In May of this year, Zionists the world over will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of a state-for-Jews-only in Palestine.
A recent book by Joel Kovel,
Overcoming Zionism – Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine
, is must-read for this difficult and bitter-sweet occasion.
Kovel is an American Jew, an author, activist, and successful professional with dual careers in medicine and psychiatry to his credit. He was a Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Residency Training at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was also nominated as a Green candidate in the 2000 U.S. presidential race. He is currently editor-in-chief of Capitalism, Nature, Socialism.
In his book, he suggests convincingly that the inner contradictions of Zionism led Israel to develop its â€œstate-sponsored racismâ€ and that Zionism and democracy are essentially incompatible. He also believes that a two-state solution is hopeless because â€œit concedes too much to the regressive forces of nationalism, wherein lie the roots of continued conflicts.â€
He illuminates as well the drawbacks of a one-state concept which some Palestinians and many Zionists oppose, but for different reasons. Zionists oppose a single state on ideological and philosophical grounds, believing that the only-for-Jews character of Israel will be greatly compromised with Palestinians living side-by-side and that more than a century of hard work by former generations of Zionists would be wasted.
Many Zionists would consider a two-state solution only with a long list of conditions, including never having to give up valuable lands in the West Bank and Occupied Arab East Jerusalem and not allowing diaspora Palestinians to return to their ancestral homes.
Those Palestinians who oppose the one-state solution are those who believe the illusion (promoted by U.S. president George W. Bush, for example) that a two-state solution is just around the corner, if not this year, then maybe next.
Kovel dedicates his book to his aunt and to Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American university student and International Solidarity Movement volunteer, who was murdered on March 16, 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer in the city of Rafah, Gaza while peacefully protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes.
To show the hate that drives Zionist attitudes toward Palestinians, Kovel quotes Tanya Reinhartâ€™s interview with another bulldozer driver. The driver, who received medals for his work in the Jenin Refugee camp in 2002, revealed that had been on duty for 75 hours straight and was drunk most of that time. He recalled that â€œfor three days I just destroyed and destroyed
… I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible … I didnâ€™t give a damn about the Palestinians … It was all under orders … If I am sorry for anything, it is [for] not tearing the whole camp down.â€
Kovel also comments on the sanctification of American-born Zionist Baruch Goldstein, a former Israeli military physician who in 1994 entered the Abraham Mosque in Hebron and shot dead 29 Palestinian Muslims, wounding another 150 before he was overcome by other worshippers and killed. Goldstein was buried with great ceremony very near the scene of his grisly crime and the inscription on his gravestone reads: â€œHere lays the saint, Doctor Baruch Kapal Goldstein. Blessed be the memory of the righteous and holy man, may the Lord revenge his blood, who devoted his soul for Jews, Jewish religion and Jewish land. His hands are clean and his heart is clear. He was killed as a martyr of God on the 14th of Adar, Purim, in the year 5754.â€
I visited Hebron in 1995 and found that the Goldstein tomb is guarded 24/7 by Israeli military personnel and half of the Abraham Mosque has been forbidden to Muslims; it is now used as synagogue for Jews.
Kovel states wisely that no American president can do much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict due to massive â€œZionist political/financial muscle and manipulation of Holocaust guilt.â€
He recounted his early experience with a private tutor of Hebrew in Brooklyn who â€œintoned about the Torah and the Covenant through which God had made the Jews special among the nations … [His] words were positively spat out, bearing hatred for Goyim [Gentiles, or non- Jews] who had persecuted our superior people, and Chosen Ones of God. And for what? â€˜Iâ€™ll tell you what,â€™ said the tutor, with blazing eyes and Old Testament wrath:
â€˜For a savior who wasnâ€™t even born legitimate! Thatâ€™s right! His parents werenâ€™t married. The so-called god of the Christians was a bastard!â€™â€
The experience has lingered in the adult memory of Kovel, who wonders in his book how many people with the same obsessive wrath as his tutor â€œwould immigrate to Israel from our neighborhood and come to play an important role in the future Jewish state?â€
Youâ€™d think that a man as versatile and gifted as Kovel would receive front page coverage in American and Canadian media about his book, which was published in 2007.
But this did not happen in our so-called â€œfreeâ€ press and broadcasting networks, because these systems are free only to those who own them and use their power to express their own views. And that is a sad loss for everyone.
(Dr. Mohamed Elmasry is national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)