April 24, 2005

David Aaronovitch on Sue Blackwell!

Yuk!!! Sorry Sue, it's a terrifying image, I know. But in today's Observer. Aaronovitch has produced a vintage piece of garbage about the AUT boycott of two (watch this space) Israeli universities, inspired, of course, by Sue Blackwell. In that any Aaronovitch article on the Middle East promises nothing but tosh, this lives up to its promise, but in that it is titled "Why Israel will always be vilified" it doesn't measure up at all. It doesn't explain why, even in Aaronovitch's hallowed opinion, Israel will always be vilified. Citing the boycott as one example of "intelligent people behaving in a futile way," Aaronovitch sets out to "prove" his point.

First up Aaronovitch takes a personal swipe at Sue Blackwell for using the boycott motion to make herself feel better. He then says that the boycott will be counter-productive because it will make zionists pro-American or even insular. He doesn't know of the divestment campaigns going on in America right now it seems. It will reduce Europe's influence on Israel he says. What influence? you may ask.

Time for another personal swipe at Blackwell. Apparently (and I don't know if it's true) she's a former "Christian fundamentalist turned revolutionary socialist." This is bad. This is terrible. Is he objecting to Christian fundamentalism? He can't be can he? Bible thumpers are Israel's main supporters in America, numerically anyway. Or is being a revolutionary socialist bad? This would make most of the ANC's old guard (including, I think, Mandela) bad. Or is he objecting to turning? Can't be that either. Aaronovitch is more famous for turning from being a reactionary communist to being an equally reactionary New Labourite than anything else. So what's his point? He doesn't say. Within the same paragraph he tries the old "you shouldn't be looking" routine. You know the one. Why don't you look at human rights abuses elsewhere? But human rights abuses elsewhere are condemned more frequently in the media than Israel's abuses and the boycott acts as an exposé for those who see Israel as Aaronovitch portrays it: a plucky beleaguered "normal" state, surrounded by enemies.

He then names a few human rights abusers before criticising the characterisation of Israel as an apartheid state thus:
This is a genuinely, grade-A stupid argument, whether it emanates from the lips of Professor Steven Rose or the more sacred ones of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In itself, Israel is not anything like South Africa, where a majority was denied all political and civic rights on the grounds of race. What is analogous, however, is Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, which bears comparison with South Africa's occupation of Namibia or, some might say, Serbia's occupation of Kosovo.
This is completely wrong. Israel did not become an apartheid state with the occupation, it became an apartheid state when it was established as a state that grants superior rights to Jews from anywhere than it does for non-Jews who come from there. To take the view that Israel's system of legally enforced race discrination is not apartheid is to mistake apartheid for minority rule. A system of law that grants priveledges to one ethno-religious group over others is an apartheid system. But to ignore the fact that the Palestinians are a minority under Israeli rule thanks to the zionist movement's ethnic cleansing of most Palestinians from their land is a working definition of chutzpah. I should point out here that Moshe Machover (www.kibush.org.il) has said that calling Israel an apartheid state is dangerous because it underestimates Israel's capacity and desire for ethnic cleansing. But anyway,
So the object of those wanting peace and justice in the Middle East is to bring about an end to that occupation, and enable the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. It is to persuade both sides that such a settlement is practical and to persuade both sides to make the difficult sacrifices that are necessary. It is to build confidence between Jews and Palestinians, and to strengthen, always, the hand of the peacemakers.
He's missing something out here. He mentions sacrifices but doesn't say what they should be. He also hasn't mentioned the Palestinians' right to return though in previous articles he has equated their abandonment of this right as equating to the racist war criminals giving up their settlements. Note here that the recognition accorded to Israel by the UN in 1948 (I think) was conditional on Israel allowing the refugees to return. Note also that the freestanding General Assembly resolution 194, reaffirmed every year since it was passed, calls on Israel to allow the refugees to return to their land. Now read on
Unless, of course, you don't believe that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state at all within any borders. And this, as it happens, seems to be the view of Sue Blackwell, who describes Israel as 'an illegitimate state'. Unlike the United Nations, she does not believe it should have been set up and she would rather it disappeared. As she pointed out in 2003 to a previous AUT council: 'From its very inception, the state of Israel has attracted international condemnation for violating the human rights of the Palestinian people and making war on its neighbours.' Or, to put it even more bluntly, everything is all the fault of the Israelis.
See the chutzpah there. I'm not a fan of the UN but Aaronovitch wants the Palestinians to give up their right of return in exchange for peace and a Palestinian state. The UN, according to itself, wants the Palestinians to have the right to return. When people suggest that the UN erred in recognising the state of Israel, this, to Aaronovitch is a terrible thing, but when zionists, the state of Israel and the great Aaronovitch insist that Palestinians give up one of the most basic of human rights, this is "the object of those wanting peace and justice. in the Middle East."(my italics) I can understand how bludgeoning a whole people into submission might be seen as a kind of peace, as in the absence of war, but justice? The acceptance of Israel's right to benefit from an ethnic cleansing campaign and to maintain an apartheid state is not justice, it is victory for racist war criminals and Aaronovitch surely knows it.

After some more mealy mouthed nonsense, Aaronovitch ends up with an even sillier swipe at Sue Blackwell than the previous ones. But go read the whole article and be thankful that Aaronivitch is "turning" from a reactionary Guardianista to an even more reactionary Murdochite at the Times.

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