Sunday, December 4, 2011

As Arab Spring Goes Forward, Israel Goes Backward

Here (obviously not the only such example)

14 comments:

-sf said...

The Arab world is going to have to take quite a few more steps to catch up to Israel's democracy. Its in fact debatable if they've taken any steps at all. Egypt is still ruled by the SCAF, and its unclear if the Islamist alternative is exactly what we'd call democracy. The latter can be said of Tunisia and Libya, and everywhere else Arab political rights are as backwards as they were in 2010. Btw, I'm not of the opinion that Islamists can't govern "democratically," but I think its naive not to be at all concerned for the rights of minorities in the Arab world, i.e. I'm not sure Islamists understand that democracy means majority rules AND minority rights.

Despite being troubling, the Israeli PROPOSED legislation need some perspective. After all this is a democratically elected government trying to reign in the influence of foreign governments committed to the destruction of the nation this government is sworn to protect. In fact the PROPOSED law doesn't ban foreign GOVERNMENT (individuals can do as they please) of funding of NGOs, it just taxes them. Ironic that so many of the people (and news outlets) that criticize this legislation also rail against the "Israel lobby." Imagine if AIPAC was actually funded by the Israeli government (or even if the bulk of its funding came from private Israelis). Imagine how pissed off Americans opposing AIPAC's influence would be, and imagine what kind of laws they'd propose to restrict AIPAC's activities.

Increasing libel penalties doesn't stifle debate, it just preserves honest debate. I mean this isn't Britain's libel laws.

I agree completely with criticism of this legislation that its intent and desired effect is to stifle the work of Israelis who are opposed to Israeli government policies. While I am aginst those groups that erode the abillity of Israel to preserve the lives of Israeli civilians and those that are opposed to the Jewish state completely, were I an Israeli, I would rally against the actions of my government on the principle of "I may not like what you say, but I support your right to say it." But I'm not Israeli, and I see stuff like this: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=246586 so I trust Israelis to figure this out. After all, this is proposed legislation, chances are it will be watered down heavily before it passes 3 readings in the Knesset.

What I oppose more than the actions of the Israeli government is the facile comparison of whats going on in the Arab world to whats going on in Israel (or the West more broadly). Arabs are demanding the right to have a say in their government, and tens of thousands have died at the hands of their governments committed to opposing this right. Meanwhile, Israelis are demonstrating for social policies that would be considered downright socialist in America and Europe. A few dozen have been arrested, but no one killed (I might add the same is the case for occupy protests in the US, save for those shot by criminal elements attracted to the occupy sites). Arab activists suffer at these comparisons because their governments say, "Hey West, you're not perfect either. Look you tax foreign government donations to NGOs, we gun down our protesters in the streets. Six of one, so leave us alone."

-sf said...

As far as the radio station, that's pretty fucked up, but considering Israel's Army Radio regularly interviews Hamas activists, Islamic Jihad activists, I don't think Israel's civil society needs much paternalistic chiding from the mouthpiece of the Qatari monarchy.

Lastly here is a piece that I find flaws with, but makes an overall good point: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4151052,00.html

t said...

"Catching up" seems like precisely the wrong metaphor. The most promising elements of the Arab Spring do not point in the direction of apartheid: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2011/11/israel-palestinians-freedom-riders.html

On the question of Islamists in the (still ongoing) Egyptian Revolution, see the following:

http://socialistworker.org/2011/11/28/struggle-after-egypts-elections

http://leninology.blogspot.com/2011/11/egyptian-revolution.html

Hank said...

Israel shouldn't even exist. That land is stolen (and, no, religious documents written millenia ago don't give them a right to take that land).

-sf said...

Apartheid? Come on t, don't be lazy, I know you're smarter than that.

Lets be real, Israeli Arabs can ride any bus they want until the cows come home (as can the blackest of Ethiopean Jews, or African migrants granted asylum in Israel) so no racial basis for the policy = no apartheid. Occupation? yes. Apartheid? Hardly. See Goldstone.

Now why on earth would Israel keep West Bank Palestinians off of buses most often used by Israelis? http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-M01KcLqu5V4/TsKp_kuY0xI/AAAAAAAAFUs/wOUgvoIMiKg/s640/bus+bomb2.png must be racism!

"Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality." -MLK

Hank said...

We all love Martin Luther King, but just because he said it doesn't mean it's true. Kind of surprised he'd take a stance like that, given his usual stance on violence in general (as well as imperialism) unless there's a context to the quote that's been elided.

-sf said...

MLK was a Christian. I'm not surprised he'd be sympathetic to the fulfillment of God's promise to the Jewish people (as he would view it). Furthermore before the Occupation, Israel was overwhelmingly a liberal cause. Here was a state-less nation of refugees that had just suffered a uniquely evil catastrophe, who tried to flee to any country that would take them, but none would, and when they arrive at the shores of their ancestral homeland, they find that the pioneers that preceded them, those that foresaw the inevitable calamity approaching, have been fighting a bloody conflict over the right to emigrate to this land against the allies of those that committed this grave crime in Europe. These allies and admirers of Hitler (Haj Amin al-Husseini in Palestine, Muslim Brothers in Egypt, Rashid Ali el Gaylani in Iraq, etc) then exhort their people to not one, but two (that MLK witnessed) wars of extermination against these state-less refugees when they have the gall to declare a state on land where they are a simple majority. A majority which would have been overwhelming if not for Hitler and his allies' success in eliminating half of European Jewry, who thanks to xenophobic Arab riots against Jewish immigration, could not flee to Mandatory Palestine. So yea, MLK was a total Zionist, as were most liberals. No lack of context, he repeatedly asserted "Israel's right to exist as a state is incontestable" http://rac.org/Articles/index.cfm?id=415 He also conflated criticism of Zionism with antisemitism ("When people say Zionists they mean Jews") but that quote is disputed (it was supposedly made in a Q&A session at Harvard so no record).

That quote was a couple of months before he was killed (3/25/68) Conspiracy minded liberals claim that his focus on poverty and Vietnam is what got him killed, but maybe it was his zionism?

-sf said...

Oh yeah, lets not forget how far the Arab world must travel to reach Israeli democracy: Israeli Arabs who stayed in Israel during the War of Independence have all de jure rights of citizenship (minus the obligation to serve in the army) that Israeli Jews do. Ancient Jewish communities all over the Middle East and North Africa that preceded the Muslim conquest, and numbered over a million strong before 1948 don't even exist anymore. Judaism as we know it now was born in Babylon (you see with no temple, Jews had to adapt their faith, the rabbinical focus on the Torah and its interpretation was born in Babylonian captivity, and this Diaspora Judaism is what has persisted to this day), and Jews were 140,000 strong in Baghdad in 1940. After Hitler's allies launched their pogroms, and after Arab antisemitism branded every Jew as Zionists (MLK has a point) there are now 6 aging Jews in Baghdad, who lived in secrecy (until asshole Assange outed them in WikiLeaks) and fear for their lives. Why are there 1.5 million Israeli Arabs, and rising, especially in E. Jeruslaem if there was or is ethnic cleansing? What do you call the dwindling of a population from a million to a thousand or so other than ethnic cleansing? Why is there a special focus on Arab refugees from the I/P conflict, but no one cares about Jewish refugees from the Arab world? Why does everyone forget that the very same year the Palestinian Mandate was partitioned, millions of people were forcibly displaced along ethno-religious lines in another partitioned British colony -the forgotten I/P conflict: India/Pakistan? How can any honest and well-informed liberal dare to compare the rights enjoyed by Arabs in Israel to the oppression and intolerance meted out to everyone, but especially religious minorities, in the Arab world? Seriously compare the status of Coptic Christians to Israeli Arabs (or more importantly their self-perception of their status) and tell me what looks like Apartheid. If you say Israel, you best go check yourself into an insane asylum, or at least pick up a paper that doesn't specifically tailor to your perverse world view.

Anonymous said...

But what if you don't believe that (there is a God) and that he (or she?) "gave" Palestine to the Zionists?

Sure, Herzl and others believed that they had "God on their side"... but they were also clear about what that the Israeli State would be a "a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism" (Herzl's words). In other words, the new state was to be part of (and establish itself via the power of) the European system of colonial domination.

Perhaps it was a "liberal" cause. So was colonization, WWI, the Vietnam War, and all the rest of it.

The Left, however, has always been suspicious of imperialism and colonial projects. Interesting book on the Palestine Communist Party 1919-1948, Jews and Arabs fighting together: http://www.amazon.com/Palestine-Communist-Party-1919-1948-Internationalism/dp/160846072X

Anonymous said...

If there's no apartheid, then why not tear down the walls, and give everyone the right of return, and full rights of citizenship?

-sf said...

Hank: you don't have to believe in God to understand that the only way a minority group can assert its rights in the 1940s is through nation-statehood. Jews being the worlds most hated minority, and having suffered what they did in Europe (and subsequently the Arab world) have a rather compelling case for statehood. The case for statehood in Palestine specifically is bolstered by the fact that the area where Jews were granted a state under the UN partition plan had a Jewish majority. Religion doesn't have anything to do with it.

If you don't think barbarism is a problem in the Arab world, clearly you haven't been watching the news. I don't know what other word to use for mutilating a boy's genitals as in Syria or "virginity checks' as in Egypt. When Israel starts fingerbanging their inmates, get back to me.

Anonymous: why don't you ask the thousands of Israelis who's family members were blown to pieces during the 2nd Intifada why there's a wall. Before the violence of 2000, there was no wall, much fewer checkpoints, Palestinians could ride any bus they chose, drive on any rode they wished, and so on. No terror=no harsh security measures. Just this past March Palestinians tried to blow up an Israeli bus, so its not like this is history, and the Security Fence's impact on suicide terror was on successful attacks not attempted attacks, so its not like the PalTerrorists stopped trying. I'm sorry but preserving life takes supreme precedence to comforts like not waiting at checkpoints. If you really want the occupation to end, you'd make much more progress convincing Abbas to enter into negotiations than by demonizing Israel with facile comparisons to their oppressive neighbors or to the evils of racism. Back in the 1930s, the Nazis conflated Jews with the worst evil they could imagine: communism. These days the Jewish state (and for some all Jews) is conflated with what New New Leftists identify as the world's greatest evils: racism and imperialism. Same shit-for-brains ideas, different asshats.

-sf said...

As for the single multi-ethnic state: Yugoslavia much? Now there's a model for peace and stability: throw a bunch of different ethnic groups together with a history of mutual enmity in one country and see how that works out. Why don't you ask the Kurds how they feel being minorities in Arab-majority countries? Better yet, holla at the Copts, they'll tell you all about how "progressive' dhimmitude really is.

Hank said...

If it isn't at all about religion, then why, pray tell, is Israel a Jewish state?

-sf said...

Because the Jewish people are defined by shared language, history, and culture along with Religion (which was typically the vehicle for all of the above). Let me ask you, why a Palestinian state? As opposed to a giant Jordan (aka "historic Palestine"), or splitting it up between Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon? After all, Palestinians had no shared culture or history distinct from, lets say, Syrians before the 20th century. Better yet why India or Pakistan? Their story parallels Israel/Palestine, except for some reason no one questions the right of Muslim Pakistan or Hindu India to exist (and don't pretend that those two nuclear-armed, non NPT member, massive US foreign aid recipient states haven't committed grave human rights violations). Why any country, really? Why a French state, German state, etc. Better yet, given the history of the Jewish people in Europe and the Arab world, why NOT a Jewish state? If there are 53 Islamic states, and plenty more ethnically defined states (remember former Yugoslavia?) why not allow a single, tiny Jewish state?

Btw, German immigration law discriminates against non-Germans, much like Israel's Law of Return (i.e. if you can prove German ancestry, you're in!), but no one calls Germany an apartheid state. Humorously, like in Israel this means that Germany too has a massive Russian ex-pat community. Those Russian pinko-commies fucked the country up so bad, people can't wait to get the fuck out. Anyway, I too am a dreamer, I can imagine a world without countries, but sadly I wake up every morning and see another story of some crazy Arab antisemitic conspiracy theory, or Abbas refusing to talk to Israel while simultaneously courting Hamas and I realize that the dream is far from reality. Maybe one day.