Anarchists Against the Wall

You’ve probably heard of the recent action carried out by Anarchists Against the Wall in Tel Aviv; at first glance, I was quite impressed. On inquiring further about the action, I discovered that it wasn’t quite what it looked like, at least not the impression one gets when one hears of the name “Anarchists Against the Wall”. Many of my readers will – I am sure – criticize my criticism of the group, because at least they are doing something. However, that they are doing something does not grant them a criticism-free status.

One would’ve thought that the Anarchists Against the Wall would have adopted a terminology distinct from the dominant nationalist discourse; in this context, my criticism does not deal with their actions, but with their stated objectives, which are as follows (emphasis mine):

The action was carried to remind the people of Tel Aviv of the everyday hardships of Palestinians, resulting from Israel’s apartheid policies and conduct in the Occupied Territories and from the occupation itself. The activists urged Israelis to take responsibility for what is being done in their names, and to force an end to Israeli occupation.

First, let us say that in referring to the “Occupied Territories” they were merely adopting an internationally accepted term to refer to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and not necessarily endorsing the idea that the only occupied territories are the 1967 territories. However, upon closer inspection, one will notice that this is not what they meant. Clearly, their usage of the term “occupation” refers to the 1967 territories only. But what happened to the 1948 territories which were occupied – yes, occupied – and mostly ethnically cleansed of Palestinians? That is not only not a priority for Anarchists Against the Wall, it is also unthinkable.

Make no mistake, this is what they say in the “about” section of the website, in response to the question “why we resist” (again, emphasis mine):

It is the duty of Israeli citizens to resist immoral policies and actions carried out in out name. We believe that it is possible to do more than demonstrate inside Israel or participate in humanitarian relief actions. Israeli apartheid and occupation isn’t going to end by itself – it will end when it becomes ungovernable and unmanageable. It is time to physically oppose the bulldozers, the army and the occupation.

Other than that, their actions are quite impressive. I do hope that in due time the Anarchists Against the Wall will also advocate the return of the refugees, and not fall into the trap of “demographic” discourse. Perhaps someone from the AATW could clarify the movement’s views on this issue (I am assuming they are not a hierarchical organization, so individuals can speak their personal opinions even as “members” of this movement).


12 responses to “Anarchists Against the Wall

  1. As an Israeli I think it’s important to realize that the state of Israel is currently a fact…The territory may have been seized unjustly, but the abolition of the entire state is certainly not a realistic proposition. Undoubtedly, reparations for harms and damages should be negotiated, the occupied territories should immediately be returned, and the abuse of human rights should cease, but arguing for an unlimited right of return to the point where the state of Israel is no more is impractical and unlikely. Generations of Israelis who migrated after the creation of the state, and even legally bought their land should not be punished by the confiscation of their property. Revenge is not a solution that will lead to anything other than hatred and escalation of later violence.

    I’d also say that if we follow the logic of demanding a total right of return, that many other states would have to be completely abolished or destroyed including america and probably several Arab states to make way for certain original occupants. The policy is dangerous and impossible

  2. Eventually – who knows how long, Israel will have to deal with a demographic reality – it will not be a majority – or at least not an overwhelming majority Jewish State. As soon as non-Jewish populations become serious political spoilers, something will have to give. The questions will be fascinating: when a sizeable Arab and/or Muslim party becomes a true Kingmaker in Israeli politics, what sort of State will they support? Will Israeli Arabs and/or Muslims – many of which will be Palestinian – desire to dismantle or massively alter their country? Or will they want to maintain the exclusivity that Isreali laws will allow them?

    I have no idea, but I can’t imagine it won’t be a situation that Isreal faces some day and I wonder how it will play out.

  3. The state of Israel is a fact; however, that does not mean that facts cannot change, and that the demographic parity cannot also be a fact; in which case, what would Israel do? What would you advocate that it do? That it cede control of neighbourhoods inhabited by Palestinians? (“Israeli-Arabs” as they are referred to-I wonder why they are not referred to as simply “Israelis”; is Israeliness based on citizenship, or is it based on religion? If it’s the latter, which it is, doesn’t that mean that non-Jews are treated differently than Jews?) How does this work? Would a citizen of a state accept that the state effectively strip him/her of his/her citizenship?

    So let us say in 50 years there will be demographic parity if not advantage in favour of the Palestinians, what would you do then? Is murder, ethnic cleansing, etc justified for the sake of maintaining the “Jewish nature” of the state? Can you not see that this is a reality that Israel will HAVE TO face, if not now, if not in 20 years, then in 50 or so years? So why not take that into consideration and arrive to an equation whereby all refugees may return, and there would be one state in which all are equals, and this does not necessarily mean that the current owners of the lands would be kicked out; with appropriate reparations (not just for loss of property and the assessment of the price of the property based on the current prices, but also based on the suffering caused), these people may choose to re-settle elsewhere in Palestine/Israel, or arrive to some other form of settlement. I just don’t see how a one-state solution and a return of refugees can be as apocalyptic as you make it to be.

    How would the right of return of refugees destroy or abolish states? No one is saying the “settlers” must by all means go back. Human migration occured millenia ago. To reverse it means to reverse history. It is counter-productive and meaningless. Instead, you can throw away the supremacist/nationalist theories and arguments, and choose to live as equals with others who at some point migrated to the same land.

    Moreover, if it would abolish Israel, then you are admitting that Israel is not a state of its citizens, but a state of Jews. Which gives rise to the question, if the unequal treatment of Palestinians in Israel continues for decades, why would you expect them to have any loyalty to this state? If the state is for the Jews, and Jewish majority must be maintained at all costs, why should Palestinians be loyal to this “state”? What’s in it for them?

    Of course, the best solution is the abolishment of all states. But that’s a long way to go. However, a one-state solution would chart the middle ground.

  4. “Moreover, if it would abolish Israel, then you are admitting that Israel is not a state of its citizens, but a state of Jews. Which gives rise to the question, if the unequal treatment of Palestinians in Israel continues for decades, why would you expect them to have any loyalty to this state? If the state is for the Jews, and Jewish majority must be maintained at all costs, why should Palestinians be loyal to this “state”? What’s in it for them?”

    Because they’re treated better and have a better economic situation than any alternatives. How are they treated unequally? You can’t prevent people from prejudging, but the government does what it can to make arabs have equal footing.

    Why don’t you answer your own question– if they don’t have an incentive to stay, why don’t they move to Kuwait?

  5. Because they’re treated better and have a better economic situation than any alternatives.
    And how would that change if the refugees return, and Israel + West Bank + Gaza Strip become one state?

    You are not making any sense. They have a “better economic situation”? Really? Compared to whom? And why would they compare themselves to those living under occupation, when they should compare themselves to their fellow citizens?

    How are they treated unequally?
    Uhh, let’s see, have you been following the news in your own country lately?

    the government does what it can to make arabs have equal footing.
    By institutionalizing discrimination; I guess the compensation plan for the north just happened to be such that the Arab villages a hundred meters away from Jewish ones did not qualify for compensation; or is that an attempt to “make Arabs (they are PALESTINIANS by the way) have equal footing”?

    Why don’t you answer your own question– if they don’t have an incentive to stay, why don’t they move to Kuwait?
    Ohhh, you were looking forward to finding a way to make the argument: “why don’t they move to somewhere else, there are 22 Arab countries after all”, weren’t you? Who was talking about “incentive to STAY”? Or are you saying, either they should be loyal to the state (which is the wording I used –I don’t know what made you THINK I was referring to staying, wishful thinking on your part, perhaps?), or they should leave? Oh, is that your idea of democracy? Brilliant.

  6. I think it will be more complex and interesting than anyone expects. Much will depend on the state of the Palestinian State at the time. The state of states like Lebanon, Syria and Jordan (which can and will likely change in the next few decades as well) and the state of the Israeli citizens and inhabitants of non-Jewish heritage (is that more melodious? The use of Arab-Israeli, like the use of Mexican-American or Catholic Norther Irish is a demographic qualifier – one that is often misleading, I think, in what it suggests goes along with that “demographic.”) What one finds, sometimes, is that demographic/historical/ancestral roots do not always win the day. In California, for instance, the “anti-Lation” props like 187 are often heavily supported by 2nd and 3rd generation “Mexican-Americans.” They often – to a point – are more illegal immigration averse than “non-hispanic whites” (my favorite demographic classification du jour). Whether anything similar to that would happen in Israel, I have no idea, but one can certainly imagine some Israeli-Arabs being reluctant to a right of return for simple economic reasons, especially 20 or 25 years and another generation down the road.

  7. Tired– you have to keep in mind, the situation of “Arab-Israelis” (or “Israeli-Arabs”) is in no way comparable to the situation of the “Mexican-Americans”. It is not even about racial/ethnic stereotyping or for that matter anti-immigration policies, etc. It is things like, “Arab” villages 300 meters apart from Jewish ones have to PETITION the higher court of justice to be listed alongside the Jewish ones for compensation as “front-line towns”. The court could very easily reject the petition of course. In fact, often, in other cases that is, it has done so. But even the very idea of having to petition the court for something like this, which if you were Jewish you would’ve been entitled to automatically, is ridiculous.
    Another example is the situation of “unrecognized” “Arab” towns in Israel, especially in the Naqab/Negev desert. These villages are deliberately kept unrecognized, because being recognized means there would be electricity, water services, etc. There is no public transportation to Arab towns, and children have to walk kilometers every day to reach their schools often, and women are forced to stay at home rather than work because they have no other means of going to work (recent report on Ha’aretz).
    To even compare this situation to for example the situation in the West Bank & Gaza Strip is ridiculous; these people are CITIZENS of a state, and they are entitled to the same rights; saying that they have “relatively more rights” than their counterparts beyond the Green Line (i.e. the pre-1967 borders) is disgusting to say the least, and shows the sick mentality that rules in Israel and in pro-Israeli circles. There is no excuse for such mentality, just as there was/is no excuse for giving similar arguments for discriminatory treatment of “black Americans”, etc.

  8. In fact, equally disgusting is the situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, who are NOT citizens, and who, despite this fact, in my opinion, should receive EQUAL rights. The racism accompanied with these issues is disgusting. And Israel is no different than Lebanon in this respect, whether it’s a “first world” “industrialized” country or not, it makes no difference in the racist attitudes.

  9. Don’t forget that 1/4th of Palestinians inside Israel are “internal refugees”, e.g. were displaced from their villages are 1948, and are advocating for their return.

  10. Yeah – I was certainly not trying to make a strong analogy between the two situations – only pointing out one of many situations where a demographic does not alwasy act as they are “expected” to … I don’t pretend to have any idea how the situation will play out and much of it will depend on how other issues in the region develope, I would guess. But I can imagine that responses, especially as this will be an eventual developement, not a sudden action, will be more complex than is sometimes imagined. Of course, you could always end up with a situation similar to that of Lebanon where insitutionalized majority-turning minority (or overwhelming majority turning splintered majority) will try to hold on to power through legalistic means that force confrontation. I’m not claiming to have any great insight, I just think it play in ways that surprise people.

  11. yeah, we can each write what we think about these things, and i for one would tend to agree with your critique of it… the wording on this site is not the ‘best’… but, knowing that the group includes many anti-zionist who definitly work on refugee issues and the daily situation on the ground, we simply have better things to do than perfect our site.

  12. it’s not about perfecting your site. it’s about the statements you make and the publicized rationale behind your actions.

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