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(en) Turkey [Alt. Media] yeniHarman, interview with Ilan Shalif on Israel-Palestine (tr)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 10 Oct 2003 19:57:55 +0200 (CEST)

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The following interview was published in Issue 35 of the weekly yeni Harman (*)
magazine, dated 23 August '03. Ilan Shalif - a libertarian communist
from Israel- talks with Batur Ozdinc on the Israel-Palestine problem.
Batur: Hi Ilan! I know u were born in West Jerusalem when it was
under the British Mandate. Can u tell us a little bit about those times? Y
our own life history and the constitution of Israeli state in 1948...
Ilan: I grew up in a western suburb of the town with 25 families in it - it was
called Shchunat Hapoalim - "the workers' locality". Most of them were naZionists
of the 20th - from Eastern Europe. In the locality were two small dairy businesses -
one next to my one family house. In my home there was for a while naZionist
military point - when I was 2 - it moved to another house.

Batur: Military point? A kind of military station? Or your home
was used as an arms depot?

Ilan: They were bachelor pioneers - for a few years they tried
settlement life till they moved to Jerusalem. It was a kind of
one-roomed barracks where the "gaphires" paramilitarists lived -
Jewish paramilitarists under British supervision.

Batur: Where did your parents come from? How long were they
living there?

Ilan: My parents came from Ukraine, in 1920/1.

Batur: You have also lived in a kibbutz for a while. When was

Ilan: I visited a kibbutz for the first time when I was 7.

Batur: How did you feel at that age?

Ilan: My mother lived for a while in that kibbutz with my brother
and sister when she was temporarily separated from my father. It
was a strange experience - but an interesting one. All the
members in a big dining room for a celebration feast and
sleeping in a bed out of the living room of my mother's cousin,
who was a member. I remember also visiting the small museum the
cousin managed. It was Dgania - the first kibbutz, I think. The
next time I visited a kibbutz was at about the age of 15.

Batur: It was a communal thing, and I wonder what was it like
living in a kibbutz? Interestingly, although it was a communal
thing, there were probably Zionists in it, no? Nationalism and
communalism... didn’t the people there have any idea about
communism (I mean both the Marxist and libertarian communist

Ilan: We spent 3 weeks in a work camp in a kibbutz - to pay for
a 3-week ideological seminar for the youth movement group I was
a member of. It was nice - at 15 years of age, 2 boys and 2
girls sleeping in each room. We worked in agriculture at various
tasks. All of the people there were Zionists. Leninist-Zionists
in my movement. The kibbutz was organized on the line of
libertarian communist / direct democracy thing. The commune
movements varied. One was Socialist, one was Leninist, one was
liberal, one was religious, one was a mixture of Leninism with
extreme nationalism.

Batur: Didn’t they have any idea about nazism for example? That
tragic thing also named itself "nationalist socialist", as you
know. Didn’t the kibbutz movement become less "populized"
afterthe 2nd World War?

Ilan: The leftists said the building of Israel was the way to
convert the Jews from a parasite nation into a productive
socialist nation.

Batur: How about the rightists? The liberals mainly.

Ilan: Most were leftist - the majority were Leninist. Liberal
kibbutzes were marginal.

Batur: Was there any reaction about the kibbutz thing from the
right wing? I mean the religious people. Did not they say
anything about it like "this is a Marxist thing" or so on?

Ilan: Once the rightists built a few settlements, they started.
There are still today kibbutzes belonging to the religious
Zionists. The orthodox Jews hated the secular kibbutzes.

Batur: When did the Palestinian movement actually start to
affect life in Israel? Since it was built up? (I mean the lives
of ordinary people.)

Ilan: There was resistance from the beginning, in the 1880s.

Batur: Later after the founding of the Israeli state?

Ilan: The hottest struggle was in the 1936-9 period. It was
suppressed by the British Army and the naZionist paramilitaries.
Then it flared up again in 1947-9.

Batur: Do you think it was a deep national or ethnic thing in
the people? Zionism I mean. Or did it increase after the
reaction from Palestinians? Or was it also something related to
(capitalist) power struggles?

Ilan: It was a nationalist thing from the beginning - the
opposite of anti-semitism. It was a secular version of extreme
religious nationalism. The Jewish religion is very racist and
its most vicious exponents are the Religious Zionists.

Batur: How about the peace process and such events? In about
1990s it looked like things would work out well - until that
assassination. What do you think about that?

Ilan: It was a fake from the beginning. The day after they
signed the Oslo thing, the government started to harass the
Palestinians to force them into submission, both economically
and by refusing to get out of the agreed areas according to the

Batur: But it was declared to the world as something very
brilliant! It was said to open the way to a Palestinian state!

Ilan: No. The Oslo accord left that open. Entity yes -
independence no. To this day, Israel never agreed to full
independence for Palestinians.

Batur: By the way, what do you think about the Palestinian
resistance? Is there any connection of those people within the
Israeli side? I mean what is the actual relation between Israeli
dissidents (leftists and non-Zionists) and Palestinians?

Ilan: There were a few leftists that tried to co-operate with
the resistance of the Palestinians in an illegal way. The
Palestinan resistance mainly consists of an elite striving for a
state of their own. There are leftist tendencies among the
Palestinians too.

Batur: I also wonder how daily life is in Israel. As someone
looking at it from the inside - how is Israeli society for the
Jewish community of Israel? Are they frightened, militarized,

Ilan: They are frightened. Neo-liberalism is fucking the working
class - like Thatcherism. There is 12% unemployment. A majority
would agree to a Palestinian State. People are frightened, and
there has been a 10% drop in income over the last few years.

Batur: For years it was said (as a rumour) that "all the money
collected by Jews goes to the Israeli state". Where is that
money then? If it is true, does it go to the military?

Ilan: First it is not true. The building of the modern state
cost a lot of money and the military build-up takes a lot, too.
The infrastructure is very costly, houses, and so on.

Batur: Well.. thinking about those (in your personal opinion),
do you see a solution to the problem between Israel and
Palestine? What would any solution look like?

Ilan: The capitalist peace is possible - if the US forces it on
the Israeli elite. The power relation within the elite seems to
side with the most nationalist one. It will require a real
economic collapse to force them to compromise.

Batur: And lastly, is it difficult to live there as a
non-Zionist, or can I say anti-Zionist?

Ilan: It is easier to live as an anti-Zionist than as a Zionist
in Israel - if you are a Jew.

Batur: :) And if you are an Arab?

Ilan: All Arabs are anti-Zionist. The ones who co-operate are
minorities that are bribed.

* [yeniHarman is an independent weekly magazine which publishes
articles, criticisms and various visual stuff on anti-media,
anti-war, anti-capitalist etc. issues.]

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