An apology and explanation: when the tongue goes before the head on Israel/Palestine

During the recent world tour for my new book, After Zionism, I appeared with my co-editor Ahmed Moor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Here’s a report of the evening from the Palestine Chronicle.

During the Q and A, a Jewish man, Jonathan Hoffman, co-Vice … Chair of the Zionist Federation and alleged ally of the… far-right English Defence League, asked me how many people had to die to create one-state in Palestine and Israel. Initially, the chair of the event Frank Barat dismissed the question as being from a known Zionist provocateur but Hoffman insisted I answer. Eventually I said in frustration: “Six million. That’s my answer. Write that down”.

It was a stupid comment, ill-advised and said without proper thought. I unreservedly apologise. A number of friends and colleagues have written to me expressing concern about it and they’re right. I should never have said it as it goes completely against my beliefs. I do not advocate violence against civilians. My co-editor Moor rightly said after me that nobody had to die to create the one-state solution but people’s minds and actions had to change.

For many Zionists, advocating a one-state solution is akin to pushing the Jews into the sea. Nothing could be further from the truth. The current situation on the ground in Israel and Palestine is a Jewish state using its power and privilege to discriminate against Muslims, Christians and others. It is neither democratic nor just. One of the key points that I’ve been arguing for many years about the Middle East (including in this recent piece in The Guardian) is that the discussion isn’t between one or two states but between ongoing apartheid and every citizen in Israel and Palestine being treated equally. In my view, and the position of increasing numbers of people globally, the one-state equation is the only way to achieve this and that’s why we’re advocating for it.

Of course, none of this excuses my out of line, frustrated and offensive outburst.

Here’s to a healthy and respectful debate moving forward and finding democratic means to bring peace and justice to all Israelis and Palestinians.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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