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Israeli Criticism of Zionism and of Israel's Treatment of the Palestinians: The Academics and Activists

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We, as Israeli citizens, raise our voices to call on EU leaders: use sanctions against Israel's brutal policies and join the active protests of Bolivia and Venezuela. We appeal to the citizens of Europe: please attend to the Palestinian Human Rights Organisation's call, supported by more than 540 Israeli citizens ( boycott Israeli goods and Israeli institutions; follow resolutions such as those made by the cities of Athens, Birmingham and Cambridge (US). This is the only road left. Help us all, please!"[18]

Judge Richard Goldstone's UN Commission of Inquiry which investigated the December 27, 2008 Israeli attack on Gaza and the Palestinian response made a number of findings that were critical of both Israel and Hamas. As reported in the New York Times, when, "Asked about accusations that he was antiIsrael," Judge Goldstone acknowledged he was Jewish and said, "It is grossly wrong to label a mission or to label a report critical of Israel as being antiIsrael."[19] While the UN Commission of Inquiry was widely attacked in Israel there were a number of Israelis who supported its critical findings.[20]

One of the most outspoken and courageous Israeli journalists is Amira Hass. Since 2000, Amira Hass has been the only Jewish Israeli reporter living in Occupied Palestine - formerly in Gaza City, and now based out of Ramallah. She is a correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz. [i]

There are many Israeli academics and intellectuals who are extremely critical of Zionism and of Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.[21] To quote a study published by a group affiliated with the Israel Academia Monitor:

...The opinions and claims of Israel academics against Jews, Zionism and Israel are discussed and analyzed in this study. It is estimated that some 20 to 25% of people who teach the Humanities and Social Sciences in Israel's universities and colleges have expressed extreme antiZionist positions, largely, though not exclusively, in regard to Israel's policies and actions visÃvis the Arab Palestinians . . . [22]

The fact is that many Israelis academics and activists have voiced strong criticism of Zionism and Israeli state policy toward the Palestinians.

Occupation Magazine which is published by a group of anti-Occupation Israelis has an archive of over 36,000 articles, many written by anti-occupation Israelis and Jews from around the world.[88] It also provides links to dozens of Israeli human rights organizations, many not listed in this article.[89] These Israeli human rights organizations include B'Tselem,[90] Machsom Watch,[91] Rabbis for Human Rights,[92] and The Israeli Public Committee Against Torture,[93] Yesh Gvul, the movement for soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) refusing to serve in the Occupied Territories[94] and Refusniks, young Israelis who refuse to serve in the Israeli military.[95]

For a collection of Israeli opposition to Zionism and opposition to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians one can review The Other Israel: Voices of Refusal and Dissent, edited by Roane Carey and Jonathan Shainin. It contains articles very critical of Israel's policies, written by 27 prominent Israelis. The Forward was written by a prominent Israeli author and journalist Tom Segev.[96]

The list of writers in The Other Israel include Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel's General Security Service or Shin Bet; Yigal Bonner professor at Tel Aviv University; author David Grossman; Aviv Lavie Haaretz media reporter; attorney Shamai Leibowitz; Ishai Menuchin, a major in the Israeli Defense Forces Reserves and head of Yesh Gvu l (the Israelis organization of selective refusal); Dr. Yigal Shocat former Surgeon General for the Israeli Airforce; Gila Svirsky chair of B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories; and Sergio Yahni co-director of the Alternative Information Centre, among others already cited in this article.[97]

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There is a growing concern amongst some Israelis that there is a growing rift between diaspora Jews and Israeli Jews. Professor Yehezkel Dror, the founding president of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI), "offered a somber take on relations between Israel and Diaspora Jewry" and pointed "the finger of blame at Israel's leadership for the growing rift between the two." Professor Dror stated that, "There is no ignoring the fact . . . that at the heart of the rift between Israel and Jewish communities abroad lies the notion that Diaspora youth have a negative views of Israel politically, nationally and socially." [98]

Gideon Levy in an interview with Mario Vargas Llosa, the prizewinning Peruvian writer and a laureate of the prestigious Jerusalem Prize, published in Haaretz quoted the distinguished author saying that "only the dissidents will save the State of Israel."[99]

Other critical voices from Israel's academia and activists circles include the late Professor Israel Shahak former Chair of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights;[23] the late Baruch Kimmerling, Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem;[24] retired Anthropology professor Jeff Halper now head of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions;[25] Tel Aviv University professor Gary Sussman;[26] Felica Langer, a well known human rights lawyer who left Israel and now resides in Germany;[27] Michael Warschawski, co-founder of the Alternative Information Center;[28] Eitan Bronstein Chair of Zochrot, which means "Remember," and works to remind Israelis about the Nakba or Palestinian catastrophe;[29] the late linguist and journalist Tanya Reinhart, Professor of theoretical linguistics and Media and Cultural Studies at Tel Aviv University and at the University of Utrecht;[30] the late Victoria Buch professor at Hebrew University;[31] Avi Kleinberg, professor of History at Tel Aviv University;[32] Dr. Yossi Dahan, Chair of the Adva Centre, manager of the Human Rights Division at the Academic College of Law in Ramat Gan, and an editor of Ha'Oketz;[33] author Gershom Gorenberg;[34] Sammy Smooha a sociologist who served as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Haifa;[35] Yossi Swartz professor at the Tel Aviv University Law School;[36] Allegra Pacheco, an Israeli human rights attorney, noted for prosecuting the first Israeli torture trial;[37] Rabbi Arik Ascherman, head of Rabbis for Human Rights; [38] Hannah Mermelstein, cofounder and codirector of Birthright Unplugged;[39] Carlo Strenger, professor of psychology at Tel Aviv University;[40] Oren Yiftachel, Geography professor Ben-Gurion University;[41] New Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe, presently the Chair of the History Department at the University of Essex in England, and formerly of history department of the University of Haifa in Israel;[42] world renown author Jacobo Timerman;[43] Neve Gordon Chair of the Political Science Department at Ben-Gurion University;[44] Avraham Oz, associate professor of theater at the University of Haifa;[45] Dror Etkes, who headed Peace Now's Settlements Watch Project for five years and now heads the Land Advocacy Project of Yesh Din, a group working against violation of Palestinians' rights by settlers;[46] Erik Schechter, the former military correspondent for The Jerusalem Post;[47] Yosefa Loshitzky, Professor of Film, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of East London;[48] Yacov Ben Efrat of Challenge Magazine;[49] Amos Oz, who Steven Plaut describes as "arguably Israel's bestknown writer;"[50] and another famous Israeli writer with an international reputation, A.B. Yehoshua;[51] Tikva Honig-Parnass, editor of Between the Lines;[52] author and journalist Amnon Kapeliouk;[53] Oren Ben-Dor, professor of Legal and Political Philosophy at the School of Law, University of Southampton, UK;[54] Gilad Atzmon, author of two books and numerous articles, and also one of the most accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe;[55] prolific writer Israel Shamir;[56] Amia Lieblich, professor of Psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and author of numerous books on the psychology of Israeli society including Tin Soldiers on Jerusalem Beach;[57] Haaretz columnist Nehema Shtrasler;[58] IsraeliAmerican human rights lawyer Sari Bashi;[59] Adam Atsan an IsraeliAmerican who is involved in Kesher Enoshi: Progressives For Activism in Israel;[60] author Akiva Orr;[61] David Newman, professor of political geography at BenGurion University and editor of the International journal, Geopolitics;[62] author Susan Nathan;[63] author and journalist Yael Lotan;[64] Israeli Television correspondent Yigal Laviv;[65] professor of political science at Tel Aviv university Ze'ev Maoz;[66] Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken;[67] Haaretz editor Danny Rubinstein;[68] and Yitzhak Laor, one of Israel's most distinguished poets, novelists and a longtime editor and writer for the daily newspaper Haaretz, who also edits an independent journal of literature and political thought, Mita'am;[69] Adi Opir professor of philosophy at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University and also a fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute;[70] Akiva Eldar, Israeli journalist and author, currently chief political columnist and editorial writer for Haaretz;[71] journalist Meron Rapoport;[72] an orthodox Jewish studies professor who writes under the nom de plume of Jeremiah (Jerry) Haber and runs the Magnes Zionist blog;[73] B. Michael one of Israel's most respected journalists who until recently with writing for Yedioth Aharonoth;[74] Ran HaCohen professor at Tel Aviv University's Department of Comparative Literature and a literary critic for the Israeli daily Yedioth Achronoth;[75] journalist Shraga Elam;[76] Hillel Cohen Research Fellow at the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem;[77] Haaretz journalist and editorial Board member Avirama Golan;[78] Shai Lahav Editor of the art and culture supplement to Ma'ariv, the country's most rightwing newspaper;[79] journalist and former IDF conscript Seth Freeman;[80] Yehouda Shenhav professor at Tel Aviv University and the editor of Theory Criticism, an Israeli journal in the area of critical theory and cultural studies;[81] Eyal Sivan, one of Israel's leading film makers;[82] Elana Maryles Sztokman, author, educator, writer, researcher and regular contributor to The Jerusalem Post;[83] Adam Keller journalist and a founder of The Other Israel;[84] and Gideon Spiro, a former Israeli Sergeant and journalist;[85] Israeli Professor Ada Yonath 2009 Nobel Prize winner for chemistry;[86] to name only a few of the many Israelis who are anti-Zionist, non-Zionist or extremely critical of Zionism and Israel's policies toward the Palestinians.[87]

[1] See "Jewish Criticism of Zionism," by Edward C. Corrigan, American Arab Affairs, Winter 199091, Number 35, pp. 94-116.

[2] Charles Glass, "Jews Against Zionism: Israeli Jewish AntiZionism," Journal of Palestine Studies, Autumn 1975/ Winter 1976, p. 57.

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[3] "Professor Leibowitz Called for Counter Terror: 'Had I been Younger I Would Have Done It My Self,'" Yediot Aharonot, February 13, 1983, cited in Uri Davis, "Israel's Zionist Society: Consequences for Internal Opposition and the Necessity for External Intervention," Judaism or Zionism, eds. EAFORD and AJAZ, (London: Zed Books, 1986), p. 200. For more of his views see Joe Franklin, "Interview with Yeshayahu Leibowitz," AmericanArab Affairs, Fall 1988, pp. 7577.

[4] "Elsewhere, perhaps," by Gideon Levy, Haaretz, September 9, 2003. See also "One racist nation," by Gideon Levy, Haaretz, March 26, 2006; and "The threat of the demographic threat," by Gideon Levy, Haaretz, July 22, 2007.

[5] "The soft underbelly and the victim," by Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz, August 26, 2009.

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EDWARD C. CORRIGAN SHORT BIO Edward C. Corrigan holds a B.A. in History and a Master's Degree in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. Ed also has a Law Degree from the University of Windsor and was called to the Bar of the (more...)

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