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Dear friends As I have previously announced, we are now “freezing” the blog.  We are also making archives of the blog available for free download in various formats (see below). 

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by Mr. Allen for the Saker blog Over the last few years, we hear leaders from both Russia and China pronouncing that they have formed a relationship where there are

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Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

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offsite link Could Ed Miliband Bring Down the Government? Sat Jul 13, 2024 15:00 | Will Jones
Ed Miliband is reportedly set to end new drilling in the North Sea and the cost of Net Zero is projected to run into the hundreds of billions. The scene is being set for the failures that could bring down the Government.
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offsite link British Empire Must be Presented Like Nazi Germany, Curriculum Guidelines Insist Sat Jul 13, 2024 13:00 | Will Jones
The British Empire should be taught to school pupils like Nazi Germany, curriculum guidelines from the "leading provider of support for schools and trusts? insist.
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Labour was accused of "gambling with public safety" as it unveiled a plan to free prisoners after just 40% of their sentence and a Minister suggested jail terms should be shorter still.
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offsite link Labour Set to Ban Puberty Blockers Permanently Sat Jul 13, 2024 09:00 | Will Jones
A ban on puberty blockers brought in by the Tories before the election could be made permanent as the Labour Party takes a harder stance on transgender issues.
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If Keir Starmer really intends to govern "unburdened by doctrine" why did he put a swivel-eyed climate zealot in charge of Britain's energy policy?
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Report on SOAS Conference on The Left in Palestine

category international | rights, freedoms and repression | opinion/analysis author Saturday March 06, 2010 18:26author by Freda Hughes - Personal Capacity Report this post to the editors

The School for Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London organised a conference on the Left in Palestine through it's Palestine Society from February 27th-28th. As far as I know this is the first conference covering this specific area of the Palestinian question and, thus, it had the potential to open up much needed debate on the subject.
Ahmad Sa'di, Bashir Abu-Manneh (Chair), Issam Makhoul and Areen Hawari
Ahmad Sa'di, Bashir Abu-Manneh (Chair), Issam Makhoul and Areen Hawari

This report contains merely my impressions from the conference. I do not pretend to be an expert on the Left in Palestine or even the Left in general. I am an unaligned leftist, but am primarily an activist who campaigns for Palestine as a volunteer with the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. This piece is written in a personal capacity.

The conference consisted of seven sessions spread over two days dealing with The Left in British Mandate Palestine, The Left of the PLO, both in exile and in the West Bank and Gaza, The Palestinian Left in Israel and The Israeli Anti- Zionist Left, The Palestinian Left in Literature and ending with a roundtable discussion entitled Towards a New Left Programme for the Palestinian Struggle.

From the onset Western bias against resistence movements was made obvious by the fact that three of the invited speakers were not allowed to travel to London to attend. Leila Khaled of the PFLP and Azmi Bishara of the Balad Party could not obtain visas and Jamal Juma, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, had his passport illegally confiscated by Israeli authorities after being detained for legitimately voicing his opposition to the Wall. The conference opened with a DVD presentation from Azmi Bishara in an attempt to overcome these imposed limitations.

The first session, The Left in British-Mandate Palestine, was chaired by John Rose was hosted by an impressive panel of Ilan Pappe, Leena Dallasheh and Musa Budeiri. Musa gave an informative talk titled, The Last Venture:Communists, Nationalists and Settlers in Palestine. Ilan Pappe, who recently spoke in Dublin, spoke about the contradictions of the Zionist Left while Leena Dallasheh presented a paper which death with the labour movement in late mandate Palestine.

At this point I want to give a very brief background to the left wing struggle within Palestine (West Bank and Gaza) as a backdrop to the issues discussed here.

The Arab Nationalist Movement was a Pan Arab nationalist, anti-imperialist, socialist, (but not explicitly Marxist ) movement that had its roots in student struggles in the Middle East in the 1940s and 50 and formed in 1958. It had sections all over the Middle East, but by 1968 had disintegrated due to internal squabbling. One wing became basically Nasserite in it's outlook and the other basically inspired by Marxism-Leninism.

The Marxist-Leninists gathered around George Habash (1926-2008) and The Arab Socialist Action Party was formed in 67/68. In this Habash played a key role in founding it's Palestinian section, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and became it's general secretary. By 1968 the PFLP had about 2 or 3,000 fighters mostly in Palestinian refugee camps. It's HQ was in Syria and it also had a big presence in Jordan. In 1969 the PFLP declared its self Marxist-Leninist, but unlike other Palestinian factions retained the anti-imperialism of Pan Arab nationalism (ie. the belief in overthrowing right wing and reactionary Arab regimes). Today they have 3 Palestinian Legislative Council members. The armed wing is called the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, and the PFLP has been designated a terrorist organisation by the EU since 2005.

In 1968 the PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC) split from the PFLP arguing that the PFLP was not focused enough on military activity. Led by Ahmed Jibril, it was a totally rejectionist group, quasi-Marxist, quasi-Islamist. It is backed by Syria and has no popular base in Palestine, but does enjoy some support in refugee camps, especially in Lebanon. It is also designated a terrorist organisation by the EU.

In 1976 the Palestine Liberation Front split from the PFLP-GC following the GC's attacks on the PLO in Lebanon. A nasty internecine conflict broke out between the two groups, for example one GC attack on the Lebanon offices of PLFP left approximately 200 people dead. They still exist today but are very small.

In 1969 the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (later the DFLP) split from PFLP, as an ostensibly Maoist group, arguing that too much focus was being placed on militarism and not enough on grassroots politics. Ironically this probably had a lot to do with Habash and his supporters attempting to remedy the perceived problems that led to the PFLF-GC split the year before. It was led by Nayef Hawatmeh. The DFLP carried out attacks throughout the 1970's and 80's but it has only minimal armed capabilities today. It is not a designated a terrorist organisation by the EU.

The FIDA [Palestinian Democratic Union] were a 1990 split from DFLP, which took a lot of the West Bank DFLP with them. They were inspired by Gorbachev's reforms in the USSR and today they believe in a two state solution with an emphasis on democratisation over class struggle.

In 1972 the Popular Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PRFLP) split from PFLP under Abu Shibab arguing that Habash was too right wing. At most it had around 150-200 members, and no longer exists.
The Palestinian People's Party was originally founded in 1982 as the Palestinian Communist Party, which itself was originally founded in 1919, but had split with the foundation of the Israeli state and the annexation of the West Bank. Between the 1948 partition of Palestine and their refoundation in 1982 it's West Bank activists operated as part of the Jordanian Communist Party, while those in the 1948 joined the Israeli Communist Party. The Israeli Communist Party which forms part of the Hadash alliance is a party which operates inside Israel, but is made up of majority Palestinian citizens of Israel. The ppp joined the PLO in 1987 and was an enthusiastic promoter of the Oslo accords.

The first session, The Left in British-Mandate Palestine, was chaired by John Rose was hosted by an impressive panel of Ilan Pappe, Leena Dallasheh and Musa Budeiri. Musa Budeiri gave an informative talk entitled, The Last Venture:Communists, Nationalists and Settlers in Palestine. Ilan Pappe, who recently spoke in Dublin, spoke about the contradictions of the Zionist Left while Leena Dallasheh presented a paper which dealt with the labour movement in late mandate Palestine and focused particularly on Nazareth.

Session 2 began with a DVD presentation by Leila Khaled who spoke about how the Left gained power and popular support in the refugee camps through social mobilisation. She spoke of how the PFLP leaders and organisers in the camps were aware of, and involved in, all elements of the social struggle from the bottom up in the camps. By focusing on the societal needs of civil society they gained the trust and support of the people. Leila is a member of the PFLP and Palestinian National Council and is a symbol of Palestinian resistance. She was born in Haifa, but fled to Lebanon with her family in 1948 as a refugee. In 1969 she was involved in the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 from Rome to Athens which was diverted to Damascus were all passengers were released before the aircraft was blown up. In 1970 she was involved in a second hijack mission which failed leading to her arrest. She was released later that year as part of a prisoner exchange programme. She now lives in Amman, Jordan.

Gilbert Achar and Jamil Hilal also spoke during this session which was chaired by Laleh Khalili. For more in depth analysis of this session and sessions 3 and 4 watch the comments section below or watch out for future posts.
During Session 3 I was particularly struck by Aitemad Muhanna's paper entitled “The rise of Hamas, the Fall of Leftist Ideology?”which contained within it a feminist critique of the PFLP in Gaza. Toufic Haddad's charismatic presentation on “The Left in the Post-Oslo Era” was also really interesting and the panel for this session was probably the most dynamic and energetic of the weekend.

The Session (4) on The Palestinian Left in the Israeli State saw the peculiar juxtaposition of Issam Makhoul of the Israeli Communist Party with researcher Ahmad Sa'di who discussed how the shift in the USSR's position towards Zionism has shaped the political orientations, debates and political activities among Palestinian leftist groups in Israel. Given the Israeli Communist Party's history of taking it's line directly from Moscow, this was perceived as an attack on Issam Makhoul and his party by some and Makhoul walked out of the session.

Session five, The Israeli Anti-Zionist Left was chaired by exiled Israeli academic Nira Yuval-Davis who was a member of Matzpen. Matzpen (“ The Socialist Organisation in Israel”) was founded in 1962 by ex-members of the Israeli Communist Party. As an organisation it committed itself to a socialist revolution based on councils elected by the workers, was opposed to Zionism and called for recognition of the Palestinian people’s national rights. It ceased to exist as a group in the 1980's, but many of it's members are still actively campaign against Zionism. She was joined on the panel by Matzpen founder member Moshe Machover and ex-Matzpen member and founder of the Alternative Information Centre, Michael Warschawski. The panel also consisted of Adar Grayevsky from Anarchists Against the Wall and Prof. Sami Shalom Chetrit.

I was not particularly impressed with Chetrit's paper which developed the theory that Misrahi/Oriental Jews are equally as oppressed as Palestinians by the Ashkenazi Jews in Israel and that this some how shows hope for future alliances. While the Misrahi do form a large part of the working class within Israel they are not divorced in any way from the Zionist ideals of the state. His analysis of the Misrahi question was interesting, but his attempts to link this in a constructive way to the Palestinian struggle against Zionism were tenuous especially given the history of the Shas party, which depends heavily on the Misrahi vote and has recently joined the World Zionist Organisation.

Warschawski provided us with an excellent analysis of the origins of Matzpen right through it's decline and on to the more recent Israeli Anti-Zionist opposition to the Wall and the occupation through groups like Anarchists Against the Wall. I was impressed by his progressive grassroots approach not only to activism, but also to his analysis. He showed a genuine respect for the new generation of Israeli Anti- Zionist activists and for the Popular Committees within Palestine. From the audience I asked the question of how best to deal with left wing opposition to the boycott hoping that, as a prominent speaker on Boycott From Within, he would provide me with the rhetoric to effectively deal with this problem without having to enter into a lengthy debate as often happens within the left in Ireland and which rarely results in opponents of the boycott deviating from their party line. Unfortunately he did not provide the audience with this, but replied that the panel of left wing, socialist, Anti-Zionist Israeli activists in front of me was a living example that left wing opposition to the boycott based on the 'universal workers rights clause' was unfounded. This of course is a view that I already share as a promoter of the BDS campaign.

Adar Grayevsky who, despite her Zionist upbringing, has spent the last five years participating in the joint popular struggle against the wall and the occupation. She is a member of Ta'ayush and Anarchists Against the Wall and is currently studying to become a human rights lawyer. She spoke openly about her own personal prejudices which were challenged as she became more immersed in the struggle and the non-partisan approach to Anti-Zionism that is common amongst Anarchists Against the Wall and the Popular Committees. By discussing the struggle in villages like Bil'in and Nil'in she showed that there is hope for success through popular struggle despite the multifaceted difficulties it faces. She noted the Israeli Defence Force's decision to finally act upon the Supreme Court Ruling of 2007 and adjust the route of the Wall which cuts through the village of Bil'in.

Moshe Machover made two main points in his presentation;

1. In Israel the struggle for socialism must be part of a regional struggle; and it necessarily implies a struggle to overthrow Zionism.

2.Conversely, a defensive struggle against the worst effects of Zionism can be waged on its own as a series of one-issue campaigns, by single issue groupings; but Zionism cannot and will not be overthrown in this way. It can only be overthrown as part of a socialist transformation of the entire region, the Arab East. And it requires an organization set up according to this strategy.

Audience member Tony Greenstein engaged in a prolonged exchange with Machover.
Machover's speech and the exchange between Machover and Greenstein is further explored in Greensteins blog

Machover's view that Zionism can only be overthrown by a socialist transformation of the Middle East, although it has some merit, is not one that shows much hope for the struggle in the near future.

Session 6 focused on The Palestinian Left in Literature

Session 7. The conference closed with a roundtable discussion entitled “Towards a New Left Programme for the Palestinian Struggle” chaired by Gilbert Achar. Achar stressed that audience participation was essential and welcome in this discussion, however the panel for this session was rather large and this led to inevitable time constraints. Nevertheless, at least ten audience questions were accepted , most of which were addressed by the speakers. Unfortunately one of the most practical questions, posed by Greg Dropkin of the Liverpool PSC, regarding the use of the Cairo Declaration - in fighting against Apartheid and promoting BDS - as a universally accepted document within and outside Palestine was not addressed at all. Audience frustrations, at times, came to the fore during this session. Some felt that the issue of the Right of Return had not been sufficiently addressed and others were frustrated by the lack of genuine representation from members of left wing Palestinian parties ie. not Arab parties operating within Israel. (Aitemad Muhanna is ex-PFLP and Leila Khaled was not at the conference in person, but addressed it by DVD link up.) I don't think anyone really touched on the elephant in the room, namely that the priorities of the struggle for Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza is very different from that of Palestinians living in Israel which is different again from that of the Diaspora.

This session was opened by Jamal Juma by DVD link up. He discussed what he viewed as the three main obstacles to a unified left in Palestine.

1.Israeli Zionism and it's occupation is an obvious obstacle.

2.He spoke of differing perspectives and ideologies coupled with competitiveness or distrust between Palestinian groups as another major stumbling block, especially in the absence of a strong leadership figure.

3.The PA and Fatah were cited as another major factor in the lack of unity of the left. He spoke of the PA actively working against any process that could lead to unity as this would challenge the perception that the secular struggle still belonged to the Fatah and technocratic allies in the PA. By allowing the left to achieve unity and flourish in Palestine they would finally be letting go of any credibility that Fatah, under Arafat, had established amongst the Western Left. Furthermore, as Fatah have abandoned all concern for social struggle in favour of embracing capitalism, a strong left would provide an obstacle to this consensus.

During the Q&A session I asked the following question;

“ When faced with a collaborationist, corrupt government on one hand and an Islamist government on the other, presenting a secular left wing alternative seems like a viable option. However, given the fractious nature of the left in Europe and it's general unpopularity with Western governments there will obviously be problems with this. There is also the concern that within western solidarity movements various left wing factions may attempt to claim the left wing secular struggle as their own, thus inevitably worsening it's cause within mainstream society. When we are also faced with so many battling ideologies amongst the Palestinian left what should be the guiding principles for PSCs and international solidarity groups when promoting the Palestinian Left in Europe?”

Jamal Zahalka, Knesset member and Chairman of the National Democratic Assembly – Balad (Tajamu Party), addressed my question by suggesting that a unified Palestinian Left should operate as an internal solidarity campaign and be non-partisan in it's approach. This, he felt, was the only way it could succeed in gathering international mass support.

His response contrasted sharply with Gilbert Achar's comments from the previous day when he said that the struggle against Zionism could only be won from within. Although I was generally quite impressed by Achar these closing remarks surprised me given the part played by international pressure in the wider South African struggle against Apartheid and also in light of the repeated calls for international support from within Palestinian civil society.

There was an overall inconclusiveness to the conference in that it didn't really provide/suggest any viable way forward or practical course of action. With such vast representation from PSCs, international solidarity groups, the Palestinian diaspora and academics present I felt that including a session were people broke off into workshops may have yielded some practical outcomes. A suggestion was made by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi from Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG) that an internet discussion forum should be established in the aftermath of the conference. I would very much like to see this idea realised as it would, at least, keep the debate alive. Despite the lack of practical outcomes this was an excellent academic initiative. It was informative and hosted a great panel of speakers. This conference also provided excellent networking opportunities for solidarity activists and academics.

I was glad to hear that the IPSC is well known for it's strong media and awareness raising campaigns, networking and mobilisation abilities and CRH divestment campaign. It is well regarded for it's well organised and pro-active campaigning approach to Palestinian solidarity work. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) boycott motion and report from it's delegation to Palestine is also well renowned and has generated much action and dialogue amongst other trade union groups and PSCs.

The Palestine Committee of Norway struck me as really impressive in its multifaceted approach to solidarity work. As well as working at 'home-based' solidarity initiatives with civil society, politicians and trade unions, they also send regular delegations of medics, trade union workers and activists to work in Palestine and in refugee camps in Lebanon.

The Jewish Anti-Zionist networks were really well represented at the conference. Having met with representatives of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG) I would love to see a similar organisation established in Ireland.

It was edifying to discover that three Irish IPSC members/supporters, now living in London, were part of the organising team for the conference. The Palestine Society at SOAS should be proud of it's achievement in organising this innovative conference.

I hope that we can open up a broad debate on the Left in Palestine here in Ireland and start to look at the various left wing parties and Popular Committees as viable alternatives to the traditional Hamas/Fatah dialogue that has dominated the debate in this country for too long.

Nira Yuval- Davis, Moshe Machover, Michael Warschawski, Adar Grayevsky and Sami Shalom Chetrit
Nira Yuval- Davis, Moshe Machover, Michael Warschawski, Adar Grayevsky and Sami Shalom Chetrit

Jamal Juma (DVD), Jamal Zahalka, Areen Hawari, Gilbert Achar, Muhammad Jaradat and Jamil Hilal
Jamal Juma (DVD), Jamal Zahalka, Areen Hawari, Gilbert Achar, Muhammad Jaradat and Jamil Hilal

author by anti-racistpublication date Mon Apr 12, 2010 16:35author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On morning of Holocaust Remembrance Day, residents discover someone has hung patches similar to those forced on Jews during Holocaust throughout streets, each with different minority in Israel inscribed within,7340,L-3874584,00.html


Related Link:,7340,L-3874584,00.html
author by anti-racistpublication date Mon Apr 12, 2010 15:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Alarming Racism in Israel - by Stephen Lendman

Mossawa Center Calls the Current Knesset the Most Racist in History

A March 21 Jack Khoury/Dana Weiler-Polark Haaretz article headlined the above accusation, saying Mossawa's report shows "that in 2008 there were (12) bills (not 11 Haaretz reported) defined as racist," followed by 12 more in 2009, specifically against Israeli Arabs. Report authors Lizi Sagi and Nidal Othman said:

"There has never been a Knesset as active in proposing discriminating and racist legislation against the country's Arab citizens."

They accused right-wing MKs of being "unhindered via proposed legislation," many in violation of Supreme Court rulings, including cosmetically altering illegal bills to get them passed. Others trying to harm Arab citizens, segregate them from Jews, and "even call for the expulsion of the (entire) Arab population."

Summary of Mossawa's 2008 and 2009 Racist Incidents

-- police violence since October 2000 killing Arab Israelis: in 2008, 41; in 2009, 42;

-- other police violence against Arab Israelis: in 2008, 6; in 2009, 17;

-- Jewish civilian attacks against Arab Israelis: in 2008, 7; in 2009, 70;

-- racial incitement: in 2008, 27; in 2009, 29;

-- religious discrimination: in 2008, 8; in 2009, 10;

-- discrimination in public services: in 2008, 26; in 2009, 15;

-- football related racism: in 2008, 32; in 2009, 39 through March;

-- delegitimizations of Israeli Arab political leaders: in 2008, 15; in 2009, 23;

-- racist Knesset bills: in 2008, 12; in 2009, 12; and

-- discrimination against Russian and Ethiopian immigrants as well as gays: in 2008, 6; in 2009, 14.

author by anti-racistpublication date Mon Apr 12, 2010 14:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

people fleeing war and starvation will put up with quite a lot in order to escape dying.

Are Israel's standards so low that they only now wish to measure themselves against despotic tyrannical war-torn regimes of east-Africa where death or starvation is the order of the day?

author by HBpublication date Mon Apr 12, 2010 01:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

what all this to do with the failure of LEFT WING movement in Palestine which was the topic of this thread ?

author by Sean Ogpublication date Sun Apr 11, 2010 23:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Try comparing "racism " in Israel with that in any other Middle East country

Could that be why Africans are dying to escape though Egypt INTO Israel ?

author by HBpublication date Fri Apr 09, 2010 15:56author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I forgot I meant to ask in last posting what all this to do with the failure of any decent LEFT WING movement in Palestine which was the topic of this thread .

Initially I too wondered why you went off-topic like that, Sean, but I figured you must have had some important point to make, so I just thought "what the hell, go with the flow'"

Luck that I did otherwise we'd have missed your valuable contributions on the subject of widespread racism in Jewish-society, and boy am I glad we didn't miss an opportunity to mention THAT!

So, after YOU introduced the topic of rampant racist sentiment amongst the Mizrahim, i just thought I'd help-out a little by attempting to expand on the topic somewhat, so as to further assist in your efforts to give a true picture of the extent of racist sentiment amongst the general Jewish-Israeli population

author by HBpublication date Fri Apr 09, 2010 15:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Your comments are an invaluable contribution for anyone seeking to determine the true extent of racist sentiment amongst the Jewish-Israeli general population.

Chareidim the very religious ; [mostly "non zionist " like those in Immanuel so non- Zionsts can be racist too ]

So essentially you appear to be telling us that, irrespective of their status as 'Zionist', for either religious or ideological reasons, or a combination of both (as in the case of the Mizrahim), the vast majority of Jewish-Israelis, appear to be well-soaked in racist sentiment. This is an important point to remember for anyone seeking to understand the mess that has been created in the region ever since Israel founded its experiment in State-sanctioned racism (Zionism), thank you for highlighting it for us.

A Society like any other ; but more so ?

Well the fact that many of the Jewish-population openly walk around carrying various weaponry ranging from handguns to sub-machine guns, and that the whole of the society is in some way involved in the complete military subjugation of a nearby population including constant stealing of land not belonging to them, kind of contradicts your assertion that Israel is 'a society like any other, but more so', Sean

author by Sean Ogpublication date Fri Apr 09, 2010 08:50author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I forgot I meant to ask in last posting what all this to do with the failure of any decent LEFT WING movement in Palestine which was the topic of this thread .
There was fro many years an Israeli Communist Party with Jews and Arabs - many Muslim and some Christian Israeli Arabs did vote for it -even though as a Communist party it should have rejected religion .-and they had some seats in the Knesset .

The original question was where is the real Left in Palestinian Society ?

author by Sean Ogpublication date Fri Apr 09, 2010 08:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks HB you have reminded me -here is more research and reportiing for you to do
There is alos the divide between the Chareidim and Chlilonim.
and their diffreing birthrates and attitudes .
Chareidim the very religious ; [mostly "non zionist " like those in Immanuel
so non- Zionsts can be racist too ]
Chilonim the secular like the cultured Tel Avians who would give back and give up everything Jewish and Israeli as long as they could still go to their orchestral concerts and chamber music soirees ] and their kids dont mix with the riff raff except wehn they want to go on the town . The only time they get severe with the Arabs is when night clubs in downtown TA are bombed and their kids are murdered or badly injured .
A Society like any other ; but more so ?

There must be a few gombeen men there as well I would imagine .

author by HBpublication date Thu Apr 08, 2010 20:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Further evidence of the ingrained racial/religious divisions in Israeli society - the inevitable logical result of attempting to build a society based on an inherently racist-ideology (Zionism) where inevitably everything revolves around an obsession with ones race and/or religion

Israeli settlement school fined for discriminating against 'non-white'/Sephardic Jews

Closure order against school for Ashkenazi girls only

74 Ashkenazi girls studying on separate 'temporary' premises in Immanuel after parents refused to allow them to study with Sephardi girls

The ultra-Orthodox network that runs the Beit Yaakov girls school in the West Bank settlement of Immanuel must pay NIS 5,000 for every day it continues to violate an August court order requiring it to eliminate any vestige of ethnic discrimination at the school, the High Court of Justice ruled Wednesday.

Seventy-four girls, mostly of Ashkenazi origin, have been studying in an adjacent unauthorized school since the court, along with the Education Ministry, called on the school to stop holding separate classes for Ashkenazi and Sephardi students.

author by HBpublication date Thu Apr 08, 2010 18:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

whoops, silly me, Sean Og's unusually on-topic latest comment has reminded me that I totally forgot to mention that though in the past it was the Mizrahim who were at the bottom of Jewish-Israeli society, they have over time become more integrated into the mainstream of Jewish-Israeli society, and their place at the bottom of Jewish-Israeli society has now been taken by the Habashim, the recently imported Jews of Ethiopian origin.

That the Jews of Ethiopian origin suffer severe racism in Israeli society is without dispute as the following two reports indicate quite clearly:

Settlers to Ethiopian troops: "Niggers, don't expel Jews!"

Niggers don't expel Jews! This isn't what we brought you to Israel for!" are just some of the degrading slurs Border Guard officers reported hearing from masked settlers.



Israel Subjecting Ethiopian Women To Long Term Birth Control

Ethiopian Jews are reported to face widespread discrimination in jobs, housing and education in Israel.

NAZARETH, Israel // Health officials in Israel are subjecting many female Ethiopian immigrants to a controversial long-term birth control drug in what Israeli women’s groups allege is a racist policy to reduce the number of black babies.

The contraceptive, known as Depo Provera, which is given by injection every three months, is considered by many doctors as a birth control method of last resort because of problems treating its side effects.

However, according to a report published last week, use of the contraceptive by Israeli doctors has risen threefold over the past few years. Figures show that 57 per cent of Depo Provera users in Israel are Ethiopian, even though the community accounts for less than two per cent of the total population.

They are doing this while at the same time encouraging ever larger families amongst WHITE settler communities.

Unfortunately however, unlike in predominately non-racist societies the integration of the previous economic-'outsiders' of Jewish-Israeli society has not resulted in a overall less-racist society but perversely has in fact resulted in an even more racist society, as the Mizrahim become more integrated into the mainstream of Jewish-Israeli society so too has their more hard-line racist attitudes become more integrated into what is considered as ''acceptable' mainstream Jewish-Israeli opinion

Many thanks to Sean Og for reminding me to mention all of that, as it gives us some measure as to how much worse the many racial/religious divisions within Israel have become over the years.

The once relatively homogeneous 'white', mostly eastern-european, descendants of the originally Slavo-Turkic Khazar-converts, the Ashkenazim, has over the years been forced to integrate 'non-white' Jews in order to maintain it's very slight numerical superiority over the now dispossessed mostly Arab original population of Palestine.

Such an increase in racism is however merely the logical result of attempting to build a society based on a racist-ideology (Zionism) where inevitably everything revolves around an obsession with ones race and/or religion

author by Sean Ogpublication date Thu Apr 08, 2010 18:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

How many of the IDF senior command have come from Mizrachist backgrounds ?
How many are there in the Knesset ?
I am sure you can check it out and include the ones of Balkan origin in that too as there are Muslims in Bosnia etc .
Have you ever stood on a street corner in either East or West Jerusalem and noticed the multi cultuaral nature of the passers by and the mixture of colours and origins , or been to any of the Universities and seen how intregrated student society is there -with plenty of Mizrachim and Ashkenazi students as well as Arabs , Chinese , Asians and Africans .

There are many "mixed " couples and marriages between the people of varying origins
and in a real peace there would alos be marriages between Israeli Jews and Arabs as there was in the past .
Please do not make things out to be worse than they are - there are enough other prioblems over there and in neighbouring countries .
There are may Ashkenazim also finding it hard to make ends meet too -it is not a Mizrachist problem alone .

author by HBpublication date Thu Apr 08, 2010 14:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Israel being a deeply racist society has consistently relegated the Mizrahim to the bottom of Jewish-Israeli society. It is a regular feature of racist societies that those who relegated to the bottom of 'acceptable' society will turn on anyone they consider 'outsider' in an effort to mitigate their humiliation at the hand of more priviledged members of that society (i.e.: the 'white' Ashkenazim).

Therefore the racism of the Mizrahim, which Sean Og has so kindly highlighted, should come as no surprise, as such racism is a regular feature of racist societies, indeed it is often one of the defining and sustaining features of a racist society

author by Sean Ogpublication date Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am sure you will agree -from what I have read and heard in conversations -
Is it not a a fact that in Israel most of the Sephardim either local for many generations or expelled from Arab countries [now called generically Mizrachim -which means Easterners = Oriental ] tend to be less likely to want to be "soft " on the Palestinian Arabs POLITICALLY even though they like" Oriental culture ".
They get on well on a personal level and used to enjoy spending time socially in the West Bank and Gaza towns before the Intifadas --but when asked they claim they know the Arab ./ Muslim mentality having lived amongst them for 1000s of years but that they know how to handle or rather haggle with them .

author by Tony Greenstein - Jews 4 Boycotting Israeli Goodspublication date Thu Apr 08, 2010 03:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sami Chetreet says go to hell and every one knows that Mizrahim are part of the Zionist collective etc. and that Palestinians are oppressed.

Ok, so you wanted to point to some spots. Fine, but what conclusions did you draw then? Mizrahim/Oriental Jews are, in general, poorer and more oppressed than Ashkenazis. And? What conclusions are drawn from this?

Calling Moshe Machover a dynosaur wasn't exactly constructive or helpful. The conclusions I drew from your talk, which was incredibly unstructured and difficult to follow, were the same as those you are criticising. Namely that there was potential for a Palestinian-Misrahim alliance but the basis of that was not made clear at all, since class is a sign of the dinosaur!

author by Frank Adam - private citizenpublication date Sun Apr 04, 2010 18:54author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So far so good and let us hope that "Me" the Mad Exile of the mythical perfect theoretical existence is equally pleased with this report that demonstrates that one can be Arab and Palestinian, or Palestinian and Arab quite apart from others being Palestinian - but only under the British and the Romans.

When this coven of Left Cathars fettling their heaven for 'perfects' or is it for perfection comes down from the ceiling we might all see this is an imperfect World where we have to put up with tolerances to cope with real social forces that are not always "progressive" in the direction one favours.

In such circumstances of time and place it will be helpful to admit that mistakes have been made in the management of their affairs by all concerned. When all have as much gumption as Hanan Ashrawi to admit, "The rejection of Peel was a mistake, " and add that the rejection of UN 181 was also a mistake; and even more a crass error to not admit as much and cut losses in the fifties.

If peace had been made on the fifties status quo, instead of arrogantly hanging out for the staus quo ante 1948, it would have been possible to progress real social politics instead of allowing ethnic survival to swamp agendas - as in India and Ireland before independence.

author by HBpublication date Sun Apr 04, 2010 17:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Not In Our Name (NION) Jewish Voices Opposing Zionism

Dana Olwan - Assistant Professor of Gender Studies, Queen's University; Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR), Kingston

Katherine Nastovski -Graduate student, Social and Political Thought, York University; Labour for Palestine, Toronto

Moderator: Herman Rosenfeld, retired CAW staff person

video here:

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author by Sami Shalom Chetritpublication date Sun Apr 04, 2010 17:01author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't know who wrote this -- but everything written here on my paper is a lie! how could you twist everything I said? you have no shame? I never in my life and in this paper claimed that Mizrahim (yeah try to spell it right) and Palestinians are equally opressed. I was just pointing to some spots we don't look at when looking for hope. Mizrahim are part of the occupation and everything the Palestinians are going through. we all know that.
go to hell.

author by David Landy - IPSC (personal capacity)publication date Sun Mar 07, 2010 17:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The Palestine Left conference in SOAS was an eye-opening, fascinating two days. No over-arching solutions or even medium-term ways forward were offered by the speakers, something which though disappointing, was an accurate reflection of the present Palestinian Left. But the problems and possibilities of the Left (especially the problems) were discussed in a refreshingly honest and even positive way by the speakers. In a way, this conference, the first of its kind, could be seen as a kind of stock-taking, space-clearing exercise, necessary to rethink the future of a secular opposition in Palestine.

In this post, I’ll outline what I saw as the most important things discussed in the first two sessions on Saturday February 27th. This is in no way an attempt to be fair or balanced, or even to provide a comprehensive list of the speakers and their themes, but to isolate some key ideas.

The conference was opened by Azmi Bishara, the Israeli parliamentarian who had been hounded from Israel with trumped up charges of spying for Hezbollah. He summarised the main problems with the Palestinian left in an honest, thoughtful speech. He characterised the problem as being a false symmetry that the Left tried to create between Hamas and Fatah. This is a narrative which marginalises a Left which tries to be neutral and blame both sides equally. He described this as ‘an attempt to hide’ by the Left, and ‘a cover’ for their disability – something that illustrates their failure to come up with fresh thinking following the disappearance of Arab rejectionist states and the collapse of the USSR. Because the Left in Palestine had nowhere to go they used the importance of keeping unity in the PLO as their alibi for going nowhere.

But since, again quoting Bishara, the main polarity in Palestine is not between religious/secular, but between those who cooperate with and those who resist Israeli occupation, any neutrality between ‘the maintainers and resistors of the Occupation’, is clearly a cop-out, understandably rejected by the majority of Palestinians.

Bishara did not pull his punches, and in common with many of the other speakers, he ascribed this evasion as being a result of the Palestinian Left becoming dependent on being state functionaries; the day-to-day corruption that comes from receiving a salary from those who collaborate with the occupation authorities. The way in which people characterise a situation frames how they would solve it, and it was clear that Bishara favoured nationalist struggle against the Israeli occupation, involving rejection of the Fatah PA (Palestinian Authority) seen as collaborationist.

Indeed, nobody in the whole conference characterised Fatah or the PA as anything other than collaborationist, nor had any time for Hamas, seeing it as stumbling down a blind alley, at best. But not all agreed with Bishara’s nationalism redux – though respect for his position and his person was equally evident. In a way the riposte to Bishara did not come in the first session, though it contained a fine contribution by Ilan Pappe, the Israeli historian forced out of Israel. He discussed the hypocrisies of the mandate-era (1918-47) Left, especially the way a socialist leadership comprised almost exclusively of immigrant European Jews cynically manipulated socialism, and more particularly those Arab socialists who trusted them, into becoming cheerleaders for a colonialist ultra-nationalist project. ‘Workers of the world unite…’ as the Apartheid era Sotuh African slogan reputedly ran, ‘…for a white working class.’

Yet despite the cynical manipulation of socialism them, the situation now, according to Pappe is not comparable and Pappe queried the value of a overly nationalist point of view – an echo of those on the Irish Left who argued against the ‘labour must wait’ stream of Republican Socialist consciousness.

The most interesting reply to Bishara came from Gilbert Achcar in the second session after Leila Khaled, former hijacker turned PLO functionary, had illustrated the problems of the Palestinian Left. Again speaking from video, it appeared that the Left had had done no wrong, they were the masses and were with the masses, they had provided thousands with education in Moscow and so on.

Gilbert Achcar, the Lebanese socialist, ripped these pretensions to pieces in, for my money the best contribution of the conference. He identified a key problem as being the very weak, very thin social mobilisation among the Palestinian Left – this was because all the emphasis in the Palestinian Left was on the national struggle. The fact that virtually no speaker, all leading figures on the Palestinian Left, referred to actual social struggles over the two days offered substance to his criticism. Linked to such a failure to engage in social struggle was an ongoing fetishisation of the armed struggle by the Left – again a refreshing criticism. While not characterising himself as a pacifist, Achcar queried the point of using armed force against a militarised state like Israel, especially when experience showed that this tactic had failed and now only served to bolster that state’s repressive tactics.

However his solution was not simply to conduct the Palestinian equivalent of fish-ins or housing campaigns (two examples the Republican movement tried in the 1960s which in Palestine would immediately be subject to Israeli military repression – illustrating the centrality in opposing the Occupation, even as part of social struggle). The most provocative element of his talk was when he argued that the Palestinian struggle had to be seen in regional terms - in the context of a region ruled by dictatorships, all repressing their populations, in a system upheld by the US with Israel as its military lynchpin.

In this situation, he characterised a ‘Palestino-centric’ form of struggle as somewhat naïve – the demand to give Palestinians a state, or well, a bit of a state was an understandable response to the failure of Pan-Arab nationalism in the 1960s but doomed to failure if people didn’t engage with challenging the regional system of dictatorships. This Palestinocentrism also failed to engage with about half the Palestinian population – the refugees and their lived experience in the Arab world and how repression of them in places like Lebanon is linked in with repression of other workers.

Achcar’s criticism of Palestinocentrism was directed at the Palestinian left leadership, but also put it up to those of us in the Palestinian Solidarity Movement. If indeed this tactic is a failed one, if the idea of trying to carve out (or more correctly beg for) a state from the US/Israelis is doomed to failure, what does this mean for our work? What role does this place on us?

The conference didn’t come up with any answers for us in the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, any more than it did for the Palestinian Left. But it was asking the right questions, asking them honestly and sincerely. I believe that it is only through further engagement with these people on the Palestinian Left that we that we can figure out answers to these questions.

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