I am not so sure the analogy holds for a variety of reasons. First let
me point out that I am an American Jew who is has been throughly
alienated from Israel (and consequently from the Jewish religion) since
the late 60s. A great deal of my frustration over the Middle East stems
from a variety of internal conflicts namely,
1. I am a Jew and I identify with other Jews so I am morally outraged
with what Israel does and how it continues to cleanse its history.
2. The way the holocaust is being used to justify Israeli extremism
makes me physically ill
3. I am a revolutionary and completely opposed to our government's
foreign and domestic policies
4. I naturally want to ally with other revolutionaries all over the world
For those reasons I have found it easy to oppose Israel without much
regard to what people mean by the Palestinian liberation struggle. I am
starting to see many problems in this older approach.
The South African liberation struggle was clearly a struggle for
democracy, and its outcome bears this out. Even with that, I think the
boycott of South Africa was less effective than many think.
International opinion was mobilized, but the ANC was also highly
effective due to extrodinary leadership.
The conflict in the Middle East seems more like (to quote from Said I
believe) "a conflict between those who want war and those who want
peace". While Arafat is a titular leader of the Palestinians, he is
hardly democratic and is certainly corrupt. The more extreme leadership
from Hamas, Islamic Jihad appears far worse from all accounts. While
there are democratic, highly humanistic and secular movements among
Palestinians for a just and lasting peace (involving Israel's retreat to
pre 67 borders, abandoning East Jerusalem, etc), they appear to wield
little power in this conflict. The same is even more true in Israel
where Sharon is calling the shots (literally) and Bush has caved in
rather than face a showdon with the monster. What makes things far far
worse is that Bush was not elected to his office and therefore
apparently feels little pressure from either the growing dissatisfaction
of the American people over this conflict or from the rest of the world
(which seems to have reached consensus that Bush is Sharon's lapdog).
Propaganda from both sides has whipped up calls for revenge masquerading
as calls for peace with unattainable goals - a week without violence,
right of Palestinians to return to their pre 48 homes, etc. Revenge
seems to be the major theme among those who would make war on both
sides. Calling for a boycott of Israel only condems half of the
problem. And I am not only speaking for the interests of Israelis (who
can not be seen to be living in a democratic environment unless your
views of democracy proceed from seeing the failure of reconstruction in
1878 as a victory for democracy), what do you think life will be like
for Palestinians under the rule of Arafat or Hamas or Islamic Jihad?
Palestinians do have a right to self-determination, but I for one and
not going to support efforts that can not result in a decent life for
all. In general, I think the current situation demonstrates the
uselessness of political ideologies. We need to concentrate on stopping
the violence and finding practical solutions that can work since the
current dominant political leadership in the world seems to favor a
continuation of the bloodletting.
If a boycott is needed in the Middle East, it is needed to isolate all
of those who believe that throwing more fuel on this fire is going to
accomplish anything. I am working with Not In My Name here in Chicago.
Much of our effort is directed at American Jews to get them to see how
the occupation is counter-productive even from (shudder) a zionist point
of view. American Jews provide strategic support for Israeli agression.
If we can change a significant number of their minds, we can deny
support for Sharon without having to rely on Bush. One thing we are
doing is to support the Israeli refusniks. That is concrete and helps
show Jews that blind obedience to tribal instincts is not necessary. We
have to help the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements grow in
strength so there are forces that can somehow bridge this horrific
divide and provide a future where both Israelis and Palestinians can thrive.
Aram Falsafi wrote:
>The fundamental problem with this analogy is that it misses one fundamental
>point. One side in this battle is fighting for its homeland and its right (a
>just cause), even if some of its members use terrorism and unjustifiable means.
>On the other hand, the other side is not only committing atrocities (of much
>larger scale) but it is also pursuing fascistic GOALS (ethnic cleansing).
>Israel needs to be singled out the same way that South Africa was singled out in
>the 80's. Somehow I don't think that the person posting this message was
>complaining about the singling out of South Africa back then ...
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