Zizek: “antisemitism alive and kicking in Europe”

Mairav Zonszein:

“On Friday evening, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek gave a lecture in a bookstore in Central Tel Aviv teeming with familiar faces of leftwing activists. It was hosted by Udi Aloni, an Israeli-American artist and BDS activist, who just completed a book entitled What Does a Jew Want, which is edited by Zizek.

Many seem to have come with the expectation to hear Zizek rip into Israel and use his wry wit and charisma in such a bourgeoises Tel Aviv setting to endorse the BDS Movement. Indeed when Udi Aloni introduced Zizek, he identified himself as an activist on behalf of BDS and said he chose the bookstore as a venue in order to not cooperate with any formal Israeli institution.

However, Zizek did not officially endorse or even talk much about BDS – and when he did it was because he was prompted to during Q&A. His two clear statements about BDS were that a) he is not 100% behind it and b)he supports a movement that is initiated jointly by Palestinians and Israeli here in the region.

Rather, Zizek spent almost two hours with the crowd’s undivided attention talking about antisemitism, capitalism and the place of the Jew in the world. He warned that antisemitism is “alive and kicking” in Europe and America and asserted that the State of Israel should worry more about Christian right antisemitism  rather than wasting its energy on self-proclaimed Jewish anti-Zionists. He said that the Christian Zionists in America are inherently antisemitic and that Israel’s willingness to embrace their support is baffling.

After establishing the deep-rooted vitality of antisemitism, he mentioned that he has no patience for those who excuse Arab antisemitism; that even the most oppressed and poor Palestinian should not be tolerated for being antisemitic. He also spoke about his well-known argument regarding Zionist antisemitism, whereby Zionists use antisemitic language towards fellows Jews in accusing them of not being Zionist enough. This was his main critique of Israel – its witch hunt against those Jews it finds not “Zionist enough.”

Read the rest.

Raincoat Optimist comments:

“What to some might appear like Zizek withholding sympathy for Palestinians, is in actual fact highlighting the paternalism and snobbery of some pro-Palestinians, who believe those who are lesser off than them should be pitied, left to their own devices, and if they express antisemitic views, well, who can blame them, ‘eh, after all they don’t know any better do they, they’re poor – and as all people know poor people are stupid and don’t deserve to be told they’re wrong to blame the Jews for their plight.”

HT Shiraz Socialist

143 Responses to “Zizek: “antisemitism alive and kicking in Europe””

  1. Ran Greenstein Says:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/06/slavoj-zizek-honors-bds-call-as-he-completes-trip-to-israelpalestine.html

    The organizers of philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s events in Israel/Palestine issued the following press release:

    World-renowned philosopher, Slavoj Zizek of Slovenia, had yesterday concluded a week-long visit to the region.

    During his week’s visit, Zizek delivered a three-day seminar in Ramallah on the topic of Cinema and Politics, along with celebrated film producer and Focus Features CEO, James Schamus. At the end of the seminar, aimed to support Palestinian young artists and the Palestinian struggle for liberation, Zizek delivered a public talk in a Tel Aviv independent bookstore, Tolaat Sfarim, in honor of the forthcoming book of Israeli-American film-maker, writer & BDS advocate Udi Aloni, entitled What Does a Jew Want?: On Binationalism and Other Specters.

    He did so following the guidelines of PACBI, stipulating that he will only speak at a venue that will publicly renounce the occupation, and state unequivical support for full equal rights to all Palestinians.

    In so doing, Zizek did not only support the Palestinian-led non-violent struggle for equality and freedom, but also showed how the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli oppression of Palestinians is not aimed at suppressing free-speech or closing-off dialogue, but rather serve as a means to engage intellectuals and the entire artistic community in an honest conversation about the true mission of thinkers, artists and activists around the globe: to unveil the ideological bigotry and mystification behind repressive regimes, and pave the way for new paradigms of thought and action.

    A such, Zizek sought as well to clearly distinguish between anti-Jewish racism, and the growing international solidarity movement with Palestine which, he stated, is a progressive and emancipatory movement espousing a truly just future for all peoples of the land, Palestinians and Jews alike, based on equal rights and a full-democracy.

  2. Blog reader Says:

    Somehow Ran’s et al’s spin on Zizek – on the supposed complete and utter separation between anti-Zionism and antisemitism – would have been more effective had the link not been to a site called Modoweiss – a complete and utter Jewish conspiracy lune.
    Poor old Ran, the words shoot and foot come to mind.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/05/mearsheimer-on-dual-loyalty-and-william-safire.html

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/05/now-i-find-out-peretz-was-stuart-leveys-thesis-adviser.html
    The Israel lobby is all over our politics like white on rice.

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/03/five-years-after-publication-of-the-israel-lobby-im-still-grateful.html
    Corrupted by the Zionist lobby…………….

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/02/why-the-u-s-cannot-do-something-about-palestine.html

    Ran, I know you’re feeling isolated and frustrated, but you really need to chose your friends more carefully.

  3. Blog reader Says:

    Whoops, nearly forgot.

    http://hurryupharry.org/2011/04/21/mondoweiss-check-if-people-are-jewish-before-you-read-their-opinions/

    http://hurryupharry.org/2011/04/16/palestinians-murder-activist-jews-are-blamed/

    But apart from that, I’m sure he’s got something serious to say about Israel and Palestine. How could he not??

  4. Absolute Observer Says:

    It seems to me that the people Ran Greenstein links to are avoiding the subject of Zizek’s talk in TA.
    Zizek spoke about antisemitism being alive and kicking in Europe and the USA. Noticeably these are the very issues notable by their absence in the statement linked to.

    It would appear, then, that whilst theBDS campaign is willing to tolerate/deny antisemitism, Zizek is not.
    How very embarassing, No wonder they issued a statement so quickly, a statement that ignores the slime that attaches to (and deined in the face of all the evidence) questions of Israel and Palestine.

    Do they not realise that one of the reasons that the cause for Palestinians is failing to gain real traction is the BDS’s willingness to play with racists and antisemites (see, for example, the post on Atzmon below; see Mondoweiss’ obsession with the idea that a few control the millions).

    But, as mentioned before, Ran is a little Israeler whose political vision extends no further than the (legitimate) borders of own tiny little country.

  5. NIMN Says:

    “After establishing the deep-rooted vitality of antisemitism, he mentioned that he has no patience for those who excuse Arab antisemitism; that even the most oppressed and poor Palestinian should not be tolerated for being antisemitic.”
    Zizek

    “that illiterate, conservative, superstitious Muslim Palestinian peasant who supports Hamas is more progressive than an educated liberal atheist Israeli who supports Zionism (even critically)”
    SWP

  6. Blacklisted Dictator Says:

    Zizek says that “the State of Israel should worry more about Christian right antisemitism rather than wasting its energy on self-proclaimed Jewish anti-Zionists. He said that the Christian Zionists in America are inherently antisemitic and that Israel’s willingness to embrace their support is baffling.”

    Is this good advice? Or is Zizek just trying to confuse his opponents? After all, whatever his attitude towards BDS, “he chose the bookstore as a venue in order to not cooperate with any formal Israeli institution.”

    Methinks that Zonstein might be clutching at straws. And Arab antisemitism, although abhorrent is not the only ingredient in the anti-zionist Islamist cocktail. Of course, this is inevitably excluded from Zizev’s “philosophical” treatise.

    For a European living in Slovenia, anti-semitism might be more worrisome than anti-zionism, but for the vast majority of Israelis, I would imagine that they are more bothered by the latter (assuming of course that they are “philosophical” enough to be able to see the difference.)

  7. Ran Greenstein Says:

    Zizek was taking part in launching the following: “What Does a Jew Want?: On Binationalism and Other Specters” (Insurrections: Critical Studies in Religion, Politics, and Culture) [Paperback]
    Udi Aloni (Author), Slavoj Žižek (Contributor), Alain Badiou (Contributor), Judith Butler (Contributor)

    Editorial Reviews
    “This is a provocative and beautiful portfolio of reflections on Israel-Palestine, written by an Israeli artist/intellectual of the first order, and joined by major statements from a circle of major philosopher-theorists who have established themselves as vocal critics of current Israeli policy.” — Juilia Reinhard Lupton, University of California, Irvine
    “This is an extremely inspiring and politically important volume. It will interest students and scholars in the fields of literary studies, religious studies, philosophy, political theory, and cultural studies, as well as the general educated public. The psychoanalytically informed and politically engaged readings of myths and stories from the Bible are especially convincing and truly innovative.” — Katrin Pahl, Johns Hopkins University

    Product Description
    “In this book Udi Aloni, causing a power fault in the ruling liberal attitude by way of short-circuiting different levels of ideology, art, and thought; rewrites the Oedipus myth and rejects liberal Zionism. Who but Aloni can combine the tremendous poetic power of creating new myths with the perspicuous mind of a cold theoretician? Who but Aloni can ground his ruthless critique of Zionism into his unconditional fidelity to the Jewish tradition? If anyone needs a proof that political theology is well and alive, here it is!” Slavoj Zizek

    In the hopes of promoting justice, peace, and solidarity for and with the Palestine people, Udi Aloni joins with Judith Butler, Alain Badiou, and Slavoj Zizek to confront the core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their bold question: Will a new generation of Israelis and Palestinians dare to walk together toward a joint Israel-Palestine? Through a collage of meditation, interview, diary, and essay, Aloni and his interlocutors present a personal, intellectual, and altogether provocative account rich with the insights of philosophy and critical theory. They ultimately foresee the emergence of a binational Israeli-Palestinian state, incorporating the work of Walter Benjamin, Edward Said, and Jacques Derrida-as well as Jewish theology-to recast the conflict in secular theological terms.

    • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

      “They ultimately foresee the emergence of a binational Israeli-Palestinian state, incorporating the work of Walter Benjamin, Edward Said, and Jacques Derrida-as well as Jewish theology-to recast the conflict in secular theological terms.”

      If anyone has any doubts about Benjamin and Said, don’t worry… Jacques Derrida will bring peace to the Middle East. It’s inevitable when you think about it.

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Yet again Ran Greenstein demonstrates that he reads what he expects to see on the page, not the words that are actually there. Given that he presumably came to this site to actually post his comment (or maybe he emailed it in, so avoiding doing what comes next in this sentence), he had every opportunity to read the full report on +972 before pressing “Post Comment”. That he didn’t speaks volumes.

    And to think that he is a (presumably) tenured academic at a respectable university>

  9. Saul Says:

    “He also spoke about his well-known argument regarding Zionist antisemitism, whereby Zionists use antisemitic language towards fellows Jews in accusing them of not being Zionist enough. This was his main critique of Israel – its witch hunt against those Jews it finds not “Zionist enough.”

    Zizek seems to be arguing that the new “Jew” of the antisemitic imagination is the one who is opposed to the Jewish state of Israel and is called antisemitic by Israel (and, one can add, though Zizek does not, the “real” or “authentic” Jew by the some sections of the UK left.)

    It is for this reason that it is Israel and the Zionists that call anti- or un-Zionist Jews “antisemitic”; i.e. the “universal” Jew, the Jew who is opposed to the Jewish nation-state (and other nation-states).

    He offers a theoretical reason for the allegation that Israel calls anti-Zionists “antisemitic”.
    What the post above reports, however, is that Israel should “get over it” – i.e. should stop obsessing on anti-ZIonist Jews and instead focus on the antisemitic, Zionist Christian right. A sort of know your real enemy kind of thing.

    All I will add to that is that I have often thought that the anti-Zionist Jews are as “obsessed” as Zionist Jews
    Israel is at the centre of their political world, they follow Israel’s every move, every turn, every nunace, every statement.
    The anti-ZIonist Jew and the Zionist Jew are two sides of the same coin. And, whilst they are hammering away at each other locked in a family embrace that streches nearly 100 or so years, the antisemites of the right go marching on, often under the name of a faux Zionism (see the Christian right in the USA and the EDL in the UK).

    As Hannah Arendt said a while back. Jews have a bad habbit of not knowing who their real enemies are.

  10. Mira Vogel Says:

    Edited a few references to clinical insanity out of a couple of comments – if you genuinely think somebody’s insane, be gentle with them. If you don’t, please avoid using insanity as an insult.

    And as ever, thanks for your comments.

  11. NIMN Says:

    Alain Badoiu? Oh for fuck’s sake. Viva le cultural revolution de Mao. His stuff on Jews, the Holocaust and Israel is awful, juvenille and in places vbordering on racist.

    Judith Butler? whose attack on Summers for daring to raise the question of antisemitism in the US was breathtaking for it complete failure to actually adress the question of antisemitism, blaming Summers for “silencinng debate” for merely saying the a word and leaving it at that.

    But, hey, Ran, if you are convinced by the publisher’s blurb that appears on Amazon, then even I underestimated how lacking in any critical facility you really are.

  12. Blacklisted Dictator Says:

    Zizek might be worried about anti-semitism but is he worried about it being part of the BDS movement? Of course, Engage is worried about it. But is Zizek? I cannot see any evidence of it.

    Zizek’s remarks about Arab anti-semitism are welcome but I wouldn’t get too excited about them.

  13. Mira Vogel Says:

    As Another Observer observers, the PACBI supporting tour organisers are scurrying to coopt the unruly and embarrassing Zizek:

    “He did so following the guidelines of PACBI, stipulating”, “…not only support the Palestinian-led non-violent struggle for equality and freedom, but also showed how the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israeli” and so on

    But (Mairav Zonszein – who incidentally is no Israeli government supporter or instrumentaliser of antisemitism):
    “However, Zizek did not officially endorse or even talk much about BDS – and when he did it was because he was prompted to during Q&A. His two clear statements about BDS were that a) he is not 100% behind it and b) he supports a movement that is initiated jointly by Palestinians and Israeli here in the region.”

    And in the background is the Israeli government’s opposition to the boycott campaign, depriving those calling for boycott of Israeli taxpayer’s money. The boycott campaign that doesn’t work for Palestinians has finally caused a reaction – but that reaction is almost Newtonian. Crap side effects and no main effects – that’s the anti-Israel boycott.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Taking into account Saul’s point above – after being called a kapo for not being sufficiently violent in my support for Israel, I did become aware of the antisemitism from the ultra-Zionist right, which many anti-Zionists have been on the receiving end of since they became politically active.

      I also note that the EUMC definition includes the example of holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the state of Israel, which allows for recognition of this (though I’d lose “the actions of” or, alternatively and controversially, add ” or the well-being of”).

      And, in keeping with Zizek, the EUMC’s example “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” can also be cited in opposition to some arguments for the occupation. Always taking into account the context, of course.

      http://modernityblog.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/the-eumc-working-definition-of-antisemitism/

  14. Ran Greenstein Says:

    For anyone really interested in Zizek (not just in appropriating his name):
    http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2011/03/05/3155971.htm

    “…What both sides exclude as an impossible dream is the simplest and most obvious solution: a bi-national secular state, comprising all of Israel plus the occupied territories and Gaza. Many will dismiss this as a utopian dream, disqualified by the history of hatred and violence. But far from being a utopia, the bi-national state is already a reality: Israel and the West Bank are one state. The entire territory is under the de facto control of one sovereign power – Israel – and divided by internal borders. So let’s abolish the apartheid that exists and transform this land into a secular, democratic state.”

    • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

      Ran,

      Do you also support the creation of secular democratic states throughout the Middle East? What about in Iran? And Saudi Arabia? etc

      Or would that be another “utopian dream”?

      I would vote for the single secular democratic “Israel/Palestine” state, but on the stipulation that all states in the Middle East were secular and democratic.

      • Ran Greenstein Says:

        Yes, of course I support inclusive democratic states everywhere. I see no reason to condition such needed transformation of Israel/Palestine on prior change anywhere else. Why give other states veto power on change we need for ourselves?

        • Toby Esterhase Says:

          What an incredibly weak and unthinking reply from Ran.
          Just a reply from a young political activist spitting out the party line.
          As if it is enough to say you are for democracy and against racism.
          Just lame.
          The point, of course, is why you argue that people should boycott Israel and not Croatia or Serbia.
          Why you think that a two state solution would be unacceptable and impossible in Israel and Palestine, while it was clearly a framework for ending the conflict, which had been much more bloody, in the former Yugoslavia.
          Challenged on consistency, Ran just parrots an empty truism.
          Where is his demonization of Croatia, for having a “Croatian” state, based on the ethnic cleansing of the Krajina? Or his demonization of Serbia, based on the ethnic cleansing of Bosnia and Croatia?
          Where is his “pacbi” to tell Serb and Croat intellectuals what they’re allowed to say and where they’re allowed to go?
          Where is his “pacbi” to tell musicians and dancers and sportspeople what they are allowed to do?

        • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

          Ran,

          I look forward to seeing you campaign for secular democratic states in Iran and Saudi Arabia etc on your Wits campus; the time has certanly come for such a bold initiative in South Africa and I certainly think that you have the ability to lead it.

          I am pleased, moreover, that you recognize that the various brands of Islamic fundamentalist and non- democratic authoritarian regimes have no place in the new Middle East. But don’t worry about being a lone voice on the Wits campus… I will be there to join you.

          You ask: “Why give other states veto power on change we need for ourselves?”

          Well, it will be a sign that a secular democratic bi-national state will have a chance of survival in a neighbourhood, which at present, is undemocratic and tainted by extreme brands of Islamofascism. Until these states become moderate democratic entities, there is moreover no chance that Hamas will change its antisemitic charter or develop a secular(non-Islamist) democratic political philosophy and strategy.

    • Mira Vogel Says:

      Ran, Zizek talks of “the creation of two separate states” – but that is not what is happening here in fact. One state already exists, and the other is occupied. Depending on the extent to which one’s ideology interferes with one’s grasp of the facts, and depending on who you ask, there are many “greatest obstacles to peace”. Hamas. Hesbollah. Iranian arms. Settlers. Palestinian maximalism. But the very existence of just one of the world’s war torn states? Does he propose to dissolve any other states? He also laments “What is saddening is that many Israelis seem to be doing all they can to transform the unique Jewish nation into just another nation” which I thought had a particular whiff of exceptionalism.

      But in this case he decided not to pander to the boycott activists – Zonszein picks up his “frustration with a certain trend of radical leftwing activism today, in which Israel’s wrongdoings seem to completely overlook, discount or negate very real issues pertaining to Jewish existence and identity, as it plays out in global politics.”

      • Ran Greenstein Says:

        Mira, Zizek did ‘pander’ to local activists by avoiding any official or institutional engagements. In fact, he did precisely what Naomi Klein had done before him (meeting with readers/activists in informal settings, with no official links – that’s her interpretation of sticking to BDS on the one hand, and maintaining dialogue on the other). There is no one magic formula of handling this distinction (between avoiding official links and encouraging informal ones).

        Does Zizek offer to ‘dissolve’ any other state? Not sure, but in the case of Israel he does not seek to ‘dissolve’ bur rather to incorporate. Or to be precise, to dissolve exclusionary structures and practices, and replace them with inclusive ones, given that there is only one source of real political authority in the country: the task then, according to him, is to democratize that unified rule rather than break it up into impossible separate pieces.

        Of course there are very real issues of Jewish identity, which the Israeli left is not interested in: it operates in a context of massive violation of civil/human/political rights of one group by another, and to focus on Jewish-specific issues in that context is seen as a threat to the more immediate and present danger of ethnic exclusion/cleansing. But there are Israeli dissidents that pay more attention to such issues (see The Magnes Zionist for example: http://www.jeremiahhaber.com/2011/06/how-big-can-communal-tent-be.html)

        • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

          Hi Ran,
          When you get a moment, please could you answer my questions? (June 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm).

  15. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Zizek propagates a binational state of Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.
    But charity begins at home and I wonder why there is no movement led by such important thinkers like the slovenian Zizek to unify again Jugoslavia as it was before it was destroyed by the croats, serbs, slovenes, albanians, bosniaks and mazedonians.
    He and those propagating a binational state would have much more credibility if they could bring those peoples who lived once together under ” Bratstvo i jedinstvo/Братство и јединство”, (Brotherhood and Unity) in one state.
    So why don’t they start with giving a shining example of human brotherhood? This should be an easy task, after all those people all speak (with the exception of Albanians the same (or a very similar) language and shared values and way of life for decades.

    • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

      Karl,
      I am not sure whether your question is sufficiently “philosophical” for Zizek; it is just too simplistic. I am not saying that you are being silly for asking it, but can’t you come up with something a little more nuanced? And if you could bring in Jacques Derrida, even obliquely, it would be appreciated since it would give your comment a certain sophistication which it unfortunately lacks.

      • Karl Pfeifer Says:

        Blacklisted Dictator: Well if he and his ilk cannot give an answer to a very simple question, than how can anybody expect them to give an answer to the complicated questions of the Middle East?

  16. Toby Esterhase Says:

    from the CST: “There are numerous examples of Guardian and CiF excesses in CST’s latest antisemitic discourse report, and another depressing example occurred on 18 August in an article by Slavoj Zizek that featured in both the print edition of the Guardian, and online at CiF. Zizek’s article accused Israel of taking over Palestinian territory: and in its original CiF version, stated that the land would be “Palestinian-frei”. Two days later, on 20 August, CiF amended this to read “Palestinian-free”, just as the actual print copy had read in the Guardian.”

    http://thecst.org.uk/blog/?p=429

    Yuck.

    Zizek also signed the purposely ambiguous “Israel must lose” letter, which yearned for the military defeat of Israel and which chose to be ambiguous about the distinction between israel and the occupied territories.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/16/gaza-israel-petitions

    Yuck.

  17. Argaman Says:

    What I find intensely irritating is that anti-Zionists like Ran Greenstein & Zizek refuse to acknowledge the reality staring them in the face – the “one state solution” would be a complete disaster. Do they really think that at this point Israelis and Palestinians can live together peacefully in a state that respects the rights of both peoples? I don’t think so. I believe that if such a state were forcefully imposed, it would immediately lead to a terrible civil war. In that case, why not prefer the two-state solution, which has the virtue of having majority support on both sides?

    • Thomas Venner Says:

      Remember that the British government tried to force a “one-state solution” on them back in the late 1940s – that’s basically what started the entire conflict in the first place. If we had listened to the UN and left them to it, Israel and Palestine (or rather Transjordan) would have probably settled their differences, and the whole pointless conflict would never have kicked off. Over sixty years later, we still haven’t learnt our lesson.

  18. NIMN Says:

    Ran says,
    “For anyone really interested in Zizek (not just in appropriating his name):”
    apparently without irony.

  19. Absolute Observer Says:

    Yes Ran, we all know you and a few star academic celebs want a binational state.
    The only problem is that the Israelis and Palestinians don’t.
    But, in keeping with Badiou, and folloowing Mao used to say, all they need is some political re-education.

    Isn’t it funny that the only thinkers you can call to your aid are apologists of totalitarianism and the praxis of terror.
    Ah, to be on the side of the angels.

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      Actually, with very few exceptions, Israeli Palestinians want Israel to become a state of all its citizens, rather than a Jewish state (whether such state should be a civil state incorporating all citizens equally as individuals, or a bi-national state in which they have collective national rights in addition, is a matter for dispute internally: see the Vision Documents of 2007).

      Residents of the occupied territories want above all to be free of the occupation, but growing numbers see their long-term future in a bi-national state (still a minority indeed), and Palestinian refugees want above all to be granted the right of return to their homes (whether in a Jewish, bi-national, Arab or Islamic state makes little difference to them): how many of them will exercise such right is anyone’s guess.

      So, among Palestinians a bi-national state may not be the majority position at present, but it is definitely not restricted to a few intellectuals.

      Among Israeli Jews it is clearly a small minority position, but then the majority of them do insist on policies that put large numbers of Palestinians under direct and indirect Israeli state control, and there is no prospect of ending this (the two-state solution is always on the horizon, which is defined as that imaginary line which becomes more distant the more you move towards it – or in our case, the more you talk about it).

      Where does that leave us: with large, diverse, inter-spread, population, which cannot be physically separated without great deal of violence. The only realistic (and indeed long-term) option is to work for equality, rights and democracy for all within that framework: whether that would lead to one, two, many states is not important as long as the principles of individual and collective equal rights serve as a guide for addressing the situation of all components: little Israel, greater Israel, and greater Palestine. The only alternative is entrenching the existing ‘apartheid of a special type’ situation.

  20. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    My previous comment was posted before Ran Greenstein’s later efforts. Nevertheless, it serves as a commentary on them all. He just doesn’t read what others’ write, and this is a grievous sin in an academic seeking academic respectability. If, on the other hand, he’s seeking a political career, then he’s doing very well: the louder he shouts his views, ignoring everyone else, the sooner (he thinks) they’ll shut up and say “yes”.

    In his dreams.

    BD: furthermore, he won’t answer your direct questions, unless he can manipulate his answer to look as though it is supporting the case he is trying to make. Numerous of us are still waiting replies from his previous appearances on this site, but even if he repeated his earlier comments and we repeated our earlier questions, I suspect that the result would be the same: silence on the substantive issues. We might almost turn this into a case study of how not to act as an academic when faced with curious, even hostile, students. Oddly enough, Associate Professor of Sociology Greenstein, they won’t respect you for it. The reverse in fact.

    And he even has the temerity to repeat, parrot fashion, a press release from PACBI when in front of him at the head of these threads and with a full report a click away (from someone who is stated here to be no uncritical friend of Israel) is an article that contradicts in many respects everything he is saying.

    A fine example of the ideologue at work.

    • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

      Brian,

      I find it rather strange that although Ran Greenstein supports the emergence of secular democratic states throughout the Middle East, he restricts his activism solely to the Israeli / Palestinain conflict.
      Moreover, as far as I am aware, he does not see Hamas’s Islamist and anti-semitic ideology as a stumbling block in his dream for a binational secular democratic state. In such circumstances, one has to wonder why he refuses to publicly discuss these issues; I am sure that there are a myriad of reasons for his silence. Of course, he would find that he would soon be side-lined by his BDS colleagues if he engaged in a forthright manner.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        “Moreover, as far as I am aware, he does not see Hamas’s Islamist and anti-semitic ideology as a stumbling block in his dream for a binational secular democratic state.” BD, if you have the stomach for it, and can be bothered to use the “Search old & new Engage together” feature at the very top right of each page, to review “Ran Greenstein”, you will get some fascinating hits: and not once does he appear aware of the nature of Hamas and Hezbollah, let alone Iran.

        He even claims that in apartheid South Africa the whites “merely” (probably not quite his word) exploited the Black South Africans labour, they didn’t seek to expel them. This in contrast to the Israelis supposedly expelling 80% of Palestinians. He has judiciously ignored my repeated references to the Bantustans and questioning as to how this is different from his allegations about Israelis and Palestinians.

        Answer came there none. And nor will there be: to acknowledge it would be to fatally wound this part of his supposed case.

        This is just part of why I predict you won’t get any direct answers from him.

  21. Slow rider Says:

    Read the Zizek article. Nonsense upon nonsense.,
    Writing in something called “religion and ethics” he choses some horrible right-wing religious bigotry and universalises it until it stands in for “Israel”.
    We could play the same game with any country.
    We could pick up the anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim anti-circumscision bill in Caifornia along with the homophobic anti-gay marriage ads and anti-Mexican ads that appear in the USA and, despite strong evidence to the contrary, say, aha, look at the racist, homophobic racist essence of the US.
    We could pick up on statements from the EDL, the right of the Tory party and some choice comments from the Lib Dems and say, aha, look at the UK, its “essence” is racist and antisemitic.
    We could note the anti-Muslim laws passed in France and say’ aha authentic France is the racist France/
    We could look at the anti-Roma laws in Italy and denouce Italy as “racist”.
    We could pick up a few horrible statements from the right in Israel and say, aha, look at the racist Israel.
    In each case we would have to ignore what else is in place; laws and social practices that counter these attacks on democracy, be it in the context of the US,the British, French, Italian and the Israeli state.

    But, as regards Israel and Jews Zizek, Badiou and their ilk add something extra. Whilst Israeli racism become the “authentic” Israel,it is people by “inauthentic Jews” whilat at the same time, the “authentic Jews” are those that, in Zizek’s case, “distance” themselves from Israel (i.e. anti-ZIonists) and in Badiou’s case, “the authentic Jew” are only those give up any and all Jewish identity period in the name of the Ontological One.

    Not for the first time in history, both in theory and in practice, Jews and the Jewish state become, of all peoples, religions and nations in the world “the exception”.

    Shame Heidegger and Schmitt are dead. They too always had good things to say about Jews and authenticity.

  22. Ran Greenstein Says:

    Blacklisted (why not use your real name?), the only safe way to survive and prosper in an environment that “is undemocratic and tainted by extreme brands of Islamofascism”, is by creating an environment internally that is indeed democratic and not tainted by extreme brands of ‘Judeofascism’ (see under settler militias, racist religious establishment and Lieberman and Shas). The only answer to the Islamic and Jewish versions of Hamas is a joint struggle of Jews and Arabs together for a democratic future. Is it utopian? Maybe, but which democratic struggle wasn’t initially?

    • Toby Esterhase Says:

      yet again, confronted with an argument concerning consistencey, Ran just shuts his eyes and sticks his fingers in his ears.

      He is concerned by anti-democratic tendencies in Israel, why is he not concerned about antidemocratic tendencies in other places?

      Oh, he says, he is!

      Oh, but why then is his boycott campaign only against Israel, which is by no means the country with the most undemocratic tednencies?

      Oh, he insists, he is for democracy and against undemocratic tendencies everywhere!

      Oh, but why teach people to focus on Israel?

      Oh no, Israel is the same as Hamas!

      Oh, but why not boycott the Palestinians?

      Oh, because Israel is undemocratic! Utopian? Oh maybe, but we saints alwasy have to endure such things at the beginning….

      Just lame.

      • Ran Greenstein Says:

        Toby Esterhase (why the fake name?), Hamas and Palestinians generally have been boycotted, sanctioned, punished by Israel, the USA, UK, and the EU, to a far greater extent – and in a much more violent manner – than anything directed so far at the Israeli state and its agencies. When Israel and Palestine are treated equally by the world community (and we are very far from that), civil society organizations should follow suit (and I will meekly join them)

        • Toby Esterhase Says:

          Ran says that Israel, USA, UK and EU are inconsistent. Therefore he should be inconsistent too. He takes his lead from President Obama, David Cameron and Sylvio Berlusconi.

          Therefore he hopes that his university is inconsistent too.

          He wants universities only to boycott Israel and nobody else. Why? Because the imperialist powers already target undemocratic practices in Syra, iran, Libya etc! If only!

          We’ll leave the rest of the world to be sorted out by the imperialist powers while we, the left, only have to focus on the Jews.

          Why take an antisemitic position?

          Oh well, other people take an Islamophobic position and an anti-black position – so it is only fair if I take an anti-Jewish position!

          This is what passes for independent left-wing thinking in the 21st Century?

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          “Toby Esterhase (why the fake name?)”.

          Now Ran Greenstein is just being rude and patronising in attempting to either _really_ anger his opponents and/or continue to avoid answering their substantive points. Which he keeps doing.

          I have met Toby Esterhase and not only is he real, but it’s also the name by which he goes in the real as well as the virtual world, and the one by which he signs his cheques, etc.

          And, by the way, my name is the one on birth certificate, so now you have no excuse for continuing to avoid responding to the points I make that are addressed to you directly.

          Not that I expect you to change your behaviour.

          I was going to respond to your comments following my last comment (to which you didn’t respond), but I’ve decided that everyone else is doing a great job in revealing your inability to debate the issues, so I won’t bother.

  23. Blacklisted Dictator Says:

    Ran,

    Ronnie Kasrils dubbed me “a dictator” at a lecture at Wits University re the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict ;the reason was that I had the temerity to publicly ask him a question that he did not wish to answer. And of course, I am “blacklisted”, from posting comments, inter alia, on Zackie Achmat’s “Writing Rights” and Geffen’s / Isaacs’ “Open Shuhada Street” websites in SA. Hence, I use the “blacklisted dictator” moniker. It is a pity that some of your colleagues in the BDS movement seem to fear the oxygen that freedom of expression brings; you should certainly encourage them to be less frightened of open public debate, particularly on their “human rights’ websites.

    You refer to the “joint struggle of Jews and Arabs together for a democratic future”. I would argue that this “joint struggle” must extent way beyond the Israeli/Palestinian borders if the conflict is to be resolved. So, why are you unwilling to publicly campaign at Wits University for democratic secular politics in Iran? After all, Hamas has close links to the Islamofascist regime in Iran, as does Hezbollah. Do you really believe that a more leftist governemt in Israel will not only result in the destruction of the Iranian regime but will also lead Hamas to move to a non-Islamist secular idology? You are, of course, willing to attack Israel but you seem reluctant to criticize her dictatorial / totalitarian enemies. In such circumstances, one has to wonder whether you are really part of a “democratic struggle”, since the very fact that there isn’t a democratic regime in the whole of the Middle East seems to leave you unmoved.

    I note, btw, that you do not call Netanyahu a “Judeofascist”. Was that an ommission on your behalf?

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      I am not sure what Ronnie Kasrils has to do with the fact that you hide behind an assumed name here.

      Should democratic struggle extend beyond the boundaries of Israel/Palestine? Of course (see Udi Aloni’s slightly-tongue-in-cheek call for the Binational Popular Front for the Liberation of the Middle East: originally in Hebrew on Ynet, and in English on http://mondoweiss.net/2011/02/brookyn-jenin-the-binational-popular-front-for-the-liberation-of-the-middle-east.html). I am willing to sign on to his call, are you?

      • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

        Ran,

        I am certainly willing to join a “democratic struggle which extends beyond the boundaries of Israel/Palestine”. I think Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yeman, Jordan etc must be at the top of our list. Do you agree?

        So let’s meet in Johannesburg asap and get this ball rolling! Perhaps you can invite Ronnie Kasrils, Na’eem Jeenah, Bongani Masuku etc?

        Do you want to hold the inaugural session at the Wits campus?

        I finally feel that we are getting somewhere. This is such a relief.

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          You are welcome to start a campaign putting whichever country you feel should be at the top of the list. I have other priorities, but will happily support you if I feel you are on the right track

  24. Ran Greenstein Says:

    “Toby Esterhase”, what civil society, human rights organizations and many academics try to do, is provide a corrective to what is going on in the world (in other words, precisely NOT to follow the lead of Bush and Blair, or Obama and Cameron). And the world has seen massive violent and concerted boycott and sanctions campaigns (of economic, legal and military nature), led by world powers, against numerous targets, Arab and Islamic targets prominent among them.

    The State of Israel and its agencies are one party involved in violating human rights and committing war crimes, and it is the only one that gets automatic and almost complete immunity from censure by the USA and the international community at large (save for occasional weak verbal slaps on the hand). The BDS campaign simply is an attempt – peaceful, non-violent – to restore some balance in a very skewed relationship which favours the much more powerful and aggressive party in a long-term conflict. That the majority of Israelis are Jews is neither here nor there.

    • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

      Ran,

      You write that The BDS campaigns aim is “to restore some balance in a very skewed relationship which favours the much more powerful and aggressive party in a long-term conflict.”

      Well, let’s imagine that some dreams come true and Israel becomes demilitarised. What do you think would happen? Would it lead to peace and non-violence? How would her enemies react?

      Let’s assume that at the end of the year, the present Israel Govt, actually votes to disband its military! All her weapons are thrown into the sea and there are no more soldiers. Even the police aren’t allowed to carry weapons! (“Utopian” I hear you say, but what the heck, which democratic struggle isn’t initially?)

      Now, of course, I am not suggesting that Israel’s enemies should also demilitarise. I think that would be too far-fetched. No, Israel becames the only demilitarised state in the Middle East and beyond. What will happpen?

      • David Galant Says:

        The easy answer is simply observe where he chooses to live. Far, far away from the train wreck he urges.

      • Ran Greenstein Says:

        Where did you get this idea of demilitarization from? Not from anything I have ever written – Israel/Palestine as a democratic non-exclusionary state is likely to be the most powerful force in the region

    • Toby Esterhase Says:

      “that the majority of israelis are Jews is neither here nor there”

      Scroll up Ran, what do you see? A Jew-hater who is being hosted by the PSC in the UK parliament.
      Scroll down Ran, what do you see? A Jew-hater playing a benefit gig for the US to Gaza Flotilla.

      But Antisemitism is a red herring, right?

      Why are you an Israeli, Ran? Why weren’t you brought up in a lovely civilized civic nationalist state in Europe?

      Oh, that would be becasue somebody, who was it Ran? Somebody, your grandparents? Your great grandparents? were driven out of lovely civilized civic Europe by antisemites.

      “that the majority of Israelis are Jews is neither here nor there”

      How can a sociologist be so careless and thoughtless about racism – about antisemitism, the prototype of all racism?

    • Lynne T Says:

      Interesting that Greenstein would accuse Israel of committing human rights violations and war crimes while Hamas continues to deny the International Red Cross access to a member of the IDF who was kidnapped from his barracks 5 years ago and has not provided proof that he is even still alive for the last 2 years. But then I guess when you subscribe to the fantasy of a democratic bi-national state, you can be willfully and selectively blind about many other things as well.

      http://www.americantaskforce.org/in_media/pr/2009/08/28/1251432000

      • Ran Greenstein Says:

        Hamas is also guilty of war crimes, just like Israel, except that it operates on a much smaller scale: 1 prisoner compared to at least 700 Gazans and probably 5000 Palestinians altogether

        • Lynne T Says:

          Please Ran, the number of Gazans who died in Cast Lead included a very high proportion of armed combatants and Hamas willfully uses the civilian population as human shields. The greater number of Palestinian deaths is more a function of what their own “millitants” expose them to (ie: operating bomb-making factories in schools, mosques etc.) and measures by Israel to protect its citizens, Jewish and otherwise, than “disproportionate” exercises of lethal force on the part of Israel.

  25. Toby Esterhase Says:

    “immunity from censure”

    But “Ran”, every racist state and every human rights abusing state on the planet gets immunity from your boycott campaign, except Israel.

    You seem sub-contract out solidarity with the workers in Iran or with feminists in Gaza or with democrats in Syria to the Great Powers. As if they care about workers in Iran, feminists in Gaza or democrats in Syria. Actually the American and European governments don’t care any more about human rights abuses in these places than you do.

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      I am afraid your logic escapes me. I focus on issues that are close to and with which I am familiar, and about which I can make a (tiny) difference. So does everyone else, without exception. A focus on Israel does not mean giving immunity to all other states, any more than a focus on antisemitism means giving immunity to all other forms of bigotry and prejudice.

      As for workers in Iran, feminists in Gaza, the whales, and the people of Zimbabwe and Swaziland: all deserve solidarity. My own resources are limited though, and I do what I can within these constraints.

      • NIMN Says:

        “As for workers in Iran, feminists in Gaza, the whales, and the people of Zimbabwe and Swaziland: all deserve solidarity.”

        Not Israelis though.
        Whales deserve solidarity.
        Israelis deserve to be called racists.
        The people of Swaziland deserve solidarity.
        Israelis deserve to be boycotted.
        Feminists in Gaza deserve solidarity.
        Israelis ought to give up their means of self-defence in the hope that they won’t ever again prove necessary.

      • Bill Says:

        I focus on issues that are close to and with which I am familiar, and about which I can make a (tiny) difference.

        You and the rest of the boycotteers are actually free as individuals to “specialize” against Jews that don’t read off your script. No one can or should make you work with anyone. You can boycott Jews and only Jews and toot your trumpet in the front pew in the Church of I-care-more-about-this-than-you for all you like as long as you don’t go into statutory red area. And should you be dumb enough to cross that line your sponsoring organization cannot be expected to help you any more than you were caught red handed for having the secretary do you for a raise, nor can the organization be asked to underwrite it anymore than a university can support a sex-for-grades program for professors of underrepresented coeds.

        BUT

        Once you begin trying to make your vanity boycotts-of-one a boycott-for-all either officially though BDS or by using putting boycotters in an organization’s pinch-points, as is being done with the UCU, you cease having the luxury of discriminating against any given demographic of any protected classification (race/religion/national origin/whatever). You can make as much explicitly racist and antisemetic special pleading you want (as Tom Hickey did) to justify banning Jews and only Jews while leaving Iranians, Zimbabweans and the pay the price for not being able to blame their immediate problems on Jews (sucks to be them and good luck playing Six Degrees of Shylock). But it will still be unethical and frickin’ illegal. So keep tooting your horn on your street corner, but stop telling everyone else, especially at institutional levels what races colors and creeds not to hire or collaborate with.

  26. Toby Esterhase Says:

    You focus is on issues close to you but a university ought to be consistent. A trade union ought to be consistent. Left-wing activists ought to be consistent.

    Your campaign, not only your individual focus, is for a boycott only of Israel.

    UCU circulates only calls to boycott Israel.
    University of Johannesburg severs links only with Israel.

    The exclusive focus on punishing Israel is not without its antisemitic consequences.

    yes, Other people, other institutions are interested in other human rights abuses. But UCU and UJ are only intereted in boycotting Jews. Your sole focus on Jews does not “make up for” or “balance” other people’s focus elsewhere.

    So it is not just a personal bee in your Israeli bonnet, is it “Ran”?

    In any case, David Hirsh made this argument months ago – did you forget?
    http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/as-a-jew-logic-is-not-appropriate-in-public-debate-david-hirsh/

    • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

      Toby Esterhase,

      Ran Greenstein states that he supports a “democratic struggle which extends beyond the boundaries of Israel/Palestine”. I assume that this struggle would be based on a South African campaign for human rights in Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia etc. Let’s wait and see what emerges!

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      UJ is not boycotting Jews or anyone else: they decided not to renew a collaboration agreement with an Israeli academic institution, while at the same time explicitly remaining open to individual collaboration between Israeli and South African academics (the campaign has no relevance for Jews – South African or others).

      Why this specific institution (BGU)? Because many people in South Africa feel particular affinity with campaigns that echo their own. They regard themselves as beneficiaries of a global solidarity campaign, and wish to return the favour. They feel they cannot keep silent in face of another apartheid-like system. Should they?

      • Bill Says:

        This is the brick-and-mortar argument and it’s been discussed and solidly debunked here ages ago. Faculty and investigators are joined at the hip to their institutions. You can’t boycott a building, only the people in it. Even those very few people in my ample research clique who are fully retired or independently wealthy require some level institutional infrastructure — not just concrete B-n-M, lab and computer support and such, but also administrative and auditing support without which grant and contracts awards cannot exist. And for those requisites they use tenuous but functional institutional ties – the very ones you want cut. You’re asking Israeli scholars to jettison this nearly indispensable tether and have their overhead skyrocket away from a competitive/fundable/affordable bottom line, or leave Israel and their local appointments because even in their homes, they’ll have to plug in a lamp, go to the potty, and use the rest of the evil (malevolent echo chamber voice)Jew-Grid(/malevolent echo chamber voice). As such BGU is planning to boycott Israeli flesh-and-blood investigators, except for the stinkin’ rich who can afford to be 100% unaffiliated, fully self-supported and externally unfunded and I’m sure the “B-n-M” BDSers find an excuse to exclude them too as demonstrated in my above ‘rec room research laboratory.’

        • Bill Says:

          Ack. JU not BGU

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          In point of fact, Israeli academics affiliated with BGU and other Israeli universities do visit South Africa (including specifically UJ), their materials are read and discussed in classes, and no-one has ever raised an issue about their presence as visitors, in seminars or conferences. No-one is advocating that they be excluded in any way – nor has there been any instance of such exclusion to my knowledge. The campaign was strictly related to institutional agreements between universities (which in this case goes back to the apartheid era).

        • Bill Says:

          The campaign was strictly related to institutional agreements between universities (which in this case goes back to the apartheid era).

          So they can visit on invitation and you can read their papers and up to now, and no one has complained — but if involves cross-institutional level (which can subsume a heluvalot given the signatures I’m often asked to provide and collect for even the smallest thing), that’s a no can do. As we say over here, “well that’s mighty white of you.” And now with a formal proactive and ballyhooed separation (as opposed to just two different university not having a cooperative agreement having never done it in the past), people who do not understand such nuance and distinctions-without-a-difference between an Israeli academic working for a big bad institution and the big bad institution itself will just sit quietly when a big bad Jew from over there comes to dirty the doorstep. We have seen fun examples of BDSers “sharing” their personal boycotts when the university doesn’t put its stamp on BDS activity. When they do, even limp-wristedly endorse or acknowledge it, or “unaffiliated” groups such as UCU start flirting with BDS, shenanigans can escalate. Color me risk-averse having seen it done before (even when there are no politics involved in “retiring” cross-inst. agreements), but you keep whistling in the dark.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          And, of course, Ran G. prefers to ignore the fact that “disaffiliating” (or whatever weasel phrase he prefers) will mean that the poor of South Africa will be the ones whose water supply remains contaminated. It sure as hell won’t be his. Nor will it be the poor of Palestine or Jordan. _They’re_ not boycotting BGU.

          Cutting, nose, face and spite are the words that come to mind.

  27. Ex UCU Says:

    Ran takes a poke at those who wish to remain anonymous.
    Has he any idea the abuse, insult and, frannkly, discriminatory behaviour that is meted out by the “angels” to those who, a. question the boycott and b. raise the question of antisemitism?
    Has he any awareness of cases where Israelis or religiously attired English Jews are refused postgraduate supervision because they are Jews? Or of the casual slanders made against those that don’t tow the line on BDS in academia (racists, nazis, etc. etc.)?
    Has he not read at Engage the treatment of such people (mainly but not only Jews) in the UCU?

    No, of course not,and why? because his vision is that of the blindest of nationalists. All he cares about is the country in which he was born and screw the consequences for anyone but himself.

    Internationalist? my a***

  28. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Ran Greenstein,
    why are Zizek and ilk singling out Israel for their pipedream of a binational state. After all it could be much easier to establish again such a state, because it existed several decades as Jugoslavia. So why does not the slovene Zizek start with an effort to make Slovenia again part of Jugoslavia?

    And as far as the Middle East is concerned, why not abolish apartheid in the Muslim world, after all a Muslim woman is not allowed to have relations with a Christian or Jewish man. So why not convince Muslims to be more tolerant and to abolish this kind of apartheid? In Egypt this apartheid is the main cause for periodical pogroms against Copts. So why not start efforts in Egypt?
    And I sign with my real name
    Karl Pfeifer

  29. Ran Greenstein Says:

    The campaign for a bi-national state goes back to the 1920s, and has been revived in the late 1990s, due to the growing failure of the Oslo process to lead to the end of the occupation (resulting instead in entrenching it, despite or rather because of the growing prevalence of the two-state rhetoric). It is led by Israeli Jews and Palestinians: whether Zizek supports it or not, for whatever reasons, is irrelevant to them.

    Should Slovenia become part of a reconstituted Yugoslavia? I would leave that to Slovenians and Serbs, Croats and all the rest of them to decide. If they ask for my opinion or help, I would give it to them, but it is very unlikely they would do so.

    In principle, whether bi-nationalism is a suitable model for Israel/Palestine is entirely unrelated to its suitability elsewhere: each historical situation is specific and calls for its own solution. It is not a straight-jacket to be imposed on all others as punishment for their sins.

    I am familiar with quite a few Egyptians who wish – and work for – Egypt to overcome sectarian violence, and fight whatever legal discrimination exists against Copts. None of them thinks the problems in Egypt mitigate or excuse Israeli ethnic cleansing and exclusion, or war crimes, in the slightest. Nor do I. And they do not wait for anyone else – definitely not for me or Zizek – in order to address their own issues.

    • Karl Pfeifer Says:

      So Ran Greenstein let’s the Israelis and the palestinian Arabs decide if they want to live in a binational state.
      Looks to me, that they do not want.
      You remind me those women in black in Vienna, whom I asked about the violation of human rights in the PA and Gaza. I received the answer that is the business of the Palestinians. If that is so, why then are real or alleged human rights violations of Israel not exclusively the business of Israelis? Why double measure in anything concerning Israel?
      And even if you say so, there was never any Israeli ethnic cleansing. It is a speciality of some Jews to accuse themselves ashamnu bagadnu for antisemitism. After all there were at the time when Israel was established t e n million refugees on the Indian subcontinent, and I did not hear any Indian or Pakistani cry about “ethnic cleansing”. And there is nobody advocating there a “right of return”.
      Had Israel really such a plan, it would not have today about 20% of its population consisting of Arabs. Israel could have easily expelled all the Arabs in 1948.
      But and that is a fact even Ran Greenstein cannot explain away: Not o n e Jew was left in those parts of the Holy Land where the Arabs were ruling after 1948. In East Jerusalem not even one orthodox antizionist Jew was left.

      Ran Greenstein, your Egyptian comrades have not yet stopped one pogrom. So can you explain, what is the root cause of such pogroms or how do your Egyptian comrades explain it? Is the Mossad responsible? Or the British colonialists who left Egypt decades ago?

      • Ran Greenstein Says:

        Yes, it is up to Israelis and Palestinians (all of them including refugees) to decide jointly on their future. So far it has been one party – Israeli Jews – that has been making the decision for all the rest. Global solidarity campaigns aim to restore the balance in this relationship, and allow Palestinians to take part on more equal footing (though it would take much more effort to begin to offset the skewed relationship backed by US military, diplomatic and financial support).

        As for ethnic cleansing, with or without an overall plan, 80% of the Palestinian residents of the territories allocated to Israel in 1947 were dispossessed from their homes and villages, and were not allowed to return to them (about 25% of Palestinians who are Israeli citizens are internally displaced persons, who are not allowed to return to their homes and land even though that would have no impact on the demographic balance). As long as that is the situation, the conflict will remain unresolved.

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          A couple more comments: for internal and other refugees see the work of Nur Masalha: Catastrophe Remembered: Palestine, Israel and the Internal Refugees: Essays in Memory of Edward W. Said (London: Zed Books, 2005), and The Politics of Denial: Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Problem (London: Pluto Press, 2003). Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (revised edition of 2004) remains a classic, as is Ilan Pappe’s the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006).

          Human rights violations by Palestinians (PA and Hamas) have been extensively documented and criticised by local organizations (B’Tselem and al-Haq), Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International: the notion that they are ignored is simply a fantasy.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Ran, what would have happened to the Palestinian Jews / Israeli Jews if they had lost the war in 48/49 ?

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          “As for ethnic cleansing, with or without an overall plan, 80% of the Palestinian residents of the territories allocated to Israel in 1947 were dispossessed from their homes and villages, and were not allowed to return to them (about 25% of Palestinians who are Israeli citizens are internally displaced persons, who are not allowed to return to their homes and land even though that would have no impact on the demographic balance). As long as that is the situation, the conflict will remain unresolved.”

          And I ask Ran Greenstein for at least the 5th time, how is this situation (if it took place as he describes, and he has produced no evidence for the process as he claims it to have occurred) conceptually different form the apartheid South African state’s attempt to pen Black South Africans in Bantustans? Which effort, as I have noted before, could well, under slightly different circumstances, have succeeded.

          Academics who ignore inconvenient facts and arguments or data points which fall outside their expected (and even _demanded_ ) range – for the hypothesis to be “proven” – don’t, oddly enough, strengthen their case. They weaken it to the point of collapse.

          For whatever reason, Associate Professor Ran Greenstein of Witwatersrand University continues to commit this academic offence. That creaking sound is the wall of argument about to collapse around his ears – or maybe it’s the aftershocks of the already collapsed edifice.

  30. Lynne T Says:

    South Africa is a hotbed of BDS support because Israel continued to trade with the apartheid regime. If you asked blowhards like Desmond Tutu to actually put forward any evidence that Israel is not only like South Africa, but is worse, they cannot.

    And given that 99% of Israeli Jews and a sizable portion of Israeli non-Jews oppose a binational state, Greenstein’s one-state dream is unlikely to transpire no matter how hard the BDSers stamp their little feet.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2009/11/hussein-ibish-on-the-fantasy-world-of-one-staters/29425/

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      Israel is better, same and worse than apartheid South Africa, all at the same time, depending on which specific set of relationship with Palestinians you look at (better for Palestinian citizens, similar for occupied Palestinians and worse for refugees). For sSouth Africans with any record of activism against apartheid, the similarities are striking (though there is never identity between different historical situation). I covered this here: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/greenstein220810.html AND http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/greenstein270810.html

      It is little wonder that the dividing lines between supporters and opponents of the severance of relations between UJ and BGU, largely reflected the divisions between RAU academics (the apartheid predecessor of UJ) who provided the bulk of support for continuation of institutional relations, and new UJ people, whose main goal is getting rid of the apartheid legacy, which for them include the BGU relationship.

      BTW, one-state is not my dream: bi-nationalism is, which can be expressed in one or two or many states, or no state at all: it is a frame of mind, set of institutional arrangements, and principled support for equality at the individual and collective levels.

      The level of opposition of Israeli Jews to the idea is not really different from the level of opposition of white South Africans to similar sets of ideas. Until the 1980s…

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        And what, pray, is the logical difference between one-nation and bi-nationalism?

        It will only really matter to the expelled or massacred Jews, of course, but what the hell is their welfare to Ran Greenstein?

  31. NIMN Says:

    So, for Ran “Little Israel” Greenstein, not supporting a boycott, not calling for the demise of the Jewish, democratic state of Israel is the same as “excus[ing] Israeli ethnic cleansing and exclusion, or war crimes,”.

    Funny how that immediacy only applies to Israel.

    Oh, but I forget, “each historical situation is specific and calls for its own solution”,
    Well we all know what “historical situation” and what “solution” was part of the reason for Israel’s founding, don’t we; the one “situation” and the one “solution” that should it get mentioned by Jews they get accused of exploiting for nefarious and nationalist purposes.

    So, demand the boycott and demise of Israel on “universal” principles and when asked why only Israel is to be held to account through boycott and demise, answer it is because of the historical specificity of the Jewish state.

    Just how many ways does Greenstein want his cake and eat it??

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      If you want to understand why the State of Israel is historically specific in a way that calls for democratizing and sharing it equally between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, see the articles I referred to above. If you disagree with the analysis there, and offer a different one, I would be happy to discuss that with you, either here or separately (you would have to disclose your real name in the latter option though – hope that’s not a problem)

      • Richard Gold Says:

        Sorry Ran but people don’t have to give their real names to anybody on this site if they don’t want to. This protects them from being intimidated by people and some people do not want to disclose their names because it may cause them problems in their institutions. Some of the boycott supporters and anti-zionists can be quite abusive and intimidating. There’s also a mirror image where anti-zionists can also face abuse and intimidation.

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          My post said that if s/he wants to discuss this separately (NOT on this site) then this would be done on the basis of real names: it is not a precondition for this site, I am aware of that

        • Richard Gold Says:

          Ok. That’s fine.

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          “My post said that if s/he wants to discuss this separately (NOT on this site) then this would be done on the basis of real names: it is not a precondition for this site, I am aware of that”

          So far, as far as many of us are concerned, Ran is hardly discussing the issues raised on _this_ site, let alone elsewhere.

  32. Absolute Observer Says:

    “For sSouth Africans with any record of activism against apartheid, the similarities are striking ”

    The problem with South Africans (black and white) seeing apartheid where it doesn’t exist and fitting unique historical situations into a pre-framed precedent is obviously a result of trauma brought about by decades of the most horrendous racist oppression (for such a recognised phenomenon, see Jacqueline Rose’s study “A Question of ZIon”. In that book she makes a similar argument about Israel in its relations with Palestinians and the neighbouring countries. A similar argument is also made when Israeli right-wingers claim that contemporary Europe is no different from Berlin and Vienna in the 1930’s or Paris in the 1890’s – often to the “diagnosis” of “trauma” is added that of liars.)

    Just as it is argued by Rose and others that Jews need to deal with their own history and trauma before they can move on and deal with the centuries of antisemitism, and so live normal lives, so too, it could be argued South Africans need to deal with their own history of racism (as white racists and black victims of it) and work through it, rather than remaining trapped within it and, as a result, projecting their own experience onto other distinct situations. That way they might also avoid becoming victim to the same racism from which they suffered. (For the occurrence of this tendency see Bongani Masuku, Ronnie Kassals and the Christian Bishop Desmond Tutu).

    Simply reinforcing delusions brought about by past traumas is unhealthy for both therapist and patient.

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      South Africans do indeed have a tendency to project from their own experiences. In this case, though, their choice was simple and did not involve invoking any traumas: they decided to listen to what oppressed people (Palestinian academics and CSOs) asked them to do, and showed solidarity with them. They were careful not to use labels (‘this is an apartheid regime’ or whatever), or to suggest any equations, solution, analyses. Simply to take a small step to express solidarity with other people involved in a liberation struggle. Nothing more or less: psychoanalysis can be left secure on the bookshelf or couch – it is of no use here.

      • Karl Pfeifer Says:

        Well Ran Greenstein, in South Africa during the last few years a number of pogroms with many dozen victims have been perpetrated against refugees. I do not remember that in Israel a pogrom was perpetrated against refugees. So probably Desmond Tutu and his ilk have no wish to see the plank in their own eyes. It is much easier to see the speck of sawdust in the eyes of Israelis. Especially when they have such helpers like yourself who keep repeating ashamnu, bagadnu.

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          You are obviously unaware of the fact that Desmond Tutu has been one of the most vocal critics of the SA government with regard to its immigration policies, xenophobia, its appeasing attitude towards the Zimbabwean regime, its generally deficient record on human rights (of South Africans and others), and its alliances with oppressive regimes in the UN. If there is one person anywhere with perfect record of criticizing human rights violations wherever they take place it is Tutu. You are entitled to your opinion of Tutu, but not to your own facts: his record is public and visible, and easily accessible.

      • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

        Ran,
        Whatever one thinks about the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, it owes nothing to Verwoerd’s apartheid ideology. You might argue that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinains is worse than the South African whites treatment of blacks. But to conclude that it is “apartheid” is just nonsense; the term has been cynically adopted by South African radicals because they know that it is emotive, but I very much doubt that they even believe, it is accurate.

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          If you read the articles I referred to above, you’ll see that I use the term ‘apartheid of a special type’, to capture both the similarities and differences between the South African and Israeli system of domination (and the different implications for strategies of resistance and change). They are not identical, but they bear family resemblances

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          “I use the term ‘apartheid of a special type’, to capture both the similarities and differences between the South African and Israeli system of domination (and the different implications for strategies of resistance and change).”

          How convenient: the differences (even assuming that the so-called similarities aren’t destroyed by a rigorous analysis) can be wished away by such a convenient phrase.

          How about a rigorous analysis of the alleged similarities, or even a list of them, so that it can be examined _here_. Ran Greenstein is always alleging that Israel is an apartheid (sort of, but perhaps its a special type – so special, maybe, that no self-respecting social scientist would dignify it with the same term) state, without specifying _how_. We’re in danger of stumbling into Benny Morris’s “very English” way of calling people names.

  33. Absolute Observer Says:

    (you would have to disclose your real name in the latter option though – hope that’s not a problem)

    Actually Ran it is a problem, a very real problem in the UK and I am afraid it is you that are partly responsible for the problem.
    Jews who do not two the BDS line, Jews who dare raise the issue of antisemitism, Jews who wear kippas have been subject to discrimination, bullying, libels as well as loss of opportunities in terms of jobs and further study.
    Because of you single minded nationalist obsession, you either don’t care about anti-racism or you think I and the other people referred to are liars.
    Ran your actions and your words have consequences. It is about time you took your political responsibilities more seriously. For you it is a game. It is not for many others.

  34. Absolute Observer Says:

    “You are obviously unaware of the fact that Desmond Tutu has been one of the most vocal critics of the SA government with regard to its immigration policies, xenophobia, its appeasing attitude towards the Zimbabwean regime, its generally deficient record on human rights (of South Africans and others), and its alliances with oppressive regimes in the UN. If there is one person anywhere with perfect record of criticizing human rights violations wherever they take place it is Tutu.”

    Ah, the “I support Human rights, I can’t be an antisemite” argument. How very familiar and predictable.
    No doubt the same can be said for Bongani Masuku, Ronnie Kassals. After all, many of the finest philanthropists have also been wife-beaters.

  35. Absolute Observer Says:

    I have yet to come across a country that does not have some simiularities to “aprtheid”.
    Although, I love the idea that a sociologist is prepared to work uncritically with such a conceptual fuzz as “apartheid-like” or should that be “apartheid-lite”. In reality, it is meaningless other than as a gateway to articulate one’s own prejudices; in this case, your own accident of birth.

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      Which SPECIFIC part of the analysis contained in the articles referred to above (or in this version: http://jwtc.org.za/resources/docs/salon-volume-3/RanGreenstein_Israel.pdf) do you find objectionable, and why? Since neither ‘apartheid-like’ nor ‘apartheid-lite’ feature in them, you might be referring to something else, which is what? You might not be interested in this analysis at all. Fair enough, but then what exactly are you criticizing?

      • Toby Esterhase Says:

        Sure, Israel is like apartheid in some ways.
        And it is like an anti colonial national liberation movement in some ways.
        And Israel is like Liberia in some ways, and post genocide Rwanda, in some ways.
        And it is like Latvia in some ways.
        And it is like the US in some ways.
        And it is like Saudi Arabia in some ways.

        Now lets get over it, and talk about Israel and Palestine. Lets treat Israelis and Palestinians with respect. Lets actually relate to them, and stop trying to pretend that they are not themselves but somebody else.

  36. Blacklisted Dictator Says:

    Ran,

    So, let’s be quite clear…. it is NOT “apartheid Israel”. It is “apartheid Israel of a special type”! It sounds ridiculous, and it is ridiculous. As you are well aware, Zionism and apartheid have totally different ideological roots. Of course, the correct epithet would be “Zionist Israel” because Zionism is the ideology on which the Israeli state is based. You might believe that Zionism is more abhorrent than apartheid but that is another debate altogether.

    I reiterate, most of the South African radicals know that “apartheid Israel” is a misnomer. But they believe it is a clever political strategy, so they stick to it. Unfortunately, only a handful of black South Africans have had the opportunity to visit Israel so they are unable to confront the lie and, if they did, they would hardly get an opinion piece in the anti-Israel “Mail and Guardian”, published weekly in SA.

    And, just for the record, I suppose it is NOT “Nazi Israel”?? It is “Nazi Israel of a special type”! (bearing in mind, for the historical record, that it was The Palestinian leadership that actually had close links to the Nazis, and together, wanted to exterminate The Jews.)

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      The Israeli system of domination (which includes all aspects of relationship with Palestinians, whether citizens or not), is a structured system that combines political and physical exclusion on an ethnic basis, military occupation, and legal discrimination, with elements of democratic rule within the Green Line. Many aspects of this system are similar to South African apartheid. Others are not. No two systems/societies are identical.

      What you need to do to understand it, is to undertake a detailed study of mechanism of domination: Ariella Azoulai and Adi Ophir have done that in their This Regime which is not One (2008, forthcoming in English translation), Neve Gordon has done that in Israel’s Occupation (2008), Oren Yiftachel has done that in Ethnocracy (2006), Yehouda Shenhav has done that in his Time of the Green Line (2010, only in Hebrew), and others have made contributions as well (The Power of Inclusive Exclusion, edited by Ophir and others, 2009). My work falls within this broad framework. All are attempts to come to grips with what is unique about Israeli society and politics, and what can be gained by using comparative insights from SA and elsewhere. Check it out if you are interested.

      • Mira Vogel Says:

        Besides Neve Gordon, who of those authors urges academics in other lands to boycott their colleagues, and citizens in other countries to boycott their fellow citizens against their will?

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          Mira, Neve Gordon never called for academic boycott (though he expressed support for BDS in general), nor do those who do call for it urge anyone to boycott “academics” or “citizens”. Rather, the campaign is about state-sponsored institutions. To take an example, there is no contradiction between calling on UJ not to renew its agreement with BGU, and engaging Israeli academics in debate, exchange, seminars and conferences (something I do on a regular basis, though without speaking for anyone else)

        • Mira Vogel Says:

          As for engaging Israeli academics in debate, I’m afraid that if the tables were turned and it was my own country being boycotted academics here would get no credit for engaging in debates, no matter how edifying or interesting.

          Funding and career progression prospects come from participating in the academic community – conferences, publications and international collaborations – the things targeted by boycotters. Lisa Taraki says Israeli academics should emigrate if they’re not happy with that. My union not only withdraws solidarity from Israeli academics but actively seeks to undermine their careers. This is how much of its principles the left is prepared to sacrifice to its passion against just one country.

          Though in Gordon’s case I’m finding the distinction wafer thin, this is why none of the authors you cite call for a boycott, and I’d imagine part of the reason Zizek challenged the boycotters. I think that is worth mentioning.

        • Toby Esterhase Says:

          Neve Gordon asks us to “…suspend co-operation with Israel…”
          http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/20/opinion/oe-gordon20

          Gordon, Greenstein and PACTI are for a boycott of Israel. a boycott is a boycott, not an engagement. Stop trying to dance on the head of a pin and have the courage to admit that it is a boycott that you support. PACBI writes:

          “Does Academic Boycott Infringe on Academic Freedom?”
          “It may; but who’s Academic Freedom is being referred to within this context? That of Israeli academics. Are we to regard only the academic freedom of Israelis as worthy?”

          The boycotters go around pretending that their boycott isn’t a boycott; but the simple people who are caught up in their rhetoric simply understand that they are supposed to boycott Israel. Who can blame them?

          PACBI writes:
          “Won’t BDS also hurt those Israelis who support the Palestinian struggle?”

          “Pacbi’s answer: Israelis who oppose the occupation should be doing so on moral grounds and must be willing to accept that there is a price…”

          Again, stop pretending that you’re not punishing Israelis, making them “pay a price”.
          Ran thinks his Israeli colleagues ought to pay a price – he should be honest enough to say so.

          http://www.engageonline.org.uk/blog/article.php?id=643

          As David Hirsh wrote about Neve Gordon, there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind, but then you have to say why – and you have to say why the arguments you used to rely on are no longer valid:
          http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/neve-gordon-changed-his-mind-on-the-boycott/

      • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

        Ran,

        A few radical Israeli academics have made some sort of connection. But I don’t think that the analogy is widely accepted amongst main-stream political scientists; if it is, please provide some references. Unfortunately, political activists tend to believe their own propaganda and are reluctant to adopt “objective”, analytical reasoning. Of course, you will probably retort that I am being terribly old-fashioned, and that we have moved on from there, but I believe that any academic work must also be able to convince a wider public who are not so emotionally and politically involved. Naive, eh?

        Moreover, unless the Israeli academics have particular expertise in 20th century South African political, cultural and economic history, then I don’t believe that they are even qualified to consider whether the analogy holds water ; I think it would be a prerequisite to have at least published some articles about South African apartheid, before attempting to compare it with Israeli/Palestinian relations.

        I reiterate that the “apartheid” epithet has as much value as the “Nazi” epithet when used to describe Israel. (Of course, the 1970’s mantra, zionism=racism is no longer potent enough.) Sooner or later, you will be asked by your associates, to up the ante, and write a book about “Nazi Israel”. Nazism after all was inherently “a mechanism of domination”, so I am sure that your future study could fall within such a frame-work.
        Nazism, by the way, was also a “structured system that combined political and physical exclusion on an ethnic basis, military occupation, and legal discrimination,” Why don’t you give it a whirl?

  37. Absolute Observer Says:

    Tutu’s record is public and visible, and easily accessible………Indeed, it is,

    Tutu’s criticises Jews for not being Christian, for not “learnt the Chrisitan lesson” of the Holocaust, for being obdurate Jews, of seeing the Jews as spiritually damaged………….

    “My heart aches. I say, “Why are our memories so short?” Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their own previous humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon?”

    “I have time and time again said that we do not want to hurt the Jewish people gratuitously and, despite our deep responsibility to honour the memory of the Holocaust and to ensure it never happens again (to anyone), this must not allow us to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Palestinians today.”

    And here is a good example of what UCU calls “classical antisemitism”,

    “People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.” The latter statement was criticized by some Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League. When he edited and reprinted parts of his speech in 2005, Tutu replaced the phrase “Jewish lobby” with “pro-Israel lobby”

    (nb. is Tutu really comparing Israel to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin?)

    We all know – and it is clearly accessible that Masuku, was found guilty of antisemitic Hate Speech by the SAHRC.
    Ran, since you are so prolific in writing about Israel and Palestine in the context of democracy, perhaps you can link to where you have publically criticised these anti-Jewish articulations of these so-called “criticisms of Israel”.

    After all, as someone so committed to universal anti-racist struggles, one cannot imagine that you would remain silent in the face of such distortions.

    • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

      Ran,
      Just for the record, have you appeared on the same platform as Masuku? If you haven’t, would you have any qualms about doing so?

  38. Idee fixee Says:

    Ran,
    We notice that you are unable not to have the last word; so we post and post just for the hell of it.
    I look forward to your (inevitable) reply.

  39. Absolute Observer Says:

    Please note that in my comment above I am not in any way whatsoever imputing the crime of wife-beating to either Kasrils, Masuku or Tutu.
    I am merely saying that to be a saint in one area of one’s life does not mean that one cannot be a fault in other areas of that same life.

    Paradoxically, of course, this is Tutu’s Christian line. Jews have suffered terrible harm, so how can they do what it is they are doing (which, apparently is akin to what Hitler did to them!)?
    And somehow people are not embarrased to cite this as relevant to the politics of the Middle East.
    As Ran quite rightly says, “(theological-) psychoanalysis can be left secure on the bookshelf or couch – it is of no use here.”

  40. Absolute Observer Says:

    “They feel they cannot keep silent in face of another apartheid-like system. Should they?”

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      Yes, that is precisely how many progressive South African academics feel about Israel. For most it is a gut feeling rather than a precise analytical instrument: very few people here engage in theory-based comparative analysis (Daryl Glaser is probably the only one other than me that engages in such issues academically)

      • Toby Esterhase Says:

        The apartheid analogy is a rhetorical device for arriving at the desired boycott of Israel, and only Israel, without having to give any rigorous justification for the singling out and without having to think through the consequences. One of the consequences is that anybody who disagress with Ran (and his “precise analytical instruments” and his “theory-based comparative analysis”) is bullied as an apologist for apartheid.

        Comparison is scientific; analogy is rhetorical.

  41. Absolute Observer Says:

    I got as far as this,

    “the apartheid analogy”

    “we need to distinguish between historical
    apartheid (the specific system that prevailed in
    South Africa between 1948 and 1994), and the generic
    notion of apartheid that stands for an oppressive
    system which allocates political and social rights
    in a differentiated manner based on people’s origins
    (including but not restricted to race).”

    “Having said that, we must consider that race
    – just like apartheid – is a term that can apply beyond
    its conceptual and geographical origins.”

    “Considering apartheid in the
    generic sense,”

    Fuzzy to the point of dissolution.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, the concept of “apartheid” brings with it a whole host of legal consequences that, put briefly, entails the exclusion of the country so labelled from the world community. It is because of the real consequences of such appellation that makes your blurring of its meaning so problematic, both conceptually and practically. It is for this reason that, as anyone concerned with justice will tell you, that one has to be very careful in extending concepts from their original meaning. One of the struggles defence lawyers have in the UK and elsewhere is to stop the courts and the government from widening legal concepts that have important repurcussions for the finding of guilt to those situations that – again conceptually and practically – fall outside them. That is why we, or rather, you, should be more careful with the concepts you throw around and the extension you make of them by terms such as “-like”, “analogy”. “apply beyond”.

    Moreover, whilst I myself have problems with the call for a “binational” state, it does have, as you note, an honourable tradidtion behind it; albeit. It tended to fall away after the 1948 Declaration and became less likely with the developments on both sides of the divide in the interim – indeed, at least in the 20’s there was some material basis for thinking it may have happened – a basis that I believe is now absent (amongst Israelis and Palestinians) (hic rhodus and all that). Be that as it may, you want to argue for a binational state, then fine,others, of course, will disagree and so on and so forth.

    Unfortunately for both yourself and for many others, you link, preface or frame your (legitimate, but controversial) call for a binational state in the fuzzy and imprecise language of “apartheid”. Your call (as opposed to a call in general) for a binational state only makes sense for you in terms of the “apartheid-analogy”. Your demand for a binational state, in other words, is only made on condition of Israel’s (and only Israel’s) prior exclusion from the world-community of states and of civil society.

    Whilst we can talk seriously about what a future Balkans could look like or a future Belguim or a future Egypt, the conversation does not take place under the threat of world-wide exclusion. For you, Israel – and only Israel – is not to be granted that same basic right as any other state. And that is why your very problematic and fuzzy use of “apartheid” and your demand for a boycott (since the latter is inherent in the latter; at least when used in its correct meaning and ambit) is irresponsible, dangerous and not just in view of the historical specificities of the history of anti-Jewish boycotts both against Jews as a group and against the Jewish state, problematic to say the least.

    It is a pity for your own political goals that you wrap what you see as the the solution for the current situation in Israel and Palestine within such a conceptually flawed notion of “apartheid”. The consequence of the “violence” you commit against the concept of “apartheid” is evidenced by the “violence” of the boycott call that is inseperable from it.

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      Here is the relevant analytical framework. If you want to see how it is applied, continue to read in the original – part 2 of the essay (there is no space here to reproduce the entire piece):

      “In the previous section I made a distinction between historical apartheid (unique to South Africa) and apartheid in its generic form — a structured system of political exclusion and social marginalization on the basis of origins (including but not restricted to race). I concluded that Israel is different from historical apartheid, but it displays characteristics that allow us to define it as a form of generic apartheid. There is a family resemblance between the two regimes. This applies to Israel in an extended sense, covering ‘Israel proper’ in its pre-1967 boundaries, ‘Greater Israel’ with the occupied Palestinian territories, and ‘Greater Palestine’ with the 1948 Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

      “By de-linking historical apartheid from its generic form we no longer need to retain a focus on South African racial policies and practices. And yet, I argue in this section, it would be useful to keep a focus on comparing apartheid South Africa and Israel, in order to highlight crucial features of the Israeli system. The comparison would allow us to analyze Israeli-Palestinian relations, evaluate possible alternatives to the status quo, and devise strategies of political struggle and transformation based (among other things) on South African experiences. We must keep in mind here that the point of a comparative analysis is not to provide a list of similarities and differences for its own sake, but to use one case in order to reflect critically on the other and thus learn more about both.

      “Back in the early 1960s, the South African Communist Party coined the term ‘colonialism of a special type’ to refer to a system that combined the colonial legacies of racial discrimination, political exclusion and socio-economic inequalities, with political independence from the British Empire. It used this novel concept to devise a strategy for political change that treated local whites as potential allies rather than as colonial invaders to be removed from the territory. Making analytical sense of apartheid in South Africa was relatively straightforward since it was an integrated system of legal-political control. Although different laws applied to different groups of people, the source of authority was clear. Making sense of generic apartheid in the case of Israel is more complicated. The degree of legal-political differentiation is greater, as it includes an array of formal and informal military regulations in the occupied territories and policies delegating powers and resources to non-state institutions (the Jewish Agency, the Jewish National Fund, and so on), who act on behalf of the state but in a more opaque manner, not open to public scrutiny. That much of the relevant legal apparatus applies beyond Israeli boundaries (to Jews, all of whom are regarded as potential citizens, and to Palestinians, all of whom are regarded as prohibited persons), adds another dimension to the analysis. For this reason, we may talk about ‘apartheid of a special type’ — a unique system that combines democratic norms, military occupation, and exclusion/inclusion of extra-territorial populations. There is no easy way of capturing this diversity with a single overarching concept.

      What are some of the characteristics of this special system?”

      • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

        Ran,
        You write:
        “Making analytical sense of apartheid in South Africa was relatively straightforward since it was an integrated system of legal-political control.”

        “Relatively straightforward”?? Surely, you just found it “straightforward”? Or did it take you a while to get up to speed?

        You write:”There is no easy way of capturing this diversity with a single overarching concept.”
        But that’s exactly what you and your fellow activists have done, by using “apartheid” as “the single overarching concept”.

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          You said you were on the Wits campus, so I would suggest that you visit the Wartenweiller library and read about Weber’s notion of concepts and how they can be used analytically as a starting point of an investigation in order to raise important questions (not to provide ready-made answers), and open up avenues for further exploration. In the rest of the essay I attempt to do just that kind of exploration. Why don’t you read on?

    • Richard Gold Says:

      The attempts at a binational state by Palestinian Jews came to nothing because there was not a strong enough partner on the Palestinian side for a binational state.

      • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

        Ran,

        You say, with regard to the Middle East, that you support the “democratic struggle which extends beyond the boundaries of Israel/Palestine”. This is good news and it inevitably reflects the changing political realities in the Middle East; if South African activists, sit shtumm on the side-lines, events will pass them by. And of course, if there is to be a resolution of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict, it will only come about when secular democratic governmentt, which respect the human rights of all their citizens,
        become the new standard in the Middle East.

        Unfortunately, however, “human rights” activists in South Africa have been quite silent about this “democratic struggle”. I sense that there is a vacuum that should be filled.
        Would you please join me in launching a campaign in Johannesburg? (I think that it should be broad-based; it would be strengthened by including people of various political persuasions and affiliations.)

  42. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    I hope Ran Greenstein has a comment on Tutu’s antisemitic outbursts. I am looking forward to read them.

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      Read Tony Karon’s piece: I have nothing to add to it: http://tonykaron.com/2007/10/03/my-favorite-anti-semite/

      • Richard Gold Says:

        Hi Ran.

        I asked you in a comment yesterday after you talked about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians – but you didn’t reply (maybe you missed it) so i’ll ask you again.
        Ran, what would have happened to the Palestinian Jews / Israeli Jews if they had lost the war in 48/49 ?

        • Ran Greenstein Says:

          Probably the same thing that happened to Palestinians but in reverse. From a certain point in time, once the Zionist movement adopted a Jewish state as its declared goal (with the Biltmore programme of 1942), a military clash became inevitable. That is precisely what the bi-nationalists – Magnes, Buber, Scholem, Kalvarisky, Smilansky – tried to avoid, but they could not withstand the nationalist onslaught.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          And who were their partners for a binational state on the Palestinian side Ran ? What authority, influence and power did they have ?

          A binational state can only come about my the overwhelmning and total military defeat of Israel. Think it through to its logical conclusion Ran.

        • Richard Gold Says:

          “Probably the same thing that happened to Palestinians but in reverse.”

          Really, where would the Jews have gone to if they had survived ?

        • Brian Goldfarb Says:

          “Probably the same thing that happened to Palestinians but in reverse.” So, the Arab states surrounding what became Israel were only joking when they said the object of the 5 army invasion was to push the Jews into the sea?

      • Karl Pfeifer Says:

        Ran Greenstein, this article of Karon only quotes what Tutu said about Israel. But above we could read some of his quotes which are belonging to the old Christian antisemitism. So if you want to have a decent discussison I like to have your opinion about those quotes.

  43. Absolute Observer Says:

    ‘apartheid of a special type”

    “By de-linking historical apartheid from its generic form we no longer need to retain a focus on South African racial policies and practices. And yet, I argue in this section, it would be useful to keep a focus on comparing apartheid South Africa and Israel, in order to highlight crucial features of the Israeli system.”

    “I concluded that Israel is different from historical apartheid, but it displays characteristics that allow us to define it as a form of generic apartheid”

    “There is no easy way of capturing this diversity with a single overarching concept.”

    I assumed for a moment that you interested in a rational, reasonable discussion. Evidently you are not.

    I offered a critique of your view. In response you simply repeat the argument that I dissected with comparative ease.

    Ran, you are nothing more than a one-trick pony. No wonder Hirsh took you to pieces with such ease in the debate in SA. He really didn’t have to work that hard, did he.

    • Ran Greenstein Says:

      You have offered no analytical critique that I can respond to: all you said is that the concept is politically problematic. This may or may not be the case, but tells us nothing about the validity of the concepts used there and the extent to which they shed light on the situation studied.

      As for Hirsh having taken me to pieces, it is too embarrassing to even begin to respond to this bizarre fantasy. Check the exchange on SA Jewish Report’s letters page to get a grip on reality.

      • Richard Gold Says:

        In your dreams Ran, but thanks for the laugh.

      • NIMN Says:

        Richard Gold,
        I have nothing to add to you comment. After all, was it Ran or Hirsh reduced to calling the reporter a “hag in a rag”……..? hmmm, let me think……..Now, what’s that sound all the way from SA. Ah,the sound of an argument being shredded………again and again and again.
        But,one adavantage of Ran’s understanding of concept’s – they can meaning whatever he wants them to mean. As in “having one’s argument destroyed in public” can, according to his “logic” mean, “I won! I won.”
        Concpeutal blurring means never having to say I was wrong.

    • Blacklisted Dictator Says:

      AO,

      The Greenstein quotes are quite classic.

      But to be fair, Ran’s BDS colleagues in South Africa knew that the apartheid analogy was nonsense and asked him to fix it…
      ” We need a new version of the rubbish that we’ve been spouting 24/7. Can you come up with something?”

      Greenstein thought about it. And after a visit to the Wartenweiler library, he told them:

      “‘I tell you what. Let’s call it “generic” apartheid, aka apartheid “of a special type”. I’ll bung in some Weber and it will be so baffling, that nobody will be bothered to dissect it. Yep, I can even de-link it from historical apartheid.”

      They shook their heads in disbelief.

      • Bill Says:

        Apartheid is Apartheid. The term is very well defined and delineated from other modern models since SA was The Apartheid State™. There is no special Apartheid, there is no generic Apartheid, anymore than there is a special or generic Child Molester, or special or generic Genocide. It is the “A-word,” and like it’s fellow x-words, it serves no purpose other than to try to shame and paralyze the person on the other side — until of course you insist on having the Rans of the world explaining how Israel is Apartheid-era South Africa. Then we get the rebranding of Apartheid to mean anything they want it to mean — except of course the Real McCoy which of course loses its significance in the watering down. Hence his colleagues who take the history of SA and Apartheid seriously wanting him to lay off it.

        • Thomas Venner Says:

          “It would seem that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox hunting, bullfighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley’s broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.”
          -George Orwell

  44. Absolute Observer Says:

    Like most Little Israelers, Ran knows fuck all about antisemitism.

  45. Ran Greenstein Says:

    Richard, throughout the Mandate period, the mainstream of Palestinian-Arab nationalism regarded the bulk of the new organized Jewish community as illegitimate, in that they immigrated to Palestine against the will of the local population, and embarked on an exclusionary political project. That is why the bi-nationalists did not have an Arab counterpart and that is why they were never a significant force among Jews. But, Jews back then and Jews today in Israel are very different communities: no one can defeat militarily the State of Israel, but its principle of ethnic exclusionary organization is being challenged and can be transformed from within. We won’t see the results immediately. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      So there wasn’t a counter-part bi-nationalist movement on the Palestinian side but now you think it’s different and a possibility ? After over 60 years of hate on both sides, with Hamas and Hizbollah, the rise of Likud
      etc ?. You’re entitled to your dreams Ran but it’s pie in the sky. After an end to the occupation and a real 2 states solution, then maybe after many years the conditions for a binational state will be in place. The only thing is that by then nobody will actually want a binational state.

      One good thing come from what you say Ran and that is that you show the truth to the lie that the boycott movement is only a campaign to end the occupation and not Israel itself.

      • Ran Greenstein Says:

        Richard, as you should know from every textbook on the issue, Palestinians before 1948 demanded that the country be treated as all other countries in the same status: be allowed to form representative institutions to which all residents would be entitled to vote and determine the government’s policy, as a step on the way to full independence.

        But the British ‘singled out’ the country and selected it (and only it) as a place in which the normal democratic principles do not apply. The residents of Palestine (and only them) were not entitled to have their own democratic institutions. Can you think of a single indigenous group in Asia, Africa or the Americas which accepted such treatment as just and justified, and rushed to embrace those who came there against their will?

        But we are now, more than 60 years later, in a different situation. Large numbers of Palestinians do adhere to a bi-national vision of one sort or another. Most Jews continue to reject it, as they continue to reject any real independence for Palestinian even within the occupied territories. If my vision is ‘pie in the sky’, I am afraid we are in the same boat: ending the occupation and forming a genuinely independent Palestinian state is just as illusory. The more you talk about that, the more it becomes part of the international consensus, the more remote it becomes on the ground. Open your eyes and smell the teargas…

        • Richard Gold Says:

          “Richard, as you should know from every textbook on the issue, Palestinians before 1948 demanded that the country be treated as all other countries in the same status: be allowed to form representative institutions to which all residents would be entitled to vote and determine the government’s policy, as a step on the way to full independence.”

          But that wasn’ t the position of the Palestinian leadership pre-48. Ran, you may genuinely believe that a true binational state is achievable but i think you’re deluding yourself (we can call it Yugolsavia). But again thanks for demonstrating how your boycott campaign is a campaign to end the Israeli state and not just a campaign to end the occupation and to thus achieve and independent Palestinian state alongside a pre-67Israel. You’ll be glad to know that i’ll be citing you as an example in future when people claim that the boycott campaign is a campaign to end the occupation.

  46. Ran Greenstein Says:

    Richard, as every textbook would confirm, that was precisely the position of the Palestinian leadership in their negotiations with the British before 1948.

    If you cite me in the future (for which I thank you in advance) please be sure to include my call for Israel to be transformed from within, from an exclusionary Jewish state into a democratic state that belongs to all its residents equally. Does this mean ‘the end of Israel’? Only if the notion of Israel is identical in your mind with an exclusionary ethno-religious state.

    • Richard Gold Says:

      I’m giving you the last word here Ran because i know how important the last word is to you.

  47. Karl Pfeifer Says:

    Ran Greenstein I guess according to you the Mufti Hadj Amin el Hussaini was also a legimate Palestinian nationalist and had nothing to do with antisemitism? How about his collaboration with the nazis? Was that legitimate? How about him writing letters not to let Jewish children to Palestine?

  48. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I know that Ran Greenstein is too busy failing to answer others’ criticism of him and his efforts, but it would be nice to have a response to the following two comments of mine, from the same posting:

    (The first refers to the supposed expulsion of 80% of the Palestinians from what became Israel in 1948)
    1. “And I ask Ran Greenstein for at least the 5th time, how is this situation (if it took place as he describes, and he has produced no evidence for the process as he claims it to have occurred) conceptually different form the apartheid South African state’s attempt to pen Black South Africans in Bantustans? Which effort, as I have noted before, could well, under slightly different circumstances, have succeeded.”

    The second is, I hope, self-evident, and is less a question, more a criticism of Greenstein’s approach: if he disagrees that this is what he’s doing, he should say so. He should be careful in ignoring it, because silence may well be taken as assent to the implications of the comment:
    2. “Academics who ignore inconvenient facts and arguments or data points which fall outside their expected (and even _demanded_ ) range – for the hypothesis to be “proven” – don’t, oddly enough, strengthen their case. They weaken it to the point of collapse.”

    Answers to my other points would be nice, but he’s ignored those for so long that I can only assume that he accepts them as valid.

  49. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I’m testing the moderators’ patience to the limit here in repeating myself in such detail, but Ran Greenstein, Associate Professor of Sociology, Witwatersrand University, South Africa, is a past master in not answering the points put to him. So, I posted the following on 21 October last, and so far haven’t had answer to any of the points contained therein:

    “Ran Greenstein:

    Fact: apart from the descendants of the Jews left behind by the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Romans, Turkish controlled Palestine (Southern Syria) also permitted the entry of ultra orthodox Jews who wished to live and die in the holy land (their definition).

    Fact: from about 1870, modern Zionists started to enter this area, buying land from the Turks or other locals but with Turkish permission (if you don’t like this, go blame the Turkish empire).

    Fact: this continued to happen, quite legitimately, under the British (League of Nations) Mandate. If you don’t like this, blame the British Mandatory authorities and the British governments of the day. Why not? Everyone else does.

    Fact, for whatever reason or reasons of realpolitik, the UN General Assembly passed a partition resolution in November 1947. If you don’t like this fact, blame the UN General Assembly of 1947. You’d be in good company: whole groups, like most of those in the BDS movement, do; so, I imagine, does Hamas, Hezbollah and their paymaster, Iran. So, if you don’t like this, you’d be in a wide group of dislikers, many of them not nice people, but, hey, devil and long spoons and all that.

    Fact: it wasn’t the Jewish Agency (_the_ power group among the Jews of the Yishuv, I assume you’ll agree) that rejected this partition plan. However reluctantly, they accepted it – and Irgun & the Stern Gang are of no account here. It was the Palestinians and their backers, the Arab states around them (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq) which rejected this minimalist plan. It was the _Arab_ militias which attacked the Jewish settlements and towns from November 1947 to May 1948. And they lost: they lost men, material and ground to the Jews (soon to be Israelis). Then, after the Declaration of Independence on 15 May 1948, 5 Arab armies invaded the former Mandate area. And they were first fought to a standstill and then, with the exception of the Jordanians, driven back. If you don’t like this, blame the Arab states, or history, or something, but don’t blame the Jews: they were preventing themselves from being driven into the sea – the self-proclaimed goal of those militia groups and those Arab states.

    Then the Israelis established a state, and, regrettably, a voting system of essentially “pure” proportional representation, with the result that Israelis elect governments that have to be coalitions of unholy partners, doomed to please no-one who voted for any of the constituent parts. But that’s their _democratic_ privilege (and it _is_ a democracy). And, you know what, Arab-Israelis can vote for Arab-Israelis to become MKs. And they do.

    You may not like any of this, but tough, it’s the world as it exists. And I will repeat: not only were the Israelis only _partly_ responsible, and arguably not the greater part, for the creation of the refugee situation, they certainly didn’t create the refugee camps in Gaza, on the West Bank or in Lebanon: the Egyptian, Jordanian and Lebanese governments did that all by themselves. Nor did the Israelis institute the definitional nonsense that counts all descendants of those originally displaced as refugees: the UNRWA did that all by themselves.

    So stop being patronising and condescending towards me, telling me to do the maths, and start producing some evidence for your assertions. Start, that is, commenting like the academic you are, and not like some ill-educated member of one or other member groups of the BDS movement.

    And you could also stop expecting Israeli governments and people to be so much more holier than any other people.

    More can be found in my latest comment in reply to levi9909 above in a previous comments thread. After all, I haven’t even started on how a large number of contemporary liberal-democracies got like that via ethnic cleansing, or how the European refugee problem was solved long before the Palestinian refugees became a direct problem for the Israelis.”

    As I stated above, I’ve never had a reply to any of the points raised in this now 8 1/2 month old comment. Somehow, though, I’m not surprised at that.


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