Archive for the 'Zionism/Israel/Palestine' Category

Judith Butler on Hamas, Hezbollah & the Israel Lobby (2006)

This is Judith Butler’s reply to a bundle of four questions asked in Q&A during a 2006 teach-in at UC Berkeley about the war between Israel and Hezbollah.  Audience members asked:

1. Since Israel is an imperialist, colonial project, should resistance be based on social movements or the nation-state?

2. What is the power of the Israel Lobby and is questioning it antisemitic?

3. Since the Left hesitates to support Hamas and Hezbollah “just” because of their use of violence, does this hurt Palestinian solidarity?

4. Do Hamas and Hezbollah actually threaten Israel’s existence, as portrayed in some media?

Judith Butler:

“Ok, well, I would just briefly say: I think its imperative to figure out what the mechanisms are of the various lobbies in the US – the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League – how they work to help to formulate US foreign policy toward Israel. I think there’s no question we need an honest, rigorous appraisal. I think there are some versions of it that strike me as perhaps a little too easily subscribing to conspiracy theories, and I think that there can be an antisemitic version, and there can be a really useful, critical version as well. I have no doubt it’s a very powerful lobby – I actually think of it as multifaceted – and I think we need more careful, rigorous analyses of it.

So you know the short answer is: one neither has to dispute the existence of such a lobby, or its power, to prove that one is not antisemitic; but neither does one have to accept every version of that, given that some versions are, I think, problematically bound up with conspiracy theories.

Similarly, I think: Yes, understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important. That does not stop us from being critical of certain dimensions of both movements. It doesn’t stop those of us who are interested in non-violent politics from raising the question of whether there are other options besides violence. So again, a critical, important engagement. I mean, I certainly think it should be entered into the conversation on the Left. I similarly think boycotts and divestment procedures are, again, an essential component of any resistance movement.”

[[ audience claps]]

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Thanks to Camila Bassi for pointing out this video in her essay “The Anti-Imperialism of Fools’: A Cautionary Story on the Revolutionary Socialist Vanguard of England’s Post-9/11 Anti-War Movement”

NOTE: The questions start at 10:30 and Butler starts her answer at 14:55. [June 2012: video is no longer at original link, but is now available on youtube]

description from URL where video was originally available at:


Berkeley Teach-In Against War – Part VI – Question and Answer Session

Concerned about the devastation currently being inflicted on the people of Lebanon and Palestine by the Israeli Military Forces and with the very limited and biased reporting on these conflicts presented by most American media networks, we have organized a teach-in on the UC Berkeley campus in order to give students, faculty, and the Bay Area community at large a chance to gain a greater understanding of these events and to participate in an open discussion on their significance for both Americans and the people of the Middle East. During the first hour of this two-hour event, four scholars with expertise in the Middle East will present short analyses (15 minutes each) of the historical and political dimensions of this conflict, focusing on the following themes:

1. The role US foreign policy has played in enabling and authorizing the Israeli bombardment;

2. The origins and historical development of Hezbollah, and the role of this movement within Lebanese social and political arenas;

3. The shifting political alignments within Israel, and their relation to the current war on Lebanon and to Israel’s role in the region more broadly;

4. The impact of Israeli military actions in Gaza and the West Bank on the lives of Palestinians and the political landscape of the Palestinian society.

The second hour of the teach-in will be reserved for audience questions and comments. Confirmed speakers are UC Berkeley Professors Judith Butler (Rhetoric and Comparative Literature), Beshara Doumani (History), Charles Hirschkind (Anthropology), Saba Mahmood (Anthropology), as well as Zeina Zaatari, Program Officer for the Middle East and North Africa, The Global Fund for Women.

The teach-in took place in 145 Dwinelle on September 7th

New World Liberation Front (NWLF) – 1977 article

RADICAL ARCHIVES note: Some readers will be particularly interested in the NWLF’s explicitly antisemitic “anti-Zionist” theories, as mentioned in the middle of the article.

NWLF: good hit, no pitch
Celine Hagbard

The New World Liberation Front, a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist organization which has carried out an uninterrupted urban guerilla offensive around the Bay Area and Northern California for almost three years, may well be the most tactically advanced guerilla group in the United States. As a result of recent theoretical pronouncements on anarchism, feminism, homosexuality and Zionism, however, they have made themselves the most controversial guerillas within the revolutionary left as well.

Continue reading ‘New World Liberation Front (NWLF) – 1977 article’

James Horrox on anarchism and early kibbutzim

The Zionism of the early kibbutz communards had never imagined a national revival taking the form of a state-building enterprise. For them, the Balfour Declaration in 1917, promising a “national home” for the Jews, meant an opportunity to establish a completely new form of society and a chance to put their dreams and visions into practice. Collective settlement was not seen simply as the most efficient way of colonizing the land in order to create a Jewish state and install a market-capitalist economy, as some have since argued. Though the later centrality of the movement to the creation and defence of Israel is clear, the notion that the pioneers resorted to collectivism simply in order to create suitable conditions for the institution of that state is largely a myth. Even the founders of Degania were strictly opposed to the notions of government and state, and by the time the Third Aliya groups arrived, the idea of building a stateless society on the back of the new social model they had created was one that was widely embraced. The idea held in common by many of the groups arriving in Palestine during the 1920s was to transform the Yishuv into a stateless commonwealth of autonomous communities that would include few, if any, non-collective alternatives.

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from James Horrox, A Living Revolution: Anarchism in the Kibbutz Movement (Oakland, CA & Edinburgh: AK Press, 2009), pp 57–58.

Anarchist letters from Palestine in MAN! (1937)


Palestine, Aug 20, 1937

Dear Comrade:

Only now I have got back the MAN! after they “visited” other comrades through the country. I read and read them and though I am disagreeing with you in some things I think that MAN! is the best journal I have ever seen in English.

Especially hurt me your statement toward the disturbances in Palestine in August, 1936, and also the statement of your collaborator, Samuel Palinov, published in the FREIE ARBEITER STIME. I would have written in particular about the situation in Palestine, but now I want only to express you my best wishes, and to tell you that in the last August number there was nothing that I could disagree with. The article of Voltarine de Celyre appealed very much to me and I am really sorry that I have no money to do my part in helping you to publish it in pamphlet form.


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Palestine, August 25, 1937

Dear Comrade:

Just wanted to send you this short letter when I received yours. I thank you very much for it. And I am trying to answer some of your questions.

A. Of course our circles are against the partition of Palestine; first because we didn’t lose our faith that there is a possibility of mutual understanding with the Arabs, and secondly because we are against the Jewish State, following the ideals of the first laleos pioneers to Palestine who were (A. B. Gordon and I. Ch. Brener) very near to Anarchism and stated their idea is “not a Jewish State but a free creative settlement”, a “Human-Nation” striving for self-determination and not-assimilated culture.” These men founded the communal movement which numbers now more than 12,000 members, but who did not follow their founders. These communards’ life is very near to the anarchist ideals because they are giving, each one according to his ability, and each one receives according to his needs. The communes are membered by Zionist-social-democrats and other Marxist Parties. And we Anarchists are only a little number scattered among many communes, and though in the last year we more than doubled our number we are known as members of a commune, but not as anarchists.

B. That is the reason we cannot get money for our anarchist activity. Of course we cannot send you handcraft for the same reason. We are very busy now, in our new movement. Of course I hope to write in the future for MAN! in Hebrew and shall find some one among my friends who will translate it into English.

Best wishes to you and to MAN!.


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Since Governmental persecution of anarchists is universal, we are omitting the name of the Commune from which  the two letters came, as also the name of the writer – EDITOR.


from MAN!, April 1938, p 8 (400), taken from the reprint in the Greenwood Press anthology.

Spelling and grammar are as they appear in the journal.