Just Pack It In?

From TPM Reader SG

I am all for a Palestinian state and I have little regard for the Netanyahu government, but I am really tired of seeing folks on the left, people whom I agree with on most other political issues, take seriously the idea of unwinding the whole Zionist enterprise.

Let’s assume for the purpose of argument that Zionism was an immoral movement. Fine, so the State of Israel was born in sin. But birth in sin is not a problem peculiar to Israel. Scratch any modern nation-state’s origin story and you’ll find resettlement, exile, expropriation, genocide, and all the other evils that accompany inter-ethnic warfare. For most countries, these skeletons have been so deeply buried that the descendants of former enemies can pretend not to care, but for some, like Serbia, the bodies are still pretty fresh.

The First Aliyah was over a hundred years ago; the State of Israel was admitted to the United Nations over sixty years ago. All of Israel’s immediate neighbors accept its *existence*, even if they disagree with Netanyahu on where its borders should run. The wisdom and morality of Israel’s policies should be vigorously and freely debated, but the mere question of “should there be a State of Israel at all?” should be closed, at least until the Israelis themselves show an interest in reopening it. (Among the privileges of independent statehood is the privilege of merging with other independent states. But when outsiders *tell* a state to merge with another state, or tell it to dissolve itself by exiling its own citizens, we call that something else.)

When apartheid was a live issue, I don’t remember anyone on the left suggesting that the Afrikaners should move back to the Netherlands. When the Troubles were more troublesome, I don’t remember IRA sympathizers proposing that Irish Protestants go back to Scotland. Why, when it comes to Israel, does the comparable idea keep getting bruited about?

One of the characteristics of privilege is that people without privilege are expected to constantly account for themselves. An African-American in a prestigious job faces accusations of “you’re not really qualified; you were just hired to make a quota”. A woman who is a victim of sexual assault has to convince others–sometimes, even the police–that she didn’t “deserve” what she got. Gay men and lesbians advocating marriage equality have to present an image of perfect loving eternally pair-bonded couples. The barrage of demands for Israel to apologize for its own existence is the same kind of bigotry, and people who call themselves “progressive” should be ashamed to tolerate it.