One can be a Zionist and believe that the Jews constitute a people with the right to self-determination without believing that such self-determination must be implemented in an exclusivist religio-ethnic state like the one founded hastily by Russian Jewish Zionists in 1948. One can believe that the Jewish people’s right to self-determination cannot be implemented in Palestine at the expense of a Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and to live as a free people in their native land. And, of course, one can believe, as do many anti-Zionists, that Jews do not constitute a people with any right to national self-determination, but are rather a religio-ethnic community. All of these viewpoints are kosher. It is preposterous to label them “anti-Semitic.”
In a Middle East overwhelmed by war, politics, destruction, and conflict, it is easy to forget that it is, like any other, just a place where life goes on; people live, people grow, people die. Communities flourish and decline. People come and people go. Mired in the hellfire of media and politics, it is easy to overlook the simple truths about life in the Middle East.
All over the news (well, my weird, non-comprehensive news radar anyway) today was Israel’s and the US’s boycott of a 10th anniversary commemoration of Durban, the “controversial conference on racism.” To be completely honest, I haven’t read the Program(me) of Action, and other than passing mention of it among the litany of UN resolutions and documents and investigations some people like to whine about, I don’t really know what the heck it’s all about. Forgive my ignorance, please.
So I am going to read the whole thing before I say anything else. BUT in the meantime, I am on page 5, and here is a nice quote which makes me predisposed to think I am going to have little critical to say about the overarching themes of the conference:
(This is General Issue #7): “We declare that all human beings are born free, equal in dignity and rights and have the potential to contribute constructively to the development and well-being of their societies. Any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and must be rejected along with theories which attempt to determine the existence of separate human races…”
This is so #occu-propriate. (How do you like that creative English?)
(General Issue #9): We note with concern that racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance may be aggravated by, inter alia, inequitable distribution of wealth, marginalization and social exclusion;
Is this contradictory?
23. We fully recognize the rights of indigenous peoples consistent with the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, and therefore stress the need to adopt the appropriate constitutional, administrative, legislative and judicial measures, including those derived from applicable international instruments;
24. We declare that the use of the term “indigenous peoples” in the Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance is in the context of, and without prejudice to the outcome of, ongoing international negotiations on texts that specifically deal with this issue, and cannot be construed as having any implications as to rights under international law;
(I don’t know why Israel and the US are getting all uppity about this; it’s like they can’t take criticism. The manifestations of racism this document discusses, while it does specify histories of slavery and colonialism as important factors, are present in basically every country in the world. If everyone else wants to move on and grow up, why can’t we? So far, this reads like an expression of the ills and sins of all humanity, like a massive atonement.)
Here, the U.S. and the rest of the Western Hemisphere is called out:
33. We consider it essential for all countries in the region of the Americas and all other areas of the African Diaspora to recognize the existence of their population of African descent and the cultural, economic, political and scientific contributions made by that population, and recognize the persistence of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance that specifically affect them, and recognize that, in many countries, their long-standing inequality in terms of access to, inter alia, education, health care and housing has been a profound cause of the socio-economic disparities that affect them;
In Jordan and other parts of the Middle East, Asian women are often employed as maids. It’s not a cushy lifestyle, and I’ve heard many of them got there through being trafficked (also a offense in this doctrine):
36. We recognize that in many parts of the world, Asians and people of Asian descent face barriers as a result of social biases and discrimination prevailing in public and private institutions and express our commitment to work towards the eradication of all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance faced by Asians and people of Asian descent;
This, of course, would pretty much devastate the future possibility of the existence of Israel-as-a-Jewish-State, hence I can understand their trepidation for permitting the global acceptance of these ideals:
42. We emphasize that, in order for indigenous peoples freely to express their own identity and exercise their rights, they should be free from all forms of discrimination, which necessarily entails respect for their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Efforts are now being made to secure universal recognition for those rights in the negotiations on the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, including the following: to call themselves by their own names; to participate freely and on an equal footing in their country’s political, economic, social and cultural development; to maintain their own forms of organization, lifestyles, cultures and traditions; to maintain and use their own languages; to maintain their own economic structures in the areas where they live; to take part in the development of their educational systems and programmes; to manage their lands and natural resources, including hunting and fishing rights; and to have access to justice on a basis of equality;
43. We also recognize the special relationship that indigenous peoples have with the land as the basis for their spiritual, physical and cultural existence and encourage States, wherever possible, to ensure that indigenous peoples are able to retain ownership of their lands and of those natural resources to which they are entitled under domestic law;
Ooh ooh ooh and here too:
49. … We underline that family reunification has a positive effect on integration and emphasize the need for States to facilitate family reunion;
I also think this isn’t anti-Semitic:
58. We recall that the Holocaust must never be forgotten;
59. We recognize with deep concern religious intolerance against certain religious communities, as well as the emergence of hostile acts and violence against such communities because of their religious beliefs and their racial or ethnic origin in various parts of the world which in particular limit their right to freely practise their belief;
60. We also recognize with deep concern the existence in various parts of the world of religious intolerance against religious communities and their members, in particular limitation of their right to practise their beliefs freely, as well as the emergence of increased negative stereotyping, hostile acts and violence against such communities because of their religious beliefs and their ethnic or so-called racial origin;
61. We recognize with deep concern the increase in anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in various parts of the world, as well as the emergence of racial and violent movements based on racism and discriminatory ideas against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities;
BLAM. How can you (Israel and the US) want MORE than this?!?!:
63. We are concerned about the plight of the Palestinian people under foreign occupation. We recognize the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to the establishment of an independent State and we recognize the right to security for all States in the region, including Israel, and call upon all States to support the peace process and bring it to an early conclusion;
Interesting aside, which I think refers to Islamophobia in the West/west:
71. We deplore attempts to oblige women belonging to certain faiths and religious minorities to forego their cultural and religious identity, or to restrict their legitimate expression, or to discriminate against them with regard to opportunities for education and employment;
This morning, Mahmoud Abbas presented his application for statehood, and UN membership, to Banh Ki Moon. What happens after the vote?
Consider the following (it is a tweet):
“Israel’s Public Dplmcy Min has written Apple asking them to remove Iphone app called ThirdIntifada – says it’s “anti-Israel & anti-Zionist”"
There is somewhere I want to be this week: on board a flight to Tel Aviv, prepared to announce my intentions – no lying – to visit the Territories, to visit the Negev, and to speak out on behalf of the more than 20% of Israel’s citizens who face daily discrimination.
I believe it is a duty and a right to speak out when there is a wrong, to bring light to injustice, to show solidarity to the downtrodden. It is not to attack, but to defend. Continue reading
Of course, the absurd thing about this, based on all sorts of international rigamarole the Syrians were really just letting the demonstrators frolic from Syrian hillside to Syrian hillside. The Israeli soldiers, as occupying force, were the ones shooting the civilians based on #arbitrary #ceasefirelines in what is internationally recognized as occupied territory inhabited by Syrian nationals. I know, I know, tourist revenue and all that…
A warning, in advance: this turned into a much larger project than I had anticipated. But the activity was far more engaging and educational than I had foreseen. Also, if someone wants to pay for the inevitable overage charge on my data plan now from all this research, I’d appreciate it.
“Our defense and security forces shine in their capacity to pillage and kill their compatriots rather than defend our country,” wrote Burundian journalist Jean Claude Kavumbagu, in an article criticizing the military’s capacity to deal with outside threats from Somalia’s al-Shabaab, an article which led to his imprisonment on charges of treason, though he was eventually acquitted of that charge.