The Choice Is Nationalism or Human Rights

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A few points regarding Dr. Milton Masur’s critique of our article “The Blind Alley of J Street and Liberal American Zionism“:
* Masur attributes to us the assertion that “without the uprooting of the Palestinians a Jewish state would not have arisen here.” But that quote comes not from us but from our direct quotation of a 2004 statement by Benny Morris, the pioneering historian of Israel’s birth, who is currently a defender of the actions taken. The full quote presented in our article is:

“Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.”

* Masur presents two arguments: He disputes the intentionality of the driving away of non-Jews from now-erased villages in Israel. And he also contends the population transfer wasn’t that bad of an idea.
In our research, we found Louis Brandeis was reported in November 1939 by Isadore Breslau as objecting to a planned visit to the United States by Chaim Weizmann: “He believed the whole thing was a mistake. He was afraid Weizmann would press his plan for political action, based on a future re-shuffling of populations.”
In May 1941, Weizmann told American Jewish leaders that there must be Palestinian Arab resettlement, in order for the Zionist vision to be properly realized. (Rafael Medoff, Zionism and the Arabs: An American Jewish Dilemma, 1898-1948.)
* The American Jewish Committee was briefed by the Israeli consul-general in 1953 so the AJC could propound the claim within the United States that the creation of Israel had been “a feat of colonization unique in history, which was accomplished without displacing anyone.”
In his thoughtful critique, Masur does not make that claim. However, like other decent defenders of the State of Israel, he hopes for Jewish nationhood without consequences of continued subjugation and exile of non-Jews from the land of Israel — a sort of magical thinking.
*The choice is nationalism or human rights as the guiding principle. Otherwise one is left with a contorted defense, in effect: “We knew transfer had to happen for our goals to be met, and it happened — but we didn’t intend for it to happen,” letting the inhuman doctrines of ethnic nationalism determine our future as Jews.
*The reasons that others may focus on Israel’s faults and legitimacy may be questionable, we suppose, but there is no question why Americans and Jews should speak forcefully. We are intimate participants in this drama, while Israel claims to be the nation-state of the Jewish people, and America routinely claims Israel as its “most important strategic ally” in the Middle East.