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The Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology, Theory, Ideology and Identity by Uri R

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  • ummyakoub
    The Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology, Theory, Ideology and Identity by Uri Ram Book Review by Joachim Martillo The books is useful because it surveys a lot
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2003
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      The Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology, Theory, Ideology and
      Identity by Uri Ram

      Book Review by Joachim Martillo

      The books is useful because it surveys a lot of the important English
      and Hebrew sociological literature about the State of Israel. Non-
      Hebrew readers can thus gain some access to otherwise inaccessible
      scholarship. Because Zionist censorship for the most part controls
      US public discourse, the ability to cite genuine Hebrew sources can
      protect against McCarthy-style accusations of anti-Semitism.(*)

      I now understand more why so many Israeli sociologists write history
      books and articles. So much of Zionist social activity connects to
      various (mostly false) conceptions of Jewish history that Israeli
      sociologists need to develop a historical perspective in order to do
      sociological research.

      Because Uri Ram is a post-Zionist, he tries hard not to act as a
      Zionist propagandist. He is aware of the complete fabrication of
      modern Zionist identity. If I am not mistaken, his earliest important
      work describes how Ben-Zion Dinur and colleagues created the
      educational system in the 1950s that constructed the Zionist national
      consciousness first among Israeli Jews and then among American
      Ashkenazim.

      Before this propagandization, normal Rabbinic Hebrew terminology
      refers to the Jewish community as klal yisrael, the community of
      Israel. Thanks to the efforts of the Zionist educational
      establishment, ha`am hayyehudi (the Jewish nation or people in the
      Central and Eastern European völkisch racist sense) has gradually
      replaced klal yisrael in popular usage and popular consciousness
      among Israeli Jews, Ashkenazi Americans, non-Jewish Americans and
      many Europeans. While Ram even correctly labels the 1967 Israeli
      aggression as a preventive war and not as a preemptive war, he like
      all other Israel-trained sociologists occasionally shows the effects
      of the indoctrination of the Zionist educational system.

      Even though this relatively short book (207 pages) is quite lucid in
      comparison with sociological papers, the text is probably tough
      reading for the non-sociologist. The first chapters that discuss the
      initially dominant functional school of sociology are probably the
      hardest, but they contain useful information. In particular, the
      discussion supports the contention that Israeli academia does not
      constitute a system of higher learning in any real sense but plays
      the role of a system of higher propaganda. The material in these
      chapters provides support for the boycott of Israeli academics
      because they are mostly not scholars but serve Zionist aggression and
      racism on the intellectual front.

      The chapter on the sociology of elitism identifies the intellectual
      origins of the Israeli polity in Eastern Europe and bolsters the
      contention that Israel is a formal democracy that combines
      characteristics of interbellum Poland and other Eastern European
      states of that time period with aspects of the Soviet organizational
      model. Americans often have difficulty grasping this point that
      Israel is only an apparent democracy because they are unfamiliar with
      Eastern European pseudodemocratic posturing.

      The reader must approach some of the material in the discussion of
      elitism cum grano salis because Yonatan Shapiro, the creator of the
      Israeli sociology of elitism, was himself an unrepentant Labor
      Zionist and consciously or unconsciously confused the distinct
      ideologies of Fascism and Nazism. Shapiro has no problem identifying
      the authoritarian nature of Herut (Begin's) politics but is blind to
      the Leninist authoritarian style of the politics of Labor and its
      predecessors even though Ben-Gurion and most of the founders of Ahdut
      ha`Avodah were open and frank admirers of Leninist political
      techniques. Shapiro's prejudices make it difficult for him to
      understand of the fall of Labor from power in 1977 or to relate it to
      similar developments in Eastern Europe.

      The following comment (p. 72) in the chapter on elitism has qualified
      relevance to the politics of family values in the USA.

      "As for the role of 'values,' Shapiro insists that they are mere
      derivatives of strategic interests and instruments of domination,
      which cannot in themselves explain much about any social structure."

      Sami Smooha introduced the school of pluralism to Israeli sociology.
      I have not read much of his work, but if Ram describes it correctly,
      Smooha was daring by the standards of Israeli academia, but Zionist
      indoctrination has distorted his work, for he appears to view the
      accidentally fabricated Mizrahi (oriental Jewish) identity as
      comparable to Eastern European Ashkenazi ethnic identity.

      Shlomo Swirski introduced the Marxist perspective to Israeli
      sociology, but if Ram's description is accurate, he has not read much
      of Katznelson's, Arlosoroff's or Jabotinsky's writings, for he is
      unable to identify Labor Zionism as fascist and fails to perceive the
      abstract Nazism in Revisionism (Jabotinskian or Likud ideology).
      Swirski needs to investigate more about the behavior of Zionists in
      the pre-State period toward `edot hammizrah (oriental communities).

      The actions of pre-State Ashkenazi Zionists toward those few Oriental
      Jews, who wanted to assist the Zionist movement, shows that Ashkenazi
      Zionists had no genuine interest in Jewish Arabs or Persians and only
      worked to bring them to Israel when they realized

      1) that there were not enough Ashkenazi settler-colonists to hold
      Palestine and

      2) that the Zionist state needed a class of native collaborators as
      raw manpower and cannon fodder.

      Swirski believes that Israel needs a "second" Mizrahi Zionist
      revolution to achieve social equality. The point of view looks
      confused to me but was so offensive to the Israeli establishment that
      Swirski was driven from the Israeli university system. He is
      probably better off.

      The discussion of Israeli sociologists of feminism is interesting,
      but these researchers apparently do not know enough about Eastern
      European Ashkenazi gender roles or relations to provide much useful
      information about gender-related developments either among Israeli
      Jews or among American Ashkenazim. Nordau's concept of
      Muskeljudentum, a Judaism of conquest and violence, is probably a
      direct reaction to the traditional Central and Eastern European
      perception of Ashkenazi males as weak and effeminate. The gratuitous
      violence that the IDF commits on all Palestinians as well as the
      gross vulgarity of IDF soldiers toward Palestinian women and girls is
      probably a form of psychological compensation for historic European
      attitudes toward Ashkenazi males.

      In Ram's book, the best comes last. The Israeli sociology of
      colonization is closest to the reality of the State of Israel and
      Zionist crimes against the native population. Colonization
      sociologists have developed some interesting euphemisms and
      linguistic distinctions, but to their credit they have made more
      progress in bringing their analysis into public discussion than
      comparable American academic investigators and researchers of Israel
      have achieved.

      I liked the phraseology on page 176.

      "The Israeli economy is unique in that it does not rest either on a
      profit economy or on the accumulation of debt, but rather on
      unilateral capital transfers. This enables the Israeli ruling
      bureaucracy to maintain an enormous military establishment and
      simultaneously to guarantee a reasonable standard of living to the
      population."

      I would have bluntly stated that Israel has no genuine economy but
      serves purely as a racist Jewish garrison colony in the Middle East
      for its colonial motherland, the USA.

      Either formulation suggests the following obvious questions.

      1. What possible reason could Israeli leaders have for working for a
      reasonable modus vivendi with Palestinians? And

      2. what possible reason could Neoconservatives have to work for the
      stabilization of the ME?

      If there were no conflict over Palestine and if the Middle East
      became stable, the US-to-Israel capital transfers, which are directly
      or indirectly the major source of funds for the Zionist and
      Neoconservative leaderships, would end, for the American political
      leadership would no longer be able to justify the massive US economic
      support of the State of Israel.

      Israeli colonization sociologists are unfamiliar with the Czarist
      colonization enterprise in the Caucasus and Southwest Asia although
      it provides the template for Zionist efforts in Palestine (think
      Chechnya). These researchers also seem to lack an understanding of
      the collectivist nature of traditional Eastern European culture and
      in particular of traditional Eastern European Ashkenazi culture.

      Israeli sociologists have generally failed to relate modern Israeli
      culture (and modern Ashkenazi American culture) to traditional ethnic
      Ashkenazi culture because they are so entranced both by Zionist
      sloganeering for the negation of the Diaspora and also by Zionist
      myth of a single Jewish Volk -- even those researchers like Ram, who
      intellectually know that `am yehudi is purely a Zionist nationalist
      construct.

      The book itself provides inadvertent evidence that the traditional
      Eastern European Ashkenazi social mechanisms for the control of
      deviance are still operative (albeit weakened) among Israeli Jews
      just as they continue to exist among Ashkenazi Americans. While Ram
      is oblivious to the obvious need for a unified sociology of
      traditional Eastern European Ashkenazi culture in its Eastern
      European context and of the evolution of this culture both in the
      American and Israeli context, reading his book is well worth the
      effort, for gaining an understanding of the historical and current
      flawed state of Israeli sociology helps the reader to understand the
      Zionist enterprise and provides him with much data necessary to
      inform the American public of the truth and to combat Zionist
      propagandists in the USA.

      (*) Zionist control of public discussion in the USA about Israel is
      particularly obvious in the current murderous IDF rampage. I have
      yet to see any English media source connect the ongoing killing of
      Palestinians with the accusations of corruption against Sharon and
      his family. When Israeli leaders run afoul of the law or into
      trouble at the polls, they invariably order the IDF to slaughter
      Arabs as a distraction because killing Arabs is very popular with
      Israeli Zionists as Israeli polls have shown since the 1950s. Yet, no
      hint of the connection of Israeli domestic politics to Israeli murder
      of Palestinians appears anywhere in the US media.

      Important Book Review: Controlled Discourse, Occupied Voices
      Rafael Medoff describes "The Day Nathan Straus Went to Church" in
      Zionism and the Arabs (An American Jewish Dilemma 1898-1948). Nathan
      Straus is the wealthy philanthropist after whom the Israeli city of
      Netanya is named. The important Zionist leader, Rabbi Stephen Wise,
      persuaded Straus to send Reverend John Haynes Holmes, pastor of New
      York's Community Church to Palestine. The Zionist settlement
      impressed Holmes, but Holmes spoke with Palestinian Arab leaders and
      developed strong reservations about the undemocratic nature of the
      Zionist program. When another Zionist leader Julian Mack reported
      Holmes's findings to Straus, Straus rushed to the Community Church on
      Sunday, April 7, 1929, to "set Holmes straight" before Holmes could
      present the results of his conversations with Palestinians to his
      congregates.

      The pattern of the Zionist effort to control the presentation of
      Palestinian views and opinions to the American public has not changed
      over the last 75 years. Americans may only hear Palestinian voices
      through sanctioned mediators or through the approved filter.

      Wendy Pearlman addresses the disconnect between American discourse
      and ordinary Palestinians in hew new book, Occupied Voices (Stories
      of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada). She states in
      the "Introduction" on page xxvi, "Furthermore, it is my belief the
      widespread misrepresentations of Palestinians and the general dearth
      of materials allowing them to tell their own stories makes a
      collection of exclusively Palestinian interviews crucial at this
      time. For reasons of common culture and political history, Westerners
      tend to be more familiar with the Israeli narrative than its
      Palestinian counterpart. Palestinians deserve a forum in which they
      can speak freely. We in America, in Europe and even, if not
      especially, in Israel stand to gain tremendously if we stop and
      listen."

      Americans are so well trained at this point that the reviewer from
      Publisher's Weekly probably attacked the whole premise of the book
      purely out of conditioned reflex. He appears to believe that Pearlman
      should have been correcting and reeducating Palestinians instead of
      researching and revealing Palestinian opinion to the US public.

      "[Pearlman's] book grows out of her sojourn and '[provides] a window
      into the human dimension of their struggle' by letting the
      Palestinians speak for themselves. Think of it as Studs Terkel goes
      to the Middle East -- except that only one side in the conflict gets
      to speak. The first thing that emerges from these interviews is that
      the Palestinians have suffered a great deal -- if someone hasn't been
      hurt, jailed or degraded by the Israeli occupation, they know someone
      who has. 'The army just opens fire whenever it wants to,' says
      Mahmoud, whose house was razed by the Israeli army. But while
      Pearlman says her aim is to gain a deeper understanding of the
      Israeli-Palestinian conflict, some readers will come away only with
      despair, a sense that the conflict will never be settled. One
      Palestinian after another here shows an inability to see any
      legitimacy in the Israeli side, or to support an end to the current
      intifada or any attempts at peace â€" the moribund Oslo peace process
      is seen as a sellout. And when Pearlman fails to question such
      statements as that Israel has failed to comply with any U.N.
      resolution since 1948, many readers may despair regarding Pearlman as
      well."

      Despite the misguided complaints of the above review, American
      readers should be grateful that Pearlman has published this book, for
      the current level of US involvement in the ME requires that all
      Americans be aware of current Palestinian thinking whether true or
      false. If Palestinians believe something that Americans do not,
      Americans might want to consider the possibility that common wisdom
      in the USA may be wrong.

      Pearlman's transcriptions of Palestinian opinion are all valuable.
      Suzanne's comments on p. 54 are particularly worthwhile because US
      reporters and political analysts, who for the most part do not read
      or speak Arabic, rarely challenge Zionist and Israeli claims that
      Palestinian school textbooks are loaded with anti-Semitism and
      incitement.

      President Bush never fails to express his sympathy for victims of
      Palestinian terrorism even though he never criticizes Israeli state
      terrorism, but the toxic terror culture in Israel/Palestine is beyond
      understanding unless one is aware of the casual cruelty of Israeli
      policy even when the State of Israel does not employ deadly force. I
      direct the reader to pages 135-6 of Pearlman's book.

      This little book is a gem that should be in the library of anyone
      that tries to comprehend the issues in Palestine and the ME. It has
      flaws but they are minor. I wish the book had been accompanied by a
      CD that contained the original interviews. I understand the absence.
      Providing such a CD would have required effort from a sound engineer
      and probably would have delayed publication. Nevertheless, the value
      to a specialist in linguistics would have been immense.

      When Zionist forces murdered Arab Palestine with premeditation in
      1947-8, not only did they kill thousands of Palestinians and expel 80-
      90% of the native population from its homes, but they also followed
      up the ethnic cleansing with the bulldozing of hundreds of
      Palestinian villages in many cases 1000s of years old. Nowadays most
      scholars are aware that Zionists compounded their main crime against
      the native population of Palestine with an atrocity against the
      disciplines of ME archeology and anthropology, but philologists are
      generally less aware of the wealth of diachronic and synchronic
      Arabic and Semitic linguistic data that Zionists destroyed as they
      uprooted the native population of Palestine. If a CD had accompanied
      Occupied Voices, a specialist might have been able to analyze it to
      determine how much of the unique regional Palestinian phonemic,
      morphological, semantic and syntactic dialect features still survived
      among the current generation.

      *********************************************************************

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