Israel's right to exist

Right now I'm at what Allstate is calling an "Ideas Exchange" on the topic of covering Israel in the media. For us, it's basically a fancier version of The Table, so I'll put up video later.

Right now Ari Shavit is talking about the way that many Israeli journalists feel compelled to justify Israel's existence. That is a question, he says, that Israelis shouldn't feel afraid to face, even though he calls himself "a proud Zionist".

I think the mistake that Israel makes is to try justify itself in terms of the UN resolution, the Holocaust, the bible. Very few people outside of ultra-religious US communities are willing to accept that Israel should be a Jewish state because G-d promised them they could have that land. The Palestinians didn't have anything to do with the holocaust. And the belief that UN resolutions are the ultimate binding moral authority is one that Israel certainly does not embrace outside of this one resolution.

The justification for Israel, like the justification for Northern Ireland, is simply that it exists. Whatever the injustices that went into its creation, the people are there and they are not going anywhere. The wrongs of yesteryear cannot be righted without doing further injustice, so whatever the rightness or wrongness of their cause, the Palestinians are going to have to accept that they cannot have things as they would have been if Zionism had not happened.

Perhaps it is not possible to self-conceive this way--perhaps America could not be America without believing that King George III was not merely a guy who thought he could talk to trees, but something very close to the devil incarnate. And to be sure, putting aside the claim that they deserved a Jewish state on that piece of land would probably force some very uncomfortable changes in Israeli policy. But I think it would be pretty helpful if we could, because too much of the debate over that land revolves around an ultimately pointless argument about Israel's right to exist.