Not Masters and not Culprits, but Partners Instead / By Ishay Rosen-Zvi

On July 15th, an unprecedented event in the history of Zionism is set to take place in Jerusalem: a Jewish-Palestinian independence march. This march will not be yet another demonstration in support of the negotiations; not a call for an end to violence nor for a bilateral two-state solution. We’ve had enough of those. This time Israelis, Jews and Arabs, will show our support for the unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence expected in September; a free state in the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. No more favors, thank you very much.

This way is unequivocally better than yet another statement of support in negotiations, which in turn is nothing more than the continuation of the occupation  by other means, that of negotiations without end. At the same time, we must ask what the role of the Jewish marchers is in this march. Is not the Palestinian state a Palestinian project? Is it not our role to just stand back and not interfere? Is it not better that we fight against the occupation, and leave the founding of the state to those whose state it will be? Is it not just slightly offensive? Hast thou conquered, and also rejoiced?

We claim that the illusion that the end of the occupation will bring with it a separation from the Palestinians is the root of all evil. What lies behind the various “disengagement plans”, especially the greedy “separation wall”, if not the desire “not to see them anymore?” This land and its peoples have no future without cooperation. Not just because the opressor will be free only when the oppressed will be free (as Hegel well understood in his master and slave dialectic), but also because after their respective freedoms, the two sides are destined to sit together, to share a land, its resources and history. Solutions based upon separation (always unilateral), are bound to fail (see under: Gaza).

Moreover, we are trying to undermine the most successful lie in the history of the Israeli public sphere, that which presents everything as a zero-sum game, as if every Palestinian gain is an Israeli loss. We are marching to say that the Palestinian declaration of independence is not just a theatre of conflict between Israel and Palestine, but first and foremost a discussion Israelis should be holding amongst ourselves. Similar deliberations should have taken place before the wars of choice in Lebanon and Gaza, and should now be held apropos the Gaza flotilla. The fact that we cannot hear even the slightest echo of such a discussion teaches us more than anything else about the total and unequivocal surrender of the Israeli media to official government policy. For exposing an internal disagreement will undermine the binary illusion, that of us against them, and might even begin to deter the Obama administration’s intention to veto the declaration in the UN security Council (the US has no power of veto in the general assembly) as a way of defending Israeli interests. One can dream, at least.

But all of these are just icing on the cake. And the “cake” is the solidarity itself. We do not come to the march “from above,” as masters, and not “from below,” as culprits. Rather, we come as partners in the desire for freedom. Against the fascist marches which washed over the city on Jerusalem Day, against the ethnic politics, becoming ever more violent, the marchers are attempting to make room for an alternative politics, one based on civil partnership, on amicability, on common, worldly interests. This then is the reason that the initiative comes from an organization whose very existence is based on solidarity, civic and human. This is why the real goal is not only political or a matter of publicity. Indeed it is nothing less than the shattering of the dichotomist model through which the entire Israeli political apparatus operates: “us” against “them.” Those who yearn for independence in this space are not “them;” they do not belong to the other side. They are our very own poor. And, as the Talmud teaches us, our own poor come first.

Ishay Rosen-Zvi is professor of Talmudic Studies in Tel Aviv university and a research fellow in the “Shalom Hartman” Institute.
This article was published in Haaretz

 On 15 July
we will stand with our Palestinian partners
in a Palestinian-Israeli march
through the heart of Jerusalem
for the independence of Palestine –
because the Palestinians too deserve to be
“free in their country”.

Because Jerusalem is the place for this freedom to be realized
and because Jewish-Arab solidarity is the only response to hatred and racism. We will march together in both sections of the city,
the Israeli and the Palestinian, to express our support of Palestine’s independence and our commitment to fight for it together.
See: Marching for independence – 15 July 2011
See here for the facebook event

Further reading:
A crucial time for the Left: A Joint Struggle against the Occupation or Submission to Fascism
On occupation, oppression and the road to independence/ Zvi Benninga
Fighting Fascism with the Fist / Dorit Argo
The Beauty of Defiance / David Shulman
Solidarity leads key Israeli figures in appeal to European leaders: Support Palestinian independence
What is our struggle about?