Sunday, May 8, 2016

Anti-semitism and the existence of the state of Israel

A great friend of mine from London, after reading my previous post about Owen Jones, asks me to comment on another article in The Guardian about the anti-semitism of parts of the left, this one by Jonathan Freedland. This article raises the issue of the relationship between anti-semitism and positions about the right of the state of Israel to exist, which was a topic perhaps conveniently avoided by Owen Jones. As argued using the words of Jones in my previous post, I take the position that anti-semitism in the left is present, unaccepatble and disgusting. But am I ready to accept that Israel has the right to be an independent sovereign state? I do accept it. But I do not accept it because of a generic acceptance of the right of "any minority" to have their own independent state. That is unworkable and is at the root of a lot of opportunism in many secessionist movements, including Catalonia and Scotland in the bloodless side, and the Balkans in the bloody side. Some of these movements also use some of the rhetorical arguments used by Freedland, such as "any" minority having the same rights or the need to be "in charge of their own destiny." These arguments cannot be acceptable for any self-proclaimed nation, as previously argued by liberal thinkers such as Kymlicka and Buchanan. I accept the right of Israel to have an independent state because of the very specific circumstances, unique and dramatic, that led to the creation of the state of Israel after Second World War. I also accept the argument that Israel is the only democratic state of the region where it is located, although many policies of Israel's government are unacceptable. At the same time I have many doubts that the "two state solution" is a workable and reasonable solution in our globalized and multi-identity world, as was argued some years ago by the late historian Tony Judt. Difficult as it is, Israel should be a multi-national state, at least as multi-national as our great cities like New York and London are. Let's see what my great friend from London (a city where this week thousands of people from multiple religious and ethnic backgrounds have elected a muslim Mayor) thinks.

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