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This powerful collection from an international mix of respected academics, newer voices and political activists explores the place of Israel as a Jewish state in today’s modern world – a world in which identities, citizenship and human rights are defined in increasingly cosmopolitan and inclusive ways. Offering compelling and comprehensive arguments as to why Israel falls into the category of an ethnocentric state, the contributions to this volume explore four central themes. They reveal the reality behind Israel’s founding myths. They document the experiences of some of those who have fallen victim to this ethnic state. Then, they draw comparisons with other ethnic states, notably South Africa, and finally, they point towards the radical hope of achieving a single nation, united, peaceful and just. Unpacking both Jewish and Palestinian nationalism, the nation-state, and ethnic nationalism, this fascinating collection offers new insights into one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. It will appeal not only to scholars and teachers, but to anyone interested in the history, politics, anthropology and legal standing of Palestine-Israel.
Contributors: Ali Abunimah, Neville Alexander, Max du Plessis, Steven Friedman, Daryl Glaser, Ran Greenstein, Heidi Grunebaum, Adam Habib, Na’eem Jeenah, Ronnie Kasrils, Smadar Lavie, Fouad Moughrabi, Nadim N Rouhana, Shlomo Sand, Avi Shlaim, Azzam Tamimi, Salim Vally, Oren Yiftachel, Andre Zaaiman

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Published 29 December 2013
Reads 2
EAN13 9780992199838
Language English
Document size 7 MB

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Pretending democracy
Israel, an ethnocratic state
Edited by Naeem Jeenah
Published by the Afro-Middle East Centre
PO Box 411494, Craighall, 2024, Johannesburg, South Africa
www.amec.org.za
First published 2012
ISBN (soft cover) 978-0-620-54042-1
© 2012 Afro-Middle East Centre
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system
or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,mechanical, photocopying, recording or
otherwise without the prior permission of the Afro-Middle East Centre.
The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect
the views or policies of the Afro-Middle East Centre or indicate that the Centre endorses the
views of the authors. In quoting from this publication, readers are advised to attribute the
source of the information to the individual author concerned and not to the Centre.
Copyedited by Mary Ralphs
Cover Design by Karen Graphics
Designed and Typeset by Karen Graphics
Cover photographs by Karla Green and Melissa Jane Hoole
Printed by Impress Printers
Contents
Foreword by Ebrahim I Ebrahim . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix About the contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii Frequently used acronyms and abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii
Introduction Pretending democracy, living ethnocracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3  Na’eem Jeenah
Part One ISRAEL AND ITS FOUNDING MYTHS 1 The invention of the Jewish people . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Shlomo Sand 2 Zionism, the founding fathers and the Palestine Arabs . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Avi Shlaim
Part Two THE ETHNIC STATE AND ITS VICTIMS 3 Israel as an ethnic state: Descriptions, paradigms and prescriptions. . . 71 Ran Greenstein 4 Between colonialism and ethnocracy: ‘Creeping apartheid’ in Israel/Palestine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Oren Yiftachel 5 Israel through the prism of international law. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 Max du Plessis 6 Reconciling history and equal citizenship in Israel: Democracy and the politics of historical denial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135 Nadim N Rouhana 7 Staying put: Crossing the Israel-Palestine border with Gloria Anzaludúa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 Smadar Lavie
Part Three COMPARATIVE ETHNIC NATIONALISMS 8 The unresolved national question in South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199 Neville Alexander 9 Afrikaner and Jewish nationalisms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217Andre Zaaiman 10 Israel, South Africa, Ulster and the ‘dark side of democracy’ . . . . . . . . 231 Daryl Glaser 11 Reflections on South Africa and Israel/Palestine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261 Adam Habib 12 The Jewish National Fund and the socialisation of Zionism in South Africa . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269 Heidi Grunebaum 13 Israel and apartheid: When democracy for a minority becomes a special form of colonialism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 285 Ronnie Kasrils
Part Four BEYOND ETHNIC NATIONALISM14 The future between ideals and realities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297 Azzam Tamimi 15 Jewish identity and minority status in a democratic Palestine. . . . . . . 313 Steven Friedman 16 Radical Hope. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329 Fouad Moughrabi 17 Towards a one-state solution in Palestine/Israel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 365  Ali Abunimah 18 Beyond ethnic nationalism: Lessons from South Africa. . . . . . . . . . . . 379 Na’eem Jeenah and Salim Vally
Foreword
Ebrahim I Ebrahim
The over-arching theme of this book is a difficult and delicate matter; it concerns state-craft in a cosmopolitan and ever-changing world. Its contents page boasts a long list of solid academics, experts and social activists – as did the speakers’ list for the conference whose papers laid the basis for this volume. These are all very important deliberations on a very critical question. Precisely because of the nature of the theme and related issues that are dealt with here, I am pleased that the authors did not confine their deliberations to abstract concepts and theories but that they brought them down to basics and reality. The issue of Palestine and Israel is one that has not remained in the corridors of academia but has impacted on the course of history, has a direct bearing on many a human life, and has been a divisive feature in the discourse on international peace and security. We have learned from the history of state-making that it is not easy to maintain a state that is founded and based upon a historical injustice and the denial of universal freedoms. The history of state-craft is littered with examples of people using all sorts of means – including going to war – in defence of what they regarded as their universal human rights and funda-mental freedoms. We have also learned from the history of state-making that it is quite possible for opposing forces to enter into political dialogue to deal with their differences and to transform the lives of their people for the better. We live in a world that promotes democratic systems of government. Although there may be different variances of this system of government, it is, in the main, one system that brings about political stability within a state and guarantees equality of citizenship and individual freedoms. The basic tenet of this system, that the majority rules, is primarily tested in multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies. Accordingly, those who occupy leadership positions in such societies have an overwhelming responsibility to ensure that democracy, as a system of government, is not used to deny equal rights to those who are not in the majority. Failure to safeguard fundamental freedoms for one group or to alleviate the rights of one group over those of the other can hardly serve as a useful framework for a stable democracy.
v
Ebrahim I Ebrahim
I consider Israel to be a multiethnic and a multicultural society be-cause of the presence – over many years – of people of both Jewish and Palestinian descent within the same territory. As such, there will be in-herent contradictions between advocating democracy as a universal idea, while defining the State of Israel in monoethnic terms. This approach has resulted in the relegation of Palestinians residing within the State of Israel to the status of second-class citizens. This undermines, inter alia, the very principle of equal citizenship which is at the core of a democratic system of government. The inherent contradiction that I have just described is potentially a recipe for disaster and a contributing factor to on-going socio-political instability both within Israel and within the occupied territories. This is evident with Israel’s attempts to Judaise East Jerusalem and other parts of the occupied territories. Now, what is to be done? On the one hand, international conferences such as the one that resulted in this book, and this book itself, should assist us as policy- and decision-makers to deepen our understanding of this issue. Such conferences and books should also assist policy-makers to answer the following difficult question: is it possible to craft and articu-late policy positions that expose this inherent contradiction, without these policies being interpreted as a questioning of the right of the State of Israel to exist. On the other hand, I still believe that there are sufficient voices within the Jewish community residing inside and outside of Israel who also understand the dangers inherent in this contradiction. Allow me to briefly outline the South African Government’s position towards peace and stability in the Middle East, specifically with regards to the question of Palestine and Israel. South Africa has accepted the view of the Palestinian leadership of both Fatah and Hamas of a two-state solu-tion. We understand this position to mean that there has to be an inde-pendent and viable Palestinian state, living side-by-side and in peace and security with Israel on the basis of the borders that existed on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. For this position to succeed it needs to address the right of return of refugees. I am, however, aware that the con-tinued expansion of settlements in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank is making it increasingly difficult for a two-state solution based on the above principles to be realised. We must seek guidance from the Palestinian lead-ership on any future dispensation.
vi
Foreword
Informed by this position, we have consistently raised our objections to any acts or behaviour that, in our view, frustrate the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state. Among other things, we have objected to the further partitioning of the Occupied Palestinian Territory through the building of settlements, the Seperation Wall and other forms of restrictions imposed on the people of Palestine. Painfully, we have wit-nessed and denounced the use of force against civilians and the economic strangulation of Palestinians living in Gaza. We will continue to add our voice to those who are critical of any attempts to dilute the universal ap-preciation of Jerusalem as a Holy City and one of the most sacred places for the three monotheistic religions. We will continue with our efforts, no matter how small, to call for unity within the Palestinian forces for the purposes of achieving Palestinian statehood. We have remained steadfast on this position because we regard it as our historical and international duty to contribute to the creation of an independent and viable state of Palestine in particular, and peace in the Middle East region in general. This position is not only informed by our own history of liberation as a country, but it is a position that our partners in Palestine and the rest of the international community have committed themselves to. Indeed, we are aware of the other positions that are being advocated regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict. We are also not blind to the fact that some of the present-day actions of the State of Israel seem to be aimed at deliberately frustrating the eventual creation of an independent State of Palestine. Our answer to all of this is that we remain willing to be engaged further on our position.
vii
Preface
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has fundamentally changed since the latter part of 2010. The mass popular uprisings that ignited at the end of that year and rapidly engulfed much of the region have irreversibly changed both the face of the area as well as regional and global geo-politics. Entrenched dictators were toppled in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya; popular democratically-elected governments have been installed in Egypt and Tunisia; Yemen seems haltingly to be on the road to-wards democracy; embers of resistance continue to burn in Bahrain in the face of brutal crackdowns, and Syria has descended into a bloody civil war. Despite Israel’s notion of its exceptionalism – its belief in its detach-ment from the region, driven by the state’s claims of democratic and civi-lisational uniqueness, Israel was not untouched by the uprisings. The 2011 Israeli social-justice protests, led by the middle class and dubbed the ‘J14 Movement’ and the ‘Tent protests’, saw Israelis, inspired by events in the region emerge en masse to protest their government’s economic policies and the high cost of living. The rallying call, ostensibly for ‘social justice’, resulted in the largest protests in the country’s history. Some protesters borrowed slogans from other uprisings in the region such as the Arabic ‘irhal’ (leave); others proclaimed Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard – where the protesters first set up camp – as their own Tahrir Square, the iconic centre in Cairo which Egyptian protesters made the symbol of their strug-gle. The suicide of Moshe Silman, who set himself alight at a protest in Tel Aviv in July 2012, echoed the self-immolation of Tunisian vendor Mo-hamed Bouazizi which triggered the regional uprisings, and underscored that Israel was not able to maintain its presumption of insularity. It is worth noting that although Israel experienced its own popular protest movement, this was qualitatively different to the uprisings in neighbouring states. The Israeli movement was more akin to the less in-cendiary ‘Occupy Movement’ that, itself, took inspiration from the MENA uprisings. About nine months before the MENA uprisings began in Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia, the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) – a think-tank/research institute based in South Africa that focuses mainly on the MENA region and the region’s relationship with the rest of Africa – convened a confer-ence in Pretoria with the theme ‘Locating ethnic states in a cosmopolitan world: The case of Israel’.
ix