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12 Attempts to Exclude Pro-Israel Views from Progressive Discourse: Some Case Studies from Australia Philip Mendes Philip Mendes, for years at the forefront of the Jewish Left in Australia, which advocated for Palestinian rights and the two-state solution, notes that today most Australian Jews endorse the two-state solution while almost no pro-Palestinian activists do. The dominant position instead, that of eliminating Israel, he associates with the BDS movement’s success in excluding pro-Israel voices from progressive debates, as several case studies illustrate. He describes his conversations with the Australasian Middle East Studies Association (AMESA) about fostering better relations with the Australian Jewish community, noting that when he called for discussion of the Israeli narrative he was purged from the organization. When he published an essay critical of suicide bombings, he was vilified by the pro-Palestinian Australian Left. A respected leftist journal also published a personal attack charging him with racism and following it with nasty libelous charges. The episodes demonstrate the now-mainstream leftist belief that even those Jewish or Israeli voices that are critical of Israeli occupation must be silenced, for only eliminationist discourse is acceptable. Ihavesupporteda“twostatesfortwopeoples”solutiontotheIsraeli-Palestinian conflict for over thirty-three years, since I was caught up as a naive seventeenyear -old first-year university student in the ill winds and polarization of the Lebanon War debate at Melbourne University. For me, two states has always meant simply the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign Jewish state within roughly the pre-1967 Green Line borders and equally the right of the Palestinians to an independent state within the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This means no coerced Jewish settlements within Palestinian territory and equally no coerced return of Palestinian refugees within Green Line Israel.1 My two-state position has long attracted criticism from extremists on both sides of the conflict. During the 1980s and early 1990s, prior to the signing of 164 | Philip Mendes the Oslo peace accord, much opposition came from conservative Australian Jews who defended Likud’s Greater Israel project and were intolerant of any political solution that involved legitimizing Palestinian nationalism. I have written elsewhere about the aggressive backlash that criticisms of Israel’s West Bank settlements provoked in that period.2 Yet most Jews have shifted their position since the outbreak of the Second Palestinian Intifada and now endorse a two-state solution involving the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.3 It is relatively easy today to be pro-Israel and at the same time to espouse the two-state view traditionally associated with left-wing Israeli groups such as the Meretz alliance and the Peace Now movement. In contrast, it has become very difficult, if not impossible, to be proPalestinian and support a two-state perspective. Many Australian leftists who strongly advocated peace and reconciliation in the Oslo era have instead regressed to the earlier pre-1988 Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) position in favor of Israel’s destruction. It is now called in this politically correct era the one-state solution instead of the earlier terminology of a secular democratic state. In practice , it means that Israel will cease to exist either by military violence or political coercion and will be replaced by a majority Arab state of Palestine, neither secular nor democratic, in which Jews will at best be allowed to remain as a tolerated religious, not national, minority. This extremist position has been accompanied by highly aggressive and shrill attempts associated with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement to exclude pro-Israel voices from progressive debates. The three case studies that follow document attempts by pro-Palestinian advocates to misrepresent, demonize, and ultimately silence two-state advocates. The first attack occurred in 1998 at the height of the Oslo peace process within an academic association. The following two attacks, in 2003 and 2010, also involved academics acting either individually or via association with a journal or professional society. Noticeably, some anti-Zionist Jews were prominent in all three events. I have noted elsewhere that a small number of Jews seem to play a prominent role in propagating extreme attacks on Zionism and Israel. One particularly contentious strategy used by Jewish anti-Zionists is to provide an alibi for antisemitic critics of Israel by arguing that Jews also share their views.4 The opinions of these totally unrepresentative groups of anti-Zionist Jews are then opportunistically exploited by rabid anti-Zionists such as the sacked American academic...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253034083
MARC Record
OCLC
1019844795
Pages
456
Launched on MUSE
2018-05-05
Language
English
Open Access
No
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