Caroline Lucas – a platform too far?

UPDATE (28th May 2008): It appears that on that day, Caroline did not only share a platform with Hamas rep in the UK, but also with Hamas leader in Gaza. A video message from Ismail Haniyeh was shown to the public. Here is a quote from Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar “After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them… we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists,”.

Green Party Principal Speaker isn’t celebrating Israel’s 60 year survival and its successes in any shape or form. She’s going for the haggard old 60 Years of Disaster line.

On May 10th she will speak at an event co-organised by the British Muslim Initiative, aligned with the sexist, homophobic, racist and pan-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and headed up by Hamas envoy, suicide bombing supporter and (in case it wasn’t already clear) Israel negationist Azzam Al-Tamimi (if you follow that link you’ll be wondering about this rumoured new antisemitism-free Hamas charter. Well two years later there’s no sign of it). As well as organising terror campaigns against Israel and carrying out putsches in Gaza, Hamas is an organisation which inspires children to become martyrs, peddles an official line that Jews abused holocaust memory to hold onto Israel, and calls for Jews to be killed.

Another organiser is the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), one of the organisations leading the Boycott Israel Into Oblivion campaign. The PSC is involved in a hideous faction fight in which the anti-Zionists who want to get rid of its entrenched antisemitism are fighting the anti-Zionists who think that antisemitism is integral to the struggle for Palestinian rights. Now is not a good time to be sitting on the fence – the defenders of antisemitism are winning.

Caroline Lucas staunchly threw her weight behind the campaign against the BNP in the run-up to this month’s elections. The BNPs racism is easy to recognise. They say things like “We’re going to repeal all Britain’s anti-racism legislation and ban any non-British languages in schools”. Caroline even pointed out in a press release that “The BNP has a long history of anti-semitism”. Well yes. And so do Hamas and Hesbollah. And the Socialist Worker Party. It’s obvious we’d be against the BNP. But what about the kind of racism that creeps around on tiptoe calling itself other things?

According to the Green Party policy (RR803), the Green Party of England Wales and Northern Ireland will not mount joint campaigns or policy initiatives on any issues with groups who endorse racial, ethnic or national hatred.

And yet its Spring conference decided to join a global campaign to boycott Israel – a campaign based on double standards and half-truths, and advanced with racist politics. A campaign that doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

And yet its principal speaker, Caroline Lucas, will be speaking tomorrow at an event organized by the British Muslim Initiative and the PSC.

Of course, as important as the people and organizations she will be with, is what she is going to say.

According to Green Party policy, Speakers and Officers of The Green Party of England, Wales and Northern Ireland will only share platforms with groups who endorse racial, ethnic or national hatred at a public or private meeting where that offers an opportunity to confront and oppose racism.

We hope that Caroline will confront and oppose racism tomorrow.

You can contact Caroline via her website www.carolinelucasmep.org.uk

Raphaël Lévy and Mira Vogel, editors of Greens against the Boycott of Israel

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37 thoughts on “Caroline Lucas – a platform too far?

  1. leigh

    an excellent and incisive piece raphael and mira – well done!

    I can’t for the life of me understand how caroline lucas – the leader of a party as committed to defending human rights as the green party – can be willing to share a political platform with a supporter of such a deeply disturbing and odious organisation as hamas!

    Hamas the organisation that gave the world the delightful art of suicide bombing. Hamas the organisation that condones so called honour killings of women and the murder of homosexuals,hamas the organisation that murders its political opponents in gaza, hamas the organisation that refuses to accept the nazi holocaust took place, hamas the organisation that wants to see the violent destruction of the state of israel. and which continues to fire lethal iranian supplied rockets into israel’s residential areas every day

    Frankly how anyone concerned with defending human rights could bring themselves to appear on the same platform as a supporter of an organization guilty of such flagrant human rights abuses defies belief!

    But regretably this is not the first time that caroline lucas has shared a platform with people guilty of serious violations of human rights. She has previously been willing to share a platform with a representative of an organization with as equally dismal as track record as hamas – namely the syrian regime’s poodle in lebanon hizbollah!

    Which in addition to sharing the repugnant beliefs and practices listed above of hamas is also currently engaged in a violent coup attempt against the democratically elected govt in lebanon – a coup attempt in which hizbollah have already claimed the lives of many innocent lebanese civilians!

    Quite what the electorate of brighton pavillion – the seat caroline lucas will contest for the greens at the next general election – will make of all this i cannot imagine.

    Reply
  2. Dr Richard Lawson

    Hmmm…

    I wonder if we could agree on this principle:

    “It is not a case of Israeli Good, Palestinian Bad, nor of Palestinian Good, Israeli Bad, but of a Bad Situation and a Bad Relationship that needs to be improved for the benefit of all concerned.”

    Reply
  3. leigh

    sorry but i dont think there is a moral equivalence between the democratic state that is israel and the terrorist murderers of hamas! Hamas and their kindred spirits hizbollah are very much BAD s far as the ‘situation’ in the region is concerned. While they remain in existence – and are egged on by misguided groups in britian like the PSC – there will be no ‘improvement’ for anyone concerned!

    Reply
  4. raphavisses

    Leigh

    To be fair to Richard, I don’t think he referred particularly to Hamas. He referred to “Palestinians” and “Israeli”, and said that the problem was in the “relationship”. There is a hint of moral equivalence, but more importantly, it is just too simplistic and refuses to enter into the complexities of the political and military situation.

    It is also wrong to reduce Palestinians to the terrorist murderers of Hamas (I am not saying that this is what you said), or to ignore the disastrous effect of the occupation.

    But we are getting a bit fat away from the subject of this post, arent’ we?

    Reply
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  6. miravogel

    Richard, I agree – a bad situation and a bad relationship that needs to be improved for the good of all concerned.

    As a common or garden person in a far-away country, not a politician, not a diplomat, and with the deeply disrupted, undignified and limbo existence of Palestinians and the fears of Israelis in mind, my idea of what your premise implies includes: condemn attacks on civilians; condemn departures from negotiated peace plans (Israel’s pockets of ongoing West Bank settlement work, Hamas’ and Hesbollah’s practised war on Israel); support the human and civil rights organisations in Israel and Palestine; support civil society, support the democrats – help them to resist the pressure of their respective extremists and outside interference which aggravates the conflict; support the equitable division of resources and the growth of infrastructure between neighbouring countries, and between citizens within countries.

    Reply
  7. Matt

    Mira, Raphael,

    Hamas are a horrible organisation. I think that this is accepted.

    Now, can you address the issue of why Caroline would want to attend this event? It cannot be because she is a ‘pan-Islamist’, a racist, a homophobe or an antisemite – because we know she is not these things.

    So why would she want to attend? The themes were:
    END THE SIEGE ON GAZA
    FOR THE RIGHT OF RETURN
    END ISRAELI OCCUPATION

    Once I see you recognising the injustice imposed by Israel on Palestinians, then I will start to listen to you more. Do you support settlement building, checkpoints, separation walls, settler-only roads, water directed away from Palestinians, helicopter gunship attacks that kill civilians, the blockade of Gaza, the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure? In the longer term, do you mind the existence of Palestinian refugees and the clear discrimination involved in the ‘right of return’ – allowed for Jewish people, but denied for non-Jews?

    If you only criticise Palestinians, their supporters, and opponents of the actions of the Israeli state, then it is clear where your bias lies. Ask yourself – if you were not Jewish, what would be your view on this conflict? Organisations like Amnesty can apply criticism where it is due, but you seem strangely silent on the wrongdoings of the Israeli state and settlers.

    p.s. You implictly don’t like pan-Islamism, as you lump it with racism. Do you believe in the ideology of Zionism, and if so, how can you defend Zionism, the belief in a homeland for Jews, while decrying pan-Islamism, the belief in a unity of Muslims in a Muslim state?

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  8. miravogel

    Matt, you imply that if Raphael and I were not Jewish we would feel differently.

    This happens a lot, and it has happened, far more nastily, to Raphael. It’s to do with our names, isn’t it? But I don’t know how you would be able to assert so confidently that I, for one, am Jewish. I don’t remember ever mentioning my background. It seems that you have looked at Raphael’s and my names, categorised us as Jewish and consequently reasoned that we must be biased. If this is the case, then you have already consigned me to the dustbin with this ad hominem – what then can I possibly say that you will believe? The only way I can convince you I am not biased is by agreeing with you or telling you I’m not Jewish.

    I’m not about to do either – is there any point in continuing to engage with you when you have implied that my Jewishness has got the better of my powers of reason?

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  9. leigh

    in his attack on mira matt comments “if you were not Jewish, what would be your view on this conflict? ” Disgraceful remarks – that bordering on racism -and he should withdraw them at once!

    I am not jewish and my views on the matter are crystal clear.- which i guess blows a gargantuan size hole in his deeply disturbing comments!

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  10. Alan Howe

    Neither am I Jewish, but my view is not so crystal clear. So I listen and value others views.

    Matt says:
    “Hamas are a horrible organisation. I think that this is accepted.”
    A good start, but it is not apparent to me, not to mention explicit, in some quarters.

    “Now, can you address the issue of why Caroline would want to attend this event?”
    That’s the point, we don’t know and is what we are trying to find out.

    “Once I see you recognising the injustice imposed by Israel on Palestinians, then I will start to listen to you more.”
    I thought we had made this clear elsewhere. We do condemn violence and injustice on both sides and by sides I don’t just mean Israel and the Palestinians. There are other players in this conflict.

    “If you only criticise Palestinians, their supporters, and opponents of the actions of the Israeli state, then it is clear where your bias lies.”
    Let’s consider the reverse of this statement because this is what I see in those quarters I mentioned earlier. I accept that challenging bias by presenting an alternative view, can be seen as biased [partisan?] in itself.

    Perhaps, Matt, you can respond to the points made in these comments.

    Reply
  11. Matt

    Dear Mira,

    I didn’t intend to cause offence. I hope you will see that refusing to engage with me is an overreaction, and it risks cementing the debate into a series of ad hominem attacks (as Leigh has so well illustrated above). I’d still be interested to hear your opinion on the substance of my comment above, if you can bring yourself to forgive me. These debates usually generate more heat than light, and I feel stupid for helping to continue that trend. This is an unfortunate side issue; I do regret raising it as it has obviously distracted from the debate and personalised it. I apologise for the offence caused.

    I shall try to explain myself. Warning – this is a long reply.

    I didn’t make assumptions about your being Jewish – I’ve seen plenty of emails from Raphaël on Green email lists that made it clear that he is Jewish, and a quick Google search of your name (which I wouldn’t immediately assume is Jewish; is Mira a Jewish name?) shows an obvious connection to many Jewish organisations. I often do a quick bit of research on people’s backgrounds. Of course I do not dismiss all your opinions and arguments because you are Jewish, but I must admit to being quite frustrated at the way that Raphaël has argued about this issue of the boycott on email lists; he can be quite intransigent and one-sided (that said, so were those on the other side of the argument). I now see that you have been critical of some actions of the Israeli state – for example, the demolition of Fasayil Primary School, and I commend you for this.

    How can I defend the question of whether a Jewish person might be influenced by their ancestry or religion in their support of the actions of the state of Israel, and their apparent lack of criticism of these actions?

    Let me draw some analogies. In criticising the actions of the US state, I have argued with several Americans who were very supportive of the US government, to the point at which reasoned debate was impossible. I was just a bloody commie to them. Some were convinced that Saddam had nuclear weapons, against all the evidence. Their objectivity was compromised by their support for the US.

    Criticisms of the Chinese government have been quite common lately, in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics. Some people have suggested that similar criticisms, protests and disruption should occur for the London Olympics, due to the actions of the British government, chiefly the invasion of Iraq. I initially thought that this was ridiculous, but I have realised that my initial response (despite my not being a nationalist), was to think that the UK can’t be that bad, really. It is a common belief even among lefties that our army is not as bad as the American army, that we’re not as corrupt as the Europeans, etc. etc. Despite my wish for objectivity, sometimes I have a wish to believe the best of the UK.

    I’m sure you’ve been frustrated by how Muslims in the UK will automatically side with the Palestinians, and be willing to believe anything negative about Israel – that’s the reverse of the same coin.

    Leigh, your accusation that I am racist is wholly offensive and unhelpful. It is easy to bandy around such accusations, but try not to be so trigger happy. I’m surprised you didn’t call me a Nazi, thus fulfilling Godwin’s Law. I don’t accept that my comments were ‘deeply disturbing’. I was asking a question, not making an accusation or an ‘attack’. My comment was intended to be measured.

    The issue of why someone holds beliefs and the ways in which their objectivity may be affected by past experiences, loyalties or beliefs is an important one. I don’t think it should be forbidden to discuss or automatically lead to accusation of racism, but I raised it clumsily, and without due sensitivity. It is too easy to become combative in discussing Israel/Palestine.

    Can I defend myself against an assumption that I am racist? Drawing on the (somewhat tired) defence of ‘some of my best friends are Jewish’, I live with a couple of Jewish girls and get on fine with them. I don’t harangue them about Israel. I’ve worn the Kippah at a dinner at their parents’ house. The classic behaviour of an anti-semite, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    I am also wholeheartedly opposed to Holocaust denial. Nick Kollerstrom, a 9/11 ‘Truther’ was recently outed as having made statements questioning the Holocaust under the pseudonym astro3. In his defence against being called a Nazi, he noted membership of organisations such as Respect, CND and the Greens: I was much relieved when it transpired that he was last in the Green Party in about 1990. Our party does not need people like Kollerstrom. We also do not need people who suggest that ‘JOOZ DID WTC!!!’ or similar babbling conspiracy theory nonsense.

    On a march, a friend who was a member of the SWP used the chant ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’. This chant was chilling to me, as it implied the negation of the state of Israel. It means that there would be Palestine from the River Jordan to the shores of the Mediterranean. I explained to him why I thought that this chant was out of line.

    I can also underline another very clear distinction between my beliefs and those of SWP members – it is their party line that while you may not condone terrorism, you shouldn’t condemn it (Leigh can probably back me up on this; he used to be in the Socialist Alliance so will have worked with SWP members). I do condemn terrorism, and found myself in quite bitter arguments about this. The intentional killing of civilians, neglecting to protect against their deaths, or deliberately instilling fear in civilians, is abhorrent. I have no truck with those who would seek to excuse bombing a pizza parlour.

    I think that the best solution to the whole mess would be one state with Jews living side-by-side with Arabs, Christians etc. I think the idea that Israel should be reserved for Jews or that only Jews have a right of return does discriminate on grounds of race, but I always avoid criticising ‘Zionism’ as it is a term with many meanings – Jewish people simply wanting to live in the traditional lands of the Jewish people seems quite reasonable, and many early socialist Zionists believed strongly in living in peace with their Arab neighbours. I have enough of a grasp on reality to know that the only real viable option now is a two state solution. Actually, I think that Gaza is so unsustainable now and wouldn’t really function as an exclave of a Palestinian state such that it would be better off becoming part of Egypt, but that’s just me.

    Going to the heart of the purpose of this blog, which is to protest against the Green Party passing a motion supporting an academic boycott of Israel, I am happy to add my voice to those critical of this decision. I hope that it can be revoked at the autumn conference, which I plan to attend. I am a member of the World Association of Medical Editors, and we have a policy such that we should not allow geopolitics to come into our decision-making. This has applied to many countries and situations – for example, some US editors voiced concerns about working with Iranian academics, and we were able to explain that it would be wrong to disengage from them. I would never allow the fact that someone is Israeli to affect my professional engagement with them. I worked with an Israeli professor on my undergraduate project and I would be aghast if an undergraduate today would refuse to work with him because of his nationality.

    I was riled by this latest blog post because it is not at all relevant to the issue of the academic boycott. I hope you can see that criticising Caroline’s attendance at this event strays from the purpose of “Greens Against the Boycott of Israel”. Many people have spoken at or attended British Muslim Initiative events such as Christina Odone, Bruce Kent, Tony Benn, Shami Chakrabarti, Alex Salmond, Kate Hudson, Dominic Grieve. One should not be too quick to tar them all with the brush of supporting Hamas. I find it sad that Leigh is saying that her attendance ought to harm Caroline’s chances of election in Brighton Pavilion. Let’s not let this issue cause a rift in the party.

    In future we might be better off working with groups like the Jewish Socialists’ Group, but I’m uneasy at damning each Muslim group as supporters of terrorism. I don’t know enough about the British Muslim Initiative to be able to condemn them as you do. I’ve seen it said that some of their leaders may have been Hamas activists. Former connections to terrorism are not enough to damn someone forever, or Martin McGuinness wouldn’t now be in a position of power in Stormont, and neither would Itzhak Shamir have become Prime Minister of Israel after being active in Lehi (the Stern Gang). Anas Altikriti campaigned in Iraq for the release of the Christian peace campaigner Norman Kember, and the BMI has repeatedly condemned the September 11th and July 7th attacks – are they all irredeemable? I would appreciate seeing some further analysis of the BMI; I’ve found it very hard to track down any balanced analysis.

    Let’s not shut down debate and start flinging insults at each other.

    Yours,

    Matt

    Reply
  12. raphavisses

    Hi Matt

    Thank you very much for engaging and seeking to overcome the often inflamatorry and simplistic terms of the debate.

    Your long contribution deserves a careful reply which I do not have time to write right now; I am sure there will be other responses.

    Regarding me being Jewish, you write: “I’ve seen plenty of emails from Raphaël on Green email lists that made it clear that he is Jewish”.

    You can contact me off the blog to show me these. I have never spoken “as a Jew”. I have argued, as an antiracist and Green Party member, against the academic and cultural boycott of Israel. In response, I have often been categorized as a “Zionist”, “Israeli academic”, “Israeli apologist”, etc. I wish you would have contributed to the debate on the list: participation of people with more nuanced opinions would certainly have helped depolarize the debate. The only people who replied to my posts arguing against the boycott where some who quite openly advocated the destruction of Israel.

    When I criticize the BMI or PSC, I am certainly not attacking Muslims, nor am I feeling “frustrated by how Muslims in the UK will automatically side with the Palestinians” [I don’t know if this is true, and, more importantly, I don’t know what it means “siding with the Palestinians”, I heard the other day a member of the Palestinian Authority, extremely critical of Israel, but also explaining that under no circumstances he would wish for his children to grow under a Hamas government which he assimilated to the Talebans], I criticize these particular organizations for their policies and actions, not because they are muslims [the PSC isn’t, by the way].

    Best wishes

    Raphael

    Reply
  13. Ian Donovan

    Israel is such a great democracy, isn’t it? Its one of the few ‘democracies’ in the world where the present (Jewish) majority was constructed by expelling the previous majority of the population (Palestinian Arabs).

    This is a novel concept of democracy. If you don’t like the majority, expel the bulk of them from the country, and hey presto, you have a different majority.

    You get my drift. Why should anyone subjected to this kind of ‘democracy’ give a fig for propaganda about ‘democracy’ pushed by people who condone this kind of ethnic cleansing to get rid of the original majority? If this is democracy, many will say, then stuff democracy.

    But of course this is not democracy, and Israel is not democratic, but an apartheid state. Even Jimmy Carter can see that. Why can’t you so-called ‘progressive’ greenie types see it?

    Reply
  14. leigh

    hmm one of those ad hominem attacks from ian donovan above that matt chides me with! Just to remind ian donovan that there is a free and independent judiciary in israel, a free press, gender and sexual equality, trade unions and parties of the left can organize freely and workers are able to take industrial action. None of which can be said of many other state in the middle east of course! So perhaps ian donovan might care to concentrate his ire on the likes of iran, syria and saudi arabia!

    Matt i honestly believe leading party members sharing platforms with supporters of organisations as repugnant as hamas will damage us electorally. Im sure our political opponents will raise it publicly in the future and if you or caroline lucas or anybody else in the party imagines we can hide from the political realities of the situation then im afraid they are mistaken. But dont attack me for stating a basic political reality.

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  15. miravogel

    Dear Matt,

    A few things, in a friendly spirit. They are not to do with what you refer to as the ‘substance’ but I consider them to be of central importance to our Green Party policy on Israel and Palestine. Yes of course I can forgive you, I would dearly like to move on and I trust we eventually will. But the thing is, I don’t think your association of my presumed identity with my politics is a side issue because this kind of thing is happening increasingly frequently. You are one of many. It happens regularly enough to be a central issue, and this is predictable. Let me try not to bungle my explanation (I know people who could do it better, and I hope they will below).

    The work towards a total boycott of israel, and the touting of Hamas and Hesbollah as the resistance is not a new initiative. I think it was Eric Hoffer who said (in the True Believer, which I have not read) that every mass movement requires a devil. This boycott campaign in an international mass movement which dates back to the 2002 Cairo Conference, and many people have been thinking and talking about it since then. Positive action is something we could unite around, but we don’t have that in the Greens right now and I am obliged to engage continually in often polite but nevertheless simplifying, vilifying, demonising debates (often in a historical near-vacuum) about whether or not Israel is the world’s worst mistake, most racist state, most urgent problem. Matt, you avoid this, but for many people Israel is the crux of their inchoate world-view in a way which seems merely a continuation of the way Jews have been at the centre of many people’s world view throughout history. It’s called scapegoating and it often happens to Jews. So these are often circular (because the conflict is multifactorial and intractable), nasty debates and at some stage it’s highly likely that I will become disillusioned, and come to a personal conclusion that they are fruitless and stop participating in them. I think that would be understandable.

    I query my connection to Jewish organisations based on your web search. I haven’t searched for myself recently but I can’t think of a single one. I’m secular (while also upholding people’s right to worship as they choose). If it’s Engage you mean, Engage isn’t a Jewish organisation, it’s a campaign against antisemitism which has quite understandably recruited Jews. Unlike, say, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Independent Jewish Voices, Engage doesn’t operate ‘as a Jew’ and neither do I (neither does Raphael as he says above). The aim is that the principles we bring to our critique of the boycott are more widely – universally – applicable than those espoused by identity politics. (Criticising the boycott and anti-Israeli politics is entirely compatible with working to end the occupation.)

    The fact that (from various different people) all kinds of stuff about my presumed religious claim to the the land, my presumed supremacist attitudes and expansionist aspirations, as well as my presumed secret allegiance to a foreign power, my lying and causing of diversions, are attributed to me and other secular Jews because of the various assumptions people make about us is chilling – it’s also increasingly normal. Oona King, the former Labour MP in Tower Hamlets has talked about how anti-Jewish slanders against her made her feel more Jewish as she found herself suddenly understanding and empathising with other Jews confronted with the same stereotypes. A Jewish identity based on alienation, then? While I understand this and feel very sympathetic, as a basis for indentifying with a group this is very depressing.

    Now all this seems like me, me, me doesn’t it. But this is an important part of the objection to the politics of the boycott campaign – not only is it the wrong tool for the job, so to speak (Israel is not analogous to South Africa) but it also alienates and threatens British Jews. What we need is positive action to uphold Palestinian human and civil rights, to support I and P democratic processes and to disempower violent or negationist extremists. And just because this boycott campaign necessitates sticking up for Jews, it doesn’t mean that I am silent or quiet about the occupation. It’s just that where the boycott and its attendant negationism intrude in this area, it alters the dialogue and presses it into the service of something negative.

    Lastly, to address at least one of your points, yes, terrorists, combatants, what-have-you – change. Tonight there is a talk at Goodenough College central London by one such person, Bassam Aramin, a founder member of Combatants for Peace, an organisation of Israeli and Palestinian former combatants who have renounced violence and are working for an end to the occupation. Bassam’s daughter was killed in the crossfire of an altercation between Israeli border police and Palestinians last year. If you want to hear him tonight in central london, find out more here: http://yishaym.wordpress.com/2008/05/09/bassam-aramin-goodenough-college-monday-12th-may/

    All for now,

    Mira

    Reply
  16. Ian Donovan

    There are no ad-hominems in my posting above. In fact, no personal names are even mentioned (except for Jimmy Carter’s – in a somewhat positive sense), so how can there be ad-hominems which by definition are directed at individuals? You just don’t like the points being made so are trying to divert attention from that by talking about non-existent ‘ad-hominems’. Your named attack on me for non-existent ‘ad-hominems’ are in fact pure ad-hominem. Why don’t you address the actual points I made instead of making personal attacks on me?

    For all the undemocratic regimes in Syria and elsewhere, they have not expelled the majority of the native population of their territory. Israel has. The arguments you make are similar to those of supporters of South African apartheid who argued that the black ‘front-line’ states were all nasty, impoverished and undemocratic, whereas in the apartheid regime there was an elected parliament, etc.

    Doesn’t change the fact that the South African apartheid state only existed by depriving the black majority of citizenship rights. And Israel exists similarly by depriving its Palestinian Arab natives of citizenship rights – the main difference is it is smarter at camoflaging this by granting (some) Arabs (second class) citizenship rights so it can claim they are a minority (when in fact they are the majority). But the principle is the same, the real native majority is excluded from exercising its democratic rights by racist laws. Israel is an apartheid state.

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  17. miravogel

    Ian, an ad hominem attack is an attack on a given point of view which holds that that point of view is compromised by the identity of person (or group) advancing it. An ad hominem attack doesn’t require a named person.

    Your assumptions about expulsions (roughly in line with Ilan Pappe’s, I think?) are contested – by historian Ephraim Karsh among others.

    “the Zionist movement had always been amenable to the existence in the future Jewish state of a substantial Arab minority that would participate on an equal footing “throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.” The words are those of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founding father of the branch of Zionism that was the forebear of today’s Likud party. In a famous 1923 article, Jabotinsky voiced his readiness “to take an oath binding ourselves and our descendants that we shall never do anything contrary to the principle of equal rights, and that we shall never try to eject anyone.”

    Eleven years later, Jabotinsky presided over the drafting of a constitution for Jewish Palestine. According to its provisions, Arabs and Jews were to share both the prerogatives and the duties of statehood, including most notably military and civil service. Hebrew and Arabic were to enjoy the same legal standing, and “in every cabinet where the prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab and vice-versa.”

    If this was the position of the more “militant” faction of the Jewish national movement, mainstream Zionism not only took for granted the full equality of the Arab minority in the future Jewish state but went out of its way to foster Arab-Jewish coexistence.”

    The 1936 Arab Revolt and the Nazism of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem are also significant factors in the conflict.

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  18. Ian Donovan

    “Ian, an ad hominem attack is an attack on a point of view which says that it is compromised by the identity of person (or group) advancing it. An ad hominem attack doesn’t require a named person.”

    Since I said nothing about anyone’s identity, one way or another (unless references to ‘greenies’ are matters of identity), there were no ad hominems in my piece. You have just re-defined ‘ad-hominems’ to suit yourself. Nothing can hide the fact that in this exchange, the only personal attack made was on me by someone apparently on your side of the debate.

    Incredibly, you quote Jabotinsky:

    “the Zionist movement had always been amenable to the existence in the future Jewish state of a substantial Arab minority that would participate on an equal footing “throughout all sectors of the country’s public life.”

    This actually backs up what I said, not any argument you made. The fact is that in 1947-8 the Arabs were a majority, not a minority. They were a majority even in the areas of historic Palestine which the UN partition plan assigned to the nascent Israel (which means that the UN partition plan was fundamentally undemocratic and illegitimate even in its own terms). The only way a Jewish majority could be achieved in either the original partition area, or in the 78% of historic Palestine subsequently siezed, was by mass expulsion of the native Arab population. How is this democratic? The foundation of Israel was a negation of democracy.

    Are you aware, by the way, that Jabotinsky was an admirer of Mussolini and that his revisionist militia used the same stiff-armed salute used by the fascisti (and later more famously by the Nazis)? Jabotinsky was not a Nazi, but he was a pro-Mussolini fascist sympathiser. Can you not see the irony of quoting such a man in support of the thesis that Israel is ‘democratic’ in its treatment of Arabs?

    A more contextualised account of Jabotinsky, his actions and motivations, is to be found in Avi Shlaim’s ‘The Iron Wall’. Incidentally, Shlaim does not demonise Jabotinsky – indeed he expressed the view that he might be embarassed by some of the things done by Likud today – but nor does he prettify the anti-democratic nature of what both Herut/Likud and the Labor Zionists did. The bottom line is that Arabs were a majority, not a minority, and the methods that were used to create a semblance of a Jewish ‘majority’ were thoroughly undemocratic.

    Reply
  19. miravogel

    I included reference to Jabotinsky to illustrate that the work of the revisionist historians (like Pappe, like Shlaim) is contested. Ian, I’m not a professional historian, a professional conflict resolver, or a professional international relations person, or a professional campaigner for human rights. From what I can see, these experts are not involved in the boycott campaign or in the kinds of condemnation you are involved in. I have no inclination to get into a kind of football team support for one or another historian or historical figure. Jabotinsky is fought over with isolated quotes. Ben Gurion too.

    My point is that there are conflicting accounts of events – how should we respond? We all agree that the occupation should end. My feeling is that a Green Party approach should espouse human rights, democratic processes, civil society. Instead, you persist with pushing a negative agenda.

    Reply
  20. Ian Donovan

    Well, I suppose we’ll have to agree to disagree on some of these things. I’m not pushing a ‘negative agenda’ at all, nor am I ‘demonising’ anyone. I’m arguing against what I see as a ‘negative’ agenda, demonising Hamas whose views on many questions are far from mine, but who have the support of probably the majority of Palestinians for the moment precisely because they are imprisoned in horrendous conditions and have found the forces of ‘democratic

    Reply
  21. Ian Donovan

    (sorry, hit button my mistake) … have found the forces of ‘democratic’ and ‘progressive’ politics sorely lacking, abandoning them to the tender mercies of the IDF and the settlers over the last several decades.

    Reply
  22. miravogel

    Ian, I’m not sure it’s the case that most Palestinians support Hamas. At any rate, I understand that Hamas campaigned for power on their urently-needed social and welfare policies, and on hopes about their incorruptability – not on their violent policies towards Israelis – these came as part of the package. I’m not surprised Palestinians voted for Hamas. But this doesn’t mean I have to support Hamas in their war on israel.

    I am British, Ian (are you?). I’m not ground down by a socially and economically ruinous occupation – why do I have to support Hamas? Isn’t my role to help shore up democratic and progressive politicians against their respective extremists, and to work towards a political solution to the occupation?

    I don’t give up on Hamas – they are hinting at recognition of the ’67 borders (although at roughly the same time as denying the Holocaust and advocating the killing of Jews to children and adults alike, disrupting fuel supplies to Gaza) and that counts for a lot. Maybe they will drop this stuff but for now they are a big threat.

    Reply
  23. miravogel

    I should also say that 1948-9 does need to be revisited. The matter of compensation for, particularly, those Palestinians who have endured the indignity and poverty of refugee status for so many years, does need to be negotiated. But by expert negotiators, not by poorly-informed people in far-away places. I want to campaign for these negotiations instead of campaigning against anti-Israel activists.

    Reply
  24. Tzimisces

    Matt (or someone) –
    Perhaps you can explain this to me:

    “think that the best solution to the whole mess would be one state with Jews living side-by-side with Arabs, Christians etc.”

    Why? Exactly? This fantasy is what drives the rejectionists, Hamas lovers and anti Zionists so I think we should have some detailed reasoning. Why, for example, shouldn’t such a state turn into another Lebanon? Why shouldn’t it turn into an Islamist Theocracy?

    If it is just a day- dream then it is not a “best solution” at all but a dangerous distraction.

    Good site- I’ve always thought that the Green opposition to Israel was dumb and not particularly environmentally friendly.

    Reply
  25. Ian Donovan

    Why ask me about my nationality (identity?) if one is concerned to avoid ‘ad hominem’ arguments? I didn’t ask anyone their nationality. Surely that is irrelevant, and by asking such things we are getting onto exactly that territory.

    How are Hamas a ‘big threat’? By my reckoning, going by the respective civilian casualty figures, under both Islamist and secular/PLO leadership, the IDF and settler militants are a far bigger threat to the Palestinian people than Hamas has ever been to anyone.

    Irrespective of the views of Hamas, the ’67 borders are unjust in any case – an enormous number of the occupants of Gaza, for instance, are those people (or their offspring) who were expelled from within the ’67 borders. Why should they give up their right to return by ‘recognising’ Israel’s right to exclude them from the land they are native to?

    Who said anything about ‘supporting’ Hamas? What I will say is that the election of Hamas means they have a democratic mandate to represent the Palestinian people, and that democratic choice of Palestinians should be respected. Even if you don’t like their choice. Hamas are only the (very belated) response to decades of Palestinians being humiliated and brutalised by followers of the stiff-armed-saluting Jabotinsky and others like him. How can you refuse to respect their choice while demanding the rest of the world not only respect, but also ‘recognise’ the results of mass expulsions of Arabs carried out by Israeli forces loyal to people like Jabotinsky?

    As for ‘extremists’, I think supporters of Israel should look closer to home for them. All the Israeli mainstream parties should be deemed extremist, because they all support the forcible exclusion of native Palestinians from their own country – which is hardly a ‘moderate’ position. Or has support for forced population transfers suddenly become a ‘moderate’ position?

    Reply
  26. miravogel

    Ian: “Why ask me about my nationality (identity?) if one is concerned to avoid ‘ad hominem’ arguments?”

    It was a throw-away question and I don’t need to know. If you were Israeli or Palestinian it would make a difference. While we acknowledge national boundaries of administration, you’d deserve more of a say in I or P policy than, say, British commentators with their own agenda.

    Green Party policy implicitly supports Hamas by adopting boycott policy and refusing to condemn Hamas’ racism. As for democracy – just because a party gets in democratically, it doesn’t necessarily make its members democrats. Hopefully it will turn out that way – we will know by its acts. Hamas could start by not shutting down and arresting the editors of Gaza papers for publishing satirical cartoons.

    Native Palestinians are afforded return (if that’s what they want) under the Taba Agreement which set out terms in unprecedented detail. The currency of Taba was affirmed by the Annapolis negotiators – including Kadima people – these are elected people, Ian, working to end the occupation and compensate Palestinians. It’s wrong to call them extremists. It leaves you no way of describing the real extremists. And if you want the right of return for native Palestinians, support Taba.

    Reply
  27. Ian Donovan

    Well, if the right of return could be achieved by negotiation, I would be all in favour of it. However, Israel broke off the Taba ‘agreement’, and I really would not hold your breath for Annapolis producing a solution. The contradiction is that the Israeli negotiators, in all these accords, want to preserve Israel as a ‘Jewish state’. But if the majority of the native population, whether resident or forcibly exiled, of Israeli territory is not Jewish, then a Jewish state cannot be maintained by democratic means and all attempts to resolve the ‘right to return’ issue will fail.

    It could be resolved by negotiation, but only if the Israeli side abandoned the idea of a Jewish state in favour of a bi-national state, one where Jews and Palestininan Arabs could freely intermingle and the state would be committed to uphold the rights of both peoples to live there with equal rights, practice their religion (or none) and all that implies.

    It would not be a massive leap for Palestinians, either of the secular or even Islamist persuasion, to accept that – there are considerable elements of Islamic thought and history that could countenance/support such a compromise, despite some of the fiery rhetoric one gets from Hamas people (and once upon a time, secular radicals) in response usually to the latest piece of belligerence (or worse) from Israeli governments. But it would be a massive change for Israel, from the ideology of the ‘Jewish state’ – I don’t see that change coming easily or soon and that is the real obstacle to a negotiated solution.

    Reply
  28. Alan Howe

    Sorry to interrupt the flow:

    But to address Tzimisces question. 1:10pm

    The quote used was from Matt’s contribution.

    “think that the best solution to the whole mess would be one state with Jews living side-by-side with Arabs, Christians etc.”

    However, he does go on to say:

    “I have enough of a grasp on reality to know that the only real viable option now is a two state solution.”

    Sometimes “best” gets in the way of “better” and to his credit Matt has recognised that.

    Reply
  29. leigh

    Ian is very long on criticisms of israel – and indeed makes it abundantly clear that he does not believe in the right of the state of israel to exist – but strangely rather silent when it comes to discussing the shortcomings of hamas!

    Perhaps this will help him discover what a deeply loathesome murderous organisation he is cheerleading for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamas

    Further the independent organisation human rights watch has stated that since coming to power in gaza in 2006 hamas has conducted a campaign of murder, torture and intimidation of political opponents and journalists.

    Iit has condoned the deplorable murders of women in gaza taking place under the guise of so called ‘honour killings. It has abused funds desperately needed by the people of gaza to purchase rockets from iran – which it fires at residential areas of israel on a daily basis! Of course when carrying out these acts of terror the ‘brave’ hamas fighters fire from heavily populated areas of gaza so hoping a response from israeli forces will bring about civilian casualties among the civilian palestinian population, such is the contempt hamas has for ordinary palestinians!

    Further he is living in a political cloud cuckoo land if he imagines that hamas would be willing to live side by side with israel’s jews in what he calls a ‘bi-national’ state’. The intentions of the holocaust denying hamas – and its iranian financiers – are crystal clear to anyone who takes the time to read any of their pronouncements or study any of their murderous actions – it wishes to bring about the physical destruction of the state of israel and its replacement with a fundamentalist islamic state. It’s aims are genocidal or does the physical obliteration of israel’s jews not count as genocide?

    And Ian seriously expects the only democratic state in the middle east to ‘negotiate’ with a gang of thugs and murderers like this like this?

    In the word of one of wimbledon’s greatest champions ‘you cannot be serious?’

    Reply
  30. Matt

    Tzimisces, if you were to read on you’ll see that I say: “I have enough of a grasp on reality to know that the only real viable option now is a two state solution”. It pays to take the time to read what people write before commenting. But I would still say that while I recognise the right to self-determination, uniting people is better than dividing. I hope that eventually the two sides in Cyprus can be reunited, and the nations of the former Yugoslavia too – in both cases, joining the EU and working alongside each other might act as a stepping stone to reconciliation.

    Also, Green Party policies don’t have to focus on being ‘environmentally friendly’. We’re not just the single-issue party we’re painted as. Tzimisces, please read our policies on our website.

    Mira, of course you get fed up of people saying “Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?”. As this is such a common response, you need to take care to ensure that you aren’t seen as a mere shill for Israel – and you’ve been doing a fairly good job in this thread! Tiresome, but necessary.

    To highlight a point I raised in my last (tl;dr) comment, the fact that this post strays from the purpose of this blog risks alienating people who would otherwise be supportive. There may be a place for criticising associating with the BMI, but I don’t think this is it. Otherwise, you’d best change the title to “Greens Against Critics of Israel”, and that’s not your intention at all.

    I need to add a caveat to my opposition to a boycott – I oppose an academic and cultural boycott. I will still avoid buying agricultural produce labelled ‘Israel’, because this can include produce grown in illegal settlements in the West Bank and on land seized by the building of the separation wall. Is there a fair trade scheme in Israel that takes account of this concern?

    Mira, you note that the debate is “often in a historical near-vacuum”. To judge by the tennis match with Ian above, an ahistorical approach concentrating on the current situation might be better than digging up quotes from people long-dead. Godwin’s Law, which I mentioned above, is that “as a discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one”. We’re racking up the comparisons at quite a rate on this thread.

    Raphael, I stayed clear of contributing to the previous email debate because it spiralled out of control too quickly. I’m not obsessed with Israel/Palestine, and didn’t fancy getting sucked into that morass. Against my better judgement, I stuck my oar in this time.

    Reply
  31. Adrian Windisch

    And there I was thinking the reason no progress is made is the violence by both sides. Clearly its all the fault of the one open democratic country in the region, and nothing to do with its neighbours.

    Reply
  32. Matt

    Leigh, a more measured approach would help avoid polarising the debate. Unfortunately, Hamas were elected as the government and negotiations with them would be a sensible course to take, if seemingly repugnant. The Conservative government of John Major was no friend of the IRA, but certainly did enter into talks with them. That decision eventually bore fruit despite continued bombing campaigns.

    You say that Israel is ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’. This is stated quite often, but I think it would be fair to include Turkey and Lebanon as democracies, however flawed they might be.

    The Economist’s Democracy Index ranked countries thus for 2007
    (the score is out of 10, I’ve included some countries for comparison):
    #1 Sweden 9.88 Functioning democracy
    #17 United States 8.22 Functioning democracy
    #23 United Kingdom 8.08 Functioning democracy
    #24 France 8.07 Functioning democracy
    #25 Mauritius 8.04 Functioning democracy
    #30 South Africa 7.91 Flawed democracy
    #34 Italy 7.73 Flawed democracy
    #35 India 7.68 Flawed democracy
    #36 Botswana 7.60 Flawed democracy
    #36 Cyprus 7.60 Flawed democracy
    #45 Jamaica 7.34 Flawed democracy
    #46 Poland 7.30 Flawed democracy
    #47 Israel 7.28 Flawed democracy
    #48 Trinidad & Tobago 7.18 Flawed democracy
    #79 Palestine 6.01 Flawed democracy
    #85 Lebanon 5.82 Hybrid regime
    #88 Turkey 5.70 Hybrid regime
    #102 Russia 5.02 Hybrid regime

    Israel is not so far up the rankings, and certainly isn’t in the hailed ‘Western democracy club’. Looking at this plethora of political parties, it does seem quite like Italy!
    http://www.knesset.gov.il/faction/eng/FactionListAll_eng.asp

    Of course, plenty of the other countries in the Middle East are authoritarian; only Lebanon and Turkey make into into the democracies (i.e. Functioning democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime). You can see more comparisons here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_indices_of_freedom

    I think that this article from the Guardian is quite well balanced, and captures the difficulties with the present state of Israel: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/20/israelandthepalestinians

    I’m sure some Palestinians, especially those in Hamas, would love to drive the Jewish state into the sea. There are those in Israel who would equally love to carry out Transfer: moving the populations of Gaza and the West Bank into Egypt and Jordan, respectively.

    For example, “This study examined the extent to which Israeli-Jews’ beliefs about ingroup vulnerability, injustice, distrust, superiority, and helplessness are linked to extreme policy preferences in the context of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a phone survey of a representative sample (N = 504), stronger beliefs in all domains except for helplessness predicted greater support for the morally problematic transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza to neighboring Arab countries compared to alternative policies highlighting territorial compromise.” Maoz and Eidelson: American Behavioral Scientist 2007, 50: 1476-1497

    And the right-wing party Moledet says:
    * Israel should forever retain control of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District. Furthermore, there should be a complete annexation of these areas to Israel.
    * The State of Israel will relocate the Arab refugees of Judea, Samaria and Gaza under an international agreement and/or in accordance with their wishes, to other Arab countries and toany other country that will accept them.
    * Moledet firmly believes in promoting settlement activity. Furthermore, Moledet strongly believes in the exercise of full Israeli control over these areas and a complete cessation of Arab rule.
    * Work permits for palestinian Arabs within Israel should be ceased. This is entirely due to security reasons. Additionally, this will encourage them to immigrate to other countries.

    Fortunately Kach, who proposed transfer by force and carried out bombings, was banned in the 1990s, and is now listed as a terrorist group by the US.

    Reply
  33. miravogel

    Yes, Matt you are right to point out that there is racism in Israel, and quite a lot of it. Racism engenders racism, too. Anti-racism is also a considerable force, in the form of strengthening Israeli anti-racist law. Arab Israelis have told me that Israeli vision falls behind this law and consequently its implementation needs to be improved, but the outlawing of racist statements and racist acts is a good basis from which to work.

    Israel’s status as a flawed democracy relates to its occupation rather than what is going on within its borders. Occupied Palestinians are non-citizens of the country which controls so much of their existence – the difference between the OPTs and the situation for ethnically similar Arab (or Palestinian – however they wish to self-define) Israelis within Israel’s borders is stark, but it is significant to how we perceive Israel. Within Israel’s borders, Freedom House says Israel’s citizens (all social groups) are free. Incredibly Israel (again, excluding the OPTs) is less of a surveillance society than the UK according to a recent Privacy International report, too. So we have a society whose admirable human rights aspirations (as ratified in its Declaration of Independence and in its laws) have been partly subordinated to a security-minded occupation. There are certainly some supremacist and expansionist voices amongst Israeli Jews. But yes, thankfully the Kahanists (of Kach) are relegated to the fringes. Moledet is miniscule, long may that last. They don’t have any other policies than ultra-nationalist ones. The fact that they have never had more than 3 seats in the Knesset is a clear indication that they are marginal (not to take this for granted – the far right is always a threat, witness the London elections).

    There is plenty of work ongoing to support Palestinian rights, and maintream British parties should be supporting this in turn. For example, there’s a joint Palestinian-Israeli report on the impact of movement restrictions between Israel and the Palestinian authority, with recommendations for the immediate dismantlement of key checkpoints which are disrupting the Palestinian economy. I can’t assess the report, but surely this is the kind of progressive and – importantly – joint process we should be supporting. It’s not as easy or populist as a boycott campaign, sure – it requires some stamina to follow and evaluate this stuff. But if a political party doesn’t have stamina, or expertise, to undertake responsible involvement in the conflicts it has policy on, maybe it should have some humility and bow out.

    Yes, Israel does seem like Italy – as ever I’m no expert but the recent Economist special report on Israel at 60 was a good balance against the vehement and selective anti-Zionist stuff which dominates (at least in my circles – e.g. Derek Wall airing the views of Joel Kovel on Socialist Unity) at the moment. Israel’s simple proportional representation system pushes politicians to undertake coalition building, cultivating the support of other politicians instead of engaging with their electorate. There are many parties in the Israeli government, and the most extreme members of each coalition wield disproportionate power. This is how Shas came to muscle through a resumption of settlement activity after the Mercaz HaRav bombing.

    Matt, it is also the responsibility of the people I am debating with to recognise that I am not a mere shill for Israel. That people who are thought or known to be Jewish are assumed to have secret allegiance to universal Jewry or, latterly, Israel, is an age-old antisemitic trope. That is a proper ad hominem and I do not have to take responsibility for it.

    Reply
  34. Matt

    Mira, my point is that if you want people not to think ‘You would say that, wouldn’t you’, you’re going to have to take care to counter it. If you don’t, you may well have the high moral ground, but you certainly won’t have persuaded them to think differently.

    I’ve not read Kovel, but are you saying that Derek Wall doesn’t have the right to air Kovel’s views? (note that Derek is sympathetic to Kovel due to their strong agreement on ecosocialist principles, and Derek notes that he doesn’t necessarily agree with all Kovel says).

    From what I can see from a quick reading of his arguments (http://www.joelkovel.org/newreadings.html#ttwz), most of what Kovel raises seems within the bounds of fair debate, even if you don’t agree with what he says; the problem comes with his rhetoric, which is bound to inflame things. He takes the argument very personally, having been raised to believe in Zionism. It seems to me that he fails to distinguish between Jewish nationalism per se (aka Zionism) and *exclusive* Jewish nationalism (which is racist). This distinction is important – it is the difference that makes the SNP and Plaid Cymru acceptable, and the BNP not (*exclusive* British nationalism, i.e. racist). He is prone to hyperbole, but he doesn’t seem to be so beyond the pale that he deserves censoring or banning (as did happen).

    I don’t like Kovel suggesting that Zionism equates to anti-semitism (something I think Atzom also argues?). I can see the point about extreme Zionism and external anti-semitism both leading to the concentration of the Diaspora in Israel, but I don’t think the point is really correct, or that the suggestion is at all helpful.

    Mira, you’re definitely right about the need to pursue joint processes. This is certainly preferable to a boycott. With regard to boycotts, I was just reading about the boycott of South Africa and the apartheid era. The Wikipedia article seems quite comprehensive:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_South_Africa_in_the_apartheid_era

    I realise that comparisons to South Africa tend to polarise things, but let me try to draw what I hope are some helpful analogies.

    The boycott of South Africa was one of the contributing factors in leading the NP to negotiate with the ANC, with the value of the Rand collapsing. What was more notable was the ANC’s campaign to make the townships ungovernable. This wasn’t peaceful – it was brutal. The ANC and the Pan-African Congress also carried out bombings; today the ANC is viewed as being freedom fighters. Following the South African example isn’t quite as rosy as it may seem to some. Do we really want to provoke economic collapse and major unrest?

    What I think is instructive is how the end of apartheid came about. White South Africa was incredibly concerned at being over-run by the Black majority, and they had even gone to the extent of gaining nuclear technology from Israel. Nevertheless, in 1990 De Klerk unilaterally withdrew apartheid laws, unbanned the ANC etc., freed Mandela from jail and dismantled their nuclear weapons. This was an amazingly brave move, and it paid off. There was violence, rioting, bombings, massacres, but a democratic and united South Africa did result. Unilateral actions from Israel, such as opening settler-only roads and removing the blockade of Gaza, could achieve a similar result. Hell, throw open the borders with Gaza and the West Bank – I don’t imagine that there would be a bed of roses, but the sea of popular support in which Hamas swims would surely surge away from them. Cue Leigh attacking me for fantasies again…

    There is another parallel, namely the involvement in cross-border military actions. South Africa had invaded Namibia, but by 1988 had been basically defeated by the Cuban-backed army. Nelson Mandela recognised the importance of this defeat in the dismantling of apartheid. A similar loss of confidence in the military of Israel has been seen after the Lebanon war – the war failed to accomplish either of its objectives (recover the hostages, and remove Hizbollah from southern Lebanon), and probably only strengthened Hizbollah.

    Something else to take from the South African experience would be Truth and Reconciliation committees – these could be started now by civil groups and NGOs (maybe some already exist?), without needing to wait for a negotiated settlement.

    Reply
  35. leigh

    Guess it’s time for my ‘cue’ lol !

    well yes matt i do think you’re being a little naive with your suggestion that israel should relax its security measures and completely open up its borders with gaza and the west bank – not incidentally becaue i enjoy seeing ordinary palestinians suffer as a result as i certainly dont! But because im sure that in no time at all hamas would re-commence its policy of sending suicide bombers into israel to kill more innocent peoplel. Cue more retaliatory measures from israel and more innocent palestinian deaths as a consequence!

    Aside from its fascistic ideology that is one of my chief criticisms of hamas – it does not care one iota for the sufferings of ordinary palestinians that result from its actions! Hopefully in time palestinians in gaza will come to realise that hamas are a nihilistic dead end and seek an alternative political leadership – that’s why of course hamas is doing its level best to exterminate any opposition to it in gaza!

    But i think you make a good point with regard to the constructive role played by the Truth and reconcilliation committees in south africa – in that they probablly helped avert a horrific civil war in south africa! Of course to be effective there had to be an awful lot of forgivenes on all sides, and if truth be told there probably isnt a lot of that between israelis and the palestinians right now. But yes of course in the long run people will have to talk to one another if there is to be lasting peace between israel and what i hope would be a viable sovereign palestinian state.But im afraid i just dont see it happening while hamas are around to wreak their murderous havoc..

    Reply
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