Monday, October 11, 2004

 

Who Needs a Racist Editorial?

Yesterday's LA Times had quite the ridiculous editorial, essentially in response to Michael Tarazi's op-ed in the NY Times last week that suggested the possibility of a one-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The LA Times, which I have always found to be strongly anti-Palestinian in its op-ed pages, offers the following arguments.

1) Israel has done and is doing bad things, but its OK because it's necessary to keep Israel a "Jewish state."

2) The Palestinians should stop complaining and be happy because Ariel Sharon accepted the principle of a Palestinian state.

3) Talk of a single state solution is just a sneaky way of calling for the destruction of Israel.

As you might imagine, I have a bit of a problem with all three of these arguments.

1) Essentially, the editorial asks readers to excuse the racist and illegal elements of Israel's occupation of the Palestinians (including the well-documented expulsion and transfer of Palestinians out of their land in 1948), Israel's illegal wall through the West Bank (judged as such by the International Court of Justice in the Hague), and the second-class nature of Israeli citizens of Palestinian or Arab descent. All these things were and are necessary, says the LA Times, to preserve Israel as a Jewish state. Now, it's one thing to deny that Palestinians were driven out in 1948 and that Palestinians with Israeli citizenship live as second-class citizens in Israel, but this is not what the LA Times does. No, it admits them and then accepts and justifies them. What if the LA Times were to write an editorial saying that the genocide of blacks and Christians in Sudan was necessary to preserve Sudan as an Arab and Muslim state?

2) The Palestinians should be just as happy with Sharon's "acceptance in principle" of a Palestinian state as Israelis are with the PLO's acknowledgement of Israel in 1988 or Yasir Arafat's acceptance of Israel's Jewish nature in an interview earlier this year. It would be ridiculous to ask Israelis to accept suicide bombings because the PLO or Arafat had accepted Israel "in principle." Principle doesn't count for much when the actions do not back it up. You can't buy bread with princple, as they say (I actually don't know anybody who says that, but it sounds pretty good, right?). And believe me, Sharon has hardly acted on this principle. Instead, he has stepped up the brutality of the occupation, increased settlements in the West Bank, and has built a big wall through the West Bank, essentially annexing portions of it.

3) The foundation of the one state solution argument is the line of reasoning that says, "If you aren't going to give us a state, at least give us the human rights and the civil rights that you profess to stand for as the self-proclaimed only democracy in the Middle East." Now even though the LA Times thinks so highly of principle, and we discussed earlier the acceptance of Israel "in principle" by the PLO and Yasir Arafat, it still argues that the true sentiment behind calls for a single state solution is the ever-present murderous Arab treachery.
It took the Israelis decades to accept the idea of a Palestinian state next door. They saw it as a staging ground for conquest and elimination of the Jewish state. The "single-state" solution would achieve that same illegitimate goal by more decorous means.
I must say that I am deeply uncomfortable with the LA Times using its op-ed page to justify the denial of Palestinian rights in order to make sure that Israel maintains its Zionist character (as if Zionism were some untouchable value that could not be questioned or debated). What does this say about our nation that one of the largest newspapers can openly admit to the racist and illegal acts of a nation and, instead of criticizing it, asking the victims to accept it?

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