Jim Crow was complicated, too

One of the cliches/jokes of anyone who looks into the Israel/Palestine conflict is: “It’s complicated.” Friends of mine say this ironically all the time. That’s because Israelis and their supporters regularly say that the Israel/Palestine conflict is complicated and therefore lacks a simple solution. And as someone who tries to have empathy for all sides, I agree: two sides are arguing over the same land, and many Jews moved to Israel, and before that, Palestine, out of idealistic or desperate motives. But that doesn’t mean that equality under the law (the principle I think we should strive for) is a bad thing.

As it turns out, Jim Crow–which the U.S. delegitimized and dismantled in the 50s-70s– was also complicated. Here’s the Times obituary for Eugene Patterson, 89, former editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution during the civil rights era, when blacks were second-class citizens in the segregated south. Obit headline characterizes Patterson, who was white, as a “crusader”– but it wasn’t that simple.

There were no simple solutions to the racial problems, and he offered none. Instead, he drew poignant scenes of suffering and loss to condemn violence and miscarriages of justice. And he explored themes of courage and questions of responsibility that went beyond mindless acts of racism to challenge a people with traditions of decency.

Speaking of Georgia during segregation, here is an email from a political friend, analyzing the rightwing trend in Israeli politics and analogizing Naftali Bennett’s list to that pillar of racism, former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox:

Israeli democracy is akin to democracy in the Confederacy, ie elections and a robust press. Naftali Bennett represents a fusion of Start up Nation, militant nationalism, Jacksonian resentment and the patina of Judaism. It is a winning combination and it has captured the imagination and the likely votes of younger Israelis.

But keep an eye on how well his party does. Within the top 12 seats on his party’s list, slots are allocated 2 to 1 – religious Zionists (think Lester Maddox with a grad degree and a kippa and an Uzi) to mega right religious nationalists (think Lester Maddox with a beard, and an Uzi and no B.A.).

By contrast, Likud Beiteinu is merely an amalgam of corrupt hacks, bloated ethnics and would be Jacobins. Lieberman, the slate’s guy in the #2 slot is under indictment for corruption. Feiglin wants democracy to bow before the Lord – which is a fairly standard refrain among religions. And Bibi, as Gideon Rachman put it, is a brillian tactician and a horrible strategist.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 12 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. MRW says:

    Hear, hear to your political friend. Just what I was thinking when I wrote that I’m pulling for Bennett. Popcorn time. Loved this, ‘no B.A.’! Ha.

    Within the top 12 seats on his party’s list, slots are allocated 2 to 1 – religious Zionists (think Lester Maddox with a grad degree and a kippa and an Uzi) to mega right religious nationalists (think Lester Maddox with a beard, and an Uzi and no B.A.).

    “Jacksonian resentment.” ;-)

  2. Citizen says:

    If Bibi can always get the nearest tree to fall, but not the forest, or grow–depending on whether you run the film forward or backward–and he’s the guy Obama gets the most direct phone calls from, not to hopefully in Obama’s behalf, mention big macher Jewish dollars–what does this mean for Average Americans who if allowed a referendum, would opt to get out of the I-P conflict entirely?

    • seafoid says:

      I wonder how many people will vote for suddenly_come_over_all_lefty_ and rational_Zippy

      link to haaretz.com

      “A: I think that everything is connected. The idea that the whole world will hold its breath until we finish fixing our socio-economic issues is wrong. We are going to get to a point where a process is going to be forced upon us, from outside, or else the settlers are going to take us to the point of no return. And while we are fixing society, they will continue transferring money to settlements. We live in a country without borders, where money goes to bad places, and because of this deal, which isn’t kosher, we don’t even have a core curriculum for our schools. What do you think the economy will look like in Israel with the isolation, and international boycotts on Israeli products? We can’t disassociate these things.”

      If senior bots can come out with stuff like this why can’t American Jews ?

  3. American says:

    ”And he explored themes of courage and questions of responsibility that went beyond mindless acts of racism to challenge a people with traditions of decency.”

    Decency in humans….imho….that’s the thing in every problem and conflict …however you want to define decency, we all know basically what it means..

  4. jon s says:

    Love you, Bennett:

  5. Henry Norr says:

    > Likud Beiteinu is merely an amalgam of corrupt hacks, bloated ethnics and would be Jacobins.

    Boy, is that ever an insult to the real Jacobins!

    What in fact does your friend mean by that term?

  6. yourstruly says:

    let’s see now, the i/p conflict is too complicated & lacks a simple solution?

    & the cause of gun-related murders in america is complicated & there is no simple solution?

    the same claim re: global warming?

    yet jim crow?

    also supposedly too complicated & with no simple solution?

    here one day, gone the next?

  7. MHughes976 says:

    They want to establish Israel on its Natural Frontiers and hold a Feast of Reason?

  8. a blah chick says:

    I can’t wait for these right wing crazies to take over, it’ll be like the Kahane era on steroids. This time there won’t be any walk outs.

    I would advise them to go slow on the subject of outlawing Jewish/Arab sex. Doing so could lead to the shutting down of every brothel in the country and the economy is taking a hit as it is.

  9. thetumta says:

    So now Americans have to follow elections that they can’t vote in? Sound familiar?
    Hej! Thetumta

    P.S. Where are you going to be Saturday morning?

  10. AdamAW says:

    The BDS movement is our best chance of steering us through the fogs of apparent complicatedness through its rights-based approach. On that note would some of you guys like to consider lending a helping hand to my review of ‘The Case for Sanctions Against Israel’ on Amazon.com which is currently getting bogged down in negative reviews and negative comments. Thanks as ever Phil. I dread to think where we would be without Americans like you.

  11. chinese box says:

    One small quibble: labelling Naftali Bennet et al as “crazy” may not be accurate or helpful. I see their extremism more as the logical endpoint of Zionism rather an as some outlier. How many Israelis quietly agree with their aims?