By Philip Weiss
Why doesn’t the mainstream press pick up the important stuff? Yes, and why does our website exist? Norman Finkelstein has been reading former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s White House memoir: No Higher Honor. He turned to page 282, and a passage involving Rice’s meeting with then Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Livni said that Israel could not honor UN Resolution 194, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, under a peace deal because that would threaten the Jewishness of the country. Rice writes:
“I must admit that though I understood the argument intellectually, it struck me as a harsh defense of the ethnic purity of the Israeli state when Tzipi said it. It was one of those conversations that shocked my sensibilities as an American. After all, the very concept of ‘American’ rejects ethnic or religious definitions of citizenship. Moreover, there were Arab citizens of Israel. Where did they fit in?
Alas, Rice writes, “I took a deep breath and tried to understand, and slowly I came to see what she meant.” While Americans look on Israel in the context of the Holocaust and the Jewish annihilation in Europe, Rice says, Jews regard the Jewish state as the “fulfillment of a long historical and religious journey.” And so Rice put language into White House position papers saying the refugees must return to the Palestinian state.
“That would allow the democratic state of Israel to be ‘Jewish.'”
I like Rice’s little kick there. Bear in mind that Livni is on the left side of Israeli politics– and that Rice, an African-American, grew up in Alabama as our country was wrestling with hateful Jim Crow.