resend - [DEBATE] : Re: South Africa’s Jews in the firing line (May 12, 2009)]
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Mon May 18 14:30:01 BST 2009
Thanks Ran that makes it clearer. And I think I understand the motives a
little better. Increased understanding is the key. But...
You ask, what is the use is such a strategy of sticking to labels. The
ostensible reason you give for this is that it infuriates the Israelis
and brings no benefit to the Palestinians. It may convince you or, to be
more generous and give the benefit of the doubt, be a valid reason for
your political project. For me, it is sophistry. Perhaps you should
Because the majority of Zionists will not move on their positions and
continue their oppressive practices is no reason to question the use of
labels. Labels have value because they allow us to give a name to the
oppressors, oppression and the philosophy and motives. I can respect the
view that you find these labels irrelevant, and perhaps others may be
more effective for convincing Israelis. I cannot however see how these
are easy and lazy labels. Perhaps you should explain because I am at a
And let me clear. Your interest in labels is relevant up to a point.
However, the concerns you express is about the label of, lets say a jug,
which ostensibly, has the same contents. But I suspect now that we
differ both on label and what is signified.
The fairness and justice I, and many others, seek in a resolution of the
crisis cannot be determined mainly by its ability to convince Israelis
and make it easier for a sustainable peace. We perhaps differ in our
interpretations whether the Israeli state actually wants peace. There
are many people who ascribe good motives to many of the actions
including the recent attack on Gaza which was self defence. However it
is up to the parties themselves to work out their arrangements.
Where I do agree with you is that there is a need for greater
understanding between the often very polarised positions on these
issues. However, there is a great deal of sophistry in these debates
(and none imputed to you, to be clear, because I value your posts on
this list!) that serves the purpose of distraction rather than a genuine
spirit of search for an alternative.
The very effective and formidable (and impressive I might add) Zionist
lobby at the racism conference attests (impressive, not that I endorse
their views, but because they covered the full spectrum of considered
objections, inflammatory objections, disruption, obfuscation, etc and
were very organised). Despite this eye opening experience on the
lobbying might of the Zionists (in my limited estimation not the
non-racial Zionists) I am sure that there are many Israelis who seek
peace while at the same time the state puts Generals in its army who are
ruthless when it comes to Palestinians.
For now at least, the powerful and oppressive Israelis are winning.
Unfortunately or fortunately for the Zionists, might is not always
right. And perhaps this is more frustrating and infuriating than name
calling from rag tag nobodies...
Ran Greenstein wrote:
> Avnery defines himself as non-Zionist but also as an Israeli nationalist, who supports the self-
> determination of Israeli-Jews and Palestinian-Arabs. He was the first to call for a two-state
> solution, in the late 1960s.
> Without belabouring the point further, let me just say that I find the racial paradigm irrelevant
> to our understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a struggle over land and political
> power between two well-defined and bounded ethno-national groups, one of which is
> indigenous to the country and the other recent there (though with historical roots that go back
> millennia). In the consciousness of the former, the settlers are alien. In the consciousness of
> the latter, they are returning to their ancient homeland. Without accepting their ideas of
> themselves as providing any justification for their practices, it is important to understand how
> they see the world. Without such understanding no change is possible. Easy and lazy labels
> are of no use at all in this respect. If anything, they make progressive change even more
> difficult than it already is. The formula Zionism = racism, brought zero benefits to Palestinians
> and only enabled the right-wing Israeli leadership to consolidate its support among the Israeli-
> Jewish masses, and to move even further to the right. What use is such a strategy of sticking
> On 15 May 2009 at 11:22, Riaz K Tayob wrote:
>> I am aware of Uri Avnery - and he did not seem to me to be a
>> non-racial Zionist. I will check - but please do let me know if you
>> Pity that a lot of the information on non-racial Zionism is not in
>> English - so it will be good to see what has been done on this front
>> and your project should generate some interesting discussions. Please
>> do share it with us if you can.
>> Nationalism, while it has it pitfalls, is certainly more tolerable
>> than Apartheid or racist Zionism. However I am yet to be convinced as
>> for me, barring your new sources, "Zionism = Racism" (without
>> qualifiers! and the UNGA resolution reversal for me is marginal) and
>> much more interrogation is needed. This is not to say there are not
>> Israeli nationalists who are non-racial. However, Israeli nationalism
>> is built on a foundation of theft, violence and murder ala Irgun and
>> Stern - purveyors of Zionism from the very beginning with almost a
>> stated aim of ethnic cleansing...
> Ran Greenstein
> Johannesburg, South Africa
> DEBATE mailing list
> DEBATE at debate.kabissa.org
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