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January 2003 • Vol 3, No. 1 •

The Hurt Pride of Uri Avneri

By Israel Shamir

The ultra-nationalist Israeli National Union Party (NU) called to cancel the Israeli citizenship of Uri Avneri, the well-known peace activist whom I admire for his courage, organizational abilities and persistence in struggle. Avneri wrote a response showing some troublesome tendencies. One would not pay attention to its faux pas if they were not so characteristic of the Israeli peace camp.

Avneri could have noticed that over one half of our country’s population has no Israeli citizenship, this prerogative of Jews and 1948 Arabs. The NU ideologists want to turn Avneri into a Palestinian? Very good, if the good people of Israel will be stripped of their Israeli citizenship, the blue passport with the Menorah would become a stigma of Jewish supremacists. But, instead of this, Avneri wrote:

The abysmal Chutzpah! The leader of the National Union party is Avigdor (Ivette) Liberman, a person brought up in the Bolshevik education system of Stalin and who has absorbed—as we can see—the racist and power-hungry attitudes of the red tyrant. He has come here when everything was ready, to a state that we have created (literally) with our blood, and now demands, no more no less, to cancel our citizenship.

Well, I have no love for Liberman, a right-wing thug and ex-night club bouncer, but despite being a Russian immigrant he is as much an Israeli citizen as the German immigrant Avneri. The racist Chutzpah is that of Avneri, who does not mind Russians protecting the Jewish state but would not like them to have their own opinion. “He (Liberman) has come here (to Israel) when everything was ready,” writes Avneri.

Yes, everything was ready: 90 percent of Palestinians were expelled and their property shared by Avneri and his chums. (It is well described by Tom Segev in his 1949.) Everything was ready: peasants of Sasa and Deir Yassin were already slaughtered and the survivors were pushed into refugee camps by Avneri’s generation. Everything was ready: the Arab land was confiscated and passed under control of Avneri’s fellows-in-arms, who meanwhile became the real estate developers. Everything was ready: the occupation was already in place when Liberman arrived.

Oh yes, occupation. Avneri is against occupation. He is for a Palestinian state—as long as his and his chums’ ill-gotten booty of 1948 remains in their hands. No return of refugees, no return of stolen property, no re-building of Palestinian villages, as it would undermine their prosperity and exclusive hold on power in Israel.

Uri Avneri, as the majority of the Israeli peace camp, belongs to the elite of Israeli society. He is an Ashkenazi Jew of the old generation, and these people control the Jewish state, supplying its generals, professors, politicians, businessmen, heads of Secret Service and newspaper owners, editors and columnists. This elitist minority feels that it owns Israel. They have differences of opinion, but they agree on one thing: no outsider should be let into the power structure.

The first to suffer from their elitist exclusivity were the Palestinians whom they expelled and dispossessed. But Avneri’s people, the Ashkenazi Jews, are generals and real estate developers. They needed soldiers and workers. In order to sustain their power they imported millions of people of Jewish origin from North Africa and Russia. These immigrants were supposed to fight for Avneri’s Israel and keep mum. They were not given a share in the “safe” spoils of 1948: but, as usual in criminal gangs, they were offered a “hot” stolen property, the lands snatched from the Palestinians on the territories occupied in 1967. It was a clever if dastardly act.

The generation of Avneri pushed the immigrants to the West Bank and ensured their devotion to the Jewish state, for real estate developers and Labor Party people of Avneri’s generation controlled 90 percent of the lands within the 1948 borders, the lands they did not buy but stole from the Palestinians. Now, Avneri’s generation has the best of both worlds. They kept the huge holdings stolen in 1948 and, through the good services of the Israeli peace camp they placed themselves into position of moral superiority towards immigrants. They forever spoke of giving up the conquests of ’67, of removing settlements mainly populated by immigrants and socially weak groups, but never of sharing Palestine with Palestinians, Moroccans or Russians.

They strictly kept the discourse in their hands. In the main Israeli newspaper, the Ha’aretz, there are no Palestinians, one token Moroccan and one token Russian (I occupied this position of dubious honor until I spoke for return of the Palestinian refugees to their villages). In Israeli universities these groups are equally under-represented.

Not in vain, Avneri’s people are much disliked by the Oriental Jews and by the Russians. Extremely manipulative, they created the “peace-loving” image for themselves and provided “war-mongering” masks for the Orientals and Russians.

But, as a matter of fact, the under-privileged communities of Palestine have much in common. They share the same food and customs, Oriental Jews speak Arabic, while many Russians belong to the same church as Palestinians. They frequently intermarry with Palestinians, at least as frequently as with the Ashkenazi ruling elite.

Now, the Russians represent 35 percent of the Israeli army. They were brought in to protect the 1948 trophies of Avneri’s chums, but this plan can misfire. The Russians and the Oriental Jews have no vested interest in the exclusivist Jewish state. They would be better off in one Palestine with full equality for all. It would undo the holdings stolen in 1948. Return of refugees would bury the exclusive political power of the Ashkenazi elite. But to achieve it, we need a different peace camp, not the one led by the titular head of Peace Now, the rich real estate broker and corporate lawyer Tsali Reshef.

Probably not even one led by Uri Avneri. For the strongest passion, the profound hate of his letter, is directed towards Communism. The peace camp of Reshef and Avneri is rabidly anti-Communist, totally devoted to the U.S. and connected with the liberal wing of New York Jewry. Avneri writes of “the Bolshevik education system of Stalin” and of “the racist and power-hungry attitudes of the red tyrant.” As an Ashkenazi Jew, he should daily pray for Stalin, who had sent millions of Russian soldiers to death to save the Jews. As for racism, Stalin was an angel in comparison with Avneri’s buddies who slaughtered and expelled non-Jews: Palestinian Christians and Muslims, Armenians, Germans, and enslaved the survivors.

The Bolshevik education system produced people striving for equality, rejecting racism and elitism. The rise of a racist Russian Jewish party in Israel is an achievement of a Zionist victory over the Bolsheviks, not that of the Bolsheviks. The power-hunger is rather the quality of the Ashkenazi elite: they never let anybody in and never share with others. They can’t acknowledge that the “red tyrant” undid their brethren’s hold over post-revolutionary Russia. Avneri and his group, the Peace Block, are fervent anti-Communists and natural enemies of equality.

Objectively, his outburst is the best propaganda for Liberman, as no Russian likes to hear about “Stalinist education” and “you came when everything was ready.” It is an ethnic jibe, if anything. Avneri’s small group is as totalitarian as any and has practically no Palestinians, Russians or Oriental Jews. For them, the peace camp is the exclusive occupation for wealthy, akin to golf. Indeed, when my first articles appeared on the Internet and brought in much response, the elitist peace campers received me as the Long Island golf club members meet a Schwartze [Black] golf pro.

Avneri’s attack on Russians and on communism comes in the critical pre-election time. In the elections soon to come, the Israelis will vote for a party, not for a candidate. The Communist Party of Israel is the only legal party in the land supporting equality and comprising Jews and non-Jews. Its leader is a Palestinian with a degree from Tel Aviv University, while wonderful Tamar Gozhansky occupies a modest second or third place on the list.

The Communist Party called on the Russian left and the Palestinians of 1948 to vote for them. Avneri prefers the Jewish supremacy parties, be it the Ashkenazi Labor of Mitzna or Yossi Sarid’s “Left for Wealthy.” For a supporter of the Palestinians, banning of the Arab MK [member of the Knesset] Azmi Bashara and Balad [the Arab political party] removed the vestiges of doubt: even if the court will overturn the decision, they have lost precious time.

Now there is no alternative: the Communist Party is the only one to vote for. This is the party with a proven record of struggle for equality, a party that tries to reach people of all under-privileged communities, the only one that is against Jewish supremacy, and the only one that has a chance to influence the forthcoming political struggles. Even more important, it is the party that you never will say “sorry I voted for them.”

And to my dear comrade Uri Avneri I shall say with all my Russian Bolshevik Chutzpah: the state for the privileged Ashkenazi Jews you fought for was established in New York. In Palestine, we should undo everything you did, in the interests of all native and adoptive dwellers of Palestine.

Editor’s note: Since the 1930s, the Israeli Communist Party followed Moscow’s general line. The USSR played realpolitik in its own interests with little regard for the health and welfare of the Palestinians—speeches and tokens excepted, of course. In the 1990s, the Comminist parties of the world lost the patronage from Moscow and a few, having to stand on their own two feet, rediscovered the working class and this is most welcome. There have also been non-Stalinist communist parties in Palestine during the same period. The most visible was the Trotskyist Israeli Socialist Organization, an affiliate of the Fourth International, which had considerable influence up until the 1970s when their members lost confidence in the revolutionary potential of the Jewish sector of the working class. This pessimism and the repressive powers of the Zionist state finally disoriented that group. Other small organizations in their tradition have arisen since, and several are known to be active. The excellent book, The Other Israel, edited byArie Bober; Doubleday, NY, 1972, includes essays and resolutions of the Israeli Socialist Organization up until 1971 and offers the reader a look at the politics of that organization. The book can be found through used book agencies on the Internet. —rh.





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