This matter is presented in a veneer of human rights jargon and is premised on a more general position being voiced in academia for years now: Post-colonial studies. According to this position, the West is a staunch enemy of democracy while all of the West’s victims are, implicitly at least, democracy’s defenders. According to Shenhav, this is the case around here too: All we need to do is annul the Western apartheid known as Israel, and we’ll see the emergence of a wonderful democracy with an Arab majority.
For this fundamental falsehood to hold water, one requires to resort to a rather significant rhetorical juggling act, and at times some intellectual sophistication. One can say many things about Professor Shenhav, but he cannot be accused of being sophisticated. Hence, the interview with him exposes the moral as well as intellectual unworthiness of the perception he promotes.
According to Shenhav, a direct line connects 1948 and 1967; hence, as the settlers claim, there is no real difference between Israel-proper and Israel beyond the Green Line. In his view, the difference between living under occupation and citizenship in the State of Israel is apparently no more than a nuance. Those who defend the Zionist project within the Green Line borders in fact attest to the hatred they hold for others, as they do not truly wish to integrate into the “Arab space.”
However, According to Shenhav, integration into the Arab space is a plan for promoting democracy, while Israel, which is a “branch of Europe,” gives off a powerful colonial stench. Apparently, Arab states are model democracies, while Israel – according to Shenhav – is premised on “racial laws and a constant state of emergency.”
Futile intellectual exercise
The article is full of falsehoods of this type. Shenhav finds himself agreeing with rightist politician Benny Begin and despising leftist writer David Grossman’s “nationalism.” The settlers and the Right are “not necessarily” nationalistic, while the Zionist Left comprising “Meretz-Labor-Kadima” is blatantly nationalistic, he says. According to Shenhav’s doctrine, Lieberman’s slogan about “no citizenship without loyalty” represents Israel’s essence, while the fact Israel has rejected such notions from the moment of its inception is marginal, etc. etc.
In short, Shenhav exposes the complete groundlessness of this futile intellectual exercise. Hence, perhaps we would do well to call a spade a spade: Shenhav is not a post-colonialist; rather, he is a neo-colonialist. His political relative is not the Left, but rather, George W. Bush and his Iraq policy. Just like Bush, Shenhav will be ignoring the actual desires of the “natives,” which are not yet mature enough for self-determination, and instead he will force upon them the “right kind” of democracy. Just like Rudyard Kipling before him, he knows better than the natives how they should be defining themselves.
There is also something disgusting about the fact that the people who promote this notion in Israel are mostly wealthy individuals with international and flexible professions who would be able to get out of here and head to Stanford or Cambridge, while the downtrodden people who have nowhere to go – both Jews and Arabs – will end up staying here and drowning in rivers of blood.