Friday, August 03, 2007

Concrete solidarity

While British transport unions boycott Israeli unions, Israeli unions are busy forging real links with Palestinian unions, surely the correct strategy for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine.
Report here via Arieh.

Update: more at Shiraz Socialist.
Update 2: Arieh also sent this JP article on another example of concrete engagement: the Northern Exposure initiative, created by Shatil, the New Israel Fund's empowerment and training center.


Renegade Eye said...

I agree with the direction of the Israeli unions.

My position on the Israeli boycott is 90% in agreement with you. I'd support not moving weaponry to Israel, not a blanket boycott.

bob said...

I agree with not moving weaponry to Israel, and indeed to divesting in companies like Catapiller who are actively involved in building the wall or with the Occupation.

But then, I also believe that there are regimes across the world who are engaged in similar human rights infringements, and we should be stopping weaponry and so on getting to them. India has a security fence ("apartheid wall") inside its border with Bangladesh, dispossing over 40,000 villagers - shouldn't trade unionists be identifying which companies are involved in that?

In other words, singling out Israel is my issue, not taking action against its acts of violence.

Noga said...

"In other words, singling out Israel is my issue, not taking action against its acts of violence."

The so-called "Wall" (mostly fence) is hardly an act of violence. It's the least aggressive solution to the competition between two human rights: the right to life and the right to live free of hassle when you go to school (let's call it the right to dignity). The right to life wins in this competition, even if that life is Israeli. A Palestinian kid may have to walk an obstacle route to get to school, but he gets there. An Israeli kid does not get to school for being blown up on the way. It's that simple.

And the fact that the fence is partly built outside what is known as "The Green Line" does not change this simple principle. The Israelis who live in the WB are there by government encouragement in the past. They have a right to be as much protected as any other Israeli. Until some other arrangement can be arrived at.

The "apartheide" tagging of this non-violent measure to reduce violence (both Israeli and Palestinian) is just a ploy to get to the one state solution from the backdoor.

bob said...

I'm not sure that I agree with Noga in this:
"The Israelis who live in the WB are there by government encouragement in the past. They have a right to be as much protected as any other Israeli. Until some other arrangement can be arrived at."
In the very, very short-term that's correct. But if you really believe in a 2-state solution, they must be withdrawn as quickly as possible. Of course, if you accept a one-state solution, you have to allow Jewish settlements anywhere in Greater Israel...

By the way, I don't think that the fence is an "apartheid wall". I disagree with the apartheid analogy. My point in using it in relation to India was to relativise what's going on (and branded as "apatheid") in Israel by showing how it is happening elsewhere.

Hope that sort of makes sense!

Noga said...


Hypothetical: Is there any reason on earth why Jews should be excluded from living in the future state of Palestine? Do you think a similar principle should be applied to Palestinian Arabs who live in Israel?

It is my position that Jews have a right to live in the WB. Palestinians claim they have a right to live in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Clearly, this is not what Israelis or Palestinians wish. Israelis want to keep their Jewish statehood and Palestinians hate Jews too much to allow their presence in their future state. What we have here is two rights clashing. It has long been my position that these rights have to be traded. It's the only pragmatic solution and therefore the only one that is ethical in the present circumstances. It is also a fact that in this trading of rights Palestinians will win; Their country will be Judenrein while Israel will still have a 20% Palestinian population. I don't see any contradiction between the principle of Jewish democracy and the principle of ethnic, religious diversity. If the Palestinians wish their state to be monocultural and racist, it's entirely their problem, as long as they leave Israel in peace. Maybe the British boycotters will turn their sights on that state for a change :-)

It is my position that there can be no one state solution. Israel should remain Jewish and democractic and hopefully, secular by law. This insistance on denying Jews a normalcy of existence (which is what the boycotters are after) is tantamount to persecution and terrible injustice.

I do hope you are familiar with some aspects of Jewish history in pre-Israel Palestine:

promoteyourblogforfree said...

nice blog

Daniel said...

I see no reason why a Jewish minority should not live in Arab Palestine just as much as an Arab minority (currently 17 percent) should live in Israel. However this is subject to negotiations and concessions on both sides.

I don't agree at all with "no weapon exports to Israel." That is ludacrist, given the contemporary climate. Sadly this is a world where Jews and Israelis are subject of vehement hate campaigns. To say Israel should not have arms imports, but Syria, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Lybia, Lebanon should is living in cookoo land. In fact all these countries are under treath of militant extremism from all sides.

Yes IDF should be kept accountable for its actions. And for most it is. The process of accountability there is no worse or better than the same in the UK. It is not often satisfactory or just, but under the scrutiny of all, in fact more than in Britain.

In the past I have felt many IDF action objectionable, but not on the principle that Jews in Israel should not have an army to protect themselves, because the issue of Palestine is not resolved. This matter complicates that right but it would be wrong to abrogate it.

Arguments on the basis that Israel should not have arms imports, or have an army, are not going to solve the prime factor in Jewish Israeli arguments. This is still one of security and right to exist, against a barrage of nihilists about exactly that.

bob said...

Excellent points Noga, helping me think through my position.

I believe there is no reason Jews or Arabs should not live anywhere in Eretz Israel/Palestine. Ultimately, I do not believe in the nation-state in the sense of an ethnically exclusive nation.

Israel is by no means unique in seeking to be an ethnically exclusive nation-state; the law of return is simply a version of the law of blood (jus sanguinis) that defines nationality in many Western nation-states. In Germany, for example, "ethnic" Germans can get German nationality even after generations away, while "Turkish" children of "guestworkers" born in Germany are denied this, remaining "foreigners" unto the nth generation. This is why, in the (utopian) long run, I believe in a one-state solution, based on anyone living anywhere they want to live.

Of course, in the current situation, that seems unlikely, and, as Noga says, an ethical compromise must be reached through negotiations. Surely, the first ethical compromise that Israel must make is a halt to settlement expansion, and a commitment to scaling back existing settlements.

Incidentally, the settlements would be a good litmus for the sincerity of one-state solution activists. If the one-state solution is not a cover for the extermination of Israel, then it has to include allowing the settlers to live on the West Bank and Gaza.

Re Daniel’s points on arms exports. First, I don’t want Syria, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Libya to get arms either, and they would be there on my list (much higher up than Israel in most cases) along with many other regimes in other parts of the world that, under any truly ethical foreign policy, democratic states would not be exporting arms to.

However, my point around the arms exports is not so much to advocate such a moratorium, so much as to point out the absurdity of an academic and cultural boycott in contrast to far more serious, concrete things British (and other Western) trade unions could be doing to stop the violence. Israeli academia is a space for dissent and dialogue, and should be nurtured, as should Israeli trade unions. If British unions want to do something serious, they should think about steps towards positive engagement with Palestinians, and they should think about what they can take action against that might make a positive not negative difference.

Noga said...

Bob: Sidebar:

I had conversations before with people of your political positions vis a vis Israel/Palestine, usually all barbed wire and sandpaper dialogs laced with an almost unrestrained hostility. I hope you won't think it consdescending of me when I say that I am impressed by your gracious style of engagement.

Incognito said...

that's cos Bob is a closet neo-con, Noga. ;-) Just kidding.

bob said...

Thanks for the compliments!