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Friday, August 19th, 2016
|Link Harvest: "Why Do Black Activists Care About Palestine?"
Good article from the Atlantic, although much of the money quote is buried in the middle.http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/why-did-black-american-activists-start-caring-about-palestine/496088/?utm_source=atltw"While many Jewish leaders disagree with this framing of history and the current situation on the ground in Israel and Palestine, what seems to matter to them almost as much is being singled out. While the platform names a number of nations, claiming they’ve been victimized by the United States’ colonial-style foreign policy, it condemns only one foreign government: Israel. The platform does not express sympathy with the Kurds in Iraq or the Rohingya in Burma; it does not condemn Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers or Saudi Arabia’s oppression of Shiite Muslims. Perhaps, just like the landlords and grocers and pawnshop brokers of New York, Israel is held to a different standard by black activists—because Jews, they think, should know better. Or perhaps the special focus on Israel traces back to the pan-African movement, or owes a debt to the prominence of pro-Palestinian activism on American campuses. Whatever the origin, the result is the same."
I will add a personal observsation. One of the more annoying things about trying to have nuanced discussions about what is happening in the middle east is that most people interested in it have little interest in even vaguely trying to understand what other people are saying because they are convinced they already know. Anyone from the AIPAC side of the argument or further right wing boils down to a rather simple line of reasoning: "They hate us. They all hate Jews and want to chase us into the sea." Anyone from J St. or further left on the spectrum has an equally simplistic line of reasoning: "Israel are oppressors, and simply oppress the Palestinians because, well, they are oppressors." Arguments between the two sides generally start with charges and counter charges and devolve from there into slogan shouting.
Mind you, such simplistic dichotomies are all too common these days. But it does make life rather frustrating for those of us who believe that good policy comes from recognition of the messiness of reality and trying to actually understand the real motivations of opponents.
I also like the fact that what irritates a number of us (me in particular) is that the progressive left (a) pretty much talks about Israel and Jews in the same way most white people talk about POC, and with the same angry defensiveness most white people show when you call them on it; and, (b) that this extends to the general lack of any contact with the Jewish community except for the safe circle of friends who totally agree with them about Israel. I just adored this bit from the article:"But it’s impossible to know how to listen to another group’s hurt when you don’t know any of its members; Bonsu [A #BLM Activist] said she does not know a single Jewish person who supports the state of Israel, although, as she pointed out, she is just one person."
Most progressives are as interested in genuine engagement with Jews who disagree on their harsh perspective on Israel as most conservatives are interested in engaging with black people who disagree with them. Listening to Ben Carson and voting in 2012 for Herman Cain in the primary does not magically refute the arguments of African Americans about the Republican Party and its impact on Black America. Likewise, the embrace of Neturei Kartah and Jews who agree with you about how Israeli is a colonial power that perpetrates genocide on Palestinians doesn't really give you insight into Jews that believe that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jews and that the mass return to Israel of Jews from around the world (including the majority of Israeli Jews, who are descended from Jewish Israelis who lived in Israel before the Zionist movement or are descended from Middle Eastern, Indian, or African Jewish communities) is a return to our ancestral home -- even if we oppose Israel's polcies toward the Palestinians, support a two-state solution, and condemn racist Israeli polcies wrt to either Jews of Color or non-Jews.