Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Wall: American Students Hit The Iron Wall of Zionism

American college students have launched a movement that has run into the Iron Wall of Zionism


SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGEs

It was the subject of a foundational book by a founding father of modern Zionism. It was the object that Zionist soldiers ruthlessly defended in 2018. It is what protesting American students have just run into. Concretely and conceptually, it is the keystone of the Zionist project: the Wall.

The first rule of Zionism is that the wall must be absolutely impenetrable.

The material wall must be impenetrable because, in the context of an ethno-religious supremacism, it's the boundary that separates the elect, the chosen, the ubermenschen from the rejected, the dispossessed, the untermenschen. Any breach in the wall will lead, inexorably and quickly, to a breakdown of the essentialist exceptionalism and the social order premised thereupon.

In the white-supremacist segregated south, the police and the dogs and the nightsticks had to be used to prevent even one black child from entering a white school because, they knew, that would mean the end of Jim Crow.

In Jewish-supremacist apartheid Israel, as Israeli academic and political advisor Arnon Soffer said years before the Great March of Return in 2018, it is necessary for Israel to “put a bullet in the head of anyone who tries to climb over the security fence.” Israel must prevent even one Gazan from crossing the wall, because “when 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. … The pressure at the border will be awful. … So, … we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day…. If we don’t kill, we will cease to exist.”  

Saturday, December 2, 2023

No Respect: Bernie, Gaza, and Liberal Zionism

No Respect: Bernie, Gaza, and Liberal Zionism

Jim Kavanagh

After Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, November 1, 2023. REUTERS/Mohammed Al-Masri/File photo 

With a New York Times op-ed on November 22nd, Bernie Sanders chimed in with his take on what’s happening in Gaza right now, and what must be done to “balance our desire to stop the fighting with the need to address the roots of the conflict.” It’s worth examining his piece as an example of the liberal-Zionist framework of thought, which begins with the assumption that Zionism is a necessary and virtuous project that "we" must support and that takes priority over everything else in the context, including the lives of Palestinians, and ends—after conjuring a happily-ever-after version of Zionism that pleases the minds and consciences of Western liberals like himself—right where it started.

Bernie begins by insisting that “we must first be cleareyed about facts” and immediately recounts the facts he finds relevant thusly:

On Oct. 7, Hamas, a terrorist organization, unleashed a barbaric attack against Israel, killing about 1,200 innocent men, women and children and taking more than 200 hostage.

Unfortunately, Bernie’s account of root facts is tendentious and factually incorrect. It does not “address” but obscures “the roots of the conflict,” by starting “On Oct. 7.” It is not clear-eyed but tendentious in trying to pass off as fact the characterization of Hamas as “a terrorist organization.”

Bernie’s use of “terrorist” here echoes the hypocrisy of all Western mainstream politicians and media, and it’s worth delving into.

Reign of “Terror”

Of course, “terrorist” is a terrible word, almost always used dishonestly—and Bernie knows it.  Even Ronald Reagan knew that “One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.” Insofar as it can be used factually, the word “terrorism” denotes a tactic used sporadically by virtually every state army and armed resistance group in history.

Those who support a group’s objective never dismissively use “terrorism” to describe its actions, let alone to condemn the group. They accept such tactics as unfortunate and morally problematic, but non-dispositive, elements of a legitimate struggle. On the other hand, when a group whose objective they oppose uses the same tactics, they insist that group must be condemned and eliminated. It’s never the tactic, always the objective, that’s the deal-breaker, the thing that determines when and how “terrorism” will be used.

Nobody had more contempt for this hypocrisy than the proudly self-identified “terrorists” who were the vanguard fighting founders and, latterly, Prime Ministers, of the Zionist state—like Menachem Begin, who embraced the title of ”Father of terrorism in all the world,” and Yitzhak Shamir, who wrote an article forthrightly entitled “Terror,” saying:

Neither Jewish morality nor Jewish tradition can be used to disallow terror as a means of war…We are very far from any moral hesitations when concerned with the national struggle….First and foremost, terror is for us a part of the political war appropriate for the circumstances of today, and its task is a major one: it demonstrates in the clearest language, heard throughout the world including by our unfortunate brethren outside the gates of this country, our war against the occupier.

Monday, October 30, 2023

Israel’s Solution to Gaza: War on Iran

 Israel’s Solution to Gaza: War on Iran

Jim Kavanagh

Youssef Massoud |AFP via Getty Images

A US-Israeli war on Iran is very likely very soon. Here are four reasons why I say that:

1. A military attack on Iran has been an Israeli demand for at least fifteen years, in active preparation by the U.S. and Israel for at least six years, and was already ordered by the president.

Per the long 2019 New York Times article, The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran, “Hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for” war on Iran. In 2008, Israeli politicians Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, and Ehud Barak began to pressure U.S. President George W. Bush to join an attack on Iran, but he was “unequivocally against” it.

They ran into resistance again with the Obama administration, whose message, according to State Department official Wendy Sherman, was: “Please don’t go off on a hair trigger and start a war, because you’re going to want us to come in behind you,” Netanyahu thus saw Obama as “part of the problem, not the solution”—although maybe not then Vice President, “I am a Zionist” Joe Biden, who, in one meeting, “threw his arm around [Uzi] Arad [one of his former top advisers] and said with a smile, ‘Just remember that I am your best fucking friend here.’”

Israel had better luck with the Trump administration, especially after the ascension of Mike Pompeo and John Bolton, who were themselves hot for attacking Iran. in June 2017, CIA Director Pompeo up a stand-alone Iran Mission Center, replacing previous Iran specialists with “a much more focused and belligerent group.” Its purpose—as of any Mission Center—was to “elevate” the country as a target. It was headed by Michael D’Andrea, a convert to Islam known as “the undertaker” and "Ayatollah Mike, who was  notorious for his “central role in the agency's torture and targeted killing programs,” and for having an “aggressive stance toward Iran.”

This was followed in December 2017, by the signing, in a “secret” meeting at the White House, of a pact with Israel “to take on Iran.” This This was a pact to coordinate “steps on the ground” against “Tehran and its proxies.” The Israelis considered these secret “dramatic understandings” to be of “far greater impact” on Israel than Trump’s more public recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Friday, October 20, 2023

First and Foremost, Colonialism Must End

 First and Foremost, Colonialism Must End

Jim Kavanagh


It Is What It Is

It’s necessary to start with this, because it’s the core of the problem and must be put first and foremost: The horrific events over the last week in Gaza and Israel demonstrate at least one thing irrefutably: Zionism is colonialism. Israel is a colonial-settler, apartheid state that, as such, must exterminate, expel, or subjugate Palestinian Arabs.

You may think it’s colonialism that’s justified for some reason, but it’s still colonialism. If you want to support it, you have to make the argument that it’s an acceptable exception to the now-universal prohibition of colonialism and apartheid under jus cogens—the preemptory, compelling norms of international law “from which no derogation is ever permitted.” And you will be making an argument for colonialism.

You may think—as secular Western liberals are wont to do—that this exceptional colonialism is justified by the Holocaust, which you take as proof that Jews are the ur-victims of the planet and therefore are entitled to take and keep a global safe room for themselves, even if it means exterminating, expelling, and subjugating the people who have been living in that room for centuries. That’s an argument that the Palestinians (who had nothing to do with the European Holocaust) are just less important people, whose historical obligation is to get out of the way of the Jews (who, whether victims of the Holocaust or not, are always-already victims). It’s an argument for colonialism.

Leaving out, as much as they can, the part about the Palestinians, this is the argument secular Western liberals make to themselves for Zionism as righteous compensatory colonialism.

Please note that it is not the argument on which the original Zionist thinkers, their political progeny who rule Israel, or the religious-Zionist settlers who are Zionism’s shock troops base their colonial project. For them, the Holocaust is not the reason for the Zionist colonial project, though it does provide an excuse to Western liberals for supporting colonialism while convincing themselves they’re doing something else.

Those to whom you cannot make that argument with a straight face are the Palestinian people. They know, and will not let you ignore, disguise, or forget that that it’s colonialism, and they are the colonized. They have not and—what is finally so clear and so upsetting to self-deluded Western liberals who actually thought they could persuade everyone of Zionism’s righteousness—will never submit to being the colonized, to living, because they are not Jewish, as secondary “human animals” in ”a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”  

The people of Gaza will never submissively accept their forced displacement and imprisonment in what Israeli scholar Baruch Kimmerling called “the largest concentration camp ever to exist.” The people of Palestine will never allow Jewish-supremacist settler colonist­s to live in the complacent comfort of the mastery to which they think they have the right—the comfort they need to complete the Zionist project. The Palestinians will never generously and passively accept Zionism’s right to take their homes, lives, and dignity, even if that makes the West feel better about its history with the Jews.

They will resist colonial domination and, as is their right, fight for liberation from colonial domination “by all available means, including armed struggle.” “No justice, no peace” isn’t a political slogan; it’s political science.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Cornel West on Jimmy Dore and Briahna on Kyle & Krystal: Who’s a Default Democrat?

Cornel West on Jimmy Dore and Briahna on Kyle & Krystal: Who’s a Default Democrat?

Jim Kavanagh

There were two energetic political conversations last week that have been the subject of much discussion in the lefty blogosphere: the Jimmy Dore exchange with Cornell West and the Kyle Kulinski-Krystal Ball conversation with Briahna Joy Gray. It's worth clarifying what I think is the essential issue in both of those exchanges.

On the face of it, they were very different.

In the Kyle-Krystal-Briahna conversation, the issues were: 1) whether Cornel West should be running as a third party candidate rather than as a Democrat challenging Joe Biden within the Democratic party, with Kyle and Krystal arguing for the latter and 2) whether or not there is a substantive reason for leftists to vote for Joe Biden, who, it was presumed, would be the Democratic nominee next November—with Kyle and Krystal arguing that Biden had “surprisingly” earned that support, and Briahna staunchly refusing.

In the Jimmy Dore-Cornel West conversation, on the other hand, no one was arguing against Cornel running third-party, and no one was arguing for voting for Biden. Jimmy supports Cornel’s third-party run, and Cornel continually states his objection to “milquetoast neoliberal” Biden, and never explicitly suggests that anyone should vote for him.

Dore was, somewhat clumsily, pressing Cornell West on something else, and did so in a way that lost focus and allowed the conversation to get sidetracked. There’s a specific, precise question that Jimmy could have asked, which would have gotten the answer about Cornel’s campaign that I think he was looking for.

I should say, first of all, that I know Cornel West. We were colleagues at Princeton together back in the day and ran in the same social and intellectual circles. He's a great guy, I respect him enormously, and he certainly has the best overall political position of anybody now running for president.

Nonetheless, there are important issues regarding the relation of Cornel and the Green Party’s campaign to the Democratic Party and Biden (or whoever is the Democratic nominee) that Jimmy was trying to get at, and that a lot of people on the left, myself included, want to understand precisely. Jimmy Dore missed the opportunity to pose a key question that would have clarified that. It’s a question that we, and Cornel, should know the answer to.

So, I asked him. On Monday, September 11th, I sent Cornel an email asking this question: 

Will you, actively campaign for every vote in every state, no matter who the Democratic and Republican nominees are and no matter what effect that has on either of them?
Or, come the crunch in November—when, we are told, the outcome in four states will decide the election—is there some possibility that you will adopt what's been the previous Green Party strategy of saying that voters in swing states should vote for the Democrat in order to stop Trump or whoever is the Republican nominee?

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