Debate Continues: Blankfort Responds to Zunes II

By Jeff Blankfort
Special to

It is impossible for Stephen Zunes to have it both ways. Describing Israel’s establishment as "an example of global affirmative action" would generally be interpreted as being supportive of its coming into being.

While he has said that it was a disaster for the Palestinians, does he support the Palestinian right of return  and a single state as means for rectifying that wrong?  The alternative, of course, is maintaining Israel as Jewish majority state. What is Zunes’s position?

I am not aware of any other states that were established with external help "on behalf of a historically oppressed people" and certainly not on someone else’s land.

I would not have written that Zunes admitted being a Zionist if I had not heard him say that he "would be a Zionist as long as anti-Semitism exists" It was either at the College of Marin last year or in our prior debate on KPFA.  The last two sentences of my first paragraph above applies here.

Indeed, Zunes has written that the US supports Israel because of its strategic value to the US, but does he think that is what makes it the only major issue that enjoys virtually unanimous support from the far right of the Republican Party to the most liberal elements of the Democratic Party?

Does he think that explains why the Congressional Black Caucus never attempted to cut aid to Israel while it was arming South Africa under apartheid, or why those Democrats who were responsible for blocking US aid to the Contras never said a word about Israel’s arming the very same Contras, or why those who criticized Guatemalan’s human rights record which led the Carter administration to stop arms sales to that country, were silent when Israel stepped in to supply 98% of the weaponry plus training to the Guatemalan army? 

In most of Zunes’s articles, like the one I criticized, he doesn’t even offer that explanation which should leave the reader wondering why the Democrats and Republicans act in such dedicated concert when it comes to Israel.  Then he refers to the Israel lobby as the "pro-occupation" lobby as if supporting Israel’s control over the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, was the sole reason for its existence and not for maintaining a far broader range of support for Israel and its policies which has no basis in reality.

Finally, does Zunes see the organized Jewish community, that is, de facto, the Jewish component of the Zionist lobby, as having any culpability for its decades of unconditioned support for Israel, for its decades of occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians and for its wars and occupation of  Lebanon? This is an important question which up to now Zunes has gone to great pains to avoid answering.

Read Stephen Zunes’ original piece: Peace Movement Addresses Israel-Palestine
Read Jeff Blankfort’s initial comments on Stephen Zunes’ article
Read Stephen Zunes’ response to Blankfort’s comments: Setting the Record Straight

-Jeff Blankfort is a radio program producer with KPOO in San Francisco, KZYX in Mendocino and KPFT/Pacifica in Houston. He is a journalist and Jewish-American and has been a pro-Palestinian human rights activist since 1970. He was formerly the editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin and co-founder of the Labor Committee of the Middle East. He was also a founding member of the Nov. 29 Coalition on Palestine.

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