Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Tariq Ali needs to get his act together on Zionism

Tariq Ali recently submitted an article to CounterPunch in which he announced that he would be boycotting the Turin Book Fair.

Fair enough. But why is the disclaimer that he supports "Israel's right to exist" necessary? To avoid anti-semitism accusations? If anti-Zionism is necessarily anti-Semitism, and pro-Zionism is necessarily pro-Semitism, how could one possibly be pro-Semitic before Theodore Herzl was born? Why support the right of a racist, colonial state to exist on stolen land, Mr. Ali? Zionism is racism according to its own founders' words, like Valdimir Jabotinsky:

"[T]he preservation of national integrity is impossible except by means of racial purity and for that purpose we shall have this territory where our people will constitute the racially pure inhabitants"


"It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonization. Colonization has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and by every Arab. Colonization has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same condition exists now. ... All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy."

And: “We must expel Arabs and take their places." David Ben Gurion, future Prime Minister of Israel, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.

And: "Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population." Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969.

The quotes are numerous, but you get the picture.

Also, Tariq's reasoning for boycotting the book fair, while partially useful, is nevertheless flawed. "So why did the Turin Book Fair not invite Palestinians in equal numbers? 30 Israeli writers and 30 Palestinian writers (and I promise you they exist and are very fine poets and novelists) might have been seen as a positive and peaceful gesture and a positive debate might have taken place."

Someone at the level of Ali's political activism ought to know of the call to boycott, divest and place sanctions on Israel. This includes cultural and academic boycott.

If the book fair had invited 30 KKK writers, would Ali have been content with the invitation of 30 African-American writers? Isn't it necessary to disinvite the KKK (and Israeli) writers?

Thank God Palestinians (and others who suffer from and resist Zionism like the Lebanese and Iraqis) aren't holding their breath for Tariq Ali to disprove of Zionism before standing up for themselves.


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Well said, Khawla. I think Tariq Ali genuflected at the altar of Israel's "right to exist" because he wants to be/continue be to a pundit, however infrequently, in the mainstream media. Support for Israel is the coin of the realm--at least the realm he wants to dally in. This, of course, doesn't mean that he doesn't really believe what he says.
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