Open Zion

05.24.12

Who's Afraid of Caroline Glick?

Being compared to Caroline Glick or the AIPAC crowd is never nice. I understand the superficial case for drawing direct comparisons—and I understand why it’s important for Peter Beinart to make the argument. But it’s not a good one. It is true that both Glick and I recognize that the two-state outcome is a “fable,” and we both offer prescriptions for what to do about it. But that’s it for the commonalities. Beinart and Glick however, may have some uncomfortable things in common.

Before I get to that, it is worth reviewing the meaningful differences between my stance and Caroline Glick’s. Beinart highlights two of them: Gaza and the offensiveness of baby-counting. But those are tributaries that well forth from a deeper stagnancy.

While Glick is more repellent than most figures on far right, I don’t think she dwells on Palestinian wombs any longer than the average Oslo enthusiast. Her interest in jettisoning the undesirables in Gaza and her paean to Haredi fertility rates are commonplace among Zionists (except for secular Zionists—who don’t like the Haredim very much). At the end of the day, every iteration of Zionism is antithetical to the idea of human equality.

Liberals who make the one-state argument are calling for equal rights for everyone. For many, two-states would have been the ideal outcome—but the Israelis aborted Palestine. Now the recognition that apartheid is morally reprehensible has developed into support for the one-state solution.

Others among us—and I fall into this category—always believed in equal rights. The Palestine Partition plan failed because it took ethnic isolationism as a value and subordinated justice to it. Two states was never a good idea and Israeli avariciousness—Glick claims there are 675,000 settlers now—provides us with an opportunity to correct a mistake. We may one day have the chance to make things mostly right again.

“Super Zionists” like Glick arrive at a one-state outcome differently. For them, the land of Palestine is an avatar for Judaism, or Jewish military strength, or safety from the Nazis, or whatever. They worship the land and imbue it with symbolic vitality. They fetishize and covet it. It constitutes a system of belief for them.

So while liberals like me prize human lives and dignity, Zionists prize Jewish lives and land. Glick wants both the land and the Jewish dominance that goes with it, and I want equal rights in a shared space. There’s no basis for comparison.

But there is a more interesting contrast. I alluded to it above, although it may nettle some.

Liberal Zionists are virtually indistinguishable from the people at AIPAC. Or rather, they are basically the same from my perspective. Any significant differences between them arise from the argument over when the ethnic cleansing of Palestine should have been halted. Liberal Zionists like 1967—but Glick thinks sometime in the future is better. In other words, liberal Zionists are willing to settle for Jewish supremacy on some of the land (78% of it). Caroline wants it all.

It’s worth noting at this point that every Israeli government since 1967 gorged on territory. So maybe even the small disagreement I mentioned above is illusory. Israeli government Hasbara for American audiences only. Maybe.

Liberal Zionists may contest this characterization. It’s undoubtedly true that many of them do believe in two states for two peoples. And many have made a good faith effort to produce just that. But Rabin built settlements—and settlements have wrecked their two-state vision. So could it be the case that Rabin wasn’t acting in good faith? Or that liberal Zionists misunderstood just what their leaders were after all along?

All told it’s easy to see why Glick's brand of firebreathing isn’t so good. She’s got a particular way of viewing Arabs and Palestinians. I don’t think she’d agree to live in the same apartment building as me.

But would Uri Avnery? Would Peter Beinart? That’s the more interesting question.