Anti Isreal = Anti-Semetism?

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Mon Feb 15 10:03:15 PST 1999

-----Original Message----- From: Yoshie Furuhashi <furuhashi.1 at> To: lbo-talk at <lbo-talk at>

Nathan wrote:
>As are most of the Islamic states, Asian states, and European states.
>Israel has its peculiarities, but it is not as different from other
>countries as either its greatest defenders or critics make it out to be.

-As Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, etc. have written many times, the Law of -Return does make Israel one of a kind. (Do any other states have similar -statutes that would allow for a return of a centuries-old diasporic -ethnic/religious group?) As long as the Law of Return privileges Jews as -the first class citizen, with everyone else relegated to the second-class -status, Israel sets itself apart from even the norms of bourgeois -democracy.

Hardly. This is the silly canard which fuels this debate. Germany as just one prominent example gives immigration and citizenship preference to ethnic Germans who live in communities that have not been within a German state for centuries. And Germany is hardly alone in giving preference to particular racial and ethnic groups. States in the former Soviet Union are embroiled in controversies over whether residents WITHIN those countries of the "wrong" (usually Russian) ethnic group should be granted citizenship. Countries around the world give preferences to certain ethnic groups for both citizenship and for immigration. Until 1965, the United States had all sorts of preferences for European immigrants.

The only thing different about Israel is the unusual fact that so many members of a particular ethnic group lived outside a particularly defined ethnic state and chose to migrate there in a short span of historical time. In that sense, the Holocaust played an important role, since it encouraged a large portion of European Jews who survived to migrate to Israel. Without the Holocaust, Israel if it had been created would have probably remained a rather small and underpopulated country.

>Moreover, from the standpoint of pragmatic politics, the Law of
>Return and the policy of increasing Jewish settlements in predominantly
>Palestinian areas makes it impossible for Jews and Palestinians to coexist
>peacefully, in that the law and policy demand that more and more land be
>expropriated from Palestinian owners to accommodate the 'returning' Jews.

I think the Law of Return and the settlements are two separate issues. While Israel is dense, there is no reason that new immigrants had to be settled in the West Bank. I agree that the settlements are an abomination and the US should cut off any aid until they are stopped completely and the existing ones dismantled.

But let me make you a bet: when the Palestinians get a state, they will create immigration policies giving disaspora Palestinians preferential treatment for immigration. If you want to bet that such a preferential immigration policy will not be established, I will happily match your bet and take your money.

>Moreover, Israel has played a vital role in the maintenance of US hegemony
>not only in the Middle East but elsewhere as well, as a convenient
>_arms-sale broker_. Remember the Iran-Contra scandal? Israel played a
>similar role in the wars that South Africa waged under Apartheid against
>Namibia, Angola, etc. Israel has been one of the most important junior
>partners of US imperialism, and this fact makes it different from many
>other states.

In what way is Israel different from the other Middle Eastern states like Saudi Arabia that also played a role in Iran-Contra and other arms sales? No one would deny that Israel has played a nasty role in all sorts of endeavors, but it has never been a unique role. Except possibly in the way that other Arab collaborators with the US could pretend that it was only Israel involved and thereby keep up a facade of Arab "anti-imperialist unity."

As the Gulf War showed, when the shit hit the fan, the US had developed an extensive network of military bases and outposts throughout the region. All the Arab states pretended that Israel was the only US ally, but it was a joke and a sham.

Yes, the only thing unique about Israel is the bizarre ideological meaning foisted on it by every ideological current in order to delude itself that its own allies are not involved in the exact same activities.

Yes, Israel oppresses an internal minority group. So do most other countries. Yes, Israel has a racist citizenship and immigration policy.. So do most other countries. Yes, Israel collaborates with larger imperialist states that supply it with funds. So do most other countries, if given the opportunity.

Israel has more failings in some areas, but also has some better attributes such as voting rights and basic civil liberties for minorities within its regular borders. It is a democracy - however flawed - which is more than one can say about any of the surrounding states, save ironically the Palestianian Authority.

--Nathan Newman

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