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(DV) Petersen: An Uncompromising Leftist Position







An Uncompromising Leftist Position 
by Kim Petersen
December 18, 2006

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The December issue of Le Monde diplomatique features "A Different Future in Different Circumstances": articles on the future of Palestine and Israel. In one article, former Lebanese finance minister George Corm offers a "dissident view": to obey international law, return stolen land, and pay compensation. [1] This is in line with the reputation of Le Monde diplomatique, known for articles that are "long, thoughtful, scholarly, and opinionated, usually from an uncompromising leftist position." [2] Writing in Le Monde diplomatique on Israeli society, Haaretz' Akiva Eldar comes from a leftist position, but it is a compromised position. [3]


Eldar is puzzled by the deficit of protest over the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman, a far-right winger, as deputy prime minister in Israel. Eldar asks, "What has happened to Israeli society that it is producing racist leaders such as Lieberman and, more importantly, why is it only happening now, almost 60 years after the state of Israel was established?"


Given that the violent realization of Israel has its roots in the racist ideology of Zionism and given that Israel was set up as a Jewish state, one wonders what other kind of leaders would be expected from a racist state.


But it is not just the apparent apathy to the leadership that surprises Eldar; he wonders:


why some Israelis can accept such atrocities as the destruction of an entire Palestinian family in the Gaza Strip while other Israelis, despite 40 years of occupation, still take to the streets to protest against such injustices as the bombing of Beit Hanoun.


The massacres are nothing new. Israel was founded in the blood of many massacres of Palestinians. Considering how non-Mizrahi Jews and their lineage came to be in Israel, it is a rather sad commentary that so few Jews take to the streets to demonstrate against the atrocities meted out by their kinsfolk to Palestinians.

Eldar notes the "admirable record" of Israel in upholding certain democratic values (free speech, the rule of law and free elections), especially when "compared with Syria, Iran or, to a lesser extent, Egypt or Jordan." But what is so admirable about democratic values when free speech, the rule of law, and freeness of elections are less so for "Israeli" Arabs (of course, occupied Palestinian Arabs are denied these democratic values)? Israel is not a democracy. [4] If comparisons are to be the basis, then why not compare Israel to the Scandinavian countries? Why compare Israel to governments created or maintained by imperialists? Why is it that western-compliant dictatorships in Egypt and Jordan are granted greater recognition as democracies than, say, Iran?

"Israel is a highly developed democracy, structurally and formally," Eldar contends, "but in moral values it is still weak and vulnerable, and it has sunk even lower." Elections aside, considering that the Israeli government is preponderantly influenced by the military and considering that the so-called justice system is geared to reflect the "security concerns" of the military, the notion of a "highly developed democracy" is fanciful. Israel is a military state. The military has a state as opposed to the state having a military.   
Eldar writes that Israel's "founding fathers" faced an existential conflict between Israel and the Arabs, and the challenge of establishing a new state. Their ideals were loyalty to the state, unity and the creation of a homogenous population. For them, the state was a melting pot in which a wide variety of people, including Holocaust survivors,  regarded as "human dust," were to be united by common values.


Eldar's omission is telling. The existential conflict was manufactured by Zionists long before an Israeli state was recognized. [5] A "homogenous population" is a euphemism for "Jews only." In this Jewish society, the Palestinians are regarded as and treated as "human dust."


Eldar writes that Israeli Jews were inculcated. "The emphasis in education was on loyalty to the state [instead of loyalty to humanity], the Arab-Israeli conflict [instead of loyalty to the unity and love of fellow humans], anti-semitism [while practicing the same] and military service [instead of loyalty to the cause of peace and justice].


Eldar does acknowledge the racism intrinsic to Israeli society. He acknowledges the supremacism in Israeli education that depicts Arabs as "inferior beings with no national identity, thirsting for Jewish blood" and also views "goyim" negatively. Israelis may be victims of their own regime's propaganda and disinformation, but does that absolve them of blame for their crimes against humanity anymore than Germans who were indoctrinated by the Nazi regime?

Jewish people, according to Eldar, seek exculpation for present-day racism in their victimhood throughout history, culminating in the World War II Holocaust. Although Jewish victims were numerous, the WWII Holocaust is not an exclusive Jewish calamity; its victims included Slavs, Roma, homosexuals, and challenged members of society.


Eldar recognizes the "simplistic messages" born out of the Jewish victimhood, such as the long-forgotten "never again." The tragic irony is that the people who base themselves in such messaging are the same people who so basely undermine their own victimhood. 

Eldar sees this. He writes, "It may be difficult for a nation that forgets its past to establish its present identity." If the identity of Israeli Jewish society is based in the WWII Holocaust, then this identity was forgotten from its inception since Israel is a state born through inflicting a holocaust on the indigenous Palestinians.


By ontologically rooting people in a past holocaust, present-day holocausts can be obfuscated and denied -- even by the victims-cum-perpetrators. This is the ultimate tragedy of wartime victimization: humanity was taught it must always oppose the perpetration of evil against any section of humanity; yet, contemporary history reveals that the past victims of evil can too conveniently forget and become the next perpetrators of evil against a section of humanity.


It is not enough for progressivist media and progressives to acknowledge the great injustice inflicted against the Palestinians; it is not enough to call for a cessation of the atrocities. Progressivist media and progressives must not compromise on denouncing the zionist oppression, demanding justice, and defending the legitimate rights of Palestinians -- including the right to compensation and regaining what was unjustly taken from them.


Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives on the outskirts of Seoul in southern Korea. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org



[1] George Corm, "Palestine: land with interest," Translated by Robert Corner. Le Monde diplomatique, December 2006.


[2] "Le Monde diplomatique," Wikipedia.


[3] Akiva Eldar, "What has happened to Israeli society?" Translated by Barbara Wilson. Le Monde diplomatique, December 2006.

[4] E-mail from Dr. Ismail Zayid, "Israeli democracy in its true colors," 15 December 2006.


"I've been very distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us blacks in South Africa. I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about...The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the only, necessary move in that direction." (Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Guardian, April 29, 2002)


On Nov. 29, 2006, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran the following op-ed, by John Dugard, a South African former anti-apartheid leader.  He is currently the Special Rapporteur on Palestine to the United Nations Human Rights Council.  He not only compares Israeli policies to apartheid, but says that in many ways Israeli policies are worse than South African apartheid was.   
The noted Israeli author, Maxime Ghilan, stated in an editorial in the Feb. 1983 issue of the Paris-based magazine, Israel and Palestine: "Israel is a Western-type democracy for Jews only......Arabs, who are citizens of the state of Israel are less fortunate.... They are not granted equal economic privileges, are prevented from access to public housing and loans given only 'to those who served in the IDF and allied services', bodies into which most Israeli Arabs are not admitted. Finally, Israeli Arab workers are economically discriminated against, receiving lower pay than their Jewish counterparts.... Arabs in the territories, conquered by Israel since 1967, have no rights whatsoever. Their children are shot. beaten up, jailed; their young men assassinated. Their women are brutalised. Their cars are wantonly destroyed by hammer and bomb. Their elected mayors and leaders are deposed......Their politicians are often deported. Foreign settlers jeer at them, provoke them, squat in their homes and on their lands. International law, concerning the behaviour of conquerors in conquered land, is openly flouted."


The late Professor Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor and chairman of the Israeli League for Human and Civil  Rights, summed it up accurately in his statement: "It is my considered opinion that the state of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term. In this state, people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried today mainly in co-operation with the institutions of the Zionist movement." (Quote taken from "The Racist Nature of Zionism and of the Zionist State of Israel", an article published in Pi-Ha'aton, the weekly newspaper of the students of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Nov. 5, 1975.)


Derek Tozer, an Israeli thinker, stated: "The official policy of the government (of Israel) is unequivocal. Arabs, like the Jews in Nazi Germany, are officially 'class B' citizens, a fact which is recorded on their identity cards."


The predicament of Israel's roughly 1.2 million Arab citizens is evident, as the 2003 Israeli State Committee of Inquiry made clear: "They suffer systemic discrimination in employment, housing and education, and lack of equal access to state resources."


Israel's "Nationality and Entering to Israel Law", passed by the cabinet in 2002, and reaffirmed annually by the Knesset, and recently, May 2006, reaffirmed by a wide margin in the Knesset, denies any Arab Israeli citizen the right to reside in Israel with his/her spouse if they marry a Palestinian. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have condemned the law as racist, and Israel-based B’Tselem human rights group, claims that it contravenes the Israeli Basic Law.


This is the true nature of Israeli democracy, as practiced against its own Arab citizens and Palestinians under occupation.

[5] United Nations recognition of the state of Israel should be held in abeyance since it has not complied with UN General Assembly Resolution 181 that defines the borders of Israel and Palestine and Resolution 194 that recognizes the right of return for Palestinian refugees. UN General Assembly Resolution 273 which granted UN membership to Israel was conditioned upon compliance with these resolutions that Israel has not implemented.


Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen


* Elephants Not in the Room
* Platitudes Are No Defense Against Zionist Terrorism
* Principles Over Realism: The Zero-State Solution
* Let’s Not Support Lesser Evilism: Much Ado About Nothing Election Results
* The Reciprocity Principle: Questions That Need to be Asked
* Genocide in Iraq
* Going Nuclear: Northern Korea’s Ace
* An Unacceptable Nuclear Gamble
* Canada: The Honest Broker?
* Progressive Duty is to Speak Out Against Oppressors Not Excoriate Their Resisting Victims
* Subtle Loyalties to Zionism
* Inside the Madhouse
* A Higher Standard
* Whither Elementary Morality?
* Optimistic Progressivism
* The Analytical Skewer
* Inequality Matters
* There is No “Israel Lobby”
* South American Paradigms: Revolutionary Change Through Mass Social Movements
* "Insurgents": Hermeneutics Are Not a Substitute for Clarity!
* The Inalienable Right to Self Defense: Balancing the Power

* This Is Not Progressivism
* Europe's Free Speech Paradox

* Remembering with Shame and Horror
* Before Columbus: Revisionism and Enlightenment
* Desperately Seeking Victory in a War Already Lost
* Progressivism, Skepticism, and Historical Revisionism
* Resisting Capitalist-Imperialist Assimilation: Interview with Stewart Steinhauer
* The Morbid Symbolism of the Yasukuni Shrine
* Elementary Morality and Torture
* Darkness Over Empire
* Anti-Israel?
* Syria in the Imperialist Crosshairs 

* The Struggle to Restore the Dignity of Labor
* Gizen: Perverted Principle in Japan
* The Need to Speak Out: Canada’s Governor Generalship
* Antithetical Heroism
* Progressives and the Imperialist Line