Talk Is Cheap, Human Life Is Not

Justice and Freedom for Palestinians Now!

Gideon Levy is praised as a Jewish Israeli journalist who “specialize[s] in describing the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians from the viewpoint of the Palestinians.”1 Jonathan Cook calls him “one of the saner voices still to be found in Israel.”2

Nonetheless, despite Israel’s inhumanity and violence, Levy’s defensiveness of it is quite ostensible.3 Electronic Intifada concurred, criticizing Levy for putting the “political activism [of outsiders] in a conceptual and moral straitjacket while denying the fundamentally international character of Israel’s occupation.”4

Levy still adheres to a gentler, less apparent form of Zionism. He writes:

The situation in the south is depressing. Qassam rockets are being fired out of a territory beset by boycott, siege and intolerable conditions at Israeli communities whose situation is no more tolerable, and the Israeli defense establishment admits it has no real response. With the exception of a few loud-mouthed politicians including Kadima head Tzipi Livni who have elections in mind, most level-headed politicians know the truth: There is no military solution. No wide-scale or small operation; no targeted killing or bombing will help, nor is there a military solution for the situation of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.

So what’s left to do but shrug? Gaza is banished and impoverished, Sderot is threatened and despaired and no one dares try to break the vicious cycle.5

Levy complains that Qassam rockets are making life in southern Israeli communities intolerable while acknowledging that the entirety of 1.5 million Gazan are under siege — collective punishment, a contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The long victimized and suffering Gazans (as Levy has chronicled) are striking back.

So what’s left to do!? Plenty, as pro-Palestinian activist Angie Tibbs pointed out in a letter to Levy:

Perhaps if the Israeli government/military removed itself from the Gaza Strip, allowed its people to live in peace, allowed its elected (democratically) government to govern, allowed Gazans the God given right to travel from A to B, to grow their crops, fish their sea, live in a secure environment, there would be no need for any kind of retaliation. Because, of course, that’s what it is, retaliation…

The people of Gaza cannot live free in any environment, and placing the blame on homemade rockets, the only form of weapon the resistance fighters in Gaza have, is totally unacceptable. You, like the government/military of Israel, are trying to equate the death and destruction that continues unabated in Gaza to rockets that land harmlessly in Israeli border towns.

There is the appearance of something untoward in a journalist making a living by writing about the atrocities perpetrated by his state and simultaneously seeking to exculpate it by focusing on the state’s designated enemies.

However, after over four decades of forcing Palestinians to live under a deadly occupation, Levy futilely shrugs and suggests that Israel pursue the already tried and failed route of direct talks – this time with Hamas.

Levy is unflattering to Hamas. He finesses the language to describe Hamas as having “seized power democratically …” rather than “won power democratically.” Yet he allows that Israel and much of the world failed in their “diabolical scheme” to undermine Palestinian democracy. (Levy does not hold the Jewish state solely responsible for its crimes, and he has a point in that the much of the rest of the world is guilty of bystanding and in some cases complicity, but what Levy elides is that if Israel was not inflicting violence on Gaza, the violence would cease). The scheme included a “two-year siege and boycott that included starvation, blackouts and bombardments …” Included? Past tense? Is this journalist following the news? The starvation,6 blackouts,7 and bombardments8 are present continuous. Yet, Levy attempts to conjure a scenario where it appears as if there is some legitimacy with overthrowing Hamas.

Writes Levy, “There’s no chance that Hamas will change its stripes entirely, but direct talks may be more pragmatic than they seem. It has some reasonable leaders who value life and want to improve the wretched situation of their nation.” It is mighty gracious of Levy to allow that there are “some reasonable leaders” in Hamas who value life — the obvious implication being that many leaders in Hamas are unreasonable and do not value life. This demonizes Hamas, the representative of the Palestinians. It harkens to what what he said in an interview to Le Devoir: “There has been a process of dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinians.”1 Evidently, Levy is a part of this dehumanization and demonization.

Levy’s lens points outward. Some questions for the glasshouse-domiciled Levy: Which Israeli leader is not a war criminal? When will Israeli leaders change their stripes? And how reasonable is that?

Levy recommends, “Israel should offer to lift the siege and boycott in return for a long-term calm.” This lacks courage and vision. Zionist aims are served: the Israeli Jews can live in peace in the stolen country. The Palestinians can live in peace in the bantustans of the Occupied Territories. This might be peace, but what about justice?

Levy urges the breaking of a taboo and meeting with Hamas. However, calling for talks is the imperialist-Zionist canard. It has been done many times. In the 1990s, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres broke the taboo and talked with the PLO leader Yasser Arafat. And today the Palestinians are still dispossessed, occupied, being jailed, tortured, killed, and humiliated.

If Levy is truly interested in justice and human rights, then call unequivocally and immediately for good faith measures: an internationally monitored cease-fire and peace, for Israel to be a single state with equal human rights for all its citizens, acceptance of the right of return, elimination of all racist laws, full reparations, and a sincere apology to the Palestinian people.

After all, peace demands that justice and human rights be respected for all human beings.

  1. Claude Lévesque, “Gideon Levy, the voice of Palestinians in Israel,” Le Devoir, 6 March 2006. Available in translation on the peacepalestine website. [] []
  2. Jonathan Cook, “Divide and Rule, Israeli-Style,” Dissident Voice, 27 June 2007. []
  3. Kim Petersen, “Subtle Loyalties to Zionism,” Dissident Voice, 4 July 2006. []
  4. James Brooks, “On Boycotts, Activism and Moral Standards,” Electronic Intifada, 16 June 2006. []
  5. Gideon Levy, “Talk with Hamas,” Haaretz, 21 December 2008. []
  6. Marwan Bishara, “Hurtling towards a showdown in Gaza,” Al Jazeera, 19 December 2008. Starvation or near starvation, Israel is cutting off food supplies — a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. []
  7. Widespread blackouts after Israel blocks food, fuel shipments to Gaza for third day,” Ma’an News, 14 December 2008. []
  8. Palestinian killed after rocket fire raises concern over Gaza truce,” AFP, 17 December 2008. []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.

26 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 22nd, 2008 at 9:50am #

    i wonder if there is a person of judaic faith (commonly but in error called “jews”) that is not deep in her/his soul at least a minizionist?
    mizrahic/sephardic people may be descendants of chaldeans and other mesopotamians or they may be shemitic converts to judaism.
    but euros being jews? w. white skin, blue eyes, angular faces; an obvious admixture of euroasians. no way hose.
    so, why then wld these thieves have the right to oust pals and claim the conquest, tho not yet complete, a state for the ‘jews’?
    in any case, whoever and whatever these thieves r, i suggest we err on the side of truth; thruth being we do not know.
    but we do know that palestinians; whether they be descendants of canaanitic or arab, or mixture of the two, have lived in palestine for at least 1300 yrs.
    and if they have much or some canaanitic genes, they may have inhabited the region for millennia.
    but, whatever the truth, one truth remains valid for all time and all people: an occcupied people r morally and legally obligated to resist its occupation by all means.
    such a people also retain the right to, once they r victorious, to oust the thieves.
    or else, there wld never be peace w. mad people such as judaists.
    no euro land cld get along w. them. i believe pals also wld fail to reach peace w. them.
    thnx.

  2. Hans Bennett said on December 22nd, 2008 at 10:35am #

    Good one, Kim. I just submitted this as a “quick link” at opednews.com. I was just commenting on my new Mumia article about how he is so blacklisted by liberals and the “repsectable” left media. Well, I think the Palestinian cause is right up there, too, in the intensity of the blacklist, so I think it is so important that you are writing about this, and regularly featuring excellent articles about this important issue, which btw, Americans are just as complicit in (because of US financial and political support for Israel’s crimes) as our current invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

  3. Deadbeat said on December 22nd, 2008 at 11:02am #

    bozh writes …
    i wonder if there is a person of judaic faith (commonly but in error called “jews”) that is not deep in her/his soul at least a minizionist?

    bozh can you define what a “minizionist” is including their behavior and motivations? To me either someone is a racist or they are not a racist. A “minizionist” is a racist and the term seems to apologize for their acceptance of oppression and to mitigate their culpability.

    I think Kim article is important to identify this behavior especially since this behavior is very prevalent of the Left. We’ve seen this especially coming from people like Noam Chomsky whose writings and opinion epitomizes the Left and confuses many activists.

  4. The Angry Peasant said on December 22nd, 2008 at 11:09am #

    Israel is an aggressive imperialist state, but it is because it is encouraged to be by the U.S. As Noam Chomsky will tell you, since 1971 the United States has pushed an aggressive, militarist agenda for Israel, and has repeatedly done everything in its power to undermine the Camp David Accord, the Geneva Conventions and all other attempts at peace. The United States likes Israel just fine the way it is, and Israel knows it can do whatever it wishes because big brother is the biggest kid on the playground. And now we have Obama, who has repeated the mantra of “Screw the Palestinians/Long live Israel.” He has already said he won’t even consider talks with the Palestinians, and doesn’t support a two-state solution. This is our “Change” hero. So, unfortunately, Israel won’t be reigned in, and it’ll be given carte blanche for at least another eight years doing what it does best: Oppressing, murdering, and whining whenever their victims try to fight back.
    You know, I’m all for world peace and the sensible, two-state solution, but we have to face one grim truth here: There is never going to be an end to this conflict. Not without global war. Because the U.S. is never going to push for peace, nor are they ever going to stop protecting and supplying Israel.
    Israel is an irony of sorts, actually. The Jewish folks get rounded up and shipped off to concentration camps to be tortured, starved, killed, etc. So they get saved and put somewhere to live, and proceed to spend the majority of their short history oppressing, torturing, starving, killing and conquering everyone they can. Much like that Hitler guy.
    As I said, I’m all for peace, but in that region there won’t be any until Israel is either eliminated or is no longer given the economic, political and military backing from the United States that allows it to be the disgraceful tyrant it is. Neither scenario, as Obama has made plain, is going to play out.
    Sooner or later, the rest of the world is going to have to deal with the problem of the United States, Great Britain, and Israel. These will be the Axis Powers of World War III. Everything comes full circle. This time, we’re the evil maniacs.

  5. louisa said on December 22nd, 2008 at 11:28am #

    Western “progressive” activists have been and will continue to be easily confused by Chomsky et.al. because whether they admit it or not they harbor the religious belief that Palestine was indeed gifted to the Jews in perpetuity by the entity that Gore Vidal called as “the Great Realtor in the sky”.

  6. bozh said on December 22nd, 2008 at 12:41pm #

    deadbeat,
    a minizionist to me is anyone who approbates a two-state sol’n. that person is a mini zionist for the the reasons that second state is not any lngr available and the zionists having no right to be in palestine.
    and especially zionists from europe. palestine does not belong to them.
    a midi zionist wld be anyone who wants to oust pals from israel and retain golan and part of lebanon.
    a maxi zionist wld be s’mone who also wants to obtain golan and other parts of syria as well as part of jordan.
    according to mad priests, hebrews were to take by sword all the lands btw the two rivers; ie, btw nile and euphrates.
    that was not possible to achieve. later priest scaled dwn the size of land they wld possess to just canaan. thnx

  7. bozh said on December 22nd, 2008 at 12:58pm #

    louisa,
    i agree. chomsky is a mini zionist.
    he had fooled many. was i fooled by him? yes, s’mwhat. however, i did espy that he never said, as far as know, what he was for in palestine.
    people oft say what they r against but never what they r for.
    and what one is for, may be more important than what is one against.
    just recently, he was quoted urging amers to vote for lesser evil but again was quite dishonest in not explaining how he knows that uncle sam wld do less evil.
    and what guarantees did give us? none!
    oh well, we’v had impostors before and more to come! we’l bury them all! thnx

  8. David W. said on December 22nd, 2008 at 1:38pm #

    It is not true that Noam Chomsky has never stated “what he was for in Palestine.” Chomsky is on record early on as favoring a bi-national state in Palestine, although I do not know if he has ever wavered from this position in more recent years.

  9. bozh said on December 22nd, 2008 at 3:15pm #

    david w,
    yes, my mistake. ab 2 or 3 mos ago he did say in an interview on ICH, i think it was, that he is for a twostate sol’n.
    i forgot all ab it. but that was the only time i heard him say that.
    but in view that twostate ‘sol’n’ is so unjust/inadequate, his statement, to me is meaningless.
    the israeli historian ilan papas? said on the same interview that there is no second state available. so he ilan sees it as i do.
    some untouching shreds r available. its pop wld be just used for cheap labor.
    in other words, perm’t serfdom and belittlement of pals. thnx for bringing that to my attention.

  10. DavidG. said on December 22nd, 2008 at 3:42pm #

    Palestine will be freed only if America and Israel cease to exist.

    These two imperialist powers need each other to ensure their mutual existence. And if America can add Iran to its list of scalps then it will be sitting pretty and control much of the world’s oil.

    Forget about Palestine. The Palestinians are Dead Men Walking!

    http://www.dangerouscreation.com

  11. Kim Petersen said on December 22nd, 2008 at 4:09pm #

    Here is Noam Chomsky in his own words from Understanding Power (The New Press, 2002):

    “Anybody who’s been there knows that two states doesn’t make any sense—because the regions are too closely integrated, and the borders are too crazy, and when you look even more carefully you see even further that it wouldn’t work. So the only thing that makes any sense is some sort of confederation. But you can pretty well guess what will happen: there will be two states, except only one of the states will really exist, the other one will just collect garbage.” (p. 134)

    Some might characterize this as “Dead Men Walking.”

  12. Shabnam said on December 22nd, 2008 at 5:20pm #

    Please read the following paper to see how Noam Chomsky protects the interest of Israel. As in the past, he blames US imperialism and in other papers the ‘international community’ for Israeli crimes against humanity but never mention Zionism. We still do not know the benefit of Israel as an ally for US, however, we know Israel contribution towards downfall of the US economy and lack of US credibility all over the world due to waging a Zionist war based on lies and deception, a Zionist trade mark, carried out by the Zionist mass media and their enablers in think tanks, senate and congress.
    {The corporate sector in the US, which dominates policy formation, appears to be quite satisfied with the current situation. One indication is the increasing flow of investment to Israel by Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and other leading elements of the high-tech economy. Military and intelligence relations remain very strong. Since 1967, US intellectuals have had a virtual love affair with Israel, for reasons that relate more to the US than to Israel, in my opinion. That strongly affects portrayal of events and history in media and journals. Palestinians are weak, dispersed, friendless, and offer nothing to concentrations of power in the US. A large majority of Americans support the international consensus on a two-state settlement, and even call for equalizing aid to Israel and the Palestinians. In this as in many other respects, both political parties are well to the right of the population.}
    http://www.chomsky.info/interviews/20080606.htm

    The reason corporate sector go to Israel is that the Jewish lobby has forced economic sanction on many countries especially the Islamic countries through its puppets such as Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Israel through its fifth column in the US and elsewhere demanding for a military strike on Iran for many years and will not stop despite the fact that the ‘imperialist’ representative and empire builder, Brzezinski as well as people from the military elite, admiral William Joseph Fallon, have warned Israel not to push for a military strike on Iran because this IS NOT IN THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES. Why Israel does not listen if Israel is a client state? Since Israel does not follow the order, why the empire does not wage a military strike on Israel? Chomsky should know that he cannot fool anyone except himself.
    Chomsky cleverly believes in:
    Two states solution, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state. He strongly rejects one state solution.
    He does not think Israel is an apartheid state. Desman Tutu of South Africa strongly condemns Israel as an apartheid state. He lived in an apartheid South Africa where Israel was a close ally and an enabler. Do you think Desman Tutu does not recognize an apartheid system when he sees it? Comparing Israel to South Africa Chomsky believes: “There can be no clear answer as to whether the analogy is appropriate.”
    Chomsky argues that boycotts sometimes make sense. Chomsky, however, does not believe in economic sanction or academic boycott against Israel. He cleverly goes for “Selective boycotts, carefully formulated, might have some effect. For example, boycotts of military producers who provide arms to Israel, or to Caterpillar Corporation, which provides the equipment for destroying Palestine.” It is not clear why does this kind of boycotts might work knowing that Israel industry is based on production of WMD.
    Everyone knows that the only solution is ONE STATE solution. Israel does not believe in Palestinian state. Israel Sometimes repeats the rhetoric to buy times. This point can be proven from the history of the past 60 years. The reason for this lie is due to Israel final goal which is the establishment of “the greater Israel’ where the neocons have successfully publicized it as ‘the greater middle east’ to fool Americans to hide their plan which is a Jewish empire goes from Mauritania to Afghanistan by waging Zionist war, in name of ‘democracy’ and removal of the ‘American enemies’ in the middle east to benefit Israel. As you know Israel and its supporters, like Kissinger, neocon and the Jewish lobby make the Israel ‘secure borders’ as number one issue in the discussion. American people and the rest of the world must understand this is ONLY AN EXCUSE to buy time for Israel to expand through partition of the Islamic countries from Mauritania to Afghanistan to create ‘states’ based on ethnic and religious divide to support Israel against Arabs. Those who do not understand these issues should educate themselves fast, otherwise they are going to be fooled by Chomsky and people like him.
    Israel does not have a plan to end the occupation of the Palestine or the Syria. They want to push Palestinian towards Jordan and take over the water resources in the occupied land to support their expansionist policy. Look at Iraq, what do you see? We see a destroyed Iraq, partitioned based on ethnic and religious divide. They want the same thing in Iran, Sudan, Egypt, and beyond.
    Therefore, they need a proxy such as US to achieve their goal. They are working towards partition of Sudan, the largest country in Africa, and that’s why they sit Obama, a slave of Zionist interest, as a president because they need his dark skin to mobilize African-American fools against countries such as Sudan, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Morocco and the rest of the North Africa. Israel has deep penetration into Ethiopia, Somalia, Morocco NOT THE ‘EMPIRE.’

  13. bozh said on December 22nd, 2008 at 5:57pm #

    US does says that israel’s securityis sacrosant. it may be noted that actually israel does not even exist because it has no declared borders.
    probably the only land that is in toto borderless. thnx

  14. bozh said on December 22nd, 2008 at 6:06pm #

    kim,
    thnx for the chomsky statement that says two state sol’n wld not work.
    but it does seem that he reversed his opinion.
    or is my memory that faulty ab interview of a few mos ago on ICH w. him and ilan pappi?, the israeli historian, when chomsky said he’s for two state “sol’n’. thnx

  15. The Angry Peasant said on December 22nd, 2008 at 6:13pm #

    I just read the other article from today concerning the whole Israel/Palestine situation, “Strangling Gaza to Near Death While Pretending to Be Victim.” For some odd reason, comments are closed on the article.

  16. Kim Petersen said on December 22nd, 2008 at 7:34pm #

    bozh,

    What NC says in that interview is that he advocates bi-nationalism, which fits in with a confederation.

  17. Deadbeat said on December 22nd, 2008 at 9:39pm #

    I think what Shabnam is saying is vastly important because Zionism knows no boundaries. This is not about the “state” of Israel and its borders as bozh implies but about Zionism and its desire for conquest and “empire”.

  18. bozh said on December 23rd, 2008 at 8:23am #

    deadbeat, ab the israel’s borders,
    first of all i do not recognize israel; only palestine; the land of people who have resided in it for possibly 10K yrs.
    i was making the point that israel is borderless, because it, along all of the christians, favor expansion; as settling even today of palestine proves.
    it is the only land on planet that is not recognized by israel and friends.
    arab lands, UN, recognize israel. hamas does not as long as occupation remains; rightly so.
    so, in all respect, borders r of some significance. it shows how absurd is the assertion that israel’s borders or the state self is sacrosant when neither is extant.
    hope i have clarified the meaning of being borderless. but euros have done the same in americas. so, the nonshemitic peoples had ‘good’ teachers.
    the word “zionism” is vastly inadequate/inaccurate label. it’s a swindle/corruption; because people who call selves zionists have nothing to do w. mount zion.
    and all the salient facts re euro-pals conflict clearly prove that euros, having done it in americas, r now doing it in syria, lebanon, and palestine.
    none of these people is jewish or hebraic; all seem to be christians, khazars, and mostly judaists.
    these r facts. they clash w. any label save imperialism or criminal behavor, at least for me.
    what others say, won’t change my mind; only facts will do that.
    so, find me facts that prove that khazars r descendants of judeans and that they have some a priori right that no other people have, then i’l change my mind. thnx

  19. bozh said on December 23rd, 2008 at 8:45am #

    kim,
    in all respect, ur last post needs analyses. it’s a fact that israelites r not a nation; they r or maybe an ad mixture of hundreds of ethnic groups.
    the word “israeli” self is a corruption/contminant of naked reality.
    no shred of evidence had been provided to date, as far as know, that isr’s pop is a descendant of judeans.
    ten tribes of isr had vanished in 728 bc. while most judeans have been killed by rome or have been dsipersed or fled to arab lands.
    how do black people of the book can become jewish?
    so, if NC, implies or urges a binat’l existence/arangement in expalestine, then he is wrong.
    if he does not condemn theft of land by judeo-christian soyuz , he’s wrong.
    and wld be responsble for prodding another people to invade land of other people; make the conquerees subservient to them and commit mass of crimes agant them.
    that’s why i say it is of utmost import that no criminal of any kind gets rewarded for one’s crimes. thnx

  20. bARABie said on December 23rd, 2008 at 4:26pm #

    An article by gideon levy i deconstructed a few days ago.

    “Whatever the case, Ghawi’s family was forced to leave its home in 2002 by court order. ”
    “Its” home? Is that a Freudian slip by Gideon? For those unaware, one uses the word “it” to refer to animals or objects.

    http://barab.wordpress.com/2008/12/20/gideon-levys-right-of-return/

  21. Shabnam said on December 24th, 2008 at 8:26am #

    Noam Chomsky must accept that ONE STATE SOLUTION is the only solution according to both Sides. Ghada Karmi, a respected Palestinian intellectual, and Avraham Burg the most prominent critics of Zionism and Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, a former Israeli politician whose recent books and articles warned of the end of the Jewish state and the demise of Zionism, in a recent interview published in “The Independent,” Burg said that the days of two-state solution is numbered.
    http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7&section=0&article=117501&d=24&m=12&y=2008

  22. dino said on December 24th, 2008 at 10:43am #

    Shabnam,i believe that is a misunderstanding regarding what Burg said in the mentioned article.Burg said:”In a recent interview published in The Independent, Burg said that he feared that the days of the conventionally envisaged two-state solution may be “numbered.”So ,he feared.And he went go and explained that ONE STATE SOLUTION will be the Bibi’s solution ,namely “our” solution (Israeli extremists), and also the solution for “their” extremists (Palestinians) who not recognize the right of Israel.

  23. Shabnam said on December 24th, 2008 at 11:40am #

    dino:
    Thank you very much for your post. I’m afraid your interpretation is not correct.
    Please read the whole paragraph:

    {Perhaps one of the most prominent critics of Zionism and Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians is Avraham Burg, a former Israeli politician and an establishment insider, whose recent books and articles warned of the end of the Jewish state and the demise of Zionism. In a recent interview published in The Independent, Burg said that he feared that the days of the conventionally envisaged two-state solution may be “numbered.}

    Avraham Burg is the most prominent critics of Zionism and Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, why should he fear one state solution which ends the occupation? He is telling zionists that the end of the Zionism is near, not because he fears it rather because of Zionism expansionist policy and its racism and oppression against Palestinians. The “numbered” does NOT MEAN he is against one state solution rather it means he is not sure exactly when this is going to happen. In addition, Osman Al Sharif writes this article under the title “one state solution gains support”, then why should he bring Burg as an anti ‘one state solution? ‘ This is my understanding of this article.

  24. Deadbeat said on December 24th, 2008 at 11:45am #

    bozh writes…

    hope i have clarified the meaning of being borderless. but euros have done the same in americas. so, the nonshemitic peoples had ‘good’ teachers. the word “zionism” is vastly inadequate/inaccurate label. it’s a swindle/corruption; because people who call selves zionists have nothing to do w. mount zion.

    I respect your explanation however my argument is that Zionism is an expansionist and racist ideology that extends beyond the “state” of “Israel”. There is a tendency on the Left to limit the definition of “Zionism” only to the Israel/Palestine “conflict”. My interest is how this issue is presented to the American people since Zionism has such huge influence upon American foreign policies and is largely ignored. Ignoring Zionism within the United States has a deleterious effect upon both foreign and domestic policies.

    In addition I disagree with your remark stating that Zionism is an inadequate description. You personally may want to redefine Zionism and expand its definition to be “imperialism” or “empire” but the rest of the world understands Zionism to be a racist ideology and it should be presented as such. Unfortunately many on the “Left” seems to want to suppress its true intent in order to obscure Zionism to the American people.

    IMO confused definitions effectively aid the efforts of Zionism because it stalls any serious action and mobilization against it. I believe that is the point Shabnam and other contributors on DV are making by raising Noam Chomsky. He has done more than anyone to stall any real confrontation against Zionism due to his tepid critiques, redefinition, apologies, and denials.

  25. bozh said on December 24th, 2008 at 1:47pm #

    deadbeat,
    i had been wondering why u didn’t respond to my comment regarding zionism being misleading or inadequate.
    conquest of other people is generally known as imperialism. germanization, russianization, europeanization, (of americas), zionization, etc., r not general enough.
    zionism, among others, is just a special/particular case of imperialism, at least to me.
    if label “imperialism” is not included or thought of as the main menu of zionism, then to me s’mthing is lost.
    we need to acknowledge that ‘jews’ also r not exceptional nor exception when it comes to brutality/bestiality.
    racism is clearly an aspect of imperialism. there is hardly any euro nation that is not also racist.
    and zionism is also racist. but theft of land by socalled zionists is by far more important to them than anything else.
    actually, their racism is just a tool used to demoralize pals in order for them to willingly leave the prison they r in.
    but 60 yrs later they r still there. to the dismay of the conquerors.
    i do not know whether african and asian lands r also racist and to what degree.
    so i have left out these two continents.
    as for ‘zionists’ controling america, amer christians, fanatics that they r and wanting top destroy judaism; ie, christianize ‘jews’, wld never allow ‘jews’ to control their america.
    clero-political elite may be just using the rabid ‘jews’.
    let’s explore this possibility?
    i know how much labor u have done to convince amers that zionism is a great peril to them.
    i don’t think so. hope u’r not too disappointed. u do have every right to see things the way u see them. thnx

  26. Deadbeat said on December 26th, 2008 at 11:35pm #

    to me. if label “imperialism” is not included or thought of as the main menu of zionism, then to me s’mthing is lost.

    bozh, the label “imperialism” is typically used to describe the conquest for resources however there is much more to Zionism than the conquest for land and resource. Racism is a major aspect of Zionism and to use “imperialism” has the effect to obscure the racist aspect of Zionism. In fact you (rhetorically) could “justify” the thief of resources under the banner of nationalism (“Manifest Destiny”). However racism, especially today, is extremely unjustifiable and therefore you can MOBILIZE people to confront Zionism on that basis.

    Here’s an article from the website “Window Into Palestine” by New England Committee to Defend Palestine…

    Confronting Zionism in Movements for Social and Political Change

    In April of 2008, NECDP held a conference entitled “Struggle for the Land: Zionism and the Repression of Anti-Colonial Movements.” The following document is a product of the workshops and the series of discussions that followed. We send it out as a call to organizers in movements for social and political change to adopt anti-Zionist principles as part of their work.Palestine Solidarity Principles of Unity

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    *R: Confront Racism and Colonialism! : Zionism is a form of white supremacy and European colonialism. “Israel” was founded on Zionism and is therefore an unjust and illegitimate state.

    *R: Right to Return and Reclaim Land: Palestinians have a right to return and reclaim all of their historic land. All of historic Palestine should be decolonized.

    *R: Right to Resist: Palestinians have the right to resist colonization and genocide and the theft of their land and resources. This includes the right to resist settlers (the primary genocidal force in Palestine) and the military. The struggle of the Palestinian people is part of a regional struggle against US, European, and Zionist imperialism.

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    Fighting Zionism

    Why should movements for social and political change adopt anti-Zionist principles as part of their work?

    Decades ago, organizers had to mount a struggle to get people to acknowledge that racism needed to be confronted as a specific issue, and could not simply be addressed under the category of class–that it was not enough to have a class-based struggle in the absence of an analysis of racism. These organizers demonstrated that racism is a pervasive force within society and shows itself inside movements for social and political change; it must therefore be fought inside these movements as well.

    This is the situation now with regard to Zionism. Zionism must be confronted as a form of white supremacy that exists within our movements for liberation and social change. Zionism has its main base of political, economic and military support in the “United States.” While the vast majority of the world’s people recognize that the Palestinian struggle is a legitimate struggle against genocidal colonial violence, no movement in the US has yet emerged capable of challenging this base of support. One reason for this is the pervasive influence of Zionism across the entire spectrum of US politics.

    The oppression of Palestinian people should be enough reason for radical organizers to take up the call to confront Zionism in the movement. This confrontation is crucial for other reasons as well.

    We understand Zionism to be a central pillar of US imperialism that has integrated itself into US projects globally–not just in the Arab world, but in Africa, Central and South America, and Asia. For example, Zionists have supplied, trained and advised repressive regimes and right-wing paramilitary groups in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela since the 1950’s.

    Since the base of Zionist power continues to be in the “United States,” Zionism has been the enemy of anti-colonial struggles here where we live. Zionists have recognized radical anti-colonial movements on this continent as a threat to their power and have actively worked to repress them. They have been a central force in the development of the national security state, the quasi-legalization of torture, and the so-called “war on terror.”

    Zionist involvement in police-state “security” –the protection of power for settler elites here on this continent–includes everything from policy development to intelligence gathering, mercenary work, and the development of highly repressive forms of technology. Organizations like the Anti-Defamation League have an extensive history of spying on oppositional groups and providing information to both domestic and foreign intelligence services. (In one documented instance from the 1980s, an ADL spy gave information on South African anti-Apartheid activist Chris Hani to the South African intelligence services; he was later assassinated on his return home.) The ADL now sponsors collaborative training programs for US “Homeland Security” police and their “Israeli” counterparts. “Israeli” private security companies like Instinctive Shooting International offer “security” to US corporations as well as training programs for US police forces. The military and surveillance technology company Elbit Systems, which was central in engineering the wall that now divides and imprisons communities in Palestine, contracted itself to the US government to build the “border” wall with Mexico.

    Above all, maintaining a Zionist base of power in the US means creating a political context on this continent in which Zionism can thrive, and that means suppressing anti-colonial consciousness. Zionist organizations like the American Jewish Committee threw their active support behind black “civil rights” leaders who were willing to confine their struggle to a limited agenda of representative rights on paper, while at the same time opposing nationalist currents within the black liberation movement who saw their struggle as a struggle for self-determination on their own land. Zionist organizations have used the Holocaust as a way of creating support for the Zionist project in Palestine by portraying it as a unique and unparalleled evil in human history, thus denying the magnitude of colonialism as a form of genocide against Africans, First Nations peoples, and Arab peoples.

    For all of these reasons, we think that the fight against Zionism must become a common theme in serious movements for social and political change. Adopting anti-Zionist principles is one necessary step in the struggle to combat Zionism within our movements. To help organizers achieve this, we thought it useful to clarify the meaning of anti-Zionist principles, and then examine how Zionists–especially Zionists within our movements–work to disrupt serious anti-colonial solidarity.

    What are anti-Zionist principles?

    In discussing Zionism as a form of racism, we understand racism to be an expression of European colonialism. As such, it is not just the set of beliefs or world-view shared by members of colonial oppressor societies, but also the system of laws and institutions by which those societies enforce their power. Racism is the expression of a material and social relationship: the relationship of the colonizer to the colonized.

    The struggle for liberation is not a struggle against some ideas in people’s minds (“prejudice”) or against inequality before the law (“discrimination”), but a struggle to overthrow colonial oppression in its most material forms.

    Zionist colonialism in Palestine takes the form of colonial settlement. As in the case of Anglo-European colonialism on this continent, Zionist colonization aims at eradicating the indigenous population and replacing it with a settler population. This settler population is the main force of occupation and genocide against the indigenous people. Internal political currents that conflict with each other over the organization of power within the settler society–“left,” “right,” “center,” “progressive,” “conservative,” “Marxist,” “anarchist,” etc.–overlap so completely with regard to the settler project itself as to be objectively the same for indigenous people.

    In this context, we view proposed solutions which address the manifestations of colonialism (the Apartheid system, inequalities in legislation and voting rights, etc) but never the underlying reality of colonization–who controls the land and resources of the region–as false solutions. The struggle against racism is ultimately the struggle against colonialism–the struggle to liberate land.

    As Malcolm X said, “Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.” True anti-Zionist principles must support the right of the Palestinian people to liberate their historic land by any means necessary.

    How do Zionists disrupt our work and how can we stop them?

    In Palestine solidarity work, there are three basic types of opposition to the Palestinians’ struggle for their rights. The first is made by people who are ideologically committed to Zionism; the second, by well-intentioned people who are persuaded that they must maintain an alliance with Zionists in the Left (or at the bare minimum not offend them) for the sake of credibility or other strategic gains, and the third by people who claim to oppose Zionism on principle but are reluctant to advocate for change in colonial practice that would result in material gains for the Palestinians: that is to say, resistance to settlers and liberation of land.

    Here are some methods that are used by Zionists to disrupt solidarity work on Palestine and some strategies for fighting these disruptions. We have also noted some examples of methods used by people who are not Zionist in principle but who at the same time do not oppose Zionism in practice. It is important to note that the methods outlined below are often used by well-intentioned people on the “tactical left.” Though we do not feel that it is ever “tactical” to capitulate to Zionism, certainly the tone with which one might respond to someone who is acting in good faith as opposed to someone who is attempting to disrupt organizing work should be different. It is also important to bear in mind that one must confront Zionism in those who are well-intentioned, just as one would confront any other form of racism in the well-intentioned.

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    11 Methods of Zionist Disruption and Strategies for Addressing Disruption

    1. Deflecting to “strategy” in the absence of common goals

    This is probably the most common method of disruption used by those ideologically committed to Zionism. Let’s say a proposal is being discussed that is anti-Zionist. The Zionist in a group will suggest that advocating for Palestinian rights in this particular way is not “strategic” for a variety of reasons — “the American public will be frightened,” “the American public is not informed enough to understand,” “this approach will destroy previous work”, or “this will harm Palestinians.”

    The best way to confront this particular method of disruption is to make a case to the group that it cannot move forward on strategy until it has agreed on what the basic political goals are. This is a good time to introduce the above principles of unity on Palestine solidarity. If the Zionist continues to be disruptive, it is time to go around the room and ask people some basic questions, “Do we all agree that Zionism is a form of racism and colonialism that we oppose?”, “Do we all agree that Palestinians have the right to all their land back?” etc. This is a way of calling out racism. It is also important to note that the only people who tend to be really frightened by an anti-Zionist analysis of the situation in Palestine are Zionists, not the general public.

    2. Opposition to the “cycle of violence” — denouncing “the violence on both sides”

    Zionists will often use the “non-violence” argument as a way to denounce Palestinian resistance. This method usually involves equating state violence with indigenous resistance to state violence– an equation that is ludicrous. Also ludicrous is the idea that as funders of colonization and genocide in Palestine, people in this country would be in any position to dictate tactics or strategy to people who are resisting the violence that comes from here. People of occupied lands have the right to resist — period.

    3. Supporting the “right to self-determination” of “both peoples” in “Palestine/Israel” ; “ordinary people on both sides want peace.”

    Zionists in this instance are asserting the Zionist narrative: that settlers have a right to self-determination on land they have stolen and now occupy by military force, and this right is somehow compatible with or equal to the right of native people to reclaim their own land. In such situations, it should be stressed that Zionism is a European colonial ideology, not a national liberation struggle.

    This manifests itself in the use of terms like “Israel/Palestine” (sometimes used by Palestinians themselves who feel that these are necessary strategic concessions to gain popular support here.)

    When confronted, Zionists will often respond that they have “partners in Palestine” who support this analysis. It is important to note when this argument is used that the role of solidarity activity is not to impose limitations on the struggle of indigenous people by singling out for support, cultivating, or strengthening currents that are willing to make concessions. It is the job of solidarity activists to support the full range of indigenous demands and not interfere with the process by which the indigenous movement makes its own collective decisions about demands and strategy.

    4. Arguing the “complexity” of the situation

    The Hasbara Handbook on “Promoting Israel on Campus” states the following:

    “If a Jewish activist genuinely disagrees with some action it is legitimate to say so provided this is done in a way that defends and supports Israel as a country and attempts to place the action in the context of a complex situation.”

    The response to this should be direct. There is nothing complicated about the fundamental issues of justice in Palestine: racism, colonialism, and genocide are wrong and should be opposed.

    5. Deflecting to “process”

    In the absence of achieving their political goals through discussion, Zionists can both exhaust and destroy groups by rerouting political discussions to endless discussions of group “process.” This is when a member of the group attempts to delay the beginning or completion of work that they don’t agree with for an extended period of time by accusations that certain group procedures have not been followed. It is best to point out in these instances that the group process is being misused to achieve a certain political goal and refocus the discussion on political work.

    6. Name calling

    In the absence of achieving their political goals through one of the methods above, Zionists will sometimes engage in name calling – it can range from “impractical” to “sectarian” to “terrorist.” This sometimes happens publicly in group discussion, but will more often happen outside of the group discussion. In this case, it is a good idea to draw attention to name calling as a method commonly used to discredit people who are confronting racism, class oppression, sexism, homophobia, etc. It is also a good idea to discourage name calling and instead, encourage the political discussion which will clarify what political conflicts lie at the heart of the name calling.

    7. “Dialogue” between Israelis and Palestinians as a “bridge to peace,” or “interfaith dialogue” that is used as an opportunity to promote advocacy for “Israel.”

    Subjects of Interfaith Dialogue discussion can be as obvious as “Why Christians Should Support Israel,” to less obvious means of advocacy as in the example of the Boston Interfaith Dialogue Group below (taken from their website):

    “Trinity was also forming a relationship with Temple Israel to address concerns among the Jewish community in Boston after one of the Anglican bishops of Massachusetts and number of other clergy had stood outside the Israeli consulate in Boston to express their concern for the situation of the Palestinian people. Fallon said the Jewish community perceived this as a “sharp criticism,” and Trinity’s ministerial staff sought out connections with the Jewish community in order to address this issue”

    Hillel on advocacy:

    “It might seem paradoxical, but perhaps the best way of strengthening the connection between Jewish students and Israel in the long run is to allow it to be challenged, re-examined and questioned in the short term. By introducing elements of self-critique, debate, dialogue and reflection into our Israel content we are not only sending a more engaging picture of a vigorous society in Israel but also doing more to engage students who are suspicious of talking points, simple messages and being drafted to the cause.”

    In confronting Zionism, it is important to reiterate that equalizing the oppressor and the oppressed is completely inappropriate and that such “dialogue” takes place in the context of very real material circumstances of injustice and racist oppression. Would we suggest “dialogue groups” between the oppressed and the oppressor in any of our other organizing work on social justice?

    8. Using Western feminist stereotypes of Arab women as “super-oppressed” to argue that colonization is “good” for Arab women.

    It is worth pointing out that there are many prevailing stereotypes in the West about Palestinian women, Muslim women, and Arab women as being “super-oppressed.” These stereotypes have been conveniently used to justify the theft of Palestinian land and resources by Zionists as well as American imperialism. Just like settlers throughout history here on this continent, in Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean have done, Zionists have claimed to bring “progress” to the people against whom they are committing genocide.

    Palestinian women have strong forms of collective organization within their own communities. They also have played a central role in resistance movements throughout Palestinian history. They are in the best position to determine their own priorities, goals, and interests.

    It can be said in general that women of colonized societies do not believe that they are being liberated by having bombs dropped on them, being imprisoned and tortured, being starved of their resources, or having their families murdered. Colonialism has never brought liberation to any sector of society among colonized people.

    9. Using historical acknowledgement of the crimes of colonization to reroute action toward “Truth and Reconciliation” that preserves the status quo rather than actions that support the liberation of land

    This functions in the same way as dialogue groups. The mere acknowledgement of the history of colonization is expected to lead to reconciliation, in the absence of any liberation of land or resources. In this case, reconciliation precedes any material undoing of injustice.

    For example, there has been a very recent current trend of “acknowledging the Nakba” in “Israel”.

    Case in point: Zochrot, an organization that “works to make the history of the Nakba accessible to the Israeli public so as to engage Jews and Palestinians in an open recounting of our painful common history.” (Emphasis ours.)

    More quotes from Zochrot:

    “We have also organized encounters between Palestinian refugees and the Israelis who live on their lands. During the encounters, the different narratives of 1948 are shared and there is an attempt to discuss opportunities for creating a space that would enable the needs of both sides to be met….”

    From a Zochrot statement May, 2007:
    “..An injustice cannot be corrected by another injustice, and the right of return, like any other right, must be implemented with care to ensure that other rights are protected”

    “Other rights” in this case are presumably the “rights” of settlers.

    10. Making it personal

    This often takes the form of expressing one’s “discomfort” with how the discussion is taking place. When racism is called out, Zionists will often personalize the political discussion, by saying they feel “attacked” and “unsupported” in the group.

    It is best in these instances not to devote time to explaining yourself in ways that are more palatable to someone who is espousing racism. Be firm and clear in your analysis. Keep it brief: “Confronting racism can be uncomfortable for people,” and move on. Do not allow political work to be derailed by these types of disruptions.

    11. Propagating stereotypes and myths about Islamic resistance in an effort to discredit resistance and decrease solidarity for it here.

    The Islamic resistance in Palestine and Lebanon is a homegrown resistance movement that enjoys wide support from all walks of life, but in particular the poorest and most disenfranchised section of the society. Many in the Arab World have labeled these organizations as “the true Left,” as they provide a wide variety of social services for the population that has been ignored by governments, semi-authorities and international organizations. While ideological disagreements are significant between the Islamic resistance movements and the anti-imperialist left, the Islamic resistance does not fall in the right wing of the spectrum of thought and enjoys many commonalities with the remnants of the anti-imperialist left on many social issues of concern to the general masses.

    It is important to note that Islam with its many schools of thought does not function as an organized church. Thus, the secular Western argument is less relevant, as there is no church power to control. However, the Islamic resistance movements proved by practice that they are not interested in imposing new social norms on the population. Simply, they see themselves as a liberation movement with the main goal of liberating people and land from the grip of colonization and imperialism. It is unfortunate to see leftists joining the bandwagon of anti-Islamic propaganda in an attempt to discredit the Islamic resistance movements. It is a reactionary move from people of privilege with little knowledge of the nature of the resistance and its revolutionary ideology derived from the experience of the prophet of Islam. Women enjoy high positions in the Islamic resistance movement and exclusively run the network of social support organizations. They are involved in resistance activities, hold council seats and share in the decision-making while proudly wearing their head scarves.

    The Islamic resistance movement values the contributions of previous anti-imperialist, nationalist and leftist organizations. In a recent prisoner exchange deal, the Islamic resistance insisted on the return of the remains of all fighters regardless of political affiliation. The celebration that ensued united the flags of the current Islamic resistance and the flags of the leftist resistance. The Islamic resistance is a continuation of the same struggle!

    New England Committee to Defend Palestine