+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

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

Israeli and international radical left: Time for a divorce

Why the ad hoc alliance with international left activists is unhelpful to the Israeli left, and should end

One of the phenomena characterizing the coverage of the J14 protests from the beginning was the long faces of a significant number of notable international peace activists. But…but… but you’re not talking about the occupation, they demanded of the marching Israelis. They were soundly ignored, the protest became a mass success, and they became much more bitter.

At one point – it was during the third or fourth week of the protests – one of them wrote it was a struggle “about the price of cottage cheese”. I politely invited him to join Netanyahu’s PR team. He was gravely insulted, and I sincerely hope he won’t forgive me; yet the claims of many international activists against J14 were greatly similar to those of Netanyahu’s PR. We were told it’s the protest of people living in luxury, who fail to deal with the only real thing around here. Netanyahu’s bureau would call it The Second Independence War/The Second Zionist War/The Great War against the Dark Palestinian Conspiracy; the international activists just call it by that much more common name, the occupation.

As the protest grew stronger, they grew ever more bitter, spending much of their time mocking it. This behaviour raises two questions: One, just what sort of a leftist spends so much energy on opposing a protest intended to bring about a social-democratic regime, which did much to bring together Jews and Palestinians, and the only protest in the last decade – at least – which presented to a crowd of several hundred thousand Jews Palestinian speakers. The second question is: Just what the hell happened to your sense of solidarity? Why can’t you show some good will towards people who stood by your side in the West Bank, and consumed alongside you bulk quantities of CS gas?

The depressing answer is we’re not dealing with leftist, but rather with Palestinian right-winger. They suffer from tunnel-vision: All they see is the occupation. As if there wasn’t an Israel beyond it, as if people did not live and breath and love and die here, who had other issues on their mind. The never-ceasing demand from J14 to speak about the occupation, one begins to suspect, is intended for one thing only: Division of the protest movement. Then we’ll be pure and just again. Admittedly, there’ll be only about a dozen of us, but ideological purity should conquer all.

This means, of course, that these people are not actually interested in reaching any sort of goal; this, after all, demands building a coalition, and the ability to speak with the general Israeli public. They want to oppose the occupation, which makes them look nice morally, and confers a few sums of cultural capital on them. One wonders what they’ll do when the conflict ends; pine for the best years of their lives?

They don’t see themselves as partners to an intra-Israeli struggle, mainly because they consider all Israelis to suffer from an original sin, which, as long as they don’t scrub themselves like Lady Macbeth while wearing the heretic’s robe and chanting “we have sinned, have mercy upon us”, they are unworthy of justice. We’re not talking about humans, after all: Just cardboard characters from a morality play. The repertoire is limited: We have the conscious participant in crimes, we have the one who sins but sinks in denial (often played by a player who, in another play, serves as the golem), and, finally, the awakened sinner who now, after being redeemed by the Virgin Mary Mavi Marmara, tries to convince the rest of the people of Sodom that there’s a huge meteor a coming their way, before the great and terrible day of BDS. Sometimes, the irate locals crucify him, so his role is perfect. Dammit, the morality plays of the Middle Ages were more sophisticated.

And since everything is so clear and simple, any deviation from the script annoys and frustrates the producers. The players ought not to have opinions. She is not supposed to be a single mother, who thinks of making ends meet before thinking of the plight of the Palestinians. He is not supposed to be a successful hi-tech engineer, who, once he becomes a father, finds out he, too, will have to work harder just to survive. He is not supposed to be a cop who just wants to end his shift in one piece, while trying to avoid his wife so he won’t have to explain, again, why he isn’t seeking a better paying job (which basically means any job except teaching) – a cop who suddenly starts listening to the demonstrators. Hey, copper, copper! You, too, deserve better!

Are Israelis real people, or just figures in a morality play? (Photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

Are Israelis real people, or just figures in a morality play? (Photo: Yossi Gurvitz)

This complexity, instinctively understood by any one who grew up here, is not recognized by those who know Israel through rumors and the mask they built for themselves. Their latest complaint is the official page of the J14 movement refers to the Golan Heights as a part of Israel. The horror, the horror.

Newsflash: The Golan was annexed to Israel in 1981. Nobody except the Israeli government acknowledges it, but most Israelis – particularly the younger ones – think it is a part of Israel. Anyone asking the protest movement to make the return of the Golan to the Assad regime a priority, particularly these days, either lacks all understanding of Israel, or is willfully trying to break apart the protest movement. In short, someone who will fit right in in Netanyahu’s chambers.

Solidarity requires hard work, often unrewarding. In the 1880s and 1890s, farmers in the Midwest finally understood both parties shaft them: The republicans were taking care of the interests of big business, and the democrats busy dividing them from the black working class. The result was a short, shimmering spring of racial brotherhood, cooperation between blacks and whites against the establishment, reaching its height when hundreds of white farmers rode out to defend a black union activist from a Ku Klux Klan gang – which could be accurately described as the military arm of the Democratic Party.

It didn’t hold. The pressures were too great. Some years later, a large number of the farmers who participated in that ride themselves – having being broken economically – joined the Klan. It’s very easy to make us hate. We ought to have expected people who want Israelis to end the occupation to first live well enough to raise their heads and look around. That, of course, does not happen. Anyone who says J14 should, within six weeks, abolish a 44 years old occupation and bring down 70 years of Zionist indoctrination is probably talking from both sides of his mouth.

Israelis have never received any education about equality. The nature of equality is that is all-encompassing; history teaches us very little, but it does teach us that the idea of equality, once planted, does not let hold. Slavery in the US was doomed once the Declaration of Independence was penned.

And, since the Palestinians and the international community are active, the waiting period ought to be substantially shorter. But, again, there are people who aren’t really interested in that. It’s time, then, to lost interest in them. The Israeli radical left, which in the dark days of Sharon allied itself with international leftist groups, should return home. The old allies are of scant use and much damage. They don’t see us as allies, at most as marionettes; it’s time we returned the favour.

And yes, they’ll whine. They’re quite good at that. We survived Sharon; we’ll survive this, as well.

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
  • LEAVE A COMMENT

    * Required

    COMMENTS

    1. Yossi – I have a lot of respect for your analysis, and I agree that many Jewish-Israelis do suffer injustices and support in principle their fight for equality (as in any country)… yet I think you seem to set a double-standard here.

      1. You say it’s legitimate for j14 to set their own interests ahead of those it occupies (fine… it is natural to think of your own interest first)… yet you seem annoyed that Palestinians consider the occupation/ethnocracy/apartheid to be the no1 issue at stake.

      2. You don’t acknowledge the multiplicity in Palestinian views of j14, particularly among Palestinian citizens of Israel.

      You then go on to tell the ‘radical left’ what they should think. I don’t see any reason why j14 shouldn’t act to ‘confirm’ the same things to Jewish-Israeli pro-Palestinian activists as to Palestinians (ie. the assertion that the Israeli society will not end its government’s policies of discrimination against Palestinians without outside pressure/inducement).

      Patently J14 was never going to ‘end’ the occupation in 6 weeks, and to my knowledge nobody suggested it could in this timeframe (as you seem to assert)… But the reality is that the organisers refused point blank to even discuss the occupation under their ‘social justice’ agenda in this time… which knowingly ignores the role of vast settlement subsidies in their own economic predicament (even when Palestinian rights/interests are excluded from debate). And worse, key demands relating to Jewish-Palestinian equality WITHIN Israel have been dropped.

      I’ll stop there, but will summarise by saying you’ve been uncharacteristically selective in your account here, and have relied on an over-simplification of the multiplicity of views within the ‘pro-Palestinian’ camp.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Great article Yossi.

      Keep the movement going. Keep the universal social aspect of it as its prominent theme, so that even its naysayers can experience its color-blind fruit.

      That in itself is an effort.

      I was very surprised that so many otherwise humane individuals condemned the demonstration as “ashkenazi elite”. I don’t see why activists would seek to stop activism.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Bosko

      @Yossi Gurvitz
      I know that you and I disagree on most issues but I have to respect what you are saying in this article. Kol Hakavod.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Elizabeth

      Ahmed, you made some great points there about why Palestinians shouldn’t be expected to support #j14, it makes perfect sense to me.
      However, Yossi is giving his opinion here, not telling people what to think. Opinion op-eds are usually a call for people to share the views of the writer, nothing wrong with that.
      The cost of settlements, however, even according to Peace Now, is negligent compared to the Israeli budget (2 billion NIS per year). Blaming our unequal distribution of wealth of the settlers or the ultra-Orthodox isn’t a convincing argument.

      As for the demands of the Arabs within Israel being dropped, this is simply not true. The “official draft” that was leaked in Haaretz was issued on behalf of three (!) tent cities only: Kiryat Shmona, Rehovot and Jerusalem, and a bunch of organizations that do not represent even a significant part of #j14. Therefore, the demands of the Arab population in Israel will hopefully be included in the actual list of demands, if such a list ever materializes (there is a lot on ongoing backstage fighting about who gets to draft it, which tents and #j14 committees are represented or not, so we may never get to see an official list).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bosko

      @Taoist
      On a more serious note. You show respect, you get respect. I am here to debate serious issues and I never disrespected anyone who respected me even if we disagree. Are you able to conduct a serious debate without ridiculing the one you disagree with? If yes, then you’ll get respect. Otherwise …

      Reply to Comment
    6. Bosko

      Oops wrong blog 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    7. Anthony

      Elizabeth,
      If you believe that the Settlements are a major barrier to peace, and that if Israel were willing to remove them then it would have a good chance of making peace with the Palestians, then the real cost of Settlements is far far greater than the 2bn NIS per year figure you quote:
      The cost then includes a proportion of the enormous Israeli Defence budget, it includes all the extra tourism, employment and business investment Israel would receive, not to mention trade with the Arab world, who promised in the Arab Peace Initiative to normalise relations with Israel if they made a deal with the Palestinians.
      Of course for all this to be true you have to agree that peace is possible if Israel is willing to make real concessions – and this of course largely depends on your political viewpoint.

      Reply to Comment
    8. karl

      there is one error in your analysis: the divorce is not between the israeli and international left but between liberals and marxists. the liberals are the petit-American Jewish bourgeois in the form of your freinds here.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Elizabeth,

      Perhaps not ‘telling’ people what to think, but very explicitly what they ought to do:

      “It’s time, then, to lost (sic) interest in them. The Israeli radical left, which in the dark days of Sharon allied itself with international leftist groups, should return home. The old allies are of scant use and much damage. They don’t see us as allies, at most as marionettes; it’s time we returned the favour.”

      I’m quite aware that this is an op-ed, and I certainly wouldn’t bother commenting if I saw such arguments on the likes of Ynet or Jpost… but on +972, and from the likes of Mr Gurvitz, I found this uncharacteristically direct, and ultimately rather disheartening.

      I genuinely don’t understand why Palestinians are expected to be deferential towards a ‘social justice’ movement that refuses to discuss the huge structural inequalities that the Israeli establishment imposes on them.

      The apparent/possible disappearance of modest calls for Jewish-Palestinian equality within Israel (what you describe as “demands of the Arab population in Israel”) is certainly killing any hope I had that J14 had the potential to be a transformative movement in and of itself.

      Reply to Comment
    10. annie

      well, i don’t want a divorce. i was quite enthusiastic about j14. it was the most positive burst of energy i’d seen in israel for a long time.

      yes, one of the reasons i was happy about it was the prospects of opening a dialogue about justice and people merging and expressing opinion and just an opportunity to break thru this stagnation. movement creates opportunities, hearing alternate voices. i knew the occupation wasn’t going to end over night. i’m not divorcing you, not for one minute.

      Reply to Comment
    11. weinstein henry

      @ Yossi
      “The depressing answer is we’re not dealing with leftists, but rather with Palestinian right-winger”: lucky guy, you saw the light again, Yossi!
      But there is no reason at all, from an Orwellian point of view, to feel depressed. On the contrary, what a relief to let them drivel about ‘J14’ in their anti-normalisation bunker, yelling night and day that in every Israeli protest tent a Zionist elephant is hidden!
      And to my opinion you’re too kind with them, calling them “Palestinian right-winger”, too PC. Most of the ultra pro-Palestinian activists I encountered these last few years are driven not by an ideal but by hatred, death pulsion wish, nihilism, just like their ultra-zionists Doppelgänger twins.
      I mean, they don’t care at all for the Palestinians, they never think about the consequences, they are always hoping for the worse: they just want to negate something which they call Zionism, knowing very well it means the negation of the Israelis.
      Same diagnostic with the ultra-zionist freaks, you just have to permute the words “Palestinians” and “Israelis”, and read “Arabs” instead of “Zionism”: it’s the same intellectual sickness; the will of power so to speak, the will to be evil actually.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Raed Kami

      Comment deleted for general offensiveness.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Jane

      Yossi, as far as whining goes, I have to say this is the most petulant piece of whining I have read in a long time.

      To argue that because some people may have criticism of the J14 movement – and these criticisms have come from Israeli Jews, as well as Palestinians citizens of Israel, Palestinians living under occupation and internationals – that their position is no different from Netanyahu is not only extremely childish but also reveals how shallow your political analysis is.

      Ahmed is correct when he argues that your arguments are replete with double standards.

      You spend most of your article whining that Palestinians, whose housing crisis revolves around the demolition of their homes and that internationals who stand in solidarity with Palestinians, aren’t all falling over themselves because Israelis are paying exorbitant rents.

      Of course Palestinians living under occupation are not going to be falling overthemselves because their occupiers are protesting high rents, while failing to acknowledge that Israel’s occupation industry and the state’s military continues to steal Palestinian land and demolish Palestinian homes in order to build cheaper Israeli housing and infrastructure on land that has been ethnically cleansed of Palestinians.

      As far as I can see those who have a critique of the J14 demonstrations failure to even discuss the occupation have never expected it to end the occupation in six short week. Here you have deliberately set up a very shallow straw argument which you can conveniently knock down.

      From what I understand of the criticism, the critism is not that the J14 hasn’t ended Israel’s 44 year occupation in 6 weeks but the fact that the J14 has refused to even acknowledge an occupation exists.

      In relation to the issue of the Golan Heights, again you set up a straw argument and ignore that fact that it is entirely possible to acknowledge that it is occupied as a matter of political principle, but not necessarily demand that the J14 movement immediately start campaigning to return it to the Assad regime.

      The role of radical activists in any social should be to push the boundaries of the social movements and to raise the consciousness of the movement, not pander to its backwardness and not run behind it, but this is basically what you are advocating.

      You argue that Israelis have never received any education about equality. If this is the case than isn’t a movement that purports to be about social justice precisely the time to start educating them about what equality is and that social justice should be for everyone, even Palestinians? However, according to your thesis this is not the case.

      You are correct to say that solidarity work requires hard work, but solidarity work also requires sticking to your principles and not dumbing down either your or a movements politics in the name of pragmatism.

      It seems to me, however, that in the name of expediency you are advocating that radical activists engage in unprincipled politics and gloss over the fact that the Golan is occupied and to ignore the fact one of the things that have contributed to the massive inequalities inside Israel is a result of both the current and past Israeli governments massive spending on not only the Israeli military, but also the imposition of a military occupation on the Palestinians and massive spending on the colonial infrastructure it is building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Pact with the Devil

      This post was deleted for racist terminology and personal attacks.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Kernod

      From where I sit, the J14 movement looks like it would be very happy and cease to exist if the Jewish-Israeli lower classes got a better deal in terms of standard of living, regardless of the occupation.

      Why then do you wonder why many people (myself included) do not give a damn for the J14 “social democratic” agenda? This agenda, like most things in Israel, is targeted at improving the lot of the Jewish-Israelis, the Palestinians be damned.

      The fact that the settler youths could prance around the tent-city with racist T-shirts calling for a “Jewish Tel-Aviv” unhindered, and arch-racists like Baruch Marzel were not sent packing, all in the name of your “a-political protest” show J14 to be yet another ethnocentric Israeli movement (Hadash slogans for Jewish-Arab solidarity not withstanding).

      The occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine (and the Golan) is the issue. Any social justice achieved in Israel while they go on will be a parody of social justice, just like your democracy-for-Jews, freedom-of-the-press-for-Jews, due-judicial-process-for-Jews etc. are all parodies.

      There was no need for a divorce, since we were never married. Anyone with an ounce of sense saw through your ethno-centric, sanctimonious facade long ago.

      Reply to Comment
    16. gustavo

      you’re right, we should let you boers alone while you get your fair share of the spoils from the kaffirs

      Reply to Comment
    17. Aravi Milochlach

      I’m sorry, but this piece is pretty disgraceful. I hope Yossi G looks back on this one day and realizes how ignorant and oppressor-centric this diatribe is.

      Oh and thank you for swallowing CS tear gas in the West Bank. Pity that your government/army fired it but hundreds of thousands of your fellow countrymen/women will gather to protest the economy & refuse to discuss that teargas/occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    18. David

      The picture in the article asks provocatively, “Are Israelis real people, or just figures in a morality play?”

      I don’t know. Were American Southerners in the Fifties real people, or did they become real people only AFTER they had dismantled Jim Crow? Were “good Germans” real people?

      Reply to Comment
    19. AT

      You had to go there David, because if you didn’t someone else would. But I will take up your challenge. Yes “good Germans” were real people and that’s why acts like the bombing of Dresden were unconscionable. Ditto for the fire bombing of Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagaskai. Even if you think a country is responsible for war crimes, it does not justify responding in kind – because then you exist in the same moral plane as the people you criticize.

      The sad thing is that many pro-Palestinian activists are as reactionary as the settlers. What is the claim of the Arab/Muslim nation to Palestine except their own 7th colonial conquest of the same? How does this differ from the settlers appeal to the Torah? Palestinian nationalism has no moral superiority over Zionism.

      Yes it’s unjust that Palestiniana lost their homes in 1948. But you know what? In the postWWII period tens of millions of people were forcibly evicted all over Europe, Read Judt’s postwar. Does the world care? Nope. Let’s not forget the millions of refugees created by the Indian/Pakistani partition? Does the world care? Nope.

      The only legitimate and practical claim the Palestinians can make is that the 1948 partition was only half done. In fact there is unanimous international agreement on this point, even by the present right wing government of Israel. Anyone who cares about the well being of all the millions of people who currently live in Israel and Palestine should support the completion of partition by ending Israeli occupation of the future state of Palestine in the West Bank & Gaza. Tel Aviv was not, is not and will never be in the state of Palestine. Anyone who pretends otherwise is playing at morality not living it.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Vickie

      @Yossi…You cannot have a social justice campaign while engendering, supporting, and perpetuating an apartheid system. I don’t think your J14 thing will do a darned thing because it lacks the credibility…your asking for the room to be painted with the foundation is crumbling beneath your feet. Oh…poor things…your cheese is too expensive…your rent is too high…well, I wonder how expensive that rent would be if Israel actually had to pay for the land it takes. I hope Barak wins the reelection and cuts your funding…then lets talk about the price of cheese. I’m personally tired of seeing my tax dollars pay for your health care–while my politicians refuse to create an equivalent system–and then you cry about your rent prices. Pay that rent with a $800 monthly premium down your neck. Israel is like a college kid that moves back home…Your a big boy now, 63 years, pay your own freaking bills.

      @AT…your beautifully worded diatribe, cloaked as it is in peacenik philosophy, demonstrates this: Israel’s identity issues mirrors that of a bully whose never knew his daddy. You cannot deny one person’s identity in order to create your own.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Ben Israel

      At-Do you mean, regarding Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that it would have been better for the war against Japan to drag on another year, in which, due to the American blockade, say
      2 million Japanese would have died of starvation, disease and possibly civil disorder? Also, considering that 100,000 Chinese were dying EVERY MONTH in the summer of 1945, this means another million Chinese would have died, tens of thousands of American soldiers assuming continuing blockade and hundreds of thousands in the event of full-scale invasion of the Japanes home islands. Add to this the Allied prisoners of war who were dying of strarvation and disease and theprobably hundreds of thousands of others in the Japanese-occupied territories in east Asia. All of that would have been preferable in your eyes?

      Reply to Comment
    22. Ben Israel

      Fractures in the “Red-Green-Brown” alliance. “Red” is Marxist-socialists-anarchists, “Green” is radical Islam and “Brown” is Fascists. All don’t like Israel, each for their own reasons. This alliance brings out strange phenomena such as Prof Judith Butler, a big supporter of BDS saying “HAMAS and HIZBULLAH are PROGRESSIVE organizations”. Really? Or how about Prof Tariq Ramadan (grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna) who is attempting to create a grand, formal (not ad-hoc) alliance between radical Islam and the Left-Progressives because he claims “they have so much in common”.
      Having a common hatred is not a basis for creating something positive. If that were the case, Europe would have become united centuries, because all Europeans had pretty much the same attitude towards the Jews. Same with the modern Arab/Muslim world. There is unanimity between them regarding their feelings towards Israel. I am sure that the fellows who blew up the mosque in Baghdad killing dozens a couple of days ago would have enjoyed talking with their victims about Israel and what should be done about it. It doesn’t seem that this common interest was decisive, though, in determining their actions.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Danny P

      Were American Southerners in the Fifties real people, or did they become real people only AFTER they had dismantled Jim Crow?

      Of course they were real people. Objectively. In any case isn’t FDR considered the most progressive president the USA ever had even though his civil rights record was paltry? So the ‘New Deal’ was meaningless because it failed to deal with civil rights?

      Reply to Comment
    24. Take care of your own house, find your own way. Danny P, above, is right.

      Reply to Comment
    25. I thought this was a great post, and agreed with Yossi’s main points. I think the disheartening thing about all of this is in the other comments. Despite writing about the difficulties of building coalitions, of achieving change, giving the example of American farmers in the 19th century- some of the people commenting would rather doubt Yossi’s commitment towards a just solution than deal with an article that doesn’t ignore the many shades of grey in politics.

      Reply to Comment
    26. ftp

      Yossi, you seem to think that being accused of being sucked into a laager mentality means you should withdraw into the laager!

      “Anyone asking the protest movement to make the return of the Golan to the Assad regime a priority”

      How about returning it to the Syrian people? Or are you just part and parcel of the Netanyahu regime?

      Reply to Comment
    27. Robert J. Edwards

      AT:
      “What is the claim of the Arab/Muslim nation to Palestine except their own 7th colonial conquest of the same?”

      Arab/Muslim nation? That’s how you characterize the cultural and political entity that is in question when one addresses “The Question of Palestine”? You still think it’s about what “the Arabs” demanding? What year do you think this is?

      Reply to Comment
    28. Yossi, this is much more nuanced situation than you portray. It’s not fair to de-legitimize the basic point that should the protests fail to ultimately include the link between social justice and occupation, they will fall far short of a revolution, much less a revolution of consciousness. This is a not reductionist whining and it doesn’t mean that everything boils down to tunnel vision but raises a legitimate and vital critique of something that is holding Israeli society back. You never quote or cite or link to any of those shadowy international activists, so we have no evidence of it and after countless hrs and days at the protests I really don’t know who you’re talking about – it is overwhelmingly Israeli mainstream so if anything the people you describe are extremely marginal as a presence. You ignore the fact that many israelis have been offering such critiques, including myself – neither a radical nor a whiner, nor someone who knows Israel only “through rumors and masks” – excuse me? I live here, pay taxes here, love and breathe here too. And I too believe there is far too much denial in general that is tearing our society apart, by tearing it away from reality. It’s too simplistic to say that anyone who holds this critique is opposed to the whole protest and not true. If you want to distinguish that particular group – give us evidence or references. If you think that the entire critique is the problem, including when mainstream israelis hold this view – at least give it a more nuanced treatment that reflects what is really being said.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Danny P

      Is it possible to support BDS (which sets out to harm the economic well-being of Israelis) and J14 (which seeks to improve their well-being)? I suppose one can support both, but the logic would be somewhat convoluted, and non-intuitive. I don’t know how popular BDS is, but among its supporters I suppose there is very little sympathy for J14 (I’m a boring liberal zionist Meretz type guy and not politically active, so I genuinely have no idea).

      Another matter is what does this ‘Divorce’ mean? Should the Israeli Radical Left not participate with internationals when opposing the occupation? Probably not, that’s just childish and counterproductive. Then what? unsubscribe to their blogs, don’t follow them on Twitter – by all means.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Dahlia,
      I felt that Yossi’s post was nuanced, actually more subtle and balanced than Joseph Dana and Max Blumenthal’s, which spoke of the demonstrations in a single brush stroke in language of “whining Ashkenazi elite”.

      Until Dimi Reider’s post, 100% of the articles here were disrespectful of the J14 movements, seeking to claim credit for them, or subtley gleeful that the terror and subsequent bombing of Gaza occurred last week, for the distraction from “true religion/politics”.

      There was communication that ‘the people are naive and misguided. They don’t know what is important to them. And, even if they do know what is important to them, they are wrong. They don’t know the “historical imperative”, WE do.’

      Aside from the revolutionary vanity of that, it is primarily ineffective at making social change.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Ben Israel

      Danny P-
      There is no contradiction at all between supporting BDS and the current demonstrations, at least as those on the Left who are supporting and organizing the demonstrations.
      Why? Because the demonstrations are directed AGAINST the government and hoping to mobilize the population in order to bring it down. The “economic” background of the demonstrations is merely the excuse. Just like the period before the Russian Revolution when the Bolsheviks supported strikes whose ostensible purpose was to improve the situation of the workers. Lenin really had no interest in that, it was just a matter of “the worse things are, the better they are”!

      Reply to Comment
    32. Shelley

      You see finally that they don’t give a d— about Israel or Israelis. The Israeli left are just tools to be used by the international left to demonize Israel. They only care about Palestinians. They have used you to advance their own agenda which is not the same as yours.

      Everyone should back off, including the international right, and let Israelis and Palestinians, the people who live there, negotiate peace. The badgering of activists, from the left and the right, has created more conflict, more bloodshed and more hatred.

      And I take your point about the J14 protests. I have read hundreds of tweets from Egyptian activists complaining about the nature of the protests as if as you say it is irrelevant that Israelis have internal social and economic issues that are causing suffering. They do not care that there are Israelis who are suffering.The only sufferng that matters to them is the suffering of the Palestinians.

      This is what it has come to. Israelis are not human beings. Israel is Palestine for Palestinians only. This is the international left, this is democracy activists in Egypt, this is Palestinian activists in Canada, in the US, in Europe. This is how they use you, to destroy you.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Shelley

      You see finally that they don’t give a d— about Israel or Israelis. The Israeli left are just tools to be used by the international left to demonize Israel. They only care about Palestinians. They have used you to advance their own agenda which is not the same as yours.

      Everyone should back off, including the international right, and let Israelis and Palestinians, the people who live there, negotiate peace. The badgering of activists, from the left and the right, has created more conflict, more bloodshed and more hatred.

      And I take your point about the J14 protests. I have read hundreds of tweets from Egyptian activists complaining about the nature of the protests as if as you say it is irrelevant that Israelis have internal social and economic issues that are causing suffering. They do not care that there are Israelis who are suffering.The only sufferng that matters to them is the suffering of the Palestinians.

      This is what it has come to. Israelis are not human beings. Israel is Palestine for Palestinians only. This is the international left, this is democracy activists in Egypt, this is Palestinian activists in Canada, in the US, in Europe. This is how they use you, to destroy you.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Dahlia, one of my tweets is linked in the Hebrew version of this post and one of Max Blumenthal’s is linked in the English version on Yossi’s personal blog. Hope that clears up who Yossi is discussing in this piece.

      Reply to Comment
    35. Vickie

      @Shelley…Americans will be happy to leave this whole mess alone…including stop your foreign aid. Go tell our Congress to leave Israel alone, for it seems they listen to you more than us.

      Reply to Comment
    36. Vickie

      @Yossi…I just reread your post…did you really try to legitimize Israeli occupation by drawing on the establishment of the KKK in the US? ReallY?

      Reply to Comment
    37. canavar

      “At one point – it was during the third or fourth week of the protests – one of them wrote it was a struggle “about the price of cottage cheese”.”

      The protests were started by a 25 year-old waitress because she couldn’t afford rent in downtown Tel Aviv. Forgive some of us for thinking that the 40 year repression and national disenfranchisment of millions of people is a significantly more important issue.

      “Why can’t you show some good will towards people who stood by your side in the West Bank, and consumed alongside you bulk quantities of CS gas?”

      How many of the hundreds of thousands of J14 protesters have been any where near CS gas in the West Bank? A tiny, tiny handful. Where are the hundreds of thousands of Israeli protesters demonstrating against what is being done to the Palestinians in their name and by their government with their tax funds (and indeed, by them when they do their military service)? Where have they ever been? Most of the Israeli “left” has never been overly concerned with the fate of the Palestinians; indeed for decades it was the prime architect of Palestinian disenfranchisement.

      ““Are Israelis real people, or just figures in a morality play?””

      Of course they are real people, but they are comparatively very privileged people living in a democratic country that has been openly repressing and stealing from millions of people living on their doorstep in their name for decades. It is therefore a little hard to take their moral outrage over rent prices very seriously when they point blank refuse to recognise what’s being done down the road by their own government and dismiss it as a “security issue”.

      Reply to Comment
    38. I am going to reply as an American. I haven’t participated in the J14 protests, I don’t know who is leading what, and what agenda they may have. But I do think that I have some insight into your conception of “equality,” Yossi.

      You wrote: “The nature of equality is that is all-encompassing; history teaches us very little, but it does teach us that the idea of equality, once planted, does not let hold. Slavery in the US was doomed once the Declaration of Independence was penned.”

      Yet the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution says, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

      See that? So the US Amendment abolishes slavery, but HAS AN EXCEPTION. That is why ‘international leftist’ groups such as Critical Resistance in the US say that America is not a Democracy, and never has been a Democracy. The ‘Founding Fathers’ had the interests of White land-owners in mind when they were declaring independence from the British. There was no representation for the interests of slaves, nor for American Indians, within the new United States.

      So I think the US is a perfect example for you and the J14 movement.

      And please don’t talk about solidarity. Solidarity means waiting at every single check point. Solidarity means not riding on Israeli-only roads, and not having enough food to eat like the people in Gaza and not having enough running water like the people in the West Bank. Then you’ll understand the difference between the J14’s concerns, and those of Palestinians.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Hashuan

      I just wonder what all these holier-than-thou American/European finger-waggers criticizing Israelis for protesting their economic situation had for dinner tonight. Or what movie they’re going to go see this weekend. Or what nice new gift they’re going to be buying for their little daughter at the toy store tomorrow.

      And then I wonder how long will it take for them to come back from the store, log on to the internet, and start belittling the “insensitive racist Israelis” for worrying about how they’re going to put food on the table when they should instead be trying to overthrow their entire society.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Danaa

      Yossi’s lament in this piece really goes to the heart of the 70 year old question: can Israel be both democratic AND Jewish. Obviously, most Jewish Israelis think it is and it can be, and most palestinian israelis thin kit isn’t and can never be – as long as the state bases it’s raison d’etre on ethnocratic purity principle, which exclude them, by definition.

      Yossi, from previous writings, would personally be delighted to live in a secular state, with church (or temple) relegated to its rightful place. He seems to hope that J14 represents a movement towards that goal, whether part of the official platform or not. Unstated in the J14 platform is however the giant schism between the religious/orthodox/observant in Israel and the secular part. One is overtaking the other at breakneck speed and it ain’t the secular portion. That is the demographic disaster awaiting israel, as everyone knows, whether they speak about it or not. And for israelis at least, that makes the bigger elephant in the tent than the occupation, though the two are not independent.

      There are more, smaller elephants that are also not acknowledged as root causes of the deterioration in living standards. One is the simple fact that there are too many mouths to feed on too small a piece of land (with or without the west bank). yet, no one can address this issue because to do so would expose the fact that there’s a demographic “war” going on. It has become fashionable in Israel to have more than 3 children per family. Well, in any western country that would be a lot of children to care for, educate, house and keep in their fashionable sneakers.

      If Yossi wants all out support from the internationals (radicals, as he derides them) then J14 will have to become a bit more honest about what it’s really all about. The reason the tent protest is met with some chuckles from “outsiders” is because it looks more and more like a movement for people who want to have their cake and eat it too.

      Reply to Comment
    41. directrob

      “They suffer from tunnel-vision: All they see is the occupation. As if there wasn’t an Israel beyond it, as if people did not live and breath and love and die here, who had other issues on their mind.”
      .
      Yossi you did not get it, it is:
      “For forty years all they see is Israeli people who live, breath and love and die as if their wasn’t an occupation under which people have other issues on their mind”.

      Reply to Comment
    42. Ben Israel

      Danaa-
      Why aren’t you worried about the nature of the Palestinian state you are aspiring to? It will be ethnocentric….defining itself as Arab and having Muslim as the state religion with Sharia law as a basis if not the basis of legislation, with the accompanying discrimination against non-Muslims. Why never a mention of this from the “progressives”. All they do is worry about Israel. This in itself is parochial. You have to worry about the other side in the conflict as well.

      Your claim that there are “too many mouths to feed in Israel” is absolute nonsense. Hong Kong has a much higher population density and no agriculture to speak of yet no one is starving there. In case you haven’t noticed civilization and technology have advanced in the last few centuries so that a lower and lower percentage of the population is involved in agriculture yet they are producing more and more food. Many of our friends and acquaintances have 6 to 10 children and they, while working very hard, are getting by and feeding them all (I am not talking about Haredim here). It all depends on what your priorities are.

      Reply to Comment
    43. canavar

      @Hashuan
      I just wonder what all these protesters allegedly worrying about how they’ll put food on the table in a country with a per capita income similar to that of Spain (and much higher than Portugal and most Eastern European countries) think about the Palestinian families a few miles down the road in Gaza unable to get work thanks to the economic blockade or go abroad or get proper treatment for their illnesses or about the people in the West Bank unable to travel freely even within the tiny bit of their country that’s been left to them or access their fields and olive trees if they haven’t already been confiscated or burned down or go to school without being harrassed by settlers or in Hebron even leave their houses by the front door nall thanks to government polices funded by the protesters’ own taxes and enforced by themselves and their children during their military service but that they won’t even bring up because they’re just divisive “security issues”. Yeah, I wonder what they think about that.

      Reply to Comment
    44. Taoist

      The irony in the article is that, even though one can agree with some of the points, it is written with the same virulence it is purported to denounce, just from an opposite POV.

      Sort of a contradiction in terms.

      Or, well….

      Taoist

      Reply to Comment
    45. And another thing…

      I get tired of people saying that they feel very alone and isolated, and in the same breath they believe that Jews need an ethnocentric state for the sake of their own security.

      You can “divorce” those who are opposed to the horrific conditions Palestinians are subjected to. Or you could embrace us. And then your movement (at least internationally) would be all the more stronger, and I will be with you, in solidarity.

      Reply to Comment
    46. AT

      @Vickie where do I deny Palestinian identity or ask them to support Zionism?

      @ben israel your arguments are based on post WW ii propaganda. With the release of formerly classified documents we now know Japan was willing to surrender pre Hiroshima. The sticking point was the resignation of the emperor. The main reason for Hiroshima was to test the technology no more nor less. Getting the emperor to resign was not worth 100000s dead in qn instant holocaust (in every meaning of that word)

      @RJE this article is about Intn’l activists, many of who are Arab, Muslim or both. Palestinians in West Bank & Gaza are actually more supportive of 2 state solution and it would be far easier to reach agreement between Israelis and local Palestinians. The UN gambit is a West bank initiative. And I realize that not all Intn’l activist are Arab or Muslim. But Western activist are super hypocrites and moral tourists of the worst sort so I don’t even bother talking about them.

      These issues are far more complex than short talk back conversations can allow. But the comments indicate Yossi is spot on: many people are more interested in feeling morally superior than actually making people’s lives better. The intn’l anti-apartheid movement is a classic example of this. Sure apartheid is gone but people of SA are worse of today because the moral tourists up and left and moved on to the next glamorous issue.

      Reply to Comment
    47. Vickie

      @Hashuan…I can’t afford a movie, and we had addis for dinner. As I work twelve hour days while I raise two kids, half of my check goes to childcare…whereas the other half goes to healthcare. That’s right. I work only for healthcare. And it really pisses me off that my taxes go to Israel where they have healthcare, but I am denied it by my own government. Yes, my government is happy to send you money for your healthcare, and while I go without, and I have to pay for it.
      SO, as you literally live on my dime, why don’t you show a little respect. You shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Vickie

      @Ben…Israelis deliberately make all of this about religion. 10% of the people Israelis dispossess and murder are Christians. We still fight your occupation. And your white phosphorous bombs kills us as readily as a Muslim.
      Call the future country whatever you like…call it Disney’s ‘It’s a Religious World After All’ ride. All I care about is the people in the country and the people in the diaspora being restored their rights…one person, one vote. Can’t get more democratic than that.

      Reply to Comment
    49. AT

      @canavar I don’t know what country you live in, but wherever it is I ask you: how many people in your own country worry about their neighbors who are out of work and struggling? And I assume you live on this planet, so I am sure there are many like that not far from where you live, wherever that might be.

      You mention Spain. Aren’t you aware people there where in the squares and streets this spring and summer precisely for the same reason as #j14. Per capita income is a statistical sleight of hand. If Bill Gates moved to Gaza the per capita income there would exceed Israel’s,

      Wake up people. sure we all what to have our own country and our own national identity. That is the tribal nature of the human race. so yes, whether you like it or not, there should be a state Israel fo rthe Jews and Palestine for the Palestininians and Finland for the Finns. But the common problem we all face wherever we live is financial oligarchies converting the rest of the human raise into indentured debt slaves. Unless there is universal solidarity on the economic issue central to #j14 these oligarchs will continue to laugh all the watt the bank.

      Reply to Comment
    50. Ben Israel

      AT-
      Regarding Japan supposedly being willing to surrender before the use of the A-Bombs, this has been proven conclusively to be a myth. Even after the first bomb was dropped they refused to surrender. See Richard Frank’s book “Downfall” which came out within the last decade. I don’t understand why the lives of Japanese are considered by “progressives” to be of more value than their Chinese and Burmese victims, the Allied prisoners and the American soldiers who would have died in the invasion.

      Reply to Comment
    51. Click here to load previous comments