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50 responses to “Uncommon sense on Israel/Palestine from an interesting source”

  1. Nick

    Imagine I just read your 2006 piece and found it terribly unconvincing. I like to consider myself open-minded, but why would I accept your recommendation? This post only seems to work with the weaselly modal “may not have” rather than “didn’t” in the final sentence.

  2. Ginja

    Some of the ideas for boycotting Israel seem to me just dotty. For instance, academic boycotts are likey to hurt many Israeli academics who couldn’t be further from the Likud worldview and who are in favour of peace. It also hurts all those scholars and researchers around the world who wish to conduct joint research with Israeli universities – and all the advances in knowledge that flow from that. There’s something wrong with the idea of severing contact between academics, scientists, researchers.

    Still, I’m in favour of other countries making clear to Israel that the occupation has gone on for long enough.

  3. Fran Barlow

    For the record Paul, the organisation I was closest to made a very sharp distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. We were absolutely opposed to the Zionist regime, but not opposed to Iraelis having a state that was non-exclusive to Jews. We accepted Israel as a matter of historical fact.

    Now I’m not with the SL any more and haven’t been for a very long time, but my position now would support a viable two-state solution ie one in which the west bank East Jerusalem and Gaza were contiguous. I also favour the return of the Golan Heights to Syria and right of return for Palestinians.

  4. Sarah

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for links to your previous post and to Worker’s Liberty (interesting philosophical debates without too many glaring factual inaccuracies or omissions).

    I am not a member of the far left, never have been (in student political days they used to call me pragmatic like it was the worst insult they could hurl at me).

    But in defence of anti-Zionism; what other banner would you use in order to have a unifying critical response to Israeli policies? “Anti-Israel” does not have a sexy ring, and would certainly imply being against the existence of the state of Israel.

    The way I see it, ‘anti-Zionism’ is a logical way to remove the Jewish religion from the argument.

    I have an Israeli friend who describes himself as post-Zionist, in that he does not advocate the destruction of the state of Israel, although if he could go back in time perhaps he would have opposed its creation.

    However this implies that Zionism was a historical footnote; a movement which achieved its end, the creation of Israel, and ceased to be an ideology. Alas, Israel continues its expansionist Zionist agenda in the occupation of Gaza (as a political inconvenience since the removal of Israeli settlers) and the continuing occupation of the West Bank and expansion of Israeli settlements there.

    It is true that many Israeli settlers now live in their comfy homes as an economic choice, but each settlement was (and is) created by Zionist ideologues who see it as their divine right and obligation to populate Jews throughout the West Bank (which they refer by their Biblical names of Judea and Samara).

    Thus I will continue to identify as anti-Zionist, and will continue to argue vehemently that this does not equate to anti-Semitism (another term I am uncomfortable with given that Palestinians are in fact Semitic).

    As for the question of boycotts – sure it might at times be an inelegant action… but what other legitimate, non-violent, effective, mass option is available for a global response to Israel’s continued gross mistreatment of Indigenous Palestinians?

    Given that many Israeli peace activists I met in Israel themselves support this movement, I’m on board.

  5. THR

    Before the creation of the state of Israel, Zionism was many things – mystical and secular, socialist and nationalist.

    Since then, ‘Zionism’ has morphed into standard national chauvinist thuggery, albeit, with an Israeli-Jewish bent. All the same, the ideology is secondary to the material circumstances of Israel here. You can’t account for the atrocities of the IDF by way of Zionism any more than you can account for Nazism solely by recourse to German Romanticism, or Pinochet by reference to the Chicago school.

    So in a sense, leftists are missing the point to frame their objections to the IDF in terms of ‘anti-Zionism’. However, protesting on a platform of ‘anti-nationalist particularist-chauvinist-colonialist-thuggery’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

    And it goes without saying that 9,999 times out of 10,000, accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ are merely a vicious and calculated slur against genuine critics of Israeli policy, many of whom are themselves Jewish.

  6. Ken Miles

    I found the review of Service’s Trotsky book to both repulsive and dishonest. For example, the defense of the crushing of Kronstadt sailors is repulsive. Claims like “Service “forgets” to mention that the revolution brought the carnage of this war [WWI] to an end” is simply a lie.

    I’m certainly no Trotsky expert, but I found Service’s biography to be intelligent, critical yet kind of sympathetic towards Trotsky.

  7. Tim Dymond

    I oppose boycotts of Israel mainly for the reasons that the Worker’s Liberty links outline. There really needs to be a root and branch reassessment of how the Left (or anyone) deals with Israel/Palestine. ‘Boycotts’ are an implicit admission that the direct political path to peace has failed.

    That said – I don’t accept the ‘decent left’ and neocon view people who advocate boycotts (including Israelis like historian Ilan Pappe) are setting us on the road to the next Kristallnacht. For years apologists for Israeli governments would wring their hands and cry ‘if only the Palestinians had chosen a non-violent path’. Boycotts of goods are non-violent, but advocating them becomes evidence of anti-semitism (I know you’re not saying that Paul).

  8. Workers BushTelegraph

    The WL pamphlet states:”A boycott movement against Israel would, once it took off, inevitably become a movement against “Zionists” in Britain. In practice that would mean: against Jews.”

    This incorrectly equates Zionism with ‘being Jewish’. Zionism is the pursuit of the Promised Land for Jews, it excludes all others. Nazism had the goal to create a homeland for the ‘Aryan race’. Apartheid sought a similar objective.

    South Africa and Israel like Australia are settler societies based on the colonialist model.

    Israel pursues the settler model to this day and rejects Palestinian rights to the lands of their forefathers.

    Most of the arguments and comments associated with the link http://larvatusprodeo.net/ still centre around the assumption that a two state solution is possible. Yet US vicepresident Joe Biden’s attempt to broker a two state solution this week was met with Netanuahu announcing even more settlements in east Jerusalem.

    The Workers Liberty document incorrectly equates Zionism with Judaism and therefore misunderstands the cause of the conflict. The conflict is political and economic not religious. Many devout Jews are anti-Zionist.

    In the discussion of an economic boycott, neither you nor your commentators even mention the significant economic effect that a Palestinian boycott would have on Israel’s economy.

    I do not know if the boycott movement that is growing strong in France and Britain will stop the settlements being built, but if you think the Left’s support of a boycott against Israel is anti-Semitic, you are mistaken.

    A secular multicultural state that ends the occupation of Palestinian lands seems to be the only hope of peace for Palestinian and Jew alike.

  9. Ian Curr

    This is a response to a post above ‘Uncommon sense on Israel/Palestine from an interesting source’ on the blog, LarvatusProdeo.

    The Workers Liberty pamphlet the post refers to states:”A boycott movement against Israel would, once it took off, inevitably become a movement against “Zionists” in Britain. In practice that would mean: against Jews.”

    Australian unionists meet with the Palestinian leadership of the BDS campaign (Boycott Israel) in Ramallah. BDS thinks it time for Australia to pull its weight in the anti apartheid struggle.

    This incorrectly equates Zionism with ‘being Jewish’. Yes, Zionism is the pursuit of the Promised Land for Jews but solely, to the exclusion of others, but this can cause only conflict for Jewish people. Nazism had the goal to create a homeland for the ‘Aryan race’ excluding Jewish people. Europeans supported the colonisation of Israel by Jewish exiles from Europe because of their guilt over the holocaust. Apartheid in South Africa sought dominance over black people thus seeking a similar objective.

    Israel like South Africa and Australia are settler societies based on the colonialist model. Australia implemented its own apartheid under the White Australia legislation and the Queensland Acts.

    Israel pursues the settler model to this day and rejects Palestinian rights to the lands of their forefathers.

    Most of the arguments and comments on LavartusProdeo still centre around the assumption that a ‘two-state-solution’ is possible. Yet US Vice President, Joe Biden’s attempt to broker a two state solution this week (12 Mar 2010) was met with Israeli PM, Netanyahu, announcing even more settlements in east Jerusalem, more ‘facts on the ground’ even greater colonisation. A settler state in the 21st century, still!

    To equate Zionism with Judaism is to misunderstand the cause of the conflict. The conflict is political and economic not religious. As if proof is required, many devout Jews are anti-Zionist.

    In the discussion of an economic boycott, the opponents of a boycott don’t even mention the significant economic effect that a Palestinian boycott would have on Israel’s economy.

    I do not know if the boycott (BDS) movement that is growing strong in France, Germany and Britain will stop the settlements being built, but if you think the Left’s support of a boycott against Israel is anti-Semitic, you are mistaken.

    A secular multicultural state that ends the occupation of Palestinian lands seems to be the only hope of peace for Palestinian and Jew alike.

    Ian Curr
    March 2010

  10. Ian Curr

    In my previous comment “Australian unionists meet with the Palestinian leadership of the BDS campaign (Boycott Israel) in Ramallah. BDS thinks it time for Australia to pull its weight in the anti apartheid struggle” was intended to be a caption to a photo at http://photos-c.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/hs444.ash1/24480_365417718570_674368570_3609174_657598_n.jpg

  11. Fran Barlow

    Ke Miles quotes:

    the revolution brought the carnage of this war [WWI] to an end”

    The claim was correct, for Russia. The Allies tried to continue it of course and supported contras to that end …

  12. Fran Barlow

    oops that should read …

    the entente tried …

  13. ChrisB

    I think I can distinguish my antizionism from antisemitism by my enthusiasm for accepting up to three million ex-Israelis as preferred immigrants to Australia when the inevitable collapse comes. Talk about a two-state solution surely ignores the reality that for that to come about at least one of the party principals has to want it; and — given that ‘people of good will’ doesn’t have an army, a political party, or a strategy, and thus doesn’t qualify as a party principal – none of them do. We’re talking Crusader Kingdoms here, people: able to hang on on the coast while the arabs are disorganised, driven out whenever a moment comes when the arabs get their act together. Not this year, not next year, but who’s prepared to make a book for 2100? Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that Jews won’t be in a majority by then even within the one-state boundary (and suggest that the population of the occupied territories will have topped a hundred million, which does draw attention to the limitations of these projections, but which also draws attention to the totally counterproductive Israeli strategy of keeping the territories at a level of poverty below the demographic transition line). There is no conceivable long-term winning strategy for a Jewish state, and I can’t see why that fact shouldn’t influence our approach to the issue here and now.

  14. ChrisB

    To remove ambiguity (or to correct an error – whatever) in the above, when I say Jews won’t be in a majority by then even within the one-state boundary I mean within the bounds of the one Jewish state in a two-state arrangement. Within the 1956 borders.

  15. Emma

    I’ve been reading here for quite a while but have never commented, and I apologise that my first comment is disagreeable.
    .
    I found your 2006 piece unconvincing. Anti-zionism is not anti-semitic. To be sure, some anti-semites use anti-zionism as cover, but they are, in my experience, easily identifiable and ostracised by the ‘far left’ people with whom I’m involved. Further, I feel obligated to oppose an ideology I believe is inherently racist – Zionism is based on the idea of displacing and marginalising an entire people. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state requires the denial of basic human rights for Palestinians – the right to return to land from which they were displaced, for instance. I cannot, in good conscience. support that.
    .
    The Palestinians themselves, as well as some Israelis, have requested that supporters of Palestinian rights push for boycott, divestment and sanctions. In other words, the reason the ‘far left’ support BDS is that the Palestinians themselves have requested it. It’s a form of non-violent protest and a non-violent means of putting pressure on Israel.
    .
    It’s funny…Israel supporters complain about violent resistance, and talk about how Palestinians should engage in non-violent resistance, and then when the Palestinians and supporters do that, Israel supporters find reasons to complain about that, as well. One gets the impression that the ‘Zionist left’ doesn’t view any Palestinian resistance as legitimate, and sorry, but that’s racist.
    .
    I really enjoy this blog for the most part, but you’re weirdly conservative on Israel/Palestine.

  16. Paul Norton

    A number of comments were held up in the moderation cue by a combination of an overxealous mod filter and my being distracted by work issues. They’ve now been published.

  17. Paul Norton

    I would like to be able to respond to a number of points made by our new commenters, but time is not on my side today. I will simply confine myself to posing some questions for those advocating a one-state solution (now that it’s been raised) to respond to.

    1. Do you agree that a one-state solution, if it is ever to eventuate, must only be created with the consent of both the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews? If you don’t agree, whose consent should it require and why do you take this view?

    2. In practical terms, if a majority of the Jewish citizens of Israel (and the Israel government and Israel Defence Force) insist on the continued existence of Israel, how would is be possible to bring about a one-state solution whilst avoiding both (a) massive loss of life, both Jewish and Palestinian, and (b) the complete subordination of Palestinian interests to those of one or more powerful non-democratic states in the region?

  18. silkworm

    One of the foundation myths for the Jewish state is totally bogus. This myth states that the state of Israel is comprised of Jews returning from the Diaspora to their homeland. Firstly, there is no evidence for such a diaspora, and secondly, there is no evidence that Jews other than indigenous Palestinian Jews are genetically descended from the original inhabitants of that region. The latter farce is evident in the case of the so-called Peruvian Jews who were given “right of return” to a land they never came from.

  19. Paul Norton

    Ken #6, agree, especially regarding the apologetics for the suppression of the Kronstadt movement.

  20. Paul Norton

    Silky #18, your comment requires some explaining in the light of: (a) who the Spanish Catholics thought they were expelling from Spain at the end of the Reconquista and persecuting in the Inquisition; (b) who the French reactionaries thought they were persecuting in the Dreyfus Case; (c) who Stalin thought was responsible for the Doctors’ Plot; (d) another example from 20th century European history which hardly needs to be named.

  21. silkworm

    Paul, you completely missed my point.

  22. Mervyn Langford

    Ian Curr @ # 9 “….Europeans supported the colonisation of Israel by Jewish exiles from Europe..”
    Sorry mate – I think it would read better if it said:
    ‘Europeans supported the colonisation of Palestine .. etc”
    It may seem only a slight difference in wording but as I understand it historically, the land was largely known as “Palestine”. There was no country called “Israel” before 1948.
    The countryside was inhabitated by lots of people of various ethnic groups and a number of religions, living reasonable well together, apart from an increasing number of terrorist attacks by a small group trying to force the hand of the European post war divvie up – to grant Palestine to themselves (something they achieved in 1948).
    The problem largely stems from Palestine being given – by Europeans – to people of many nationalities and ethnic groups, but of only one religion. And the refusal of those inhabitants to quietly accept that other people can be given their land!
    This has meant that people from anywhere in the world have been able to claim a right to live in this little pocket of land. The political elite (who appear to hang their general ideology on a term – “Zionism”) of this country (Israel) have deemed that the people who were forcibly driven from that land (or who left in fear of their lives), ie Palestinians – have no right to return to their homeland. Nor do any of their descendants have any rights to return.
    People from anywhere in the world who generally adhere to the one religion – acceptable to the political elite of this country – can travel there and are given full citizenship rights there.
    The original inhabitants and their descendants can’t.
    From my watching of the story unfolding over the past 40 years, I have not seen any sign that the political elite of Israel have the slightest intention of giving way on this. The recent 3 weeks of slaughter of Dec 2007 – January 2008 indicates, they will inflict unimaginable violence to try and get rid of these people – and to maintain their political dominance.
    That so much of the effort to dislodge the indigenous people from the land of their ancestors is so violent and contravenes so many accepted norms of international behaviour and law indicates a pariah state. And, yes, I am aware that many people within Israel, are horrified by this.
    That governments around the world have been willing to tolerate and assist this destruction of the lives of Palestinians, while the people of most western democracies find it unacceptable, is a story in itself.
    That arrest warrants have recently been issued in both the UK and Dubai for leading members of the present Israeli establishment (including Ms Livni and Mr Netanyahu) I would suggest is a promise of things to come, rather than an aberration.

  23. Paul Norton

    Silky, I think I know what your point is. I was pointing out that in many countries of Europe, in some cases until late in the 20th century, there were quite significant populations of people who regarded themselves as Jews, who were regarded by their Spanish/French/German/Polish/Russian/etc. neighbours as Jews, and whose Spanish/French/German/Polish/Russian/etc. neighbours got quite worked up about them because they thought they were Jews. What you are effectively saying at $#18 is that all these people were wrong for centuries.

  24. Adrien

    hah! revolutionary Left. I love Trots. I always ask ’em what their favourite gun is. Revolutionary! N’uk.

  25. Ken Miles

    Sorry Fran I didn’t make myself clear,

    when I wrote “Claims like “Service “forgets” to mention that the revolution brought the carnage of this war [WWI] to an end” is simply a lie”, I should have emphasised that the lie is “Service “forgets” to mention…”.

    WWI and Trotsky’s role in the USSR-German peace talks are extensively discussed in Service’s biography.

  26. Paul Norton

    Adrien #24, you would have loved the pudgy, pasty-faced, bespectacled music student from the International Socialists who, at a Griffith Uni broad left election planning meeting in the late 1990s, insisted that the left adopt some policies so that he could answer students’ questions about what it stood for, because if it didn’t he would have to tell students that his policy was “armed revolution to overthrow the state”.

  27. ChrisB

    OK, let’s look at them.

    1. Do you agree that a one-state solution, if it is ever to eventuate, must only be created with the consent of both the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews? If you don’t agree, whose consent should it require and why do you take this view?

    No, I don’t agree, and I think that this formulation of the issue makes no sense at all.

    Beginning at the beginning, we have a one-state solution at the moment, in that the government of Israel exercises hegemony over all the territory of mandate Palestine. At a pinch I suppose I could concede 1.1111 recurring. Consent is not now a factor in the situation, and it is almost impossible to conceive a situation where it could be different; that is to say, if consent is a factor, the situation is insoluble. To put it another way, as someone said some while ago, “Your problem has no solution, only consequences.”

    In any case, I would have thought it incontestable that the status quo is a lot more like a one-state solution than a two-state solution, and that the onus of the argument is on anyone who expects that to change.

    2. In practical terms, if a majority of the Jewish citizens of Israel (and the Israel government and Israel Defence Force) insist on the continued existence of Israel, how would is be possible to bring about a one-state solution whilst avoiding both (a) massive loss of life, both Jewish and Palestinian, and (b) the complete subordination of Palestinian interests to those of one or more powerful non-democratic states in the region?
    At this point I should say that of course I am strongly in favour of solutions to the Israel issue that avoid massive loss of life. While I’m about it, I’ll throw in a request for a Superman no.1 comic, a working time machine, and a dozen bottles of Rhinecastle madeira, and I’ll wait for them with a similar expectancy. What does it even mean to consider only solutions that have no possible path back to the present situation?
    I repeat: we are in a one-state situation now, in exactly the same way that the South African situation was a one-state solution despite the existence of Bantustans. We have a one-state solution because that is the desire of a majority of the Jewish citizens of Israel and the Israel government and Israel Defence Force. The problem, insofar as there is a problem, is that the majority of the Jewish citizens of Israel, or even the Jewish citizens of Israel, are a minority in that one state and will within the lifetimes of my nephews be in the minority in every section of that one state. The problem, as it presents itself to Australians, is to decide on our responses to that situation. I cannot regard a retreat to Paul’s Happy Place as a meaningful contribution to any discussion.

  28. Liam

    I always ask ‘em what their favourite gun is

    Don’t do that, Adrien. After a meeting once at uni I once got into a beer-fuelled conversation about the practicalities of non-violent direct action versus armed insurrection versus passive resistance or any other alternative, and found myself silent while a 19 year old ISO dude in a singlet waxed lyrical about the benefits of the Ruger 10/22 with a 10×50 scope, and complained about its classification as a Class C rifle after John Howard’s national harmonisation of gun laws.
    They don’t put that particular grievance on their posters.

  29. Paul Norton

    It is nonetheless droll to muse on the question of how Australia’s young self-described revolutionaries would have aquitted themselves amongst the Latvian Rifles during the Glorious October.

  30. Mervyn Langford

    Paul at # 29 – or facing the Israeli Defence Force’s merciless and repeat attacks on largely defenceless people – corralled in the prison camp called Gaza?
    Personally, I think the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions campaign will be the defining solution to preventing this on-going crime against humanity.

  31. Fran Barlow

    I still can’t work out why the US doesn’t threaten to cut aid to Israel. Not only hacve they been receiving about $2.4 billion per year in aid mostly for weapons, but the rate has been upped to $30bn over the next ten years from 2009.

    The US could make this aid dependent on reaching a suitable settlement over outstanding issues, which given Israel currently has WMD in violation of NNPT seesm not like something Israel could object to. Israel is likely to remain the US’s top recipient of aid.

    Interestingly, despite the problems on the US Mexican border, with guns, human trafficking and drugs, and despite the fact that substantial portions of US crude oil come from there, the US gives the Mexicans a mere $US550million.

    If you do the rough per capita comparison, that’s less than $4 for every Mexican and more than $370 for every Israeli. Work that out.

  32. Jobby

    “I still can’t work out why the US doesn’t threaten to cut aid to Israel.”

    America shares a similar ‘New Jerusalem’ origin mythos with Israel, and has always strongly identified with the country. The notion of Israel being a ‘frontier country’ also appeals strongly to the American mind.

    For many Americans, Israel is the America of the Middle-East (a light shining on a hill, no less). I have no doubt that, behind the scenes, American governments have tried to get Israel to be a little more accommodating on any number of issues. But to make any sort of public ‘threat’ about aid being dependent on adopting a particular policy would see the President in question so stigmatised that he’d probably lose the next election (on top of the other political ramifications).

  33. Fran Barlow

    Jobby said:

    But to make any sort of public ‘threat’ about aid being dependent on adopting a particular policy would see the President in question so stigmatised that he’d probably lose the next election (on top of the other political ramifications).

    I’m not so sure about that. Certainly one would make the threat behind the scenes, and one would anticipate that Israel would want for its own reasons, to keep it quiet. After all, publicising it would prejudice their bargaining position and polarise US public opinion in ways that would not be helpful to them. If, in the end, they are going to buckle, then it’s in their interest to appear like good faith players in public and presure the US to accept a deal that can save face.

    That in turn reduces the political fall out on the right in the US. Any US President who was seen as having solved the Israel-Palestinian conflict in ways that even the Israelis endorsed would get an enormous filip on the right. After all, in many minds, that is one of the pillars of the broader “terrorism” problem.

    If it later came out that the US had strongarmed the Israelis into doing the right thing then this might even play better for the President, providing the peace held. After all, with hindsight, a pro-Israel liberal President could justify the aid-threat as having contributed to US security interests and as being critical in the end to securing the peace and in spite of itself, Israel’s best interests. Israel is protected and they get normalisation of relations. The aid continues.

  34. Ian Curr

    It makes little sense to propose a two-state or a one-state solution without considering the dominat Arab culture people who live there and who their neighbours are. It is Arab culture, not Islam that dominates the region

    One important question that no one on this thread has considered is the political and cultural origins of Arab people in the West part of Syria, Lebanon, the West part of Jordan, Palestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip), Israel, Sinai (Egypt) — the Levant, for want of a better name.

    If you look at a map of the region [See http://bushtelegraph.wordpress.com/files/2009/11/palestine_304px-israel_topography.jpg ] you will see that this area consists of a dominant arab culture where the people are bound by language, art, cuisine, geography, economy, and history. Even Israelis are caught inside this culture. Their economy (mentioned at #9, cuisine, music, art and psychology fall heavily under its influence [See the film – ‘The Lemon Tree’].

    For example even though Lebanon came under European (mainly French) influence well over a century ago many of its people still look more to Damascus than Beirut. The influence of the Europeans is transitory, weakened by pan-arab culture described by Edward Said. At one time Britain held control of Palestine, TransJordan, Egypt and Syria. That was swept aside by the events following the Second World War when the US took control of the region.

    If the US are forced to give up Israel the zionist project of a Jewish state is lost. Do not think this is impossible. Look how quickly US government pulled its troops out of Lebanon during the civil war there in the 1980s. They lost over 300 marines in one day and left.

    To speak of one-state or two-state solutions makes no sense without understanding how closely Zionist and US interests are aligned. At the present the Israeli government is prepared to accept a 1.2-state-solution with the Israeli Defence Forces in control of everthing and everyone.

    But then, much of the discussion above is based on the premise Zionists are jewish, and religion is at the heart of the conflict. There are Christian zionists, there are American zioinsts, there are Australian zionists (Bob Hawke was one), there are social democrats who are zioinsts, there were even communists who were zionists. It is these people who are ideologically committed to a settler state. Just ask the Murris and Kooris, they know all about the similarity between their struggle and the Palestinians.

    As one Jewish friend said: ” Zionism is a philosophy and there are plenty of Christians who are devoted to it. You are also dead right about: ‘Europeans supported the colonisation of Israel by Jewish exiles from Europe because of their guilt over the holocaust’. And include the whole West in that too — U.S., UK etc etc (AND KEVIN RUDD).”

    Start talking about a secular multicultural state over the entire Levant, now there is a project that would end the US hegemony in the Middle East.

    Ian Curr
    March 2010

  35. Ian Curr

    Sorry, my opening sentence above should read — “It makes little sense to propose a two-state or a one-state solution without considering the dominant Arab culture of the people who live in and around Palestine. It is Arab culture, not Islam that influences the region.”

  36. dylwah

    Fran that aid to Israel is tied to a similar amount going to Egypt, and is part of Carter’s Camp David Accords ‘tween Sadat and Begin. to stop giving it to Israel would mean also stopping giving it to Egypt. Not necessarily a bad thing, but complicated.

    Paul i am not in favour of a boycott in this situation ’cause the full range of human folly, stubbornness and more is on show here, and boycotts are just too rational an option. Also, plenty of boycotts were bypassed before, during and after the foundation of Israel so boycotts will just fire up a lot of people and ways around them will be found.

  37. Fran Barlow

    Not really a similar amount per capita Dylwah (or in absolute terms). Egypt in the same year hasd $US1.7 billion (and some of that was tied to specific non-military programs). Given Egypt has a population nearly 11 times that of Israel …

    And of course Egypt isn’t blocking resolution of the issue. They’d like it fixed up.

  38. Fran Barlow

    Ian Curr

    Of course a solution along the lines you suggest would be a massive step forward on what exists now, but it seems utterly improbable. A two state solution seems more plausible.

  39. Ian Curr

    The proponents of a two state solution are searching for a ‘fact’, a mechanism, an artificial boundary, a wall, that will slow down or even prevent Israeli settlement and expansion that has been going on for decades.

    All this achieves is to further segregate Israelis from the reality of the world that surrounds them.

    The IDF, 4th most powerful army on Earth backed by the US, have made this aparthied possible.

    Have the proponents forgotten already the Israeli bombardment of Gaza 2008, of Syria (2007), of Lebanon 2006? To forget the long history of Israeli bombing of the states of the Levant is one thing but to ignore the resistance against that occupation is another. Should those who have lost villages, family members, land, olive groves, lemon trees be satisfied with that loss and accept no right of return?

    It is easy for those surrounded by a tranquillity of isolation in cosy suburbs of Australia to dream of a two state solution. Go to Palm Island, to Redfern, to Domadgee, that will shock you out of your tranquil dream.

    At least a boycott attempts to isolate Israel.

    See the resistance to Israel’s continued settlement expansion at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVzWLH4hL5I

    Ian Curr
    March 2010

  40. Liam

    If we could not have the Blood Libel repeated here that would be cool.

  41. Paul Norton

    Ian and Liam, I’ve deleted the poem from Ian’s post (a) for the reason Liam alludes to and (b) because it may be in breach of anti-discrimination laws. I’ve also deleted the excerpt which Liam quoted.

  42. Ian Curr

    Re: Accusations of ‘blood libel’ and ‘discrimination’ against Palestinian poem.

    Liam and Paul,

    Can you explain how the poem ‘How humane and civilized!’ by Palestinian poet Nasri Hajjaj is a blood libel?

    It is not as if the poem accuses the butcher of Beirut, Ariel Sharon, of eating babies.

    It is true the US is behind much of the carnage of Palestinians. After all it is the US that supplies Israel’s guns and money. Many of the soldiers in the Israeli ‘Defence’ Force (IDF) come from the US.

    These are facts not superstitious myth. Being true the words in the poem cannot be a ‘blood libel’ as Liam claims.

    Liam, you may have to explain the term you use, when you accuse Nasri Hajjaj of ‘blood libel’. I, for one, had never heard of it.

    Also, Paul, you might like to explain how Hajjaj’s poem can be in breach of Australia’s anti-discrimination laws. Surely it is important that Australia does discriminate against the apartheid state of Israel.

    Especially given the bloodletting that Israeli military committed in Gaza little more than a year ago and in Lebanon as recently as 2006.

    Ian Curr
    March 2010

  43. Paul Norton

    Ian, I’ll let Liam speak for himself, but I consider that the two offending lines which Liam picked out bear a disturbing resemblance to this sort of thing.

    I have had enough contact with anti-discrimination committees, tribunals, policies and laws to form a judgment that there is a non-trivial probability that such material could at least be the basis for an arguable case under Queensland and Federal anti-discrimination laws, and those of other jurisdictions in which this blog can be accessed. The respondents to such a complaint would include not only Nasri Hajjaj and yourself, but also myself as moderator of the thread and any individuals legally responsible for the content of LP. Perhaps a defence could be mounted which would succeed legally, but not before much unpleasantness and trouble had ensued for all concerned. All things considered, I have decided to err on the side of caution.

    Any further discussion of this specific matter will be conducted privately until further notice.

  44. Fran Barlow

    For the record Paul, though aware of the concept of blood libel, I didn’t read the poem in this way. You say you have risked erring on the side of caution, but there is a fine line between doing that and allowing a claim that should not be allowed.

    I don’t dispute that your exercise of discretion in the context of LP’s responsibilities and the desire most of us share to avoid being on the wrong end of plausible claims of anti-semitism, could be reasonable, but I’d urge you to exercise this discretion as sparingly as possible, so as to avoid implicitly affirming as blood libel, claims that are purely political and related to current disputes.

  45. Paul Norton

    Fran, I’m currently consulting with the LP Collective and with those whose business it is to know the legalities of such matters, and may reconsider my call in the light of such consultation, but in the interim I’m going to err on the side of caution for the reasons outlined.

  46. Liam

    The wiki article, to which Paul linked, on the anti-semitic mythology of Jewish cannibalism is exactly what I was referring to, Ian.
    To me the questions of whether an anti-discrimination claim would be actionable or whether Nasri Hajjaj’s poem refers to “true” events in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon are irrelevant. The blood libel is a very old, very infamous, very dangerous myth which anyone who thinks they know enough to argue on the internet about Israel should also know enough about to avoid.
    Drinking children’s blood indeed. Shame.

  47. Chav

    PROTEST: ‘BREAK TIES WITH APARTHEID ISRAEL – FREE PALESTINE’
    6pm at the State Library (opposite Melbourne Central)

    See you all there!

    🙂

  48. Chav

    (ahem)

    That’s Friday the 19th of March.

  49. Ian Curr

    Paul & Liam,

    Paul & Liam from LP,

    Please do not go running to Wikipedia, try to parse the poem properly.

    Some help for you:

    ‘Jailed my sun’ — not his ‘son’ but his ‘sun’ – obviously this is use of a metphor. Australian and israeli prison’s contain many aboriginal and Palestinian sons but this is not what Hajjaj is saying. It is his ‘sun’ that has been jailed. Where sun is clearly a metaphor. Do you know what the poet means?

    ‘Then ground their bones at McDonnell-Douglas’ — many children were killed in Gaza by the IDF last year but no bones were ground at McDonnell-Douglas, clearly another metaphor.

    ‘And offered them back to me As a present in a flour-sack’ — obviously no flour is being offered least of all flour from children’s bones.

    Clearly no one is drinking their blood. Yet another metaphor.

    Ian Curr
    Mar 2010

    Ian Curr

  50. Ian Curr

    Re: Paul Norton — ‘Fran, I’m currently consulting with the LP Collective and with those whose business it is to know the legalities of such matters…’

    What is the decision of the LP collective?

    Will you publish ‘How Humane and Civilised!’ by Nasri Hajjaj or do you adhere to the absurd accusation that it is a ‘blood libel’?

    See What is”Palestinian Land Day”? — Poet Darwish explains

    Ian Curr
    3 April 2010