CUPE and Populist Reason: The Unreason of Boycotting Israeli Academics

January 7, 2009

I have to admit that CUPE’s call to boycott Israeli academics is somewhat bothersome to me, and it strikes me as an example of the kind of populist reason that Zizek criticizes in the chapter of In Defense of Lost Causes where he criticizes Laclau and his theorization of ‘populism’ (chapter 6:  Why Populism is (Sometimes) Good Enough in Practice, but Not Good Enough in Theory).

Zizek points out that for a populist, “the cause of the trouble is ultimately never the system as such, but the intruder who corrupted it… not a fatal flaw inscribed into the structure as such, but an element that does not play its part within the structure properly” (IDLC, p. 278).  In this case, the populist reason of CUPE seems to focus on the figure of the Israeli academic as the intruder disrupting things.

He adds that, for a Marxist, as well as for Freud, “the pathological  (the deviant misbehaviour of some elements) is the symptom of the normal, an indicator of what is wrong in the very structure that is threatened with ‘pathological’ outbursts” (Ibid).  This, for me, seems to be a more authentic form of political analysis:  focusing on the elements which indicate the self-contradiction of the system itself – the elements that stick out from the normal functioning of society, the symptom, the proletariat, the Universal Singular.  In other words, I feel that singling out Israeli academics comes close to Fascist populism which displaces the central social antagonism onto the figure of the intruder.

Zizek adds that a feature not mentioned by Laclau is that, “not only is… the populist Master-Signifier for the enemy empty, vague, imprecise and so on… In populism proper, this ‘abstract’ character is… always supplemented by the pseudo-concreteness of the figure that is selected as the enemy, the singular agent behind all the threats to the people” (Ibid, pp. 279-280).  CUPE’s call to boycott Israeli academics does exactly this!

That being said (I have no delusions here), it is still important to point out, I think, that populist reason is equally split between the Left and the Right (Zizek’s ultimate point).  What bothers me is the Leftist appropriation of populism to counter the Rightist populism; we shouldn’t forget that the figure of Palestinian/Islamic terrorist fits precisely these defintions of the populist figure of the intruder/enemy in Israel and in European/American (and Canadian) Rightist populist reason.

The ambiguity of middle class politics, of course fits much more the Rightist populist reason.  The middle class relates to politics, on the one hand, by simply wanting to “sustain its way of life, to be left to work and live its life in peace, which is why it tends to support the authoritarian coups which promise to put an end to the crazy political mobilization of soceity, so that everybody can return to his or her work.  On the other hand, members of the middle class… are the main instigators of grassroots mass mobilization in the guise of rightist populism” (Ibid, 281-282).  From my own experience, this is what I see happening when middle class communities in Canada, the U.S. and Europe engage in populist reason by constructing an image of the enemy/intruder Palestinian/Islamic terrorist.  And it bugs me that CUPE’s call to boycott Israeli academics gives the middle class another target for its Rightist populist reason:  that is, it provides more amunition for the Right to oppose labour unions (not just in terms of the public perception of unions, but in terms of the kind of state violence, by which I mean the political-legal, objective as opposed to subjective violence that can accrue).

I’m not suggesting that CUPE ignore the political crises of Israel-Palestine, but that it not engage in this kind of populist reason.  More importantly, rather than (over-)focusing on Israel-Palestine, could we not use this conflict to highlight the repressed founding violence of EVERY state?  In other words, shouldn’t we begin by making links between Canadian suppression of Aboriginal populations and the Israeli suppression of Palestinians, or the American suppression of African Americans, or the European suppression of Jews and Arabs, etc?  This, to me, seems much more appropriate than boycotting Israeli academics.

And, finally, doesn’t the split between Left-Right populist reason give some indication of the work of displacement of the class antagonism?  That is, not that class struggle is the content being displaced, but that it is the very principle of this displacement.  The displacement/distortion (on both the Left and the Right) IS the class struggle.

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28 Responses to “CUPE and Populist Reason: The Unreason of Boycotting Israeli Academics”

  1. battleofthegiants said

    The difference, perhaps, between a populism that essentializes the thing that supposedly intrudes to ruin things and a politics that is not and instead directed at the state as such, is the statement that completes the boycott demand: “unless they explicitly condemn the university bombing and the assault on Gaza in general.” That is, people would be boycotted from campuses based on their political stance, not only on their status as Israeli University professors (a status which marks them as part of the Israeli state).

    This demand is part of a larger list of demands by CUPE to condemn what the State of Israel is doing. From what I understand this list hasn’t actually been released yet – I only know about it because it has come to the 3903 Exec, and someone mentioned it the other day when someone else brought this up. This is to say that CUPE’s politics are aimed at the state as such (which is why CUPE stands in solidarity with First Nation’s struggles too).

    G

  2. battleofthegiants said

    I only meant to italicize “Are” – but Sonny-B hasn’t shared the full secret yet, so I pucked it up.

    G

  3. The Universal Singular said

    By “Israeli university professors,” do you mean university professors who are Israeli, or professors at Israeli universities?

    If it is the latter, I would agree that they are part of the Israeli state (to a limit); however, I’m hesitant to agree that professors who are Israeli are part of the state.

    But perhaps the call shouldn’t read: “unless they explicitly condemn the university bombing and the assault on Gaza in general”; perhaps it should be phrased to suggest a renouncing of any academic who supports the Israeli bombings.

  4. battleofthegiants said

    Aha! You’ve spotted an ambiguity that is important. It reads “Israeli academics”, which I assumed to mean citizens who taught at Israeli Universities (and I made an ass…). Read a la lettre, however, this means anyone who is an academic and a citizen of Israel. As a citizen you are, of course, a part of the state and responsible for what it does “in your name”, but in a less direct way than if you worked in an Israeli University, i.e. if you were working directly in the state’s machinery.

    Taking this logic all the way, this would mean boycotting profs from England or the US from teaching here if they didn’t condemn what their governments do. And, of course, that Canadians couldn’t teach at universities if they didn’t denounce the war in Afghanistan, our helping the Americans in Iraq, etc.

    Which would mean that you’d have to be a lefty to be in a university…and maybe not even then.

    Or, I suppose, A libertarian…I guess that would include a lot of groups…

    Taking the logic to the hilt, it would of course have to end in the complete transformation of the university: First you denounce the particular acts of the state, then the state as such and the universities’ role within it, then the governing structure of the university… and have to do something about it.

    G

    • sonnyburnett said

      So an avowed marxist, working at as a TA in a Canadian/US University & thus working more ‘directly in the state’s machinery’, can potentially lessen his responsibility for his govt’s actions somehow by a ‘condemnation’ of what his govt does?

      In what form must this ‘condemnation’ take? An active ‘take to the streets’ a few hours a week with a sandwhich board with a few anti-establishment slogans?
      Would a simple vocal ‘I condemn…’ suffice?
      Or could these TAs just carry around a sense of internal, cynical distance toward its govt’s actions?
      —————–
      What are you talking about re: ‘alligator’ teeth? Can you be more descriptive w/ this? I can’t seem to do it.

  5. battleofthegiants said

    Aha! And I fugured out how to add Italics and Bold without the dash board. use “i” in alligator teeth before the part you want to change, and /i in alligator teeth after it.

  6. battleofthegiants said

    Alligator teeth are “” – the character (I,B,others) goes in between.

    Well… I ended with “and have to do something about it”.

    It we follow our brief mention of the ‘formal conversion’ earlier, if you’re able to get to the point where you can see that where you work is a part of state machinery, you could do more about it than simply denounce or go to a march. While we’re nowhere near a revolution, it’s the difference between the TAs who have stopped working because of the casualization of labour, the continued transformation of the university into a professional school (business, law, etc) and a publicly funded privately-profited-from research institution at the expense of the humanities and social sciences, etc, and those who don’t bother coming to the lines/meetings/etc, saying “yeah yeah yeah, but can’t we just get back to work?” or take advantage of the time to finish their dissertation on state formations.

  7. The Universal Singular said

    “It reads “Israeli academics”, which I assumed to mean citizens who taught at Israeli Universities.”

    “CUPE Ontario’s university workers committee will bring a resolution to its annual conference supporting a ban on Israeli academics doing speaking, teaching or research work at Ontario universities as a protest against the December 29 bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza.”

    Obviously this means Israeli academics teaching, etc., in Ontario universities.

    “Taking this logic all the way, this would mean boycotting profs from England or the US from teaching here if they didn’t condemn what their governments do. And, of course, that Canadians couldn’t teach at universities if they didn’t denounce the war in Afghanistan, our helping the Americans in Iraq, etc.”

    So why is the focus generally on Israelis?

    • sonnyburnett said

      “So why is the focus generally on Israelis?” An ambiguous question, considering the place within which you ask it.

      I took this question to imply that US was asking why the discussion here , on this blog, was generally in terms w.r.t. Israel. Is that right?

      If so, I think it is obviously connected with the fact that the original Post took issue against CUPE’s proposal, which itself has a focus of opposition with Israel’s actions.
      That is, your own question here presupposes its own ground to ask it in the first place.

      Or if you meant by that question why CUPE has this general focus (as BofG apparently took it up), I assume that CUPE have joined in with the vast majority of those protesting Israel’s ‘disproportionate response’ against Hamas, as its being called in the media today. By proposing this ‘populist’ ban, CUPE aims at reclaiming their own ‘lost jouissance’, a jouissance they see Israel as actively participating in via their campaign against Hamas.

  8. The Universal Singular said

    Yes, CUPE does stand in solidarity with First Nations struggles (and many others), but what I’m suggesting is that they could be referring to the conflict in Israel-Palestine to make explicit connections between the violence there and the violence in our midst, rather than singling out Israel. That, in my view, is a better way of addressing this issue.

  9. battleofthegiants said

    I assume the focus on this issue is because it was “In response to an appeal from the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees”. Perhaps if other issues were brought to the union they would also take a stance on those things…

  10. The Universal Singular said

    True, there was a call from the PFUUP for this… but I think that there are other ways of responding that don’t involve relying on populism – such as what I’ve suggested here.

    I don’t think that the union should just follow suit with every appeal from political groups (‘Don’t just do something, talk!’). This call should not just be accepted carte blanche… there is a way to respond to it without using populism, which can also condemn the acts of the state. Part of that involves re-setting the co-ordinates of the struggle to focus on class antagonism, and the universal emancipation of the global proletariat!

  11. The Universal Singular said

    I guess I should clarify:

    When I asked: “So why is the focus generally on Israelis?”, I was responding to Battle’s statement: “Taking this logic all the way, this would mean boycotting profs from England or the US from teaching here if they didn’t condemn what their governments do. And, of course, that Canadians couldn’t teach at universities if they didn’t denounce the war in Afghanistan, our helping the Americans in Iraq, etc.”
    My point is that I think that doing this would be a better response than simply calling to boycott Israeli academics (alone) in Ontario who do not openly condemn Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

    I do think that the struggle in Israel-Palestine needs to be addressed, I simply feel that boycotting Israeli academics alone is not the best way to address the conflict. We should be more radical and boycott all academics who do not denounce the violence of their home state, or who support such violence.

    I think that, as Zizek points out in Violence (see the reference in the previous posts on Israel-Palestine conflict), that the conflict in Israel-Palestine is troubling to many because it reminds us of the repressed founding violence in our own states. Therefore, I think that a good way to address the conflict in Israel-Palestine is for people to locate this repressed founding violence in their own states and connect it to what’s happening in Israel-Palestine.

    Many of my close friends feel that I am being anti-Israel in my own personal politics (condemning the attacks on Gaza), and a lot of my Leftist friends feel that I am being too supportive of Israel (claiming that there is a biased focus on Israeli state violence, without focusing on global state violence at the same time)… I guess that (like Zizek) this is an indication that I might be moving in the right direction…(I’m getting criticized from both sides).

    I really just think that the terms of the conflict need to change in a way that addresses class struggle, and not just pro-Israel/anti-Palestine or pro-Palestine/anti-Israel.

    CUPE’s call to boycott Israeli academics, although it is responding to a global appeal from Palestinian academics, I feel falls into this trap.

    I make the same argument to my friends who practice populist politics by constructing a strawdog image of the enemy/intruder Palestinian militant.

    My point is that there is a populist split on both the Left and the Right, of which we could argue is a result of the distortion of class strugle.

    • sonnyburnett said

      “…getting criticized from both sides.”

      Seems that that is perhaps constitutive of your own subjective position on this issue.

      That is, your external, reflective experience of the two stances of how these two parties see your personal politics & between which you find yourself, contrasts with your proper marxist ‘solution’ to this problem as a refocused articulation on the distortion of ‘class antagonism’ (all of this an external antagonism) overlaps with the internal antagonism of ‘class stuggle’ you speak of as being inherent in this issue.

      Amazon just shipped my copy of Violence on Thursday. Anxiously awaiting its arrival.

  12. The Universal Singular said

    From Violence: “what the state of Israel confronts us with is merely the obliterated past of every state power” (p. 117).

  13. battleofthegiants said

    My point is that I disagree that this is populism. It doesn’t focus on an essentialized intruder, but one who is a member of a particular state and can be an actor in the moves against it and thereby ‘join the (opposing) team’ as an equal member.

    Somewhere Z makes reference to Nazi’s who “decided who was a Jew”, i.e. had people that they sheilded from Nazi policies. They did this by removing the essentialist determination that made them the focus of ‘populist reason’. The CUPE move is quite different: You can still be an Israeli; all that need change is your political position as regards the State. I don’t see this as being that much different than Marx being friends with Captialists who were active participants against Capital (i.e. Engels).

    Recently on the CUPE listserve one of the people who has been active in the union at the provincial level on this issue posted several papers and links that describe how this boycott is tied to action against the State (of Israel). I havn’t read the bulk of it, but I’ll e-mail it to you to have a look.

    Here’s one link: http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/7

    Which is also why I brought up first-Nations struggles – CUPE very much does acknowledge and seek to disturb the colonial Canadian state, it’s inherent violence. The recent move by CUPE that we’re discussing is not an isolated incident but part of a larger poitical position – which is, of course, contradictory, and would probably not be considered ‘revolutionary’ by anyone. It is, however, a step in the right direction.

    And of course it means Israelies who are teaching in Ontario’s universities; the ambiquity I was refering to was that it could refer to academics who are Faculty in Isreali universities visiting for talks, research or teaching in Canada, versus people who have single- or double-citizenship and are full time faculty in a Canadian university and have no ties to Israeli Universities at all. The difference is the kind of participation in the state, which hadn’t immediately occured to me.

    The alligator teeth disappeared! That’s why I didn’t put them in the response the first time – the page reads them as instructions and not as text. Let me try again: “>” and “<“. But in reverse order. (If those don’t show up, I mean the pointy brackets.)

  14. battleofthegiants said

    “We call on the British government and the British people to take all feasible steps to oblige Israel to comply with these demands, starting with a programme of boycott, divestment and sanctions.”

    Signed by The Z.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/16/gaza-israel-petitions

  15. The Universal Singular said

    Well, then I disagree with him on this.

    I think that what is happening in Israel is a microcosm of the violence that is taking place the world over – the point is therefore not to force Israel to change, but to change the global structure of the class state. If there is a desire to end the conflict in Israel-Palestine then there must be a mobilization to destroy, not Israel in particular, but the global class structure itself.

    Just like with the pedophilia in the Catholic church. The point is not to avow the acts of some wayward Priests (who suffer from their own ‘private’ pathological urges) and opt to make structural changes within the church to make it better, but to acknowledge that pedophilia is the ‘obscene underside’, the “‘unconscious’ of the institution itself” (In Defense of Lost Causes, p. 39).

    In the same way, the conflict in Israel-Palestine is the ‘obscene underside’, the ‘unconscious’ of the global class struggle. The point is therefore not to force Israel to change its ways (through academic or other kinds of boycotts), but to destroy the class state structure as such and to replace it with a non-class structure (as opposed to re-organizing the state from within, thereby maintaining an already flawed structure; acts such as academic boycotts and sanctions/divestments, etc., are re-actions as opposed to acts; they do something so that nothing effectively changes).

    This is what I mean when I say that this conflict is split between the Left and Right along the axis of populism (and, here, I am perhaps re-thinking and elaborating on my previous posts): references to this particular struggle (on both sides) obfuscates the conditions of global class struggle. Israel-Palestine is not the key site of class struggle, the place where there will be an ‘Event’ in the Badiouian sense; rather, it is the focus on Israel-Palestine that distorts/displaces the global class struggle: this distortion is the class struggle. And a proper counter-ideological position is not to force Israel in particular to change (or any particular State, for that matter), but to point to the conflict in Israel-Palestine as a symptom of global class struggle (or the irreconcilability of class antagonism).

    And as far as Zizek signing this letter is concerned: even, as he points out (reffering to Heidegger), those who come closest to ontological Truth are condemned to err at the ontic level (this references can be found in several of Zizek’s books, including The Ticklish Subject, The Parallax View, and In Defense of Lost Causes). I see it as, perhaps, a ‘wrong step in the right direction‘.

    • sonnyburnett said

      So as a purely intellectual exercise, we should place the subject ‘global class struggle’ on the couch in order to get it to (1) acknowledge that it has an unconcious; (2) that the primary formation of this unconscious is the conflict in Israel-Palesine; and (3) that our subject ‘global class struggle’ has chosen this unconscious formation from the empty place of subjectivity.

      If this is correct, it seems like an argument for the working thru of the fundamental fantasy of the subject ‘global class struggle’ which would be_____?_______. I kinda like this idea: Put global figures on the couch. The analyst is maybe the marxist Party?

      I played with such ideas back in early 2006, I remember telling someone that Israel had to play the part of the analyst & put its misbehaving, hysterical Hamas patient on the couch. But it works the other way as well, with the roles reversed. So you end up with the same deadlock of taking of one side or the other, based on your own merely ‘pathological’ standpoint.

      But with Z’s take of Party as analyst & your idea of the conflict as symptomtic of a (global) subject, we kinda end the whole usual debate of taking sides in this conflict. It seems like an ingenious ‘solution’, at least it suspends the back & forth I go thru when thinking about this issue.

  16. battleofthegiants said

    How are we to attack the “global class struggle”? If it is only the “distortion”, then where do you aim? It can only happen through particular struggles. Similar arguments were made about Russia: It’s not even capitalist, how could there be a revolution there?…

    There’s something of a similar debate in 3903: we’re just one university, how could we possibly make any change in the university sector as a whole? – the conclusion usually made being (by the like of Tim McNeil in your department, for eg) is that we should “Shut up and eat our peas because Africa is starving” – i.e. there are “real” problems out there, and out struggles are meaningless. It fails to take into account that York is at the head of ‘liberalizing’ in the university sector, that small gains can turn into big ones, and, well, you have to start somewhere, and not at some abstract level of ‘the university sector as such’.

    And doesn’t Zizek, in violence argue that there would be such a thing as an act possible in the middle east? “In this sense, what the state of Israel confronts us with is merely the obliterated past of every state power.” So wouldn’t confronting this particular instance of state power do just what you are suggesting?

  17. The Universal Singular said

    First of all, I would like to totally distance myself from Mr. McNeil. There is nothing about his views on the strike that overlap with mine. His politics are based on a grave misunderstanding of Marxism; his views are much much closer to a liberal-Habermasian reading of class struggle. He believes that we should focus only on third world struggles and ignore local political struggle. He thinks that the 3903 strikers shouldn’t be pulling money away from the potential redistribution of wealth to the third world… which begs the question: if you’re plan is to redistribute wealth, aren’t you ignoring the question of alienated labour… doesn’t the redistribution of wealth through the capitalist state still maintain the mode of exploitation inherent to capitalism? That’s why I disagree with contemporary arguments in favour of some sort of return to the welfare state to counter the current economic crisis.

    The problem with Tim’s argument is that he thinks that the current 3903 conflict completely ignores the kind of exploitation experienced by the third world proletariat.

    And my point is that a political Event proper can only be experienced subjectively. It has to occur at the local level. It cannot be forced from outside.

    The 3903 strike is a good example of a political Event proper.

    I completely agree with you when you say: “[Tim’s position] fails to take into account that York is at the head of ‘liberalizing’ in the university sector, that small gains can turn into big ones, and, well, you have to start somewhere, and not at some abstract level of ‘the university sector as such’.”

    And I believe that you have to start at the local level when fighting the global class struggle. You cannot force participants in other states to take up arms.

    Rather, in solidarity with the proletariat (in this case Palestinians in Gaza), we must fight the state here at home. I think that the Left does itself a great disservice when it responds to political conflicts by asking its own home state to respond against the ‘evil doer’, like academics in England asking its own state to support a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. Making a demand to the state only works towards legitimizing the state.

    I agree with Zizek when he says “what the state of Israel confronts us with is merely the obliterated past of every state power”. In fact, I’ve referenced that same quote a couple of times on this blog. I think that it is important to refer to the conflict in Israel-Palestine to remind people that it’s not just happening there, it’s happening here (to remind people here at home that our homeostatic state, what some people refer to as ‘peace’, is the result of a repressed founding violence). The goal should be to open up that gap, to focus on the repressed founding violence of Canada, for example, or the capitalist economy in general. Something like the 3903 strike does exactly that!

    Boycotting and the like are attempts to ‘will’ an Event. The 3903 strike is an Event proper; it is a politics without guarantees. And its victory will be the result of ‘being realistic and demanding the impossible’.

    But to take actions to force Israelis to produce an Event is absurd. What will boycotting Israeli academics, who don’t renounce Israel’s attacks of Gaza, accomplish?

    The paradox of Israel is that it is a state that is politically divided, widely, and internally. It has one of the most critical media in the world. If you compare Ha’aretz with the Associated Press, or the Canadian Press, you wouldn’t believe how critical Israeli intellectuals are of the state’s actions. And these views are published widely. So again, what will be accomplished by boycotting Israeli academics?

    Wouldn’t it be something if the Left was realistic and demanded the impossible: for Israelis themselves to challenge the state without needing any extra outside coercion? So long as Israel is supported by the global class structure there is no hope of ending this conflict. This is why I would call on all people to fight the class state at home.

  18. The Universal Singular said

    Of Interest:

    Jeff Halper in Canada
    Nobel Prize Nominee and Israeli Peace Activist
    Speaking on the Siege of Gaza

    Thursday, January 22nd, 1:00 pm – Free admission
    Ryerson University, Student Centre, room A/B

    Thursday, January 22nd, 7:30 pm – $10 / PWYC
    The Winchevsky Centre, 585 Cranbrooke Ave. (off Bathurst, north of
    Lawrence)

    Friday, January 23rd, 7:30 pm – $10 / PWYC
    Bloor Street United Church, 300 Bloor St. W (at Huron)

    Jeff Halper, an Israeli human rights activist, anthropology professor,
    coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and
    2006 Nobel Peace Prize nominee will be in Toronto as part of a cross-Canada
    speaking tour.

    In August of 2008, Halper arrived in Gaza by sea as the only Jewish-Israeli
    member of the Free Gaza Movement. _When we finally arrived in Gaza after a
    day and a half sail, the welcome we received from 40,000 joyous Gazans was
    overwhelming and moving,” says Halper. “People sought me out in particular,
    eager, it seemed, to speak Hebrew with an Israeli after years of closure._

    While in Gaza, Halper received honorary Palestinian citizenship, including a
    passport. He returned to Israel through the Erez checkpoint. Upon arrival,
    he was immediately arrested and jailed at the Shikma prison in Ashkelon,
    charged with violating a military order prohibiting Israelis from visiting
    Gaza.

    Halper will be talking about how Canadians can participate in peaceful
    resistance against the Israeli siege of Gaza and occupation in the West
    Bank. He will be visiting universities, churches and Jewish community
    centres in Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria.

    The tour is sponsored by a national movement of progressive Canadian Jewish
    groups and others. Sponsors include Independent Jewish Voices Canada, United
    Jewish People’s Order, Yosher -Jewish Social Justice Network, Science for
    Peace, Canadian Friends Service Committee, Canadian Auto Workers, Kairos and
    the Canadian Arab Federation.

    Bio – Jeff Halper
    Jeff Halper is an Israeli human rights activist, anthropology professor,
    2006 Nobel Peace Prize nominee and coordinator of the Israeli Committee
    Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a non-violent Israeli peace and human
    rights organization created to resist the Israeli occupation.

    Born in the US , Jeff moved to Israel in 1973. For more than a decade, he
    worked for the municipality of Jerusalem as a community worker in the city’s
    poor Mizrahi Jewish neighbourhoods. Eventually, having done research among
    Ethiopian Jews in the 1960s, he became the chairman of the Israeli Committee
    for Ethiopian Jews.

    During his mandatory Israeli military service, Jeff refused to bear arms or
    serve in the occupied Palestinian territories. In 1997, he co-founded ICAHD
    to challenge Israel’s house demolition policies which have caused the
    dispossession of thousands of Palestinian families since 1967

    An anthropology professor, Jeff has taught at universities both in Israel
    and abroad. In addition to his many academic and political writings, he is
    the author of Between Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem
    in the Nineteenth Century (Westview, 1991) and Obstacles to Peace, a
    resource manual of articles and maps on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict,
    published by ICAHD.

    His new book, An Israeli in Palestine (Pluto Press, 2008) describes Jeff’s
    evolution from a young Zionist immigrant into a staunch opponent of the
    occupation and champion of Palestinian human rights.

    In 2006, Jeff was nominated by the American Friends Service Committee for
    the Nobel Peace Prize, together with the Palestinian intellectual and
    activist Ghassan Andoni. Last year, he was the only Israeli Jewish
    participant in the maiden voyage of the two siege-breaking vessels of the
    Free Gaza Movement

    For more information on the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions,
    visit: http://www.icahd.org/eng

  19. battleofthegiants said

    The thing is that it’s not the ‘state’ that’s being asked in the case of 3903 – it’s the university. And while it’s integrated into the state, you know what they say: “Who’s University?” (Our university!)

    And in the link I sent you re: the boycott, it is the tactic being used because it is (rightly or wrongly) pointed out that this is in part what helped bring down Apartheid in S.A. I.e. an economic move that brought the political organization down…

  20. The Universal Singular said

    “The thing is that it’s not the ’state’ that’s being asked in the case of 3903 – it’s the university. And while it’s integrated into the state, you know what they say: “Who’s University?” (Our university!)”

    Well… you have to start somewhere!

  21. The Universal Singular said

    “And in the link I sent you re: the boycott, it is the tactic being used because it is (rightly or wrongly) pointed out that this is in part what helped bring down Apartheid in S.A. I.e. an economic move that brought the political organization down…”

    I’m well aware!

  22. The Universal Singular said

    Israel’s ‘other voices’ go unheard” article from the Al-Jazeera website:

  23. The Universal Singular said

    I guess a final point to sum up my position: I feel that the battle between Israel and Palestine will be the final Event in the global class struggle, not the first!

    Therefore, I think that a first step is to denounce the legitimacy of the local state (for most of us on this blog that means Canada!).

    I see the Israeli ideological position (‘this is our country’) as symptomatic of the global Imperialist ideology: ‘this is our world’ (free to exploit it as ‘we’ see fit… I’m reminded of John Locke’s justification for appropriating the land of the aboriginal populations in Amerika); and (to use Laclau’s term), this is what puts Israel in a chain of equivalence with the reigning liberal-democratic ideology. This, of course, is what allows for the standard pro-Israel response: ‘why should “we” not be allowed to have our own state when others are allowed?’

    This criticism should definitely be applied to historically colonialist states: why does Canada even have a ‘right’ to exist? My spontaneous (to copy some Zizekian ‘rhetoric’) response is that it doesn’t! By denouncing the legitimacy of our own home states I think we move in the direction of breaking down this ideological chain of equivalence. Without this chain, the particular oppressing forces lose their potency.

    If Israel-Palestine is the ‘symptom’ of global class struggle, then a psychoanalytic critique has to retroactively reconstruct the ’cause’: the Real which distorts the Symbolic, i.e., the class struggle. And as every good psychoanalyst knows, the cure doesn’t involve getting rid of the symptom, or of ignoring the symptom (that’s what a fetish does); rather, the point is to eliminate the cause and the symptom will ‘whither away’.

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