Friday, March 9, 2012

Best Summary of One-State Conference Yet

Leila Farsakh: Jews will have to reconnect with their
Susan Akram: All refugees must return to
the same dwellings they left.
Marc Ellis: Becoming un-Jewish is the first
Ilan Pappe: We do this for ideological reasons, not
because we are truth seekers.

Without further ado, here is the best piece I've seen about the goings-on at Harvard Kennedy School's One-State Conference last weekend. Some will complain that this is written by a conservative critic, but, hey, if the (far) left is comfortable holding hands here and here with the most regressive forces on the planet, I'm willing to give space to those who may be to my right. So let me start you off with Janet Tassel's The One State Conference at Harvard: March Madness:

"I'm looking for Rick Santorum.  I guess he preferred to go to AIPAC." Thus lamely, Stephen M. Walt broke the ice in the opening panel of Harvard's One State Conference Saturday. With these lines, Walt, the co-author of The Israel Lobby and professor of international affairs at the Kennedy School, delivered one of the very few light-hearted remarks at the deadly serious two-day conference.

In the packed auditorium, Walt was unique, too, in saying nice things about the two-state solution, which is apparently now known as "partition," and which in any event was pronounced dead by every other speaker.  "At first glance," he said, "the two-state solution still looks good: the Green Line separating two states for two peoples." Forcing these two people together in one state would be a "mess." But why have we failed at two states? He blamed, on the Palestinian side, "the Palestinians' lack of unity, personal corruption, and a series of tactical errors following the Oslo Peace Process," including poor public relations.  All of which naturally necessitated "reliance on suicide bombers." 

Of course, "the real culprit is Israel. Their leaders have never been interested."
At this, one grew dizzy recalling names from all over the Road Map, from Madrid to Oslo to Camp David to Wye River, from Taba to Annapolis to Gaza, this last, by the way, still considered "an occupied prison."  But none of these destinations was mentioned.  Meanwhile, Walt went on to harpoon Netanyahu and also to castigate the United States, calling it "Israel's lawyer," defending as usual the stronger party,  thanks again to "domestic politics," aka the Israel Lobby. Even Obama came in for criticism -- for "raising hopes at Cairo, and later retreating by working to prevent Palestinian membership in the UN." Strange as it may seem, Obama was frequently chided at this conference -- while simultaneously being lionized at AIPAC.

Being at the One State Conference was a disorienting experience; somehow one had been translated to an alternate, not quite parallel universe, a cloud cuckoo land blooming with exotic pathologies.  But navigating this terrain requires an awareness of its guiding  principles, which include Marxism, multiculturalism, globalism, secularism, sexuality (any kind), inclusivity/diversity, and gender equity.  And it is helpful to have a command of the vernacular (college students will not need this guide).  For example, every chronicle, every story, is a narrative:  a hegemonic narrative, a nationalistic narrative, one that is heteronormative, colonial or postcolonial, feminist, transgressive, progressive, regressive, or repressive.

However, having navigated this paradise, one unfortunately finds the obligatory serpents, in this case organized religion, capitalism, racism, imperialism, and of course, Zionism, which conveniently encompasses them all.

Interestingly, it is a land where certain words are never uttered; for example, Sharia. Apparently, it doesn't exist there.

Walt, like many others, managed to incorporate many of the requisite shibboleths into a couple of sentences, as in "Israel's support depends on far-right, xenophobic racists and fanatical Christians.  But there is a community there that cares about human rights, and this opens a space for us." And: "The Old Testament is not a good guide for political action." The Qur'an, along with Sharia, was not mentioned.

Stay with this, it gets funnier.

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