The untold story of Jewish anti-Zionists in Israel

For nearly as long as Palestinians have resisted their displacement, small groups of Jews have joined them. Ran Greenstein’s ‘Zionism and Its Discontents’ brings to life the complex, often contradictory story of those Israelis who saw Palestinian and Jewish liberation as one and the same. 

Israeli soldiers hold down an Israeli activist during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo: Activestills)

Israeli soldiers hold down an Israeli activist during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo: Activestills)

Zionism and Its Discontents: A Century of Radical Dissent in Israel/Palestine (Pluto Press, 2014)

Solidarity with Palestinians facing eviction, expulsion and home demolitions has been a cornerstone of radical left-wing Israeli activism over the past decade. The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions raised international awareness of Israel’s ongoing forced displacement of Palestinians. Anarchists Against the Wall faced down Israeli military bulldozers. The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement brought thousands of Israelis to East Jerusalem for weekly protests against evictions. Left-wing Israeli and international activists from various groups can be found alongside Palestinians facing forced displacement and home demolitions in the Negev, the Jordan Valley, and the South Hebron Hills.

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That activism has a history. The destruction of entire villages and the removal of Palestinians from their land was part of the practice of Zionism long before Israel’s founding. And for nearly as long as Palestinians have resisted their displacement, small groups of Jews have joined them.

The urgency of present political demands, however, often buries the history of past struggles. And without historical consciousness, today’s activists risk repeating the mistakes of their predecessors. Ran Greenstein’s Zionism and Its Discontents: A Century of Radical Dissent in Israel/Palestine remedies this amnesia, providing a useable past for activists and scholars fighting for peace and justice between the river and the sea.

While the long history of resistance to Zionism is the subject of Greenstein’s book, Zionism and Its Discontents is not a history of events but a history of thought in action — a chronicle of the internal debates, shifting ideological positions, political aspirations, failures, and successes of four different movements from before Israel’s establishment to the present day. Greenstein deftly parses the sometimes arcane theoretical disputes of anti-colonial and left-wing groups as they attempted to articulate a politics of resistance to Zionism across the tumultuous twentieth century.

Martin Buber and Rabbi Binyamin, founders of the bi-national Brit Shalim movement, seen in Palestine. (Central Zionist Archives)

Martin Buber and Rabbi Binyamin, founders of the bi-national Brit Shalom movement, seen in Palestine. (Central Zionist Archives)

Greenstein begins with Brit Shalom, perhaps the best-known Jewish bi-nationalist movement during the British Mandate, which counted Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Henrietta Szold, and Hannah Arendt among its members and supporters. Greenstein shows that the movement lacked not for good intentions but rather clear-headedness. Many of the early Jewish bi-nationalists, often themselves officials in Zionist settlement organizations, failed to see how one hand’s work undid the other’s. The violence and displacement inherent to expanding Jewish colonial settlement undermined and outright negated calls for a peaceful federation of Arabs and Jews.

At roughly the same time, the Palestinian Communist Party (PCP) attempted to reconcile its mostly Jewish membership (at least in the early days) with support for an Arab peasants’ revolt against both large Arab landowners and the British colonial authorities. The PCP’s Jewish members remained within Zionist institutions like the Histradrut, the national trade union, while coming paradoxically close to advocating for an armed Arab uprising against evictions of Arab tenants by and land-sales to Zionist settlement organizations.

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The PCP’s policies, however, were often not of their own choosing, subject to the shifting dictates of the Communist International (Comintern), such as Arabization: transforming the party into a majority Arab party and replacing the Jewish leaders with Arabs. What was controversial, Greenstein writes, was not the process of Arabization itself but the “underlying rationale”: such changes implied “that the Arab masses were inexorably moving towards the revolution, regardless of their current leadership and its direction, and that Jews were second-class partners regardless of their personal record.”

Arab rebels seen during 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine against the British. (hanini.org/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Arab rebels seen during 1936–1939 Arab revolt in Palestine against the British. (hanini.org/CC BY-SA 3.0)

While the Arabization debate within the PCP took place prior to Israel’s establishment, the larger question remains part of contemporary left-wing discourse in Israel/Palestine: Who should lead the struggle against the occupation? Should Jews, as the privileged class in Israel/Palestine, always follow the lead of Palestinians, or does that relegate them to “second-class partners?” How should anti-Zionist Jews relate to Zionist state and para-state institutions, like the Jewish National Fund? What forms should solidarity with Zionism’s victims take? Zionism and Its Discontents offers no easy answers, yet activists today will find a small measure of comfort in knowing that they are far from the first generation to grapple with these questions.

During and after the pre-state period, bi-nationalists and communists alike also debated the relationship between Zionism and colonialism. Was Zionism its own form of colonialism or merely a reactionary nationalism allied with imperial forces? Greenstein not only traces how the various movements’ answers changed over time as the political situation — and the tangible relationship between Zionism and European imperialism — shifted. He makes an important point about what distinguishes Zionism from other forms of colonialism: historically, Zionists have not sought to subjugate the native Palestinian population as a racialized subclass (in contrast, say, to South Africa), but to excise the Palestinians entirely from the body politic. The goal was the creation of a Jews-only nation-state.

Zionism’s eliminationist tendency remains part of both Israeli political discourse and state policy to this day. It is expressed in the demolition of Palestinian homes and entire villages. It can be seen in policies to “Judaize” areas with large Arab populations within Israel, like East Jerusalem, the Negev and the Galilee. It is on full display in the direct and indirect removal of Palestinians from Area C of the West Bank so that if Israel ever officially annexes the West Bank, it will be able to claim maximum territory with minimum Palestinians. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and others have proposed transferring large Palestinian cities within Israel, like Umm al-Fahm, into a future Palestinian state. Members of Naftali Bennett’s far-right Jewish Home party openly speak of the “voluntary transfer” of Palestinians out of Palestine.

A Jewish right-wing activist seen walking on a road near where a Jewish outpost was established in the controversial E1 area of the West Bank. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A Jewish right-wing activist seen walking on a road near where a Jewish outpost was established in Area C of the West Bank. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Since the Oslo Accords, though, Israeli elites’ approach to the presence of Palestinians in territory under Israeli control has become somewhat contradictory. While centrists and the center-left still speak about the need for “separation” and “a divorce” from the Palestinians, the one-state reality, simultaneously temporary and indefinite, provides a cheap, exploitable labor source — Palestinians from the occupied territories. Endless occupation has transformed Israelis into inadvertent colonialists of the more conventional variety.

One of Greenstein’s most valuable insights relates to the failure of Jewish bi-nationalist movements to find Arab partners. The Arabs, Greenstein argues, recognized what the Jewish bi-nationalists could not: that the mainstream Zionist movement had the power to determine the shape of Jewish politics in Israel/Palestine, and that it had no intention of peacefully co-existing. The Palestinian leadership therefore met Zionist eliminationism with rejectionism — the refusal to recognize Jewish political rights out of fear that doing so would lead to Jewish domination of the Arab population.

Though far from inevitable, the conflict in Israel/Palestine has, as a result, been one of two opposed, irreconcilable nationalisms. Even today, over 50 years after Israel first occupied the West Bank, the Palestinian national movement, at least within historic Palestine, remains committed to a nationalist struggle with the goal of establishing an independent, Palestinian state. The sad irony is that Israel, having achieved the Zionist goal of a Jewish state and more, is now committed to making sure that never happens.

Israeli border policemen arrest an Israeli protester during a protest marking ten years for the struggle against the Wall in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

Israeli border policemen arrest an Israeli protester during a protest marking ten years for the struggle against the Wall in the West Bank village Bil’in, February 27, 2015. Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

The closest Israeli and Palestinian movements came to serious bi-national cooperation was what Greenstein calls the “incipient dialogue” between the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), a militant, Marxist organization within the Palestinian national movement, and Matzpen, the socialist, anti-Zionist movement. The DFLP and Matzpen’s communication, however, was cut-short by state repression and the outbreak of civil war in Jordan in 1970, but those were not their only obstacles. Among the points of contention between the two movements was the right to Jewish national self-determination within historic Palestine. In a one-state solution, which would be a majority Arab country, would Jews have collective rights — to cultural autonomy, to the Hebrew language — or only rights as individuals within the framework of a democratic Arab state?

Today, as illusions about the two-state solution fade away, Israelis and Palestinians have begun to think together, again, about what sharing the land of Israel/Palestine might look like in practice. However, one-state and federation initiatives remain small, lacking any real influence or public support. The questions that previous movements raised — from the implications of PCP’s Arabization debate to national self-determination for both Jews and Arabs within Israel/Palestine — remain unanswered.

And yet, Jews and Arabs, even without a unifying platform or a coherent strategy, continue to join together on the frontlines of Israel’s efforts to remove Palestinians from their land — in the Negev, the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem, and the South Hebron Hills. The bi-nationalists failed, in part, because they could imagine a shared society, but could not commit themselves to a shared struggle. Perhaps contemporary anti-occupation activists, through committed, steadfast, shared struggle, will lay the groundwork for a future shared society.

Trump administration issues rule further watering down Obamacare

As it becomes clearer that this leads to unnecessary deaths, what will the haters have to say and what will the friends and relatives of the dead say? WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration took additional steps to weaken Obamacare on Monday, allowing U.S. states to relax the rules on what insurers must cover and giving states more power to regulate their individual insurance markets.

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US deficit to approach $1tn after Trump tax cuts and spending bill, CBO says

Anyone remember what #45 said he would do about the deficit? This is not it!

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Congressional Budget Office says economic growth from tax cuts will only partially offset deficit cost, despite White House claims

The combined effects of Donald Trump’s tax cuts and last month’s budget-busting spending bill is sending the US budget deficit toward the $1tn mark next year, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO report said the twin tax and spending bills will push the budget deficit to $804bn this year and just under $1tn for the upcoming budget year. Economic growth from the tax cuts will add 0.7% on average to the nation’s economic output over the coming decade, the analysis said, only partially offsetting the deficit cost of the tax cuts.

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Facebook is no longer a default

As you’ve probably seen, Facebook has been under fire for the mishandling of data on 87 million users in connection with Cambridge Analytica. It’s been widely covered with new details emerging, so I won’t go into the details here. But, to put it mildly – it’s not good.

What is becoming more apparent is that Facebook’s actions (or lack thereof) to protect their users’ privacy and data leave a lot to be desired.

Facebook’s continued lack of respect for their users’ privacy and the just-plain-creepy level of targeting made available to advertisers is at direct odds with our vision at Vivaldi.

We want an internet where users come first. Where usage data is not unnecessarily collected and shared. As we’ve said before, protecting privacy should be the default.

Going forward, we will not include a link to Facebook in the Speed Dial by default in Vivaldi. It’s no longer a platform we feel we can encourage users to access. This means that when a new user installs Vivaldi they will not see a link to Facebook in their Speed Dial. Existing users will not see this change reflected in their bookmarks.

What is the Speed Dial?

Speed Dials are a selection of bookmarks displayed on the Start Page of Vivaldi (i.e. the page you see by default when you open a new tab or window). Speed Dials give you quick access to your favorite sites.

Start Page in the Vivaldi browserA customized Speed Dial in Vivaldi

With every new installation of Vivaldi we include a set of default bookmarks, a selection of which are shown in the Speed Dial. The bookmarks included are there because we think they will be useful to our users.

It goes without saying that social media plays a big role in how many people spend their time online. The default Speed Dial includes links to a handful of major social media sites to give users a quick way to access these platforms from their Start Page.

Of course, links shown on your Speed Dial are completely customizable. We encourage you to edit and tweak Vivaldi to your liking, and the Speed Dial is no exception.

* * *

Clearly there is a long way to go in how services treat the private data of their users, but we do hope that Facebook will address the issues at hand and take steps to improve the situation.

Main image by Christopher Burns via Unsplash

This Week in Egypt: Week 14-2018 ( April 2-8)

Nervana

Top Headlines

  • National Elections Authority (NEA) has declared Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi the winner of Egypt’s 2018 presidential election
  • Egypt’s Sisi vows to work for all Egyptians without discrimination after securing second term
  • Current round of Ethiopian dam talks in Khartoum yield ‘no significant results’
  • Egypt cassation court orders retrial for 16 defendants in NGO foreign funding case
  • Egyptian police raided the office of a news website, arrested its editor-in-chief

Sisi women 18 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

  • Egypt’s Sisi congratulates

View original post 1,010 more words

Wylie: Data might be from more than 87M users

Via aleksey godin

(CNN)Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie says the data the firm gathered from Facebook could have come from more than 87 million users and could be stored in Russia.

The number of Facebook users whose personal information was accessed by Cambridge Analytica “could be higher, absolutely,” than the 87 million users acknowledged by Facebook, Wylie told NBC’s Chuck Todd during a “Meet the Press” segment Sunday.
Wylie added that his lawyer has been contacted by US authorities, including congressional investigators and the Department of Justice, and says he plans to cooperate with them.
“We’re just setting out dates that I can actually go and sit down and meet with the authorities,” he said.
The former Cambridge Analytica employee said that “a lot of people” had access to the data and referenced a “genuine risk” that the harvested data could be stored in Russia.
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“It could be stored in various parts of the world, including Russia, given the fact that the professor who was managing the data harvesting process was going back and forth between the UK and to Russia,” Wylie said.
Aleksander Kogan, a Russian data scientist who gave lectures at St. Petersburg State University, gathered Facebook data from millions of Americans. He then sold it to Cambridge Analytica, which worked with President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
When asked if he thought Facebook was even able to calculate the number of users affected, Wylie stressed that data can be copied once it leaves a database.
“I know that Facebook is now starting to take steps to rectify that and start to find out who had access to it and where it could have gone, but ultimately it’s not watertight to say that, you know, we can ensure that all the data is gone forever,” he said.
Wylie cited the risks of the data’s exposure as a reason he blew the whistle on the company. “Part of the reason that I spoke out was so that this could be looked at,” he said.

CNN’s Donie Sullivan contributed to this report.

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Battle Groups

The deployment of western troops at the Russian border constitutes the central element of the arms buildup decided at Warsaw’s NATO summit. Battalion-sized NATO “Battle Groups” [1] will be deployed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Germany being the “framework nation,” the Bundeswehr will command the battle group in Lithuania. Berlin and NATO claim that this decision is still not in violation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act from 1997, which stipulates that no “substantial combat forces” be stationed permanently in the new NATO-member countries. However, during the NATO summit, Poland’s Defense Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, pointed out that in fact a much larger number of NATO-servicemen could be present, for example in Poland. Waszczykowski recalled that the USA plans to regularly dispatch a brigade to Poland from Germany for military exercises. There will also be the personnel for the NATO missile defense and the combat support brigade for the Multinational Corps Northeast, with leading Bundeswehr participation. According to Waszczykowski, more than 10,000 NATO servicemen will be stationed in Poland.[2]

Successful Offensive

During its Warsaw summit, NATO also agreed on other measures, which are clearly directed at Russia – in spite of some of its declarations to the contrary. NATO declared partial readiness of its new missile defense system and officially took command handed over by the United States. A radar system in Turkey and a missile interception site in Romania are operational and four warships docked in Spain can also be used for the missile defense system. Its central command has been installed at NATO’s Allied Air Command Headquarters in Ramstein, Germany. NATO will help Ukraine to modernize its armed forces and to achieve interoperability with NATO. Both measures are aimed at Russia. The war alliance expressed its explicit appreciation of “Ukraine’s significant contributions to Allied operations and the NATO Response Force.”[3] NATO also seeks to “strengthen its air and maritime presence” in the Black Sea region. Romania will establish a fully operational “multinational brigade” in which Bulgaria will participate. To prevent Russia from undertaking counter measures in response to this NATO aggression, NATO has announced a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council for Wednesday. If NATO succeeds in forestalling Moscow’s reaction, its arms buildup offensive would be successful without disadvantages.[4]

The “Suwalki Gap”

Leading German media are accompanying NATO’s arms buildup with elements of propaganda revived straight from the tool chests of the cold war. Today, they have begun to propagate the notion of a “Suwalki Gap,” a region of northeast Poland and Southern Lithuania where an alleged Russian assault is expected. The term “Suwalki Gap” alludes to the cold war’s “Fulda Gap,” which up to 1989 had been considered the alleged gateway for the Warsaw Treaty nations’ troops into Germany. NATO is spreading the word that “there is a threat of Russia provoking a regional conventional conflict,” where Russian units attack via Belarus through the “Suwalki Gap” to Kaliningrad. This would “separate the Baltic from the rest of NATO, returning these countries to Moscow’s orbit.” NATO would have to stand by “watching helplessly” from the sidelines, because it has “no strong forces in the region,” it is claimed. Moreover, “the Baltic could hardly be retaken after [Russian, editor’s note] conquest.”[5]

The Helpless NATO

The absurdity of the assertion that NATO is “helpless,” has been graphically debunked in exhibits published in the German media – this is also a replica of corresponding illustrations from the cold war period – comparing NATO’s and Russia’s arms budgets and weapons. According to these illustrations, in 2015, poor “helpless” NATO had spent around US $861 billion on its arms buildup – just about thirteen times Russia’s military budget (US $66 billion). NATO nations – without the USA – are spending nearly the same amount per capita on their armed forces (US $440) vs. Russia’s US $470, while the USA, alone, spends US $1,870 per capita on its military. 800,000 Russian soldiers are up against 3.41 Million NATO soldiers, 750 Russian fighter jets and 1,400 ground combat aircraft are up against NATO’s 4,000 fighter jets and 4,600 ground combat aircraft. In a warfare situation, a single Russian aircraft carrier would have to take on 27 NATO aircraft carrier, 100 Russian frigates, destroyers or corvettes would confront 260 of the corresponding NATO warships, 60 Russian submarines would be confronting 154 NATO subs. Only in the domain of multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) and self-propelled guns (SPGs) would Russia hold a slight advantage over the western alliance. However, in modern warfare, the military advantage these weapons represent can be regarded as of subordinate significance.[6]

Germany’s Global Role

That the EU would cooperate more closely with NATO was not among the least the decisions taken at the Warsaw summit. This would be the case, above all, in areas where the EU is either significantly weaker than the USA, or where it wishes support. The former case applies to the domain of cyberwarfare and intelligence activities to be expanded, while the latter applies to the EU warding off migrants, wherein the military alliance will lend support. It also stipulates that the EU’s arms industry should be further bolstered and can possibly expect new orders from the United States. This reinforcement of cooperation was taken after German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had announced that Germany has become a “central player” on the world stage and takes on a “global role,” while the USA has “stumbled” and “the illusion of a unipolar world” faded.[7] Steinmeier, together with his French counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault, additionally call for an excessive EU arms buildup permitting the European confederation to become an “independent” and “global” actor – also “independent” of the USA.[8]

The Next Major Conflict

While the EU and NATO are intensifying cooperation, the United States is heating up the next major conflict. As was announced late last week, Washington will be stationing the Thaad missile defense system in South Korea,[9] allegedly aimed at stopping North Korean missiles. In reality, however, this sophisticated radar technology permits the USA to spy on China from South Korean territory. The missile defense system also weakens China’s retaliatory capabilities and thereby Chinese defenses. With this, Washington is heating up the major conflict with China, which has been growing more critical all along.[10]