July 29, 2006

War, peace and Just Peace

There's a curious thread that has just come to a close on the Just Peace list. It began with a report back on the Israel rally picket by Deborah Fink and ended (if it has ended) with a wonderful comment by Charlie Pottins (of Random Pottins fame). It was what happened in between those two that was so strange. Deborah wrote a little addition to what I had already posted:
The Zionist Federation didn't give us enough time to get hold of people (!) and a lot of us had already gone on the rally the previous day, while some didn't see the point - we had already made much impact with our advert.

I think it was worth it as they could see there is an opposition - anything to get them out of their ghetto and rattle their self-righteous, bigoted, racist, denial. And the JfJfP banner made up for our smallness - it was enough to 'spoil' the scenery for them! One man told the press that we don't represent the Jewish community. I said HE didn't, (either).

I was lunged at a couple of times but the police took them away.

Paul Usiskin's (Peace Now UK leader) presence there says it all about where Peace Now has gone. He did not like it when I challenged him! I've seen how 2 members of the Peace Now Exec have openly supported Israel's attack on Lebanon, and the Evening
Standard said that the Israeli peace camp supports it - obviously minus Gush Shalom.
She posted a press release here. Well then Charlie Pottins wrote the following spoof (I've just realised that this is going to be a long post but please hang in there):
I have been concerned by reports that middle aged matrons attending the Solidarity for Israel rally (sorry I meant to say "For Peace, Against Terror" rally - must keep to the proprieties) "gobbed at" Jewish women protesting for Jews for Justice, and that stalwart defenders of the State of Israel only tried to tear down their banner and "lunged at" a participant.

I realise that the hearties may have been inhibited by a police presence, but how about the gobbers (i.e.spitters for those unfamiliar with Mancunian parlance)? How good was their aim, and did they connect? I am not sure what the Jewish law says about this - perhaps someone can write and ask Jonathan Sacks? I remember once being told that Bnei Akiva members would not participate with Habonimniks in putting out a bonfire in traditional manner (after the ladies had retired) because it was "against the din", but I heard last year of Orthodox yeshiva students attempting to pee on a Gay Pride procession, so if showing your putz and urinating in public is permitted providing you aim at another human being of whom the Torah or you disapprove is permitted, then spiiting by ladies and perhaps juveniles is kosher if you do it for Israel.

However, can we be sure our Gobbers Gedud are sufficiently trained and effective? Some will have been accompanied by children, and hoping to set a good example to their offspring I'm sure. How about setting up Gobbing classes as part of the regular activity of Zionist women's groups? There could be contests for seniors and juniors, and prizes presented by dignitaries. If keen participants practice at home you could leave a mark on the wall where the prize would then hang. I can see it now, proud paterfamilias "Oh yes, my wife is a good woman, and my daughter too, her prize is above Ruby's. Did I tell you, we originally came from Spitalfields". It could become a new competitive sport at the Maccabiah, and it would give the children something to look up to.
Well that was too much for Linda Grant who took just over an hour to respond to Charlie.
Whereas if a small group had waved Israeli flags and handed out leaflets at Saturday's Stop the War Demo, I'm sure they would have been greeted with great friendliness and courtesy by the crowd, eager to hear an alternative point of view, especially those carrying the Nasrallah placards.
Now that led to a little flurry of activity. Deborah Fink:
Ah, but we weren't waving Lebanese flags about. One Lebanese boy wanted to bring his but was advised it was counter-productive. Are you trying to justify their behaviour, Linda? Come to think of it, why hasn't Engage picked up on this anti-Semitism coming from right-wing Zionsits? Says it all. (They only care about so called 'left anti-Semitism', i.e. when Israel is criticised).

Anyway, for sure, at the Stop the War demo I don't suppose Israel apologists would have been greeted with friendliness but I doubt they would have been spat at....
And more from Deborah:
Also, the Israel apologists were particulary angry because we are Jewish - one of them admitted this. They expect all Jews to toe the official line and stick together, however wrong, and so see us as traitors. We also undermine their 'arguments', credibility and attempt to show the Jewish community as one. So, they probably would not have spat at non Jewish protesters.

You can see that we are rattling the Israeli Embassy.

Their anger is also, I think, about denial. The truth hurts, and they don't like being told they/Israel,are wrong. Naughty children don't like being told off and get defensive and try to justify themselves. But I'm sure Deborah Maccoby can elaborate on this.

There is also a lot of projection going on (and I'm not even trained in psychoanalysis). They call us Nazis, but they are like the Germans who kept silent during the Holocaust. They are the real traitors - to Jewish values, (as I replied to them).

It seems the whole rally was one big hypocritical propoganda exercise in hate- mongering and brainwashing. The Chief Rabbi was apparently preaching hate.
Now, not noticing that others had responded, I chipped in:
A group of zionists from Betar and the Zionist Federation (if there's a difference) turned up to picket the Rachel Corrie cantata. People supporting the cantata needed the same protection that the JfJfP women needed at the Israel rally.

No one was abusive to the zionist pickets who waved Israeli flags and gave out leaflets. They tore up our Jews against zionism leaflets or they screwed them up and threw them at us. No one actually lunged at us but they did keep breaking through the police cordon to hurl threats and abuse.

I remember too when there was a picket of the Israeli embassy (when Israel expelled 400 Palestinians) there were a few JDL types there to intimidate us and again the police were on hand to offer protection.

But of course you're not comparing like with like. The Stop the War rally was to stop Israel destroying Lebanon, the Israel rally was to support Israel destroying Lebanon and Gaza, together with their civilian populations, so there may well have been anger at zionists waving Israel flags at the StW march, perhaps you should try it.

You might want to promote the idea that oppressors and resistors are six of one and half a dozen of the other (or worse, that Israel is the victim here) but I think the world might have got a little wiser over the past couple of weeks in spite of the propagandist efforts of you and your zionist cohorts in the media.

Since you're over your writer's block, where do the great watchdogs against antisemitism stand on all of this? I mean Engage of course.
Next up Diana Neslen responded to Linda Grant:
Linda's post set me thinking. So would any alternative view in another demonstration have had the response that the people at the rally gave. I don't know, but what I do know is what happens when we go out to campaign against Israel's actions in the public arena. There was the last rally in defence of Israel's behaviour. We were corralled away from the crowds and protected by the police. Hot coffee was thrown at us. We were told that the wrong Jews died in Auschwitz and they tried to come into our space with the Israeli flag. They were extremely intimidating.
Now I've seen Linda Grant do what follows on other threads when the discussion isn't going her way. Cop this:
I wonder what's going to be done with these violent, hate-filled
crackpot Jews when Palestinians and former Zionists are joined together in their new unitary state of brotherly love. Large prisons seem to be the answer. The question is, just how big will they need to be?
I have to admit I was quite angry about this complete non sequitur and the idea suggested in it. she didn't just move the goal posts, she moved the country:
Apologies to the list. I said that Linda Grant had got over her writer's block. Obviously I was wrong. Having picked an argument in favour of zionists in the UK spitting at and threatening Jews in the UK for criticising Israel she has been reduced to changing the subject completely - and not for the first time.

And this caring soul jokes about the size of prisons in Palestine when Israel is actually enlarging its prisons for an expected bumper crop of Lebanese prisoners.

Perhaps she thought that this was the Engage list where she can say what she likes knowing that other contributors will adopt false names to support her.

Moving to the subject of one state or two, that would be an interesting discussion to have but since Engage refuses to campaign for either it would be pointless any of them joining in.
Well now here comes Charlie Pottins. There were a few more posts under the same thread but Charlie does a strange thing when he posts to a thread. He changes the subject bar which breaks the thread and so you don't always know if he is responding to something or initiating a new topic. But anyway, here's his post:
I don't know what "hate-filled crackpots" Linda Grant is talking about or why she introduces expressions which nobody else has used, unless it is because it is easier to argue with what people have not said. I am also puzzled that she is talking about prisons in Israel when the people we were discussing do not live there. Perhaps like some of them Linda gets a bit confused as to where we do live. Kenton is between Brent and Harrow and has not yet been annexed to Greater Israel.

As regards the possibility of a united state in which Linda sneers there might be brotherly love (what a preposterous idea, eh?), again, Linda apparently prefers to worry about what might be than to discuss what is, which is understandable I suppose, there is such an awful mess to face, and not just in Israel.. But we do have to consider how we can make some progress out of it.

The immediate problem is that there is already one state in Israel-Palestine, which still rules over the lives of people who are not its citizens, and also expects support and loyalty from others who are not its residents, on the assumption that we should be, or feel guilty. It has succeeded in manipulating the insecurity and misguided loyalties of a large number of Diaspora Jews but there is no reason to assume this is permanent, in fact it is already weakened.

There may be a minority of hard cases who find extreme Zionism and anti-Arab racism an outlet for their own problems and unpleasant tendencies, whether among right-wing settlers or here. After all Jews are not that different from anyone else. These should not be confused with frightened and unhappy people whose response to their current unease is to lash out at people who remind them what is wrong. Women in Black can tell you all about facing it. But yes, we have had our share of violent extremists (I will avoid a discussion on political theory by not referring to "fascists"), They threw a grenade into a peace march in Jerusalem during the previous Lebanon war, one of them assassinated an Israeli prime minister, and lots of them turned on Israel soldiers and police during the Gaza evacuation, even dressing up in concentration camp uniforms and screaming that the soldiers were "Nazis", "Kapos" etc. (oddly the Board forgot its concern with people making light of the Holocaust).

These characters were organised and they have their supporters here. So yes, if people in Israel decide they want a different set-up, whether a unified or federated democratic state or even a genuine two-state policy, just as a majority supported the Gaza evacuation, they may face a problem with these fanatics. I remember the way France had so much trouble with the colons and fascists who objected to withdrawal from Algeria, and even waged terror on their fellow-Frenchmen. I have read people like Harold Fisch of Gush Emunim, as well as Kahane, and don't expect them to have too much respect for any kind of democracy. So yes it will probably be necessary to take measures to restrain them. that is the right of any democracy. But why does Linda assume this would mean "large prisons"? Why assume there would be such large numbers of these people, and that somehow a majority of citizens who had decided on peace would be unable of overcoming their opposition? Or is it unthinkable that anyone should dare say boo to the far Right?

Getting back to today's reality, I can't help noticing a tone of incredulity in Linda's question that anyone should ever envisage Jews and other people living together in one state. But this is worrying. You see, Linda, Jews and Arabs already live in the State of Israel, and are supposedly equal citizens. In some places they even live in the same neighbourhood. If Israel tackles discrimination, such places might increase. Besides, the Arab population is increasing. Does Linda have a problem with this? Perhaps her idea of a "two-state solution" is one of two racially exclusive states (if one can call the shrunken enclaves to which Palestinians are being confined a "state"), but it is not mine. Maybe Linda has not thought about this, but instead of asking what might happen to right-wing extremist Jews she might consider what she wants to do with Palestinians who have Israeli citizenship?

More immediately, since neither Linda nor I are Israelis (though she spends more time there), and since we were talking about an incident in north-west London, where large numbers of Jews and Muslims and other communities live, with or without "brotherly love", but just getting by as neighbours, is that too a problem? I suppose if you are a Zionist it is. Not natural for different people to live alongside each other and get along, is it?
So far Linda Grant hasn't replied, not to the Just Peace list anyway.

I thought Charlie was so eloquent there, I was looking forward to seeing it on his own blog but...a quick look, and nothing doin'.

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