Category Archives: mideast

Islamophobia and Anarchism – call for articles

(English and French version below – contact dysophia~at~riseup.net

http://dysophia.wordpress.com

ديصوفيا هي مجلة أناركية مستقلة وذات ميزانية قليلة تنوي متابعة بحثها الناجح في موضوع معاداة السامية وذلك من خلال استكشاف قضايا حول الإسلام والعنصرية المعادية للإسلام من منظو أناركي. نحن على وعي كناشطيين مقرهم في المملكة المتحدة أن هناك الكثير من النقص لنقاش ذا نطاق أوسع وهناك حاجة لتحليل مفصل ودقيق.

بالتحديد نحن نود ان نكتشف كيف يمكن لأناركيو الغرب (وذلك بالمجتمعات التي تسودها المسيحية):

  • إظهار التضامن مع من يتعرض للعنصرية المعادية للإسلام

  • إظهار التضامن مع الرفاق اللذين يسكنون في مناطق يسود فيها الإسلام كنظام أيديولوجي

  • التقرب من التحديات التي تلقى من قبل الأصولية الإسلامية من غير لعب دور في الأغراض العنصرية الإمبريالية الحالية التي تشوه صورة المجتمعات المسلمة في الغرب بالإضافة على التأكيد على سياسة إثارة الحرب الإمبريالية الحالية

نحن نأمل أن يفتح هذا الإصدار الأبواب لنقاش نقدي ويأخذ بالحركة الأناركية للأمام. وبالتالي نحن نحث الأناركيين الذين يعيشون في مجتمعات يسود فيها الإسلام كقوة مسيطرة على تقديم أوراق بحث تناقش كل أو أحد المواضيع التالية:

  1. تواصل الأناركييون في المجتمعات الإسلامية مع الإسلام ذاته وكيفية تأثير ثقافة مجتمعاتهم على تشكيل توجهاتهم الاناركية

  2. كيفية فهم ال-إسلاموفوبيا (الخوف من الإسلام) والتعصب ذات الصلة في الغرب

  3. كيف يمكن للأناركييون في الغرب مناصرة رفاقهم من البلدان ذات الأغلبية المسلمة (من ضمنها كمثال التدخلات الغربية وتصوراتها في الربيع العربي)

  4. إمكانية الاناركيين الذين يقطنون في الغرب مناصرة المجتمعات المسلمة هناك وبنفس الوقت مواصلة مناصرهم للسياسات المناهضة للتمييز كتللك التي تتمحور حول الجندر والجنسانية وغيرها (على سبيل المثال: كيفية التجاوب مع المظاهرات المناهضة لقانون الشريعة وتركيز التيار اليميني على الجوانب الأصولية للدين وتبرير الإعتداءات بالإضافة الى تشويه صورة السكان المسلميين ومن ضمتها الكاريكاتور المسييء للرسول محمد)

  5. تأثير الحرب على الإرهابعلى نشاطهم السياسي

  6. المنظور الأناركي للطبقية والجندر والجنسانية في السياق الإسلامي

ثانيا نحن نود أن نسمع من الأناركيين الذين يعّرفون أنفسهم بأنهم من خلفية مسلمة والذين يعيشون في الغرب ومن يودون إيصال تجاربهم حول السياسات وال-إسلاموفوبيا (الخوف من الإسلام). نحن مهتمون أيضا بالسماع من أناركيين يعّرفون خلفيتهم الثقافية كغربية ولكنهم يمتلكون منظورا يودون المشاركة به.

وأخيرا نحن مهتمون بسماع وقائع من مجموعات اناركيية من دول أغلبيتها العظمى مسلمة وذلك لإتاحة فرصة التعلم عن نشاطاتهم التي لا تصل أخبارها لإولئك المهتمين في الغرب. في حال وصلنا العديد من هذه الوقائع سيتم نشرها في إصدار منفصل.

يمكن أن يصل حجم المقال الى حد 3000 كلمة ونحن نبحث عن أعمال سهلة اللغة للجميع بدلا من أوراق أكاديمية ملأى بلغة صعبة. نحن نرحب بأي مواد تصويرية أيضا. نحن ننشر إصداراتنا باللغة الإنجليزية ولكن في حال كانت كتاباتكم بلغات أخرى أو أنكم تجدون صعوبة باللغة الإنجليزية الرجاء الإتصال معنا بأقرب فرصة وذلك لبحث إمكانية توفر ترجمة من قبلنا. سيتم حماية السرية في حال تم طلب ذلك ومن خلال نماذج اتصال آمنة مثل (pgp/gpg). نود أن تصلنا كافة الأوراق بتاريخ 31 آذار كحد أقصى.

في حال وجود أي أسئلة الرجاء الإتصال بنا للإجابة عليها. الرجاء أيضا نشر هذا الإعلان لمن تجدوه مهتما.

محررو ديصوفيا

 

 

Dysophia, an independent anarchist zine, is planning a follow on from its successful look at antisemitism by exploring issues around Islam and anti-Muslim racism from an anarchist perspective. We are aware that, as UK-based activists, much is missing from the wider discussion and more nuanced analysis is needed.

In particular, we would like to explore how anarchists in the ‘West’ (that is, Christian-dominated societies) can:
* show solidarity with those experiencing anti-Muslim racism;
* show solidarity with comrades who live in places where Islam is a dominant ideology; and
* approach the challenges thrown up by Islamic fundamentalism without playing into current imperialist / racist tendencies that demonize Muslim communities in the West and underscore current imperialist warmongering.

We hope that this publication will open up critical discussion that can take the anarchist movement forward. Thus, we are soliciting articles from anarchists living in societies where Islam is a dominant force, which discuss all or some of the following issues:

i) how they relate to Islam itself and how the culture of their society affects and shapes their approaches to anarchism;

ii) how they perceive Islamophobia and related racisms in the ‘West’;

iii) how anarchists in the ‘West’ can show solidarity with comrades in Muslim-majority countries (including, for example, during Western states’ interventions in and portrayals of the ‘Arab spring’);

iv) how anarchists living in the West can demonstrate solidarity with Muslim communities here, while sustaining anti-discrimination politics such as that around gender, sexuality, etc. (for example, how could we respond to protests against sharia law, right wing focusing on fundamentalist elements of religion as an attack on all, demonisation of Muslim populations, cartoon images of the Prophet Mohammed).

v) how the ‘War on Terror’ has affected their political activity;

vi) anarchist perspectives on class, gender and sexuality in the context of Islam.

Secondly, we would like to hear from anarchists who identify as having a Muslim background who live in the West and would like to communicate their experiences and politics around islamophobia. We are also interested in hearing from anarchists who cultural identification is Western, but feel they have a perspective they would like to contribute.

Finally, we are interested in hearing accounts from anarchist groups in Muslim-majority countries so that others can learn about their activities, as often those in the West do not get to hear about them. If there are enough of these, we will turn them into a separate publication.

Article size can be up three thousand words, and we are looking for pieces that are accessible to everyone rather than not jargon-heavy academic tracts. Images gratefully received. We will be publishing in English, though if you have writings in another language, or will struggle with English please get in contact first as we may be able to sort out translations. We will protect anonymity whenever requested and have secure forms of communication if desired, including pgp / gpg. We would like to get submissions in by 31st March if possible.

If you have any questions then do not hesitate to ask. Please feel free to forward on.

The Dysophia Editors

dysophia~at~riseup.net
http://dysophia.wordpress.com

————————————————————————–

L’APPEL (version française):

Suite au succès de son numéro sur l’antisémitisme, Dysophia, un zine anarchiste indépendant en anglais, a désormais décidé d’explorer la question de l’Islam et du racisme antimusulman d’un point de vue anarchiste. Nous sommes en effet conscients des limites du débat sur cette question au sein des cercles militants au Royaume-Uni, ainsi que de la nécessité d’une analyse plus nuancée.

Tout d’abord, nous tenons à poser la question de la possibilité pour les anarchistes des pays occidentaux (c’est-à-dire de sociétés influencés par le christianisme) de :

* Faire preuve de solidarité envers ceux qui sont victimes de racisme antimusulman ;
* Faire preuve de solidarité envers nos camarades qui vivent dans des lieux où l’islam est l’idéologie dominante ;
* Répondre aux défis posés par le fondamentalisme islamique tout en s’opposant aux tendances impérialistes et racistes qui diabolisent les communautés musulmanes en occident et qui apportent leur soutien au bellicisme et aux guerres impérialistes.

Nous espérons que cette publication ouvrira une discussion critique afin de faire avancer le mouvement anarchiste. Ainsi, nous souhaitons recevoir des articles écrits par des anarchistes qui vivent dans des sociétés où l’Islam est une force dominante et traitant des points suivants :

i) leur relation à l’Islam en soi, et la façon dont la culture de leur société modifie et façonne leurs approches de l’anarchisme ;

ii) la façon dont ils perçoivent l’islamophobie et le racisme lié a l’Islam en « occident » ;

iii) comment, selon eux, les anarchistes en « occident » peuvent faire preuve de solidarité avec leurs camarades dans les pays à majorité musulmane (y compris, par exemple, lors d’interventions militaires
occidentales ou par rapport aux représentations du « Printemps Arabe » par les médias et Etats occidentaux) ;

iv) comment les anarchistes peuvent faire preuve solidarité envers les communautés musulmanes en « occident », tout en conservant une ligne politique d’opposition à toute discrimination sur la base du sexe, de la sexualité, etc. (par exemple, comment réagir aux manifestations contre la loi de la charia, comment s’opposer au discours de la droite qui assimile toute la communauté musulmane à ses éléments les plus fondamentalistes, que faire face à la diabolisation des populations musulmanes ou encore
face aux dessins représentant le prophète Mahomet ?).

v) comment la « guerre contre le terrorisme » a-t-elle affecté leurs activités politiques ;

vi) le point-de-vue des anarchistes sur les problèmes de classe, de sexe et de sexualité dans le contexte de l’Islam.

Deuxièmement, nous recherchons des contributions d’anarchistes se considérant comme d’origine musulmane et vivant en «occident». Nous sommes intéressés par leurs expériences de l’islamophobie et leur action
politique en réponse. Les contributions d’anarchistes se considérant avant tout comme d’affiliation culturelle « occidentale » mais qui désirent proposer leur point-de-vue sur ces questions sont également bienvenues.

Enfin, nous sommes intéressés par des récits d’expériences de groupes anarchistes dans les pays à majorité musulmane afin que d’autres puissent découvrir leur activités, puisqu’il est rare que les anarchistes en «occident » aient l’occasion d’en entendre parler. S’il nous recevons suffisamment de contributions dans ce domaine, nous en ferons une publication séparée.

Les articles peuvent aller jusqu’à trois mille mots et doivent être rédigés de manière accessible à tous et dans la mesure du possible sans jargon académique. Les images et illustrations sont appréciées. *La
publication finale sera en anglais*, mais si vous écrivez dans une autre langue, contactez nous à l’adresse ci-dessous et nous essayerons d’organiser une traduction de votre article.

Provisoirement, la date limite d’envoi des contributions est fixée au 31 mars. Toutefois, contactez nous si vous avez l’intention de contribuer mais ne pouvez pas le faire pour cette date.

Nous protégeons l’anonymat de tous ceux qui le demandent et disposons également de moyens de communication sécurisés, y compris PGP / GPG, si nécessaires.

Si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas à nous contacter et n’hésitez pas à faire circuler cet appel.

Merci par avance,

Les Editeurs de Dysophia
dysophia~at~riseup.net
http://dysophia.wordpress.com

 

 

James Horrox on A. D. Gordon and anarchism

There is very little good material online about A. D. Gordon, even less in English, and none that discusses his anarchism. So I am very pleased to be able to post the following essay, adapted by James Horrox from his book A Living Revolution (AK Press, 2009), on the inspiring life and ideas of this unique figure.

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A. D. Gordon

by James Horrox

Doyen of the early kibbutz communards and an important, yet largely forgotten figure in the history of utopian thought, Aaron David (A.D.) Gordon (1856-1922) was one of the most influential ideologues of the early twentieth century Jewish labour movement in Palestine. Gordon’s agrarian philosophy – which he himself refused to speak of in terms of ‘socialism’, ‘anarchism’, “or any other isms”[1] – was rooted in a deep-seated reverence of the natural world, which appeared to him driven by organic non-hierarchical principles in which he saw a model for the reorganisation of human society.

Born into a middle class, orthodox Jewish family in Podolia in 1856, Gordon was raised in the heart of the Ukrainian countryside where his father worked in the management of agrarian estates. An early member of the Hibbat Tziyon (Love of Zion) movement, he proved himself a charismatic teacher and local community activist, and by the time he arrived in Palestine in 1904 at the age of 48, thanks to his upbringing he had a knowledge of agriculture and the natural world uncommon among the Jewish émigrés of that era, most of whom came from sedentary urban lifestyles. After working for brief periods at the First Aliya settlements at Petah Tikvah and Rishon Le-Zion Gordon eventually settled at Kibbutz Degania. Though he never became a permanent member of the kibbutz it was there that he spent most of his working life in Palestine, lived out his last years, died and was buried. In his memoirs, one of Degania’s founding members, Joseph Baratz, eulogised Gordon as “the most strange and wonderful figure in our kvutza”[3]. He “had a great love of manual labour”, Baratz writes, “and he thought everybody should work with his hands – teachers, writers, administrators. One day, he was explaining this to [Chaim] Arlosoroff, the President of the National Fund, who had come to see him. He was spreading manure with a pitchfork in a field. ‘You see’ he said’, when you stand in a field and you use your pitchfork like this….and this….you feel well and you feel you have a right to live.’ He used to say that by work a man is healed”.[3]

This love of manual labour and the natural world lay at the heart of Gordon’s writings. Influenced by Kabbalistic and Hassidic mysticism, Nietzschean existentialism and Tolstoyan agrarian anarchism, Gordon held that manual labour was not only essential for the regeneration of the Jewish people (it is through labour, he argued, that “a people becomes rooted in its soil and culture”)[4] but also that it held a more holistic value. Physical, and in particular agricultural work, he believed, enabled the human being to connect with nature through creativity, and it was therefore through a return to the land that individuals, peoples and humanity would be able to find spiritual succour and a more meaningful way of life:

“Man’s life has been cut away from its source. Naturally, it has become narrowed, impoverished, meagre, hollow, empty, uninteresting, vain. On the one hand, this results in a feverish pursuit of a life of pleasure, of sickly passion, of grasping at anything in the dregs of life that still has pungency… On the other hand, there follow perplexities, barren spiritual confusion, sterile scepticism, aimless wandering, vacillation, mystic fancies, useless despair. The light in life has been lost; its zest has gone; the talent for understanding life is wasted; in short, the talent to live has been destroyed.”[5]

Gordon echoed the Tolstoyan argument that human beings are at our best when and if we reject the mechanical artifices of civilisation and live our lives in an organic relationship with other people and with nature. It was largely through his influence that agricultural labour came to be seen by the early kibbutzniks not just as a means for the satisfaction of human needs, but as an end in its own right. Although he himself never actually used the phrase Gordon is credited as the founder of the “religion of labour” that became a “surrogate moral code”[6] for the early kibbutzniks: a secular religiosity, akin to Tolstoy’s notion of seeking “the Kingdom of God not without, but within ourselves”.

Gordon’s Zionism was staunchly pacifistic and anti-militarist, and the idea of creating a Jewish state is never once mentioned in his entire body of work. While he believed in the Jews’ historical right to live in Palestine, he viewed the Arabs as an organic nation living in harmony with the land, from whom the Jews should take an example. At the same time he was not naïve about Arab resistance to Zionism, which he saw as a natural reaction to Jews’ westernised and rootless lifestyle, and he thus envisaged the future of Jewish-Arab relations as one of peaceful competition at best – at least until the Jews fully reconnected with the land and earned the respect and cooperation of their neighbours.

While opposed to capitalist forms of labour exploitation, Gordon also rejected “socialism” – by which he always meant Marxism – with its emphasis on class struggle for changes in economic relationships as the key to overcoming capitalism and alienation. In Marxism he saw merely a continuation of the reigning mechanistic conception of the human being and of society, an expression of alienated thought rather than a response to it, and argued that since class is itself nothing more than an artificial organisation of human beings, an edifice of industrial capitalism, the proletariat could hardly be expected to serve as an agent of human transformation. Instead he believed that the nation – an organic collection of individuals based on the principles of kinship and shared cultural values – was the only agent capable of heralding such change. Rejecting the Marxist emphasis on changes in economic organisation as a privileging of form over content, the understanding that society would not change unless the individual changed was central to his thinking. It was through the self-improvement of each and every individual, within the context of a revival of organic national life, by which mankind – and in this setting Diaspora Jewry – would be able to achieve renewal.

It is in this context that Gordon emphasises the spiritual value of labour. Since human beings were deteriorating in proportion to the degree that they became alienated from the natural world, and since the Jewish people in the Diaspora had been affected more than any other in this respect, doubly detached from the cosmic flow of creativity by being both away from their homeland and occupied primarily in trade and sedentary urban professions rather than in agriculture, Gordon viewed a return to nature and a life of physical, and especially agricultural work as essential. This reconnection between man and land through agricultural labour was for him the sine qua non of the spiritual and political reawakening of humanity, hence the centrality of kibbutz in the regeneration of the Jewish people.

Although he never elaborated in much detail on the minutiae of social or political arrangements, Gordon had clear ideas about the form and function of the kibbutz. He argued that small, rural communities are a scale of human living preferable to modern urban civilisation, and that infrastructure and sociopolitical systems should be reorganised along these lines. The basic molecular unit of human society was to be the kvutza, a communalism which should not only subvert the alienation inherent in capitalist production, but which must act also as a family, a vector for the extension of familial bonds outwards into the wider social space. Humanity’s natural bonds of fraternity and empathy, in other words, corrupted by capitalist modernity, need to be restored, and from there a new society can arise.

“The basic idea of the kvutza” Gordon wrote, “is to arrange its communal life through the strength of the communal idea, through aspiration and the spiritual life, and through communal work, so that the members will be interdependent and will influence each other along their positive qualities”:

“The kvutza….can and must work on two fronts. On one side – that of work and nature, the person must be free and must reform him or herself through work and through nature. The individual must associate with the very work and the very nature wherein he or she labours and lives. On the other front, there is the life of the family in the kvutza. The kvutza must serve as a family in the finest meaning of the term. It must develop its members through the strength of their mutual, positive influence….As soon as [individuals] draw together and begin to associate with one another, they become a family as though they had already passed through the sacred rites of marriage.”[7]

Gordon’s writings were mainly published in the magazine of the Hapoel Hatzair workers’ party, which he founded in 1904, alongside articles by and about well-known anarchists of the time, including Kropotkin, Landauer, Proudhon and, later, Hapoel Hatzair theorist Chaim Arlosoroff (the latter strongly influenced in his youth by fin de siècle European anarchist thinkers, in particular Kropotkin). Among the kibbutz founders there was a broad consensus that creating a new kind of society entailed the creation, first, of a new kind of person, and Gordon’s philosophy of spiritual regeneration was one to which the young idealists of the Second Aliya could readily subscribe. Following his death in 1922, Gordon’s ideas continued to tower over the kibbutzim. Hapoel Hatzair continued to look to him as their spiritual leader, and the early groups of Hashomer Hatzair who arrived in Palestine from 1919 and subsequently evolved into the Kibbutz Artzi federation, were strongly influenced by his thinking (Kropotkin, Proudhon, Buber and Landauer were also required reading for Hashomer Hatzair members). In 1923-24, Hapoel Hatzair supporters in Galicia, led by Pinhas Lubianker, founded the Gordonia youth movement, which adopted Gordon’s philosophy and acted as a counterbalance to the Marxisms that were by then beginning to appear in the politics of other Zionist pioneering groups. In the decades following his death, however, Gordon’s subversive ideas would be muddled and eventually forgotten in the process of Zionist myth-making, which ultimately retained only his personal example of dedication to agricultural labour and Jewish renewal for the Israeli historical narrative.

Given the mythological status ascribed to him in this narrative it is perhaps par for the course that Gordon has become a target for attack in recent leftist academia. He has become a prominent feature in particular in liberal historians’ explanations of why Zionism, irrespective of its secular claims, is indeed religious, and even a classically nationalist monism. Some have argued that it was precisely para-religious spiritual socialisms like his that laid the groundwork for a conciliation of Judaism and Zionism, and ultimately the far right national-religious ideology of the contemporary settler movement.

This argument, elaborated at length in Ze’ev Sternhell’s book The Founding Myths of Israel, holds that mystical naturalism of the kind Gordon espoused, European romanticism and hostility to industrial capitalism fuse in the Zionist context to become compatible with a classical nationalist outlook. Gordon’s pacifism, communitarianism and silence on the question of statehood on this view do not necessarily mean that his philosophy did not contain the same ingredients as European integral nationalism.

Gordon is a key illustration in Sternhell’s contestation of the idea that a synthesis of socialism and nationalism was ever an objective of the kibbutz pioneers. Sternhell argues that the ideologues of Labour Zionism realised early on that the two objectives were irreconcilable, and that the pursuit of egalitarianism was really only ever a “mobilising myth…a convenient alibi that sometimes permitted the [Zionist] movement to avoid grappling with the contradiction between socialism and nationalism”.[8] He presents Gordon as the exemplar of this contradiction, dissecting his philosophy so as to rebrand him as a proto-fascistic figure who, “in his rejection of the materialism of socialism, employed the classic terminology of romantic, volkisch nationalism”.[9] The ontic-religious content of Gordon’s nationalism is presented as evidence of how Zionism expressed its religious character, undermining its self-image as a secular endeavour opposed to the ‘slave morality’ of Diaspora Judaism; Gordon’s positive attitude toward “the traditional requirements of religion”, and “the historical manifestations of tradition”[10] in Sternhell’s view affirm his consistency with integral nationalism, which also held religion, tradition and ritual to be core components of national identity. The “paradox of religiosity without belief in God” in Gordon’s writing is thus for Sternhell an index of his congruence with integral nationalism’s “affirmation of religion as a source of identity [which] had no connection with metaphysics”.[11]

Leaving aside the larger question of whether the Gordon Sternhell is analysing is actually Gordon the myth rather than Gordon the writer, the problem with this critique is that it rests on the erroneous assumption that the volkisch romanticism of Herder, in which Sternhell traces Gordon’s intellectual lineage, has no other descendants than the xenophobic views of writers associated with integral nationalism – a specious teleological view of European political romanticism that leads to an understanding of romanticism exclusively in terms of a simple unilinear development to fascism. Since Sternhell fails to acknowledge that Gordon’s repudiation of “socialism” was in fact solely a rejection of Marxism, the question of parallels with other contemporaneous branches of socialist thought is an avenue he completely neglects to explore. In making this leap he overlooks an entire history of left-wing, democratic, humanitarian incarnations of volkisch romanticism, his reassessment of Gordon thus failing to examine links between Gordon’s philosophy and similar imbrications of volkisch thought, secular spiritualism and antipathy to capitalist modernity found in the works of certain European anarchists of the era.

Returning to Palestine from a conference in Prague in 1920, Gordon himself claimed to have ‘found his ideas’ in the writings of the German anarchist Gustav Landauer who, like him, drew together the secular spiritualism of Spinoza and Tolstoy, the existentialism of Nietzsche and the ideas of the volkisch thinkers into an antiauthoritarian and obsessively pacifistic left-wing volkisch romanticism. At the heart of Gordon’s philosophy is a synthesis of antiauthoritarianism, anticapitalism, anticlericalism, secular spirituality and mystical belief in land as source of creativity strikingly similar in its central qualities to Landauer’s anarchism. Indeed, though he may have suffered at the hands of Sternhell, the consistency between Gordon’s philosophy and that of Landauer and other anarchists in this tradition, most notably Tolstoy and Proudhon, has led to an alternative view of Gordon as one of the kibbutz movement’s early anarchist ideologues. Some have identified his pacifist, anti-statist naturalism and anti-Marxist critique of modernity as anticipating contemporary eco-anarchisms specifically. Even the most perfunctory assessment of Gordon’s writings in the context of the anarchist thinking of his own time is more than enough to base an argument that it is in fact to the antiauthoritarian tradition that Gordon rightfully belongs.

NOTES

[1] Baratz, J. A Village by the Jordan, London: Harvill, 1954, 82

[2] Ibid., 79

[3] Ibid.

[4] Gordon, A.D. “Thoughts and Letters”, Yassour, Avraham (ed.), The History of the Kibbutz a Selection of Sources – 1905-1929, Israel: Merhavia 1995, 143

[5] Gordon, A.D. “Man and Nature”, A.D. Gordon: Selected Essays, Burnce, F. (trans.), New York: League for Labour Palestine, 1938, 205

[6] Warhurst, C. Between Market, State and Kibbutz: The Management and Transformation of Socialist Industry, London: Mansell, 1999, 132

[7] Gordon, A.D “Thoughts and Letters”, 143

[8] Sternhell, Z. The Founding Myths of Israel, Maisel, D. (trans.), Princeton University Press, 1998, 3

[9] Ibid. 60

[10] Schweid, quoted. in Sternhell, The Founding Myths of Israel, 57

[11] Sternhell, The Founding Myths of Israel, 57

Anatot attack – update and call to action

The following from Israeli anti-occupation activists:

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Dear Friends and supporters,

We are confident that you have already heard of Friday’s two grave attacks at the Anatot settlement. Most media reports have been partial and biased; we wanted to give you a full update on the chain of events and keep you informed of our plans.

Last Friday afternoon, a group of activists visited Yassin al-Rifa’i and his family in the village of Anata village, whose lands have been taken over by the settlement of Anatot (also called Almon). The settlers of Anatot have abused the family for years; in repeated attacks, they uproot trees, block water sources, steal agricultural equipment, and harrass and attack the farmers attempting to reach their lands. On Friday afternoon, it was a Palestinian flag that Yassin put up over a tent on his land that gave the settlers of Anatot an excuse for their pogrom. Dozens of settlers, armed with sticks and rocks, brutally attacked Yassin and his family, as well as the activists that accompanied him. The police were present during the pogrom, but stood on the sidelines and did nothing. Three people were hospitalized with serious injuries, three activists were detained for interrogation. Not a single one of the attackers was arrested.

That same evening, forty activists returned to the scene of the pogrom, in order to protest. When we reached the gate of the settlement, we were forbidden enterance, and we remained in front of the locked gate to protest the settlers’ violence and the lack of police resposibility. The settlers of Anatot quickly amassed at the gate: some had participated in the afternoon’s pogrom, some were soldiers and police officers in civilian dress, youths and grown men seething with hatred and hungry for violence. A number of police officers in uniform that were present did nothing to restrain the raging crowd. The settlers demanded that the gates be opened, and under the aegis of the police officers, they charged us, with fists, rocks, and clubs. One of the attackers tried a number of times to stab activists with a knife. When we tried to get away from the place, the attackers chased us, chanting “Death to leftists!” They were accompanied by a group of uniformed police officers. About 10 demonstrators were injured, three of whom were evacuated for medical treatment. Six cars were seriously damaged, and some were totally destroyed. One car door was etched with Starof David. Despite the attack, which was captured by both stills and video cameras, the police did not arrest a single rioter.

It’s not easy to process the meaning of these events. The magnitude of the hatred that the settlers of Anatot – ostensibly non-ideological and non-extremist settlers – showed, and the forgiving and accommodating behavior of the media, are a troubling testimony to the indifference that characterizes Israeli society after years of occupation and repression. We don’t pretend to know how to continue from here. But we feel that the events in Anatot last Friday are – and must be – a watershed moment. We turn to you in hope that we can continue to count on your support and participation in the near future.

Call to action!

Six years ago, the settlers of Anatot decided to move the fence on the southern part of the settlement and to annex private lands owned by residents of the village of Anata. Today their access to their own lands is blocked, thanks to this illegal fence. In Anatot, like in the rest of the settlements, there is no justice and no accountability, and the settlers can do as they please. The violence that took place on Friday is the clear product of the settlement project, the same project advanced and supported by every single government in the past four decades. Its consequences are occupation and repression, theft and land expropriation, the marking dissidents as traitors.

This policy is maintained by the courts, the police that are in collusion with the settlers, the media that doesn’t do its job, and an Israeli society that keeps its mouth shut.

We will not remain silent.

In the next few days we will announce our plan of action for Anatot.

In the meantime, help us out.

Share this video of Friday’s pogrom in Anatot so that as many people as possible can see with their own eyes the true face of the occupation.

Share the following links and stay tuned for more reports and information as they come in.

Incidents in Anatot, September 30, 2011: updates, videos, and call to action!

Where Solidarity Ends | Sara Benninga

The Ugly Face of Occupation | Yael Kenan

Policeman identified among settlers who attacked activists

23 Israelis and Palestinians injured in settler attack outside Jerusalem

A Message From Abdullah Abu Rahmah on International Human Rights Day

Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and the Settlements, was arrested on 10 December 2009. Although committed to nonviolence, he was falsely accused and convicted of inciting violence, based on testimonies extracted under pressure from two children. This is his message on International Human Rights day.

A year ago tonight, on International Human Rights Day, our apartment in Ramallah was broken into by the Israeli military in the middle of the night and I was torn away from my wife Majida, my daughters Luma and Layan, and my son Laith, who at the time was only nine months old.

As the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements I was convicted of “organizing illegal demonstrations” and “incitement.” The “illegal demonstrations” refer to the nonviolent resistance campaign that my village has been waging for the last six years against Israel’s Apartheid Wall that is being built on our land.

I find it strange that the military judges could call our demonstrations illegal and charge me for participating in and organizing them after the world’s highest legal body, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, has ruled that Israel’s wall within the occupied territories is illegal and must be dismantled. Even the Israeli supreme court ruled that the Wall’s route in Bil’in is illegal.

I have been accused of inciting violence: this charge is also puzzling. If the check points, closures, ongoing land theft, wall and settlements, night raids into our homes and violent oppression of our protests does not incite violence, what does?

Despite the occupations constant and intense incitement to violence in Bil’in, we have chosen another way. We have chosen to protest nonviolently together with Israeli and International supporters. We have chosen to carry a message of hope and real partnership between Palestinians and Israelis in the face of oppression and injustice. It is this message that the Occupation is attempting to crush through its various institutions including the military courts. An official from the Israeli Military Prosecution shamelessly told my Attorney, Gaby Lasky, that the objective of the military in my prosecution is to “put an end” to these demonstrations.

The crime of incitement that I have been convicted of is defined under Israeli military decree 101 regarding the prohibition of hostile action of propaganda and incitement as “The attempt, verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order” and carries a 10 year maximal sentence. This definition is so broad and vague that it can be applied to almost any action or statement. Actually, these words could be considered incitement if they were spoken in the occupied territories.

On the 11th of October of this year I was sentenced to 12 months in prison, plus 6 months suspended sentence for 3 years, and a fine. My family and I, especially my daughters, were counting the days to my release. The military prosecution waited until just a few days before the end of my sentence before appealing against my release, arguing that I should be imprisoned longer. I have completed my sentence but remain in prison. Though international law considers myself and other activists as human rights defenders, the occupation authorities consider us criminals whose freedom and other rights must be denied. In the year that I have spent in prison, the demonstrations in Bil’in, Naalin, Al Maasara, and Beit Omar have continued. Nabi Saleh and other villages have taken up the popular struggle. Within this year, the International campaign calling for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions of Israel until it complies with International law has grown considerably, as have legal actions against Israeli war crimes. I hope that soon Israel will no longer be able to ignore the clear condemnation of its policies coming from around the world.

In the year that I have spent in prison, my son Laith has taken his first steps and said his first words, and Luma and Layan have been growing from children to beautiful young girls. I have not been able to be with them, to walk holding their hands, to take them to school as they and I are used to. Laith does not know me now. And my wife Majida has had to care for our family alone.

In 2010 children in Bil’in and throughout the West bank are still being awakened in the middle of the night to find guns pointed at their heads. In the year that I have spent in prison, the military has carried out dozens of night raids in Bil’in with the purpose of removing those involved in the popular struggle against the occupation.

Imagine if heavily armed men forced their way into your home in the middle of the night. If your children were forced to watch as their father or brother was blindfolded, handcuffed, and taken away. Or if you as a parent were forced to watch this being done to your child.

This week the door of our cell was opened and a sixteen year boy was pushed inside. My friend Adeeb Abu Rahmeh was shocked to recognize his son, Mohammed, whom Adeeb had not seen since he himself was arrested during a nonviolent demonstration 16 months ago.

Mohammad smiled when he saw his Father, but his face was red and swollen and it was clear that he was in pain. He told us that he had been taken from his home two nights previously. He spent the first night blindfolded and shackled, being moved from one place to another. The next day after a terrifying, disoriented, and sleepless night he was taken to an interrogation room, his blindfold was removed and an interrogator showed him pictures of people from the village. When questioned about the first picture he told the interrogator that he did not recognize the person. The interrogator slapped him hard across the face. This continued with every question that Mohammad was asked: when he did not give the answer that the interrogator wanted, he was slapped, punched and threatened. Mohammad’s treatment is not unusual.

Young boys from our village have been taken from their homes violently and report being denied sleep, food, and water and being kept in Isolation and threatened and often beaten during interrogation.

What was unusual about Mohammad is that he did not satisfy his interrogator and with competent representation was released within a few days. Usually children, just because they are children, will say whatever the interrogator wants them to say to make such treatment stop. Adeeb, myself, and thousands of other prisoners are being held in prison based on testimonies forced or coerced out of these children. No child should ever receive such treatment.

When the children who had testified against me retracted what they said in interrogation and told the military judge that their testimonies where given under duress, the judge declared them hostile witnesses.

Adeeb Abu Rahmah and I are the first to be convicted with incitement and participation in illegal demonstrations since the first Intifada but, unfortunately, it does not seem that we will be the last.

I often wonder what Israeli leaders think they will achieve if they succeed in their goal of suppressing the Palestinian popular struggle? Is it possible that they believe that our people can sit quietly and watch as our land is taken from us? Do they think that we can face our children and tell them that, like us, they will never experience freedom? Or do they actually prefer violence and killing to our form of nonviolent struggle because it camouflages their ongoing theft and gives them an excuse to continue using us as guinea pigs for their weapons?

My eldest daughter Luma was nine years old when I was arrested. She is now ten. After my arrest she began going to the Friday demonstrations in our village. She always carries a picture of me in her arms. The adults try to look after her but I still worry for my little girl. I wish that she could enjoy her childhood like other children, that she could be studying and playing with her friends. But through the walls and barbed wire that separates us I hear my daughter’s message to me, saying: “Baba, they cannot stop us. If they take you away, we will take your place and continue to struggle for justice.” This is the message that I want to bring you today. From beyond the walls, the barbed wire, and the prison bars that separate Palestinians and Israelis


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