Monday, January 12, 2009

Simply Silly

Can you be anti-Zionist (in the expansive sense of wanting to eliminate the Jewish state in Israel) and not be anti-Semitic? Depends on your definition of the latter, but for the most part I say "sure, if you're willing to oppose all other existing nation-states and equally call for their dissolution". Take a comment left at Orthodox Anarchist, laying out the Anarchist Federation's (UK) position on the conflict:
No state solution in Gaza

One thing is absolutely clear about the current situation in Gaza: the Israeli state is committing atrocities which must end immediately. With hundreds dead and thousands wounded, it has become increasingly clear that the aim of the military operation, which has been in the planning stages since the signing of the original ceasefire in June, is to break Hamas completely. The attack follows the crippling blockade throughout the supposed ‘ceasefire’, which has destroyed the livelihoods of Gazans, ruined the civilian infrastructure and created a humanitarian disaster which anyone with an ounce of humanity would seek an end to.

But that’s not all there is to say about the situation. On both sides of the conflict, the idea that opposing Israel has to mean supporting Hamas and its ‘resistance’ movement is worryingly common. We totally reject this argument. Just like any other set of rulers, Hamas, like all the other major Palestinian factions, are happy and willing to sacrifice ordinary Palestinians to increase their power. This isn’t some vague theoretical point – for a period recently most deaths in Gaza were a result of fighting between Hamas and Fatah. The ‘choices’ offered to ordinary Palestinian people are between Islamist gangsters (Hamas, Islamic Jihad) or nationalist gangsters (Fatah, Al-Aqsa Martyrs brigades). These groups have shown their willingness to attack working class attempts to improve their living conditions, seizing union offices, kidnapping prominent trade unionists, and breaking strikes. One spectacular example is the attack on Palestine Workers Radio by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, for “stoking internal conflicts”. Clearly, a “free Palestine” under the control of any of these groups would be nothing of the sort.

As anarchists, we are internationalists, opposing the idea that the rulers and ruled within a nation have any interests in common. Therefore, anarchists reject Palestinian nationalism just as we reject Israeli nationalism (Zionism). Ethnicity does not grant “rights” to lands, which require the state to enforce them. People, on the other hand, have a right to having their human needs met, and should be able to live where they choose, freely.

Therefore, against the divisions and false choices set up by nationalism, we fully support the ordinary inhabitants of Gaza and Israel against state warfare – not because of their nationality, ethnicity, or religion, but simply because they’re real living, feeling, thinking, suffering, struggling human beings. And this support has to mean total hostility to all those who would oppress and exploit them –the Israeli state and the Western governments and corporations that supply it with weapons, but also any other capitalist factions who seek to use ordinary working-class Palestinians as pawns in their power struggles. The only real solution is one which is collective, based on the fact that as a class, globally, we ultimately have nothing but our ability to work for others, and everything to gain in ending this system – capitalism – and the states and wars it needs .

That this seems like a “difficult” solution does not stop it from being the right one. Any “solution” that means endless cycles of conflict, which is what nationalism represents, is no solution at all. And if that is the case, the fact that it is “easier” is irrelevant. There are sectors of Palestinian society which are not dominated by the would-be rulers – protests organised by village committees in the West Bank for instance. These deserve our support. As do those in Israel who refuse to fight, and who resist the war. But not the groups who call on Palestinians to be slaughtered on their behalf by one of the most advanced armies in the world, and who wilfully attack civilians on the other side of the border.

Neither one stare nor two states, but no states.

Whoever dies, Hamas and the Israeli state win.

Now, I happen to think this is rather silly, but it's at least quite even-handed in its foolishness.

Of course, I could argue that -- insofar as I don't believe the putative "solution" which actually give either Jews or Palestinians (but for purposes of this post, Jews) what they need in order to secure their liberation -- it really doesn't matter that it is a "neutral" rule: it's a rule that perpetuates the subordinated status of Jews. And that's bad. But I'm in a good mood today, so I'll give the AF a cookie for at least going all-in on its proposal, rather than only asking Jews to eat the cost.

I still think they're kind of loopy though.


Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, on Lenin's tomb, Lenin shows that he actually has a sense of humor by posting a daily show clip that has Jon Stewart commenting on Gaza:

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates the clip as shown in the comments since it doesn't conform to the view that Israel itself is a monster that must be destroyed.
Ironic that the blog has posted this:
saying that 19% of Israels support the ground invasion and then this:

That said, I'm against Israel currently because they're starving and killing Palestine citizens just to get after Hamas.

Jack said...

I'm with you that a lot of anti-Zionism is antisemitism but one could conceive of a middle ground thats neither picks out Israel is particular, nor opposes all nation-states. For example, one might oppose nation-states that are based on an ethnic identification which possesses land contested by other ethnic groups. Such situations are uniquely dangerous because they combine the potential for conflict (in the land dispute) and tend to have nationalistic undercurrents that fuel the fire of conflict. This criterion would incorporate Israel but plenty of other countries as well- much of south eastern Europe, Central Asia, parts of Africa, etc. I don't hold this position, but it seems both less crazy than anarchism and not antisemitic. No?

PG said...

Agreed with Jack, and I'd append the difference between being anti-Zionist and wanting Israel not to exist as a nation-state in the future, and being anti-Zionist while resigning oneself to the status quo.

In 1948 but without later knowledge, I probably would have supported Israel's creation; in 1948 but with knowledge of the future, I might not have. The same is true of splitting India. In 2009, however, I have no interest in ending the existence of Israel, India, Pakistan or Bangladesh as the nation-states they presently are constituted to be.

Anonymous said...

So what's loopy and silly about the AF's statement exactly?

David Schraub said...

Not sure how we maneuver to their political reality from the status quo without horrifying costs, don't find anarchism to be either particularly compelling or particularly realistic, not convinced that, for the time being, anyway, Jewish liberation can be accomplished separate from nationalist practice.