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Between colonialism and class: J14 and the responsibility of the left

Despite justified fears of a false debate that would only deepen the exploitation and oppression, it would be irresponsible to give up this opportunity for radical change, writes Tent Protest activist Matan Kaminer

By Matan Kaminer / Originally published on jadaliyya.com

Placard citing the Tahrir slogan of "Go!" and reading "Egypt is Here" at the J14 rally on August 6. Photo: Oren Ziv, Activestills.org

Many progressives around the world have been wondering out loud about what exactly has been going on here for the last month. Who are the unprecedented crowds taking to the streets in the name of “the people” (ha’am), demanding “social justice” (tzedek hevrati), and what exactly do they want? Is there any connection to the ongoing occupation and oppression of the Palestinians? And if not, can the protests be at all justified?

In order to achieve true “social justice” – that is, to defeat exploitation in all its forms – it is necessary to defeat the particular kinds of exploitation inherent in the situation, even if these appear as something else, for example colonial oppression. In these cases, where one could speak of the struggle between exploiters and exploited being deflected onto other channels, the battle against exploitation is twofold. It is a battle against the particular (colonial) form of exploitation, and a battle to return from the deflection to the real issue at hand. One must keep guard, then, against false returns that seek shortcuts. In a situation where class exploitation has taken the form of colonial oppression, a “class struggle” that ignores the colonial context is no class struggle at all; it is destined to either dissipate or change into something altogether different.

Zionism is a colonial movement, which has over its history shifted from expropriation of land from the native Palestinians (roughly 1917-1967), to their exploitation as a cheap labor force (1967-1993), and finally to their exclusion and marginalization (1993 to the present day). Any class struggle in Israel, which ignored this oppressive relationship would be, inevitably, a false one.

This does not make it meaningless to speak of classes within the Israeli socio-economic structure, which today forcibly excludes the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories (OT), but not those with Israeli citizenship. Indeed, such a class analysis is necessary for understanding the current situation in Israel such. It is not my intention to carry it out here, only to point out the change in the structure which has brought about the current uprising. Israel has for several decades now been climbing steadily up the scales of the Gini index. The rich have gotten fewer and super-richer, while the poor have become poorer and more numerous. However, it has only been in the last few years that precarity has reached the younger generation of the middle class.

Many have correctly pointed out that the standard of living demanded by the Israeli protesters would be considered high above middling in most Arab countries. This ignores the fact that the middle class in Israel did enjoy this standard until recently and that older generations continues to enjoy it. Those critics who imply that these demands come at the expense of the Palestinians also miss another crucial point. The official programme of rapacious upwards redistribution which is now attacking the middle classes has been carried out  precisely in order to finance the occupation and indemnify the Israeli capitalist class for the loss of the “peace dividend” which it so covetously pursued during the Oslo era.

Another point that is easily overlooked is that the current crisis is also a crisis of colonization. Many in Israel, on both the right and the left, are quick to point out that the Israeli welfare state is alive and well – in the settlements, where housing (the flashpoint of the rebellion), education, transportation and other amenities are heavily subsidized. Ample funds and ideological support are also available for young people willing to assist in the colonization (“Judaization”) of the Galilee/Jalil and Negev/Naqab. The young generation, who are demanding affordable housing and gainful employment in the urbanized coastal strip around Tel Aviv, have roundly rejected these solutions.

While not hostile to the Palestinians, the movement may therefore appear as a “wheel within a wheel,” an internal Israeli struggle neutral with respect to the colonial background. This is certainly the picture that the leaders of the movement–who are apparently “privately” against the occupation–wish to broadcast. However, even in the medium term, this is untenable. The “wheel within” must either dissipate or mesh its gears with “the wheel without,” either through reincorporation into ethnocratic, even fascist politics, or through the emergence of a bi-national movement and a re-imagination of “the people.”

The second of these options currently seems unlikely. At first, the reigning right tried to ignore the protests; when this failed, it attempted a two-pronged strategy to jump on the bandwagon on the one hand and to discredit the movement as an anti-Zionist plot on the other. Both these approaches have so far met with total failure. The explicitly racist “hilltop youth” earned the dubious honor of being the first group ejected from the largest tent camp, on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. And public opinion – which has certainly not become anti-Zionist itself over the past few weeks – remains steadfastly and overwhelmingly supportive of the rebellion. Support rates for it fluctuate around eight-five percent. When asked why they have not participated in the protests so far, over sixty percent of respondents in a recent poll cited technical reasons. Only 7.9 percent have taken up the right’s rhetoric that “political interests” (i.e. the left) are behind the protests, fewer even than the still-apathetic 9.8 percent who believe that “protest can’t change anything.”

The first possibility, of the rebellion just going away, perhaps satisfying itself with crumbs from the table, is the one currently being actively pursed by the Israeli establishment. This certainly includes the military establishment, which cannot publicly come out against the movement. As blogger Idan Landau has pointed out, over the last few years the Finance Ministry has been systematically bilking social ministries (Education, Welfare, Health, etc.) in order to transfer funds to the Ministry of Defense. Even the most limited response to the protesters’ demands will necessitate greater social expenditures, imposing a cap on the military’s endless thirst for cash. The same is true for the better-hidden expenditures on the settlements.

While tensions are already visible between the young, middle-class, and unelected leadership and the multi-class and multi-ethnic grassroots base of the movement, morale is high and the movement is busy preparing itself for the long haul. Moreover, both sympathetic commentators and voices within the movement have already pointed out the greatest danger to its continuity: a conveniently timed war (say, against Syria, whose regime obviously has parallel interests). While the movement is still far from articulating an anti-war position, the public mood – expressed in the media’s sudden disinterest in and disrespect for the pronouncements of usually revered “security sources” – bodes relatively well for an anti-war turn in its discourse.

The third option – the articulation of the current movement with the Palestinian movement for liberation – is certainly difficult to imagine. But it is unnecessary to point out how many of the events of the past year in the Middle East were completely unimaginable a year ago. It may be less obvious that the events in Israel are, at least at the level of discourse, deeply inspired by those of the Arab Spring. The very idea of borrowing any progressive concept from an Arab country was unimaginable here until quite recently. When, carrying an Egyptian flag at a demonstration in Jaffa in January, I told a reporter that “we should learn from the Egyptian people how to rise up,” I hardly believed myself. When, at the huge rally last Saturday, I saw a giant sign plastered with the Arabic irhal! (go!) and subtitled in Hebrew “Egypt is here” – I was hardly surprised. We should not overlook the profundity of this change because of its apparently rhetorical nature.

In addition, many forces are busy at work preparing the articulation of the Israeli uprising with Palestinian demands. Naturally, it is the Palestinian citizens of Israel, especially those active in the (sometimes dogmatically) anti-nationalist Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (al-Jabha/Hadash) who are heading this effort. They are doing this both by raising protest camps in mixed and Palestinian locales, and by challenging the central camp to engage with Palestinian demands through the provocative “Tent #1948” on Rothschild Boulevard. These efforts have already borne fruit, for example in the decision to have Palestinian-Israeli writer Odeh Bisharat open the rally last Saturday (perhaps the biggest in Israeli history). Bisharat spoke about the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev and against land expropriations and home demolitions, and led the massive crowd in chanting, “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” The leap over the green line to solidarity with Palestinians in the Occupied Territories has yet to be made. But it has been fascist Foreign Minister Lieberman’s great achievement to have already erased the green line from the hearts and minds of most Israelis. In today’s Israeli discourse there is – for better or worse – only a minor difference between the Arabs of 1967 and those of 1948.

So is this a false return, a pseudo-class struggle occluding and colluding with the oppression of the Palestinians? Or is it the beginning of a true return, uniting Arabs and Jews in an anti-colonial and anti-capitalist popular project? Can the ‘sha’b’ in “al-sha’b yurid isqat al-nizam” and the ‘am’ in “ha’am doresh tzedek hevrati” become one and the same people, not only in Israel-Palestine but also across the region? While heavy skepticism would not be unjustified, there can be no analytical, objectivist answer to this question, as the current conjuncture is radically open. If the movement chooses the path of the false return, it may gain tactically, but it will remain fragile, inconsistent and vulnerable to dispersion through the call to arms. A mass movement heading in the direction of the true return may still seem unlikely – and certainly it will meet with brutal repression, if it does coalesce. But in these days of possibility, it would be wrong to rule it out, and irresponsible for radical Israelis not to do everything in our power to realize it.

——————-

Matan Kaminer is an activist and an MA student at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. Currently Matan is involved in the protest camp at Levinsky Park in South Tel Aviv.

Read more commentary and criticism of the Tent Protest from +972 Magazine here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Deïr Yassin

      “Zionism is a colonial movement which has over its history shifted from expropriation of land from the native Palestinians (roughly 1917-1967), to the exploitation as a cheap labor force (1967-1993), and finally to their exclusion and marginalization 1993 to present day)”
      Thank you so much, Matan, for these words. You can’t imagine how happy I am reading this from an Israeli. The recognition of these facts is a good way to the solution.
      Irhal !

      Reply to Comment
    2. weinstein henry

      Smells Like Lenin Spirit
      Can someone in Moscow check if Lenin’s embalmed mummy is still in his mausoleum?
      Thanks.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Weinstein henry

      How To Speak Fluent Marxist-Leninist Dialectic In Less Than 60 Seconds
      It’s easy, what you want to say is: “Any class struggle in Israel, which ignored this oppressive relationship would be inevitably, a false one”.
      1. But you know it’s just an ideological mantra, so you have to write a sub-hegelian aphorism and begin with an implacable Koncept which means nothing and explains everything: “Zionism is a colonial movement”.
      2. Gut, now you can rely on a gnostic formula and you can deduce what you want to deduce (ideo)logically, and teach to the masses what your intellectual dogma means: “Which has over its history shifted from expropriation of land from the native Palestinians (roughly 1917-1967), to their exploitation as a cheap labor force (1967-1993), and finally to their exclusion and marginalization (1993 to the present day”.
      3. Get it on, now it’s time to deliver the Truth Revealed to the masses: “Any class struggle in Israel, which ignored this oppressive relationship would be inevitably, a false one”.
      Poor Hegel, what have you done in your lifetime to deserve this?

      Reply to Comment
    4. weinstein henry

      “Zionism Is A Colonial Movement” Digested
      Considering it’s pointless at the present time to explain why Zionism is not a colonial movement because it’s pointless at the present time to expect a fair debate about the true historical meaning of Zionism, I just want to explain (even if nobody pays attention, because they are all back in their Comfort Zone with the recent attacks, and relieved to let down the J14 movement’s protests) why this ideological mantra is, according to me, bad counter-productive propaganda.
      1. Nowadays, Zionism for most of the Israelis means purely and simply that they love their native land and care for their fellow citizens; and it’s as simple and human as that: genuine patriotism.
      So if someone thinks it’s smart to accuse Zionism for everything turned wrong in the very intricate Israel & Palestine & Arab countries conflict since 1917, it’s not so clever (even if someone is Legion) because your only achievment is to hurt the Israeli patriotism, and as a result to turn all of them nuts even when you say something accurate.
      2. Actually to write “Zionism is a colonial movement” is intended to mean Israel is a colonial project (emanating from which colonial power, I wonder, Germany, Poland?), which means that the independence of Palestine means inevitably the destruction of the state of Israel.
      Problem is the Israeli people is not a colonial fiction but a real people (just like the Palestinian people, don’t get me wrong), born from a war of independence, and living since 1949, generation after generation, on his native Israel’s land.
      3. Furthermore, to write this ideological mantra is to play on the battleground chosen by The Men In Hasbara: the de-legitimizing war against Israel, and all that’s razzmatazz. You can’t imagine how happy the Hasbarists are to read this on a ‘Lefitist’ blog: first-class propaganda material, premium size; they just have to duplicate it.
      And it turns me nuts to see these fascists yelling their hatred stuff in total impunity, just because they call themselves Zionists with the blind support of the Israeli Left.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Taoist

      The master is in possession of a surplus of what is physically necessary; the servant lacks it, and indeed in such a way that the surplus and the lack of it are not accidental aspects but the indifference of necessary needs.

      G.W.F. Hegel

      System of Ethical Life (1803-1804)

      —————————–

      @ WEINSTEIN HENRY,

      IMHO, more than 60 seconds are needed to understand dialectics, be this Hegelian or what superseded it. I don’t see anywhere in the article a reason to call Hegel to the fray, but probably is just a continuation of your anti-Marx/Lenin diatribe, in what is for me an unfair criticism of the best article, bar none, I have read on Israel’s current predicament. But since you called Hegel’s spirit, I brought him in with a fitting quote.

      FYI, Marx’s “Das Kapital” became a best-seller in Germany (and beyond), after the latest crisis hit market-based societies in 2007-2008 (see http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/10/16/us-financial-germany-capitalism-idUSTRE49F5MX20081016?feedType=RSS&pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0), simply because there is no better tool to understand capitalism than, well, Marxism. Bankers and managers went back to Marx’s explanation of capitalism’s cyclical crisis, according to the article, to make sense of a system gone bunkers.

      You dissect the article by mocking it, but don’t make any serious rebuttal to the ideas/concepts within it. Or if that’s what you consider a critique, is a very poor one, and doesn’t do honor to the finesse with which the article was written, clearly the product of a serious thought process.

      (1 of 2)

      Reply to Comment
    6. Taoist

      (2 of 2)

      Since I basically agree with the theses presented in the article, I would wait until you elaborate a more serious critique, something more solid than a derisive dismissal of those concepts you chose to criticize, i.e.,

      a) “Zionism is a colonial movement;”

      b) “Which has over its history shifted from expropriation of land from the native Palestinians (roughly 1917-1967), to their exploitation as a cheap labor force (1967-1993), and finally to their exclusion and marginalization (1993 to the present day;” and

      c) “Any class struggle in Israel, which ignored this oppressive relationship would be inevitably, a false one.”

      On another note, the use of Marxism as an analytical tool, does not condemn anyone to embrace the dogma. Marx and Marxism is widely used in academia, without any danger for the universities that incorporates him into their curriculum, of becoming ultra-leftists, or shake the foundations of the system that allows them to exist. And before you dismiss me as a dogmatic Marxist, I am a religious person who happens to understand Marxism, without any danger for my inner beliefs.

      Life, you know, is a paradox, not a contradiction.

      ——————————-

      @ Matan Kaminer

      Thanks for a great work of analytical journalism. A superb piece. But don’t expect many comments on it, or positive ones. As the poster above shows, their interpretation would go from a total lack of understanding to a simple dismissal of the concepts exposed.

      Kudos!!

      Taoist

      Reply to Comment
    7. Taoist

      (2 of 2)

      Since I basically agree with the theses presented in the article, I would wait until you elaborate a more serious critique, something more solid than a derisive dismissal of those concepts you chose to criticize, i.e.,

      a) “Zionism is a colonial movement;”

      b) “Which has over its history shifted from expropriation of land from the native Palestinians (roughly 1917-1967), to their exploitation as a cheap labor force (1967-1993), and finally to their exclusion and marginalization (1993 to the present day;” and

      c) “Any class struggle in Israel, which ignored this oppressive relationship would be inevitably, a false one.”

      On another note, the use of Marxism as an analytical tool, does not condemn anyone to embrace the dogma. Marx and Marxism is widely used in academia, without any danger for the universities that incorporates him into their curriculum, of becoming ultra-leftists, or shake the foundations of the system that allows them to exist. And before you dismiss me as a dogmatic Marxist, I am a religious person who happens to understand Marxism, without any danger for my inner beliefs.

      Life, you know, is a paradox, not a contradiction.

      🙂

      Taoist

      Reply to Comment
    8. Taoist

      @ Matan Kaminer

      Thanks for a great work of analytical journalism. A superb piece. But don’t expect many comments on it, or positive ones. As the poster above shows, their interpretation would go from a total lack of understanding to a simple dismissal of the concepts exposed.

      Kudos!!

      Taoist

      Reply to Comment
    9. Taoist

      Sorry about the repeated posts. Hopefully the administrators can delete them? Thanks.

      Taoist

      Reply to Comment
    10. Shira

      What a load of crap. Is it the responsibility of the so-called pro-Palestinian Left to care or give a crap about Palestinians being killed now in Syria? How about Palestinians in Lebanon who lack even the most basic human rights? Or Palestinians in the West Bank who are forced by the PA to live in camps? I thought all these things were the responsibility of the so-called pro-Palestinian Left. Silly me.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Matan

      Henry – it’s possible that we mean different things by “Zionism”. Let me just remark that to this day it’s not considered particularly heretical to talk about Zionism, within Israel, as a colonial movement – tnu’at hityashvut.
      Taoist – thanks for the warm words.
      Shira – of course all those things are our responsibility. I would only add that many Palestinians live in refugee camps out of a political choice to remain there until their right of return is realized. If anything, I believe the PA would prefer to dismantle them.

      Reply to Comment
    12. weinstein henry

      @ Taoist
      First thing, thanks for these comments, food for thought, even if I disagree with you about Matan Kaminer’s analytical journalism.
      Without denying you the right to defend what I criticized, I wish to make some observations:
      1. I didn’t say that 60 seconds were enough to understand hegelian dialectic, I wrote something which headline is “How to speak fluent Marxist-Leninist dialectic in less than 60 seconds”. Mind you, I even added: “Poor Hegel, what have you done in your lifetime to deserve this”, aka Marxist-Leninist dialectic which I consider to be a very poor political language.
      And I didn’t dissect the whole article, only the section which is, according to me, sub-hegelian writing.
      2. You are totally entitled to consider my critique is “a very poor one”, as I am entitled to consider “Zionism is a colonial movement” is a poor ideological statement. As long as each of us is free to present his arguments and accepts to be criticized by others, it’s a fair intellectual debate; and I don’t pretend to be “the master”!
      3. I must confess I don’t understand why you think my wording was an assault against Marxism and Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, considering it was clear I was criticizing Marxism-Leninism For The J14 Masses, aka poor ideological language and wrong political analysis according to me.
      Frankly, I could have written all you have written about Marx and Marxism, indomitable faith included (recommanded book: “Marx, a philosophy of human reality”, by the great French philosopher Michel Henry, a maverick who stayed away from the Parisian intellectual scene).
      4. Thus, in conclusion, my critique concerned the “Zionism is a colonial movement”‘s statement, and I explained why. And because I don’t agree at all with Matan Kaminer on this major point, it was really hard for me to take a positive look on what followed in his analytical work. Too dogmatic for me, in short.

      Reply to Comment
    13. weinstein henry

      @ Matan
      1. I agree it’s possible that we mean different things by “Zionism”. This word has been hijacked by so many propagandists and counter-propagandists we are left with a voodoo scarecrow for one side, a holy banner for the other side.
      Besides I think we’re nowadays in a Post-Zionism era, even if neither side is willing to take notice.And because of J14, it seems to me that the Israelis – all the Israelis, Jews and Non-Jews – ‘understand’ it, feel it.
      2. Maybe “it’s not considered particularly heretical to talk about Zionism, within Israel, as a colonial movement” in some circles, but I doubt the majority of Israelis will agree with your affirmation, having been insulted & deleted a thousand of times by Proud Zionists who couldn’t stand my critical views about Israeli politics.
      Besides, I don’t say this because I consider it personally heretical. Actually I don’t mind: my vision of Zionism is historical, and my critic about your definition is political; I consider your definition brings the J14 protests back in the De-Legitimizing War between Hasbara and Intifada, aka Jewish fascists against Jihadist fascists.
      But maybe it’s heretical in some circles to refuse to believe that “Zionism is a colonial movement”…
      Food for thought.
      In conclusion, thank you for your kind reply, despite my harsh critic. I’m a French speaker and my english is poor compared to my native French: I try to do my best, but it’s very frustating sometimes.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Taoist

      “He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

      Albert Einstein

      “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

      Albert Einstein

      —————————-

      “Zionism Is A Colonial Movement” Digested

      @ WEINSTEIN HENRY,

      Re: point 1), I don’t think Israelis need Matan’s article to go further nuts on “patriotism” (chauvinism?), in Israel a dangerous and potent mix of messianic “manifest destiny” over land and property, religious symbols and sites, combined with a “sense of entitlement” noticeable even on Israel’s progressive wing, even here at +972.

      Re: point 2), you inferred Palestine’s independence equals destruction of Israel, based on the relationship colony/metropolis, an assertion without historical basis. If we were to apply that cause and effect simile to Europe, it would have ceased to exist long ago.

      Emanating from which colonial power? Israel. Precisely the blind spot for most Israelis, who cannot perceive it, due to their sense of entitlement, but Israel has the doubtful “honor” and the infamous role of being one of the last extant colonial powers on the planet, and Zionism as an ideology lays at the foundation of that role. Definition of a colony (Wikileaks): “…no independent international representation (and) its top-level administration is under direct control of the metropolitan state.” With some variations when applied to the relationship Israel/Palestine, does that ring a bell to you?

      Of course, the devil is in the details, and the Palestinians have “ambassadors” and “envoys” and the like, signifiers without significance, diplomats without a foreign policy, other than persistence on their resistance to Israel’s perpetual carving of their thwarted dreams for a state. By Israel will (and US aiding and abetting) they are not represented in the community of nations, and so far, the entire purpose of the “peace process” has been to deny the Palestinians a state of their own, given the implications of such an entity for Israel’s historical designs on the entire OT.

      (1 of 2)

      Reply to Comment
    15. Taoist

      (2 of 2)

      I agree with you, Israelis are real people (I digress, but take a look at this excellent piece on “Israelis as people,too,” http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/a-special-place-in-hell/terror-racism-and-the-idea-that-israelis-are-people-too-1.379584), and I quote you,” just like the Palestinian people” (watch your back), and regardless of which ideology unfolded into this historical conundrum, the question is, what is to be done? I would question the term “war of independence,” which implies an oppressor from which to liberate, and given Israelis migrated to what was the British mandate of Palestine, freely, from the first aliyah in the late 1800’s, to those under the umbrella of the Balfour declaration, and later with the surge of Nazism, the use of the term “independence” or “liberation” for what other historians contend as ethnic cleansing or dispossession of the Palestinians, is quite debatable. I would agree it was “liberation” of the land from the Palestinians.

      As for the use of the term “native,” no doubt Israelis have historic links to the land in the ME, but then we could extrapolate that concept to anyone, and European-Americans could go back to their “native” countries, Ireland, England, Sweden, etc., years/decades/centuries after migrating to the US, and claim it back as theirs, based on whatever ideology to justify their ownership. Not quite a good idea.

      Re: point 3) I am afraid your fear of Matan’s piece feeding into the Hasbara hatemongering, though legit, is a bit out of proportion. From the moment I read the article, I knew it was above and beyond our resident Hasbara “intellect,” and their usual drive-by posting of “never again,” and “we are here to stay,” etc. , and so far my forecast has been vindicated. I don’t perceive Matan’s article as “extreme left,” as you do, therefore, I don’t see it “touching” on the extremes with the right-wing fringe that populates this forum.

      Well, you already wrote a response to my first post on this subject. Thank you, I will answer you in due time.

      I am nursing a growing anxiety about the potential escalation into out of hands events, if the Elliat incident continues the ugly pattern started on Friday, continued on Saturday, and to which we see no end in sight.

      Taoist

      Reply to Comment
    16. Taoist

      @ WEINSTEIN HENRY,
      Re: point 1) I don’t know what you mean by “very poor political language,” but I am quite sure if political philosophy would have gotten stuck on Hegelian “language,” we would still be considering some stupid king or queen as the highest expression of the Absolut Spirit.

      Re: point 2) I approached (sort of, space limitations) some considerations for the debate of Zionism in its current expression, i.e., the dialectics colony/metropolis that so much occupies our time and, why not, space, of Israel vs. Palestine, in the post before this one.

      Re: point 3) Maybe it was the general sense of mockery and lack of respect with which you originally approached Matan’s article (I just saw your post to him today, which IMHO redresses your initial attitude), asking whether Lenin was still at his mausoleum (last time I checked, he was still there, but not for long, I reckon), followed by what you explained in number 1), that created confusion as to what your point was. I didn’t know if I was dealing with a sort of ultra neo-liberal, a fundamentalist Zionist, a dogmatic anti-communist, or a combination of all of them.

      OTOH, I don’t believe the J14 masses will have time to read this article, busy as they are trying to catch up with the rapid pace of events unfolding as we debate about them and their options. I hope they do, since I have yet to find a better article that combines such precise and concise analysis of their predicament and the challenges they face (as simple as the re-building of a new Israel), from a journalistic POV, with the depth of field and abstract level of a social scientist.

      The J14 movement is plowing uncharted territory (a new parting of the Red Sea? Hey, I didn’t choose the color ) and the sooner they can understand their plight, which for the leadership requires a broad view of their social and political options, and a deep understanding of the movement’s diverse make-up, the better they will be able to lead/steer the movement out of that minefield that is Israeli politics, and of the obstacles the usual trolls (read Yisrael Beitenu, Likud, and Livni’s Kadima) are and will be placing on their path.

      Re: point 4) I believe you focused on the concept “Zionism is a colonial movement” as a “major point,” out of a strong (and primary?) reaction to it (it might have touched upon deep-seated beliefs), and precluded you from noticing finer aspects of Matan’s analysis, worth studying and developing into a treatise, i.e., “the wheel within a wheel” concept, which IMHO is the key to understanding not only his brilliant piece, but the options that open before J14 vis-à-vis the “colonial project.“

      Besides its beauty as an abstraction (most beautiful abstractions are infinitely practical!!), its application to a “movement within a movement,” inevitably gravitating toward one another, and the long term consequences for Israel from the way in which they will ultimately “mesh gears,” drives home the main points of Matan’s piece, no pun intended. His view of one of the potential unfolding of this engagement, in which he terms as unlikely “the emergence of a bi-national movement and a re-imagination of “the people,” could be considered “realpolitik” anywhere in the world, and in the US he would be welcomed among the “realists.”

      However, his own sense of history and privileged position as a witness of current events, which have transcended any and all stagnated prognostics of Arab (and other) societies, forced him to take an open view into the realm of the possible: “While heavy skepticism would not be unjustified, there can be no analytical, objectivist answer to this question, as the current conjuncture is radically open. If the movement chooses the path of the false return, it may gain tactically, but it will remain fragile, inconsistent and vulnerable to dispersion through the call to arms. A mass movement heading in the direction of the true return may still seem unlikely – and certainly it will meet with brutal repression, if it does coalesce. But in these days of possibility, it would be wrong to rule it out, and irresponsible for radical Israelis not to do everything in our power to realize it.”

      “But in these days of possibility…”

      The rest, my friend, is a wide and open dream, only the sky is the limit.

      Taoist

      PS: Thanks for your suggested reading, “Marx, a philosophy of human reality,” I will look for it. One final note on your labeling Matan’s piece “too dogmatic for me” and “hard to take a positive look” at the rest of his analysis: I would suggest you read it again with fresh eyes, and please share your findings.

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    17. […] (כפי שהיא מכונה בקרב המשתתפים ברשתות החברתיות), תפתח – אולי – גם תודעה בקשר […]

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    18. weinstein henry

      @ Taoist
      Ah, there is a short comment in Hebrew. Hope it’s a kind one.
      Do you know it’s summertime, and that the French are in holidays?
      1. You write too much, I can’t answer to everything! And it’s summertime, and I’m French.
      2. Be fair, you write: “I don’t perceive Matan’s article as “extreme left” as you do”. But Taoist, I didn’t depict Matan’s article as “extreme left”! C’est vraiment trop injuste! I mean, I didn’t write these words and above all I didn’t criticize Matan’s definition of Zionism for being “extreme left” but for being, according to me, historically false and politically wrong.
      Besides if you think, you and Matan, that those who consider the fight against the rise of a new global fascism is the real issue at the present time in our Brave New Global World are ‘soft left’, then I ask you to study closely the disastrous choices made by the German communist party in the 30s. Neither Marx nor Lenin could help you to fight Fascism , hatred ideas; don’t put your trust in intellectual tags, and always think about the consequences.
      3. What I consider “very poor political language” is Marxism-Leninist dialectic, aka the vintage communist ideology, which is embalmed in Europe’s intellectual museums.
      Being a French citizen born in 1959, I had the privilege to study at close range Le Parti Communiste Français (20% of the votes in France in the 60-70s), and to witness the implosion of the communist USSR system in the 90s. So I know what it is, Marxist-Leninist dialectic. I’m not impressed.
      By the way, in case of you think I’m a dogmatic anti-communist, speaking of Karl Marx, I was 17 when my (communist militant at that time) professor of philosophy – who became a dear friend of mine – introduced me to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The German Ideology, a radical critic of the Young Hegelian Left’s political thinking in Germany circus 1840. This book is still, with Franz Kafka’s atrocious stories, a landmark for me; not only a political and intellectual awakening, but the beginning of an inquiry about well all sort of intellectual lies.
      4. My first two comments were clearly and openly satirical: I’m sorry (actually not sorry, ah ah ah!), but nothing coming from the human brain (Ok Taoist: my sacred brain included) is sacred for me; I’m an anti-intellectual thinker, very aware of the lethal consequences of ideological lies to justify murder.
      5. When you say you “didn’t know if I was dealing with a sort of ultra neo-liberal, a fundamental Zionist, a dogmatic anti-communist or a combination of all of them”, it made me smile, a happy / sad smile, because all my life people have accused me to be all sort of weird things, so eager they were to put me in a box, a known category.
      What can I say? I’m a free man, an independent thinker writing for free: it took me 51 years, and a lot of mistakes.
      6. It would be a good move according to me if you acceot to study the modern history of the Jewish people in the 19th-20th centuries, confronted after their emancipation in Europe with nationalism, pogroms (my Dad survived a pogrom in 1919, he was six years old), hatred, anti-semitism, racism.
      Zionism meant for the Jews and mean for me: shelter; it’s as simple and human than that.
      Study the facts, related by decent scholars.

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    19. Taoist

      @ WEINSTEIN HENRY,

      We just might agree to disagree.

      On me writing “too much,” you’re passing an unnecessary value judgment. You may or may not answer to what I write, but can’t tell me I write too much. All I did was to answer some of your postulates in honest terms.

      I don’t make short cuts on ideas, and just follow them as they unfold.

      And we will leave it at that.

      Taoist

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    20. weinstein henry

      @ Taoist
      PLEASE, try to figure me smiling & discovering after a Hard Day Summertime In France August 2011 your lengthy responses!
      Try to figure me smiling & sleepy when I write “You write too much, I can’t answer to everything”!
      Because it’s the truth, and I had to drink some coffee to answer!
      And it wasn’t a value judgement!
      And now, because of the coffee, I can’t sleep!!

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    21. Yosef Stein

      First, Zionism was confirmed as legitimate by the UN when they voted for a Jewish and Arab state in the British mandate of Palestine. Given the spread of Jews in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, it made sense that eventually the people would concentrate itself into a smaller area. The fact that we concentrated ourselves in our home of national history sounds logical enough.

      Though it failed to protect Jews from the Nazis the State of Israel has protected Jews from Muslim and communist violence since the founding of the state in places like Hungary, Yemen, Iraq, Morocco, Syria, Poland, and Egypt to name a few.

      When the UN voted to form the three-part Jewish state the Arabs rejected it. This created a war in which the Arabs tried to massacre the Jews. In this war the Israelis had several objectives which would be best understand by looking at the partition map:
      1. Protect Jerusalem and its surrounding villages.
      2. Create wider passes between the three parts of the nation in order to be able to pass people and goods between the three parts of the state safely.
      3. Protect Tel Aviv and its surrounding villages.

      Here’s how it worked
      1. If you look at the map Jerusalem was supposed to be an international city. The Arabs rejected this and tried to throw the Jews out. Thus, Israel conquered Western Jerusalem preserving the lives of more than 100,000 Jews. The surrounding villages in Gush Etzion were lost and evacuated.

      2. The paths between the three parts of the country were cleared by Israel conquering the northern part of the Gazan “L” and also the northern Palestinian territory.

      3. The city of Tel Aviv was protected by conquering and subduing the Arab city of Yafa.

      Given the eternal rejection by the Arabs of the State of Israel (none of the Palestinian organizations officially want it to exist) it makes sense that there will not be a workable peace agreement for the foreseeable future.

      In terms of Tzedek Hachevrati it sounds like the country is going to return to 30% inflation because the government is not going to be able to do anything about the fact that there is a shortage of housing. They just have to get out of the way and let housing builders build more for people to live in rather than putting on housing quotas.

      Shana Tova.

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    22. Mareli

      I was so happy the first time I saw pictures of Occupy tents in Israel that I posted the article on my facebook page. Reading this article makes me feel better still with its reporting of people chanting Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies and not tolerating divisive people who would wreck the budding unity. I hope to see more of this.

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