‘Coexistence’ rhetoric not reflective of Zionist cruelty

This is a response to “a letter by student Tali Segev (“published Oct. 14”:https://www.dailyillini.com/index.php/article/2011/10/building_trust_necessary_for_coexistence) which lauded a recent talk by Israeli Professor Rhona Seidelman on “coexistence” among Jewish and Arab children in Israel. It’s also a response to Seidelman’s previous efforts in the DI to promote her image as a conciliatory Zionist.

The conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs is deeply rooted in the nature of the Zionist settler-colonialist project, with its violent ethnic cleansing, dispossession and occupation, all ongoing. The material goal of the Zionist project — a Jewish state — has necessitated legalized discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. This goal is fundamental to a historical understanding of Israel’s numerous wars, and its unwillingness since the 1970s to abide by the international consensus for a two-state solution.

Israel’s history as an aggressive colonial-settler society has determined its decision to serve militarily as a “strategic asset” for American hegemony in the region, support compliant Arab dictators, oppose popular Arab movements and foment regional conflicts, now with Iran.

Whatever Seidelman’s motivations, “coexistence” and cultural understanding among children mean at best absolutely nothing in relation to addressing the fundamentally oppressive and one-sided nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Worse, this approach allows liberal Zionists to avoid taking honest responsibility for their complicity in oppression. Even worse, Seidelman’s rhetorical tactics become an aspect of “hasbara” (propaganda) for Israel’s systematically cruel policies.

Seidelman is entitled to promote her understanding of decency. Nevertheless, she is a privileged person in apartheid Israel, and her tenure on this campus is a result of the manner in which Zionist perspectives have been academically institutionalized here, to the detriment of truth, scholarship, fairness and Palestinian rights. Whatever her rhetoric, it should be made clear that she is unwilling to lift a finger in genuine and meaningful support of Palestinian justice. She has no basis whatsoever to claim otherwise.

_David Green, Urbana resident_