Patriotism has become a dirty word in many circles. It has become acquainted with fanaticism and extremism. To be an Israeli patriot is even worse. And because of my left-wing views, many people would be surprised to hear me describe myself as an Israeli patriot. In Israel, patriotism and Zionism are terms that have been taken over by the right-wing. Anyone who believes in the establishment of a Palestinian state is labelled a traitor, not a patriot. Yet, just as Rami Livni declared in an article in Ha’aretz (in Hebrew) last week, I am an Israeli patriot. I love this country and care passionately about it’s future. That’s why I moved here 26 years ago, that’s why I stay here, that’s why I am prepared to support my children as they serve in an army that is commissioned to do all sorts of things I abhor. Like Rami Livni, as a true Israeli patriot I am an ardent supporter of a Palestinian State.
Ervin Staub makes an important distinction between what he calls ‘Blind Patriotism’ and ‘Constructive Patriotism.’ Blind patriotism is the kind of patriotism we associate with extremism – blind support for one’s own country at the expense of others, a refusal to coutenance the possibility that my country is performing immoral acts. Constructive patriotism, on the other hand, allows a love for one’s country together with a critical stance towards her acts. As a constructive patriot, I voice my criticisms when I believe my country to be in the wrong. It is my love for my country that makes me so passionate about the dangerous path I believe us to be following. Unlike the majority of Israelis, according to the most recent polls, I believe the path Netanyahu laid out before Congress is the path to self-destruction.
It is depressing indeed to read that a majority of Israelis believe Netanyahu’s visit to America to have been a resounding success. His speech before Congress made them proud to be Israeli. His support amongst the general population has sky-rocketed. I have to admit that I am shocked. Netanyahu’s speech to Congress embarrassed me. Singing the praises of the democracy that Palestinians enjoy in Israel was cynical and insulting. His refusal to see anything other than his own biased view of history is worrying in the extreme. His so-called proposal for Middle East Peace lacks any connection to reality. It seems as though the visit went exactly as he planned: his attack on President Obama and manipulative speech to Congress were designed to shore up the support of his coalition and his own leadership candidacy. Unfortunately, he seems prepared to sacrifice the future of the country on the altar of his own ambition.
As an Israeli patriot I feel compelled to raise my voice on behalf of the Palestinian people. It is way beyond time for Israelis to understand that if they want a Jewish and democratic State, they have to work to establish a Palestinian democratic state. It is time for true Zionists to stand up to the narrative of right-wing Zionism and claim back their commitment to their country – the very same commitment that makes them support the creation of a Palestinian state.
 Staub, E. (1997) ‘Blind versus constructive patriotism: moving from embeddedness in the group to critical loyalty and action.’ in Bar-Tal, D. and Staub, E. (1997) Patriotism in the Lives of Individuals and Nations (Nelson-Hall, Chicago) pp. 213-228