Remarks delivered to ACT, Middle Tennessee Chapter, February 8, 2011
by Matthew M. Hausman (April 2011)
Good evening. I’m speaking tonight as a proud Jew and committed Zionist, and I’m here to offer my thoughts on J Street, an organization that claims to be “pro-Israel and pro-peace.” In order to have some perspective, however, I think it’s necessary to delve a little into some of the historical background of the Jewish Left in order to understand how such groups could come to exist. more>>>
Mr. Hausman's critique of J Street may or may not be accurate in every sense of the word. The problem is that it misses the point. We can spend decades challenging the bona fides of this or that organization or movement and, in the process, do nothing to address the fundamental issues creating an ongoing saga of loss, trauma, and despair. In the case of Israel and Palestine, we have to find a way to acknowledge the legitimacy of both narratives.Indeed, Mr. Hausman seems dismissive of the very reality of a Palestinian narrative. Indeed, he seems to suggest that accepting the reality of any narrative other than that of the current, dominant leadership culture of Israel is, gulp, at best a remnant of ghetto culture, and at worst, gulp gulp, anti semitic. I would suggest that dismissing the contribution to a very stalled conversation by a group like J street represents the kind of insular mentality itself characteristic of a ghetto culture, one that typically chews on the same, narrow bone.
Mr. Hausman also states that the settlements and outposts are not really the problem, that Arab and Palestinian animosity predates settlement or outpost activity. While this may be technically accurate, it shoots wide of the mark - much of the Arab world, after all, reacted to the immigration of Jews to the Palestine Mandate and, later, the very establishment of the State of Israel as the very first Israeli settlement activity. A people can define themselves based upon those founding events or mythologies. It is important to acknowledge that we can challenge the historical accuracy of this narrative, but we can not by so doing make it go away. And I refuse to believe that Mr. Housman thinks that current settlements and outposts are irrelevant to conversations about Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Lastly, Mr. Hausman still leaves those Zionists among us in the woods, namely those among us who seek an Israel which is fundamentally Jewish in character and, due primarily to that very Jewish character, operationally and culturally democratic.
"I’m speaking tonight as a proud Jew and committed Zionist."
What an off-putting remark.
Here's what the speaker might have said:
"I'm speaking as someone who understands the difference between "peace" and "peace treaty," who has informed himself about the nature of the war -- the Jihad-- against Israel, who has learned -- in detail -- the history of the Jews under Muslim rule, who believes that small peoples, too, have rights, and deserve protection, and who is haunted by the injustices done in the past, and now being done in the present and promised for the future, to the most persecuted tribe in human history."
How about that as a re-write?