Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Israeli Elections, Meretz, and Brit Tzedek

Political and cultural analyst Omar Barghouti has an interesting analysis of the most recent Israeli Knesset elections in the current issue of Synthesis/Regeneration. An excerpt from the article, entitled "Israeli Elections: A Vote for Apartheid," appears below.
"Israel votes for disengagement and final borders" and "Israelis abandon the dream of Greater Israel" were the main themes in the spin that characterized mainstream (and even some progressive) media coverage of the Israeli parliamentary elections which took place on March 28, 2006. In reality, the election results revealed that a consensus has emerged among Israeli Jews, not only against the basic requirements of justice and genuine peace, as that was always the case, but also in support of a more aggressive form of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and cementing Zionist apartheid.

In the 2006 Knesset elections, Israelis overwhelmingly voted for "disengagement"—not from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), but only from the Palestinians, whether in Israel, in the OPT or in exile. Palestinian lands are clearly precluded from this disengagement. An objective examination of the election results and the political platforms of the parties represented in the new Israeli parliament will show that the celebration of the "shift to peace and realism" is not only unwarranted but quite deceptive. If anything, an avid adoption of the right's agenda has taken place.

With the exception of the Palestinian-dominated political parties, all Israeli parties represented in the seventeenth Knesset converge on the three fundamental No's of Zionism:

* No to the return of Palestinian refugees who were uprooted by Israel during the Nakba (catastrophe of dispossession and expulsion around 1948);
* No to a complete end of the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967;
* No to full equality, in the law as well as in government policies, between Israel's Jewish citizens and its Palestinian citizens, the remaining indigenous population of the land.

Some may argue that the "ultra-dovish" Jewish-Israeli party, Meretz, has dissented from the consensus on the second clause, when it supported “ending the occupation.” In fact, Meretz has never accepted a complete return to the internationally recognized borders of 1967, which put East Jerusalem with its Old City on the Palestinian side. It has always argued for keeping parts of the OPT under Israeli control, not to mention that its consistent position against Palestinian refugee rights and full equality in Israel makes the xenophobic right parties in Europe sound quite liberal in comparison.

Just recently, Meretz's leader, Yossi Beilin, wrote to Avigdor Lieberman (seen by some analysts as the new leader of the "fascist" right in Israel) admiring him for being "very intelligent, a successful politician, an excellent man of action, and a smart Jew," and further praising him for "guiding us to a situation in which the Jewish people, too, will indeed finally have a Jewish state of its own."

Lieberman has called for ethnically cleansing Israel of half a million of its Palestinian citizens by "adjusting its borders" to leave them out, denying them citizenship and any pertinent rights. It is worth noting that most of the land belonging to this target group has already been confiscated by the state over decades. ...
Barghouti's commentary on the Meretz (also known as Meretz-Yachad) Party is especially helpful as Meretz is linked to the US-based "peace" organization, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom (BTvS), which is in reality a Zionist Trojan horse. Yossi Beilin was one of the architects of ill-conceived and unjust Geneva Initiative, which is backed by his party and not coincidentally, Meretz USA and BTvS.

As revealed in an article by Nacha Cattan, which appeared in The Forward (5/31/2002), BTvS is tied to Meretz by its President and founder Marcia Freedman, who served in the Knesset as a "member of what is now called Meretz" and who "said Brit Tzedek will strive to work cooperatively with Meretz USA ... " Also on hand at the major fundraising event covered in the article was Lilly Rivlin, "a vice president of Meretz USA, which supports the leftist Israeli Meretz Party of the same name." Here's a telling excerpt from the article:
[BTvS] is debating whether to affiliate with other Jewish peace groups, which Freedman said is a "problematic" issue because it would entail turning down organizations that don't follow its principles.

Among these principles are an implicit rejection of a Palestinian "right of return" to property in Israel proper. Instead, the organization supports a "just" resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem that respects "the special relationship between the state of Israel and the Jewish people."

"A full 'right of return' [for Palestinian refugees] is an implication of a one-state solution," said Freedman.
In 2004, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom and Meretz USA joined forces to co-sponsor a national tour by Naomi Chazan, a former Meretz Member of Knesset.

The links between BTvS and Meretz were also stressed in a 2005 article by Ralph Seliger, editor of Israel Horizons, a publication of Meretz USA:
Although Meretz USA and Brit Tzedek are different in organizational structure and to a degree in their sense of mission, we have a history of working together. As a constituent organization of the American Zionist Movement, Meretz USA is a natural place for members of Brit Tzedek to express their Zionist convictions by affiliating with us and voting for our slate in next year's election for delegates to the World Zionist Congress.
Elsewhere in the same article Seliger notes, "Brit Tzedek ... does not emphasize the 'Z' word" but Zionists they are. As Jonathan Tilove writes, "Hadar Susskind, Washington director for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which represents many of the nation's largest Jewish organizations, ... counts Brit Tzedek members as good Zionists" ("Some Liberal Jews Break Ranks on Israel." Newhouse News Service. Aug. 3, 2006).

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