Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sand Is Running Out

Dmitry Shumsky has a "thing" for Ze'ev Jabotinsky. Shumsky, appointed to the Department of History of the Jewish People at The Hebrew University Jerusalem and a former Fellow of The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, has been termed by David Myers (on page 397) as among the "post-post-Zionists" who seek to recontextualize Zionist history, being detached from the political ramifications of the "New Historians" and their research but seeking out "new angles of observation  that yield a more complex, fractious and multi-faceted picture of Zionism".  With others in Israel and abroad, this is a group, he writes, that reinterprets Jewish nationalism and does not see Zionism as fully triumphant in matters of Jewish nationalism.

This last February, he lectured at a Jewish Secularism conference at Tulane University on “Neither Pragmatism Nor Utopia: Vladimir Jabotinsky's Nationalitaetenstaat Political Zionism, and Its Eastern European Roots”.  You can hear him, in Hebrew, in this video.  And one of his many Hebrew op-eds is here;.

Jacob Tubi, noting himself in Haaretz as "a scholar of the Revisionist movement and of Ze'ev Jabotinsky", has attacked him for promoting Jabotinsky as a binationalist:.

...Dmitry Shumsky even seeks to recruit the founder and creator of the Revisionist movement, the progenitor of today's Likud movement, to this cause (“In rejecting Arab MK, Yair Lapid also rejects Jewish values,” February 3). To do so he makes use of two articles written by Ze'ev Jabotinsky on the issue, summing up the Revisionist leader's stance with a sentence from one of these articles that ostensibly argues that the future Jewish state “should be constructed legally as a ‘binational’ state.” From this sentence, especially in an age in which the judiciary determines the national character, it is a small leap to concluding that Jabotinsky was willing to have a binational, Arab-Jewish state in which both national identities were equal. (*)

But anyone who is deeply acquainted with Jabotinsky's thought and who studies these two articles knows that this Zionist leader certainly did not envision the “binational state” imagined by the contemporary proponents of the idea...Jabotinsky makes it clear that the Jewish demographic majority – a majority that the Jewish state will endeavor to establish and to maintain at all costs – will guarantee that the binational state will in effect be a “national state of the Jews.” This, because “the entire spirit of legislation, which tempers the lives of the inhabitants beyond the narrow preserves of school, religion, family and charity; the state's social discipline …all of the methods of agriculture, industry and commerce shall be marked by the stamp of the Jewish majority.” In this he included even the art created in the state. The Jewish character of the state will be so strong, wrote Jabotinsky, that non-Jewish characteristics will play only the tiniest role. He even went as far as to hope, or imagine, that the Arab majority, despite all the rights extended to it, would eventually assimilate within the Jewish majority, that is, to adopt the perspectives and habits characteristic of Jews and even to incorporate Hebrew into their daily language...

Of course, Jabotinsky opposed what today is understood as bi-nationalism.  He made fun of all "peace nowers" of his time.

Here's Jabo in 1930:

Some obstinate lovers of political twaddle come out, from time to time, touting again and again this panacea which must reconcile the Arabs with Zionism: the Bi-national State theory.

...Any Arab who has heard or is likely to hear about a bi-national constitution will immediately and instinctively, without any need for prompting or coaching by me, answer that it may all be very well
but quite beside the point. The only point is majority. Why, I have heard of Arab nationalists being quite prepared to offer us Jews all the guarantees of a bi-national regime provided we agree to remain arithmetically a minority.


To sum up the bi-national state trick is worthless

In any case, as for binationalism, Shumsky now attacks "Shlomo Sand’s false illusion" on the matter:

In the binational reality of Israeli society, the vision of a single Israeli nation-state is delusional.

The theoretical research philosophy of Prof. Shlomo Sand, which he has laid out in his three most recent books and also in an interview and op-ed in Haaretz, does not meet the empirical reality test of the phenomena of nations and nationalism...While Sands’ research insights have the most dubious scientific standing, his declared political intentions − undermining the exclusive reservation of sovereignty in Israel for one group of its citizens and endeavoring to transfer sovereignty to all the state’s citizens − are very admirable...[however the real problem is that]  Sand’s academic objectives and causes inestimable harm to promoting the advancing the idea of Israel as a state for all of its citizens...

...Israel’s civil community thus includes both the “individual” Jewish national community and the “individual” Palestinian national community. As such, the only realistic step that could further the building of the joint Israeli civil-political entity in practice is to validate, as part of the basic human rights of Israelis, the collective national rights of Jewish Israelis and of Palestinian Israelis.

But Sand, similar to the 20th-century Caananites, wants just the opposite. He completely severs Israeliness from its concrete, human manifestations − the Jewish and Palestinian national groups − thus leaving the concept “Israeli people” an empty category, detached from the concrete Israeli experience...In the binational reality of Israeli society the vision of a single Israeli nation-state based on the French model, which purports to inherit the unique identities of Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Israelis, is delusional.

Shumsky does have an option:

But there is a practical way to advance the idea of Israeli sovereignty of all citizens, and that is to strive to establish an Israeli federation and will agree to a covenant on the basis of joint Israeli citizenship, and out of the mutual recognition of the unique collective national rights of each group...It is clear that the Palestinian citizens of the state, who join together in a covenant with the Jewish citizens within the framework of the “Israeli federation,” will be required to yield a much larger emotional concession than the Jews.
...it is first necessary to abandon Sand’s false illusion, in which the idea of the Israeli state can be advanced only by wiping out the concrete national identities that compose Israeli society.


The relevant extract from Shumsky:

Ze’ev Jabotinsky, undoubtedly a Jewish nationalist through and through, looked at the world around him, openly and without apology, through the prism of his Jewish national identity. An essential component of his Jewish national identity was his fight for the rights of the Jewish minority in czarist Russia. It was from his ongoing and open relationship with the memory of this Jewish past that Jabotinsky spoke of the rights of all minorities, no matter who they might be, as a sacred political principle. He felt that in a state where several minority groups lived, “multi-national equality should apply strictly to all races throughout the state, large and small alike, whether they made up 90 percent of the population or a tiny, scattered minority within it” (“The ‘bi-national’ Land of Israel,” 1930).

This statement shows Jabotinsky believed that the future Jewish state, in which two nationalities would always dwell, should “be constructed legally as a ‘bi-national’ state” (“On the Land of Israel as a ‘bi-national’ state,” 1926).



Sand responds.

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