Sunday, October 29, 2023

On Fleeing "Settlers" and Mobs in Dagestan

I want to juxtapose two things that I think need to be placed in conversation. 

The first is an excerpt that hasn't gotten a lot of play from Students for Justice in Palestine's "toolkit" regarding what they called the "historic win" of the October 7 attacks. Referring to reports of Israelis fleeing their homes, they jubilantly wrote:

Settlers are already fleeing the land, their ‘dedication’ to the settler colony is easily broken.

Just so we're on the same page here, the "settlers" in question are almost exclusively persons residing in pre-67 Israel. To SJP, all of Israel is a settlement and all Israelis are settlers.

This is a short sentence, of course, but it is one that needs to be dwelled upon. SJP is, here, fantasizing about ethnic cleansing. There's no other way to put it. Part of what made October 7 a "historic win" is the number of Jews Hamas killed, and another part is that it prompted a number of Israeli Jews to flee for their lives to distant shores. Their vision of what it would mean to "keep winning" would be for even more Jews to die and even more Jews to flee.

I flag this not to make a claim that SJP is unique in its thirst for ethnic cleansing. It is sadly non-unique. One does not struggle to find elements in Jewish or Israeli society who harbor similar ambitions towards the Palestinian people; anyone who believes that either side is pure of this evil is either deluding themselves or engaged in an apologia for it.

My point is that those who desire ethnic cleansing are bad people, and SJP is part of the bad people category. October 7 -- both in terms of the Jews slaughtered, and the scene of more Jews running away -- is a taste of what they hope to see come to pass. When I wrote the other day about how defending SJP's constitutional rights meant being "[forced] to side with people who want to see me and my family dead," I wasn't kidding around. It's important to know who they are and what they're standing for, and in this moment they're among the (horrifically) many groups who make no bones about their dream of ethnically cleansing one group or another.

The second is the news story out of Dagestan, Russia, where a plane landing from Israel was reportedly met by an incipient lynch mob of hundreds of "protesters" demanding "tell us where the Jews are."

Why do I place these in conversation? When one flags calls for the ethnic cleansing of Jews akin to what SJP wrote above, one often encounters two interrelated apologias from those who wish to minimize the gravity of what SJP is calling for. First, there is the claim that Israelis fleeing Israel is no different from and no more tragic than the pied-noirs departing Algeria for France in the wake of decolonization (in the next bullet point after the one I quoted, SJP expressly analogizes Israel to the "settler colony" of French Algeria). And second, there's the claim that Israeli Jews will not truly be displaced because they'll have no trouble finding new homes and hosts in other countries around the world (the U.S., the EU, Russia, wherever).

Both apologias are obviously woefully insufficient. On the first, it's entirely unclear what, as pertains to Israeli Jews, the "France" in this metaphor is supposed to be. There is no homeland to return to; Israel is the homeland of Israelis. On the second, it is flatly stunning how many people can look at global history over the past ... well, any amount of years really, and conclude that "I can't predict the future of Israel/Palestine, but if there's one thing we can be absolutely confident in, it's that if millions of desperate Jews are forced to flee for their lives, the rest of the world will uniformly and instantaneously act to welcome and absorb them with no friction whatsoever."

But the Dagestan incident flags yet another obvious issue: if your view is that Israelis are, to the man, thieving genocidal settler war criminals, that view is clearly incompatible with "and when they try to come to our country, we should welcome them as equals" (for that matter, it's similarly incompatible with "if they stay where they are, the political arrangement I hope to set up should welcome them as equals"). If you truly are of the mindset that October 7 is a "historic win", if you take such a degrading view of Israeli's humanity that you cheer their butchered babies and kidnapped families, then how would you possibly be content with the future vanquished Israelis restarting their lives in Dagestan or anywhere else? Once again, it parallels the manner in which intense right-wing hatred of Palestinians in Palestine (even when sometimes barely cloaked as hatred of Hamas) redounds to generate opposition to supporting Palestinian refugees in America, or similar Islamophobic sentiments prompting conservatives to fulminate against allowing even Afghan and Iraqi allies to resettle in America.

The discourse that supports the murder or expulsion of Jews in Israel does not logically terminate even once those Jews leave Israel. Ultimately, as terrible as the SJP's express position is, its implications are more eliminationist still -- it cannot help but cheer at the thought of Israeli Jews being shot at and killed and chased away everywhere, always on the run, always with hounds nipping at their heels. Dagestan needs to be juxtaposed with SJP's toolkit because it is part of the destination; a sobering reminder of where its politics of maximalism inevitably lead.


This, in response to a Yair Rosenberg skeet about the Dagestan riot, was just too on-the-nose not to add ("a protest against arriving zionists").

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