JVL and “destroy Israel”

Submitted by AWL on 12 June, 2019 - 1:00 Author: Colin Foster
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Destroy Israel? The 2 June AGM of Jewish Voice for Labour — a group campaigning to dismiss or discredit concerns about antisemitism in the Labour Party — discussed the question. JVL “political officer” Graham Bash said: “I am sometimes asked if I support the destruction of the state of Israel. I always answer no, provided the Israeli state — like almost every other state — becomes a state of its citizens, rather than a Jewish state that gives me, a British Jew who has been to Israel once, over 50 years ago, a greater right to live in Israel/Palestine than a dispossessed, ethnically cleansed Palestinian. As a socialist I say I will never accept that…”

“No, provided” is another way of saying “yes, unless”. Yes, destroy Israel, unless it adopts an immigration policy to Bash’s liking. Suppose Israel’s immigration policy is worse than “almost every other state’s”. It does not follow that destroying the state — i.e. subjugating, dispersing, or massacring its majority population — is the answer. Which other states does Bash want to see destroyed as punishment for bad immigration or other policies? And destroyed by whom?

In the case of Israel, it must be Iran, Iraq, Syria and other neighbouring states, if they could form a coalition. Why does Bash think that Khamenei, Assad, etc. are the people to create a more socialistically-acceptable order in the territory which is now Israel?

Israel does many things which should be opposed — in the first place, its occupation of the West Bank and its siege of Gaza. It is not true that its immigration policy is worse than “almost every other state’s”. Most of Israel’s Jewish population are of families who fled there in recent decades from varying degrees of persecution, from post-Holocaust Europe, from British-run detention camps, from Arab states, from Russia. No wonder they want to keep an open door for other Jews who may suffer persecution in future.

Not many Irish-origin or German-origin or Greek-origin people in Australia, for example, use the similar “laws of return” of Ireland, Germany, or Greece. No one proposes that Ireland, Germany, or Greece should be “destroyed” (by Britain? Russia? Turkey?) as punishment for those laws. Israel says that “return” of six million people (mostly grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the 700,000 Palestinian refugees of 1948) to repossess territory now occupied by other (Jewish) refugees and descendants, likewise ten times as numerous as in 1948, can only mean displacement.

Socialists want a peace settlement which includes the creation of a Palestinian state with full rights which can give the refugee-descendants citizenship, full rights for the Palestinian refugee-descendants who choose to remain in other Arab states, and agreements to enable realistic numbers of Palestinians who may prefer to live in a Jewish-majority state to move to Israel. We also want to change the brutal policies of the EU and Britain towards refugees from Syria. Singling out Israel as the one country in the world to be destroyed on grounds of bad policies (and destroyed by states with worse policies) is anti-socialist.

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