Against Occupation: Voices within Israel and the Diaspora

Dozens of demonstrations against Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip have occurred throughout Israel since the attacks began on 27 December. On 3 January, over 10,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv against the attacks.

Automatic and therefore unthinking categorization of critics of Israeli occupation and domination of Palestinians as being “anti-Semitic” abounds. Some suppressed and concealed critics in academia and the mass media keep their silence out of fear that they will be tarred as terrorist-loving, anti-Semites, or even self-hating Jews as the case may be. Public political discourse in North America, and apparently in Israel as well, has been deformed and damaged by extreme binary oppositions, so extreme that even the illusory middle ground appears to be the worst of both sides. Simplistic labeling, dismissals, exclusions, scapegoating, fear-mongering, and exaggerated senses of injustice have created a lopsided idea of humanity, where freedom and dignity are to be the property of only the few, those with the most firepower. That is what a terminal culture looks like as it enters into steep decline. Unfortunately, the decline can be even more destructive than the ascent to hegemony.

In terms of the pro-Israel orthodoxy that forbids any criticisms of human rights abuses, war crimes (as amply documented by international human rights bodies such as Amnesty International), and acts of genocide, because presumably such atrocities are an essential part of the Israel right to “self-defense,” then it is not surprising to see some of the fanatical statements like the ones received below. Indeed, some have been deleted because of their excess of profanity. No rational dialogue is possible with extremists who believe that pro-semitism should excuse genocide, even warrant it, a position that in fact will result in making anti-semitism far more respectable. It is also a deeply racist discourse that holds that all “real” or “true” Jews must be on side with the actions of the Israeli state, no matter what. Apparently, however, such fervent and rabid support for Israeli governments did not extend to Yitzhak Rabin, as these fanatics will devour their own while claiming to speak for all. They condemn themselves, and now the world condemns them, apart from the usual allies.

It is therefore important to remember the many organizations, parties and movements within Israel and within the Jewish diaspora that remain committed to changing the destructive course taken by the Israeli state and settlers, and that deserve our support. Guanaguanare has produced an excellent list, with descriptions, titled “Israeli and Jewish Organisations Which Protest Israel’s Actions,” from which the following links were copied. We will both try to provide more resources for action over the coming days.

This is a reminder of the grave mistake it is to confuse state with people, Zionism with Jews, to think of Israel as a unitary, homogeneous entity without significant internal dissent and fragmentation. Needless to say, at this very moment Israel appears to be dominated by a shrill right wing that appears hell bent on genocide if not outright annihilation, fed by and reinforcing a pronounced tilt towards the right among voters. As the danger of another acute crisis draws closer, with wider regional implications, these organizations deserve as much support as possible, moral and otherwise.

If anyone spots organizations that we should list along with the links above, please feel free to contact either Guanaguanare or myself.


24 thoughts on “Against Occupation: Voices within Israel and the Diaspora

    1. RC

      Do you think Israel would be willing to, if led by a more liberatarian left wing Jewish leader disarm simultaneously with Palestine(Assuming Palestine can be convinced to disarm)?

      1. Maximilian Forte

        It would be a dream if that could happen, for both to disarm. They can take care of the vast majority of their problems through peaceful negotiation, and it is atrocious to see so many people die needlessly on both sides when this is clearly within their grasp, a real waste.

  1. Maximilian Forte

    Well, yes it does. When you control the air space over Gaza, all entries by sea, and land, and when you impose a choking blockade, and bomb at will, you occupy.

    Otherwise you would be saying that a prison camp in the U.S., let’s say, is free and autonomous territory, not subject to the laws and power weighing on it from the wider society in which it is embedded.

    When Gaza is part of a free state, then come back and repeat your line.

  2. sparx

    thanks for these links, you might be interested in this:

    Israeli soldiers refuse to serve in Gaza

    edited high-light:

    Ten Israeli reservists have reportedly refused to enter the war on Gaza in protest at the ongoing killing of women and children. An Israel reservist, along with his unit, refused to join the forces in the Gaza Strip on “grounds of conscience” and preferred 14 days in prison than Gaza, Ma’an News Agency has reported. The ten may be tried for violating orders.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Thanks very much sparx, not just for visiting, but for adding some resources too. I realized that what we (the other blogger and myself) came up with seemed like a short list, that there must have been organizations, acts, etc., that we must have missed, so many thanks for adding that link.

  3. Olga Stefan

    I got a BA in Anthro and not in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that an anthropologist would become an apologist and propagandist for Hamas.

    This is what endorse through your unwillingness to understand the other side:

    As a result of extreme positions like yours, violent acts against Jews in Europe has increased 10-fold in some areas. What is your moral obligation in that context?

    1. Maximilian Forte

      None. Simply because I am not an apologist or propagandist for Hamas, and your assertion is as wild as it is plainly ignorant. Inform yourself better before you make insane allegations like this one. My position of saying innocent Palestinians should not be subject to massacres…is an “extreme” one? Your BA in anthropology taught you nothing about good sense, measured judgment, or how to be a better human being and a more humane one in a world packed with injustices that are effectively sanctified by people like you. Shame on you.

      As for the typical inane charge, implicit in your rant above, that criticisms of the Israeli state justify anti-Jewish atrocities, that foolish ploy has been abundantly unmasked, debunked, and rendered shameful and disgraceful.

      Please, go back and take your lessons over again. I can see you learned nothing at all.

  4. Maximilian Forte

    Olga, I am really struck by the extreme dishonesty in your statement. If this is how you advance your cause, then you damn your cause. To say that people like me are responsible for the rise in attacks against Jews — as if the extreme, murderous, and genocidal acts of the Israeli state against Gaza had nothing to do with further ruining Israel’s reputation abroad — is astounding idiocy. Talk about “extreme positions.”

    And then you say all this on a post about what? About Jewish critics in Israel and abroad. I guess in your twisted mind they are all liars, anti-semites, and “self-hating Jews,” right?

    Thanks for posting though. We need more people like you to come forward and show the world what your side consists of.

  5. sparx

    another somewhat related [although perhaps not for the list] site is called Israel versus Judaism & it has some interisting stuff.


    The Israeli government, its military and police force and other zionist organizations in the Holy Land have for decades oppressed not only the indigenous Palestinian people but the anti-Zionist Jews living within “its borders” which it claims to represent as the “government of the Jewish people.”


  6. Maximilian Forte

    For some people at least, that will be an unexpected site: ultra orthodox Jews, quite conservative in their perspectives on politics, society, and relations between the sexes, denouncing Zionism as fraud. This is one passage I read that seems to summarize some of their points of view on the Israeli state:

    “The aggression that Zionism presents in taking the land from the indigenous Palestinian people is the first flag that exposes this movement for what it is — a real deviation from Judaism. Judaism forbids us from taking the land away from those who currently have jurisdiction over it. That such things should be done not only in opposition to Judaism, but in the name of the very Judaism it defies is simply large-scale fraud. Zionism, once exposed, proves to be the greatest enemy, the worst nightmare, to the Jewish religion and it’s practitioners, that exists to date. Zionism, strikes out regularly at Jews who remain true to Torah and its precepts. There are many Jews who protest against the very existence of the State of Israel, and who are quite vocal, albeit peaceful, about their opposition. Whenever Zionist policies or activities run counter to the Torah stance, Torah-true Jews come forward to unmask the imposter.”

    From what I see, they also link to a like-minded organization,
    whose origins in Israel predate the creation of the Israeli state, which is also interesting.

    Thanks for those links.

  7. olgaistefan

    Wow, you are extremely violent with your adjective use. If you would like measure, then demonstrate measure yourself. Why are you so aggressive – I thought you considered yourself open-minded? Or is open-mindedness valid only for those that share your opinion exactly? Now, please be civil enough to not presume you have any idea who I am and what I stand for. Just because I don’t believe in the extreme one-sidedness of your anti-zionist position does not mean that I endorse all Israeli policies. I am for a 2-state solution, for retreating from all settlements, and for compensating Palestinians for confiscated lands. Having said that, I do blame Hamas for the whole debacle and everyone who is reasonable should realize that Hamas is a criminal organization (even if every now and then, to win the hearts and minds, it engages in social support). I also strongly believe that there is a double standard in the”left” when it comes to Israel, and of late it has gotten so extreme that it begs the question as to what motivates people to lose their sense of proportion when it comes to this particular country and none other.

    In all of the protests against the war, the leftists participating in these protests were very willing to align themselves with vile anti-semites who took advantage of this opportunity to spill their real sentiments (this is what is real, not your attempt to diagnose me). This is the unfortunate part that I am pointing out. I did not say that all critics of Israel are anti-semites, but those that are so virulently anti-Israel without offering the 2 sides of the story and really analysing the situation in a 3-dimensional manner, which seems to be the case on this blog, allow anti-semitism to flourish.

    Now the absurdity of your “Orthodox Jews against Israeli policies” post is a demonstration of your ignorance. Orthodox Jews, the really traditional ones, oppose the state of Israel on religious grounds because they don’t believe that a state for Jews can exist until the coming of the Messiah. So they have always done all they could to protest its existence, all the while living of of the state’s well-fare system.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Read your original comment — it was of an extremist nature and deserved the appropriate reply. Don’t make harsh assertions unless you are ready for the harsh responses that you provoke. You called me a propagandist for Hamas — which is pure shit, sorry — and accused me of being responsible for a rise in anti-semitism (by which you meant Jews alone).

      I don’t agree with you, that’s all. I don’t see Hamas as any more, certainly no more, of a criminal organization than the Israeli state. I am focusing my writing on the sides that get routinely ignored by the mainstream media, and perhaps by people like you — so please do not come here and preach “balance.” That again is pure shit, and I do not accept it. And I most certainly never aligned myself with any anti-semites: that is pure fiction, that you advance at the same time as you call for balance, for knowing other sides of the story, for 3 dimensional analysis, etc., etc., again, all of it is mere twaddle because you undo your own message. Your own message is an extreme, one-sided one, and it is the normal kind of message fed to us by the dominant pro-Israel orthodoxy that reigns in the North American media, government, and so forth. Why don’t you apply your BA in Anthropology for what it was intended, i.e., criticizing the taken for granted in our culture?

      In addition, accusing opponents off the top of your head of being anti-semites, or aligning themselves with anti-semites, or suggesting perhaps that all of the organizations above consist of “self hating Jews” (as some do)…is pure libel, and you ought to be more careful and less irresponsible with your speech.

      As for Orthodox Jews against Israeli policies, rather than once again doing the really dumb thing of personalizing your attack by calling me ignorant…why don’t you go to the websites of those organizations and rail against them? I am sure they would be pleased to educate you.

  8. olgaistefan

    Look, you need anger-management or at least training in diverse opinion discussions. Instead of trying to verbally assault people (me specifically), it would be better for you to try to understand the other opinion too. But of course that is not your methodology – you must hit. Now, again, what aspect of my message is it hard for you to comprehend? The reality that in the anti-war protests anti-semitic propaganda became the essence of the message instead of the important one, which should have been “No to war” on all sides?

    I didn’t accuse you of starting anti-semitism, but contextualized the problem in a more comprehensive phenomenon which is indeed real, and needs to be weighed very carefully. I think that as humans, as you like to say, we have that responsibility. Words do matter.

    Now, it’s pretty funny that you say that Hamas, in your interpretation, is equally bad as Israel and you don’t call that a propagandist for Hamas? I loved that, that was cute. Hamas=Israel and Apples=Bananas?

    You really need to stop assuming what people that don’t agree with you think – you obviously love to do it since you started enumerating all sorts of sins that you think I am guilty of, including libel…..for your imaginary reasons… It must be easy categorizing people and thus solving all the world’s great problems.

    Now, just to make this more interesting: what is your solution for Israeli/Palestine problem?

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I am very familiar with the diverse opinions, and I am not obligated to respect them if I think they are either foolish or dishonest. I speak plainly, and when someone wants to attack me, they simply get a taste of their own medicine. Apparently, you find the taste to be bitter. I see a pattern here, however, of the aggressor playing the victim, both in your messages, and in what you defend. As an apparent apologist/propagandist for Israel, the burden of defense lies with you. You want to blame the victim for fighting back, and perhaps your theory is that Hamas and other Gazans voluntarily imprisoned themselves.

      You did not contextualize, as much as fabricate: your immediate starting point is that those protesting Israeli war crimes must somehow also be anti-semitic. It is pure nonsense, and I say it very calmly.

      When I say that Hamas is equally bad as Israel, rest assured that is a gross overstatement in Israel’s favour. How did you miss that?

      But that you can come away from the war in Gaza with an opinion that it is all Hamas’ fault, totally unmoved and unconcerned about the unnecessary and brutal killing of hundreds of children and over 1,300 civilians, in a tiny population of 1.5 million, speaks to a deep coldness, and such a lopsided concern for humanity that it is inhumane. Again, I am not required to defer nor respect such opinions, but I am almost duty bound to trash them.

      Please don’t flatter yourself: your message is by no means hard to comprehend.

      As for my “solution” to the Palestinian/Israeli problem…it begins at the very least with the total removal of all Israeli settlements from the West Bank, and full respect shown by Israel to UN Resolution 242 and to the very resolutions that helped to usher it into existence. Until that is done, I really don’t care at all about any kind of imposed peace that cements the injustice in place. Now, tell me, have you been touring all the blogs to protest the illegal Israeli settlements, or to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing that occurred from 1948 onwards?

  9. olgaistefan

    Can you have a conversation without belittling the other or is this you MO for trying to eliminate opposition? You continue to assume about me and my concerns. You really must stop that, unless you’re more interested in a monologue with an invented adversary. Let’s move on from this personal crap, shall we…or we can end this conversation right now…

    Your position is faulty and inherently one-sided. It is obvious that you have started from a biased view of the beginning of the affair (1948), and thus have continued to find everything that Israel does a demonstration of the criminality for you inherent in Israel. Yes, I find this to be a problem for an academic. (See, I’m not calling you dumb, or stupid, or that you should go back to school and get another degree…)

    A few things:
    1. What is your understanding of zionism?
    2. I agree that all illegal Israeli settlements must be dismantled.
    3. Once let’s say Israel withdraws all settlements from West Bank, do you think that Hamas will start reconsidering its violent position and start thinking of its people instead of its power? Remember how cute and cuddly they were when they were throwing Fatah members out the window to prove their power over Gaza? Ohhhh, let’s be friends with them….(and by the way, the fact that you play at making Hamas seem better than Israel is also a problem…)
    4. The situation in 1948 is not so clear cut as you try to make it out to be. Ethnic cleansing is what Turkey did to Armenians, it’s what Sudan Arabs are doing to Black Sudanese in Darfur, it’s what happened in Rwanda, and many other similar conflicts. What happened in 1948 was a war declared by the Arabs after the establishment of the Israeli state by colonial powers, and Israel fought back, in certain cases horrors happened to Palestinians, in other cases Jews were massacred by the Arabs. Expulsion did happen, but mostly the Palestinians fled themselves. That is not ethnic cleansing. 20% of the citizens/population in Israel is Arab(Muslim or Christian). After the creation of Israel, how many Jews were allowed to remain in their Arab homelands? Who talks about that expulsion? What do you call that? Let’s keep our terms consistent. Of course there is much more to say on this point but pointless since you will not admit any of it. Of course, I don’t want to belittle the experience of the Palestinians who suffered – again, context is mandatory.
    5. If a country is attacked by bombs day in day out for a few years, and more than 1 million people live in fear/uncertainty each day, that country is going to retaliate, and when it does it will want to eliminate the threat. Whether that is nice, not nice, evil, immoral, is something you have to take up with those that invented countries and weapons – we evolved from egalitarian communities to states with the power to annihilate. That’s how unfortunately it works for all countries. Why should Israel act any differently? Are you considering it somehow different from the other states?

    Lastly, I don’t think there can be peace in that area if people cannot talk and take criticism. This will be my last post if you cannot engage without low-blows.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      No, Olga, this is how the game works: you don’t play your full hand first, and then try to take your cards back and pretend that you really wanted to play another game, which now happens to be a review of Israel’s history, compressed to fit the blog format. You now claim to be interested in different sides of the debate — well, the post is about one side that routinely gets ignored: Jews and Israelis against the occupation. You dismiss them out of hand, completely ignoring all of them. They don’t exist, and instead the only story for you is about anti-semitism.

      You charged at me with a stock series of villainous accusations. You knew what you were doing, and it was aggressive, hostile, and meant to damage a reputation by aligning me with criminality. That is not the trait of someone who just wants an exploration of all sides of a debate. You did so because you feel the power of the state behind you. “My” government, like yours probably, has deemed Hamas a terrorist organization that is outlawed. By aligning me with Hamas, you intend to put me in jeopardy. And note, I say nothing about Hamas in this post: it is all about Jewish and Israeli organizations. So talk about low blows, insults, and dismissing other points of view.

      What you were trying to do is to sort out who gets to speak with any legitimacy, and you begin by invalidating, delegitimizing, and criminalizing any differing points of view by applying the “right” labels. You possibly reverse engineered this from what you learned in anthropology.

      Your immediate association was between protest against human rights abuses, and a rise in attacks against Jews…as if those who protest the Israeli slaughter of Palestinian civilians were responsible for that.

      So I take your recent turn as nothing less than fraudulent and dishonest. That WordPress automatically places all your comments to me in my spam queue suggests other possibilities as well.

      Goodbye, and yes, you are right, you are not welcome back.

  10. Maximilian Forte

    I have a Lt. Col. in the Pentagon posting a threat to me, and then complaining about being blocked (for a while), and an absolute harpy above who thinks that anyone even farting in Israel’s general direction must be part of some anti-semitic conspiracy, and decides that the only way to begin to address a complete stranger is by first launching insults.

    As always, commentary that rises above those two gutters above continues to be welcome, as it has always been. Of course some will deny that, because it is convenient, and the quick thing to do without going through the almost 2,000 comments posted on this blog. It is also the ignorant thing to do. No, I don’t really care if you get insulted by what is simply an observation and a basic statement of fact.

  11. Pingback: When it comes to Israel, there can be no academic freedom or dissent? The case of William I. Robinson and UC-Santa Barbara « OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY

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