Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Some say Zionism is racism. I think a better analogy, a more true definition, is that Zionism is white (read here, Jewish skin privilege), at least in Israel. All political argument there is subsumed in the occupation. The left and right are defined that way. Israeli Jews identify as Jews not as workers. Consequently, even though, for example, the majority of Israeli Jews deplore capitalism and espouse socialism, their elected representatives are primarily a bunch of neoliberal capitalists...and the supposed egalitarian values of the Zionist state are nothing but a myth...and not just for Palestinians. However, even though working class, poor, and even middle class Jews are exploited, because they receive vast material privileges on the back of the much more exploited Palestinians inside Israel and in the occupied territories, there is no real struggle for true socialism, egalitarianism, democracy, or even a better future. Sure, there are flare ups from time to time for some table scraps, but nothing real happens and nothing real can ever happen until the Jews of Israel shed themselves of their privilege, until, say Jewish workers understand they are workers and not "Jews" and join in solidarity with Palestinian workers for something new and bright in the middle east. As long as the Jews of Israel continue to define themselves as "Jews" and hold onto their privileged position not only will the struggle of the Palestinian people be made very difficult, but their own struggle to rid themselves of exploitation by rich capitalist will be worth nothing and come to nothing.

The following is from Haaretz. The author does not really understand what he is writing.

More political than politics

For Israel's housing protest to succeed, it must be defined as political - and it must be translated into political acts. The issues it raises must be placed at the center of Israel's democratic life. The argument over who gets what must find expression within political parties and elections.

By Michal Shamir
Tags: Israel housing protest
The housing protest is political. Politics, as communications theorist Harold Lasswell once explained, is about "who gets what, when and how." Every action taken to influence policy is politics. Thus there is nothing more political than the tent camps springing up around the country.

The housing protest also makes a clear left-wing statement. In the world of political ideas, demands for social justice, the state's responsibility for its citizens' welfare, reducing social gaps, and equality are the very essence of the left. Even in the realm of practical politics, these are the issues at the center of the political battle in most of the world's democracies. These issues are the main difference between parties in the elections and constitute the basis for the accepted definitions of left and right.

Why isn't this obvious? Because in Israel, "left" means being a dove and in favor of peace and compromise with the Palestinians, while "right" means being a hawk and swearing by the greater Land of Israel. Ever since the Six-Day War in 1967, the party system, politics and the political debate have been mired in the political divide defined by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This is particularly noticeable, and critical, in the socioeconomic realm, which is what defines politics in most countries. In Israel, there are no clear differences between the major parties on these matters.

The major parties do not propose realistic and well-thought-out alternatives. There is no ongoing, intelligent public debate that can help citizens understand the issues, formulate a coherent doctrine and then connect this to their party preference and their vote. Questions of socioeconomic policy are easily defined as professional matters, which politicians must never touch.

Since these controversial issues are not on the parties' agenda or reflected in their election campaigns, the public's preferences in these areas go unrepresented. The vast majority of the public is very far from its leaders and the neoliberal policies they have been implementing for years; most of the public wants an egalitarian social policy that reduces socioeconomic gaps. But these preferences find no expression in the Knesset, or in policy.

Almost 60 percent of the members of the 18th Knesset belong to parties that clearly espouse a neoliberal, capitalist position: Likud, Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu, which together have 70 MKs. But the public is somewhere else entirely when it comes to socioeconomic policy, and many studies show that.

In the 2009 Israeli election survey, we repeated a question that we have asked for over 40 years: "When it comes to economic life in Israel, do you favor the socialist approach or the capitalist approach?" Among those who answered the question, 32 percent chose capitalism and 68 percent supported the socialist approach.

This is the lowest support for capitalism we have found since the Economic Stabilization Plan was launched in the mid-1980s. That plan marked a turning point in Israeli economic policy, from a policy with a socialist character to a liberal capitalist policy.

The 2009 survey also found that 74 percent of respondents thought "the government should be responsible for ensuring that everyone has a job and a reasonable standard of living"; only 9 percent thought that "the government shouldn't intervene and everyone should look out for himself."

The fact that the political parties and the political debate are locked into the divide of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is what has enabled Israel's acute transformation - from a society that served as a global exemplar of solidarity and equality in the 1970s to a society so unequal that it rivals the United States - to proceed so smoothly and "naturally."

Thus for the protest to succeed, it must be defined as political - and it must be translated into political acts. The issues the housing protests raise must be placed at the center of Israel's democratic life. The argument over who gets what must return to the political foreground, which means it must find expression within the political parties and the elections.

Otherwise, it will once again be swallowed by the black hole of the dispute over the territories.

The author is a professor of political science at Tel Aviv University

This story is by: Michal Shamir

1 comment:

Dark Daughta said...

i don't think there is such a thing as jewish skin since jewish peoples are scattered physically and biologically across the globe. the culture, tradition and religion has been carried right across the planet. but yes, there is privilege attached to hating jewish people which has a name but no word that really sums up what they specifically are doing to palestinian people. racism isn't quite it, is it? i mean, jewish people aren't white people and racism is about a relationship of dominance between people who have white privilege and people who don't. privilege definitely. what kind specifically? we may have to make up a new word.