The Twilight of Zionism

The price was high but the Palestinians had the attention of the world press again in May. It took an eleven-day bombardment of Gaza and assaults of various forms on Palestinians in the West Bank and even within Israel itself. The daily violence visited on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is not news. Otherwise, Israel’s historical mission to be “a light unto the nations”—that is to say, its theft of Palestinian land and its violation of Palestinian rights—proceeds mostly unremarked. Most of the time the only thing that varies with that process is the pace of the thefts and violations. The pace quickens when Israel, like a thief, thinks no one is watching. But now another factor seems to be accelerating these events. Israeli anxiety is growing because anger and disgust around the world with its behavior is growing. At the same time both the power and influence of its only real friend, the US, are waning, and Israel finds itself more isolated. Its new friendship with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco hardly lessens its isolation and in any case is only for show. Israelis are now welcome to vacation in Dubai. Israel remains a Zionist island in a sea of 360 million Arabs who despise it. All of these things suggest that the time is coming when the rest of the world may finally say to Israel enough.

In the US, coverage of the Israeli Palestinian conflict over the years has made it seem hopelessly complicated. This is a fallacy. The cause of the conflict—there is only one—is that Israel is stealing the Palestinians’ land. Likewise, there is really only one obstacle to its peaceful resolution. Israel does not want peace. Because peace would mean Israel would have to stop stealing Palestinian land and it has no intention of ever doing that until it has taken all of it. All the major agreements that Israel has signed with various Arab partners show this. Beginning with the Camp David Accords of 1978, Israel has ignored the provisions in every agreement that in any way recognized Palestinian rights. Since then most Palestinian leaders have recognized Israel’s right to exist on the land it took prior to 1967. And since then no Israeli government, whether Likud or Labor, has ever stopped the usurpation of Palestinian land. And the lines on the maps of 1978 have not changed.

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Daniel Beaumont teaches Arabic language & literature and other courses at the University of Rochester. He is the author of Slave of Desire: Sex, Love & Death in the 1001 Nights and Preachin’ the Blues: The Life & Times of Son House. He can be contacted at: daniel.beaumont@rochester.edu

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