Neve Gordon at BGU http://humweb1.bgu.ac.il/politics/sites/default/files/CV%20Neve.doc
[BGU Politics] Neve Gordon's "Breaking Palestine's Peaceful Protest" on Muslim Brotherhood website
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Breaking Palestine's Peaceful Protest
|Thursday, December 12,2009 11:26
Over the past five decades Palestinians have continuously deployed nonviolent forms of opposition to challenge the Israeli occupation. Israel, on the other hand, has, used violent measures to undermine all such efforts. It issued military orders against protests and political meetings, raising flags or other national symbols, publishing or distributing articles or pictures with political connotations, and even singing or listening to nationalist songs, notes Neve Gordon.
"Why," I have often been asked, "haven't the Palestinians established a peace movement like the Israeli Peace Now?"
The question itself is problematic, being based on many erroneous assumptions, such as the notion that there is symmetry between the two sides and that Peace Now has been a politically effective movement. Most important, though, is the false supposition that Palestinians have indeed failed to create a pro-peace popular movement.
In September 1967 – three months after the decisive war in which the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem were occupied – Palestinian leaders decided to launch a campaign against the introduction of new Israeli textbooks in Palestinian schools. They did not initiate terrorist attacks, as the prevailing narratives about Palestinian opposition would have one believe, but rather the Palestinian dissidents adopted Mahatma Gandhi-style methods and declared a general school strike: teachers did not show up for work, children took to the streets to protest against the occupation and many shopkeepers closed shop.
Israel's response to that first strike was immediate and severe: it issued military orders categorising all forms of resistance as insurgency – including protests and political meetings, raising flags or other national symbols, publishing or distributing articles or pictures with political connotations, and even singing or listening to nationalist songs.
Moreover, it quickly deployed security forces to suppress opposition, launching a punitive campaign in Nablus, where the strike's leaders resided. As Major General Shlomo Gazit, the co-ordinator of activities in the occupied territories at the time, points out in his book The Carrot and the Stick, the message Israel wanted to convey was clear: any act of resistance would result in a disproportionate response, which would make the population suffer to such a degree that resistance would appear pointless.
After a few weeks of nightly curfews, cutting off telephone lines, detaining leaders, and increasing the level of harassment, Israel managed to break the strike.
While much water has passed under the bridge since that first attempt to resist using "civil disobedience" tactics, over the past five decades Palestinians have continuously deployed nonviolent forms of opposition to challenge the occupation. Israel, on the other hand, has, used violent measures to undermine all such efforts.
It is often forgotten that even the second intifada, which turned out to be extremely violent, began as a popular nonviolent uprising. Haaretz journalist Akiva Eldar revealed several years later that the top Israeli security echelons had decided to "fan the flames" during the uprising's first weeks. He cites Amos Malka, the military general in charge of intelligence at the time, saying that during the second intifada's first month, when it was still mostly characterised by nonviolent popular protests, the military fired 1.3m bullets in the West Bank and Gaza. The idea was to intensify the levels of violence, thinking that this would lead to a swift and decisive military victory and the successful suppression of the rebellion. And indeed the uprising and its suppression turned out to be extremely violent.
But over the past five years, Palestinians from scores of villages and towns such as Bil'in and Jayyous have developed new forms of pro-peace resistance that have attracted the attention of the international community. Even Palestinian Authority prime minister Salam Fayyad recently called on his constituents to adopt similar strategies. Israel, in turn, decided to find a way to end the protests once and for all and has begun a well-orchestrated campaign that targets the local leaders of such resistance.
One such leader is Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a high school teacher and the co-ordinator of Bil'in's Popular Committee Against the Wall, is one of many Palestinians who was on the military's wanted list. At 2am on 10 December (international Human Rights Day), nine military vehicles surrounded his home. Israeli soldiers broke the door down, and after allowing him to say goodbye to his wife Majida and three young children, blindfolded him and took him into custody. He is being charged with throwing stones, the possession of arms (namely gas canisters in the Bil'in museum) and inciting fellow Palestinians, which, translated, means organising demonstrations against the occupation.
The day before Abu Ramah was arrested, the Israeli military carried out a co-ordinated operation in the Nablus region, raiding houses of targeted grassroots activists who have been fighting against human rights abuses. Wa'el al-Faqeeh Abu as-Sabe, 45, is one of the nine people arrested. He was taken from his home at 1am and, like Abu Ramah, is being charged with incitement. Mayasar Itiany, who is known for her work with the Nablus Women's Union and is a campaigner for prisoners' rights was also taken into custody as was Mussa Salama, who is active in the Labour Committee of Medical Relief for Workers. Even Jamal Juma, the director of an NGO called Stop the Wall, is now behind bars.
Targeted night arrests of community leaders have become common practice across the West Bank, most notably in the village of Bil'in where, since June, 31 residents have been arrested for their involvement in the demonstrations against the wall. Among these is Adeeb Abu Rahmah, a prominent activist who has been held in detention for almost five months and is under threat of being imprisoned for up to 14 months.
Clearly, the strategy is to arrest all of the leaders and charge them with incitement, thus setting an extremely high "price tag" for organising protests against the subjugation of the Palestinian people. The objective is to put an end to the pro-peace popular resistance in the villages and to crush, once and for all, the Palestinian peace movement.
Thus, my answer to those who ask about a Palestinian "Peace Now" is that a peaceful grassroots movement has always existed. At Abdallah Abu Rahmah's trial next Tuesday one will be able to witness some of the legal meth.
Neve Gordon is the author of of Israel's Occupation.
The Muslim Brotherhood
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Neve Gordon to speak at Friends of Sabeel Seattle Conference Feb19-20, 2010
Press Release: Seattle Sabeel Conference, February 19-20, 2010
SEATTLE, Washington (November 9, 2009) - This February, Seattle will host the premiere event of Sabeel – Puget Sound, a nonprofit working with and on behalf of Palestinian Christians to promote justice through nonviolence in the Holy Land. Featuring internationally-acclaimed speakers and a vibrant array of activist voices, this conference will explore the situation in Israel and Palestine today, the experience of occupation, the role of U.S. policy and nonviolent strategies for peace.
“The United States, Israel and Palestine: What Does Justice Require of US?” will be held at Saint Mark’s Cathedral (1245 Tenth Avenue East) on February 19th & 20th and will include several notable speakers as well as informative, provocative workshops lead by local activists. The keynote address will be delivered on the 19th by the founder and leader of Sabeel, the Rev. Naim Ateek. Speaking from his unique perspective as an Arab-Israeli citizen, Ateek has been called the ‘Bishop Tutu of Palestine’ and is the respected author of many books and articles including Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation and A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation.
Speakers will include senior lecturer on Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University and author of Israel’s Occupation Neve Gordon, The Evergreen State College professor of International Politics and Middle East Studies Steve Niva, and war crimes investigator/co-founder of Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights Tom Nelson. Jewish-American author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land Mark Braverman will focus on the role of religious beliefs and theology in the current discourse on Israel/Palestine and will speak about the future of interfaith relations. 2006 Nobel Prize nominee and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) Jeff Halper is also slated to speak at the conference.
Parents of Rachel Corrie and founders of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, Cindy and Craig Corrie, will present a talk and also lead a workshop on activism. Insight from former CIA members will be provided by Kathleen and Bill Christison; Kathleen a former CIA political analyst with 35 years of experience with Middle East issues, the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession and co-author, (with Bill), of Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation.
Co-sponsors to date include the Palestine Concerns Task Force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the Middle East Focus Group of Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the Episcopal Bishop’s Committee for Israel/Palestine, American Jews for a Just Peace, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, American Muslims of Puget Sound, Middle East Peace Builders, and the Rauschenbusch Center for Spirit and Action.
All friends of Sabeel are receiving this early notification and are encouraged to take advantage of the limited number of reservations by acquiring theirs early! Space is limited! Reservations may be made by calling Brown Paper Tickets at 1-800-838-3006 or through www.brownpapertickets.com. For more information, find us on Facebook or see the Friends of Sabeel website: www.FOSNA.org
Friends of Sabeel -- North America: Voice of the Palestinian Christians
Is Gaza powder keg ripe for igniting?
by David Harris
JERUSALEM, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- It is one of the smallest territories in the world and is often said to be one of the most crowded. Right now the people of Gaza could be about to be plunged back into a world of violence after a relative respite that has lasted just one year.
Cross-border gun battles with Egyptian forces and rockets attacks on Israel followed by Israeli reprisals have all re-emerged during the past week. At least one Egyptian soldier and three Palestinians, whom Israel claims were members of armed organizations, were killed over the last few days.
All of these events are unfolding as Egypt works on a steel barrier both above and below ground aimed at cutting off Palestinians from the smuggling tunnels they constructed under the border with Egypt.
At the same time Israel has declared its Iron Dome defensive missile system is on track to be deployed by the middle of this year. A successful test was carried out last week on the system that Israel hopes will protect it from the short-range rockets of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Eyeing all these new developments and multiple factors concerning the Palestinian strip, analysts are pondering about whether there could be any linkage between them and whether the powder keg of Gaza is ripe for igniting now.
ADDING SALT TO WOUNDS
There are other factors at play adding to the misery of the Palestinians in Gaza.
The Hamas government in Gaza is largely internationally isolated now, as many Western nations deem the movement a terror organization, and as most countries recognize the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) as the sole representative of the Palestinians. The PNA is controlled from the other Palestinian territory, the West Bank, by Hamas' main rival, Fatah.
While Israel embargoes goods into Gaza, it is extremely difficult for people to leave the coastal enclave unless there are extenuating circumstances. Unemployment is high and poverty is rife there.
After violence sparked off around an aid convoy as it made its way last week from Egypt into Gaza, the Egyptian government has said it is clamping down on all further distributions.
Another factor is the power play between Israel, Hamas and Fatah concerning the much-talked-of prisoner exchange. Later this week Hamas is expected to give its final word on a proposed deal that would see the exchange of more than 1,000 Palestinians currently in Israeli jails for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, whom has been held by Hamas in Gaza for three-and-a-half years.
Analysts believe the potential deal, brokered by a German intermediary, is not only about the prisoners themselves but also concerns Hamas' relationship with Fatah. With an election theoretically set to take place this year, Hamas is looking to gain as much political capital as possible in its bid to defeat Fatah at the polls.
UNDERSTANDING MULTIPLE FACTORS BEHIND
Two highly respected Israeli experts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict spoke with Xinhua on Monday, regarding how to understand the relationship between these multiple factors and events.
Professor Gabriel Ben-Dor of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa believes they are largely separate and much of their coming together right now is coincidental.
While Neve Gordon, who chairs the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, prefers to see them all as interconnected, with the glue that binds them Israel's ongoing occupation of the Palestinian areas.
Despite Israel's much vaunted withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in2005, Gordon maintains it was never completed. While there are no Israelis inside Gaza, the territory is surrounded by walls, fences, surveillance and soldiers.
Gordon compares it to the situation in a prison. While the warders would not control what happens in each cell, they do hold the keys to the entire building.
"Israel has not relinquished sovereignty over the Gaza Strip in any political-science definition of sovereignty, by which I mean a supreme authority over a given territory, a monopoly over the legitimate use of violence and so forth," Gordon said on Monday.
During all of the uncertainty that followed the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, Fatah was ousted from the strip by Hamas. Gordon sees this as the second-most tragic event in Palestinian history only outdone by the creation of Israel in 1948.
"The Palestinians now have two leaders. Thomas Hobbes would call this almost a state of war," he said.
As far as Ben-Dor is concerned, the Egyptian element of the story is what is currently important. Until now pressure has always been brought to bear on Israel by the international community. Demands have been made for years for Israel to ease its restrictions on Gaza.
Now Egypt is not opening its border with Gaza and is reportedly constructing its steel barrier to block the tunnels.
As a result Hamas' anger is being vented increasingly in Egypt's direction. Hamas is very good at directing the anger of Gazans in the direction of its choosing, said Ben-Dor, hence the protests last week against Egypt.
The fact that Iron Dome and the prisoner exchange are coming to the fore now is coincidence, he argues.
The rocket fire towards Israel from Gaza this week is something of a mystery to Ben-Dor. He said no one really knows who fired, though most likely it was not Hamas.
One possibility is that some of the smaller armed organizations in Gaza are trying to cause trouble for Hamas, which already has its back to the wall with regard to Israel, Egypt and the international community, he added.
With so much uncertainty surrounding Gaza and poverty within, numerous regional analysts have issued warnings that violence either with Israel or intra-Palestinian is a foregone conclusion.
Both Ben-Dor and Gordon are more circumspect.
Gordon believes that Gaza is already plunged deep into a period of ongoing violence. Whilst it may not take the form of gunfire, rocket attacks or similar, the very fact that Israel surrounds Gaza and prevents freedom of movement out of the strip is in itself an act of violence.
However, he is not prepared to say that there will be a physical war in the near future.
"We won't see anything like last year's fighting (between Israel and Hamas) because Hamas learned a lesson and no longer fires rockets at Israel. What we're seeing now is a tiny drip-drip from organizations that are breaking away from Hamas," said Ben-Dor.
What is harder to predict is whether there will be renewed violence between Hamas and Fatah, he said.
Egypt has been trying to broker a deal between the two for a couple of years but despite sporadic reports of progress, the pair appear as divided as ever, thrusting the Palestinians living in Gaza even further into despair.
Welcome to CiF Watch, dedicated to monitoring and exposing antisemitism on the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Comment is Free’ blog.
I have long suspected that Neve Gordon lives in some sort of parallel universe where as if by magic, he manages to turn good into bad, wrong into right, true into false. After reading his CiF article of December 23rd, I’m even more dismayed by the man’s attempts to distort reality into something which serves his purpose.
This is the same Neve Gordon who recently called for boycotts against Israel as well as hosting a convicted Fatah organiser in his own home. Famous for holing himself up with Yasser Arafat in the Mukkata in Ramallah during the Second Intifada whilst the rest of his countrymen were under attack from suicide bombers, Gordon now tries to persuade us that there exists a Palestinian pro-peace movement which Israel is deliberately sabotaging.
“The objective is to put an end to the pro-peace popular resistance in the villages and to crush, once and for all, the Palestinian peace movement.”
Just in case you are now wondering how you managed to overlook this peace movement, Gordon even provides examples: “But over the past five years, Palestinians from scores of villages and towns such as Bil’in and Jayyous have developed new forms of pro-peace resistance that have attracted the attention of the international community.”
In Bil’in this ‘peaceful resistance’ has managed to injure some 170 IDF and police personnel. The weekly demonstrations are orchestrated together with the ISM – a Palestinian founded and led organisation with the following mission statement: “As enshrined in international law and UN resolutions, we recognize the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle”.
In Jayyous, ‘peaceful’ demonstration has resulted in serious damage to the anti-terrorist fence which has significantly reduced the number of Israeli dead by terror attacks. Two years ago the residents of Jayyous celebrated the 40th anniversary of the founding of the PFLP: hardly the most ‘peaceful’ of organisations.
Gordon’s delusion even extends to the dark days of the Second Intifada. “It is often forgotten that even the second intifada, which turned out to be extremely violent, began as a popular nonviolent uprising”. The actual date of the start of the Second Intifada is, of course, unsure. Some say it began on September 28th 2000 when Ariel Sharon visited Temple Mount, although the fact that there had been unrest some two weeks previous to that when Fatah organised demonstrations all over the country in favour of the Right of Return to ‘Haifa, Birsaba (Be’er Sheva) and Beisan’ cannot be ignored. A year later, Marwan Barghouti explained the part he and Fatah played in inciting the violence of the first days of the Second Intifada.
“I knew that the end of the month of September  would be the last opportunity before the explosion, but when Sharon arrived at the Al Aqsa Mosque it was the strongest (most suitable) moment for the breakout of the Intifada. This is because the subject concerns Jerusalem, and even more it regards Al Aqsa. The meaning of this – setting fire to the entire region and specifically [due to the fact] that the issue of Al Aqsa inflames and ignites the sensibilities of the masses.
I saw within the situation a historic opportunity to ignite the conflict. The strongest conflict is the one that initiated from Jerusalem due to the sensitivity of the city, its uniqueness and its special place in the hearts of the masses who are willing to sacrifice themselves [for her] with not even thinking of the cost.”
Rosh HaShana (New Year) 5761 (2000) fell just one day after Sharon’s visit to Jerusalem and the holiday lasted until October 1st. We had spent it, as usual, at my in-laws’ house near Rehovot. On the Sunday we were due to leave mid-morning and travel back home to the Golan via the West Bank, stopping off to see friends who had recently moved from Jerusalem to the village of Rimonim.
My in-laws are very religious people, so throughout the holiday we had heard no news on the radio or T.V. As we got into our car and prepared to depart we switched on the radio and were shocked to find that the whole country was ablaze.
The radio reports were confused; multiple incidents in many places, so we called our friends in Rimonim to ask if the route was open. “Don’t come” we were told; “It’s too dangerous”. We began to plan our route northwards with the aid of a map and the constant updates from the radio. Each time an incident was reported I checked to see if it meant changing our route. We quickly realised that our usual way home through Wadi ‘Ara would be impossible as there were reports of severe riots there, but we headed north, prepared to adapt the route as necessary.
As we reached the area of Netanya we got a call from another member of our kibbutz; a single mother also visiting family for the holidays with her two children. She was too terrified to make the journey alone and asked us to wait for her at a gas station so that we could travel in convoy. As we edged northwards on Highway 4 we could see burning tyres along the road at several points, the black smoke making visibility severely problematic. I decided that initially we would try to get to Haifa, and from there we would see how we could cross the Galillee which, according to the radio reports, was a hive of unrest.
We made tense, but reasonable progress until we reached the region of Furaidis. Reports were already coming in that a man had been killed when a stone hit his car. As we approached the intersection, stones and rocks flew, smashing onto the road around us. We could hear gunshots coming from the right. Trying to keep my voice steady so as not to add to the fright of our three children huddled in the back seat, I spoke to our friend following us on the speaker-phone: “Just make sure you keep close. Don’t let anything separate you from us. Just put your foot down”.
Breaking every traffic regulation in the book, we sped through that interchange until we got past Fureidis and didn’t stop until we reached Lev HaMifratz in Haifa. There we took a short break, eager to stretch our muscles which were aching from the tension, but hardly believing that we’d got away with merely a few dents in the cars. But evening was drawing in and we still had the whole width of the country to cross before reaching the safety of the Golan. Wadi ‘Ara was impassable and incidents were being reported on the Carmiel road, so we headed for the direction of Kiryat Tivon and from there I devised a route through various back roads and tracks, avoiding the numerous Arab villages on the way. We circumvented Nazareth by way of fields belonging to the kibbutzim in the area and with darkness now upon us, finally reached Kfar Tavor. From there it was plain sailing up to home and a much-needed cup of strong coffee. We then began trying to contact our eldest son who was stationed at the time in Gaza.
This is my experience of Neve Gordon’s ‘popular non-violent uprising’. Other Israelis experienced much worse on that day and in the weeks to come, and yet the Guardian allows and encourages Gordon to peddle his revisionist version of events to its willing audience of Israel-haters. It may be too difficult to get Gordon’s Jinn of lies and distortions back in the bottle as far as some of the CiF commentators are concerned, but despite that, the Guardian must be held responsible for the torrent of untruths it fosters.
The Psychology of Collaborators in the War against Israel and the Jews – by Jamie Glazov
Posted by Jamie Glazov on Oct 19th, 2009 Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Kenneth Levin, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a Princeton-trained historian, and a commentator on Israeli politics. He is the author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege.
FP: Kenneth Levin, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
There have been some stories circulating of Ahmadinejad’s supposed Jewish roots, but it appears that there is no substance to these stories. Even if it were true, however, no one should really be very surprised because it has been a recurrent phenomenon that some Jews would choose to join the Jews’ tormenters and even seek a leading role among them.
Frontpage’s new Collaborators series deals with this phenomenon. David Gutmann has also written a very profound analysis on this issue for us at Frontpagemag.com.
As a psychiatrist and the author of the Oslo Syndrome, what would you bring to the table on this phenomenon?
Levin: Well, it’s certainly true, Jamie, that time and again we’ve seen Jews joining forces with those who would do other Jews ill. But, as I wrote in The Oslo Syndrome, this is common within many communities under siege, whether minority communities under assault by the surrounding majority or small states under attack by their neighbors. Inevitably, some elements of the besieged group will embrace the indictments of the besiegers, however bigoted or absurd. They will do so in the hope of thereby extricating themselves from the wider group’s dire predicament.
Some will simply abandon the community and seek to immerse themselves in an alternative identity. Within Jewish communities under siege, such people would convert to the dominant religion, whether Christianity or Islam, to escape the Jews’ plight. Some among them, however, to more emphatically establish their distance from other Jews, and to allay any potentially dangerous suspicions among the majority that their conversion was insincere, would become spewers of anti-Jewish venom and high-profile endorsers of attacks on the Jews.
FP: And there’s a long history of this.
Levin: Absolutely. This was, for example, a recurrent phenomenon in both the Christian and Muslim worlds throughout the Middle Ages and into modern times. One notable such individual was Solomon ha-Levi, who was chief rabbi of Burgos in Spain when, in 1391, a wave of murderous anti-Jewish riots and forced conversions decimated Spanish Jewry. Solomon was well enough connected that he could have escaped the choice of conversion or death, but – rather than remain a Jew under straitened circumstances and see his place in the world much diminished – he converted, underwent clerical training in Salamanca and Paris, and, as Paul de Santa Maria, ultimately became bishop of Burgos. When a second vast wave of forced conversions began in 1411, Paul took a leading role in the assault on Spain’s remaining Jews and was responsible for drawing up edicts that isolated the Jews, stripped them of many communal rights, and, most importantly, deprived them of almost all means of earning a living, leaving them with the choice of death by privation for themselves and their families or conversion.
FP: What was this story about Ahmadinejad being a Jew?
Levin: The story was that Achmadinejad’s family converted from Judaism to Shi’a Islam when he was a child. It is apparently false. But, reflecting a recurrent pattern in Persian lands, there were many episodes of forced conversion and massacre of Jews in Iran in the nineteenth century and in the early part of the twentieth century, episodes typically instigated by Shi’a clergy; and it is a virtual certainty that some among the converts became themselves enthusiastic persecutors of those who remained Jews, if for no other reason than to demonstrate the sincerity of their conversion to their fellow Muslims.
A variation on the same theme can be seen in nineteenth century Europe. Jews were no longer subjected to waves of forced conversion, at least in western Europe, but they lived with severe limits on the educational and vocational opportunities available to them and with other significant social disabilities. Many chose to convert to improve their prospects, and some again joined forces with the Jews’ persecutors. Friedrick Julius Stahl, whose conversion enabled him to win a position on the law faculty of the University of Berlin, became head of the anti-Jewish Christian Conservative Party early in the nineteenth century and fought against the extension of political rights to Jews.
But those who abandoned their Jewish identity and became themselves defamers and attackers of the Jews did so much more typically from the political Left than from the Right, with Karl Marx being the leading example. Marx’s father had converted, apparently for the sake of professional advancement, and had had his son baptized at age six, in 1824. From his earliest entry into the public arena, Marx was clearly interested in distancing himself from “the Jews,” and he did so largely by rabidly attacking them. For example, his essay “On the Jewish Question” is both a regurgitation and an amplification of popular anti-Jewish calumnies. Marx – who knew virtually nothing about Judaism – declares that the religion of the Jews is “huckstering,” that the capitalist system reflects the Judaizing of the Western world, and that the radical agenda is therefore the quest to liberate the world from the ethos of the Jews.
In eastern Europe, which then meant mainly Czarist Russia, Jews retained a greater sense of national identity than in the West, and those who embraced socialism did so largely because they had lost faith in left-of-center liberalism bringing an end to czarist anti-Jewish depredations – including forced impoverishment, forced conversion and state-instigated physical assaults – and hoped socialist reforms would improve the lot of the Jews. Very few embraced what ultimately became Bolshevism, with its own anti-Jewish tenets. In contrast, in western Europe most Jews who joined socialist or communist movements did so as an alternative to a Jewish identity – it meant for them conversion to a new religion – and it was common for such individuals to endorse and even embellish the anti-Jewish cant that was typically a fixture of European socialism and communism, and indeed continues to be so today, if transmogrified somewhat into “anti-Zionism.”
Today, the Jews’ high-profile enemies, such as Achmadinejad, other leaders of the Iranian theocracy, and key figures in Iranian satellites such as Hezbollah and Hamas, may not themselves have Jewish roots, but there are certainly Jews among their boosters and fellow travelers.
Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah has declared that “If [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide,” and Hezbollah has in fact gone after them worldwide, as in its 1994 bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires that claimed 87 lives. But none of this has constrained Noam Chomsky from visiting with Nasrallah and other Hezbollah leaders, praising the organization and Nasrallah, and advocating the arming of Hezbollah. Norman Finkelstein has likewise met with Hezbollah leaders and praised the organization. It is not surprising that Nasrallah has at least temporarily exempted Chomsky and Finkelstein, and other like-minded Jews, from Hezbollah’s general death sentence on Jews.
Hamas’s charter quotes a Hadith according to which Allah declared that the Day of Judgement will not come until the Jews are all killed and even the stones and trees will help in killing them. The charter adds that Hamas “aspires to the realization of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take.” Hamas has perpetrated innumerable attacks targeting Israeli civilians, including suicide bombings and rocket and mortar barrages, and Hamas children’s television instructs its young audience to kill Jews. Yet Jewish member of Britain’s Parliament Gerald Kaufman has affectionately compared Hamas to Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto.
FP: And there were Jews who opposed Israel taking defensive measures in Gaza.
Levin: To be sure. For years Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza, only accelerating its rocket and mortar assaults in the wake of Israel’s total withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. It built and cached its rockets and other arms in, and unleashed its attacks from, heavily populated civilian areas. When Israel finally responded forcefully to Hamas’s terror campaign, in December, 2008, myriad Jews – who almost invariably had been silent about the Hamas attacks – condemned Israel’s actions and largely maintained their silence on Hamas’s terror, instead often parroting Hamas’s skewed version of events during the war.
Jewish groups across the world – such as Independent Australia Jewish Voices – rushed for media podiums from which to publicize their censure of the Jewish state. Jewish South African Richard Goldstone’s recent report for the so-called United Nations Human Rights Council offered his conclusions from an “investigation” whose mandate preemptively condemned Israel and whitewashed Hamas. His report largely follows Hamas’s narrative of events, minimizes Hamas crimes, ignores Israel’s documented rebuttals of Hamas claims, and would deprive Israel of the right to defend itself against Hamas’s genocidal campaign against the Jewish state. Goldstone is simply among the most notable examples of Jewish participation in such travesties.
Other Jews and Jewish groups, in their stances on Middle East issues, largely choose to ignore the genocidal Jew-hatred that pervades the media, mosques and schools of Israel’s enemies. They likewise ignore or play down or relativize the explicitly trumpeted genocidal goals of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah.
FP: Your thoughts on the Jewish group J Street?
Levin: It has honed the relativist tack in its characterizations of last December’s Gaza fighting, declaring that “neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong” and there are “elements of truth on both sides of this gaping divide”
J Street has curried support from Jews and non-Jews who have been rabid critics of Israel and supporters of, or at least apologists for, those in the Middle East who seek the Jewish state’s destruction. They include Israel critics with close ties to Saudi Arabia, such as Ray Close, and Stephen Walt, co-author of the factual-error-filled anti-Israel screed The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
Former Senator Chuck Hagel was among the senators least supportive of Israel during his tenure and often exhibited greater sympathy for the Jewish state’s enemies. When 88 senators wrote to the EU urging it to add Hezbollah to its list of terrorist organizations, Hagel was one of the handful who demurred. Yet J Street has seen fit to enlist Hagel as keynote speaker at its First National Conference this month.
In addition, while J Street incessantly declares itself to be “pro-Israel” its advisory board includes Jews and others who have long been not merely critics but defamers of the Jewish state and have even questioned the wisdom of its continued existence. For example, advisory board member Ayelet Waldman has been quoted as declaring, “I can’t help fearing that the Zionist enterprise will one day be seen to have done the Jewish people more harm than good. Our tenacious hold on this strip of homeland has become the scapegoat for the world’s terrorism and this wouldn’t be the case if we remained a people of the diaspora.”
The quote from Waldman, like perhaps most of the attacks on Israel by Jews, reflects a variation on the phenomenon of some within communities under siege seeking to separate themselves entirely from the community. In many instances, elements of communities or nations under attack will see the assault as directed at a particular segment of the community, and will seek to emphasize their own belonging to a different segment – a segment sympathetic to the besiegers’ indictments – and so deserving of exemption from the attack. Here, Waldman directs no criticism against those who regard Jews as uniquely unfit for national self-determination and want Israel destroyed. Rather, she takes that bigotry as a given and reserves her criticism for Jews not readily bowing to it. Instead of criticizing the scapegoating of Israel, she embraces the delusion that if Israel would just disappear and Jews became again only a Diaspora community – the community of which she is a part – her life and that of Jews like her would be better.
FP: How about Tony Judt?
Levin: Judt is perhaps the poster boy for this kind of thinking. He has called for Israel’s dissolution and sought to justify his stance by arguing that Israel’s creation came too late, that a state based on religious or ethnic identity is passé, and so it should be discarded into the dustbin of history.
While singling out Israel for dissolution, Judt ignores the fact that most of the world’s states, including the other states of the Middle East, are based on a dominant ethnic or religious identity, and, Rip Van Winkle-like, he seems unaware that in the last two decades at least twenty new nations have been created based primarily on a dominant ethnic or religious identity.
But, in fact, this rationale is not the true spur to Judt’s attack on Israel. Rather, as he makes clear elsewhere, he is upset that the circles in which he travels – primarily, academic circles – include many people who are not only censorious of Israel but regard all Jews suspiciously as likely sympathetic to the Jewish state. He feels this unfair, wishes therefore to trumpet his lack of any such sympathy, and desires the demise of the Jewish state, removal of the root cause, to more definitively spare himself – as well as others who may be similarly misunderstood – from coming under such unfair suspicion and suffering such discomfort.
The Jews thus far cited as ignoring or rationalizing the genocidal agenda of Israel’s enemies and even in many instances siding with those enemies have all been Diaspora Jews. But even among Israeli Jews there are many who do the same, despite the fact that they and their families are directly threatened by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and those many others in the surrounding states who seek Israel’s destruction.
The editors of Haaretz, for example, persist in downplaying the genocidal agenda of Hamas, urging Israel to be more forthcoming to the Islamist group, and castigating the government for not doing so. Haaretz writers such as Gideon Levi, Amira Haas and Akiva Eldar rarely have a critical word for Hamas or others of those dedicated to Israel’s destruction, and when they do have something critical to say they almost invariably find a way nevertheless to lay the ultimate blame on Israel. The same pattern can be seen in the work of many Israeli academics, and even in the views of various Israeli politicians. This is true even though – in the wake of the terror war launched by Arafat and the PLO against Israel in 2000, the Second Lebanon War, and all that has transpired around Gaza in the period since Israel’s total withdrawal from the area – many fewer Israelis entertain such thinking than did so formerly.
Of those Israelis who do embrace such thinking, some, like Diaspora Jews who choose such a course, may seem to do so out of far Left ideological commitment, according to which Israel must be condemned as representing Western imperialism and its enemies embraced as embodiments of transcendent Third World virtue. But even those devoted to such an ideology have the option to change when confronted with the reality of murderous assault and genocidal intent. Many apologists for Stalin and the Soviet Union changed their politics after the Hitler-Stalin pact while others did not. Similarly, many American devotees of far Left orthodoxies had a change of heart after 9/11, while of course many clung to their former views and blamed American policy for the attacks or even embraced the madness that the U.S. was itself the agent of the attacks.
So ideological commitment is not in itself an explanation for why some Israelis cling to blaming Israel for its enemies’ hostility and ignoring or rationalizing those enemies’ genocidal intent.
FP: So what are other explanations?
Levin: Some – like many of those who abandoned the Jewish community in past centuries – no doubt do so for personal gain. For example, Israeli academics who cultivate a reputation as critics of Israel are much more likely to win visiting professorships and other desirable academic perks in Europe and the U.S. Indeed, the more extreme their attacks on Israel the better their chances.
But most Israelis who adopt and cling to blaming Israel first, and who avert their eyes from the dimensions of the genocidal threat, do so out of wishful thinking – which is yet another response by some within communities under chronic attack. Some will rationalize the threat, close their eyes, ears and their minds to what the community’s enemies are actually declaring to be their objective, and will embrace selected elements of the attackers’ indictments in the hope that if the community will only reform itself in ways that address those elements – if Israel would only give up enough land, for example – the attackers will be appeased and peace will be won.
Yet whatever the psychological dynamics driving any particular individual, one thing is certain: As the genocidal threat facing Israel from Iran and its allies and satellites, and indeed from others among Israel’s neighbors, persists and perhaps grows even more ominous, some Jews, in the Diaspora and in Israel, will respond by recognizing the threat and urging efforts to confront and defeat it, but others will respond by distancing themselves from the Jewish state and even embracing its genocidal enemies, or by seeking to rationalize the threat and advocating self-reform and appeasement, or by taking some other, related course that will likewise add to the threat rather than help diminish it.
FP: Thank you for joining us Kenneth Levin. For those readers interested in the profiles in our Collaborators series, here they are:
Marc H. Ellis
Editor’s note: To get the whole story of why leftist Jews reach out in solidarity to Islamist Jew-haters, order Jamie Glazov’s new book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance With Tyranny and Terror.