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September 26, 2012


Anyway, I've spent enough time today arguing with 19th century white person attitudes.

I don't believe anyone at all has mentioned anything related to skin color. Besides you, I mean.

Aren't Arabs Caucasian? Aren't Arabs Semites, in general? What part of this conversation could "white person attitudes" be relevant to?

Other than that: good (if perhaps overheated) back and forth. The only thing I would counsel, were I any sort of referee, would be for you to lose the "sheer nonsense" kind of comments. Dismissiveness works less well than people who are being dismissive might like to think. But mileage on that sort of thing varies, and this is a matter of style rather than substance.

Aren't Arabs Caucasion?

Indeed they are, just like Irish people, which means that whether Americans consider them "white" is a social fact that can change over time.

Aren't Arabs Semites

Indeed they are, and that's why there is obviously no such thing as an Arab anti-semite. Obviously.

In any event, I'm not sure you understand enough about Donald's comment to critique it. You see, historically, in the 19th century, various white people engaged in an enterprise called imperialism where they invaded people's countries and forced them to live as second class citizens with no rights compared to the white people planted amongst them, people who greedily consumed all the resources of the lands they conquered. Now, most modern people look back at this with horror and shame, but some people like Fuzzy Face defend it. I think Donald's point was that Fuzzy Face's arguments are all too similar to 19th century imperialism justification arguments made by various white supremacists.

I was about to explain, slarti, but Turb did it for me.

On the "sheer nonsense" thing, I was looking for a within the rules way of expressing really heated disagreement. Whether it's effective in changing minds is a separate question.

My inability to get rid of these italics is sheer nonsense.

...or not.

In the relative few cases when Israelis have attacked Palestinians, they've generally been arrested and prosecuted by their government - that's why it doesn't happen so often.

I'm really in way over my head with you (and Donald), FF, when it comes to this discussion. But I'd like some further explanation of the above.

Are you talking strictly about private Israeli citizens acting on their own without Israeli-government sanction? If so, that sounds like an odd way to compare what Israelis and Palestinians do to each other.

He's probably talking about private citizens. There was an attack recently that was condemned by the Israeli government--there's also been the ongoing phenomenon labeled "price tag" violence where the more radical settlers attack Palestinians or damage or destroy their property, usually without suffering any consequences, though the Israeli government does condemn it. I would imagine Dani Dayan, the cultivated settler leader recently profiled in the NYT (August 17 if you want to look it up) would probably condemn that too. Dayan is an oh-so-sophisticated kind of person who wants the Israelis to take over the West Bank. He also had an op ed piece in the NYT in July, I believe. His views are what have some thinking that the 2SS is dying or dead, and the next step for Palestinians is "one man, one vote".

Here's a Guardian piece about price tag attacks from some months back--


The Israeli group B'Tselem is one of the more thorough places to go for info about human rights violations on both sides.

B'Tselem list of topics

You can also search the web for various Human Rights Watch reports. They criticize all sides impartially as best I can tell. (Right now I think they're more focused on Syria, for obvious reasons, but they just came out with a report on Hamas's use of torture in Gaza.) Amnesty International is good too, but I always find it a little difficult to search for their stuff, for some reason.

Arab identity, much like Latino identity, has the white/mixed/black racial categories embedded within it.

In most Latin American countries, with huge African slave trade (ie, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil) the ">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-drop_rule"> one-drop rule was done in reverse. That is to say, in most Latin American countries, having Spanish blood meant accessing privileges a full blooded African or Indian could not. That does not mean that the mixed person had the same privileges as someone who was full blood Spanish/White, but the person was not Black or Indian.

However, immigrants from Latin America had to negotiate the racial categories created in the U.S. differently, than at home. Since, one could be put in prison for “impersonating” a white person, many light skinned Latinos did not take chances, but others did. An example of this “proof” is seen when Puerto Ricans tried to break into major league baseball, teams would send investigators to the island to check the ‘purity’ of the applicant. No light skinned PRs passed. In the case of Mexicans, it was a bit different. White/light skinned Mexicans would just claim to be Spanish or Portuguese, and it was settled, since most Anglo-Americans had assumed Mexicans looked “mongrel”, ie Indian and Spanish. The book Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line by Adrian Burgos, covers this.

I bring this up because there are similarities with the way Arabs were racialized in the United States. Phenotype and stereotypes, would determine which rights and privileges Arabs could access as citizens. Sarah Gualtieri’s Between Arab and White: Race and Ethnicity in the Early Syrian American Diaspora, focuses on Syrian migrations, but she also does a comparative analysis of Northern African/Black Arabs and Lebanese/Syrian Arabs, and demonstrates how phenotype and religion were used to racialize them. Most of the Northern African/Black Arabs were Muslim while Lebanese/Syrian Arabs were Christian. However, after all of the eloquent discourse of the whiteness and civilizing effects of Christianity, and the blackness and primitive nature of Islam, really it came down to phenotype. Black Christians, Arab or not, and White/Light Arabs, Christian or not, would fall into traditional American categories.

Now to the issue of racialization in Israel, I don’t have any book titles, yet (although I have many on the way Jews were racialized in the US and Europe), I think this article by Meyrav Wurmser is interesting. First off, because she is married to a prominent Neocon, David Wurmser and is critical of Post-Zionism, but secondly, it is interesting how she tracks the racist and Eurocentric attitude of Zionism. Maybe it was not her intent, explicitly, but it comes through in the article. That is, European Zionist brought their notions of European/white privilege with them.

Sociologist Uri Ram questioned the moral validity of the Zionist enterprise, finding it a form of colonialism, and concluded that the Jews have no more of a claim to Palestine than do the British to India. Israeli journalist Boas Evron wrote that Zionism fabricated a false connection between the Jews and the land. Many historians have echoed this approach, including Simha Flapan, Ilan Pappé, Uri Bar-Joseph, Michael J. Cohen, and others.


The post-Zionist critique of Zionism is not limited to the Palestinian question. Concentrating on the manner in which less advantaged segments of Israeli society were treated by the Zionist state, it also focuses on women and Sephardic Jews (Jews who immigrated to Israel in the early 1950s from Middle Eastern countries whom post-Zionists view as Jewish-Arabs; the very idea of grouping of Palestinian Arabs and Sephardic Jews as a single subject of inquiry is revolutionary within Israel). Post-Zionism calls for adopting the "uncivilized" narratives of the subjugated segments of Israeli society. Embracing Edward Said's critique of Western Orientalism,17 the grouping of Arabs and Sephardic Jews reflects the post-Zionist outlook that the oppression of the Israeli state cuts across national and gender differences.

Post-Zionists do not limit themselves to stirring debate on current social and political matters. They address some of the most sensitive issues facing the Jewish people. For example, several works pose new moral and ethical questions in their reexamination of the Holocaust, one of the most sensitive nerves in Israeli society. Tom Segev, a historian, wrote that the Zionist movement used the Holocaust to advance its political goals, arguing that political groups in the Yishuv (the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine) viewed the destruction of European Jewry as a historic opportunity to further Zionist goals and did little to save the dying Jewish masses. In the state of Israel today, continues Segev, the cynical misuse of the Holocaust continues, because its lessons are framed in terms of a narrow Jewish particularism (the Holocaust as a uniquely Jewish affair) which thereby justifies actions of the nation and strengthens nationalistic feelings, rather than including general humanistic lessons.


Post-Zionism clearly has an impact on the next generation of Israelis as more and more young Israelis receive a post-Zionist education and are raised in a society in which anti-nationalist feelings gain growing legitimacy. These ideas are also seeping into the schools. A recently-published history textbook, prepared for use by Israeli high-school students, includes an article describing Zionism as a "form of colonialism" without any legitimate claims to Israel.44 In this spirit, it comes as no surprise that a 1993 survey found 30 percent of Israeli secular students said that for them, to be Jewish was "not an important part of life."45 The numbers would quite certainly be higher today.

Can Israel Survive Post-Zionism?

Please read

I do not speak italics.

Another link I'm recommending--

Jerome Slater article

The link above is to an entry in Slater's blog, where he gives a summary of and a link to an article he has just published in "International Security", a Harvard/MIT publication. The article is a critique of Israel and the Gaza War and it also contains a summary of some of the other things Israel has done wrong over its history. I've just started reading it.

On second thought, if I'm going to recommend an article it's better to post the abstract rather than my own inept summary. Here's the abstract--

"The 2008–09 Israeli military campaign in Gaza, commonly known as Operation Cast Lead, is best understood in the context of Israel’s “iron wall” strategy. During the 1930s, the strategy emphasized the need for overwhelming military power to break Arab resistance to the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine; since the creation of Israel in 1948, it has continued to be at the core of Israeli policies in the overall Arab-Israeli conflict. From the outset, the strategy has included attacks on civilians and their crucial infrastructures. Such attacks violate the just war moral principles of discrimination and noncombatant immunity. In addition, Cast Lead violated the just war principles of just cause and last resort, which state that wars must have a just cause and even then must be undertaken only after nonviolent and political alternatives have failed. Israel did not have a just cause in 2008–09, because its primary purpose was to crush resistance to its continuing de facto occupation and repression of Gaza. Further, Israel refused to explore the genuine possibility that Hamas was amenable to a two-state political settlement. Thus, the iron wall strategy and Operation Cast Lead, in particular, have been political as well as moral failures, undermining rather than serving Israel’s genuine long-term security needs."

It's always a question how long an oderint dum metuant strategy can be kept up (for whatever reason it got adopted in the first place). The longer it lasts the more likely are that the final result will follow one of two bad paths not the single good one. Either the moral event horizon has to be crossed finally or the ability to instill the necessary fear gets lost. To get rid of both hatred and fear is a feat rarely managed.
As far as foreign policy goes Israel was more or less forced to adopt a general strategy of becoming too feared to get attacked openly again (and the nukes are a central part of that). If played right (i.e. without open aggression and with tact) this can be a viable solution because there is a chance that in the long run the hostile neighbours will see reason.
But to consciously apply the same at home is a different matter, esp. with people of influence eager to turn the screw unnecessarily (or even openly calling for crossing the moral event horizon).

Please substitute 'it is' for 'are' at the end of the second line.

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