Yes, I don’t agree with AJDS on everything

Larry Stillman complained: “And I think, if you can’t see any potential in international intervention, then I suppose you have no alternative but continuing war.”

The point I tried to make repeatedly is that there is lots of international intervention already. Calling for this is not progressive at all. This is not to say I oppose anyone internationally doing anything. I would be satisfied with an end to international intervention: that is, an end to all economic, diplomatic and military support of the occupation. Governments will be the last to get on board with this. The need is for civil society to force colluding governments into this.

Criticising one letter should not cause such offence. I can find other things I disagree with. For example, there was the petition about Obama’s Cairo speech. I’ve explained before why I was unimpressed with Obama’s speech. Also: I noted at the time:

Objecting to settlements and aspects of the occupation do not signify change in US policy, or even rhetoric.

Declared opposition to Israeli settlements has long been a part of US policy. Meanwhile, actual financial support for the settlements through US aid to Israel has also been a part of US policy. However, according to the New York Times, any idea of the US placing conditions on aid to Israel is “not under discussion“. The US plan of showing public disapproval of Israeli settlements will be “largely symbolic”. Nevertheless, pundits like Brewster remain impressed at Obama’s empty declarations on this front too.

The petition, written by Zyngier, applauded Obama’s words which “represent a sea change in approach” to the conflict. Well, I think a few months should have demonstrated who was right and who was not, and why I didn’t sign the petition.

Or on the Durban issue. AJDS notes the mild things of the Durban declaration. However, they go on to say

The AJDS concurs with both the sentiments expressed and the words used here, as have many governments and organisations around the world. Where we differ with Durban I is with the focus on Israel, to the exclusion of problems in race and ethnic relations in neighbouring countries under authoritarian regimes, particularly the use and promotion of racist, antisemitic stereotypes in their media. A whiff of hypocrisy is involved here. In a litany of charges against Israel, one is conspicuous by its absence: Israel’s highly unsatisfactory treatment of Sudanese refugees. But lambasting Israel for this would expose those who made the Darfuris and other Africans refugees in the first place.

You can see how Darfur has become the one acceptable political crisis to point to to show how humanitarian people are and how sincere their concern is. These progressives are so concerned with the slaughter in Darfur that they think the 2001 declaration should  have dealt with Israel’s treatment of Darfuris, and also the Darfur crisis. Perhaps someone should inform them of when the slaughter actually started: or do they think the declaration should have anticipated future conflicts? I wish Australia had a Mahmoud Mamdani to write about the concern of groups like this over Darfur.

Actually, what’s kind of interesting in all this, is that for those interested, people complain about the left’s indifference to Sudan and Iraq’s crimes and so on, only obsessed with defending Saddam Hussein and demonising Israel. They’re about as intellectually impressive in both cases: the interesting thing is, people should read Israel and the Arabs by Maxime Rodinson. He’s considered outrageously pro-Arab and so on. He specifically complains about oppression in Sudan and Iraq of minorities (Africans and Kurds). Of course, his outstanding book on Muhammad wasn’t translated into Arabic either, he called the Muslim Brotherhood “clerical and fascist” in IA and condemned the Islamic Republic as “archaic fascism”, in contrast to postmodern icon Foucault, who showed in yet another way how he loved being wrong about everything (insofar as one can understand anything he says).

The AJDS goes on to say we should attend Durban 2. After conceding more than enough ground to its critics. Perhaps there might have been something else to be said in attending an anti-racism conference, unless it’s presumptuous to suggest Australia has a lot to learn at such events.

They also reprinted a statement from the Lebanon War.

Though the current hostilities in Gaza and Lebanon are but another round in this long-standing conflict, we have no hesitation in unreservedly condemning those, chiefly in Hamas and Hezbollah, who have triggered the current escalation of hostilities.

Yes, Mr Stillman, I disagree very very very strongly with this statement. I also looked in vain in this statement for any simple declaration: we oppose Israel bombing civilians, because we think bombing civilians is wrong, even when carried out by a state acting in our name. I did not find it. I found this though: ” As concerned supporters of Israel, we believe that this is no time to remain silent.” The statement warns this may prolong the conflict. It says hundreds have been killed. It does not actually say this was immoral. In fact, the only condemnation is for those who are alleged to have triggered the “escalation” – Hezbollah and Hamas.

So yes, I do have disagreements with AJDS. I don’t think this should surprise anyone: I don’t have orthodox views on anything. If anyone is interested in these disagreements, feel free to explain why I am mistaken on any particular issue: but acting hurt and saying “but elsewhere I’ve said x criticising the Israeli government” is hardly a serious response.


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