Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Israel: the most effective proponent of anti-Semitism in the world

I can’t help thinking: what will Israel do next? They’ve annihilated Gaza, and continue to murder civilians at will, while holding the people of Gaza hostage and refusing to allow aid inside. They attacked an unarmed aid convoy of over 600 peace activists, including members of the European Parliament (and one Israeli member of Parliament), former ambassadors, and media workers from all over the world -- in international waters. They still have not released the names of the people they killed in this attack. They’ve escalated their policy of brutalizing peaceful Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators, to deliberately target members of the International Solidarity Movement, most recently a US student who lost an eye after she was deliberately shot in the face with a teargas canister while standing alongside a protest of only 20 people -- from less than 50 feet away. Really -- what will the Israeli government decide to do next?

Norman Finkelstein talks about the Israeli government as a lunatic government, and that, of course, opens up the question of whether they will try to nuke Iran. With US approval, of course. As all permanent members of the UN Security Council (except the US ) call for the end of the Gaza blockade, and an independent investigation of Israel’s murderous rampage, the US still thinks an impartial Israeli investigation would be a great idea. Of course, it’s not that an independent investigation will do much anyway (remember the Goldstone Report?), unless somehow the US is made to force Israel to change course. And how will that happen? Just a few weeks ago, the U.S. Congress voted 410 to 4 to approve $205 million more military aid for Israel. That’s right -- 410 to 4.

I wonder about the strategy of protesting outside the Israeli consulate or embassy. It works because it’s universal, people know that’s where to go whenever Israel decides to murder, imprison, or torture more innocent civilians. But why not US consulates and embassies? Or, in the US, any of those 410 Representatives. Because Israeli policy will not change one bit until US policy changes.

But what will get US policy to change? Really -- what will work? It seems that the US is so much a part of funding Israeli criminality that Israel could hold the whole Obama family hostage and say they were part of al-Qaeda, and then the US government would release a statement saying, “We call for an impartial Israeli investigation.” At least in Israel, the papers try to report on the news. Here we only get reports that Israel boarded the ship with paintball guns -- that’s right, paintball guns. You know -- like the ones that animal rights activists use to protect seals from slaughter. Or, that people use to alter billboards. That’s all the Israeli military was doing in their commando raid, planned a week ahead of time -- it was self-defense, right? Because, when you hijack a ship in international waters, you are the ones acting in self-defense. When some of the people on board try to protect themselves with lawn chairs, protect themselves from Israeli military personnel armed with machine guns (a few with paint guns attached), pepper spray, stun grenades, pistols and tazers -- that means that when these military personnel start murdering people, it was all in self-defense. Or maybe it was just paintball, like the US media likes to report.

I’m wondering also about the strategy of boycott, divestment, and sanctions, modeled after the movement against South African apartheid. Of course I support it as a start, but look at South Africa now -- sure, Apartheid is officially over, but economic inequality has increased. Violence against impoverished civilians now comes at the hands of a black-run State, but who does this help? Or, as Frank Wilderson says in his brilliant book Incognegro: a Memoir of Exile & Apartheid, the new South Africa is “a White state with a Black face.” What does that mean for the narrative of incremental change? What are the other options?

Of course, Israel is a long long way from anything even approaching incremental change in the right direction -- for now, it’s a prison camp for most Palestinians. While a “two-state solution” is the most popular call in the US, this would just take down the walls in the prison camp. A one-state solution, such as argued by Ali Abunimah in One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict-- one state where everyone holds the same rights -- makes more sense as a long-term solution. But really, I question the idea that the Zionist Israeli power structure could ever work within a non-Zionist (antiracist) government. And I have no idea how to get rid of the stranglehold of Zionist ideology from the Israeli (or US) public.

The Israeli state is becoming the most effective proponent of anti-Semitism in the world. All over the world, people equate Jewishness with the violence of a genocidal government. I even hear it among radical, politicized activists. The history of individual, institutional, and structural anti-Semitism goes back several thousand years, but it’s as if Israel is intent on upping the ante -- forget that stereotype about Jews as the ones who control the banks, those cheapskates ready to cheat you out of your hard-earned pennies -- now they’re ready to gun you down for “religious freedom,” “tolerance,” and “safety.” It’s not dramatically different from other extremist uses of religious fervor, but, with the spectre of the Nazi Holocaust as the backdrop, and the Zionist lobby in control of Congress and corporate media, few people in the US will call for the end of the state of Israel. Perhaps that’s the beginning we should be looking for.


Dane said...

<3 <3 <3

I also wrote a blog post. I may have to take mine down soon, though, since it kind of talks shit about my job.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Thank you, Dane!

And I'll see if I can check out your blog post before the job takes it down :)

Love --

Anonymous said...

Okay, I haven't read this post (for reasons I will detail further in this comment), but I'd like to take you up on your title.

You're basically blaming oppressed groups for their oppression (if you were referring to the Israeli government, you should specify that, as referring to simply 'Israel' implies Israel is a monolith), and I'm sure you know that that's a shitty thing to do.

All Jews are not responsible for the actions of the Israeli government; all Jews do not necessarily agree with the decisions of the Israeli government, and the Israeli government certainly does not represent all Jews, and it's actions are never, ever an excuse for discrimination or prejudice against Jews or, indeed, anybody but the Israeli government.