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Tel Aviv University
[Tel Aviv U, Sociology & Anthropology] Matan Kaminer, radical anti-Israel activist, is a teaching assistant to Dr. Ofra Goldstein-Gideoni


1) Short descriptions in Hebrew of a course taught by Dr. Ofra Goldstein-Gideoni in Tel Aviv University showing Matan Kaminer as her teaching assistant.

2) Anti-Israel English writings and activities of the refusenik Matan Kaminer.


שנה"ל תש"ע

  שיטות מחקר איכותניות
מדעי החברה | חוג לסוציולוגיה ואנתרופולוגיה
סמ'  א' 1600-1400 105 נפתלי תרגיל מר קמינר מתן
דרישות קדם   רשימת התפוצה
סילבוס מקוצר
מטרתו של הקורס הוא עריכת היכרות מקרוב עם המחקר האיכותי. הקורס ישלב הצגה תיאורטית והתנסות מעשית (במסגרת התרגיל) בשיטות מחקר "איכותיות". לאחר ניסיון לעקוב אחר התפתחות שיטות אלו והבנת העקרונות הבסיסיים, יתמקד הקורס בעיקר בשיטות מחקר איכותיות באנתרופולוגיה. מטרה חשובה נוספת של הקורס היא הדרכה בכתיבת עבודה אקדמית המבוססת על מחקר איכותי. יוקדש זמן נרחב בשיעור ובתרגיל להתמודדות עם פיתוח שאלות וטענות מחקר ותינתן הנחיה והכוונה לדרכים לכתיבת עבודה אקדמית.


שנה"ל תש"ע

  שיטות מחקר איכותניות
מדעי החברה | חוג לסוציולוגיה ואנתרופולוגיה
סמ'  א' 1400-1200 201 נפתלי שיעור ד"ר גדעוני עפרה
דרישות קדם   Virtual.t@u   רשימת התפוצה
סילבוס מקוצר
מטרתו של הקורס הוא עריכת היכרות מקרוב עם המחקר האיכותי. הקורס ישלב הצגה תיאורטית והתנסות מעשית (במסגרת התרגיל) בשיטות מחקר "איכותיות". לאחר ניסיון לעקוב אחר התפתחות שיטות אלו והבנת העקרונות הבסיסיים, יתמקד הקורס בעיקר בשיטות מחקר איכותיות באנתרופולוגיה. מטרה חשובה נוספת של הקורס היא הדרכה בכתיבת עבודה אקדמית המבוססת על מחקר איכותי. יוקדש זמן נרחב בשיעור ובתרגיל להתמודדות עם פיתוח שאלות וטענות מחקר ותינתן הנחיה והכוונה לדרכים לכתיבת עבודה אקדמית.



Background information on Matan Kaminer:

Reprints of anti-Israel articles do not represent the position of IAM, and they are being reproduced as a public service


On 4 January 2004, the five conscientious objectors Matan Kaminer, Haggai Matar, Noam Bahat, Adam Maor, and Shimri Tzamaret were sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. All five refused to serve in the Israeli army and had spent up to 14 months in military prison prior to sentencing.

The five objectors started their prison term on 7 January. All five do not claim to be pacifists. They refuse to serve in an army of occupation, which is involved in operations against the Palestinian population.

Matan Kaminer explained his motives in a letter to US conscientious objector Stephen Funk in August 2003:

'Open Detention', Tel Hashomer Camp, Israel
 August 12, 2003
Dear Stephen,
Is this what they call "globalization"? We live half a world from
each other, we have led quite different lives, and yet we are both in
the same situation: conscientious objectors to imperial war and
occupation, we are both standing military trial this summer. Reading
your statement I couldn't help but smile at the basic sameness of
military logic around the world - including its inability to
understand how anybody could be enough against a war to resist going
to kill and die in it.
But I've been presuming you're familiar with my situation. In case
you aren't, let me fill you in briefly. I was slated for induction
into the Israeli army in December 2002. After a year of volunteer
work in a Jewish-Arab youth movement, I had made up my mind to refuse
to enlist. Together with other young people in my situation, I signed
the High School Seniors' Letter to PM Sharon, and to make myself
absolutely clear I sent a personal letter to the military authorities
notifying them that I was going to refuse.
They let me know they weren't about to let me go: the army only
exempts pacifists (at least that's what it claims) and I didn't meet
their definition of a pacifist. So beginning in December I was
sentenced by 'disciplinary proceedings' (do they have this ridiculous
institution in the Marines too?) to 28 days in military prison -
three consecutive times. After my third time in jail, I asked to join
my friend Haggai Matar, who was being court-martialed, and within a
few weeks three of our friends - Noam, Shimri and Adam - joined us.
Now we are on trial and stand to get up to three years in prison for
refusing the order to enlist.
Sounds familiar, huh? But it's not just what they're doing to us
that's similar, it's what they're doing to others: occupying a
foreign land and oppressing another people in the name of preventing
terror. People like you and me know that's just an excuse for
furthering economic and political interests of the ruling elite. But
it's not the elite that pays the price.
The people who pay the price are in Jenin and Fallujah, in Ramallah
and Baghdad, in Tikrit and in Hebron. They are the Iraqi and
Palestinian children, hogtied face-down on the floor or shot at on
the way to school. But they are also the Israeli and American
soldiers, treated as cannon fodder by generals in air-conditioned
offices, whose only way to deal with their situation is
dehumanization - first of the strange-looking foreigners who want
them dead, next of themselves. You can ask your Vietnam veterans or
our own.
Stephen, people our age should be out learning, working and
transforming the world. People our age should be going to parties and
protests, meeting people, falling in love and arguing about what our
world should look like. People our age should not be moving targets,
denied their human and civil rights; they should not be military
grunts, exposed to harm in mind and body, lugging around M-16's and
guilty consciences; they should not be thrown behind bars for not
wanting to kill and die.
Your trial is set to begin soon. Mine has already begun so maybe I
can give you a few pointers. Look the judges in the eyes. Use every
opportunity you have to explain why you stand there. They are human
just like you, but they try to deny it to themselves. Don't let them.
War is shit and they know it. They should let you go and they know it.
It's likely that we'll both get thrown in prison when this all ends.
There will be dark moments in prison, moments when it seems that the
outside world has forgotten all about us, that what we did and
refused to do was in vain. Well, I know what I'll do in those
moments: I'll think of you, Stephen, and I'll know that nothing we do
for humanity's sake is ever in vain.
                                        With greatest solidarity,
                                        Matan Kaminer




The Colonial Drama of Israel and Palestine

4-09-07, 8:24 am

Seen from this side of the Mediterranean, the Western (and especially European) view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exhibits a strange trait. One often feels that one is playing a part in a play scripted by others, and that deviations from the allotted role may be frowned upon by the audience. Of course, the most obnoxious version of this theatrical piece is the one in which the Israeli is cast as a brave liberal David, up against the brutish Muslim Goliath. Seeing as I am writing for a left audience and not for The New York Times, this play does not concern me here. Often, though, one feels that the international left is also sitting down to watch a drama; this one might be titled Colonialism.

Before I go on, let me clarify that I see the situation in Israel/Palestine as colonial, and that as a left activist in Israel I see anti-colonialism as a central theoretical and practical aspect of my activity. But a facile and a-historical importation of anti-imperialist stances from other times and places will be useless or worse in the struggle for a free Palestine and a socialist and democratic Middle East. Our colonialism is different; and although it is a family relation of the earlier European colonialisms and a close ally of the current, American-led neo-colonialism, it is distinct from these and must be fought in different ways.

Outside the left, and perhaps even to some within it, it might nowadays be seen as objectionable to call Zionism a colonial movement or Israel a colonialist power. This would strike the father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, as strange. He was an avid colonialist who explicitly envisioned the Jewish homeland as a European colony under imperial protection. The revival of the Hebrew language, never championed by Herzl (the Jews in his utopia spoke German), has obscured this link by using ancient roots in new ways. However, the Hebrew name used for the first Zionist settlements, moshava, can only be translated as "colony"[1] .

A colony in search of a metropole

Colonialism is not only resident latently at the root of Israel's existence; it is in full bloom today. One workable definition of the term is "the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people"[2], and this definition obviously fits the situation. Of course, ours is in many ways an anomalous colonialism. Perhaps the most obvious anomaly is the lack of distance between colony and metropole. Israel (the "governing nation" or metropole) and Palestine (the "dependent country" or colony) are hard to distinguish, not only in terms of geography but also of demography: a fifth of Israeli citizens are in fact Palestinians, and a substantial portion of the remainder is descended from Jewish families that lived in the Arab Middle East for generations and spoke Arabic.

In earlier drafts of this article, I hesitated between the headings "a colony without a metropole" and "a colony which is its own metropole". I finally settled on the rather vague phrasing which heads this section. But it is apt, because the Zionist leadership, from Herzl to Olmert, has always looked across the seas for a metropole. Since 1967 the military responsibilities of the metropole have been borne by the United States, with Europe sharing in economic responsibility (and benefits). But politically Israel remains independent, and not just in a nominal way. Labeling Israel as "the fifty-first state" or as "nothing but" an American colony is intellectually lazy and politically dangerous.

Why politically dangerous? Because there is another important aspect in which Israeli colonialism remains bereft of a metropole: Israelis have nowhere to go. Many Israelis are descended from refugees (whether from Europe or the Middle East), and most are acutely aware of the fact that while the US and Europe may aid us in various ways, the majority of Israelis will never be accepted in these countries as full citizens the way the repatriated European settlers were. This is why no current in the Israeli left, however radical, has ever called for "repatriation" or any other kind of transfer of the Israeli Jewish population away from Israel.

Colonialism within colonialism

Of course, the ten thousand Israeli settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip in 2005 did have somewhere to go: they were well taken care of by the Israeli government. Abroad as well as in Israel there is much confusion over the distinction between opposition to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and opposition to the Zionist colonial project in general. I will not attempt any conclusive clearing-up of the confusion here, but I believe a careful double application of the category of colonialism can be conceptually and politically helpful.

In 1967 Israel conquered the portions of British Mandatory Palestine previously occupied by Jordan and Egypt [3] and, for the first time, took on colonialist aspects in a form familiar to European eyes. Colonists, military rule, paternalism, resistance, and repression: all of these had existed in Israel/Palestine before, but in forms much less obviously resembling those of European colonialism. After the occupation, though, even the relations between the "general public", the settler right and the state began to bear comparison to those in colonialist France, oscillating from harmonious national unity to moments of crisis (as in the Algiers putsch and the Rabin assassination).

However, as the settlers themselves like to remind Israelis, it is hard to pinpoint the essential difference between Tel Aviv and Ariel (the largest settlement in the West Bank). It seems that the eagerness of the Israeli left (and not only its Zionist sections) to denounce the colonialism in the Occupied Territories sometimes serves as a mechanism of denial: the Green Line (the 1948 border) is essentialized, and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza is seen as a panacea for all our troubles. The racist discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel and the theocratic dictatorship over personal life – both aspects of Israeli colonialism that were clearly born long before '67 – are put on a back burner, or expected to resolve themselves "after we make peace", and this is of course without mentioning the return of the Palestinian refugees.

Of course, setting priorities is an ugly but necessary part of doing politics. I am not denying that stopping the ongoing siege of Gaza is a more urgent matter than legalizing marriage between two Israeli citizens of different religions [4]. But just as one does not have to accept that there is no alternative to capitalism in order to demand an increase in the minimum wage, there is no logical contradiction between calling for immediate and total withdrawal from the Occupied Territories and a critique of Israeli colonialism that does not ignore its powerful operations on both sides of the Green Line. However, talk of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – as opposed to support for talks with the Palestinian leadership and a negotiated settlement – does not go hand in hand with such an analysis.

The International Angle

The above brings me to the tenuous conclusion that Israeli society lives on both sides of the colonial coin. We are colonizers and colonized at the same time. This is not surprising or particularly anomalous. Colonial society is often stratified, and there can be a near-continuum between the top and the bottom of the colonial hierarchy. Those near the top, like the Aztec princes under the Spanish viceroy, are still colonized; their position is comparable to that of the Israeli elite.

Near the top, then, but not quite there. Who is, then? To answer this question we need to go beyond nations to classes. The apex of the colonial pyramid is most certainly outside of the Middle East, in the Olympic heights where the G8, the IMF and NATO live; the reins are held in the clutch of the globalized bourgeoisie. This power resides not simply in Europe or the United States (or in Japan for that matter), but in the hands of those who rule these countries.

We come again to the drama in which we Israelis must play our part opposite Palestinians, Iranians, Lebanese and many others. Who are we performing for, and why are they enjoying it? Why do the Western mind and the Western left dedicate so much time and energy to watching this play, analyzing it and attempting to influence it?

Could we find an analogy between the way Israelis watch the wrestling match of the settlers against the Palestinians and the way Westerners watch Israelis and Arabs go at it? Does viewing this anachronistic microcosm provide catharsis? Is European society projecting its feelings of guilt for its failure to stand up to imperialism in its sinister homegrown variety onto the only blatant colonialists still around after the death of South African apartheid?

Developing an anti-colonialist politics

How could a subtler anti-colonialism inform the politics of radical Israeli and international activists? I purposely exclude Palestinian activists from the question, as this article is written as a communication between Israeli and European. Colonialism may have taken on a bizarre, atavistic shape in Israel, but it is no less a part of the world system than the current French involvement in Africa. This means first of all that Europeans must take responsibility for the intimate collaboration of their own governments with neo-colonialism in the Middle East and with its faithful ally, the Israeli state. North American activists, perhaps out of a greater alienation from their own elite, have become more demanding in the Bush era. But in Europe the economic and political profit accrued by the European bourgeoisie through its support of Israel is not usually an issue. There is no reason why this should not change.

On both sides of the Atlantic, demands to stop preferential treatment for Israel have treated this treatment as a kind of irrational gift, instead of as the self-interested maneuver it obviously is [5]. This stance comes within spitting distance of the various conspiracy theories surrounding the "Jewish lobby", and the road leading from these to blatant anti-Semitism is quite short.

For Israelis, anti-colonialist politics means taking the long view. It means looking beyond various state "solutions" within the framework of neo-liberal capitalism towards the articulation of joint struggles with Palestinians and other Arabs against reaction, whether neo-liberal or fundamentalist. It means turning away from seeing the "international community" as a fair arbitrator and towards a vision of alliance with the social movements of the third world – including the third world of immigrants and dissidents in the belly of the imperialist beast, and also including workers, women, ethnic minorities and other oppressed groups in the Middle East.

All of us – and this applies to Palestinians as well – must remind ourselves that without a globalized politics that demands redistribution on a world scale, attempts to remedy the situation in Israel/Palestine will only intensify the exploitative power of the Arab, Israeli and global bourgeoisies over the rest of us. We must resist the facile imitation of the experience of European decolonization, which can lead us to reformist national "solutions". We must link the right of return of the Palestinian refugees to the struggles of immigrants and refugees around the world for human rights. We must think long-term about the possible lives of Jewish Israelis in a post-Zionist Middle East, and we must turn this eventuality from an apocalyptic threat into a viable alternative.

The proportion of migrant workers in the Israeli population is already one of the highest in the developed world. These Africans, Latin Americans and Asians have been brought here to replace the troublesome Palestinian workers whom we have locked behind walls; they are periodically shipped off to make sure they don't get any ideas. Thus, today the Levant is once again seeing populations moved around by force of hunger and violence, an imperialist tactic this part of the world has known at least since the days of the Assyrian Empire. The struggles of the Palestinians and of oppressed people in Israel can, and should, become part of the wider struggle for a world without borders and without masters.

--Matan Kaminer is an Israeli left activist. He would be happy to receive comments at matan.kaminer@gmail.com. The author wishes to thank Eilat Maoz for her vital comments and criticism.

[1] The "colonialism within colonialism" (see below) of the 1967 occupation has a linguistic aspect. While the word moshava ("colony") and the linguistically related yishuv ("settlement") and mityashvim ("colonists", "settlers") are currently seen as politically neutral and retain a positive, if somewhat naïve, connotation in Israeli culture, the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza are called hitnah)aluyot, a word with a different root which echoes the Hebrew colonization of Canaan in the Old Testament. This epithet, originally borne with pride by the settlers (mitnah)alim), has understandably acquired a negative connotation over the years, and the settlers themselves now prefer the words yishuv and mityashvim.

[2] Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/colonialism (accessed: February 24, 2007).

[3] It also conquered the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt) and the Golan Heights (from Syria). I will not discuss these here.

[4] Jews are not allowed to marry non-Jews in Israel. Such marriages are recognized by the State only when performed abroad.

[5] For instance, most of the money sent to Israel as military aid returns to the West as arms purchases.

From ReuvenKaminer.com




Last update - 02:26 28/12/2008   
Hundreds of activists in Tel Aviv protest IAF strike in Gaza
By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Correspondent

Hundreds of left-wing and human rights activists marched in the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest the massive Israel Air Force offensive in Gaza that left at least 230 dead and hundreds more wounded.

The protesters marched from Tel Aviv's Cinematheque toward the Defense Ministry offices. Police, some mounted on horseback, surrounded the protesters, arresting five of them.

According to the protesters, Israel's military action in Gaza does not protect Israeli citizens or provide them security.
"No one can tell us that slaughtering the citizens of Gaza is meant to protect the citizens of Sderot and Ashkelon," said Matan Kaminer, a student who participated in the march.

Some protesters complained of extraneous force on the part of horse-mounted police, but overall the march remained non-violent.

Similar protests took place in Arab villages in the Galilee and in Bedouin villages in the Negev.





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