The Peres Center for Peace decided not to include the play “Snow Ball” in its program for the visit of the Barcelona soccer team in Israel, because the play includes the line that “the state of Israel is the national home of all Jews.”
The affair began in April of this year, when the new play, directed by Roy Horovitz, was performed as part of the Haifa International Children’s Theatre Festival. The play is based on an original Israeli script that tells the story of Felipe, a 10-year-old new immigrant to Israel from Argentina who is a huge fan of FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
After learning that FC Barcelona was coming to Israel, Sherry Aryeh, artistic director of the Israel Children and Youth Social Theater, which produced the play, approached the Peres Center for Peace with the suggestion of performing the play during Messi’s visit to Israel. …
But much to the theater’s surprise, the Peres Center ultimately nixed the play, via a letter written by Dvir Zivan, the manager of the Peres Center’s Sports department. The email, which has been obtained by Israel Hayom, says that “we would be happy to bring all the Jewish children to the play, but there is a problem. We do not do activities intended for one nationality only. It is hard for us to bring Palestinian children to a play that uses the words ‘Jewish state.’ Unfortunately, we will be unable to cooperate on this venture.”
This really gets to the heart of it.
Leave everything else aside — whether there can be a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel, whether the already existing Palestinian state ruled by Hamas can be permitted to continue to exist as a terror state, what can be done about the Palestinian Arab refugees, borders, etc. — all of this is comparatively unimportant.
Palestinian children have been taught a narrative in which a Jewish state of Israel is beyond illegitimate, its very existence a crime against humanity. Apparently Dvir Zivan and the Peres Center think that this view has to be respected. It must be treated as though it is just as good as Zionism.
Zionism is not simply Jewish nationalism. It includes Herzl’s belief that without a state, the concrete expression of Jewish peoplehood, the Jewish people will not survive. An objective reading of history after Herzl supports this.
The view that nationalism is passé is popular today. Nationalism is blamed for wars and it is associated with racism. It is argued that a nation-state cannot by definition provide equal rights for minority citizens. Anti-nationalism provides yet another weapon for Israel’s enemies, who have variously deployed their own competing nationalism, Marxism, post-colonial theory, and the Durban strategy of smearing Israel as a racist apartheid state (sometimes all of these together) in a continuous war against Jewish sovereignty.
Is it surprising that while there are many, many nation-states in the world, only the Jewish one presents a problem that anti-nationalists feel urgently needs a ‘solution’? Unfortunately, not so much. Those who would like to see the Jews finally gone from history understand that Zionism is their great enemy.
But the idea of Zionism was developed in the crucible of history, a reaction to at least two thousand years in which much of the world tried to snuff out the Jewish people at any given time. Although the Arabs and apparently the Peres Center dispute this, the Jewish people, by any fair standard, have done pretty well in creating a state where the human rights of all of its residents are respected.
With all due respect, the various Arab nationalisms have not done as well. I think it’s safe to extrapolate from the behavior of the Palestinian Arabs that their recent discovery of peoplehood, if it develops into a state, will also not produce a shining example of human moral achievement. After all, we are talking about a state of Hamas and the PLO.
Unlike say, Tibetan nationalism, an essential part of Palestinian nationalism is the denial of Zionism. So what are we to make of the position of the Peres Center that this view deserves respect?
Shimon Peres is or was a Zionist — at least he would insist on this. Will he support or repudiate the anti-Zionism of the organization that bears his name?