other is a nation with a much greater range of ideological diversity than we find, say, in the US, which is barely more (if at all) than a 1.5 or 1.25 party state. To say that all Israeli political parties are nevertheless one party (and that Israel is therefore not democratic) because these parties all accept the 'ideology' of Zionism seems to me distortive in the extreme; for it is no more than to say that these parties are democracy-offendingly all the same simply because they accept the existence of Israel itself as a state in which Jews no longer constitute a minority subject to widespread envy, contempt, resentment, systematic discrimination, regular pogroms, and worse. The existence of a Jewish state is res judicata since 1948, and no one who suggests we attempt to undo that fact, or, what seems the same, who proposes a 'one state solution,' should expect to be trusted by the Israelis. Such arguments only play into the hands of Israel's ultra-rightists, by lending credence to their (surely paranoic and false, right?) claims that those who oppose Israeli policy actually oppose the idea of Israel itself. I'm sure that Cook's heart is in the right place, but if his head is, then mine is very occluded indeed.

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