Category Archives: event

Friends of the Earth Middle East in London, 24 March 2011

Eco Peace in the Middle East – an event
Thursday 24 March 2011
7pm- Reception; 7:30pm- Lecture and Discussion
The Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 0AE
Fee: £7 in advance (book here)/ £10 on the door

Environment has no borders. The rain falls on Jerusalem, Amman and Ramalla; the desert expands northwards in Israel, Palestine and Jordan and the impacts of climate change will be felt by all people in the region.

The responsibility for cultivating the already fragile ecosystem in the Middle East lies with all the people who inhabit the region. The Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian co-Directors of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) will share with us their unique partnership and set out the environmental challenges the region faces.

EcoPeace / FoEME is a unique organisation that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists since 1994. Its primary objective is the promotion of cooperative efforts to protect the shared environmental heritage across the region of the Middle East. In so doing, it seeks to advance both sustainable regional development and bring about the creation of necessary conditions for a lasting peace in the region.

New Israel Fund has helped support FoEME’s efforts to rehabilitate the lower Jordan River system, which has had its annual flow reduced by about 90% and lost its rich and diverse ecosystems. With New Israel Fund help, FoEME launched a campaign to raise awareness of the situation, and has prepared a Strategic Action Plan targeting Israeli decision makers who can implement the necessary changes.

See you there.

HT: Yishay.

Joint Israeli-Palestinian workshop on environmentally-friendly crop protection

(Looking beyond the standard lapse into misozoonistic language – ‘pests’ – of this bulletin from the Peres Center for Peace to appreciate the direction it points in:)

Farmer holding birdFifty Palestinian and Israeli Farmers Gather for First Workshop to Find Environmentally Friendly Solutions to Controlling Rodents in Open Field Crops

Palestinian farmers spent two days in Israel together with Israeli farmers at a workshop for the “Pest Management: Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian Cooperation for Environmentally Friendly Pest Management” project. Through working together to find solutions to agricultural problems that transcend borders, Palestinian and Israeli famers are better equipped to implement industry-best and ‘green’ methods of pest control.

The Palestinian farmers spent the night in Beit Shean after attending an introductory welcome dinner. The Israeli farmers joined the group the following morning beginning with a demonstration on bird ringing (a procedure of placing an identification ring on the bird which weighs and examines its physical details). The participants then went on a tour to see Barn Owl and Kestrel nests, where they learned about the life-cycles of the birds. They learnt of the importance of these birds of prey as biological solutions to pests such as rodents – an environmentally friendly, more economical alternative to poisonous bait that is currently used, which pollutes the soil and is harmful to the ecosystem and to other birds.

The participants showed much interest and enthusiasm in the tour, which for some, was their first time seeing these birds from such a short distance. The day continued with lectures at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu on identifying locations for placement of owl nests, requirements of nests including the different requirements for Kestrel and Barn Owls, as well as techniques for monitoring rodents using humanitarian traps. The farmers discussed different issues related to the Barn Owl – which in Arab culture is believed to bring bad luck. By the end of the workshop farmers showed willingness to implement the techniques they had learnt as a substitute for laying poisoned bait, which is the most commonly implemented method of pest control.

A Palestinian participant commented: “I found the workshop very useful and interesting, particularly realizing that the Barn Owl can be a solution for pest control that is good for the ecosystem. The lectures were of a very high level, and I will definitely recommend the use of Barn Owl in the future.”

This workshop series is a joint partnership between the Peres Centre for Peace, the Amman Center for Peace and Development and a Palestinian partner and Tel Aviv University, funded by the European Union.

Moishe Postone on history, the Holocaust and the anti-capitalist Left

Anti-capitalist discourse has become personal. Moishe Postone, Professor in the University of Chicago’s History Department, is an intellectual historian who explains this well. Unless I’m mistaken, he also edited His work is also published in what for me is one of the most important texts to come out of the small section of the radical left which fights antisemitism – the reader Why Your Revolution Is No Liberation (all links point here, but it’s gone – I’ll see if I have a copy on file to upload).

His presentation at SOAS on June 15th outlined with great clarity the origins of the weaknesses of thought on the radical left which are preventing it from reckoning with antisemitism. He explains difficulties both universalist and particularist ways of looking at the world have had accommodating Jews since the rise of Fascism in the ’30s. This is not an optimistic presentation, but it does set out and clarify our problem: radical anti-capitalist critique has taken up antisemitic ways of thinking.

My jots:

~~~~

Buchenwald and Hiroshima was dealt with by Left; but the left has not managed to deal with Auschwitz.

The Age of Catastrophe in the 30s and 40s gave way to High Fordism’s state centred synthesis and its welfare states; in turn this yielded to Post-Fordism with its social differentiation and unemployment, downturns in some parts, undermined welfare state.

USSR as development of capitalist social formation, no matter how antithetical. It was a response to capitalism, not an independent movement.

Antisemitism understood widely as variant of racism. But modern antisemitism treats Jews not as a racially inferior group to be kept in place but as dangerous, destructive and powerful in an intangible, global, abstract way. Jews as vast modern conspiracy.

Antisemitism is populist, counterhegemonic, claims explanatory power. Modern a/s purports to explain the modern capitalist world. Misrecognises the global domination of capital. Freeing the world involves freeing it from the Jews. Emancipatory. Blurs differences between reactionary and progressive/emancipatory. Bebel. Antisemitism today understands capitalism as a Jewish conspiracy.

Is the reactionary critique a first step to a progressive critique? No, not historically.

Left responses to the Holocaust.

As fetishised form of anticapitalism.

Nazis were recognised first as anti-modern, then fundamentally modern. A problematic reversal. Anti-capitalism was an effort to overcome a huge historical change which seems to be beyond people, impersonal. Reimagine the struggle against capitalism as a struggle of wills. But that world view faded for decades after the Holocaust. History faded as an issue for a while. Beginning in the mid 50s, rapid economic growth enveloped Stalinist East and Keynsian West and seemed to be an age of universal progress. History seemed tame. Nazism seemed like an aberration, an incongruity – anti-modern at a time when affirmations of modernity were hegemonic.

Shift to particularism saw Nazism as extreme eg of rationalised bureaucratised modernity. But still counter-hegemonic.

The Holocaust was marginalised between ’45 and ’60s, after which it became centralised in discourse. But the centrality of antisemitism to Nazism was completely bracketed. Fascism was understood as a tool of capitalism used against working classes; antisemitism was seen as a variation. USSR monuments to the Holocaust didn’t mention the Jews, or else they listed them as one of many nationalities victimised by Nazis. Ruling elites were prepared to curry favour with groups who remained antisemitic. Neither Churchill nor De Gaulle avoided this. So Jewish children sent to Auschwitz were officially described as ‘political deportees’ – the different reasons for being sent to Auschwitz were conflated. This constituted a submergence of specificity of the Holocaust. It was a form of universalist colour blindness which viewed any mention of Jews-as-Jews as unacceptably particularistic. After ’45 each country formerly occupied by Nazis presented itself as a briefly-occupied nation of resisters; this nationalist self-regard suited the emerging Fordist-Keynsian capitalist configuration.

In the USSR there were show trials; the Jewish Doctors’ Plot; in the US, McCarthyism. Each configuration viewed its foe as abstract and intangible. In each, Jewish identity was not treated as contingent, but central. Soviet show trials described Jews as ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ and ‘Zionists’. The Doctors’ Plot led to preparations in ’53 to round up Soviet Jews, abandoned on Stalin’s death that year. The turn against ‘cosmopolitanism’ was also seen in McCarthyism, a move against “international communism”. After 53, Cold War ‘regularised’, with blocs presenting fetishised values of alternatively liberty or equality, actualised according to universalised principles.

New movements – for the liberation and emancipation of women and other minorities – criticised abstract universalism and there was a shift towards a politics of recognition and of particularistic specificity. But anti-imperialism has reproduced old dichotomies by taking one particularist side against another.

A new conceptualisation of the world became diverted into an attack on the concrete – a turn from terra incognita and towards the conceptually familiar. Concrete forms of anti-imperialism occlude the nature of abstract domination of capitalism.

Much of the New Left became involved in an anti-colonialism which was a failing as well as an expression of solidarity. Anti-colonialism was also a displaced way of expressing a radical critique of Western society, translated into other terms which fail to mount opposition to capitalism.

Anti-Iraq war demonstrations were not, after all, supporting a progressive force in Iraq, but the Baathist regime. Resistance to the US in and of itself is now viewed as counter-hegemonic. This is a reactionary, rather than progressive, form of anti-imperialism.

The conflation of Israel and US re-articulates old discourse of European political right about Britain and the Jews. The constitution of anti-hegemonic politics and movements was afflicted by this way of thinking in the 20th century, with the eventuality of the Holocaust.

Left cannot formulate an adequate radical critique of capitalism today. This absence of radical critique breeds fetishised forms of anti-capitalism which are essentially antisemitic.

Questions

Qu

Why do you want to avoid conflating mass extermination with mass murder?

Nazis wanted to kill many Poles and Russians and enslave the rest. But there was a will to kill all Jews, old and young. The killing of children demonstrated the hugeness of the threat that the Nazis assumed the Jews to be. Mass murder does not imply the destruction of evil; extermination does.

Book 2003 Jonathan Brent. ‘The plot against the Jewish doctors’

Qu

Equation of Israel with Nazism is a product of Soviet propaganda post-67 when Zionism became once again an international conspiracy, particularly in Pan-Arab discourse.

The focus of attention on Israel could make more immediate problems recede. Anyway, until that time, Nazism wasn’t such a bad word. It was simply expedient to use it as a gold standard of evil at the time.

Qu
Under Tsarism?

Soviet messages from 60s include cartoons which cast Jews as complicit in Jewish crimes. Perdition – according to somebody who read a draft, Perdition lost incendiary lines in the editing process, about Jews, as culprits for the death of Jesus, nailing the Christ to the cross and similar or worse.

Qu

What resources has the left lacked to allow it to get into this state. Moral perspective lacking? Match-up between straightforward utilitarian consequentialists who are at the same time advancing antisemitism eg Ted Honderichs, and, on the other hand universalists. Critique of anti-capitalism which comes from a milieu without the moral resources to develop the politics of recognition into a truer critique.

Calling into question of a form of universalism which rejects difference – but incoherent because some diffs were liked and some not. A form of universalism which encompasses difference is required. In the US on the academic left there is a reification of difference which either negates or affirms eg Islam as a unitary other, a form of orientalism.

Qu
Why are we surprised by discoveries of antisemitism in one or other section of thought?

Left doesn’t understand a/s. Understands it as being anti-Left, anti-gay, anti-black. But a/s is a particular challenge for the left, at the time when the left is largely unmoored.

Qu
Why do we persist with umbrella term of antisemitism? Why not say anti-Jewishness?

Antisemitism, the term coined by antisemites, has never referred to semites – it has referred to a world conspiracy.

Qu
Herzl was the first to brag about the international Jew. He sold out on the Armenian revolution. What is the Jewish contribution to antisemitism? [this man blames the victims. The “Jewish contribution to antisemitism” is to be the target of it].

There was no answer; a polite deferral.

Qu
Anti-imperialism grew out of attempt to explain why Marxist predictions didn’t come to pass. The concept of imperialism exists for the marxist left to explain the failings of marxism.

As long as there is capitalism there is the necessity of understanding it. Communist revolutions were about taking ‘imperialised’ countries and have them develop national capital along statist lines. At the same time the Arab Middle East and Sub Saharan Africa have declined drastically, with people looking for responsibility – and hitting on the US and Israel as the culprits.

Qu
State capitalist antisemitism desecrating cemetery with bulldozers in (I think) Eastern Europe. Hamas was being socialist in Gaza even as Muslim nationalists, while the PLO were doing nothing. Maybe a left view of universalism which could address US’s allies Saudi while being pro-public…?

That space is occupied by Islamic fundamentalists. Not optimistic Not seeing possibilities. One of the best things that could happen would be an even shaky resolution between Israel and Palestine, removing one excuse for antisemitism.

~~~~

You can read an article of his, History and Helplessness: Mass Mobilization and Contemporary Forms of Anticapitalism, and encounter some of these thoughts as the author intended.

Update: Here’s a copy of Why Your Revolution Is No Liberation [PDF]


The dominant anti-globalisation grievance against capitalism goes something like this. Money- and market-orientated processes have reduced human beings to commodities, robbing them of any means of existence except the sale of their own labour-power in exchange for tokens of commodity-value: money. Value therefore comes to be overwhelmingly predetermined by the concrete terms of money. Money comes to dictate social relations with human and environmental degradation as an inevitable consequence. Money is therefore the essence of capitalism and capitalism’s overthrow will hinge on the rejection of money and money-grubbing and the adoption of more natural, authentic, humanising forms of capital – craft and agricultural. Here the discourse becomes personalised.

“After Gaza, peace is possible” – Coventry Green Voice event

See Coventry Green Voice for details of an interfaith event on the evening of Thursday 19th March 2009.

“This is on Thursday night (refreshments from 630pm, event from 7pm to 915pm) at the Methodist Central Hall here in Coventry. It will be a talk and discussion by the co-directors of Jerusalem Peacemakers … on the impact of the Gaza war on the region, renewed efforts for peace building, and what we can do to help.”

Moving Forward After Gaza: What next for Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel? Mohammad Darawshe, London, 26 Feb.

Hosted by the Foreign Press Association – to book and for more details, see EventBrite

UK Friends of the Abraham Fund Initiatives, in co-operation with the Foreign Press Association present Moving Forward After Gaza: What next for Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel?
A briefing by
Mohammad Darawshe Director of the Abraham Fund
Event Description
The Gaza war has generated a public outcry, with thousands taking to the streets in London and around the world. In Israel, tensions between the Jewish and Arab communities have risen, threatening current cooperation efforts. From a unique perspective of a coexistence organisation between the Jewish and Arab communities, director Mohammad Darawshe of the Abraham Fund Initiatives will address the situation on the ground. He will outline the much needed action from governments and other agencies and will provide examples of tried and tested model projects already successfully implemented, which demonstrate that coexistence can work, but needs to be supported.
About Mohammad Darawshe
Mr Darawshe has been the Director of the Abraham Fund Initiatives since 2005 and he has presented lectures and papers at many international and academic institutions such as the U.S. congress, the European parliament, NATO Defense College, the World Economic Forum, and most recently the Herzlia Conference. He won numerous awards, including the Peacemaker award, bestowed by the Catholic Theological Union of Chicago and the Peace and Security Award of the World Association of NGOs. In 2008, he was elected as a council member of his own hometown Iksal.

David Hirsh at the London Conference on Combatting Antisemitism

At the Experts Forum of the London Conference on Combatting Antisemitism, David Hirsh talks about making the narratives of Israelis and Palestinians, and their respective supporters, compatible, a requirement for peace and a requirement for an anti-racist position on the conflict:

“We’re not surprised that when there is an ongoing, bloody, hand-to-hand conflict over a piece of land – that there is a tendency amongst those involved to construct ‘the other’ as being essentially evil.

One of the aggravating features, however, of the Israel/Palestine conflict, is that everyone, all over the world, seems to think they are involved.

Not only do Jewish families around the world – many of whom ended up where they did and not in Israel only for contingent reasons – often feel themselves to be connected to Israel and to its fate; not only do Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims around the world feel themselves to be harmed when Palestinians in Palestine are harmed; but there also seems to be a tendency for narratives of Israeli and Palestinian nationhood to transform themselves into universal narratives – rather than narratives which bind together small and insignificant nations in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Some hold the view that the settlement of this conflict is a pre-requisite for the settlement of most other conflicts in the world.”

Some people think that this conflict stands, symbolically, for all other conflicts – and so Palestinians come to symbolize “the oppressed” and Israeli Jews come to symbolize “the oppressors”.

Some people think that Israel is the embattled outpost of “Western civilization” – and so constitutes the global frontline in the war against “Muslim” terror and threat. But of course the point is to avoid and to oppose the construction of a separate “Judeo-Christian world” and a separate “Muslim world” – not to act as though war between the two is already inevitable.

One thing which distinct antisemitisms in different times and places have had in common is the understanding that Jews are central to all that is wrong with the world.

This is where it’s at.