[R-G] Fwd: [DEBATE] : Eric Lee v. Durban Dockers on Israel
shniad at sfu.ca
Fri Mar 20 15:46:27 MDT 2009
From: peter waterman < p.waterman at inter.nl.net >
Date: March 19, 2009 3:07:36 PM CDT
Subject: Re: [DEBATE] : Eric Lee v. Durban Dockers on Israel
I am not sure whether Eric Lee is the best source for the evaluation of Eric Lee.
Eric (who I knew well and collaborated with for some years) is an outstanding and creative internet techie, as his website, http://www.labourstart.org/ , well shows.
Unfortunately, however, he seems to believe, along with a small number of other people, that traditional 20th century unionism + internet = new or 21st century unionism.
Not so, Eric! Although his site remains the premier global source of information from and about these unions, one has to ask whether it has increased worker-worker 'communication' - in the sense of advancing dialogue and change amongst either these or pro-labour specialists. Despite a number of effective solidarity campaigns, my judgement is: NOT.
Eric Lee's site has also now to be compared with another brilliant and broadly social-democratic site, http://www.newunionism.net/ , which does deal with ideas, and which is open to some dialogue (I think).
Eric's total identification with the traditional inter/national trade union organisation is not irrelevant to his attitude towards Israel.
As he says, he lived in Israel for many years. He also involved himself in international labour/labour internationalism both there and later on the web.
I once asked him whether he had had any Palestinian Arab friends, any contact with the Palestinian Arab labour unions and activists. He had the grace to turn his head to one side in embarrassment before saying 'no'.
In his unconditional identification with Israel in Israel's latest war on Gaza (which he calls a war on Hamas), he reveals the general tendency of Zionists (and the majority of the Israeli Jewish population?) to apply to themselves special standards of behaviour which are in conflict with those of the UN, and which they certainly do not grant to others.
Eric is unable to recognise that Israeli behaviour in this war (more even than in its previous wars on and in Lebanon), has anything to do with reaction against Israel in the international union movement and by the left internationally. Bearing in mind the postwar decades in which this movement, with exceptions (amongst Communists and other Marxists), identified with Israel, this blindness invalidates his argument as minimally convincing.
He further pulls out of the bottom drawer the oldest canard of the Israelis - that attacks on or criticism of Israelis or Zionism are Anti-Semitic. He leaves out of consideration the manner in which this particular war has divided the international Jewish community (Google: <world jewish community divided over israel> more than any previous one. That certain unions or unionists have themselves conflated Israel or Zionism with Jews is to be condemned by all anti-racists. But are not Israel and Zionism themselves also at least co-responsible for this conflation?
I am a Jew and a lifelong anti-racist - including racism against Muslims and Arabs. (a search on LabourStart turns up more references to 'anti-semitic' than to 'anti-arab' and 'anti-muslim' combined).
A year or so ago I sponsored a slogan to be painted on the Wall - obviously on the Palestinian side - stating: WHEN GERMANS DID THIS TO JEWS THEY WERE CALLED NAZIS. This was in reference to the Wall, not the war. 'The Wall' is the title of the best-known novel about the Warsaw Ghetto, published by John Hershey, 1950.
Confronted with my general attitude and this specific act, Eric is free to pull out of that same drawer the other Israeli/Zionist canard, that I am a 'self-hating Jew'.
Today the news broke that Israeli soldiers have themselves spoken of attitudes and behaviour of the Israeli military which surely identifies this with white racists in South Africa under Apartheid (and continuing), of the US military in Vietnam and now in Iraq:
Thu Mar 19, 2009 1:24pm EDT
Israeli soldiers break ranks over Gaza war
By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM, March 19 (Reuters) - Israel's military was rocked on Thursday by Gaza war veterans' accounts of soldiers' killings of civilians and allegations that deep contempt for Palestinians pervaded its ranks.
The soldiers, alumni of a military academy, gathered last month to discuss their experiences in the 22-day Israeli offensive that ended in January, a campaign that Palestinians and human rights groups have said warranted war crimes probes.
Disclosing details of the session, the institution's director said the soldiers pointed to an atmosphere within the military of "unbridled contempt for, and forcefulness against, the Palestinians".
"They talked about unwarranted fire on Palestinian civilians. There was also talk of vandalism to property," Danny Zamir, head of the Yitzhak Rabin pre-military programme, told Israel Radio.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak responded to the accusations by repeating Israel's description of its armed forces as the most moral in the world. The military said its judge advocate-general had ordered an investigation of the alleged incidents.
More anti-semites, Eric? More self-hating Jews?
And, returning to LabourStart, I challenge Eric to organise an open international labour and left exchange about this matter on his site. To start with his argument (published in a liberal journal in the UK) and mine.
Debate, discussion and dialogue has always been the weak point on LabourStart. Eric is happier broadcasting one-to many - than hosting open dialogue on a level playing field - and thus using what is the most emancipatory capacity of the web.
Patrick Bond wrote:
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