Yossi Schwartz: Could all be different? Some Remarks concerning Zionism, Colonialism, and Apartheid
November 7, 2009
Indroduction of Yossi Schwartz by Karin Gersdorf, Politologue: He will talk from a scientific historical basis. He will introduce the institutions he is working for/in.
Christa Nowak, Baobab Infoshop: Year 2009 main topic Zionism and Anti-Zionism
Yossi Schwartz introduces himself: until 2002 two years visiting professor in Frankfurt.
He is believing that these kinds of discussions in European countries are very important.
He has founded the institutions AIC and Hamoked, he is cooperation with NGOs specially on the subject of Human Rights. Regarding the conflict from the point of view of Human Rights is most important. He has a different opinion about Human Rights than the Jewish organisations.
He will not give a scientific historical description of Zionism. (Up to the 9:00 he has not said anything substantial)
He wants to be provocative.
Lets begin with the Israel Air force (9:45)! Is the Air Force on her way to Iran or not? I have no answer. There is no chance to do it, they are playing around, they are pretending as if. I think all the decisions are already taken, and now the question is, whether Israel will be allowed to cross the Turkish airspace. The Israeli Air Force is already in Turkey. The leading Israeli politicians one does not know, what they want, playing with possibilities and power. Politicians are underestimating the dynamics of the game. Attacking Iran could become the end of civilization. If attacking, could only be done with the help of USA and Europe or at least the two not against it. Big Christian-Jewish anti-Muslim front. But it does not exist, it's hypothetical.
Three components will belong to such an attack against Iran (13:27):
1. The limit of Israel's legitimation is where the limit of Israeli power lies, as seen by the Israeli society and by the international society. The internal discussions in Israel are not about moral or whether it is reasonable to attack Iran, the real debate goes, whether it will be possible or not. Limit of Israel's legitimation = limit of Israeli power.
2. (15:00) A militarized society (= Israel) is thinking only in military categories and answers. "The Israeli society is a military society." (15:15)
3. (15:21) Last decades Israel politicians are complaining that there are no partners for peace, they are searching but they are not finding them. The true problem of Israel, that could be seen in Gaza last summer (!), that there is no partner for war. (15:50) Since 1973 nobody wants to fight against Israel. There are semi-military groups trying to fight against Israel, there is no state power. Israel is again and again trying to find someone to fight against. That is similar to the US government of Bush after 9/11: "One has to fight a war, but against whom? Against a phantom?"
In 1982 Israel has attacked the PLO in Lebanon. Command from Ariel Sharon: attack the Syrians for to lead them into a war. The Syrians did not want war against Israel. Israel wanted the war. Israel is searching for adversaries, she has found it in Iraq for a while, 1991 Israel almost was involved into that war. Now Iran is the next state to be as a state a possible adversary. (18:25)
After 9/11 Israel has built a link between the war Israel-Palestine and the greater war against terrorism fought by the Americans around the world. that once again was in the interest of Ariel Sharon to connect his personal little war with the larger conflict. He has succeeded. What has been a little conflict, almost on community level, a little "Sarajevo situation" (20:00) has become a world conflict between Jews and Muslims, which connects as to the anti-Iran front.
He now starts with history, with the roots of the conflict (20:30). He will pose counter factual questions (as all of his ilk). "Could everything be different?" The answer could lead to a civil program for the Israeli society, for her demilitarization. Where are the turning points, that could have led to other decisions than those taken, and if and how to move back to those turning points. "I am not a great optimist for that."
There is quarrel about the historical facts and about the basic definitions, e.g. colonialism and apartheid. Zionists will deny the two to be part of the Israeli society. The Zionists' project has nothing to do with colonialism, and the Israeli society is no apartheid society (24:00).
Zionists themselves declared their project as a colonialist project, sometimes with a very positive meaning. Israeli apartheid in some aspects is worse than the South African (26:15). The South Africans who were fighting against apartheid find this today, like Richard Goldstone, a good pro-Israel Zionist, who gave his report about it. In Israel there is no territorial apartheid, like it was in South Africa, but the Jews living in Nablus, Bethlehem etc. are concerned, there are existing separate streets for Jews and Arabs. Pro-Zionist would never accept my arguments.
I am interested in understanding the roots of this, and not arguing about the facts.
Nationalist movements have found certain situations. They had to convince the others (here the Jews) that they are a beautiful group and family. For the Jewish nationalists it was much more difficult than for others. Nationalism rose as a European romantic movement, midst of 19th century. People, nation etc. are modern topics having nothing to do with ancient meanings.
The European Christians in modern times were the first speaking about their people, Christian people. Moses Mendelssohn sees himself as a German, but there are Christians who do not agree, for them he does not belong to the Germans. Zionism has risen as reaction to antisemitism. (37:00) Zionism as a legitimate or illegitimate reaction to a threat is not my subject, but Zionism as consequence of an ideology coming from outside. There are German nationalists and then Jews are coming and are saying yes, there is a political solution. Now we have a big problem, as there does not exist a Jewish people, no, once more, there is no people at all, no German, no French, no Italian, and no language in a modern sense. But in the case of the Jews there were not a common group living together and counting as object of such a movement. Connections amongst Jews around the world were week. Zionists have taken over the volkish definition changing it to their own ideology, and now they a searching for the most important, for territory, for land. that was not necessarily Palestine, second the language, in Altneuland you can read: In Palestine German is spoken, a would be German colony. But decision was taken for Palestine and for Hebrew as language. Hebrew never ever was the national idiom of the Jews. Jewish history can be followed to late antiquity, but not further. Jews spoke Aramaic, Syriac, a large part spoke Greek, later Arabic became one of the most important languages of the Jews, and Yiddish. In history Palestine was except mythical times not the land of the Jews. Using the Bible for legitimation to take over the land and to speak Hebrew is a Christian way of looking at the problem.
(45:30) The most difficult problems today are arising out of these decisions. It existed in the long history of Zionist movement the idea, if this people immigrating to the Middle East where are living other Semites, is identifying with the Semites there, it would become a softer kind of colonialism. They are coming to a new place, but the are having a structural relationship. We are now returning home! We are with our elder family. (48:00) Assimilation of the Jews in other countries in one generation. They became white. They arrived black and they became white. Dynamic process. In Palestine the Mizrahim became "white", they others Arabs, Druses were darker.
The Jews from Arab states. When immigration began, the Jews were from Eastern Europe. Up to the Nazi times the German Jews never thought of immigrating to Palestine, they thought about the Jews from the East. Before WWII ca. 300 000 Jews in Palestine, after WWII, 1948, there were ca. 600 000 Jews. They had to do with more than one million Palestinians, they have done everything to throw the Palestinians out of Israel, but 100 000 staid.
Immigration from the Arab states. Could have been a bridge, but no. The reasons for this I can not say much.
It could be different, because the Zionist project can never ever be successful totally. One could never let the Palestinians vanish , not in 1948, not in 1967.
The tragedy of Zionist occupation: The Six Day War was too short. A six month or one year war would have given the Jews the possibility to expatriate the Palestinians. The Wall has been erected 1991 already, the physical wall only after the so called Second Intifada.
I have no hope for change from any group whatsoever in the Israeli society. All political directions are totally inefficient, because they are not taking care of the complexity of problems. The only hope is the group of young Israelis who are refusing the military service, and the "Remember 1948" groups." Zochrot" is a wonderful group.
Translated by Gudrun Eussner, December 26, 2009 www.eussner.net