‘The One State Reality’

A worth reading article in New Yorker by David Remnick.

Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, the new President of Israel, is ardently opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He is instead a proponent of Greater Israel, one Jewish state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. He professes to be mystified that anyone should object to the continued construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank: “It can’t be ‘occupied territory’ if the land is your own.”

Rivlin does not have the starched personality of an ideologue, however. He resembles a cheerfully overbearing Borscht Belt comedian who knows too many bad jokes to tell in a single set but is determined to try. Sitting in an office decorated with mementos of his right-wing Zionist lineage, he unleashes a cataract of anecdotes, asides, humble bromides, corny one-liners, and historical footnotes. At seventy-five, he has the florid, bulbous mug of a cartoon flatfoot, if that flatfoot were descended from Lithuanian Talmudists and six generations of Jerusalemites. Rivlin’s father, Yosef, was a scholar of Arabic literature. (He translated the Koran and “The Thousand and One Nights.”) Ruvi Rivlin’s temperament is other than scholarly. He is, in fact, given to categorical provocations. After a visit some years ago to a Reform synagogue in Westfield, New Jersey, he declared that the service was “idol worship and not Judaism.”

And yet, since Rivlin was elected President, in June, he has become Israel’s most unlikely moralist. Rivlin—not a left-wing writer from Tel Aviv, not an idealistic justice of the Supreme Court—has emerged as the most prominent critic of racist rhetoric, jingoism, fundamentalism, and sectarian violence, the highest-ranking advocate among Jewish Israelis for the civil rights of the Palestinians both in Israel and in the occupied territories. Last month, he told an academic conference in Jerusalem, “It is time to honestly admit that Israel is sick, and it is our duty to treat this illness.”

Around Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Rivlin made a video in which he sat next to an eleven-year-old Palestinian Israeli boy from Jaffa who had been bullied: the two held up cards to the camera calling for empathy, decency, and harmony. “We are exactly the same,” one pair read. A couple of weeks ago, Rivlin visited the Arab town of Kafr Qasim to apologize for the massacre, in 1956, of forty-eight Palestinian workers and children by Israeli border guards. No small part of the Palestinian claim is that Israel must take responsibility for the Arab suffering it has caused. Rivlin said, “I hereby swear, in my name and that of all our descendants, that we will never act against the principle of equal rights, and we will never try and force someone from our land.”



 Posted By F. Sheikh

3 thoughts on “‘The One State Reality’

  1. Looks like a case of “kill me smilingly.” They all have the same aim: more settlement, greater Israel. Palestinians are not going nowhere. They are not going to disappear. Majority of the world see the injustice and suffering of the Palestinian peoploe. If Israelis had brains, they would settle the issue with the Palestinians and live happily for ever.

  2. I haven’t read the whole article; my response is mostly to Zaki Sabih’s comment.

    It seems you are saying “Israelis do not have brains”. Usually it is people with superior brains that are in control. And Israel is definitely in the driver’s seat, world opinion be damned. The Palestinians, instead of exploiting their plight to stir world opinion even more, fall into the traps that Israel lays down for them and comes out looking half victim and half instigator. I would say if the Palestinians (without calling them brainless) saw the reality around them( the fact that the US & Western Europe will side with Israel no matter what) for the foreseeable future THEY would settle the issue with the Israelis. They may not get all they want but something is better than nothing.

  3. It is easy to think like Mr. Reuven when one belongs to the ruling community like him. I am sure he wouldn’t consider being a citizen with equal rights if Palestinians were offering them the same. Had there not been a history of struggle and violence, this proposition should have sounded reasonable. It is hard for Palestinians now to have sacrificed so long and lived in misery to give up when almost whole world recognizes their right to have their own country side by side with Israel. Recognition of their independent status has already started. I would however agree with Shoeb Sahib that Palestinians should accept what is offered – part Jerusalem, and not insist on all or nothing. The remark of Zaki Sabhi about Jew’s brain is amusing though as Shoeb Sahib rightly reminded who has better brains.


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