Monday, November 22, 2010

Compromise, Delegitimise or Misunderstood

Is Zionism racism?

There has been an interesting discourse surrounding a couple of Jewish dominated blogs, the higher traffic being generated on Mondoweiss, which has a much higher following than the other, the Magnes Zionist, run by Jeremiah Haber. In fact, Haber got the inspiration to write his latest FAQ on Zionism as a response to an initial post by Jeremy Slater on Mondoweiss. Both had the main protaginist as Zionism and both defended the ideology from the accusation being flung around that it is a racist ideology that discriminates. Slater and Haber themselves both identify heavily with Zionism and both have strong ties to the state of Israel and Haber is an orthodox who lives both in the US and Israel. He admits to living in an ethnically cleanse city and recognises that fact that he lives in a former Palestinian residence. Slater I'm not up to detail with to his leanings or identification but it is not far to assume that he has strong ties to his religion, whether he practices or not is another thing.

Now as entertaining as it has been to reading all of this, and it really has sent me back to the laptop to get writing again in what has been a rather stagnate area of interest for myself, things really are at a point where the tinkering of what Zionism is or what it means to be a Zionist has been a lesser issue and one that is of little alarm that the talk of Zionism has become somewhat an exercise for intellectuals and scholars and students everywhere which detracts from the bigger issue of Palestinian justice and suffering. While it is important to battle where the battlelines are drawn, and Israel and its supporters everywhere tend to toe the ideological line fairly often as well as the hypocrisy line, that anti-Zionists and leftists and opponents of injustice everywhere tend to show up and give them the fight they deserve, it is definitely the lesser importance to undertake especially when homes are being razed and random Riad in Lebanon is feeding off the scraps in a refugee camp that UNWRA is running pathetically with no end in sight and poor Iya in Gaza has no clean water and little future to look forward to as another flotilla gets intercepted on its way to give fleeting relief. Because in the grand scheme of things, Palestinians will care little to grasp if Zionism was a legitimate project when cast into the light of history, nor will Israelis care if intellectuals worldwide have disdain at a state which privileges one over the other when there is injustice everywhere and Romas are being expelled and Tamils are being turned away from the border and Aborigines are being put in the slammer for petty crimes and the States increases its prison population with a giant black and Latino population behind bars all the while giving no rights or reparations to the Natives who live in squalor. It is just word acrobatics which only titilate to those who have the privilege to meander such topics as imperialism, capitalism, nationalism and Zionism. Danger looms ahead for the Palestinians and the action that is of dire consequence is Boycott, sanctions and Divestment. The dialogue is important and it is of necessity if we are to win the war, especially for those who are misinformed or just on the fence on what to do about it; but, although the key to understanding the conflict requires the knowledge of Zionism, it is less significant when lives are at stake. Undercutting Zionism is not a prerequisite to ending an occupation or giving people better lives; it only is when it becomes the sole factor in keeping the imbalance permanent.

With that said, the debate has re-sparked something within me and I found inspiration to finally return to the conflict at hand, and hopefully I have something more with a better outlook on what really makes power tick more attuned with a broader scope rather than the narrow focus of just the competing narratives of Israel and Palestine. Upon indulging in the matter, it must not be mistaken that there are bigger issues at hand and this talk is just that, talk. But Zionism provokes the most outrageous responses, both for and against it, that one such as myself cannot pass it up, even though it's best that you let it go since it is quite time-consuming and sometimes brain-draining.

So let's revisit: Is Zionism racism?

Typified above, it is either Yes with an "if" or No with a "but". Nothing in this world is ever as black and white which is easily answered with a Yes or a No, especially one as complicated and as historic as Zionism, which has over 100 years of history right about now. And if you ask a plethora of people you would get a plethora of answers, probably evenly tied down the middle on the yay or nay side. The thing is one needs to have studied it studiously in order to make the best informed comment on such a polarising question. One also needs to study not only Zionism, but other forms of nationalism AS WELL as racism itself. The ante just got upped somewhat since no bystander can come by and make an informed commentary on what Zionism was or what it means to so many who call themselves Zionist, or even to the opposite, anti-Zionist, since it would need to have existed before one can be opposed to it. Haber had to define what racism is for him so he could answer it, and I would have to do the same.

In my small time on this earth, I have always defined racism as discrimination pertaining to one's skin colour. Being of a minority myself, I experienced it many times growing up in a settler state which raped and destroyed a native population of its own and now residing in another country which did the same to its own natives (natives are really non-peoples, aren't they?), but of a much lesser extent since my background is of one which has probably the least of the negative stereotypes than others. Exclusion of one because of what they believed was of a different matter since one can be a Christian and be of a different colour altogether; on the one hand if one could be accepted as a white but could be excluded if that person was Jewish or a Muslim or sometimes just ugly, and another could be accepted if they were seen as part of them even though they could practice another religion but were of the same skin colour. It's not hard to see where this is going. And I think that is why the question of "Is Zionism racist?" makes it that much harder to answer IF this was not in a disclaimer to begin with as Zionists can be of all colours and races; I'm positive there are black Jews who are Zionists just like there are arab Jews who are ultra-Zionists; those transcend skin colour and therefore in my classic definition, it is not racist at all since one just needs to ascribe to one form of belief, Judaism. Hence this is where the confusion begins to most as Zionism is inclusive of EVERY colour as it places no emphasis on race at all and never has as long as the people being subjected to it were Jewish, practicising or not. In its simplistic and most banal form, Zionism was meant to be some kind of salvation, a Jewish self-determination, for a world where Jews were unwanted. How hard is that to fathom in a world where dictators and pogroms were so rampant?

But things do get a bit hazy when you look into its murky past. Herzl, the founder and father of Zionism, certainly was no saint, in my eyes anyway. Zionism in general originated in Eastern Europe, and try as you might but its founders, supporters and shapers were not those who were victim of pogroms but ones who were of a higher class, ones who were free enough to hold conferences and form groups such as World Zionist Congress and hobknob with heads of state and others who held sway with power. People like these were the ones running the Zionist show, not poor Nikolas in Lodz finding the self-life preposterous or Sigi in Dusseldorf pondering on the Jewish question in Western Europe and its fate. It wasn't refugees who fashioned a movement, although it did reach their coffers once Zionism took its form and build an enormous amount of capital around the idea of a Jewish state, but the bourgeoisie who had parties and drinks and committed themselves to the fight for a new state for their "nation". Hence, here lies the problem.

Any study of the attitudes of Europe in 19th Century and you would find not only latent racism but blatant racism and prejudice also. Colonialism was the flavour of the day. Policies were done in the prism of white domination, especially when you dealt with the likes of the Orient, as you were the ones to dominate the lesser beings of the rest of the world. One can even say linking the project of colonialism is related to the outcome of the Holocaust (Arendt). It's not hard to sift through the shit and find what is rotten here. Zionism, while not a classic form of colonialism in the form of exploitation and servitude to capital, its attitude to its unintended victims were of the same consequence as colonialism itself. Zionism, borne out in the 19th Century in the age of nationalisms, is now an anachronistic ideology in the age of post-nationalism and multiculturalism and pluralism. For the founders, despite the testaments for those who want to believe that Zionism's sole purpose was for Jews to run their own affairs, its exclusion of all things native is what hampered this construct from its non-discriminatory equation. For, how could you ever consider it to be non-racist when you hold your own affairs to be of higher importance than those you are living upon? How could you believe that the fate of your own "people" is of bigger proportion than those whose lives you intend to change forever? How could you ever live on a land of peasants and not think that the rights of the bourgeois European supersedes the minute rights of the fellaheen? To me, this is discrimination in its finest form. Would a pioneer not be racist if he believed in Manifest Destiny? Or is he just sympathetic to the rights of a pioneer to self-determine his way across the plains and damned anyone if they resist? Would an power-elitist, educated in the finest schools that Europe has to offer, not be inclined to thinking that brown/black/red/yellow people are lesser humans whose lives have little meaning, so little in fact, that they do not even register as people in the first place ("A land without people for a people without land.")? Can a racist not make racist policies when it comes to the fate of their "people"?

Haber, Slater and others would recite the many forms of Zionism that has existed and they would be correct to do so but that is irrelevant, personally speaking. Zionism has been supported and opposed by so many that anyone can add their two cents to what Zionism is and is not that the true form can become morphed into something that it really wasn't to begin with. As much respect I hold for Haber, and he has to be commended for the criticism that he engages in daily, especially where he lives where lives (can Australians, Americans and Canadians ever think as critically to where they live as he does?), his inclusion of Magnes and Buber and the binationalists of Zionism is really a red herring. I mean not that he does this on purpose in order to distort the reality but the usefulness of such figures as Magnes is akin to the usefulness of a binationlist Palestinian of the same era (yes, there were some who advocated such a proposal too); Magnes, while important, so much so that he has followers from the Zionist critical of Israel, registered such a little impact that I barely even remember reading his name in two of Tom Segev's anthology of the history of Israel (One Palestine, Complete and 1949: The First Israelis). In both of those books, together over 1000 pages long with endnotes, the main cogs in the machine were Zionists who excluded from the Arabs, who organised Jews against Arabs, and those who made legislation with Arabs as an enemy. In fact, so much so was the dichotomy that Ben-Gurion was viewed as a binationalist at first and even Chomsky expresses DBG as such, even though you can look at all his quotes in Palestine Remembered and you would know that one doesn't harden their opinion of Arabs just by living in the country with respect to their "rights" and then ethnically cleanse them later on. I'm sure you can ask any Palestinian living in Gaza right now about Magnes and they will furrow their brow but I'm sure the answer would be different if you asked them about Ben-Gurion, about Weizmann, about Jabotinsky, about Begin, about Rabin, about the Palmach, the Irgun, the JNF, the Histadrut, the kibbutz, the Haganah and who ran those outfits and you would find little, if any, binationalists who were sympathetic to the Muslims they wanted to expel. For it is these organisations and those behind it who eventually would definte what it meant to self-determine as Jews, and it meant doing it at the expense of another in the other's land and not even considered to the views of those they were usurping. Colonists they drank with, and colonialism they pissed out when it became a project to save their skin from tyranny. Zionism had the opportunity to show that they could do what it intended but its position when in power decided that it would expel, refuse and also resist any kind of non-discrimination when it came to the "enemy" ie the Palestinians. It welcomed the Mizrahim and substituted them for the Palestinians, becoming the lower class. It then brought in more whites from the ex-Soviets, funneling in more classes all the while the elite of Ashkenazim got drunk with their own idiocy as the lower started organising to get power they had been lacking. In another shocking non-racist Zionist turn, it flooded itself with plenty of slave-labour from the poor Asian nations to give themselves a serf-class. All of this while refusing to acknowledge the Palestinians all around them. No, this isn't discrimination at all. Funny, if the Magnes of years yore had ANY momentum at all, it has a weird way of showing its binationalism when the Israel idea of a one-state is one with a totally weak Palestinian politi-power that it cannot make any laws in such a state.

Could Zionism not have been racist? In a utopian world where they found a place bereft of people and they harmed not one single soul, then perhaps. But what state would have formed? One completely Jewish 100%? There would still be problems with such a state, as the interpretations of who is Jewish enough and who gets accepted to such a state would only lead to complications that should be saved for another post. As romantic as they want to make it sound, this form of nationalism did not mimick others that arised amidst the struggle against colonial powers. In fact, in a bitter twist of irony, Zionism, while suturing its Jewishness with independence, it could only do so with the help of colonial power and had no real grassroots struggle within it as Zionism was thrust upon many in light of the atrocities that were happening in the march towards World War II. It did not resemble the black struggles against white power in the US, nor the fight against the French in Algeria nor the African uprisings in Kenya, Ghana, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa. While provoked by tyranny of one, it did not attempt to emancipate but only one to escape, to another people's land, to find its own way. The nationalisms of those we have known has always been inclusionary, one that wanted to transcend hierachies that perpetuated the system of master and peasant, owner and the owned. Zionism's pre-determined subjects did not hold a common cause for the most part, and most did not even register in its radar, some were even opposed to it. There were so many spectrums it needed to mend but it just could not as a revolutionary struggle in Cuba of the lower class would no way find common cause with one that deciding the fate of the Jewish Question. As to my latest readings, Zionism had no revolutionary content to it at all. For its most part, it had NO qualm with the present system in Europe, sought not change from it but form its own way which benefited themselves in the same style as Europe, for Jews, in Palestine, without recourse to anyone who opposed it.

As stated above, this in no way has no bearing as to where things should go from now. Little will be determined as to what Zionism is, not by the UN, not by AIPAC and certainly not by blogs. The only reason why this is of any significance is because attempting to shape the narrative often makes for writing such as this and the claims of "hypocrite" can only go so far until you mark it out clear to that person that you care little for your choice to "self-determine", and that you do not DENY their people to determine their fate, it's just they should stop determing other people's fate too.But make no mistake about it, Zionism is not just any other form of benign nationalism. It is another form of colonialism conned with self-determination rhetoric.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why no sane person likes Israel: Part II

Israelis celebrate the flotilla murders at the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempts to pull the fast one

MSNBC's "impartial" coverage of the flotilla attack with Glenn Greenwald the only one having a brain

Stupid assholes on the internet trying to justify their murder

Y Ben-David said:
It is not obvious to me that the IDF had no right to intercept the flotilla on the high seas (I am no expert in international law). They quite openly stated that they intended to defy the blockade. The blockade is recognized as legal by most of the international community.

Gibson Block said:
As for the activists on board the ship. They obviously decided to fight in advance and they had to know things were going to get rough if they did.

bacci40 said:
not justified?

weapons found among the aid from the ships


that is what your donations went to.

to kill your fellow citizens.

(The moron bacci40 linked a year old video. And those three were just off one blog.)

Anonymous said:
1) Did you see the IDF's video of what happened? It shows that the "activists" on this ship were intent on violent confrontation, which the Israelis were clearly not prepared for. The first commando to descend from the helicopter is in critical condition. The second commando down was shot. The third is in the hospital. If you were on that team and seeing your buddies maimed like that you would also open fire.

zacharyesterson said:
Even during the raid, troops did not fire on those on board at first, instead simply trying to go about their business of inspecting the cargo. When they were attacked with venomous force by the activists, they were left with no choice but to respond in kind. Those are the only facts that matter here, and all the kneejerk Israel-hating in the world won't absolve the activist aggressors from their share of guilt for the horrific events that unfolded today.

Eric M on this comments section. They want approval so bad but they won't find it where people use their eyes and have an independent brain. The comments need to be read in its totality in order to see the absurdity and the lengths Israeli-fuckers want to go to to show that they did nothing wrong. I'm not going to rife through more of their cockspittle or even reference the terrible Ledrew "debate" that aired here in Canada (and the two stupid callers who don't know a thing about this conflict) but this is just the tip of the iceberg for these Zionist thugs.

I echo: This is a fight against a state like no other. It is bigger, badder and more established in propaganda and espionage. This is not going to be easy...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Why no sane person likes Israel

I do realise that it has been quite a while since I have written but things have looked so bleak for the Palestinians even back in 2008, and to remind everyone that's when Bush was still in office, that nothing seemed to have changed things. No amount of reading books, blogs and press releases from activist groups (bless them) did ever make a dent on the Godzilla killing machine that is Israel and its impugnity. Many liberals pined for Obama to do something, and secretly many on the left had hope that he could actually make a little bit of a difference (but most like Ali Abunimah and the Angry Arab [as well as myself] did not suffer from such delusions that a man who is tied to the military money could EVER scale back on anything related to Israel's artillery, because that's what counts here, not pathetic words or summits and meetings and "unhelpful" diatribes that we have heard it all before, even for a younger generation like myself to grow weary of), and yet, after Gaza 2008-09, still things are still the same, or even worse depending on who you speak with in Gaza and the West Bank and the refugee camps (because the real tragedy is that even with all the effort being put into Gaza and the actions in B'ilin and N'ilin and Jayyous, Palestinians still are being given shit treatment in the neighbouring states) and Obama was helpless to do anything about it. Simply helpless. He's more adept in bombing people than stopping the bombs and the fire. Check out Pakistan and Afghanistan if you haven't been convinced about the first black American president. So unfortunately, I grew jaded about the conflict, because it's the same old tired hacks doing the same old spin and the same old story that we are being fed for decades now and STILL the Palestinians are being fucked. On top of that, it's people who actually care about their situation who are starting to get fucked over also. And then you have these incidents, or perpetrated killings for a more precise description, as the video above. Then what else can you say about it?

I found myself powerless for as long as I can remember about this conflict and it's easy to be in that skid because there really is no avenue you can travel without disappoint and more corpses lying in wake the day Israel does it is time to strike at the heart of Palestine and their supporters. Reading Mondoweiss et al didn't make a diddly of difference on whether Israel did this or that or was wrong in this or that and battling it out with their comments section seemed less and less relishing and more like an exercise on which idiot can be more of an idiot when the time came. The only saving graces are the few that are still worth visiting (Lawrence of Cyberia, Jews Sans Frontieres and The Angry Arab). You can only keep trooping on if you actually think you have a chance in making progress but here we are, 2010, 43 years on of occupation, and all we get is a shoe-throwing Iraqi who actually gets close enough to those responsible for war crimes. (Bless the man who attempted the citizen's arrest here in Canada though.) More material for weaponry and all the op-eds wouldn't make any difference on myself because I already knew what was vital to this conflict and what makes it tick, and I already knew what makes the other side want to keep their lies hidden, so no amount of flyer handouts and blog posts would satiate me because Israel kept rolling over the bodies and starving children. This shouldn't deter those who are steadfast in this struggle, and I wish I shared their strength, but unfortunately being so far and very detached from the struggle itself, it seemed more a burden to bear rather than a revolution to carry on. I decided I would be better suited doing other things while still holding true to the struggle and solidarity and attempt to give it a new light in a different medium. (More on that if I am successful at it.) Best to leave the blogging and writing to those who write better and are more dedicated and personally who have more time to write and read than a worker who is raising two very young boys.

And then you have this.

But what really kills me over this is not the actual crime itself but the spin we are already hearing and going to hear for months until Israel actually admits the truth after it has committed more crimes which they lied about and then would admit to after... well, that's the Dante's circle of hell. Palestinians have no chance at peace or a normal life and yet Israel insists that it's their own fault. THIS IS WHY NO SANE PERSON LIKES ISRAEL. Enough of the "nuances", or complexities, or the bullshit, and we are going to hear them. (Ambush? You cannot be serious.) It's not the fact that Israel does commit these acts and gets away with it, but it's the fact that they have the nerve to insult everyone's intelligence into believing that they did this for the good of someone else, for the betterment of men, for the future of humanity, for the saving grace of Abraham and all that kefuffle that is not even worthy to mention in a Kafka short story. The sad truth is this has been happening for an awfully long time, and you thought Gaza 18 months ago was atrocious, just have a look at what Israel is capable of doing and that is the future of Palestine. This is the future of the conflict; more deaths, more propaganda, and more bullshit, mostly by Israel. You don't have to be a genius to figure out what the fuck is wrong with this picture, all you have to do is have a good look at the surroundings, at the dysentery and all the death tolls and you should be able to do the math.

Another bitter pill is that we have all failed Palestine. Yes, many people are helping and this ship was trying to do just that and they are truly made of harder stuff than the rest of the world but we have all failed. All the emails, letters, protests and pretty signs, t-shirts, press releases, conferences and confrontations was not enough to spare the lives of those activists and it is not the salvation that little child in Lebanon could suffice with because he is a Palestinian born to a refugee who only wants to find his way home. Sure, it may give them a nice, warm feeling that we are on their side, but we are the affluent and they are the invisible and yet we cannot find it within our own power to take control and stop this madness. 62 years of Israel and 62 years of getting away with fucking murder; will this make a change? Will it be another added to the list of "turning points" that was meant to take down this Apartheid? Will it be enough for pussies such as J Street to even publish a condemnation of this ugly piece of shit they call Israel? Get it through your goddam heads: you ended lives for your shitty Zionism. Look at it the footage. It really means that much to you to kill innocent people and then blame them for you having to kill them. No wonder normal people don't like you.

It's times like these that should remind us that we have not done enough. We have to do a whole lot more; and modeling this struggle against the struggle in South Africa will not be enough. It may have the cosmetic look of segregation but this is not South Africa and this is not 1994 and this is not a conflict between blacks and whites. This is West vs a bunch of anti-imperialists, Jews, Arabs and muslims and other internationals. Why some blacks support Israel, some Arabs also do. Asians support Israel. Pretty much the rest of the world does business with this pit stain they call Israel; they do business in the Congo, they do it in Australia, they do it even in fucking Turkey, so this is a huge beast to take down all alone, because not even the PA is on our side (they do business with Israel), not even Israel's neighbours are on our side (Jordan and Egypt, please stand up) and I don't see Cuban troops sending themselves into Palestine like they did in Angola to help stop South Africa (also Namibia). South Africa had business on their minds but it relied on the backs of blacks; Israel couldn't give a shit about the backsides of Arabs, they have shown that they don't need them for anything. This is bigger than we can image, because everything is related to Israel (even your cellphones), and every company does business with them as the list of those who boycott are about the number of a my digits.

Perhaps it's just me who this has finally got the best of but I know that this is the highest uphill battle to take on. It's rather easy tackling the IMF, the World Bank and the economic establishment that depletes the world and keeps the peasants hungry and angry; it's simple to see the limits of US imperialism and it's ugly wrath that has 700 plus bases worldwide; it's not controversial to go after failed systems that burn out First Nation lands and other indigenous rights that colonialism plundered a long time ago; it's not uncommon to take on the UN and their bias and their attitudes towards Africa; but all of that is nothing when you take on the giant (and the ironic thing is all of that is connected, even to the conflict in Palestine).

Now I have come to terms that I will not live to see a free Palestine but perhaps if we really push it and left the niceties at the door (because where has being "civil" gotten us? Where is the fucking anger?) and took on our spineless representatives and threaten their taxes and their services and really strike at their hearts and wallets (or maybe just wallets will suffice) we can make them not see the truth because they don't really care what version is true or not, but show that we won't stand for an injustice that makes all of us sick then we can let the world off of our back and finally sleep at night.