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Chabon calls occupation ‘the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life’ and says he is ‘culpable’

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A lot of people are passing this interview around today, and they should be. It will bring tears to your eyes: the US novelist Michael Chabon speaking sincerely and eloquently about the horrors of the occupation, which he has just toured with Breaking the Silence. Chabon is preparing a book of essays by novelists about the occupation. He was interviewed by Naomi Zeveloff of the Forward. Key excerpts:

Once you see for yourself it is pretty obvious I think to any human being with a heart and a mind, it is pretty clear what to feel about it. It is the most grievous injustice I have ever seen in my life. I have seen bad things in my own country in America. There is plenty of horrifying injustice in the U.S. prison system, the “second Jim Crow” it is often called. Our drug laws in the United States are grotesquely unjust. I know to some degree what I am talking about. This is the worst thing I have ever seen, just purely in terms of injustice. If saying that is going to lose me readers, I don’t want those readers. They can go away and never come back.

What a beautiful statement, let’s honor Chabon for it. He is bearing witness, he is being in the moment. Yes we can criticize him for showing up late; this horror show was evident many many years ago, behind the wall, decades ago to Palestinians. But he went and he saw and he is surely going to take action.

Chabon makes the excellent point that it was Harriet Beecher Stowe who brought on the civil war with her observations of slavery that animated a nation. So storytellers have an important role to play. (And the occupation is as grievous as slavery, because it is ours, in our time, and involves over 4 million people without rights.)

Then he says this about his own culpability:

The first day we were here they took us to Silwan, in the shadow of City of David [a national archaeological park managed by the Elad organization, which helps settlers move into Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem]. I’m hearing and seeing [Jewish settlers] illegally taking over houses and these [Palestinian] people are fighting for their neighborhood. Who does it turn out is one of the major sources of [support] for this whole City of David enterprise? The little blue boxes I put my pocket change in at Hebrew school every week growing up, the Jewish National Fund. That was in 1973 and the pennies I was putting in the boxes weren’t literally going to support the takeover of Silwan. It’s just I have that in my own personal history, not the history of my people, but in my own life I have a connection to something that does make me culpable. Not just through omission, not just through a lack of having taken any action or spoken up or said anything but actually through support of things that I didn’t know were being used in that way. It has given me a whole different viewpoint on the entire enterprise going all the way back to 1967 at least.

Chabon has done the wonderful thing of not exculpating himself because of the Jewish role in the civil rights movement. This is the dodge employed by countless US Jewish progressives, including Jewish World Service. We are engaged in progressive causes; we already gave at the office. Yes, well this is in our own house. Again, maybe it took Chabon too long to show up at the scene of his/our crimes, but there he is and the man’s heart is full and I bet he will do something about it. That is the only course that can follow from his JNF epiphany; and it was always the problem with Peter Beinart. He also was horrified when he saw this video in 2010 of a Palestinian boy crying as his farmer father was brutally arrested for “stealing” water from settlers on lands that had been in his family for centuries. Well that was in 2010, and how much more do you need to see to take action? You don’t need anything more, my friends. I sense that Chabon will never be the same and he will take action and happily alienate Jewish readers and that he will even support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) because it is the only real movement for change that is fighting the occupation every day and every hour.

Now not to be cynical, but– is it possible that Chabon has an eye to the main chance and that he knows young Jews are changing and older ones are sickofitall and he will write a book against the occupation that gets a wide Jewish audience and he will declare that Zionism went badly wrong and its racist strain became the dominant strain and the New York Times will celebrate him for it and he will get a bestseller? I sure hope so.

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57 Responses

  1. hophmi
    hophmi
    April 25, 2016, 11:29 am

    “And the occupation is as grievous as slavery”

    That’s offensive and ridiculous. The occupation should be ended, and is an injustice to Palestinians, albeit an injustice Israel was forced into to and an injustice that pales in comparison to what is occurring elsewhere in the Middle East.

    It is not as grievous as slavery. Slavery involved Americans buying Africans, shipping them here on boats in chains, a trip on which many of them died of disease and starvation, forcing their families apart by stealing and selling their children. Millions were killed. This was followed by forcing freed slaves to endure endless poverty that continues today through Jim Crow laws, redlining, and other forms of institutional discrimination.

    This may well be the most grievous injustice Chabon has ever seen, but that’s more a function of the fact that he hasn’t been very many places than a judgment on Israel. He can see much graver injustices virtually everywhere else in the Middle East, Tibet, and many other places. He just hasn’t gone to these places, either because they’re unsafe, or because he doesn’t care.

    • philweiss
      philweiss
      April 25, 2016, 12:47 pm

      Hophmi, really you find that offensive?
      You should spend more time chaffing at Haaretz then. Eva Illouz, a year ago:

      47 Years a Slave: A New Perspective on the Occupation

      Very few struggles in history have centered on how a nation should treat a third group of people, but there are strong parallels between black slavery and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

      read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.572880
      I happen to agree with her.

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        April 25, 2016, 1:40 pm

        From the piece you cite: “In using this example as a soundboard to think about the moral debate that is dividing the Jewish people, I do not claim that slavery and the occupation are equivalent.”

        The entire piece makes a specious, tortured argument that the occupation amounts to slavery; I’ve now talked to enough people who have been to the West Bank to know that this is a ridiculous statement; occupation is difficult, but it’s not slavery. Palestinian men do get arrested (and 800,000 over 45 years is not 40% of the male population). By the logic of the article, African-Americans in the inner city remain enslaved. Dalits are enslaved. Palestinians working in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are enslaved. Palestinians in Syria are enslaved.

        Do you think that most African-Americans would be ok with the idea that the occupation is as grievous as American slavery? I doubt it.

        But it seems like you can never just talk about the facts. You have to make the comparisons. It’s as grievous as slavery. It’s as grievous as the Holocaust. I don’t think it’s about explaining the Palestinian situation as it is a propaganda tactic meant to make the Israelis into demons.

      • philweiss
        philweiss
        April 25, 2016, 2:16 pm

        Hophmi, the facts are that Palestinians in the WB and Gaza have no rights. No rights in Israel, which controls their lives. “No rights” are the words of Henry Siegman and Noam Sheizaf. This is not true of blacks in US inner cities and may be true of Dalit’s, I simply dont know.
        I am a progressive and believe in human progress historically. So: In our age 4 million people with no rights at the hands of the US gov’t is as grievous a blight as slavery was in the 1850s, in my view. Abolitionism arose because of those atrocities; there were slave uprisings, too; the Palestinian solidarity movement and intifadas are similar response today. Phil

      • hophmi
        hophmi
        April 25, 2016, 10:58 pm

        I cannot fathom any reason you would make this offensive comparison except for the shock value of making yet another inflammatory comparison. Even under your progressive standard, it doesn’t work. Palestinian do not completely lack rights (they publish newspapers that you quote all the time, they vote for their representatives, they may and have successfully petitioned the Israeli government, and they are the world’s largest recipient of aid. But if that’s your standard, then all those living in authoritarian States are surely enslaved, and should surely inspire a similar response. Slave uprisings did not, to my knowledge, purposely try to murder as many white children as possible. And ending slavery was about giving Blacks basic human freedom in a country where they were a minority group, not about fighting a land conflict where the rhetoric was about one group replacing another in order to reverse history.

      • annie
        annie
        April 26, 2016, 12:52 am

        do not completely lack rights (they publish newspapers that you quote all the time, they vote for their representatives, they may and have successfully petitioned the Israeli government

        under occupation, their representatives don’t make the laws, so what difference does it make? they are subject to a military court system w/israeli military judges. and while they may be able to publish newspapers, they are still subject to military censorship determined by a governing body where they have no voice.

        land conflict where the rhetoric was about one group replacing another in order to reverse history.

        a land conflict where one group replaced another in order to reverse history. and buried in that phrase “one group replaced another” is collective punishment, home demolitions, home invasions, land confiscations, dissenters imprisoned (even for facebook postings), torture, the list goes on and on. all policies decided by people elected into office they couldn’t vote for.

        Slave uprisings did not, to my knowledge, purposely try to murder as many white children as possible

        what hat did you pull that out of. palestinians are not trying to murder as many jewish children as possible. evidence suggests that distinction of killing children, if made, would fall on the israeli military — and jewish terrorists burning children to death and bombing schools and hospitals.

      • Eva Smagacz
        Eva Smagacz
        April 26, 2016, 1:15 am

        Hopmi, you said:

        “fighting a land conflict where the rhetoric was about one group replacing another in order to reverse history”

        Please could you explain what history are Jews reversing by colonising Palestinian land? Can you offer ANY historical evidence that Jews actually left Palestine ( except individually, voluntarily, to travel, to proselytise and to trade?) ?

      • silamcuz
        silamcuz
        April 26, 2016, 4:35 am

        I have to side with Hopmi in this one. Trying to equate the chattel slavery of the blacks with the colonisation of Palestinians by Zionist is so offensive and frankly, idiotic even if the author meant well.

        Strong parallels with black slavery? Okay, first of all, who is the author to make this comparison? Is he a black person, descendant of a enslaved black ancestor, or have any biological or social ties to the black community?

      • annie
        annie
        April 26, 2016, 5:10 am

        I have to side with Hopmi in this one.

        we’re shocked

      • silamcuz
        silamcuz
        April 26, 2016, 5:37 am

        If you truly believe what is happening to the Palestinians is comparable to what happened to the blacks in the New World during slavery, I have to assume that you are either deliberately trying to offend black people by downplaying the level of trauma they have collectively suffered or you are a white supremacist trying to whitewash the crime of white slavers and revise history to be more favourable to your own race.

      • annie
        annie
        April 26, 2016, 1:59 pm

        I have to assume that you are either deliberately trying to offend black people by downplaying the level of trauma they have collectively suffered or you are a white supremacist trying to whitewash the crime of white slavers and revise history to be more favourable to your own race.

        you’re the 3rd incarnation we’ve had here of the same voice so you’ll have to excuse me for not caring what you assume about me. you wrote this:

        Just as the Jew as a nationality, as an ethnic group, as a cultural identity was deceptively fabricated for Zionism, we have multiple identities here that owes their existence for the same exact reasonings.

        personally, although i wouldn’t call it “exact” i’d suggest you read the link phil referenced earlier in this conversation, for it very much describes cultural similarities of the oppressors in both societies:

        What is ideology? The set of beliefs and stories a group that dominates another tells to itself in order to make its domination seem natural, deserved and necessary…. When the ideology is pervasive, present in different arenas (school textbooks, politics, newspapers) and when it is sustained by concrete economic and political interests, ideology becomes an automatic way of thinking, an irresistible way of explaining reality and acting – or not acting – in it.

        In order to defend and justify their domination over Africans, the proslavery camp used a number of arguments and diffused them widely: the first argument was a hierarchical view of human beings. Whites were unquestioningly superior to Africans, who were compared to animals, and as animals they were dangerous, to be domesticated and controlled. It is interesting to note that here, as in other and subsequent forms of racism, blacks were viewed both as weak (inferior) and strong (dangerous).

        Proslavery people in Britain and the United States further argued that Africa itself practiced slavery, and that Britain and America in fact were contributing to the cultural development of the slaves – because African societies were unskilled and primitive, they stood to benefit by being exposed to the “advanced” European civilization. The domination of a people is not only caused by the belief that a people is inherently inferior and dangerous, but the very act of domination makes these beliefs seem true: the proof of the racist was in the pudding of the plantation owner.

        Proslavers also argued that the land itself was crucial for the nation and for economic prosperity.

        read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.572880

        Perhaps more importantly, only by acknowledging that America as an ongoing settler-colonial project ….. we can accurately assess the vast scale of work needed to be done in order to liberate the oppressed.

        it’s amusing — your penchant for lecturing us on the similarities between the white supremacy embedded in american culture and a cultural identity that was “deceptively fabricated for Zionism” — that justified and allowed the oppression of another people, and yet you not only reject using a era in american history that required society wallowing the same immoral morass, you accuse those who don’t agree with you of white supremacy!

        so you should make up your mind. do oppressed people in america “owe[s] their existence for the same exact reasonings” that justify culturally oppressing a people, or not. because you can’t have it both ways. it is the mental condition of superiority that allows the oppression and subjugation of another — to treat them like animals and deny them freedom and rights and justice — whether it be slavery, colonization, occupation — ultimately the mentality of the oppressor jumps through the same immoral hoops to get there — to justify their superiority.

      • annie
        annie
        April 26, 2016, 2:13 pm

        Okay, first of all, who is the author to make this comparison? Is he a black person, descendant of a enslaved black ancestor, or have any biological or social ties to the black community?

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        April 26, 2016, 5:38 am

        hophmi: I cannot fathom any reason you would make this offensive comparison
        —————-
        Diversionary tactics. Instead of focusing on the substance of the Forward article ” Michael Chabon Talks Occupation, Injustice and Literature After Visit to West Bank” , i.e. on the Occupation, the injustice of it, and the moral reaction of writers like Chabon, Hophmi &Co. would like us to focus solely on a “comparison” which, whatever one might think of it, is just a fraction of the interview.

        http://forward.com/culture/books/339119/qa-michael-chabon-talks-occupation-injustice-and-literature-after-visit-to/#ixzz46ugCTiDg

        And the idea that Hophmi is actually offended by this comparison, rather than thrilled and delighted that it gives him an opening to divert the conversation, is, of course, absurd.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        April 26, 2016, 6:23 am

        silamcuz: Okay, first of all, who is the author to make this comparison? Is he a black person…
        —————–

        Okay, is this silamcuz blind? An idiot? A racist? Just pretending to be a racist?

        In any case, more diversion.

        (Here it comes: “It’s not racist to…” And we’re off! )

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 26, 2016, 8:14 am

        Eva Smagacz: Hopmi, you said: “fighting a land conflict where the rhetoric was about one group replacing another in order to reverse history” Please could you explain what history are Jews reversing by colonising Palestinian land? … ||

        Eva, I think you misread his comment. It’s the fight against on-going “Jewish State” occupation, colonization, (war) crimes and supremacism that he views as an attempt to “reverse history”.

        IOW, for hophmi (and for all other Zio-supremacists):
        – justice, accountability and equality for blacks = good;
        – anything (especially justice, accountability and equality) that threatens Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine = bad (and an attempt to “reverse history”).

        What’s funny (and typically hypocritical) is that guys like hophmi will defend the occupation and colonization of Palestine (and related past and on-going (war) crimes) by claiming that Jews are merely “returning” to their “historic homeland” from which they were allegedly exiled not decades but centuries ago. In other words, they are reversing ancient history…but because they’re the ones doing it, it’s entirely acceptable.

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 26, 2016, 2:11 pm

        || Annie Robbins: … you’re the 3rd incarnation we’ve had here of the same voice so … ||

        silamcuz / rugal_b / a4tech can’t help himself. He’s a victim of:
        – his progressive Marxist belief in determinism in human behavior;
        – his predetermined qualities; and
        – the specific role he has been uniquely molded to play in the universe.

        :-)

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        April 27, 2016, 12:22 am

        silamcuz: ….who is the author to make this comparison? Is [Jewish author Michael Chabon] a black person…?
        ———-

        Well looking at the picture right in front of you, you might guess “no”–but then again, you can never be sure, given the rules…

        …any biological or social ties to the black community?

        Some social ties would not be at all surprising. As far as biological ties, perhaps he could be given a DNA test, and if he “passes”, he could be allowed to say a word about slavery.

    • joemowrey
      joemowrey
      April 25, 2016, 2:00 pm

      “..an injustice Israel was forced into…”

      Yea, the same thing happened to me. I started building a guest house in my neighbors back yard. When they attempted to stop me, I was forced take over their entire home and property and begin restricting their movements. It’s unjust, I know. But what else was I to do?

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        April 26, 2016, 8:33 am

        joemowry: “But what else was I to do?”

        If you are Jewish you could also cry “antisemitism”, call your neighbor’s property borders “Auschwitz borders” and forsee that another Holocaust would happen, if you would abide to property rights.

    • MHughes976
      MHughes976
      April 25, 2016, 2:04 pm

      Are you really accepting, hophmi, what would be a welcome acceptance to the likes of me, that this is a genuine injustice, not simply a hardship? You go on to suggest that it is the sole means so far available to a morally valid end, which would not make it an injustice by most people’s standards: Chabon would be quite wrong in his key statement. If it really is an injustice we could get your ‘not as bad’ arguments re slavery, the rest of the ME and so on, into better focus.

    • eljay
      eljay
      April 25, 2016, 2:11 pm

      || hophmi: … The occupation should be ended, and is an injustice to Palestinians, albeit an injustice Israel was forced into to and an injustice that pales in comparison to what is occurring elsewhere in the Middle East. … ||

      What a grotesque and immoral bit of apologetics.

      All I wanted to do was mug her and rape her, but she forced me to kidnap her, chain her in my basement and keep raping her. Sure, it’s an injustice, but it’s not as bad as all the murders occurring elsewhere in the neighbourhood.

      • joemowrey
        joemowrey
        April 25, 2016, 3:16 pm

        And don’t forget, eljay, it’s “…an injustice [you were] forced into…”

        Sometimes one has to wonder what kind of moral compass hophmi steers by. When injustice becomes the “justified” norm, in other words, when justice and the rule of law are no longer considered a necessary part of a society, isn’t it obvious to hophmi that the exceptionalist philosophy of Zionism has failed the very people it purports to protect?

        The same holds true for American exceptionalism. In order to maintain our superiority over the world, we have discarded the notion of human dignity and social justice for any but ourselves. Consequently we have lost our humanity. So what is the point, after all?

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 25, 2016, 4:44 pm

        || joemowrey: … Sometimes one has to wonder what kind of moral compass hophmi steers by. … ||

        His is an immoral compass of hypocrisy and selective morality. IOW, a Zio-supremacist compass.

      • pabelmont
        pabelmont
        April 25, 2016, 7:04 pm

        Guys, it’s not really about hophmi’s moral compass. He’s only one person. It’s about Israel’s moral compass and the moral compass of the US Jewish Establishment/Oligarchy, and the moral compass of all those synagogues out there which are reflexively pro-Israel and have nothing to say about the injustice.

        I guess somewhere there is a (so-called) “moralist” who is saying, “I fear, I really do fear, that somewhere someone is thinking about revving up another holocaust, and as long as anyone, anywhere can be surmised to be thinking along those lines, then NO crime by Israel can be complained about.”

        And saying that with a straight face although Israel has the 4th most powerful army in the world. (Ahem!)

      • talknic
        talknic
        April 25, 2016, 8:37 pm

        @ pabelmont April 25, 2016, 7:04 pm

        “Guys, it’s not really about hophmi’s moral compass.”

        Rubbish. hophmi has been shown incontrovertible evidence of Israel’s war crimes from primary sources including the words of the Israeli Government from the Israeli Government’s web site. Yet the Hasbara still flows from poor misunderstood hophmi’s hand

        “He’s only one person”

        … in a voluntary army of wholly holey Hasbarristers

        “It’s about Israel’s moral compass and the moral compass of the US Jewish Establishment/Oligarchy, and the moral compass of all those synagogues out there which are reflexively pro-Israel and have nothing to say about the injustice”

        And hophmi and his ilk here eagerly attempt to enable them and support them in their deceit. hophmi, like the others is a liar, a cheat, a false accuser as far from the basic tenets of Judaism as one can possible get, which, in defense of the ‘Jewish’ state’s crimes, is quite simply bizarre.

      • eljay
        eljay
        April 25, 2016, 8:51 pm

        || pabelmont: Guys, it’s not really about hophmi’s moral compass. He’s only one person. It’s about Israel’s moral compass and the moral compass of the US Jewish Establishment/Oligarchy, and the moral compass of all those synagogues out there which are reflexively pro-Israel and have nothing to say about the injustice. … ||

        hophmi is one Zio-supremacist in a collective of fundamentally like-minded Zio-supremacists whose moral compasses deflect away from justice, accountability and equality when it comes to I-P and the “Jewish State” project.

        He may not be as atrocious as someone like MaxNarr, but he nevertheless represents the injustice and immorality of his supremacist ideology.

    • Emory Riddle
      Emory Riddle
      April 25, 2016, 3:32 pm

      “..albeit an injustice Israel was forced into to ..”

      Classic Zionist nonsense. Israel is never responsible for what it is and what it does. It is always someone else’s fault.

      “He can see much graver injustices virtually everywhere else in the Middle East”.

      Certainly a questionable assertion and, of course, not pertinent. Another classic hasbara 101 technique….I think the term for this on Mondoweiss is “whataboutery”. Sure I murdered my family Judge, but those guys over there killed two families so why are you bothering me?

      “And the occupation is as grievous as slavery” That’s offensive and ridiculous”.

      Debatable. But an odd defense tactic given that the official narrative — and one which I am pretty sure hophmi goes along with — that the Holocaust is the greatest crime of all time, dwarfing slavery and the genocide of native peoples. Now that is an assertion I find extremely offensive.

    • talknic
      talknic
      April 25, 2016, 8:49 pm

      @ hophmi April 25, 2016, 11:29 am

      “the occupation should be ended, and is an injustice to Palestinians, albeit an injustice Israel was forced into to”

      Forced into by who? Jewish forces under Plan Dalet were already outside the boundaries proclaimed by the Israeli Government as Israel’s sovereign extent on the day it was proclaimed, busy ethnically cleansing non-Jews from coveted non-Israeli territory. Occupation has never stopped. Israel has never fully withdrawn from all non-Israeli territories, never offered a fair, just or rightful settlement, denying even non-Jewish Israeli citizens their RoR

      “and an injustice that pales in comparison to what is occurring elsewhere in the Middle East”

      No other state in the M. East occupies territories outside of their recognized boundaries, enslaving the occupied population to a lifetime of underpaid servitude helping the occupier illegally settle in occupied territory, while illegally exploiting their resources.

    • El Cazador
      El Cazador
      April 26, 2016, 9:55 am

      «He can see much graver injustices virtually everywhere else in the Middle East, Tibet, and many other places. He just hasn’t gone to these places, either because they’re unsafe, or because he doesn’t care. »

      Does that mean that he couldn’t care about what his people, the Israeli Jews, are doing to the Palestinians, and have been doing to the Palestinians since 1948, 68 years ago, that is?

      There’s nothing ridiculous about denouncing Israeli fascist actions. Einstein himself denounced it back on December 4, 1948 in a letter to the New York Times, co-signed with 26 NYC well known Jews, doctors, intellectuals, professionals… His letter was asking the then US president not to meet with Menachem Begin and not to support the creation of Israel. His reasons are here, the main one claiming thas zionist Israel would be fascist:

      https://archive.org/details/AlbertEinsteinLetterToTheNewYorkTimes.December41948

      The great Einstein was right on that claim, and not just relatively.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      April 26, 2016, 12:37 pm

      Eminent Jewish Israeli journalist, Bradley Burston, aptly sums up the horrors Israel inflicts on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem:

      “Occupation is Slavery”
      EXCERPT:
      “In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own. The masters dehumanize them, call them by the names of beasts.” (Haaretz, Feb. 26/13)

    • El Cazador
      El Cazador
      April 26, 2016, 1:17 pm

      Typical hasbara diversion attempt. It’s so frequent that it becomes boring. History rewriting attempts won’t work either. Too many historians can contradict Israelis on that matter, and as far as using religion as a proof…

      As for your comparison with the African slavery in the US nearly two and a half centuries ago, we’re in 2016 should I remind you, and South Africans have known that ordeal and apartheid long enough, until a Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney, worked very hard at convincing the toughest twins, UK’s Margaret Hatcher and US’ Donald Reagan, to help stop South Africa’s apartheid through boycott, divest and sanction, and that was in the early 1990. Thirty six years later, a nuclear weapons’ friend of South Africa is behaving exactly like his old Apartheid Master, South Africa, did for so long with the Black populations of South Africa, and it’s the zionist/fascist/racist Israel, a Hebrew culture that suffered more than enough in Europe, that is doing all that wrong, although it should never repeat that suffering by imposing it on another nation, the Palestinian one, that lived rather peacefully and friendly with its rather small Jewish population in Palestine before the arrival of the European zionist Jews there as of 1945.

      What I find troubling is the fact that zionist Jews don’t care much about the trouble and/or danger the pacifist and humanist Jews might encounter by ignorance/association as a consequence of the very inhumane zionist policies, military actions, economic damage, imprisonments, bombings, destructions of homes, etc. against the Palestinian population in Palestine, the Palestine the UN and the League of Nations before it partitioned to give the European zionist Jews a land (53% of Palestine), leaving only 47% for the Palestinians, who were at least 10 times more numerous. Those 47% consisted of three territories, and one of them was taken by military force (zionist terrorist armed secret factions like the Irgun) in the months, if not weeks, after the official day of the creation of Israel in PALESTINE. Gaza was diminished by at least half its size, and into an open-air prison, and we all know what the Swiss cheese Palestinian West Bank looks like, being chewed up more and more by thieves armed to the teeth and protected by the most powerful army of the Middle East, thanks to the huge and very, very generou$$$ annual $$$upport of the U$A.

    • SQ Debris
      SQ Debris
      April 26, 2016, 2:28 pm

      In case the English definition of enslave has escaped Herr Hopmeister, here it is: “To ​control someone by ​keeping the ​person in a ​bad or ​difficult ​situation where the ​person is not ​free.” [Cambridge dictionary]

  2. Marnie
    Marnie
    April 25, 2016, 11:35 am

    Thanks Michael Chabon – you just got yourself a new fan. You’re words are heartfelt. Maybe you’ll write a book about it –

  3. annie
    annie
    April 25, 2016, 1:19 pm

    an excellent interview, hats off to zeveloff also. i loved his answer here:

    What role do novelists have to play in changing the status quo in Israel and the Palestinian Territories?

    What a creative writer, a fiction writer or a writer of creative non-fiction can bring is an overt point of view that doesn’t try to hide itself the way journalists are trained to be objective and conceal their biases and just “present the facts.” It is a strength to have a point of view, to implicitly or explicitly say to the reader: Here is where I am coming from and this is what I saw and this is what I thought of it and what I made of it and how it made me feel. It is all there on the page for the reader to accept or reject or connect to or not connect to, and it can be extremely powerful.

    • pabelmont
      pabelmont
      April 25, 2016, 7:15 pm

      BTW, did American newspeople ever have trouble telling the terrible truth about things that America officially disapproved of? Anyway, Chabon is right: Hemingway and George Orwell were powerfully honest writers — about, among other things, the civil war in which the Spanish fascists, aided by Hitler and Mussolini, took over of Spain in 1936-39.

  4. Dan From Away
    Dan From Away
    April 25, 2016, 3:56 pm

    Glad to see MW using American historical parallels such as the references to Harriet Beecher Stowe and the American history of black chattel slavery to discuss Palestine and political Zionism here in the US. Intersectionality, indeed. The near constant use of Nazi parallels used in much of the criticism of Israel, while perhaps technically relevant with reference to Israeli military policies and actions, is alien, almost always off-putting and ultimately counterproductive in terms of Palestine solidarity.

    Let’s keep the light on the parallels that Americans can relate to directly and with which they are likely to be most open to considering: those that refer to their own history. Let’s experiment with the idea of drafting our posts as curricular resources for the American classroom.

    In reference to hophmi’s comment:

    “… albeit an injustice Israel was forced into…”

    Discussing Palestine and Zionism in the American Classroom – Lesson Plan Number One:

    Topic:

    Was Israel “forced into” its illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories?

    American Historical Parallel: Antebellum claims that the South was “forced into” accepting and expanding slavery.

    Overview

    America’s slave plantation aristocracy, via its very own in-house propagandist, John C. Calhoun, writing for what is called the “positive-good” school of slavery apologetics claimed that slavery was not something the South should be isolated or penalized for. After all, it had been “forced into” embracing the “peculiar institution” by virtue of the American victory in the War of Independence: it was the British who had established and legitimated slavery and what was South Carolina to do…free the slaves?

    Calhoun’s blame-the-British argument served the South well in that it allowed the slave plantation aristocracy – a very small, even tiny minority, however one with keenly focussed power in Congress – to continue its enslavement of black people unabated while simultaneously declaiming to the world that it was a virtuous moral agent trapped not by its own immoralities but rather by the unjust vagaries of history.

    The excuse that it was the British who had initiated chattel slavery into the colonies, though self-serving, was true enough: however, having “inherited” slavery the slave plantation aristocracy did nothing to outlaw it and in fact, expanded and deepened it all the while celebrating freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and singing the praises of American “democracy”.

    The slave plantation aristocracy never had any intention of limiting chattel slavery merely to the original colonies: its foundational strategy was never limited to the original thirteen American colonies. It had always had its eyes on the entire northern hemisphere including Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the entire American west in much the same way that political Zionism never intended limit itself to only those parts of historic Palestine outline in the Partition Plan of 1947.

    Questions for Classroom Discussion (Choose One)

    In your responses please be specific and provide references and footnotes.

    1) What was it that “forced” Israel to occupy the Palestinian Territories and what is it that forces Israel to remain there today?

    2) What were Zionism’s original publicly stated plans vis-a-vis the indigenous Palestinians?

    3) Were Calhoun’s arguments persuasive? If yes, how so? If not, why not?

    4) How does Chabon’s epiphany vis-a-vis Zionism and his subsequent writing on the subject compare with the writings of the Grimke Sisters of South Carolina whose family held slaves?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimké_sisters

    Reading assignment:

    * Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress
    William Lee Miller (1995)
    Chapter Three: An Indignant Rebuke to the Fanatics of the North
    P: 27-41

    * The Jewish State, by Theodor Herzl
    Chapter Four: Society of Jews and Jewish State

    * From Haven to Conquest: Readings in Zionism and the Palestine Problem Until 1948 by Walid Al Khalidi (1987)
    Part III: We Look to the United States – David Ben Gurion

    * View historic Zionist-published posters related to labor, emigration, settlement, occupation, ethnic cleansing in historic Palestine:

    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/jewish-colonizationzionist-kibbutzimisraeli-settlements
    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/buy-hebrew-campaignhebrew-laborconquest-of-labor
    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/al-nakbathe-catastrophe
    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/jewish-colonizationzionist-kibbutzimisraeli-settlements
    http://www.palestineposterproject.org/special-collection/israeli-occupationisraeli-occupied-territories

    Note: I will address hophmi’s “offensive and ridiculous” avoidance of any mention of the MORAL comparison between political Zionism and chattel slavery that is at the heart of Chabon’s epiphany and Phil’s analysis in a subsequent post/lesson plan.

    • annie
      annie
      April 25, 2016, 4:34 pm

      Glad to see MW using American historical parallels such as …

      david, it’s not uncommon at all, in fact i just used one in my recent article here:
      http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/anti-bds-legislation-faces-crucial-hearing-tomorrow-in-california-judiciary-committee/

      The near constant use of Nazi parallels …. is alien, almost always off-putting and ultimately counterproductive in terms of Palestine solidarity.

      Let’s keep the light on the parallels that Americans can relate to directly

      we rarely if ever publish articles using israel/nazi parallels though i agree they are common in debates. but i’d challenge the idea americans don’t (or can’t) relate directly to WW2, the holocaust and nazis.

      partly i think this is a result of the “good war” reference to ww2 and that so many american families lost people in that war and the era of demonization of germany and germans prevalent in media during my upbringing (baby boomer generation) and many other reasons.. but more common is the constant references to the holocaust in american culture and media including how and why it relates to israel and israel’s founding, and it’s fairly difficult to approach that subject while avoiding “nazis”. i’d argue ww2/nazis is not “remote” (or alien) to most americans at all, we are constantly reminded of it (unfortunately as far as i am concerned). and it’s because of those constant reminders (which includes a constant drumbeat referencing and prioritizing anti semitism) — as well as international law that came about directly as a result of that war, laws that israel is flagrantly violating today — that parallels, (whether off-putting and ultimately counterproductive or not) will (imho) likely continue.

      that said, i find repetitive parallels annoying.

      and thanks for your lesson plan!

    • Eva Smagacz
      Eva Smagacz
      April 25, 2016, 7:07 pm

      Dan, you wrote:
      “The near constant use of Nazi parallels used in much of the criticism of Israel, while perhaps technically relevant with reference to Israeli military policies and actions, is alien, almost always off-putting and ultimately counterproductive in terms of Palestine solidarity”

      There is nothing ” perhaps” or “technically” relevant with reference to Israeli military policies and actions. The blood curdling reality is that there are screamingly obvious Nazi parallels with reference to Israel policies and actions (and not only military!!!!). The progressive nazification of Jewish – Israeli society, unless somehow interrupted, requires more and more extreme attitudes towards non – Jews, and Palestinians in particular.

      You are right that most atrocious crimes, described in detail, are almost always off-putting. But have you noticed that it is rarely considered counterproductive to describe precipitous loss of personal freedoms and militarisation of police in USA in terms of rise of fascism?

      Why would describing Israeli domestic politics in terms of fascism ( or nazism) was any different?

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        April 26, 2016, 8:57 pm

        The difference is the Israel Lobby. Americans can criticize America & its leaders at will, but not Israel or its leaders without risking career.

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      April 26, 2016, 12:32 am

      I think another parallel is the treatment of native americans. Just re-reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and the forced evacuations of all native tribes to reservations and the horrible conditions all faced. The Cherokee Trail of Tears to a reserve with water unfit for human consumption and soil so alkaline they couldn’t raise crops. All the time I was reading it I was comparing to Palestinians.

      • chocopie
        chocopie
        April 26, 2016, 6:41 pm

        I agree. As an adult, re-reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder children’s books about her family’s westward incursion into “Indian Territory” is like reading about Israel’s settlers stealing Palestinian land. I loved the books when I was a kid, but I was blind to the plight of the people being pushed out, dispossessed, and despised for their very existence.

    • bryan
      bryan
      April 26, 2016, 4:10 am

      Thank you Dan – an excellent, thought-provoking post.

      “a very small, even tiny minority, however one with keenly focussed power in Congress – to continue its enslavement of black people unabated while simultaneously declaiming to the world that it was a virtuous moral agent trapped not by its own immoralities but rather by the unjust vagaries of history.”

      Most apposite to the institution of slavery, but change “enslavement” to “systematic oppression” and you have eloquently encapsulated both the modus operandi of American Zionism and the essence of hasbara.

      Can I suggest some additional discussion points:
      * The small slave-owning class had powerful support from free labour (wanting slaves to remain on the plantations), and the New York merchant class and Washington political class who either directly benefitted from the system or who did not want to rock the boat. Is this true and is it paralleled by the present-day role of Christian Zionism, the MIC and the political elites?
      * To what extent did the Republican Party seek the gradual abolition of slavery by economic pressures, and is this paralleled by the modern day phenomenon of BDS?
      * Define the roles played in abolition, and suggest modern day equivalents within anti-Zionism, of Tom Paine, William Wilberforce, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.
      * Vermont was the first state to abolish slavery and now has a senator leading the way in asserting justice for Palestine. Is this true and if so, what social and economic factors account for the parallel?
      * Compare and contrast the role played by pamphlets, newspapers, novels and other popular media in building support for the abolition of slavery, with the current situation vis a vis Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

      The more you think about parallels and similarities, the more Hophmi’s assertion of “another inflammatory comparison” seems like desperate “whistling in the dark”.

  5. Pixel
    Pixel
    April 25, 2016, 4:09 pm

    (And the occupation is as grievous as slavery, because it is ours, in our time, and involves over 4 million people…)
    .

    I say, round it up to 6 million.
    .

    It would be poetic justice.

  6. a blah chick
    a blah chick
    April 25, 2016, 5:52 pm

    It’s always a bummer when you’re forced into oppressing someone.

  7. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    April 25, 2016, 7:34 pm

    Yes let’s acknowledge his eyes opening but “honor” is a another issue. As you bring up several times in your piece people who have come late to the movement have more than likely been supporting Israel’s decades long human rights crimes. or just had their heads buried in the sand by choice. They truly need to dig deep on that issue. Why? Then of course move forward.

    However ,when one is not willing to honestly reflect about the reasons why there was no outrage before this moment the true nature of that denial and avoidance beast is never acknowledged and never fully known.

    I honor the members of “Breaking the Silence” I hate many of the crimes many of the former soldiers have admitted to committing…I honor their sincere willingness to acknowledge and atone for their crimes by being so brutally honest.

    • WH
      WH
      April 26, 2016, 9:22 am

      Atone for their crimes? In their hearts perhaps, but they don’t face any punishment. Although I think the work of BtS is invaluable, I find it hard to overlook a degree of ‘shooting and crying’ there, and while the organization stands against the practices of the occupation, it’s not anti-Zionist.

      • Kathleen
        Kathleen
        April 26, 2016, 3:33 pm

        Agree about the lack of accountability..no punishment. Although I still honor them for stepping up to the plate and often admitting their guilt and shame. Then letting others know. No one holding a gun to their heads. Making a conscious choice. I find this remarkable and healthy.

        Have heard three Breaking the Silence members (former soldiers) speak. Powerful choices. They must suffer personal consequences of some kind

  8. yourstruly
    yourstruly
    April 26, 2016, 2:59 am

    ah, the epiphany

    where suddenly
    with such clarity
    stupid me
    why didn’t I see this before
    Palestine
    yes
    Israel
    no

  9. mbraverman
    mbraverman
    April 26, 2016, 9:39 am

    Inshallah, he writes the book, soon.

  10. silamcuz
    silamcuz
    April 26, 2016, 11:05 am

    Zionist is fundamentally anti-black, but I would never equate it to be in the same level of evil as the chattel slavery of blacks in the New World.

    People who draw parallels between Zionism or the Israeli regime treatment of Palestinians with the white landowners treatment of black slaves are intellectually dishonest. Zionism is not an “other” ideology relative to the West. I think those who are quick to compare Zionism with chattel slavery are those trying to draw attention away from the fact that Western society post the expulsion of the Islamic Moors from Europe have always been festering in dysfunction. “You think we were bad, look at what those Israelis are doing to the Arabs. See, we are not worst civilization after all”.

    I truly believe even the Palestinians wouldn’t equate their treatment by Israel as comparable to the treatment blacks got from their white masters during slavery.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      April 26, 2016, 3:30 pm

      “Hophmi” knows exactly how bad black slavery and the rest was. It was bad, all right, but not so bad it’s worth 9 teaching jobs in Brownsville.

      • gamal
        gamal
        April 26, 2016, 5:17 pm

        “worth 9 teaching jobs in Brownsville”

        and where was the board of education when Hophmi’s people were slaves in Egypt, which is in Africa, is there a maximum frisson one can get from vicarious trauma?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        April 26, 2016, 10:33 pm

        “and where was the board of education when Hophmi’s people were slaves in Egypt, which is in Africa?”

        I always thought ‘four questions’ weren’t enough! Maybe you’ve hit on the fifth.

        “And with a long arm, and a mighty hand, He brought them out of bondage to the promised suburbs.”

  11. iResistDe4iAm
    iResistDe4iAm
    April 26, 2016, 11:58 am

    It won’t be long before Michael Chabon is relentlessly hounded and mercilessly smeared to try to force him to do a ‘Richard Goldstone’ and recant.

  12. just
    just
    April 27, 2016, 10:03 am

    Thanks for the article. It’s great news, indeed.

    In other wonderful news:

    “Rabai al-Madhoun wins International prize for Arabic fiction

    ‘Arabic Booker’ goes to Destinies, a novel that ‘invents a new fictional form’ to depict Palestinian experience”

    The entire article and video here: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/27/rabai-al-madhoun-wins-international-prize-for-arabic-fiction#comment-73182960

  13. Tchoupitoulas
    Tchoupitoulas
    April 30, 2016, 9:31 pm

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay was such a great book. I loved it so much. I’m glad Michael Chabon came out on the side of good, instead of evil. Otherwise I would be depressed.

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