I have been struggling with my motivation for posting about these old organizing efforts. I’m feeling conflicted about bringing up examples of Jewish Americans and Israeli from 30, 40, 60 years ago saying righteous things about Palesinian political and human rights, or from “moderate” Palestinians that the common narrative held didn’t exist. They move me, and I am learning about truths long denied that I would have denied myself growing up. I want to believe that what moves me will move others in a positive way. I’m just not sure that the current situation will be resolved by a more honest exploration of past mistakes and missed opportunities.
For the sake of the historical record not to be written merely by the seeming victors (or those with the upper hand, at any rate), it is important to bring these examples to the fore, not to die buried in boxes in clostes in dusty offices with computers used to enjoy photos of grandchildren more than organize a campaign.
The conversation needs to be a bit different than I thought. The issue isn’t why was no one speaking the truth? Yet again, the more spot-on question is why were the efforts to shut out wider awareness of these views so successful?
In Allan Solomonow’s trove of documents I recently found a small reprint from 1974 from the March-April issue of New Outlook. It is an essay by Nahum Goldmann who was co-Founder and President of the World Jewish Congress for 28 years, hardly an obscure, leftist organization or leader. Actually, what struck me more than the 1974 essay was the editor’s intro to the reprint which alludes to something he wrote in 1970:
“In our June and July-August, 1970 issues, New Outlook published an essay by Dr. Nahum Goldmann on Israel’s position after the six Day War and the chances for a peace settlement with the Arab states. In these articles, Dr. Goldmann, who is President of the World Jewish Congress, criticized the rigid line of Israeli foreign policy and warned that the continuation of a “status quo” policy woould result in the renewal of war with the subsequent intervention of the Super Powers. In the Spring of 1970, Dr. Goldmann warned of the illusion that military strength would solve all problems…”
I’m sure that Nahum Goldmann and I would hold divergent views on lots of issues, but I still find it telling that opinions like his are treated as traitorous or crazy if they’re acknowledged at all. Yet establishment leaders and the mainstream minions don’t seem even minimally informed or interested. Are we destined to treat every raproachment as a new idea, as though we’re reinventing the wheel?