Why Israel is not (for Marxists) an “apartheid” state: and why BDS is a program of despair

August 8, 2014 at 8:20 am (internationalism, israel, Middle East, national liberation, palestine, posted by JD, reblogged, solidarity, zionism)

By Barry Finger in New Politics July 29, 2014

[NB: Shiraz doesn’t necessarily agree with all of this: but we think it’s important and should be widely read]

Supporting the Struggle Against Apartheid Then and Now

The discussion of a socialist strategy towards Palestine never recedes from global pertinence and urgency. The basic terms of the Palestinian tragedy established in 1948 remain a festering wound—unaddressed, malignant and oozing in blood and rot. With it the Israeli garrison state continues to descend, and rightfully so, into isolation and disrepute in the court of civilized opinion. But under the protective and ever indulgent umbrella of American imperialism, Israel nevertheless continues to defy international outrage without consequence in its relentless march to impose a grotesque and monstrous caricature of a one-state solution on the whole of Palestine.

The Palestinian plight has its origins in the 1948 partition and ensuing war, although this was a direct continuation of the Zionist-Arab conflict that had been brewing for decades. In that conflict, both sides practiced ethnic cleansing, with no Jews remaining in areas conquered by the Arabs and few Palestinian remaining in areas conquered by Israelis. But the UN partition plan called for the Israeli state to constitute 55 percent of Palestine, in which the Arab population would represent almost half of the population.  In the run up to and during the war, the victorious Israeli state expanded its territories to 78 percent, and mostly emptied those regions of their Arab inhabitants. Three quarters of a million Palestinians, some from the original 55 percent allotted to the Jewish state, were driven out; over 450 Arab villages were uprooted and their dwellings leveled. New Jewish villages, kibbutzim or immigration camps were built on or near the former sites of these Arab villages. Urban dwellings were reoccupied by Jews, often holocaust survivors. Jewish refugees from Arab nations, subsequently cleansed in retaliation for the Palestinian catastrophe (Nakhba), were sent to jerry-rigged development towns.

Gaza and the West Bank, the sites of huge concentrations of Palestinian refugees, fell—with Israel’s approval—into the hands of Egypt and Trans-Jordan (now Jordan) respectively; the possibility of a Palestinian state all but extinguished. This all changed when, after the Six Day war in 1967, these territories were brought under the control of the Israelis, uniting all of historic Palestine and reviving the Palestinian national movement. The colonial project at the heart of Zionism, of settlement and expulsion, was also reignited and several hundred thousand additional Palestinians were again expelled to Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The remnants were left to the mercy of an ever more brutalizing occupation. The armistice boundaries of the 1948 war (the green line) were effectively effaced and Israel emerged as a nation unique in its refusal to define its borders—symptomatic of an Israel further seeking to consolidate its character as an ethnic Jewish state, but on a vastly broader canvas.

Today the struggle for justice for Palestinians continues. Where are Palestine’s allies? What power can it leverage? International solidarity has yet to save lives, to redeem territories, to compensate and repatriate refugees, or to establish the right of Palestinians to national self-determination in defiance of Israeli intransigence. An internationalist Israeli left, never more than a tiny minority and unable to implant itself in the Hebrew working class, is besieged not only by state repression, but also by a now burgeoning fascist street presence. The protracted Arab Spring, momentarily checked by United States and Iranian intervention, has yet to mature as an agency that can brake and reverse the momentum of Israeli settlement and dispossession.

Conversely, Israel, as currently constituted, is functionally incapable of integrating itself into the Middle East. It cannot and will not accept peace proposals—whether by the Arab League, the Palestinian Authority, or Hamas—that require it to halt its colonization process in return for diplomatic recognition and a regional accord.  These have been repeatedly offered to it by its neighbors and blithely ignored or scornfully dismissed. And although Israel is periodically called upon to mollify successive American administrations by going through the motions of negotiations with Abu Mazen, it formulistically does so while seizing every opportunity to further strangle the occupied territories. The Janus face of international civic responsibility is inseparably paired with the grim visage of sabotage and betrayal. The hapless Palestinians too are ritualistically called upon time and again to participate in this farce, hoping against experience that the outcome might yet, just this one time, improve.  But the outcome is always the same. The Palestinians earnestly talk compromise while “facts” on the ground continue to be implanted. They can then either stay and loose street credibility or leave and feed Israel’s habitual public relations theme that it has is no partner with which to negotiate peace. The obdurate reality is that the cruel hoax of negotiations expresses itself in an endless succession of groundhog days for Palestinians, exceptional only in that they lose traction with each successive iteration.

It is clear, if only in retrospect, that Israel would only have made peace with its neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, insofar as the framework for those agreements provided a protective bubble behind which its colonization project could safely proceed. These treaties would never have been signed had an end to hostilities been contingent on a binding resolution to the Palestinian problem. What is also tragically clear is that no satisfaction to the just demands of the Palestinians is likely to come about through negotiations within the currently existing dynamic of power alignments.

Yet one key fact remains. American imperialism does not require Israeli expansionism. An on-going Zionist project does. But given that Washington requires Israel as an asset to further its policies, it can also reliably be counted on to “stand with Israel” and subsidize Zionist adventures. This is, however, not a blank check relationship and Israel’s outrageous behavior portends a poisonous turn in a partnership yielding diminished dividends. Still, as long as the American treasury underwrites the colonial project in the occupied territories, it defers the fissures that would disrupt Israeli social cohesion were Israel otherwise called upon to directly finance its own expansion. It is this dynamic that cements the symbiotic relationship between Israel and the United States assuring that a colonizing Israel remains a Jewish national, that is Zionist, state. Were these cracks not paved over from without, all the class and ethnic tensions that are currently suppressed would bubble to the surface. Israel would revert to capitalist normality. Its no-longer subsidized rulers would predictably seek to offload the enormous cost of occupation on to its already beleaguered working class. The top-down nationalist alliance between Israeli capitalism and its exploited multi-ethnic underclasses could be shattered. The social isolation of Palestinian-Israelis might finally be breeched in the struggle for working class power.

The liquidation of the colonization project implicitly places the battle for a genuinely anti-imperialist two-state solution at its center. The dissociation of Israel from American imperialism is likewise the precondition for a truly Israeli state—ultimately a binational citizen state of Jews and Arabs—carrying out Israeli policies in Israel’s, rather than America’s, national interests. And those national interests would first and foremost find expression in the relaxation of tensions between Jews and Palestinians; a joint struggle for a just resolution to the broader Palestinian refugee problem in its entirety, including recognition of the right to repatriation/compensation; full national rights for Palestinian citizens, including the right to secession; and, in return, a full integration of Israel into the Middle East on an equal national footing.

For Israel, perhaps more than any other nation, war and the threat of war is indeed the health of the state. And its continuing project of colonization, dispossession, humiliation, lethal oppression, and ethnic cleansing assures itself that insurgency, both armed and peaceful, remains a constant menace. It also predisposes its citizenry—and international supporters, and blind well-wishers— to remain harnessed in perpetual mobilization against that resistance. Israel has its roots in colonial settlerism. As long as that project continues, Israel will reliably exist behind this iron wall—arrogant, messianic, and myopic; and its international supporters will be driven ever further to the right.

But Israel is not, the West Bank excepted, simply a cluster of colons. It is a fully elaborated capitalist society, whose class tensions are structurally contained through identifiable political and economic networks of domestic and international power. That is why those who make the analogy of Zionist settlerism with apartheid and draw upon strategies consistent with the South African anti-apartheid struggle are searching in the wrong direction. The conventional position of the anti-imperialist Arab and pro-Palestinian left, the socialist voices of the oppressed, has been that the Palestinians, like the Algerians, Zimbabweans, and South Africans have the right to statehood in all of Palestine; and to accede otherwise, that the Israeli oppressor has the right to a separate state, is an accommodation to settlerism as a living project and going concern. But it is not necessary to place the nationalism of the oppressed on the same level as the rights of the oppressor to recognize the existence of a distinct and class-differentiated Hebrew community with characteristics wholly commensurate with dozens of other national entities whose right to national self-determination has never been denied by socialists. Most of North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand, after all, have their roots in settler colonialism. Most also became “normal” capitalist states once the colonial-settler stage of development was brought to an end. And the conventional means by which this came to an end was through a one state solution in which the original inhabitants were marginalized, expelled or annihilated, precisely the paths that political intervention here and now is urgently called upon to short-circuit in Palestine.

Israel, no doubt, meets the legal definition of apartheid. That definition refers to ethnic, racial, or national exclusion with the purpose of “nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” This definition can be consistent with a denial of collective rights as a national entity, without the denial of individual rights. Think of the history of the French community in Quebec.  But it can also apply to discrimination against individuals by policies such as Jim Crow, absent national oppression (presuming of course that African Americans in the main never came to consciousness of themselves as a distinct nation.)  Think too of the pervasive gender apartheid in traditional societies. Palestinians within Israel and the occupied territories, citizens and subjects, suffer from both forms of apartheid, so understood. That is, they are denied both individual and national equality on either side of the green line.

But socialists also seek to understand settler apartheid in its operational specificity through the interplay of class and nation. When socialists refer to Israeli apartheid they are generally seeking a parallel between South Africa and Israel It is a parallel that suggests that there is no distinct Hebrew nation aside from a narrow cultural layer and that this community has no distinct right to self-determination, any more than did South African Whites of British or Dutch extraction. There are of course many parallels. In some pointed ways, Israel’s repressive policies in the occupied territories are far more horrific. But the decisive difference resides in this. The White population of South Africa (or the French in Algeria, the British in Rhodesia) never experienced full social and class differentiation. The exploiters were of European background; the working classes were Third World people of color.  The white community in South Africa lived off the labor of a black  nation-class harnessed to capitalism and subordinated to white supremacy through apartheid. This form of settlerism generally ended with decolonization and the repatriation of colons to the metropole. That it did not resolve precisely in South Africa, as it did in Algeria, the former Rhodesia, Vietnam, and countless other recent decolonization struggles is the exception, not the rule. Settlerism in the “new world” in contrast rarely passed through this apartheid stage in its relations with aboriginal peoples. European implantation there was in the main not discriminatory and exploitative, but genocidal.

Zionist colonialism did not transplant Jews to Palestine to exploit the native peoples, but to acquire in isolation and through marginalization and ethnic cleansing, a new society with its own national culture. Jewish colonization quite consciously fostered its own Hebrew working class. It resembles neither South Africa nor French-dominated Vietnam and Algeria. And were Israel to be militarily overwhelmed there would be no mother country to take the colonists back. They would be a captured nation, not a cultural residue of empire.

Another, more integral argument against Hebrew, as opposed to Zionist, self-determination and nationhood is that the Israelis do indeed constitute a nation, but a nation that exists and is maintained by the exclusion and denial of another nation’s right to exist. This, perhaps, is the thinking of many who are uneasy with the South African parallel, but who nevertheless seek a one-state solution as the only means of rectifying one historical injustice, without creating another. That is, it aims to address the Palestinian national problem and eliminate the conditions of apartheid on both sides of the 1967 borders, without reversing the situation of oppressed and oppressor. It promises an equality of citizens in combination with an equal collective right to cultural development and expression within a unitary state.

Certainly national self-determination is not per se a supreme ideal. It is a democratic right. Socialists approach the advocacy of this right instrumentally, guided by whether its exercise advances or obstructs the class struggle.  If the goal of working class unity can better be realized in a unitary state, socialists will advocate that the “right” to nationhood be subordinated to the needs of struggle. This might, for instance, be a consideration in a socialist orientation towards Scottish independence. Socialists cannot commit themselves to encourage each and every nation regardless of concrete circumstance the right to establish an independent state. We generally reserve such encouragement to where national oppression suppresses class struggle and binds the oppressed nation’s working class with its capitalists in democratic opposition. Here, self-determination is welcome as a precondition for interclass fragmentation. It secures a more favorable context for socialist fight back.

Neither, reciprocally, can socialists advocate in principle and at all times our preference for multi-national states over nation-states. Where such possibilities loom, the only general principle that must be upheld is that the surrender of the right to independent national existence be fully voluntary and not the result of coercion.  For any joint framework based on compulsion reintroduces the very mechanism of national oppression that re-validates the call for self-determination as a democratic right and socialist imperative, even when led by reactionary alliances.

We as socialists are, in all circumstances, driven by the desire to accommodate national rights only to the degree necessary to dissipate the poisons of nationalism and raise to prominence the struggle between classes.

And here is the rub. While one-state advocates sincerely envision a non-coercive and peaceful multi-national framework, they cannot specify a present path by which both Palestinians and Israelis could agree to this outcome through free will and choice. Under the best of conditions unity must be preceded by an enormous amount of mutual cooperation and confidence building. And of these, there is simply precious little history in Palestine. There is no other path than that of a genuine two state experience from which such measures can be forged. A forced fusion of nations at Israel’s expense, unlikely in any event, would only throw the Israeli working class deeper into an alliance with reaction and perpetuate the conflict on a different, albeit non-Zionist, footing.

Why do these distinctions matter? The immediate task is to mobilize worldwide support in defense of the Palestinians and to prevent the Zionist colonization project from proceeding to further rounds of mass murder and ethnic cleansing. But the long-term strategy is to drive a wedge between the Zionist ruling class and the Hebrew working class, to break the iron wall of chauvinist solidarity thereby unleashing conditions favorable to the creation of a mass, bi-national, Israeli left. The immediate task and the long-term strategy are in fact intimately linked and must condition the tactics that socialist act upon to bring about these ends.

The solidarity movement correctly understands that an imperialist brokered two-state solution is likely to be a sham solution, based on Bantustan autonomy and military domination, i.e., one giving “due consideration” to Israeli security. It has understandably focused its energies not on encouraging illusions, but in isolating Israel in the court of public opinion through the tactics of boycott, divestment, and sanctions, BDS. BDS is an eminently democratic call employed to some success, not only in the struggle against South African apartheid, but also, one might add, by the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry.  How telling that these past supporters and modern day co-thinkers and camp followers of the Student Struggle can reliably be counted upon to raise fierce objections, including the demand for repression and intimidation against BDS, now that the object of their affections is being duly targeted.

BDS demands an end to the occupation and colonization of Arab lands and the dismantling of the separation barrier, granting full civil rights and equality to the Arab minority in Israel and respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinians to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. What BDS seeks is not inconsistent with a two state solution, although it is officially agnostic on the question. Still, the majority of Palestinian membership organizations and individuals who support BDS also stand on record in accord with a two-state solution.

But are BDS tactics against Israel actually commensurate with advancing the socialist cause? Isolating apartheid South African was a means of demonstrating to South African capital that the cost of doing business would require an overhaul in its structure of exploitation. It created a more propitious context for class struggle. Isolating Israeli capital would only have the desired results if apartheid served the same functional expedient. But this is where the distinctions between South African and Israeli apartheid crucially breaks down. Israeli capital does not rest on Palestinian exploitation, but on Palestinian exclusion. Zionist apartheid, as we have shown, is not a political superstructure of exploitation, but the modus of colonization. Israeli capitalism benefits economically from the occupation regime to the extent that it retains a captured market in the impoverished territories and makes use of state force to hijack land and water rights. It also, more importantly, benefits politically insofar as Zionism unifies classes in subordination to “nation building,” that is, to colonization and its perpetual need to defend that project. But Zionism and Israeli capitalism are separable social concerns. The harmonization of class conflict can persist only as long as the occupation regime is underwritten and subsidized from abroad. The relatively dovish character of the Israeli bourgeoisie is likewise attributable to a basic recognition that the Middle East as a whole constitutes its natural customers and Arab businesses its natural partners. The point is this: Israeli capitalism is not the principle obstacle to Palestinian national rights.

An effective embargo of Israeli capitalism, such as envisioned by BDS though by no means imminent, would ramify against the working class of Israel through mass layoffs. Sinking the Israeli economy would be experienced as a form of national oppression and would easily be exploited as a rallying cry for Zionist reaction to mobilize all classes around itself. The hundreds of thousands of guest workers who replaced Palestinians following the Oslo accords would be expelled, further thinning the Israeli working class and depleting its potential power. Class conflict would further self-suppress into the interstices of Israeli public life. It would be open season, as if it’s not already, on Palestinian and leftist scapegoating. Social and economic dependency on an imperialist lifeline would predictably strengthen, providing an even more eager and viral bulwark against the Arab democratic upsurge.

This is not a program for struggle. It is a program of despair that writes off the Israeli worker as a partner in the struggle against capitalist oppression and imperial domination. What needs to be confronted, isolated, and sanctioned instead, are the official agencies and representatives of Zionist domination and repression. What needs to be boycotted as illegitimate are goods and services produced in the occupied territories. What needs to be divested from are international businesses that partner with an Israeli state that continues to discriminate in the dispersal of public goods and resources and to oppress its occupied subjects.

Every means must be employed to shatter, not reinforce, the Zionist consensus.

Central to that end, however, is a unified demand to halt all state aid to Israel and a military embargo. They should be combined with the call for aid to be redirected to the Palestinians in the form of humanitarian relief and infrastructural support. Let Gaza and the West Bank rebuild their housing, their schools, their sewage and water treatment plants, and their hospitals. Let it create air and seaports for the export and import of its goods and services. Let it build an economy capable of lifting its citizenry out of poverty. Private aid and assistance to Israel should also not be exempt. We should demand that it be heavily taxed with those tax proceeds earmarked for Palestinian development. Let the Palestinians create the prerequisites of a functioning state.

Israel, after all, claims an inviolable right to defend itself against the consequences of its occupation. Let Israel, alone, pay for it.

17 Comments

  1. Jason Schulman (@PartyOfANewType) said,

    Except that Barry Finger says “Israel, no doubt, meets the legal definition of apartheid.” So your post’s title is dishonest.

    • Jim Denham said,

      No it’s not: please note the words in brackets: “(for Marxists)”.

      • Jason Schulman (@PartyOfANewType) said,

        So Barry Finger isn’t a Marxist? I’ll have to tell him this at the next New Politics board meeting…he’ll laugh, I’m sure…

      • Jim Denham said,

        Don’t be silly: Barry’s article contains this:

        “Zionist colonialism did not transplant Jews to Palestine to exploit the native peoples, but to acquire in isolation and through marginalization and ethnic cleansing, a new society with its own national culture. Jewish colonization quite consciously fostered its own Hebrew working class. It resembles neither South Africa nor French-dominated Vietnam and Algeria. And were Israel to be militarily overwhelmed there would be no mother country to take the colonists back. They would be a captured nation, not a cultural residue of empire.”

      • Is Zionism Marxism/Socialism? said,

        I will try to read this when I have time, but I was just wondering what you think of this ‘antisemite’ supporter, seemingly, of a ‘1 state solution’ (?)

      • charliethechulo said,

        ” but I was just wondering what you think of this ‘antisemite’ supporter, seemingly, of a ‘1 state solution’ (?)”

        I presume that’s a reference to Barry F, who writes (in the main post, above):

        “And here is the rub. While one-state advocates sincerely envision a non-coercive and peaceful multi-national framework, they cannot specify a present path by which both Palestinians and Israelis could agree to this outcome through free will and choice. Under the best of conditions unity must be preceded by an enormous amount of mutual cooperation and confidence building. And of these, there is simply precious little history in Palestine. There is no other path than that of a genuine two state experience from which such measures can be forged. A forced fusion of nations at Israel’s expense, unlikely in any event, would only throw the Israeli working class deeper into an alliance with reaction and perpetuate the conflict on a different, albeit non-Zionist, footing.”

  2. Roy said,

    Wow, up until now I thought that the only anti BDS group I would never align with was the extrimist right. Now I found another kind of anti BDS that is byeond the pale.

    Whoever you are, are you even reading what you write? Or is it coming out of you by instinct of radical left cliche? I mean, this drivel looks like it was wrriten by a far left automaton. Even your understanding of the reasons why South Africa apartheid fell are infentile.

    Sorry Shiraz, it is a mistake to think that all is fair in love and war. Just as I will never align myself with right wing nuts to support Israel for this or that issue, I would never cooperat with this kind of ideologue. This article should be on The onion.

  3. Roy said,

    And by the way, not only is the title dishonest because the writer do think that Israel is an apartheid state, but, given the second to last paragraph, I’m finding it hard to distinguish how the boycot and divestment encourged by this writer would be any different, on effect, than the BDS??? You wouldnt boycot Moshe the grocer from ra’anana? Big deal! You will boycot most of everything else…

    Shiraz, the headline is an affront to intelegence. At least change it that this writer is basically just wants to make small tweaks to BDS. He is not against it

    • Ben said,

      This is not the first time that Shiraz insults the intelligence of its readers by publishing anti-Israeli drivel.

      Western “socialists” mostly live their lives and die without achieving anything at all that can be described as having advanced the cause of socialism. Many of them compound this by expending effort and energy on defaming and denigrating Zionism. Yet Zionism is one of the few political movements whose founders actually established a socialist community and society.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Ben: as we’ve pointed out before, the article is republished from elsewhere and does not necessarily reflect Shiraz’s views in all respects. Indeed, the preamble makes this clear. For what it’s worth, my own personal views on the issue are better expressed in the following piece from the AWL’s paper Solidarity (present edition):

        *************************************************************************

        How to make solidarfity

        Calls for boycotts of various aspects of Israeli society —
        whether academic, cultural, sporting, economic or simply
        thoroughgoing boycotts “of Israel” — have gained a
        lot of prominence in the last few years. Many UK trade
        unions have adopted some form of pro-boycott position.
        The call for “boycott” appeals because it implies we can
        each do something practical, now, to help the Palestinians.
        Workers’ Liberty also believes in practical solidarity with
        the Palestinians. This is a basic starting point. But we believe
        that the proposal to boycott Israel is counter-productive and
        will hinder efforts to build an effective movement of solidarity
        with the Palestinians.
        Academic boycotts of Israel, for example, cut us off from
        the many Israeli intellectuals who oppose their own government.
        An effective boycott of Israeli goods would mean Israeli
        workers would lose jobs and pro-Palestinian activists
        would get the blame, strengthening the Israeli right.
        Of course much of the left does not care what Israeli workers
        and peace activists think, or do, or how strong and effective
        their movements are. They want to see Israel destroyed.
        Since the Israeli Jews will not voluntarily accept the abolition
        of their state — why would they, they are surrounded by
        enemies? — the destruction of Israel would be carried out by
        force. This is wrong in principle and certainly is no policy for
        peace and democracy in the region. It is a policy for a new
        massacre of the Jews.
        We oppose the right-wing Israeli government, but with the
        intention of seeing it replaced by a government which helps
        to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. To achieve that
        change requires doing what we can to strengthen the Israel
        left.
        So, for the British unions to boycott left activists or the Israeli
        unions is ridiculous. We need to help initiatives such as
        Gush Shalom (the Peace Bloc), not abandon them. We should
        strengthen our links, not break them.
        Much of the impetus for a proposed boycott of Israel is the
        anti-apartheid boycott of South Africa. In fact the boycott of
        South Africa lasted for 30 years, from the 1960s and had very
        little practical effect. The force that overthrew apartheid was
        the mass movement inside the country, and, centrally, the
        birth of new, militant independent non-racial trade unions.
        But the Israel-Palestinian conflict is not the same as the
        fight against South African apartheid. The Israeli Jews are
        not a exploiting caste, as the whites were in South Africa. Israel
        is a normal capitalist society, with its own capitalist class,
        which exploits a largely Jewish working class. The task in
        South Africa was to break the power of the racist white caste.
        The task in Israel-Palestine is to allow the formation of a fully
        independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
        And finally, some words of warning. The main calls for
        “boycott” come from groups who want to see Israel destroyed.
        These groups treat Israel as a specially, uniquely, reactionary
        force. Many states in the world, unfortunately,
        have a record of oppression — but in the minds of many on
        the British left it is only the Israeli state that has forfeited the
        right to exist.
        There is a strongly anti-Jewish undercurrent here, often
        dressed up as “anti-Zionism”, which could easily morph into
        something more explicitly unpleasant.
        Already on marches in the UK protesters have been seen
        with placards with the Star of David on the Israeli flag replaced
        with a swastika. One banner even read “Hitler was
        right”.
        The idea of blanket bans on everything Israeli feeds the
        idea that Israel itself, by its nature is an illegitimate, outlaw
        state. The policies of the current Israeli government
        are the problem, not the state itself. We should resist the
        idea that Israel is a pariah state while we make practical
        solidarity with the Palestinians and aid the Israeli left.
        How to make solidarity

  4. Jason Schulman (@PartyOfANewType) said,

    So what do you make of groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, Jim, when they make statements of this sort? http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/content/jvp-issues#1

    • Jim Denham said,

      I respect their stance, but don’t agree. Also, I think their essential position – ie:

      “JVP focuses our efforts on boycott and divestment campaigns that directly target Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. We believe this to be the most effective way for JVP to help bring about the aims we share with the Palestinian BDS call” …

      …may make some sense and be practically possible within Israel, but in the UK would be impossible to implement, and would inevitably become a “boycott Israel” campaign, and therefore essentially reactionary.

  5. Jason Schulman (@PartyOfANewType) said,

    Only within Israel? Not within the U.S.?

  6. Jason Schulman (@PartyOfANewType) said,

    Why not? What’s so reactionary about targeting companies that obviously benefit from the occupation? Do you oppose a campaign to end U.S. military aid to Israel, too?

  7. Jason Schulman (@PartyOfANewType) said,

    And there’s nothing at all silly about what I said regarding the word “apartheid.” So it’s not exactly like South African apartheid — so what? Barry himself says that it certain respects it’s worse. If the word bothers you so much, feel free to find a replacement.

    • Jim Denham said,

      The reason why for Marxists the distinction between Israel and apartheid SA is important is because of the crucial role of the Israeli working class – in SA the white working class was a labour aristocracy of minimal importance.

      I made this point in an exchange of letters in the (UK Stalinist paper) ‘Morning Star’:

      https://shirazsocialist.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/israeli-apartheid-an-exchange-in-the-morning-star/

      Btw: Hadley Freeman, a liberal US Jew had a rather good piece in the Guardian concerning the “boycott Israel” campaign:
      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/08/dont-tell-me-what-think-about-israel

      Freeman notes the following:
      “…a theatre company from Jerusalem was forced not to perform in Edinburgh after protests, and a show featuring dancers from Ben Gurion University is also being targeted. Meanwhile, the London Palestine Action group protests outside factories in this country that allegedly manufacture weapons for drones for Israel. At least that protest is logical, unlike those who congratulate themselves for shutting down Jewish cultural events. Things have come to a pretty pass when a liberal American Jew finds clearer thinking among a Palestinian liberation group than those who run theatres a few miles from her home.”

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