Liberal Zionism

Setting aside for a moment the argument of whether dividing historic Palestine into two states was ever a good idea, clearly forty years ago it was a viable solution. Today as liberal Zionist Jews and others call for this solution, it is a sad and pathetic sight.
In 1967, after the IDF completed the conquest of Palestine, great men like Dr. Nahum Goldman, Dr. Yishayahu Leibovitch, General Dr. Matti Peled and other prominent Jews called for the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. However, Jews in Israel, America and elsewhere around the world were basking in the messianic glow of the conquest of historic Israel, bewitched by the sounds of biblical names now made accessible.  Names like Hebron and Bethlehem, Shilo and Bet El, all of which who were now within reach drove everyone, including secular liberal Jews to believe that there is a God and that he was really on their side.
Never mind that a solution whereby half of the population receives barely 20 percent of its historic homeland while the remaining half receives the rest had little chance of success to begin with. Now the West Bank is riddled with towns and malls and highways built on Palestinian land for Jews only and Israeli cabinet members openly discuss population transfers, or rather transfer of its non-Jewish population.  The level of oppression and the intensity of the violence against Palestinians has reached new heights and so the questions that begs to be asked are: who exactly will allow Palestinians to establish their mini state? and where will this state exist? If there is any doubt in anyone’s mind, Israel has no intentions of ever letting go of any part of historic Israel.
Discussing the two state solution now under these conditions shows an acute inability to accept reality. As one learns about the history of the Zionist movement and the early years of the state of Israel one will understand that parting with any portion of historic Israel is not something Israel will ever do.  Liberal Jews in the US (see J Street) and in Israel (see the Zionist liberals like David Grossman who recently received a peace award in Germany) all of a sudden realized that there was a problem. They all claim that the solution is partition and segregation via the creation of a tiny and impotent state for the Arabs of Palestine.  They do claim that Israel must be reprimanded for its treatment of Palestinians and they even condemn the siege on Gaza.  These are commendable statements coming from Zionists anywhere particularly in the US where criticizing Israel is a mortal sin, but this is just talk.
There is an illusion that a liberal, forward thinking government can rise in Israel and then everything will be just as liberal Zionists wish it to be.  They will pick up where Rabin and Arafat left off and we will have the pie in sky Jewish democracy liberal Jews want so much to see in Israel. This illusion is shared by American Jews, liberal Zionists in Israel and around the world and in the West where guilt of two millennia of persecuting Jews still haunts the conscience of many.  If only there were better leaders and if only this and if only that… But alas, reality continues to slap everyone in the face: Zionism and peace are incompatible. I will say it again: Zionism is incompatible with peace.
A serious study of the history of modern Israel will show that the emergence of Netanyahu and Lieberman was perfectly predictable. They are the natural successors of David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin.  As one looks at the political map in Israel one can see that future Zionist leaders, be they from Labor, Likud, Meretz or the religious nationals, will be no different and offer no change.  The problem is Zionism and the solution is dismantling the Zionist framework and instituting a secular democracy that does not discriminate between Israelis and Palestinians. In other words, no one nation will rule over the other but the rule of law will govern everyone equally.
Zionism has created a state that wants nothing to do with peace or reconciliation.  The problem is not Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieberman and the solution is not Yossi Beilin or David Grossman who represent the Zionist liberals.  The problem is that the basic premise on which the Jewish state was founded, Zionism, is flawed.


  1. Is the real problem…anti-Semitism of a completely different variety from the old one that existed when the Americans and Canadians sealed their borders to Jews who were fleeing persecution in Germany, Russia and Eastern Europe?? I recommend Irving Abella’s book, “None is too Many”.

  2. The only interesting point in “liberal Zionism” is the fact that it comes from the son of an EX general of the IDF who was a full fledge partner to the Zionist colonisation and etnic cleansing in Palestine.(Miko Peled must know about it better than most of us).
    Communists in Palestine,jews and arabs alike, made this observation from day one of Zionism.
    However, it is refreshing and encouraging to see non communist jews reaching this conclusion.
    As said : Better Late than never.

  3. Miko,
    You perfectly articulated the problem. I hope J Streeters and others who still have some degree of openness to sane and intelligent ideas will read your article. Rich

  4. I grew up in Mandatory Palestine (we immigrated from Germany in 1937, when I was ten). Although initially I was an enthusiastic Zionist, a member of the Hagana etc. after Israel came into being we (I was married by then with 2 young children) became increasingly critical of the new state and left for the UK in 1958. Since my first visit to the Palestinian Territories as a member of a delegation during the first intifada I have repeatedly gone. I also gave up my nationality after my initial visit. It’s wonderful to read such an eloquent article by someone who grew up in such a very different, chauvinistic atmosphere.
    You have my admiration.

  5. Until Israeli ‘leaders’ recognize what Israel has done to the Christian and Muslim Palestinians, apologize for the terror, torture and dispossession of close to a million Palestinians and adapt the Right of Return for all refugees and heirs, there will be no peace, only pieces.

    Palestinians should have the right to return. Most of them will not, but they should have that RIGHT. It is obscene that a Jew born and raised in Poland has more right to live in Safad than do my two children whose father was born and raised there. They don’t want to live in Safad. They want the RIGHT to. As long as Israel thinks it can be Jewish and Democratic, nothing is going to get done until civil society gets fed up and does it ourselves.

  6. Miko,

    I’m ashamed to say that I was a Christian Zionist for nearly twenty years. I believed in the Zionist State of Israel because I believed in the Premillennial Dispensationalist view (PDV) of Eschatology. PDV was the view of the End Times that my church taught. To make a long story short, after coming to the conclusion that the PDV was erroneous, I realized that the State of Israel had nothing to do with the End Times or the coming of Jesus.

    I now believe in Fulfilled Eschatology or Preterism. This view demonstrates that the coming of Christ took place in A.D. 70, and that the Kingdom of God was established at that time. This changed my view of the State of Israel from seeing them as the chosen people placed back in the land of Palestine by God, to a people erroneously claiming ties with Old Covenant Israel that have no legal right to that land. The State of Israel as it exist today is not justified since the Old Covenant was abolished by God when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in A.D. 70, and a new and better covenant was established with all races of people.

    If Christians (especially Christians in America, which is where I live) come to understand that Premillennial Dispensationalism is a false system of Eschatology, then Zionism will collapse, and so will the support for Israel for being a Jewish State only.

    I’m now trying to communicate to Premillennial Dispensationalists in America the flaws in their eschatological view in an effort to help bring an end to the racist State of Israel.

  7. Thank you, Miko — as the Quakers say, you speak my mind (although I would want to discuss with you the assertion that the two-state partition 40 years ago was a “viable solution.” Workable, perhaps, in the short run, possible, certainly, compared to now, yes. But the problem of Zionism would have remained, even within the presumably safe confines of the 1949 lines). I am going to put your blog on my blogroll, and I invite you to do the same for mine, “The Politics of Hope.”


  8. Excellent post, Miko (and thank you too Mark Braverman, whom I will be seeing at the Friends of Sabeel Conference in Minneapolis next week). Liberal Zionism is so huge in this country; it’s difficult for me to understand how so many people can be so blind. You laid it out so eloquently.

    Miko, do you give speaking tours or book tours? I am a member of two organizations that I think would have an interest in having you speak – International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and Minnesota Break the Bonds Campaign (MN BBC).

  9. I think time is on your side, the side of a single state with equal rights for Jews and Palestinians. Zionist Israel could rightly be seen as produced by a miracle, except the Holocaust, which put the Jewish state over the top, was definitely no miracle.

    With the passage of time, the fading of the horrors of the Holocaust, which, though they had nothing to do with the Palestinians, were persuasive in international politics, and the continuing rightward march of Israeli politicians mean the inevitable end of any support for Israel.

    Even here in the U.S., the Israel lobby is on the defensive because American Jews are increasingly divided over Israel as the blatant settlement movement undercuts the moral legitimacy of the whole idea. At the events I attend, and the ones I see on video, the stalwart defenders of Zionism are usually elderly, yet another sign of hope for change.

    My fear is that Israel will make a crazy move – attacking Iran. With a group that is used to acting unilaterally, one can never know what stunt will be coming next.

  10. sending copy to Miko Peled (whom I heard yesterday on KPFK-fm – Radio Intifada…couldn’t find his email address… herein from julieanna who supports the work of the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation – which does not take a stand about One-State or Two-State, but which can be a step toward One-State):

    Hello Doris:

    My comments about your email re HEBRON – below in BLUE…

    Isn’t it about time that Jews and Palestinians got along?

    Jews/Israelis ISRAELI GOV’T i.e. – are more the bully in the Region (having more nukes, more big guns, more power to restrict Palestinians, etc., etc.), and Palestinians are not seeing the Jewish desire for a peaceful land of their own. BOTH sides are wrong, Doris. This is about behavior – it’s not fundamentally about “anti-Semitism” – which you use an excuse or “reason” for “the others”‘ disputes and violence with you. The dispute is about Land and hateful history and prejudice about religions, but mostly about Land…

    and it’s about Jews coming in via Zionism, without permission of the exisiting Palestinian and other residents… Jews confiscating, displacing, killing, in the name of the “British Mandate” and “U.N.” – without regard to the rights of the People already existing right there, Doris.

    …and because Israel does its naughties/mean/violent/horrific stuff, Palestinians hate Jews as a symbol of doing evil stuff. You hate Palestinians as a symbol of Palestinians doing evil stuff. Indeed You also are disputive and violent toward Palestinians…

    It’s really a MESS – as I read the history.

    What are you going to do NOW? Jews had the Land. Palestinians had the Land. Christians had the Land. Early Calliphites, Philistines, and a band of other Biblical groups had the Land, Doris. What are you going to do NOW – now, after most all the history players are deceased?

    Is it right and democratic to have a “Jewish” state? The term “Jewish state” is prejudicial in itself. Howabout a fair, just, and truly democratic Secular State with Jews/Judaism being the founders of a good part of the area–an “Israel Region” and then an honorable Palestinian Region founded primarily by Muslims…and a Christian-type Region, not restricted to only Christians of course—everyone living together in PEACE, Doris, and FREELY practicing their religions?

    Israel is constantly defying and breaking international laws and U.N. Resolutions to STOP SETTLEMENT BUILDING right in Palestinian Regions! But you did “obey” the “British Mandate” and U.N. in the beginning – because it suited your purposes, not because it was fair/just!

    An Israel founded by proud Jews, a SECULAR Israel Region of a ONE-STATE also founded by Muslims and Christians. Just as America is founded mostly by Christians, but all religions live here IN PEACE, Doris, IN PEACE!

    Biblical history is past. American genocide of Indians is past, though the American Government has a duty to allow truly separate and sovereign Indian Nations in this American Land…. The American Gov’t has been AWFUL toward Indians…

    As for PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE in the USA: America is becoming a truly multi-religious state, with America still recognizing its Christian so-called “roots” before these “Christians” committed GENOCIDE on the NATIVE AMERICAN INDIANS here! The Native-American religions were “THE religions”/the “roots” prior to the Christian genocide from mostly Europeans migrating here, their leaders confiscating Indian Land and killing ’em right and left….just as Jews have done against the Palestinians – and are still doing in Israel-Palestine against Palestinians (who were there before Israel was formed after WWII.. )

    So, let’s face it, Doris, there is human need — usually a male need — for testeronic conquering and violence/destruction….then construction….then violence/destruction. Let’s look at THAT absurdity in all cultures, rather than pointing fingers – because, let’s face it, Doris, in this Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, all sides are RIGHT and all sides are WRONG in this Ongoing, nauseous Conflict that taints the entire World….

    It’s time that Christians, Jews, Palestinians lived in the Land – as a Land of Christians, Jews, Palestinians….and others practicing their chosen religions freely. Zionism is a noble movement in theory, but it just doesn’t work in practicality. There are OTHERS, Doris, not just Jews. You are doing to Palsestinians what has been done to you – Persecution.

    Zionism is a response to Persecution; not an intelligent, workable “plan” – because in human reality there are OTHERS in that Land — a Land which was WRONGLY mandated as being YOURS when it also was THEIRS at the same time, and they were NEVER consulted seriously about your swiping that LAND with British and U.N. “blessings” justifying a WRONG action!!

    So, if you ever finally realize that fundamentally TAKING others’ Lands, no matter who “mandated it” – is WRONG, THEN and only then can you get to the nitty gritty of how you are going to live in PEACE, Doris et al.!! Otherwise you will continue your quest for “Never Again” – and “Never Again” will not be realized…and has not been realized, because you’ve lost a LOT of precious Jews – innocents – right there in Israel – because of your actions in not truly negotiating with the Palestinians already living there. It could have been so easy, without violence, with civilized and thoughtful and compassionate Hearts – civilized and thoughtful and compassionate Negotiation….and that is said to Palestinians, as well!

    Instead, it was the testosteronic invasion and confiscating and displacing of innocent people there, Doris. The people living there did NOT “take” “your” Land; maybe their ancestors did thousands of years ago, hundreds of years ago via skirmishes, but the People ALREADY there in Israel-Paleestine did not take “YOUR” Land. So you kill ’em anyway?


    You write:

    Since that time the Jews of Hebron have been surrounded by tens of thousands of bloodthirsty Arabs who lust to replicate the pogrom of 1929.

    Are you not bloodthirsty and lusting to take the entire Land of Palestine, Doris? Have you/Israel not killed and mained and tortured through disproportionate wars and blockades and massacres and restrictions and checkpoints – many many more Palestinoans than Palestianians have killed you/yours?

    The Jews of Hebron live under the shadow of terrorism every day, and are demonized and defamed by Israel’s enemies. Yet they live their lives with dignity, vowing never again to be separated from their origin.

    The Palestinians of the entire Region were and are living under the shadow of BigBroAmerican – Israeli terrorism everyday; it is a terrifying terrorism that is thousands-times larger than any Palestinian terrorism ever was, Doris. The American-Israeli Terrorism is organized in marching bands of costumed terrorists ready to kill every minute…with chemical weapons, huge machinery, in the name of a manipulated “defense”.

    There is only one Jewish state. In contrast, the despotic Arab League includes 22 Arab states, and 56 countries under the Organization of the Islamic Conference, (OIC) define themselves as Muslim nations. Yet only Israel is singled out for condemnation. It is anti-Semitism, plain and simple.

    It doesn’t matter if there are 1,000 or more Arab states; ISRAEL/JEWS TOOK THE LAND OF THE PALESTINIANS LIVING THERE BEFORE YOU ARRIVED ZIONISTICALLY, esp. after 1945 under the WRONG “British Mandate” and “U.N.”. You took anothers’ Land, you displaced them, you killed them if they didn’t leave. You made refugees of them. You made them victims in the name of your “never being a victim” again: but in the throes of your efforts:

    You DID become victims and you ARE victims – of your own actions! “Never Again” is not realized, Doris! It hurts me deeply, because I would like to see “Never Again” realized too. Because of growing up with close Jewish friends who were like family, I feel even more deeply – this tragedy that “Never Again” has not been realized. Jews are victims still… and in Israel they are victims…and more and more hated by the World — because of their actions against Palestinians who were living there before you came in – in the greater numbers, establishing an Israel and pushing them OUT. It’s slow genocide against the Palestinians, Doris!

    Let’s think clearly about this!


    from Wikipedia:

    An international unarmed observer force—the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was subsequently established to help the normalization of the situation and to maintain a buffer between the Palestinian Arab population of the city and the Jews residing in their enclave in the old city…

    In December 2008 Hebron settlers angry at the eviction of occupants from a disputed house rioted, shooting three Palestinians and burning Palestinian homes and olive groves. Video footage of the attacks was recorded, leading to widespread condemnation in Israel. The attacks were characterized as “a pogrom” by then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who said he was ashamed “as a Jew”.


    ONE-STATE, in PEACE – then maybe “Never Again” will be realized!

    also: – and – — hopefully you’ll vote in the Elections!

    and: — Where Now for Palestine?

    ============== :

    Radio Intifada:

    Guests: Miko Peled, Akram Elkurd, Richard Falk
    Topics: PALESTINE TODAY AND TOMORROW: Current Conditions and Building a Viable Future
    In this week’s program, we explore current conditions in Occupied Palestinian Territories and discuss how the reality on the ground has transformed occupation into a colonial and apartheid context that renders the “two-state solution” moot. Produced and hosted by Sherna Berger Gluck


    Julieanna, Tutorials
    Piano Arts & Yoga
    Writer/editor; Earth activist
    310) 645-6909 Cell: (310) 625-7094

    — On Thu, 11/11/10, Doris Wise Montrose wrote:

    From: Doris Wise Montrose
    Subject: HEBRON: A Piece of Israel or an Obstacle to Peace, Nov 18, Los Angeles, CA
    Date: Thursday, November 11, 2010, 4:24 PM

    Working to ensure that Never Again remains more than a mere slogan

    Hebron: A Piece of Israel or an Obstacle to Peace in Israel

    Spokesmen and Councilmen
    The Jewish Community of Hebron

    Thursday, November 18, 2010
    7:30 p.m.
    Luxe Hotel Sunset
    11461 Sunset Blvd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90049

    Hebron: Establishing the true facts on the ground

    Arab leaders know that if Israel is willing to give up any of its land, that means we don’t believe it belongs to the Jewish people For if we did believe the land is ours, we wouldn’t think of abandoning it.

    Hebron is one of Israel’s holy cities. It is the home of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, including Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah. Jews have lived in Hebron throughout the thousands of years of our history. For nearly a thousand years, the Islamic rulers of the Holy Land forbade Jews from entering the tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, allowing them to climb only seven steps into the tomb but beating them mercilessly if they rose any higher. In 1929, an Arab pogrom led to the massacre and expulsion of all the Jews living in Hebron at the time.

    Through the miracle of the Six Day War, Israel liberated Hebron in 1967 and the Jews returned to reclaim their ancient city. Since that time the Jews of Hebron have been surrounded by tens of thousands of bloodthirsty Arabs who lust to replicate the pogrom of 1929. The Jews of Hebron live under the shadow of terrorism every day, and are demonized and defamed by Israel’s enemies. Yet they live their lives with dignity, vowing never again to be separated from their origin.

    There is only one Jewish state. In contrast, the despotic Arab League includes 22 Arab states, and 56 countries under the Organization of the Islamic Conference, (OIC) define themselves as Muslim nations. Yet only Israel is singled out for condemnation. It is anti-Semitism, plain and simple.

    The enemies of our people want to drive us out of Eretz Yisrael. They hate all Jews, but especially the Jews of Judea and Samaria, and the Jews of Hebron most of all. For it is the Jews of Hebron who, although badly outnumbered, refuse to be intimidated by the howling mob. It is the Jews of Hebron who defiantly refuse to be forced to abandon our birthright. Without their courage, first Hebron would fall, then Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and all of Israel. We owe the Jews of Hebron a debt we can never repay.

    “You cannot live without your own heart; without Eretz Yisrael there is nothing.”

    David Wilder and Noam Arnon are the leaders and spokesmen for city of Hebron, Israel.

    We are honored to have them speak with us and share their experiences.
    There will be a video presentation.

    Please join us on November 18 at the Luxe Hotel Sunset in Los Angeles
    in welcoming the bravest, most dedicated and most honorable of our people.

    Or by email $10 per person

    Cash or check at the door

    For info call (818)704-0523

    David Wilder was born in New Jersey in the USA in 1954, and graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a BA in History and teacher certification in 1976. He spent 1974-75 in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University and returned to Israel upon graduation. For over sixteen years David Wilder has worked with the Jewish Community of Hebron. He is the English spokesman for the community.

    Noam Arnon has been awarded the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism’s 2009 “Lion of Zion” award. For his critical role in attracting the attention of Jews from across Israel and all over the world to the City of the Patriarchs and turning Hebron into one of the central sites celebrating Jewish heritage in Israel; and for his documentation of the history of the Jewish community of Hebron and his leadership as one of the heads of the renewal of Jewish settlement in the city.

    For a printable copy of this event notice CLICK HERE

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    more great articles and videos of all CJHS events

    Philippe Karsenty – Monday, November 15 at the Luxe Hotel Sunset
    David Kahane – Monday, December 13 at the Skirball Cultural Center

    Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors –

    We are grateful to the Luxe Hotel for their generosity in helping to make this event possible.

    Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors(CJHS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to the promotion of Western values against the dual threats of complacency at home and political Islam abroad. We believe that a safe and secure Israel, prospering as a Jewish State, is a prerequisite to long-term global peace. CJHS insists that the last Holocaust imposes upon all people of good will a moral and political imperative to prevent the next one.

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    Evil will prevail when good men do nothing

  11. “Zionism and peace are incompatible.” how true. and that is the exact reason why the israeli anti-zionist left was, and still is, adamant that the struggle for peace is the crucial element in overcoming zionism. the larger part of the anti-zionist left, the retreat from the occupied territories (2 states) was/is the basic requirement to achieve that. the counter argument is that the occupation turned to be irreversible. this was long discussed and there are only 2 points to raise: 1. there is nothing “irreversible” in the occupation that a few D9 bulldozers can’t revert back – it is a question of balance of power, nothing else. 2. the occupation now is weaker than it ever was. follow the history since it began, and you will discover that zionism is retreating from one defeat to another – the occupation was never so fragile as it is now.

  12. dear miko,

    i agree with your points in principle, 100%. what i don’t understand, though, is how anyone really expects that there good be a secular state for all, when the palestinians are not a secular nation? (of course israel becomes less and less secular by the second, too) right now there is a palestinian blogger imprisoned on the west bank for blogging from an atheist’s perspective and insulting muhammed. there are laws on the books on the west bank (not to mention gaza) restricting free speech in a big way, esp. as relates to the things we in western secular democracies take for granted about being able to critique god and religion.

    so while it doesn’t seem unreasonable to desire a one state solution with the right of return, it does seem naive to imagine it as a secular state…

    i am interested in your comments, as this is not a challenge, just a humble question i think about.


    eyton shalom

    1. Eyton, thanks for your thoughtful comment. Religious people can live in a secular state. A secular state is a state that does not govern by religious law and does not interfere with religious issues. So a secular pluralistic democracy in Palestine/Israel would be a state of all of its citizens and its laws would protect all religions, all minorities etc. who live within it. No one group would govern the others, as is the case today but the state would be divorced from being Jewish, Moslem or Christian.

  13. Thank you Miko for taking the brave stance in stating “Zionism has created a state that wants nothing to do with peace or reconciliation”. However, IZionists Like Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieberman and the right-wingers who came before them, or the “liberal zionists” like Yossi Beilin, David Grossman…etc and their supporters inside and outside occupied Palestine are a major part of the problem because they still hold and defend an ideology that led to Ethnic Cleansing and War Crimes.

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