Critique of Brit Tzedek
A new group called Brit Tzedek v Shalom (Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace) was recently lawnched (see www.brittzedek.org ). As an activist in human rights and striving for real peace (which can only be based in justice), I would like to share with you my thoughts on this initiative. In brief, I will argue that this initiative is counterproductive and is misleading. Many wonders if, in content and substance, this initiative differs from the classic Labor Zionist views of the world which have to do with management of natives and solving "problems" for the colonial power by simply adjusting colonialist strategy to suit changing times without really addressing a realistic solution. One wonders if thsi initiative is really to siphon off the growing Jewish American discontent with Israeli practices and channel it to unproductive talk and meetings without real substance. So let us just take the organizers' statements and examine them.
Here are what they state are "Principles and action are required in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an equitable and nonviolent way" and my comments/questions on them:
1) A complete end to the Israeli military occupation of the territories occupied since 1967 in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem with border adjustments agreeable to both parties.
Israel is a colonial power supported by the sole remaining superpower (to teh tune of several billion per year). Palestinians not. Israel has a modern army with nuclear weapons, F-16, Apache helicopters, 3800 tanks, spending 10% of its massive GDB on military. Palestinians not. Israel haas caused the dispossession of 5 of 8 million Palestinians. I could go on and on but the point is that there is no parity. You state nothing about how we will get things to change if Israel is not "agreeable" to the adjustments (and they have no reason to if they have and continue to get away with it). Are you in favor of cutting US foreign aid, arms shipments to Israel, or boycotting Israeli products (as happened to cause a change in the powerful South Africa Apartheid regime)
2) The establishment of a viable Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders alongside Israel. Both Israel and the Palestinian state should thus be able to guarantee the ability to maintain secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.
Define "viable." Why not talk about self determination or at least true sovereignity. Would you argue for a true sovereign state with equal sovereignity to that of Israel. If so, why not state it. This sovereignity means ofcourse right to control its water, its borders, its airspace, arm itself (ie. do all what normal states do with no restrictions unless applied equally to Israel and Palestine). Stating these vague statements make it obvious you are thinking along terms of labor Zionism (a different shade of Apartheid).
3) Jerusalem will be the capitol of both states. Unfettered access to all religious sites in Israel and in the future Palestine will be insured to all Jews, Muslims and Christians, regardless of nationality or sovereignty of the sites.
Again you need to be very clear about what you mean by Jerusalem, what you mean by capital of both states. You see, sovereignity is not divisible. So whose sovereignity will it be under, Israel or Palestine (or a UN sovereignity).
4) A just resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem that takes into account the needs and aspirations of both peoples is crucial to a just peace. Such a resolution should acknowledge Israel's share of responsibility for the plight of Palestinian refugees while respecting the special relationship between the State of Israel and the Jewish people.
Again what does that mean? Discard international law because of the " special relationship between the State of Israel and the Jewish people"? See http://Al-Awda.org for clear arguments on the issue of refugees. Are you in favor of maintaining laws that accept a Palestinian refugee returning only if he/she converts to Judaism by orthodox traditions, denying citizenship to a Jew weho converted to Christianity, and allowing continued racist land laws (land ownership by the Jewish National Fund of teh "Land of Israel" for "the benefoit of its owners, Jewish people everywhere" as is stated on their website? Please clarify to me what this means.
5) We strongly urge the termination of both state-initiated violence and terrorism for achieving political goals. This applies to violence against all individuals with special care being taken to avoid harm to civilians. We work towards a future in which peoples use non-violent means to resolve
social and political inequities.
Is state violence by Israel considered terrorism or not? How do you work "towards a future in which peoples use non-violent means to resolve social and political inequities." How especially when Israel has such a military power. How do you apply pressure. Are you in favor of civil disobediance, withholding taxes, boycotts etc.
6) Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are a major obstacle to peace, a tremendous financial burden to Israel and do little, if anything, to enhance Israel's security. These settlements constantly expose to danger the settlers themselves and the Israeli soldiers sent to defend them, in
addition to bringing grave harm to the Palestinians living under Occupation. We call for bringing safely home to Israel the settlers from all existing settlements except in those areas that will be included as part of a negotiated and mutually agreed upon exchange of territories between Israel
and Palestine in determining the final borders of both states.
Nowhere did I hear the word "illegal" when you are talking about settlements. Even GW Bush says they are "obstacles". As to the issue of "mutually agreed", see above.
7) As U.S. Jews, we are dedicated to the implementation of the above-stated principles. As U.S. citizens, we have a special responsibility to ensure that our government pursues policies that are consistent with the requirements of a just peace for Israel and the Palestinian people.
How? Would you call for it to cut off its massive funding of this brutal regime. Would you engage in letter writing to media asking for cutting off aid? Would you pressure congress and the US government to distance itself from Israel? Would you target AIPAC and other groups claiming to speak on your behalf?
Conclusion: The formalized policies and principles of thsi group are so vague taht they could easily fit well even with classic Zionist dogmas (the Allon Plan, labor Zionism). It can clearly be used to attract well-meaning Jews who think they are joining a group to effect change while in reality end up just sidelining them into the sides so that the bulk of Zionism marches on in the same direction that brought us where we are today. Without a program, without specifics, without justice, this can only lead down to less security, more war, more distractions. Instaed what it is time to do is to ask all people of conscience (Jews, Christians, Muslims, others) and especially citizens of teh US regardless of their ethnic and religious background to follow the example which brought peace and some element of justice to South Africa:
a) Boycott all Israeli products
b) Cut off aid to Israel, redirect all private donations to rebuild and rehabilitate the victims of Israeli policies
c) Shun all Jewish groups that masquarade as peace loving when they really advocate apartheid and Jewish supremacy (e.g. Peace Now). Support groups like Gush Shalom, Israel Committee Against Home Demolitions, and the International Solidarity Movement.