+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

J14 and the rift between Israeli and international activists

Former allies in fight against occupation are battling over the meaning of the tent protest. Can the relationship be rescued, and should it be?

The tent protest, also known as J14, already had an effect on many groups in Israeli society, forcing them to re-examine their political positions and alliances. And while we have yet to see what comes out of this process, it is safe to say that in the last few weeks a new conversation has emerged.

One of these developments, perhaps an unwelcome one, was a growing rift between Israeli left-wing activists and some progressive bloggers and writers outside Israel. These two groups have deepened their cooperation in recent years, usually around issues concerning the joint struggle against the occupation. In other cases, they were able to exchange information and help fight against anti-Palestinian rhetoric in the West (which is more and more often generated or sponsored in Jerusalem) and against political persecution in Israel proper.

J14 revealed the limits of this cooperation. While most Israeli activists on the left welcomed the protest and were among the first to join it—often using it as a platform for a more general call for political change and justice that would include non-Jewish groups—the demonstrations were met with suspicion from pro-Palestinian activists and writers abroad. Some of them argued that J14 neglects the ethnic dimension of the political system in Israel and concentrates on benefits for the dominant Jewish group rather than on the rights of Palestinians, who are discriminated against west of the Green Line and oppressed to its east; and are subject to a mechanism of separation everywhere.

Strange as it may seem, I tend to agree with both sides in this debate. I see great hope in J14, a tremendous opportunity, and yet I think it’s important to challenge it all the time on the Palestinian question. This will help the movement become an instrument for promoting true political justice in Israel, and protect it from shrinking to an internal debate within the Israeli elites over tax benefits and rent control.

Even the writing on +972, while being done mostly by Israelis (only one of our regular bloggers is Palestinian) reflects this debate. See this recent piece by Joseph Dana and Max Blumenthal for one view of the protest, and Dimi Reider, Haggai Matar, Ami Kaufman and myself for others. And there was also this piece by Yossi Gurvitz, directed at “the international left”, which made many people angry, but at the same time, was shared (in its Hebrew version) by quite a few Israeli activists.

Joseph and Max’s piece, and later Yossi’s, led to some fierce internet debates between Israelis and non-Israelis who used to see themselves as partners for the same cause; these arguments made the pro-occupation right quite happy. Check out, for examples, the Twitter feeds of Joseph Dana, Max Blumenthal, Itamar_BOr Bareket, Yossi Gurvitz, Elizabeth Tsurkov and Ali Abunimah. Given the highly aggressive tones in these debates, I find myself wondering what would become of the ability to internationalize the conversation.

Personally, I didn’t agree with Max and Joseph’s piece. I thought it cherry-picked examples in order to prove that J14 was some sort of a right-wing movement (it’s not), while missing on the bigger picture. This is an Israeli mass movement, so it is bound to include many of the problematic aspects of Israeli politics, such as the tendency to see the Golan or even the settlement of Ariel as part of Israel proper. The important issue is not where the movement starts but where it leads, and in my view, this is still an open question. Change doesn’t just happen one day (or in a single month). It happens through political activism, and right now we have mass activism for the first time in years. So there could, potentially, be mass change. This is the reason for the relative hope I see in this protest.

Yet there was something more to what I sensed than pure disagreement. I felt a bit offended on an emotional level by Max and Joseph’s piece, which is not something very common for me when political writing is concerned, even when I am personally attacked. Reading some of the comments my friends made on Twitter, I thought they had the same feeling, possibly even worse.

What made us feel offended? A possible explanation is that in recent years Israeli leftists found outside their country the understanding and support they couldn’t get from their own peers in Israel, so we take it very much to heart when this understanding is denied us. Without being too melodramatic, it hasn’t been easy to be a leftist here in the last couple of years. We registered +972 as a non-profit recently, and yesterday, while sitting with our accountant, he told me off-handedly: “Better keep your papers in order – someone might give you trouble, considering your politics.”  And I can give other such examples every day of the week.

To a Palestinian all this might sound very strange, if not simply selfish and myopic: Our petty problems are nothing compared to those faced by a resident of Nablus yet to gain his freedom, or to the Gazans who were in mortal danger just last week.

So both sides ended up feeling betrayed: The Israelis who lost their partners just when they felt that progress was finally being made, and the Palestinians that couldn’t help but hear the message that “the occupation can wait while we are working on reaching out to the Jewish public.” Palestinians know that they have waited enough. Personally, I would have felt the same if I were a Palestinian, so I don’t need to ask for their support or understanding in dealing with my own society.

But there might be something deeper, and I am referring here more to the commentary by non-Palestinian writers (as I said, I have no demands from Palestinians on that). What I get from the writing by non-Palestinian activists is not just a rejection of internal Israeli politics, which is understandable, but of Israeli identity as a whole, seeing it as one which is inherently criminal, and therefore cannot change, while J14 is all about an attempt for internal change.

I am not talking racism here. Usually, people who give me the feeling I described above are quite ready to acknowledge our Jewish identity. But for me and for many of my friends on the left—most of them third and fourth generation Israelis  —we are always more “Israeli” than “Jewish,” whether we like it or not. While we accept the need for a radical transformation of the political system – one which must change what “Israeli” means and possibly replace this term altogether, we are Israelis now. Not “Jews.” I do expect those who analyze Israeli society at least to be aware of that.

But should this identity crisis really interest those critics when making their points? I don’t know. I believe that their primary motivation is solidarity with the Palestinians, and it’s a noble one. Yet I think such understanding can explain some of the current strife.

Politically speaking, it’s a reminder of the fact that the real trade-off in this conflict is not about independence (for Palestinians) and security (for Israelis) but rather freedom and justice (for Palestinians) and legitimacy (for Israelis). And when Israelis seem to abandon the Palestinian cause (even if they think it’s in the interest of freedom and justice), they lose on the legitimacy side. These are all very abstract terms, and perhaps not the right ones to use in a political debate, but I have no other way of explaining my unfinished thoughts on this issue.

On a more immediate level, it has been proven that the cooperation between progressive forces in Israel and abroad can only take place within an active joint struggle against the occupation. Perhaps this is for the best. Unlike some, I am optimistic, and I think that once our attention comes back to this issue, ties could be renewed.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. Ben Israel

      Noam says they he and his friends are “Israelis, not Jews”. Reminds us of Germany before 1933 when people said “I am not a Jew, I am a German of the Mosaic religion”. The other Germans didn’t buy it. See, Noam, the problem is there never was such a thing as “Israelis” before 1948. How is it that suddenly a creature no one had ever heard of comes….poor…out of the air and says “I am an Israel” and then takes Palestine away from the Arabs? As a matter of fact, the UN 1947 Partition Resolution makes no reference whatsoever to dividing Palestine between the Arab and “the Israelis”. So where did this “Israeli” who is not a Jew come from?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Max

      Hi Noam. Nothing to add, just wanted to say I really enjoyed this post. It takes an even keel to be introspective during a heated argument, kudos.

      Also, I laugh a little bit every time you type “tweeter.”

      Reply to Comment
    3. Max, I fixed the “tweeter” ref. 😉

      Reply to Comment
    4. Jenny

      best piece I’ve read on this. thanks.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Noam, thank you for this post.

      The one comment I’d add, at least from my perspective, is that this debate made it VERY clear to me that the joint struggle to end the occupation is, at most, an ad hoc coalition, not at all a movement, and for sure not a leftist movement.

      Folks on the “international left”*, or many of them, will not see anything done by Israelis as legitimate, unless they support full BDS and denounce their “Israeliness”. Yossi, Noam here, and many others, are saying that Israel is, at the bottom line, more than just the occupation (of 48 or of 67), and that its citizens have the right to think and protest other things. More than that, that the “a-political”, purely economic, J14 is in fact tied to the occupation, and that this conversation has to be done from within the movement, not by dismissing it from the outside as illegitimate to begin with.

      Of course those who do not accept the possibility of Jews (or Israelis, for that matter) living in Ramat Gan or Kiryat Motzkin as legitimate will not accept the legitimacy of the process which is J14. To them, the leftists who wrote against and protested against the occupation in the West Bank were, sadly, merely a tool for the larger cause, which is “down with Zionism, in all its forms, even the ‘a-Zionists Zionists’”. The coalition that was established when we could all agree on the fact that Ytzahar and Itamar are not legitimate, ended when some said, very clearly, that the goal of a normal life in Petach Tikva and Be’er Sheva is also, just as much, illegitimate.

      And I say that that’s a good thing. I’d rather have this harsh, yet honest discourse, than the one in which we ignore the parts of the other’s ideology with which we disagree.

      * – Whatever the “international left” is – I’m not in Israel at the moment, Joseph Dana (as an example for someone who was put one the other side of “the Israeli left”) is – these lines are, of course, very blurry. I think a clearer distinction, also following my comment, would be between “Israeli leftists” (who see Palestinian freedom as part of their leftist world view), and simply “Pro-Palestinian leftists/activists”. As I said, IMHO, it’s a good thing that we now know where the line between these two groups is.

      Reply to Comment
    6. I have a problem with two distinctions you make:
      1. I think it is a fallacy to make a distinction between criticism coming from Palestinians and criticism coming from non-Palestinians. You need to address the criticism itself, not treat it depending on the critic. Indeed, this distinction is problematic and unfair to both Palestinians and to non-Palestinians. If a certain critique is valid, it must be valid by virtue of its argument, not by virtue of the identity of the person who makes the argument.

      2. The distinctions you make between “Israelis” and “Internationals” is problematic, possibly revealing disturbing assumptions. When you write “both sides feel betrayed: The Israelis who lost their partners… and the Palestinians…”. This sentence implies that you think that Palestinians and Israelis are exclusive groups, raising the question where would you classify #tent48 and other Palestinians who are there to challenge #J14 but who are not PART of it (http://bit.ly/n1BWJy). Correct me if I am wrong, but as I read your piece it seems to me that whenever you write “Israelis”, you actually mean “Jewish-Israelis-Who-Forgot-That-There-Are-Also-Palestinians-In-This-World”. The division between Israelis and Internationals is wrong not only because Palestinians don’t appear anywhere on your radar, but because it implies that your vocabulary is imbued with a certain kind of ideology, an ideology that seeks to render the most important group invisible.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ben Israel, misleading the readers again? From the Cannanite movement, of course, which has even deeper roots. Tscharnichovksi, for instance, and many of the writers of the Hebrew revival. The idea is anything but new. It is as old as Zionism.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Miki

      Noam, I enjoyed reading your article. What has struck me about this debate, at least on the pages of 972 and twitter is the absolute arrogance, petulance and childishness of people like Yossi Gurvitz and some of those who are supporting him. Any sympathy that any internationals, who come to the region to be in solidarity with the Palestinians, may have had for the J14 protests will be sorely tested by childish foot stomping.

      Not only was his article woefully lacking in any real analysis, instead it come across like a childish temper tantrum with little any real substance, his tweets on twitter were not much better.

      For someone who claims not to be a Zionist, he certainly came across sounding like one.

      Astoundingly, Gurvitz has not only the temerity to on one hand basically denies Ali Abunimah’s Palestinian-ness, he also castigate Abunimah because he lives in the US, completely ignoring the fact that Abunimah’s parents are Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and that Abunimah and millions like him have no choice but to live in exile. Both of these things are classic well-worn argument used by Zionists both in Israel and outside.

      Gurvitz also declares rudely that Abunimah is not a “refugee”, ignoring the fact that according to the definition of who a Palestinian refugee is according UNWRA, the key international agency that deals with Palestinian refugees, the descendants of Palestinian refugees are also granted the same refugee status as their parents. According to the UN figures in 2010, Palestinian refugees numbered close to 5 million. (As I understand it both of Abunimah’s parents are refugees according to the UN definition and if that is the case, then Abuminah would also be regarded as a refugee by the UN despite being born outside of Palestine.

      What I thought was great about your article Noam was that you attempted to explore why it is that some people, including Gurvitz, are so upset because international activists (along with Israel and Palestinian activists) are engaging in a critical discussion about the J14 protests.

      I think your explanation regarding Israeli activists feeling they have found outside of Israel, some support and understanding has some validity to it if Yossi Gurvitz’s temper tantrum is anything to go by. Gurvitz’s tirade, which lacks as I pointed out any real concrete political analysis, appears to be more about lashing out against internationals because they have engaged in some critical and legitimate debate about the J14 protest which Gurvitz obviously finds to difficult to engage with.

      I also don’t think that this represent as big a split as you and others might think. A temper tantrum is simply a temper tantrum. Hopefully Gurvitz will stop being so childish and realise that not everyone has to agree with him and that for internationals, as you point out their primary motivation is solidarity with the Palestinians.

      As a result, their job is to be in solidarity with the Palestinians and they are going to be critical of people like Gurvitz and others in the J14 movement who refuse to even address the issue of occupation or say it doesn’t matter as Gurvitz has done.

      It is not their job to pander to Gurvitz ego or to hold his hand, especially when he is so willing to tell Palestinians their struggle against occupation and apartheid can wait (again!), while Israeli Jews work on getting cheaper rents and ignore the fact that Palestinians, both in Israel and the Occupied Territories, have been enduring a housing crisis for more than 60 years.

      Reply to Comment
    9. I understood that many would disagree with Max and I’s piece but I am surprised that some internalized it on a personal and emotional level. This was not the intention of the piece in any way, shape or form. I can assure you that our piece was also not meant to deny the existence of Israeli identity. Quite frankly, I am dismayed that our analysis of Zionism, the separation principle and the J14 engendered feelings that Israelis are under attack for being Israelis. As a Jewish Israeli myself, I find the argument to be far fetched and somewhat absurd, at the least based on my work here and on Twitter.

      I feel that the root of the problem and misunderstanding is the perceived normality of Israeli society. While I do not question Israeli identity, I do think that Israel is not a normal society at this point, given its history and the proximity of its occupation. This was one of the starting points for our article. We were unable to address J14’s demands of ‘Social Justice’ with an understanding that Israel is a normal society which should be afforded a separation from its extraordinary military exploits. Given the depth and nature of Israeli control over Palestinian life and the sheer existence of an Israeli regime as controlling all from the river to the sea with horrible inequality, I fail to see how social issues inside Israel can ignore the Palestinian issue. I also believe that they should not.

      I understand that ‘normal’ is a relative term and so I will reiterate what I have said since the beginning, Israeli social justice is tied to all under Israeli rule. Any attempt to separate them, I believe, calls into question societal patterns such as the separation principle and cognitive dissonance, as described in the piece.

      I believe this to be legitimate criticism which does not on the right or existence of an Israeli identity. Given the appears of (un)(non)(pseudo) official demonstrations in the OPT and the Golan Heights, I feel the J14 has made political actions requiring these issues to be explored, debated and criticized.

      I regret the dimensions that this debate has taken although I think that some of these issues had to surfaced sooner than later and I command Noam for articulating them in a cool and collected way.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Branko

      Dotan, spot on. My feeling is that the “international left” is just incapable of seeing and understanding the nuances of living here. It is all very black and white from NYC or California or London, but we know it is all shades of gray. At the end of the process, it is us and the Palestinians that will live with the consequences of the compromise we reach, while they will just flip the channel to a different news outlet.

      We weren’t leftist because of their support before, we will not stop protesting and fighting the occupation without it.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Ben Israel

      I know about the Canaanites. They came out of the Zionist Right, as you know. Most of your Left wing friends who are Israelis and not Jews wouldn’t view themselves as the inheritors of that tradition.
      The UN 1947 Partition Resolution doesn’t mention anything about the Canaanites. Neither does the Balfour Declaration…you know, “A Jewish National Home”, not a “Canaanite National Home”. The Canaanites, were in any event, a very small group.
      The Olim of the First Aliyah wouldn’t know what you were talking about if you told them about the Canaanites.
      Sorry, It was JUDAISM and JEWS that brought the Jews to Eretz Israel.
      In any event, I thought you are like Prof Sand and say there is no such thing as a Jewish people. I would say all the more so there is no such thing as a Canaanite poeple today.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Hi,
      I come from Germany and do not understand the Problem. To me its quite clear, that most not jewish pro Palestine people outside Israel left or right are antisemits or infiltratet by antisemit propaganda, which is most of the worled.
      Done t help them, work with them, AND done t trust them!

      I feel great sympathy for J14.A great movement with great opportunities. Try to change your country, make a better life for everybody in the country. But done t be so blind.

      Best wishes,

      Reply to Comment
    13. schalib

      Thanks Noam for this article. For those who are not closely following the discussions you refer to, it would be helpful to have more direct references to different views, different authors, different texts. And this is really true when it comes to the “international Left” you are referring to. You state that the lack of interest in, or solidarity with, the J14 has to do with the international Left’s priority being solidarity with the Palestinians. I think that’s only a partial explanation. And I think one has to recognize the fact that those who are critical of the occupation or of the Israeli state’s hawkishness, are not always acting out of solidarity with the Palestinians, but do so rather out of their (usually unexamined) opposition to Jews. Or, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict becomes a place for projecting all sorts of other issues onto it. It is no solidarity with the Palestinians to support the most reactionary factions within Palestinian society, which some of the so-called international Left sometimes does.

      Branko is right to point out that “At the end of the process, it is us [the Israelis] and the Palestinians that will live with the consequences of the compromise we reach, while they [the “international Left” will just flip the channel to a different news outlet.” Much more understanding of the Israeli and Palestinian societies need to be achieved by the “international Left” in order to offer the kind of solidarity that is needed.

      Reply to Comment
    14. weinstein henry

      1. Noam & Joseph, it seems to me that the recent post (excellent focused & factual article) by Dahlia Scheindlin on social justice for the Arab citizens of Israel is the answer to J14’s radical activist detractors: I mean, instead of debating about Israeli Left vs Radical Activists, to support on +972 the struggle for social justice for ALL the Israelis, Jews and Non-Jews, and to promote the abolition of the social discriminations inside Israeli society, equal rights for all the Israeli citizens.
      2. I know what a lot of +972 followers are thinking right now: “But the elephant in the room, the occupation”? Before the angry mob, and Ben Hasbara in the name of the Jewish People, accuse me to be an impostor, I wish to explain my point of view, with the help of Noam’s analysis.
      3. “What I get from the writing by non-Palestinian activists is not just a rejection of internal Israeli politics, which is understandable, but of Israeli identity, seeing it as one which is inherently criminal, and therefore cannot change, while J14 is all about an attempt for internal change”, Noam wrote in his post.
      And me reading this, I was thinking: “Noam, how can you be so naïve to discover only now that most of radical pro-Palestinian activists are first and last radical Anti-Israel activists? What did you expected? That these radical BDS militants would be interested to explore Israeli identity & culture, and to fall in love with the legitimacy side of the Israelis? But Noam, most of them deny purely and simply the existence of the Israeli people”!
      4. That’s what I thought (by Israeli people, I mean all the Israelis, Jews and Non-Jews, who share a common history & cultural environment since several generations). Then I realize something: the Israeli govnerment too denies the existence of the Israeli people with his Jewishness obsession (‘Jewish’ meaning for the Israeli politicians ‘Non-Arabs’).
      And maybe that’s the point, Israeli leftists: you are caught between the radical Anti-Israel activists who deny the Israeli Jews the right to live in their own country (stolen according to them to the Palestinians) and don’t want to hear anything about the Israeli Non-Jews citizens (’cause they belong to the Palestinian People according to them), and by your govnerment who deny to the Israeli Non-Jews equal rights & full Israeli citizenship and social justice.
      5. “But the elephant in the room?”, I can hear you, angry mob. And Ben Hasbara too, who don’t want to hear anything about the Israeli people. Let me conclude, please!
      What I think is the ‘BIg Issues’ are out of reach, both for the progressive Israelis and the progressive Palestinians, at the present time. But it seems to me that all the Israeli issues lead to this struggle: social justice for all the Israelis, no more discriminations inside Israeli society, equal civil rights for all. And if the Israelis want to do it, they can vote for it very soon, without having to ask the permission to build a better Israeli society to the radical Anti-Israel activists.
      6. That’s what I hope: Israel defined as the shelter of the Jewish people, based on Jewish democratic values, homeland of the Israeli people, the real one, Jews and Non-Jews.
      Go on, throw your stones on me!

      Reply to Comment
    15. Stop censoring the court Jews of +972

      What is worse: to be an Israeli-born non-Zionist who is active on the ground or King Hussen’s representative in the UN (with an American passport)? All the Americans and the Europeans are more criminal than all the Israelis, the settlers included. It is for American and European politics that there exists a conflict in palestine. Fix your own racist societies and then get back to the Israeli left you white supremisists.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Miki

      I have to agree whole heartedly with the pst by Engelo that it is “a fallacy to make a distinction between criticism coming from Palestinians and criticism coming from non-Palestinians”. As Engelo points out “You need to address the criticism itself, not treat it depending on the critic”.

      Engelo is also very correct in relation to the second point he/she makes.

      It is clear that its not just “internationals” who have some criticisms of J14 for totally ignorning the occupation but also quite a few Israelis and Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the Occupied Territory. However, Gurvitz has conveniently ignored this fact. He has not addressed the actual crticisms in any substantial or rational way, instead he has just engage in foot stomping diatriabe. Obviously he has singled out the criticisms of the internationals because if he acknowledge that there is similar criticism by Israelis than than his call for “divorce” would look even more ridiculous than it is and he can’t acknowledge that Palestinians also may have some criticism because that would show even more how ridiculous his tantrum is.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Thank you Miki, I think your comments and mine complement each other very nicely, in fact. As you say rightly, the fact that Ali Abunimah, and Joseph Danah, for that matter, are considered outsiders, demonstrates condescending and insulting assumptions, a rhetorical device to sidesteps the issue, rather than addressing it seriously. But the most disturbing thing seems to be that Palestinians do not fit into any category of this analysis: they are neither “Israeli-Left” (presumably Jewish-Israeli implied here), nor are they really “internationals” (or are they?). Yossi even has the audacity to call them “conflict tourists” (http://bit.ly/n5xgT9)…

      Noam is justified to be worried that Israeli identity is rejected as whole, highlighting that the problem is that being (Jewish-) Israeli is *essential* to a certain group of people. Rejecting the (Jewish-) Israeli identity, Noam seems to argue, is equivalent to the rejection of the legitimacy of the existence(?) of a whole population, and this is fundamentally wrong.

      Now, I don’t know what Noam means exactly when he says that the “(Jewish-) Israeli Identity” is rejected, but I do think that if something is rejected, it is a certain style of reasoning, a certain attitude, a vocabulary and a whole set of assumptions, according to which on this land, Jews are more privileged than the indigenous Palestinian people. It is precisely this disturbing way of reasoning, I fear, that must be rejected, a style of reasoning that seems to run implicitly in Yossi’s latest contributions, its signature also apparent in Noam’s post above, it seems to me.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Taoist


      What the J14 movement suffers from, is the extrapolation of Israel’s delegitimization at all levels to a, by all means, legit mass popular movement, with their own vindications, banners, protests, and needs. To demand from the J14 movement an embracing of the occupation struggle, is not only unfair, is politically immature, given the nature of the movement and its recent appearance. It is also politically condescending. The struggle of the Palestinians takes place on another front, and no one but themselves can free them from the occupation.

      The appearance of the J14 movement is in itself revolutionary for Israel, and it has broken open many taboos, now the subject of heated debate between activists of all kinds, inside and outside Israel. No social/political movement anywhere in the world achieves awareness from day one of any struggle, consciousness being a hard, slow, and painstaking process of successive approximations, the balance of an experience of victories and defeats.

      The fact that the occupation doesn’t appear in the horizon of the J14 movement, does not delegitimize neither the movement nor their struggle, it only shows the gap there is to cover, and the amount of work there is to do for those who already see it. The recognition of the occupation, however, is not to engage Israelis in saving the Palestinians, but to acknowledge it as part of a reality that no longer can be ignored, if Israel is to have a future.

      There is, however, a great danger in trying to push a movement to run, when still learning to walk. The backlash can be severe, in the opposite direction. The workers’ movements in pre-Nazi Germany hang in the balance between the Nazis and the Socialist/Communist parties in the early 30’s, and Hitler won them by taking advantage of the leftist parties’ mistakes. The inclusion/exclusion debate of the occupation, with its relative particularities, brings to memory the same inclusion/exclusion debate of the popular front vs. the united front in the struggle against fascism.

      And there are dark forces awaiting for the J14 movement’s leadership to misstep out of their boundaries. Staying away from embracing the occupation is not only a survival strategy; it is the only hope there is to get deeper into Israel’s own complex predicament, with the long-term aim of finding a solution to the entire conundrum, including the delegitimizing burden of the occupation.


      Reply to Comment
    19. weinstein henry

      Excellent FOCUSED post from Taoist
      Another miracle: Oy Oy Oy!

      Reply to Comment
    20. Piotr Berman

      I totally miss the point: why should non-Israeli be in any way impressed by “social justice movement” in Israel?

      A non-Israeli can be interested in Israel for a variety of reasons offered by friends and critics. None of them, NONE, cites the prices of food or housing. A visitor from New York may be a bit surprised that apartments are so cheep and cheese so expensive, a visitor from Montreal can be surprised that cheese is so cheap and apartments expensive. But that would be a minor point, observed by a few, of interest to none.

      As many people point out, Israel is a complex society, and it is hard to understand from outside. In India huge crowds gather on the banks of Ganges river and get dunked, and and makes them happier for some reason. In Tel Aviv suddenly huge crowds started to gather and live in tents, demanding that something should be done. Without knowing Hebrew, it is hard to figure out what that something is, translations are curiously non-specific. In Texas, thousands gather, urged by local Governor, and pray for rain (totally foolish, everybody knows that if you want rain, you should either sacrifice some captive warriors to Tlaloc, or to have some competent shamans conducting a Rain Dance, rather than praying to someone who never made explicit promises of considering weather related requests). Because news stories are so sketchy, I have no idea what happened later: are Indians happier after bathing in Ganges? Did Texan get the rain? Did Tel-Avivians get something done?

      Suppose that you deeply care in rural literacy and health care, and you are in touch with friends in India. Then you get a message: Good news! All of us are dunked in Ganges for the last two weeks, there are also huge crowds of other folks, this is so HUGE you have no idea!

      So you do not care about rural literacy anymore?

      Of course we do! You have no idea how many people joined us! Millions!

      And you discuss rural literacy?

      Of course we do not! This is not a proper topic during Holy season! But aren’t you impressed how big crowds joined us?

      You joined them, or they joined you?

      I have impression that you do not care about dunking in Ganges at all. You do not really like us, do you?

      Reply to Comment
    21. weinstein henry

      @ Piotr
      Israelis don’t do this to impress you.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Bravo, Piotr – that was absolutely to the point. Excellent comment, thank you very much!!!

      Reply to Comment
    23. Shoded Yam

      “…Israelis don’t do this to impress you”
      WTF!?!?! You’re a bunch of self-absorbed narcissists who’ve been whining for a month and half; “Look how wonderful we are, why haven’t the rest of you noticed?” Yeah. We’ve all heard how Israeli’s shit gold bricks and their flatulence can cure cancer, and yet no ones impressed. Go figure.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Piotr Berman

      I not be that harsh. It is just that the issues of J14 seem to be strictly internal Israeli, or even Israeli-Jewish issues, and it is hard to tell how it connects to issues of interest to other people. It is my understanding that it is not clear even if you know Hebrew, been there etc.

      So the “rift” is a very natural difference of perspective.

      I see more troubling differences in perspective. For example, there seem to be a divergence of opinion within Israel if people on Turkish-led Gaza flotilla were terrorists (mainstream view) or thugs (leftist view), or if it was an error (or restraint?) that torpedoes were not used (right-center) or the actions of commandoes were just right (left-center). Foreign perspective sees piracy and murders. And crossing the border and shooting security personel there is hardly justified by the claim that personel was negligent. The article “Shitbow diplomacy” seemed to me as taking Israeli perspective rather axiomatically.

      I have impression that J14 protests are a welcome change in Israeli internal discourse, as it focuses the public attention away from issues like: is it better to eliminate traitors like 972mag editors by ruinous lawsuits, or to expel them to Gaza, or humanely stip them of citizenship and let to flee to countries of their choice? All of that was posturing to gain votes with no real consquences, but even so quite depressing.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Taoist

      @ SHODED YAM

      WTF!?!?! You’re a bunch […]


      Guess your opinion originates from your very individual POV. No good manners to bunch up anyone. People are a bunch of individuals. Like yourself. Or not?


      Reply to Comment
    26. Shoded Yam

      I use the conjunction “you’re” in the “royal” sense, in an effort to indicate a number to numerous to quantify. Narcissism amongst Israelis is not the exception, its the rule.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Shoded Yam

      Guess your opinion originates from your very individual POV.
      No it originates, from having lived in Israel, served in its army, having married an Israeli and lastly, having working optical nerves. Contrary to popular belief, your eyes are not lying to you.
      “..No good manners to bunch up anyone.”

      hey uh, Emily Post. When I want your opinion about etiquette, I’ll let you know.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Lisa

      Thank you so much for this piece, Noam. You brought much-needed pragmatic wisdom to this discussion.

      Reply to Comment
    29. weinstein henry

      @ Shoded Yam
      “Narcissism amongst Israelis is not the exception, its the rule”
      Well, after reading some of your numerous comments
      > http://intensedebate.com/profiles/shodedyam, I tend to agree
      with your clinical diagnostic, Shoded!
      By the way, I’m not Israeli, La LaLa.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Shoded Yam

      “By the way, I’m not Israeli, La LaLa”
      If you live in Israel, that statement is pathetic. If not, it explains the misplaced sanctimony and the inabilty to grok Israelis, at least insofar as your comments would indicate. Btw, I hoped you enjoyed reading my compilation of sarcasm and acerbic wit as much as I enjoyed writing it 😀 Now. I hate to rain on your parade, but you’re not the towering intellect you think you are. If Noam would let me (I don’t think he will), I’d go thru you like sh*t through a goose. L’hitraot.

      Reply to Comment
    31. annie

      i have not read the comments, i don’t have the heart for it now. your post is making me cry. it’s horrible. it’s like a bunch of leaders in the movement had a rhetorical fist fight and the upshot is you think you don’t mean anything to us anymore or something. i can’t can’t stand this.

      really i can’t stand it. were never going to have a better world at this rate. don’t go isolating yourselves thinking we can solve this without you. we can’t.

      every single one of you fighting for justice has a world of support out there, not just for palestinians but for the whole society.

      i can’t even type anymore this is so upsetting. i can’t stand it!

      Reply to Comment
    32. weinstein henry

      @ Shoded Yam
      “But you’re not the towering intellect you think you are”
      Good line, Chuck Norris.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Shoded Yam

      You see what I mean? Thats your response. What a pity. You’re right. I was overstating the issue. Lets forget about “towering intellect”. Instead, lets shoot for cogent thought and a snappy retort. Whadya say?

      Reply to Comment
    34. weinstein henry

      @ Shoded Yam
      Da ya mean gangsta stuff, bro?
      Ya betta ask Bibi

      Reply to Comment
    35. Shoded Yam

      Lets see. In lieu of a clever response, you resort to a rapper dialect, I suppose as a way of indicating disdain for what you perceive to be my rude nature. Thats nice. It’s unfortunate that you had to don black-face and do a bad Snoop-Dog impression in order to communicate that. Racism eh? Thats ok. I like that in an a**hole 😀 LOL

      Reply to Comment
    36. Anita Tsur

      I disagree with the parity someone suggested exists between the German Jews saying they’re Germans before they’re Jews, and Israelis who want to be dubbed as such more than as Jews. Israelis are Jews who opted for living closer to their ancestral land, but more than that, they’re Jews who ceased to want to be Europeans or Americans, which to me indicates a person who is ok with being Middle Eastern, and in turn will eventually make peace with the Arabs who surround him. The New Israeli will make this peace because he is in peace with his sheep and goat herding past, because he shares with the Arabs a love for olive oil and hummus, because he enjoys the desert landscapes, and he can subscribe to the simplicity of the Middle East, and is not offended by it. In addition, he can see through the Arabs and understand that in spite of the differences, he can live beside them, and not fear constantly that he will be assimilated. This Israeli is in a sense a much stronger Jew and one who is confident of it to the extent that he welcomes co-existence. It’s fear and insecurity that drive peace away, and to accomplish peace we must first overcome these emotions.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Anita Tsur

      Also, and now to the point, I think that you forget J14 was started by Israelis , Jews, young people who like myself are busting their asses just to have a roof over their heads and c’est tout. As much sympathy as I may have for my fellow Arab citizens of Israel, more often than not housing is a cinch for them, since they just build over their parents homes, and more often than not don’t even bother with the permits. So Palestinians aside just for now, I don’t see how Israeli Arabs could even begin to empathize with the struggle of a young Israeli Jew and Jewess who realize they could never afford an apartment in Tel Aviv anymore.

      Reply to Comment
    38. Click here to load previous comments