Wednesday, February 26, 2014

To Ali Abunimah-- Let's have a debate

Anti-Israel activists have frequently complained that our Jewish community institutions are not open to hosting their point of view. While I completely support that policy, in the firm belief that doctrinal anti-Zionism is indeed the modern, politically correct form of anti-Semitism, it does reduce the opportunities for members of the pro-Israel community to debate anti-Israel partisans.  It's not that the anti-Zionists are really seeking honest debate; they're happy to get the camel's nose into the tent, as it were, to start undermining those Jewish institutions--especially on campuses. And their typical campus or community events typically feature a panel with an anti-Israel Arab, and then for "balance", an anti-Israel Jew.  But an open, honest, moderated debate between pro- and anti-Israel activists is a rare event.

One of the more prominent members of the American anti-Israel community is Ali Abunimah. Born in Washington DC, educated at Princeton and the University of Chicago, and now a resident of Chicago, Abunimah has written a book called "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" and now has a new book "The Battle for Justice in Palestine" for which he is embarking on a speaking tour.  He'll be in Berkeley on April 22.

I'm sure that Ali, as a professional writer and speaker, is more than willing to defend his ideas against challenges-- he is undoubtedly ready to justify his support of BDS and of Hamas, and his calls to eliminate the Jewish people's right to national self-determination.  

So, Ali-- let's have a real debate. Not a circus-like event in front of your river-to-the-sea cheering section, but at a legitimate venue, with a moderator acceptable to both of us. Let's debate what is clearly the core of the issue-- the right of the Jewish people to have a state in at least a portion of the historic Jewish homeland. You want to re-litigate the 1947 endorsement by the United Nations of dividing the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state? Let's have that discussion, with all of its ramifications. 

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