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J14: The exclusive revolution

How the largest social justice movement in Israel’s history managed to ignore the Palestinians

This piece was co-written with Max Blumenthal. A shorter version originally appeared on Alternet.

The men and women who set out to build a Jewish state in historic Palestine made little secret of their settler-colonial designs. Zionism’s intellectual author, Theodor Herzl, described the country he envisioned as “part of a wall of defense for Europe in Asia, an outpost of civilization against barbarism.” “All the means we need, we ourselves must create them, like Robinson Crusoe on his island,” Herzl told an interviewer in 1898. The Labor Zionist movement’s chief ideologue, Berl Katznelson, was more blunt than Herzl, declaring in 1928, “The Zionist enterprise is an enterprise of conquest.” More recently, and perhaps most crudely, former Prime Minister and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak described the goal of Zionism as maintaining “a villa in the jungle.”

Those who dedicated themselves to the formation of the Jewish State may have formulated their national identity through an idealized vision of European enlightenedness, but they also recognized that their lofty aims would not be realized without brute force. As Katznelson said, “It is not by chance that I speak of settlement in military terms.” Thus the Zionist socialists gradually embraced the ideas of radical right-wing ideologue Vladimir Jabotinsky, who outlined a practical strategy in his 1922 essay, “The Iron Wall,” for fulfilling their utopian ambitions. “Zionist colonization, even the most restricted, must either be terminated or carried out in defiance of the will of the native population,” Jabotinsky wrote. “This colonization can, therefore, continue and develop only under the protection of a force independent of the local population — an iron wall which the native population cannot break through. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs.” According to Jabotinsky, residents of the Zionist yishuv (community) could not hope to enjoy a European standard of life in the heart of the Arab world without physically separating themselves from the natives. This would require tireless planning, immense sacrifice and no shortage of bloodshed. And all who comprised the Zionist movement, whether left, right, or center, would carry the plan towards fulfillment. As Jabotinsky wrote, “All of us, without exception, are constantly demanding that this power strictly fulfill its obligations. In this sense, there are no meaningful differences between our ‘militarists’ and our ‘vegetarians.’”

One of the greatest misperceptions of Israeli politics is that the right-wing politicians who claim Jabotinsky’s writings as their lodestar perpetuate the most egregious violence against the Palestinians. While brimming with anti-Arab resentment, the Israeli right’s real legacy consists mostly of producing durable strategies and demagogic rhetoric. The Labor Zionists who dominated Israel’s political scene for decades bear the real responsibility for turning the right’s ideas into actionable policies. The dynamic is best illuminated by the way in which successive Labor Party governments implemented the precepts outlined in Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” under the cover of negotiations with the Palestinians. As early as 1988, the Laborites Yitzhak Rabin and Haim Ramon were advocating for the construction of a concrete wall to separate the Palestinians from “Israel proper.” When Rabin declared his intention to negotiate a two-state solution with the PLO, his supporters adopted a slogan that had previously belonged to the right-wing Moledet Party: “Them over there; us over here.” Then, when Rabin placed his signature on the Oslo Accords in 1993, Israel began surrounding the Gaza Strip with electrified fencing while revoking Palestinian work permits by the thousands.

The violence of the Second Intifada accelerated the process of total separation. Suicide bombing confirmed to average Israelis the Orientalist stereotype of the Arab native as inherently violent, incurable and culturally retrograde. By extension, the wave of terrorism ratified Jabotinsky’s thesis. “Something like a cage has to be built for [the Palestinians],” Israeli revisionist historian Benny Morris declared in a 2002 interview. “There is a wild animal that has to be locked up in one way or another.” As Israeli forces set about in tanks and combat jets to crush the Intifada, 709 kilometers of steel and concrete were erected around Jewish demographic enclaves, detaching Israel from the occupied population to its West while gobbling up over 180 thousand dunams of Palestinian land. Meanwhile, thousands of Jewish settlers were evacuated from the Gaza Strip, enabling the transformation of the coastal ghetto into an enormous holding cell that would be monitored, controlled and economically exploited from the outside by Israel. In short order, occupied Palestinians disappeared from Israeli life. If Israelis interacted with them, they did so with rifles in their hands, or at checkpoints from behind bulletproof glass.

By 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was heralding what he called “The Big Quiet.” Palestinian resistance flared up occasionally, but it was effortlessly suppressed. Inside the Green Line, terror against Jewish Israeli civilians was almost non-existent. What a Haaretz columnist described during the height of the Second Intifada as the “war over the morning coffee and croissant, over the evening beer” appeared to have been won. Cafe-goers in Tel Aviv finally enjoyed the fruits of a one-way peace guaranteed by the strategy of separation, domination and control. The status quo was now the ideal.

In the course of crushing Palestinian resistance, Israel’s leaders exploited the nation’s siege mentality to ram through a program of economic liberalization that ravaged the country’s middle class. In 1986, the Labor Party’s elder statesman Shimon Peres had initiated the economic reforms as a precursor to the Oslo Accords. But under Netanyahu’s watch, the economic trend’s most extreme manifestations exploded to the surface. An American-educated libertarian who could easily campaign on a Tea Party ticket, Netanyahu distilled his essence through the exploitation of all under Israeli rule, Jews included. Indeed, Netanyahu depended more on the beneficence of avaricious oligarchs like the diamond tycoon Lev Leviev, the late shipping baron Sammy Ofer, and the American casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson than the respect of any military chieftain. While authorizing new homes in the occupied West Bank by the thousands, Netanyahu slashed housing subsidies for working class residents of Israel proper. The American Israel lobbyist and former Pentagon spokesman Dan Senor had celebrated Israel’s new economy in his bestselling book “Start-Up Nation,” but behind the scenes, and far from the gaze of the international media, the Israeli middle class was seething with resentment. Soon, Netanyahu would feel their wrath.

*******

In July 2011, radical left-wing activists in Israel organized a Facebook event titled, “The Week of Rage” as a spontaneous demonstration against the skyrocketing price of rent and basic consumer goods. Also prominent in the activists’ list of grievances were anti-democratic proposals of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, that were designed to stifle dissent against the occupation and Israel’s repression of its own Palestinian citizens. The protests were characteristically theatrical, with demonstrators attacking the Likud Party headquarters with cottage cheese, a staple commodity that had become unaffordable for most. Enthusiastic as they were, the demonstrations were sparsely attended.

On July 14, another spontaneous protest developed in Tel Aviv. About a dozen young residents with scant experience in direct action protest pitched tents on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard. Months before, protesters in Greece had pitched their own tents in Syntagma Square directly in front of the Greek parliament to challenge their government with a display of people power. The location selected by the Israeli demonstrators was no less significant. Instead of setting up camp in front of the Finance Ministry or the Knesset, they chose a wide, grass-lined strip that mimicked Viennese strolling grounds. On one end of Rothschild Boulevard was the Dizengoff House where David Ben Gurion publicly declared the establishment of the “Jewish and democratic” state. On the other end was the recently refurbished Ha’Bima Theater, the symbol of the Zionist resuscitation of the Hebrew language.

As the protesters erected the first tents, we interviewed Stav Shaffir, a media professional in her late-20s. “We are a young group of Israelis and we feel we’re unable to live in Tel Aviv because the prices of housing are going up,” Shaffir told us. “We’re fed up with having to always move between places and look for the cheapest housing solutions. It’s now time to say enough so we’ve come out to the streets with our tents and we’ve also started in Jerusalem.”

We asked Shaffir if the protest movement was connected in any way to the law passed five days before in the Knesset that criminalized speaking in favor of a boycott of settlement-produced goods, or to the constant stream of anti-democratic laws. “There are many things that are connected but here we protest against the housing costs,” she insisted. “We are not a group. Everyone has their discretion to choose what is the most important issue.”

What began as a small gathering of Tel Avivians built unexpected, immediate momentum. Shaffir and her friends struck a chord among the country’s frustrated middle class. Three weeks after the first tents appeared, 300,000 demonstrators filled the streets of Tel Aviv in one of the largest protests in Israel’s history. Chanting in unison, “The people/nation demand social justice!” Israelis of nearly all political backgrounds joined together as the voice of a disgruntled but suddenly hopeful people.

The protesters presented a smorgasbord of Israeli grievances, including more rights for the physically disabled, better care for the elderly, and the release of Gilad Shalit, a soldier held captive by Hamas since 2006. But everything seemed to center around the kitchen table demands originally outlined by Shaffir and her cadre. Polls taken a week after the protests exploded showed nearly 90 percent of Israelis approved of the demonstrations’ demands.

The crisis no one was willing to mention, however, was the 44-year-long Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Demonstrators we interviewed from across the political spectrum deflected questions about the occupation — at times in an aggressive, resentful manner — by calling it a divisive “political” issue.

“I think the general public sees occupation as a security issue, a left-right issue that is not related to our cause for social justice,” Hadas Kouchalevich, a leader of the Israel Students’ Union, told us. Kouchalevich’s organization has shepherded thousands of university students to the demonstrations, including students from Ariel University who study in a West Bank mega-settlement. When asked if she personally believed the July 14 movement could connect social justice to the issue of occupation, she replied, “No. Occupation is a security issue, not a social justice issue.”

The decision to exclude the occupation from the grievances of the July 14 movement was entirely organic. No hired gun consultant advised movement activists to avoid the hot button issue in order to broaden the appeal of the demonstrations. The mainstream of the Jewish public decided on its own, and without much internal reflection, that social justice could exist alongside a system of ethnic exclusivism. Thus, while the July 14 movement proceeded through cities across Israel bellowing out cries for dignity and rights, Palestinians remained safely tucked away behind an elaborate matrix of control — the Iron Wall. Ten years of separation had not only rendered the Palestinians invisible in a physical sense. It had erased them from the Israeli conscience.

“It’s very strange to see a social justice protest without mentioning occupation,” Gidi Grinstein, a confidant of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who heads the Reut Institute, a government-linked Israeli think tank remarked. “But most people in Israel don’t even believe there is an occupation anymore. They see the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and think there is a functioning government. They hear about the Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN in September, and they think Palestine is a real state. So there is this cognitive dissonance among Israelis.”

For years Israel’s tiny but intensely motivated left-wing tried to mobilize mass protests against the occupation, hoping they could shake Israeli society out of its slumber. But the settlements grew, and the occupation became more and more entrenched. Suddenly, with hundreds of thousands of their compatriots in the streets demonstrating against the most right-wing government in their country’s history, some leftists began conjuring visions of a revolution.

“We have failed to end the occupation by confronting it head on but the boundary-breaking, de-segregating movement could, conceivably, undermine it,” wrote Dimi Reider. Reider claimed the demonstrations could achieve dramatic change because they “may challenge something even deeper than the occupation.” Hagai Mattar, a veteran anti-occupation activist and widely read journalist, echoed Reider’s unbridled enthusiasm. “For the first time in decades, perhaps, we are witnessing the impossible becoming possible,” Mattar wrote on the popular Hebrew website MySay. “What appeared to be a mere fantasy half a year ago… has become a vivid reality.”

Many members of the Israeli left have suffered for their activism. Some have been injured by Israeli soldiers during protests in the West Bank, where they routinely dodge rubber bullets and high-velocity teargas projectiles. Others have served months in prison for refusing to serve in the Israeli Army. With a suite of anti-democratic laws passed by the Knesset, they fear a coming crackdown. But perhaps the greatest source of suffering for Israeli leftists is having been cast out of one of the most tribalistic societies in the world. Many are turned down for housing and employment on the grounds that they refused military  service. The very word “leftist,” or smolini, has become an insult in the Hebrew language. Hoping to replace the communal bond their society had denied them, the radical leftists who have not escaped to the squats of Berlin or Barcelona formed a tribe within the tribe.

As the July 14 protests gathered momentum and manpower, members of the radical left bolstered the movement with their tactical experience and fearlessness in the face of police intimidation. On July 23, when hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv, Israeli police forces arrested 43 demonstrators. Most of them were leftists who attempted to block a major intersection. The most prominent among them was Matar. Normally, the arrests of left-wingers at anti-occupation protests go unreported. In this instance, however, the arrests were broadcast to a national audience during the prime time news. After being released from their jail cells, the demonstrators were greeted by their fellow Israelis not as traitors but as heroic leaders.

“The radical left is no longer an outsider, but forms an important part of the mainstream,” Matar wrote recently in an article celebrating the protests. If this new movement welcomed leftists, and upheld them as its vanguard, how could it not be revolutionary?

Born out of indignation and mired for years in malaise, radical leftists like Matar believe they have found the influence they always sought among mainstream Israelis. However, there was little evidence that the July 14 movement’s rank and file had any interest in overthrowing the “system,” or that they would ever be willing to acknowledge, let alone engage, the occupation. If anything, the demonstrations reflected the young urban class’s yearning for early Zionist communalism, where everyone was guaranteed respect so long as they were part of the yishuv (community).

As Yehuda Nuriel, a columnist for the leading Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharanot, wrote recently, “Here is the Zionism we almost lost. We found it in the tent.” Indeed, July 14 seems to represent a remarkable reincarnation of the Zionist spirit that gave birth to the state of Israel, not the revolution that will “challenge something deeper than the occupation,” as Reider wrote.

As during the glory days of early socialist Zionism, Palestinians are isolated and ignored. “It’s a classic secular, Jewish and urban protest,” Tamar Herman, a political scientist at the Israel Democracy Institute, told the Associated Press. “Arab participation would open the door to the divisive questions here.”

*******

In mixed cities and in Palestinian communities inside the Green Line, a few Palestinian citizens of Israel are pitching their own tents. But on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard, the epicenter of the protest movement, there is only one tent representing Palestinian demands. It is “Tent 1948,” a small encampment dedicated to promoting Arab-Jewish solidarity and reminding the mass of demonstrators of the dispossession of Palestinians in 1948. Left-wing Israeli writers Noam Sheizaf and Mairav Zonszein claimed that Tent 1948 was “challenging the protest movement from the left, by reminding people of land issues that followed 1948.” Citing the presence of the Arab-Jewish tent and the inclusion of a single Arab speaker at the raucous July 23 rally in Tel Aviv (the speaker did not risk rankling his massive audience with any mentions of occupation), Reider opined that “the participation of Palestinian citizens of Israel in the protests has more bearing on the conflict than any concentrated attempt to rally the crowds against the occupation.”

Palestinian-Israelis join the July 14 protests at great personal risk. They fear that by joining the movement their own national identity will be co-opted to advance a struggle that will betray them in the end. Boudour Youssef Hassan, a 22-year-old law student at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is among many young Palestinian citizens of Israel who looked upon the demonstrations with suspicion. “At first I thought it was a good thing that they were confronting the right-wing government,” she said of the Jewish demonstrators. “But the longer it goes on the more I think they are simply using us Palestinians while their real goal appears to be the revival of the Zionist left.”

Abir Kopty, a Palestinian rights activist from the northern Israeli city of Nazareth, is one the few Palestinians to have insinuated themselves into the main protest area on Rothschild. Kopty played a central role in the establishment of Tent 1948 and she is a major presence at Palestinian tent protests around the country. “I’ve been a part of Tent 1948 not because I wanted to be part of J14,” Kopty told us. “My role there is to challenge J14 and to tell them they can’t have social justice without addressing issues like occupation. So I refuse to be a part of J14. I’m only there to challenge and to assert my Palestinian identity.”

Despite her prominent role, Kopty agreed with Youssef Hassan that the movement was exploiting her presence to burnish its social justice image. “I’m aware that they’re using me but it doesn’t matter because in the world [the July 14 movement] won’t receive any real support unless they address the Palestinian issue and the occupation,” Kopty said. “Palestinians aren’t really a part of J14 anyway because they generally didn’t go to Rothschild to set up tents. Instead they are setting up tents in their own neighborhoods just to say, ‘Hello, we are here.’”

But could the July 14 protests initiate a process that will eventually lead to the unraveling of the occupation and discrimination against Palestinians, as many on the Israeli left have suggested? “The injustice will continue,” Kopty declared flatly. “And I don’t believe J14 will create changes that are socio-political. But our struggle is completely political. So when J14 finally explodes because the different internal groups have contradicting interests — and they can’t remain apolitical forever — our struggle will go on.”

******

As the July 14 movement grows, it is becoming more inclusive, but not of Palestinians. Instead, Jewish settlers of both the ideological and practical variety are now welcomed into the protest’s big tent.

Ariel is the linchpin of the major settlement blocs Israel refuses to relinquish in final status negotiations. Built on hundreds of hectares of land confiscated from private Palestinian landowners and surrounded by the Israeli separation wall, which creates a wedge between seven nearby Palestinian villages, Ariel sits directly on top of one of the largest aquifers in the region. According to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, Ariel residents receive 7.9 times more government subsidies than those who live inside Israel proper. This August, the Israeli government approved the construction of 277 new housing units in Ariel, including 100 for settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Ariel has become a symbol of the cognitive dissonance of Israel’s occupation. While its borders stretch deep into the West Bank, consolidating Israel’s domination over Palestinian life, its interior resembles a grassy bedroom community in Southern California, lined with neat rows of mission-style subdivision homes. From Ariel’s new university to its state-of-the-art theater to the gleaming sports center built thanks to the generosity of American junk bond kingpin Michael Milken and Texas mega-church pastor John Hagee, the settlement contains all the trappings of a “normal” community. The majority of Israelis have bought into the image of Ariel as Israel’s own Temecula — a suburb, not a settlement.

On August 13, when protest leaders declared an “expansion into the periphery” of Israel, Ariel held its first ever social justice demonstration, with hundreds of disgruntled residents demanding lower housing prices. Two days before, the July 14 movement endorsed the protest in Ariel, advertising directions to the demonstration on its official Hebrew website.

“This is the test,” the July 14 website proclaimed. “Are we together or are we not?”

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  • COMMENTS

    1. walt kovacs

      “The men and women who set out to build a Jewish state in historic Palestine made little secret of their settler-colonial designs”

      hey joey,

      wanna explain how you get so upset at “hasbara” when you post pure propaganda pieces like the one above….which of course include a multitude of quotes taken out of context and mistranslated?

      i know your bud, maxxie cant read or write hebrew, but surely you do

      and when did morris become a “revisionist” historian? before or after he was given access to more of the israeli archives, so as to refine his views of 48 and 67

      Reply to Comment
    2. A social movement encouraged, rather than complained about, will succeed at breaking the divides between cultures.

      In other cities, it is reported that genuine common cause is the theme.

      The occupation is real in every breath, but need not be spoken in every breath.

      That is a counter-productive choice on your part.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ben Israel

      Richard-
      Did 70 years of “Internationalist” communist rule in the name of “social justice” and equality in the USSR end ethnic tensions there?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Communist revolutions did change peoples’ hearts and minds, Ben Israel.

      Its just that they took three steps forward and more steps back.

      If you’ve read my comments, you’ll note that I object to the use of force, and support persuasion.

      Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Arab Israelis, Arab Palestinians, have more in common than they have differences.

      They share the same life needs (food, shelter, water, health, safety, family, community) and most of the same aspirations (self-governance, freedom from want, cultural freedom).

      They share the same world as a whole, and the same neck of the world.

      There are two arguments at play:

      1. The breaking of cultural divides

      2. The tensions inherent in the neo-liberal vision that creates the gap between minimum necessities and ability to provide that is common cause between much of the Arab spring theme and the Israeli tent city movement

      The only differences are cultural, and then multiplied by non-acceptance of the other, then twisted further by condemnatory politically correct reactions.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Woody

      Nothing particularly interesting here, just a front-loading of quotes by Zionists (which are obviously upsetting) and a thin link to the current movement accomplished by the occasional inclusion of the appendix “Socialist” to the word “Zionist”, but there is no context or argument.
      .
      .
      The rest of the piece reflects, in my opinion, a weak analysis of leftist movements and movements in general. There is the continual portrayal of the “movement” as monolithic, when in fact it is, in the opinion of “radical left” activists on the ground, a contested matter. (This reflects a larger issue, that of 1) seeing movements as process, not static and 2) encouraging process if one believes in the ends (stopping occupation).) Nonetheless, Blumenthal and Dana, as they do in their tweet-fests addressed to the personified “J14″ and “the J14 leadership”, imagine some singularity to which they attribute intention. What’s more, they actually seek out intention in this singularity in the form of the Rothschild Tents – while at the same time criticizing the obvious problems with the Euro, middle-class/elite, pro-Zionist elements that make up this privileged group they valorize. I was in tents outside of TLV where poor Mizrahim were discussing how occupation is a cover for neo-liberalism (Max & Joseph’s point here) and that they won’t let their kids go into the army (that’s radical change, my friend.)
      .
      .
      There is also the strange psychologization of “the radical left” as in passages such as: “Matar believe they have found the influence they always sought among mainstream Israelis” and, “If this new movement welcomed leftists, and upheld them as its vanguard, how could it not be revolutionary?”. It could not be revolutionary if it’s not challenging the state, which this isn’t. I’m almost positive the movement hasn’t “upheld the left as its vanguard”. I don’t think ANYONE on the left believes they have “found the influence they always sought”, rather we believe we have an opening to bring the issues of the occupation into the mainstream, by piercing the usual divisions and distractions through a shared struggle over economics. Furthermore, anyone who thinks what has happening to now is a “revolution” has no purchase on history – most leftists who actually have historical analysis do see the moment as having potential, to be an opening for revolution, but none are so foolish as attributed here.
      .
      .
      What is most disappointing is statements such as: “there was little evidence that the July 14 movement’s rank and file had any interest in overthrowing the “system,” or that they would ever be willing to acknowledge, let alone engage, the occupation.” DUH. Since when did a social movement or burgeoning revolution begin with acceptance by “rank and file” of all the principles of equality that the most radical sought in the outcome. This gap is the ENTIRE POINT OF BEING AN ACTIVIST!!! Absent a diachronic view of movements and social change (which anyone who is an activist or student of social movements/revolutions would take), this article at best simply describes the state of affairs 2 months into this, but it fails to provide anything else.
      .
      .
      I agree with Richard (someone kill me), but it’s true – “a social movement encouraged, not complained about, will succeed”. What we have here is two observers, Max and Joseph, who for some reason or another (it’s not stated what strategic goal their view/take on the movement achieves – other than they might be “right” if it fails) merely describe the present state of affairs in a negative way, rather than becoming engaged in trying to pursue a change in Israeli society.
      .
      .
      The retort “Israeli society can’t change from within” is actually the unspoken assertion – I disagree and I think that the revolutions of this year prove that previous assumptions about the potential of societies to overturn their status quo have been brought into question. Minimally, there is evidence we should encourage them against bad odds if we care about the outcome, not merely report how shitty the odds look in the beginning.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Shahzand-e Shirin

      Quote
      How the largest social justice movement in Israel’s history managed to ignore the Palestinians
      Unquote

      Memo to the pro-Palestinian crowd:

      This isn’t all about you and your pet causes and hobbyhorses.

      Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and a social justice movement is just about social justice. Addressing the issue of economic inequality in Israel that’s the same kind everywhere in the world and is nothing to do with the Palestinians, occupation, settlements yada yada.

      Putting bread on the table and a roof above heads comes before fighting for people who very likely want us all dead. Very simple, no? About the canard that “the settlements are a cause of Israel’s economic troubles,” most Israelis don’t buy that anymore. Even those who dont like the YESHA settlers think that issue’s there and the economy issue’s here. You try to join them, but you’re not the mainstream. Specially not when you call Israel’s creation “original sin.”

      Wake up. It isn’t all about you.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Thanks for this, Joseph.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Palestinian-Israelis join the July 14 protests at great personal risk.

      Umm, in what way?

      Reply to Comment
    9. qurqevani hamvushgad

      wow. this is quite lame. how come you really publish that? the writer seems pretty disconnected from the israeli society. two weeks ago the largest demonstration was in haifa: 30,000 people, half jews, and half arabs. was they all ignoring the palestinians? are the many tent camps in arab towns are ignoring themselves? are the arab speakers in all the big rallies ignored themselves? are the demands to recognize the unrecognized arab villages and to approve plans for building in arab towns (for the first time in the history) is to ignore? and does palestimians who are citizens of israel, do not suffer from the goverment’s ultra-capitalistic economical and social policy, being the poorest sector? maybe you should keep on writing about what’s going on in the west bank and gaza, because you seem to just denny everything else!

      Reply to Comment
    10. Streve Egger

      This man is an Idiot and doesn’t know his history or facts well at all. His diatribe is chocked full of ignorance!

      Reply to Comment
    11. Yossi.

      “They fear that by joining the movement their own national identity will be co-opted to advance a struggle that will betray them in the end.”

      Also, look specifically at the quotes from Abir Kopty. I do not feel the need to cut and past them here.

      Reply to Comment
    12. You must begin somewhere. I think Witty and his relunctant ally Woody are right, at least in hope:
      “A social movement encouraged, rather than complained about, will succeed at breaking the divides between cultures.” (from Witty)

      But now we must see if J14 can survive the coupled hate of the Eilat attacks and Israeli response. The authors of this piece are correct that violence must be addressed. And now we will see if it can be addressed, that violence which has fueled the fear leading to occupation indefinite.

      No matter what commenators say, J14 belongs not to them. I guess we all want to place the world in our understanding, no matter if bits of it are hacked off to make a fit. I, for one, do not want to understand, but learn.

      Reply to Comment
    13. “They fear that by joining the movement their own national identity will be co-opted to advance a struggle that will betray them in the end.”

      I read it. How is this equivalent to “great personal risk”? Someone is at personal risk, of varying magnitude, when he is about to lose his job, his position, his safety, or is about to engage in activities which may end in physical injury or death. What “great personal risk” was there in participating in the J14 protests, aside from the occasional irate police cavalryman?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Philos

      I think what Dana and Blumenthal are trying to grope at here is the palatable shallowness of J14. It’s this shallowness that makes me somewhat uncomfortable with the whole movement and suspicious of it even if I do participate in the protests.

      Frankly put democratic and republican culture in Israel has suffered the deleterious effects of decades of anti-democratic and militarist rhetoric; it’s questionable, to me, if J14 can become any deeper because democratic culture isn’t deeply rooted in Israel as whole. There can’t be “justice” when several million people are ruled by an Israeli military junta in the West Bank and there won’t be “social justice” when settlers receive a disproportionate amount of the welfare, development, security and other budgets from the government. Something has to give.

      Israel has fatal internal contradictions and if J14 refuses to address them then no matter what they do one of the following will happen sooner or later: a chaotic single bi-national state or a morally repugnant semi-theocratic regime of apartheid.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Yossi,
      Having one’s national identity co-opted constitutes great personal risk in my estimation. Perhaps the connotation of our choice of words in this sentence suggests violence. This was not the intention and I assume responsibility for the misleading phrase in this regard.

      In reference to your comment and to use its language, based on my interviews and experience with Palestinians citizens of Israel joining J14, the majority feel that by joining J14, they were putting themselves ‘at risk’ in so far as they joining a movement which is “exploiting [their]presence to burnish its social justice image,” to use the words of Abir Kopty, who is one of the few Palestinians active with the tent 1948 on Rothschild. I feel that the quotes we provide from Palestinians as well as the interviews we conducted with members of the Palestinian community support our conclusion that for Palestinian, joining J14 involves risk to their national aspirations.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Two elephants.

      Reply to Comment
    17. erez

      YO guys, eho needs the occupation more than You ?
      What will You do without it ?
      Maybe some palestinians would like that very much, but not You, because than, you will have nothing to talk about.

      Is the hurricane in the US also because of the occupation ?
      Bet You could find a Butterfly theory for that too…

      Even liar and deceitful Tony greestein said “Yes, we should support the J14 movement, just no expect very much of it”

      You cannot judge reality just from that point of View, its stupid.

      Jews and Arabs fare much better inside J14 than everywhere else, including settlers.

      Visit Tent1948 if You don’t believe.
      The only decision of refusal, is to refuse admisson to those who deny it from others – Marzel’s little helpers, and You included in that category, at least with what You write about settlers.

      and BTW, realisticly, the J14 movement did more for the cause of ending the occupation than You ever did and probably ever will do, unless you’ll completely rewire the way You think.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Kevin Barrington

      Woody.

      “Good thinking 99″

      I think your below point about seeking a singular view from a novel emerging mass movement is to try a force into – prematurely – becoming a traditional hierarchical structure aping desired views.

      (The fact that we are erecting “tents” as opposed to “barricades” should allude to the fact that we are dealing with a new type of manifestation of dissent. It’s failure to satisfactorily conform to traditional critique could also mean that the critique has got something wrong.

      While the motivation is understandable, it’s almost like a an attempt to colonise a mass pyschic space.
      And a space that is in its infancy.

      Perhaps the key word lies there: infancy.

      Do you discard the infant because it does not conform to adult desires?

      Or do you encourage it?

      My bottom line is that anything that plays with the word “justice” should be encouraged.

      Once concepts like “justice” are being fought for out there, it is so much harder to compartamentalise them.

      I would not like the job of defining where so called social justice ends and so called political justice starts.

      Once again, we are in the “race between hope and trauma”.

      But we have people actually out running instead of collapsing from from pillar to etc

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    19. [...] week, Max Blumenthal and I published an article, based on extensive reporting, which described the core problems that we see in the [...]

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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