Lessons from the Other Occupiers: A critical engagement of #Occupy and J14

Israel/Palestine
on 87 Comments

Both the July 14th Movement and Occupy Wall Street wield tremendous potential. Naomi Klein says that “Occupy Wall Street is the most important thing in the world now.” Immanuel Wallerstein has raved about the “fantastic success of Occupy Wall Street.” The July 14th Movement was an uprising without precedent amongst Israelis. It is exceeded in duration and scale only by the two Palestinian Intifadas in the history of uprisings under Israeli rule. It is precisely because of the transformative potential of the the efforts that they should be subjected to rigorous scrutiny. In short, we expect more out of great movements. I primarily use Occupy Detroit to examine Occupy Wall Street efforts due to a more intimate knowledge of it over the the others. 

The July 14th Movement – the umbrella term for the various recent tent cities, and labor, housing, commodity price and quality of life protests throughout Israel – was sparked on June 9th with Facebook pages opened to support a consumer boycott against a rise in cottage cheese prices. Then-Finance Minister and current prison inmate Avraham Hirschson deregulatedcottage cheese prices in 2006 and prices rose more than 30% between 2006 and 2011. The boycott dramatically affected sales, and the dairy cartel – the three firms which dominate the Israeli dairy market, Tnuva, Strauss Group, and Tara – was forced to reduce the price of cottage cheese by 35% just three weeks later. The Netanyahu government followed in August by declaring new polices for the dairy market. Organisers declared victory and momentum was built that led to the July 14th Movement. But was any kind of real success made with the cottage cheese protest? And what lessons and warnings are there for the Occupy Wall Street and similar efforts underway around the globe? 

Lesson One: Are the banks you are protesting targeting specific populations for abuse? 

The cottage cheese boycott – like the overwhelming part of the July 14th Movement – ignored apartheid and military occupation. Both Tnuva and Tara profit directly from Israeli settlements in the West Bank while Strauss Group sells to a captive Palestinian market. Because the dairy cartel’s misbehaviour includes both price fixing and exploiting apartheid and military occupation, there was potential to extend the cottage cheese boycott into a broader effort for social justice. Instead, organisers never uttered the word ‘Palestinian’; apartheid and military occupation were unaddressed; and the solutions offered did nothing to undermine the other gross misconduct undertaken by the same firms being protested for their price fixing. 

Prominent July 14th organiser Stav Shaffir said, “Many of us have made a lot of compromises on our own ideologies to gain consensus. We have put egos aside, and agreed not to talk about more political issues, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or settlements. We have said: ‘Let’s focus on something that will bring everyone together,’ – and it’s worked.” A conscious choice was made to cooperate with settler colonialism for the sake of political expediency. 

By consciously avoiding a topic—settler colonialism and its apartheid and military occupation structures — that is usually the most important question for the 20% of Israeli citizens that are Palestinians and the millions of other Palestinians under military occupation and in refugee camps, the July 14th organisers excluded them from the movement. It is not any particular proposed resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is controversial. All proposed solutions are considered controversial by segments of the July 14th movement because the concept of ‘Palestinian’ itself is controversial to most Israeli Jews. Palestinians were invited to participate in the various protests and some did. But participating as a Palestinian in the actions was much more difficult because of the almost (but not quite) total exclusion of topics related to Palestinian rights. The July 14th Movement thus effectively excluded 20% of Israeli citizens and 50% of the population under direct Israeli control. 

The language used to avoid Palestinian rights inside the Israeli protests parallels that of Occupy Wall Street and similar efforts throughout the United States. In the preliminary discussions held for Occupy Detroit, various demands were put forward mostly by White activists as being for the betterment of all. Any discussion as to how, for example, banking misdeeds disproportionately affect people of colour was described as “divisive”. One White organiser said, “These are incredibly sensitive and important issues, but I fear that if we hyperfocus on our differences it can diffuse our message fairly quickly.” Another White activist responded that “we should try to look at things in terms of class instead of race and other subcategories.” He saw the “race and other subcategories” as causing “fragmentation” of the movement. Published meeting notes for Occupy Chicago reflect a similar point of view, “race was invented to divide us” and thus it should be ignored, etc. 

White activists in Occupy Detroit—like Israeli Jews in the July 14th Movement—have the luxury to ignore racism, what Joel Olsen called “left colourblindness”Whites comprise less than ten per cent of the city’s population but are a significant majority of the Occupy Detroit leadership on site at Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit. And just as July 14th organisers can ignore Palestinian demands to be included as Palestinians, so to can White activists ignore demands from Black organisers to include anti-racism as one of the fundamental frameworks for Occupy Detroit actions. Jewish privilege in Palestine/Israel is ‘normal’ to Israeli Jews and thus invisible. White privilege in the United States is ‘normal’ to Whites, and thus invisible. When White privilege and Jewish privilege are brought up in the United States and Israel, it is seen as ‘divisive’ and ‘controversial’ to White and Jewish organisers. To people of colour and Palestinians, White and Jewish privileges inflect all aspects of the power structures and make obvious starting points for discussion in addition to class and gender. 

The lesson from the July 14th Movement and the cottage cheese boycott is that by excluding frameworks that dominate the grievances of disenfranchised populations, the disenfranchised populations will also be excluded. To date, the young Occupy Detroit, Occupy Chicago and other efforts are mostly pursuing demands analogous to the July 14th Movement. They are minimally inclusive despite using the slogan “We are the 99%”. In the case of Occupy Detroit, this effectively excludes an incredible ninety per cent of the city’s population. The focus here is on racism, but patriarchy and gender could be ably substituted. 

Lesson Two: What do the tents and ‘Occupations’ say? 

The tents erected on Rothschild Boulevard were a galvanizing and powerful image of protest against the absurdly high cost of housing in Tel Aviv. They captured the imagination of the overwhelming part of the Israeli Jewish public and as much as 91% of all Israeli citizens supported the tent cities. But what do they say to the Palestinian public who comprise about half of the population under Israeli rule? 

Palestinians too suffer from pricey housing markets, unemployment, poor labor protections and more. In fact, Palestinians tend to know these problems more intimately than most Israeli Jews. The response to the protests has been positive on the whole but with an important caveat, continued enunciation of the glaring omission of Palestinians rights when ‘the people demand social justice’ (ha’am doresh tzedek chevrati, the slogan of the July 14th Movement). This omission reflects the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. Dina Omar wrotethat Tel Aviv’s “Tent city is in [a] bubble and that bubble might as well be on the moon. Israelis in the hundreds of thousands gather to march and sleep in tents on the streets of the affluent Tel Aviv neighbourhood on Rothschild Boulevard. If one juxtaposes the image of the tents on Rothschild Boulevard with the tents of the 700,000 Palestinians that were forcibly removed from their homes in 1948 or the tents in Jabalya Refugee Camp after the Israeli attack on Gaza—the inequality of the situation is clear.” 

The very imagery of Palestinian displacement—the tent housing persons interrupted from life—becomes the symbol of Israeli justice. Israelis left their homes to reside in tents in temporary protest while Palestinians are forced—the displacement is ongoing—from their homes and made to live in tents. 

Settler colonialism and Jewish privilege make invisible the Palestinian narrative of being displaced into tents. At least 158 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel in 2011, counting only those in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. At least 839 people were displaced due to those demolitions, after which the Red Cross or another organisation often arrived with a tent for the family and their goods. The Al-Kurd, Al-Ghawi and Hanoun families were forced to live in tents—tents themselves destroyed numerous times by the Jerusalem municipality—after being evicted from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah by Israeli settlers. How does the image of tent city protests appear when placed next to the tents into which Palestinians have been displaced for decades? When Bedouins are being sued for £310.000 for the costs of demolishing their homes (their displacement into tents), how should the tent cities that exclude Palestinian demands be seen? Perhaps as a warped reproduction of a settler colonial form. Indeed a Tent 1948 was set up as “a challenge to people taking part in the July 14 movement” by focusing exactly on that Palestinian history. 

Occupy Detroit activists too are reproducing settler colonialism. Grand Circus Park has for years had a resident homeless population and for some addicts, has been a place to use drugs. [note: Between .5 and one per cent of U.S. citizens (2.3-3.5 million people) are homeless in any given year. Homeless Detroiters are almost all people of colour.] No permission was sought from the park’s residents and no thought has been given as to how the Occupiers might compensate the homeless and addicts for disrupting their lives. Just five days after the October 14th founding of the Occupy Detroit tent city, organisers held a camp meeting to discuss “security” and “drug and alcohol use”. Organisers had earlier in the day helped the police arrest a homeless man who had stolen items from tents. The discussion was led by activists and the rules would in theory apply to everyone, but in practice would only affect the homeless people and addicts. 

Some criticisms were made of the idea of Occupy Detroit making rules for the people whose space it invaded. One woman remarked that Grand Circus Park “was her backyard” and was a physically safe place for her to use drugs without her children present. The discussion continues but organisers continue to look for “solutions” to the “homeless problem” including: the use of wrist bands to help identify who is with Occupy Detroit, having the homeless trade their labor for food—a condition not imposed on activists no matter how active or inactive, closer cooperation with the police to protect the activists from the people whose space had been invaded, and others. One solution not (yet?) adopted: Work towards the demands and needs of the homeless population as part of the Occupy Detroit effort. 

The name “Occupy Wall Street” has been criticised for ignoring that Wall Street was already occupied. Anishnaabe writer JohnPaul Montano wrote about the Occupy Wall Street list of unofficial demands, “I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ‘-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a ‘more just society,’ a ‘better world,’ a ‘land of freedom’ on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life.” 

Some of the Occupy groups have addressed this. Albuquerque, New Mexico activists connected “corporate greed to [the] fight for native land”  and changed their name to (Un)occupy Albuquerque. Most have not and actively reject doing so. One White Occupy Detroit activist wrote “politics > semantics” to argue that the term “Occupy” should not be problematic to American Indians. He continued, “I don’t see the similarity at all between Occupy Detroit or Occupy Wall St. and the occupation of the Americas by Europeans [or] foreign imperial occupations.” Tellingly, he wrote this after the decision was made to occupy the already-occupied Grand Circus Park, but before the residents of the park were seen as problems. 

The forms activists choose to make change reflect themselves in the results of that change. The lesson from the July 14th Movement is that reproducing settler-colonialism in word, form and deed alienates potential allies amongst the colonized populations. To date, the various Occupy groups have a mixed record with a strong majority ignoring settler-colonialism or rejecting its importance. 

Lesson Three: Will the offered cure for the poison be more poison? 

The cottage cheese boycott produced nearly instant drops in cottage cheese prices. This was followed by an August 3rd announcement of a policy change by the Netanyahu government to open the dairy markets to foreign competition. Customs duties and taxes are to be progressively lowered for imported hard cheeses as the first step in opening the dairy market. The problem was that large dairy firms acted with impunity in price fixing. The solution? Invite in even larger firms. More poison will get that poison out of your system. Further, the price of cottage cheese was indeed lowered, but the costs of other dairy products were raised by as much as 8%. The initial 35% reduction in cottage cheese prices was also subverted, leading to an average 16% drop overall. 

The Trajtenberg Committee—the group set up by Netanyahu to address the concerns of the July 14th Movement— issued its report in early October. Its recommendations were not as uniformly market-based as the ‘solution’ to the cottage cheese protests, but often followed the same vein. The housing market was to be opened to foreign firms, income taxes on the wealthy were to be increased, some commodity taxes were to be lowered, and earlier childhood education was to be offered. Protest leader Daphni Leef said, “Where is the public housing? Where is the affordable housing? […] What about the collapsing health system?” As could be expected, the socioeconomic status of Palestinians citizens was almost completely ignored

The lesson from the July 14th Movement is that government responses are likely to include very partial adoptions of demands while proposing solutions of more poison to cure the poison. July 14th organisers have sworn to continue fighting until their demands are met, while the Occupy protests in the U.S. have mostly not issued sets of demands to be addressed yet. 

Conclusion 

The July 14th Movement and Occupy Wall Street efforts have deservedly garnered press attention. Much more importantly, they have mobilized huge numbers of people who had not been politically active previously and have radicalised others. These are ‘awakenings’ of a rare kind and should be constructively engaged where possible. The lessons from the July 14th Movement show that some kinds of engagement, anti-colonial and anti-racist specifically, are made difficult by the very structures of the movements themselves. These can be fixed and, in the case of the Occupy efforts in the U.S., might still be avoided altogether. (Un)occupy Albuquerque, Occupy the Hood, and the Occupy Wall Street fight against anti-Semitism are clear examples where anti-colonial and anti-racist efforts have been had some success in making the Occupy efforts more inclusive. The July 14th response to the Trajtenberg Report too has the chance to incorporate Tent 1948 into its efforts at a more inclusive change, one that would empower all people ruled by the Israeli government to take a stand for social justice. 

Further lessons show that a big picture analysis, one that gets to the roots of problems, is needed to avoid solutions such as that offered to the cottage cheese protests. More poison will be offered as a solution but in order to get it out of our system entirely, inclusive movements making big picture demands are needed. 

Jimmy Johnson should do more sit-ups and thinks you’re terrific. He lives in Detroit, Michigan and runs www.NegedNeshek.org. He can be reached at [email protected]

About Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson is a Detroiter and quite tall. Hit him up on email at johnson [dot] jimmy [at] gmail [dot] com.

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87 Responses

  1. Les
    October 30, 2011, 10:37 am

    Here’s an easy way to support Occupy Wall Street with your junk mail. Check out this youtube video. link to youtube.com

  2. Dan Crowther
    October 30, 2011, 10:42 am

    Terrific essay, Jimmy.

    Here in Boston, the occupation has become more symbolic, rather than
    “the thing” – it is now a gathering of disparate groups; organizing, discussing, meeting – all outside of the occupy structure ( the GA especially)

    The issues with the “leadership” in Deeeee-troit that Jimmy describes are the same here in Boston. Here, they are students or recent grads of Emerson, BU and some from MIT or Northeastern. Almost all white, almost all upper-middle class or better ( hey, they went to private schools in Boston after all). There is a large homeless/addict population at the occupation and they too are viewed as a “problem.”

    But, getting back to disparate groups organizing on their own etc. (Un)Occupy movements, Occupy the Hood, Occupy the Schools; I mean, you name it, there is (or will be soon) a movement to occupy it – Im pulling for Occupy the NBA- so, there are many parallel movements to the “Occupy movement” and also a lot of “cross pollination” with increasing solidarity. This is HUGE.

    No matter what the young capitalists/prospective MSNBC hosts “running” the Occupy movement do or say, they cannot control the radicalization of the people in the movement. There is a timidity, to be sure – but I don’t find very much timidity among the rank and file.

    I see this as building to mass solidarity actions; boycotts and strikes. The movement so far, is based more or less on reforming the current state capitalist system; its political process and the autocracy of the command economy. What needs to be thought about is – what type of parallel institutions can we create, and what should they look like? That is the only context in which social justice can really be discussed.

    • yourstruly
      October 30, 2011, 6:31 pm

      the type of parallel institutions we can create, all the while holding to the spirit of change -leaderless, yet everyone a leader. it’s what keeps participants coming back,day after day. how to reproduce the movement’s egalitarian decision making mechanism within whatever institutions are created, ah, that’s the rub. but ignoring congroversial issues such as the catastrophe that is empire, that’s a formula for perpetuating the status quo.

      • Dan Crowther
        October 30, 2011, 7:08 pm

        but ignoring congroversial issues such as the catastrophe that is empire, that’s a formula for perpetuating the status quo.
        yourstruly

        Agreed.

  3. teta mother me
    October 30, 2011, 11:20 am

    Naomi Klein’s brand on a movement is the equivalent of Noam Chomsky — in my estimation, they’re both zionist gatekeepers masquerading as the Good Guys — and making a lot of money doing it, thank you very much.

    But then I’m pretty cynical about the whole J14/ OWS bidness.

    A few months ago I saw, “White Light Black Rain,” a documentary about the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki & Hiroshima. One dominant theme that cropped up in interviews of the survivors was that the Japanese acknowledged that starting a war and fighting a vicious war was a very wrong act to have taken, and that they lost. They Lost the war; they suffered for a war they should not have waged.

    The people of Israel (J14) and the United States (OWS) have not yet acknowledged that their actions throughout the world are horrible, outrageous, hideous. imo, voluntarily sheltering in a tent in an otherwise protected space, overnight, with the option of going somewhere and getting a warm shower, a cup of coffee, and a warm, soft bed, is an obscenity, when paralleled with the reality that Israel and the US have visited on millions of people in the Middle East who LIVE in tents, who have no water, who have no safe haven to repair to when the discomforts of tent life become too uncomfortable.

    Wake me when US protesters demand that their government apologize to, and make reparations to, the millions of people that the US has displaced, and when US protesters demand that their government STOP killing people and stealing from them, and lying about it being a “democratization” project. Until that happens, OWS has NO moral leg to stand on.

    • Dan Crowther
      October 30, 2011, 1:11 pm

      Well said

    • MRW
      October 30, 2011, 5:19 pm

      I agree with Dan Crowther: well said. Especially your last paragraph. But I think the amorphous quality of OWS now is only the beginning. It’s sort of like what people do after sitting too long. They get up and stretch their legs, walk round, chat, grunt. I think this is maneuvering. Getting into place.

      This is only the warm-up.

    • POA
      October 30, 2011, 8:01 pm

      It escapes me how you can make such an accusation about Klein. The bullshit flows here aplenty from our resident hasbarists without you adding to the mess. Perhaps you will SPECIFICALLY justify your accusation.

      But, uh, probably not.

      Here is one of Klein’s essays. Really reads like a “zionist gatekeeper’s” musings, doesn’t it….

      link to naomiklein.org

      Goldstone’s Legacy for Israel
      By Naomi Klein – January 28th, 2011
      Published in The Nation

      This essay is adapted from the introduction to The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict (Nation Books).

      A sprawling crime scene. That is what Gaza felt like when I visited in the summer of 2009, six months after the Israeli attack. Evidence of criminality was everywhere—the homes and schools that lay in rubble, the walls burned pitch black by white phosphorus, the children’s bodies still unhealed for lack of medical care. But where were the police? Who was documenting these crimes, interviewing the witnesses, protecting the evidence from tampering?

      For months it seemed that there would be no investigation. Many Gazans I met on that trip appeared as traumatized by the absence of an international investigation as by the attacks. They explained that even in the darkest days of the Israeli onslaught, they had comforted themselves with the belief that, this time, Israel had gone too far. Mona al-Shawa, head of the Women’s Unit at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, told me that Gazans took great solace from news of pro-Palestinian protesters filling the streets of London and Toronto. “People called it war crimes,” she recalled. “We felt we were not alone in the world.” It seemed to follow from these expressions of outrage that there would be serious consequences for the attacks—criminal trials for the perpetrators, sentences. And under the glare of international investigation, Israel would surely have to lift the brutal embargo that had kept Gaza sealed off from the world since Hamas came to power. Those who really dared to dream convinced themselves that, out of the lawlessness and carnage, a just peace would emerge at last.

      But six months later, an almost unbearable realization had set in: the cavalry wasn’t coming. Despite all the righteous indignation, Israel had not been forced to change its behavior in any way. Gaza’s borders were still sealed, only now the blockade was keeping out desperately needed rebuilding supplies in addition to many necessities of life. (It would take Israel’s lethal attack last year on a humanitarian aid flotilla for a debate about the siege to begin in earnest.) Even worse, the people I met were acutely aware that they could find themselves trapped under Israeli air bombardment again tomorrow, for any arbitrary excuse of Israel’s choosing. The message sent by the paralysis of the international legal system was terrifying: Israel enjoyed complete impunity. There was no recourse.

      Then, out of nowhere, a representative of the law showed up. His name was Justice Richard Goldstone, and he was leading a fact-finding mission for the United Nations. His mandate was to assess whether war crimes had been committed in the context of the attack. I happened to be in Gaza City when Justice Goldstone was wrapping up his public hearings and met several people who had testified before him, as well as others who had opened their homes to the mission, showing the scars left by Israeli weapons and sharing photographs of family members killed in the attacks. Finally some light seemed to be shining on this rubble-choked strip of land. But it was faint, and many Gazans remained skeptical that justice would follow. If the attacks had failed to provoke action, they reasoned, what hope was there that words in a report would awaken the world? This caution, it turns out, was a wise form of self-preservation.

      CONTINUES…..

    • annie
      October 30, 2011, 8:20 pm

      i’m a fan of klein’s also. huge actually.

      • teta mother me
        October 30, 2011, 10:27 pm

        agree that Klein has done important work, especially in defining Shock Doctrine so that now many can recognize the tactic as it is ABOUT to be deployed. Shock Doctrine read along with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man exposes the whole ugly scheme.

        My pique with Klein has to do with her opening words in a video of Klein explaining Shock Doctrine (can’t find the particular one right now; she’s made a lot of videos). She said (something like) “shock is the state that results when your narrative is disrupted.” I took exception to the use of the word “narrative.”

        I think there is a vast difference between narrative and fact/history/reality. Narratives are composed to extract meaning from events, meaning that reinforces one’s sense of self, and of being part of a larger group or community; narrative establishes identity. Thus, narratives are ever-changing; can be completely out of touch with reality or with the truth of a situation; and can be used to exploit.

        History and facts and reality are the beginning point of Enlightenment thinking. The US is founded on principles of Enlightenment thinking. History/facts/reality can change, and are capable of being challenged, but they are based on the evidence of nature, etc., and the purpose of doing history is not necessarily to establish a comfortable sense of identity or to find meaning or purpose, but to discover truth with as much objectivity and universality as possible; justice is based on truth.

        So when Klein says “shock is when your narrative is disrupted,” in some cases, that may be a good thing. Certainly, the zionist narrative DEMANDS being disrupted.

        Maybe I was harsh on Klein; my oyster brain has been coating that grain of sand, ‘narrative,’ for a couple of days now but not yet a pearl.

        • annie
          October 30, 2011, 11:29 pm

          nar·ra·tive/ˈnarətiv/
          Noun:
          A spoken or written account of connected events; a story: “a bare narrative of the details”.

          here’s webster Definition of NARRATIVE
          1
          : something that is narrated : story, account
          2
          : the art or practice of narration
          3
          : the representation in art of an event or story; also : an example of such a representation
          — narrative adjective
          — nar·ra·tive·ly adverb

          Examples of NARRATIVE

          He is writing a detailed narrative of his life on the island.
          People have questioned the accuracy of his narrative.

          the narrator of a play or story or book is the voice telling it. when someones narrative (inner voice) has been disrupted that means their reality is..shocked or out of sorts. it does not mean the narrative is divorced from reality. some peoples narratives are based on fact, some fiction or fable. but the word narrative, in itself, does not imply untruth. but what she said is absolutely true, “shock is the state that results when your narrative is disrupted.” people take advantage of that shock and they design events to psychologically impacts events to take advantage of that shocked state of mind. naomi is on our side.

        • MRW
          October 31, 2011, 3:05 pm

          teta mother me,

          I understand what you are saying. Myths are also narratives. And to paraphrase JFK, the greatest enemy of truth is not lies, but myth.

  4. Newclench
    October 30, 2011, 1:10 pm

    There’s a track record of movements being split and destroyed by the efforts of internal constituencies demanding ‘special’ prioritization of their issues and language.
    There’s also a track record of movements failing to gain traction because they were unresponsive to constituencies.
    Both of these things are ‘problems’ for movements to consider. And personal experience leads different activists to fear one kind of failure more than the other. It’s an important conversation to have.
    However, it muddies the waters to portray those with concern A as being victims of whiteness, class privilege or youth, while those with concern B as being wholly justified, politically correct, and legitimate voices in need of acquiescence from ‘the movement.’
    There’s a lot of nuance going on. Sometimes destructive people demand attention in the name of a constituency, but use it to serve a narrow ideological tendency. It’s not like ‘the Palestinians’ or ‘Black people’ have some kind of singular political identity that requires particular formulations. Sometimes, the most destructive identity politics warriors are whites and Jews full of holy self-righteousness as the brave traitors to an oppressive majority group.
    I think of what Naomi Klein had to say in her book No Logo. link to marxists.org

    Take away the ability to coerce others within a movement, and the far left identity politics warriors will be frustrated at their inability to set the agenda for others. That’s not necessarily a problem.

    • annie
      October 30, 2011, 1:35 pm

      here you go with your ‘far left’ speech again. didn’t someone ask you what you meant by far left in that other thread. what do you mean? or who i should say.

      There’s a track record of movements being split and destroyed by the efforts of internal constituencies demanding ‘special’ prioritization of their issues and language.

      in counter intelligence one of their tactics is to inflitrate groups and push them farther and farther to the outskirts of the movement while enhancing their individuals status within the group for the purpose of exactly what you describe, to split the movements. is what you are essentially claiming is these people wanting talk about palestine..they are acting like the coin agent provocateurs.

      jimmy: The language used to avoid Palestinian rights inside the Israeli protests parallels that of Occupy Wall Street

      yes, i made that exact point before. and J14 welcomed the settlers ij their midst and their protest went kerplunk. avoiding the obvious (you can’t fix israel economic woes while avoiding the elephant in the room) was the down fall of j14.

      • Newclench
        October 30, 2011, 2:10 pm

        annie, this may surprise you, but I support talking about Palestine at OWS. In the Jewish community, part of the #occupyjudaism effort, we have included mention of our solidarity with Palestine at every single event (while taking care to use language that is inclusive of diverse opinions in the community.)
        What I am leery of is claiming that the issue of Palestine ‘should’ be placed at the center through a concerted effort to center it, mounted by pressure groups who come from outside the OWS movement and seek to influence it (as opposed to merely joining it). Ditto for any other single issue or constituency.
        There’s a difference between playing nicely in the sandbox and trying to get everyone to sing your tune.

        • annie
          October 30, 2011, 2:20 pm

          this may surprise you, but I support talking about Palestine at OWS. In the Jewish community, part of the #occupyjudaism effort, we have included mention of our solidarity with Palestine at every single event

          ah yeah, clencher..that wasn’t particularly clear in your front page article here.

          Enter Palestine. There have been educational and political events on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at Occupy Wall Street and other occupations around the country. I see veteran Palestinian solidarity activists at OWS. It’s all good, really. But there’s a reason why we’re talking about WALL STREET and not, say, the AIPAC-Industrial-Complex. It’s because Wall St. resonates as a metaphor for the economic crisis that is causing so much pain and suffering to Americans from all backgrounds. America’s foreign policy isn’t unconnected (it’s the cause of so much debt, imperial overreach, etc.) but it’s not in the foreground as it was in 2003-2004. And that won’t change. And American involvement in Israel/Palestine represents only one foreign policy issue, of primary interest to two main groups: American Jews and the far left.

          It is hard to talk about the role of American Jews in supporting a pro-Israel foreign policy as a Wall St. issue. If you do it, you’ll be accused of using and misusing an anti-Semitic trope that puts Jewish concerns at the heart of US imperial wars. Elsewhere, I might argue that such an argument is incorrect. But here I’ll argue that it’s stupid even for adherents of such views. If there is one issue that goes together poorly with Wall St. and the over-reach of American finance capital, it’s the role of American Jews. But don’t let me stop you.

          Pushing Palestinian rights to the foreground of #OWS would make it easier for millions of sympathizers to dismiss this great American protest and nip it in the bud.

          “it’s all good.” that about the extent of the support you expressed in a big warning of an article. somehow i’m just not too convinced. and if you care and you’re not an american jew you’re part of the’ far left’ because there’s no reason for an average american who is not jewish to care about this issue?

          hmm

        • teta mother me
          October 30, 2011, 2:59 pm

          (response is to clenchner’s statement)

          America’s foreign policy isn’t unconnected (it’s the cause of so much debt, imperial overreach, etc.) but it’s not in the foreground as it was in 2003-2004. And that won’t change.

          not in the foreground? Perhaps only because of a concerted effort to KEEP US dysfunctional relationship with Israel and consequent dysfunctional foreign policy firmly in the background.

          but plain old ordinary citizens keep interfering with the program:

          July 10, 2010, Washington, DC; forum on Israel-Iran linkages

          Question from the audience:

          “I am Michele Steinberg from Executive Intelligence Review. . . . it is in my view the most immediate danger that we face as a foreign policy issue and might be the highest priority, which is what do we do here in the United States to ward off a potential unilateral Israeli strike against Iran?

          I have to disagree with the comment that this has left the lexicon of Israeli policymakers. – while maybe openly, but certainly not behind the scenes. I draw everyone’s attention to two big articles in the Times of London in the last year, complete with maps, what air routes will be taken, submarine capabilities, et cetera, which quotes a myriad of Israeli high policy sources that say we are ready, we are able and we are in the process of convincing the United States to go along with this.

          I feared this for a long time since I read “Clean Break” back in 1996, which called for regime change in Iraq and then Iran. And I fear it more now after hearing Netanyahu’s interview while he was here and that everything is on the table. And it’s been reinforced by some of the things that Mr. Indyk has said. So what can we do to ward off an Israeli strike against Iran from a United States standpoint?”

        • Newclench
          October 30, 2011, 3:41 pm

          annie, I’m having a conversation with far left voices. It doesn’t mean we don’t share any concerns in common.
          It would be great if more US citizens paid attention to foreign policy and the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But then, I think that in part because of my own self-interest (as someone who grew up in Israel and spent many years there). If less self-interested Americans join me in this concern, that’s just great. Many do. But they are few and far between for a reason.
          But generally, political change happens when folks who share strong interests work together. I don’t think ‘persuasion’ is an effective mobilizing tactic.
          Arguing over how people feel or what motivates them isn’t useful either. To me at least.

        • American
          October 30, 2011, 4:08 pm

          “What I am leery of is claiming that the issue of Palestine ‘should’ be placed at the center through a concerted effort to center it, mounted by pressure groups who come from outside the OWS movement and seek to influence it (as opposed to merely joining it).”

          Who has said Palestine should be at the “center” of the OWS?
          No one that I have seen or heard.

          And exactly what is your business and place with OWS…are you just a protestor, an organizer, a observer or what? Why are you there, if you are? What is you issue, are you one of the unemployed? Or 99% screwed or what.
          Since you are concentrating on I/P within OWS it seems, exactly what is your goal with OWS?
          Your talking a lot political movement theory and claptrap in an effort to explain why you want I/P to stay low profile with OWS…somehow an “Israeli” talking this make me leery of their true motivations.

        • annie
          October 30, 2011, 6:00 pm

          Who has said Palestine should be at the “center” of the OWS?

          apparently he is having a conversation with far left voices…But they are few and far between….and he thinks it would be great if more US citizens paid attention to foreign policy and the US role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…and then something about ‘persuasion’, theirs not his presumably. sketchy.

        • Richard Witty
          October 31, 2011, 4:04 am

          Well, I differ with NewClench on this.

          I DON’T believe that the Palestine/Israeli issue should figure prominently in ANY discussion of Occupy- or of J14.

          I believe that it is ONLY a divisive issue, designed to be a “which side are you on”, that conflicts with the commonality even between Israelis and Palestinians that do commonly experience rising costs, corrupt bureaucracy, inadequate funding of public goods and services, and discrimmination.

          The Israeli/Palestine questions may reasonably be sited as examples of effects of economic/social problems, but the fetishizing of it (which is what is asked by the Johnson article, and many others), is only a distraction.

          Do one thing, do it well.

          The discussion of the Occupy movement and J14, slightly less so, has not yet extended into practical solution prominently. The anarchist “the means are the ends” implied in Klein’s descriptions of concensus process, that the process of the demonstration itself is THE changing dynamic, is undeniably true.

          But, that is losing its sell-by date.

          Again, I believe that a coherent proposal (not even a unified one, but a coherent one), is needed.

          Although rural needs and perspective are also excluded as a class from the occupy movements, MANY of my rural friends have still made the effort to drive the 200 miles to NY and camp and join, even through this past weekend’s snow, because they are the 99%.

          If the Israel/Palestine issue were to become a component of the 99%, it would shift to the 89%.

          We working people don’t need that form of coalitioning, 1/4 step forward, three steps back, of diverging special fixation movements.

        • Dan Crowther
          October 31, 2011, 8:57 am

          If the Israel/Palestine issue were to become a component of the 99%, it would shift to the 89%.
          -Witty

          Maybe in America, maybe – but maybe not. BUT DEFINITELY NOT IN THE REST OF THE WORLD!!

          You Zio’s have lost your Mojo with the International Community, if anything it would create greater solidarity – it would let the rest of the world know the Americans are finally serious…..

        • Richard Witty
          October 31, 2011, 12:11 pm

          If anything, in the US and the world, it is more likely that a militant pro-Palestinian stance would reduce the numbers enormously.

          The Brooklyn Coop politics are illustrative. How many have left already?

          And, that is the coop movement, right in line with J14 and Occupy.

        • Mooser
          October 31, 2011, 12:52 pm

          “annie, I’m having a conversation with far left voices. “

          Adjust your medication. Reducing your intake of ziocaine might be a start. Or are the “far left voices” the part of the socialist, price-fixing government of Israel?

        • annie
          October 31, 2011, 1:11 pm

          what ‘militant’ pro-Palestinian stance?

          and why don’t you call the coop and ask them if your prediction is correct richard. have the memberships been reduced significantly? also, why do you think the OWS in a city like detroit would mirror a co-op response in brooklyn? do you think zionism is a winning ticket worth defending in detroit?

      • Dan Crowther
        October 30, 2011, 2:50 pm

        I think, Annie, Newclench’s point becomes clear if you read the linked to Klein excerpt.

        Although I dont agree with labeling the identity warriors as “the far left” – I consider them very much mainstream capitalists, asking for acceptance or as Klein puts it “representation” within the system as it is- I do agree, narrowly speaking, with Newclench’s point about identity politics in general.

        What I think Newclench underestimates and overlooks is how the real grievances of – as he says – “black people” and “Palestinians”
        speak to the root injustices of the system. These are not abstract ideas; they are sometimes voiced as such, by people looking to cover over the real injustice or to be politically expedient; but the real grievances form the moral argument against the system, as it was, and as it is. The real grievances of black americans and Palestinians are especially illustrative of the evils inherent in the system – so, to me, the question is whether the political – and the political identity- can encompass the economic – something we in the west, are told not to co-mingle.

        • Avi_G.
          October 30, 2011, 7:05 pm

          Dan,

          You’re intellectualizing clench’s ideological spin. Are you buying into it, too? It sure seems that way.

        • Dan Crowther
          October 31, 2011, 8:45 am

          Avi,

          Like I said, I agree, to a limited extent, or as I said, “narrowly” with what Clench said about ID politics in general. But I do consider the Palestine issue and the issues of, as he says, “black people” in America well past the point of abstract ID politics. I thought I made that clear, but probably not, cuz Im a hack! :)

          I disagree with pretty much everything else Clench says (especially about Klein and Chomsky) – but I do think that ID politics, in general, are not what “the movement” should be about, only because, as we have seen in Palestine, there are groups of well to do Palestinians who have their own interests, rather than the interests of the whole in mind- and I think the same can be said for black folks in America.

          This is NOT to say “lets not talk about race, ethnicity or religion” Thats not what I am saying at all. I am saying these issues need to be discussed and brought to the forefront, but in a way that stresses that the fact that even within the communities mentioned, there are institutions and “leaders” who do not represent the “community” and that solidarity and collective action, amongst all, is what is required to move forward. So, no, I am not buying into what the Clencher is saying.

          Like I said, Avi, my brother, I am a hack writer – let me know if this does or doesnt make sense.

        • annie
          October 31, 2011, 10:49 am

          i don’t think you are a hack dan. you made a good point. if you don’t mind i am going to subtract some of your filler and replace the words black people and Palestinians with “the oppressed”. this is what you said and the way i heard it:

          Newclench underestimates and overlooks is how real grievances of the oppressed speak to the root injustices of the system. These are not abstract ideas tho they are sometimes voiced as such by people looking to cover over real injustice . but real grievances form the moral argument against the system. the oppressed are especially illustrative of evils inherent in the system. the question is whether the political – and the political identity- can encompass the economic – something we are told not to co-mingle.

          i think you were perhaps too kind with your choice of wording re “underestimate and overlooked”. i think some people have estimated it is worth diverting the people away from real grievances which are at the heart of the matter.

        • Dan Crowther
          October 31, 2011, 10:57 am

          Thanks Annie – that does make it more clear.

          I do notice the tendency of the Clencher to want to divert attention – I just agreed with a very narrow point he made. I probably was being too kind! haha

        • Avi_G.
          October 31, 2011, 5:15 pm

          Dan Crowther,

          I never called you a hack. You wrote that. And I don’t think you’re a hack. I actually appreciate what you write here and always enjoy reading your posts. And since you like David Chappell, in the same spirit allow me to say, “Bi**h, who you callin’ a hack?”

        • Dan Crowther
          October 31, 2011, 9:28 pm

          I know you didn’t – I was being self deprecating. Thanks for the kind words, I feel the same way.

          I’m Rick James Bitch!!

    • Avi_G.
      October 30, 2011, 5:09 pm

      Readers should note that clench has no qualifications to make such proclamations.

      He has neither the practical experience nor the education to advance his false claims and insist that they are based on sound reasoning

      Readers may like to know the name of the Jewish/Zionist organization for which he works. Alas, despite the glaring conflict of interest, he refuses to be honest and genuine and acknowledge that his advocacy is politically motivated.

      • Newclench
        October 30, 2011, 11:10 pm

        What kind of advocacy is not politically motivated?
        I don’t work for a Zionist organization. I am an independent consultant/ freelancer.

        • Avi_G.
          October 31, 2011, 12:40 am

          Newclench October 30, 2011 at 11:10 pm

          What kind of advocacy is not politically motivated?

          In your world, there isn’t. You couldn’t even begin to fathom something different or apolitical.

          I don’t work for a Zionist organization. I am an independent consultant/ freelancer.

          That’s strange because that’s not what I recall you writing when you attended the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations in New Orleans.

          Hummm….

        • Newclench
          October 31, 2011, 10:42 am

          Even consultants and freelancers can attend the GA. And don’t forget the JVP young rebels – they were there as well. All kinds of people attend the GA. One of the successes of the right wing is to hide the actual diversity of views taking place in the background.

        • Avi_G.
          October 31, 2011, 4:26 pm
        • Newclench
          October 31, 2011, 4:57 pm

          Better correct Wikipedia…
          “Advocacy is a political process by an individual or a large group which normally aims to influence public-policy and resource allocation decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions; it may be motivated from moral, ethical or faith principles or simply to protect an asset of interest. Advocacy can include many activities that a person or organization undertakes including media campaigns, public speaking, commissioning and publishing research or poll or the ‘filing of friend of the court briefs’. Lobbying (often by lobby groups) is a form of advocacy where a direct approach is made to legislators on an issue which plays a significant role in modern politics.”

          link to en.wikipedia.org

        • Avi_G.
          October 31, 2011, 4:58 pm

          Newclench October 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

          Even consultants and freelancers can attend the GA. And don’t forget the JVP young rebels – they were there as well. All kinds of people attend the GA. One of the successes of the right wing is to hide the actual diversity of views taking place in the background.

          Right. So you’re polluting this website with your faux Hadash leftism pro bono.

    • Jimmy Johnson
      October 30, 2011, 5:31 pm

      The question isn’t – or shouldn’t be – one about special prioritization, it’s about building a movement of maximum inclusivity. To do so requires acknowledging where race/gender plays a particular role in the abuse being questioned (or in Palestine/Israel where race trumps economic class in most instances, sorry materialists) and addressing that. So work towards banking reform/abolition/whatever while addressing also how such abuses specifically target certain communities (generally poor communities, women, and/or people of color). If these are posed as in conflict of some kind, then we’re doing something wrong!

      • annie
        October 30, 2011, 6:03 pm

        building a movement of maximum inclusivity

        i agree completely. thanks for your article.

      • Newclench
        October 30, 2011, 11:16 pm

        “To do so *requires* acknowledging where race/gender plays a particular role in the abuse being questioned (or in Palestine/Israel where race trumps economic class in most instances, sorry materialists) and addressing that.”
        Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. How can you support the verb *requires*?
        In other words, aren’t there some situations, like lowering the price of cottage cheese, where prioritizing race/gender is irrelevant or harmful? I’m not sure that confronting the power of Wall St. requires this, but I’m open to your argument. It’s a worthwhile discussion.

        • Jimmy Johnson
          October 31, 2011, 12:27 am

          Perhaps *requires* is too strong, but examples to the contrary aren’t obvious to me. With lowering the price of cottage cheese, a broader, stronger coalition could have been formed that would have (probably) made it harder for Tnuva & crew to raise the price of other dairy products, which is what the dairy cartel did in the end. With Palestinian support, Tnuva & crew have little in the way of options. To do so would have require adding Tnuva not sourcing products from the OPT to the list of demands.

          Lowering the price of cottage cheese isn’t really high on any Palestinian platform and the cottage cheese boycotters can’t really be bothered with Tnuva exploiting apartheid. But they’re dealing with gross misdealings (market fixing and land theft) and both would benefit tremendously from mutual inclusion. It not only makes sense ethically (mostly what I wrote about above), but also strategically. Tnvua couldn’t hide from Palestinian demands inside Israeli markets and vice versa. This is a little simplistic of course and might even be wrong-headed in a serious way. But it’s the right *kind* of effort. We build durable bridges by putting in work together and there is no working together in Palestine/Israel without addressing apartheid. Addressing it, though, opens up an incredible amount of organizing potential.

        • Avi_G.
          October 31, 2011, 12:47 am

          Jimmy, please, let’s stick to talking about the injustice that Israeli Jews must endure while suffering under such a brutal regime that doesn’t give them their cottage cheese…..Their god **** cottage cheese, Jimmy.
          Augh shucks, now my eyes are tearing up. Have you no heart, Jimmy? I beseech you to reconsider.

          PS: No, they will not accept substitutes or cheap imitations from Wisconsin.

        • Avi_G.
          October 31, 2011, 1:33 am

          Newclench October 30, 2011 at 11:16 pm

          In other words, aren’t there some situations, like lowering the price of cottage cheese, where prioritizing race/gender is irrelevant or harmful?

          It’s sad that there are commenters on Mondoweiss who still take this clown seriously.

        • Mooser
          October 31, 2011, 12:55 pm

          Only Communists control the price of cottage cheese. The magic hand of the free market should set prices.
          And I thought Israel was a country which “shared our values”.
          Turns out they are just a bunch of socialists.

  5. Avi_G.
    October 30, 2011, 4:19 pm

    Two weeks ago, several members of the J14 movement took over a Palestinian home in occupied East Jerusalem. They claimed that since there was a shortage of affordable housing for Jews in Israel, one of the ways of resolving that shortage is to take whatever they can get their hands on.

    And so they did. A home in Talbiyah that belonged to Palestinians in 1948, and was taken over by the Israeli government as Present Absentee property, was occupied by these so-called J14 protestors. They moved in and made it their own.

    This is the face of the Israeli movement that purports to seek social justice — social justice for Jews only.

    Now, if the OWS movement wants to associate with such hypocrisy, be my guest.

    But, if you do, don’t you dare use symbols of the Arab Spring to promote and support your hypocrisy.

    • Jimmy Johnson
      October 31, 2011, 11:50 am

      Talbiyeh is in West Jerusalem. It doesn’t change your point at all, but for clarity.

      • Richard Witty
        October 31, 2011, 12:23 pm

        Of course it changes the point.

        What planet do you live on?

        • Jimmy Johnson
          October 31, 2011, 1:12 pm

          Meaning he got all the facts and analysis right (Absentee property, sequence of events etc.), but Talbiyeh is in West Jerusalem, not East Jerusalem. The same laws are applied similarly in both areas. Also, I live on Earth.

        • Richard Witty
          October 31, 2011, 1:23 pm

          So you think squatting in a home in West Jerusalem is equivalent politically and legally to squatting in a home in East Jerusalem?

        • Jimmy Johnson
          October 31, 2011, 2:48 pm

          Politically, for the point he made, yes. Squatting in property confiscated under the Absentee Property laws while the originally owners are denied access is the same. Legally, they may or may not be the same depending on which legal jurisdiction is being used.

        • Richard Witty
          October 31, 2011, 3:14 pm

          A very strained reasoning.

          It is a black/white “which side are you on?” reasoning rather than an informed black/dark grey/light grey/white reasoning.

        • Jimmy Johnson
          October 31, 2011, 4:32 pm

          Weird. Never heard of allowing for nuance as “black/white” before.

        • annie
          October 31, 2011, 4:41 pm

          consider the source jimmy, after all this is witty. logic is not his strong suit.

        • Jimmy Johnson
          October 31, 2011, 4:57 pm

          I’m not a regular on the forums here, only when I publish so I don’t know the regular personalities and such.

        • Richard Witty
          November 1, 2011, 3:15 am

          Jimmy,
          You described that there is no difference politically, morally, legally between some proponents of an Israeli multi-cultural social justice movement squatting in a home in East Jerusalem (with the imagery of displacing a recent Palestinian resident – recent meaning last couple years), and squatting in a vacant home in West Jerusalem in which a Palestinian could have some legal claim resulting from a forced taking 60+ years ago.

          The difference is nuance. The resolution is in the court system.

          Your argument paralyzes the J14 movement. You think that you are elaborating a reasoning that might bring light to justice for Palestinians, but in its black/white strained demonization, it delays it.

          Your range of nuance in this example is relative to factions among those that similarly regard Israelis as only interloper, and not as residents with also supportable legal claims.

          And, the analysis is a prejudicial political one, rather than a legal one that is determinable by color-blind courts on a case by case basis, on the basis of evidence presented.

        • Jimmy Johnson
          November 1, 2011, 5:14 pm

          I qualified everything appropriately.and I’ve never heard of a “color-blind court”.

        • tree
          November 1, 2011, 5:36 pm

          I’ve never heard of a “color-blind court”

          It’s part of Witty’s fantasy Israel, that lives only in his head. See, we can’t judge anything Israel’s done until the facts are heard in a “color blind court”. Otherwise we are being prejudicial. But, of course, Witty is allowed to make all kinds of judgments about Palestinians, Hamas, “dissent”, you, any other poster or commenter, etc. without ever resorting to any facts at all, just his feelings. It’s how he justifies Israel’s actions while claiming to be “liberal”. It isn’t easy. It requires making up new meanings for words, misquoting people, and writing in the most obtuse style possible, but somehow Witty manages it. Thank dog, or he might just have to confront his deeply buried conscience.

        • Richard Witty
          November 1, 2011, 7:03 pm

          Jimmy,
          You ratified Avi’s contention that the J14 movement has no basis to not speak of the occupation in every breath, that the only significant issue of concern is Palestinian rights.

          I questioned your ratification of Avi’s example.

          I also want a big tent movement, actual 99% issues. For me that means full employment, reasonable cost of living, good public services, appreciated cultural diversity, rule of law, respect for the other.

          Common needs, across cultural lines.

          As I’ve said many times before, I question the importance of dissent relative to intentionally constructed social change. So, for example, I prefer that I (and that others) that identify that there are discrepecancies in say transportation access, construct transportation alternatives, more than solely object and then passively wait.

          The model of land-trusts that the Jewish national fund was originally based on, land held in common leased to temporary owners, with limited private property rights is a good model.

          Obviously, land was leased exclusively to Jewish residents, until the supreme court decision just a few years ago, that has not been widely applied yet (ever?).

          Compared to private ownership of land with unencumbered free market rights, the JNF land trust model is progressive.

          ANY definition, even that felt non-discrimminatory at design, would soon reveal as containing discrimmination, and in need of reform, even the most universal (including in the manner that they would deny coherent culturally distinct communities from remaining culturally distinct).

          “Color-blind” court is an aspiration., something to continually work towards. I desire that Israeli courts apply law in a color-blind manner, as I desire that Palestinian and all other courts do similarly.

          Again, no form that could be designed would be or stay color-blind without constant attention to it.

        • Chaos4700
          November 1, 2011, 8:41 pm

          Witty, it’s as if you’re arguing that it makes sense to talk about the Civil War and COMPLETELY ignore the ramifications of slavery.

      • Avi_G.
        October 31, 2011, 5:07 pm

        Jimmy Johnson October 31, 2011 at 11:50 am

        Talbiyeh is in West Jerusalem. It doesn’t change your point at all, but for clarity.

        That was a slip up on my part. Thanks.

  6. Avi_G.
    October 30, 2011, 4:51 pm

    I have spent more than twenty years either initiating or participating in projects involving both Jews and Palestinians in Israel, projects for coexistence, projects to open dialogue between the two sides, projects to transform the political landscape into one where there can exist open communication and understanding between the two sides.

    Time and again, Israeli Jews who called themselves leftists and who participated in such programs came away with the sense that though Arabs were human beings, as a national group (Whether in the occupied West Bank, Gaza or in Israel) they posed a security and an ideological threat to Israel.

    While Palestinians who participated were seeking ways to gain acceptance and legitimacy in the eyes of their Israeli/Jewish counterparts, the Israeli Jewish members were filled with contradictions and justifications for various racist government policies. Worse yet, they refused to acknowledge the source of the conflict. For them, 1947 and the subsequent wars of 1967 were wars of liberation, just wars of independence and emancipation.

    These concepts remain heavily and forever seared in the minds of 99.99999999999% of Israeli Jews.

    If it is justice you seek, then you have come to the wrong address. And the Israeli movement hasn’t the potential that some think it has, despite their protestations and claims.

    • gloopygal
      October 30, 2011, 10:46 pm

      Time and again, Israeli Jews who called themselves leftists and who participated in such programs came away with the sense that though Arabs were human beings, as a national group (Whether in the occupied West Bank, Gaza or in Israel) they posed a security and an ideological threat to Israel.

      What would it take to really wake them up? You have to be shaken to your core before you see things in a broader spectrum – that’s what it took for me, anyway. In almost no way do I see the world the same way I saw it ten years ago.

      • Avi_G.
        October 31, 2011, 12:28 am

        I’m not sure what it will take.

        But, one thing is certain. Most people and especially those who are in positions of privilege — like the whites of the Jim Crow south — are selfish and will never change so long as they are in their zones of comfort.

        And that is why Boycotting, Divesting and Sanctioning Israeli companies and Israeli venues is so vital for this to succeed.

        There was only one Mother Teresa. Most people couldn’t care less about morals, principles, values, or rights.

        They only care about those concepts when they need to use them as bludgeons to justify their actions. As an example, consider how most Westerners cite freedom of speech in defending their xenophobic or racist arguments. But when an Asian, African or Middle Eastern person uses similar language, he or she is branded a traitor, a fifth column.

        The same is true for Israel. Israel and its defenders talk about being a beacon of light in a region covered in darkness. Israel justifies its own acts of pure, unabashed, barbarity by claiming that the ‘enemy’ it is fighting is sub-human. And yet, it is the only country that has been massacring people on a regular basis for the ‘worse half’ of the last century.

        In the meantime, do not despair, but do not get your hopes up.

        The Jewish part of the movement fighting for human rights for Palestinians is absent for the most part. Those who are actively seeking change, are busy putting up with detractors and distractions from duplicitous selfish pricks and ideological hacks who call themselves “leftists”, whatever that useless term means, anyway.

        • Richard Witty
          October 31, 2011, 4:11 am

          You think shaming NewClench is going to make him more or less motivated to work with you and others with similar tunnel focus, that deny and condemn him having multiple concerns and awareness?

        • Newclench
          October 31, 2011, 10:39 am

          Ad hominem attacks, name calling and over the top insults have this interesting feature: they boomerang, reflecting more on the speaker then the target. This fairly universal rule skips over certain types more prevalent on the margins of political discourse. The small tenters are after all, in the small tent for a reason. Plenty of room for supporters of peace to play in the big tents.

        • gloopygal
          October 31, 2011, 10:44 am

          I don’t think it’s completely absent, cause we got folks like you and Phil speaking up. Let me tell you what helped me, personally. It’s no secret racism is still alive and well in the US. I remember attending a discussion on race relations on MLK day one year (2000 or 2001 I believe). The white people in the room were all like, “I love everybody and think we can get along.” The black people in the room were for the most part angry and resentful. I thought to myself, why are they so angry? What would it take to mollify them?

          Now before 9/11 I was no stranger to anti-Arab sentiment but afterwards? Oh-ho, I saw it in spades. Hell if I wasn’t a light-skinned Christian I would have been on the receiving end of it more than I already was, and I know what I’ve experienced is not one-tenth what black Americans experience on a daily basis – but it was enough to wake ME up. I realized what had been in front of my face all these years, but I was too self-absorbed or not astute enough to notice it. It caused me to re-evaluate everything in my life, including my faith – which turned out for the better because I was shaken out of my complacent views about the Bible being literal or inerrant, for one thing, or about Christianity being better than Islam for another.

          If I may go back to what Teta said: Wake me when US protesters demand that their government apologize to, and make reparations to, the millions of people that the US has displaced, and when US protesters demand that their government STOP killing people and stealing from them, and lying about it being a “democratization” project. Until that happens, OWS has NO moral leg to stand on.

          Maybe the problem is ignorance. Well-meaning people who have no idea what’s going on in the world. Joining activist circles really helped me a lot. Now I don’t think cheap TVs and cell phones are the greatest thing since sliced bread anymore because I know of the hidden costs behind it – the ones Americans don’t pay for, the ones that destroy other countries. Of course an individual has to have a teachable spirit in order for us to reach him but it just seems to me that ignorance is the biggest culprit, and like I said, sometimes you need to be shaken out of your ignorance. Maybe we need Jane Elliot-type training to help them, for starters.

        • Avi_G.
          October 31, 2011, 4:43 pm

          gloopygal October 31, 2011 at 10:44 am

          Maybe the problem is ignorance.

          Well, my experience has been that ignorance is indeed the culprit in the US. But, when it comes to Israeli society, the pervasive cognitive dissonance and the tone-deafness remain the predominant obstacle. It’s going to take a monumental, large scale effort to change Israeli society. And it’s not going to happen over night. This will take generations to repair — provided Israel is still around by then.

          Of course an individual has to have a teachable spirit in order for us to reach him but it just seems to me that ignorance is the biggest culprit,

          Yes. That’s a very good point. Look, I’ve lived in Israel and I’ve also lived in Europe and I now live in the US.

          American society is — at the very least — open to reason. One can appeal to Americans on a logical level. Israelis, however, respond to emotional arguments. One can appeal to them on a logical level, but across the entire political spectrum, logic plays very little a factor. Understanding how a certain society works, what moves it and what motivates it is half the battle.

        • Avi_G.
          October 31, 2011, 4:54 pm

          Richard Witty October 31, 2011 at 4:11 am

          You think shaming NewClench is going to make him more or less motivated to work with you and others with similar tunnel focus, that deny and condemn him having multiple concerns and awareness?

          Did you really think that your hypocrisy and your deafness were endearing qualities? Are you really under the false impression that you will EVER change your hypocritical ideological views? Who exactly are you kidding? You’re certainly not fooling me.

          As for your friend, Palestinians need him like they need a stab in the heart and spinal cord, especially from self-styled leftists like him who peddle their Zionism in such sweet and polite language.

        • Richard Witty
          November 1, 2011, 3:22 am

          Avi,
          The term “hypocritical” is just a name-call. It is ultimately uninformative.

          Again,
          Do you think that you will change hearts and minds by your tone and your relationships to other real human beings that are doing real things in the real world, in BOTH/OR social justice for all Israelis, and/or social justice for all Palestinians.

          I’ve never seen political militancy succeed. Its militancy phase is always a distraction, a distortion, and a subsequent oppression waiting to pendulum.

    • Newclench
      November 1, 2011, 4:32 pm

      Not sure anyone should believe that Avi_G is who he claims to be. He’s offered no proof that he spent 20 years doing anything. If the standard is to doubt anything anyone says that isn’t verifiable with real identity, then it should apply to Avi_G as well. What’s your real name? What projects have you done? Who did you work with? What if…. your secret motives are different than your stated motives?
      What if you are a hasbara agent sent here to make Palestinian sympathizers look like intolerant, extremist, people who aren’t sure what the definition of ‘advocacy’ is?

      • Chaos4700
        November 1, 2011, 8:42 pm

        I’m sorry, are we caring what you’re typing? I missed the memo.

        • Newclench
          November 1, 2011, 10:36 pm

          I love that you took the time to reply to signal your intention to not care. Way to not care! Much better than like, ignoring me…

        • Chaos4700
          November 1, 2011, 10:56 pm

          I love how exponentially ironic this thread of replies is threatening to become.

        • Am_America
          November 1, 2011, 11:16 pm

          He/she seems like the type of person who feels they need to reply to every comment regardless of the nonsense they say.

          promoting the Palestinian cause one moronic statement at a time

  7. annie
    October 30, 2011, 8:12 pm

    the link in this part isn’t working anf i would like to read it: Published meeting notes for Occupy Chicago reflect a similar point of view, “race was invented to divide us” and thus it should be ignored, etc.

    the more i read this the more absurd it seems especially in detroit.

    Whites comprise less than ten per cent of the city’s population but are a significant majority of the Occupy Detroit leadership on site at Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit.

    why? how did this happen? there’s something eerily familiar about this “left colourblindness” and ignoring racism to me. whenever panels or groups are required to throw out all the issues that don’t effect everyone or that everyone doesn’t agree with i smell big trouble. that is what the 9/11 commission did. it’s also the way people ‘build consensus’ at community meetings to get rid of the little peoples complaints. it is a very popular tactic that (unbeknownst to the people) uses professional facilitators. you can read about by googling ‘the delphi technique’ and i have referenced it here in these threads in the past. it’s very slippery and towns and school boards as well as many government agencies hire these ‘facilitators’ to ‘solve problems’…their way.

    be very weary..be very very weary and know the signs. read this. the military uses it a lot.

    In group settings, the Delphi Technique is an unethical method of achieving consensus on controversial topics. It requires well-trained professionals, known as “facilitators” or “change agents,” who deliberately escalate tension among group members, pitting one faction against another to make a preordained viewpoint appear “sensible,” while making opposing views appear ridiculous.

    In her book Educating for the New World Order, author and educator Beverly Eakman makes numerous references to the need of those in power to preserve the illusion that there is “community participation in decision-making processes, while in fact lay citizens are being squeezed out.”

    The setting or type of group is immaterial for the success of the technique. The point is that, when people are in groups that tend to share a particular knowledge base, they display certain identifiable characteristics, known as group dynamics, which allows the facilitator to apply the basic strategy.

    The facilitators or change agents encourage each person in a group to express concerns about the programs, projects, or policies in question. They listen attentively, elicit input from group members, form “task forces,” urge participants to make lists, and in going through these motions, learn about each member of a group. They are trained to identify the “leaders,” the “loud mouths,” the “weak or non-committal members,” and those who are apt to change sides frequently during an argument.

    Suddenly, the amiable facilitators become professional agitators and “devil’s advocates.” Using the “divide and conquer” principle, they manipulate one opinion against another, making those who are out of step appear “ridiculous, unknowledgeable, inarticulate, or dogmatic.” They attempt to anger certain participants, thereby accelerating tensions. The facilitators are well trained in psychological manipulation. They are able to predict the reactions of each member in a group. Individuals in opposition to the desired policy or program will be shut out.

    The Delphi Technique works. It is very effective with parents, teachers, school children, and community groups. The “targets” rarely, if ever, realize that they are being manipulated. If they do suspect what is happening, they do not know how to end the process. The facilitator seeks to polarize the group in order to become an accepted member of the group and of the process. The desired idea is then placed on the table and individual opinions are sought during discussion. Soon, associates from the divided group begin to adopt the idea as if it were their own, and they pressure the entire group to accept their proposition.

    it was developed by the rand corporation during the cold war. there was a famous case about the city of spokane was getting busted for using it in a not so nice way. i participated in a neighborhood parks meeting in seattle when it was used when they were trying to dismantle a very popular skate park. it is really undercover how they work and very manipulating.

    also, a friend of mine was in an interfaith group and the group had decided to make some decisions not agree to by a couple of the members and over time they got almost everything contentious dropped from the statement.

    anyway, beware and good luck. read up on the technique and don’t get bamboozled. read the rest of my link. you can hire these people to inflitrate, and they do.

    here’s another link Delphi Technique: The art of pretending to achieve consensus

    First, the committee is split into small groups. Each group contains different “types” of committee members. Thus, like-minded individuals are separated from each other and spread around the room, and their influence is lessened and more easily “managed.”
    “Rules” for behavior are set up so that real debate is disallowed.
    Each group contains a few people loyal to the institution’s agenda. One is willing to grab for the pen and paper and be the official recorder; another can monitor group behavior for adherence to the “rules.”
    Oppositional or problematic comments are eliminated. Recorders politely but persistently “interpret,” reject, ignore, rewrite or “reframe” unwanted comments.
    Requests for debate or discussion are ignored or rejected. Monitors politely but persistently delay debate and redirect conversations to safer areas.
    Each recorder produces a “summary” or “synopsis” of comments. The summaries virtually eliminate most problematic comments. Remaining challenges are dismissed as being the minority view. Even clear oppositional statements can be questioned – “What does that mean, anyway?” – thus casting doubt upon them and lessening their influence.
    From these summaries or synopses, the institution creates a “perception” or a “perspective,” supposedly drawn directly from what committee members said.
    Persistent questioners are ignored or admonished for a) operating outside of the “rules,” b) refusing to accept the “consensus” of the group, or c) being unreasonable pains in the neck.

    this is just one example. google around.

    • RoHa
      October 30, 2011, 9:02 pm

      Really useful stuff, annie. Thanks for the link.
      I, for one, will certainly be very wary.

      (I’m already pretty weary.)

      • annie
        October 30, 2011, 10:45 pm

        the meeting i attended in seattle was it was carried out in an extremely covert way. this was a skatepark in ballard, very popular and they wanted to replace it with a toddlers park. but it’s very rare to have a place for teen boys (surrounded by chainfencing btw) that they love to go to w/older boys mentoring them. in the summer i could always find my kid there and i wasn’t alone. cities really need places for teenagers they like to frequent and we already had numerous parks w/swingsets for little kids. so it was held in an old safeway building (huge) and it was packed, at least 500. so they got in front of the crowd and had a big piece of paper writing down all the complaints and asking to hear everyones voices. but if your complaint or ptv had already been expressed it didn’t add to the list. iow, for the most part everyone there agreed but there voice became ‘joined’ on the list..just one of many. the list only contained ‘unique’ views. iow , at the end of the meeting the list was perhaps 20 points long. but of that 20 the one pt everyone agreed on..to save the park..only amounted to one item on the list.

        then the meeting broke up into groups where every group was divided in corners of the huge space and you could join any group you wanted.

        but in the end there was no resolution, just a ‘feel good’ we were being heard. it was all manipulated. then i read about spokane….then i did some research on delphi and found out how common it is to build consensus thru these hired facilitators…and those facilitators are not identified for the most part. the person ‘leading’, up front ..they are not the main actors..the main actors are part of the crowd..sort of. they ‘bring out’ the powerful people within the community and serve to crush them.

        make them appear fringe and off the beaten path..you know..like clencher says, the far left.

        • Richard Witty
          October 31, 2011, 12:15 pm

          He’s just trying to describe the difference between conditional and therefore reform oriented dissent, and unconditional partisan.

          I don’t see it as unreasonable language.

        • Chaos4700
          November 1, 2011, 8:43 pm

          Undecipherable language, maybe, but then Witty has a penchant for that.

    • MRW
      October 31, 2011, 3:12 am

      GREAT POST, annie. Should be headlined and frontpaged here as an operational warning to newbie activists.

      This, BTW, is what happened to the 23-year-old Sameh Habeeb, creator of Palestinian News in London, and why Tony Greenstein, et al, went after Gilad Atzmon as an anti-semite etc when Atzmon knocked what Greenstein and other members of Jews for Justice for Palestine (and other Jewish groups hijacking the Palestinian cause in Great Britain) were doing to curb Habeeb. Habeeb comes on at about 50 minutes. This panel talk happened in May 2011.
      link to vimeo.com
      It takes a long time to load.

      And here is Atzmon explaining it ahead of the Freiburg Conference, posted about a month ago:
      link to vimeo.com
      “This film is dedicated to the so-called Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists who were harassing and detracting us ahead of Freiburg Conference (‘Palestine, Israel and Germany – Boundaries of Open Discussion). Ideally, we would like to see many Jews contributing to the discourse rather than attempting to dismantle it.”

    • Shmuel
      October 31, 2011, 3:39 am

      Thanks, Annie. In trying to figure out what’s what and who’s who, it’s important to keep in mind that these techniques wouldn’t work if they didn’t closely resemble real dynamics within such groups. It goes without saying that the world is full of honest-to-god manipulative jerks who work for no one but their own egos, and that people often are “ridiculous, unknowledgeable, inarticulate, or dogmatic.”

      • annie
        October 31, 2011, 11:21 am

        these techniques wouldn’t work if they didn’t closely resemble real dynamics within such groups

        that’s correct.

      • Mooser
        October 31, 2011, 12:59 pm

        “It goes without saying that the world is full of honest-to-god manipulative jerks who work for no one but their own egos”

        “I am an independent consultant/ freelancer.” – Newclench

        Wow, talk about making lemonade out of lemons!

    • Jimmy Johnson
      October 31, 2011, 1:17 pm

      Annie – The OccupyChi site is apparently moving and all articles are temporarily unavailable so those notes aren’t immediately available.

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