Discussing Hamas with Allister Sparks

I had the very good fortune to spend a couple of hours today chatting with Allister Sparks, the legendary South African journalist who was editor of the gutsy Jo’burg paper the Rand Daily Mail for four crucial years 1977-81 when it was a leader in uncovering many of the sins of apartheid. What I hadn’t realized before talking to him was the degree to which, in recent years, he has turned his considerable energies and wisdom to trying to understand– and in in his own way to start to de-escalate– the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
(By the way, we’re both in Doha. We’ve been at the World Press Freedom Day event here.)
In particular, he told me a bit about the personal fact-finding trip he made in September 2006 to Damascus, to talk with the Hamas leaders there. After undertaking that trip, he went to Israel and the occupied territories, traveling around quite widely and talking to lots of people there, too.
I’ve looked for an online version of things Sparks wrote at the time about the trip, but have so far been able to find only the account that appears in the bottom half of this January 2007 article.
Sparks was quite forthright in telling me thought the situation in the occupied territories is “like apartheid– or worse.”
In the piece I linked to he wrote,

    When I ceased to be Editor of the Rand Daily Mail and other papers and became a foreign correspondent for the Washington Post el al, I decided to visit the ANC in exile and check out those preconceived impressions. As I think you know, it was an eye-opening experience for me to discover how sophisticated and pragmatic they were. It was an experience that changed my entire outlook on what should happen in my own country.
    Recalling that, I decided to do the same with Hamas. So last September, on my own account and for my own personal interest, I flew to Damascus and spent two days at Hamas headquarters talking to their exiled leaders. Again it was an eye-opening experience to hear their side of the story and
    discover the degree to which they, too, are sophisticated, pragmatic people who I believe are the only ones capable of negotiating a peace agreement that could stick – since, like the ANC, they are the only ones whose control extends to the people with the guns.
    I came away with five hours of tape recorded conversation with these key leaders whom the authorities of both Israel and the US refuse to speak to – because they are “terrorists.” I don’t know of any other Western journalist who has done this. Why? Why haven’t these men and women who have preached to me over so many years about the importance of balanced reporting and getting “the other side of the story” done what I, with no funding or backing of any big organization, did?

Well, Allister, I have done it– also, like you, with no funding or backing from any big organization.
Anyway, I wanted to blog quickly here about a couple of the things he told me that struck a particular chord.
He said that when he was in Damascus, he had several long conversations with Mousa Abu Marzook, often described as Hamas’s deputy leader. (Khaled Meshaal was busy in meetings, but Sparks had one or more conversations with him by phone while he was there.)
He said that in those talks, he pitched to Abu Marzook the idea that if Hamas was successful in getting a hudna with (and therefore a meaningful degree of independence from) Israel, then they would most likely need to have numerous joint committees to coordinate various aspects of life… and that over time the work of those committees might become increasingly important, and the relations between Israel and Palestine would evolve into something like the EU, and later on into a single confederated body, something like Switzerland…
He said Abu Marzook expressed considerable interest in that idea. Later, when Sparks was in Israel, he pitched it to our mutual friend Yossi Alpher, who’s a ‘peacenik’ of the Left-Zionist variety, who had been born in the US and migrated to Israel as a young adult.
Sparks said that Alpher looked at him, absolutely aghast and finally stuttered, “But then we wouldn’t have Jewish state! It would be like living in a diaspora again– and this time, in such a dangerous place!”
Sparks remembered the word “diaspora” in there, very clearly. It is, obviously, a very strange word to use, since Yossi would still have been living in exactly the same place he’s living now.
Also, if the Israeli-Palestinian would have been solved for some time by that point, why would he think it would still be “dangerous”?
Sparks said he started to try to tell Alpher that he understood, perhaps, some of his consternation because he had watched the intense fear with which the Afrikaaners in his own country used, back in the bad old days, to view the prospect that their own political control over all of South Africa might one day have to be ended or diluted.
“I would have told him that the situation of the Afrikaaners in South Africa now is far better than it was in the days of apartheid. They are doing so well there these days! But I couldn’t tell him because he was still just too flabbergasted by the audacity of what I had proposed. I must say i was surprised by the vehemence of his reaction.”
Sparks then proceeded to tell me a number of things about the Afrikaaners and their culture that I hadn’t known before. He said that most of the Afrikaans-speaking ‘Whites’ had stayed in South Africa after the transition to democracy. (The country’s English-speaking “Whites”, by contrast, had many other options elsewhere– in Britain, Canada, Australia, the US, or New Zealand. So a greater proportion of them than of the Afrikaaners left once they’d lost their cushy, uber-privileged spot inside the system.)
He added,

    The Afrikaaners had no other place to go. South Africa was the only place they had to call ‘home.’ And since 1994, there has been a real flowering of Afrikaans-language culture in the country. Lots of poets and writers from their community who had started to write in English have been returning to Afrikaans. Did you know that the fourth largest media conglomerate in the whole world is one that started out as a small, regime-backed Afrikaans-language newspaper?

This is, by the way, the company that owns “News24” in South Africa… Allister said it also now owns a good chunk of People’s daily in China, and of Chinese Central TV. Who knew?
Oh, and on why the present situation in Palestine is worse than apartheid, he made these points:

    1. The land area of the Palestinian “archipelago” is so much more fragmented, and so much smaller in toto, than that of any of the Bantustans;
    2. “There was never a bloody great Wall around any of these Bantustans, let alone inside them, cutting them into even smaller fragments.”
    3. “The apartheid regime probably really did want the Bantustans to succeed. They invested much more in them than most people realize… But of course, even with all that investment, the project could never have succeeded.”

We also talked a little bit about Sparks’s former colleague (employee?) Benji Pogrund, another left Zionist who’s noticeably less of a peacenik than Alpher. I am interested in the fact that both Alper and Pogrund are people who made a conscious decision to immigrate to Israel when they were already adults. (In Pogrund’s case, already a very mature adult indeed.) For both of them, living as they previously did, in pretty darn secure places with good continuing prospects, migrating to Israel represented a conscious decision to participate in the Zionist project… So for them, perhaps, the concept of “Israel as a Jewish state” is something they’ve invested a lot in and believe in quite defiantly… Whereas most, or perhaps all, of the Jewish-Israeli supporters of a one-state (South African style) solution that I know are people who grew up in Israel…
Anyway, one big thought I had was that it would be excellent to bring Allister to the US to do some speaking gigs about the Palestine situation. He hasn’t been there since February 2006, when he did this interview with Amy Goodman. (At the very end there, he expresses some some support for the one-state idea.)
And since then, he’s been to Damascus, gained a lot more information, insight, and wisdom into the Palestine situation.
If not a live interview, why not a good, well-organized video-conference? He really is someone who can add some deep experience and valuable perspective to this whole discussion.
Do it soon, somebody!

41 thoughts on “Discussing Hamas with Allister Sparks”

  1. The Dirty Lowdown
    To a greater degree than perhaps ever before, Washington today is engulfed in denial about Israel and its stupefying behavior, about its murderous policies toward the Palestinians, about the efforts of Israel and its U.S. defenders to force us to ignore its atrocities.
    Blinders have always been part of the attire of U.S. policymakers and politicians with regard to Israel and Israeli actions, but in the wake of the three-week Israeli assault that laid waste to the tiny territory of Gaza — an assault ended very conveniently just before Barack Obama was inaugurated, so that he has been able to act as though it never occurred — the perspective from which Washington operates is strikingly more blinkered than ever in the past.

  2. Ja, well, no, fine, Allister Sparks is a good journalist. One of the best. It’s only when you make him your pundit that the intellectual gaps start to show. In his trips to Lusaka he discovered that the ANC was not a bunch of wild-eyed fuzzy-wuzzies. Instead of that myth, he fell for a different one, that of Thabo Mbeki, the myth that says the people at the top “control” everything, and most especially the guns.
    The integration of political and military is a very explicit and serious topic in revolutionary circles but it is the kind of discussion that bourgeois journalists tend to flick away as “propaganda” and so on.
    In your reports of Hamas and Hezbollah, Helena, one could read empirically that these organisations, like our ANC, had mobilised the people as a collective subject, as opposed to “controlling” them in the way that Mbeki tried and failed to do. I don’t know for sure whose side you would be on in SA, but I do know that Sparks is still on the side of “control”.
    So full marks to both Cobban and Sparks for reporting Hamas, but let’s not lose all critical distance. Sparks is still to some extent wearing his colonial solar topee hat, hacking through jungles and trudging across deserts in search of Chiefs to make treaties with.

  3. We actually had a good conversation about Mbeki and Zuma, to. Sparks said he’d had high hopes for Mbeki but rapidly became deeply disappointed with him– because of his rigid intellectual arrogance. (Maybe another aspect of ‘control’?) He also said that though he had deep reservations about Zuma, the important good thing he sees in him is his ability to connect to the people. So I’m not sure the solar topee is his natural headgear?

  4. Didn’t you once write that your father used to wear a solar bowler? So did mine.
    Sparks is no mug. He is a national treasure. Obviously he made a mistake with Mbeki. The very thing that attracted him to Mbeki’s Lusaka scene was the same thing that now repels him.
    Sparks flew in his interaction with Alpher, and he captured them. That’s great journalism, no doubt about it.
    But control versus popular agency is still the name of the game and Sparks is not a populist. Great journalist, lousy politician. That’s not unusual, is it?

  5. Alpher’s instinctive reaction, “But then we wouldn’t have a Jewish state!”, gives the game away. It’s not a settlement with the Palestinians that the Zionists want, it’s the disappearance of the Palestinians, their nonexistence. Everything else is window dressing.

  6. Zionists have been preaching hatred, fear, racism and bigotry to Israeli’s for so long they are starting to be poisoned by their own ideology.
    When the head Rabbi of the IDF says to show no mercy to Palestinians, as that is a fault of us Gentiles, you have to wonder if Israel isn’t becoming completely unhinged.
    If Israel does disappear from the pages of time, it will be due to all of that hatred, racism and bigotry coming back to haunt them into oblivion.

  7. …and the relations between Israel and Palestine would evolve into something like the EU, and later on into a single confederated body, something like Switzerland…
    That’s what I’ve been saying for years. I don’t think that just becuase your friend Alpher reacted in a certain way that he speaks (or thinks) for all Israeli “peaceniks”, as you call them – whether on the “left”, “right” or “center”. (Interesting, you wouldn’t think of calling Abu Marzuk or Khalid Meshal as “peaceniks”, would you?)

  8. JES–You favor a confederated solution like Switzerland? That’s good to know (no snark intended). How would that work?
    I’ve long thought something like that would be best, but have also long believed it wasn’t realistic on any forseeable timescale, which is why I’m a reluctant two state solution person. (Not that it matters in the slightest what I favor anyway).
    You seem like one of the hardnosed Israeli denizens in Helena’s comment section, so it’s interesting to see there’s a peacenik underneath it. (No snark intended there either).

  9. “JES–You favor a confederated solution like Switzerland? That’s good to know (no snark intended). How would that work?”
    It is also the kind of future solution Shimon Peres envisioned when he persuaded Rabin to enter direct negotations with the PLO in Olso.
    That was the significance of the PLO and Israel formally recognising each other in 1994!
    And it is exactly what Hamas and their fellow travellers have been seeking to destroy ever since.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but the ANC never had a covenant dedicated to the destruction of the Afrikaaners and the imposition of fundamental jihadi rule over South Africa?

  10. ZA is strange because “both sides” also had the heritage, not in living memory but perhaps passed down, of how their national (proto?) states both the Zulu Empire and the Boer Republics, had been shaped by war against each other and massacre, colonization, and camps or passbooks by the Brits. As a result, the atavistic past of Shaka, Dingane, and Piet Retief and Kruger loomed large in the minds of all, as a way-of-dying to which no one wished to return, whereas Palestinian nationalists are nostalgic for Izzedine al-Qassam and the Great Revolt, and make no bones about the illegitimacy of a Jewish population, whether protected by a Jewish State in part of Palestine or not.
    If Palestinian nationalists could view the nakba as partly self-inflicted, as the Afrikaner leadership of 1914 could see 1898-1901, it would grant them the flexibility to deal with Israeli Jews on an other-than-militant basis, while an Israel that was more cognizant of what happened to “friendly” villages that were still cleared in ’48 (like Sheik Munis) and the costs of the Occupation would be more capable of ceding land for peace.

  11. You seem like one of the hardnosed Israeli denizens in Helena’s comment section…
    Perhpas that’s simply because I (and the other “hardnosed Israeli denizens”) commenting on this site are contrasted with the “hardnosed” people from the other side.
    I think that BB is correct about Peres, Rabin and Oslo. That is why I was a strong supporter of Oslo, and counted myself, from about 1968, in the “peace camp” whose members Helena likes to drink lattes with on her annual visits.
    BB is also correct: Hamas consciously tried to destroy what had been achieved with their campaign of bombings.
    You ask “How would that work?”. Well, let me give you a clue. It wasn’t forced upon the Swiss from the outside. Neither was the EU forced on the Europeans.
    BTW, it occured to me. Not only would Helena never dream of referrig to Khaled Meshal or Abu Marzuk as “peaceniks”. She probably also wouldn’t dare append to that description “of the Islamic-Fundamentalist variety”.

  12. LOOOOOL! And Israel did not consciously try to destroy what little was “achieved” at Oslo by escalating land confiscations, colonization, limitations on freedom of movement, house demolitions, etc., etc., etc.
    There is no deception quite like self-deception, is there?

  13. JES, I’m glad to see you’ve poked one foot out of the defensive lager in which you’ve been crouching for the past few months, and have started to share with us your support for a Swiss-style “confederation” formula in I/P. Previously– a long time ago, actually, well before the Gaza war– you used to say you were for the evacuation of all the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Are those two slightly different positions? Has your thinking been moving slightly; if so why? I am sincerely interested. There’s potentially a lot to talk about here.
    For my part I don’t think the Swiss-style confederation formula looks any better than the unitary binational state formula– and it also looks a LOT more complex to try to put into practice. Why not just go for the unitary binational formula, from the get-go?
    Being binational would mean there would be full support and equal rights for Hebrew speakers and Arabic speakers, and for their cultures. Being a unitary state means that all citizens would be equal in all respects before the law; and no special legal or economic privileges would be granted to members of any one group on the basis of that membership. No more “Jewish Agency” dominating land-use decisions for 93% of the country’s land, on behalf of that amorphous entity “the Jewish people everywhere”. No more “Right of Return” for any person of the Jewish faith anywhere in the world while Palestinians who have completely legitimate claims to their own families’ homes and properties, and to full and equal citizenship in the land of their birth, are prevented from exercising those rights.
    In SA, there are nine provinces; and the cultural character and provisions for culture- and language- support are slightly different in each. I’m not sure whether, given the deep intertwining of the two population in P/I, such geographic differentiation of the application of cultural provisions would be possible. (Its that inter-twining that would make a Swiss-style outcome very hard to implement, too.) But at least in I/P, we are only talking about two languages, whereas in SA there are 11. Whereas you can, just, make provisions for 11 languages to be recognized as “official” at the national level, it would be quite unworkable– and in any case unnecessary– to have all recognized as “official” at the level of each individual province.
    Anyway, JES, if you want to send me a piece laying out your thinking on these matters, I’d be happy to publish it.

  14. First Helena, I think it is rather presumptuous of you to place me in a “defensive lager” – crouching or otherwise. That’s a cheap shot, and I might suggest that it is actually you who has shown signs of being on the defensive. But that is neither here nor there.
    You are right about one thing: a Swiss-style confederation model – or even a loose federation based on mutual economic needs – more complex (i.e. harder work) than a bi-national state. The problem is, that neither side wants a bi-national state right now if we are to look at the polling numbers. And even if we are to look at the recent FAFO polls 33% of Palestinians questioned want that “unitary” state, as you call it, to be an Islamic one (while only 20% want equal rights for all). I think that you can appreciate that this is totally unacceptable to Jewish Israelis.
    Yes, both sides will have to work for this. I would say that the younger generation of Israelis (both Jews and Arabs) are quite ready for at least the first stages. I am less optimistic about the other side. As I said above, my generation was, by and large, firmly behind Oslo. Unfortunately, the other side blew it – and they blew it big time.
    I am drawn back to Abdallah Larui’s book The Crisis of the Arab Intellectual in which he argued that the Arabs (and he referred specifically to the Palestinians) should begin taking responsibility for their actions just as the Jews had done. Unfortunately, while he saw that, over the decade or so prior to the publication of the book, that they had, it didn’t quite pan out that way.
    You know, Helena, it would be nice if you could get your facts straight and not simply parrot propaganda. The Jewish Agency does not control 93% of the land in Israel. That’s the Lands Administration Authority, and like the Muslim waqf, that controls land use for that amorphous entity “the Muslim people everywhere”, the Lands Authority cannot sell land to anyone without special permission.
    Now, perhaps you’d care to answer my question, because I asked it in all seriousness. Why is it that you feel so free to refer to your latte-drinking acquaintences in Israel as “peaceniks”, yet you would never dream of referring to Khaled Meshal or Abu Marzuk as “peaceniks”, and certainly never as “Islamic-fundamentalist peaceniks”? Now, why don’t you get out of defensive crouch and think about a good answer to that question.

  15. JES, ‘peacenik’ to me is a good attribute. I guess I would use it mainly for people whom I have seen over many years engaging in active searches for peaceful interaction. Many of my Palestinian friends would qualify.
    Actually, I think the Hamas leadership would probably qualify, too. The decision they took in 2005 or thereabouts to participate in the 2006 PLC election was a real watershed.
    People like Yossi Alpher are not complete pacifists, though some of my Israeli peacenik friends are. Khaled Meshaal is not, and neither was Nelson Mandela. Bottom line, though it would be nice, in my view, if all these people– oh, and the Prime Minister of Israel– were pacifists, still, they are not. But people can do a lot to push forward the search for a durable peace without being complete pacifists.

  16. So I take it that you just feel more comfortable referring to your Israeli acquaintances as “peacniks” than you do your Palestinian ones?

  17. JES, you are more comfortable being offended than when somebody is trying to be friendly. You invent amazingly complicated ways of taking offence.
    Peacenik is a word that goes back to the 1960s when Israel was only a few years old. Beatnik goes back even further, prolly to the mid-1950s.
    And don’t forget the Sputnik! The first artificial earth satellite, launched by the Soviet Union. Laika, Yuri Gagarin, Valentina Tereshkova. Those were the days.

  18. It took me awhile to realize JES was offended by the word “peacenik”–I initially thought he was saying Helena was unwittingly giving more credit to the Israelis.
    I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised by JES–it’s not exactly news that some Israelis who were excited by Oslo put all the blame for the collapse of Oslo on the Palestinians. Benny Morris is a prime example.

  19. JES:
    “I think that BB is correct about Peres, Rabin and Oslo.”
    Yes, Peres wrote about it in detail in his autobiogrpahy.
    “BB is also correct: Hamas consciously tried to destroy what had been achieved with their campaign of bombings.”
    Yes. They took their opportunity after the assassination of Rabin and ensured that Netanyahu and the Likud Oslo rejectionists won the 1996 election.
    “Why not just go for the unitary binational formula, from the get-go?”
    Yes. It always comes back to this: the reversal of UN Resolution 181 and the nullification of the jewish state. Hamas policy writ large.

  20. Domza and Donald, if I may say, you are both very shallow and superficial.
    Domza, I am well aware of that the “ik” ending is a Russian diminutive – being nearly 60 years old and married to a Russian woman.
    “Beatnik” is, BTW, generally attributed to Alan Ginsburg, based on Jack Karouac’s use of the term “beat” to describe the generation in On the Road. And why do I bring this up? Because Alan Ginsburg attended the mass demonstration in Kikar Malkei Yisrael (today Kikar Rabin) after the signing of Oslo that I also attended. Does that make me a “peacenik”? I guess so.
    Now what offends me – and Domza this may be a bit too complicated for you to understand – is that Helena appears to be more comfortable referring to Israelis as “peaceniks” than she does to Palestinians. Moreover, she even has categorized the various groups of “peaceniks” into sub-groups, something that she would never dare to do with Palestinians.
    So, what we have here, is someone coming from outside, with their own values, expecting one group to behave like Woody Allen, while apparently idolizing the other side and not expecting anything from them in return.
    Donald, no it’s not a surprise that some Israelis put all the blame on the other side for destroying Oslo. I just don’t happen to be one of those Israelis, but thank you for the over-simplified analysis anyway. I blame some Palestinians and some Israelis for the breakdown of Oslo, although I do think that the Palestinians of Hamas did a more effective job of it. For me, the turning point came on March 4, 1996 when three girls from my community were killed in a suicide bombing at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv.
    And now back to the issue. I think that it’s too late for my generation to reach some federation or confederation with the Palestinians. While this is largely the fault of right-wing Israelis – and particlarly the settlers – the bulk of the blame goes lies with the radical, reactionary Islamic Palestinian side.
    Perhaps if Helena and others were willing to idolize truly moderate Palestinians, while at the same time referring to them as “peaceniks”, we could take a small step in turning the situation around.
    In the meantime, I think that her reluctance to refer to any Palestinians as “peaceniks” is patronizing to the Palestinians. But that deserves antother discussion….

  21. Sorry, that should have been “‘nik’ as a Russian suffix indicating membership in a group or class”. You might want to add kibbutznik to the list.

  22. the turning point came on March 4, 1996 when three girls from my community were killed in a suicide bombing at Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv.
    Ohhhhh…… but the killing of Palestinians daily for past 61 years that not shaking you or your very sensitive feeling.
    very hummer……but single sided…

  23. Ohhhhh…… but the killing of Palestinians daily for past 61 years that not shaking you or your very sensitive feeling.
    very hummer……but single sided…

    Salah, first of all, I know that you are prone to hyperbole, but really…. you’re among rational people here. Secondly, since when is it wrong for a person to care for their own. You certainly have not demonstrated here any “sensitive feeling” for Israelis.

  24. Let me briefly explain. On another forum, a propos of whether the ANC/SACP/COSATU Alliance is a monolith, or not, we recalled the early “Star Trek” episode where the inhabitants of the planet go around saying “Are you of THE BODY, friend?”
    I looked it up and I started wondering if Leonard Nimoy, who wrote two biographies: first “I am not Spock”, and later “I am Spock”, was Jewish. Sure enough, Nimoy is the son of Jewish Ukrainian immigrants to the USA.
    So what I want to ask you, leaving aside the extraordinary Nimoy/Spock, is what is the imaginary Jewish, qua Jewish, future? Is there an imaginary sci-fi or fantasy Jewish future? Don’t tell me how many Jews have contributed to the genre, internationally. I can work that out myself. It’s a lot. And they have been great.
    Just tell me: Is it possible for Israelis to have an Israeli science fiction, or an Israeli fantasy fiction? And if so, what is it like? That is all I want to know.

  25. Domza, to tell you the truth, I don’t really know, not being a fan of the genre myself. (I tried, 50 years ago when I was in grade school to read a story in a sci-fi magazine. Left me cold. And I don’t think I ever watched a single episode of Star Trek.)
    BTW, William Shatner is also Jewish. He was here three years ago:

  26. Where exactly was Shatner two years ago? In Jewish? Is Jewish a place? Or do you mean Israel?
    No matter.
    I would be sorry if your personal early experience with sci-fi had made you indifferent to this cultural phenomenon. But in fact I suspect you are as familiar with it as are most people, even if you are not a fan (i.e. fanatic). Fans are a minority, anyway.
    Sci-fi is a field of play around identity. Very little of it is a serious attempt to imagine the future, except as a challenge to, or a re-confirmation of, identities real (Merkan, Scottish, Chinese, Russian, Kenyan) or imaginary (e.g. Vulcan). In the “Are you of the body?” episode, the genre comes perilously close to subverting itself, which is why that script is so unforgettably fascinating.
    Israel is a kind of “Enterprise”, is it not, where 20th-century identities are supposed to have achieved eternal life, embodied in the Jewish State, which therefore must have a big problem about conceiving of any kind of internal development or future historical processes. Israeli sci-fi, if it existed, would provide a means of soothing the fear of living death which is the counterpart to the fear of loss of identity. But I dare say there are other ways.

  27. Secondly, since when is it wrong for a person to care for their own. You certainly have not demonstrated here any “sensitive feeling” for Israelis.
    before putting your rant for others, did you demonstrated here same for Arab or Muslims JES?

  28. Where exactly was Shatner two years ago? In Jewish? Is Jewish a place? Or do you mean Israel?
    No, wise ass, “here” is in Israel! (If you would have bothered to follow the link, you might have put two and two together.)
    But in fact I suspect you are as familiar with it as are most people, even if you are not a fan….
    I suggest, Domza, that you don’t presume anything about me. That would be presumptuous.
    Israel is a kind of “Enterprise”, is it not, where 20th-century identities are supposed to have achieved eternal life, embodied in the Jewish State….
    Might I suggest that a more interesting topic for discussion might be what type of society, or “Enterprise”, Hamas and other Muslim fundamentalists envision.

  29. I didn’t presume. It was you who mentioned Shatner, thereby demonstrating your familiarity with the show, while denying it. You do take offence very quickly, don’t you?

  30. Oh come on you wise ass. Just because I knew that William Shatner was in Star Trek doesn’t mean that I am familiar with the show, other than to know that it existed. You really are a piece of work Domza.

  31. Domza .. is Star Trek the latest episode of the Protocols?
    You should catch up with the latest column in SALON which seems to be confident that it is OBAMA who is actually Spock?!!!

  32. On second thoughts, Obama being pedalled as Spock on Salon juxtaposed with jews being labelled here by Domza as Vulcans makes perfect sense … these jews/Vulcans – as Domza specifically labels them (please note he does not call them Israelis) are everywhere, are they? … including being Obama’s two top appointed confidantes? Vulcans indeed.

  33. Keep going BB. I’m still reading you, although I’m not sure where you are going with this. Let’s have your third thoughts, please.

  34. Israeli sci-fi is generally characterized by images of cosmopolitan devastation, such as Amos Kenan’s _Holocaust II_ and _The Road to Ein Harod_, or stagnation in the wilderness, like Kenan’s _At The Station_, Benjamin Tammuz’s _Jeremiah’s Inn_, which also includes Jerusalem as the site of a theocratic religious revival, or Yizhak Laor’s counter-history, _The People, Food of Kings_. It is not surprising that the preservation of specifically Western values of civilization and pluralism is the major concern of Kenan’s protagonists, who are often prisoners of a military system or rebellion that considers itself a Jewish-nationalist revenge on the past, while the 1966-set pre-Six-Day-War themed works (“Station” and “Food”) posit a Godot-like stagnation (Including lines in “Station” such as “Where we were again?” “We were holding on.” “And then?” “It ends.” “That’s right.”) as the characters merely wait for History to happen to them yet again, as it always does to Jews, or go to pot in the absence of the catharsis provided by the war, as in “Food.”
    Imil Habibi’s _Pessoptimist_, an Israeli work in Arabic, is from the vantage point of a character who has been kidnapped by aliens and finds the spaceship an ideal escape from the conflict.

  35. I suggest, Domza, that you don’t presume anything about me. That would be presumptuous.
    You did already by yourself.
    You been very perfectly naked and mirroring yourself by your RANT above when you said:
    are prone to hyperbole, but really…. you’re among rational people here…..You certainly have not demonstrated here any “sensitive feeling” .. about non Israelis/Jews
    Go figure

  36. O.k., I’ve done some reading about those, such as I could find. I get the impression that the respected intellectuals of Israel used these kind of works to criticise, and that they are the conscience of the country, but that they had little or no effect on the course of events.
    As for South Africa, today is the day of the inauguration of Jacob Zuma as President of the Republic, following an epic political battle that has gone on for years, with Zuma in the role of people’s hero candidate and champion.
    But now, in the last few days, two leading women, the Quaker Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge and the former Speaker Baleka Mbete, have both been sidelined. Instead, a wooden, stolid, member of the revolution-royalty Sisulu family, Max Sisulu, has been parachuted into the Speaker position.
    So it seems like in both places, Israel and SA, the popular critique has great mobilising power but that the establishement can nearly always steal the main prizes just before you can reach them.

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