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Why J14 movement should keep occupation off the agenda

Linking the J14 movement with security issues will be the downfall of the social justice movement. Talking about the occupation will only prolong it. Article originally published on the Daily Beast’s Open Zion blog.

When I was a teenager back in the 80’s, there was an ad on Israel’s only TV channel about road safety. It urged drivers to use their heads rather than simply rely on driving legally. The catchy slogan was “On the road, don’t be right—be smart!”

Open Zion’s Emily L. Hauser recently responded to a post of mine in which I argued that calculating the cost of the occupation is irrelevant, as it is morally wrong to begin with. Hauser agreed on most of my points, but ended her post with a commitment to remind #J14 social protesters that there cannot be social justice without an end to occupation, and that she will “highlight the fact that their struggle is inextricably bound to the struggle to end the occupation.”

This may be the right thing to say, but it’s not necessarily the smart thing.

Hauser is one of many on the left who believe that this summer, unlike the year before, the #J14 protests must be linked to the occupation. But I believe that when it comes to #J14, left wingers will have to come to grips with a very baffling paradox: the best way to end the occupation is not to talk about it.

Many leftists despair over their failure to bring about any kind of change. They are now a tiny minority, and they simply don’t get how hundreds of thousands of Israelis can pour into the streets to fight corporate capitalism, but not the occupation. Why, just last weekend, as social activist Daphni Leef was roughed up by Tel Aviv police, 15 Gazans were being shot down by IDF planes. And what do you think brought people out to the streets in anger?

This despair has led leftists to try and “force” their agenda onto a protest movement that has already mobilized the masses, in the vain hope that the change will come from inside.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

First, combining agendas is a bad idea. Occupy Wall Street didn’t bring up the war in Afghanistan, gay rights or abortion issues. It was about the 99%. “Well,” you might say, “what about the social rights of Palestinians? Aren’t they part of the 99%?” Unfortunately, Israelis and their politicians see the occupation as a security issue. For them, it is not a question of civil rights over the Green Line. It’s about their existence. This is wrong—but that’s the way it is.

Second, it is paramount to understand the importance of #J14 and the huge potential it and its activists have for bringing change to Israel. What #J14 is trying to change is the most solid, largest obstacle to ending the occupation: the Israeli political left-right paradigm. Until now, this paradigm has been dominated by “the conflict”. Although there are many shades of grey to this, one could say that the left was pro-peace, while the right was pro-land.

Every election in Israel has been based on this paradigm. There are very few examples of socio-economic issues standing at the forefront of election campaigns—and even then, they were still not the dominant issue. That has always been security. This has continued to be the case in recent years even as more and more Israelis develop a keen “economic awareness.” This is largely due to the economic boom Israel has experienced over the past decade, which is also increasingly dominated by the local media. After years of having only one dedicated, financial daily (Globes) we now have three (with The Marker and Calcalist). Not only are the top CEOs and tycoons household names, their profits and salaries are hot topics for discussions. This increased economic awareness, combined with hardships caused by the global financial crisis, brought about #J14.  Who knows—maybe Israel’s next election slogans could read: “It’s the economy, stupid!”

The occupation will end only when Israel is pressured from the outside and Israelis shift their attitude. But long as the U.S. continues to be an “enabler,” Israelis remain addicted to the status quo (as my colleague Noam Sheizaf points out), and the Israeli government continues to feed off fear and an electorate that votes accordingly­—nothing will change.

Linking #J14 and security issues will be the downfall of the social justice movement. #J14 will quickly evaporate into just another fringe movement, a small left-wing minority, just like the Israeli left is today. Talking about the occupation in #J14 circles will cause more harm than good.

The battle against the occupation must continue in the usual venues—it mustn’t stop. But if you really want to keep the old left-right paradigm alive—then go ahead, force the occupation on the #J14 movement.

You may be right—but you’re not being smart.

 

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    COMMENTS

    1. Richard Witty

      J14 is something new. It should be allowed to be.

      Reply to Comment
    2. William Burns

      You’re pointing to Occupy Wall Street as a movement to emulate? Haven’t you noticed that it’s been a complete failure?

      Reply to Comment
    3. @william – patience. You could easily say the same thing about J14 over the past year.
      .
      You don’t beat a goliath like corporate capitalism in 12 months. It’s going to be a long war.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Miki

      Ami you are wrong. Occupy Wall St did in fact link to anti-war issue,women’s rights, labour issues and even Palestine.

      Every social movement that has ever existed evolves and often what begins as a minority position can become a majority position due to agitation and campaigning. Just because the majority don’t hold a particular position now, does not mean that those holding a dissident minority position should just give up. Change will only come because people push for change, not because they throw up their arms in despair and refuse to talk about it.

      Reply to Comment
    5. @Miki – you are wrong. There may have been fringe groups that talked about those topics you named. But they were never part of the “official” (because nothing was official on Occupy) agenda. It was always about the 99%, always about the economy.
      .
      Also, you twist my words. I didn’t say to shut up. I never shut up myself about the occupation. There are many, many venues, forms, different ways to shout against the occupation. I simply think that shouting it in the #J14 circle is wrong – and will ultimately harm the potential that #J14 has for changing the political paradigm, which in turn could end the occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Richard Witty

      Change in relations between people comes when people talk, not push.

      The theme of J14 and some of the occupy movements, was of re-emphasizing people, communities, living.

      It has to get to in practice. Even J14, when it stays in the streets, and doesn’t get to living rooms, is not change.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Steve

      Ami, at least on the case of anti-war issues you’re mistaken. From the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City:

      “They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

      They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

      They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.”

      Reply to Comment
    8. Woody

      “Talking about the occupation will only prolong it.”

      Was this a mistranslation of “talking about only the occupation will prolong it”, because if it isn’t, then Ami – this statement is out of touch with any theory of change.

      Reply to Comment
    9. ‘Occupy Wall Street didn’t bring up the war in Afghanistan…’

      this part is not true – OWS has always linked the endless cash dumped into Wall St Banks to the endless cash dumped into failed stupid wars.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Ted

      Yes, Ami, as Steve said, you are wrong. Occupy Wall Street has taken clear antiwar positions. So you’ve founded your piece on an incorrect understanding. It was over Israel/Palestine that the debate became problematic, for reasons I am not going to try to represent here.

      Ted

      Reply to Comment
    11. AYLA

      hi Ami ;).

      Reply to Comment
    12. AYLA

      That’s all I wanted to say, but actually, I agree with this argument. You’re smart. (and maybe I’m wrrrrrrrrr…. (did you guys get the sitcom Happy Days here, with Fonzie?)). Shabbat shalom.

      Reply to Comment
    13. @steve, ted, redjade – as I said in the comment above, these were not the main catalysts for OWS, or any other Occupy in the U.S. or Europe. In fact, just like the problem with J14 and the occupation, it is these topics that people in Occupy thought would “taint” it and keep others from joining.
      .
      By the way, redjade – the issue you bring up is a perfect example of taking a security issue and making it economic. the people didn’t say “let’s get out of afghanistan” – they say “stop throwing money(!) on wars!”. One thing Israelis might do, if the left doesn’t screw it up, is let a majority of J14ers say “i want to stop throwing money in the territories, on settlers”. Because they will never, ever, say “I want to end the occupation”. Trust me.
      .
      So, Ted, as you can see, my piece is still very well founded. And even if the comparison (in your eyes) to OWS is wrong, there’s still a strong argument to the post, which neither you, redjade nor steve addressed.
      .
      @woody – there is no mistranslation. I suggest reading the piece in whole. maybe you’ll understand the argument.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Benjamin

      Why would you ever limit a chance to talk about the occupation? I can’t believe you wrote this article stating the best way to end the occupation is to not talk about it at all? I think it would be great if the J14 protests started championing the Palestinian cause at least a little bit..

      Reply to Comment
    15. wow, it’s like people don’t know how to read anymore.
      .
      if you read closely (beyond the headline), you’ll see it says not to talk about the occupation in J14 circles. I never said not to talk about the occupation at all.
      .
      Are you people even serious????? I co-founded +972 to talk about the occupation!!! Every friggin post I write here is about the friggin’ occupation! And you guys are like “did he just say not to talk about the occupation?” Jesus, wake up and smell the coffee.
      .
      Or even better, read the friggin post all the way to the end.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Rebecca

      As someone who has been documenting occupy moments on the west coast I have to say this assessment of the movement is flat out wrong. One of the first major West Coast Occupy demonstrations was in protest of the 10 year anniversary of the the war in Afghanistan. So to say that isn’t a key part of the movement is just incorrect. Also while I agree with some of the points the author made about political discourse in Israel, generally self-censorship just enables racism. If you are waiting for a “good” time to talk about the occupation you are going to be waiting forever. I’m somewhat disappointed in this piece overall but even more so with the sarcastic and condescending tone I see the author using in his responses to commenters who have a point.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Richard Witty

      Last year, when the J14 demonstrations occurred, about half the 972 writers condemned J14, literally condemned, because it only spoke of issues of common cause among Israelis (all Israelis).

      Somehow that mutual aid theme was not sufficiently progressive.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Rebecca – Sure, it’s condescending when I show how readers don’t read the post. As you didn’t either.
      .
      For the 100th time in the post and in the comment section, I will say it again: I never said to stop talking about the occupation. Or racism. I write about it everyday.
      .
      Take your disappointment from the post and multiply it by 10 to get my disappointment from the comments.
      .
      I’m sure there have been anti-war protests in Occupys here an there, as you have mentioned. But I stand by my assessment that Occupy, in the U.S. and abroad, is an economic issue. Economy started it, economy is what it was focused on, and economic solutions are what will decide if Occupy is successful or not. Not ending a war or an occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    19. It’s also interesting how commentators who don’t agree with me take the easy route and try to find mistakes in probably the least important argument in the post, which is whether Afghanistan was brought up in Occupy or not. Very telling.
      .
      It seems that anyone who would not agree would actually try to tackle this issue by proving me wrong on the Israeli front, with arguments about the Israeli political paradigm which I talk about and the potential J14 has to change that. But apparently most commentators, from abroad apparently, feel more comfortable with attacking a comment on Occupy, which is far from being the core issue of this post.
      .
      But go ahead, feel free to keep on chewing on that bone.

      Reply to Comment
    20. And one last thing: people who are offended by my “condescending”, “patronizing” or “cynical” tone in comments or posts are obviously new to this channel.
      .
      Welcome! 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    21. ted

      Dear Ami,

      I don’t understand how you can pretend that comments saying that you fundamentally mirepresented the Occupy Movement are “taking the easy route” and trying “to find mistakes in probably the least important argument in the post.”

      You began your argument this way: “First, combining agendas is a bad idea. Occupy Wall Street didn’t bring up the war in Afghanistan, gay rights or abortion issues. It was about the 99%.”

      That was your “First”, not “last” or “least importantly.” So to then attack and ridicule people who point out that your first argument was founded on information that is completely and fundamentally wrong is intellectually dishonest. On top of that you start bullying the commenters.

      Ami, you screwed up. Just admit it and stop beliitling the commenters who correctly called you on it.

      And the error is not just a minor factual one. It is about overarching values and strategy. The Occupy Movement has chosen on a broad level to be principled and consistent in dealing with social justce issues. You on the other hand are proposing that J14 (continue to) be inconsistent and unprincipled, and to initially ignore the largest social justice issue that Israel confronts in it’s so-called “social justice” movement.

      Simply makes no sense. A “social justice” movement that purposely ignores the most fundamental social justice issue will never later confront the social justice it sought desperately to bury. Your proposed strategy is both morally bankrupt and on a practical level irredeemably flawed.

      In any case, and beyond your argument, J14 has been fundamentally flawed from the outset and can only lead to the solidifying of apartheid. True seekers of social justice should put their energies elsewhere.

      Ted

      Reply to Comment
    22. Is this the same 972 that complained of being gagged by Israeli law on reporting BDS? I read and understood that restriction.

      And now this voluntary Hasbara piece?

      Where do I go for some independent, blog-based web magazine about Israel now?

      Reply to Comment
    23. Sinjim

      What you’re essentially saying is that Palestinians, I’m talking about the Palestinians inside Israel, must be left out of this so-called #J14 movement. Because there is no way that the Palestinian citizens of your state can be brought in and not be allowed to talk about what Israel is doing to their own people. The injustices they face are part and parcel of the policies that resulted in and maintain the occupation.
      .
      The very existence of this debate demonstrates the nature of the “movement.” When these Occupy Tel Aviv people yap about 99%, what they really mean is 99% of the Jewish public. The Palestinians can go jump off a cliff.
      .
      A Jewish-centric argument for a Jewish-centric movement. We’ve all seen what Jewish-centric does to Palestine and Palestinians. And no Ami, nothing ever changed by remaining silent.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Jennifer

      I am with Ami on this one. Keep J14 as a social justice movement to draw in as many sections of Israeli society as possible. The anti-occupation left wing movement in Israel is vibrant and committed, but obviously a small (and probably shrinking) minority. If J14 becomes strongly identified with this minority view it will fail. On the other hand if you “self-hating Pal-loving Jews (how I hate that ridiculous term) mix and mingle with other sections opf your society you may just change a few minds in the long term.

      Where I would disagree with Ami is the OPWS movement – I think it has been weakened by too many different groups pushing their own adgendas. Successful movements, like womens sufferage and the labour unions, stuck to one issue despite differences of opinion on other matters by the participants.

      Reply to Comment
    25. @sinjim – I’m not saying that at all. Palestinians inside Israel take part in J14. Last year I spent time in the Jaffa camp, as well. The occupation came up rarely, because they understood what J14 was about – economic issues, about how the pie is divided. That is why there was cooperation between activists from south Tel Aviv neighborhoods and from Jaffa – they were being hurt exactly the same way by the exact same economic policies (of course, the Palestinian sector suffers much more from them).
      .
      And once again (I’m surprised that even YOU say this to me, Sinjim), I never told anyone to remain silent about the occupation!!! I’m actually quite offended by now by commentators who think I’m trying to shut people up about the occupation, it’s just plain ridiculous. I’m talking about a strategy here of how to deal with things. You might disagree, but please don’t make it sound like I’m pro-occupation.
      .
      @ted – You’re being right, not smart.
      .
      And I didn’t screw up, and I love how you you just plainly disregard my explanations.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Miki

      Ami – you contradict yourself. First you state they were not part of the “official” OWS, but then go on to contradict yourself and state there was in fact no “official” OWS. So if there is no “official” OWS, then these groups are not fringe, they are actively part of the movement.

      You are also wrong to claim that OWS was only about the economy. This was not the case.

      While there was no “official” OWS as you noted, the movement did in fact put out at least one “official” statement/declaration at the beginning of the movment which was voted on people at the occupation on Sept 29, 2011 and listed a set of grievances (which it notes are not all encompassing) which the movement was opposed too(see: http://occupywallst.org/forum/first-official-release-from-occupy-wall-street/

      The statement while noting the centrality of economic issues, also noted that this impacts on and extends to a range of broader social justice issues. Thus the movement was much more than just being about economics.

      One of the grievances listed in this first declaration included an opposition to “colonialism home and abroad”, which is a reference to opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, as well as colonialism within the USA. It was under this aegis, that a range of activities were organised by various OWS groups against Israel’s occupation. Some Occupy groups in various US cities even officially adopted positions at their meetings on supporting Palestinian rights.

      The declaration also lists opposition to “inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation”, which is a reference to the struggle for women’ rights (under which the abortion rights campaign falls) and a reference to the gay rights struggle.

      In relation to “shutting up”, how exactly am I twisting your words?

      Like you, I am SPECIFICALLY discussing the #J14 movement. I made absolutely NO claim that you were demanding that people shut up more broadly, instead I was specifically addressing and challenging your argument that people should shut up within the J14 movement.

      As I said, every social movement (the J14 movement included) evolves. Just because the majority of J14 don’t hold a particular position now, does not mean that those holding a dissident minority position in the J14 movement should just give up.

      As I said, change will only come within J14 if people push for change, not because they throw up their arms in despair and refuse to talk about things such as Israel’s occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Sinjim

      Ami, please don’t read into my comment what isn’t there. I’m not saying or implying you’re pro-occupation. I understand that you’re arguing for a particular strategy. What I’m arguing is that your strategy is Jewish-centric and that it’s stupid.
      .
      You dismiss the anti-war, women’s rights, and labor elements of OWS as fringe, yet you want me to believe that the handful of Palestinians who took part in the rallies last year are somehow part of the larger mainstream of either the Palestinian citizens or the society at large. You and I both know that Palestinians and their concerns were and remain outside the J14 movement. A token speaker here or there is not inclusion, certainly not when most Palestinians stayed at home.
      .
      And I don’t for one second buy into the notion that J14 has nothing to say about the occupation. According to people like Leehee Rothschild, Leef apparently posted a statement in which she retracted her signing of a Shministim letter when she was younger. The fact that she needed to address this at all, when the Movement is supposedly only about economic issues, demonstrates that the occupation and Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians are very much a part of the conversation already. And the fact that she retracted her support for the Shministim demonstrates that the members of the Movement have no problem pontificating on the occupation and “security” issues.
      .
      That’s another thing. The human rights of Palestinians living under the Israeli boot aren’t a “security” issue. They are a human rights issue. You don’t even try to challenge the dominant framing of the conflict. If so many keep mistaking your argument for shutting people up about the occupation, perhaps it’s because your argument and the way you frame it easily lends itself to just that outcome.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Miki

      And Ted is right, you did screw up and you got it wrong about OWS. And he is correct in noting that this is not simply about trying to trip you up and focus on supposedly minor incorrect points in your essay, as you are implying.
      *
      It is as Ted notes “about overaching values and strategy”. From the very beginning of your essay you hold up the OWS as an example as to why your argument about J14 is correct. However, you have got the facts wrong on the strategy adopted by OWS as a movement in relation to a broad range of social justice issues. As such, the rest of your argument about J14 falls down because what you are arguing in relation to it is actually at odds with what OWS did.

      *
      Your explanations in relation to this unfortunately explain nothing – they simply give your interpretation of what you think the OWS was about, with this interpretation actively ignoring not only the declarations put out by the OWS movement but also what organised activities took place on the ground as part of the OWS movement.

      Reply to Comment
    29. @sinjim – well, I disagree. I don’t think it’s Jewish centric, and I don’t think it’s “stupid”
      .
      And I dismiss nothing. But Occupy, neither in the U.S. nor Europe, is not an anti-war movement. No matter how you spin it.
      .
      And the last graph in your comment again makes me wonder if you read the post. OF COURSE I know it’s human rights issue! But the Israelis see it as a security issue. And of course they are wrong about it! And if you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the Jewish electorate.
      .
      This is the way to challenge the old paradigm. You’re all for keeping the old paradigm, which has gotten us very far, as you can see. The left has been a total failure in ending the occupation. A collosal failure. But apparently, you and others on this thread want to keep things the old way.
      .
      As for Leef’s letter, yes, it shows how Israeli society can not for one minute “digest” a leftist. Which is exactly what I’m trying to tap into in this post. Your raising of this issue, in my opinion, only strengthens my point.
      .
      And lastly, Sinjim, the Palestinians who took part in J14 were far, far, far from a handful. That’s just outright wrong, and does great injustice to the Palestinians who took part in J14 all over Israel, and particularly in Jaffa. These were not token speakers, as you say. Palestinians marched in every demo. I was with them.
      .
      Show me another movement in Israel that could bring on one stage settlers, leftists, rightists, Palestinians, and more.
      .
      But fine, let’s just keep the leftists on stage and see how much longer the occupation lasts. THAT is stupid.

      Reply to Comment
    30. @miki – OWS is not an anti-war movement.
      .
      And feel free, just like Ted, to ignore the issue at hand but to deal with minor things.
      .
      And anyone who uses “screw up” again is out. Deal?

      Reply to Comment
    31. Benjamin

      Ami I know you are way more informed on this topic then I am, but I know that the palestinian issue is rarely talked about in the knesset. When American-Jewish groups try and raise concerns over the occupation the Israeli government condemns them and labels them as anti-israel. If Israeli MK’s who address the concerns of the occupation and Israel as a democratic country are in the minority. Don’t you think that a movement that stands for social justice should speak out about the injustices palestinians face under Israeli occupation? Former IDF Soldiers are starting to create dialogue themselves…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8emYbxzcWEo&feature=player_embedded

      Reply to Comment
    32. Miki

      Hello Sinjim 🙂 just on the issue of whether Daphni Leef and J14 have nothing to say about the occupation, I very much agree with what you have said on the issue.
      *
      While Leef and other leaders of the J14 movement have sought to claim that the movement is apolitical, earlier this year Leef accepted an invitation to speak at a range of campus hasbara events in the UK organised by the UK National Union of Jewish Students. These hasbara meetings were specifically scheduled to counter pro-Palestine activism, including BDS and anti-wall and anti-occupation campaigning during Israel Apartheid Week.
      *
      Leef was not an unwitting dupe who participated in these meetings unware of their political agenda. She was in fact fully aware that the meetings she was speaking at were specifically aimed at countering pro-Palestine activism as she posted a comment on her Facebook page noting that she would be speaking at events which were specifically aimed at countering “another group” [ie. Pro Palestine solidarity activists] who “hated Israel” and who were supposedly seeking to “delegitimize Israel”.
      *
      As we all know, “deligitimization” is simply hasbara speak and refers to anyone engaging in campaigning for Palestinian human rights, including campaiging against Israel’s occupation.
      *
      So to pretend that Leef and other leaders of J14 are “apolitical” and haven’t taken a position on Israel’s occupation is just a fantasy.

      Reply to Comment
    33. A coalition can be a straightjacket, it seems.
      .
      I suggest the way to tie the occupation to what may be a J14 is focus on the costs of economic change now; if you actually get to numbers politically, not rhetorically, then you can point out the occupation outlays. Even then, at best, you will get small reductions. As US Chief Justice Roberts played just last week, sometimes the best way to win is to lose. You have a lot of losing ahead.
      .
      I see no hope of getting the US to seriously push Israel unless Israel blunders into a massive, dense in time and space, atrocity. Given that Caste Lead didn’t reach that bar–well. I don’t think the US is going to save you. But that is actually tangental here.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Rebecca

      Comment deleted

      Reply to Comment
    35. Richard Witty

      Its an irony, but I think the occupation is less likely to end by direct confrontation than through efforts like the J14.

      In quite a few respects.

      1. The J14 movement is the forum for the second BDS demand, that of equal rights for Paletinians within Israel. This is the assertion that ALL citizens of Israel deserve social justice and improvements in their well-being.

      2. With common cause in a color-blind manner, integration occurs, sympathy occurs, discussion occurs.

      3. If the likud/Israel Beitanhu platforms are dual: aggressive/defensive pro-Zionist AND unencumbered free market, on the free market questions if there is a strong J14 movement, they will lose relative power.

      A kadima or labor led government would be much more likely to reconcile and treaty with a unified Palestinian Authority.

      4. It will divert Israeli’s attention from the theme of “they” are against us.

      All of this reasoning is based on the observation that direct confrontation just reinforces division and opposition much much more than it changes it (especially following the second intifada, and expressed in old, repetitive and hateful and hated themes).

      Reply to Comment
    36. Dennis

      As a steady participant in Occupy Boston, I want to add my voice to those who have already explained Occupy’s strong focus on anti-war and other issues. Occupy Boston has has always taken a broad view, issuing statements, planning actions, and participating in the actions of others. For example, OB has had a strong presence at a Veterans for Peace parade some of its members helped organize in March, a MayDay march for immigrant rights, and several anti-racist and anti-police brutality actions.

      So although Occupy’s central message is economic inequality and the failures of a political system that imposes elite rule on ordinary people, there’s always been a clear emphasis on how all these various economic issues are interrelated with colonialism, war, racism, and more. This may or may not be good politics, but it remains the case that the primary thrust within Occupy Boston has been to expand its concerns rather than contract them.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Sinjim

      Ami, how many Palestinians in Nazareth took part in the Movement. In Umm el Fahem? In Haifa? In Akka? In Ramleh-Lydda? The notion that Palestinians were involved in anything close to the same proportions as Jews is nonsense. What does great injustice to Palestinians in Israel is pretending that their problems are can be sequestered into the field of the economic, ignoring that racism is a bigger drive of their economic problems than corporate capitalism. By doing so, those buying into such a notion are imposing a Jewish-centric frame onto Palestinian issues and are actually leaving more of them out than bringing them in.
      .
      And Ami just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I think everyone should go about doing what they’ve been doing. There are more than two ways to skin the occupation cat.

      Reply to Comment
    38. @sinjim – and just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I have the right to call your strategy stupid. Oh, sorry. I didn’t. You did.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Ami, I think if you go back at the start of the OWS you will see people from the begining saying get the hell out of Iraq/Afghanistan etc – and the economic argument only comes after saying we should not be an empire.

      I understand the point you are making about the problem of ‘economic arguments’ vs the more proper ‘moral argument’ and it is an important one that I agree with you about. But I am just being nit-picking in saying that OWS is not an example you can use to prove your point.

      So, recap!, I agree with you, just not on this one detail! 😛

      Reply to Comment
    40. @redjade – fair enough 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    41. Ted

      Hi Ami,

      These exchanges have made it pretty clear that you are not good at dealing with well-founded, constructive criticism, at least in the immediate term. It’s a bit hard to admit errors, especially in a public forum. Quite human. So you’re not alone. I hope that with time and some distance you’ll be better able to see this one, and maybe also learn something for the future.

      Good luck,

      Ted

      Reply to Comment
    42. @Ted – Funny, I feel the same way about you. Same to you, Ami.

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    43. Kolumn9

      I love it how anyone on the left that makes a pragmatic argument will get attacked as a traitor to the cause. Ami’s argument is correct and similar points have been proposed by the Labor party leadership. The left in Israel is a tiny minority because it has practically abandoned its economic argument which appeals to a large population for an obsession with the Palestinians who are largely seen as a security nuissance. Hence Ami is actually right on the point that has aroused the ideological lions. The best shot the left has of ending the occupation is to not focus on it and to instead focus on winning elections. Once the left is in power it can do whatever it thinks best, but it isn’t getting there by screaming slogans that the vast majority finds either repulsive, outdated or just impractical.

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    44. AYLA

      K9–with friends like you… read Ami’s lips: he did *not* say, and I’m quoting you here, that “…the best shot the left has of ending the occupation is to not focus on it (and to instead focus on winning elections).” He is speaking solely of separation of J14 and Occupation, not separation of the Left and fighting the occupation, loudly. @Ami–of all your arguments on this subject, however differently-focussed each piece, I think this is your strongest. @Sinjim’s voice is important here, too. And, frankly, Beinart’s. Simultaneous truths… But this is the first time you’ve opened my mind on this subject. It’s hard to sway any reader on any of these threads, so, mabrouk.

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    45. @ayla – I agree with every aspect of your comment, because some people tended to put words in my mouth. you prefer to clear it up, and i thank you for that

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    46. Miki

      Ami – where did I say that OWS was simply an “anti-war movement”? I didn’t.
      *
      What I pointed out and what numerous other contributors have pointed out is that while yes, OWS did have a central economic focus, it was NOT the only focus and that the OWS movement actively engaged with broader social issues including anti-war issues, anti-colonialism, anti-racism, women’s rights and much more. And that this is clearly at odds with what you are proposing in relation to tactics and strategy for the J14 movement.
      *
      Clearly you would prefer to simply keeping digging a bigger hole for yourself than admit you made a mistake and that you got it wrong.
      *
      And that is of course your prejogative, but all it does is make you look increasingly silly. More importantly, your inability to admit you made a mistake, brings into question even more your political analysis in relation to J14 and simply makes your arguments look less and less credible.

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    47. @miki – ah, so yes, suddenly OWS does have a central economic focus. exactly what my point was. thank you for finally understanding, even though you all had to make fools of yourself in the process. (see, when anonymous talkbackers use “silly” and “stupid”, you have to be ready for one or two bloggers to bite back. Like this one does almost every post It has nothing to with admitting mistakes, Miki. If I had a buck for every mistake I’ve made, I’d be a rich man today).
      .
      And what’s more pathetic is that you have nothing, not a word, to say about the more important argument, the second one. But fine with me, argue all day, if you wish, about OWS being anti war or not (because i’m done with it, you’re wasting my time). You’re being wrong, and stupid, as the slogan didn’t go.

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    48. Kolumn9

      Ayla, read the article again. He precisely did say that the power of J14 is to change the left-right political paradigm away from one currently based around ‘the conflict’, and he did so specifically in the context of elections. The basic message is, keep yelling at each other all you want, but when normal people are listening and participating talk about things they actually care about, which is the high prices of everything, not the Palestinians. Or keep losing elections and keep wasting your lungs on the same tiny group of people that see the world in the same way you do.
      .

      As to the entire ridiculous discussion about the Occupy movement and what it stands for. It stood for nothing and that is why it fell. It was a giant Rorscharch test where everyone saw what they wanted to see. You could go to Zuccotti park and see slogans for libertarians, communists, environmentalists, socialists and anarchists all represented, surrounded by various flavors of hippies and yuppies and the homeless. The very idea that these people had any shared platform is absurd. Not to mention the obvious fact that Occupy has accomplished exactly nothing of note and is not worth emulating just on that basis.

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    49. ish yehudi

      would just like to point out regarding two perspectives in the comments between Ami and Sinjim over whether the occupation is a security or human rights issue..
      when you bring up the occupation to israelis (who are open to talking about it as such) the first reaction is “what about security?” I too would love to remove checkpoints, soldiers the random checks and more from the lives of our brothers- but I do fear on the heels of a pretty succesful terror campaign and the on-going attempts on Jewish lives that there are those who will come through… so from the Israeli perspective- security is a BiG issue, clearly big enough to often trump our hearts, consciousness and souls sense of depriving human dignity to millions. But until we feel the security thing is being addressed- in both short term (PA security) and long term (Jewish narrative being included in curriculum) we don’t have a lot to tell our fears…

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    50. Abe Bird

      WILLIAM BURNS, 972mag is a complete failure too. There work hard to miss reality.

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