Friday, February 7, 2014

Is Israel a Slave State?


Eva Illouz is a distinguished and internationally-honored Israeli sociologist who teaches at Hebrew University.  In this morning's Haaretz she has a long analysis comparing Israel's treatment of the Palestinians with 19th century slavery in America: "47 Years a Slave: A New Perspective on the Occupation."  It is must reading; here is the link:

If you're like me, initially you will be startled by the comparison and skeptical that it will hold up.  But not by the time you've finished it.

It is a brilliant and compelling argument, and it may leave you with mixed feelings.  On the one hand, you will wonder whether Israel has simply become beyond redemption.  On the other, you will be reminded that Israel still has wonderfully  brilliant, moral, and exceptionally courageous internal critics--so maybe there is still some hope that it is not, after all, beyond redemption.



Anonymous said...

George P. Smith says:

Of course Israel--the land and its people--isn't beyond redemption. People are never beyond redemption. It's Zionism that's beyond redemption. Correction: It's Zionism that was intrinsically irredeemable from the start. I know you don't believe this, Jerome, but your body of work amounts to a compelling brief for the prosecution.

(NOTE: I don't want to be anonymous, but I don't want to have a Google account, I don't have a URL, and goodness knows what those other options are.)

Shmuel said...

It is interesting to juxtapose Dr. Illuz' slavery argument with the "delegitimisation" argument, as presented, e.g. by Moshe Arens in today's Haaretz:

Both refer to processes of dehumanisation (Illuz of Palestinians; Arens of Jews)that deny the victims rights and protection.

The fact that Dr. Illuz can look at reality and see dehumanisation of Palestinians and Dr. Arens can look at the same reality and see dehumanisation of Jews eloquently illustrates Illuz' conclusions regarding the nature of this debate as opposed to the slavery/abolition debate.

Is is remarkable in and of itself that anyone could consider Jews the slaves and Palestinians the masters of the situation, but the notion of perpetual victimhood (and perception of virtually any criticism in terms of "destruction") against all evidence seems to be par for the course.

Jerome Slater said...

George Smith: Right, I don't believe Zionism was "irredeemable from the start." I'm not even sure it is irredeemable today,but there is no doubt that it is descending rapidly into a moral chasm, from which it may not be able to recover.

Shmuel: Agreed, except that Arens isn't worth considering. As you suggest, when the evidence of Israeli criminality to the Palestinians is so overwhelming, and the Arens-type defenses are so ludicrous, there is no room for rational disagreement.