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[Ex U of Haifa, now U of Wollongong Australia] Marcelo Svirsky's foul language: "Fuck you fascist Zionists!"

Editorial note:

We receive occasional hate mail which we normally do not publish in order to maintain a proper academic discourse.  Marcelo Svirsky, who left University of Haifa not long ago, has corresponded with IAM. It is particularly foul but this was not the reason for positing it.  Rather, what attracted our attention is the fact that he truly believes that Israel and Zionism are a fascist entity and even wrote a book "Arab-Jewish Activism in Israel-Palestine" to "prove" it.

For those who find the English in his introduction, below, too obtuse, a short explanation is in order.  As his inspiration, Svirsky uses Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, two French intellectuals who, along with Michel Foucault, Jack Derrida, among others, form the pantheon of post-modern philosophy.  As IAM reported, critical scholars in Israel invoke Foucualt and his cohorts whenever they produce an academic paper bashing Israel.

It is beyond the scope of this note to explain why critical philosophy provides such a licence.  Still, it should be noted that the alternative "narratives" that critical methodology celebrates is a passport to describe reality in ways that suits one's political agenda.  In other words, if one believes that Israel is a fascist state, then by quoting Foucault or Deleuze, one can write the following, as it appears in the introduction to his book.

"The ongoing fascist coding of democratic practices in Israel generates its own maintenance by circulating a strategic debt which commits Jewish–Israelis to participate in the everyday production of oppression of others. In order to work, segregation needs to implicate each and every one of us – thus it is personal. The mutual nourishing between individual micro-fascisms is the condition of existence of fascism at the collective level. Hierarchies and segregation are caustic to the point that though their particular practices are meant to benefit the Jewish majority to the detriment of the Palestinians, they nevertheless envenom all the inhabitants of the regime."

To the extent that it is possible to decipher this piece of turgid prose, Svirsky is saying that the "ongoing fascist coding" "envenoms" all inhabitants.  Judging by Marcelo Svirsky's venomous and foul language, he may have a point, at least about himself.
For those who wonder how this shoddy writing sounding like a parody of scholarship gets propagated, the answer is the existence of a large international network of neo-Marxist, critical scholars who promote each other, publish each other and otherwise co-opt each other. They also recruit new cadres, as the case of Svirsky indicates.  His mentor at Cardiff University was Ian Buchanan who describes himself as a follower of Deleuze.  Buchanan is now associated with the the University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia, where Svirsky is employed.  Buchanan and Ilan Pappe wrote a highly positive blurb for Svirsky's book and Pappe was invited to a conference on Arab Jewish activism in Israel-Palestine hosted by Buchanan and Svirsky in Wollongong University.  
For those who wonder how anti-Israel animus is propagated in the academy, the story of Buchanan and Svirsky is instructive.  University of Wollogong is a large public university with a big international students body that has become the newest outpost of the struggle against Israel.

Past position:


University of Haifa

Dr. Marcelo Svirsky 

School of Political Sciences

Current position:


University of Wollongong, Australia


Marcelo Svirsky

Dr. Marcelo Svirsky

mailto: msvirsky@uow.edu.au

Subject: RE: To Dr. Marcelo Svirsky from Israel Academia Monitor
Sender: Marcelo Svirsky 
Recipient: IAM e-mail 
Date: Wed 23:47

Fuck you fascist Zionists!

From: IAM e-mail [mailto:e-mail@israel-academia-monitor.com] 
Sent: 25 July 2012 23:30
To: Marcelo Svirsky
Subject: To Dr. Marcelo Svirsky from Israel Academia Monitor

Dear Dr. Svirsky,

This kind of language is not acceptable in the academic circles.

Yours sincerely,

IAM editors

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: test@israel-academia-monitor.com 
Date: 2012/7/25
Subject: Contact Form Filled in Website
To: test@israel-academia-monitor.com

ùí ôøèé : îøñìå ñáéøñ÷é
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Arab-Jewish Activism in Israel-Palestine

Marcelo Svirsky, Cardiff University, UK

Arab-Jewish Activism in Israel-Palestine

Applying the insights of Deleuze and Guattari's works to Israel-Palestine, Arab-Jewish Activism in

Israel-Palestine sets out to re-conceptualise the relationship between resistance and power in ethnically

segregated spaces in general, and the Israeli-Palestine context in particular.

Combining many years of ethnographic study and political and social activism with a solid,

theoretical, conceptual framework, Marcelo Svirsky convincingly argues that successful efforts

to decolonise the region depend on taking the struggle beyond self-determination and making

it collaborative. Decolonisation depends on political and cultural changes that elaborate on the

historical partition of social life in the region that have been an issue since the early twentieth century.

This elaboration means producing a civil struggle aimed at the destabilisation of the Zionist supremacy

and resulting in a democratic, political community from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

Simply not just another book on Israel and Palestine, Arab-Jewish Activism in Israel-Palestine provides

refreshingly new empirical evidence and theoretical analysis on the connection between resistance,

intercultural alliances, civil society, and the potential for actualising shared sociabilities in a conflict-ridden

society.An indispensable read to all scholars wishing to gain original insights into the transversal

connections which transcend ethnicity.

Contents: Foreword; Introduction; A political immunity; Arab-Jewish activism; Inhibitions;

The event of decolonisation; Bibliogaphy; Index.

About the Author: Marcelo Svirsky, Lecturer and Marie Curie Fellow, School of English Communication and

Philosophy, Cardiff University, UK


'Written with the fire, passion, anger and intelligence of the committed scholar, Arab-Jewish Activism in

Israel-Palestine is an important contribution to the ongoing debate concerning the nature and status of

Israel's occupation of Palestine. But rather than simply bemoan an obviously egregious state of affairs,

it looks at what is already being done to change things for the better and seeks to identify new ways in

which this "collaborative struggle" for justice might be advanced. This is a very significant book and

deserves to be widely read.'

Ian Buchanan, University of Wollongong, Australia

'This book deals sensitively and brilliantly with the issue of Arab-Jewish relations in Israel, as no other

book has done in the past. It integrates a deep knowledge of the theoretical world with a very informed

view, born out of personal experience, of the reality on the ground. A must read for anyone concerned

about the future of Israel and Palestine.'

Illan Pappe, University of Exeter, UK

This title is also available as an ebook, ISBN 978-1-4094-2230-3


© Copyrighted Material



the only struggle is for the conditions of our problems.

On Thursday 3 June, 2004 the political activist, filmmaker and actor Juliano MerKhamis

presented his first documentary film Arna’s Children (mer-khamis and Danniel 2003) 1

at the ‘encounters’ clubhouse in the Palestinian Galilean village of

kaukab Abu al-hija. there was no room to swing a cat. the clubhouse, a cultural

initiative of the Arab–Jewish society ‘An Alternative voice in the Galilee’, donated

the money raised that evening for the reopening of the Freedom theatre in the

Jenin refugee camp, destroyed by israeli tanks and artillery in 2002; the theatre

was established years before as an experimental group for children by Juliano’s

mother, Arna, a human rights activist in her own right. i clearly remember the

words Juliano chose to abridge his answers to the questions that followed the film

projection: ‘there is one and one thing only that really upsets and disbalances

the Zionist regime … Palestinians and Jews working shoulder to shoulder, and

nothing else’. on the 4 April, 2011 Juliano mer-khamis was shot dead outside

the Freedom theatre by a masked gunman. Juliano’s words at ‘encounters’

encapsulate the spirit of this book.

this book enhances research by offering new empirical evidence and theoretical

analysis on the connection between inter-ethnic alliances, civil society, the public

sphere and the potential for actualising shared sociabilities in israel–Palestine – as

alternatives to ethnonationalism. the research of these links, as varshney stated

in his breakthrough study of civil hindu–muslim relations in india, ‘has not yet

been done on an extensive scale’ (2002: 297). Specifically, the book aims to bring

to the foreground a critical analysis of the prospects of Arab–Jewish relations in

israel through the lens of their joint activism. Astoundingly, although the ocean

of manuscripts, edited collections and articles written on the Zionist–Palestinian

conflict and on Israel and Palestine, this is the first book totally devoted to the

study of resistance in the form of Arab–Jewish activism.

if we are to take Arab–Jewish activism seriously and aim to offer an up-to

date critical perspective of the potentials and the limitations of the transgressing

possibilities born in this intercultural sort of action, a first step will be to undermine

the romantic and sterilising idealism – commonly articulated in terms of ‘dialogue’

and ‘coexistence’ – vested on benign forms of Arab–Jewish relationships by

academic literature and popular culture associated with what is called ‘the peace

1 The film was awarded the best documentary feature for 2004 at the Tribeca

Film Festival, new york; the best documentary feature of 2004 at the one world Film

Festival, Prague; and the best documentary feature of 2004 at the toronto Film Festival.

camp' in Israel. 2 many questions arise when thinking of a study of Arab–Jewish

activism in israel. Perhaps the most pressing is how inter-ethnic civic networks

might assemble and flourish given the settler colonial framework in which they

emerge. viewed from the perspective of the conditions of change in any social

setting, this is the highest empirical question, namely, how subjects formed in a

given organisation of life might engage in experimentations that transcend the

order of things and current ways of life (Deleuze 1991).

other queries relate to the various political forces with which intercultural

activism need to cohabit in the public sphere, and how this cohabitation takes place

in the face of the many inhibitions and obstacles slowing down its development.

these two preoccupations are pivotal in most chapters; they are elaborated around

the main research question, which interrogates into the potentials and limitations of

present-day popular activism led cooperatively by Arab–Palestinians and Jews in

israel–Palestine. Potentials and limitations, i should add, in regard to the political

project of decolonisation of socio-political life between the mediterranean sea and

the Jordan river. i take this project to be the overarching framework of this book

and the perseverance of a particular ‘colonial present’ in the region as its basic

assumption (Gregory 2004; Bignall 2010: 60). This hasty entering into concepts

paves the way to start building a political language for this book, which is the main

purpose of this foreword.

in modern times, our colonial present burst forth in Palestine in the early

twentieth century as an evolving settlerist project led by the Zionist movement

which had to interlace its statist aspirations, first with Ottoman imperialism and

then with the British, eventually supplanting them with a specific variety of

internal settler colonialism (stasilius and yuval-Davis 1995; wolfe 1999; veracini

2006). A settler society is defined as one in which ‘Europeans have settled, where

their descendants have remained politically dominant over indigenous peoples,

and where a heterogeneous society has developed in class, ethnic, and racial terms’

(Stasilius and Yuval-Davis 1995: 3). In Palestine, it evolved, as Gershon Shafir has

demonstrated, from an ‘ethnic plantation colony’ into a ‘pure settlement colony’

(1989). in the process of establishing a Jewish settler society, this colonial project

involved the ethnic slicing of every social sphere in Palestine and their hierarchical

organisation (Shafir 1989; Smith 1993; Abdo and Yuval-Davis 1995; Lockman

1996; Bernstein 2000; Veracini 2006). The Zionist settler colonial project was, and

remained about, collective desires, engineering separated living spaces for Jews

only as expanding enclaves for regional domination. the study of the juncture of

this settler colonial present, and the political project of decolonisation i engage

with, follows recent calls to integrate the two themes (veracini 2007, 2010, 2011;

bignall 2011), though here, major efforts are invested to offer an account of the

latter in the context of israel–Palestine.

2 For a critical appraisal

of the ‘peace camp’ in Israel, see Davis 2003: 161–71, kaufman 1988 and helman 1999.

how should the project of decolonisation be conceived in this context?

Veracini has recently stressed the difficulty of envisaging a reasonable path for

decolonisation in settler societies (2011). in fact, the literature on decolonisation

has largely ignored settler–colonialism as a specific structure of application

(moran 2002; lynes 2002; veracini 2007). my position is that the decolonisation

of Palestine needs not to be classified exclusively according to classic categories

such as rebellion against foreign rule, resistance to conquest, and certainly not

only according to the national liberation struggle paradigm (thomas et al. 1994). 3

in line with bignall i support the sentiment ‘to create and maintain a place for

the postcolonial in national practices of political and cultural engagement’ where

the postcolonial is understood as that which describes the social construction of a

collaborative struggle 4 (2011: 2). As bignall rightly states:

because postcolonial theory most commonly addresses the revitalisation
and recognition of the agency of colonised peoples through their acts of
resistance and decolonisation, it often reinforces a colonised/colonising 
dichotomy, which position the colonised class as the active or resisting force 
chiefly responsible for postcolonisation and neglects to attribute an equal 
responsibility and transformative capacity to formerly [or actually] colonising 
subjects (2011: 4).

the notion of the collaborative struggle is constructed in this book on the basis of:

  1. the activist practices jointly carried out through Arab–Jewish activism; and
  2. the ways these practices affect the realm of the problems that define sociopolitical

life in the region.

this method of analysis aims at implementing Gilles Deleuze’s transcendental

empiricism (1991). the basic idea is to search for the conditions of actual

experience to evaluate how these conditions change together with changes in

actual experience, back and again. As Baugh defines it, ‘rather than universal

principles being the criteria by which practices are evaluated’, in Deleuze’s

empiricism ‘practices are judged entirely with respect to whether their effects

increase or decrease someone’s or something’s power of acting’ (2010: 290).

3 In the UN-led political tradition during the post-war period, decolonisation

was established in strict association with the right to self-determination, nation-building,

independence and the integrity of national territory (as evidenced in, for example,

the Un Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples

[1514-Xv, 14.12.1960] and the activities of the UN ‘Special Committee on Decolonisation’).

4 the word ‘collaborative’ may have negative implications; namely, as referring to ‘collaborators’

as informants, or traitors to an emancipatory cause. in my conceptualisation

i have no objection that collaborators are read as traitors, as long as what is betrayed

is the normality of a society that structurally excludes cooperative ways of existence.

Principles and political convictions emerge from, and are changed by these

incessant interrelations, rather than presuppose them.

in addition, in line with veracini, reciprocity (of oppressive relations) and

reversal need to be ruled out as the practical contents of decolonisation: both

mimic the colonial logic (2011). As bignall explains, ‘there is no realistic option

of ending the association that was born with colonisation: in post-colonial nations,

indigenous and non-indigenous bodies occupy the same territory; each experiences

a significant sense of belonging’ (2011: 212). What this book addresses is the

radical change of this historical association in Palestine as it continues unfolding.

it will become clear during the course of the chapters that i reject identity politics

as the framework of a decolonisatory project because it recycles the cognitive

and affective foundations of ethnonationalism and therefore insist on political

configurations that keep alive separatist genealogies. The only unquestionable

drive that should guide decolonisation is not to reproduce old or create new

inequalities and relations of oppression, which in cultural–political terms means,

following mahmood mamdani (2005), that ethno-national identity should not be

given any priority in the construction of a new polity. in this respect, this study

diverts attention from the more conventional studies that presuppose that the

struggle for decolonisation is the concern of one ethno-national entity – in this

case, the Palestinian people – against another ethno-national entity, to focus on the

ways in which Arab–Jewish activism may contribute to the scope and content of

the struggle from within the regime to change the regime. As bignall contends, the

struggle for decolonisation is not ‘solely an “indigenous issue” that is primarily

the responsibility of indigenous peoples to pursue’ (2011: 20).

however, a question of positionality may arise here which i wish to clear

up at this early stage of the book. it may be contended that this line of study

– which displaces the theorisation of the practice of decolonisation from the

national liberation paradigm into a regime change paradigm – dispossesses the

centrality and exclusiveness of the Palestinians in the struggle against the Zionist

settler society. Furthermore, it may be argued as well, that i express a lack of

unconditional support for the Palestinian national struggle, a lack which is blind

to the suffering caused by the Zionist machines since the historical encounter.

these may be serious allegations and i cannot but anticipate them. Firstly, the

Palestinian liberation from Zionist oppression has historical priority as it has the

Palestinian right for reparation including the right of return. however, my claim

is that this liberation roots the broader project of decolonisation of Palestine,

in which other political forces of resistance enrich that project, as Arab–Jewish

activism. read in these terms, decolonisation broadens the scope of historical

reparation: what needs to be restored is the possibility to create collaborative and

shared ways of life, a project that entails the destruction of Jewish supremacy

and the present relations of oppression sustaining it which in turn involve the

rectification of past wrongs. Secondly, though one might have deep reservations in

regard to any national struggle, specifically, we should support their liberationist

stage. i am certainly aware that there are historical and political differences

between the two national movements, the Palestinian and Zionism: the second

formed itself through colonialism and as an oppressor while the former struggles

as liberationist against that oppressive colonialism. nevertheless, with all the

differences taken into account, national movements always carry the risk of

betraying their revolutionary stance by embracing separatist and hierarchical

tendencies. this forces us to examine the question of what exactly is revolutionary

in decolonisation. in this book, the contention is that the process of decolonisation

is revolutionary only if it erodes the vitality of ways of life constituted through

colonialism while constructing non-oppressive alternatives. thus, such a process

rejects as its content the recompensatory doubling of national flags.

critiques may also rebuke that only those that enjoy the fruits of hegemony

have the luxury of disengaging from ethnic or national identity, implied in my line

of study; oppressed minorities have not. though i am aware of some emotional

and cultural benefits of collective identification, I dread more of its dangers, no

matter which side is the bearer. Precisely, it harvests sides and feeds anxiety over

domination. these are my very best answers.

to evaluate decolonisation, the analytical framework i offer interconnects

three domains:

a. genealogical – addresses the particularities of the traumatic passage into

colonial relations to help diagnose present-day forms of domination;

b. material–political – addresses present-day forms of domination from the

point of view of utopian arrangements; and

c. affective – addresses the colonising experience as all-encompassing (spaces

and communities) paving the way for the emergence of new subjectivities

and new alliances that transverse old colonial divides.

the struggle for decolonisation mobilises political forces by actively interconnecting,

in specific spheres of life, the three domains in thought and action – in

learning, experimentation and construction. in addition, it must be agreed that in

israel–Palestine the project of decolonisation has a geographical skyline, which

is given by the Zionist cartography of control, namely, from the mediterranean

sea to the Jordan river (Azoulay and ophir 2008). in this book i engage with

this analytical framework through the deeds of Arab–Jewish activism in israel–

Palestine during the last decade.

to be precise, decolonisation is a movement of experimental deformation,

not of transformation. the latter is said of a change from one stable form, state

of affairs or essence, into another while both ends are subjected to fixed images

of socio-political life. Firstly, i am far less interested in the form the regime

and social life may take as a result of decolonisation than in the process itself.

secondly, resistance, as a decolonisatory force, embodies the motion that brings

new creations while destroying oppressive habits. however, resistance needs to be

seen not as external to the system but as the force of creative life in itself, always

struggling with forms that have sedimented and became oppressive. As a force

of change resistance recruits rhythms and energies that do not resonate with the

internal logic of the dominant systems – this is the only externality that may be

attributed to resistance.

Given that i adopt here a vision of life as in incessant change, forms and identities

cannot be seen as complete entities and therefore, ‘their destruction is not a negation’

but an affirmation of life (Williams 2005: 54). Indeed, rather than a negation of the

given, the appreciation of change carries the critical problematisation of what is

changed (Bignall 2011: 29–31). Our interest is in the forces de-forming the present

Zionist regime – destabilising its structure, disorganising habits, contents and

practices in the process of creating and experimenting with new ways

of sociopolitical existence. As such, decolonisation is a multiple attack on the conditions

of the settler colonial present by way of bringing about alternative connections.

this involves a revolutionary shift in the ways we understand what is colonial

about our existence, in the relations of economic and cultural production, social

association and political organisation, and in the ways we consider ourselves,

emotionally, as part and parcel of the settler colonial project.

the notion of resistance the narrative here supports, involves reconsidering

what it means to be colonised. this reconsideration involves in turn understanding

the notion of reparations not only in terms of the mandatory level of subjective

compensations for past and present injuries, but more broadly as the necessity to

repair ways of life for all. Therefore, first and foremost, decolonising Palestine

implies creating new ways of existence; for that purpose many laws, practices and

social modes just have to go. conscious of Patrick wolfe’s known aphorism that

‘settler colonialism is relatively impervious to regime change’ (2006: 402), what

I affirm in this book is the political relevance of revolutionary internal forces to

struggle for the revocation of the settler society regime that controls life. then,

it is about a becoming different of the regime and of socio-political life, without

forcing the change into an already defined goal. This becoming different of the

regime necessitates fresh perspectives about what is democratic life.

escaping the commands of normative liberal political theory, i adopt the idea of

democratic life as a continuous experimentation with the basic right to experience,

evaluate and change social, economic and political institutions, ‘not presuppose

their legitimacy’ (Angus 2001: 10). According to this perspective, democracy is

a process of ‘definition and redefinition, in which our everyday assumptions are

criticised and reformed’ (71). in addition, i adopt the idea of ‘the intercultural’

as a particular property of democratic life which focuses on the practice of

antisegregation. As it is deduced from the activist practices i evaluate in this book, the

intercultural appears not as the medium for including the ‘other’ within a given

public space dominated by a hegemonic power, but it is woven through transversal

alliances between individuals and groups and their ways of life begetting new ways

of existence. hence, intercultural practices do not rely on the recognition of given

identities but on the constant questioning of them. however, this questioning is

the result of an incessant critical constructivism which has identity only as one of

its indirect objects of deformation. essentially, the intercultural might be seen as a

critical point of view on the world which encourages, in terms of ways of life and

modes of experience, to think the unthinkable and to do the undoable. therefore,

it goes beyond the corrective outlook of the western ‘politically correct’ which

is nothing but a cultural manipulation of hegemonic containment. look, as an

illustration, at one of the most famous works in cultural representations of race in

American cinema, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (dir. Kramer 1967). The critical

aspect of the film is not to be found in the way the script deals with the issue of

interracial marriage which is stripped of the contemporaneous struggle and the

socio-political context as Guerrero demonstrated (1993), and for many American

liberals was already dated at the time of the movie. surprised by the events,

the black household cook, matilda ‘tillie’ binks (isabel sunford), exceeds the

conservative assemblage of roles offering a fine critical moment when she claims

that ‘it did not occurred to me that such a thing might happen’ (an interracial

marriage). through her expression, history furtively enters the movie: segregation

operates on the basis that such a thing might happen, while one tends not to think

that which is suppressed by cultural constructions. the intercultural insist on

exploring exactly that virtuality.

intercultural philosophy rejects any philosophy as the philosophy or any

culture as the culture; it is repulsive to any kind of centrism and cultural modelling,

and it avoids pursuing any sort of perfect communication sharing significant

truths (collier 1997; mall 2000). the intercultural is a constructed property of

democratic life whereas transversality explains the mechanism of its construction.

transversality, as addressed here, engages with contemporary elaborations of

Félix Guattari’s works on the concept (Guattari 1984, 1995; Deleuze and Guattari

1987). in his overview of Guattari’s trajectory with the concept, Genosko writes:

[i]t may be said that transversality belongs to the processual subject’s

engendering of an existential territory and self-transportation beyond it. the

key concepts involved are: mobility (traversing domains, levels, dimensions, the

ability to carry and be carried beyond); creativity (productivity, adventurousness,

aspiration …); self-engendering (autoproduction, self-positing subjectivity),

territories from which one can really take off into new universes of reference

(2002: 55).

with the idea of the intercultural i aim at stressing the changing conditions

of sociopolitical life.

it is not just about changing attitudes, improving communication

across cultural communities or reaching lasting shared truths. neither is the

intercultural related to the idea of the hybrid which necessarily presupposes and

then reifies anterior purities. Rather, the intercultural is being produced in the

transversal escape from imagined purities and their carnal oppressions. ‘transversal

politics is the practice of creatively crossing (and redrawing) the borders that mark

significant politicised differences’ (Cockburn and Hunter 1999: 88–9, emphasis

added); it displaces the ‘mark’ as that which distinguishes between racial and

ethnic constructions as artefacts of politics, to become that which distinguishes

between colonial ways of life and the collaborative ways of existence colonialism

prevented from us. As yuval-Davis rightly pointed out, transversal politics rejects

assimilationist as well as identitarian projects: ‘while the first has proved to be

ethnocentric and exclusionary, the second has proved to be essentialist, reifying

boundaries between groups …’ (1999). though this book unites in its title and

writing ‘Arab’ and ‘Jewish’ (Arab–Jewish activism), it reports critically on the

oscillations between ‘connecting already existent points’ or centres as inflexible

wholes (raunig 2007: 4), and between transversal engagements across singular

elements and lines from their associated fields of existence. In this sense, the

transversal engagement assumes a priori respect for others’ positionings without

privileging them (yuval-Davis 1999), hence, ‘Arab’ and ‘Jewish’ can be deployed

as always unfinished open fields, where transversality is the method of connecting

different levels, parts and behaviors across them bringing about malfunc'tions of the

normative and summoning new potentialities into actual life (Genosko 2002: 55).

therefore, transversality explains the emergence of new subjectivities which are

vital in a process of decolonisation, but also their exposure to new deformations:

in its trajectories, transversal connections engender affective territories vis-à-vis it

modifies the fields which connect.

however, something is hovering above these lines. Given my inclination

to embrace the project of decolonisation of Palestine as a collaborative project

instead of a national project, a zone of questions arises regarding the relationships

between Palestinian national politics and Arab–Jewish activism. the way i hope

this book will contribute to the discussion of the problems associated with this

zone of questions is by analysing changes and impacts between these two forms of

politics. these relationships, i claim, rebound on the social, political and cultural

reconstruction of social life in israel–Palestine – namely, on decolonisation.

careful of not magnifying its funct'ions, i aim at sensing the role and prospects of

Arab–Jewish activism in the construction of a collaborative struggle in the region.

however, we must be careful not to offer this understanding as a model; rather,

the study of specific intercultural experimentations helps in attuning them and

encouraging further action in our way out of the colonial.

A struggle of this sort points in fact to a broad horizon. it is my understanding

that the radical democratisation of socio-political life in the region cannot be

conceived in terms of ameliorating a present state of affairs. there is no room for

modifications and adjustments based on partial policies that reverse discrimination

or limited redistributions of space and wealth; things have gone too far and too

deep in the lives of the regime’s inhabitants to be content with such cosmetic

changes. change needs to be thought of outside the rigid limits set out by the

given organisation of the problems that define life in the region. Let us put it

unmistakably: in order to address the historical colonial conditions of oppression

between the sea and the river, the project of decolonisation of the region does

not take the israeli political regime as a framework for reformation, but for severe

deformation. the struggle for decolonisation remits to the israeli political regime

only by addressing critically its genealogical constitution, by advocating the

revocation of present-day oppressive practices and by breaking with the ways we

define problems and ask questions.

it is not only Zionists that might claim that this call to deform the israeli regime

and to seek new political configurations is a call to deny the right of the Jewish

state to exist, in turn equivalent to denying the Jewish people the right to a state

of their own. other interpretations would even claim that this revolutionary call

denies the right to exist of the Jewish people as a political and cultural collective.

For most Zionists, demanding to change israel’s character is equivalent to calling

for its destruction, leaving no room for alternatives. this line of argumentation

generally appeals to the long history of persecution Jewish communities suffered

in the past, most clearly to the second world war holocaust. i am certainly not the

first to stress that Israel has broadly manipulated the history of Jewish persecution

to justify its oppressive character, pushing the world to accept the pervert idea

that the oppression of others is the only historical condition capable of enabling a

free collective existence for the Jewish people. in an interview with elias sanbar,

Deleuze referred to this perversity noting that it was always enveloped with the

demand ‘to be treated as a people with an exceptional status’ (Deleuze 2007: 199).

by fusing in argumentation the Jewish character of the regime with the fate of the

Jewish people living and sustaining that regime, Zionist politics have been so far

successful in rejecting the demand for political change. witness how the western

world has become complicit of israel’s terrorism.

At this point, it seems mandatory to provide the reader with two related

sets of definitions or clarifications which, together with the way I have outlined

decolonisation and the nature of the struggle, will continue framing the political

language of this book. one refers to what exactly i mean by ‘israel’, and how

‘israel’ stands in regard to the notion of israel–Palestine. the second refers to

what this book means by israel’s Zionist oppressive character. to avoid Zionist

hegemonic definitions which have taken hold of Western international politics

and scholarship, i adopt here Azoulay and ophir’s notion of ‘israel proper’ to

refer to the state of israel delimited by the Green line or the 1949 armistice

lines agreed between israel, egypt, Jordan, lebanon and syria following the

1948–1949 war (2008). by relaying on ‘proper’, this notion critically highlights

the fact that something else is attributed to the name of israel in addition to an

israel which is ‘just’ the israel of the 1949 armistice lines. i refer, of course, to the

military regime of occupation in the west bank and the Gaza strip inaugurated

in 1967. 5 thus, by the appellation of israel i refer to the political compound

made up of:

5 east Jerusalem and the

Golan heights were also conquered and occupied by the Israeli Army in the 1967 War

as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, East Jerusalem was formally annexed

by israel to israel ‘proper’ in 1980 and the Golan heights in 1981. the latter is claimed by

syria whereas east Jerusalem is part of the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

1. israel proper; and

2. the military regime of occupation in the west bank and Gaza Palestinian

territories (Azoulay and ophir 2008).

the fusion of the two parts, in the name, runs against the Zionist naturalisation

of the disaffinity between them. The latter component excesses the fixed identity

assigned to the former as the ‘only democracy in the middle east’, destroying

in doing so the common sense people generally have about what israel is. the

encounter between the two components (in fact between the series of ways of

life coming from them) within the one name of Israel redefines the trajectory of

the name-making available critical thought and action. in this case, ‘the

namingfunc'tion provides a countertactic by which to undermine societies’ mechanisms

of control and surveillance’ (reynolds 2009: 280). so, when this book uses the

name of israel it asks the reader to have in mind the project of decolonisation

associated with the dominant political regime from the mediterranean sea to the

Jordan river. As rashid khalidi has recently put it in an interview with Haaretz

correspondent chemi shalev, ‘there is only one state between the Jordan river

and the mediterranean in which there are two or three levels of citizenship

or noncitizenship within the borders of that one state that exerts total control’ (shalev

2011). but it can be rightly argued that while pinpointing the geopolitical stretching

of the Zionist apparatuses of oppression, i smuggle an additional form of discursive

oppression, since i vest the whole of the region with the name of israel, as in the

ultra-right wing sentiment of the ‘Greater israel’ in national revisionist Zionism.

This is why we need a set of interlaced definitions here, to keep alive a certain

displacement in the name. thus, i move now from this preliminary designation of

the geographical chart of the regime of israel to its qualities and properties.

basically, by the Zionist character of israel i refer to its legal, political and

cultural structure of hierarchies and segregations expanding from the sea to the

river – a structure without which the systems of discrimination would have

been more vulnerable to change. Instead of expanding on this basic definition in

traditional rationalistic fashion, i choose to tell a story on residence and housing in

israel by way of four recent episodes. however, i should stress that these episodes

take place within israel proper, but by using ‘israel’ i stress their connection and

dependence with ways of life in the Palestinian occupied territories. in israel,

there is nothing innocent about moving, about changing your place of residence.

on the evening of 21 December, 2010, ‘several hundred people, mostly residents

of south tel Aviv’ – Haaretz newspaper (english website) reported – ‘held a

demonstration against the presence of foreign workers and refugees in their

neighbourhoods’ (lior 2010a). the protestors (all Jewish working class) were

urging the Government to ‘send the infiltrators back home’ in order to put an end

to the fear which had taken hold of their lives. the protestors claimed this fear was

a result of the presence of foreign workers and refugees (mainly African refugees

fleeing from Sudan’s and Eritrea’s internal wars into the country through the Sinai

Peninsula, israel’s southern border with egypt) 6 and the resulting increase in rental

prices in the neighbourhood. A few hours later, israel’s Prime minister, benjamin

netanyahu, released a video clip on his bureau’s youtube channel to calm the rage

upsurge in tel Aviv, and said: ‘the Government of israel is working determinedly

to stop the flow of illegal infiltrators from Africa by constructing a fence on the

border and by returning infiltrators to their native land’ (Ravid 2010). To enable

deportation, on 28 november, 2010 the israeli Government decided to erect a

detention camp on the border with egypt to imprison refugees from Africa trying

to infiltrate into Israel (decision 2507). 7 the camp, according to the decision, would

be the responsibility of the ministry of Defence and administrated by the Prison

Authority. The decision included laying down rules fining those who employed

refugees. About a month later, a few thousand people – organised by AssAF,

the Aid organization for refugees and Asylum seekers in israel – demonstrated

on the streets of tel Aviv protesting against the decision to build the detention

camp; primary school pupils from the democratic school ‘Kehila’ (community in

hebrew) participated in the rally. A day before the demonstration in the Hatikva

neighbourhood, another display of hate and bigotry was held in the city of bat

yam (near tel Aviv). Under the slogan ‘keeping bat yam Jewish’, about 200 local

residents protested against internal migration of Palestinians citizens into the city.

in relation to rental prices and security as in the Hatikva neighbourhood case,

fear in bat yam took on another object: the protesters, invigorated by right-wing

activists, were screaming ‘no to rent houses to Arabs’ in order ‘to keep Jewish

daughters to the Jewish people’; bat yam’s mayor condemned the protests whilst

the city’s rabbi supported them (lior 2010b).

in order to enshrine in law the ongoing rejection of Palestinian families from

rural ‘home and garden’ lifestyle communities, the Knesset (the israeli Parliament)

has lately legislated on the subject. 8 the basic idea behind the law is to legalise

the ‘admission committees’ established in the past by the joint forces of the settler

organisations (the israel land Administration, the Jewish Agency, the settlement

department of the world Zionist organisation, and inter-ministerial committees)

by which exclusion is performed. these committees have been func'tioning

ever since these small communities were formed in the late 1970s onwards on

expropriated land from Palestinian local councils and individuals, under different

governmental projects of Judaisation (these settlements resemble in their

architecture, organisation and demographic fun'ction the Jewish settlements in

the occupied Palestinian territories of the west bank, and are insincerely called

‘communal’: an example of how the universal meaning of public is reduced to a

segment by restricted inclusion). it is important to stress here that the legislation

6 For a recent critical discussion on the question of the African refugees

in Israel see yacobi 2010.

7 see: http://www.pmo.gov.il/Pmo/secretarial/Decisions/2010/11/des2507.htm

(in hebrew).

8 see: law to amend the cooperative societies order (no 8), 2011.

was motivated and actively campaigned for by organised residents from these

small rural communities – inhabited mainly by upper middle class Ashkenazi

Jewish families. Discrimination would not have been successful had it not had as

its most resourceful executioners such committed individuals. in this case, public

institutions are only assisting their effort. the debate over ‘admissions committees’

has been part of the public agenda for about ten years. During this time different

civil society organisations have started to challenge them by demanding their

abolition in court and in public action. 9

the last of the four episodes has as its protagonist dozens of israel’s municipal

chiefs rabbis who, during the months of november and December 2010, added

their signature to a religious ruling which forbids selling or renting apartments/

houses to non-Jews, meant to address the Arab–Palestinian population. safed’s

chief rabbi shmuel eliyahu, who has for years preached for this ruling, is certainly

the linchpin in this development. even though the rallies in tel Aviv and bat yam

have seemed to be sporadic or typical cases of ‘blowing off steam’ resulting from

societal frustrations present in every society, the last two episodes give them clarity

in regard to israel’s vices. on thursday 2 July, 2009, in a conference of the israel

bar Association, which focused on reforming israel’s land Administration, the

israeli housing minister Ariel Atias ‘warned against the spread of Arab population

into various parts of israel, saying that preventing this phenomenon was no less

than a national responsibility’ (lieberman 2009). in his speech, the ultra-orthodox

religious party ‘shas’ minister, Haaretz reports, addressed his concerns about

harish, ‘a housing project built for the haredi [ultra-orthodox] community in

northern israel, saying that the Arab population from the nearby wadi Ara was

spreading into the harish area’. he also referred more broadly to the Galilee and

the necessity to obstruct the mixing of populations. 10

the four episodes show that the various protagonists (public groups) all

receive their strength from banning some sort of way of life and subjects. moving

house in Israel will mostly find one inhabiting a place in which only ‘those of

our kind’ are entitled to if you are identified as a Jew; or may mostly find one

inhabiting a place which is one’s home town or the town one (or his/her ancestors

one or two generations before) was compelled to move into due to expulsion and

ethnic cleansing, if you are identified as a Palestinian – both in Israel proper and

in the Palestinian occupied territories. to add insult to injury, or the opposite,

Jews may find themselves inhabiting in ‘our kind’ places built on expropriated

land from Palestinians, or no less disturbing, in former Palestinian houses robbed

from their owners during the ethnic cleansing of 1948–1949 or as a result of

later dispossessions. Giving the segregative landscape outlined by the housing

9 Why this legislation was needed in the first place if the ‘admission committees’

were functio'ning, and how it is related to the struggle against these committees,

is a question i address in Chapter 3, where I analyse this case extensively.

10 however, Atias support for segregation between Arabs and Jews, needs to be seen

as derivative from his support to segregate between religious and secular sectors.

episodes above, attempts to photoshop israel’s character become pointless. then,

debating israel’s claim to be a democratic state does not make any sense. it only

attributes some legitimacy to the claim. the main point is in fact very simple:

certain types of structures, governmentalities and sociabilities impede democratic

life in any fundamental sense. israel’s formally fashioned democratic institutions

and practices are the arena on to which a democratic spectacle legitimises the

normality of that which impedes fundamental democratic life. Although there is

a reasonable degree of political freedoms or a ‘rare kind of liberal pluralism’, to

borrow from shlomo sand (2009: ix), israel is not a democracy in any genuine

sense. As i will show in chapter 2, in its embryonic stage in the pre-state era,

israel evolved as a settler colonial polity ontologically grounded on a series of

restrictions placed upon the public participation in its formation and its ongoing

redefinition. Israel then, became a regime that ontologically discounts the

Palestinian, for whom the irremovable prohibition of becoming a constitutional

consociate defines its political horizon, or in Memmi’s formulation, as colonised

‘certain rights will forever be refused to them’ (2003: 53). I am pointing here at a

distinction between having rights and having entrance into the formative political

processes that begets rights.

At best, as mk (member of knesset) Ahmad tibi put it, ‘israel is democratic

for the Jews and Jewish for the Arabs’ (maranda 2009). this is exactly why israel’s

democratic procedures confound analysts who attempt to define its political

nature. but fascism, we should keep in mind, is only ‘more terrifying still’ when

it wears the democratic uniform (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 421). the ongoing

fascist coding of democratic practices in israel generates its own maintenance by

circulating a strategic debt which commits Jewish–israelis to participate in the

everyday production of oppression of others. in order to work, segregation needs

to implicate each and every one of us – thus it is personal. the mutual nourishing

between individual micro-fascisms is the condition of existence of fascism at the

collective level. hierarchies and segregation are caustic to the point that though

their particular practices are meant to benefit the Jewish majority to the detriment

of the Palestinians, they nevertheless envenom all the inhabitants of the regime.

As Amal Jamal has recently put it, real democratic participation depends

on the deconstruction of ‘the exact institutional structure that renders such a

possibility unattainable’ (2011). in this light, by invoking the name of israel,

i invoke the revocation of its Zionist oppressive machines and ways of life,

leaving room for a revolutionary appropriation of its future emptied name.

the only political sentiment associated with the name of israel in this book

calls for the decolonisatory removal of the Zionist systems of privileges,

between the sea and the river. it was on Palestinian land and life that Zionist

colonisatory machines evolved since the early twentieth century. therefore,

the struggle for decolonisation necessarily stresses both, a Palestinian struggle

and a struggle over Palestine. the notion of israel–Palestine denotes a plane

of production, a life under constant change, between the sea and the river.

the hyphen connector here ‘suggests neither dependency (agglutination) …

nor independence (separation), but precisely that structure of displacement – of

being both and neither’ that we may plot as the condition for decolonisation

(elliott 1999: 45). israel–Palestine is the interim horizon that overcomes the

violence of israel by appealing to collaborative forces of resistance.

the sentiment associated with the struggle over Palestine and with the political

change of the region between the sea and the river and by all of its communities,

feeds a political imagination that envisages the construction of a democratic

political community or of many political communities which in any case should

come instead the one state we have now. this is the book’s utopian demand for the

region; not a fictional impossibility but, as Fredric Jameson insists, the message

from a future that needs us and the very present to happen.

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