Israel, Migrants and the right to nationhood

Mya Guarnieri Jaradat’s new book, The Unchosenexamines Israel’s harsh and worsening treatment of these newcomers and in doing so presents a fresh angle on the Israel-Palestine conflict, calling into question the state’s perennial justification for mistreatment of Palestinians: ‘national security’. As we stand witness to mass deportations and charter flights, Guarnieri Jaradat’s blog forces us to confront the exclusionary and dispassionate preconditions imposed on those seeking to belong to a nation.


The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others, is a culmination of a decade’s worth of reporting on the lives of Southeast Asian migrant workers and African asylum seekers protest, Tel Aviv, Israel, 13.2.2014African asylum seekers in Israel. Studying these two groups of non-Jewish ‘others’ throws the Israeli claim that its treatment of Palestinians is predicated on security into harsh light; rather, it shows that Israel’s relationship with Palestinians and other non-Jews is predicated on racial separatism and couched in its overriding concern about maintaining a Jewish demographic majority. The treatment of non-Jews can be understood as a feature of Israel’s particular brand of settler
colonialism. Put best by Drs. Neve Gordon and Nicola Perugini in their book, The Human Right to Dominate:

‘Not unlike other forms of settler colonialism, in the Israeli case colonial power is exerted also through the coloniser’s desire of appropriating the position of the native, of “going native.” … the coloniser’s nativeness can, so to speak, be achieved only through a twofold process, beginning with the dispossession of the colonised and followed by protecting the coloniser from a presumed invasion carried out by the colonised.’

The initial dispossession, happened in 1948 with the displacement of some 700,000 Palestinians. As for the ‘invasion’, many Israelis imagine this happening not militarily but demographically; they worry that they’ll be outnumbered. In recent years, the Israeli obsession with demographics—which Dr. Tally Kritzman-Amir, an Israeli lecturer and legal expert in immigration, refugee, and international law, refers to as the ‘fear of numbers’—has been extended beyond the indigenous population to non-Jews in general. Separation is one manifestation of this ‘fear of numbers.’

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Richard Falk: The UN Report Controversy

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine and Pluto author Richard Falk found himself in the midst of a controversy this week over a report that he co-authored RICHARD-FALKwith fellow Pluto author Virginia Tilley, which concluded that ‘beyond a reasonable doubt … Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people’. Following mounting pressure and outrage from the United States and Israel, the UN Secretary-General ordered it retracted and Rima Khalaf, the head of the UN agency which had commissioned the report, resigned in protest.

According to Falk, the language around Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestine must change, if
Israel’s claim to the land is to be seriously challenged and in order to move towards a more meaningful peace process. Rather than an ‘occupation’, which he views as an inaccurate term partly due to the length of time that Israel has now held on to the territories conquered in the 1967 war, he affirms that instead Israel should now be called an ‘apartheid state’.

The report has prompted heated debate and smears towards Falk and others involved in its preparation.

Below we link to the report and to coverage of the events that followed.

Richard Falk’s new book Palestine’s Horizon: Toward a Just Peace has just been published.

The UN report

Vijay Prashad on Falk’s UN report in the Hindu

‘UN Report Establishes Israeli Apartheid; Fallout Begins’ in Jadaliyya

‘U.N. Diplomat Behind Report Accusing Israel of Apartheid Quits’ in the New York Times

And the open letter to Theresa May demanding Falk be expelled from the UK

(Let’s not forget Theresa May’s recent statements on the Balfour Declaration, of course)


International Women’s Day Reading List

From feminist theory, to history and contemporary politics, these are some of Pluto’s best books, old and new, that celebrate radical women.


Revolutionary Learning: Marxism, Feminism and Knowledge by Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab Carpenter T03129

Revolutionary Learning by Sara Carpenter and Shahrzad Mojab explores the Marxist and feminist theorisation of knowledge production and learning. From an explicitly feminist perspective, the authors reconsider the contributions of Marx, Gramsci and Freire to educational theory, expanding Marxist analyses of education by considering it in relation to patriarchal and imperialist capitalism.  The reproductive nature of institutions is revealed through an ethnography of schools and pushed further by the authors who go on to examine how education and consciousness connects with the broader environment of public policy, civil society, the market, and other instruments of ‘public pedagogy.’

The book’s use of work by feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonial scholars means it will have significant implications for critical education scholarship, but its use value extends beyond educational praxis; providing the tools dissect, theorize, resist and transform capitalist social relations.


Captive Revolution: Palestinian Women’s Anti-Colonial Struggle within the Israeli Prison System by Nahla AbdoAbdo T02851

Throughout the world, women have played a part in struggles against colonialism, imperialism and other forms of oppression, but their vital contributions to revolutions, national liberation and anti-colonial resistance are rarely chronicled.

Nahla Abdo’s Captive Revolution seeks to break the silence on Palestinian women political detainees. Based on stories of the women themselves, as well as her own experiences as a former political prisoner, Abdo draws on a wealth of oral history and primary research in order to analyse their anti-colonial struggle, their agency and their appalling treatment as political detainees. Through crucial comparisons between the experiences of female political detainees in other conflict; a history of female activism emerges.

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Activestills: How photography can become a means of protest by Vered Maimon and Shiraz Grinbaum

Visual activism, including activist or struggle photography, can be seen as offering a response to the radical critique that photojournalism and documentary photography faced in the 1980s by critics such as Martha Rosler and Allan Sekula.[1] These critics argued that maimon-t03132by focusing on victimhood, empathy, and compassion, documentary photography was complicit with liberal politics and completely divorced from any program of social reform or revolutionary politics.  In documentary photography the focus was either on the “brave photographer,” or on the feelings of the spectator, but not on the subject of the photograph. This condition led to the constitution of a passive viewer and perpetuated existing power relations in which information about a group of powerless people was addressed to the socially powerful. In this way documentary photography failed to point out and address the economic, social, and political structures and conditions that enabled inequality in the first place.

Activestills collective work can be considered as part of this shift, from photojournalism to visual activism, and from the documentation of victimhood and destitution to the visualization of the social relationships and networks that underlie the activities of struggling and protesting communities. Activestills’ members see themselves as activists, photographers, and witnesses. They view their photographic act as tantamount to the act of protest itself, and not simply as a form of witnessing, the collective’s emphasis is not on “representation” of the “suffering of the other,” but on the enactment of political agency and the demand for rights—to mobility, livelihood, and protection from violence. As opposed to documentary photography, activist photography is intrinsically bounded within the communities and oppressive strategies it works to expose. Activestills’ work in Palestine/Israel is thus meant to address the struggling communities’ visual and material needs, while also working to emphasize the specific conditions of life under Israeli occupation and segregation policies. Continue reading

Is it Anti-Semitic to Criticize and Boycott Israel?

Yakov Rabkin is the author of the recently published What is Modern Israel? In this essay,What is Modern Israel? he takes on the question that’s affected, most recently, the Labour Party in Britain. Here for the Pluto Blog he develops the history and contemporary resonance of that ever-controversial subject, Zionism.

‘In the last few decades, there has been an important shift in the way Western media and political circles relate to Zionism and Israel. What is Zionism? In the version that ultimately prevailed, it represents a nationalist movement with four essential goals: 1) to transform the transnational confessional Jewish identity centered on the Torah into a secular national identity similar to that of European nations; 2) to equip the new nation with a new vernacular language, based lexically on Biblical and rabbinical Hebrew, and syntactically on Yiddish and Russian – the first Zionist settlers grew up with; 3) to move Jews from their countries of origin to Palestine; and 4) to establish political and economic control over the new homeland. At the turn of the 20th century, other nationalisms had only to ensure political and economic control of their respective countries, while Zionism was much more ambitious and revolutionary.

Zionism stands today as the last vestige of the 20th century movements committed to radical social transformation. Ben-Gurion was an admirer of Lenin; one can better understand the daring character of the Zionist project through his admiration of the Bolshevik overhaul of Russia: ‘the great revolution, the primordial revolution, which has been called upon to uproot present reality, shaking its foundations to the very depths of this rotten and decadent society.’ Most founding fathers of Zionism had just as negative, and arguably anti-Semitic views of the Jews they proposed to regenerate and rehabilitate.

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Video: Jeff Halper presents ‘War Against the People’ (part 1)

Check out our latest short video of Jeff Halper talking about his forthcoming book,War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification.

In this first of two short videos, Jeff Halper explores the reasons behind the reluctance of both the Israeli state and western governments to end the occupation of Palestine.

His book, War Against the People, is a disturbing insight into the new ways world powers such as the US, Israel, Britain and China forge war today. It is a subliminal war of surveillance and whitewashed terror, conducted through new, high-tech military apparatuses, designed and first used in Israel against the Palestinian population. Including hidden camera systems, sophisticated sensors, information databases on civilian activity, automated targeting systems and, in some cases, unmanned drones, it is used to control the very people the nation’s leaders profess to serve.
Halper WATP

Drawing from years of research, as well as investigations and interviews conducted at international arms fairs, Halper reveals that this practice is much more insidious than was previously thought. As Western governments tighten the grip on their use of private information and claw back individual liberties, War Against the People is a timely reminder that fundamental human rights are being compromised for vast sections of the world, and that this is a subject that should concern everyone.

The video can also be found on Pluto’s Youtube channel.


Jeff Halper is the head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He is the author of Between Redemption and Revival: The Jewish Yishuv in Jerusalem in the Nineteenth Century (Westview, 1991), An Israeli in Palestine (Pluto, 2008) and Obstacles to Peace (ICAHD, Fifth Edition, 2013).


War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification is available to buy from Pluto Press here.

Does unarmed resistance in Palestine work?

The authors of the new book  Popular Protest in Palestine discuss whether peaceful resistance to Israeli occupation is appropriate in the face of so much violence.

Darweish PPIP‘In March 2015 the Israeli electorate voted into power the most hard-line coalition in Israel’s history, headed up by Benjamin Netanyahu who had campaigned on the promise that he would prevent the establishment of any Palestinian state. In the national newspaper Haaretz the correspondent Gideon Levy bemoaned the result: ‘If after six years years of sowing fear and anxiety, hatred and despair, this is the nation’s choice, then it is very ill indeed. Netanyahu deserves the Israeli people and they deserve him.’ (Haaretz, 18 March 2015) Another commentator, James Besser, concluded that ‘apartheid is the path Israeli voters have chosen. The inevitable results will include even greater international isolation for the Jewish state, a boost to efforts to apply boycotts and sanctions, diminished support from American Jews and endlessly intensifying cycles of violence.’ (Haaretz, 20 March 2015)

But whilst the Israeli peace-camp anguished over the result, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories the return of Netanyahu to power was met with indifference by significant sections of the population. As Huneida Ghanem of the Palestinian Forum for Israeli Studies explained, ‘Nothing is going to come from the Israeli state if the Israelis don’t feel they don’t pay any price for the Israeli occupation.’ (, 22 June 2015)

Ghanem’s analysis echoed one of the conclusions we reached in Popular Protest in Palestine: The Uncertain Future of Unarmed Resistance. In 2002, the wave of Palestinian unarmed resistance to occupation grew in response to the Israeli decision to build a Wall between the West Bank and Israel. The subsequent resistance movement failed to exert sufficient leverage on Israeli publics and decision-makers, and the question of Israeli commitment to occupation was left untouched.

We came to this conclusion after conducting numerous interviews with Israeli peace activists struggling to maintain hope for the future of their country. One of our informants expressed herself with brutal frankness:

“The popular resistance is weakening. It breaks my heart. I want to live here, but the worst thing for Israel is peace and quiet. If the occupation continues there is no future for Israel. The weakening of Palestinian popular resistance allows the occupation to continue.

People here in Israel – they just don’t realise, they don’t have to deal with it. It is a different world for Israelis – but it will blow up.

There was the second intifada – nothing came out of that and the buses being blown up. Now the buses are not being blown up and still nothing comes out of it. Israelis are comfortable with the situation … people look the other way … people live with it.”

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