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‘This is apartheid, there is no better word for it’: Calls for boycott growing among mainstream Israelis

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A prominent Israeli scientist and a translator penned a joint op-ed for the Guardian last week calling on the international community to intervene on behalf of Palestinians, before time runs out. The pair, vice-president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities David Harel and writer and translator Ilana Hammerman, gained traction not only because of what they wrote, but who they are: They are not marginal public figures, they are not boycott or BDS activists, and they are not anti-Zionists. They are established and mainstream career professionals renowned in arts and science circles. And they fear, “The state of Israel is facing a catastrophic situation, which could, alarmingly soon, lead to extensive bloodshed.”

From their editorial:

“We represent a group of intellectuals and cultural figures central to Israeli society, several of whom are world renowned in their fields. We are patriotic Israeli citizens who love our country and who contribute tirelessly to Israeli science and culture, and to that of the world at large. We fully intend to stay here and continue to contribute, but we are horrified by the situation and fear deeply for our lives and those of our offspring, and for the lives of the 13 million Jews and Arabs who live here and who have no other homeland.”

The Palestinian government even picked up the story, posting the op-ed to the PLO’s Facebook page along with this excerpt, a line that closes the article: “… if peace is not established in this part of the world very soon, an area that has become a timebomb of national and religious tensions, there will be no future and no life for us or the Palestinians.”

Screen shot of David Harel and Ilana Hammerman’s op-ed in the Guardian published July 29, 2018.

Harel and Hammerman contend the abuses of the occupation are more or less legal by Israeli courts. The time for Israelis saving Israel is over. They explain in the Guardian that it’s the international community that needs to step in on behalf of Palestinians to ensure the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.

In a later interview with the Green Planet Monitor, Harel plunges deeper into what he and Hammerman meant by international intervention, and their language was blunt, “this is apartheid, there is no better word for it,” Harel said. He wants boycotts. He wants strategic and limited campaigns. Looking at the recent cancellation of a friendly soccer match between Argentina and Israel Harel told the Monitor, “[T]he impact that this kind of thing, a relatively minor issue of a football match being cancelled was unbelievable.”

Harel argues, if Israelis can be made to feel some kind of punishment then they can understand that the occupation is a problem, and one that will cost them too. As of now, he says there is nothing in current Trump-Netanyahu landscape to indicate Israel needs to change its course. He elaborated “careful pressure” will cause Israelis citizens and the government to “re-think the issue,”

“I’ve always said only half jokingly, that if this US were to cut it’s financial support to Israel by say 30, this would do something, that would make citizens inside Israel think ‘hey what is going on here? are we dong something wrong?’

Because right now if everything is fine. we have football matches, and tv, and baking contests, and our culture and science snap economics is fine. and the americans give us the money we need, we have a big strong army, then why does an average Israeli have to feel that something is wrong here?

Most of the Israeli citizens do not know what happens in the west bank.”

While the plan sounds an awful lot like the BDS movement, Harel sees his call as standing apart. Yet other than the optics of who is making the appeal–a mainstream figure in this case–it’s not entirely clear how Harel’s activism is different from say leading Palestinian critic and boycott activist Omar Barghouti.

When asked bluntly about abandoning the two-state solution and endorsing a single democratic state for Israelis and Palestinians, the most cited solution from the left but mocked or ignored by more centrist factions, Harel was warm to the idea. He cautioned at this time Israelis are opposed to living under some form of bi-nationalism, but the notion is one that  “I’m not totally against,” he said,

“My reaction is if that is a solution that is feasible, and you will find an Israeli government and a Palestinian leadership that would agree to that solution, fine. I’m willing to live like in Canada with English speaking and French speaking people. It’s not the same of course, but if there is a utopian possibility of this entire area, including the West Bank and Gaza and the Golan Heights being one country, one state, one government and all the people living there are equal citizens including voting rights, that’s fine with me.”

Allison Deger
About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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38 Responses

  1. bcg
    bcg
    July 3, 2018, 11:42 am

    I am stunned. A 68 year old computer scientist and applied mathematician who holds a high position in Israeli society is using the word ‘apartheid’? Is the discourse finally changing?

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      July 4, 2018, 11:00 am

      @beg

      “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state”
      EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

      Video: Israeli TV Host Implores Israelis: Wake Up and Smell the Apartheid
      https://www.youtube.com/wat

      Ronnie Kasrils, a key player in the struggle against the former South African apartheid regime, minister for intelligence, and a devout Jew: “The Palestinian minority in Israel has for decades been denied basic equality in health, education, housing and land possession, solely because it is not Jewish. The fact that this minority is allowed to vote hardly redresses the rampant injustice in all other basic human rights. They are excluded from the very definition of the ‘Jewish state’, and have virtually no influence on the laws, or political, social and economic policies. Hence, their similarity to the black South Africans [under apartheid].” (The Guardian, 25 May 2005)

      Shlomo Gazit, retired IDF Major General: “[Israel’s] legal system that enforces the law in a discriminatory way on the basis of national identity, is actually maintaining an apartheid regime.” (Haaretz, July 19, 2011)

      • JimMichie
        JimMichie
        July 4, 2018, 1:43 pm

        Oh, PLEASE, can’t we label Zionist Israel what it really is: a brutal, racist, genocidal, ethnic cleansing, land stealing, fascist, terrorist Zionist regime bent on continuing its slow-moving Holocaust for Palestine and all of its people!

      • RobertHenryEller
        RobertHenryEller
        July 12, 2018, 9:06 am

        James Miche: Yes we can.

  2. echinococcus
    echinococcus
    July 3, 2018, 1:57 pm

    “We represent a group of intellectuals and cultural figures central to Israeli society, several of whom are world renowned in their fields”

    Wonder why all we have is 2 authors, no other signatures?

    He elaborated “careful pressure” will cause Israelis citizens and the government to “re-think the issue,

    No matter how “careful” and timid, a call for boycott is always very welcome. Thanks for that. It could help a lot. Especially if we had more than 2 signatures.

    As far as the effectiveness of boycott alone, however, he seems to be blissfully unaware of the suicidal nature of ideological Zionists (i.e. those in power in the Zionist entity since its inception) and equally unaware of the relentless push by the Zionist leadership who, wielding all the power of the US and a majority of US opinion, currently sees no reason to compromise.

    • annie
      annie
      July 4, 2018, 12:01 pm

      he seems ..blissfully unaware of the suicidal nature of ideological Zionists …and equally unaware of the relentless push by the Zionist leadership who…currently sees no reason to compromise.

      curious why you write that. they described the situation as

      a timebomb of national and religious tensions, there will be no future and no life

      and they didn’t specifically address zionism nor the term “suicidal” but effectively “no future and no life” amounts to the same thing. but why would you assume they are “blissfully unaware”? did you listen to the soundcloud interview?

      Wonder why all we have is 2 authors, no other signatures?

      it’s very common to write and publish op-eds without attached signatures. they wrote “We represent a group of intellectuals and cultural figures central to Israeli society, several of whom are world renowned in their fields” and i have no reason to assume they are lying.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 4, 2018, 12:43 pm

        Relatively reasonable objections, Annie. But, as usual, we are looking at it from opposed angles:

        1- The expression of pessimism and even despair by the authors is fully justified by the dominating presence of ideologically motivated Zionists, of course.

        But I see you omitted in your quote the central point (not out of malice but because our field of vision is limited by our political worldview.) The full quote is:
        As far as the effectiveness of boycott alone, however, he seems to be blissfully unaware of the suicidal nature of ideological Zionists”.

        I suppose you, too, expect the US and its Zionist entity extension to fold by peaceful means. That’s being blissfully unaware of the suicidal nature of ideological Zionists. It may well affect your activi[ty]sm.

        they wrote “We represent a group of intellectuals and cultural figures central to Israeli society, several of whom are world renowned in their fields” and i have no reason to assume they are lying

        Of course you don’t. A huge lot of people I know do, as a reflex. As a matter of principle, people do not even stop to look at that kind of stuff if a longish list with impressive names is not there to command attention. That’s why the papers generally either do an op-ed commenting the event, or they publish the signed whole 9yds. This here suggests the Grauniad is sabosupportaging them.

        ————
        One other thing: if they are (justifiably) so pessimistic about the outcome of this, they may be 1,000x more effective by announcing, with signatures, that they refuse to participate in invasion and are all emigrating immediately.

      • annie
        annie
        July 4, 2018, 1:06 pm

        ech, first off, i’m not objecting to your statement, i just didn’t know what you were basing your opinion on. and personally, i don’t expect anything in the region to unfold peacefully except perhaps some incremental changes (albeit most changes, incremental or not, are violent). as far as omitting any of your words, i intended my commentary to address your full statement, and the omission was due to being precise in the part i didn’t understand.

        that said, “1” is self evident. “As far as the effectiveness of boycott alone“, doesn’t change the premise of my question.

        A huge lot of people I know do.

        because we all know you discussed this article with a huge amount of people. s/ this is called the bandwagon effect in point scoring. either way, i’m not suggesting there’s 100’s standing behind him. we all know the left in israel is small. but again, i have no reason to think he’s lying. “a group of intellectuals and cultural figures ” could be 20 people in a country of millions. i agree they’d be “1,000x more effective by announcing, with signatures, that they refuse to participate in invasion”, if there were a lot of them which there probably are not. as far as emigrating, it’s effective up to a point. pappe emigrated, not sure how much of a difference it made. of course if there were 1000’s standing behind him that might make a difference, but a couple dozen? not so much.

        still not getting where the “blissfully unaware of the suicidal nature of ideological Zionists” comes from, in relation to the effectiveness of boycott or not. he seems like a relatively smart guy, i’d imagine it’s occurred to him, in whatever “blissful” state you’re imagining.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 4, 2018, 2:28 pm

        Very well, Annie.

        – What one is unaware of depends on the purpose for which the awareness is needed. Of course. I did state I’m delighted with their boycott but their continued loyalty shows that they don’t get (are unaware of) why they should be more than pessimistic (“patriotic Israeli citizens who love our country… We fully intend to stay here and continue to contribute”.) In other words, they see it as somehow fixable.

        – what I stated about unsigned mass petitions is of course not based on this one, duh, but past experience in a longish life, including as organizer of such collective appeals –not that any such experience is really necessary to observing a little around us. Or to expecting the Guardian to, of course, try to sabotage it.

        – even if they are a couple dozen big names, an announcement of permanent emigration (or repatriation, if it’s the case) would still have a humongous effect, as opposed to the silent flight of the still-loyal Zionists looking for personal comfort and safety.

        I don’t know why I sometimes get the impression that you argue because things are not worded exactly just so as fits your particular taste.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        July 4, 2018, 4:30 pm

        “I don’t know why I sometimes get the impression that you argue because things are not worded exactly just so as fits your particular taste.”

        Well, you might try and find out, because this “impression” seems to be driving you to distraction.

  3. Danaa
    Danaa
    July 3, 2018, 8:20 pm

    With regard to that elusive bi-national entity, I would go further than Harel and suggest that such an entity is essential to saving what can be of the israel project. Indeed, I maintained for some time now, that the jewish israelis desperately need the palestinians to be with them in such an endeavor. Or else, it is the very soul of Israel that will be lost, not to mention what’s left of the country’s reputation.

    I believe – along with many israelis – that the encroaching religious takeover of the country is not far off. Already, the religious school system is gaining by leaps and bounds. Already, over 60% (need to check latest) of elementary school children are in schools affiliated with one orthodox Jewish movement or another. Already, more and more people in Israel – including many who were raised secular – are becoming more religious as time goes on – for any number of reasons. May be because religion is the one thing that allows them to self justify an apartheid state. It is for example, estimated that by 2025 over 30% of the Jewish population will be ultra-orthodox, with another 30-35% orthodox or at least deeply observant, among which are the many who identify as orthodox nationalists.

    That is changing the discourse in Israel already, because, as many there understand (not in the US of course) Judaism, as taught in Israel, is a deeply reactionary variant of the religion. This is not the more tolerant Reform or Conservative Judaism known to Americans. The Israeli version of Judaism, or even more “Jewish culture”, is on a trajectory leading away from the principles of enlightenment (Haskala) not towards a more inclusive future.

    Yossi Gurvitz penned an article here just a few days ago, addressing some of these concerns, stated quite uncompromisingly (and he should know, having been raised in that very Jewish tradition). I am trying to go a step beyond his dire diagnosis and prognosticate about an even darker future ahead.

    The only way out for the slowly suffocating secular population of israel is to team up with the Palestinians, and create new models of co-operation. The seculars of Israel need not only the israeli-Palestinians, but as many as they can have on their side from the West bank and Gaza. Sure, many Palestinians are religious too, but even among those who are, their version of Islam does not preclude tolerance of others. At least not in the way reactionary forms of nationalist Judaism – the kind I was taught – do. many among the Palestinians also identify more as culturally Arab than a people set religiously apart. Not unlike Jews in israel who consider themselves culturally Jewish, rather than religiously so. Unfortunately, a great subset of the latter are quite nationalistic, often blindly so. But not everyone and not across the board.

    Can such a rapprochement happen? I don’t know. But stranger things have happened in history. The will is certainly not there now, but as Israel moves ever closer to a theocracy, and as it becomes increasingly obvious that this is happening, there is a possibility that there’ll be at least some in israel willing to look at more radical options for a way out of perdition.

    It might all happen too late, of course, and very bad things will happen long before reason will come to prevail. But as harel’s piece shows, there are those in Israel, who at least are willing to start thinking outside the box.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 3, 2018, 11:56 pm

      Danaa

      , I would go further than Harel and suggest that such an entity is essential to saving what can be of the israel project. Indeed, I maintained for some time now, that the jewish israelis desperately need the palestinians to be with them in such an endeavor

      Both your statements above are absolutely right.

      That is precisely why Palestinians, in the rare event that they know what is in their interest, should absolutely refuse to collaborate to this scheme and do their utmost to sink it.

      Not unlike Jews in israel who consider themselves culturally Jewish, rather than religiously so. Unfortunately, a great subset of the latter are quite nationalistic, often blindly so. But not everyone and not across the board

      I wonder about the logic that allows your exception. In the total absence of any cultural element common to the different species of “Jews”, the only “cultural Jewishness” that can be invoked with a semblance of reality is the Zionist entity culture. That in itself makes it violently and arrogantly nationalist (and mytho-racist), except for a few deeply deluded people.

      My conclusion based on only logical premises (as I am without direct contact with, or knowledge of, the everyday reality) would be that in the absence of a sensible difference in the Palestinians’ daily life between a totalitarian Judaic State in the Levant and an “enlightened” bunch of ” human-looking, liberal” genocidaires, the former is to be wished and encouraged. It is very likely to alienate itself from its allies, even the US, while the ” liberal” side will be much more likely to survive.

      • annie
        annie
        July 4, 2018, 12:10 pm

        In the total absence of any cultural element common to the different species of “Jews”, the only “cultural Jewishness” that can be invoked with a semblance of reality is the Zionist entity culture.

        aside from totally rejecting your idea of jews being a species, or several species, it appears you’re arguing there’s a “total absence of any cultural element” jews have in common, hence, and as a result of that, you’ve determined “cultural Jewishness” is equal to “zionist entity culture”? is that what you’re saying? could you explain further?

        because how can one simultaneously argue there’s a “total absence” of any common cultural element and also maintain all jews share “zionist entity culture”? i’m confused!

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 4, 2018, 2:48 pm

        Annie,

        “Species” is there with an intention to mock some, of course. Do you like “cultivars” or “persuasions” or… “tribes” better?

        In the total absence of any non-Jewish common-Jewish traits, cultural or not, the only thing that remains (for Zionists, obviously) is Zionist-entity Kultur.

        NB. To return the nitpicking, “all jews” is not the correct wording: in context, Danaa was writing about the nationalism of “Jews in israel”. But I might as well have written that, too, considering the degree of statistical significance of the exceptions.

        So, don’t be confused any longer.

      • Danaa
        Danaa
        July 4, 2018, 4:10 pm

        In the total absence of any cultural element common to the different species of “Jews”, the only “cultural Jewishness” that can be invoked with a semblance of reality is the Zionist entity culture.

        Couple comments:

        (1) I think that in this connection (cf. my comment) it’s important to differentiate between “Jews” of Israel and “Jews” of the world, even if it’s clear from the subtext. The two are not only on diverging trajectories in their attitudes and practice of the religion, “Judaism”, but also culturally. The Jewish Israeli’s culture is that something known as “Israeli” culture, and it wouldn’t do to deny the existence of a culture that is intimately wrapped up with the language spoken there, namely, Hebrew. It is not all wrapped up with religion and not always with extreme nationalism, though some of it may be. I could go on more about that but another comment another time. For now, I’ll just throw in the fact that it is very much a Meditarranean type culture in many ways where the sea and the sun and political cynicism play a big role. . “Jewish culture” outside Israel is another thing altogether but generally gives more prominent role to religious symbols and oftentimes, an outsize role for zionism. Both in ways that are basically in a cultural vacuum, since they only have the languages spoken in their own countries to wrap it in. The French have theirs and the American theirs, and in each one “Jewish values” as interpreted in thier countries are dominant themes, with the “Jewish culture” grafted unto them.

        (2) my own comment to which you replied had to do with the depiction of zionism and nationalism take-over as described by Yossi Gurvitz in that article about a week ago here. Ideally I’d tie them together – his diagnosis and my prognosis in more detail but I need to leave that to another day.

      • annie
        annie
        July 4, 2018, 6:13 pm

        I’ll just throw in the fact that it is very much a Meditarranean type culture in many ways where the sea and the sun and political cynicism play a big role.

        gurvitz’s article zeroed in on a specific facet of the culture that spanned from Issac Herzog, Jewish Agency, to Baruch Marzel, the 2 former not necessarily overtly (or commonly) associated with blatant racism unlike Marzel (although i’d beg to differ), and demonstrated how they share the same essentially racist ideology. and i’d argue this is cultural. but you bring up a point about culture w/this ‘sea and sun’ comment that more accurately reflects my ideas about culture in general which is that it doesn’t imply everyone has to be on board with something, or share it culturally, to have it be part of a culture. ie, some people might think of american culture as apple pie and baseball where others might associate it with incarceration, the country on the planet with the highest percentage of citizen’s imprisoned, and how that is an extension of our culture of slavery. both are true, but one can easily be steeped in american culture w/nary a thought of either one.

        certainly when i think of israel ‘sea, sun and the mediterranean’ are not what pops into my mind, but for many that’s exactly what israel is, or how they experience it. but israel, as a zionist entity, i’d imagine it would be practically impossible to separate that from the legacy of israeli jews and all their right wing supporters.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 4, 2018, 7:35 pm

        Annie

        but you bring up a point about culture w/this ‘sea and sun’ comment that more accurately reflects my ideas about culture in general which is that it doesn’t imply everyone has to be on board with something, or share it culturally, to have it be part of a culture

        As everything in the world where social phenomena, i.e. more than one unit, are being discussed, I don’t believe that one can have a requirement that everyone has to be on board. It’s obviously a question of statistical distribution. With or without the more-or-less “science” of anthropological description or (whaa) polling, everyone gets a feel of the statistics –right or wrong.

        The other part to this is that you can’t define it as either sun and strand vs. genocidal invader consciousness, or apple pie + baseball vs war of aggression. As a majority culture, it may well be, say, sun+strand+absence of consciousness of being on other people’s land and committing genocide. As for this absence of consciousness I won’t buy it even for used toilet paper. Consciousness of their being on other people’s land is absolutely pervasive, as is the general approval of racist behavior. I was there only once in the immmediate post-1967 (not breaking the boycott) but that was more than enough to witness the culture which all polls and reporting tell us has gotten much worse.
        Danaa’s description of extra-Palestine Zionist Kultur is very good but I see no reason to consider it separate from the rest of the Zionists’. Also, by the statistics that govern all our lives, it is, for all practical purposes, “Jewish” culture itself.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      July 4, 2018, 12:59 am

      “It is for example, estimated that by 2025 over 30% of the Jewish population will be ultra-orthodox, with another 30-35% orthodox or at least deeply observant, among which are the many who identify as orthodox nationalists.”

      So 30% won’t work at all, and, with another 30% on part-time work when not at the yeshiva, the Israeli economy is going to have to depend on the Arab part of the population in order to keep going.

      But, on the plus side, they’ll be spared the ghastly female singing that plagues supermarkets in Australia.

      • Danaa
        Danaa
        July 4, 2018, 4:33 pm

        RoHa, yes, the economic dimension is a critical part of my dire prognosis for this theocracy now being foisted on the world. Originally I had a whole paragraph devoted to this aspect also, but removed it in the interest of brevity – my new commitment (made very year, only to be broken within months, if not days).

        You are right of course, that the near-exponential rise in the ultra-orthodox (Haredi) population comes with a major economic penalty as their contribution to the larger israeli economy is woefully low, be it as labor or as consumers. They are effectively a productivity drag on the country in almost every way one can imagine. They contribute much less than they consume, in welfare and in healthcare, and are also a net drag on the culture, that vaunted Israeli culture. After all, like you said, no singing and dancing from them. No technology either.

        Already, the inequality index for israel is nearly the worst of all OECD countries, the US included. And that is exacerbated by the religious segment – both the haredi and the Mizrahi orthodox, which is also a major problem area.

        The other dimension in the impoding culture of that israel is corruption, with the Rabbinate a major force in that. You cannot have religious authorities scrambling for maximum influence and zealosly guarding their role in civic life, without corruption being a side-effect and without the larger culture taking a major hit. This corruption is endemic to israeli culture making it a bit like Sicily, where the mafia rules over most aspects of life.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        July 5, 2018, 10:51 pm

        “This corruption is endemic to israeli culture making it a bit like Sicily, where the mafia rules over most aspects of life.”

        A homeland for Meyer Lansky, Mickey Cohen, Bugsy Siegel, and the Murder, Inc. staff.

        https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-gangsters-in-america

        “Jewish gangsters also helped establish Israel after the war. One famous example is a meeting between Bugsy Siegel and Reuven Dafne, a Haganah emissary, in 1945. Dafne was seeking funds and guns to help liberate Palestine from British rule. … For weeks, Dafne received suitcases filled with $5 and $10 bills — $50,000 in all — from Siegel.

        No one should paint gangsters as heroes. They committed acts of great evil. Historian Rockaway has presented a textured version of Jewish gangster history in a book ironically titled, But They Were Good to their Mothers. Some have observed that, despite their disreputable behavior, they could be good to their people, too.”

        Good to “their people”. So that’s all right, then.

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      July 4, 2018, 4:17 am

      Thank you Danaa for your thoughts.

      “I am trying to go a step beyond his dire diagnosis and prognosticate about an even darker future ahead.”

      It’s not hard to at all, is it? The problem with david harel, besides his continued declaration of love for the selfish, hateful and murderous bitch also known as the ‘state of israel’, is, with all of his education, still sugar coats the death knell that awaits all of us in this region if ‘israel’ isn’t made to feel any pain.

  4. Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
    July 4, 2018, 8:48 am

    On the Palestinian side, there is a clear movement even inside Hamas away from religious bigotry. This can be seen by comparing the Charter, which interprets the struggle in religious terms, connected through Quranic verses with Muhammad’s wars against Judaic tribes, with the political declaration issued last year, which contains no verses from the Quran, rejects hostility to Jews as such, and interprets the struggle in secular terms as one against Zionism. If Palestinian efforts to achieve national unity are to succeed it can only be on a secular basis..

    Regarding a pending takeover by religious forces, do you have in mind the version espoused by the temple movement, who want to demolish the Al-Aqsa mosque, rebuild the Temple on the site as the ritual center of Judaism, and reconstitute the Sanhedrin as the supreme body of power? Or something less radical? It seems to me that the radical version of theocracy would so undermine the country’s technology and economy — suppose, for instance, that livestock could again be slaughtered only by the priests at the temple — that it would be blocked by technocratic and capitalist elements, perhaps by means of a military coup.

  5. Abu Yusef
    Abu Yusef
    July 4, 2018, 10:59 am

    Once when I was a much younger man (1992) I went back to my father’s village Nabi Saleh and was able to have an unbelievable conversation with my cousins who were born and raised into and under occupation. All they knew at that time was resistance and intifada! They spoke with pride and honor about Abu Ammar and how he was close to making Palestine and independent vibrant nation, with self determination and shedding the ilk of Israel once and for all! We sat on a hill that overlooked the land that was taken directly from my father and Uncle. Although we could see the land with our own eyes it was now considered a town in Israel called Halamish!

    As we sat there many nights during zeitoon season, we fantasized that one day we would have our land returned to us. We imagined that we would be able to build our own houses and return to picking the olives that have been denied us since 1978. The olive’s that fed our family for centuries. We all imagined that this would be when Yaser Arafat finally secured a just and lasting peace for all the people who were living under this occupation.

    I remember during this visit how we were still able to raise our own chickens and were not dependent on any markets or stores to feed our selves. Hummus was always made fresh and the protein we ate that night, usually was walking around shortly before it was on our plate! Grape leaves were picked right from the vine and stuffed that night with the most delicious combination of rice and lamb your taste buds would ever experience.

    In 1992, I was young, idealistic and thought there was still hope for us to be a independent nation, fully realized, as the diaspora Palestinians would return from Chile, the United States and the rest of the world they had been calling home for the pass fifty plus years and build an amazingly diverse country.

    Well life happened, United States Army Service. I later became a cop in Newark NJ and a family was built. During that time I was not able to make it back to Nabi Saleh for twenty years.

    My first homecoming in twenty years was significantly different from 1992. Two decades of failed negotiations, a second intifada, the death of multiple cousins and the expansion and embolden of the citizens of Halamish aided by the IDF, provided completely different optics of Nabi Saleh. The occupation became very violent and oppressive with restriction on movement and a very heavy handiness by the IDF when dealing with the youth of Nabi Saleh. Now being a Soldier in the Army and a cop I was not a stranger to CS/CN (teargas), but nothing can prepare you for a two in the morning dose of it while you sleep.

    Let me restate that, nothing can prepare a law abiding American Citizen for this! It goes against everything we stand for! You know Truth, Justice and the American way! We are not used to Army units rolling into a quiet village in the middle of night and begin to pepper its inhabitants with Tear Gas! Sure, we may see that on T.V. when reporters are covering full scale riots, but not a sleepy town while everyone slept, it would be an outrage!

    Yet, this is what happened to me personally in Nabi Saleh during my stay in 2012. Most people would take this lightly, especially Palestinians who have known this scent and intrusive encounter with the IDF since they were babes in their cribs! Not me! I was really troubled by the whole thing and for the first time in my adult life I felt that I could get injured or killed! Now remember I am a cop in one of the toughest cities in New Jersey which is not for the faint of heart! I have stared down violent situations in the past and came away somewhat unscathed! But, this was different! This was a man trained to protect and serve, to fight and neutralize all threats against other humans, who felt as helpless as that babe in the crib.

    That’s not all. As I sat there at night enjoying the summer breeze I was hit with a very unfamiliar and extremely nauseating smell! When I asked what the smell was, I was told Skunk Water! This was explained to me that the IDF would spray our fields with sewer water, close to the roads, in order for us not to have the ability to grow any produce or have animals graze.

    This is when I realized we were slowly being placed on a reservation with the intent to make the Palestinian way of life disappear from the landscape. We were becoming the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians as the IDF took their charge and encroached closer and closer up the hill making the village more Halamish and less Nabi Saleh! I also observed we no longer made our own hummus and our chicken came prepackaged and cleaned from a store in Biet Rima! We were no longer self sufficient! We were dependent!

    As I spoke to my cousins this time around there was no hope of Independence! As a matter of fact I heard more than once (from everyone I spoke with) that we should just be part of Israel! One State! My young cousins who were fiercely proud of their Palestinian heritage were ready to call themselves Israeli’s. They now imagined being able to live in Halamish with it’s swimming pools and guarded gates! It’s basketball courts and accessibility to the beaches of Tel Aviv! These young people wanted what every other young adult wanted, internet access and video games where the violence was virtual, not reality! I heard them say they would join the Israeli Army gladly! Their thought was that if we were part of Israel we would have full protection of the government as citizens. They were tired! That was 2012.

    Fast forward to today and the next generation who now have been living under occupation for 70 years have a more bleak outlook of peace in Palestine. They watched as our family has been attacked by Michael Oren calling us (The Tamimi Family) actors because we have light eyes and light hair!

    We watched the systematic targeting of our most beautiful and handsome children who were placed in prison! We screamed for help as we watched the IDF shoot one of our children in the head and then imprison one of our daughters for reacting like any other human being would after seeing such violence. We sat helpless as the IDF sprayed Skunk water on one of our children who has Down Syndrome! We sat in horror as we witnessed the IDF shot then let our son Izz Al Din bleed to death, in the back of an Army jeep, only to be discarded like trash once his life had ended.

    So back on the reservation called Nabi Saleh, the natives are being painted, as savages who have no respect for or love of life, just as the Native Americans were described by the colonialist of the nineteenth century! The difference is the intellectuals who see this horrible and brutal occupation through the gaze of twenty-first century eyes! These eyes have the advantage of real time video and live stream horror! Your eyes do not tell lies, no matter how many times Bibi tells you not to believe them! These intellectuals will not allow the nihilistic regime of Netanyahu and his locomotive derail their humanity! He woke them up!

    The result of this awakening is the Palestinians reality finally being seen. This is a hard reality and if it makes you uncomfortable to watch, good, this tells me that you still have your humanity where it supposed to be!

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 4, 2018, 1:09 pm

      Abu Yusef,

      Don’t speak as if you were an old man yet. Seeing how fast and violently the world is turning in these days, it’s not impossible that you may live to see Zionism destroyed.

      • Abu Yusef
        Abu Yusef
        July 4, 2018, 1:26 pm

        Believe me when I tell you that I was so idealistic that in 1993 I actually argued with my father that there was going to be a true peace. He looked me right in my eyes and said not in his, mine our my children’s lifetime. I write this with true sadness and slight optimism, that although he has been right so far, maybe you will be right. Maybe zionism will fail as an experiment and all of us who love the Holy Land can live in peace without threat of death because of the flag we raise or one neighbor believing they are superior to the other!

    • gamal
      gamal
      July 4, 2018, 7:00 pm

      “We screamed for help as we watched the IDF shoot one of our children in the head and then imprison one of our daughters for reacting like any other human being would after seeing such violence”

      thank you Abu Yusef, Ahed Tamimi is a global superstar, it may not save her i hope it does, thank you.

  6. Misterioso
    Misterioso
    July 4, 2018, 11:03 am

    @Stephen Shenfield

    For the record:

    On 16 June 2009, after meeting with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Ismail Haniya, prime minister of Hamas’s Gaza Strip government, announced that “If there is a real plan to resolve the Palestinian question on the basis of the creation of a Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967 [i.e. 22% of historic Palestine] and with full sovereignty, we are in favour of it.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/isra…
    “‘We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees,’ [**] Haniyeh said, referring to the year of Middle East war in which Israel captured East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. ” (Haaretz, December 1, 2010) No response from the entity known as “Israel.”
    ** By calling for a “resolution of the issue of refugees,” Haniyeh was in accordance with Res. 194, which calls for financial compensation as an option for the Palestinian refugees rather than their inalienable “Right of Return.”

    In its revised Charter, April, 2017, Hamas again agreed to a Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 borders. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Israel promptly rejected the Hamas overture instead of using it to open a dialogue.

    https://www.haaretz.com/isr…
    “Senior Hamas Official: ‘I Think We Can All Live Here in This Land – Muslims, Christians and Jews.’” By Nir Gontarz. March 28, 2018, Haaretz. No response from the entity known as “Israel.”

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 4, 2018, 1:03 pm

      Misterioso,

      By calling for a “resolution of the issue of refugees,” Haniyeh was in accordance with Res. 194, which calls for financial compensation as an option for the Palestinian refugees rather than their inalienable “Right of Return.”

      Haniyeh is not, there, giving away what you correctly indicate is an inalienable right but suggesting a compromise at this stage, doing his job as a political leader. Cool so far.
      If we read the whole statement, we’ll see that he is not pretending to have the right to accept money for permanently forfeiting an inalienable right. Because, well, it’s inalienable .

  7. VQTilley
    VQTilley
    July 4, 2018, 11:21 am

    I’m a little puzzled by some of these comments.

    Sure, I too was bemused that Dr. Harel apparently thought Israel was doing okay as long as it was dominated by the secular “liberal” Judaism and its Enlightenment principles that he shares. It’s bewildering that this vision overlooks so blandly the Nakba, the occupation, and all the horrors committed under secular-Jewish Zionist leaderships. Much like the odd idea that Israel would have been fine if it hadn’t been for that darned 1967 war and the occupation where Israel “lost its soul.”

    Still, I suggest that Dr. Harel be warmly thanked for this editorial because it really does represent a tremendous paradigm shift. Two points here. First, he and others of his “liberal” community (the term always requires scare quotes in this context) are recognizing that the Palestinian problem isn’t going away, that it’s horrible, that Israel must change profoundly, and that this change may well extend to Israel’s becoming a fully secular state for all its citizens. That’s a massive step, and a courageous one on a personal as well as professional level. That it’s hard for him fully to peel out of his previous understanding of Israel is to be expected. How many of us can drop a whole realm of thought, whole cloth, in one leap? I still meet tons of “leftists” who rage about specific US foreign policies but still treat them as aberrations, not having grasped that the US, far more often than not, the bad guy on the world stage. Such revelations move in increments. And apparently Dr. Harel has already gone far down that tortuous road.

    Second, Dr. Harel’s editorial signals something I suggested back in 2005: the fissure opening in Jewish-national unity. The political Zionism gluing Israel together has always depended on plastering over deep divisions among Jews about what a Jewish state should be like. If that “national pact” breaks down, then Israel won’t be able to claim to be the “state of the Jewish people.” The way things are going, it will be the “state of the Orthodox Jews.” Israel can’t survive without its US and European Hasbara lobbies securing its income, trade privileges, etc., and the great majority of American Jews are Reform or Progressive … or secular. Ironically, this is one reason why Israel has to keep building the settlements – to keep the fundamentalist territorialists in the fold. This editorial signals that a major chunk of Israel’s claimed “national” constituency is calving off. As I read him, Dr. Harel is ready to let Israel go and embrace true democracy and equality. That’s a huge step, a principled one, and one likely to bring penalties down on him. I personally respect and welcome it. I’d like to hear more from him.

    Puzzles: I don’t know what Danaa means by “this scheme.” If Dr. Harel has a scheme, it would seem to be a secular democratic state. What’s wrong with that? Maybe I lost the thread. Also, to Danaa: sweepingly negating the sense of ethnic community shared by Jews through the centuries really isn’t helpful, I don’t think. If people feel such affinity, that’s all such identities are. It’s not sufficient – or even ethical, in my book — for someone else to presume superior authority over the matter and shout “false consciousness!” Jews in the US, Europe and elsewhere experience Jewish identity as a communal one, sometimes a very powerful communal one. In sum, I suggest leaving Jewish community to one side. In itself, it’s not relevant here: what’s relevant is whether one conceives of Jewishness, or any identity, as having a license to oppress others.

    Marnie: Not sure what you mean by the death knell and Israeli pain. His whole editorial seems to be aiming at the problem that Israel isn’t being made to feel any pain, and should be. Could you please clarify?

    Stephen: Good point about Hamas. Supporting data: surveys have always found OPT Palestinian support for an Islamic state running under 4 percent.

    RoHa: Fully agree about that god-awful cringe-worthy singing in Australian supermarkets.

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 4, 2018, 3:09 pm

      My turn to be puzzled, Tilley.

      If people feel such affinity, that’s all such identities are. It’s not sufficient – or even ethical, in my book — for someone else to presume superior authority over the matter and shout “false consciousness!”

      The supreme authority in my book is objective, measurable findings. Here we have a subjective feeling in a majority, following conscious manipulation by the Zionists and the Nazis.

      In sum, I suggest leaving Jewish community to one side. In itself, it’s not relevant here…

      Unsubstantiated feelings of collectivity (especially if artificial and strong) beget nationalism, which begets Blut-und-Boden, which in the absence of Boden begets colonial aggression, which begets the need to engineer pan-religious solidarity of the non-religious and non-Eskenazi… and the begats end with genocide.
      Ain’t that relevant enough?

    • echinococcus
      echinococcus
      July 4, 2018, 4:08 pm

      .

    • Keith
      Keith
      July 4, 2018, 7:45 pm

      VQTILLEY- “Also, to Danaa: sweepingly negating the sense of ethnic community shared by Jews through the centuries really isn’t helpful, I don’t think.”

      Wow! This is significant misrepresentation of reality. Prior to the rise of the modern nation-state and the Haskala, the Jewish community was united primarily religiously by what Israel Shahak refers to as Classical Judaism. They also performed a service role in medieval society and were separate from the surrounding Gentile community, usually by choice. Modernity and the Haskala changed all of that, not Danaa. Jews divided into Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews, and secular Jews and began the process of assimilation, welcomed by the majority of Jews at the time. The shared sense of community was broken by the forces of modernization. Zionism was a response to this breakup. An attempt to return to a unified Jewish community based upon a form of sacralized blood and soil nationalism. Danaa’s comments are an attempt to discuss and analyze current reality and is essential to understanding both the Israeli political economy and the imperial political economy. And while Israeli Orthodoxy approaches the ideology of Classical Judaism, American Reform Judaism and secular “Jewishness” most assuredly do not. Nowadays, it is Zionism which unites the world’s Jews, not some ageless ethnic community. Perhaps you should reread the article by Yossi Gurvitz. http://mondoweiss.net/2018/07/slouching-collapses-feminism/

    • Danaa
      Danaa
      July 4, 2018, 9:51 pm

      VQTilley: I don’t know what Danaa means by “this scheme.” If Dr. Harel has a scheme, it would seem to be a secular democratic state.

      I don’t think I used the word “scheme” – you may conflate my comment with that of Echi…following it. I deliberately tried to use a neutral word, as in “entity” meaning, in this context, a political entity, such as a bi-national state. I believe that’s what Harel was referring to and my comments addressed that kind of an outcome, speculative though it is. Harel specifically referred to Quebec to illustrate his point that a bi-lingual, bi-cultural state can exist happily ever after, even as part of, and side by side with a larger entity, namely Canada.

      Harel went on to state that he is willing to exist within such an entity, which almost by definition means something other than a purely Jewish state. Of course, this type of a bi-national Israel can only exist within a larger secular context. One that would be more democratic as it would respond to the needs of ALL its citizens, whichever religion they happen to follow, and whatever ethnicity sets them apart. Belgium and Quebec-in-Canada are good examples for such co-existence, as is Switzerland with its cantons, as was Syria (before the regime change operation) though the latter had its flaws (yet was still unique in the Middle East, extending a measure of interfaith tolerance to most, if not all its citizens. Even the Palestinian refugees were allowed a large cil role in that Syria, unlike in many other countries, Israel included).

      I do not disagree with this as a sensible model for modern times. But as you may have noted I had some doubts that the rapidly rising religious and ultra-religious segments of Jewish part of Israel will go along with such an arrangement; principally because “sensible” is not part of the zealous Judaic sub-culture that arose in Israel. To understand why that is one does need to read through Shahak’s book, I think, because that streak of great intolerance was deeply embedded within the medieval jewish Ashkenazi societies from which Israel sprang.

      Unfortunately, the Mizrahi version of Judaism which was considerably more tolerant (originally) did not prevail in Israel as those who came from Arabic and Persian societies were relegated to second or even third class citizenry. So nowadays, of course, the Mizrahi are super-zealous as they try to distinguish themselves from Arab societies (from whence they sprang) by hanging on to some elusive Jewish supremacist concepts that were not indigenous to their parents and grandparents. I say “of course” because that’s often the way them who were second and third class try to raise their own self-esteem. Especially as whatever culture their ancestors have had was erased near completely by modern Israel. So naturally they hang on to whatever gives them a sense of pride, and “Jewish” is about it.

      Also to this:
      Danaa: sweepingly negating the sense of ethnic community shared by Jews through the centuries really isn’t helpful, I don’t think. If people feel such affinity, that’s all such identities are. . I rather agree with all Keith had to say. I would however add, that just “feeling an affinity” is not enough, by itself, to assert cultural commonality. The European and American jews do not speak Hebrew and Israeli culture, as most who grow up there understand it, is deeply deeply tied up with that language. Hebrew is vastly different than English for example, not only in tone, in touch and in feel, but is distinguished by its much much smaller vocabulary (an order of magnitude). The language thrives in its brevity and compactness, but only the very erudite speakers of Hebrew have any use for nuance. By contrast, English, as spoken and felt by the majority of, say American jews, is quite nuanced, and that nuance, the subtlety of the language crept into Jewish-American culture, which unsurprisingly is a fairly intellectual one.

      Yes, there may be some shared history in Europe but by now that shared history is 1-2 centuriies old, and most, if not all of the culture that came from that old Europe (pre-WWII) was conducted and lived in Yiddish. The expressions, the jokes, the humor, the literature, the customs, and the interpretations of the medieval jewish sages, were all embedded within a Yiddish culture. One that israel saw fit to obliterate, just as it obliterated nearly all vestiges of of the Mizrahi’s culture. In the US, what we know for example as East Coast jewish culture (and I am speaking of the mostly secular or mildly religious segments) sprang from Yiddish culture, its love of the theatre, its respect for a certain brand of wry humor, and its embrace of tolerance as a paramount virtue. Not so in israel (and I know I am generalizing here) which grew its own theatrical arts, music (much of it love-of-land themed), poetry, literature, etc., just about all of it in Hebrew.

      So, there may be some “ethnic affinity” as you say, but there is still a very small intersection between American and Israeli cultures. I would go as far and say that there is only some “sentimental affinity” based on the fact that both people pay some respect to an older history, and to some very old scriptures (the Tanakh). Even those with vastly different emphasis.

      Others have elaborated on the many differences between the different “Jewish” cultures inside and outside israel much better and more learnedly than I do. But those who have some familiarity with both can attest to the diverging trajectories, which is what I addressed, at least superficially.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        July 5, 2018, 12:11 am

        Danaa,

        Correct, I used the word “scheme”, as in scheming.

        That said, your characterization of whatever there may be in common among the may different strands of invaders and Zionists outside Palestine rings very largely true.

        But then, my angle is that of coming off all that attention to a situation created by the Zionist invasion (i.e. after the damage is done) and focusing first on what there was before, in order to have a clear idea of the rights position. That is still urgently needed; a very large number of even sincere supporters of the Palestinian resistance, including most here, still recognize some legitimacy to at least the initial invasion. The myth of a pan-Jewish “identity” is still accepted by many, and clarity on that is a significant part of answering the legitimacy question.

        That’s why, while the obviously existing invader culture and its pan-Zionist offshoot is in the present, I insist that it remains irrelevant as long as we know that there is no sign and no probability that the Zionist crazies will ever consent –even under extreme pressure and threat: that’s because the chances of some binat or unitary or whatever federation are way way lower than they ever were in Algeria. This is not South Africa. What we have is a group of ideological crazies, the most suicidal in my opinion being not the Orthodox or any religious fundamentalist lowbrows, but the Jabotinsky-Ben Gurion line, i.e. the perfectly secular Labor-Likud duet, who have never deviated an inch from their plans since something like 1924. Not rational actors. After all these years, one may well start to believe that this is also the line of the Owners of Zionism (in the US and the UK, isolated from any personal risk.) Add to it that making a state on unauthorized territory, at the expense of the conquered, may well be seen as the good old blackmail, in a renewed, “liberal” form.

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      July 5, 2018, 12:26 am

      Marnie: Not sure what you mean by the death knell and Israeli pain. His whole editorial seems to be aiming at the problem that Israel isn’t being made to feel any pain, and should be. Could you please clarify?

      I hope so. I agree that israel isn’t made to suffer – no sanctions, no condemnation followed by action and normalization of an occupation. israelis have not been properly motivated to change and since they haven’t responded to ‘talk’, action is all that’s left. Palestinians and anyone else with a brain see this situation can’t go on for much longer without horrible bloodshed. Death is at the door, but israelis are oblivious because death isn’t at their door, but someone elses.

  8. JimMichie
    JimMichie
    July 4, 2018, 11:33 am

    Laudable indeed that “A prominent Israeli scientist and a translator penned a joint op-ed for the Guardian last week calling on the international community to intervene on behalf of Palestinians, before time runs out.”

    Nonetheless, is this a case of “better late than never”, Allison Deger, after this “prominent Israeli”, along with “a group of intellectuals and cultural figures central to Israeli society”, finally have come to recognize, and hopefully atone for, Zionist Israel’s six decades of relentless persecution of their “neighbors”, the Palestinians?

    “[T]his is apartheid, there is no better word for it”? Oh, but there is, Allison: brutal racism is a far better term to describe Zionist Israel’s longstanding culture. Moreover, Zionist Israel’s culture also includes genocide, ethnic cleansing and land theft in its obscenely outrageous treatment of its “neighbors”, the Palestinians. The quintessential irony in the Zionist Israel culture is that it has borrowed many of the same tactics that were exacted by fascist Nazi Germany on Jews in Europe, including the Holocaust.

    A recent example is the “Passover Massacre” that began this past March 30, when Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza, Zionist Israel’s concentration camp for Palestinians, began to peacefully protest in the “Great March of Return” along Zionist Israel’s fence imprisoning the Palestinians. Zionist Israel’s assassin snipers indescriminately fired exploding bullets into the crowds of thousands of Palestinians, murdering at last count more than 120 and wounding more than 13,000 others. Only yesterday, the Zionist assassin snipers wounded dozens of Palestinian women protesting at the fence. No word as yet on how many were murdered.

    “[C]alling on the international community to intervene on behalf of Palestinians” has been tried numerous times, only to be crushed by U.S. vetos—so convenient to the racist Zionist regime.

    The claim that “Most of the Israeli citizens do not know what happens in the west bank” is reminiscent of denials in Germany following World War II. No mention whatsoever in this piece about Gaza.

    Finally, in the first paragraph of your piece, Allison, you state that these “established and mainstream career professionals renowned in arts and science circles . . are not marginal public figures, they are not boycott or BDS activists, and they are not anti-Zionists.”

    My abiding hope, Allison, is that these “renowned” individuals will summon courage enough to exercise BDS and condemn the brutal, racist, genocidal, ethnic cleansing, land stealing, fascist, terrorist Zionist regime; and then perhaps “most of the Israeli citizens” will come to shed their abject denial and cognitive dissonance; become true practitioners of Judaism; begin to treat Palestinians as their neighbors; and grant freedom, justice and equality to Palestine!

  9. Mooser
    Mooser
    July 4, 2018, 12:42 pm

    “RoHa: Fully agree about that god-awful cringe-worthy singing in Australian supermarkets.”

    Oh, try and relax. Have you never been mellow?

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      July 4, 2018, 8:01 pm

      You stand in the middle of that wailing and screaming and try to be mellow.

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