Yasmin Qureshi MP
Thursday, January 5, 2014
Yossi Klein Halevi and the Nature of Dreams
Israel, as Amos Oz once observed, was born out of a spectrum of dreams and visions, blueprints and masterplans. Some complementary, some contradictory, these dreams represent the federation of ideas that compose Zionism. Where these dreams quarrel with one another, there is the basis of political debate in Israel today.
In Like Dreamers, Yossi Klein Halevi examines the history of two dreams in particular: the kibbutz movement, that utopian ‘attempt to transcend human nature, replace selfishness with cooperation,’ and religious Zionism. Secular kibbutzniks and religious Zionists ‘disagreed about God and faith and the place of religion in Jewish identity and in the life of the state.’ Yet, Klein Halevi observes: ‘For all their differences, religious Zionism and the secular kibbutz movement agreed that the goal of Jewish statehood must be more than the mere creation of a safe refuge for the Jewish people. Both movements saw the Jewish return home as an event of such shattering force that something grand – world transformative – must result.’
Klein Halevi cleverly and compellingly uses the lives of seven paratroopers – participants in the battle for Jerusalem during the Six Day War – to trace the development and ultimate decline of these two dreams. For it was June 1967 that brought religious Zionists and secular kibbutzniks together – ‘everyone had a share in the victory’ – before they would eventually part ways in the following months and years.
June 1967, for Klein Halevi, is the beginning of the end of the kibbutz movement. Those aligned with Mapam and Hashomer Hatzair lost their faith in the Soviet Union and Marxism. The Labour establishment of which the kibbutzim were part was exposed as corrupt and were caught off-guard on Yom Kippur 1973. ‘All the institutions and leaders I grew up believing in have failed,’ Arik Achmon of Kibbutz Netzer Sereni says. ‘The system that I was sure was foolproof has failed in every way.’ Materialism, individualism, and the occupation undermined utopianism and communal life, while Menachem Begin attacked the kibbutzniks as ‘millionaires with swimming pools.’
After 1967, religious Zionists perceived themselves to be the new pioneers: first in re-establishing the kibbutz of Kfar Etzion that was destroyed by the Jordanians in 1947; then, in forming new settlements in Samaria such as Ofra, Kedumim, and Elon More: ‘This time the movement would be led by religious Jews. There was no choice but to step into the void left by the depleted kibbutzniks. A movement of the faithful. All those who understood that Zionism was not about refuge but destiny, redemption.’
More from David Ward
Sharon’s death makes you think. The brutal, genocidal treatment of Jews must never be forgotten but….the Palestinians were not responsible— David Ward (@DavidWardMP)
Again with this.
Map: Israel’s Housing Ministry announces new settlement tenders
The Housing Ministry announced Friday morning new tenders for 1,400 housing units in settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
The announcement was made three weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to launch a new wave of settlement construction parallel to the third step of Palestinian prisoner release.
Tenders were released for the construction of 600 housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem, which lies over the Green Line, and a further 801 units in settlement blocs in the West Bank.
Israel will build 227 housing units in Efrat, 78 in Alfei Menashe, 86 in Karnei Shomron, 40 in Ariel, 75 in Adam, 24 in Beitar Illit, 102 in Immanuel and 169 in Elkana.
In addition, tenders were released for the construction of 532 units in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, across the Green Line. The plots for these units were marketed in the past but found no buyers, and were now put back out on the market. These include 182 units in Pisgat Ze’ev, 294 in Ramot and 56 in Neve Yaakov.
Britain should apologise to Israel for the Balfour Declaration
In 2014, commemoration of the First World War on the one-hundredth anniversary of its commencement will be inescapable. So, too, will the debate over the merits of the miserable and bloody conflict that took the lives of over 16 million soldiers and civilians, crippled an entire generation of Europeans, and begat the infamous Treaty of Versailles.
In the United Kingdom, this conversation has already begun and has spiralled off so as to encompass another product of the Great War: the Balfour Declaration. At the end of last year, the Palestine Return Centre launched in Parliament a campaign called, “Britain, It’s Time To Apologize,” requesting an international voice to call on Her Majesty’s Government “to apologize to the Palestinian people, for either wilfully or carelessly failing to protect their human and political rights, while under British protection.”
Leaving aside the Palestinians for a moment, in the first instance any campaign against the Balfour Declaration must be treated with great suspicion. After all, that declaration was more than a government memorandum. It was the first declaration of its kind from a world power in support of the Zionist idea of Jewish autonomy and self-rule in Palestine.
More importantly, it was a legal instrument, incorporated into the Mandate for Palestine ratified by the League of Nations in July 1922, in which it was stated that Britain as overseer would be responsible for fostering political, administrative, and economic conditions that would secure “the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people.”
The Mandate would go on to recognize “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the grounds for reconstituting their National Home” in that country. It would also provide room for the creation of what would become the Jewish Agency, the de facto governing body of the Yishuv.
To request that the British government apologize for Balfour, then, is to ask it to repudiate the underpinnings in international law of the State of Israel itself. It is a flagrant act of delegitimization — an attempt to negate the Jewish right to self-determination and deny the basis of Israel’s existence.