Israel as a Failed State

SUBHEAD: It's time Barrack Obama reconsider his Middle East policy. [Note added by author: Originally this post was titled "Israel as a Fascist State", but a comment by JF (and a another by fellow editor Jonathan Jay) made me realize how incendiary that title is - if fruitful discourse is the goal. In any case, I am damn mad about the slaughter in Gaza.] Image above: Gaza family in shock after air attack. From (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fdfd186a-d4f0-11dd-b967-000077b07658.html). By Juan Wilson on 4 January 2009 - Message to Barack Obama: It would be wise for you to reevaluate your Middle East policy before you take office in a couple of weeks. Once you set the tone at your inauguration it will be hard to wash your hands of current atrocities. It is time the United States stopped pretending that the State of Israel is a friend. The Zionists' relation to their neighbors is the linchpin of all that is wrong with the "western" approach to Middle east culture. Israel has become a dictatorial, reactionary, militaristic rogue state. Unfortunately, it is our client state run amok. It controls the Palestinians in Gaza like the Germans controlled the Polish Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Even though I was the great grandson of a Baptist preacher, I was raised without religion on Long Island. My maternal grandparents might be described as atheists, or more accurately, agnostics. My immediate family never attended a church or described itself as Christian. I spent much of my youth close to American Jews in New York City and the metropolitan area. There was a secular, intellectual and artistic ambiance to their culture that attracted me. When I was a young teenager I attended meetings of the Society for Ethical Culture. It espoused secular humanism and I liked the mostly Jewish progressive intellectual young participants. The "Jewish Encyclopedia" says of the Society: "Its chief supporters in New York and Philadelphia are Jews, as is its founder and leader, though the society does not in any degree bear the stamp of Judaism." In 1958 my first love was a Jewish Russian girl who wrote beautiful poetry and was the best mathematician in my algebra class. Wow! Over the years I came to appreciate Jewish humor and the expressiveness of Yiddish. In 1963 I attended Boston University in their College of Fine Arts. The school had a large number of Jewish kids from Long Island. I felt at home. On the first day of Freshman orientation they had about a 1000 fine arts students in the department's auditorium. BU was a parochial school and in its wisdom would separate all students by religion. The Catholics were invited to reassemble at their church near the student union. The Protestants were directed to their facility at center focus of the campus. The Jews were asked to stay in their seats. As the middle of the campus was a trolley-car ride away, I stayed in my seat and thus became, for many present, jewish (with a small J"). Later in the 1960's my sister married a Jewish artist from Brooklyn and, with starry eyes and a baby, moved to a kibbutz near the Golan Heights border with Syria. It was what we call now an "intentional community". They operated a large apple orchard. They all shared the farming and child raising duties together. At the time I though my sister very idealistic. It was not until 1967 that I got even a hint that the Jewish state was anything but a modern, progressive group with humanitarian interests at heart. My sister described the occasional rocket attacks coming into their kibbutz from Syria. I began to realize that the placement of the kibbutz was an irritant to those in the disputed Golan Heights. I felt my sister was in harm's way unnecessarily. Why were so many kibbutzes located in places sure to raise hackles? Yet, I was appalled by the brazen attack on Israel in May of 1967. I rooted for Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Rabin's efforts in the Six Day War. I was impressed with Abba Eban's smooth representation of Israel at the United Nations. The good guys had kicked some ass. It took years for me to realize that Israel was never going to release the Palestinian land they grabbed. It took longer for me to see the cohesiveness of the "Jewish settlements" in the occupied territories. It took longer for me to separate Zionism from Judaism from Semitism from Jewish culture. Over the years, on this issue of Israel, my heart has had to travel a great distance. Today I think that the American, Polish, Russian and other European Jews that occupy today's Israel will need to dismantle that operation. I feel all illegal settlements must be abandoned and turned over to the Palestinians. To me there should be no Jewish state or Islamic state or Christian state. Any religious state is repellent to me. There are "converted" Jews but essentially Jews are defined by the mother's bloodline, and a religion (and thus citizenry) defined by inheritance of genes seems barbaric. Unfortunately, Barrack Obama has already set a course that will likely lead to more conflict in the Middle East (more conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan and perhaps Iran). His past support of Israel does not bode well for a peace process. His silence over the disproportionate atrocities being committed by Israel in Gaza is disturbing. I hope he "gets it' and changes course before his inauguration. .

8 comments :

  1. I look at the face of that little boy in your picture and I think it is the piercing glance of a little boy who is questioning right from wrong and knows which this is, something Obama apparently has been able to rationalize away with all of his formal training.

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  2. And just what do you "people" think lobbing missiles into populated Israeli sovereign land constitutes? Do you even believe that Israel has the right to exist? And you call Israel fascist?

    Somehow, "Juan" you think that the comments about you growing up among the Jews of New York qualifies you to judge? Spare me your rationalization. Israel is a sovereign state. The land of Canaan (Erez Yisroel) was Biblically the Land of Israel. Do you need me to go back and cite you the history? Do you need to be told that upon the Founding of the State of Israel in 1948, that none of the surrounding Arab countries were willing to accept the so-called Palestian people?

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  3. Aloha JF,

    You put my name in quotes as if a spanish first name disqualifies me from knowing something about Jewish culture. Can I call you Schmendrik? I am free to judge Israel, as you are to judge me.

    I wrote about my past in NY to indicate an empathy and familiarity with one aspect of Jewish culture. I am still fond of it. I am not a Jew hater. I don't hate Americans either. I am one. But I see our way of doing business in the world as a thing of the past. It's over.

    I use the word Fascist with reservation. As nasty as that is, it seems to be a shoe that fits for both America and Israel.

    Please don't get into justifying anything with the Bible, or I'll assume we can begin a serious discussion on how your going to make it through the upcoming Rapture. Have you seen any red calves recently?

    In my opinion religious text as a basis for any governance is junk. Along with overpopulation and greed, religion is the most common reason for barbaric behavior.

    Israel has become what it despised most after the Holocaust - it's own worst enemy. This happened to the United States after 911. We tried to trade security for freedom and ended up with neither.

    I am familiar with sovereign people being threatened by unfriendly nations. I am part Cherokee. I also know that a local people on their traditional land will one day have their sovereignty again. I live in Hawaii.

    Israel is on a tragic course. I cannot imagine any other end for the "westernized" Jews in power but to be driven out of Palestine.

    Best wishes for all those in the land of Palestine for 2009. It sure is not starting well.

    Dwell on Earth.

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  4. Well Juan, I placed your name in quotes because sometimes (often) people write their blogs anonymously. Second, I am Jewish, born an draised in the NY area. Third, it is only those extremely conservative Christian folks who are waiting the rapture (when the entire Middle East will turn to glass).

    Hamas, Fatahc and Hezzbollah all wish to drive the Israeli people into the Sea and see the elemination of the country. Amahdinejad has pleddged to drive Israel to the Sea. So while the Bible establishes only Israel and Persia as countries, lets move forward to the Balfour Agreement and the British Mandate.

    The Balfour Agreement (know it?) essentially created the State of Israel after World War I. It took too long for that to occur, and 6 million Jews were murdered because Hitler didn't like them. After World War II, the Arab states had the options of allowing the Bedouins to emmigrate to the ir countries. Trans-Jordan didn't want them. Neither did Egypt. Thus you end with a group of people, who for lack of a better term, called themselves Palestinian (after the Roman word, Philistines and after the Biblical land originally name Canaan.

    Stand against Israel and you stand againt me. As for called me a schmedrick, do as you wish, but Gay avek.

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  5. evidently rational discussions on this topic are virtually impossible. jeff is bozo, and JF clearly reads around anything "Juan" writes that he could actually agree with. jimmy makes good sense, but then he always does - so what is the point of any of this anyway?

    my 'radical' position: killing and hurting people is "bad". Hamas has been "bad" with their "rocket" attacks. 5 times shame on them. Isreal has also been bad - injuring/killing over 2,000 people. 2,000 times shame on them.

    Q: Are enough people hurt or killed yet? if so, time for cease fire. If not, keep the hamburger machine* grinding. Wee!

    * US manufactured and supplied grinders

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  8. I am a person of Jewish ancestry (my father was a secular Jew) and I feel relatively uninformed about the Israel/Palestine conflict. Part of this, unfortunately, can be blamed on the lack of nuance in US public debate on the issue. I have heard that debate even within Israel is often much more nuanced and vigorous than it is in the US.

    Part of my resistance to entering the discussion is that I often find the motives of some non-Jewish critics of Israel to be suspect. I try my best to seek out critiques that are not based in anti-Jewish OR anti-Arab sentiment (which can also show itself in a romanticization or fetishization of one or the other group, as well.)

    In this spirit, I offer the following, from the MR (Monthly Review) Zine today:

    An Open Letter from Anti-Zionist Jewish Youth in Canada

    January 5th, 2009

    Like much of the world, we have spent the last week watching in shock and disgust as Israel continues its assault on the Gaza Strip. With the body count rising and a new tragedy in full bloom, we feel that it is important to speak out as Jewish youth in Canada and to denounce what Israel is doing in our name.

    The Jewish diaspora is diverse and divided on its positions on the state of Israel's policies. At this juncture in history, as Israel has committed its worst massacre in Gaza since it began its illegal occupation in 1967, we feel that it is crucial that Jews speak out and denounce Israel's actions that amount to no more than war crimes committed by an apartheid state.

    As Jewish youth, we are diverse, but we are unified in our solidarity with our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Gaza.

    Some of us are students. We are outraged
    by the bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza city, as well as other civilian infrastructure such as hospitals and mosques.

    Some of us are Arab-Jews and people of colour. We stand against Israel's racism, which has been enshrined in Israeli law, and privileges its Jewish citizens over its non-Jewish ones. This apartheid state views Palestinians as an expendable people, no more than collateral damage.

    Some of us are queer. We reject Israel's branding of itself as the only safe place for queer people in the Middle-East while it targets gay and lesbian Palestinians and renders life unsafe for millions of others.

    Some of us are Israelis living in Canada. We are calling for a solidarity that stretches beyond borders and nationalities. Israel's violent actions will only serve to further isolate the state and its citizens from the rest of the world.

    By calling itself a Jewish state and committing war crimes in the name of Jews everywhere, Israel makes the world even less safe for Jews, leading to an increase in animus towards Jewish people around the world.

    Even though there have been approximately 100 Palestinian deaths for every Israeli killed by rocket fire, we recognize that Israeli Apartheid also leads to Israeli casualties. The blame for these deaths lies with Israel -- if there were no occupation and no apartheid policies, there would be no rocket fire. If Israel, the world's fourth largest military power, is concerned about its citizens, it would abandon its apartheid policies and seek out justice for the Palestinian people.

    In 2005, Palestinian civil society put out a clear call for international support through a non-violent campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) similar to that carried out against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Now, with the people of Gaza being crushed by Israeli bombs, manufactured in the USA and launched with Canada's blessing, it is more important than ever for Jewish communities throughout the world to take up this BDS campaign in order to end Israel's apartheid system, which makes life unsafe for millions of Jews and Palestinians alike.

    Let us not be silent bystanders while humanity suffers. Let us raise our voices, as Jewish youth, and demand a single, democratic state, with equal rights for everyone in Israel/Palestine.

    Ours is a generation that is committed to ending Middle-East violence by opposing all forms of discrimination, calling for a just peace within the entire region, and condemning Zionism to the dustbin of history.

    Free Gaza, Free Palestine,

    Jenny Peto, Toronto
    Aaron Lakoff, Montreal
    Max Silverman, Montreal
    Rachel Gurofsky, Peterborough
    Simon Gurofsky, Ottawa
    Zohar Melinek, Montreal
    Claire Hurtig, Montreal
    Ben Saifer, Ottawa
    Brook Thorndycraft, Toronto
    Joel Balsam, Montreal
    David Mandelzys, Toronto
    Reena Katz, Toronto
    Mia Amir, Vancouver
    Matthew Shuster, Kingston
    Avi Grenadier, Kingston
    Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Waterloo
    Melissa Harendorf, Montreal
    Jeff Hiemstra, Toronto
    Sacha Moiseiwitsch, Vancouver
    Jake Javanshir, Toronto
    Noam Lapid, Montreal
    Stephen Kamnitzer, Toronto
    Naava Smolash, Vancouver
    Tamara Herman, Victoria
    Ryan Katz-Rosene, Ottawa
    Sarah Fuchs, Montreal
    Daniel Thau-Eleff, Winnipeg
    Deborah Rachlis, Ottawa
    Marie L. Belliveau, St. Catharines
    Sarah Kardash, Sackville
    David Taub Bancroft, Vancouver
    Kinneret Sheetreet, Montreal
    Rachel Marcuse, Vancouver
    Lisa Barrett, Bowen Island
    Maisie Jacobson, Montreal
    Max Tennant,Vancouver
    Noah Fine, Vancouver
    David Hill, Vancouver
    Corey Balsam, Ottawa
    Lee Skinner, Vancouver
    Britt Lehmann-Bender, Toronto
    Alexis Mitchell, Toronto

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