The Utopian Conflict (2014)
published at 4th issue of Tidal Magazine: PALESTINE, BOYCOTT, AND BEYOND: THE TIME IS NOW
The Utopian conflict
What if the BDS wasn’t just a political movement! What if its agenda was not purely political, hinged on the action-reaction relationship within Real politics? The BDS and the likes of many other political parties in power demand the end of the Israeli occupation of the ‘67 lands, giving full rights for the Palestinians living in the Israeli state, and the return of the Palestinian refugees. All of which allows the apparatus that created the atrocities to survive and continue existing. In a way, it is like giving people freedom in South Africa but keeping the apartheid system in place. Can the movement make an ethical demand: the seizure of the oppressive apparatus? i.e., ending the existence of the Zionist state?
Can an end to the injustice be achieved? Could one imagine the end of the injustice with the continuation of the apparatus that produced it? Haven’t we learned from the history of post-colonization that a real end to colonialism requires an end to the colonial system rather than just a withdrawal of the direct occupation?
One of the many problems with addressing such an ethical demand is that it creates another ethical problem: the subjects of this apparatus--the pro-Zionist Jewish Israeli citizens--are missing from this demand.
What if we simply add another demand: Emancipate all the Jews from Zionism! In addition to emancipating the Palestinians from Israeli occupation. Instead of boycotting Israel in support of the Palestinians, what if we boycott in support of the emancipation of Jewish subjects from the Israeli state?
I’m not an expert on history, but it is common knowledge that the Zionist movement came as one of the reactions to the establishment of the European national state, and to the centuries of racial and ethnic racism in Christian Europe against its Jewish population. This racism first manifested itself as the systematic separation of Jews from society in the form of ghettoes and culminated in the physical annihilation of the European Jewish population during WWII. In this sense, the establishment of Israel as the state of “the Jewish people” should be read not as the emancipation of Jews from Christo-European oppression, but as a continuation of it, by actively cleansing European society from its Jewish citizens, ghettoizing them far away, and making them someone else’s problem.
The creation of the Israeli state didn’t only result in the unethical creation of the Palestinian catastrophe, but it also allowed the continuation of the Jewish catastrophe, by fixing “the Jew” in Judaism as national identity and, therefore, defining the political subject through religion. This distinction relies on the racism that led to the destruction of the Jewish existence in Europe and, after the creation of the Jewish state, the destruction of Jewish existence in Arab and North African communities.
So, the Palestinian can’t be emancipated without Jewish emancipation, and the Israeli’s emancipation can’t happen with the existence of the Jewish state. For the boycott movement to have an ethical demand, it must call for boycotting the Israeli state until it dismantles itself as a Jewish state, meaning that the Israeli is no longer “the Jew.” A citizen of Israel-Palestine would be all persons living inside the pre-1948 borders in a secular state.
The boycott movement should speak on behalf of all the victims of the Zionist state, the Palestinian and the Jew; otherwise, whatever result will come out of such struggle will be the continuation of injustice.
The moral emancipation of the Palestinian and the Jew is the emancipation of the state from Zionism.