Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Versioning history (and forsaking its complexities)…

A comment from Camila Bassi

"Zionism and Nazism were twins in their narrow nationalism and even collaborated against the public. The Zionists thus found no reason not collaborate with the Nazis in the mid-thirties to rid Europe of its Jews." (Taken from Professor Mona Baker’s homepage against the occupation of Palestine and for an academic boycott)

"The attempt to solve the Jewish question through the migration of Jews to Palestine can now be seen for what it is, a tragic mockery of the Jewish people. Interested in winning the sympathy of the Arabs who are more numerous than the Jews, the British government has sharply altered its policy toward the Jews, and has actually renounced its promise to help them find their ‘own home’ in a foreign land. The future development of military events may well transform Palestine into a bloody trap." (Leon Trotsky, writing a month prior to his death in August 1940, on the Jewish question)

For a long-term two nation-states solution and the workers’ unity it depends on…

How will a workers’ alliance between Palestinians and Israelis be achieved that is both against the despotic Israeli state and for a two nation-states solution (involving a withdrawal of the Israeli armed forces from the Occupied Territories and a return to pre-1967 borders)?

Deliberation of such a question steers me to holding a position against an academic boycott of Israel; after all, any long-term solution to the conflict in the Middle East is dependent (amongst many other things) on the principle that Palestinian and Israeli academics must forge some kind of political unity.

It is by no means an exclusive stance on the part of those who support the idea of an academic boycott to claim that the Israeli state is illegitimate and to call for a one secular Palestinian state solution, but this is a position that does underpin the most vocal calls for a boycott. With this in mind, has there been any other case in history in which self-declared Marxists, socialists or leftists advocated a forced reversal of history to strip a group of people of their rights to national self-determination? The actions of the Israeli state in its repression of Palestinians and its brutal occupation of Palestinian land must be vehemently condemned (and, indeed, it should never have happened as it did), but it cannot be ‘made right’ by the absolute dissolution of Israel as a nation-state. Any such calls for dissolution would be anti-… well, you decide.

Returning to the quote from Mona Baker’s website at the beginning, it would be fair to say that being anti-Zionist is not (in and of itself) an anti-Semitic act, although all anti-Semitics are anti-Zionist. The Jewish question, which Leon Trotsky astutely considered and urgently wrote about in the 1930s and 1940s, took on a "utopian and reactionary character" in Zionism. Nevertheless, to now advocate any political gesture that might threaten the prospect of workers’ unity between Palestinians and Israelis, and the prospect for a long-term two nation-states solution, should be seriously challenged.

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