Jun 30, 2007

G8-Summit Protests in Germany: Against Globalization and its Non-Emancipatory Responses

by Rob Augman

ZNet 26 June 2007

Excerpt from the introduction:

...Contemporary social conflicts, a widespread sense of alienation, deep feelings of powerlessness, and the increasing intensity of violent conflict sets off a whole host of resentments and oppositions to the global situation that are not emancipatory. Many people who are deeply dissatisfied with the global political and economic order do not gravitate towards progressive or social justice organizations. The rise of racist, nationalist, fundamentalist and other forms of reactionary politics emerge as responses to the global situation as well, and they compete for power and influence on the same social terrain of those on the Left. These are present in the discourses, policies and politics in struggles around globalization/anti-globalization as well, and were therefore are present in the mobilization against the G8 this year.

In Germany, with its history of National Socialism as well as uprisings of neo-Nazism and nationalism after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the left must struggle with and position itself against critiques of “the new world order,” of “globalization,” and even of “capitalism,” from non-emancipatory positions, including those from the (far) Right. Such non-emancipatory critiques range widely, from proponents of economic protectionism and political isolationism (which can be seen in Right-wing anti-war positions), to the cultural field of “preserving cultural uniqueness from commercialism,” all the way to the far Right and its attempts to solve social questions in hyper-nationalist ways....

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Jun 17, 2007

Israeli Independence Day and the Palestinian Nakba

I'm part of an informal group of anti-Zionist Jews in Philadelphia, which issued the following statement last month. In addition to challenging standard pro-Israeli propaganda, the statement rejects the myth that we have to choose between fighting Zionism and fighting antisemitism.

On Sunday, May 6, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia sponsored its annual celebration of Israeli Independence Day. As Philadelphia Jews, it's important for us to remember that for Palestinians, this event was a Nakba, a catastrophe, in which at least 750,000 Palestinians lost their homes and became refugees. Today, Israel continues a program of dispossession and violence against Palestinians, with crucial financial support from us as U.S. taxpayers and in our names as Jews.

The state of Israel was founded in 1948, following a United Nations partition plan that awarded Jews more than half the land of Palestine, although they constituted only one-third of the population. In the 1948-49 war that followed, Israeli military and paramilitary units coordinated attacks against Palestinian villages in an effort to encourage mass exodus. In the Deir Yassin massacre, over 100 unarmed villagers were murdered; in Ramle and Lydda, 50,000 Palestinians were forcibly exiled from their homes. By the end of the war, over 80 percent of Palestinians had fled. The Israeli state confiscated their land and property and demolished over 400 Palestinian villages within Israel. Israel's occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights since 1967, and its repeated invasions of Lebanon, are extensions of these colonialist policies beyond the borders defined in 1949.

Israeli Independence Day celebrations perpetuate a romantic mythology about the state of Israel. We are told that Israel is an island of democracy in the Middle East. Yet the concept of Israel as a Jewish state, inscribed in the country's fundamental laws, means that Israel systematically discriminates against non-Jews, including those who hold Israeli citizenship.

We are told that the Israeli military defends innocent civilians against the threat of annihilation. Yet since 2000 alone, the Israeli army has killed thousands of unarmed Palestinians and Lebanese people and wounded tens of thousands more. The army has shelled residential areas and destroyed thousands of homes. We are told that Israel has "made the desert bloom." Yet the conquest of Palestine has included systematic destruction of Palestinian farms and orchards by force or by de facto methods such as preventing farmers' access to water.

The state of Israel and Zionist organizations in the U.S. exploit fears of anti-Jewish oppression to win support and silence dissent among Jews. Yet Israel's foundation and expansion have failed to make Jews safer. Rather, the Israeli state has subordinated the global needs of Jews to the regional quest for dominance. For instance, in the 1980s the Israeli government allied with Argentina's military junta, which conducted systematic terrorism against Jews. Today Israel allies itself with the U.S. Christian Right, which promotes an apocalyptic vision in which Jews who fail to convert to Christianity will be killed.

We oppose anti-Jewish oppression whether it comes from supporters or opponents of the Israeli state. Some critics of Israel exaggerate the power of a "Jewish lobby" in the United States or imagine a Zionist conspiracy behind global capitalism. For centuries, Jews have been scapegoated for systems of oppression, serving as a lightning rod to draw popular anger away from non-Jewish elites. Israel is not to blame for this kind of anti-Jewish scapegoating, but building the Israeli state has proved a counterproductive strategy for fighting it. Israel's oppressive policies and prominent role as a U.S. ally play right into this dynamic.

On Israeli Independence Day, we remind Americans that there is no Jewish consensus that supports the state of Israel. Like many Jewish people -- and many Americans -- we object to Israel's ongoing violence toward Palestinians and to the U.S government's role as chief supporter of Israeli militarism.

As we write, the United States continues to send billions of our tax dollars annually to Israel and ramps up its violent and costly occupation of Iraq. Meanwhile, Philadelphia's schools, housing, and healthcare continue to be negligently underfunded. As Jewish people and Philadelphia taxpayers, we envision a future in which our resources support a vibrant, healthy city instead of violence in Israel that is the legacy of the Nakba in 1948.

On May 6 and all year, we remember the terrible price Palestinians continue to pay for the foundation of the state of Israel. When the United States stops funding Israeli violence, when Jewish Americans imagine safety without militarism, and when Palestinians have self-determination over their lives and livelihoods, we will have a reason to celebrate: Next year, independence for all!

Jun 4, 2007

Do Zionists Run America?

An interesting review of the latest book by James Petras, The Power of Israel in the United States, this piece represents a cross-section of two themes that have surfaced recently on Three Way Fight: a concern with anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, as highlighted in Michael Staudenmaier’s piece “Challenges to Capital, Challenges for the Left;” and an assessment of left-right populist cross-over, as articulated in Regina Cochrane’s essay ““They Aren’t Really Poor”: Ecofeminism, Global Justice, and “Culturally-Perceived Poverty.” For instance:

“While populism certainly has had its contradictory progressive and democratic edge, typified in our own period by anti-corporate demands of the Green party and other forces in the global justice struggle, populism has also had a reactionary side appealing to social groups bypassed and buffeted by economic forces beyond their control -- a nativist, xenophobic and racist side, a penchant for conspiratorial theory and a related quest to exorcize evil cabals, rid the country of outsiders and/or their domestic agents, and reclaim "the republic." This retrograde side of populism is evidenced above all today in ugly anti-immigrant racism.

“In some weird way, however, Petras seems to think that such instincts can be turned in a progressive direction if the "Zionist Lobby" is targeted as an alien force imposed from the outside on American society. The true and ugly reality of The Lobby -- fundamentally a home-grown outgrowth of U.S. imperialism, not a foreign body parasitic upon it -- is lost.”

Read more here.