Zionists are still a Force for Peace

Ahdaf Soueif (Comment, November 17) simplistically depicts the Israeli right as “Zionists” and the peace camp as merely “Israelis”. Yet the Peace Now movement does not disavow Zionism. Neither does the architect of the Oslo and Geneva accords, Yossi Beilin. Neither do members of Courage to Refuse, who reject military service in the West Bank or Gaza. Einstein’s letter of protest against Begin’s visit to New York in 1948, which Soueif quotes, was written as a Zionist condemning Begin’s party, Herut, on the eve of the first Israeli election. Indeed, Ben-Gurion led a strong campaign to make Einstein the second president of Israel in 1952, following the death of Chaim Weizmann.As many Palestinian nationalists such as Abu Mazen, Sari Nusseibeh and Hanan Ashrawi have observed, the Israeli peace camp is a crucial ingredient in achieving a just two-state solution. Suicide bombings have undermined its standing among the Israeli public. Hamas does not wish to directly recognise them. Hizbullah does not wish to directly negotiate with them. Soueif writes as if this was still the era of Yasser Arafat and that Islamist rejectionism does not exist. In such an era, the right of the Jews to national determination will not be abandoned.

Dr Colin Shindler
SOAS, University of London

Guardian 18 November 2006

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