Israelism and Anti-Israelism

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ajjohnstone
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Sep 5 2018 02:41
Israelism and Anti-Israelism

As i am being constantly lectured when i defend the SPGB's definitions, words' meanings change and we have to keep adapting and adopt those new meanings and come up with new words that express our ideas better.

Now that the IHRA supposedly more accurate definition of what anti-semitism is has been accepted by Labour, should we now drop the terms Zionism and Anti-zionism and be very specific and use the words, Israelism and Anti-Israelism, to make our criticism very particular...Or will the pro-Israeli lobbyists simply shift the goal-posts again and denounce being anti-Israel as another form of anti-semitism?

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dark_ether
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Sep 5 2018 06:55

Undoubtedly they would either shift the goal posts in formal definitions or describe it as a 'ineffective mask for anti-semitism' or some such. That doesn't mean it wouldn't get the view point across to people with less chance of being written off as anti-semitism though.

Do people still self describe as zionists when they are very pro-israeli state? If so then anti-zionist makes some sense, if not, then less so.

Oddly I don't think that 'the israeli state is a racist endeavour', as an endeavour means you are trying to do something / striving towards creating something, where as I think it is pretty clear those that run the government have long ago succeeded in creating an institutionally racist state. Of course Israel is far from unique in this respect, but one of the more (if not the most) blatant and extreme version in the 21st century.

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R Totale
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Sep 5 2018 07:08

I don't see what's wrong with just good old fashioned "nationalism" and "internationalism" (or anti-, if you prefer) myself. I think any specialised terminology that only applies to Israel tends to lead to exceptionalism and so to grey areas, just sticking to "we're [socialists/anarchists/communists], we oppose the nation state" seems much firmer ground to me.

Mike Harman
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Sep 5 2018 16:20
R Totale wrote:
I think any specialised terminology that only applies to Israel tends to lead to exceptionalism and so to grey areas

Yeah this is where it gets tricky, and where I've found Postone useful.

If you take certain Marxist Leninist groups, they'll say Israel doesn't have a right to exist because it's a settler colonial/apartheid state. There is not currently another state that has such an apartheid system and active project of racial dispossession in the same way that Israel does so it's exceptional in that sense, although there is mass slaughter in Syria (including of Palestinian refugees), the Rohingya genocide and many other examples of states conducting massive internal repression and slaughter.

But there are obviously plenty of other settler colonial states - some like Australia, US MLs would generally ignore, or Cuba and Venezuela which they'd generally support as 'anti-imperialist'. If you say that Venezuela or Syria doesn't have a right to exist, then the chances of being called a NATO-Trotsky-fascist-Zionist-imperialist-running-dog go up pretty high. And then there is the 'tail wagging the dog' line where Israel is blamed for British or US foreign policy.

But then on the other side of things we have Robert Kurz, who unlike (as far as I know) Postone, has come out in explicit defence of Israel, for example here: https://www.exit-online.org/textanz1.php?tabelle=transnationales&index=2...

This defense of Israel is based on it being a 'normal' nation state and also a refuge for the jews - i.e. no mention of the Nakba at all.

Then coming to 'us' as generally internationalist communists:

For people who want to abolish the nation state in general, then it seems self-evident that 'Israel doesn't have a right to exist', but since a lot of people don't, just saying that without further context looks like only Israel doesn't have a right to exist - and this is one of the arguments Israel makes to label critics as anti-Semitic.

Equally, internationalists wouldn't say 'Palestine has a right to exist' - because we want to abolition of all nation states. But again out of context saying 'Palestine has no right to exist', looks like a defence of Israel.

Similarly the 'no support for national liberation movements' position, without caveats being given, could be equated to WWI German social democracy voting to maintain its colonies, or Republican Spain deciding to keep Morocco as a colony. Not offering support to national liberation movements (in the sense of cross-class movements to take over a colonial state apparatus) is not the same as supporting continued colonial occupation, but it's easy to paint it as such, and in some cases this is actually what people are doing.

I really think we all could do a lot better putting forward their positions on internationalism in a more clear and consistent way - i.e. one which does not lend itself to misunderstandings or mis-characterisation.

Django's follow-up to Against Nationalism is maybe a useful jumping off point for this, although no idea if Django is still around: https://libcom.org/blog/some-more-thoughts-national-question-17012012

I've been meaning to try to write something up a bit more longer form on this, but needed an example to point to, and got so pissed off at the options on offer, trying to write a long post on Kenya's colonisation and the movements against it to have concrete examples to point to in the first place.

alb
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Sep 6 2018 02:56

Since "races" don't exist (or, if they do, most of the population of Israel would have to be classified as belonging to the same "race") I think "sectarian" state would be a better description. The regime there has recently adopted a new law defining Israel as a "Jewish state for the Jewish people". The parallel that comes to mind is the Northern Ireland statelet in his heyday when its prime minister was said to have declared it to be a "Protestant state for a Protestant people".

Mike Harman
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Sep 6 2018 06:29

Racism can be a material force without biological race being a thing.

Also Israel is literally doing genetic testing for citizenship applications.

jpost wrote:
new ruling in Jewish law permitting a specific genetic test to be used as proof of Jewish descent for certain Ashkenazi Jews is being promoted as a possible solution for potentially hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens from the former Soviet Union (FSU) having difficulty proving their Jewish status.

https://www.jpost.com//Israel-News/Politics-And-Diplomacy/New-law-says-g...

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R Totale
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Sep 6 2018 07:10
Mike Harman wrote:

But there are obviously plenty of other settler colonial states - some like Australia, US MLs would generally ignore, or Cuba and Venezuela which they'd generally support as 'anti-imperialist'. If you say that Venezuela or Syria doesn't have a right to exist, then the chances of being called a NATO-Trotsky-fascist-Zionist-imperialist-running-dog go up pretty high.

This is a fascinating contradiction in anti-imperialist thought, IMO (and one that would fit into the Patrick's wallet meme): pretty much any anti imperialist will tell you that the national boundaries imposed on the middle east by the various imperial powers at the end of the old mandates are an unjust imperial imposition that should be swept away, and then with the next breath most of them will also turn around and furiously argue that Syria is a legitimate state with a right to self-determination. I have no idea how they square the circle.
Also, one thing that really helped shape my own critique of national liberation movements was realising - largely through Perlman, I want to go back and read more Perlman on this subject - that Israel is actually a shining example of what a successful national liberation project by a group of deeply oppressed people looks like in practice. And if people are willing to concede that European Jews in the 30s-40s were a horrifically oppressed group (hopefully uncontroversial, but you never know) but that creating a new state was still a really awful solution to their oppression, then I think that provides a good starting point to think about how we can oppose more contemporary forms of oppression without just demanding new states.

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R Totale
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Sep 6 2018 07:11

Double post, nvm

ajjohnstone
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Sep 6 2018 07:14

Not sure if this is 100% accurate, Mike.

Isn't it an application to rabbinate courts and not the State of Israel itself which already knowingly bent the rules ... dare i say it, that it has incorporated Nazi-era definitions of what is a Jew...

But i may well of mis-read your link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Return

As an aside, the wiki link has this comment
Israel has become "a haven for people who hate Israel, hate Jews, and exploit the Law of Return to act on this hatred."....hmmm??? wink

Mike Harman
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Sep 6 2018 11:47
ajjohnstone wrote:
Not sure if this is 100% accurate, Mike.

Isn't it an application to rabbinate courts and not the State of Israel itself which already knowingly bent the rules ... dare i say it, that it has incorporated Nazi-era definitions of what is a Jew...

But i may well of mis-read your link

No I think you're right. You can use a genetic test in the application to the courts, the state does not directly administer or request the test (it's in addition to any other information that could be provided in an application and not a requirement). However there's clearly a huge chasm between accepting genetic testing for proof of Jewishness and the treatment of Ethiopian jews for example: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-32813056

Mike Harman
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Sep 6 2018 14:14
R Totale wrote:
This is a fascinating contradiction in anti-imperialist thought, IMO (and one that would fit into the Patrick's wallet meme): pretty much any anti imperialist will tell you that the national boundaries imposed on the middle east by the various imperial powers at the end of the old mandates are an unjust imperial imposition that should be swept away, and then with the next breath most of them will also turn around and furiously argue that Syria is a legitimate state with a right to self-determination. I have no idea how they square the circle.

I don't think it's that hard for them to do, at least at first:

1. The imperial powers (but mainly the British empire at the time) imposed the national boundaries

2. The imperial powers (mainly the US) are threatening Syrian sovereignty now.

At the level of geopolitics, if the imperial powers have agency, and everyone else mostly does not, then it's quite logical to defend the Syrian state's self-defence against imperialist aggression.

There are two places it breaks down:
1. Is Rojava a Marxist-Leninist-with-Bookchinist-deviations influenced attempt at self-determination with tacit if not explicit support from Assad?
2. Or alternatively is Rojava a US imperialist/Zionist outpost?

https://libcom.org/forums/north-america/wwp-splitting-16072018 shows that split in action.

Secondly, to describe mass internal bombing campaigns/repression of Syrians as 'self defence' you have to substitute a popular/democratic (if not proletarian, hello ICT) uprising for various foreign actors (US, Israel, Saudi, Al Qaeda, ISIS) and paint all non Assad loyalists as terrorists.

Oh and thurdly you also somehow have to ignore US operations in Syria against ISIS which have killed hundreds of civilians, in order to be incredibly alarmed that the US might bomb 'Syria' when it talks about doing so after chemical attacks.

gbcr
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Sep 23 2018 03:35

There is a Jewish that another holocaust is just around the corner. The fear and worry is that the Palestinians, Iranians, Arab Armies, fascists, etc. are itching to kill all the Jews in Israel. This fear is historically justified by the holocaust and programs that proceeded it. When people talk about Israel lobby, Zionists, etc., it sounds like incitement for such a policy. Often, vague language can sound like euphemisms or dog whistles for such views. More then any specific language, I think the real issue is an analysis of whether various policies have potential to result in another Jewish genocide.

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jef costello
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Sep 23 2018 16:09
ajjohnstone wrote:
Not sure if this is 100% accurate, Mike.

Isn't it an application to rabbinate courts and not the State of Israel itself which already knowingly bent the rules ... dare i say it, that it has incorporated Nazi-era definitions of what is a Jew...

But i may well of mis-read your link

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Return

As an aside, the wiki link has this comment
Israel has become "a haven for people who hate Israel, hate Jews, and exploit the Law of Return to act on this hatred."....hmmm??? ;-)

According to that wiki page Israel has used similar criteria to nazis, but Rabbinate courts haven't always accepted it, so some may emigrate but are not considered jews.

I don't know if Patrol 36 is the only case of Neo-nazis in Israel but, given the media attention I would expect other cases would have been publicised. The quotation that you have used, from a right-wing zionist, seems to be part of a movement trying to limit the right of return. The right of return is a demographic tool to expand the jewish population, the fear seems to be that as the definition includes non-practising jews it is having a negative effect demographically, from their point of view of course.

ajjohnstone
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Sep 23 2018 23:56

By coincidence, I just commented on another website on Israel's obsession with demographics.

Actually, Israeii-Jew birthrate is now exceeding Israeli-Arab
https://www.jns.org/israels-jewish-fertility-rate-tops-arabs-for-first-t...

And in the Occupied Territories, Jewish settlers have a higher birth rate than Palestinians
http://www.lastampa.it/2016/07/25/esteri/israeli-settler-birthrate-tops-...

I also came across this population projection. It predicted that the population will reach 10 million by 2024, 15 million by 2048 and 20 million by 2065.

We saw protests a couple of years back in Tel Aviv about housing shortages and high rents and although for a few the new towns on the West Bank may be religious or ideological, the main reason is economics. Cheap houses and within commuting distance. I don't ever see the dismantling of those cities and towns (the word settlement gives a wrong impression on their sizes)

(btw, I simply used the quotation as a humourous analogy to the accusations Corbyn is receiving -

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jef costello
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Sep 24 2018 07:57
ajjohnstone wrote:
By coincidence, I just commented on another website on Israel's obsession with demographics.

Actually, Israeii-Jew birthrate is now exceeding Israeli-Arab
https://www.jns.org/israels-jewish-fertility-rate-tops-arabs-for-first-t...

And in the Occupied Territories, Jewish settlers have a higher birth rate than Palestinians
http://www.lastampa.it/2016/07/25/esteri/israeli-settler-birthrate-tops-...

I also came across this population projection. It predicted that the population will reach 10 million by 2024, 15 million by 2048 and 20 million by 2065.

We saw protests a couple of years back in Tel Aviv about housing shortages and high rents and although for a few the new towns on the West Bank may be religious or ideological, the main reason is economics. Cheap houses and within commuting distance. I don't ever see the dismantling of those cities and towns (the word settlement gives a wrong impression on their sizes)

(btw, I simply used the quotation as a humourous analogy to the accusations Corbyn is receiving -

I didn't realise that was why you had used the quote.
Those are interesting statistics, I have read recently that the new demographiv problem is that most of the increased birthrate is down to the Haredi population who rarely work and don't serve in the army. Perhaps due to its nature Israel is always going to be faced with some kind of demographic worry.
You are definitely right abut the settlements, I think a long time ago they were extremists, and I remember reading created resentment amongst soldiers forced to bail settlers out from problems they had created, but with full government support and subsidy they have become, as you said, town and cities. At one point they were part of a negotiating strategy, now, from what I have read, they are just part of regional strategy.

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Khawaga
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Sep 24 2018 13:16

IIRC, haredim now have to serve in the military. I think the new law is from this or last year.

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jef costello
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Sep 25 2018 19:45
Khawaga wrote:
IIRC, haredim now have to serve in the military. I think the new law is from this or last year.

I didn(t know that. There was an article in the Guardian about a month ago about the first Haredi Doctor.