by Stephen Lendman
Israel's a rogue terror state. It's been so from inception. Its leaders' hands are blood-drenched. They're responsible for decades of high crimes.
A rare New York Times Opinionator piece challenged Israel's right to exist. It did so responsibly. Joseph Levine wrote it. He "was raised in a strongly Jewish environment."
He's not a self-hating Jew. Saying so about anyone is oxymoronic. It's offensive and wrongheaded.
Levine's a University of Massachusetts Professor of Philosophy. His interest areas include Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Language, and Metaphysics.
His current research involves intentionality, consciousness, and materialism. His books include "Purple Haze: The Puzzle of Consciousness," and "Experience and Representation."
His Times piece was bold and honest. He headlined "On Questioning the Jewish State."
He was taught growing up believing "Israel has a right to exist." Most critics feel the same way. Mainstream consensus claims denying it reflects anti-Semitism. It's not a people of conscience option, they claim.
Since when was free-thinking outlawed? Why should consensus views subvert others?
Debates are a longstanding tradition. Genuine ones air views freely. Beliefs are challenged. Truths are sought.
Critical thinking is stimulated. Opinions are formed. Conclusions are reached. It's done through free and open dialogue and discussion.
One size doesn't fit all. One view alone doesn't wash. Challenging them on vital issues matters. Bolding going where others won't dare is courageous.
Levine did so publicly. To their credit, Times editors gave him space.
"Over the years," he said, "I came to question this consensus and to see that the general fealty to it has seriously constrained open debate on the issue, one of vital importance not just to the people directly involved - Israelis and Palestinians - but to the conduct of our own foreign policy and, more important, to the safety of the world at large."
"My view is that one really ought to question Israel's right to exist and that doing so does not manifest anti-Semitism."
Doing so is courageously honest. Many more Levines are needed. Their religious affiliation, if any, is irrelevant. Honest opinion matters. So does truth and full disclosure.
War without mercy established Israel. Hundreds of Arab cities and villages were depopulated. Thousands of innocent victims were massacred.
Rapes and other atrocities followed. Property was bulldozed, burned or stolen. Palestinian survivors were prevented from returning. Doing so violates international law.
Israel institutionalized state terror. It did from inception. Genocidal ethnic cleansing became policy. Horrendous crimes of war and against humanity were committed.
They continue to this day. Convicted Nazis were hanged for similar crimes. Israeli war criminals go unpunished.
Decades of occupation harshness continue. Palestinians have no control over their daily lives. They live in constant fear. They're unsure if they'll live, die, be arrested, or face years in gulag prison hell.
They're economically strangled. Israel does it unjustly. They're collectively punished for any reason or none at all. They're criminalized for praying to the wrong God. Israel calls self-defense terrorism.
Gaza's besieged. Israel suffocates 1.7 million Palestinians. It's done so for nearly six years. Israel acts lawlessly. Humanitarian relief missions are assaulted.
They're attacked maliciously and viciously. Israel gets away with murder and much more. Accountability is long overdue. So is challenging its right to exist responsibly.
Doing so isn't a right to life issue. It "sounds awfully close to permitting the extermination of its people," said Levine. "It's not surprising many would view it that way.''
"So what is this 'right' that many uphold as so basic that to question it reflects anti-Semitism, and yet is one that I claim ought to be questioned?"
Key for Levine is claiming Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Denying non-Jews equal rights is unconscionable. It's incompatible with democracy. It's more than that.
Stealing historic Palestine was lawless. It's criminal. Slaughtering or displacing hundreds of thousands doing so constitutes genocide. It continues today non-stop. It's slow-motion, not fast.
Responsible officials remain unaccountable. World leaders turn a blind eye. Millions of Palestinians suffer. Long denied justice remains unresolved.
Jews have a right to live in historic Palestine or anywhere. So Do Muslims, Christians and others. Running things despotically is lawless. Institutionalized racism has no place in free societies.
"Any state that 'belongs' to one ethnic group within it violates the core democratic principle of equality, and the self-determination rights of the non-members of that group," says Levine.
He "conclude(s) that the very idea of a Jewish state is undemocratic. (He calls it) a violation of the self-determination rights of its non-Jewish citizens, and therefore morally problematic."
"There is an unavoidable conflict between being a Jewish state and a democratic" one.
At issue is more than that. International law is clear. It's unambiguous. Israel violates it. It does so with impunity. It's high time that changed.
Self-determination is universal. No religious, ethnic or other group holds exclusive franchise rights anywhere.
Israeli leaders believe in Jewish exceptionalism. They have no right to do so.
Levine "emphasized….nothing anti-Semitic." His commentary set the record straight. Discussing topics this important should be prioritized.
It should be done "openly on its merits, without the charge of anti-Semitism hovering in the background."
Hopefully others will answer Levine's call. Ending longstanding injustice depends of it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.