“As a Jew” logic is not appropriate in public debate – David Hirsh responds to Ran Greenstein

I want to make one point in response to Ran Greenstein’s argument for boycotting Israeli academia.

Robert Fine challenged him: “Why single Israel out? You say that Western governments do not single Israel out, at least not negatively, and that Israeli war crimes and violations of human rights have gone unpunished. You are on the whole right, though in the European Union there are signs of an increasingly ‘tough’ official attitude toward Israel. As I see it, the first question is whether Israel is a major human rights abuser in relation to the inhabitants either of its own territory or of surrounding territories. The comparisons you raise are indeed pertinent:  Iran, Iraq (under Saddam), Sudan, Serbia, North Korea, Burma and Zimbabwe.”

Ran Greenstein answered the point: “I agree that if we wished to construct a universal scale of human rights violations, that would indeed be the case. That may be a worthwhile project, but not one I have any interest in. As an Israeli citizen my concern with what ‘my’ government is doing. As a Jew, my concern is with what the state that claims to represent me is doing in my name.”

If this is one of the reasons that Ran thinks it is right to single out Israel for exclusion from the global academic, artistic, sporting, economic community, or for particularly harsh criticism (apartheid, nazism, fascism) then it is not a good reason.

He himself is free to consider Israel, and its crimes, to be particularly important to his own worldview “as a Jew”.  If this discussion is about him, and what is done in Ran’s name, then he is free to single out Israel.

But there is a dangerous slippage when Jewish antizionists, for whom Israel is centrally important in the world, take that attitude out into non-Jewish civil society.

The University of Johannesburg is not a Jewish organisation and so ought to relate to human rights abuses round the world consistently. The fact that Ran Greenstein thinks “as a Jew” is neither here nor there.

The University and College Union in the UK is not a Jewish organisation and so ought to do solidarity around the world in a consistant way. The fact that some leading activists who want to put Israel at the very forefront of its worldview do so “as a Jew” should not alter the policy of the union.

What is required for our institutions is precisely what Ran says he has no interest in: the construction of  “a universal scale of human rights violations”.  The values of solidarity, human rights and the university require a universal and consistent approach.

Antisemitism has always constructed Jews as being central to all that is bad in the world.

Some people, “as a Jew” and “not in my name” put the human rights abuses of Israel at the very forefront of their own political consciousness. I can understand this, even if it does not reflect my own way of thinking.  It seems to me to skew one’s own thinking towards the parochial rather than the cosmopolitan.  I want to be concerned with what is important in the world, not to centre my worldview around myself.

But when institutions like unions and universities allow the Jewish antizionsit focus on Israeli human rights abuses to become their own focus too, then this poses a clear danger.  The danger is that unions and universities begin to teach their young people that Israel, and the Jews who live there, are a central evil on the planet.  It is easy to see how this kind of Jewish exceptionalism mirrors older antisemitic forms and how this kind of Jewish exceptionalism is likely to foster antisemitic ways of thinking.

We have seen how the boycott debate brings with it antisemitism into the South African Trade Union movement and also into the University and College Union in the UK.  The situation in UCU is now so serious that there are no Jews left at its biggest decision making body who are willing or able to argue against the boycott because they have been pushed out, bullied or banned.  In South Africa, Cosatu, the trade union federation which has such a proud history and which was an inspiration to us all at one time, is now led in its international solidarity work by Bongani Masuku, a man who has been found guilty of employing antisemitic hate speech on Ran Greenstein’s campus.

“Not in my name” thinking has a tendency to make ourselves the centre of the world and to focus our political consciousness inwards rather than outwards.  The danger is that it is a politics of despair.  This kind of thinking has a tendency to encourage us to give up trying to change the world out there which exists, and to fall back on the rather easier project of declaring that we ourselves are not responsible for the evil that is done out there in the world.

Ran, your own “asa Jew” and “not in my name” consciousness is important to you – fine.  But you should not allow that kind of thinking to define the way big and important civil society organisations think. Because it is dangerous.  This reason for singling out Israel – because you yourself are Jewish – is certainly not tenable.

David Hirsh

Goldsmiths, University of London

60 Responses to ““As a Jew” logic is not appropriate in public debate – David Hirsh responds to Ran Greenstein”

  1. modernityblog Says:

    I think emphasis needs to be put on Ran’s words:

    “That may be a worthwhile project, but not one I have any interest in.

  2. Mira Vogel Says:

    At the risk of being called “David Hirsh’s echo chamber” again: hear hear. Emphatically.

  3. Noga Says:

    Well, no one can accuse me of being a David Hirsh echo chamber but I have to say that this:

    “The University and College Union in the UK is not a Jewish organisation and so ought to do solidarity around the world in a consistant way. The fact that some leading activists who want to put Israel at the very forefront of its worldview do so “as a Jew” should not alter the policy of the union.

    What is required for our institutions is precisely what Ran says he has no interest in: the construction of “a universal scale of human rights violations”. The values of solidarity, human rights and the university require a universal and consistent approach.

    Antisemitism has always constructed Jews as being central to all that is bad in the world.”

    is clarity indeed. It identifies in just a few words and with simple accuracy what anti-boycotters feel intuitively is ethically-wrong with the boycott-Israel-first movement.

    __________

    Only one quibble: It’s “consistent”, (unless meant to be a cross breed between “consistent” and “constant”, which would make sense).

  4. Ran Greenstein Says:

    David, in my first reply to Robert Fine I made two points that address your concerns.

    First, that Israel is NOT singled out for criticism by states and governments, least of all in the US and UK. On the contrary, it is given preferential treatment and is let off the hook much more readily than other countries violating human rights (Burma, Iran, and so on).

    Second, if we look at civil society, the academic boycott is raised as a tactic – primarily in the UK – with regard to Israel but not other countries. The reason this makes sense is that oppressive regimes are vulnerable in different ways: SA under apartheid was vulnerable to sports boycott much more than to the academic boycott; Argentina under the dictatorship was vulnerable to football boycott, and so on. Each case calls for specific tactics. A campaign that helps disabuse Israelis of the notion that they are entitled to special privileges – such as access to EU research funds – because they are western and European (inhabiting a ‘villa in the jungle’ in Ehud Barak’s phrase) is justified in my view. Targeting academic institutions should be seen in this context, as one of several ways of telling Israeli elites: ‘there is a price to pay for your oppressive behaviour! Change it, and we’ll change our attitude towards you’.

    Third, you are right: UJ is not a Jewish institution and must adopt a consistent policy. The question of BGU came up because a large number of academics and students felt that they could not support ongoing institutional relations with it, due to Israeli policies and practices that resemble apartheid in SA. You may dispute this analogy, but their reaction stems from a quest for justice, based on their own experiences. Other oppressive regimes must be targeted as well, I agree, but not necessarily in this particular way. Indeed, many signatories – Archbishop Tutu in particular – consistently have campaigned for a change of SA policy regarding Zimbabwe, China, Sudan and so on.

    Having said that, we must realize that we all choose some cases to focus on for various reasons – no-one can address all cases of injustice at the same time with equal attention. Should we ignore the plight of Tibet just because many US activists choose to ‘single out’ China for criticism? Was the anti-apartheid movement wrong because it singled out South Africa and paid no attention to Kurdistan?

    And, in response to Brian Goldfarb, oppression and discrimination are common in many countries. Israel stands out because its exclusion of Palestinians (the indigenous majority of the population before 1948) serves as the founding act of the state, and is continually re-enacted on a daily basis. It is the fundamental policy imperative uniting most Zionist parties, most of the time (with few exceptions on the margins). Open any Hebrew-language newspaper and you’ll be overwhelmed with evidence. I would recommend the daily ‘media roundup’ of +972 magazine (http://972mag.com/). For detailed discussion see my piece on ‘apartheid of a special type’ (http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/greenstein270810.html).

  5. David Hirsh Says:

    Yes, I am aware that you make other arguments too.

    But this argument – that you are a Jew and you are an Israeli – is not persuasive.

    The others aren’t either, but I haven’t responded to them here. I suspect Robert might.

  6. FlyingRodent Says:

    I humbly suggest that if david spent a little less energy on dictating permissable levels and modes of criticism to people and organisations, and a little more on pondering how and why Israel wound up in the dubious company of Iran, Iraq (under Saddam*), Sudan, Serbia, North Korea, Burma and Zimbabwe, he might find that people would be a little bit more receptive to his message. Not necessarily a lot, mind, but a little bit at least.

    *I spotted an omission there – clearly, any list of serious human rights violators should include “Iraq (Under Saddam, throughout the early stages of the American occupation and right up until the present day)”.

  7. Ran Greenstein Says:

    David, please do not confuse my personal reasons for focusing on Israel from the general argument I advance.

    It is perfectly legitimate, even necessary, for activists to give priority to some causes and not others, and they have various reasons.

    For many South African activists, Israeli policies vis-a-vis Palestinians evoke memories of apartheid; for some US activists, a focus on Israel is a necessary response to their own government’s unconditional support for and active complicity with Israeli oppression; for some Muslims it is identification with co-religionists in Palestine (as well as Kashmir, Bosnia and so on); for some Jews it may be tribal identification with their own people and for others it may be shame at what Israel does in their name.

    All these are just as legitimate as the focus of many in the USA on Tibet, or Darfur, or whatever. From my perspective as an Israeli and a Jew, anyone contributing to undermining oppressive and discriminatory practices in my homeland is welcome.

  8. modernityblog Says:

    Ran Greenstein wrote:

    “It is perfectly legitimate, even necessary, for activists to give priority to some causes and not others, and they have various reasons.

    But why should **organisation** be inflicted by the same constraint as individuals are?

    What reasons should meaningful social and civil organisations give for ignoring the issues in Burma, Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia, etc etc ?

    Please do elaborate on these reasons as they apply to **organisations**.

  9. Raphael Says:

    a classical must read on normblog on that very point:

    “[...] individuals are entitled to devote their political energies as they see fit, and if many of them happen to converge on one campaign rather than another, no one can legitimately tell them that they ought to be doing something else. You work in support of the Medical Foundation and Amnesty International but not of various old-age charities; you campaign over Burma but not China, or Zimbabwe but not Burma… you’re one person and can do only so much. Better that you do something and not nothing. And if you are several or many persons and are attracted to the same cause, so be it.

    Still, there is, as well as a sociology of activism, a morality of political action and this applies differently to organizations than to individuals. If I want I can spend all my free time campaigning against Israeli policies I regard as mistaken and unjust, like the occupation of the West Bank and (once) Gaza, or the Jewish settlements on that occupied territory. But the University and College Union is not a random collection of individuals that may do as it pleases with its limited resources and the efforts and the reputation of its members. It is an academic union and bound by its very nature to have relations with the academics of other countries. For the UCU to adopt a discriminatory policy disfavouring academics of one and only one nationality cannot be justified by any sociology of activism, even if it may be partially explained by that.”

    the full piece:
    http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2008/09/the-practice-of-discrimination.html

  10. Saul Says:

    Ran, you are an Israeli Jew (albeit now living in South Africa). Many of those posting here are not Israeli (nor are they Jewish).

    From my point of view, I find t is interesting that in your comments, as “an Israeli and a Jew” you echo precisely the same arguments of those you oppose.

    For example,
    “As a Jew, my concern is with what the state that claims to represent me is doing in my name.”
    A similar perspetive is articulated by the Israeli right. They, too, are angry as Israeli and as Jews what “the state that claims to represent me is doing in my name.”
    As a Jewish Israeli, they demand this and that from the Israeli state (that planes should not fly on Saturday; that cars should not be allowed on Saturday. that non-orthodox conversions should not be recognised, that women should not pray at the Wall, that Arabs in Israel must declare “loyalty”, that the settlments must be protected and maintained, and so on).

    In short, both they and you claim that Israel need to be more “Jewish”. You merely differ on what you mean by “Jew” and “Jewish”. Hence, from a cosmopolitan point of view, the narrowness of your perspective.

    As with you, they too speak as “Israeli Jews”. Both share in the rhetoric of a rather unpleasant nationalism that, despite all you say, you remain in thrall to.

    Likewise, you make a claim to speak as an Israeli and a Jew. You are making a claim, therefore, to speak in the name, not of all Israeli, but of all “Jews”, of Jews not only in Israel but elsewhere in the world (including, of course, the UK).

    It is, again, a rhetorical trope that is used by those in Israel that you, and many of us at Engage, have very little sympathy with; yet, you repeat it.

    Here, again, you adopt and adapt the language of nationalism for your own (seemingly) anti-nationalist cause.

    Perhaps that is why, politically, you are forced into an either/or position; either with Israel (the perspective of the right) or are against Israel (the perspective of a few (legitimately) frustrated Israelis and Israeli ex-pats).

    Just like the nationalists whom you oppose, but also mirror, you allow no room for equivocation, no room for compromise, no room for complexity, no room for ifs and buts (all of which, I must add, are essential for the justice and peace of both Israelis and Palestinians that you and those at Engage seek.)

    As your own comments have shown, your support for and defence of a boycott remains constrained within the confines of discursive practice of nationalism. That is why, in my opinion, you view of the matter and the actions you recommend are of little relevance (but, potentially of great harm) to non-Israelis, be they Jewish or not, be they Palestinians, be they Muslims, be they Christian.

  11. Inna Says:

    As a Jew I think boycotts are a ridiculous way of persuading anyone.

    Is anyone convinced by my argument? No? Why is that?

    What is so Different about making what many perceive to be anti-Semitic statement as a Jew?

    Regards,

    Inna

  12. Ran Greenstein Says:

    Saul, you misunderstand what I say. I place no demands on Israel to become more Jewish, or to represent Jews in one way or another, or to live up to some Jewish ideal.

    On the contrary, ‘my’ Israel must become an Israeli democratic state, a state that represents and acts to meet the concerns of all its citizens equally, regardless of their ethnic/religious origins. A state that is institutionally de-linked from Zionism, Arab nationalism and religion.

    In this sense I am pro-Israel, but the Israel I support is the joint homeland of its Jewish and Arab residents, past and present. Such an Israel has a right to exist as a non-ethnic inclusive democracy. If UK Jewish activists wish to identify with and support such vision, despite the fact that no political privileges would be granted to Jews, they would be most welcome.

    • Toby Esterhase Says:

      Ran, your demand for demcratic secular state is either really passive and conservative or it is a programme for conquest. Either way, it is utopian.

      If you aim to persuade the majority of Israelis to liquidate their state and to dissolve it into a new larger state as equal citizens alongside Palestinians, then your plan is not a plan which can answer the problem today. It is a rather long-term programme of changing the minds of Israeli Jews. Perhaps you can win a majority of Israelis over to that point of view, but it isn’t easy and it will take a long time. I don’t think you can do it at all. Your way of arguing seems to me, at the moment, to be absolutely unpersusasive to Israelis. But we need Israel to withdraw today, from the occupied West Bank, we need Israel to make a deal with Palestine today – we don’t have time for you to persuade the israelis to liquidate their own sovereignty into a new state.

      Perhaps you wish to institute a democratic and a secular state against the wishes of the majority of Israeli Jews? In that case the democratic secular state formation becomes a programme for the conquest of Israel. It is not possible that the conquest of Israel could lead to either a democratic or a secular state.

      We need a peace agreement today. Everybody knows what the peace agreement is – it is 2 states, something along the lines of the Geneva Accords.

      The peace that they found in the former Yugoslavia was not a “democratic secular state”. It was a solution where each nation recognized each other’s self determination. It was actually a peace which entrenched the ethnic cleansing which was alread fait accompli. It was not particularly just. But it was a peace. Because a democratic secular Yugoslavia was just either utopian or a cover for Serb domination. Hopefully the states of the former Yugoslavia will, perhaps as part of the EU, open up their borders moer for the movement of people and goods – and become more like a democratic secular state. But that is a long term project for progressives, not a peace agreement.

      Palestinians need a state, they need self-determination. They don’t need to get sucked into Ran Greenstein’s “as a Jew” utopian fantasies. They don’t need to believe that their own freedom can only come through the total and final eradication of the “Zionist” state. They need self determination, and now.

      The settlers wouldn’t mind at all being incorporoated into a single “democratic secular” state – which they could subvert.

      • Toby Esterhase Says:

        Actually it is worse than I thought. Because you don’t believe you can persaude Israelis of your view. You have given up on them.

        But neither do you want to admit that the only way, then, of defeating the “evil” of “Zionism” is by conquest. Because you know any enemy which is capable of conquering Israel is also likely to kill the Jews. But you keep that one quiet. By pretending that Israel could never be conquered.

        So, if you can’t persuade them and you can’t conquer them, what you gonna do Ran?

        And what you do is uttlery contemptible. You put your faith and your hopes in:

        Bongani Masuku: http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/hate-speech-ruling-against-bongani-masuku/

        Mike Cushman: http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/michael-cushman-and-the-jew-free-ucu-congress/

        George Galloway: http://www.engageonline.org.uk/archives/index.php?id=21

        It is the old problem of the progressive who has given up on the working class – you try to find some magic force that can do what you think needs to be done.

        And you fidn the “international left”.

        Idiot! You think the “international left” is any better than the Israeli left? Fool! It is just the same. of course.

        You pretend that “your country” is the only one where there are racist forces at work, where there is official exclusion, where things are not as they should be. Every other country is “normal”. Your country is pathological.

        Can’t you see, Ran that this is, a priori, just unlikely?

        Don’t look to Europe for a moral lead. Fool!

        There is no magic force which can “save israel from itself”.

        But maybe it isn’t only the Israeli public who is at fault for failing to hear the voice of the Israeli peace movement.

        Maybe the Israeli peace movement has also failed the israeli public?

        Maybe sometimes the Israeli public has more wisdom than you do, Ran.

  13. Sarah AB Says:

    I agree with Modernity’s point, and the normblog piece. I’m neither Jewish nor Israeli. I react negatively to many things about Israel’s policies/Israel’s right wing but tend to be fairly reticent about articulating those thoughts – partly because so many people do so already and also criticise Israel unfairly, partly because Israel’s position, particularly wrt security, seems so different from that of the UK. I’m sure if I *were* Jewish and Israeli I’d be inclined to criticise the country more strongly. But what I find difficult to imagine is wanting to support a boycott because such campaigns seems so bound up with a wish to delegitimise Israel completely and also reflect a disproportionate scrutiny of Israel. I’d be able to understand why *I* felt so strongly about such issues, but I think I’d be perturbed to read about, for example, the activities of the UCU and their effects.

  14. Harry Goldstein Says:

    Ran Greenstein’s responses point out the limitations of an anti-boycott argument based solely on the proposition that it ‘singles out’ Israel. Valid though this is, it invites the response that we are implicitly accepting Israel’s equivalence to ‘other’ violators of human rights, e.g. Burma, Zimbabwe. I’m aware that this isn’t actually what Engage says or thinks, but unless a positive case is made for Israel, we lay ourselves open to this line of attack.

    In fact, Greenstein gives his own game away when he demands Israel become the ‘joint homeland of its Jewish and Arab residents, past and present’. I assume he’s talking about the right of return here, which Palestinian nationalists are clear is a step to the elimination of Israel. (I guess he isn’t talking about past Jewish residency in the region). In fact, his view is indistinguishable from an eliminationist ‘one-state’ perspective, and had he referred to ‘Palestine from the river to the sea’ instead of ‘Israel’ his views would not be significantly different.

    For me, the issue is self-determination. I fully support, as does everyone involved with Engage, the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. Does Greenstein support (as I do) the Jewish people’s right to self-determination? I suspect not. For me, it is this denial, by Greenstein and others, that constitutes the true exceptionalism, and that makes such views antisemitic.

  15. Saul Says:

    Ran,
    Thanks for your response.

    “On the contrary, ‘my’ Israel must become an Israeli democratic state, a state that represents and acts to meet the concerns of all its citizens equally, regardless of their ethnic/religious origins. A state that is institutionally de-linked from Zionism, Arab nationalism and religion.”

    As I said, your position is as “anti-“nationalist as the right’s is nationalist, and, as such, caught within exactly the same framework.

    The nationalists want Israel to be more nationalist
    You want all nationalism to be eradicated completely.
    The Israeli religious right want it more religious
    You don’t want it to be religious at all
    The Israeli Zionist right want it to be more Zionist
    You don’t want it to be Zionist at all.
    The Israeli right want their goals to happen now
    You want your goals to happen now.

    As others have mentioned, not only are you asking Israel and Israelis to dissolve their own state, but, in demanding an end to nationalism, a state religion and Zionism as the movement for Jewish self-determination, you are asking of Israel what is not being asked of any other national-state.

    As others have mentioned, that is not going to happen at the moment either in Israel or elsewhere.

    By making that demand of Israel and attaching a boycott of Israel to such demands, you are making demands that not only will not, but cannot, be met.

    I am afraid, that is not politics, but rather an instrument of aggression that demands Israel’s, and only Israel’s, dissolution.

  16. North of the Border Says:

    “As a Scot” living in England, I am aware that my situation is completely different from both an Arab living in Israel and from a Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza.

    However, have you any idea how furious Scots – and not only Scottish nationalists – would be if, in the name of a secular-democratic United Kingdom, Scotland, both as a nation and institutionally simply ceased to be??

    If Scots feel like that some three hundreds years down the road, one can only wonder how the nationals of both Israel and of Palestine would feel about the potential loss of what they see as integral to their identities.

    As Marx noted, one can only be rid of religion, once people are free to practice their religion. In the case of Israel and Palestine, the same applies not only to an Israeli nationalism, but also to a Palestinian nationalism. And on this point, Toby gets it dead right.

  17. Ran Greenstein Says:

    Saul, I do not ask Israelis to ‘liquidate’ or ‘eliminate’ or ‘dissolve’ their state. Rather, I ask Israeli Jews to share it equally with their fellow citizens (most of whom would be happy to return the favour). I do not ask them to abandon their attachment to Judaism or Hebrew or any other form of ethnic/national/religious identity. Rather, I ask them to practice whatever aspects of their identity in private and public, but share the political sphere on equal terms with everyone else.

    UK Jews are happy to live in a liberal democracy, in which all citizens are granted equal rights regardless of their ethnicity or religious affiliation. They have no desire to live in a ‘Christian democratic state’ or a ‘white Anglican democratic state’ or an “Anglo-Saxon democratic state”. A simple democratic state would do, thank you very much. Why should Israelis – Jews and non-Jews alike – not be granted the same right? Who is ‘singling out’ Israel here?

    • modernityblog Says:

      “They have no desire to live in a ‘Christian democratic state’ or a ‘white Anglican democratic state’ or an “Anglo-Saxon democratic state”. A simple democratic state would do, thank you very much. Why should Israelis – Jews and non-Jews alike – not be granted the same right? Who is ‘singling out’ Israel here?”

      Well, Ran, but they *do* live in a country where the head of state is the head of the established church.

      They *do* live in a country where Catholics are barred from marrying the monarch, etc

      They *do* live in a country where leaders of the established church are granted extra privileges.

      etc etc

      Obviously not all of this is written down, or expressed so crudely, but that informal reality exists.

      Of course, if you wished to pick a country which was deserving of Boycott for its 1) ethnic cleansing 2) colonialism 3) mass murder 4) wars of plunder 5) notions of supremacism etc then you should look no further than Britain.

      Britain, you will remember still occupies part of Ireland, and there’s plenty more to indict Britain, if you are troubled to investigate.

    • WestEndGirl Says:

      Frankly, Ran, as a UK Jew, your comment that:

      “UK Jews are happy to live in a liberal democracy, in which all citizens are granted equal rights regardless of their ethnicity or religious affiliation. They have no desire to live in a ‘Christian democratic state’ or a ‘white Anglican democratic state’ or an “Anglo-Saxon democratic state”.”

      …is a context-free crock of shite.

      I *do* live in a White, Anglican, Anglo-Saxon state. The institutions, laws and customs of this country are all embued with White Anglican, Anglo-Saxon primacy. Christmas and Easter are the only religious Bank Holidays, meaning that others of other religions have to ask for theirs off as special dispensation from work, typically meaning they have to use their own vacation time. Bishops sit in the House of Lords. The Queen is the Head of the State and the Head of the Church. There has never been a Prime Minister of colour, only one (White) woman, and only one of non-Christian origin and he was a convert (D’Israeli). And?

      And nothing. Because despite these facts, the UK is *also* a liberal democratic state. Just a White, Christian, Anglo-Saxon-flavoured one. So there is no reason why non-Jews can’t live in a Jewish liberal democratic state either as a matter of principle.

      Now, whether Israel is a perfect liberal democratic state *in practice* is a different question – I highly doubt it, but then neither was the UK for thousands of years (persecutions of the Catholics much? Empire anyone?). As an issue, this can and must be addressed through the Israeli Supreme Court, to ensure that all citizens have their rights protected equally before the law. Not to mention ensuring that attitudes – where necessary change – much the same way that GLBT, BME and disability rights have only recently been accorded protection by the law and attitudes are only slowly changing in the UK.

      But as a matter of principle, as an a priori concept, your insistence that there is an inherent problem with a Jewish Democratic state as compared the many other religious democratic states is, as I say, utter shite.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        “but then neither was the UK [a perfect liberal democracy] for thousands of years (persecutions of the Catholics much? Empire anyone?).” Um, surely that should “is”, shouldn’t it, WestEndGirl?

  18. Richard Gold Says:

    Hi Ran

    For you, what would the Israeli state have to do for you to drop the call for a boycott ? I know you’re part of a coalition of different opinions so i’m asking the question to you and not asking you to speak for other people in the coalition. If you can give specifics (which i know might be difficult because it exposes your views as an inevitable one stater).

  19. Toby Esterhase Says:

    I continue to be astonished by Ran Greenstein’s attachment to the lovliness of European ‘civic’ nationalism.

    He is dreaming if he thinks Europe is superior to Israel, and if he thinks the European left is the magic force which is going to come and rescue Israel.

    Is the irony lost on Ran, that Israel exists because of the genocidal racism of Europe, and Arab nationalist antisemitism which pushed the Jews out of the cities of the Middle East and Russian antisemitism which pushed the Jews out of Russia?

    So Ran’s argument must be that Europe learned the correct lessons from the holocaust? Europe now has a lovely civic nationalist culture?

    Who was it that failed to learn the antiracist lessons from the Holocaust? Oh, yes, it was the Jews.

    The Jews failed to learn the lessons they were supposed to have been taught at Auschwitz.

    The Europeans learned the lessons and built a new Europe which transcends the European tradition of Nazism and Colonialialism.

    Ran, can you not see the absurdity of imagining that Europe is going to ride in and save Israel from itself?

    Israel is a Jewish state because the Jews were driven out of Europe. Israel also strives to be a democratic state, a state for all its citizens. It embodies this contradiction, and the task of antiracists in Israel is to find progressive ways that the state can fulfil its apparently contradictory functions.

    This is work for serious progressive people.

    Defining Israel as being a unique evil on the planet because it can’t be both Jewish and democratic, BY DEFINITION, is work for children.

  20. Saul Says:

    Israel’s Declaration of Independence called for the establishment of a Jewish state with equality of social and political rights, irrespective of religion, race, or sex.

    There is, therefore, no contradiction between what you call for and Israel as a Jewish state.

    The UK is formally a Christian state, to be more precise, “Church of England”. There is a state religion.

    It is also a British state.

    As you quite rightly note, following the various Acts in the 19th century, no member of a minority is prohibited from equal rights on the basis of religion, ethnicity, etc..

    Religion has ceased to be of political relevance (apart from the question of the Sovereign, who is bound to “defend” the C of E.).

    However, the same cannot be said about the concept “British”.

    Only British citizens have full equal and political rights. Non-British citizens are barred. Immigration is severely restricted, with a “right to return” reserved only for those whose grandparent were one citizens and resident in the UK. Those without such connection, but who were once subjects of the Empire, had their rights to citizenship stripped in 1981 via the British Nationality Act; and more recently, an added burden of a “citizen test” (costs up to over £800 or so)

    Thus, in the UK “British” is far more a tool of exclusion, at the political and social level, than “Jewish” is in Israel. Likewise, Israel is, at the political and social level, larger than that of “Jewish”.

    It would appear that for you the problem is not that Israel, like all other states, have criteria for inclusion and exclusion, but that it is premised on the (internally -highly contested) concept of “Jewish” rather than on “British” or “French” or “German”, etc.. Indeed, unlike the UK where non-British people are barred from citizenship, in Israel, over 20% of Israelis are not Jewish. There are non-Jewish MK’s, non-Jewish soldiers, non-Jewish political parties, etc.. (As far as I know, there are no non-British political parties in the UK, no non-British MPs. (there are non-British soldiers, but see the recent problems they have had!) etc.)

    There is no contradiction, in other words, between being Israeli and being not-Jewish, even though Israel is a Jewish state. (Perhaps you want to compare this to the concept of apartheid)

    As noted, you remain tied to a nationalist perspective,

    For yourself, you seem to have no problem with “democratic-nationalist” states (contemporary France?? Merkel’s Germany?)- indeed, your only aim is to want to be an Israeli nationalist – but only object when the “nationalism” complained of does not take a “secular” form. You are willing to accept and overlook the contradictions inherent in the notion of a British-democratic state, but not those inherent in the concept of Jewish (Israeli)-democratic state.

    Now, of course, in the real world, Arabs in Israel suffer discrimination as do non-white Jews, working-class Jews and as do non-whites and a host of others in the UK, But, for you, that is not really a problem, since you look no further than you own immediate horizons.

    As with any state, constant work is needed to ensure that reality meets with the formal freedoms that exist. When it comes to Israel, you have chosen not to do that work.

  21. Ran Greenstein Says:

    It seems I was under the misleading impression that Jews had equal rights in the UK, could vote freely and stand for any office, move to and live anywhere they wish, go to whichever schools they choose, travel on a British passport without any questions being asked about their ethnicity or religion, work and reach the highest offices in the land in all civil, political and economic institutions. But wait, all this pales into insignificance becaue they cannot marry royalty… You guys are REALLY oppressed, sorry for not noticing that before.

    As to European citizenship more genrally, Tony Judt has said it before: “The comparison with France, which many critics raised, is revealing in this respect. Yes, France—like Italy, Germany, and every other sovereign state—distinguishes and discriminates between citizens and
    noncitizens. No country welcomes anyone and everyone … the Europeans in particular discriminate quite shamelessly against would-be immigrants. And all countries have resident noncitizens who get second-class treatment. But if someone is a citizen of, e.g., France, he or she is French and that is all there is to the matter, at least as far as the law is concerned. The categories become tautological:
    France is the state of all the French; all French persons are by definition citizens of France; and all citizens of France are … French. Israel, by contrast, is by its own account the ‘state of all the Jews’ (wherever they live and whether or not they seek the association), while containing non-Jewish (Arab) citizens who do not enjoy similar status and rights. There is no comparison.”

    Add to that the fact that 80% of the potential citizens of the state at the time it was created by the UN were evicted and forcibly prevented from returning ever since, and you get something very similar to the abominable conditions under which British Jews live indeed…

    • modernityblog Says:

      Ran,

      You seem to ignore the reality of the British colonial existence, the continuation of the British Empire, albeit in a very much reduced state.

      You seem to ignore, or are ill informed about, the privilege nature of the Church of England in British society.

      You seem to ignore Britain still occupies another territory, how it threw the indigenous people off the land, you might do well to look up Diego Garcia.

      In short, you seem to ignore that which doesn’t fit your parochial mindset.

      • levi9909 Says:

        Moddy, the point here, as you know, is that the UK’s existence is not predicated on discrimination in favour of prods or on ethnic cleansing and a whole array of other discriminatory measures affecting peoples daily lives like where they can live and work or marry or even if they can live.

        Israel’s existence is predicated on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and an array of racist laws to copper fasten a settler majority over a depleted native presence.

        You can keep telling people what you know they know but what you can’t seem to do is keep it relevant.

        By the way, may I ask? Have there really been no comments supporting Ran Greenstein’s position or at least condemning the misrepresentation of what he is saying or has Dr Hirsh got the airbrush out again?

        • david Says:

          At last, someone has mentioned that truly unacceptable face of Israeli racism, the armed settlers who are supported and defended by the government in their colonisation of Palestinian territory. If anyone wants to know why Israel ignites such international disapproval (if you will, why it is “singled out” at times) look no further than the B’Tselem site.

    • WestEndGirl Says:

      Ran, you are an educated guy, who should therefore have basic analytical faculties.

      Assuming this, just what is it about the difference between principle and practice you don’t comprehend? Unless it’s just blatant monomania. Seriously, this is basic stuff.

      You are objecting in PRINCIPLE to something which is, in fact, an issue of PRACTICE.

      Yes, very theoretically in the UK, anyone can reach the highest limits of the land in this thousand year old country – it must just be a huge and amusing coincidence that it’s ALL been white, Christian (and professing to be Anglican noch) men so far (sorry Maggie). But quite literally aside from elected office, no Jew, Hindu or Muslim could ever be head of state in the UK, given that it’s the same as the head of the church. Never mind mentioning that in Israel, Majali Wahabi has already been head of state. No Jewish or other religions’ holidays have ever been given national Bank Holiday status. I could continue with these examples but it should be pretty clear by this point.

      In fact, on matters of PRINCIPLE Israel is by far and away a more equal and democratic state compared to the UK. We don’t even *pretend* that anyone can be head of state here, don’t even make the pretence that there’s equality in our institutions or that Rabbis or Imans will ever automatically sit in the House of Lords. We are an Anglo-Saxon, Christian country in our power institutions. We just aim to be fair in practice to our minorities. Accept it, Ran, you are wrong.

      Ok, so now let’s switch to take a perfect example of France. Oh yes, France has a better principle than the UK! You quote via Tony Judt *approvingly* as an example of how Israel is just so so very different as compared to France, when each and every citizen is just perfectly French before the law. France’s laite principle is just so more morally acceptable than Israel’s with its pathetic attempts at a Jewish democratic state!

      Yeah, but one minor detail, France is actually the very perfect example of how the law can be totally equal and make no distinctions in PRINCIPLE, when in PRACTICE France is one of the most racist and divided countries in the world. If you are brown, you are basically buggered in France. But I’m sure the fact that they are an equal French citizen in principle is a great consolation to them.

      Seriously, Ran, you are just hugely confused – through your anger at injustices you see or perceive to see Israel perpetrate.

      There is no inherent issue with Israel being a Jewish democratic state in principle. If there was then the UK and numerous other religious democratic states should be disbanded too. Otherwise, you are singling out Israel as a Jewish state for reasons other than principle.

      Ok, let’s look at things in practice. If Israel acts unequally in practice against its non-Jewish citizens which it does, then the practice should be amended. Just in the same way that France should stop deporting Roma, like Italy should stop categorising Roma, that the UK should tackle the huge differentials in income and achievement suffered by its BMEs. Just like every democratic state should be aiming to achieve non-discriminatory outcomes.

      Repeat after me Ran, principle is not the same thing as practice.

      The more you claim that in principle it is impossible for there to ever be a Jewish democratic state – despite all the numerous other both good and bad examples of other religious democratic states in the world – the more it seems to us outsiders that you don’t actually have a logical problem about Israel’s constitutional principles, you just have an emotional problem with the current practice of Jewish self-determination so far full stop.

      And that is why David Hirsh is right and you are wrong. There is no intrinsic problem with a good Jewish democratic state behaving well in practice. If Israel hasn’t behaved well so far, that’s merely a reason to change its behaviour, not to discard its Jewish character. As a Jew you have every right to demand and protest the former, As a Jew you have no case to make for the latter.

      It doesn’t matter what it says on the tin – see France. It matters about what’s in it. All you’re calling for is to throw away the tin through your anger and upset. And just as David Hirsh says, that’s not a political argument, that’s a petulant, I’m ashamed and upset, as a Jew hissy fit.

      • levi9909 Says:

        WestEndGirl

        There is plenty wrong with a Jewish “democratic” state. It can’t be democratic for a start because whoever you vote for you must be ruled by and for Jews, not all of the people of the country nor from the country, most of whom have been ethnically cleansed and are barred from returning.

        The religion and ethnicity of the head of state of the UK is mostly symbolic. It is out of order and, in addition to the abolition as a state for Jews, I should have thought that most secular anti-zionists support the abolition of the United Kingdom to be replaced by a republic or even three or four republics. But the practical implications for the monarchy on peoples daily lives are zero. The royal family can be counted in the tens and have displaced nobody in living memory. The privileged people under the laws of the State of Israel are millions and the dispossessed, in living memory, are likewise are millions.

        David Hirsh has responded to the personal part of Ran Greenstein’s argument and said that he will address the substantive points. That’s an improvement on simply deleting them but it is very strange that you can say that he is right and Ran is wrong when, by his own admission, Dr Hirsh has said that he won’t address the substantive points made by Ran.

        • levi9909 Says:

          woops, Dr Hirsh said that he will not address the substantive points.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          “The privileged people under the laws of the State of Israel are millions and the dispossessed, in living memory, are likewise are millions.” Now who’s getting their facts wrong? The dispossessed (if we’re talking of the Arab/Palestinian people) were 700,000 in number. That they number some 4,000,000 now is only thanks to the weird arithmetic of UNRWA that insists on counting the descendants of the displaced as refugees, whereas the UBHCR counts only those actually displaced.

          And we mustn’t forget the equal number of Jews in arab lands who were displaced from there. A little more fact and a little less points scoring, please, levi9909.

          And while we’re on the subject of who one must be ruled by, let’s not forget that since (and including Elizabeth I) no non-protestant has held the effective supreme power, with the brief exception of James II. That holds whether one is talking of monarchs or Prime Ministers – and that _includes_ D’Israeli.

          Now what, therefore, is the significance of your comment about Israel?

    • modernityblog Says:

      “Predicated?”

      Or would it be just part of British/English history?

      Perhaps people should look up the plantation documentation from the Tudor period, where Ireland was legally dissected for the benefit of the English/British.

      Or perhaps we should ponder the meaning of a very famous and popular tune in Britain, from the 18th century, Rule Britannia.

      If you ask most Brits they can give you a few lines from it normally something like “Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves, Britons never, never, never shall be slaves”, it is very popular on last night of the Proms

      Another insight into theBritish colonial mentality, not only stealing the property of others, is how there is an intellectual and cultural form of expropriation too.

      When asked to pick an alternative national anthem, a sizeable percentage of people wanted “Jerusalem” by William Blake, set to music by Parry.

      Now can you consider how peculiar that is.

      I doubt many Brits would sing a patrotic song called “Damascus” or “Medina”, but instead you have the British expropriation, culturally, of Jerusalem, as their Utopia. Again very popular on the last night of the Proms.

      So the British/English form of imperialism goes much deeper than merely stealing someone else’s land, or throwing the inhabitants off, as with Diego Garcia.

      There is a lingering imperial mentality and that feeds the xenophobia which is so evident in British society.

      I suppose it could explain why a boycott of Israelis has found some resonance in Britain?

      • Sarah AB Says:

        Although it is a bit odd, as you say, that a poem/song called ‘Jerusalem’ should be seen as a kind of honorary natioanl anthem – I think it *is* about England really, and I don’t think the aspiration is for England to be like the real Jerusalem but rather like a spiritual or (?)anagogical Jerusalem.

  22. Saul Says:

    Ran,

    “It seems I was under the misleading impression that Jews had equal rights in the UK, could vote freely and stand for any office, move to and live anywhere they wish, go to whichever schools they choose, travel on a British passport without any questions being asked about their ethnicity or religion, work and reach the highest offices in the land in all civil, political and economic institutions. But wait, all this pales into insignificance becaue they cannot marry royalty… You guys are REALLY oppressed, sorry for not noticing that before.”

    No-one here is saying what you are saying has been said. No one here has denied that Jews have equal rights in the UK. So, please have the decency to engage with what is being said, rather to what you think is being said (or what you expect to be said) (Although, “travel on a British passport without any questions being asked about their ethnicity or religion” is probably less absolute).

    No one here is saying Jews are oppressed in the UK.

    The point being made, and the one you have avoided is that these equal rights “enjoyed” by Jews take place in the context of a Christian-democratic state. There is no reason that such equality cannot also be achieved in a Jewish-democratic state. It took work in the UK and it will take work in Israel.

    But, you have given up trying for this; and now feel it your duty “as an Israeli and a Jew” to undermine those doing such work, those trying to make Israel live up to its own premises and to seek justice for all its (Jewish and non-Jewish) citizens.

    Judt has got it wrong.

    It is not the state of all Jews (despite your proclivity for speaking in their name). Israel is potentially the state for all Jews (at least those who are able to emigrate).

    True, the link of Jews to Israel is not territorial, but there are historical reasons (predating 1933) why this is the case and why Israel has the immigration policy it does.

    Moreover, none of Judt’s comments precludes the achievement of equal rights for all, as stated in the Israeli Declaration of Independence, anymore than Britain’s Christian underpinning precludes equal rights in the UK. Of course, such equality that has been achieved and that has always existed in Israel is currently under threat. Yet, for you, as for Judt, there is no difference between an Israeli of the extreme right, a liberal and an Israeli socialist, so no point engaging in Israeli politics to advocate a move toward justice. You remind me of those who think it makes no difference whether the UK has a Labour or Conservative government (see todays news!), or of those in the past who thought that it made no difference if the Social Democrats or National Socialists won in 1933, since “capital” would always win,

    Leaving aside the sarcasm – how disappointing – ,
    “Add to that the fact that 80% of the potential citizens of the state at the time it was created by the UN were evicted and forcibly prevented from returning ever since, and you get something very similar to the abominable conditions under which British Jews live indeed…”

    Perhaps you can tell me which recognised country was not born out of the trauma of exclusions and of exile and of population-shifts (and not only in 1948)?

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      And anyway, can Greenstein source this claim that 80% of the potential citizens of the state…were evicted…”? It seems to me that such claims are at the very least contestable (and contested by the likes of Benny Morris). The original partition plan envisaged a Jewish majority in the bit of the land allocated to them – which already existed there. It wasn’t the Jews of the Yishuv who resisted this plan and fought, resulting in the Green Line map we see today.

      So can Ran Greenstein please argue on the situation as it exists and not on what he wishes existed.

  23. Absolute Observer Says:

    Seeing Ran has been reduced to quoting chunks of other people’s texts,

    A letter of response from Renen Schorr, director of the Sam Spiegel Film School director. From it:

    “Thousands of Israelis are active in hundreds of organizations that champion peace and coexistence, roundly denouncing acts that are non-democratic or unethical, and promoting Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. Hundreds of protestors take to the streets each week to oppose their government’s policy, and they do this despite the strident condemnation and criticism of large portions of our population here. Over the decades Israeli filmmakers (joined by artists from the full cultural gamut) have used documentaries and features to grapple with the myriad strata of the conflict’s complexities. Those carrying out these courageous, controversial endeavors are people who see no contradiction between their being Israelis, Jews and Zionists and their belief in humanitarian, ethical principles, or identifying with the suffering of others. They fight, to a great extent, against the denial of this harsh reality by other Israelis.”

    And compare this to whom Ran hopes will arrive like the calvary (from a post above)

    Bongani Masuku: http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/hate-speech-ruling-against-bongani-masuku/

    Mike Cushman: http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/05/28/michael-cushman-and-the-jew-free-ucu-congress/

    George Galloway: http://www.engageonline.org.uk/archives/index.php?id=21

    I include also those who think that the “Israel Lobby” controls their political parties, the press, those who think David Duke has something to say about Zionism. those who think can’t say a word about Israel without being labeled an antisemite; thise that think that, maybe Zionists really still organs of Palestinians and Haitians, who think that the phrase “international Jewry” is legitimate.
    Now, of course, Ran does not believe in any of this garbage. But speaking “as a British Jew”, I have real concerns with these ideas and their connection to the boycott Israel campaign (actually I have real problems with it as an antiracist and a member of the left, but, you get the point).

  24. Richard Gold Says:

    Ran can i ask you again :

    For you, what would the Israeli state have to do for you to drop the call for a boycott ? I know you’re part of a coalition of different opinions so i’m asking the question to you and not asking you to speak for other people in the coalition. If you can give specifics (which i know might be difficult because it exposes your views as an inevitable one stater).

  25. Inna Says:

    “Rather, I ask Israeli Jews…”

    Nu.. so are you running for office? That is what elections are for you know.

    Of course if you are Not trying to ask Israeli Jews but to intimidate and bully Israeli Jews into doing what you want then elections would not be appropriate for your purpose.

    I consider boycotts to be a form of bullying. As a Jew, I so consider them.

    Regards,

    Inna, Jew

  26. Ran Greenstein Says:

    Richard, a direct response: in my opinion the aim of the solidarity campaign is to reach a point where Israel recognizes that that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be resolved through acceptance of all relevant UN resolutions. Specifically:

    (1) it must renounce the acquisition of territory by force, agree to withdraw from the 1967 occupied territories and discuss with Palestinian residents security arrangements acceptable to both sides.

    (2) accept responsibility for its share in the creation of the Palestinian refugee population and open negotiations with their representatives on a solution based on UN resolution 194

    (3) accept that Israel belongs to all its citizens equally.

    Is that a clear enough answer? Note, of course, that I do not speak for anyone else here.

    As for the claims of the Oppressed UK Jews Liberation Front above, there is no comparison between your experience as a minority and that of Palestinians in the Jewish state. You suffer at worst minor inconveniences: not being eligible for the role of head of state (a disability shared with 99.99% of WASPs who happen not to be royalty); having to watch the English football team playing under St. George’s cross (as if watching them playing under any flag is not punishment enough), and so on.

    Why don’t you emancipate yourselves from mental slavery by learning what it means to be an Arab in a Jewish state? Start with the following: Adalah, Legal Violations of Arab Minorities in Israel (1998): http://www.adalah.org/eng/publications/violations.htm; Adalah, Annual Report of Activities (2010): http://www.adalah.org/newsletter/eng/feb10/docs/Adalah_Annual_Report_of_Activities_2009_FINAL%20PDF.pdf ; Mossawa Center, The Human Rights Status of the Palestinian Arab Minority, Citizens of Israel (October 2008): http://www.mossawacenter.org/files/files/File/Reports/2008/Mossawa%20HR%20report%202008%20update%20Nov%202008.pdf; Mossawa Center, One Year for Israel’s New Government and the Arab Minority in Israel (2010): http://www.mossawacenter.org/files/files/File/Reports/2010/Netanyahu%20Final.pdf; The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, The State of Human Rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories (2009): http://www.acri.org.il/pdf/state2009en.pdf.

    And these are the conditions of those who have Israeli citizenship. Those in the occupied territories are subject to much worse treatment.

    I’ll deal with other (serious) arguments in my response to Robert Fine’s latest contribution.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      Thanks for your reply Ran.

      Just to clarify, you say “accept responsibility for its share in the creation of the Palestinian refugee population and open negotiations with their representatives on a solution based on UN resolution 194″

      And what would an acceptable solution be to you ? Would it be a full “right of return” to Israel ? Or would it be a right of return to a Palestinian state alongside Israel within a 2 states settlement ?

      • Ran Greenstein Says:

        Richard, any solution acceptable to both sides would be acceptable to me. What would be acceptable to Palestinian refugees is for them to say. I would imagine that would involve a limited return of a few hundreds of thousands to Israel itself (about 10% of the total number of refugees), and the rest would settle for compensation or re-settlement elsewhere. This number could easily be absorbed by an inclusive democratic state (that is, an Israel which is NOT a Jewish demographic state), given that Israel absorbed a million Russians with no roots in or links to the country in the course of the 1990s.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Thanks for clarifying this Ran.

        • Jonathan Romer Says:

          “any solution acceptable to both sides would be acceptable to me.”

          That’s not right is it, Ran? Any solution acceptable to the Palestinians and to you would be acceptable to you. That’s what the boycott means: That the concerns, fears and aims of the Israeli side are to be overridden and you intend, if you can, to substitute your will for theirs.

  27. Absolute Observer Says:

    That’s right Ran, be rude and run away whenever an argument that is raised challenges you take on things.
    Mind you, that is what boycotters do. Indeed, it is the very essence of a boycott.

    btw as a point of clarification,

    “As for the claims of the Oppressed UK Jews Liberation Front above, there is no comparison between your experience as a minority and that of Palestinians in the Jewish state. You suffer at worst minor inconveniences: not being eligible for the role of head of state (a disability shared with 99.99% of WASPs who happen not to be royalty); having to watch the English football team playing under St. George’s cross (as if watching them playing under any flag is not punishment enough), and so on.”

    As Saul noted above,
    “No one here is saying Jews are oppressed in the UK.

    The point being made, and the one you have avoided is that these equal rights “enjoyed” by Jews take place in the context of a Christian-democratic state. There is no reason that such equality cannot also be achieved in a Jewish-democratic state. It took work in the UK and it will take work in Israel.”

    But, a straw man is always easier to torch.

    How very predictable.

  28. Saul Says:

    Thank you for the readings,
    However, as far as I am aware no one at Engage is unaware of what it is like to be an Arab in Israel or in the West Bank and Gaza.

    I do find it strange (but not unusual) that you caricature those with whom you disagree here as somehow sharing the same politics as the Israeli right (including their racist elements), and in need of “education” on the situation in Israel as it relates to its Arabs citizens and inhabitants.

    In the UK, Engage is used to the claim that unless one supports either a boycott or questions the aim of denying Israel’s existence as a “Jewish state”, then they cannot but be apologists for all Israel’s wrongs as well as supportive of the discrimination at play in that country.

    This tendency in your most recent comments again illustrates my point that, like the nationalists you claim to oppose, you like them, demand total agreement and that any questioning of their and your views is tantamount to treason; a reworking of the “if you are not (100%) with us, you are (100%) against us – they and you will brook no dissent.

  29. levi9909 Says:

    I don’t know what it is with the reply function and it’s all a bit tricky scrolling up and down but here goes:

    Brian Goldfarb – no Arab state’s existence is predicated on the displacement or dispossession of Jews or of anyone else. If Jews have been unjustly displaced from Arab states or from anywhere else then they should have the right to return or to compensation. I would be very interested to see some specific examples of such displacement from a specific Arab state but all I usually see is that the Jews were displaced by the Arabs as if we are talking about masses of Arabness and Jewishness with no regard for humanity or individuality. I hope you’re not suggesting that ethnic population swaps should be encouraged or that they are acceptable.

    That the Palestinians now number millions is not an institutional issue, it is a fact. That most of them suffer hardship and a general deprivation of human rights is mostly down to the displacement of themselves or their immediate ancestors by the zionist movement and the State of Israel that began in November 1947 together with Israel’s refusal to allow them to return and of course Israel’s relentless violence against them in and beyond occupied territory and discrimination within Israel. I know that Palestinians are often treated abysmally by Arab and other regimes but their biggest injustice is their exile from Palestine (hence their name) and other human rights abusers do not enjoy the levels of western support that Israel does.

    Modernity – yes predicated. It means that Israel’s human rights abuses are on-going and systematic. They are the basis on which Israel exists now, not hundreds of years ago. Many Brits have a colonial mentality but that doesn’t mean that the state’s existence is based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws. Singing at the proms is not the same as ethnic cleansing and some promenaders have demonstrated at the Albert Hall against the wars that I thought you supported. In fact, I thought you had the colonial mentality you now claim to be against. But if you’ve decided to come out against the UK’s foreign wars, welcome aboard!

    But anyway, as you know, there are no communities native to the UK who are barred from the UK and no one from outside the UK has more right to live in the UK than people who actually come from here or who live here now. Also, I don’t think it’s true to say that there are ethno-religious communities who enjoy more rights than others within the UK on such matters as where they are allowed to live, work, etc. And towns are not designated by reference to ethno-religious criteria so as to direct public investment more favourably to one community than another. There are many discriminations in favour of Jews (and their dependents and descendants) under Israeli law that have no equivalent in the UK or anywhere else in the west.

    Finally, did someone say that the queen of the UK is the supreme ruler in effect? It’s not in effect. It’s in writing. But in reality, the UK is governed by its elected government. The fact that Brits are subjects and not citizens is downright stupid and anachronistic but our real position for practical political purposes is no different from American or French citizens with regard to their governments.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      “no Arab state’s existence is predicated on the displacement or dispossession of Jews or of anyone else. If Jews have been unjustly displaced from Arab states or from anywhere else then they should have the right to return or to compensation. I would be very interested to see some specific examples of such displacement from a specific Arab state…”

      Try Yemen, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Lybia, Algeria…enough for you? And there’s plenty of evidence of forced expulsions from these countries, and of the numbers involved, some 7 – 800,000 of them. Those in Israel are numbered among the Mizrachi. Try finding the book “Operation Magic Carpet” and reading it – a library near you could possibly find you a copy; it was published in the early 1960s. That should be enough even for you.

      “That the Palestinians now number millions is not an institutional issue, it is a fact.” Whose fact, levi9909? You know very well that I’m talking about the Palestinian refugees in the refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon. To pretend otherwise is, at the very least, to bend the truth, twist what I wrote, and verges on the mendacious. The 4 million in the various camps are so numbered because the UN Refugee, Relief and Works Agency (UNRRWA), created _solely_ to administer the Palestine refugee camps, persists in counting not only actually displaced, but their children, grandchildren and down through the generations. One must wonder if this is to justify the Agency’s continued existence, funding and the salaries employed therein. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) counts _only_ those actually displaced.

      Israel didn’t create those camps, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon did. And Israel was instructed by the UN in 1967 to leave those camps alone.

      Funny how an initially much greater problem in Europe of literally millions of displaced people had vanished by the late 1950s, thanks to the work of UNHCR and the receptivity of near bankrupt West European states to assist in solving this problem.

      Pity the Arab states didn’t have the same set of humanitarian ideals. But then the Palestinian refugees were too good a gift horse against Israel for them to do anything so positive as rehouse the refugees and integrate them into their own labour forces. Unlike European refugees, these wouldn’t even had to learn a new language.

    • Tough Says:

      ‘Brian Goldfarb – no Arab state’s existence is predicated on the displacement or dispossession of Jews or of anyone else. ‘

      Modern Arab Palestine was to have been, including the PLO’s. Hamas’s still is.

      Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians practised apartheid against Jews for centuries: they had no doubt that that their possession of the land was predicated on Jewish dispossession. And that was the way it was supposed to stay.

  30. modernity Says:

    “But anyway, as you know, there are no communities native to the UK who are barred from the UK and no one from outside the UK has more right to live in the UK than people who actually come from here or who live here now. “

    This palpable ignorance never stops.

    As pointed out, this is inaccurate.

    The UK in effect comprises Diego Garcia, but it’s indigenous population cannot reside on Diego Garcia, they were ethnically cleansed by the British in the Seventies.

    Residents of Crown colonies have British overseas territory passports, which are useless, because they don’t give any residency in Britain.

    Older readers will remember one of the main criticisms or the Soviet union, was its use of internal exile.

    They will also remember how Britain enforce this too.

    Where supposed citizens of Britain were banished from the mainland, invariably back to Northern Ireland.

    So whilst British colonial and Imperial measures and attitudes may seem softer, they are not, it is just that the British have had nearly 300 years to perfect them and get their PR right.

    Xenophobia is an overarching problem in British society,.

    From vulgar displays of anti-Europeanism to the subtle racism which keeps the largest part of ethnic minorities in the poorest section of society.

    Racism in Britain is not implemented by state statute, nothing so crude, but it still exists in far more subtle ways, which allow an element of plausible denial, as anyone familiar with the institutional racism in the police and justice services will tell you.

    In fact, those 300 years have allowed the British to have much better propaganda, so elements of naked racism are kept in the cupboard, just hidden below the surface, one only needs to look at the rise of the British National party to see how British neofascism, racism and xenophobia resonate in the UK.

  31. Bitter and twisted Says:

    Modernity,
    I am sure you are aware of these findings, as well as the differentials in education achievement, income, lifespan, etc.; differentials that will become even more overt following yesterday’s cuts.

    Indeed, I remember a time when people (even Jewish anti-Zionists) in Britain used to care about this type of thing, before they also treated Britain’s discriminatory and frankly racist immigration policies as the “norm” which should be followed by all countries, including Israel.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/oct/17/stop-and-search-race-figures

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/17/jesse-jackson-stop-and-search

  32. Absolute Observer Says:

    “This number could easily be absorbed by an inclusive democratic state (that is, an Israel which is NOT a Jewish demographic state),”

    Indeed, there is no reason why they could not be absorbed into a Jewish state. After all, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Hugenots, Jamaicans, Indians, Pakistanis, Poles, Russians etc. etc. have all been absorbed (as you term it) into a “Christian/Anglican” state.

    But, of course, for Ran, it is the idea of a Jewish state that “as an Israeli and as a Jew” that he finds unpalatable, whilst quite happily accepting every other form national-states may and do take; secular states, Catholic states, Muslim states, Protestant states, anything, apparently anything is fine apart from a Jewish state.

  33. Antisemitism and the boycott: David Hirsh responds to Ran Greenstein « Engage – the anti-racist campaign against antisemitism Says:

    [...] thinks and he acts how he acts at least in part because he is Jewish and because he is Israeli.  He employs the “asa Jew” rhetoric and the “not in my name” rhetoric.  And now he [...]

  34. Inna Says:

    “What would be acceptable to Palestinian refugees is for them to say”

    You mean Palestinian and Jewish refugees, don’t you Ran? I mean, by your definition, I happen to be a refugee.

    Regards,

    Inna

  35. What Others Say. « ModernityBlog Says:

    [...] has a positive potpourri of intelligent and informative posts but here are just two: “As a Jew” logic is not appropriate in public debate – David Hirsh responds to Ran Greenstein and US antizionist academic embraces Holocaust [...]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 128 other followers

%d bloggers like this: