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JPost Blog: "Time is not on our side" by Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now Secretary General

At a time when the government of Israel is dragging its feet and essentially dissolving all efforts to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, in international public opinion the idea of the division of the land into two states is becoming irrelevant. In its place is the vision of a bi-national state, which in practice would mean the end of Zionism.

2/24/07

At a time when the government of Israel is dragging its feet and essentially dissolving all efforts to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, in international public opinion the idea of the division of the land into two states is becoming irrelevant. In its place is the vision of a bi-national state, which in practice would mean the end of Zionism.

This month, for the fourth year, 'Israel Apartheid Week' will take place in campuses across Canada, Europe and for the first time, in the US. This "week" is dedicated completely to portraying Israel as the South Africa of the 21st century. In the 'Hasbara' framework of Hillel Canada - which acts on campuses across the nation in order to promote Israel's stance and the position of the Jewish people in the student battle between Jews and non-Jews - I had the opportunity to attend Apartheid Week. I tried to pass on to the students an image of Israel other than the one associated with the conflict.

I discovered that it is not just pro-Palestinian and Islamic organizations that head the battle. This year, many other organizations and academics who think that the founding of the Jewish State is principally flawed, attended. The difficult images that the occupation produces in the territories only exacerbate the situation with shocking examples from the field. The anti-Zionist approach that equates Zionism with racism is applied with renewed vigor.

Pro-Palestinian movements have understood that in order to be victorious over Zionist movements, they must promote and aim for a bi-national state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean; a democratic state, a state of all its citizens, devoid of Jewish character.

In accordance with this vision, after such a state is founded and after elections take place, Palestinians would win a majority in Parliament and in a fully democratic manner, would change the immigration laws to Israel which currently allow full immigration to Jews only. In doing so, without violence and without struggle, the enemies of Zionism would succeed in obtaining their goal and would turn Israel into a country that both the Palestinian people and the Jewish people call home.

The attempt to portray Israel as South Africa does not derive solely from the existing situation in the territories but also from the ambition to impact any future solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel's operations in the territories, the continuation of the occupation, the expansion of settlements and the construction of the fence along the Green Line, all play into the hands of those who oppose Zionism and reinforces the support of the campaign against Israel.

Nowadays, the list of qualities attributed to an enlightened, liberal student includes supporting the fight for the environment, the battle against globalization, and the fight against Israel and the Zionist movement. Opposing Israel has become something of a fashion trend and posters depicting the situation in the territories have become very popular.

Time is not on our side. Every passing day only puts more distance between us and the two-state solution and hurts Israel's image and reputation. It further reinforces the support for a bi-national state solution. The damage to Israel and to Jewish communities worldwide continues to worsen and is exacerbated by the increased support of the anti-Zionists whose stance gains legitimacy day by day. 

As long as Israel keeps dragging its feet in negotiating a political agreement with the Palestinians, international support for a bi-national state will continue to grow. The State of Israel is perceived today as the 'updated' version of South Africa in which a rich Jewish minority rules undemocratically over a poor and repressed Palestinians majority.

Without a political breakthrough, the world will force Israel to annex the territories and provide citizenship to the millions of Palestinians living there. In turn, this will bring the Zionist dream to an end.