“The two Israels”
Previously I alluded to the concept that there are two Israels, one inside the “Green Line” and one in the West Bank. When I say this, what I mean is this: though not annexed, the West Bank is for all intents and purposes part of Israel. It is occupied territory containing Israeli settlements whose citizens have the right to vote and are represented by Israel.
It’s a delicate paradox that happens on that side of the line. Right-wing Israelis (and almost any non-Israeli Jew who cares enough to have an opinion, more on that another time) will argue that they are not “occupying” at all. The interpretations range from the idea that the land is promised by God (for the religious) or that the land is a security concern (for the hawkish) or that the land is spoils of war (for the historical). But in any case, the land is “part of Israel” and not an occupied territory.
Yet those same groups would deny basic protections and basic representation to the endemic population of the area. Whereas Jew and Arab alike can vote inside the Green Line, only Jew can vote in the West Bank. Whereas Jew and Arab can both achieve citizenship inside the Green Line, only Jew can vote in the West Bank. This is what I mean by “two Israels” – one, striving toward democracy, the other a paragon of segregation and oppression. (I plan on exploring that ‘strive’ another time but do not confuse ‘striving toward democracy’ with ‘having achieved democracy.’)
The concept of the two Israels is not mine. Peter Beinart, in his The Crisis of Zionism, covers the distinction quite well. Though not as short a read (and with slightly more of an agenda with which I’m not sure I fully agree) as his article in the New York Review of Books (“The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment”), the book does a great job of explaining how it’s very difficult for one to reconcile the ideas of Zionism (as it stands today) and Democracy.
I believe in Democracy, and as Beinart pointed out in the aforementioned article, in order to blindly support Israel today in the way the right-wing American Jewish establishment desires, American Jews would have to “check their liberalism at Zionism’s door,” and it should come therefore as no shock that “many young Jews have checked their Zionism instead.”
There are two Israels. It’s impossible for me to support the one because it supports the other. So yesterday, I painted a picture that might lead one to hope, but I’d like to fill in some more of the colors on this picture. In an extreme-right coalition, as was anticipated before this election, these things would have gotten worse. In a center-right coalition, they will get no better.