zaterdag 9 juli 2011

Ami Isseroff: de socialistische zionist

 

Onderstaand artikel van Fresno Zionism is wel herkenbaar voor ons, ook wij werkten met Ami samen en hadden soms lange discussies met hem. Ami wist alles. Nou ja, bijna alles, en gelukkig schreef hij veel van wat hij wist op en is dit op zijn websites en blogs, maar ook in diverse mailingroepen nog te vinden. Hij had uitgesproken ideeën over wat de essentie is van het zionisme (geen nederzettingen, geen 'God gaf ons het land', geen ontkenning van Palestijnse claims op hetzelfde land, maar juist de zoektocht naar vrede en verzoening, zonder bij dit alles Israels belangen en veiligheid uit het oog te verliezen zoals veel vredesactivisten doen:

 

A remarkable intellect, Ami was uncompromising both in his Zionism and, believe it or not, his socialism.  "I'm opposed to occupation, a member of the 'peace camp' and always will be," he told me. But despite this, he well understood the nature of the Arab leadership and had no illusions about what would result from precipitous concessions. He kept his Zionist compass intact when many of his left-wing friends were losing theirs. Ami proved that it's possible to be a left-wing Zionist today.

 

Ik hoop dat meer mensen dit bewijs zullen leveren. Te vaak wordt zionisme gelijk gesteld met de Groot Israel gedachte, met rigide religieuze claims en met het onderdrukken van Palestijnen. Voor Ami bleef zionisme wat het oorspronkelijk was: de nationale bevrijdingsbeweging van het Joodse volk, de idee dat de Joden als volk recht hebben op een eigen staat, op zelfbeschikking, en ook op het begaan van stommiteiten. Joden zijn niet beter of slechter dan andere volken, hebben geen speciale opdracht of missie, geen privileges, en dienen naar dezelfde maatstaven beoordeeld te worden als andere volken. Het zionisme was van oorsprong een progressieve beweging, welhaast een revolutionaire beweging, en is dat in de kern nog steeds. Ami schreef veel over de geschiedenis van het zionisme en de verschillende vormen van antizionisme.

 

We often argued. Insofar as I can remember, he never gave in on anything. Usually I just let the argument peter out. He believed that I should write "West Bank" instead of "Judea and Samaria" because "nobody to the left of Meir Kahane will read you." I responded that I refused to let the Jordanian occupation define the Jewish homeland. We never settled this, of course.

 

Ami richtte zich niet op de vaak conservatief ingestelde mede zionisten, maar het 'normale' gewone publiek, en dat denkt bij Judea en Samaria aan kolonisten in Hebron die 'dood aan de Arabieren' schreeuwen en hun huizen inpikken.

 

He hated religion. I thought Judaism was a positive force. Once I wrote something that included the word 'hashem'. Almost immediately, I received an email: "'Hashem?' Did you lose your mind?" We didn't settle this, either.

 

Hij haatte vooral de religieuze claims van Joden en Arabieren op het land, en de religieuze intolerantie en rigiditeit. Als ik teksten tegen kom waarin het woord 'hashem' staat zijn het bijna altijd extreme teksten die ieder compromis als landverraad wegzetten, de eigen kant als 100% goed en de Arabieren als 100% fout bestempelen. Dit soort ideeën zijn nou juist de oorzaak van het conflict en de onoplosbaarheid ervan. Ami spaarde de eigen extremisten niet, en dat kon niet iedereen waarderen. In fellere bewoordingen dan andere zionisten nam hij afstand van mensen die in zijn ogen het zionisme slechts bezoedelden en de antizionisten in de kaart speelden.

Het maakte zijn teksten betrouwbaarder in de ogen van seculiere niet-zionisten en niet-Joden.

Ik heb ontzettend veel van Ami geleerd en zal zijn grote nalatenschap aan informatie nog vaak raadplegen. Ook zal ik hier enkele goede artikelen van hem posten. 

 

Ratna Pelle

--------------------------- 

 

Ami Isseroff

http://fresnozionism.org/2011/07/ami-isseroff/

Ami Isseroff died this week. A remarkable intellect, Ami was uncompromising both in his Zionism and, believe it or not, his socialism.  "I'm opposed to occupation, a member of the 'peace camp' and always will be," he told me. But despite this, he well understood the nature of the Arab leadership and had no illusions about what would result from precipitous concessions. He kept his Zionist compass intact when many of his left-wing friends were losing theirs. Ami proved that it's possible to be a left-wing Zionist today.

Naturally he took vicious hits from both the Left and the Right. That didn't stop him. An amateur historian (though he had a doctorate in Psychology and worked in computer software), he always knew the facts far better than his opponents.

I first made his acquaintance shortly after I started blogging in 2006. Ami was always helpful to a fault, despite the fact that he and I disagreed about almost everything except the importance of the Jewish state.

We often argued. Insofar as I can remember, he never gave in on anything. Usually I just let the argument peter out. He believed that I should write "West Bank" instead of "Judea and Samaria" because "nobody to the left of Meir Kahane will read you." I responded that I refused to let the Jordanian occupation define the Jewish homeland. We never settled this, of course.

He hated religion. I thought Judaism was a positive force. Once I wrote something that included the word 'hashem'. Almost immediately, I received an email: "'Hashem?' Did you lose your mind?" We didn't settle this, either.

Ami was, above all, practical. "What you are doing is supposed to be hasbara, not making yourself feel good. Always ask yourself what the effect of your writing will be. And never lie." He often made the point that only a tiny percentage of the world's population is Jews, so why do we aim so much of our efforts at them?

He was fond of sending emails entitled "Hasbara this" describing things done by the Israeli government, the IDF or in Israel's name that he felt were public-relations disasters.

His greatest scorn was reserved for Israeli politicians who made empty threats and right-wing bloggers who made Israel appear to be belligerent. One well-known blog had a banner that read "There is only a military solution." This annoyed Ami no end — he tried to get the blogger to remove it (finally it was changed to "There is no diplomatic solution." He wasn't mollified). He would say "Israel must always be for peace first and foremost," although he understood the need to be prepared for the worst.

Here's an example of his writing, from an important 2008 article called "The future of Jewish anti-Zionism – a Zionist analysis":

In large part, the Arab Palestinian anti-Israel movement is led not by Palestinian Arabs or anti-Semites, but by Jews. Halper, Beinin, Rose, Pappe, Chomsky, Finkelstein and Brian Klug, rather than Alloush, Abunimah, Fayyad Husseini, Qaukji, Tamimi and abu Youssef, are the intellectual mainstays of the movement to wipe out the Jewish state. Their English is much better, and they can cast their ideas in slogans acceptable to western culture. "Secular Democratic State" sounds so much better than "Drive the Jews into the Sea" to a good progressive, doesn't it? It is hard to label them as "anti-Semites." It is hard to discredit their lies. If a Jew and an Israeli says that Zionists commit war crimes, it must be true.Their appearances and their books and articles are lauded in the Arab world, and reprinted in Al-Ahram and Roz el Youssef alongside the latest "proofs" of the authenticity of the blood libel and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Not since al-Andalus (Moorish Spain) have Jews enjoyed such a Golden Age.

But he also wrote this (2007):

ZOA speaks for the extreme end of the revisionist movement, generating a message that alienates all but the most committed Zionists. The Zionist right in the US has struggled mightily to convince everyone that Zionism is synonymous with settlers and settlements and with the Greater Israel movement. That is exactly the point that the anti-Zionists are trying to make of course. The opposition score a goal every time Mort Klein and the ZOA come out against another peace initiative.

Ami believed that the Internet was the theater in which the information war between Israel and her enemies would be fought, and did what he could to create effective grass-roots support for Israel in cyberspace.

He was responsible for numerous blogs and informational websites, including MideastWeb, a resource for historical information, documents, timelines, etc. and ZioNation, an opinion blog. Unlike many writers — including academics and professional journalists — he understood the difference.

I last saw Ami in his home in Rehovot this January. He had already suffered a stroke which made typing difficult; but he continued his blogging and correspondence with help from his family and many friends. I learned many things from Ami, but one of the most important was that the labels of 'left' and 'right' often obscure reality more than elucidating it.

May his memory be a blessing and an inspiration.

You can read the eulogy written by his brother Hadar here.

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