Monday, July 25, 2005

Gershon Baskin

Most Americans have never heard of this man. Gershon Baskin is the founder of IPCRI (Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information), a jointly-run Israeli and Palestinian think tank that works with hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians in government and the private sector. His remarks in the Jerusalem Post aim to encourage and endorse Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, not for political reasons alone, but because he sees the move as an expression of Zionism at it's best.

I always believed that the true fulfillment of the Zionist dream required Israel to find the way to live with its neighbors. The Zionist dream was to create a safe haven for Jews from all over. This, by definition, means that Israel must provide shelter and security for Jews. Political Zionism always found a way to advance the cause by being practical. But Zionism got sidetracked by the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Zionism was not about conflict with our neighbors. It was about creating a just, progressive and humane society based on "Jewish values" for Jews to live and prosper, both in spirit and in substance. Real Zionism accepted the reality that non-Jews would always live within our midst. This was expressed with both eloquence and finesse in Israel's Declaration of Independence. That Declaration has always served, for me, as a kind of statement of intent and of the values upon which this state and this society rests, or should rest.

ZIONISM is not about occupying the West Bank and Gaza. The continuation of the settlement enterprise is an act of suicide for the Zionist dream. It is not only about demographics. It is perhaps even more so about values, morality and lessons that we, as Jews, should understand better than anyone else.

The disengagement from Gaza is a Zionist act. Ending our occupation and domination over Gaza and its people is an action aimed at saving Zionism from those who have tainted the noble aspects of its cause since 1967. The Zionist dream is still in danger and the Zionist enterprise is at risk as long as we continue our occupation and domination over the West Bank and its people. The march out of the occupied territories must continue. We must return to ourselves and build Israel from within.

Helena Cobban is as much a peacenik as I am, so of course she likes him.
Johnathan Edelstein, who tends to be more circumspect, also holds Gershon Baskin in high regard (see comment, end of post). That's good enough for me.

Time to make note of this man's name and work.

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