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Articles by IAM Associates
Democracy Knights?

I dare say that the ‘Restless Democracy Conference, by
The Jerusalem Spinoza Institute and
Mishkenot Shaa-nanim, to take place in Jerusalem between the 24 and the 26 of December, 2008, looks pretty good on paper. The names are stunning luminaries in the respective field, and I feel a little shy to take them on, but, with all cautiousness and good sense, let us try to make some sense of this lofty subject remains after being put in the hands of some of them. For who am I contrasted to Dr. Sternhell or Prof. Tamir, the Education Minister? But then I remembered Ms. Tamir’s infamous statement about the extremely honorable struggle against girl circumcision in not so democratic certain places and countries, in line with the Star Trek First Directive: “Do not interfere!”, so as not to appear superior culturally. Indeed, a participatory democracy to boot. And the nakba democracy that she advocates and had inserted in the national education curricula. And I remembered Mr. Sternhell’s not less infamous statement about presenting Ofra settlement with tanks, to bring them out of line – entirely, that is – with the Israeli democracy and humanistic ideals, and in line with the Arab Palestinian national (What nation, for Pete’s sake?) aspirations. I also remembered the hasty and absolutely non-democratic, utterly unlawful statement of same Mr. Sternhell above, about those who attacked him just the other day, before – I repeat, before – any statement to that effect from the law enforcement authorities. Such contradiction with the Western fundamental democratic premise that one is considered innocent before is proven guilty, I had not have the opportunity to see yet, but there’s always the first time, you know. But I’m not honored, you see.


Now, due respect, these statements do not stand in a straight line with the motto of the Spinoza Institute “A free man never acts deceitfully, but always honorably”, as our very own Spinoza stated in his Ethics. They, these two, put a spin on Spinoza, so to speak, and they are not on Ouzo, I hope, but, “Yasu, palikari!”, as the Greeks say, and they are on a mission to teach democracy and crack its innards for the masses to digest and follow. Nice, indeed!


Let me make it clear. I am not against the Spinoza Institute, of course not, not one bit. I am, and how, against the participation of such luminaries of mind and State as these two in the conference proceedings, after what they said and done, and of others to be detailed below. Which sayings and doings, put them in line with the Israeli and global Extreme Left. And, though I didn’t check the existence or the lack thereof of leftist credentials of the other participants, I have my suspicions about the direction that the conference may take. And I am, and how, against the mixing of lofty ideals and their advancement thereof with the propounded goal of the eradication of the State of Israel, as the Extreme Left would like to have it and see, not tomorrow, but yesterday. I ask myself, is this a politically-correct hypocritical action or a deliberate act of Extreme Left activism? And so, I have my very palpable suspicions about the direction that the conference may take.


Direction Israel! Pro or Con? For, let’s see. From the wealthy variety of topics, I chose a few, three, to be exact, to tackle and dissect, to answer the question.


The theme of the conference’s second session is “Between the citizens’ sovereignty and the capitalists’ power”, with the paper “The big capital as the big censor”, by Mr. Moshe Hanegbi.


From the session’s subject matter and Mr. Hanegbi’s paper, I deduce that the principal actor here, the capital, is regarded as an extraneous force, as far as democracy is concerned, and one with negative influences. I agree. But then, some parallel has to be made between this evil force and the way of conduct of the Left, to which, we already concluded, some of the conference participants belong and to which direction drumbeat the conference march will proceed without a doubt.


Extreme Left academicians in Israel beg, literally, from forces extraneous to Israel, to interfere in the internal affairs of Israel through various means, such as boycotts, as in the England’s academic and teaching professional unions well-known instance, for example. Or in Sweden, or Germany.


Non-Israeli activists, among them a young, inexperienced but cheeky parliamentarian from a Scandinavian country a few years ago – which, come to think of it, is a shameful and intolerable interference in the Israeli internal affairs, participate in the daily pogrom that they perpetrate on the Border Police that guards the Peace Wall construction, and on the civilian workers there and their tools, together with the Israeli Extreme Left avowed traitors and their Palestinian “friends”, the “victims” of their own folly and bestiality, against whose very anti-Israeli terror the very wall is built.


How this external meddling is to be perceived, compared to the interference that the big capital is pursuing in the Israeli democratic process? If one is bad, the other is bad, too. Moreover, while the above mentioned capital is an internal Israeli factor, the non-Israeli activists are external. Is this tolerable? Is this violence an acceptable action in a democracy? Is this a democratic action in international affairs? Is not the tolerance displayed in the face of such a hutzpah, allowing them to come and do what they do, a badge of honor for the Israeli authorities? 


The fourth session subject matter is the waning of the political participation.


One of the papers to be presented in this session is “Student social and environmental activism”, by Dr. Daphna Golan.


Now, it’s enough to know that the Dr. is a member of the Advisory Committee of the planned conference on “Israel/Palestine: Mapping Models of Statehood and Paths to Peace” to take place in Queen’s University and York University of Canada in June 1, 2009, to understand where does she stand regarding the issue.


So much why? Well, in the welcome part of the conference’s website (http://www.yorku.ca/ipconf/index. html) it is stated: “The purpose of this conference is to explore which state model would be the best to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, respecting the rights to self-determination of both Israelis/Jews and Palestinians. Despite the current diplomatic focus on the two-state model, the continued failure to bring peace to the region highlights the necessity of rigorously examining all options for a resolution of the conflict. The conference seeks to systematically measure the two state model against the promise of alternatives; very specifically the potential in the model of a single bi-national state.”


There you have it. All wrapped in a neutral intellectual color gift-wrap, as befitting a scholarly institution, there goes in a puff the long-time dream of the Jewish Nation to have a sovereign country-state land of its own. All this, in the name of the annulment of the perceived suffering of the Palestinian Arab minority in the region, suffering brought upon themselves by themselves and perpetuated by themselves, it seems, to eternity. And where? In the very land that the Jews consider as their own, their ancestral cradle. And where again? In the land that the Arabs occupied while the Jews were there. So who suffers and who is the inflictor of this suffering? I say the Jews suffer and the Arabs are the inflictors of this suffering upon us, and upon themselves, too.


When you add to it the fact that this same scholar held in April 11-12, 2007, in Nazareth, Israel, the “Statewide Seminar for Student Activists” where, among other, respectful and honorable organizations, the ‘Ibn Al-Nakab – Committee of Arab Students in the Negev’, you understand even better what her credo is. In Arabic, ‘Ibn Al-Nakab’ means ‘The Son of the Disaster”, being a derivative of ‘nakba’ – ‘disaster’, denoting in the Palestinian narrative the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, which signifies the formal and official culmination of the return of the Jews to their ancestral land, claiming what is theirs, so the Arab occupiers of the Jewish land had to renounce the stolen property to the rightful owners – a disaster to them, the Arabs.


The sixth session topic is ethnic democracy, with the papers “Ethnic democracy in Israel and in the second Polish Republic (1918 – 1939), a comparative perspective”, by Prof. Yoav Peled, and “Between ethnic democracy and bi-ethnic democracy, a new approach”, by Dr. Yosef Jabarin (Bedouin, I surmise, from the Jabarin tribe) suggesting the direction taken, of which I cannot but be (almost; if mistaken, I, in all honesty and truly yours, stand corrected, and apologize in advance) sure of. Con!


Ethnic democracy? In Israel? How?


You see, in Israel, we have two ethnicities – the Jewish and the Arab. And if the State of Israel is erected and defined as a Jewish state, then what more can be adduced to prove that Israel is an ethnic democracy per se and par excellence, as opposed to by- or poly-ethnic? One may think that Israel of today is Athens of yesterday, where citizenship, with all its rights and benefits, was bestowed upon certain sectors of the population (not based on ethnicity, though, but ownership and gender, but the association is clear) excluding some from the political process and from the [partially, therefore] participatory democracy in the polis.


But! There is a big But in the case of Israel. Lo and behold! This is not the case in the Israeli example. For there is a strong, pronounced and continuous all-inclusive political process in this country. One in which the Arab ethnicity, in its different parts, the Arab Palestinians, the Arab Bedouins, the Druz, has its own political parties, and participates vigorously in the legislative, executive and judiciary branches of the government – minister, parliament members (such as MK and lawyer Taleb a’Sana, a Bedouin, Mr. Jabarin), ambassadors, consuls, judges, high-rank officers in the army and the police, etc., etc..


So how is it an ethnic democracy? To suggest so, is purely defamatory and calumnious, based on ignorance – which I find hard to believe is the case here, or on a well-defined political agenda. Leftist, shall we say? Extreme, shall we add?  


Perusing the above, it’s clear again, as in so many other instances, that in this conference we have the typical highjacking and cooptation of a respectful venue and topic for the advancement of the most atrocious lie and calumny of the current times, the lie that the Jews stole the land that is theirs, the lie that the Palestinian Arabs suffer unfairly, the lie that the victim, the Jews, is the aggressor and vice versa.


That Prof. Yuli Tamir, the individual, hails it, I am not surprised.  That the Education Minister, Prof. Yuli Tamir, is giving her hails to it, I am. Hmmm… Wonder.

And nn    the Education Minister, Prof. Yule Tamir is giving her hails never acts deceitfully, but always honorably.

 *Dan Barkye is a writer and a poet.


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