Friday 3 November 2023

Gaza lecture "not in any way rewarding if you hoped for a real history lesson"

"Canterbury University lecturer Josephine Varghese’s recent piece on Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza presents the plight of Palestinians as – to use her words – a ‘textbook example of institutional Western racism and colonial violence.’ ... Coloniser is just the latest in a long chain of accusations made against the Jew. ... Coloniser is simply our latest ‘shape.’ ...
    "Varghese’s case, as written, would be compelling to excitable students, a chapter or two deep in their first Chomsky, but not in any way rewarding if they had hoped for a real history lesson. In her brief and highly selective retelling of the conflict, there is no mention that Israel/ Palestine was liberated by the West after 400 years of Turkish rule. The collapse of any empire inevitably leads to competing ethnic groups seeking statehood – the bullet of a Serbian nationalist was the opening shot of the Great War. In the case of the Levant, and after offering autonomy to Arabs in the wider region, partition was decided upon by the UN. Varghese doesn’t mention that the Arabs rejected partition and instantly started a multi-front war against Israel that they lost or that Jordan and Egypt occupied the West Bank and Gaza respectively as a result and didn’t create out of these territories an independent Palestinian state. Varghese says that the 'Palestinian experience is one of human suffering, dispossession, and subjugation' but, along with leaving out the self-inflicted wounds listed above, fails to mention a chosen path of terror over subsequent decades, nor that their leaders rejected multiple peace deals, some of which even offers displaced Arabs a ‘right of return’. Even as recently as the Trump presidency, Mahmoud Abbas, the ‘moderate’ leader of the PLO, rejected a peace deal before he had even seen it. Is this the action of a leader who wants to end an occupation? Why would Varghese leave all this out, one wonders? ...
    "Why would a self-declared Marxist stoop so low to distract from the crimes of Hamas – a Hard-Right fascist terror army? A self-confessed death cult? Shouldn’t her worldview be anathema to anyone on the Left? Shouldn’t she be the very first person to challenge murderous theocratic fascism?
    "An autopsy on Varghese’s piece is as much an autopsy on socialism itself – which for all practical purposes is dead as a viable political movement. What remains is a post-truth Zombie animated by the parasite of regressive bourgeois identitarianism that is now shambling mindlessly toward the reactionary’s eternal target."



Anonymous said...

History? Bunk! Written to excuse the inexcusable. Written to legitimise the illegitimate.

What matters is human life, not excuses to wreck more and more of it.

The troubles of the state are caused by the state. Israel is a statist collectivist entity and so is Hamas.

PaulVD said...

The "coloniser" insult is a particularly odd one from a New Zealander academic. Jews have lived in Israel continuously for some 3,000 years, compared with fewer than 1,000 years for Māori in Aotearoa. In the last 100+ years, the Jewish tangata whenua have been returning to their traditional rohe. This is the exact opposite of any colonial project.
But the returning Jews encountered other tangata whenua in possession of the same land. The Arabs have been there for a much shorter period than the Jews - they were colonisers following the armies of Abu Bakr in his invasion of the Byzantine Empire. The ongoing fighting since 1948 has been much more like the Musket Wars than any imperial or colonial war. But if there is to be a "colonisers" label, it should be applied to the Arabs rather than the Jews.

Peter Cresswell said...

@Anonymous: Written to excuse the inexcusable? No, written to give some necessary historical context.

" Israel is a statist collectivist entity ..." Israel is the *closest* thing the Middle East has to a govt even interested in protecting its citizens individual rights, and human life. Imperfectly, yes. But no more a statist collectivist entity than any other western government -- and a million millions from Hamas.

Peter Cresswell said...

@Paul VD: Not sure the "coloniser" lens is even helpful. As you say, much of the fighting since 1948 has been mostly tribal. I say "mostly,' since Israel's has mostly been fighting for survival.

Bob Jones has a point. Perhaps Zionists should have chosen a safer place to settle after the war. Like Paraguay.