Gordon Campbell published a piece last week’s criticising John Key’s support for Mubarak in Egypt. It begins,
‘All very well that John Key is New Zealand’s third Jewish prime minister…’
Which reminds me of a lot of the discourse in New Zealand during the Israeli Air Force assault on Gaza in December 2008 – January 2009, which maintained that John Key was supporting the Israeli government because John Key is Jewish.
Now, if John Key was a socialist and a humanitarian known for his solidarity with people’s liberation movements worldwide, then I could see how his support for the Israeli state would seem unusual. But John Key is the leader of the New Zealand National Party, an organisation dedicated to upholding capitalism and Western imperialism. So his support of repressive regimes in Israel and Egypt is not some strange aberration. It is completely consistent with his political stance on everything else (and personally I think that the reason he’s framed this issue as being all about Israel is that he’s a moron who knows sweet fuck all about the Middle East, and is regurgitating American foreign policy lines in an effort to hide his ignorance).
Like John Key, I am Jewish. In many ways I am more stereotypically Jewish than John Key. Both my parents are Jewish, I was brought up in Israel, I speak Hebrew fluently, I celebrate Jewish holidays and I fix a mean bowl of vegan matzoh ball soup.
Unlike John Key, I am an anarchist and a communist. Which means that I am opposed to capitalism and Western imperialism, I support Palestinian struggles for self determination and I support the current Egyptian uprising against Mubarak.
Like John Key, my stance on Middle East politics is informed by my political views, not my ethnicity. To say that John Key’s political stance is based on his Jewish ethnicity is antisemitic. It assumes that all Jews share the same political views simply because we are Jews. Antisemitism is not OK. Seriously. Just because Zionists accuse anyone who supports Palestinian liberation of antisemitism does mean that it’s suddenly cool to be antisemitic. I get tired of saying this.
Now here, for your reading pleasure, are some other Jews who don’t share John Key’s opinion of Egyptian politics. I disagree with a lot of their analysis. This is because Jews are a diverse group of individuals who share a common sense of identity, not a common political analysis.
First of all, there’s Michael Warschawski’s piece on the Alternative Information Centre’s website, which is always a good source of info on Palestinian and Israeli politics.
This opinion piece by Roy Arad published in Ha’aretz criticises the hypocrisy of supporting democracy for Westerners but not for Arabs.
+972 also has some good commentary. Mati Shemoelof challenges the idea that Israel is a democracy. Yossi Gurvitz asks why people are so preoccupied with Islamic fundamentalism and not Jewish fundamentalism.
Outside Israel, Al Jazeera published a piece by Michael Lerner supporting the Egyptian revolt. Jew on this has a good critique of it, which also applies to a lot of the above articles (they also have a good range of links on the uprising).
Finally, my pal David Sheen put together this video of a solidarity demo in Tel Aviv. It gives you some idea of the racism and ignorance of the Israeli public. Which to be fair isn’t much different to the racism and ignorance of the New Zealand public. And another video of a different solidarity demo, which gives you some idea of the connections people are making between struggles in Egypt and Palestine/Israel.