Sunday, March 13, 2011

Snips

Libya: what is to be done?

To be honest, I have no idea what I think should be done. I find the liberal resistance to any action of any sort that dominates The Guardian rather distasteful, but don't know what sort of action I would advocate in response. Simon Jenkins on Wednesday was one example of irritatingness:
Libya strategists are said to be torturing themselves over timing. Barack Obama says he "needs" Gaddafi to go, and David Cameron's position is much the same. Why this need is so pressing when, just months ago, Gaddafi was a dear ally and patron of western scholarship is a mystery. But in Cameron's statement on no-fly zones last week, Britain appeared to assert its right in international law to remove Gaddafi, as it did the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.
Our rulers were obviously wrong, cynical and corrupt to think or claim to think that Gaddafi was a good thing a few months ago. But it should also be obvious what has changed and why the issue is now pressing: his slaughter of at least hundreds and probably thousands of "his" citizens.
In this ambition he was supported by the leftwing international lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, who claimed to have found a right for "states to render assistance to innocent civilians battling for their lives" wherever that might be. This right apparently "emerges or crystallises" not from any democratic decision but from "state practice, conventions, writings of jurists and dictates of collective conscience"... It is the Bush-Cheney theory of zero national sovereignty, and could be used to justify every aggressive war by Washington or Moscow over the last 50 years.
I have written before that national sovereignty is one of the most reactionary ideas there is. "What is a nation? How can a nation have a “self”? How is that “self” supposed to determine itself? Why should that self-determination take the shape of a state? Why should we respect the systems of rule that history has randomly bestowed on other nations? Why should we go to war, for example, out of respect for some Kuwaiti hereditary monarch’s right to use his kingdom as a personal bank account? Equally, why should we “stop” a war out of respect for some national socialist or clerical-fascist’s right to use his country as a personal fiefdom?" In other words, the "Bush-Cheney theory of zero national sovereignty" is correct. Why should we respect Gaddafi's right to rule "his" country?

Carl Packman has a very good series of posts arguing that a no fly zone is the way forward, starting with this endorsement from Karl Marx, continuing here, here, here. Michael Walzer and Norman Geras have been chewing it over too: here's Walzer, Geras, Walzer. See also Nick Cohen, Shiraz Socialist and Marko Hoare.

Our Israel obsession and theirs

I still haven't finished my post on that. In the meantime, read Flesh's excellent one. Like her, I am increasingly depressed at the situation in Israel, the right-wing drift among its politicians and among its defenders abroad, the continued hatred on both sides, the continued murderous violence from Islamic Jihad, the Netanyahu government's absolute lack of commitment to peace.

For sane voices, I recommend Khaled Abu Toameh and Lisa Goldman.

Letter from a Muslim

PJ Media is probably not most of my readers' cup of tea, but there is a lot in it of interest. These three letters "from a concerned Muslim", by Salim Mansur, are fascinating for example. From the other end of the political spectrum in some ways, but not in others, here's Yassamine Mather on "Islamic feminism" in the Weekly Worker.

South London

I notice George Orwell has been around my way again lately. Here he is, on the 3 March 1941:
Last night with G. [1] to see the shelter in the crypt under Greenwich church.  The usual wooden and sacking bunks, dirty (no doubt also lousy when it gets warmer), ill-lighted and smelly, but not on this particular night very crowded.  The crypt is simply a system of narrow passages running between vaults on which are the names of the families buried in them, the most recent being about 1800. . . .  G. and the others insisted that I had not seen it at its worst, because on nights when it is crowded (about 250 people) the stench is said to be almost insupportable.  I stuck to it, however, though none of the others would agree with me, that it is far worse for children to be playing among vaults full of corpses than that they should have to put up with a certain amount of living human smell.
[1] Gwen O’Shaughnessy, Eileen’s sister-in-law. Peter Davison

Bob's beats

I haven't done a music post in ages. Here are a couple of snippets. Mudd Up has some great sounds from the Sahel: rebel desert music from Northwestern Mali. Music, History plays some classic klezmer from the vaults, and some music composed by Charlie Chaplin.

68 comments:

Entdinglichung said...

during the 1980ies, the German left collected 4.7 million Deutschmark for the campaign "Weapons for El Salvador" for aiding the FMLN, probably a similar campaign could be useful today

skidmarx said...

A pathetic though polite appeal from Carl Packman:
just show me one document telling me why the West’s intervention will be for vested interest, please
And the same old slander of the anti-imperialist left:
Since arming the revolution would count as “Western intervention” I guess that’s out of the question.

bob said...

I clearly don't spend enough time with the anti-imperialist left, but I haven't really seen anywhere the anti-imperialist left has defended arming the Libyan rebels. I had a look at the SWP website, and see Simon Assaf arguing against any intervention, callous though he knows that sounds. Doesn't say, OK but arming the rebels wouldn't count. Had a brief look at Counterfire, and see Rees, German and Hamid Dabashi arguing against any sort of intervention, including a no fly zone - no mention of arming the rebels.

Then I checked MRZine, and find Assaf again. They mention
Muhammad min Libya arguing against intervention but for a NFZ, although they say NFZ is intervention so he's wrong.

In Defence of Marxism, the site of the IMT, is a bit better. Renegade Eye links to an article by Jorge Martin (oddly hard to find from the Marxism.com frontpage) arguing that Western intervention is wrong, but that we should support the uprising. But again, no idea of HOW we might support the uprising.

So, show me where the mainstream anti-imperialist left is calling for arming the rebels.

I'm not trying to score points here. I genuinely don't know what I think we in the West should do, or what if anything we should call on our governments to do. I am confused about the leadership of the Libyan rebels, and don't see any clear channels for expressing concrete solidarity with them. Any suggestions and thoughts welcome.

The Contentious Centrist said...

"I am increasingly depressed at the situation in Israel, the right-wing drift among its politicians and among its defenders abroad,"

An odd timing to post a reprimand to Israelis home and abroad for drifting to the right. Considering how just a few days passed since the murder of a family of five in their sleep, including the children stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist.

"The Palestinian Authority and its leaders share the blame for the murders of the five Israelis from Itamar on Friday - including two children and an infant - along with the terrorists who committed them. It is the PA and its leaders who have prepared the ground for these murders with the incessant incitement to hatred and the glorification of violence and terror.

In spite of its conciliatory statements in English, the PA continues to use all the structures it controls to demonize Israelis and to promote violence. Terrorists are presented as heroes and role models for Palestinians, teaching that killing Israelis is a way to earn eternal fame."

http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=4802

skidmarx said...

The mainstream anti-imperialist left tends to think they're doing well enough on their own.
Perhaps, more precisely, expecting the West to empower the rebels by arming them is illusory and a trap, but that doesn't mean the a-i left is oppsed to the rebels acquiring and using arms. As Simon Assaf says:
The rebels have been painted as “headstrong” and “hotheads”, a disorganised rabble steaming into battle without any military plan.
Yet they are determined to topple the regime.

skidmarx said...

Contentious Centrist - or to see it another way

The Contentious Centrist said...

"The Magnes Zionist is unequivocal: “The murders at Itamar are just that — murders. All decent people condemn them, or should condemn them."

But because settlers were murdered, skidmarx is willing to accept that they are less of a murder. Else, why would he try to distract from their atrocity?

skidmarx is a moral illiterate.

Levi9909 said...

"why would he try to distract from their atrocity?"

Because he read the whole post and didn't just select the bits that served his own prejudice like you did. I'm sure there is room for the whole of the Magnes Zionist post here. Let's see:

The murders at Itamar are just that — murders. All decent people condemn them, or should condemn them. They are not to be condemned because Jews were murdered, or because settlers were murdered, but because human beings were murdered.
What does this say about the Palestinian struggle? After all, the al-Akseh brigade has taken responsibility. Well, my answer is simple – insofar as murder is murder is murder, it says nothing. If you are asking me, “What are the consequences in the bigger scheme of things,” my answer is, probably, none. There have been murders in the past, and there will be murders, I fear, in the future. Were a thousand Palestinians murdered or a thousand Israelis Jews murdered, I would say the same thing. When Whites were murdered in South Africa during the apartheid era – and after apartheid was over, I condemned those murders. Being part of a persecuted minority doesn’t give you the right to kill civilians

That those murdered were settlers means nothing to me. I believe that the settlement enterprise is criminal, and that the settlements have destroyed the lives of innocent people. Settlements are, in that sense, terrorism.. But nobody forfeits his right to life, even if he lives in a battle zone, and even if he is part of a criminal enterprise.

As for the method of the murder, stabbings, etc., I see no difference between wielding a knife to kill a baby and dropping a bomb to kill a baby. One is as inhuman as another.


I have lots of time for the Magnes Zionist but I don't agree with his take on the equality of murder. But then nor does Noga. What I won't do is selectively quote from someone like MZ who finds racism abhorrent to make him sound like the kind of hypocrite who wants to use the "last atrocity" as an excuse for the next one and all those that went before.

Levi9909 said...

but don't let me come between Noga and an answer from Bob as to what it is he finds so troubling about the increasing explicitness of Israel's racism as opposed to just its racism.

The Contentious Centrist said...

What exactly is levi's point? Bottom line, the settlers deserved it. They asked for it. They were engaged in terrorism (settlement) and got their just deserts. THEY have no case whatsoever. THEY have no history, no attachments, no beliefs. THEY are just ... what? Terrorists! The 4 months old baby was a terrorist-settler. The older kids were terrorist settlers.

Were these vile murders meant as a message to Israel? Or was it a message to Abbas and co, following Al-Jazeera's leaks to not even dare to think of reaching peace and compromise with Israel. Or else, more murders like this will take place and eventually all hell will break loose.

What was levi's response to those putative concessions, I wonder?

Frightening people, these "peace lovers" are.

bob said...

First on the anti-imperialist left and arming the rebels.

The mainstream anti-imperialist left tends to think they're doing well enough on their own.

Well, it is quite clear that they are not doing well enough. They are doing incredibly well considering what scarce resources they have to work with, but the outcome is very uncertain and they are being killed in large numbers at this very minute. I don't know how to respond to that, but saying they're doing fine is wholly inadequate.

Perhaps, more precisely, expecting the West to empower the rebels by arming them is illusory and a trap, but that doesn't mean the a-i left is oppsed to the rebels acquiring and using arms. As Simon Assaf says:
The rebels have been painted as “headstrong” and “hotheads”, a disorganised rabble steaming into battle without any military plan.
Yet they are determined to topple the regime.


Let's hope being determined is enough. But as the weeks go by, it is looking less likely that it is. Where does the mainstream anti-imp left propose they will get their arms? I like Entdinglichung's proposal - perhaps those anti-imperialists who refuse any Western state help might take him up on the idea. Or perhaps not.

(I'm remembering the brilliant cartoon on the cover of the samizdat copy of John Sullivan's When This Pub Closes, with an SWP paperseller, the headline reading "Deeds not words" and a worker rushing up to him saying something like "OK we've stormed the factory and taken the post office, now what?" and the paperseller has no idea.)


It is, of course, a stronger argument that it would be counterproductive to let the Western state arm the rebels, as this would mortgage the revolution to our oil interests and so on. That might be a reason against a no fly zone etc, but it would also allow lots of people to die in the meantime.

bob said...

Noga, a very good point. The Itamar murders, which have taken Palestinian terrorism to a new level, were very distressing, and not the occassion to condemn Israel's right-ward drift. The Guardian reported that Fatah's Al-Aqsa brigade claimed responsibility, while the Israeli press seem to be reporting this is not the case. If they were responsible, then the PA has a certain culpability, and that makes a difference.

However, the response has been depressing, with building more settlements as the answer, and settlers attacking Palestinians with rocks. While these acts are not morally equivalent, and do not negate the crime of killing children, they are a source for me of despair, evidence of a deepening of the cycle of hate, and an exemplification of the Israeli right's doctrine of collective responsibility, that all Palestinians should be punished for the crimes of any.

While I would not advocate the removal of all settlements, the settler movement as a movement is a tumour on the Israeli body politic. The growth of the settler right, but also of the wider right, is a disturbing trend. Every week it seems a new, insane, racist peice of legislation is introduced into the Knesset. While only some of the legislation is passed, there is an incremental change week by week in the nature of the Israeli state.

For months I have been getting more depressed and angry about this, and there was no particular reason that the weekend was when I chose to mention it briefly, apart from that I had spent perhaps more time with news from Israel.

--

Yesterday, before reading these comments, I started writing a post which will go up today or tomorrow, in which I have written of "the horror and evil of the Itamar massacre, and the stupidness of responding by expanding the settlements".

--

By the way, I feel I am not as well informed as I should be on the situation in Israel/Palestine, and that this means a certain tentativeness in what I say in arguments in both directions, and I have resolved to make myself better informed. But I am also not as well informed as I should be on any of the topics I write about - including Egypt, Libya, the Balkans, etc. I feel I am still entitled to have and express opinions despite this, and welcome being corrected.

skidmarx said...

I liked the Sullivan book too. Steve Bell's SW paper seller had the classic headline "ALL OUT TOMORROW FOREVER".
Here's someone from the SWP arguing for the rebels to be allowed to get arms:
Andy I do argue against intervention. But this is in no sense an event like Kosovo etc. This is part of the Arab revolution sweeping across the region. And Calvin is simply an agent of the Gaddafi regime. Unlike the WRP he’s not even smart enough to get paid by them. Either we are with the Arab revolutions, with all their contradictions, contradictions we can argue about, or we are on the other side. Thats how it is with revolutions. You are either with them or you are against them. Imaginary vanguards waiting for an appropriate leadership to support are irrelevant.
Comment by johng


Similar from chjh and richsw on the same thread.
I should have been clearer. If you want to make a case that the SWP is committing a sin of omission in not supporting a Western intervention (like Jim Denham) the level of evidence required should be them actually saying "We'd rather see the rebels crushed than have them accept one M-16, rather than imputing such a stance from an interpretation of what they haven't said.

This also made me quite angry. It did remind me that the scene of Israeli settlers in Hebron in The Promise, throwing their garbage down onto the Palestinians didn't require any fictionalisation.

bob said...

I should also add that the rise of the Israeli right is part of a Europe-wide rise of the right, and needs to be placed very much in that context. The Tories' allies in Europe in its ragtag "European Reformists and Conservatives" group, or whatever it is called; the re-branded fascists in the Italian ruling coalition; the deportation of Roma from Sarko's France; the pact the Dutch ruling coalition has made with Geert Wilders; Jobbik becoming the third largest party in Hungary; the polling suggesting that the FN will get nearly a quarter of first preference votes next year in France; the English Defence League. Intolerant, hateful forms of nationalism seem to be sweeping Europe. No reason Israel should be different.

kellie said...

On the arguments against intervention in Libya by "imperialist"powers, I'm reminded of how Toussaint L'Ouverture allied for a time with the imperialist Kingdom of Spain against the new French Republic because before the Republic committed to abolition, the Spanish alliance best suited the cause of liberty in Haiti.

The call for a no fly zone and targeted airstikes is coming from the revolutionary leadership in Benghazi. The suggestion that we listen to Libyans seems to me a sound one, and France's recognition of the Transitional National Council a bright spot amongst Western responses.

The best outcome, the only outcome that would be good for Libyans and their neighbours, would be the defeat of Ghadaffi and the empowerment of the Libyan people. To that end, any foreign military help would have to be not just initially at the invitation of Libyans, but continue to be in the service of a Libyan popular victory, and not take matters out of their hands. The arms embargo seems flawed by this measure - a repeat of one of the mistakes from Bosnia.

As for the idea that any foreign imperialist support for a revolution can only serve the interests of the imperialist, tell that to the sponsor of America's revolution, old King Louis, headless in his grave.

bob said...

Thanks for the long perspective Kellie. Haiti and the American war of independence are interesting parallels, as is Bosnia of course. In the slave world, escaped slaves also fought on the British side in the American war of independence, because Britain promised their freedom and they identified the new republic with the plantocracy. Not sure what that means.

Listening to the rebels is clearly right. The trouble is, it is hard to know which voices to listen to. The anti-imps (including SWP and Counterfire) put a lot of emphasis on the (single?) banner in free Beghazi saying "No foreign intervention - Libyan people can manage it alone". That banner was flying when the rebels had the upper hand, and we have no idea how many people it represented.

The anti-imps Tory isolationist allies, like Simon Jenkins, also put weight on this. He says "cogent Libyan rebels have been pleading for the west to stay out of their conflict and not lend credence to Gaddafi's claim that the west wants Libya's oil" - although he gives no evidence for this claim. Perhaps "cogent" means writes banners in English.

On the other hand, I don't feel we know enough about the Transnitional National Council to give it full support. It clearly includes lots of ex-apparatchiks of the old regime. On this, Simon Assaf is not wrong: "mong its leaders are former stalwarts of the regime. The council has already compromised. One of its first declarations was to honour all international contracts signed by Gaddafi’s regime. If the revolution allies itself with Western imperialism it will lose credibility among Libyans and the rest of the Arab world. "

Levi9909 said...

"OK we've stormed the factory and taken the post office, now what?"

Bob - I think that might be the most concise history of the Easter Rising I've ever read.

Noga - I posted the whole of the Magnes Zionist post that you cherry picked from and I added that it is wrong to assert the equality of war crimes, on the one hand and resistance on the other, no matter what forms they take.

I believe the deliberate killing of children to be a terrible thing no matter who does it and no matter who the victims are. The reason for that is that children cannot choose whether to be settlers or terrorists or anything else that requires political and therefore adult motivation. I can only wonder about the motivation of parents who use their children to commit the war crime of settlement in occupied territory. I doubt if they are seeking peace with the occupied or ethnically cleansed natives. In fact they are not just using their children as shields, they are using them as swords.

Anyway, to return to the topic, you were trying to use the incident to dissuade Bob from criticising the increasing explicitness of Israel's racism towards the natives and neighbours of Palestine. Bob has characerised this as a "right-wing drift" though there are members of the government who, in zionist terms, are both to the left and right of the official opposition. Perhaps, unlike Noga, Bob really is a contentious centrist.

bob said...

Re Skid, removed from the spam queue. It is a rare treat for me to be able to more or less agree with John G. Clearly, the SWP are taking a much better line than the reactionary hardcore anti-imp position (the scab position, as Jim Denham rightly puts it) taken by Noah and Calvin Tucker, Andy Newman and John Wight. It would be good to see the SWP revert to Third Camp form, having swayed so long to a Second Camp position. (Interesting that John Wight attributes the SWP's wrongness to their state capitalist analysis: Tucker, Wight, Newman and co are essentially Stalinists, whose very un-21st century idea of "socialism" always involves a strong state and a strongman at the helm.)

As I said, I'm not trying to score points against the SWP here. Maybe they're right on this one: I haven't made up my mind. But I'd like to see them offer ways of offering solidarity with the rebels if the No Fly Zone is not the way forward.

kellie said...

I'm not at all sure Assaf is right on that point. The TNC rightly sees the greatest threat to Libyans' liberty as the Ghaddafi regime, not Western imperialism. Ghaddafi is the immediate danger, and in that fight they need to make allies, not more enemies. In that context reassuring international business interests is 100% sane and sensible.

On the TNC including former regime ministers, they're trying to overthrow a single party regime. The choice is between people in jail, in exile, inexperienced, or defectors from the regime. Depending on the individual, I wouldn't rule out defectors, and while I would focus more on actions and consequences than motive, I wouldn't be too quick to doubt their sincerity either.

Did you hear the speech by the representative for Libya (a defector from the regime) back on the 25th of Feb, before the UN sanctions vote?

Also worth listening to, Mahmoud Jebril, speaking at the European Parliament last week in this very short clip.

It's approaching two weeks now since the council in Benghazi first called for a No Fly Zone.

bob said...

On Hebron, the scene in The Promise is based on a real incident, which it attemtps to visually echo, and there are plenty of other horrifying incidents there. Hebron is a fucked up situation, and the settlers there include some very horrible people.

I am not sure about Lia Tarachansky's explaining away of stoning. It seems to me part of a narrative of justification which exactly mirrors the settlers' narrative of justification - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. JfJfP ought to be looking for ways out of that cycle.

It is also worth noting about Tarachansky's story that the shooters have been arrested. The Israeli state should take a stronger line against settler violence, but it is wrong to portray it simply as defending the settlers.

Non-sequitor (how do you spell that?) of the week from JfJfP: "Fences are not just against Palestinians. One has just been built on a West Jerusalem playground to keep children from a secular nursery school from playing with peers at an ultra-Orthodox one. All paid for by the municipality. Anyway, fences are only for (i.e. against) Palestinians. Israelis cross them with impunity."

Finally, while this shooting should make us angry, the Itamar killings should make us at least as angry.

bob said...

Talking of arming the rebels, I see Israel has just intercepted tonnes of weaponry on a ship heading to Gaza, which came from Syria via Turkey. http://bit.ly/hoNN9o

Levi9909 said...

I've just noticed more evidence of Bob's contentious centrism. Most secular anti-zionists refrain from using the word "evil" or any other religious language to characterise politically motivated behaviours and yet Bob has happily accused me (et al) of doing just that with regard to the unique features of the zionist project.

Now Bob is using the word "evil" to describe whoever killed the family at Itamar and he has resorted to oncology, ie "tumour", to describe some Jewish settlements.

I think it's always best to keep the language secular and humanistic when we're describing the voluntary actions of human beings. Otherwise who can guess what is being incited? I mean, what do you do with "evil" and how do you deal with a "tumour"?

The Contentious Centrist said...

From Camera:

"Wall Street Journal columnist Brett Stephens asks:

Just what kind of society thinks it's "natural" to slit the throats of children in their beds?

And answers:

The same society that has named summer camps, soccer tournaments and a public square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian woman who in March 1978 killed an American photographer and hijacked a pair of Israeli buses, leading to the slaughter of 37 Israeli civilians, 13 children among them."

http://blog.camera.org/archives/2011/03/are_israeli_settlers_human.html

sackcloth and ashes said...

'skidmarx is a moral illiterate'.

He also endorses genocide denial on Rwanda:

http://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/nocide-denial-here-we-go-again/

skidmark is an all-round turd and is best ignored. Just like the rest of the swuppie scum.

Back on topic, when Simon Jenkins (who - lest it be forgotten - was a Thatcherite toady throughout the 1980s) claims that somehow Geoffrey Robertson just invented 'a right for "states to render assistance to innocent civilians battling for their lives" wherever that might be', it just goes to show that this particular 'Guardian' columnist' didn't pay any attention when the UN World Summit formally adopted 'Responsibility to Protect' (R2P) as part of member state's obligations back in 2005.

skidmarx said...

Bob - It would be good to see the SWP revert to Third Camp form, having swayed so long to a Second Camp position.
Cliff was never a Third Campist. While looking for something on Korea and the origins of the International Socialists I discovered this comment:
The resolution on membership does not require adherence to Cliff’s theory – there were Shachtmanites and Dunayevskayaites in the SRG in the 1950s.
Most of what became the SWP never thought that Communist Parties in the West were nothing more than future secret police networks like the Third Campists. There does seem to have been some stick-bending towards only noticing one imperialist power over the last decade or so, but that might be bending back:
The old slogan “Neither Washington nor Moscow”—that we can refuse to support either ruling class—needs dusting off in a context in which much of the left seems to see China as a bulwark against an all-powerful US imperialism.

Levi9909 said...

Noga - Supplying a racist quote condemning a whole society doesn't really address the fact that you accused me (and by extension, Magnes Zionist) of claiming that babies/children deserved to be killed.

We don't actually know who did the killing yet but Gabriel Ash has a good post on JSF on the sheer hypocrisy and racism of the kind of selective condemnation that you and others are engaging in.

Ok, so Dimi Reider issued a ridiculous call for all leftists to prove their "credibility" by condemning the killing in Itamar. Even though I am of course appalled by the slaughter of babies, I am not going to condemn anything here, and I am certainly not going to shed a tear for the death of Mr. and Mrs. Fogel. Not because I, pace Reider, doubt or ignore their humanity, but because they have dedicated their very human lives to destroying others who have done them no harm. My world has lost little with their passing.

No racist generalisations about a whole society there and a moment to condemn the killing of children. The whole post is worth a read.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Bob: it's the second time I write a comment and it disappears after I hit "publish your comment". I just provided a response to levi's evil quote (note, levi, I said "evil") but it vanished again. I can't be bothered to make the effort again.

Levi9909 said...

bob - i've had email notifications of comments that didn't appear in threads but i didn't
I didn't get an email of any comment from Noga this time except the one where she says she can't be bothered to re-write it. of course she can always copy her comments and repost them if there's a glitch.

Noga - I don't criticise your use of the word "evil" because I expect you to demonise Israel's victims, opponents and critics. I criticised your racist take on Palestinian society and your obvious willingness to use the Itamar killings to justify any action Israel might take together with its past actions.

I criticised bob's use of the words "evil" and "tumour" because they are not conducive to understanding. they are dehumanising.

it didn't occur to me on first reading that his use of the expression "tumour on the Israeli body politic" to describe the "settler movement" was possibly a device to pass the settlement enterprise off as an aberration vis a vis the zionist project and the State of Israel.

Together with ordinary Jews from Israel and around the world the settlements contain ministers, MKs, judges, generals and other army personnel, JNF and WZO officials and they enjoy the active connivance of zionists abroad at all levels of the zionist movement. The settlement enterprise is now so embedded in the Israeli body politic, the Jewish Chronicle's editor, Stephen Pollard, has described the PA's refusal to talk with Israel while the settlements are expanded, delegitimisation of Israel. Now that is absurd but when the editor of the main zionist newspaper in the UK can speak of opposition to settlements as delegitimising the State of Israel we can assume that the settler movement is certainly an integral part of the Israeli body politic and the zionist movement globally.

Levi9909 said...

According to the Jerusalem Post there are now reports, mostly in the Palestinian media that the Israelis have arrested a Thai worker in connection with Itamar.

bob said...

I just went to the spam folder, and un-spammed another Skid comment but there was nothing else. I had thought Blogger had sorted out its comment glitches.

I will return later to make my comment - too busy at work right now.

ModernityBlog said...

"I criticised bob's use of the words "evil" and "tumour" because they are not conducive to understanding. they are dehumanising."

Hang on, are we living in an alternative reality?

Because Mark Elf spends most of his time arguing against understanding, and dehumanising Israelis?

Levi9909 said...

moddy, yes, you do seem to inhabit an alternative reality and one where ad hominem smears are a substitute for debate.

I do not dehumanise Israelis and the idea of understanding or not understanding israelis is as ludicrous as anything you have ever said. there are millions of israelis and only an idiot would claim to understand them all.

Anyway, there's a thread developing here around noga's objection to bob's criticism of the increasingly explicit racism of the israeli political establishment. can we continue on that?

i have given two specific examples of where Bob has used words that are not conducive to understanding, one of which (evil) he accuses others of implying, the other of which (tumour) suggests that the settler movement is an aberration on the Israeli body politic.

perhaps we could continue with that and if you must contribute, moddy, then please keep it on topic and serious.

ta

Noga said...

"I do not dehumanise Israelis "

But he quoted, approvingly, this:

"I am not going to condemn anything here, and I am certainly not going to shed a tear for the death of Mr. and Mrs. Fogel. Not because I, pace Reider, doubt or ignore their humanity, but because they have dedicated their very human lives to destroying others who have done them no harm. My world has lost little with their passing."

Good-bye to Jewish trash, is the message levi approves as evidence for "non" racist response to the murders.

Is levi an idiot or what? Is it possible he is incapable of comprehending what he is quoting?

Levi9909 said...

Noga - I think you should go back to counting Arab states until you can get that right or pray for the spam filter to kick in.

Here are words from the section you quoted:

"Not because I....doubt or ignore their humanity, but because they have dedicated their very human lives to destroying others who have done them no harm."

Gabriel has described as human and even "very human" what Bob described as instances of a "tumour". Neither Bob nor Gabriel mentioned the Jewishness of the volunteers in a particularly violent political tendency within a project I see as entirely racist but bob sees as a separate business altogether from the mainstream zionist project.

Keep seeing what you want to see Noga, but please don't clutter the thread.

Thanks

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Bob

Interview with a Syrian anarchist (about Libya) here- http://libcom.org/news/libyan-peoples-committees-should-be-foundation-new-life-not-just-interim-measure-17032011

bob said...

I think there are three parallel sets of threads going on here, Libya, third campism and Itamar. I'll take them in that order, least contentious to most.

Libya: José Antonio Gutiérrez D in the interview at Libcom (thanks WS) talks of the "flag of the monarchy" which doesn't seem right to me. I'd simply call it the old flag, or the flag of independence from italy. The use of the flag seems to be part of the mimetic dimension of these revolutions, with the template started in Tunisia and then used in Egypt being taken up.

Mazen Kamalmaz talks about the people's committees, the local spontaneous constituent expressions of direct democracy in the liberated areas. We have heard close to zero about these in the Western press, and I would be curious if anyone knows whether any or all of them endorse the Tranistional Council and/or if any of them have called for or against a No Fly Zone or other forms of intervention. (See also interesting reports by Kellie in this and other threads.)

bob said...

Third Campism: I've got lots to say about that, but not right now. For the moment, just a couple of things. It is interesting that your analysis, Skid, exactly coincides here with Matgamna's http://www.workersliberty.org/node/12484 Cliff himself was not a purist third campist in the sense that the Shachtmanites were, but the Neither Washington Nor Moscow slogan and the state capitalist theory of the USSR (two key ingredients of the SWP's Unique Selling Points in the pre-1989 period) are both clearly part of a broader thirdist kind of approach. I would strongly approve if that sort of approach started to take a more frontpage position again, as perhaps suggested by the China quote you include.

bob said...

Itamar:

First of all, I make no apology for believing in the existence of evil. I didn't use to, when I was a more hardcore marxist, but I have come to more and more over the years see the enormous capacity humans have both for good and for evil. I would not describe a specific individual as an evil individual, but rather would describe acts as evil: I believe that killing a child as it lies in bed is profoundly evil, for example. Bringing up your children to throw rocks at Arabs is also evil.

I would distinguish "the settlements" from what I called "the settler movement". When I used that term, I was thinking of the people who go Baruch Goldstein's grave, and of the National Union party, people like Mihcael Ben-Ami. As I've said before, from my distant and ill-informed perspective, it seems to me that this movement is gaining power in Israel, and that there is a strong argument that the settlement tail is increasingly wagging the Israeli dog, as it were, and this is not a good thing.

(It is probably impossible to draw a clean line between a Zionism I consider perfecly normal and the ultras I consider a very bad thing. (For Levi and his allies, Meretz or Uri Avnery count as racist because they are part of the Zionist family, and this seems ridiculous to me.))

"Tumour" is probably an overly emotive word, and I would not like to insight anyone to excise it by force. I didn't consciously intend to use the phrase either to normalise or give a clean bill of health to the body to which it is attached. The Israeli body politic seems healthier in some ways than the liberal democratic average, less healthy in other ways. The huge range of contending and dissenting views which are aired in the public sphere and represented in the Knesset could be taken as an index of either health or sickness or of both. Probably I should retreat entirely from medical metaphors, but I think you probably get the gist of what I am trying to get across.

Finally, the reports of the possible Thai killer are fascinating, and would put everything in a rather different light. I haven't checked since yesterday, but the evidence seemed a bit patchy. I am also still unclear as to whether any bit of the Al-Aqsa Brigade did or didn't claim responsibility at any point.

Noga said...

"Noga - I think you should go back to counting Arab states"

How witty. Yet Levi still insists that 2+2=5. An ideal volunteer for the Ministry of Truth. Hard to believe there are actually people like that.

(A reminder: levi insists there are only 17, or 18 or 19 Arab countries. One wonders why this number serves his worldview better than the actual number that the encyclopedias and the Arab League provide.)

I ask again, is this person a complete idiot?

bob said...

"insight" - I meant "incite"

bob said...

I'm just looking at Gabriel Ash's post at JSF, which I don't like at all.

First, I don't think Reider's call was the least bit "ridiculous" but fairly sensible. He also had the grace and humility to acknowledge, in the series of updates he wrote later the same night as his post, that the Israeli left was more condemnatory than he gave it credit for, which was in itself encouraging. The contrast between Ash's flippancy and the serious statements made by the Bilin Popular Committee and Solidarity Sheikh Jarrah, for example, is quite stark.

Second, Ash puts "credibility" in quote marks as if it, uh, a quote, when Reider does not use the word at all. Ash writes of Reider's "call for all leftists to prove their "credibility" by condemning the killing in Itamar." He is implying that it is not a moral issue for Reider, but simply about managing performance, showing that you have credibility, which is not what Reider meant at all.

Even the word "all" in that first sentence is dishonest: again a word he doesn't use, which implies he is issuing some edict or test to the left.

But more seriously, "I am not going to condemn anything here" is a twisted position. To not even be able to condemn the killing of children which he claims to be "of course appalled by" is perverse. How can it be anything but good to condemn the killing of children? No one is asking him to "shed a tear", just to say that killing children is wrong, full stop.

That the Fogel parents have dedicated their lives to "destroying others" is hyperbolic, but let's let that go. But "My world has lost little with their passing", what sanctimonious garbage. Who cares what Gabriel's world does or doesn't consist of. How much has "his world" really lost when any stranger to him dies? Who is he to weigh up the value of our lives against the standards of "his world"?

I continued to read below that, but got lost in the polemics between Ajl, Gurvitz and who said "going native" so stopped. I decided "my world" has little need to Ash's blogposts. I might have been hasty, but I've got to get back to work now!

Levi9909 said...

Briefly, I believe Meretz and Uri Avnery are racist because they believe that Jews from anywhere should have more right to most of Palestine than the native non-Jewish population. If it was simply about the tag zionism or where they are in the zionist family I'd say the Magnes Zionist is racist but I don't.

Re Gabriel Ash, I always think twice before accusing people of dishonesty. You seem to want to accuse people without any thought at all. Quotation marks do not always denote a quote, they sometimes act as a mid-sentence question mark, as if to say it would be a questionable credibility if the left were to jump to Reider's cue. Or maybe he means the left has questionable credibility anyway. He could have even meant that Reider didn't actually say that but that is a condensed form of what he actually meant. What he definitely wasn't doing was inventing a piece of the Reider article. He could have made all the same points without resort to fabrication.

I've now read Reider's updates and his praise of the Bilin Popular Committee is completely at odds with what he said in the main piece.

I'll post that stuff separately.

Levi9909 said...

Reider - "Some individuals pointed out that the murders were horrible, but: The parents should have been more careful in where they chose to live / Israel and the Occupation is really to blame / what about Israel killing Palestinian children / the settlers are not really civilians, as they serve as instruments of land-grab and military control."

Bilin Popular Committee Against the Wall - "Palestinian Popular Committees Against the Wall and Israeli Settlements express their deep sadness and sorrow concerning the killing incident in the Itamar colonial settlement. The Popular Committees view the killing incidence as a part of the escalation generated and mobilized by the policies and actions of the Israeli occupation. These policies created the circumstances for committing these heinous actions. Therefore, we believe that the Israeli government bears full responsibility for the occupation and its consequences. The Popular Committees are committed to nonviolence and civil disobedience in our struggle to end the Israeli occupation. Though the crime was committed on colonized land, we see the killing of children as a despicable crime regardless of their nationality, gender, color, race or religion."

There are differences but the similarities seem to outweigh them.

Anyway, back to Gabriel. You can always pay us a visit and ask him. He might have read the article in Hebrew for all I know.

bob said...

I made too big a deal of Gabriel being dishonest; that's not my issue with what he wrote. Maybe he wasn't. It was the "shedding a tear" stuff and the "My world has lost little" stuff that offends me.

I also read on to the end of his post, and his defence of Gurwitz from the ridiculous charge of "Jewish-centrism" seems broadly sensible, as does the criticism of him for using the phrase "going native", which I agree is racist in this context.

Btw, I disagree with the Bilin committee when they say this: "These policies created the circumstances for committing these heinous actions. Therefore, we believe that the Israeli government bears full responsibility for the occupation and its consequences." This kind of devolving of responsibility away from perpetrators of actions and on to bigger structures is flawed. There's a chicken and egg thing, because a supporter of Israel could simply say that Palestinian terrorists bear the full responsibility for what the IDF does because the IDF's actions are the response to rockets and suicide bombs. In my view, the responsibility always ultimately lies with whoever commits a crime. (We had this argument before, Gabriel and I, over Pol Pot's genocide, which he basically holds America responsible for, to gorssly simplify our argument.)

On the other hand, the order of a "yes, but" statement makes a big difference. "Killing is wrong, but we hate them so we won't shed a tear" (G Ash) is a morally wrong response. "We hate them, but killing is wrong and so we condemn it" (the Bilin Popular Committee) is a morally right response. Btw, using quote marks to indicate paraphrase rather than direct quotation, thus risking hoisting myself on my own petard.

bob said...

Relevant.

ModernityBlog said...

Bob,

Why do you give any credence to Elf & co?

Surely to have any meaningful exchange there has to be common ground? Either linguistically, politically or some shared ideas?

You know full well that Elf holds you and your views in utter contempt, he only pops over here to wind you up.

You would be far better advised saving your energies other things, no matter what you say to him, etc he 1) won't understand 2) will deliberately misinterpret 3) put the worst possible interpretation on your views 4) treat you with contempt, etc etc

So there's no common ground for any meaningful discussion.

You are wasting your breath.

skidmarx said...

the Neither Washington Nor Moscow slogan and the state capitalist theory of the USSR (two key ingredients of the SWP's Unique Selling Points in the pre-1989 period) are both clearly part of a broader thirdist kind of approach.
No, and that's where I'd take issue too with Matgamna too, NWNM was part of an ongoing anti-imperialist approach, what he says about China shows the divergence between his Third Campism and the state caps: he judges it on how "barbarous" China is considered to be, Cliff and co. on whether it represents an imperial or anti-imperial force (in its external relations).
So expecting a shift from one position to another because of a misunderstanding of what state cap theory means to its adherents is likely to be unfulfilled, except as it coincides with an actual (or at least perceived by them) shift in the imperial balance.

skidmarx said...

Relevant.
Not very. Norm elides from "they blame the occupation for the murders" to "they advocate the murder of children". Isn't that sort of accusation some sort of bad trope?
I find there is a lot of rubbish on Normblog recently, including a guest post on the Irish Left and the election which failed to mention the United Left or Sinn Fein. Tunnel vision seems to be setting in.

Levi9909 said...

Actually moddy it's you that's wasting your breath and you don't give bob enough credit for his powers of persuasion.

Bob has given me much food for thought and this blog seems to tolerate a wide range of views without becoming infested with abusive comments that don't deal with issues.

Also, even if it was true that bob can't sway me, he can persuade others of his point of view by discussing issues with me. you couldn't persuade anyone of anything with your attitude.

Bob has explained his take on "evil" which I accept and he has made a strong case for considering certain of the settlers to be beyond the pale. and he even managed to show that one can't actually agree entirely with the Bilin position and with Gabriel's which I hadn't noticed.

Quite honestly I think all that stuff is so over your head you just rail against me because you can't participate.

Levi9909 said...

Oh Noga - I didn't see you there. Arab states are not the same as Arab countries. Some say, eg, that Palestine is an Arab country but it is not a state.

Could you please provide a list of all the states that you are claiming are Arab states?

I don't expect you to acknowledge that Gabriel clearly accepting the humanity of the family killed in Itamar does not amount to dehumanising but if you provide a list of the states you are saying are Arab states then we can all help you count then together. I suspect moddy has thoroughly checked this one and even he can't support you but submit the list and we'll see.

Bob - a comment from Skidmarx has been emailed to me but I can't see it here.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Bob

José Antonio Gutiérrez D in the interview at Libcom (thanks WS) talks of the "flag of the monarchy" which doesn't seem right to me.

I have to admit, I really don't know enough about Libya to pass judgement on that particular point; do you know if it has those connotations over there, even if it's also been used in a different context?

Mazen Kamalmaz talks about the people's committees, the local spontaneous constituent expressions of direct democracy in the liberated areas. We have heard close to zero about these in the Western press,

That's not surprising, I'd suggest. The same is true of Egypt and Argentina, when it was happening there. I'm not sure whether to see that as a deliberate ideological position or to apply Hanlon's Razor; I suspect a lot of journalists may not have the knowledge base to even understand those structures.

and I would be curious if anyone knows whether any or all of them endorse the Tranistional Council and/or if any of them have called for or against a No Fly Zone or other forms of intervention.

I would too. From what I can tell, at the moment, people are mostly just finding suitable Libyan sources to substantiate their already held positions.

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Levi

On language, terms like "evil" are no longer used in a theological way. Language changes over time. It strikes me as overly precious to refuse to use language that is now entirely commonplace; separating yourself from the class by insisting on different usage of language is a really good way to find yourself seen as a strange little subculture. (See also the recurring debate on swearing).

Briefly, I believe Meretz and Uri Avnery are racist because they believe that Jews from anywhere should have more right to most of Palestine than the native non-Jewish population. If it was simply about the tag zionism or where they are in the zionist family I'd say the Magnes Zionist is racist but I don't.

We're back into the "all states are apartheid states" issue again. Because there's no state in the world that doesn't operate a level of exclusion in its immigration politics.

Obviously, it's possible to fight against that from a "no borders" perspective. But, in that case, I don't see how the issue of "native" versus "from anywhere" is at all relevant.

Unless we're going to argue that the "indigenous" population of the UK "should have more right" to the UK, which isn't an argument that's generally seen as a good thing on the left.

bob said...

@waterloo

Re Libya:
I don't know enough about Libya to know about the flag's connotations - I'd be v interested.

On the councils, probably both reasons - doesn't fit the agenda, plus they don't have access to the ground or knowledge of the background. Spontaneous formation of councils (shuras as they're called in some countries) seem to have been a feature of revolutions across the Islamic world, from Iran 1979 to Iraq 1993 to Egypt and Libya 2011.

Re apartheid states:

I've also clocked the dodgy repeated use of the word "native" to falsely claim Israel's exceptionalness. My family are only "native" to these shores a couple of generations in about a quarter of my great-grandparents' lines, so I'm suspicious of the word.

There was quite a good article in a recentish Shift magazine on the similarity between the BNP and some Third Worldist indigneous rights types in this regard.

Levi9909 said...

Re evil, I appreciated what Bob had to say about that but I had thought that he used the word "evil" to describe anti-zionist positions on Israel as if to overstate their case or put an obscurantist spin on it. I mean Bob has referred to me positing Israel as a "unique evil". I assumed that he was stressing the word "evil" because he couldn't possibly be arguing against the idea of Israel's uniqueness. Maybe I was wrong or maybe Bob is inconsistent in his use of the word "evil".

Re your idea that all states are apartheid states if Israel is one. It's bogus and avoids the issues of ethnic cleansing and internal segregation together with internal ethnic cleansing in Israel. But then calling Israel an apartheid state, which I rarely do, may obscure more than it reveals.

Much of what you say is like saying that me not letting you into my house is the same as me coming to your house, throwing you out and then moving myself in. The latter case involves far more violence than the former and it denies you any right to stability in your life.

I am not saying that Palestinian Arabs should have more right to Palestine than Jews who live there now and I'm not sure how anyone could interpret anything I have said as meaning that. I am saying that they should have equal rights whereas, Meretz and Avnery are saying that Arabs from Israel should have no right to return to Israel but that Jews from abroad should have the right to live there.

Also, the situation in Israel is that there are many laws that make reference to rights to be enjoyed by people entitled to citizenship under the Law of Return. This excludes the native non-Jewish population but, of course, includes native Jews and Jews of the rest of the world, together with their immediate descendants and dependents. So the racism is not just in the citizenship law. The citizenship law is used to revisit the racism on its victims every day.

So your argument comparing the UK to Israel is simply wrong. There is no equivalent in the UK or anywhere else of the Palestinian situation vis a vis the State of Israel. If you think there is, then tell me the people from the UK (or anywhere else) who equate to the Palestinians.

Anyway, I do not believe that UK natives (ie people born and/or raised in the UK) have or should have more right to the UK than people from abroad.

I would resist the idea that people from abroad have a right to expel me, deny me the right of return and bar any remaining natives from 93% or any percentage of the surface area.

The situation now is that no one from the UK is barred from the UK and once people are granted citizenship they are equal under the law to everyone else irrespective of ethnicity or religion. Israel, on the other hand, has formal structures of segregation where there are rights for Jews that are denied to expelled Arabs and Arabs who still live there and Israel's existence is defined by and predicated on these things, the UK's is not.

If you are saying that Israel is not a colonial settler state, like no other extant state, then you would have to argue that there has never been such a thing as a colonial settler state. Or maybe you are saying that whilst "Israel sucks", "everything sucks" in which case, why value anything?

Levi9909 said...

Bob - I've only just seen your last comment. We'll park for the mo' that you're raising an "azzajew" argument, so despised by that other ex-marzist, Norman Geras.

I am not arguing for an ethno-religious hierarchy of rights, I am arguing against it. The idea that a state that stops people coming from outside is the same as people from outside throwing out the people already there is preposterous and for you to use your third generation Britness (ie Jewishness) to offer intellectual protection to invading ethnic cleansers is at best ridiculous.

Re the "azza3GUK" - me too and I was raised on my parents telling me that we mustn't support apartheid because we're Jews, we had to support MLK because we're Jews, we had to support Ugandan Asians too for the same reason. It was a habit of mind. They didn't tell me to listen out for certain key words that I can then lift out of their context to confound people I debate with so that Jews can top an ethno-religious hierarchy whilst accusing their critics, opponents and their victims of racism. And there really was violent antisemitism back then in the 1960s and 70s on the way to school and at school, and there was even a no-go area for Jews near where my mother still lives.

We all have backgrounds and experiences to inform our views and behaviours but we still have to make a case for where we stand without reference to our own personal backgrounds and without misrepresenting the position of our opponents.

bob said...

1. On azzajooizm- My views on that aer complicated, too complicated for now, but I was thinking as much of my two Irish Catholic great-grandparents (I only recently learned that my grandather served in Mandate Palestine at the time of the first uprising because he was meant to serve in Ireland but tehy didn't want to send Irish people there) and of my mother not being a British citizen, rather than anything specifically Jewish.

At any rate, suspicion of nativist political discourse is a valid position regardless of my immigration status.

2. On Israel as evil - I don't reject the idea of evil, although I probably reject the idea of a particular state as inherently evil. What I was referring to before was the way the anti-Zionist cultural code sees Israel through a unique moral frame, as a pariah state, uniquely evil in the world, and therefore worth singling out when huge numbers of other states have features (some the same, some different) that would in my view qualify them just as much.

3. on teh apartheid state thing - we're going over the same ground nw. I am opposed to all forms of ethnic nationality, including Israel's (and including the German law that gives right of return to ethnic Germans and makes it hard for reisdent "Turks", or the patriality thing that makes British immigration law racist), and am in favour of the right of return for Palestinians and Jews to israel/Palestine, and ultimately in favour of open borders, so you're pushing the wrong door. As I've said already.

And I utterly reject the ahistorical "colonial settler state" label.

Levi9909 said...

Fine but you know better than to pretend that use of the word "native" amounts to nativist discourse as surely as you know that the existence of Germany and Turkey is not predicated on the recent, current and on-going displacement of native people from the territories they control.

Israel still stands out for existing on the basis that people from outside have more right to live there than people who are from there and of course is has the backing of the most powerful forces on the planet for its racist rule. In his presidential campaign, Obama told AIPAC that "Israel must remain Jewish".

The reason I persist in pointing these things out, apart from countering bogus allegations of "nativist discourse", is that those who claim that Israel's situation is merely the same as other citizenship/immigration issues, are raising the spectre of antisemitism by claiming that Israel is unfairly singled out and then pretending to wonder why.

Israel singles itself out and is singled out by imperialism for special treatment.

As Israel privileges Jews, so the so-called international community privileges Israel and there is no other comparable state.

skidmarx said...

"flag of the monarchy"
I don't see why this is relevant. The Tibetans fighting under the flag of a medieval theocracy doesn't prevent them from being worthy of support. Is this perhaps more a problem for those with Decentish inclinations who don't have the position of Trotsky support slaveowner Haile Selassie versus the Italians to fall back on.
By the way I think there is a lot to be said for what Waterloo Sunset says on the other thread: that differences over the NFZ might be best considered less important than shared support for the Libyan revolution.

Levi9909 - the only two comments I can remember making on this thread recently are the two just above yours, one on Normblog and one on Third Campism (or the lack of it).

Waterloo Sunset said...

@ Levi

I am not saying that Palestinian Arabs should have more right to Palestine than Jews who live there now and I'm not sure how anyone could interpret anything I have said as meaning that.

Fair enough. In that case though, why focus on "Palestinian rights" as opposed to a more general no borders argument? To do the former obfuscates the validity of the latter.

I am saying that they should have equal rights whereas, Meretz and Avnery are saying that Arabs from Israel should have no right to return to Israel but that Jews from abroad should have the right to live there.

That's not unique to them though. It's a bogstandard liberal approach to the issue of immigration, no?

If you think there is, then tell me the people from the UK (or anywhere else) who equate to the Palestinians.

Anywhere else? Native Americans in the US. Australian Aborigines. Actually, if you're choosing to use the term, I don't see how either the US or the Australia can not fit into the category of "colonial settler states". And that's without getting into the complex issue of whether we have corporations acting as de facto governments in places like Nigeria.

I would resist the idea that people from abroad have a right to expel me, deny me the right of return and bar any remaining natives from 93% or any percentage of the surface area.

Fair enough, but would also equally resist the same happening to people abroad? If so, would you apply that same policy to Palestine/Israel with equal passion?

Or maybe you are saying that whilst "Israel sucks", "everything sucks" in which case, why value anything?

Cute though that caricature is, it actually mixes up two entirely different positions. The "everything sucks" position (which is, in essence, my argument) is not to suggest that's ok because of some kind of Social Darwinist imperative. In my case, to pare it down to basics, it's a recognition that neoliberal capitalism is currently winning globally. And to reverse that argument, can you tell us which ruling classes you think are worth valuing? I think that's probably at the core of our differences here. I don't believe that the nature of the class war is qualitatively different in Israel/Palestine than elsewhere. Nor do I accept that the need for unity between Israelis and Palestinians, on class as opposed to nationalist lines, is any less crucial.

In fact, the dismissal of the "everything sucks" argument is a very good illustrator of my argument that many anti-Zionists have essentially rejected class politics.

skidmarx said...

Bob - another of my comments does seem to have disappeared, again one with a polite reference to what WS had said about Libya, perhaps your spam filter is most contrary?
In case that re-appears I'll just dwell briefly on this last comment of WS:
I don't believe that the nature of the class war is qualitatively different in Israel/Palestine than elsewhere. Nor do I accept that the need for unity between Israelis and Palestinians, on class as opposed to nationalist lines, is any less crucial.
Now I think it is you who is caricaturing, and ignoring whether there is national oppression that divides the communities in a material way. Also on Aboriginal populations, if you aren't planning on starting (and having some prospect of success in) campaigns to have those settler populations allow much of the land they occupy go back to the First nations, it isn't really much of a comparison. There are a lot of ways of saying "I want to ignore the dispossession of the Palestinian nation and the active support of much of the Jewish working class in Israel for that", but this isn't the prettiest. [If you consider that I'm massively distorting your position, please say so]

Levi9909 said...

Right, this will be my last go at this because your arguments are just ludicrous. In fact I'm not even sure you're serious.

why focus on "Palestinian rights" as opposed to a more general no borders argument? To do the former obfuscates the validity of the latter.

Because the Palestinians are being denied the most basic of human rights simply because the State of Israel insists on existing as a state for Jews. I don't support ethnic cleansing in any circumstances but the existence of Israel is predicated on a recent, current and on-going campaign of it. No borders is nice and I am not in favour of immigration controls but not letting people from abroad into a place is not the same as going into a place and ridding it of most of its existing population. If people from outside of a country are not allowed into it that may compound the instability of their lives but it does not cause it. Removing people from the land they have inhabited since time immemorial is inherently violent and it is the cause of instability in people's lives.

It's a bogstandard liberal approach to the issue of immigration, no?

No and thrice no! The liberal approach to immigration is to have little or no control on people from outside a country coming into it. It is certainly not about removing communities from a country and refusing to allow them to return.

Anywhere else? Native Americans in the US. Australian Aborigines. Actually, if you're choosing to use the term, I don't see how either the US or the Australia can not fit into the category of "colonial settler states". And that's without getting into the complex issue of whether we have corporations acting as de facto governments in places like Nigeria.

I find it quite chilling that there are people who argue quite casually that Israel is only doing what America and Australia did. That's my point. Where are the people that come from America and Australia who are being denied the right of return? The difference is the recentness and the currentness of Israel's ethnic cleansing.

Yes corporate power in third world countries is criminal but Nigeria's existence is not predicated on the abuse of corporate power.

contd

Levi9909 said...

contn.

Fair enough, but would also equally resist the same happening to people abroad? If so, would you apply that same policy to Palestine/Israel with equal passion?

I don't know. No one, including you, has shown me a current comparable situation though South Africa and Rhodesia were similar and I felt pretty much the same about them.

If anything, the Palestinian cause has been neglected and even opposed by people who have got so worked up about ethnic cleansing in other places that they have advocated and gone to war against the perpetrators. By the way, "why pick on Israel" is the "you suck" argument.

many anti-Zionists have essentially rejected class politics.

Many anti-zionists never had any class politics in the first place because the demand for the right of return and the replacement of a zionist Israel with a democratic secular state is a simple liberal demand much like anti-apartheid with the added urgency that zionism seeks to eradicate the native non-Jewish presence and is using increasingly violent means to do it.

But to ignore the class interests involved in support for Israel is pernicious and goes to the heart of the so-called Israel lobby or even Jewish power theses.

And of course the class interests involved have hardly been touched on because you are so in denial about the basic nature of Israel without considering why so much western power is deployed in the support of this serial human rights abuser. It's true that other serial human rights abusers get western support but none get as much in money terms as Israel, none are touted as the "only democracy in" their region, none get the media support and none have lobbyists, politicians and even academics trying to get rules and even laws made as to what you can or can't (mostly can't) say about the state in question.

But I'm done here. I think you're a bit of a joker.

bob said...

Getting caught in the spam folder: it's the hyperlinks.

Nativism: the use of the word "native" does not always and alone count as nativist discourse, but it lurks there. There is a certain white British politics of resentment that says "natives are second class citizens in their own country". Brian True-May has been talking about Midsomer as the last bastion of Englishness. Nick Griffin uses the word "indigenous" and tries to get English people classified as an ethnic minority under the race relations act. This is nativist discourse.

There is a Zionist narrative that Jews have lived in Eretz Israel since time immemorial. And there is a Palestinian narrative that claims the same thing. These are nativist discourses. They are all bullshit.

When you talk about all Israelis as people from elsewhere, you erase enormous amounts of history, on so many levels. So where do they belong? My left-wing Israeli friend, so full of hate for the way her "native" country is going tried to apply for Polish citizenship, as that's where her grandparents came from. She was, of course, refused. Where are they supposed to go back to?

And how deep is the Palestinian claim on the land? Is it really since time immemorial as you claim? The word Palestinian was used to describe Jews just a few decades ago. And how many years in a land qualifies as "native", and how many years away loses the qualification? The whole premise is totally dodgy in my view.

bob said...

Flags of the monarchy: no one is making a big deal of it. The interviewer asked if the flags of the monarchy meant there is a desire to go back to pre-Gaddafi royal rule. An interesting question no?

bob said...

"The Tibetans fighting under the flag of a medieval theocracy doesn't prevent them from being worthy of support." True, but it does suggest that the regime they'd replace the Chinese one with would be deeply reactionary.

bob said...

"the existence of Israel is predicated on a recent, current and on-going campaign of it."

A very unsuccessful campaign, that has resulted in many, many more Arab citizens in Israel now than there were Arab residents in the same territories in 1947 (and including PA territories, I think about five times as many as there were in 1947).

Levi9909 said...

oi!

the word native is purely innocent. israel clearly operates a system that is for people from outside of the region at the expense of those from inside it. and it is maintained by imperialist interests, not out of the goodness of US and EU hearts, that is, it is a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing and segregationist laws.

i have never suggested that jews should not be in Palestine and you know I haven't and i am not a complete novice when it comes to histories of jewish communities. this is a blog thread, not a masters in history. (remember what i said about "pious intonation"?)

whether jews have been in palestine since time immemorial is irrelevant to the segregationist system that israel operates because they are eligible for citizenship under the law of return whereas native non-jews are not. that is native jews have the same legal status as jews from, eg, the usa, which is superior, by law, to the status of native non-jews and at any given time, jews from abroad like, say, me have more resources directed at their settlement than jews living in israel/palestine already. it is a rolling programme of colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing unlike anywhere else on the planet.

ethnic cleansing is not about how many of the "demographic threat" remain but how many have been forced to leave. it is not "very unsuccessful" because more palestinians from within the pre67 boundary have been forced to live outside it than live within it. and many of the arabs inside israel are there as refugees or what Israel calls, "present absentees" and most of the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank are refugees, ie victims of ethnic cleansing. and of course there are millions of Palestinians forced to live outside palestine altogether. the fact that many remain throughout palestine is what makes the campaign on-going and contributes to a state of tension which maintains the cohesion of israeli jewish society.

regarding the palestinian arabs claim on the land, it looks like you are now trying to justify their ethnic cleansing by reference to what people from pre-israel palestine were called and how long they were called it for. i presume you didn't mean that because it's one of the more ludicrous of zionist arguments.

the point is that on the eve of zionist settlement, palestine had a fairly stable population that was predominantly Arab and Muslim and the granting of superior settlement rights to Jews and the ethnic cleansing of most Arabs has changed that situation in a way that has caused a deliberate humanitarian disaster to the Palestinian Arabs and destroyed some of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. it's caused a fair number of wars too and it has brought the superpowers (as were) to the brink of nuclear war and could well do so again, not that superpowers are the only states with nuclear arsenals.

also, it seems to have established a pervasive culture of intellectual dishonesty and bullying among many jews which i find very sad but that's probably worth a post in itself.

Anonymous said...

NATO IS THE FRAMEWORK FOR AN ALLIANCE DESIGNED TO PREVENT AGGRESSION OR TO REPEL IT, SHOULD IT OCCUR. IT IS DETERMINED TO SAFEGUARD FREEDOM, COMMON HERITAGE AND CIVILIZATION. FOUNDED ON THE PRINCIPLES OF DEMOCRACY, LIBERTY AND THE RULE OF LAW. IT PROVIDES FOR CONTINUOUS COOPERATION AND CONSULTATION IN POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND OTHER MILITARY FIELDS. IT IS RESOLVED TO UNITE ITS EFFORTS FOR COLLECTIVE DEFENCE AND SEEK TO PROMOTE STABILITY, SECURITY AND WELL-BEING IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC AREA. IT IS OF INDEFINITE DURATION. WASHINGTON DC 1949