Out of the box!
Towards humane survival
G. S.    <george.salzman@umb.edu>
February 18, 2006

this page is at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/2006-02-18.htm

Once upon a time there lived a very smart Jew. At age 70 he received a letter from a rabbi, who explained that he had sought in vain to comfort his 19-year-old daughter over the death of her sister, “a sinless, beautiful, 16-year-old child.”

      In reply the elderly Jew wrote, “A human being is a part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.” [1]

The Hamas electoral victory: a chance to break out of the box?
Or are we prisoners still?

      The January 25th Palestinian vote carried a strong message to all who would listen. But for those of us ready to listen, to whom ought we turn for our understanding of the meaning of the vote, of its possible consequences, and how we might try to influence what will happen? Responses range from extreme pessimism to extreme optimistic hopefulness. Interestingly enough, the most optimistic and hopeful view I’ve yet read is expressed by a mature Jewish anarchist who has clearly managed to “free [himself] from this prison . . . [this] delusion of ... consciousness” of which Einstein spoke. His inspiring essay, rich with references that I still want to pursue, is the principal part of this posting. I highly recommend Bill Templer’s article.

      Among the many responses to Hamas’s sweeping electoral victory is the relatively brief assessment of Dr. Eyad El Sarraj, psychiatrist and founder and director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Center (GCMHC). It is not among those many articles cited by Bill Templer, possibly because it was published after Templer completed his article. I got it by e-mail from the GCMHC on February 12. It is available at http://www.gcmhp.net/File_files/onvictorhamas.html.

      I’m not much more, I would say, than hopefully optimistic that the United States government is becoming more and more hated and isolated and that as its attempt to build a global empire falters and collapses, its support for the government of Israel will be greatly reduced, which will undercut and end the project of colonial conquest of the Palestinians. As I see it, transitions of this kind will not happen without fundamental changes in the world social structure. As long as the major capitalist forces currently spearheaded by the U.S. try to maintain control over the Middle East, and Israel remains allied with and serving those interests, the torment will continue. I believe it will be necessary to break out of the prison of false consciousness — the prison built of beliefs in nationalism, capitalism, privatization of wealth, the notion of technological solutions for social problems, the inevitability and desirability of hierarchies of power, privilege and the class divisions they imply, and the existence of real, deep differences (not just cultural) between different groups of human beings.

      Here then are the thoughts and feelings of several people, not so-called “great leaders” but ordinary every-day people who experienced and reacted to the Hamas electoral victory in various ways.


1a. Subject: Hamas and Us
From: Gila Svirsky <gsvirsky@netvision.net.il>
Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 16:48:24 +0200
[Gila must have Blind CC’d this to me.]

Hamas and Us
Gila Svirsky

1) Who’s to blame?

      Listening to the reactions of passersby at the recent Jerusalem vigil of Women in Black, you would think it was our peaceful little group that put the Hamas into power.  This stems from Israeli right-wing politicians who are asserting that Hamas won because of the Gaza withdrawal and other conciliatory overtures, i.e., “rewarding terrorism”. Indeed, Bibi Netanyahu & Co. are delighted with the Hamas victory, on which they can now build a fear-saturated election campaign, and return voters to the fold who lately had slipped into something more moderate.

      But here’s my take on what made Hamas victorious in the recent elections:  Israel’s failure to sit down and negotiate an end to the occupation. This is often phrased as “the failure of Fatah to make progress on peace”, but they amount to the same thing: the Fatah failed because Israel refused to offer any reward for moderation, refusing to sit down and negotiate with them.

      And what about the corruption claim – that voting for Hamas was also a vote against the corruption of the Fatah politicians? This may have played a role for some voters, but since when does corruption bring down a politician? Certainly not in Israel, where Sharon’s corruption has been an open book, but forgiven by those who support his politics. Corruption is tolerated when approval ratings are high in other respects. The corruption of the previous Palestinian government would have been overlooked, had the politicians only managed to show some progress on ending the occupation.

2) When terrorists become politicians

      I remember standing on the balcony of my home in Jerusalem on a lovely May morning of 1977 and gasping when I heard who had won the Israeli election: Menahem Begin, former head of a Jewish terrorist organization that had killed 91 civilians by bombing the King David Hotel in 1946. And then it was Begin who returned the Sinai Peninsula and negotiated peace with Egypt. In 2001, Israel elected Ariel Sharon, responsible for blood-soaked episodes in Qibiya, Beirut, Gaza, Sabra and Shatila, and more. And then it was Sharon who returned Gaza – imperfect, but a singularly important precedent.

      I condemn terrorism, whether ‘rogue’ or state sanctioned, and I would never have voted for Hamas (or Begin or Sharon). But who is better positioned than Hamas to reach a compromise peace agreement? We have the mirror image of Israel in the Palestinian election: Just as the Israeli right (Begin and Sharon) could more easily make concessions than Yitzhak Rabin, who had to fight our right wing all the way, so too the Hamas can mobilize more support for concessions than the more moderate Fatah could now undertake.

3) About creeping fundamentalism

      Yes, I am worried about Hamas rule, particularly its domestic agenda in Palestine:  I worry about women, non-Muslims, journalists, gays, people in the arts, and all those who benefit from the open society. To what extent will the Hamas increase the role of Shari’a (Muslim) law in civilian life?  Or religious education in the schools? On the other hand, it’s quite evident that Palestinians have experienced democracy and will not easily tolerate a closing of their society.

      I take heart from this week’s survey of the Palestinian population, published in the Palestinian Authority’s Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda and reported in the Jerusalem Post http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1138622512446&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
[http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1138622512446&pagename=JPo
st%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull –G.S.].

      84% of Palestinians support a peace deal with Israel. In case you wondered if this includes the Hamas, 75% of Hamas voters are opposed to calls for the destruction of Israel.  The Hamas knows that seculars comprise a large portion of their constituency.

4) And who benefits from ending foreign aid?

      So along come American and Israeli politicians advocating for a policy that would isolate and punish the Palestinians by withholding financial aid. Everyone knows this would destabilize the fragile economy, harm the innocent (but not the politicians), and foster increasing bitterness against the secular west. A much more reasonable approach would be to extend support and see how responsibly Hamas uses it.  Or does someone have an interest in sowing chaos in the Palestinian territories?

      Yes, I too would like to demand a renunciation of terrorism and violence as a precondition for talking … I’d like to demand it from both sides. But realistically this has to be done as part of the negotiations.

Gila Svirsky, Jerusalem
Coalition of Women for Peace http://www.coalitionofwomen.org


1b. Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 10:22:26 -0600
From George to Gila
CC: Shraga Elam <elams@dplanet.ch>, Dorothy Naor <dor_naor@netvision.net.il>, Farid Mahmoud Mostafa Taamallah <fareedt99@yahoo.com>, Martin Posner <m522posner@aol.com>, Stuart M Leiderman <leidermn@cisunix.unh.edu>

Dear Gila,

      Just about 4 and a half hours before your e-mail came one from Shraga Elam <elams@dplanet.ch> in Switzerland, which troubled me a great deal. And in between the two of those messages I sent out an announcement of a new posting.[2] In that posting I included something I had written to a friend,[3] namely:


      On your comments about ..., I must admit that I’m in danger of becoming almost (in a narrow sense) an anti-semite, in so far as many American Jews and Israeli Jews are concerned. You know the Tom Lehrer song celebrating “National Brotherhood Week” that starts out reporting that on the first day of NBW (that year, 1965) Malcolm X was assassinated. Lehrer goes on to sing “the Catholics hate the Protestants and the Protestants hate the Catholics, and everybody hates the Jews” which gets great laughter from the Oh-so-sophisticated! coffeehouse crowd where he was performing. I believe there’s more than a little truth in Lehrer’s celebration of hatred. Probably by now, with the many-decades-long conquest of the Palestinians and the indisputable cruelty of many many Jewish Israelis towards the victims (cruelty either active or passive), and the world-wide telecommunications networks reporting it, there may well be billions of people who “hate the Jews”.

      When I read Bageant’s <bageantjb@netscape.net> “Carpooling with Adolph Eichmann”, at http://www.coldtype.net/Assets.05/Essays/06.Joe.carpoolpdf.pdf, it started me thinking about issues of complicity. Then Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, with her account of the highly variable behavior of the occupied nations of Europe in so far as cooperation or non-cooperation with the Nazis’ program to exterminate the Jews, has a great deal to say about cultural variation, how local it can be, and how deterministic a role it can play in people’s actual behavior. Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews, of which I read the first 75-80%, also shows a great deal about cultural influences. And Norman G. Finkelstein’s <normangf@hotmail.com> Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, and The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering are exposés of despicable, culturally-determined behavior. His Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, which I’ve read only a bit of, he succeeded in getting published late last summer, i.e. in August, after a strenuous effort by Alan M. Dershowitz <dersh@law.harvard.edu> to threaten the University of California Press with legal action failed to intimidate them to cancel publication.

      Currently I’m about half way through Robert Fisk’s mammoth The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, temporarily interrupted by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s Blood on the Border: A memoir of the Contra War. Joe Bageant had mentioned in one of his essays that the Japanese responsible for the Rape of Nanking were Buddhists, and just the other day I read in Dunbar-Ortiz about the civil war in Sri Lanka that pitted the Tamil minority (Christians, Hindus and Muslims) against the Sinhalese majority (Buddhists). So Buddhism too has room to accommodate its violent sects, just as, I’m pretty convinced, does every religion.

      At a gut level, as I read about the atrocities perpetrated by the armed Israelis against the Palestinians, my reaction is one of furious condemnation: “the Jews” ought to be thrown out of Palestine, but I also realize the futility (as well as the injustice) such feelings, if their implementation were attempted, would entail. It would be, on a tiny scale, like throwing the white people out of the Americas. I know a few wonderful Israeli Jews, one of whom made a big effort to get money to help pay for a desperately-needed kidney transplant for a three-year-old Arab girl, the daughter of her good friends. A simple act of love. And the only basis for building a better world.


      Gila, you too are one of the "wonderful Israeli Jews" I know. I turned away from the ALEF list in order to avoid what seemed to me excessive academic trivial arguments and to focus on larger problems (in scale, not importance) than the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The woman referred to above is Dorothy Naor who wrote, on June 25, 2005


      Lina Taa’mallah, a 3-year old Palestinian child from the village of Qira, is the daughter of personal friends, and of a peace activist (her father), who has consistently supported non-violent solutions to the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Lina is suffering from end stage renal disease, and has been on peritoneal dialysis for a year. She urgently needs a kidney transplant to survive. The family itself is unable to donate a kidney. The mother’s blood type is incompatible with the child’s, and the father’s kidney is too large. A close friend of the family is willing to donate her kidney, with no monetary remuneration of any sort. All the tests have been done, and the donor is suitable. Schneider Children’s Hospital (Israel) is willing to perform the transplant.

      But the family cannot afford to pay any part of the $40,000.00 cost of the transplant. The Palestinian Authority has agreed to cover 2/3 of the cost, but that still leaves us with roughly $10,000.00 outstanding.

      Please help Lina have the transplant that she needs so urgently to live by donating. Even if you can afford only a small amount, every little bit helps.

      Please make checks out to Farid Mahmoud Mostafa Taamallah, and write on the check ‘for Lina’.


Lina, I'm happy to say, is now alive and enjoying the exuberant life a youngster should have. In fact, a check I sent to Farid, her father, could not be used because it was only for $100. Now your e-mail reminds me that I once sent a contribution for the work of your Coalition of Women for Peace through a tax-exempt group in New York City. I would like to do so again, and to include an additional $100 which I would ask you to get to Farid (perhaps through Dorothy) to help make Lina's life happier.

      While there is plenty of ground for the desperate pessimism of Shraga, I think that things in the U.S. are turning away from supporting the Israeli government (not yet at the U.S. governmental level, but in popular opinion) and that such underwriting will end. I myself do not believe in the so-called two-state “solution”, which I think would be no solution. I think the “dream” of Zionism was a fatal illusion and that only by giving up the notion of a Jewish state can a true solution ever be found. In my opinion all religions are abominations of confusion, irrationality, mysticism, false dichotomies of “them” and “us”, and spawners of hatreds. We are one species and the only “God” we need is the love of our children – all our children – and the natural world, and what that implies, as a basis for making a decent world for all people. Excuse me for preaching to the believers. Uri Avnery is wonderful in many ways, just dead wrong in his Zionism. His hopes in the politics of personalities is misplaced, totally futile in my anarchist eyes. He actually believes in representative democracy. A dead end.

With all best wishes,
George


1c. From: Gila Svirsky <gsvirsky@netvision.net.il>
Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 18:48:42 +0200
CC: Dorothy [Naor]

Dear George,
. . .
      About getting money to Farid, I would much prefer to send him my personal check for $100 (in shekel), since it would be problematic for the Coalition of Women for Peace to transfer money to an individual. Any expenditures by registered non-profits must be to organizations or businesses (with official receipts), not to individuals. But I’ll ask Dorothy how to get her the money, and follow up on it.
. . .
Warmly,
Gila
2. Subject: Gila Svirsky
From: Stuart M Leiderman <leidermn@cisunix.unh.edu>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 12:06:26 -0500 (EST)

Hi again, George. That’s a nice coincidence to see you writing to Gila Svirsky. She was very helpful to me when I was trying to get a little Iraqi refugee boy with leukemia admitted to Hadassah hospital in Jeruslaem last year. Please keep us on the same list. Someday, I want to go over there and pitch in. Do you have any connections with Israeli universities?

Stuart


3. From: Dorothy [Naor] <dor_naor@netvision.net.il>
Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 23:44:23 +0200
CC: Gila Svirsky <gsvirsky@netvision.net.il>, Fareed Taamallah <fareedt99@yahoo.com>

Dear George,

      I just read your letter to Gila and her response to you. It's great that you have time to read. I have dozens of books that I want to, but use instead mainly to thumb through their indexes as sources of info when I'm looking for data.

      Regarding Lina, I'm very touched by your desire to help. I can suggest a way to do it. I'll be in California (SF Bay Area) all of March (1st-31st). You can send a check to me when I am there, in my name, and I will give Fareed cash when I return after April 7. If you agree to that, I will give you an address. Any money that you send will go towards helping pay for her medications (very costly) and follow up treatments (some of which she will need all her life, and which are very costly).

      Thanks again, very much. I saw Lina on Monday when we drove to Hadassah hospital for a checkup. She is so cute — somewhat rounder than before, in part due to medications that she is taking. But she is full of life, very bright, and just a wonderful little girl. I got a great big hug from her, which I cherish greatly. May she have a future to grow up in.

Best, Dorothy


4. From: Fareed Taamallah <fareedt99@yahoo.com>
Date:Sun, 5 Feb 2006 23:48:46 -0800 (PST)
To:George Salzman, Dorothy Naor, Gila Svirsky

Dear George,
Thanks for the offer to help Lina. I agree with Dorothy. You can send her the money and she will give it to me later. Thanks for all of you.
Have a nice day,
Fareed


5a. Subject: Hamas electoral victory serves the Israeli government
From: Shraga Elam <elams@dplanet.ch>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2006 11:15:22 +0100
[Shraga must have Blind CC’d this to me, because I am not on the ALEF (Academic Left, an Israel-based) list to which he posted it.]

      The sweeping electoral victory of Hamas is primarily a triumph for the Israeli government and a big defeat for Palestinian interests. The international pressure on the Palestinians is growing. If Hamas will not make now substantial and painful concessions it risks a massive cut in the financial international support and further escalation in the Israeli anti-Palestinian measures.

      If it will commit such concessions it will not only betray its voters, but the Israeli government will demand more. Now e.g. there is the demand that Hamas will recognize Israel and will declare that it gives up the armed struggle, before substantial economic aid will be rendered. If Hamas will fulfil these conditions, it will be confronted with others like the impossible demand to renounce the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees.

      Even if Hamas will comply, the Israeli government will claim that the Hamas is not to be trusted as it is a terror organization swallowing chalk but still remaining a wolf. Besides Hamas will have then problems to control Palestinian militants and chaos will break out.

      The Palestinian political leverage against the Israeli government became now even smaller than the Fatah led PA had and this leverage was for sure not very ostensive.

      This is a direct result of the fact that the Israeli government holds the Palestinians as hostages and can use their economical and military vulnerability as a deadly mean of pressure.

      This is the result of the cruel Israeli economical warfare combined with a wrong economical politics pursued by the PA which brought the Palestinian economy to the verge of a collapse. It survives only through the foreign aid. Besides, the Palestinians have been able till now to build an existential military threat for Israel and accordingly have hardly any deterring effect. The military and political situation is such that every successful military Palestinian action delivers Israel a pretext to hit much much harder back.

      Collective punishments have been imposed under the declared goal that the Palestinians will put their pressure on the militants to stop their activities. An alleged aim that the Israeli generals know perfectly well cannot be thus achieved, as the Palestinian civilians can hardly impose such a line on the militants.

      Accordingly the Palestinian suicide bombing strategy turned into a collective suicide that culminates now in the Hamas's electoral victory. The suicide bombings have been military, economical and political disaster for the Palestinians. Some cynical Palestinian commanders threw away the life of light to manipulate people for no real achievement. The suicide bombers did not succeed to hit any so called Israeli strategic targets and their real threat for the Israelis as individuals has been much smaller than car accidents (in one year there are more Israeli civilians dying through road accidents than the sum of the civilians who were killed inside the "green line" by Palestinians in the last five years, i.e. since the beginning of the Intifada in September 2000). The suicide bombing supplied international explicit and implicit support for the Israeli anti-Palestinian measures.

      While the Palestinians did not succeed in creating an existential threat to Israel, Israel tendered very severe damages to the Palestinian society. Even the alleged victory of evacuation of the Israeli settlements from Gaza Strip was no real improvement, but can be rather defined as a temporary enlargement of the Gaza Ghetto with a high potential for further deterioration.

      The Hamas's electoral victory raises the threat for secular, Christian Palestinians and also for the Palestinian women but not really for Israel. There is also a stronger threat for the internal Palestinian stability, which was also before not very low. Besides, there are plausible rumors that a large sum of money has been transferred abroad by rich Palestinians since the elections, which means further deterioration of the economical situation.

      The Israeli website DEBKAfile (specialized in conspiracy theories) wrote on January 15, i.e., ten days before the elections, that "Bush and Sharon Agreed to Let Hamas Win" (http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1135). DEBKAfile predicted the HAMAS electoral victory and argued that the US and Israel could have prevented it if they would have agreed "to Abu Mazen’s fervent wish to postpone the ballot as demanded by his own Fatah.

      Because they decided against this, the Palestinian Authority stands to become the first national entity in the Middle East to be dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian branch. " (DEBKAfile Jan. 15)

      DEBKAfile believes that Sharon, before his second stroke, looked for a further justification for his unilateral policy by proving that there is no Palestinian partner.

      But what can be this unilateral policy?

      It is hardly to assume that an Israeli government, under the present conditions, would really evacuate voluntarily a substantial number of Jewish settlements from the West Bank. The present evacuation is obviously a hoax, as the Israeli right wing activists claim persistently that there is an agreement with the government that they will be able to return soon to the "evacuated" settlement. It seems, by the way, possible that a similar agreement was made as well with the settlers from Gaza, although no exact timetable was laid….

      One scenario for a unilateral Israeli policy was propagated by the daily Ma'ariv before Sharon's stroke as an alleged Sharon's plan. This plan talks about eliminating the Palestinian Authority and the stationing of US troops in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It also talks about a massive evacuation of Jewish settlements and

      It is rather unlikely that the Bush administration will approve such a move. US soldiers have enough problems in Iraq and the US would hardly seek to be drawn into another quagmire. A US rejection of this "Sharon's plan" will add additional justification for the more likely scenario of a further escalation in the Israeli measures against the Palestinians, which will go through bloody reoccupation, eliminating the PA and up to mass expulsion, if the political conditions will be "favorable".

      From the perspective of the Israeli elite the Hamas electoral victory is a win-win-situation.

      Either it will give the pretext for the further escalation or it will work along the "peaceful" scenario depicted by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Chairman Eli Hurvitz.

      "Hurvitz believes that an improvement is even possible [following Hamas's electoral victory], because of Hamas’s ability to control terrorism in the Palestinian territories, in contrast to the ineffectiveness of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen)," wrote the Israeli financial daily Golbes (Jan 30, http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000055887&fid=942)

      Hurvitz was quoted by Globes as saying,“I think the negative effect attributed to Hamas’s rise is greatly exaggerated. It will have no effect whatsoever on foreign investment [in Israel]. The sale of $2 billion worth of Teva bonds in the US was not affected, and no buyer even raised the subject.”

      Hurvitz is convinced, however, that, “Hamas does not threaten Israel’s existence. It is more likely that they will control terrorism than during the period of Abu-Mazen, who could not do it.” If terrorism wreaks havoc, adds Hurvitz, “Will terrorism break us? Bombs don’t explode elsewhere in the world?”

      Hurvitz seems to be correct in the assumption that the possibility for the Hamas to escalate further the armed struggle against Israel is rather limited. If e.g. an El-Al jet will be shot down from the West Bank the Israeli retaliation will be very bloody.

      Facing an impossible situation the Hamas can still correct its mistake of participating in the election by dissolving the Palestinian Authority (PA) and ending the farce introduced by the Oslo Accord. Israel was freed through to a large extent from its responsibilities as an occupying power while giving it free hand to destroy the Palestinian infrastructures instead of constructing and maintaining them. Actually today a large part of the foreign aid to the Palestinians is an indirect aid to Israel, who otherwise had to take care of the occupied Palestinian population (see e.g., Ghada Karmi, With no Palestinian state in sight, aid becomes an adjunct to occupation, The Guardian, December 31, 2005).

      Dissolving the PA must be accompanied by a serious search for new methods of effective non-violent struggle against the occupation and deepening the cooperation with the Israeli peace movements. This is the time to create ANC-like common movements which will address issues like racism or oppression. Like the people of South Africa it has to be realized that a separatist nationalism means catastrophe and therefore has to be abandoned. The vision of one secular and democratic state from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea is the only viable and desirable alternative to the existing state of apartheid and to further terrible escalation.

      It is very difficult for colonialized people to look for a peaceful and just mode of coexistence with their oppressors and vice versa it is difficult for the colonialists to give up their privileges and arrogant attitudes. There are many fears and hate feelings to be overcome, before trust can be established Along the Hegelian Master-Slave dialectic the master is afraid of the slave because he oppresses him. Of course the slave is also afraid of the master and the only way out of it is in the abolition of oppression. Is there another rational choice?

Shraga Elam
Zurich/Switzerland

alef mailing list
alef@list.haifa.ac.il
http://list.haifa.ac.il/mailman/listinfo/alef


5b. Subject: Hamas is dangerous to the Palestinian society and not to Israel
From: Shraga Elam <elams@dplanet.ch>
Date: Sat, 4 Feb 2006 00:19:50 +0100

      Enclosed is an illuminating piece about the threat posed for the Palestinian secular society through Hamas's electoral victory. The Islamic political fundamentalism poses danger to the own society, to women liberation and other issues not mentioned directly in the article of the Palestinian journalist Hassan Khader.

      Even if Hamas was able to liberate the Palestinian from the Israeli occupation, which it is not, even then we should remind the distinction that the philosopher Immanuel Kant made between "freedom from" and "freedom to". Replacing the Israeli oppression by an Islamic fundamentalist oppression is no real liberation.

      The threat to Israel through Hamas is rather limited. On the contrary, the Israeli elite profits from this electoral victory. It can now harvest better the fruit of the Islamophobic campaign it significantly helped to launch. The Israeli ruling elite can used the alleged threat to it through the Hamas in order to justify harsher Anti-Palestinian policy and pushing harder demands, like renunciation of using violence, that it will not accept itself (for more detailed analysis see http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Feb06/Elam02.htm).

It is necessary now to call for ending the farce called Palestinian Authority and dissolve it. It is high time to found a joint Jewish-Arab movement that will fight together against oppression, racism and political religious fundamentalism in both societies.

Shraga Elam
Zurich/Switzerland
---------------

      Vicki greeted me half jokingly today: am I supposed to pay the Jizyah now? (Jizyah is a tax that used to be paid in the middle ages by non Moslems in a Moslem state).

      The question can be defined as exaggerated but there is nothing cynical about it. What Vicki, the young Christian woman who lives in Ramallah tried to express is her uncertainty about the future after the overwhelming victory of Hamas.

      Hamas spokesmen or spokeswomen didn't give Vicki the benefit of doubt, just few days before the elections, a female candidate on Hamas list declared that she intends to introduce the law of hejab (veil) as obligatory for all women.

      Almost all members of the hyper active community of intellectuals and artists in Ramallah can't pretend to have the benefit of doubt. They are secular middle class professionals who got used to think of their city as the last haven of a free life style in Palestine and with the news of Hamas victory already started to think of themselves as a minority with uncertain future under a fundamentalist regime.

      The fact that Ramallah is so precious in the eyes of such people can be understood by comparing it to other cities in the Palestinian territories. It's the only city with so many cultural institutions, movies and TV production companies, art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, publishing houses, musical concerts, a prestigious theatre and well equipped stores for wine and spirits.

      The atmosphere is relaxed, a little bit cosmopolitan and privacy is respected. All this seems to be threatened now. Nothing can be taken for granted.

      The boom in the cultural life of the city can be traced back to the mid-Nineties and the optimism that flourished after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.

      The city acted as a magnetic field for many people who interpreted its liberal spirit as the spirit of a new Palestine in the making.

      But it seems to be a short lived dream. The populist politics of the alestinian regime which was established by Arafat and specifically designed to fit his personal style managed to alienate many of them and now the same politics seem to be responsible for the rise of Hamas.

      This can be understood by taking some sociological factors into consideration: traditionally Palestinian politics were managed by urban elites but a radical change happened with the first Intifada (1987 -1993) which brought the refugee camps and rural areas into the forefront of politics, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism at that time was an early indication.

      The second Intifada which started six years ago and still going on in different ways stripped the urban elites of what remained of their power. The populist politics of the Palestinian regime accelerated the transformation in different ways: by dealing withy society as an abstract entity which can be bribed or intimidated, by giving the fundamentalists a free hand in the educational system and by creating a cult of personality worship centered on Arafat and by creating a system of corruption and nepotism.

      Such politics were behind the cold relationship which developed gradually in the last decade between the Palestinian regime and the intellectuals. It was a complicated relationship, at one hand the regime is seen as an embodiment of the Palestinian struggle for independence and sovereignty, at the other hand the regime was functioning and behaving like the populist despised regimes in the Arab world.

      Nevertheless, I don't think it would be possible to imagine a cold relationship between a Hamas led regime and the Palestinian intellectuals. The more reasonable scenario would be mutual suspicion and enmity. The modern national culture is seen by fundamentalists as a kind of corruption of traditional values and systems of thought. Even the national flag is seen as problematic. A leading figure of Hamas tried recently to try his hand in literary criticism and decided that poems and stories should be written in order to increase awareness and inform the coming generations of the struggle of their nation.

      At the other hand there are strong secular traditions in the Palestinian culture, they go back to the beginning of the last century, the main actors of the culture and the main producers of the national canon are secular. The closest thing to mind for the time being will be a kind of obligatory exodus of people who can't identify with the regime. Some thing like that happened to the Iraqi intellectuals under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.

      One more thing will be defending the memory; this is what Edward Said, who was a frequent visitor to Ramallah used to say: the rule of the intellectual is to defend memory in times of uncertainty. And as long as the Palestinian memory is concerned, there was a dream of a secular democratic Palestine; at least two generations of Palestinians lived by that dream including Vicki and the community of Ramallah intellectuals, Such a dream deserves to be defended.

Hassan Khader

Hassan Khader is editor of the Palestinian literary magazine Al Karmel http://ewww.alkarmel.org/.


6.
The Hamas Breakthrough and Pathways Forward
Beyond Apartheid to Convivencia:
“Walking We Ask Questions”

by  Bill Templer  <bill_templer@yahoo.com>


Bill Templer is a member of the new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). A Chicago-born Israeli, he worked many years with the Negev Bedouin in southern Israel in their struggle for rights and dignity, and with Romanies in eastern Bulgaria. The original of this essay is in Next Left Notes, “A News Magazine Devoted To Direct Action”, at http://antiauthoritarian.net/NLN/current/templer_hamas.html.




      This time, for the first time in my life, I do feel a change in the air. The rebellion spirit of the Palestinian resistance is a spirit people can empathise with. You know why? Because the Palestinians are in the forefront of the war against evil. –Gilad Atzmon. [1]

      A new era in the Palestinian liberation struggle is upon us. Rather than just an electoral repudiation of Fatah’s long years of corruption, mismanagement and collaboration with the Israeli plutocracy, the extraordinary success of Hamas at the polls comes from the gut, the depths of despair of an entire population. It is a powerful protest against the Occupation, a loud NO to persistent efforts by the Israeli military and political class to force Palestinian surrender and crush their national rights.

      This vote by the Palestinian working masses was a resounding NO to political Zionism and its century-old agenda of Zionist segregation and land expropriation. NO to a pseudo–‘settlement’ imposed by Washington. NO to abandonment of the demand for a right of return for the millions of Palestinian refugees. NO to shredding Palestine into Bantustans. NO to the Great Wall of Palestine. A massive electoral expression of muqawama, resistance. As embodied in the name Hamas itself, an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement).

      Even as the victory was celebrated on Jan. 26, the Israeli army shot dead a nine-year-old girl in Gaza, Aya Al Astal, walking near the security fence.


That dark incident is an emblem of the nightmare beneath why the Palestinians cast their ballots for so many local Hamas candidates. The murderous oppression knows no end.

      This paper reflects on that victory, and on future pathways out of the impasse in Palestine/Israel, beyond the dead-end of the two-state solution. The social action of Hamas, its local dynamic pragmatism in addressing the everyday needs of Palestinians, may become the mother of inspiration for far more than observers at present can imagine.

      Israeli jazz artist, novelist and peace activist Gilad Atzmon put it pointedly:



      "Those who dwell in occupied Palestine had their say, they went to the poll and gave us all a major lesson. They presented us with the most heroic spirit of resistance. They told the West, and Israel, and the EU, and the Arab world … and the other gatekeepers, "you can all bugger off. We know what we want. We are tired of your phoney kindness. We are exhausted of your hypocritical willingness to help. We are sick of your solidarity. We don't want you to tell us what we are and what we should be. Don't liberate us and don't save our women. We will take care of it all from now on" [ibid.].

The Qalqilya Effect

      In particular, massive non-violent muqawama to the Wall has continued unabated, as has its construction and snaking path of strangulation and land expropriation. One contributing factor behind the victory is probably what has been called the "Qalqilya effect." Ali Abunimah observed:



      Take for example the city of Qalqilya in the north of the West Bank. Hemmed in by Israeli settlements and now completely surrounded by a concrete wall, the city's fifty thousand residents are prisoners in a Israeli-controlled giant ghetto. For years Qalqilya's city council was controlled by Fatah but after the completion of the wall, voters in last years' municipal elections awarded every single city council seat to Hamas. The Qalqilya effect has now spread across the occupied territories, with Hamas reportedly winning virtually all of the seats elected on a geographic basis. Thus Hamas' success is as much an expression of the determination of Palestinians to resist Israel's efforts to force their surrender as it is a rejection of Fatah. It reduces the conflict to its most fundamental elements: there is occupation, and there is resistance.[2]

Resistance to Ihtilal: the ‘Suffocation’

      It's useful to ponder a few facts of the singular political ecology of this election: it was carried out under the most grinding Occupation (Ihtilal, the ‘Suffocation’) currently in force anywhere on the planet — a free vote by ordinary people living under appalling oppression, in extreme poverty, their villages and towns turned into locked cages. Some two-thirds of the population lives below the official poverty line of $2.20 a day. A World Bank Report for 2004 described the economic situation as the “worst economic depression in history,” with unemployment of 60-70 percent in Gaza and 30-40 percent in the West Bank. The Palestine Authority itself is a major employer, with some 136,000 on its staff rolls, their salaries supplied largely by international donor Capital.

      31 of the candidates, 15 now elected, are behind bars in Israeli jails, probably unprecedented for any democratic poll in the world. That includes the most popular single Palestinian in the eyes of the masses, Marwan Barghouti of Fatah. The Hamas West Bank leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, elected in Ramallah, is also in prison.

      Sheikh Mohammed Abu Tir, second on the Hamas national list, spent most of the past 30 years in Israeli jails. The Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi were openly assassinated by Israeli air strikes in March and April 2004. So the massive pro-Hamas vote is also in part a payback and political ‘blowback’ for that kind of targeted state violence by the Israeli political elite, tacitly supported by Washington.

      To compound matters, some of those who won election are wanted by the Israeli authorities for ‘suspected involvement’ in anti-Israel violence. Most of these men are now in semi-seclusion, and fear arrest if they try to travel to Ramallah, the site of the Palestinian parliament. Is this the fruit of ‘free elections’ under an iron Occupation?

Refugees Excluded

      Nor should we forget: this election was a poll by a clear minority of the true electorate of the Palestinian people, the far greater majority of whom live as refugees in a vast Diaspora — mainly in the Middle East, most ‘ethnically cleansed’ in 1948 and 1967, and as second-class citizens inside Israel proper. If all Palestinians could vote in a pan-Palestinian plebiscite, who knows what the results might be. Their right of return should be high on the agenda. Hamas is absolutely committed to it.[3] Meanwhile, Washington, its allies and the UN went to extraordinary lengths to allow Iraqi “out of country voters” (even in Israel) to participate in the poll in Iraq. But those same powers have shown no interest in giving Palestinian refugees a voice of any kind. They are ‘silenced’ in a classic sense.

Rooted in the Working People

      Most centrally, Hamas is a multi-sided grassroots movement rooted since its founding in 1988 in the working people, the neighborhoods: its activities in the Palestinian street have concentrated on building an extensive education network, distribution of basic foodstuffs for the holidays, aid to the poor, youth camps, sports, care for the elderly, scholarships, sponsorship of light industry, and religious services in the mosques.

      Armed resistance, the activity of the jihadist shahid (martyr for the faith) and the Ezzedin al-Qassem brigades, is a relatively small part of its program, demonized by the Western media as “terrorism” with no cause. It is Palestine’s principal weapon against military occupation. One of the Hamas women elected in Gaza, Mariam Farahat, known as Um Nidal (Mother of the Struggle), helped send three of her sons as shahid. She told ABC news: “Our land is occupied. You take all the means to banish the occupier. I sacrificed my children for this holy, patriotic duty. I love my children, but as Muslims we pressure ourselves and sacrifice our emotions for the interest of the homeland.”

      Islamic fundamentalism is a major strand in Hamas ideology and integrity, but many of their supporters in the Palestinian street are secular and will remain so. As anarchist activist Ilan Shalif stressed: “From the polls it seems that the voters of Fatah and Hamas did not differ so much where their level of religious fervour was concerned”.[4] Some of its leaders and rank-and-file are hard-line, others are ‘pragmatists.’ People learn to distinguish between rhetoric and action.

      The Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya has anchored itself not as a political party but a genuine people’s movement of mutual aid, highly efficient — and resistance to an entire choreography of systematic oppression. As one Palestinian village resident put it in response to ‘why people chose Hamas’: “if you sit with them they will say: ‘We hate Fatah. They did nothing for us. A few poor people suddenly became rich people. Hamas worked in another way. They worked with society. They worked with the poor.’” Many Palestinian Christians also cast their ballot for Hamas. Now anticipating a heavier Israel military hand in their daily lives, another villager commented: “They knew what they voted for … They know the consequences. If they want to liberate their land, they have to suffer”.[5] And the big gains for Hamas were among the local candidates, precisely at this scale. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. secretly channeled $2 million to Fatah in the closing phase of the campaign.

“Paradise Now”

      Hany Abu-Assad’s Oscar-nominated film “Paradise Now” tells the story of 24 hours in the lives of two Palestinian youths who have decided to carry out a suicide bombing on an Israeli bus in Tel Aviv. Peace activist Uri Avnery on the film: IF ONE wants to understand what the Palestinians did on election day, one has to see the film ‘Paradise Now’, which has been nominated for an Oscar for the best foreign film, after collecting several prestigious international prizes. It explains better than a million words. … The film addresses a question that is troubling everyone in Israel, and perhaps throughout the world: Why do they do it? What makes a person get up in the morning and decide to blow himself up in the middle of a crowd of people in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv? And some of the people also ask: Who are they? What is their background? How did they come to be like that? Today, a long time after it was made, the film also answers another question: Why did the great majority of the Palestinians elect the very group that sent these people to blow themselves up? The film answers these questions. Not with slogans, not with propaganda speeches, nor with an academic report. It does not preach, praise or get mad. It tells a story. The story says everything.[6]

      Make sure you see the film. Never has a Palestinian film been nominated by the Oscar clique.

Imperative Now: De-Demonize Hamas, Oppose
Efforts to Withhold International Funds

      John Whitbeck projects a possible scenario Condy Rice is already trying to choreograph:



      It appears that the "destruction of Israel" (already recited in the Western media virtually as though it formed part of Hamas' name) will become the new catch phrase used to justify avoiding negotiations or even "talks", as well as Israel's withholding of Palestinian customs revenues, the West's withholding of financial aid for Palestinian subsistence under occupation and a concerted effort to make the Palestinian people regret their flirtation with democracy and starve them into submission.[7]

      Such withholding of funds is a form of international political blackmail. Progressive forces need to be on the alert and mount a campaign of protest against any such concerted efforts to in effect strangle and ostracize the new Palestinian leadership, plunging it into huge deficit and financial chaos. This will indeed be the “Class War from Above,” orchestrated by international donor Capital, on Hamas and the will of the Palestinian people to resist, a form of geopolitical extortion. You can write a letter to your representative in Washington urging Congress not to stop aid: http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizations/uscampaign/campaign.jsp?campa\.

      It is time to de-demonize Hamas and listen to the will of the Palestinians, their voice. That is also the gist of Uri Avnery’s (Peace Bloc/Gush Shalom) analysis. Gilad Atzmon echoes this and ups the ante:



      If we are as democratic as we claim to be, it is down to us to respect and welcome the Palestinian people’s choice. I would suggest that to support Palestine is to support the Palestinian people and their right of return regardless of their political, theological or cultural choices.[8]

      Ever more Israelis may come to share that view. Ever more are disgusted with the militarization of their society and concomitant brutalization, its colonial-settler ideology of inequality, segregation and might over right, the endless bloodshed, the insanity of the ever expanding West Bank settlements.[9] Whatever the fundamentalist views of some strands in Hamas leadership, are they any more ‘extreme’ than some of the Jewish religious parties that may play a role in the next Israeli government? The sacralization of politics is a distinctive element on both sides of this divide.

“Sorcerer’s Apprenticeship”?

      But Gilbert Achcar’s astute analysis of this victory through a macro-geopolitical lens that sees it as the fruit of the “catastrophic management of U.S. policy in the Middle East by the Bush administration” or the Israeli ruling class (their ‘sorcerer’s apprentice’) is blinkered. Almost Orientalist, it robs Palestinians of their voice, operating at a plane of abstraction (“clash of barbarisms”) far above the scale of real people, their shattered lives and anger. Surely this outpouring of disaffection and defiance cannot be reduced by some kind of simplistic geopolitical calculus to an appraisal that contends once again the Israelis ‘engineered’ Palestinian response: “the electoral victory of Hamas is the outcome that Sharon's strategy was very obviously seeking”.[10] In some extrapolated sense that may be true, especially for those in the military who have sought to ‘churn’ the Intifada. At the same time, give Palestinian workers the integrity of their own agency, their political dignity in their own life-worlds — instead of constructing them as ‘pawns’ manipulated in some master neo-con game of regional control.

Beyond the Rotting of Oslo: Thinking Outside the Box

      The Hamas victory is a watershed. It is time for a new political class in Israel to move forward to a just solution. Beyond the contradictions, hypocrisies and cul-de-sac of the Oslo process. Mahmud al-Zahar, a key harder-line Hamas leader in Gaza, put it well: “As for a future government, we are putting all the possibilities on the table. What has the Israeli government presented to us? Nothing. Oslo is not only dead, it has rotted.” Khalid Mish’al, head of the Hamas Political Bureau, wrote:



      Our message to the Israelis is this: we do not fight you because you belong to a certain faith or culture. Jews have lived in the Muslim world for 13 centuries in peace and harmony; they are in our religion "the people of the book" who have a covenant from God and His Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) to be respected and protected. Our conflict with you is not religious but political. … But if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms. Hamas is extending a hand of peace to those who are truly interested in a peace based on justice.[11]

      If the “‘two state solution’ has been all but killed off by the very powers who today claim to be supporting it, primarily Israel and the U.S. [and] the fictitious ‘Road Map’ is as much on life support as is Ariel Sharon himself”,[12] perhaps other options can begin to be envisioned and pragmatic steps taken toward their realization. Many foresaw that the Oslo agreement would not bring stability to the region because it spelled Palestinian capitulation to colonization, no settlement freeze, the continuation of apartheid within Israel and across the West Bank and the de-Arabization of Palestine. Adam Hanieh notes: “The Hamas victory helps to dispel the myths surrounding the negotiations of the last decade. The Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip has overwhelmingly stated that these negotiations have merely been a cover for the deepening of Israeli apartheid”.[13]

      Whatever the prevailing ‘two-state fantasies’ in the pipeline, none can provide a lasting just solution to the intractable impasse in Palestine. The populations are too massively intertwined (1.3 million Palestinians live in Israel, and 450,000 Jews in the West Bank), the physical geography of water and transport militates against it. The apartheid nature of the Israeli ‘ethnocracy’,[14] marginalizing its large Arab citizenry, cries out for radical change and civil equality within Israel. Moreover, both peoples’ identities and national meta-narratives are now interwoven with the total area of historic Palestine, most especially that of Hamas. In a unitary state, those narratives would move to revision. The very upending of old structures and command networks on both sides of the divide signaled by the Hamas breakthrough at the municipal level (and Sharon’s demise) may open up new wormholes in anti-state space.

An Old Vision Revitalized: One Democratic State

      Can we imagine ordinary people working together to build a single democratic state for all Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, one democratic polity, its citizens living in ta’ayush (solidarity) and full equality? Sound totally utopian? This is the concrete vision of the Palestinian peace activist Mazin Qumsiyeh, as laid out in a powerful article in 2005. The compelling 2004 Olga Appeal by a group of non-Zionist Israeli intellectuals is also in this spirit.[15]

      Virginia Tilley’s comprehensive and incisive study The One-State Solution (University of Michigan Press 2005) is illuminating. Though a concrete political anti-capitalist pathway forward to that new symbiosis is not projected, her overall description of the present dead-end and pragmatic argument for one unitary polity in Palestine is cogent. The book deserves wide discussion.

      And now there is an association: a growing fusion of people across the planet, including Israeli Jews and Palestinians, banded together in the organization The Association for One Democratic State in Palestine/Israel (http://www.one-democratic-state.org). They deserve your interest and support. Join the group’s ranks. Prof. Mahmoud Musa is its president (see [15]). There is a broad spectrum of political opinion, united by orientation to a few core principles for a unitary state.

      Writing on the Hamas victory, Whitbeck is visionary:



      The "destruction of Israel" is clearly a negative formulation. The "creation of a fully democratic state with equal rights for all" in all of Israel/Palestine could be a positive reformulation which would be recognized by the world as just and offer genuine hope for peace and reconciliation [ibid.].

      The revitalizing of the demand for refugee return could be part of that new agenda, as Hanieh suggests.

‘One State’ and Beyond

      Perhaps the election victory of Hamas is a first step on that path to building a polity and society beyond the nation-state, a ‘no-state solution’ — a cooperative Arab-Jewish commonwealth in the ancient land of Canaan. Hamas’s own practical agenda, as it emerges, will initially likely be quite different, anchored in its 1988 Charter. But politics is in powerful flux, if people can discover new modalities for political organization in the workplace and neighborhood. Hamas may prove to be an inventive amalgam of pragmatism and principle.

Zapatismo in Palestine/Israel: Ya Basta/Khalas!

      Social pragmatist paradigms for such bottom-up organizing are now multiplying in Latin America, within Zapatismo in Chiapas, the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) in Brazil, the rise of the indigenous peoples in Bolivia, Ecuador and elsewhere, and as a complex of autonomous movements across Argentina, a “socialism of the people, participatory and decentralized”.[16] An analogous ferment is needed as an organizing tactic and avenue forward here. Holloway talks about it:

      Probably we have to think of advancing through experiments and questions: “preguntando caminamos”\“walking we ask questions”, as the Zapatistas put it. To think of moving forward through questions rather than answers means a different sort of politics, a different sort of organization. If nobody has the answers, then we have to think not of hierarchical structures of leadership, but horizontal structures that involve everyone as much as possible. What do we want? I think we want self-determination – the possibility of creating our own lives, the assumption of our own humanity. This means collective self-determination.[17]

      In Palestine, that would require a massive popular movement to “regain the commons” among ordinary Jews and Arabs, energizing a new ensemble of struggles for direct and inclusive democracy and participatory economy. It means bringing people in the neighborhoods into a new kind of political and economic decision-making in their own streets and communities, a pro-active role in the management of their own affairs, their work places.[18] Building an infrastructure of what was called in the togetherness of Arabs and Sephardic Jews in Spain in the Golden Age of Arab-Jewish symbiosis “convivencia.”

      The goal of a libertarian-socialist multicultural and multi-faith Commonwealth could begin to energize new forms of decentralized direct democracy, people’s participation and horizontalism, neighborhood autonomy as it moves beyond notions of any conventional capitalist ‘state’ run by a corporate ruling class, in Israel a veiled dictatorship of 15 families over the Israeli economy, media and politics.

      The people’s NO to the old politics in Palestine was a protest against their own lack of political participation and disaffection, their daily ordeal of dispossession and denigration under the Ihtilal. Those masses may well be open to proposals for new forms of political life, based on local control, autonomy and creative resistance. Perhaps, as realism will require, initially within a Hamas-Green armature for transformation. Mousa Abu Marzook has emphasized: “Hamas has pledged transparency in government. Honest leadership will result from the accountability of its public servants. Hamas has elected 15 female legislators poised to play a significant role in public life. The movement has forged genuine and lasting relationships with Christian candidates.” It is explicitly open to pluralism, a major role for Palestinian women on the political road ahead. Marzook: “fair governance demands that the Palestinian nation be represented in a pluralistic environment. A new breed of Islamic leadership is ready to put into practice faith-based principles in a setting of tolerance and unity”.[19]

One Big Union

      Grassroots working-class syndicalism among Palestinians and Israelis, forging new bonds of solidarity, is one pathway out of the morass of the ‘national question’ — and the immense ever widening gap between poor and rich in Israeli-Jewish society. It can become a hands-on incubator for overcoming mutual distrust. One option that can appeal to workers and the many unemployed is to create IWW-like base groups in both communities. Not a small political party, but a work-oriented horizontally structured independent movement —oriented to people’s everyday problems to make ends meet and have a say, and broader issues of self-determination and vernacular dignity. Building, from the bottom up, a scaffolding for organizing and change, aspiring to “a world in which production and distribution are organized by workers ourselves to meet the needs of the entire population, not merely a handful of exploiters”.[20] A Wobbly union is one such non-hierarchical vessel for nurturing autonomy. It is lean, concrete, a structure workers can understand.

      Or imagine a movement like that of Argentina’s Piquetaros (picketers) across Israel and Palestine: protesters, many unemployed and underemployed workers, staging marches again and again against the government to draw attention to the people’s plight.

      But authentic organization springs from struggle, not vice versa. That must begin and be sustained.

A Call for Urgent Solidarity: Anarchists Against the Wall

      It has: and one key ongoing battle deserves your support now. Kobi Snitz in Tel Aviv has issued a call for online donations to the legal fund of Anarchists Against the Wall (AATW, Anarkhistim Neged ha-Gader): http://www.awalls.org. Help of various kinds, including direct participation on the front lines, is much welcome. The repression of internationals on this front by the Israeli military and police has been vicious.

      AATW is involved in both direct action and demonstrations against the Wall, especially at the embattled villages of Budrus and Bil’in in the West Bank. It is committed to a joint struggle of Palestinians and Israelis. AATW's contribution, an unprecedented mode of joint Arab-Jewish sumud (steadfastness), is widely recognized in both the Palestinian and Israeli media, and is regularly reported on AINFOS [A-Infos: Anarchist News Service http://www.ainfos.ca/].


Joint Palestinian-Israeli demonstration against the Wall, Bil'in, Occupied
West Bank, January 2006 (Photo Credit: Gush Shalom)

      In part linked with them is the organization One Struggle/Ma’avak Ehad (http://www.onestruggle.org), another dedicated vegan anarchist group in frontal confrontation with all aspects of the Israeli state. Ma’avak Ehad, which initially helped spawn AATW, also deserves libertarian solidarity.[21]

      In its fierce commitment to direct action, AATW could serve as a mini-paradigm of joint Palestinian-Israeli action, its praxis perhaps a template for future more systematic radical organizing of workers (and students as workers-to-be), One Big Union ‘from the river to the sea.’ New beginnings for convivencia. Whether that is ‘Western cultural colonialism’ in the political sense that Atzmon criticizes only joint struggle will determine. Before the Hamas victory in local elections last December, Mazin Qumsiyeh wrote:

      Will insular groups who believe in the purity of their message keep doing what they are doing and hope for the best? Or will we put our heads together, ratchet up our activism, and coordinate our activism in ways that develop effective (i.e. result driven) strategies and appropriate tactics to implement these strategies (from capacity building to media work to lobbying etc). The next six months are critical … Are we up to the challenges of the moment to build an effective 21st century anti-apartheid, anti-neo-colonial movement and to shape our own future as a human family? [22]

NOTES for Bill Templer’s essay

1. Gilad Atzmon, "Western Cultural Colonialism and the Palestinian Choice," http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/; see also http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/article_20915.shtml.

2. Ali Abunimah. "Hamas Election Victory: A Vote for Clarity," The Electronic Intifafa, Jan. 26, 2006, http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4425.shtml.

3. As Khalid Mish’al stated: "Our message to the Palestinians is this: our people are not only those who live under siege in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip but also the millions languishing in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria and the millions spread around the world unable to return home. We promise you that nothing in the world will deter us from pursuing our goal of liberation and return." See Khalid Mish’al, "We will not sell our people or principles for foreign aid," Guardian, Jan. 31, 2006, http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,,1698702,00.html.

4. Ilan Shalif, "Palestinian Parliamentary Elections: The Hamas Victory ," href="http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=2320.

5. I. Fisher, "Villagers Who Voted for Hamas Saw Hope Despite Obstacles," New York Times, Jan. 27, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/27/international/middleeast/27cnd-voices.html.

6. Uri Avnery, "… Shall We Not Revenge?," Feb. 4, 2006, Gush Shalom (http.://www.gush-shalom.org); see also: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4442.shtml.

7. J. V. Whitbeck, "De-demonize Hamas and support democracy," posted on USQuagmire listserv, Jan. 27, 2006.

8. G. Atzmon, "Where to now, Palestine? Some reflections," http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2006/01/gilad-atzmon-where-to-now-palestine.html.

9. See especially the work of New Profile, http://www.newprofile.org/default.asp?language=en.

10. Gilbert Achcar, "First Reflections On The Electoral Victory Of Hamas," Jan. 27, 2006, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=9607.

11. Khalid Mish’al, "We will not sell our people or principles for foreign aid."

12. "Hamastan Indeed," Mid East Realities, Jan. 26, 2006, http://www.middleeast.org/mernew.htm.

13. Oren Yiftachel, "‘Ethnocracy’: The Politics of Judaizing Israel/Palestine," Constellations 6 (1999), http://www.geog.bgu.ac.il/members/yiftachel/new_papers_eng/Constellations-print.htm.

14. Adam Hanieh, "The End of a Political Fiction?," http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/1772?PHPSESSID=81750c8739aeb00401b669854c9e0bff.

15. M. Qumsiyeh, "A Two-State Solution is No Solution: Thinking Outside the Box on Israel / Palestine" (CounterPunch, June 2005, http://www.qumsiyeh.org/thinkingoutsidethebox/ ); Olga Appeal at http://www.qumsiyeh.org/theolgaappeal/). See also "One State for Palestine - Israel: Silvia Cattori interviews Mahmoud Musa," Dec. 3, 2005, http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2005/12/one-state-for-palestine-israel-silvia.html; key to this perspective are articles by Noel Ignatiev, "Toward a Single State Solution: Zionism, Anti-Semitism and the People of Palestine," (CounterPunch, June 17, 2004, http://www.counterpunch.org/ignatiev06172004.html) and Omar Barghouti, "Relative Humanity. The Fundamental Obstacle to a One State Solution" (ZNet, Dec. 16, 2003, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=22&ItemID=4696.

16. Judy Rebick, "Socialism in the 21st Century," http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/1767?PHPSESSID=30a53693842caebbebbe0d8bd9bb22ed; see also Marina Sitrin, "Horizontalidad in Argentina," http://info.interactivist.net/article.pl?sid=05/07/26/1417232 and idem, Horizontalidad: Voces de Poder Popular en Argentina, Chilavert 2005.

17. See M. Sitrin and J. Holloway, "Walking We Ask Questions," http://spip.red.m2014.net/article.php3?id_article=118. The ongoing re-establishment of the SDS in North America is a kindred potential paradigm for ideas for participatory social activism, with a strong libertarian socialist thrust, http://www.studentsforademocraticsociety.org.

18. See B. Templer, "Tanks & Ostriches," http://the-dawn.org/2004/08/ostriches.html and idem, "Thirteen Theses," http://midwestpopulistparty.org/Bill_Templer_Article_2.html.

19. Mousa Abu Marzook, "What Hamas is Seeking," Washington Post, Jan. 31, 2006.

20. IWW homepage, Edmonton/Alberta. The IWW grew internationally by some 35% in 2005, celebrating its 100th anniversary in struggle. A very active exemplary IWW local is the Edmonton General Membership Branch (http://edmonton.iww.ca/ ). See their newsletter, The Wobbly Dispatch (http://edmonton.iww.ca/Wob-Dispatch-Iss3.pdf.

21. A well-informed brief analysis of the work of One Struggle is W. Budington, "Animal Rights Activists: Up against the Wall," the student underground, Oct. 2005, http://www.thestudentunderground.org/article.php?id=16&issue=51.

22. M. Qumsiyeh, "Changes in Israel-Palestine: Letter to Activists," Dec. 8, 2005, http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2005/12/mazin-qumsiyeh-changes-in-israel.html.


Other notes

[1]
The exchange between the rabbi and Albert Einstein was in the New York Times obituary published one or a few days after Einstein’s death on April 18, 1955 at age 76.

[2] The new posting I had announced was “Readers’ replies to, & more comments on article: Bleed the Monster, or, we gotta get the world straightened out” at http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/Strate/Discus/2005-12-18com.htm.

[3] The letter was to James Herod <jamesherod@gmail.com>, on December 28, 2005.


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