Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

Gideon Levy: How to talk to a right winger

28 May 2009

By Gideon Levy, Haaretz – 28 May 2009

Gideon Levy

Gideon Levy

MK Tzipi Hotovely is a rising star in the Likud party. Well spoken, young and passionate, she decided to hold a diplomatic conference this week. The subject: Alternatives to the two-state concept.

On the eve of the conference, Hotovely appeared on the nightly current events program “London and Kirschenbaum” on Channel 10. For seven minutes the pair tried to get one answer out of their guest: What is your alternative?

The question was repeated no fewer than 10 times, in various versions, but they didn’t get an answer. Instead they heard replies that seemed better suited to an amusing skit: “I’m very happy that you’re asking that question”; “What’s important is not the alternative”; “Palestinian society is not ripe for a solution”; “Jews will not be evicted from their homes again.” Hotovely knows what she doesn’t want, but she hasn’t the faintest idea what she does want. Let’s not blame Hotovely, she’s not alone. From the prime minister down to the last of the right wingers, none of them has an answer to the simplest, most natural and most obvious question of all: What, in heaven’s name, do you suggest? How will the country look according to your vision, and only according to your vision, 15 to 20 years from now?

After all, at the conference that took place the day after the interview, the farce repeated itself. No less a personage than Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that there is no room for discussion of the two-state outline; that such a process has no chance; that the Palestinians don’t want two states. All together now: an alternative – forget it.

We therefore have before us the marvelously easy and effective way to bring down the right’s house of cards in one fell swoop: Ask them what they suggest. Ask them what their solution is. They will squirm like Hotovely; there isn’t a single decent right winger who has a ready answer.

With the exception of those who favor transfer – “voluntary” transfer, of course – the right has no vision of how the country will look less than a generation from now, when the Arabs make up the majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. What will a country where the minority rules the majority look like? For how many more years will millions of people continue to live without basic rights while the world remains silent?

In the outside world such a country is called an apartheid state. In Israel they call it the one-state solution. Once it was out of bounds, only the radical left in both nations dared to suggest it. Now it is being proposed by the Israeli right, while they blur and repress the reality.

Do you know what the right is proposing? It is proposing a continuation of the status quo. What was ostensibly good for Israel for 40 years will also be good for another 400 years. For 40 years we were able to deceive ourselves, to mock the world, to occupy, to oppress, to trample and to kill. So why shouldn’t we continue?

But the status quo is never static: It changes quickly. The Palestinians are intensifying their struggle and the world is gradually becoming disgusted with us. During the first 20 years of the occupation, we too were convinced that it could continue undisturbed: The Palestinians would continue to build our homes, sweep our streets, wash our dishes and cultivate our fields forever. Then came the first intifada which destroyed the illusion with stones and knives; then the second intifada did so with rifles and explosive devices.

The third one is on the way, more violent than its predecessors. The soul of the world will become fed up: During the first intifada it remained silent for the most part, during the second it began to ostracize Israel, and during the third it will take painful practical steps against it.

Some of the right wingers understand this. They have a secret wish in their hearts, which they will never dare to utter: Let’s make the lives of the Palestinians intolerable, until they get the hint – which is as obvious as the barrel of the cannon directed at their homes – and leave.

That’s an idea. The problem is that the idea is not practical: The Palestinians, unfortunately, are staying put, more than the Jews are. Perhaps we haven’t stepped on them hard enough as yet. There is also a chance that the camel’s back will break in the end, just as Fatah is about to break, and then there will no longer be anyone with whom to solve the problem.

So here is another way to deal with the slogans of the right: Expose the truth that lies behind them, and its hopelessness.

There is nothing easier than causing the arguments of the right to collapse. Not a single genuinely secular person can be convinced of our right to the territories for religious reasons. The grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav in Uman, Ukraine, is also holy and at the moment we have no claim to sovereignty over it.

Just as absurd are the security-related explanations in an era of missiles capable of nearly anything. All that remains is the greed for real estate. And when it comes to real estate, let’s talk about its price: it’s rising. On the day when Israelis also begin to pay for the ground personally, with blood and money, and also understand the context – the deal will be called off.

Until then the right will continue to use scare tactics, without proposing a single alternative, and the settlers will continue with their tricks; the solution of the left, the only one around, will become impossible and the right will win again.

It will be a Pyrrhic victory; it will be too late to amend it. The largest and most dubious real estate deal of all will collapse and with it those who claimed that they were the owners of the property, even though something else was written on the deed of reality and justice.

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