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July 20, 2014

I have a dream, a new Israel

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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I have a dream; not unlike post-Nazi Germany and post-Apartheid South Africa, Israel would eventually evolve into a state meant for all its citizens, irrespective of their ethnic origin or religious affiliation - a state on the land of historic Palestine which includes native Palestinians and settled Jews.

Naming or renaming the new state is a non-issue. Regardless of semantics, it will be a single state with two equal nationalities. A process of healing and reconciliation will inevitably begin soon after. 

This new post-Zionist state will treat everyone equally, restore justice to Diaspora Palestinians, and discard its racist policies, such as the assumption that every Jew on this planet automatically has a “birthright” to settle in Palestine.

The new Israel will be a source of peace and stability to generations who all have witnessed only death, destruction and misery.

It will respect freedom of religion and allow Jews to marry Gentiles if they so choose.

It will eliminate all discriminatory policies against indigenous Palestinians; joining the army, police, academia, civil services, political parties, or any profession.

This new single state – one country, two cultures -- will offer all citizens equal economic opportunity and the same potential to achieve prosperity.

It will institute universal suffrage, making the right to vote available to every adult citizen.

It will no longer function in a relationship of fiscal co-dependency with its Western allies, but instead cut the purse-strings and wean itself from the vast subsidies provided mainly by American taxpayers.

Instead, it will spend more money on human development than on the military and state-of-the-art killing machines.

To truly become the new Israel, it will simply have to give up Zionism, seeing it for the destructive, chauvinistic, paranoid and obsolete form of nationalism it really is – just as post-war Germany gave up its extremist Nazi ideology (Nazi is derived from the German word for nationalism), and as South Africa finally rejected Apartheid as an unsustainable and ugly policy that harmed South Africans of all cultures and skin colors.

But the new Israel will also disappoint many.

First and foremost, it will disappoint warmongers everywhere, Jews and non-Jews alike.

And it will certainly be rejected by hardcore Zionists inside and outside Israel. It will also be rejected by extremists everywhere including Muslims and Christians.

The Holocaust and the Anti-Semite industries will be critically affected; as well, hate mongers and Islamophobes will see the new Israel as a threat to their ideological goals and agendas.

But based on my personal experience I believe that my dream would, one day, will come true.

Years ago, I traveled to Apartheid South Africa and made a point of meeting and visiting in the homes of South Africans of all backgrounds – Whites, Blacks and Colored – ranging from prosperous suburbs to run-down slums.

On my visa application, I had to describe myself as “other,” for I reasoned that I was not white and not black, although I am Egyptian-born African.

I talked to leaders of the resistance movement and knew even then that Apartheid South Africa would soon join the community of nations, free from what had shackled its people and its soul for so long.

And in November 1995 I visited Israel, including occupied Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank. During my visit a Zionist Jew assassinated popular political leader Yitzhak Rabin, who was perceived by extreme hardliners Jews as being too conciliatory toward native Palestinians.

Only days before Rabin’s untimely death, Zionist rabbis declared him in their prayers as a traitor to the Jewish cause. But public reaction told a different story. I saw how many young Israelis were genuinely distressed at the murder of Rabin; they were tired of being the oppressors and of killing defenseless Palestinians.

Zionist Israel has a long way to go; it is slowly moving down the road traveled by Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa not in the opposite direction.

But there are fewer Zionist Jews today than 20 years ago; and while the influence of the Zionist Israeli lobby in the West is still politically strong, it is slowly and surely declining.

In its place, more voices of free Jews are being heard. Zionism is being exposed as a racist ideology and free Jews, whether their political stance tends to left or right, are saying that Zionists do not speak for them and that they reject the “birthright” to return to Palestine.

The recent Israeli assault on Gaza (I was in Cairo during the massive one which began December 27, 2008) has resulted in the deaths of hundreds and the wounding of thousands more; alternative media have brought the horrors of this longstanding conflict to worldwide awareness.

Zionists may be clever but they are also blinded by their own ideology.

Despite the “spin” of the Israeli propaganda machine, the conflict is between an oppressive occupying power and a people who long for freedom.

A new state of Israel, one that leaves behind the Zionist obsession of cultural superiority, will be welcomed by most Palestinians -- orphans, widows, homeless, maimed -- and anyone terrorized by wars and violence, whether Jew or Gentile.

It may seem an impossible dream for many.

But I am among those who are cautiously optimistic that the new Israel will happen – I just hope and pray that it is sooner rather than later.

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