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Israel – a failed democracy

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, January 9th, 2009 - 86 comments
Categories: activism, International, notices - Tags: , ,

The following quoted text is a e-mail response by Mike Treen from Global Peace and Justice Auckland to someone who was complaining about the campaign to boycott an Israeli tennis player.

Hopefully Mike won’t get too upset with me for giving this a wider airing. It appeared in the GPJA NEWSLETTER #269, January 8, 2009 that was forwarded to me. I’d link to it, but the site appears to be down or very busy. My opinion is at the bottom of the post, but Mike Treen says it much more clearly than my initial drafts.

There is a protest assembling at 12 noon Aotea Square Auckland, Saturday 10th January for a march to US consulate.


Hi Yael, The decision to support the international call to boycott Israel completely was not an easy one. We are aware of the impact of such boycotts on individuals academics, sportspeople, businesses some of who may oppose the policies of their government.

It grows out of a recognition that six decades after the establishment of the state of Israel the right of return of the refuges guaranteed by the United nations has not been achieved.

It is recognition that 4 decades after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza they remain imprisoned territories without self-determination.

The Israeli state completely controls all movement into and out of these territories as well as movement within them. It assassinates whoever it decides is guilty. It imprisons thousands without trial. Two generations of Palestinian have grown up in these conditions. Israel refuses to give up control. It continues to build settlements on the West Bank. It is building a so-called separation wall imprisoning Palestinians and preventing movement. Settlers have their own roads. Water and electricity is controlled for their benefit.

Even inside Israel the discrimination against Palestinian citizens is flagrant. Spending on Jewish Israeli education per head is six times that for Palestinian Israeli’s.

This reality, in Israel and the greater Israel incorporating the occupied territories and Gaza, is what makes the Israeli state an apartheid state. That was not true in 1948. It wasn’t true in 1967. But it is true today. All adult Jewish Israeli citizens serve in the military and directly or indirectly take responsibility for ensuring that this occupation continues.

The body politic has moved progressively to the right and the official discourse in the state of Israel is now whether its own Palestinian citizens should be encouraged to leave. “I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Israeli Arabs, and tell them, ‘Your national solution lies elsewhere,'” says the so-called moderate Kadima leader Tzipi Livni.

There is no solution available within an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue alone. The relationship of forces is simply too disproportionate. Most importantly Israel has had an effective international impunity. This has allowed it to defy the UN resolutions to allow the refugees to return and withdraw from the occupied territories.

That impunity has to end with the people of the world saying we will isolate everything to do with Israel until there is not one soldier or settler forcibly occupying Palestinian land and the refugees have the right to return.

For New Zealand that means not welcoming sportspeople. It means Auckland University ending its partnership ties with Technion, an Israeli University. It means stopping Rakon from sending components used in all Israeli smart bombs. It means getting the NZ Super fund to stop investing in Israeli companies. It means cancelling Veolia’s train contract until it stops building train networks from Israel to illegal settlements.

It is a sad a regrettable fact that we have come to this position. Many people will be hurt. But nothing that happens to the official or unofficial representatives of the apartheid state can compare to the imprisonment and destruction of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state.


This e-mail resonated with me because it describes almost perfectly my opinion of the Israeli state. It cannot be described as being democratic because it is not inclusive. It is steadily drowning in its own internal contradictions based on religion and race, and the internal political landscape is fracturing on those lines. It has a steadily increasing tolerance of attacking civilians with military force by politicians, civilians, and the military.

Where it does have some level of agreement with its opponents like Fatah, it simply views that as an opportunity to abuse its position, eg new settlements and the wall. That hardly gives any reason for anyone else to trust them.

These are all charactestics of an apartheid state. Like all such states it wants you to view its victims as being terrorists rather than civilians. It wants the collateral damage inflicted by their armed forces as justifiable rather than the result of incompetence of their military and symptomatic of a failing political system.

The citizens of Israel rein in their useless politicians and start doing something to rescue their state. This current outbreak of hostilities seems to be more related to politicians trying to show how hard line they are in the current elections in Israel, than a few rockets ineffectually fired across the border.

This appears to be a dominance display between Israeli politicians. Who cares how big a politicians balls are? They should confine their displays to something less destructive and fewer victims.

86 comments on “Israel – a failed democracy ”

  1. Tova Kantrowitz 1

    [lprent: Plagarism isn’t exactly encouraged here.
    Write YOUR opinions and LINK to other peoples. In fact here is the link. Do not cut n paste a comment together without attribution.
    Striking on the comment, but I’ll leave it there so people can see what the discussion was about.
    Thanks PB. ]

    Hamas still retains significant ability and desire to carry out terror attacks and they continue to fire dozens of rockets daily at population centers in the south of Israel. Hamas has placed almost a million Israeli civilians within its range of fire (about 15% of the total Israeli population!). No country in the world would agree to daily fire at its civilians? homes.

    The Hamas military arm, which is directly responsible for the terrorist activity, continues to fire rockets and is trying to broaden its terrorist activity. Many of its terror operatives are in the field and in the tunnels, some of the infrastructure remains, they still have weapons and rockets, and the terrorists have the will and the means to carry out terror attacks. Iran is helping Hamas and inciting to terror and violence.

    Israel reiterates that it is not at war with the Palestinian people in Gaza, but with Hamas. Hamas is responsible for the suffering of the civilian populations on both sides of the fence. Israel will therefore continue to transfer to Gaza all humanitarian aid that is received (in the course of the past week 400 trucks and 10 ambulances entered the Gaza Strip from Israel). The IDF is striving to prevent any harm to uninvolved Palestinians, including warnings issued prior to attacks. The figures we have indicate that the percentage of casualties among uninvolved civilians stands at about 12% (50 out of 400 killed), much lower than any similar event, such as NATO?s bombing in Kosovo or in Afghanistan, under much more difficult conditions given the location of the terror infrastructure in the midst of the civilian population.

    Israel embarked on this operation only after it exhausted every possibility to put an end to the terror from Gaza which has continued for years. Israel agreed to the calm arrangement, although Hamas took advantage of it to build its strength, rearm and continue to fire (during the six-month calm Hamas fired hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israel). Faced with ongoing terror, Israel acted with restraint and did everything to avoid a confrontation. But the time came when we no longer had a choice; the security situation of the people of southern Israel became unbearable and a significant change was needed.

  2. So Tova – why did they start firing the rockets in the first place? Surely it’s not just for the hell of it?

  3. Bill 3

    For Hamas, think IRA. For Israel, think UK.

    Now the IRA bombed and shot and maimed for years (including on the British mainland) The UK government sent troops into N Ireland, controlled aspects of daily life and generally oppressed sections of the Irish population in it’s ‘engagement’ with the IRA.

    But it did not execute air strikes. It did not cut off food and medicine. It did not build a wall across the Irish border. It did not bomb The Republic. While the actions of the UK were condemned from many quarters they were able to continue their operations for years.

    But what reaction would have come from the international community if the UK government had built a wall, launched airstikes against S Ireland and controlled the importing of essential goods into N Ireland?

    And why is the reaction from the international community to what Israel is doing different to what it would have been in a UK/Irish context?

  4. Bill 4

    As far as pressuring individuals based on their nationality? I feel ambivalent at best. Various groups excuse their targeting of an individual because the individual is seen as an extension of the elected government…the individual is expected to assume responsibility for the actions of their government and ‘pay the consequences. That’s not a legitimate rationale in my mind. The boycotting of individuals (although not life threatening) is really just the same logic and therefore, also illegitimate.

  5. Ari 5

    Hamas still retains significant ability and desire to carry out terror attacks and they continue to fire dozens of rockets daily at population centers in the south of Israel. Hamas has placed almost a million Israeli civilians within its range of fire (about 15% of the total Israeli population!). No country in the world would agree to daily fire at its civilians? homes.

    This is essentially a war of public relations, Tova. If Israel charges in and kills and maims civilians every time to temporarily stop the rockets, all it is doing is playing into the hands of the extreme elements of Hamas that are probably either behind or involved with these rocket attacks, as this will increase sympathy for the view that Israel is a violent aggressor that needs to be destroyed.

    Israel might be right to do something like this [i]once[/i] if it ended every attack forever. But it can’t and won’t do that. This is more about looking like they’re doing something to the public even though the action they’re taking is actually making the overall situation much worse.

    The choice is not between rocket attacks and indescriminate killing of palestinian civilians in another occupation of Gaza. There are more options open than that.

    Bill- while I agree that blanket punishments are wrong, there’s no good way to apply pressure on just those responsible for this.

  6. Bill 6

    a tennis player saying something will not have any impact on Israeli state actions. None. So why pressure her? The only impact would be the possibility of the state monkey wrenching her access to training and/ or funding. She, like most people, lives her life under or within the confines of a Nation State.

    You can see where I’m going here?

    She, like you or me, or most people is one of ‘us’ (workers, peasants etc). And States are expressions of authority and control existing for ‘them’ (capitalists, corporatists etc).

    If States or the people who utilise them (military, business,government personnel) are responsible for all this crap, then the way to apply pressure is to seriously question and challenge the legitimacy of all states (their vehicle). Living in NZ we can apply pressure on the NZ state.

    I don’t think Israel is doing anything too much out of the ordinary…aggression and subjugation are normal state activities. It’s a matter of degrees is all. Put another way. Living under a dictatorship is living under a dictatorship. A benign dictator is preferable to a malignant one. Best to have neither though.

  7. Quoth the Raven 7

    Tova Kantrowitz – You are an incredible liar. Hundreds of rockets – clearly you cannot count. Hamas observed the ceasefire up until Israel broke it on November the 4th. See this clip from CNN discussing who broke the ceasefire: CNN Confirms Israel Broke Ceasefire First and this report from the Guardian at the time: Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen. Many other groups attack Israel from Gaza. I put it to you as I did to someone else in the last thread to provide a link to some evidence to show that Hamas actually broke the ceasefire before Israel. Even your own defense department notes how well Hams observed the ceasefire. In October 2 rockets and 0 mortars were fired into Israel from Gaza – so how you get to hundreds I do not know. In September 1 rocket and 3 mortars were fired. I would say that Israel’s blockade and hence purposely induced humanitarian crisis should be considered a break of the ceasefire before November. Israel purposely targets civilians. They see no difference between the civilians of gaza and the militants as I quoted in the last thread on this Israeli General, General Gadi Eisenkot: “What happened in the Dahiya quarter in Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired upon. We will apply disproportionate force upon it and cause great damage and destruction there,’ he said. “From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.’
    “This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved’.

    As to allowing aid why did they ram a ship bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza? Which happened to have Cynthia Mckinney a U.S. congresswoman on board. You might wish to look at this: “This is an all-out war against the civilian Palestinian population in Gaza’ The post has links is a detailed one demonstrating the IDFs complete lack of distinction between civilian and military targets. For instance from Physicians for Human Rights: • December 31, 2008: Helicopter fires on medical crew evacuating wounded: in Jabal Kashif in northeast Gaza a crew set out to offer assistance. While approaching the bleeding victim on foot, they were hit by helicopter fire. Dr. Ihab Madhun, medic Muhammad Abu Hasireh, as well as the injured victim, were killed.

    • January 3, 2009: Second attack on a house after medical crews enter to evacuate the wounded: The house of the Dabbabish family in Sheikh Radwan had already been bombarded. As a crew of medics dressed in medical vests arrived on the scene to tend to the wounded the house was bombarded for a second time. One person was critically wounded: Ayyad Ahmad.

    • January 4, 2009: Ambulance belonging to the Al Awda Hospital in Beit Lahiya was hit by helicopter fire. Arfa Abd al Daim, a senior volunteer medic was killed and two other medical personnel were critically injured.

    • January 4, 2009: Tank fires on ambulance during attempts to evacuate a family in Tel Alhawa. Inass Fadil Naim, Yassir Shabir and Rifaat Abdel Al were killed.’

  8. Pascal's bookie 8

    Tova, thanks for the cut and pasted talking points:


    On the off chance that you are here for actual discussion, and are still reading, how were these figures arrived at:

    “The figures we have indicate that the percentage of casualties among uninvolved civilians stands at about 12% (50 out of 400 killed)…”

    We know that the Israeli government has forbidden journalists from operating in Gaza, in defiance of her own Supreme Court. What confidence can we have in any claims such as this given the difficulty in collecting such data under even the best of conditions, let alone when Israel knows that the propaganda war is so important?

    I also wonder if you can answer a question I’ve asked a few times now without any luck from Israel’s partisans:

    How can this operation hope to achieve the stated aim of halting rocket attacks? What is the strategy to achieve the aim? The rockets are ridiculously easy to make and launch, it’s not like the capability to do so can be eliminated by destroying the necessary infrastructure in the way that one can stop a nuclear weapons program by blowing up the necessary plant.


  9. Israel cannot be a democratic state because it forcibly expelled the existing population willy nilly. If that population had the right of return then it would be the majority. But that is the whole point of Israel’s existence to deny land and democratic rights to the majority.

    So its democracy is like Athenian democracy which was confined to male slaveowners, except that in Israel you qualify only by virtue of the privilege of your citizenship based on religion.

    Israel is an anomaly in modern history and arose as a white settler colony as all the other white settler colonies were being decolonised. Its existence was only possible because it was backed by the US as a convenient ally to control the Middle East.

    The use of the term democracy in relation to Israel would have modern meaning only if one Palestinian state arose in the area with equal rights for Israelis Jews and Palestinians.

  10. Chris G 10

    Israel caught the neo-con bug… kill and conquer. They are the U.S of arabia and if not stopped they will share the bloody history of foreign intervention the Disgraced States of America have.

    The righties in the Israeli government must drool at the sight of the war and accompanying propaganda machine that is the U.S.A.

    Fuckin disgusting.

    Can we point out that ridiculous wall the Israelis built? what the hell is up with that? Whoever defends these bullies are deluded righties. In saying that and in response to the probable – ‘So what of the rocket attacks?’ No I dont condone that.

    Hamas are fanatical… the only option is to open some dialogue. Killing palestinians will only enhance the fanatics martydom … thats what they want.

  11. Weather Eye Of The North 11

    Those who insist upon an equivalency between Palestinian resistance and Israel’s savage inhumanity can be vindicated only by the concept of Israeli exceptionalism.

    This is to say that Israel alone is entitled at its discretion to ignore any/all of the rules of decent human conduct the observance of which it demands from its victims……..and the non-observance of which on whatever relatively minor scale it brutally punishes and repunishes.

    Hitler too invoked exceptionalism.

    Of course those who invite us to repeat facile, ignorant talk of “rockets fired into my backyard” will reject this…..as an assault on the concept of Israeli exceptionalism.

    The circularity of such a response is palpable. Paraphrased it reads as follows……”Israel’s apartheid, its land grabs, its treatment of Palestinians as sub-human, its killing sprees, all of this is Israel’s entitlement.”

    Why ? “Because……” [wait for it] “……Israel is entitled.”

    Do these people know nothing of zionist leader Ben-Gurion’s frank acknowledgment that the Palestinans were not repsonsible for the Holocaust and would of course resist zionist acquisition of Palestinian land ? Land in 1919 promised away by Lord Balfour it not being his to promise away.

    There may well be a web-convention against charges of “nazism”. Well I’m sorry but there are those in the highest echelons of the Israeli establishment who richly deserve the label “Holocaust Nazi”.

  12. Lew 12

    Red: Its existence was only possible because it was backed by the US as a convenient ally to control the Middle East.

    A nice theory given current geopolitical trends, but this is a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc revisionism. The US was reluctant to support the British Mandate’s designation of Palestine (as it was then known) as a Jewish homeland, since the plan did not account for the needs of the local Arab population, and in fact US officials advised then-President Woodrow Wilson against supporting the plan. He did so in any case, and that set precedent for succeeding presidents to do likewise.

    Of the powers at the time, the main impetus behind the establishment of Israel was from the UK and France.


  13. Con 13

    redrave wrote:

    So [Israel’s] democracy is like Athenian democracy which was confined to male slaveowners, except that in Israel you qualify only by virtue of the privilege of your citizenship based on religion.

    A more recent and I think more similar “democratic” regime was that of Apartheid South Africa, in which white South Africans were enfranchised, and non-whites were disenfranchised, justified by a racist ideology, rather than Israel’s religious one.

    The so-called “Homelands” or Bantustans in SA were ghettos rather like today’s Gaza and West Bank, though a bit more rural.

  14. Lew 14

    I agree, though, and even the most ardent Israel supporters concede, that Israel’s political system rests upon the disenfranchisement of the majority of those who should under a modern democracy be entitled to franchise. The justification for this – that a majority Arab population would never allow the state’s survival – is logically valid, but that doesn’t make the policy democratic.


  15. redrave 15


    You are talking about the post WW1 period when the US was reluctant to buy into the ‘mandate’.
    This is a time when the US was still in denial it was an emerging imperialist country.

    I’m talking about the post WW2 period when the Zionist Stern gang attacked the British, and when the US stepped in to support the foundation of Israel as an independent state on the post 1948 borders. Why? Because in the post-war world of Yalta the US was the biggest player and had a direct interest in controlling the Middle East.

    There is a big difference between a Mandate as controlled by the League of Nations, and a State that exists against the resolutions of the UN. The difference is that wars of conquest, occupation, more conquest, and ongoing genocide and whatever is around the corner in the form of new crimes against humanity.

  16. Lew 16

    RR: I’m talking about the post WW2 period

    By that time, the point was largely moot. Approval in principle had been granted, Jewish immigration had been flooding in for two generations, and tacit support by exhausted postwar regional powers for the recovery of European Jews meant there was only one credibly possible outcome.


  17. This link from over at Socialist Aoteroa is definitely worth the read. Very detailed and very interesting. It adds a very interesting perspective on the crisis.


    Hope they don’t mind me grabbing it and posting it here.

  18. Ag 18

    And why is the reaction from the international community to what Israel is doing different to what it would have been in a UK/Irish context?

    The short answer is because they are Jews. The long version of that answer is that New Zealand, like most countries, does not have a significant Jewish lobby (a series of overlapping organizations with a common Zionist agenda). Canada, the US and to a lesser extent, Britain, do. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve lived in these places and seen how the Israel lobby warps political and media discourse on the issue. The lobby organizations aren’t representative of all Jews, but are especially representative of the Jewish far right. The more extreme organizations don’t stop at merely giving their own side of the issue, but try to stifle any opposing views.

    As far as pressuring individuals based on their nationality? I feel ambivalent at best. Various groups excuse their targeting of an individual because the individual is seen as an extension of the elected government the individual is expected to assume responsibility for the actions of their government and ‘pay the consequences.

    This is entirely legitimate. To think otherwise is just to engage in the usual game of avoiding responsibility. In a democracy, voters have to take responsibility for the actions of their governments. Even those who did not vote for the incumbent government are responsible, since democracy requires that the losers in an election accept the outcome (its a form of social contract, whereby you agree with others to accept their votes as legitimate if they accept yours).

    As such, all adult Israeli citizens are responsible for the actions of their government. There will of course be some exceptions in the cases of rogue governments that deliberately flout the public will or elected heads of state that unexpectedly do “insane” things. However, the policies of the current Israeli government with regard to the Palestinians are part of a long standing consensus in Israel (with only minor variations). The voters of Israel have had many chances to do the right thing, but they have failed and indeed moved further away from a decent solution. Thus they are responsible, and can have no cause for complaint if they are boycotted. That’s just how democracy distributes responsibility.

    Incidentally, although it is politically incorrect to say so, this is why terrorism against civilians is sometimes permissible (although they must be adult civilians and a host of other conditions have to be fulfilled).

  19. If Locke and Minto and groups such as Peace Action New Zealand are really for peace, and that is their only goal, how come they just shut up and say nothing when Hamas fires rockets towards Israel or someone straps a bomb to themselves and blows up a Jewish kindergarten??

    How come they also organize protests where people burn the flag of Israel or American?

    Can you imagine the outcry from the green party if a bunch of Americans started burning the Iran Flag in protests in downtown Auckland to protest what the Iranian government does to its people, and what it wants to do to the West.

    How come there is no comment on how Hamas thinks Israel doesn’t have the right to exist?

    How come these peace protesters never protest if a capitalist country is the victim of Terrorism?

    Why did Locke snigger and make excuses for 9/11, why wasnt he outraged at this horrific event?

    Two days after 9/11why did a so called peace group in Christchurch, tear down a memorial and replace it with banners saying “This is all America’s fault” and why would this peace group have posters in their town office that says “the Holocaust was a Jewish lie” This is the same peace group that has in the past had Locke as a key speaker.

    But back to Hamas, the left may say, well Hamas has only manged to kill a few people, but of course they know if they had the capability they would wipe Israel off the map, but what does Locke and Minto say about that, well they just SHUT UP, while telling others to shut up.

    What happened this week in New Zealand was repulsive, to protest a young 17 year old girl, when she is away from home is a form of child abuse, and there is nothing courageous about it.

    Minto and Locke are not about peace, if they were genuine peace protesters, then any form of violence from any Government or group would met with a protest, they are really anti western and anti capitalist protesters. (just take a look at the New Zealand communist party banners at their protests) To use a so called peace march to push their own political point of view is despicable.

    I’m not sure what to call these guys, they are of course hypocrites and extremely racist, and the hatred that comes from Locke’s mouth is downright scary, thankfully they also seem to be obsolete, only managing to get a handful of protestors to come along to their protest.

    I guess that is what you get from a bunch of people who want to invite terrorists to live in New Zealand.

    IMHO they are tied for the worst New Zealanders of the year.

  20. the sprout 20

    Well put commentary on a deeply vexing and complex issue, and glad to see the level of sophistication in the subsequent comments – they’re a credit to the Standard.

  21. Carol 21

    Brett, Shahar, the tennis player, embraces her position as an ambassador of her country and likes it when people bring Israeli flags to wave in support of her at her tennis matches. She especially feels at home in the US because she gets a lot of support there in this regard.

    She’s far from a helpless girl She has been a part time soldier in the Israeli military for a couple of years. Minto et al pointed out that many well off sports people and other celebrities in Israel find ways to opt out of military service, but Shahar embraces it – seems to like being a kind of role model in that regard. Of course she omitted to mention this to the NZ press and said she was “just a tennis player.”


    Oh, interesting, her website has disappeared from the link at the link above since yesterday. But it’s here:


    Shahar is also older than 17. Wikipedia and her website have her age at about 21 years.


  22. Shes a tennis player and is playing tennis, its gutless to protest her. I know of several feminists who are supporting the protest action, perhaps they should look at America’s/Israel treatment of woman and then ask the Palestine’s people who are protesting with them, what thier role should be as woman?

  23. deemac 23

    the issue of the tennis player seems very marginal to me. More importantly, there was a well-organised and effective demo in Wellington last week, while Minto’s stunt was an embarrassment. If you can only organise 20 people, what do you actually represent? Did he consult the Palestine soldarity groups before doing it? It is hard to think of a better way to undermine the painstaking work being done in Wgtn than to organise a tiny demo which engages in abuse of the crowd and whose leader denounces the NZ public as ignorant because they don’t agree with him – it makes ALL protestors look foolish. If a state agent were trying to undermine a protest movement, it’s exactly the sort of thing they might do.
    The effectiveness of the anti-war organisation in the UK was severely undermined by tiny groups who put their own interests ahead of the cause they were supposedly supporting. Most people in the UK opposed the war in Iraq but that huge political opportunity was squandered by the SWP in particular who just saw it as a chance to promote themsleves. We need democratic and accountable organisations who reach out to the public at large, not self-appointed (and self-important) loudmouths.

  24. John Minto is just self righteous.

  25. redrave 25


    I should have said the “difference” in the case of Israel was US support and the strategic location of Israel as an ally of the US. The fate of Israel at the time of WW2 was not decided already. Israel is very much an exceptional case. Everywhere else in the world white settlers were being driven out or forced to concede majority rule as in Vietnam, Algeria, Congo, Rhodesia etc.
    How else can you explain the decolonisation of the former British, French and Portuguese colonies, and the end to formal apartheid in SA, yet over this same period the Zionist white settlers set up an expansionary colonial state heavily dependent on the US?
    The one other case where the US stepped in to try to stop decolonisation was Vietnam, and of course elsewhere they did it by means of ‘regime change’ as in Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua etc.
    Israel’s attack on Gaza is part of the US led ‘war on terror’ which is really a territorial grab to get gas and oil and to smash the Palestinian resistance in much the same way as the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are to extend the US control over the oil resources of central Asia and China and the states of the former Soviet Union.

  26. Carol 26

    A couple of Palestinian women took leading roles in the tennis protest. I agree it’s a fairly marginally one in the scheme of things, but IMO not a wrong target. It’s treatment by the media was pretty poor. You’ve lost me on the feminist point, Brett?

    I consider myself a feminist, but tend not to support women when they say they enjoy shooting guns (as Shahar does), especially as part of a pretty brutal military machine. I also am strongly opposed to Livni and her support of brutality against the Palestinians.

    I like watching women’s tennis at times, but I also have some feminist concerns about it and the way it tends to focus on women’s bodies – the way it’s done, not that it’s done,

  27. Thanks for the link Carol. I am glad others have picked up the key point I was making – her primary contribution to the IDF was public relations for the military and Shahar appears happy to play that role.

    Thanks for pointing out that one of the links was broken. I am not sure the insert link button in blogger always works as expected – there have been a couple of other times blogger has inserted the wrong html without telling me. So I don’t think Shahar’s website has be altered in the last 24 hours, but it will be interesting to see if it ever does if her pride in being part of the Israeli military stops her playing in Islamic countries.

    Brent Dale
    If you are going to make accusations about ‘certain peace groups’ in Christchurch why not name them – this at least allows people to check the veracity of your statements for themselves. I certainly cannot recall anything like that.

    I also take it you would think the Springboks were ‘just rugby players’ and it was also wrong to oppose the Springbok tour, despite the fact Mandella himself later said the opposition to the 1981 tour played a role in bringing down aparteid. It would be useful to know where you stand on this for the sake of consistency.

    Representatives from Palestinian support groups were there on the day.

  28. Quoth the Raven 28

    Can you imagine the outcry from the green party if a bunch of Americans started burning the Iran Flag in protests in downtown Auckland to protest what the Iranian government does to its people, and what it wants to do to the West.

    No Brett I couldn’t. You’re absolutely delusional if you think that would be the case. Don’t make stupid blind assertions like that. You’re better than that.. I think.

    How come there is no comment on how Hamas thinks Israel doesn’t have the right to exist?

    Hamas is willing for a two-state solution. Hamas offered truce in return for 1967 borders. Seeming as Israel broke the last ceasefire and that they refused to even talk to Hamas about their offer of a ten-year truce it would appear to me that the side most opposed to peace is Israel despite the rhetoric from Hamas.

    As to the tennis player I have my misgivings, but pressure from people all around the world is what is needed. Just like with the appartheid in South Africa. We do not know the individual players views as to the conflict, there is no need to protest the individual player, but sporting events with Israelis could still be boycotted.

  29. You cant compare the protests against the South African rugby team in 1981 with the protests against this female tennis player.

    If Hamas could, they would blow Israel away and Locke and Minto would say nothing.

  30. Ag 30

    Why did Locke snigger and make excuses for 9/11, why wasnt he outraged at this horrific event

    Perhaps he expected it. I was personally surprised that it took the Arabs so long to mount a terrorist attack on US soil. Perhaps he was amused that the stupid “why do they hate us?” rhetoric that immediately followed, as if Arab grievances weren’t completely obvious to anyone who bothered to think about it.

  31. Joe:

    It was PEACE ACTION NEW ZEALAND in Christchurch.

    I know this because they also plastered their website with the hate messages in town, and had stomped on flowers and ripped off the messages that said “Our prays are with you America”

    Real class acts, huh!!!!!!!

    I went to their street address because they had ripped off my message, to ask them why they would do this at a memorial.

    I got to their building in Gloucester street and saw they had a newspaper clipping stuck to their window that said the holocaust was a jewish lie, so I didnt bother to go in.

  32. Carol 32

    Deemac and Brett seem to know more about Minto than I do. I went on the demo in Auckland on the 1st Tuesday in January, which was pretty successful. I thought Minto had an involvement in organising that one. I also think he’s involved in organising the protest tomorrow in Auckland, which I think will probably be pretty successful.

    Deemac, I went on a number of demos over the many years that I lived in London from the late 70s. SWP always turned up with their pacards to any demo. A lot of people used to just rip the SWP logo off the top and then use the placard. I don’t think the SWP were the mainly the ones responsible for the effect of those demos and probably not the latwr anti-Iraq demos. The left has always had factions there (as here) but they used to work together failry well on major campaigns until Thatcher made a msision out of destroying the grass roots left, and enlisted the support of the media.

    I understand Blair is blamed for a lot of the fracturing in the Labour Party too. But the anti-Iraq war movement has had some effect in the long run. Sometimes it takes a while for the cumulative effect to be obvious.

    There are always factions everywhere in the left. I’m more for these factions to try to work together, but it’s not always easy because of outside pressures and different perspectives..

    I’m glad Minto and others are organising these actions: each little bit helps IMO.

  33. AG: If Locke was really all about peace he would of been saddened, but then he is not about peace at all.

  34. vto 34

    well you all know a lot more of the detail abou tthis than moi. my small 2c says that when it comes to this stoush and more recent ones between israel and palestine etc it seems that most basic of human traits, power, rises to the surface when it comes to israels and usa’s actions. they have the weapons, they will and do use them, and they will do everything to stop their enemies getting similar firepower.

    it is just the most supreme joke that the usa and israel call for nuclear abandonement when they have the weapons themselves. and the usa is the only one to have used them. ha ha ha ha, fucking pathetic and incredible. no wonder there is now only one reason left for people take the usa seriously – they have the bomb.

    and the sick irony of it all is that we in nz and the rest of the west appear to benefit from this most lowly of human traits… and shakespeare springs to mynd ‘to be or not to be …’

  35. vto:

    The USA and Israel could wipe every muslim country off the face of the planet, but they dont.

    The SICK irony is that if Hamas and Iran had the power to do the same to the west, we wouldnt be here right now, and locke and minto dont have the integrity to admit it.

  36. vto 36

    Mr Dale it is a matter of opinionage whether Hamas and Iran would do that but you recognise the same circumstances of course, which is why I referred to it as a human trait.

    I think we just need more Ghandis actually.

  37. Ag 37

    AG: If Locke was really all about peace he would of been saddened, but then he is not about peace at all.

    No justice. No peace.

  38. Vto

    Agree 100% we need more Ghandis!

  39. AG

    No justice no peace was the catch cry of the rioters after the Rodney King verdict.

    The rioters showed their angry by stealing televisions and murdering koreans.

  40. Anita 40


    It cannot be described as being democratic because it is not inclusive.

    Yes yes!

    We too easily fall into believing that one-person-one-vote makes a democracy. A true democracy needs to value each person equally and treat every individual with equa respect.

  41. Quoth the Raven 41

    Brett – Incredibly surprising that you wish there were more Ghandis. Have a read of this Applied Ghandi – Ghandi – The Anarchist.

  42. Con 42

    Ghandi also famously said:

    Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs… Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.

  43. Ag 43

    No justice no peace was the catch cry of the rioters after the Rodney King verdict.

    Of course all of them were looters and thugs.

    Don’t you have slaves to beat, or something?

  44. Con 44

    Brett Dale:

    The USA and Israel could wipe every muslim country off the face of the planet, but they dont.

    It would of course be suicidal to do so. And besides, they need their oil.

    The SICK irony is that if Hamas and Iran had the power to do the same to the west, we wouldnt be here right now

    Says you.

    Many people think that President Ahmedinejad wants to “wipe Israel off the map” because Zionists have been assiduous in promoting this spurious quotation. In fact Iran could not hope to gain anything by launching a military attack on Israel, as is obvious to anyone with any grasp of military strategy.

    The Iranian leader’s actual position is that the Zionist political regime must be defeated by political means, and replaced with a democratic regime with equal rights for indigenous Palestinians, a regime which Iran would recognise as legitimate:

    Let the Palestinians participate in free elections and they will say what they want.

    If they [the Palestinians] want to keep the Zionists, they can stay … Whatever the people decide, we will respect it. I mean, it’s very much in correspondence with our proposal to allow Palestinian people to decide through free referendums.

    It’s worth quoting Ahmadenijad’s analysis of why the so-called “peace process” has failed so miserably:

    The first reason is that none of the solutions have actually addressed the root cause of the problem.

    The root cause is the presence of an illegitimate government regime that has usurped and imposed itself on, meaning they have brought people from other parts of the world, replaced them with people who had existed in the territory and then forced the exit of the old people out, the people who lived there, out of the country or the territories. So there have been two simultaneous displacements. The indigenous people were forced out and displaced, and a group of other people scattered around the globe were gathered and placed in a new place …

    A second reason is that none of those peace plans offered so far have given attention to the right to self-determination of the Palestinians. If a group of people are forced out of their country, that doesn’t mean their rights are gone, even with the passage of 60 years. Can you ignore the rights of those displaced? How is it possible for people to arrive from far-off lands and have the right to self-determination, whereas the indigenous people of the territory are denied that right?

    How true! This is why I can’t believe that the Zionist regime’s current military adventure can possibly bring about peace: to completely crush the Palestinian people it would actually be necessary to kill all of them (a “final solution”), and this is thankfully not possible. If peace is ever to be achieved it will only be when the indigenous people have reclaimed their freedom.

    The interesting question, for me, is what will be required to bring this about? I suspect that, as in South Africa, an international political campaign, with trade and sporting boycotts, etc, will turn out to be a key part of the transition to democracy in Israel/Palestine.

  45. redrave 45

    Now I’m being asked to make duplicate posts

  46. redrave 46

    Gandhi is spelled Gandhi
    What’s going on with moderation, I have been there there for 15 hours.
    It can’t still be that unmentionable former state to the north of Ukraine can it?

    Compare that to the notorious USA failed in every department, promoter of democracy at the end of a bomb. The reason that Israel gets away with mass murder is because its big brother USA has got away with it for years.

  47. deemac 47

    the damage done to the anti-war movement in the UK by the SWP was at the national committee level. There is no problem with them being on demos with masses of placards (apart from the litter afterwards). But it was their anti-democratic behaviour on the organising committee that alienated many of the groups we needed to keep on board to reflect the breadth of the campaign. Now the anti-war movement struggles to get a few thousand on the streets; after over a million turned out in 2003 this is a disastrous waste of an opportunity to build a mass peace campaign.
    Groups like the SWP always prioritise promotion of their own organisations over what needs to be done to spread the message to the wider public and to support the actual cause. Do we want to see a broad campaign that can speak for the majority of Kiwis, or do we want to remain tiny and marginalised – and represented by people whose extreme views alienate most people?

  48. Bill 48

    keep hitting that nail on the head. Couldn’t agree with you more. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter which political group, religion or dodgy sect somebody belongs to or identifies with…they are welcome to add their voice and energy…AS AN INDIVIDUAL.

    But when they come along to push their political group or whatever; when they attempt to elevate ‘their’ group over other voices; to make ‘their’ group the voice of the broader constituency, the result is always destructive.

    I’ve said so to other posts. Always met with silence. Glad to see I’m not the only one on this blog who understands the reality/ dangers of working with Authoritarian Left groups.

  49. redrave 49


    You obviously put the authority of the individual above groups of individuals.
    Don’t you think that individuals can act jointly, democratically, as a group?.

    Perhaps you are unwittingly voicing the hegemonic idea that renders individuals in capitalist society as sovereign as if it was something you personally thought of.

    If I say that the sovereign individual is an invention of capitalism which masks the fact that some individuals own private property and other don’t, am I disqualified necessarily from holding that view? If not, what is to stop me from joining forces with others who agree? Who are you to say that our groupiness is inherently authoritarian?

  50. Dylan 50

    Not a bad post, and I’ve been thinking recently about the Israeli state too, and how the whole structure of Israeli govt and society seems to be sliding deeper into moral and political corruption…

    Also wondering at what point it’s appropriate to give up on the comparisons to apartheid South Africa, and instead start talking about the Warsaw ghetto…?

  51. lprent 51

    Dylan: I already have in another thread.

    The actions of the politicians and of the military of Israel remind me of the type of crap that Germany used  (including the Warsaw ghetto).

    For instance, just been reading this one.

    I think that the Israeli cabinet should be pulled made to justify their actions in the context of charges of attempted genocide. It is almost impossible to view this as war.

  52. So the Hamas leader has called for “No Peace”

    Will Locke and Minto be protesting this, will they be yelling abuse at young Palestinian’s.

    Where are peace groups protesting this?????

    Where is the outrage?????

    Where are the bloggers?????

  53. Quoth the Raven 53

    Brett – The offer of a ceasefire hasn’t been taken up by the Israelis or the Hamas last I heard. Hamas would get a raw deal from this opening the borders isn’t part of the deal and it doesn’t even specify where the Israeli soldiers are to withdraw to. So what’s the point? If the the borders aren’t opened and the seige not ended and its not even guaranteed that the Israelis won’t be occupying some of Gaza what is the point in this ridiculous ceasefire offer written up by western nations?

  54. Bill 54


    “You obviously put the authority of the individual above groups of individuals.”

    No I don’t.

    “Don’t you think that individuals can act jointly, democratically, as a group?”

    Yes I do.

    My point is that when a group (such as the SWP and their ilk) hi-jack meetings and impose the dogma of their group on the larger group through playing the numbers game etc, then democracy and momentum are lost. People who don’t ascribe to the views or preferred actions of the SWP (as an example) disengage or are deliberately marginalised.

    Put another way. They (eg the SWP) win control of proceedings, dictate the parameters of debate/action and any movement towards a broader and deeper constituency dies…a ‘party line’ is imposed.

    I’ve seen this happen time and again here and abroad and maintain that it’s avoidable.If you had read my comments on other threads you might have picked that up.

    Just for clarity. SWO, SWP etc are not groups of individuals acting democratically. The view of the individual is subsumed/ subject to the party line. They are not democratic orgs and whereas people who are members of such groups can make valuable contributions in a democratic set-up if they contribute as individuals, the reality is that they tend to act as reps or ambassadors for the SWO or SWP thereby killing democratic processes. They push the party line above all else.

  55. I just want to see the same outrage from peace groups at hamas that they have for Israel.

    Like I said before these peace groups have nothing to do with peace.

  56. Brett,

    Can I assure you that your accusations regarding Peace Action New Zealand are simply groundless. I have also talked to another peace activist that was around in Christchurch at the time.

    PANZ or PAN never had an office on Gloucester Street nor anywhere else. What there is on Gloucester street is the WEA (Workers Education Association) – these rooms are used by a wide variety of groups and individuals – its pretty much a public space.

    I think the vast majority of people would not wish to remove memorial messages left by others. This should also include messages that you may not agree with. Thats the real test of free speech. There is a long history of the pro-war lobby in Christchurch removing messages from memorials – one example is the wreath that was angrly removed by the RSA during an Anzac day ceremony in 1972 – it was placed there by the student association to remember the vietnamese dead.

    I very much doubt there was a message stuck to a window claiming the holocaust was a jewish lie, and if there was it would not have lasted long, and the most likely explanation was that it was a (perhaps right wing) individual trying to be provocative or make trouble.

    Peace Action New Zealand was the early name for the group that became Peace Action Network (which I was involved in). You appear to have no evidence to suggest PANZ was responsible for these acts (if the occured), particularly if you are basing this assumption on the location of an ‘office’ that simply did not exist.

    “I didn’t bother to go in” – so I take it from that you were unable to establish whether PANZ was responsible or not – by shock horror – asking somebody!


  57. redrave 57


    Forgive me but if you criticise left groups for being authoritarian and think that this can be avoided, then you should put forward arguments as to how to achieve this and some examples to inspire us.

    I would say that the SWP and all of its variants are very much more democratic than any bourgeois political organisation. To refer to democracy and parliament in the same breath is a joke. So to be fair to the SWP etc we need to judge them against the socialist norms of democracy they promote – a watered down form of democratic centralism. For democratic centralism to work properly all members must be equal in terms of information and participation so that majority decisions are really that.

    If we apply this higher standard (no apologies) then we should be able to see when and why they fall short. Mostly it takes the form of bureaucratisation which reflects their immersion in capitalist society that takes up the time of most members earning a living, allowing a group of middle class professionals (removed from daily class struggle) to dominate.

    The illegitimate authority you talk of is really the usurped authority of a bureaucratic leadership which is the default situation in capitalist society. We can fight this by recycling the leadership back into wage labour every 2 or 3 years; keeping their pay no more than the average of the membership; making them accountable to frequent all up meetings; forming committees of the members to lead action rather than paid organisers etc., hoping that this will equalise the members power within the organisation.

    I look at the glass as more than half full; for all of the bureaucratic excesses of left organisations, they are still light years ahead of the right which does not know or care about democracy, and of social democracy, which can only exercise the degree of democracy that is compatible with managing capitalism.

  58. Bill 58

    “Forgive me but if you criticise left groups for being authoritarian and think that this can be avoided, then you should put forward arguments as to how to achieve this and some examples to inspire us.”

    I have. On a number of occasions commenting on other posts.

    “To refer to democracy and parliament in the same breath is a joke.”

    I agree. Again you can refer to umpteen comments I’ve made on other posts for verification on that point.

    The problem with democratic centralism is quite simply that majority rule is not democratic by any meaningful measure of the term. And that is apart from the fact that centralised organisations lend themselves to the formation of leadership cliques. So anyway, as referring to democracy and parliament in the same breath is somewhat oxymoronic, so it is with democracy and centralism.

    To be fair, I’m not really interested in comparing two undemocratic models to ascertain which one is the ‘more democratic’. I’m a democrat. I don’t want anything less than substantive democracy.

    Is the second half of your comment referring to the unions? If so, then all I have to say is that I come from a syndicalist perspective. Tinkering with the edges of bureaucratic organisational structures in the hope that they one day become meaningfully democratic is delusional. They can be made more democratic…less bureaucratic and you give examples. But substantive democracy involves a whole other organisational model.

    With reference to the groups who espouse the traditional authoritarian left line (SWO, SWP, IS etc), they reject and try to usurp any and all organisational models that deny them self promotion or that thwart their desire for control. And I think that was the point deemac was making somewhere up above; the point I agreed with.

  59. Draco T Bastard 59

    Peace, Propaganda and the promised Land.

    Noam Chomsky: When Israelis in the occupied territories now claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing… You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying someone else’s land. That’s not defense. Call it what you like, it’s not defense.

    How come there is no comment on how Hamas thinks Israel doesn’t have the right to exist?

    So, Brett, why do you think Israel, an invasion and occupation of someone else’s land, has a right to exist?

    PS. Yes, the documentary is well worth watching.

  60. Draco:

    Everybody has a right to exist.

  61. redrave 61


    Its a matter of opinion as to what is democratic, usually that opinion flows from actual class struggle. In fighting unions there is an instinctive support for majority ruling after a good debate and all sides heard. If that were not the case, nothing would get done, no struggle would take place, everybody would be doing what they felt like etc etc, just like the bourgies.
    I am pretty sure that the anarchosyndicalists in the Red Fed were happy with majority rule. Correct me if im wrong, or perhaps they fell short of your concept of democracy and should never have voted to strike at Waihi, or have a general strike in 1913? Jock Barnes held to a majority vote, and nobody on the workers side has suggested that he rigged the vote to refuse overtime in 1951. But maybe he and they were wrong and shouldnt have let themselves get locked out.

  62. redrave 62


    Correction, it was actually a lockout at Waihi in 1912 too I seem to remember.

    More on topic. What do you say to the Norwegian train drivers who went on strike against Israel’s Gaza massacre? Did they follow the proper democratic procedure?
    I’m prepared to bet that there was a big majority in favour of the action, it was only a few minutes at each station so no big deal, but still an actual political strike, debated, voted on and acted on.

    That’s majority rule followed by majority action. Left political parties generally try to follow and improve on this basic democratic model. The fact that most fall short in some way is not an argument against the basic model, rather for trying harder to get it right.

  63. RedLogix 63


    For reasons I am not going to divulge here, I especially loath religious fundamentalists of ANY brand, Jewish, Christian or Islamic. I’ve been up close and personal to it in ways I never talk about with anyone, and I ask you to take my word on how reluctant I am commenting here.

    If any of us could truly imagine the horror of what is happening in Gaza right now, as you and I write, the only legitimate human response would be one of traumatised, stunned silence. Yet while we still have the privilege of having a voice, we should be concious of how we use it. Say too little and we legitimise the vileness of it, say too much and it descends into a kind of ghoulish emotional pornography.

    No-one can detail what is going to happen in the immediate weeks or months. If Israel does not find an exit strategy within days, the humanitarian situation in Gaza will tip into terminal catastrophe. People will start dying from thirst and disease in their tens of thousands.That would force everybodys’ hand in ways both forceful, unpredictable and therefore dangerous. It is the stuff of global conflagration.

    In the aftermath of such a nightmare, the institutions of religion as we have known them, would have lost all legitimacy. All the obssesions and occupations we think so much of, would be so many lost ciphers in the past.

    Cut through the distractions Brett. The only thing that matters is how this plays out. There are in principle only two options:

    1. We pull back from the brink, through fear of the consequences we impose a lasting, just settlement, and take responsibility for ending the violence.

    2. The board is wiped clean of all it’s failed players and a new game arises in it’s place.

    And maybe it is too late, maybe there are no longer any options and the choice has already been made for us.

  64. Bill 64


    If enough people are committed to particular course of action…enough to make the action effective, and not fuck up the wrong people, then the act should be executed. That does not necessarily require a majority.

    If strike action is to be effective, it will in most cases require a large %age of a workforce to participate. Not always the case though. A strike by a smaller number of people who are strategically vital to an operation can have the same effect as everyone striking. Maybe even a better effect as the bosses have to continue paying the rest even although they cannot perform duties.

    That the left parties (Leninist, Trots etc) fall short on measures of democracy is precisely because of the model they use. But that’s their choice.

    Much more important ( to quote myself) is the fact that “they reject and try to usurp any and all organisational models that deny them self promotion or that thwart their desire for control.”

  65. Draco T Bastard 65

    Everybody has a right to exist.

    I wasn’t asking about individual people but the State of Israel. What makes you think that the state of Israel has a right to exist considering that it stole the land that it stands upon?

  66. redrave 66


    Your’s is a self-defeating argument. Exactly the same objections you have with left wing groups could be directed at your privileged, all-knowing minority. Except that left wing groups are ostensibly committed to majority rule and can be held to account for abusing it, whereas you don’t even try. Your idea of democracy has much more in common with the Israelis than with Leninists or Trotskyists.

    Once you abandon the principle of majority rule you end up with you and who else?

    You are economistic about the objective of striking. For Leninists and Trotskyists it is an withdrawal of labour to demonstrate the power of labour over capital which ultimately can dispense with it, not to allow freeloaders to continue getting paid.

    For example, the Norwegian train drivers who are stopping work for 2 more minutes every day while the invasion of Gaza is underway are demonstrating that the withdrawal of their labour puts the profits of capitalist firms that support Israel at risk. This sort of stoppage can develop into general strikes that would prove that while capital needs labour to make its profits, labour does not need capital to produce to meet everyone’s needs.

    You should read Marx on Value, Price and Profit.

  67. Draco:

    I thought the land belongs to everybody isnt that the left’s mantra.

  68. Bill 68


    Here’s an example of a situation where majority rule (if it had been pursued) would have been counter productive.

    In 2001 a broad constituency of people came together to protest the invasion of Afghanistan and the potential for NZ involvement.

    At some point, the question of a UN peacekeeping force came up. Predictably, some people were in favour of such a scenario and some against. Had a ‘party line’ been pursued the likely consequence would have been a split: a pro UN contingent and an anti UN contingent. Bye-bye to a broadening and deepening constituency.

    Thankfully, the organisational structure was such that no ‘party line’ was ever pursued. There was a fundamental recognition that different people had differing views and different ‘comfort zones’. No-one ever felt compelled to take part in any particular activity/action because of a majority vote. And no-one felt pressured to not execute any action or take part in any activity because of a majority vote. No voice was given particular prominence and no voice was muted. The criteria that led to action was, as I said above in a previous comment, enough people being committed to a particular proposal so that it would be effective with the proviso that it did not have an unacceptably negative impact on others participating within the wider constituency.

    The result was a freeing up of energy and resources; a wider spectrum of actions coming to fruition and a lot, more imaginative, initiatives than the expected norm seeing the light of day due, in large part, to the shackles of a need for a majority vote being absent.

    On the UN question, the solution was simplicity itself. A 3 day, 24 hour a day camp had been planned to occupy the centre of town. At the camp there was music, food and information (propaganda). Lots of it. So among the literature that curious passers by could pick up was both a pro-UN perspective and an anti- UN perspective. Given the assumption that people are not stupid, but that they have, as said before, different predilections and comfort zones, the broad spectrum of prop encouraged ever more people to get involved. Nobody asked them to ascribe to any particular view…rather, they were encouraged to act on their own conviction; at whatever level they felt comfortable with.

    Envelopes were naturally pushed because everyone at meetings and get togethers was exposed to the full gamut of opinions and political persuasions. There were no arguments to pressure people…respect of opinion was the order of the day. Simple exposure to different perspectives resulted in some becoming more radical and dropping preconceived notions of what a radical or revolutionary was.

    For a short time, things were vibrant and exciting. More and more people took it upon themselves to get involved. Communication between all types of people and persuasions mushroomed and all manner of possibilities were continuely unfolding and actions undertaken.

    Then came the Authoritarian Left with their demands that a coalition be formed in place of a broad constituency; that party propaganda be disseminated and sold and a brand (theirs) be applied to actions and activities. They were either incapable of appreciating what was unfolding or, more likely, didn’t care for it as it would not give them the profile they craved.

    I’ll skip the ins and outs of the turgid bullshit that followed.

    Suffice to say, the end result was that a nascent, broad flowering of dissent was squeezed into the confines of ‘acceptable’ dissent; into ‘correct’ political thinking. People disengaged, drifted away and what could have been a sustainable base from which people could have acted on all manner of things in the future died.

  69. Bill 69


    didn’t see that last comment. For most workers, striking is about improving wages and/or conditions. That’s a fact that you or I might wish was different, but hey.

    I’m just wondering. Do you want to explore ideas red? Or do you just want to dismiss anything that doesn’t immediately fit your ideological template? That’s not me having a go by the way. It’s a serious question. If the former, then a little elasticity and a little less of playing me rather than the questions/ scenarios raised could go a,long way.

    I am not a part of any privileged, all knowing minority or anything of the sort. I’m an unemployed worker. But if you want to call my working class credentials into question (the impression I’m getting) then that’s not a worry. I don’t like league, your dicks bigger than mine and your daddy’s bigger than mine too.

    So now that, that’s out of the way, have you any real desire to engage on the matters being brought up? Up to you.

  70. Draco T Bastard 70

    I thought the land belongs to everybody isnt that the left’s mantra.

    The land needs to be under common rule with allotments to individuals to account for their needs but your comment still gives no reason for Israel’s right to exist Brett.

  71. SPC 71

    How about because the UN set up Israel and the UN Charter obliges a defence of member nation states.

  72. SPC 72

    As to the matter of the land and its people. Some basic facts. Israel was established in the area of Palestine with a Jewish majority. Because of its policy of allowing Jewish migration (and the expulsion of Jews from the West Bank and Arab states) there would still be a Jewish majority in Israel today, even if Palestinian Arab refugees of 1948 were allowed to return.

    The issue for Jews of Israel is why would one want people who don’t support your states continuance as fellow citizens. For some there is a fear of a possible Arab majority decades in the future – because of declining Jewish migration and higher Arab birth rates.

    As for talk with Hamas, all they want is an Islamic government of Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem – in return they offer a hudna to Israel (no formal peace settlement as Hamas sees destroying Israel as a diving mission as per its founding mission statement purpose (while they bring rockets to the West Bank and develop an army to defeat Israel, the cause of this final struggle will be right of return (a replay of 1948 involving other Arab armies) and possibly control of the Mount.

    The way to peace is known – it involves compensation to 1948 refugees (funded by the international community) and their access to both Palestinian citizenship and a right of residence in Israel (and an equal right of legal residence to Jews in Palestine. This by the EU process of free movement of labour or economic union. Whether Hamas would support any compromise settlement is doubtful.

    [lprent: And the right of return to their families? And not just to the area of Israel as per the UN partition, also to the areas that Israel took over and expelled people from. Nett result would be a major jump in Arab population. It’s be interesting to see if it did hit a majority – personally I think it would.]

  73. rave 73


    You raised the issue. You slagged off left groups for being authoritarian. I called you on your own minority rules viewpoint (i.e idea). That makes you more like Israel than any left group that I know off. Reason:(Idea) That the norm of majority rules can be held up to account. Your minority rule can mean anything a self-selected minority wants it to mean.
    This has actually got nothing to do with being working class or not, its basic bourgeois liberalism i.e. bourgeois democracy, the thing that Israel lacks which is the topic of this thread.

  74. Bill 74


    I’m not ‘slagging off’ Authoritarian Left Groups and Orgs. They are a serious and destructive problem within left politics. Deemac said it. I agreed.

    And I offered examples of this as well other modes of organising that get around the problems they cause. This makes me….like Israel? You’ll need to explain that one.

    I don’t quite get the ‘self selected minority’ thing either. That would be ‘vanguardism. Something I strenuously oppose but that is embraced by….well, the LW Authoritarian groups and orgs..

    Did you read the caveats placed around the proposed actions of a meaningful number of people from a constituency? (Meaningful in so far as they are enough in number to effectively execute what they propose? Which btw could be a majority because that many are needed.) Do you understand that although they can act they cannot claim to speak for or represent the wider constituency? ( No party line, no clique, no command and control) That although they can publicly identify with the wider constituency they speak from a personal viewpoint only? Many people, many voices.

    And where does the self selection come in…unless you simply mean that people with something in common are a self selected minority? And if that is what you mean, why is that a bad thing? Do you understand the fact that there is a constant flux of people and ideas/ proposed action and not some set group of individuals within the constituency ‘running the show’? If there was a set group, that would be elitist and vanguardist…giving birth to a party line perhaps? And how are they not accountable? If any person ( and I mean one person) has a compelling reason for them not to act (eg their action was going to have unacceptable negative consequences for them…the person objecting) then that would be taken on board and ways explored that the negative consequences would not eventuate.

    It is a dynamic way to organise and act that contains a fair number of (uncomplicated) subtleties. The problem with it, all things being equal, is the media. Or rather how to interact with them as they seek spokespeople and authority. On the good side, the cops are left flapping.

  75. Draco T Bastard 75

    How about because the UN set up Israel and the UN Charter obliges a defence of member nation states.

    I suppose really that’s the million $$$ question – did the UN have the right to set up a country for a people on a piece of land that was already occupied by another people? Interestingly enough the UN charter says that they didn’t.

  76. SPC 76


    First I accept the matter of refugees is about the 1948 state of Israel area and not the original partition awarded.

    But the population of Israel is known, as is the make up of its population. .

    So how many refugees with descent from the 1948 refugees are there exactly? I presume you think the number is over the amount required for it to constitute an Arab majority over those there by the state of Israel law of return policy (a Jewish grandparent). I have no seen a figure showing the number of refugees to be large enough for it to be a majority, let alone the reality that not all of the refugees would actually return (just insist on their right to).

    Your position sounds like that of the 1960 city of Chicago democratic machine – finding as may votes as necessary to win the state contest.

    Chris Trotter has explained the political imperative of the left to claim such things – the need to show the Jews as a democratic minority to deny them their legitimacy and champion another ruling order in their place.

    But the facts on the ground are otherwise.

  77. SPC 77


    Given the UN set up the Israeli state on an area of land with a Jewish majority, it was not an area of land occupied by another people with some greater claim on it.

    {No more than setting up Pakistan out of the Indian part of the British empire – even if Hindus lived there as a minority, or Croatia as a nation state on territory “occupied” by the people of Yugoslavia – even if there was a Serbian minority. And then all the separate nations which emerged out of empires such as Austro-Hungary or the Soviet Union.}

    The idea that Israel is some exception to the liberation of national peoples to self government is nonsense – as is the idea that migrants have no right to become a majority or don’t have an equal right to self government as others.

    The British (League of Nations) mandate on Palestine was on the basis that Jewish migration was allowed (it had begun earlier with the consent of the Ottomon empire)
    and that consequent from this that self government to this people would then occur. Sure this arrangment also included the commitment that the Arab population would have an equal right to self government. The UN decided that this could occur through partition, so that in the area where either people were the majority there would be a separate nation state.

    It was presumed that because both peoples would be a minority in one of the two states that both states would guard the rights of minorities. Essentially the peace process is about returning us to that sort of human rights issue.

    If the UN had sent in peacekeepers (or the British had not cut an run, but provided the force to secure the partition borders), this would have been the issue of debate -how well each state provided for its minority citizens.

    Essentially the UN failed in its duty to secure both states within the partition borders. It acted in 1949 to prevent the borders from changing again – by denying nation states the ability to expand by the means of war. But the 1948 event compounded the failure in the case of the Palestinians – which is why I think the international community owes compensation to the Arab refugees.

  78. Chris G 78

    I hope the facts your talking about dont come from FOX, SPC. Facts

    Or from Joe the Plumbers reporting of the Gazan Massacre…


  79. SPC 79

    Chris G

    Why is supporting a two state peace to be seen as parroting a right wing media bias, or why are facts inconvenient to chosen partisanship associated with a right wing media – without actually being refuted? What one does know is that when this done, its because the left are supposed to take a party line on an issue without question.

    Well as a certain aging former communist party boss put it in yesterdays media, what is anti-communist or anti-China about support for freedom for the people? Sometimes the party line is bunk and needs to be challenged.

  80. lprent 80

    SPC: Because a two state peace has been tried since 1948 when it was first proposed.

    Of course it did not survive some ethnic cleansing, a number of wars, and the habit of Israel to block all borders and do major military incursion whenever they feel like it. Not to mention some extremely illegal settlements in the west bank, a wall that sort of ignores previous agreements that they are party to .

    Of course Israel could give back the parts of the nascent Palestinian state that they pinched in 1948 along with the bits that they have pinched since 1967.

    Perhaps if Israel started to observe international law then people may start to believe them. At present they can only be perceived as lying about as much as…. umm the similarities are uncanny.

    I notice that you carefully avoided talking about the descendants of the 1948 refugees. Of course if you want then we can evict the immigrants and descendants since 1948 on both sides? Just to be even handed….

  81. SPC 81


    Your claim that I carefully avoided talking about the 1948 refugees is baseless.

    You replied to my comment about the 1948 refugees on the January 12 11.35pm post itself, to focus on descendants of them to imply that my reference to 1948 refugees in that post excluded them. It did not. I took up this issue in my reply January 13 9.37pm). Now it is you who have chosen to refuse to continue any debate about the issue as to whether their numbers are sufficient to overturn the Jewish majority within Israel and my related comments referring to Trotters take on the politics of this matter for the left.

    It is your claim that a “two state peace has been tried since 1948 when it was first proposed” which is baseless.

    One cannot try something which has never been. Arabs in 1947-48 and in following decades rejected the concept of a two state peace onto the late 1980’s. First Egypt, then Jordan, then the PLO and more and more members of the Arab League
    chose to recognise Israel and support a two state peace. This formed the basis for the Oslo Accord and the PA being formed. The purpose to prepare for Palestinian self government and a formal peace agreement.

    That this has not yet been achieved does not mean a two state peace has been tried.

    Your argument that it has been, is merely the premise for a unitary state where Arabs would have the majority. Because as I suspected, you want a peace where Jews are the minority and not the majority. Which is why you run away from a two state peace as soon as the fact that the right of return does not of itself overturn a Jewish majority within the state of Israel is declared to you.

    Thus a need to list a negative portrayal of Israel – to justify your position against the continuance of a nation state (sounds a lot like the sort of approach used to justify removing an entire people from Europe earlier).

    “Of course Israel could give back the parts of the nascent Palestinian state that they pinched in 1948 …”

    Territory taken in war before 1949 is recognised by the UN and thus the UN recognised the state of Israel as a member within those borders. The two state peace called for by the UN is based on that reality. Which is why the 1948 refugee is issue is what it is.

  82. rave 82

    Sorry you can’t see the alignment of your defence of minorities to act independently of majorities and the Zionists.
    The left groups you accuse of being ‘authoritarian’ for all their faults are the ones who always histroically (Cliff was a socialist from Palestine) opposed the occupation of Palestine, and the methods of the Zionists to act with the imperialists to impose their reborn Israel on the Palestinians.
    Their level of ‘authoritianism’ pales into insignificance compared to imperialist warmongering and Zionist fascism.

  83. Rob 83

    Please note these comments today from Senior Egyptian mediators in todays Jerusalem Post. [deleted]

    [lprent: and the rest was a cut’n’paste – if you want it accessible on the site, then link to it.]

  84. Bill 84

    The Authoritarian Left are not the only ones who have historically opposed Zionism as you seem to imply. And I’ve never had a problem with the general analysis offered by Left Wing Authoritarians. My problem isn’t even that the organisations are undemocratic in their internal structuring. Rather, my problem is that, as organisations, they undermine democratic initiatives undertaken by the left. I’ve given examples and offered alternatives, which you asked for and have either failed to understand and so linked them to some idea of an elitist minority, or that you do understand, but make the same link, because to do otherwise would be to acknowledge that the authoritarianism you defend runs counter to democratic aspirations.

    That the effects of Left Wing authoritarianism is less than, as you say, imperialist warmongering and Zionist fascism, could be due to the fact that they have less influence these days than had the bastardised communist Bolshevik tradition on which they draw.

    On the other hand your argument can be read to mean that because I merely punch people’s lights out rather than kill them like that other guy , that I am not violent.

    Either way.

  85. Bill 85

    When I’m out of moderation……..

  86. Bill 86


    Here’s another example of ideas rather than individuals giving the lead. Originally from the Guardian but linked below to ZNet, I’ve pasted a part of the footnote. This is what you equate with Zionism?

    “Please note: this statement was drafted and then circulated, for around 48 hours, by a few individuals working without any formal organisation and without affiliation to any particular group…”


    Another might be this http://www.zcommunications.org/znet/viewArticle/20268 to do with the Republic Windows Workers. Possibly a ‘minority’ acting without full union endorsement?

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