Can you be an Israeli patriot and believe in co-existence?

Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery spoke out against a boycott of his own country last week and received huge condemnation (and probably praise) in the process. I don’t share his optimism in the Israeli people somehow recognising the rights of Palestinians and ending the occupation (he appears to seriously ignore the ever-growing power of the settler movement) but I respect this difference of opinion. Massive outside pressure seems to be one of the few hopes, in my humble view. He writes this week of his own vision:

I am an Israeli.

I am an Israeli patriot.

I want my state to be democratic, secular, and liberal, ending the occupation and living at peace both with the free and sovereign State of Palestine that will come into being next to it, and with the entire Arab world.

I want Israel to be a state belonging to all its citizens, without distinction of ethnic origin, gender, religion or language; with completely equal rights for all; a state in which the Hebrew-speaking majority will retain its close ties with the Jewish communities around the world, and the Arab-speaking citizens will be free to cherish their close ties with their Palestinian brothers and sisters and the Arab world at large.

If this is racism, Zionism or worse – so be it.

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