21.6.06

On Zionism, Anti-Semitism, Nationalism, Leftism, Fanaticism and other murderous Isms

My last post was about the impossibility for the international community to bring the Israeli government crimes against Palestinians to justice. In it I make the relation between the morality of the state and the morality of its society and ultimately its individuals, since our moral life is partly shaped by our social and institutional interactions.

On new Israeli massacres of Palestinian civilians read Ur-Salim.

My point was that if a society is not capable of bringing its criminals to justice, if a world is not capable of bringing criminal states to justice, then we are doomed as human beings because our moral sentiment and judgement are what distinguish us most from animals (Although American and Dutch born Ethologist Franz De Waal argues that some Primate societies have actually rudiments of morality like behaviours of Empathy and Consolation).

I think we are all responsible for what is happening in Palestine now as we were all responsible for what happened to Jews in Nazis concentration camps. We cannot just shut our eyes and feign ignorance. Since a long time, I have been witnessing tentatives of cover ups to Israel's criminal record from a part of the European left. I have witnessed in them a form of fanatical Secularism when the Danish cartoons were published, trying to pin Europe's many social illnesses on Islam, they were helped of course by some European Muslim extremists brandishing another fanatism in the face of a growing misunderstanding between them and Eurpoean populations. I have felt in them resistance to condemn Israel forcefully. I have felt in them resistance to a one state solution sparing the lives of remaining Palestinians. I have seen an awkwardness in them defending now a two state solution at a time the two state solution is becoming impossible. And it became clear to me that all their efforts in this matter were directed at protecting the statute of Israel as a normal state not to be subjected to sanctions, boycotts and international justice...

Lately the Euston manifesto launched by British leftists and claiming that Anti-Zionism (I kid you not) was a form of racism ! And with the growing European uneasiness with Israel's daily killing of Palestinian civilians, all what French leftists from the Cartoucherie de Vincennes, a famous theater group directed by Ariane Mnouchkine, for whom I have great estime as an artist, have found was to launch another manifesto focusing on the big Issue of our Time, Islam! I felt this, bringing the Islam issue whenever Israel is in trouble, as an attempt to shift the focus from Israel on Islam.

All this was brewing in my mind when a comment on my last blog prompted me to write this one and I am grateful to its author because he have awakened in me this long overdue grudge against a part of the European left, the left with the double standards, the fanatical Secularism and the desperate cover ups to maintain Israel in the league of 'Normal States'.

Comment from Wolfie:

''I have been arguing this point (failure of Israel as a state and a society, my clarification) with other bloggers for some time, not for the reasons that you give Sophia, but arguing nevertheless in the face of accusations ranging from Anti-Semitism to blood-libel.

Zionism is based on a mixture of Marxism and Nationalism and history has shown us that both these premises are doomed to failure. Nationalism is not an inherently bad thing but it is a "flavour enhancer" and not an ingredient in the national cake, using it as an ingredient makes for bitter confectionary. Zionism (love it or loath it) served its purpose to the Israeli nation in its early days but its central tenants have doomed it to eventual failure because it does not know how to make peace and neither does it care to because it requires endless conflict in order to survive. It is like a 29 year old man who still lives with his mother suckling on her breast and throwing scorn at every girl who comes to call because none can compare to mother dearest. This highly militarised, high tech, nuclear armed and wealthy nation clings to a superannuated notion of victim status in order to justify remaining in its infantile state, it needs to grow-up, leave mummy and date girls. If it doesn't do this sometime soon it will implode from within, the cracks are already showing which is why it has been ramping up its violence towards the Palestinians - evidence of its impending crisis.

The crux of this problem was recently exemplified on British television. It was a report on the gradual disappearance of the Dead Sea. The reporter was standing on its banks with a representative from the Israeli environment ministry who was arguing that this was caused by global warming * and that the sea would just find a new level and stabilise. The BBC reporter suggested diverting water from the Gulf of Aqaba to which the government official responded : "The Europeans should pay". i.e. I want mummy's tit.

* In my local Sainsbury's supermarket almost all the sweet peppers are imported from Israel. These are grown in Israeli greenhouses all year round using hydroponics systems sourced from the river Jordan which has as a result been reduced to a trickle. This is the real reason for the disappearance of the Dead Sea. Greed.''

My answer:

''Thank you for this very fine and witty analysis which deserve to appear as a separate post if you feel like doing it. I agree 100 %.

There is a historical link between Zionism and the Left and as I said before in one of my comments, Israel is to the Left what the football match at Wembley between England and Hungary was once to Communism. 'Le communisme a existé une fois dans l'histoire, deux fois 45 minutes quand les Anglais ont perdu face à des Hongrois qui, eux, jouaient collectifs,' Jean-Luc Godard said once jokingly in his movie 'notre musique'. ('Communism existed once in history, two times 45 minutes when Hungarians won the football game at Wembley against the British because they played collectively and the British played individually,' said Jean-Luc Godard in his movie 'Our Music').''

Indeed, Kibbutzism was at the very foundation of Israel and even though today this country is one in which neoliberalism is rampant and triumphant leaving many of its citizen on the edge, Israel still represent today a 'success story' for some in the European left who considered a pilgrimage to a kibbutz in Israel as a duty and part of their intellectual and militancy education.

''Take the water problem in Israel, your comment is right to the point. The following statement is taken from a scientific study:
''The Lower Jordan Valley is usually regarded a region with severe water scarcity, but this is not the case. The per-capita availability of water is much above the average of the Middle East, but it is regionally unevenly distributed. About 94% of all usable water is used for agriculture; about 2/3 of that has drinking water quality. On the other hand, 44,000 people in the southeast of the valley do not have sufficient local drinking quality water supply to meet the basic
domestic demand. Scenario calculations show that a more sustainable water management in the region is possible if water allocation priorities are redefined. The first priority must be given to human and social needs for drinking water, to domestic/urban needs, and to water-efficient income generation activities. Agriculture should be limited to water that is not needed in other sectors.''
On the excessive use of water resources by Israel for agricultural rather than human and urban purposes.''

''On nationalism, I agree, I think blood should not be shed in order for nations to live on the expanses of their populations and some national identities are simply murderous. This is why I am for the one state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian problem. I think Palestinians should renounce statehood and spare the remaining lives. However when you discuss the one state sokution with European leftists and pure zionists, you find an insurmontable resistance. This is my landmark for identifying someone as dogmatic leftist and/or zionist.

Thanks again for this seminal comment. Having had to deal with teen age children, I really liked the allegory. Your typical non grown up teen wants to have it all, independance, dependance and all the rest while putting all the burdens on his parents. Another point in the allegory is the self centerdness of teens and their natural agressivity. Thanks God, my children are not like that but there was a moment with my daughter during her teen age years where the situation was nearly similar but she is grown up now.''

As for Nationalism, I developped, at the insistance of some commentators, my argument (edited from its original form) for a one state solution for Palestine/Israel and against all forms of Nationalisms, specially Zionism and the two states solution, in a separate post a while ago:

''You raised one good objection for the one state solution: the national identity problem. But I think the problem is often misstated.

I would like to start by exposing the definitions (not my own but widely aknowledged definitions) of both words.

Identity is a result of a process by which one compares oneself to another and concludes to similarities and resemblances. This may be achieved by belonging to any homogenous group being ethnic, religious or something else...

A nation is a group of people whose members are related by affinities and values based on one or more of these: religion, ethnicity, language, historical and cultural traditions, and aspiring to maintain their cohesion.

There are two levels to identities, local and universal. Clearly, the religion is a universal level and not a local one. You can find Jews everywhere in the world and the world's largest Mulsim communities are not in the ME. For national identities we are then left with history and culture. Language is both a local and a universal identity.

There is rarely a mention about the land in the definition of a nation.

I live in Canada, a multicultural society built on three radically different historical and cultural identities (Indigenous, English and French) to which immigration added so many identities in the last fifty years that the demographics of the country have been radically transformed. Very often, canadians will define themselves by being unlike their neighbours of the south, the Americans, and this is the number one national definition. That does not mean that Canadians don't have a strong identity at the individual level.

Moreover, identities are built in communities before being built by Nations, they are built on Common values and a common culture or a common narrative proper to a community. In our actual world, communities are not shielded from the rest of the world, so they have to deal with their local identities within this tension or contradiction between a local and a universal identification.

However, I think the national identity problem is a fake problem. You don't need a nation to maintain your identity. I take as example the multicultural state.
Many problems arise every day in a mulitcultural society and they are taken up and treated at the levels of the legislative and judiciary. There are very little if no similarities at all between a Canadian from Alberta and a Canadian from Quebec. They don't even speak the same language. Quebecers have been trying to separate for a long time but the influx of immigrants in great numbers changed the demographics of the country and people felt that the identity problem of Quebecers around the French language and their history was becoming outdated. Quebec conducted two referenda on the separation issue and the answer of the population was 'no' twice. Recently an article in the Guardian defended the idea that Jewish honor and heritage have been more preserved by the Diaspora than by Israel.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1801566,00.html


In a state, citizen need rules and law and rights to maintain a sense of harmony between different identities and cultures. Modern states are multicultural. Nations are not fighting globalisation. Cultures and local identities are fighting globalisation and they don't need to organise as a nation in order to do so. One can maintain her or his identity through the community or can emancipate from this community to reach for common values created within the multicultural state. After arriving in Canada with more than two identities (actually three), I feel today that I belong to this country which gave me a fourth identity based this time on multiculturalism and core common values. Multiculutralism gave me the occasion to realise a real synthesis between all my local identities and to reach for the other and for the better in each human being. From primary to high school my children evolved in classes where not less than fourteen nationalities were represented each year (and this is not your ordinary public school where people have no other choice to go to, I am talking here of a private school where actually parents choose to send their children to). Of course there are problems related to multiculturalism but having the same rights, people are not frustrated and not anxious and not fearful of living toghether.

In the same way there may be problems of resources and power sharing in a multicultural entity but these are matters that could be resolved and can be resolved even in a one state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Now if you are speaking of the identity of the nation itself and not its people, do you think that an abstract entity deserves that real people die every day for it ? I personally don't think so. A nation should not reflect the aspirations of a homogenous group, even if they are a majority. It should reflect and live up to the aspirations of all its citizens and it is not the citizens who should reflect the aspirations of a nation and live and die for it.

In my opinion a nation that defines its identity according to a religion like Israel is a fallacy and so is every other nation alike because religion can never and should never be an identity issue at the national level. Religion should be lived inside communities and inside the heart of the believer.

I think a one state solution for Isarel/Palestine can be built based on the preservation of cultural identities including the freedom of religion and mutual respect for these identities. I don't really care what the flag should be or what the name of such an entity can be as long as it respects its citizens and give them equal rights.''


And guess what ? One of the commentators, after harrassing me into providing a reasonable argument for my preference for the one state solution for the Isareli/Palestinian conflict never bothered reading the answer !

3 comments:

-canuck- said...

If you live in Canada I would suggest you concern yourself more with the plight of Canada's aboriginals.

Have you even been to Israel?

I can tell you are an extremely intelligent person. Good luck with Kelowna.

Sophia said...

Hi Canuck,

Thanks for the suggestion. reading your blog I think I can return the same suggestion to you.

I have been following very closely aboriginal's plight in Canada. I see clearly many similarities between Canada's aboriginals and the Palestinians. They were both dispossessed. However, I think these are two kinds of historical dispossession. I think Canada's aboriginals were not culturally prepared to fight afterwards for their rights within the 'multicultural state'. They are starting to do it now, a bit late but it is never too late.
I am more interested by Ontario's Iroquois recent land claim then by the Kelowna accords. Canada's aboriginals still have a long way to go but my feeling is that something is moving in the good direction.

A sad thing is that both communities, Canada's aboriginals and Palestinians are killing themselves from the inside. Canada's aboriginals are doing so by not being able to fight youth's depression, suicide, abuse and alcoholism after having been dispossessed and killed by the occupier. Palestinians are killing themselves with nationalistic claims and suicide bombings while being massacred at the same time from the outside by Israel.

If I understood your blog, it is directed at people like me who criticize Israel. I wish you good luck because Israel's actions are not helping people like you !

If you are a Canadian newly arrived to England, you will have a lot of work to do. Recent Zionist propaganda is not working quite well in England, neither in the USA but I should confess that it is working very well in Canada, better than in any other country, probably because jewish Canadians are a more homogenous community than elsewhere in the world.

BTW I didn't find any solid facts behind your claims against Jonathan Cook. He shows a great knowledge of the region he writes about. As for your quote of Petersen, I wasn't able to find its source at DV.

I don't know if I am 'extremely intelligent' as you say. What I know is that my blog is extremely watched by few pro-zionists from Canada, Israel and the UK. I am ready to take this fact as a compliment !

Anonymous said...

As a Jewish Anti-zionist infatuated with Quebec, France, and the Lebanese culture, I must say this blog does a terrific job of telling it like it is. Je te remercie pour publier ton avis. Ayant ete en Israel, je peux te dire que tu le dit precisement. Before I went, I thought Israelis would be a pluralistic, reasonable group of people. Instead I saw only mild to moderate forms of hatred and inconsiderateness towards all other cultures. Allah Ma3ak.

 
Since March 29th 2006