Sunday, February 04, 2007

Zionism, racism and apartheid

I attended an interesting meeting organised by Jews Against Zionism (JAZ) the other night on Zionism, racism and apartheid.

The two speakers were Lenni Brenner and Ori Davis. Both speakers gave their own analysis of the situation in Palestine.

The talks involved explaining the history of Zionism, how it originated, its class dimension and its political organisation including analyses of spiritual, revisionist and Labour Zionism. Lenni, for example, explained how racism is integral to Zionism. He talked about the collaboration that took place between the Zionists and the Nazis (his book “51 Documents”).

There was a contrast of the way that the Zionist state operates to the way that the apartheid state operated in South Africa. In the South African example the state regulated racism through acts of Parliament. With the apartheid system in S. Africa there was boycott and international sanctions. Israel is better at veiling its apartheid: no petty apartheid, for example in South Africa there was “whites only” recreational facilities etc but nothing as similar in Palestine. This veiling is very effective. But also, what was argued, was the economic function of apartheid in South Africa while in Palestine there is no role for the Palestinians as migrant labour is brought in. In other respects the conflicts are similar: essentially settler colonial conflicts

The history of the 1947 UN Resolution (181) which was a mandate that set out a Jewish State along with a Arab State and Jerusalem under international control. This gave legitimacy to the state of Israel and from 1948 onwards Arabs were ethnically cleansed and displaced. The Madrid and Oslo agreements of the 1990s only legitimised and perpetuated the continued colonialisation of Palestine and also with the bantustanization of the occupied territories.

What are the Palestinians or anyone who opposes Zionism to do? I support the fight for a single secular state. Mention was made of the role and organisational strength of the ANC (African National Congress). No similar resistance in Palestine is mobilised and organised like the ANC, especially the international links that the ANC built.


AN said...

I don't understand your reference to the ANC, surely the two intifadas have been a level of civil and military resistance comparable to anything the ANC acheived?

And in what way were the ANC's internatiuon links stronger than those of the Palestinians? I think you need to cite specifics in order to carry that argument.

Louisefeminista said...

AN: I am still thinking this argument through myself. The role of the ANC was discussed in the meeting and I put it in the post to see what other people thought. That was all.

AN said...

Well what I think, is it is wrong!

But I cannot argue against it, because I don't know why anyone thinks the ANC was conducting a higher level of struggle than the Palestinians.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the guy you refer to I believe is URI DAVIS, his books on apartheid Israel are quite interesting and he makes a serious argument for the one-state solution.

LENNI BRENNER is quite an interesting character too, once described thus: "Rossman recalled Brenner - known as Lenny Glaser in 1964 - as a non-student "Marxist agitator" who would stand near the Bancroft strip and rail about the Pope, the Bay of Pigs, and marijuana, indifferent to the fact that most passersby thought he was "certifiably crazy."

In terms of the international links that the ANC made, the comments of the late, great Edward Said are significant.

He commented about how while there was a grassroots solidarity movement with the intifada in the West, the PLO made little effort to engage with it.

Edward Said criticised Arafat for always going to the leaders rather than the people. So Arafat spent ages cultivating his relationship with Clinton rather than focusing the PLO on building links with grassroots movements in the US.

Said argued that what was needed was a PLO that would have ACTIVELY saught to recruit Israeli Jews and Jews from around the world, that would have built up strong links with grassroots. He also criticised the PLO for being unable to articulate as clearly to the public in the West as the ANC the moral strength of it's cause.

Out of interest, what are people's views of the boycott movement in relation to Israel. Notably the Socialist Party/Militant are rabidly against it.


Jason said...

Lenni Brenner IS certifiably crazy -- I've encountered him on a number of occasions here in the US -- and he is NOT a reputable source on Zionist history or anything else.

And what "fight for a single secular state" are you talking about? Who's doing the fighting? There is NO force on either side with any numbers that supports a single democratic and secular state. Do you really think that Shas and Hamas are ever going to going to live together peacefully in the same state? It just ain't gonna happen. The best one can hope for is a two-state settlement along the lines that Gush Shalom lays out on their homepage.

As for the boycott -- I'm for cutting off US funds to the Israeli military. But I'm pretty sure that any cultural or academic boycott of Israel will do nothing but backfire and force Israeli politics even further to the right.

AN said...

jason, when Lloiuse said she supports the fight for a single secuar state, I think she meant that she advocates that as the only lasting solution.

You are right that currently there are few forces actualy "fighting" for that.

However I would say that in my experience a majority of palestinians do support the idea of a democratic and secular state. that is certinly the position of Fatah, and Hamas are committed to maintaining the diversity of palestines population, they even paid for the Xmas lights in Bethlehem last year.

There is however a very much undecided quetion of the two states. But the pattern of ionist settlement in the West bank actually makes a plaestinian state non-viable,. unless the nearly half million settlers are relocated back to territories lost in 1948. This seems no less utopian than the solution of a single secular state from the river to the sea.

On the questin of the boycott, you are right the key issue is withdrawl of US support for the IDF.

I am agnostic over the economic and cultural boycott, and wouold be intersted to hear more argument

Louisefeminista said...

This is a very quick response….

Yeah AN, that is what I meant re: single secular state.

Just on this issue on comparisons around the ANC and struggle in Palestine is that the ANC got a lot of its financial support from the former Soviet Union and also the labour movement during the 1980s was stronger than it is now.

Re: cultural and economic boycott I support it and supported the Sue Blackwell’s original proposal to the AUT. The reasons being are that there is no academic freedom for anti-Zionists academics and Israeli Arabs. Palestinians are treated appallingly and subjected to physical and verbal harassment when travelling (when they are successful) between campuses.What about their academic freedom? How do you exert any pressure on the Israeli State? What’s the alternative?

There are similarities between the situation in apartheid south Africa and Israel re: economic and cultural boycott. Obv. being active in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s we actually campaigned for a boycott.

Here is a very good piece by the academic Steve Rose on the boycott

And Sue Blackwell’s site

Louisefeminista said...

Doh! That didn't work...

The Steven Rose link is:

Louisefeminista said...


Oh well, that didn't work again..

Sod it! It is from The Guardian Ccomment is free) and it is around the academic boycott. It is called "Put up or Shut-up" or something similar.

Anonymous said...

Hi, in response to Jason.

Lenni Brenner is an extremely serious and reputable scholar, and I recommend his ZIONISM IN THE AGE OF DICTATORS. His book "51 documents" has come under sustained criticism from Zionists, but none of them have actually been able to challenge the material - which is firsthand documents written by Zionists that reveal their collaboration with anti-semitism.

The reason I mentioned the description of him above is that it surprised me, and is not the impression you get from his writing.

From reading his books I imagined a dry, serious academic not some wild beatnik.


Louisefeminista said...

AJ: I am in the process of reading his bk 51 Documents and it is impressive so far.

Lenni is a very good speaker as well and fascinating to listen to.

Jason said...

Brenner argues not merely that there was an extreme lunatic fringe of Zionism but, essentially, that (Revisionist) Zionists were co-authors of the Holocaust. That's serious scholarship? That's taken seriously? It's "World Jewish Conspiracy" craziness. He's "reputable" with people who think everyone in the world should have the right to national self-determination except Israeli-born Jews.

Why is this Stalinism-derived shit taken seriously by avowedly anti-Stalinist socialists?

AN said...


I am really not quailifed to join in a discussion of a writer I have never read, but am intrigued by your refrence to Stalinism, what is the connection or relevence to this?

I also wonder what you think an anti-Stalinist socialist is, it is not how I would define myself.

Anonymous said...

Jason, Are you a member of the AWL by any chance?

Lenni Brenner doesn't actually make the claim that you attribute to him, this is a typical Zionist smear, and shows up the inability of Zionists to actually answer the concrete claims he does make.

But your key mistake comes here:

"He's "reputable" with people who think everyone in the world should have the right to national self-determination except Israeli-born Jews."

The problem is that Israeli-Jews "national self-determination" is at the expense of another people.

Jewish self-determination in Israel rests on denying the rights of the indigenous Palestinian population. Whether by ethnic cleansing, denying the human rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes or the contradiction of Israel's 20% Palestinian population who don't have equal rights with Jewish citizens of Israel - The Jewish State.


Jason said...

I'm an American, so I can hardly be an AWL member.

And "AJ" presumes that the Hebrew nation in Israel can only exist if it denies Palestinian Arabs of their right of national self-determination. Obviously this isn't the case. This is why groups like Matzpen (aka the Israeli Socialist Organization) demanded a binational state.

I don't think a binational state is achievable at the present time so I'm in the Gush Shalom two-state camp. But I acknowledge the difference between honest binationalists like Tony Judt and vicarious Arab chauvinists like Brenner, the SWP, etc.

AN said...


The truth is however, that unless the Zionist settlement is discontinued in the West bank, then a two state solution is not viable either, and the separation wall unddermines the viability of any palestinian independenat economy.

So we can debate, two states o, one state, and I apreciacte there are sincere peace loving people who beleive a twin state solutioon is the answer.

But the facts on the ground at the moment is that a two state solution is even more utopian than a one state solution!

Whe I visited palestine last eyear a number fo activists siad, we don't care about esoteric arguments over one or two states, we just want the wall down, the IDF withdrawn and the settlements gone.