This is not the right time to make Israel the guest of honor at a book fair, unless Israeli Jewish and Arab writers were put into the center of attention. With that said, the boycott is stupid.
Why boycott precisely the writers who are critical of government policies? Yes, let us support the Israel’s right to exist. But a state is a people, a territory, and a coercive organization. There is no question about the identity of the coercive organization, and we should accept it as such.
But should we all accept every Jew (by the very uncertain standards of the law of return and subsequent interpretations) to be part of the people of Israel, wherever they live, whatever their religion, when people born in the present borders (1948, 1967, 2008) cannot be because of their ethnicity or religion? As to the territory, which territorial entity should we accept as the state of Israel: the one granted by international decision (1948), by armistice agreements reinforced by UN Security Council agreements 1949-1967, or the de-facto territorium controlled by that coercive organization today? What is the Israel that should be accepted by the left, its negotiating partners and the world…the Israel created by and recognized by international law or the Israel sought by the Gush Emunim that better corresponds to today’s factual realities? Attacking “the left” without answering this question is pure evasion!
Andrew Arato is the Dorothy Hart Hirson Professor of Political and Social Theory at the New School. The interview and exchange originally appeared on Reset: Dialogues on Civilization. ©ResetDOC.