Gershon Baskin calls himself a neo-Zionist. But what he writes shows that he is an old fashioned leftist who hasn’t learned anything from recent history. His essay is full of false dichotomies, missed points, blurred distinctions, fuzzy generalizations, straw men, and has a generally patronizing tone that I find repugnant.
The debate will come down to a divide between those who’s [sic] minds are focused on the past, roots and traditions versus those who are searching for a new future which uses the past, roots and traditions as a link to the future but not as shackles to it…
There is no other way. As a neo-Zionist I am more concerned with the Jewish future than the Jewish past, and as such I recognize that we must come forth from the passages of Torah into the reality of the 21st century Middle East, and make the necessary concessions now so that our neighbors can live with the same collective and national dignity that we demand for ourselves.
In the Jewish fight over the Land of Israel it is the battle for Jewish survival between the so-called Zionists – the settlers and their supporters and those like me, the neo-Zionist, the majority of Israelis who are not blinded by a messianic dream and believe that in the ultimate balance of values, peace with our neighbors outweighs peace with our past…
When the peace process gets underway and we will once again be forced to deal with the territorial issue, we will have to choose between settlements and peace. The only decision, for those of us more concerned with our future than our past will be for peace.
Settlements or peace. Either you are for peace with our neighbors, or you are against it, blinded by a “messianic dream”. It’s a battle between bearded, Torah-waving fanatics and clear-headed secular Neo-Zionists.
There’s no room for anything in between. In particular, there’s no room for anyone who thinks that perhaps our neighbors would not grant us peace in return for a withdrawal to the Green Line. Baskin ignores that the fact that the Palestinians responded to partition plans in 1938, 1948 and 2000-1 by making war, and that they greeted Israeli withdrawals from South Lebanon and Gaza with rocket attacks.
Those among us who continue to advocate the Jewish settlement of the Land of Israel beyond the Green Line are in fact guilty of leading the Zionist enterprise toward its end. The settlement project in the West Bank is nothing less than an act of national suicide. The most significant and dangerous obstacle in our ability to reconcile peace with our neighbors is the continuation of the adherence to the archaic modes of our yearnings for Zion expressed by settling the hilltops surrounding Palestinian towns, villages and cities that turn the lives of the Palestinians into a daily hell.
Funny, it would seem to me that the “most significant and dangerous obstacle[s]” to peace today are called Hamas and Hezbollah. After all, they want to kill Israelis and destroy the state. And where is a “daily hell” to be found if not in Sderot?
Baskin denounces the “settlement project”, but he doesn’t explain what a settlement is and why the Green Line (more or less the 1948 cease-fire line) is so important. Are settlements in Gush Etzion, which was in Jewish hands before the war of independence, part of it? What about the parts of Jerusalem which were ethnically cleansed of Jews by the Jordanians in 1948? Should Israel return to a border that was 9 miles wide at one point?
His ability for delusional interpretation of history is remarkable:
Even Ehud Barak who went further than any Israeli leader before him in negotiations with the Palestinians, destroyed the very process that he wanted to conclude by his misguided continuation of an accelerated settlement program.
Ehud Barak destroyed the process? Had Arafat accepted Barak’s final proposal, something like 97% of the West Bank would have been in Palestinian hands. But Arafat didn’t accept it, just like the Arabs in 1938 and 1948 didn’t accept partition.
Baskin’s arrogance and supercilious tone, especially toward religious Jews, is incredible:
Neo-Zionism concerns itself with the people of Israel inside the State of Israel. When settlers come home we must concern ourselves with ensuring that they feel at home, that they have a place within society. The secular Left in Israel feels detached, to a large extent from the Jewishness of Israel which is perhaps why it is so difficult for them to feel empathy toward the suffering of the settlers who left Gaza. [my emphasis]
Gershon Baskin, unfortunately, is not the only one who speaks and writes like this. If the rest of us have learned anything in the past 20 years or so, it’s that the problem is not that Israel isn’t prepared to pay a significant price for peace.
The problem is that the Arab world (and it’s impossible to talk about the Palestinians by themselves) are not offering it — at any price.