CiF’s Sam Bahour passionately opposes the “act of aggression” known as Israel’s existence

The existence of Israel is in itself an aggression…what happened in 1948 was an aggression – an aggression against the Palestinian people. “We will not accept any…coexistence with Israel.…Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel….The war with Israel is in effect since 1948”. – Egyptian President Gamel Abdel Nasser press conference May 28, 1967

“Israel [is] a settler, colonial, apartheid movement clinging to a racialist, exclusivist ideology.  [The Palestinians] were correct to [reject Israel’s existence] at the outset of this conflict [1948]. Sam Bahour, CiF, August 4th, 2011

People who call for a one-state solution tend to fall into two categories:

The first are those possessing a clearly malicious and often anti-Semitic intent, those to which, out of either an Islamist or radical left ideology, don’t accept the right of Jews to live in a sovereign state within any borders in the Middle East.

The second are those who may not consciously wish the Jewish state harm, but can’t deal with the moral demands of competing Israeli and Palestinian claims, and see a “one-state” solution as a compromise of sorts.  This group also is often characterized by an astonishingly naive understanding of the real world consequences of what they’re advocating – and inexplicably fail to understand the grave peril Jews would face by being a minority dependent upon the mercy of a hostile Arab/Muslim majority.  

Nor, it seems, do they understand that most Israelis (this Israeli included) would fight against the imposition of such a “solution” with everything in our power.  That is, far from a “peaceful” solution, such a plan would likely lead to unimaginable bloodshed.

While CiF’s Sam Bahour clearly falls in the former category, it’s important to note that his target audience are those who lean towards the latter group.

Indeed, his piece today, “Palestinians will soon come full circle“, represents the increasing effort by anti-Zionists opposed, in principle, to the existence of a Jewish state, to sell their idea as something progressive – an idea which enlightened souls can support. 

Bahour is affiliated with ‘Al Shabaka’ (a group which opposes any Palestinian Authority’s negotiations with Israel), signed the Stuttgart declaration, calling for a one-state solution (a resolution signed by activists representing both Islamism and the radical left), and, in a previous CiF piece, sanitized the death and carnage of the 2nd intifada as a mere “civil uprising” which the Arab world would be wise to emulate. 

Bahour’s latest effort begins, as is often the case with those intent on assaulting Israel’s very legitimacy, with an intellectually-driven and empirically unserious account of Israeli-Palestinian history.

Bahour says:

“As if the forced dispossession from 78% of their homeland [in 1948] was not enough, the Israeli military occupied the remaining parts of Palestine in 1967. Israel had planned for that occupation long before the war.”

Of course, if the I-P debate was informed by facts and a sincere commitment to historical accuracy, I wouldn’t even have to note that had the “Palestinian movement” and the Arab League not rejected the partition plan of 1947 – the UN resolution which Bahour bizarrely characterizes as “illegal” – there wouldn’t have been even one Palestinian refugee and the independent State of Palestine would be sixty-three years old.

Moreover, his unique Middle East history conveniently omits the 18 years between 1949 and 1967, when Jordan and Egypt were respectively occupying the West Bank and Gaza. Nor is there a mention of the fact that Israel has returned over 90% of the land it captured in the Six Day War.

But, perhaps the most malicious distortion in that passage, and one continually advanced (and rarely challenged) pertains to the cause of Six Day War, and Bahour’s suggestion that the conflict was consistent with Israel’s expansionist plans all along, coyly omitting that the war was forced upon Israel by openly belligerent Arab leaders, who, in the weeks leading to the outbreak of hostilities, were waxing poetic about the impending annihilation of the Jewish state.

However, the Palestinians’ greatest sin, according to Bahour, is that they have been too reasonable to Israel:

Beginning in the early 1970s, the Palestinians became, as former Palestinian diplomat Afif Safieh put it, “unreasonably reasonable”. Year after year the Palestinian leadership offered concession after concession…

The moral and historical inversion conveyed in so few words is truly an impressive rhetorical feat. 

In addition to the two concrete offers of a contiguous Palestinian state (in 2000 and 2008) with East Jerusalem as its capital, which far too reasonable Palestinians rejected,  it follows that only Palestinians’ reasonableness can explains why only thousands of Israelis have lost their lives to Palestinian terrorist attacks, and not tens or hundreds of thousands, and why only one of every five Israelis  have lost a relative or friend to such terror attacks, and not two out of five or three out of five.  And, Israelis should no doubt view as a major concession that Palestinian state-controlled media isn’t infested with even more explicit anti-Semitic depictions of Jews, a greater quantity of conspiracy theories, doesn’t glorify more terrorists, and doesn’t more thoroughly inculcate their citizens with the belief that the Zionist entity has no right to exist

Bahour wants Palestinians to stop being so damn reasonable in only aiming for a unilateral declaration of statehood, when they could aim higher – the elimination of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East, and longs for a new generation of leaders who rightly “see Israel for what it is: a settler, colonial, apartheid movement clinging to a racialist, exclusivist ideology.”

Bahour’s call for the end of the Jewish state – his moral, if not military, call to arms – may speak the language of the left of but desires the aims of the far right. 

Sam Bahour’s hatred of Israel and rejection of her very legitimacy isn’t the ideological heir of progressive movements in our century but, rather, summons the most reactionary, malevolent spirit of figures such as Haj Amin al-Husseini, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Twenty-six years ago Elie Wiesel gave a speech in the presence of former President Ronald Reagan, in light of the President’s decision to lay a wreath at a cemetery at Bitburg, Germany which included 49 members of the Waffen SS, which included the following passage, imploring the President not to attend the ceremony.

“May I, Mr. President, if it’s possible at all, implore you to do something else, to find a way, to find another way, another site. That place, Mr. President, is not your place.”

Those reading the Guardian who may entertain the notion that the ideological space which Sam Bahour and his fellow anti-Zionists inhabits is consistent with progressive politics even broadly understood need to be instructed that progressive anti-Zionism is a contradiction in terms, and represents a political space which exists only in Guardian Left mythology. 

For genuine progressives, Sam Bahour’s political space can never be their place.   

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