Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Jazz and Resistance unite for Palestine
Middle East On Line
Gilad Atzmon, Martin Smith present a jazz culture evening with theme of anti-racism, justice for Palestine.
Britain’s Respect party organsied Monday a ‘night of live music and spoken words’ in London, where giant Israeli-born jazz artist Gilad Atzmon and jazz author Martin Smith coordinated to perform a spectacular show entitled ‘Jazz, Racism and Resistance.’
The show was meant to symbolise the strong link between jazz music and the struggle for justice, whether present in the civil rights movement’s fight against segregation or in the current fight for the rights of the Palestinian people.
The evening started by an introductory speech on the background to the civil rights movement in the United States, given by Martin Smith, author of John Coltrane: Jazz, Racism and Resistance.
With pictures of the suffering that the Black community had to undergo in the American south projected in the background, Smith gave shocking examples of the inhumanity of racism during that era, explaining the rise of the civil rights’ campaign with the parallel development of jazz music.
After highlighting the exceptional legacy of the jazz musician Coltrane, and reciting poetry to the background of Atzmon’s soft tunes, Smith concluded by arguing that jazz has always carried an encoded message - which is demanding respect and justice - and continues to carry that message regardless of time and space.
Atzmon took the floor with the words, “My personal Alabama is Palestine,” in a comparison between the struggle of the African American community during their suffering that included torture and lynching and the not so different treatment (if not much worse) that the people of Palestine have to endure under Israeli occupation.
His first song, entitled “Liberating the American People,” accordingly dedicated to the Americans, captured the full attention of a breathless audience that could not help but strongly applaud the mixture of the beauty of the music with the energy-draining effort to produce such a moving piece.
Also during his performance, there was a display of pictures portraying Palestinian women and children in distress amid the rubble of destroyed houses, as well as pictures of jazz artists, signaling a united cause that uses jazz to defend all oppressed people.
In an astonishing act of playing two saxophones at the same time, Atzmon reinforces the strong visual presence of his show, in addition to music, whereby his charisma is felt without the need for him to even speak.
After achieving comparatively stunning success and favourable reviews for his albums MusiK and Exile, Atzmon is currently promoting his latest album Artie Fishel and the Promised Band, a mixture of satire and comedy embedded within the music.
Appearing as a guest performer on the show, singer Dafar Yusuf made a vocal contribution during one of Atzmon’s songs.
Yusuf’s strong vocal expressions could be seen as an example of an outcry understood by all humanity; since there was no particular language used other than sounds depicting universally understood suffering.
The presence of Atzmon’s band was also strongly felt during the performance; Whether Frank Harrison playing piano, Yaron Stavi playing bass, or Asaf Sirkis playing drums, the effect of their own music had put them in a state of trance in more than one occasion.
The mood of some of the audience appeared to be in a mixture of pleasure and pain; the sad or angry tones would remind us of the suffering of the Palestinian people (some of which were projected into the background) without undermining the sheer appreciation or enjoyment of that fine music.
Though it is often perceived as a career suicide for artists to mix their work with political views, Atzmon’s indifference to that threat is party based on, in addition to his spirit of sacrifice, the fact that his music will stand the test on its own – beautiful enough to capture the admiration of jazz lovers regardless of their moral conscience.
I dare add that his music could very well charm his political critics, conquering the hearts of the heartless.
On the whole, the general atmosphere of the event could be seen as a successful case of multiculturalism, of some sort.
Over a hundred people packed in the upper floor of Halaliano restaurant where you are received by staff members from Baghdad to Barcelona welcoming you with warm smiles.
Sunk in cozy sofas, Arabs and Israelis unite against injustice and as you overhear foreign accents as well various regional British accents, you no longer distinguish between Jews, Christians, Muslims, or non-believers (in the monolithic faiths) in the human struggle for justice for the people of Palestine.
Scheduled to be present at the event, but could not show up, was popular Respect MP George Galloway, who was held up by a Parliamentary meeting related to the Iraq war.
Being a spearhead champion for justice, his outspoken presence would have added an irreplaceable flavour to the evening.
Present at the show, was prominent writer, editor and activist Ramzy Baroud, who shared Atzmon’s sense of exile.
“I listened to the remarkable musician while wrangling with my own issues; living in exile, cannot return home, a Palestinian without a passport, an American, often demonized for my antiwar stances,” said Baroud.
“For a few hours listening to the music of this man, playing the saxophone, improvising with a wowing mixture of jazz and Middle Eastern tunes, one was able, even for a fleeting moment to come to term with exile and his own out of placeness,” he added.
Baroud concluded, “Atzmon is an extraordinary musician by any standard, but to understand his music even better one must familiarize himself with his writing, his ideas and his life. As idealistic as this may sound, listening to Atzmon made me feel for a moment that a just peace and coexistence in Palestine is possible, very much so.”
As Atzmon and his band made their way out into the street, carrying some of their musical instruments, walking in a humble manner, I could not help but wonder - are they carrying mere musical instruments?
For a minute or two, in my mind, those instruments could have transformed into bows and arrows of Robin Hood and his clan, rifles of freedom fighters fighting for liberation, banners of slogans demanding justice somewhere, crucifixes to redeem the sins of Israel, or just a heavy load that should be on the conscience of humanity.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Gilad Atzmon - Palestinian Solidarity Discourse and Zionist Hegemony
Let’s face it; while the Palestinian and Arab resistance evolves into an absolute example of the ultimate heroism and collective patriotism, the Palestinian solidarity movement in the UK and around the world is not exactly what could be called a profound success story. In fact, it would be erroneous to state that this is really the fault of those who dedicate their time and energy to it. Supporting the Palestinians is a complicated subject. Though the crimes against the Palestinians have taken place in broad daylight and are not some well-kept secret, the priorities of the solidarity movement are far from being clear.
When thinking about Palestinian society we are basically used to thinking of some sharp ideological and cultural disputes between the Hamas and PLO. Not that I wish to undermine that staunch disagreement, but I am here to suggest an alternative perspective that perhaps could lead towards a different understanding of the notion of Palestinian activism and solidarity both ideologically and pragmatically.
I maintain that Palestinian people are largely divided into three main groups and it is actually this division that dictates three different political narratives, with three different political discourses and agendas to consider:The three groups can be described as follows:
1. The Palestinians who happen to live within the Israeli State and possess Israeli citizenship - The Israelis have a name for them; they call them ‘Israeli Arabs’. These Palestinians are largely discriminated by Israeli law in all aspects of their lives; their struggle is for civil rights and civil equality.
2. The Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories - In most cases those Palestinians are locked behind walls and barbed wire in Bantustans and concentration camps in the so-called ‘Palestinian Authority Controlled Area’ (PA). Practically speaking, those people live under a criminal occupation. For three decades these people have been terrorised on a daily basis by Israeli soldiers in roadblocks and incursions, they are subject to air raids and artillery bombardments. Their civil system is shattered, their educational system is falling apart, their health system is extinct. These Palestinian people are craving for a single day with no casualties.
3. The Diaspora Palestinians - Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed over the course of the years and denied return to their homes by the racially orientated Israeli legal system (the Law of Return and Absentee Laws). The Israelis do not have a name for them, they simply deny their existence. The Diaspora Palestinians live all over around the world. According to the UN statistics every third refugee is a Palestinian. Millions of exiled Palestinians live in the region in refugee camps, the others can be found in every corner of the globe, many are here may be among us tonight. The Diaspora Palestinians know their rights and they want to be able to come home if they so choose, they demand their right of return.
Confronting very different realities, the three groups above have managed to develop three competing political discourses: The 1st group, the so-called ‘Israeli Arabs’, struggle for equality. The means they have to achieve their goals are largely political. They search for a voice within the racially orientated Israeli society.
The 2nd group, namely the ‘PA inhabitants’, battle against the occupation. They fight for liberation. Their means are political, civil resistance as well as armed struggle (in fact it is within the 2nd group where the bitter struggle for hegemony between the PLO and the Hamas is taking place).
Being out of Israel and lacking international support as well as adequate political representation, the 3rd group is still ignored by the entire Israeli political system and even by major players within the international community. The exiled Palestinians are largely neglected and their demand for the right of return is yet to be addressed properly.
Apparently, the Palestinian discourse is fragmented. It is divided into at least three different, sometimes opposing discourses. Cleverly, not to mention mercilessly, on their behalf, it is the Israelis who maintain this very state of fragmentation. It is the Israelis who manage to stop the Palestinian political and cultural discourse from integrating into a single grand solid narrative. How do they do it? They apply different tactics that maintain the isolation and conflict between the three distinct groups. Within the State of Israel the Israelis maintain a racially orientated legal system that turns the Israeli Palestinians into 10th class citizens. When PA inhabitants are concerned, the Israeli military maintains solid and constant pressure on the civilian population. Gaza is kept starving, it is bombed on a daily basis. Some of it is flattened. More than a few observers regard the situation in the PA as nothing but slow extermination and genocide.
In order to humiliate the 3rd group, the Israelis enforce a racist legislation that welcomes Jews to the country but rejects others (Law of Return). In practice it is a racially orientated system that stops exiled Palestinians from returning to their land.
Paradoxically enough, the more pain the Israelis inflict on any of the groups, the further the Palestinians get from establishing a grand narrative of resistance. Similarly, the more vicious the Israelis are, the further the Palestinian Solidarity movement is getting from establishing a unified agenda of activism.
Indeed the Palestinian solidarity campaigner is confused and asks himself what campaign to choose. Who should be supported? The division of the Palestinian discourse into three conflicting narratives makes the issue of solidarity rather complicated. Seemingly, different Palestinian solidarity groups follow different political calls and Palestinian causes. Some call for an end to the Israeli occupation, others call for the right of return. Some call for equality. Many of the solidarity campaigners are divided amongst themselves. Those who call for the right of return and ‘one State’ are totally unhappy with what they regard as a watery and limited demand for the ‘end of occupation’. Seemingly, Palestinian solidarity is trapped.
Joining one call and not another is actually surrendering to a discourse that is violently and criminally imposed by the Israelis. This is exactly where Zionism is maintaining its hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse. It is Israeli brutality that dictates a state of ideological fragmentation upon the Palestinian solidarity discourse. Whatever decision the Palestinian activist is willing to make is set a priori to dismiss a certain notion of the Palestinian cause. It is indeed painful to admit that it is the Israelis who have set us into this trap. Our work, discourse and terminology as activists are totally shaped by Israeli aggression.
The Battle Is Not Lost
However, there is a way around that complexity. Rather than surrendering to the Zionist practice which splits the Palestinian solidarity discourse, we can simply redefine the core of the Palestinian tragedy, which is now turning into a global crisis.
Once we manage to internalise that the discourse of solidarity with Palestinians is dominated by the malicious and brutal Israeli practices, we are more or less ready to admit: it is the Jewish State: a racist nationalist ideology that we must oppose primarily. It is Jewish State and its supporters around the world that we must tackle. It is Zionism and global Zionism that we must confront immediately.
Yet, this is exactly where the solidarity campaigner loses his grip. To identify the Palestinian disaster with the concept of ‘Jews Only State’ is a leap not many activists are capable to do for the time being. To admit that the Jewish State is the core of the problem implies that there may be something slightly more fundamental in the conflict than merely colonial interests or an ethnic dispute over land. To identify the ‘Jews Only State’ as the core of the problem is to admit that peace is not necessarily an option. The reason is rather simple: the ‘Jews Only State’ follows an expansionist and racially orientated philosophy. It leaves no room for other people as a matter of fact and principle.
Yet, once we come to grips with this very understanding, once we are enlightened and realise that something here is slightly more fundamental than merely a battle between an invader facing some indigenous counter freedom fighting. We are probably more or less ready to engage in a critical enquiry into the notion of Zionism. We are more or less ready to grasp the notion of the emerging secular emancipated Jewish collective identity. We are ready to confront the modern notion of Jewishness (rather than Judaism). Once we are brave enough to admit that Zionism is a continuation of Jewishness (rather than Judaism), once we admit that Israel draws its force from a racist ideology, harboured in national chauvinism and blatant expansionism, once we admit that Zionism, which was once a marginal Jewish ideology, has become the voice of world Jewry, once we accept it all, we may be ready to defeat the Zionist disease. We do it for the sake of the Palestinians but as well for the sake of world peace.
Let’s try to think of an imaginary situation in which a dozen exiled German dissident intellectuals insist upon monitoring and controlling Churchill’s addresses to the British public at the peak of the Blitz. Every time Churchill speaks his heart calling the British people to stand firm against Germany and its military might, the exiled dissident Germans raise their voice: “It isn’t Germany, Mr Prime Minister, it is the Nazi party, the German people and the German spirit are innocent.” Churchill obviously apologises immediately.
I assume that you all realise that such a scene is totally surreal. Britain would never allow a bunch of German exiles to control its rhetoric at the time of a war against Germany. Moreover, dissident German intellectuals would not have the Chutzpah to even consider telling the British what should or what shouldn’t be the appropriate rhetoric to use at time of a war with Germany.
However, when it comes to the Palestinian solidarity discourse, we are somehow far more tolerant. In spite of the fact that it is the ‘Jews Only State’ that we struggle against, we allow a bunch of self-appointed Jewish leaders and activists to become our gatekeepers. As soon as anyone identifies the symptoms of Zionism with some fundamental or essential Jewish precepts a smear campaign is launched against that person.
I have been closely monitoring the Jewish left discourse for more than a few years now. I might as well admit that I can think of at least one good reason behind Jewish anti-Zionist activism. I do understand the need of some humanist Jews to stand up and say, ‘I am a Jew and I find Zionism disgusting.’ At a certain stage of my life I myself was saying just that. As some of you know, I totally admire Torah Jews for doing just that. However, when it comes to predominantly Jewish socialist and secular left groups, I am slightly confused.
Moshe Machover, a legendary Israeli dissident and a Jewish Marxist who happens to be the intellectual mentor of the British progressive Jewish activists, expressed the following view just a few days ago when he stated a complaint he had with a petition. (http://www.petitiononline.com/grosveno/petition.html) “anti-Semitism is a Palestinian problem, as it pushes Jews into the arms of Zionism. This has long been understood by all progressive Palestinians. Anti-semitism is an objective ally of Zionism, and the common enemy of Palestinians, Jews, and all humankind.” (http://redress.blogsource.com/post.mhtml?post_id=404627)
Indeed anti-Semitism may be a problem, yet, is it really a Palestinian problem? Should the Palestinian solidarity campaign engage in fighting anti-Semitism? Shouldn’t we leave it to ADL and Abe Foxman? I think that we better try to do whatever we can to save the people of Beit Hanoun. This is where we are needed. I am certain that the vast majority of the Palestinian activists know that I am right.
Every PSC campaigner I have ever spoken to admits to me that only very few Palestinians find interest in the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. In fact, the statement by Machover provides the reason. According to Machover, those amongst the Palestinians who fail to see that anti-Semitism is the problem are nothing but reactionary, as only the ‘Progressive’ Palestinians acknowledge that anti-Semitism is indeed a problem. Let me tell you, the Palestinians I know do not like it when Machover or anyone else calls them reactionaries just because they are not that concerned with anti-Semitism. Reading Machover, it is rather clear that such views serve as a body shield for Jewish secular collectivism and the Zio-centric historical narrative. If to be honest, there is not much reason for any Palestinian to join a movement predominated by the obsession with anti-Semitism.
May I tell you, I am not an historian. I am academically trained as a philosopher and particularly as a continental one. I am interested in the notion of essence. For me to attack Zionism is to aim towards a thorough realisation of the essence of Zionism. To a certain extent I am indeed an essentialist. This is pretty worrying for those who try to reduce the discourse into positivistic exchange regarding numbers and historical facts. I am interested in the spirit of Zionism. I’m concerned about that which transforms the Israelis and their supporters into ethically blind killing machines.
You may have heard of the book I am holding in my hand. Probably, it’s the ultimate Zionist filth: Alan Dershowitz’s The Case For Israel. I don’t know whether any of you have ever considered reading this banal not to say idiotic text. I did, it fell into my hands a few days ago.
Shockingly enough, this book is structured as a beginner’s guide for the Zionist enthusiast, a kind of “Israel for Dummies”. It teaches the nationalist Jew how to be an advocate and defend the ‘case of Israel’. We know already that Norman Finkelstein has managed to prove beyond doubt that the text is academically a farce. Yet, there is something revealing in this text.
The book is a set of deconstructions of ‘the anti-Zionist argument’. It starts with the heaviest ideological and moral accusation against Israel and it gets lighter, more historical and forensic as you progress.
Dershowitz launches with the ‘million Shekels’ question “Is Israel a Colonial, Imperialist State?” To a certain degree Dershowitz manages to tackle the question. He asks, “if it is indeed a colonial state, what flag does it serve?” Fair enough, I say, he may be right. I myself do not regard Zionism as a colonial adventure. However, hang on for a second, Mr. Dershowitz. It seems you might be getting off the hook easily here. Our problem with Israel has nothing to do with its colonial characteristics. Our problems with the ‘Jews Only State’ have something to do with its racist, expansionist and nationalist qualities. Our problems with Israel have something to do with it being a Fascist State supported by the vast majority of Jewish people around the world.
Now if you, Scottish activists stop for a second, ask yourselves why Dershowitz starts his book tackling the colonial aspect of Israel rather than facing its Fascist characteristics. My answer is simple. We are afraid to admit that Israel is indeed a Fascist State. It is predominantly the politically correct groups that furnish Dershowitz with a Zionist fig leaf. In fact, it is the Jewish gatekeepers on the left who have managed to reduce Zionism merely into a colonial adventure. Why did they do it? I can think of two reasons:
1. If Israel, the ‘Jews Only State’ is wrong for being a racially orientated adventure, then ‘Jews for peace’, ‘Jews against Zionism’, ‘Jewish Socialists’, ‘Jews Sans Frontieres’ etc. are all wrong for the very same reason (being a racially orientated adventure).
2. To regard the Israeli Palestinian conflict as a colonial dispute is to make sure it fits nicely into their notion of working class politics. May I suggest that a universal working class vision of Israel implies that the Jewish State is nothing but a Fascist experiment.
I would use this opportunity and appeal to our friends amongst the Jewish socialists and other Jewish solidarity groups. I would ask them to clear the stage willingly, and to re-join as ordinary human beings. The Palestinian Solidarity movement is craving for a change. It needs open gates rather than gatekeepers. It yearns for an open and dynamic discourse. The Palestinians on the ground have realised it already. They democratically elected an alternative vision of their future. Isn’t it about time we support the Palestinians for what they are rather than expecting them to fit into our worldview?
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Palestinians are the Priority
There are individuals within the Palestinian solidarity movement seeking to create divisions by:
* deliberately shifting focus away from Israel's war crimes and its supremacist Zionist ideology;
* imposing unilateral agendas by presenting both sides as victims;
* sabotaging service to the just cause of the Palestinian people;
* ignoring the issue of right of return for the Palestinians;
* utilising the platform of the Palestinian discourse to argue about anti-Semitism, which is not a Palestinian problem and not created by Arabs.
Our primary and single concern is solidarity with the Palestinian people.
As ethical human beings we consider it our obligation to:
* do all we can to allow the information to be diffused as widely and as quickly as possible;
* ensure the argument of the oppression and disenfranchisement of the Palestinian people stays in the forefront;
* present as clear and honest a picture as possible of the meaning of Zionism and the Jewish State;
* to cross the divide and to unite in our war against the Zionist crime.
We accept and believe in equality of all persons, regardless of their race, religion, political or other orientation. We believe that full and unconditional support of the Palestinian people is a condition sine qua non for activists to adopt, and we recognise that their attachment to their homeland is a fundamental and unalterable condition. To that end we advocate for one unified State with equal rights for all its citizens.
Any attempts at censoring reasoned critique of Israel and Zionism must be refused a priori, as it is in conflict with the goal of seeking to protect and support the Palestinian people - as their empowerment is the only way to peaceful coexistence for all the populations of the Middle East. Any attempts at dictating what the Palestinians should do will be looked upon with great circumspection and suspicion. Palestinians themselves wish to construct their own future and are not pawns to be shifted on the chessboard.
We demand free speech for sincere critics of Zionism and call for an end to campaigns created in order to ostracise its most vocal critics. Smear campaigns will not be tolerated, as we recognise that they are the instrument of choice of Zionists, and detract energy from our work. We will not hesitate to expose the instrumental usage of them, no matter the claimed principles of those who are engaged in creating such campaigns. On the other hand, open dialogue and reasoned argumentation is welcome and greatly encouraged as a tool to understanding and collaboration.
The indigenous people of Palestine are facing extermination by the hands of the Jewish State, and the world keeps silent. The sooner we draw public attention to Israel's needless wanton destruction, the sooner we can do away with this horrifying, insufferable situation.
If you agree with this statement, please sign the petition.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Dialogue - A Liberal Rabbi Meets Jihad
Rabbi Moisha’le Tikunovitz: Dear Jihad, I wonder if you could help me understand your distinction between a State and a land. Where does the land of Palestine lie and where are its borders and who decided that? God? A spiritual force in the universe?
Jihad Axman: Dear Rabbi, land is obviously an area of ground with reference to its nature, a land is a geographical matter. A State, on the other hand, is a human construction. It is set by people.
Rabbi Moisha’le: Ok then, but how does a land become a land? Is Iraq a land or a State?
Jihad: Iraq was a national State, it was set down originally by the late Anglo-French imperial forces.
Rabbi Moisha’le: OK, if Iraq is not a land, what are the relationships between a State and a land?
Jihad: A State is set over a land or lands. The decisions are left obviously down to hegemony. As far as Iraq is concerned, once upon a time it was the Anglo-French imperials and others. After that it was Saddam who had some expansionist aspirations. Nowadays it is Blair and Bush and soon it will be the Shiites or Sunnis. Or rather Iran and Al Qaeda...
Rabbi Moisha’le: Let’s slow down. You seem to be quite mystic and I would like to learn more about your mystical beliefs about how lands become lands. Was Palestine Palestine before Greeks and Romans conquered it?
Jihad: Rabbi Moisha’le, you may have to open the Bible from time to time. Once you do just that you may be able to remind yourself that the 'Plishtim' (Philistine) were living in the land even before the Israelite tribes made their way back from their long Egyptian Exile. Now may I suggest that that Rabbi listen to the similarities between the following sounds, Plishtim, Philistine, filistine, Palestine... is it a coincidence?
Rabbi Moisha’le: I can see your point yet, was it already the land of Palestine then? And with the same borders?
Jihad: It was indeed a land with very similar natural borders (the sea in the west, a river in the east, mountains in the north, desert in the south and olive trees in the middle). Obviously, it lacked the newly emerging 'defence wall' your brothers and my ex’s are erecting these days.
Rabbi Moisha’le: What does a piece of geography have to do to become a land?
Jihad: An organic piece of geography constitutes a land, it doesn't have to do thing and the land does not do a thing. It is the people who are devoted and love their soil, they are the ones who are doing for their land. This is, for instance, the difference between the Palestinians, the people who dwell in Palestine and looked after it and the Israeli colonialists who came and destroyed the land, it is ecology as well as its indigenous population that make a place a land.
Rabbi Moisha’le: Did Judea ever exist as a land? Or ancient Israel?
Jihad: It depends on whether you refer to the Judea tribe or the land? Judea is indeed a small piece of land. Many years ago it was occupied by a tribe that carried the same name.
Rabbi Moisha’le: Was there ever a land that wasn’t first conquered by outsiders who appropriated it from the animals and called it “a land?”
Jihad: Being a Rabbi and a Judicially orientated being, you may fail to realise that people come and go but land stays forever.
To dwell is to make love to your land. This indeed where Zionism was aiming, towards the transformation of the Diaspora Jew into a civilized authentic organic being who lives on his land, loves it and cultivates it. Clearly, this wasn't achieved.
If to follow early Marx, it may have something to do with the modern Jewish spirit that is orientated around mobility, capital and urban life.
Rabbi Moisha’le: Let’s go back a bit. Excuse me for being an ignorant, but you have obviously missed the point of my question, earlier on. What makes a land Iraq and not Iran, where does the boundary of a land derive from?
Jihad: Sykes Picot 1916.
Rabbi Moisha’le: You call a land Palestine, but why is it that and not the land of The Arab Nation, or the land of the Chinese nation?
Jihad: Again you confuse the notion of land and nation. Land is a pre-historical notion. It predates man. Nation is a late 19th century concept.
Rabbi Moisha’le: Why should Palestine stop where it does at the borders of Jordan or Iraq, why should it not include Iraq and Iran and maybe even China?
Jihad: Within the emerging power of Islam, Muslims may unite into one big nation, yet Palestine will still remain the land of Palestine.
Rabbi Moisha’le: When you grapple with where borders end, you will see that there is no such thing as the land of Palestine, but only the land of the entire earth, one whole global entity, in which any claim to be the land of some particular people is the product of conquest and human arrogance.
Jihad: Not at all, as you should know, regarding the tie between the Palestinians and their land, Palestine has nothing to do with “conquest and human arrogance”. It is the ultimate example of an organic bond between man and his land. Indeed it is the Palestinians who are subject to a Zionist crime of conquest and arrogance. This is exactly the evil I insist upon confronting.
Rabbi Moisha’le: Isn’t it clear to you that Palestine or China or America or anything else are part of the entirety of Gaia, and that therefore your distinction between State and land fails.
Jihad: If this is indeed the case then please enlighten me and tell me why the Jewish nationalist aim was directed towards Palestinian rather than Beijing, Brooklyn or the entirety of Gaia? To your comment, Palestine or China or America are indeed part of the entirety of Gaia, yet they are not the Gaia. The Gaia is the whole and the lands are the parts. The whole and the part are categorically different. Ask yourself why we have two distinctive words for earth and land, or in Hebrew Cheval Eretz and Olam. Earth is obviously the planet that accommodates all the different lands, continents, oceans, seas, lakes and rivers. Our planet is divided into many lands in many shapes. On our planet there are many people who are attached to their lands and love their soil. There is at the same time one people who call themselves a nation just because they have an aspiration for a piece of land that actually belongs to its indigenous people, in the case we are discussing, the Palestinians. You Rabbi, support the robbery of those indigenous people. This is OK, you are not the only one, yet, you fail to produce a moral argument that allows it.
Rabbi Moisha’le: My argument is simple; any given land has no ontological status but is merely a reflection of human social relations, and that goes for Palestine as much as for Israel or China or France or Russia or Vietnam.
Jihad: Ontology is irrelevant to this discussion, try to find another word. Etymology would probably fit better. Indeed the land of Palestine is the land of the biblical Plishtim (Philistine). Yet, who are the Palestinians? Good question, probably Hebraic people who failed to flee two millennia ago. You see Rabbi, land stays, people come and go.
Rabbi Moisha’le: I do support the Palestinian people and want them to be free of Israeli occupation.
Jihad: Indeed, a very liberal man you are. You indeed want the Palestinians to be free in their homeland. I am truly impressed.
Rabbi Moisha’le: But I do not believe that any people has an intrinsic right to any “land” because every such “land” is just a product of previous acts of violence and not anything more than that.
Jihad: I do not know much about what you are now calling “intrinsic right to lands”, and when it comes to Palestine this is not the issue. If anything, it is the Zionist call that you support by insisting on a Jewish State right there which makes a claim for intrinsic rights to the “promised land”. If this is not the case, how would you explain the robbery of Palestine?
Rabbi Moisha’le: People conquer a particular place, and then call it their land.
Jihad: This is indeed the case of Israel.
Rabbi Moisha’le: But then others come and conquer that and call it their land. And if they succeed in conquering their nearby neighbor, then that too becomes part of “their land” and that is how it has been historically.
Jihad: It is really cheering that you are now grounding your Zionist aspirations on historical arguments rather than on ethical ones. Being a Jewish “spiritual leader”, it is no surprise that you prefer the discourse of historical materialism rather than the ethical one.
Rabbi Moisha’le: Jihad, let’s face it, the notion of indigenous is a romantic fantasy.
Jihad: To start with, it is not a fantasy, because some people do feel an intrinsic belonging to a piece of land and this determines their reality of life. Yet, it is not surprising that a Rabbi is foreign to such feelings. As you may know, the early Zionists were aiming at repairing this exact lack within the Diaspora Jewish Psyche. They grasped that Jews are attached to capital rather than to soil. I suggest that you read Borochov and other early Zio-socialists who were very concerned with the lack of authenticity you yourself perform. It seems as if they were writing just about you. Now the issue of Romanticism is nothing but a continuation of the same topic. Only people who feel attachment to soil can be romantic. This is why early Romanticism was born in Germany rather than in Zion or any other Jewish Shtetl.
Rabbi Moisha’le: But your conception of a people that has a right to land is actually reactionary in the context of the 21st century in which people must evolve away from all such claims and recognize that they have no “rights” to the land but only obligations to the whole human race and to the whole planet earth to do their best to protect both and repair it from the damage done by people starting not 50 or 200 years ago, but throughout the period of human civilization for the past ten thousand years at least.
Jihad: Dear Moshik. Rather often I hear political Jews using the word “reactionary”. Somehow it always sounds pathetic. Yet, to hear it from a Rabbi who supports and performs an ancient barbarian blood ritual such as circumcision (brit mila) makes it sound really funny.
However, am I allowed to guess that by saying: "people must evolve away from all such claims and recognize that they have no “rights” to the land but only obligations to the whole human race" you actually dismiss the Zionist adventure, leave behind the immoral two state solution and join us in the call for a “One State Solution”, based on full equality?
If this is indeed the case. all that is left for me to do is to say, Salam Alekum a Rabbi Tikunovitz. If this indeed the case, Rabbi Moisha’le you are indeed Bar Tikun (repairable).
Monday, November 13, 2006
Peacepalestine: Second year and still going!
I want to say a few words here of appreciation to all the people who helped me out in so many ways. First and foremost, the biggest thanks go out to my two dearest friends and pillars, Nancy and Gilad. They are more than friends, they are my sister and my brother. Two people who are more dedicated, committed, talented, generous and intelligent are nearly impossible to find, and to boot, no one knows how to make me laugh the way they do.
So many other people have helped make Peacepalestine possible. I will try to name most of them, and when others come to mind, I will edit them in. There are really SO many people who contribute with letters, articles, ideas, artwork and commentary. HUGE thanks go out to the TLAXCALA Collective of translators, especially to the Motor, wonderful Manuel and to the Hurricane, Fausto. Their energy is mind-shattering, and their personalities are precious. All the other Tlaxcalans deserve a huge thanks for the amazing work they do for free and all the dedication to the causes that we cited in our manifesto, that are part of our political idea of POWER TO THE PEOPLE. We are now around seventy members, and for something that has just been in existence for a year, I'd say we have really created something special. Thanks to Davide, Miguel (extra size thanks as usual to Miguel), Miru, Marcel, Juan, Juan K, Gianluca, Hergen, Ernesto, Barbara, Nadia, Ulises, Kristoffer, Frigga, Toni, Gorka, Mauro, Ahmed, Xavier, Maria, Andrew, Carlos, Eva, Ron, James, Chelo, Antonia, Antonio, Guillermo, Paz, Andrea, Agatha, Giampiero, Rocio, Angela, Valerio, Javier and all the others who are part of it .
Massive thanks to my brother Zaki. Without Jeff Blankfort, I don't know how I would keep up with the literature coming from the US. Jeff is a legend to me. Special thanks to my friends Paul E, Deb (Persephone), Joe K, Joe D, Rod, Marilyn, David, Remi, Abdullah, Ariella, Susanne, everyone at Al-Awda for support, advice, friendship. Enormous thanks to Diego, one in a million. Thanks to Haitham, Shaden, Mustapha, Ben (double thanks!) Annie, Leila, Akram, Steve, Scott, Bev, all the bloggers who do so much and have been friends to boot.
Thank you will never be sufficient to Paola at Uruknet, truly the most important site on the net.
Les at Axis of Logic is a treasure. Ragnar at The People's Voice is a rare soul. Thanks to all the sites that have picked up my articles, especially Tom at Information Clearing House. Thanks to Peter, Paul C, Alan, Sandy, Leigh Ann, Dorothy, Eldad, Lana, Samia, Yaron, Seth, Ramzy, Daniel and Dena, Jean Marie, Alan, Hana, Avigdor, Erlenda, Karma, Giulietto, Simon, Ahmed, Jamal, Omar, Moha, Mahmoud, Sherif, Christian, Enrico, Angie, Silvia, Mordechai, Santiago, Mohammed, Abu Ali, James, Ed, Gennaro, Nahida, Eric, Amir, Ramzy, Mazin, Israel, Bill, Marcy, Helen, Moreno, Lenni, Noah, Cheryl, Kirsty, Claudio, Enrico, Daniel, Edward, Fawaz, Saddam (no, not that one), Ghali, Frank, Hamza, Husain, Jesus, Khaled, Lasse, Lev, Mira, Nihal, Paul D, Raj, Theodore, Akiva, Reuven, Nathan, Gabriella, Ilan, ZeZè, Bob, "quelli di Fucecchio", people on the various mailing lists and discussion groups that I have come to know and appreciate, my entire family and all my friends who give me so much and ask for so little. Some of them don't totally approve of all of this, but they are my beloved people.
Thanks to some of the regulars here, you know who you are! It wouldn't be the same without you!!!
Long Live Palestine. Long Live the Palestinian People.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Jeff Blankfort deconstructs Neve Gordon
Jeff Blankfort is known to many in the Pro-Palestinian camp. A tireless campaigner and researcher, incredibly intelligent and with a fierce sense of humour, he knows how to deconstruct dubious prose like it's nobody's business. Here, he tears apart something that Gordon thought was providing a defence for himself.
from Jeff Blankfort:
Several days ago, I sent to this list an article by Alan Dershowitz smearing Israeli professor Neve Gordon and US professor Norman Finkelstein. I had not yet seen Prof. Gordon's response to Dershowitz and read the following lines [with my comments in brackets and in red] with which he introduced that response and attempted to establish his bona fides as a "loyal Israeli." At least, in that respect, he succeeded all too well.
Despite Dershowitz's claims, I never compared Israelis to Nazis, [and why not? Is there no basis for making comparisons?] and I certainly am not a neo-Nazi or anti-Israeli [which, presumably, in Prof. Gordon's opinion, included those who deny Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.] Like Dershowitz, I am an American citizen, yet unlike him I have chosen to live in Israel [Is he chastising Dersh for not having chosen like the good Zionist, Gordon, to live in Israel and become another colonial settler?] and invest a large portion of my time struggling for social justice [as if the entire existence of Israel did not represent an attack on "social justice"] . I served in the Israeli paratroopers and was critically wounded defending the northern border. [How, we must ask, does Gordon's shedding of blood in defense of the Zionist enterprise fit in with his concept of 'social justice'?]
Following the great [?] Jewish tradition, I try, however modestly, to be critical of Israel whenever its policies violate principles of justice or human rights. [Is there a single second in Israel's existence when it has not violated the basic principles of justice and human rights as incorporated in international law?]
Ironically, about two years ago Dershowitz invited me to contribute a chapter to a book he was editing called What Israel Means to Me. At that time he was not questioning my commitment to Israel. What, then, has led him to change his mind? [That's a good question. Clearly Prof. Gordon is committed as much as Dershowitz to preserving Israel's existence as a Jewish state, just one that is less oppressive to the Palestinians who he would support having a small, non-threatening state of their own somewhere in what was once Palestine. Dersh says he would go for that, as well.]
...Unlike Dershowitz, however, when choosing between truth or dare I always side with truth. [There goes Gordon's "modesty," and the truth with it.]
I have copied this to Prof. Gordon and will forward his comments should he choose to make a reply.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Gilad Atzmon - Deconstructing David Grossman: If he is the Israeli Left, then who needs the Right?
The world, so it seems, is giving a standing ovation to the new Israeli orator, the author, David Grossman. Israel's public relations desperately needs a righteous intellectual, an author who ‘talks peace’, a man who preaches ‘reconciliation’, a man of shalom . Yesterday the Guardian published Grossman’s last week speech at the Yitzchak Rabin memorial in Tel Aviv. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1941046,00.html).
Grossman is a ‘matured enlightened Israeli’, a light left Zionist who craves for a change. I read Grossman’s speech, and I must say that though the man is seen by some as an Israeli left intellectual, I see in his speech nothing but hard core Jewish supremacy and even maintenance of the old crude Zionist racial agenda. Grossman, like other Israelis, is totally submerged within a Zio-centric chauvinist discourse, a discourse of denial of the Palestinian cause; i.e., the right of return.
I have collected and highlighted some outrageous extracts made by the newly emerging Hebraic left orator.
Grossman And The Myth Of ‘Jewish Universal Values’
Grossman, the Israeli some of us love to love, serves us with a major glimpse into the Zionist secular mind. “I am”, so he says about himself “a man entirely without religious faith”. However, Grossman doesn’t stop just there. “For me, the establishment - and very existence - of the state of Israel is something of a miracle that happened to us as a people; a political, national, human miracle.” And I ask myself, since when do secular beings believe in miracles? One may have to remind the ‘Israeli secular intellectual’ that a miracle is ‘an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause’. Indeed, Grossman, like many other Israelis, has managed to follow a new form of secularism. It is an atheism that ‘ascribes to some supernatural cause’. Bizarrely enough, the Zionist seculars are pretty fundamentally orthodox about their new pathetic religion. I may help Grossman and suggest to him that there is no real truly heroic miracle about Israel. Israel is just a vulgar racist ultra nationalist state. Israel's relative success seems miraculous just because it took its Arab neighbors a few generations to adapt to the level of Zionist barbarism.
According to Grossman, Israel wasted that ‘miracle’, that “great and rare opportunity that history granted it, the opportunity to create an enlightened, properly functioning democratic state that would act in accordance with Jewish and universal values.”
Following Grossman's glimpse into the Jewish spirit, enlightenment and democracy are foreign to Jews and their occurrence within the Jewish sphere should be realised as a miracle. Probably without realizing Grossman admits here that ‘enlightenment’ and ‘democracy’ oppose the Jewish spirit. Certainly, this intellectual current is not new, neither is it original. The early waves of Zionist ideologists believed that in Zion, a new Jew would emerge: a civilized, secular, democratic and enlightened Jew who rebels against his morally degenerate Diaspora ancestor.
More worryingly, Grossman bluntly deceives his listeners by referring to ‘Jewish universal values’ as if such values are nothing but an accepted common knowledge. As bizarre it may seem to some, there is no general accepted set of ‘Jewish universal values’. Is there a book that presents a notion ‘Jewish universal values’? I don’t think so. If there is a set of values that should be realised as ‘Jewish universal values’, those are properly conveyed by the Judaic core. I believe that Torah Jews who genuinely support the Palestinian cause may know something about universal values. Yet, Grossman portrays himself as a secular man. Surely it isn’t the Judaic orthodox interpretation he thinks of when referring to Jewish universality. In fact, it is Christianity that translates Judaism into a universal value system. It is Christianity that transforms the ‘neighbor’ into a ‘universal other’. Without a doubt, there are plenty of universal humanists who happen to be Jewish by origin, yet there is no recognized set of ‘Jewish universal values’. Grossman and other Jewish intellectuals who spread the myth of ‘Jewish universalism’ are deceiving themselves and their listeners. Moreover, the fact that Jewish secularism lacks a philosophical background may explain the general moral bankruptcy of the Jewish state. As we will read soon, even Grossman himself, falls into the same trap. He may be aware of the concept of morality but he fails in presenting a consistent moral worldview. He may be aware of the negative effect of racism but he himself, manages to fall into supremacist bigotry rather easily.
Grossman The Blunt Racist
Grossman is courageous enough to stand up and admit that “violence and racism” has taken control of his home, Israel. So far so good. For a second I tend to believe that Grossman is indeed an enlightened anti racist secular Jew but then, just a sentence later he asks, "how can it be that a people with our powers of creativity and regeneration” has managed to find itself today “in such a feeble, helpless state”? The critical reader may ask oneself what Grossman really refers to when he says “people with our powers of creativity and regeneration”? It is rather simple. Grossman truly believes in the uniqueness of the chosen people. In other words, Grossman is not more than a biological determinist. The question to be asked here is how come the Guardian dedicates three pages to a Jewish supremacist? I believe that Jews do enjoy some freedoms the rest of humanity lack. For instance, I find it hard to believe that the Guardian would give a voice to a German philosopher who praises Aryan people’s ‘powers of creativity and regeneration’. Somehow, a Jewish intellectual can get away doing just that. Although Grossman is honest enough to admit that the Palestinians have placed Hamas in their leadership, he calls Olmert to “appeal to the Palestinians over Hamas's head. Appeal to the moderates among them, to those who, like you and me, oppose Hamas and its ideology”.
Mr. Grossman, if you are indeed a universal humanist, something I obviously suspect, you then better learn to listen to the Hamas rather than speaking to the Palestinians over their elected leader’s heads. Grossman obviously fail to respect his neighbor, he fails to respect their democratic choice. Generally speaking, I suggest that we leave the despicable method of speaking over heads to Bush and Blair. Intellectuals have the privilege to listen and to act ethically.
Grossman the Victim
But Grossman's Jewish chutzpah doesn’t stop just there. “Look at the Palestinians, just once” he tells Olmert. “You will see a people no less tortured than we are.” Yes, this isn’t a joke.
Grossman, the colonialist Jew who dwells on occupied Palestinian land while practicing ethnic cleansing of an indigenous nation, is looking at the Palestinian terrorised victims while saying ‘they are almost as tortured as me’. This probably says it all. It summarizes the level of the Zio-left blindness. Indeed, if these are the Israeli Leftists, who needs the Right?
Indeed, in his concluding paragraph Grossman admits: “The differences between right and left are not that great today”. He is correct. Within the European political discourse, Grossman, the Israeli left intellectual icon, is nothing other than a banal right wing neocon. A man who preaches racism in the name of goodwill. A man who talks over the heads of other people.
Grossman and the Two State Solution
Grossman is deceiving himself and his listeners by saying that “the land will be divided, that there will be a Palestinian state”. You are partially wrong, Mr. Grossman. This land will never be divided. I will make it very simple so you and your very few Zio leftists may realise once and for all. Palestine is a land, Israel is a state. Palestine will always be Palestine; i.e., a land. Israel, on the other hand, is a racist nationalist state and will disappear. The land won’t be divided. It will re-unite into One Palestine. Rather than maintaining a racist nationalist state I call Grossman and his friends to join the one Palestine movement. A movement that endorses equality in the land of Palestine. Palestine, where values are universal.
Pelosi’s support for Israel is heartfelt, supporters say
(thanks Jeff for the forward!)
from the JTA, Global News Service of the Jewish People. See that page for another picture of Nancy in front of the AIPAC (on a different occasion)
By Jennifer Jacobson
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (JTA) — Before a packed meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee three years ago, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) connected her political support for the Jewish state with her personal life.
“My daughter is Catholic. My son-in-law is Jewish,” she said. “Last week I celebrated my birthday and my grandchildren — ages 4 and 6 — called to sing ‘Happy Birthday.’ And the surprise, the real gift, was that they sang it in Hebrew.”
Now that the Democrats have taken control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the party is expected to install Pelosi, 66, as speaker, making her the first woman to hold the position that is two heartbeats away from the presidency.
Political observers say it’s no surprise that the congresswoman from San Francisco considers herself close to the Jews.
The daughter of Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., a former mayor of Baltimore, Pelosi grew up in a Democratic family with Jewish neighbors and friends.
“She likes to say that, growing up in Baltimore, she went to a bar or bat mitzvah every Saturday,” Amy Friedkin, a former president of AIPAC and a friend of Pelosi’s for 25 years, wrote in an e-mail message to JTA.
Friedkin noted that there’s even a soccer field in the Haifa area of Israel named after the lawmaker’s family.
While the Republicans had campaigned partly on the premise that support for Israel among Democrats has waned, exit polls from Tuesday’s voting show that Democrats won an overwhelming majority of the Jewish vote.
With Pelosi as speaker, Jewish activists and officials are confident that the U.S. Congress will remain strongly pro-Israel.
“I’ve heard her say numerous times that the single greatest achievement of the 20th century” was the founding of the modern state of Israel, Friedkin wrote. “She has been a great friend of the U.S.-Israel relationship during her entire time in Congress and is deeply committed to strengthening that relationship.”
Sam Lauter, a pro-Israel activist in San Francisco, has known Pelosi for nearly 40 years. He was 5 years old when the Pelosis moved into his San Francisco neighborhood, he recalls. The two families lived on the same street.
“She’s one of the classiest,” most “straightforward people you could ever meet,” Lauter said. “She’s incredibly loyal.”
Lauter said the Pelosis used to attend the first night of the Passover seder at his parents’ house.
“As far as the Jewish community is concerned, she feels our issues in her soul,” he said.
To illustrate his point, Lauter told a Pelosi story that has become almost legendary in the Jewish community.
At an AIPAC members luncheon in San Francisco right after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Pelosi was speaking when an alarm sounded.
“Everybody started getting nervous, scrambling toward the door,” Lauter recalled. One person, though, was reading the words of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem, above the din. It was Pelosi.
“It actually calmed the crowd,” Lauter said. “You could see people actually smiling, saying ‘Wow.’ ”
This “wasn’t something done purposefully to show everyone that Nancy Pelosi supports the Jewish community,” he said. It “actually came from inside her.”
Lauter and others say Pelosi will have to draw on that inner strength as speaker, since Lauter predicted that she will hear from those in the Jewish community who argue that Democrats no longer support Israel the way they used to.
Some Republicans, in fact, questioned Pelosi’s support for Israel this summer. The congresswoman ended up removing her name as a co-sponsor from a House resolution supporting the Jewish state during its war with Hezbollah because it did not address the protection of civilians.
While Pelosi’s aides said she was not going to lend her name to a resolution that did not contain a word she had written, Republicans criticized the move.
“It highlights a real wave within the Democratic Party that wants a more ‘evenhanded’ approach on these issues, and that wants to view Israel through the same prism as we do Hezbollah,” Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said at the time. “Watering down is not acceptable right now.”
Brooks could not be reached for comment this week.
For his part, Lauter believes the argument about the Democrats and Pelosi is false.
For instance, he noted Pelosi’s quick response to former President Carter’s description of Israel’s settlement policies as “apartheid” in a forthcoming book.
Pelosi publicly announced that Carter does not speak for the Democratic Party on Israel.
Rabbi Doug Kahn, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in San Francisco, also applauded Pelosi’s repudiation of Carter’s position.
He has known Pelosi since she started representing his district in 1987. Kahn said his group has always had an excellent working relationship with her. And he praised her passion for issues that relate to equal opportunity, social justice and peace.
Kahn, echoing Lauter’s point, said that Pelosi, coming from a city with such a liberal political reputation, will face challenges from the liberal segments of the Democratic Party that have criticized Israeli policies.
But he is confident that Pelosi, as speaker, will be effective in persuading people with a broad range of views on the Middle East, the importance of maintaining bipartisan support for Israel.
When it comes to Israel, “she truly gets it,” said Matt Dorf, a consultant to the Democratic National Committee. She gets “Israel’s value and asset to U.S. security” and its “importance as the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Jewish organizational officials also commend Pelosi’s record on Jewish communal issues.
William Daroff, vice president for public policy for the United Jewish Communities, the federation system’s umbrella group and a Republican himself, said the lawmaker has helped ensure federal funding of Jewish family service agencies and Jewish hospitals and has supported government programs and policies that Jewish organizations value, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
He also noted that Reva Price, Pelosi’s liaison to the Jewish community for a year and a half, came from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella group of local community relations councils.
Bringing on board such an insider was “really a masterful stroke,” Daroff said.
Price, he added, has done a wonderful job of playing “traffic cop” with Jewish organizations and in making sure that Pelosi’s agenda is in tune with that of the Jewish community.
She’s been “a real champion of making sure the Jewish community is well served,” Daroff said of the lawmaker. “I’m sure she’ll continue to be a champion.”
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Israel massacres more innocent people in their sleep
Sunday, November 5, 2006
Should Palestinians Recognise Israel's Right to Exist?
I believe that Palestinians should not "recognise Israel's Right to Exist".
My reasons are all very simple, but I will sum them up in a brief segment that comes from Alan Hart's book (Zionism, the real enemy of the Jews - World Focus Books)
The historic compromise required the Palestinians to recognise Israel inside more or less its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war and make peace with that Israel in exchange for the return of less than 23 percent of all the land that was rightfully theirs. Put another way, peace on that basis, to provide for Palestinian self-determination in a mini-state on the 23 percent of occupied land from which Israel would withdraw (the West Bank including Arab East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip), required the Palestinians to renounce for all time their claim to the other 77 percent of their land.
That was the basic "land for peace" arithmetic of the historic compromise. And it was in accordance with the letter and the spirit of UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, which Israel had said it accepted and would honour.
For Israel there was, however, a far greater prize on offer. There was something even more important than peace that Israel craved. It was the only thing the Zionist state could not take from the Palestinians by force.
The cover name of that thing was recognition, meaning recognition of Israel's "right to exist". The question I have never seen asked let alone answered in literature of any kind about the Arab-Israeli conflict is this: Why, actually, was it do important for Israel's "right to exist" to be recognised by Palestinians? The answer, which has its context in the pages to come, is this: In international law and because of the circumstances of its creation, Israel was NOT a legitimate state and therefore did NOT have the right to exist. In international law only the Palestinians - not the United Nations or any other earthly or heaveny authority - could give the Zionist state the legitimacy it craved.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Lasse Wilhelmson - The development and unity of the movement for solidarity with the Palestinian people – in Sweden and elsewhere
Translator: Anne Olzon
Let me start by saying that I have no intention of belittling the admirable work done for many years by the movement for solidarity with the Palestinian people, particularly the very successful, and internationally acclaimed projects carried out by the Swedish solidarity movement in Palestine. Not forgetting either, the ISM and its praiseworthy activities in Palestine and in Sweden. These are just a few examples.
But in hindsight, I think it could be said that there has not been a significant rise in the Swedish public’s awareness of the plight of the Palestinians, nor have the organisations that set out to accomplish this been out on the streets campaigning to an extent on par with the urgency of the Palestinian question. Not just for the Middle East, but for the whole of Western Asia. The “tarred with the same brush” theory still dominates people’s thinking, that is to say you cannot blame just the one party when two people quarrel. Endorsement of the Oslo Agreement is, I think, responsible for this.
It is tempting to make a comparison to what many of us experienced during the Vietnam war and the Swedish solidarity movement, even though society’s mood was different then. At that time, “Peace in Vietnam”, which was the slogan that dominated policy-making, did not differentiate between attacked and attacker. It was when the demand “US out of Vietnam” was launched that the movement leapt forward, and solidarity work became a struggle for all nations’ right to their own territory and independence – even Sweden’s. Vietnam’s cause became ours and focus was on the attacker. Thus it was politics that laid the foundation for the development and unity of the movement.
But the issues of Palestine and Vietnam are different. In Palestine, we are dealing with permanent colonialism and ethnic cleansing of the native population, the establishment of a new state on stolen ground and a comfortable majority of colonisers who enjoy exclusive citizenship (“The Jewish State”). In Vietnam it was a case of getting access to Third World raw materials and setting up a puppet regime to allow this. The difference is fundamental and must be considered if strategies for solidarity movements are to be successful. It doesn’t mean that colonialism and imperialism do not go together, but every conflict has its own distinctive features. Algeria and the former South Africa could also serve as examples. South Africa’s solution was to exchange political apartheid for a system which made it possible for the colonisers to stay. In Algeria the colonisers were eventually forced to leave because they and their Western allies took too long opposing a similar solution. This should give food for thought in the Israel/Palestine conflict.
It is therefore no coincidence that the Palestinians have never wavered from their right to return to the land that was stolen from them, a right laid down by the UN in resolutions 194 and 3236, the latter entailing that the right is inalienable, that is not negotiable. Arafat never wavered, which is confirmed in the so-called Prison Manifesto, even though this was a compromise between different Palestinian movements. This is the reason why the Palestinians have given Hamas their support. They are justifiably worried that their former leaders will abandon this right, with on-going theft of land and escalating violence as the result. And it is exactly why the Zionists do not accept this right, as it means that “The Jewish State”, in fact, would cease to exist demographically. If a “South African” solution is to be reached, with equal rights for all who live in the land between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan, then this would be a necessity and the question of where boarders are set and where areas for different ethnic/religious groups are located would be of secondary interest. The least one can expect of a solidarity movement for the Palestinian people, is that the “right to return” – the question that unifies the Palestinians – becomes a major issue.
Since the Oslo Agreement, the Palestine solidarity movement supports a two-state solution without demands for the “right to return”. This implies, that the solution is purely tactical and that the next step is to endeavour to put an end to the racist apartheid system in Israel, a necessity since 23 percent of today’s Israeli citizens (mainly Palestinians) are treated as “sub-humans”. A common argument in favour of this opinion, is that it is the national rights of the Palestinians that are at stake and, as this is fundamental to the solution, they must have their own state, just as the Jews have “been given” theirs. Palestinians advocate this too, even though it is hardly compatible with the “right to return”. This issue has obviously divided the Palestinians for a long time. It should be said, however, that there is nothing in human rights legislation that supports the theory that all “peoples” have a right to their own state. It is the business of the Palestinians themselves to decide whether their struggle is primarily “South African”, “Vietnamese” or anything else, but the task of the solidarity movement should be to mould support so that it does not divide the Palestinians, or itself, this being the present case with the fixation on the so-called two-state solution.
A two-state solution that sustains a “Jewish State” would, however, by legalising the theft of land and ethnic cleansing, be a distortion of human rights legislation. And who would benefit? It is naïve to imagine that it would then be possible to come back and say this was a first tactical step along the way. Hence, a correct policy for the solidarity movement should be to unite as many people as possible for the following platform:
Support the Palestinians’ inalienable right to return home from expulsion, and boycott the apartheid state of Israel.
This platform clarifies the core of the conflict and makes is possible to create a broad united front. The Palestinians’ cause becomes ours in the sense that it confirms equal rights for all regardless of race or religion while at the same time pointing to the reason for the conflict. The platform highlights thus the UN Charter’s membership requirements concerning equal rights for all people. Other justified and significant demands that support the platform are “Tear down the Wall”, “Abolish the Gaza ghetto” and “End the Occupation of the West Bank and the Golan Heights”, and more. These demands can of course, in various contexts, be the platform for different united front activities. If those Jews and Palestinians involved wish to find a provisional two-state solution within the framework of equal rights for all, we may safely leave it to them.
The current policy of the Palestine solidarity movement precipitates the move towards an “Algerian” solution. There is a case for this, but not one I advocate. Particularly because it would mean a step nearer the completion of the on-going genocide of the Palestinians.
Lasse Wilhelmson was born in 1941 in Sweden. Part of Wilhelmson’s family fled to Sweden from the Czar’s pogroms during the 1880s. Some members of the family migrated further, to America and Palestine. Wilhelmson lived in Israel for several years during the early 1960s. He also published the article ”Israel Must Choose the Path of Democracy” the 16th of September 2003 and ”More Than Traditional Colonialism and Apartheid” the 16th of February 2004 in The Palestine Chronicle.