Daily Kos, anti-semitism, & the zombie peace process

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The following is a comment from one of my favorite bloggers attached to an important “diary” from Adalah at the popular website Daily Kos. Appropriately titled Israel: Protesters Responsible for Their Own Deaths the diary is an excellent example of some of the fine writing you will find at Daily Kos. I’d like you to read this comment before I continue.

I think (16+ / 0-)

at times we lose sight of the bigger picture and how these spats are reflective of something very instructive.

These personal antagonisms are not surprising in the least, and they reflect very accurately the larger problems of advocating for Palestinians in American political discourse.

The new meme from the pro-Israel “team” is to tar everyone who supports BDS as an anti-semite because, so they argue, BDS supports ‘boycotting Jews’.

They know this is utterly ridiculous. They know that the BDS movement is modeled after the boycott of apartheid South Africa, and it is not about boycotting one ethnicity, but about challenging a state which enforces legalized discrimination against a stateless, occupied people who have no legal rights at all and can be abused, arrested, and killed at will and have no legal recourse to challenge the state that does this. But that does not matter to them. Instead, MBNYC, Mets102 and their crew understand that at least in this place, the Palestinian struggle for human rights and equality will be instinctively supported by people once they are educated with the facts. So they must derail, they must insult, they must lie. The reason they do this is because they understand that recommended diaries like this one reach more people, and more threatening to them, reach an audience that is predisposed to political activism in the Democratic Party. Of course today there is very little difference between Democrats and Republicans vis a vis Israel, and we saw the ways that Democrats sided with the right wing Netanyahu over their own President. Those who are attacking the Palestinian equality movement are doing so because they want to control the discourse about criticism of Israel and ensure that what is a widespread view among progressives about Israeli violations of human rights does not reach a wider audience.

That’s what’s going on here. The trolling by MBNYC, the constant charges of anti-semitism, the hounding of Arab posters who articulate the Palestinian cause far more effectively than they can articulate their cause, a cause predicated on maintaining a discriminatory system–all of this done by about 15 users who understand that progressives who are educated about what Israel does to Palestinians will not support their positions and tactics and will instinctively support equal rights for Palestinians, a position soysauce advocates. Let’s be clear too: this isn’t about one vs. two states. Some people from Adalah support a two state settlement, others don’t. It’s about one group that advocates for refugees, for occupied and brutalized civilians, for legal and political equality, and another group that advocates on behalf of a state. And let’s be clear: identifying so strongly with state power, any kind of state power, is an untenable position if one claims to support human rights, because all states violate human rights, and Israel more so than most, as it maintains a 44 year illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.

So the personal attacks will keep coming. So will the anti-Arab racism, so will the trolling. But as is clear in this diary, their views and tactics are not popular here.

by sortalikenathan on Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 06:55:30 PM PDT

Several times over the last few months I’ve been alerted by friends regarding ‘diaries’ by members of ‘Team Shalom’ at Daily Kos highly critical of Mondoweiss. Why does this matter? For our site, I don’t think it does. It’s clear some of our biggest detractors read this site avidly, including the comments that ultimately drive traffic.  Team Shalom has run a campaign to have this site banned from Daily Kos (even tho I am not aware posters there link to this site with any regularity, perhaps I am wrong) and yesterday one of my friends who posts there wrote to inform me they have achieved this goal.

As anyone who reads this site knows Phil is very interested in stimulating a conversation within the American Jewish community about identity including but not limited to Israel and that ongoing wound, their conflict with Palestine. My hunch is members of Team Shalom do not want to have any conversations about Jewish identity, especially within the establishment, pertaining to Israel/Palestine and that’s why we’re seeing this pushback at Daily Kos.

I am grateful to Phil and Adam for taking on the herculean task of cracking open a much needed conversation, for I know without this conversation there will be no resolution and no way as Americans we can facilitate peace in both Palestine and Israel. An important ’09 article is an example of the kind of writing that makes this site so vital and important to the American conversation . In Liberals like to deceive themselves about Jewish power Phil challenges a concept Bernard Avishai (author of a fine book called The Hebrew Republic) repeats, “One cannot just assume that the Congress will care what Jews want”. It’s as important a conversation to have now, after the 29 standing ovations, as it was when it was written. This is exactly the kind of conversation that needs to take place across this country if we are ever going to learn how to use that power to bring peace in the middle east, which of course includes Israel and Palestine. And I am not ashamed to be part of this conversation. I will leave you now with the words of a friend and regular reader of Daily Kos, published here for the first time.

 These are a bunch of liberal Jews who are basically in the bunker. Most of them won’t rec diaries about Israelis helping Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah or Hebron. They’re not fans of Dimi Reider or Joseph Dana or Amira Hass. What they are interested in is policing thought and speech, even the thought and speech of their fellow Jews who don’t agree with them. That they get to define what anti-semitism is, not other Jews on the site (and there are many other Jews who oppose their views as you know). Do these Jews get to determine what is at stake for all Jews?

 Furthermore, by focusing on anti-semitism and not on the horrific suffering inflicted by Israeli policy on Palestinians, by supporting a zombie peace process designed to deliver greater and greater gains for Israel, focusing on the words typed into boxes on screens through the internet, they are taking the focus away from where it should be – on Palestinians and their actual physical, mental and emotional suffering under a policy of institutional and systemic violence by the Israeli government. But this is yet another way to drown out Palestinian voices, by making it all about one particular type of racism and pulling the curtain over the racism of the occupation. By yelling loudly enough about anti-semitism, by making advocates of Palestinians who do not condone any form of racism always having to defend themselves against charges of anti-semitism, they obscure the racism of the Israeli government, the Israeli laws and the Israeli occupation.

 All they have are these tactics, since the tide is turning against them. Young Jews are questioning Israel. The Arab world has risen up in an Intifada inspired by the Palestinian intifadas to shake off their despots. Over a hundred countries have recognised Palestine and more will do so in September with the UN vote. Palestinian civil society is moving ahead with BDS and Israelis are looking at the other citizenships they can acquire, just in case. Refugees from 1948 want to go home and who cannot be sympathetic to that? That is why the liberal zionists are freaking out, that is why they are behaving this way. I say let them. They are becoming more and more ineffective every day.

 Take care,

Take care friend. This conversation will be here when Team Shalom is ready and we already know they are listening to every word we say. Banning us just might make that conversation come a little faster.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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