Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Denying the Jews the right to a racist state

Israel is a developed country, and in developed countries virtually 100 percent of the population enjoy access to basic services such as running water and electricity. Israel is no exception.

That is, if you're a Jew. If you're an Arab, however, the State may not be very interested in making sure that you live under first-world standards. Take, for instance, the Arab village of Darijat, in the Negev. This used to be one of the infamous "unrecognized villages," i.e. small population centers, mostly Bedouin, whose existence the state of Israel refuses to acknowledge. Since the villages are not on the map, they're not provided with services.

In 2004, Darijat was finally recognized by the State -- but it was not connected to either the water system or the electricity grid. The big news this week has been that after 5 years as a recognized village, Darijat is being hooked to the national water pipelines. Reports Haaretz:

Most of us do not rejoice at finding bills in our mailbox. But for the 900residents of the Bedouin village of Darijat in the Negev, the arrival of their first-ever water bills were indeed grounds for rejoicing: After 60 years without running water, the village was finally connected to the national water system two months ago.

Though residents say the village has existed for 100 years, it was recognized by the state only in 2004. And it took another five years before the village finally received running water.

Until two months ago, residents had to pump all their water from wells.

"Sometimes, the water would run out in the middle of a shower, or the children would have to brush their teeth in the morning and there would be no water," said Nasser, a Darijat resident. "It was very unpleasant. I paid NIS 35,000 to get a well dug and for the pumps, so that I'd have water in the house. Now I get that for free."

The next paragraph in the report makes clear the extent of the suffering caused by lack of running water:

Running water has also eased another serious problem: the huge quantities of dust produced by the nearby quarry.

While technology exists to greatly reduce the amount of dust generated, it requires a regular water supply.

Hence only now that running water is available has the quarry been able to control the dust and let residents breathe easier.

Why would the State let some of its citizens' health be harmed so grievously? A partial explanation was given in 2003 by Shai Hermesh, then treasurer of the Jewish Agency and head of its effort to create a "Zionist majority" in the desert.

The trouble with the bedouin is they're still on the edge between tradition and civilisation. A big part of the bedouin don't want to live in cities. They say their mothers and grandmothers want to live with the sheep around them. It is not in Israel's interest to have more Palestinians in the Negev.

Where in the world, please tell me, can a high-ranking and respected official get away with crude stereotyping followed by a downright racist corollary? Only in Israel.

Back on topic, water is just one of the basic services. What about power? Darijat will have to wait a little longer, maybe five more years:

Now, they are hoping for the next big step: a hook-up to the electricity grid.

"Currently, we spend thousands of shekels a month on the generators in the village," said Abu Hamad. "We hope that soon we will have electricity in every house."

This is in sharp contrast to what happens with illegal Jewish outposts in the West Bank, which are systematically connected to the electricity grid, as was documented by the Sasson report in 2006.

And if and when Darijat gets hooked to the power system, there will still be anywhere from 45 to 60 Bedouin villages waiting not only to be provided these basic services, but also to be recognized in the first place.

When we say that Israel can't be a Jewish state, we mean things like these. We assert that only in a binational state will all citizens be treated as equally human. We are not denying the Jews the right to a state. We are denying them the right to a state where some have plenty of water to tend to their lush gardens, while others have to breathe dust from a quarry.

Israel will be binational or it will be racist. We're fighting for it not to be racist.

26 comments:

Gert said...

"Where in the world, please tell me, can a high-ranking and respected official get away with crude stereotyping followed by a downright racist corollary? Only in Israel."

In South Africa. Oh no, shit, they abolished Apartheid, didn't they? (Looking it up) they did! I wonder if... no, let's not go there...

Anonymous said...

Israel treats its Arab minority much better than the vast majority of countries -- including European ones. Just compare them on every level: median incomes, education budgets, university attendance rates, living standards, participation in government, etc. -- and you'll see that Israel is not merely normal but exceptionally good towards its large minority population. The largest minority of any country in the world by percentage. Which is pretty remarkable considering all the propaganda about Israel being "racist". But pretty unremarkable when you consider the moral excellence of the Jews throughout their long history.

As for the accusations raised in this silly article, suffice it to say that such problems exist on a much larger scale in many European countries, including Italy, Spain and France, with illegal settlements by the Roma.

Israel will never become "binational" -- or they'll do it when Saudi Arabia and Italy do -- because it is the world's only Jewish state, and the world needs a Jewish state. In a world with literally hundreds of Christian and Muslims states, to turn the world's only Jewish state into a "binational" one would be not merely unfair but a travesty of justice and history. And this is why the Jews will never let it happen.

Gert said...

Unfortunately for your position Anonymous (DO get a real moniker, so we can distinguish you from other Anons, please?), Israel's own greed vis-a-vis the West Bank may have made a binational state the only option left. If Israel continues to refuse to withdraw and continues to expand, annexing that territory will become inevitable. Then what will the state of "moral excellence" do with the absorbed Palestinians? Give them Israeli citizenship? Treat them as non-existent persons? Transfer them 'to the East'?

Me thinks Anon isn't reading Mr Netanyahu's political shenanigans too well. But if Anon's right, Israel is at risk of becoming the Icarus of the region.

"And this is why the Jews will never let it happen."

Never say never. Israel already has a state. Like colonists/imperialists in the past it's never happy with what it's got. But sooner or later it will run into a wall called Rest of the World...

Ar regards the "moral excellence" of the Jews, that position of 'superiority' is being massively eroded each day and every day in the court of world opinion... by Israel's actions.

Joshua said...

Ibrahim,

I think this is a very weak as most, if not ALL, settler states are very guilty of unequal distribution of water resources or any resources for that matter, especially to its native population. For instance the two cases of Canada and Australia, both countries of which I have called home, treat their Aborigines like major pieces of shit. While I am certainly no apologist for Zionism, neither countries justify it in the name of Canadianism or Australianism or any other silly nationalism (just effective negligence mixed with white supremacy). Israel just institutionalises their racism while the rest of the "democracies" blanket it and refuse to acknowledge their treatment of their natives.

I would like to destroy more of Anonymous' crap as his post is utter trash but time is short. Maybe another time.

Anonymous said...

Gert & Joshua,

Of course, you call the Jews "settlers and occupiers", "colonists and imperialist" when in fact Israel is a nation of refugees from Nazi colonization and genocide, and the Jewish Yishuv fought both Ottoman and British Empires, as well as Arab expansionism -- hence the Israelis are actually "anti-imperialists".

There is a third option here, and that is what many of us are hoping for: that we revert to the pre-1967 situation: i.e. split the West Bank with Jordan and make that country the Palestinian State -- which makes sense for historical reasons, but also because the Palestinian Arabs are already a majority in Jordan, and it also has a capital city so it doesn't need to share the Jewish one.

Gert said...

Anonymous:

"Of course, you call the Jews "settlers and occupiers", "colonists and imperialist" when in fact Israel is a nation of refugees from Nazi colonization and genocide [...]"

You see, Anon, that's quite funny. Because whenever a non-Israeli mentions the Holocaust as a prime driver of the creation of Israel, he gets immediately slammed because in the Zionist narrative, the creation of Israel is the 'answer to thousands of years of prayer for the return to the ancestral homeland'. See also the reaction Obama received for mentioning the Holocaust.

With certainty we know one thing: the Zionist project starts at the end of the 19th, well before the Holocaust and the Nazis.

And what about the modern day Alyahs, people who where born well after the Holocaust, people who had secure statehood, free to worship and free from persecution in their respective homelands. They too are 'refugees'? The proverbial 'Yehudi from Brooklyn' who obtains a plot in the West Bank on Palestinian territory, he's not a coloniser?

"[...] and it also has a capital city so it doesn't need to share the Jewish one."

An 'undivided capital' is a recipe for future trouble and war. The city is too holy for all three monotheisms not to be shared. Did you see the massive crowds of protesters all over the world on Al Quds day? Even in far away places like Pakistan...

Gert said...

Joshua:

Your counter-argument is very silly. In essence you're justifying an injustice because others carry out similar injustices.

As anti-Zionists we hear that a lot: 'Israel's behaviour is justified: look at how European settlers treated native Americans'.

Well, the Native Americans are still reeling from the injustice and now Israel is (and has been basically for sixty years) creating a new group of indigenous refugees, trampled on and pushed aside for Zionist expansionist glory.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Anonymous said...

"The proverbial 'Yehudi from Brooklyn' who obtains a plot in the West Bank on Palestinian territory, he's not a coloniser?"

Just so you know, the 'proverbial "Yehudi" from Brooklyn' accounts for less than 10% of the total Jewish aliyah over the last decade. Most continue to be refugees from antisemitism, violence, and abject poverty in Russia, the former Soviet republics, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Yemen. Only a vanishingly small number come from the US and France. So that argument about "colonists" is baloney.

Of course, the Jewish claim to the land has nothing to do with modern circumstances (I never said it did) or to theological claims (as some gentiles believe) but to a right to self-determination on territory based on our history, and historical justice.

Yeah I saw the protestors in Iran chanting "Death to Russia!" and "Ahmadi step down!" on Al-Qods day. It was very revealing the true meaning of "anti-Zionism" in the Muslim world.

And no, as a non-Jew you don't have the same rights or claims to our narrative as we Jews do. It is *our* narrative after all, just like Israel is our country.

Gert said...

Anonymous:

"So that argument about "colonists" is baloney.

The "right of return" for Jews to Israel (but no RoR for indigenous people of Palestine of course) isn't predicated on persecution or anti-Semitism: it's there for all (Jews) who want it.

The influx of American/European Jews may be waning but that's not for lack of trying by various 'Birthright' types of groups.

The argument about "colonists" is only baloney to those who believe Zionism has a G-d given right to the entire land of Palestine (and possibly beyond?) Thus settlers of that persuasion don't see themselves as colonisers but rather as something akin to 're-conquistadores'.

"And no, as a non-Jew you don't have the same rights or claims to our narrative as we Jews do. It is *our* narrative after all, just like Israel is our country."

Charming. By your own admission (nay, conviction) 'Jews' (I use quotes because you don't speak for all Jews) now have their own thought police. Sad how Jews like you advocate doing things that were once the prerogative of the persecutors of Jews...

andrew r said...

I don't know about the rest of you, but banishing millions of people from their own country hits me as a very bizarre concept of justice.

Anyway, highlighting the secular roots of Zionism only belies the fact that it's a European construct, not a Jewish one. Just like secularizing Christian disdain for Jews gave birth to another freak ideology known as anti-semitism.

andrew r said...

Also, the Torah is traditionally the word of Hashem. It contains the laws we live by. Using it as a historical record is extremely cultish. Yet how else would you get the idea Israel is our homeland, a dig site?

Even though anon and others might insist the Holocaust is not the reason for Israel, it's hard to imagine Zionism would be so normalized had it never happened. Before the Nazi-era, almost no one was going to Palestine.

Gert said...

Andrew r:

"Before the Nazi-era, almost no one was going to Palestine."

That's very inaccurate, Andrew. The foundations for Israel had been completed by the late thirties. There was very considerable immigration by Zionist Jews to Palestine during much of the 20th century.

The Holocaust certainly facilitated the transition from 'pre-state' to actual state. And of course the Holocaust continues to be used politically by Zionism and its supporters.

Zionism's position on the driving forces behind it is very ambiguous and dependent on political context.

Anonymous said...

Gert: The whole point you miss is that the Jews ARE the "indigenous people of Palestine."

If we are not "indigenous" there than the very concept of "indigenous" has no meaning, and history has no truth.

Gert said...

Anonymous:

By your criterion the Palestinians are just as, if not more, indigenous to Palestine.

You, assuming for argument sake you are Israeli of course, are at best third generation indigenous to Israel and the descendant of recent Zionist immigrants to the region.

Unless of course you believe in the 'Empty Land' myth of course. You probably do...

andrew r said...

Gert: I got a little dozy there. Almost no one went to Palestine from Germany. According to a chart from MideastWeb (not the best source) immigration spiked after 1922, dipped down and spiked again after 1933. So that was the basis for saying Zionism would've remained marginal without Nazism. It probably wouldn't have outlasted the British Mandate.

andrew r said...

"the very concept of "indigenous" has no meaning, and history has no truth."

This is a good way to kill your opposition. Keep feeding us purple prose until we die of high cholesterol.

Anonymous said...

Indigenousness is determined not by actual birth on the land (doh) -- an African immigrant second generation Parisian is not an "indigenous" Frenchman -- it is determined by historical origins, and therefore land rights. The Jews are native to Israel just as the Italians are native to Italy or the Arabs are native to Saudi Arabia. Just because the younger peoples don't remember us being there for centuries before their languages or religions even existed, doesn't mean we have no historical claim on our land. The diaspora -- literally "exile" -- does not void our claim; on the contrary its tragic history has merely strengthened the advantages of making our claim and taking back our long-lost territory. This is Zionism.

Gert said...

Anonymous:

"The Jews are native to Israel just as the Italians are native to Italy or the Arabs are native to Saudi Arabia."

Spoken like a true nationalist mythologiser. Let me introduce you to a 'little known secret' (hush, hush!)

The nationalist claims, based on ethnicity, of most modern 'Nation States' (itself a very recent geopolitical construct) are mostly (99 %) bogus. This holds true for most modern European states but also the US, Canada, Australia etc.

There are no 'true indigenous Italians': Italy is itself an artificial union between a large number of former and very diverse (and very belligerent!) city states. France e.g., prior to WW I, didn't even have a common language, with all regions speaking related but distinct tongues. In the case of the US, Canada and Australia, the idea of an 'ethno-state' is of course even more of a folly, yet no one will deny there's such a thing as the 'American people', the 'Canadian people' or the 'Australian people'.

Thus it is also largely with the Israeli people. How come about 20 % of those are Arabs? Without extensive ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and massive inbound immigration into Palestine by Zionist Jews, Palestinian Jews would have remained a small minority in Palestine.

"The diaspora -- literally "exile" -- does not void our claim; on the contrary its tragic history has merely strengthened the advantages of making our claim and taking back our long-lost territory. This is Zionism."

Careful what you wish for: substitute 'Palestinian nationalism' for 'Zionism'...

Joshua said...

Gert,

I think you were clearly reaching for something that wasn't there. If you took a step back and decide that not everything is so easy billed as "for" or "against" then you would actually be more open to what I actually wrote. If it matters at all, I am an anti-Zionist (a devout one at that) but more accurately, I consider myself as an anti-nationalist moreso. Hence my criticisms of settler systems that maintain the status quo which effectively destroys indigenous life; I find Palestine to be absolutely no different besides the differing nationalisms and justifications for the said inequality.

Ibrahim's insistence that Israel distributes its water resources to discriminate against the Palestinians is a no-brainer, but it is by far NOT the only offender when it comes to poor resource distribution, especially with regards to an indigenous population which was viewed as "backward". It may be just tiny details but the truth matters here. Israel is a pit-stain but so are those other countries that extirpated the fellows that ploughed the land before them.

Anonymous said...

gert:

"The nationalist claims, based on ethnicity, of most modern 'Nation States' (itself a very recent geopolitical construct) are mostly (99 %) bogus."

Precisely, I agree 100%. However, the Jewish claim to Zion is not "ethnic" anymore than it is "religious." The claim is based on history and historical justice. That's why an "ethnic" Central European opera critic who did not believe in God whatsoever was the father of Zionism. Because he knew his history, his historical rights and claims, and he knew the dangers of antisemitism -- which he rightly identified would seek to destroy the Jews -- and possessed a sense of justice. A sense of justice which the two-bit propagandist writing this blog does not possess.

The funniest thing about this particular piece is the avowal that this mediocre blogger is trying to "deny the Jews the right" to anything. You will not get rid of the Jewish State without a major nuclear war. And we do not listen to your bogus and transparently antisemitic accusations of "racism" and "apartheid" anymore. You gentiles lost your right to criticize us sometime in mid 1943.

According to Sergio dela Pergola's most recent estimate, there would be around 35 million "Zionists" (i.e. Jews) in Europe right now, so many the Palestinians and their supporters should be thanking Hitler there are not more of us around.

Israel must listen only to herself, and to the Jewish diaspora. After all, we are the Chosen People who gave the world the Two Tablets, and we will brook no fake claims of moral superiority from the likes of these facile anti-zionist obsessives.

Gert said...

Joshua:

"I am an anti-Zionist (a devout one at that) but more accurately, I consider myself as an anti-nationalist moreso."

Well, so am I (also anti-Nationalist), so welcome!

"[...] but it is by far NOT the only offender when it comes to poor resource distribution, especially with regards to an indigenous population which was viewed as "backward"."

Josh, you're right but my point is that just because it isn't unique doesn't make it any better.

Gert said...

Anomymous:

"Because he knew his history, his historical rights and claims, and he knew the dangers of antisemitism -- which he rightly identified would seek to destroy the Jews -- and possessed a sense of justice. A sense of justice which the two-bit propagandist writing this blog does not possess."

Herzl? Did you know he had a plan for New Israel in Argentina? That there existed another plan involving Uganda?

A sense of justice? Displacing and dispossessing nearly a million people to make room for your state conveys a 'sense of justice'?

Please don't insult Ibrahim: his sense of justice is well developed. Yours is merely deeply dazed and confused.

"You gentiles lost your right to criticize us sometime in mid 1943."

ALL gentiles now, is it Anonymous? Ever heard of racism? What about gentiles that fought the Nazis tooth and nail well before WW II and the Holocaust?

"Zionists" (i.e. Jews)

Don't equate Zionists with Jews, pal. There are more non-Jewish Zionist in this world than Jewish ones: in the US alone at least 50 million. There are many anti-Zionist Jews, as well as some non-Zionist ones.

"After all, we are the Chosen People who gave the world the Two Tablets, and we will brook no fake claims of moral superiority from the likes of these facile anti-zionist obsessives."

Oh dear, a religio-ethno-supremacist nationalist obsessive too.

Greg Potemkin said...

Bravo Gert,

Most Zionists are "religio-ethno-supremacist nationalists" at heart, (that is why they are Zionists) but they usually try and couch their arguments in deceptive language about the rights of self-determination for "their" people, etc. You managed to coax this Anon fellow into exposing himself as one.

Anyhow, on a slightly more serious issue than a Zionist exposing himself for what he is, I found the discussion between you and Andrew interesting regarding when precisely the Zionist immigration to Palestine became significant.

I read a very interesting article on that subject by Gabriel Kolko, on antiwar.com.

I would be very interested in y'all's opinions on it, if you get a chance to read the article.
.

Gert said...

Hi Greg,

Yes, interesting article. The figures in the passage below have always been (and always be) hotly contested though:

In 1893 there were an estimated 10,000 Jews in Palestine, 61,000 in 1920, and 122,000 in 1925. All of these figures are only the best-informed estimates; there were censuses in 1922 and 1931 only, and even the 1922 numbers are contested. But the general trend is beyond doubt and very clear. For every Jew who went to Palestine from 1890 to 1924, at least 27 went to the Western Hemisphere alone. Relatively, the Zionist project was the utopian dream of a tiny minority and it would have failed save for two factors, the Holocaust and the much-overlooked fact that in 1924 the U.S. passed a new immigration law based on quotas using the nationalities distribution in the 1890 census as a basis, effectively cutting off migration from East and South Europe to a mere trickle of what it had been.

continued below.

Gert said...

If we're going to 'trade articles', I prefer the transcription of the Amy Goodman - Shlomo Ben-Ami - Norman Finkelstein interview:

SHLOMO BEN-AMI: Well, for all practical purposes, a state existed before it was officially created in 1948. The uniqueness of the Zionist experience, as it were, was in that the Zionists were able, under the protection of the mandate, of the British mandate, to set up the essentials of a state — the institutions of a state, political parties, a health system, running democracy for Jews, obviously — before the state was created, so the transition to statehood was a declaration, basically, and it came about in the middle of two stages of war, a civil war between the Israelis and the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine and then an invasion by the Arab armies. The point that I made with regard to the war is that the country, to the mythology that existed and exists, continues to exist mainly among Israelis and Jews, is that Israel was not in a military disadvantage when the war took place. The Arab armies were disoriented and confused, and they did not put in the battlefield the necessary forces.

So, in 1948, what was born was a state, but also original superpower in many ways. We have prevailed over the invading Arab armies and the local population, which was practically evicted from Palestine, from the state of Israel, from what became the state of Israel, and this is how the refugee problem was born. Interestingly, the Arabs in 1948 lost a war that was, as far as they were concerned, lost already in 1936-1939, because they have fought against the British mandate and the Israeli or the Jewish Yishuv, the Jewish pre-state, and they were defeated then, so they came to the hour of trial in 1948 already as a defeated nation. That is, the War of 1948 was won already in 1936, and they had no chance to win the war in 1948. They were already a defeated nation when they faced the Israeli superpower that was emerging in that year.

[...]

AMY GOODMAN: And Shlomo Ben-Ami, your response to those who continue to say that at that time, at the time of the establishment of the state of Israel and before, that it really was empty, that Jews came to a place that was not populated.

SHLOMO BEN-AMI: Of course, it is nonsense. I mean, it was populated. Obviously, it was populated. I mean, the notion that existed, I think it was Israel Zangwill, the first to say that we are — we came a nation without a land to a land without a people. Obviously, it was not true, but again, part of the tragedy was that the Palestinians, as such, did not have — the Palestinian peasants did not have the full control of their own destiny. Part of that land was bought by the Zionist organizations from Affendis, landowners living in Turkey or anywhere else throughout the Ottoman Empire, and these people were inevitably evicted by these kind of transactions. But as a whole, I think that not more than 6 or 7% of the entire surface of the state of Israel was bought. The rest of it was either taken over or won during the war.

Gert said...

The stuff above is of course what they don't want American supporters of Israel, like Joe the Plumber, to know...