On Zionism, Israel and Palestine, on colonialism and Mbembe.

On Zionism, Israel and Palestine, on colonialism and Mbembe.

There have been many posts on Zionism, antisemitism, Israel and Palestine, Mbembe (in Germany), colonialism and post-colonialism in the last month. This is because the Israeli independence day coincided with the coalition between Netanyahu and Ganz which made some frustrated, and in Germany, a dispute started about a passage by the Cameronian philosopher Achilles Mbembe, which some argued was antisemitic. 

I fear, I kept somewhat out of the debate. I feel that all attempts are too short a string. As some will know, the discussion is close to my  former doctoral studies (non-completed) at UCL and Univ. of Leeds, which goes atop my previous studies at SOAS and Goldsmiths. I also worked in a Jewish – Palestinian organisation for six years (Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom) and was CEO of Meretz-UK a left progressive Zionist organisation.

The points below are somewhat fragmented, but I nevertheless wanted to lay them out, rather than say nothing at all. If not in this style, they would have required a far  lengthier response, over many pages, and that would have taken a while. I wanted to allow this to be available faster and hence the format.

On the topic, I  wanted to begin with questions rather than with lengthy passages, some answered, and end with some observations, they make the reading and transmission of ideas faster:


  1. ) Is Zionism colonial in the way that European colonialism was, in going to a country or place unrelated to the arriving? What about the Jewish presence that never, in fact, ended, only expanded? What about the centrality of the land in Jewish religion and the very concept of return to Zion?

2.) If Zionism is constructed, what about all other constructed identities all over the globe? The meta-analysis of that destroys all national prescribed identities if one looks closely. It, therefore, can not be applied only to Zionism alone.

3.) In comparison with the broader region, how does tolerance of difference fair? Jewish, Christian and other non-Muslim people in Arab and Persian speaking lands have a story to tell here, Kurds, Beduines, African migrants another (or rather the same).

4.) Was Palestine a land empty of people? Was land gained only by honest ways and never by force and causing fear and expulsions? How can wrongs be addressed?

5.) What can be said about questions of violence and human rights infringements and despotic regimes in the broader region in the last 150 years? Is Israel really the worst of all? What is being kept from being reported? What role does scapegoating play? Jews, they have been a minority in many societies for millennia and therefore representing “the other”,  have been historically and conveniently blamed for problems of the majority that had nothing to do with them.

6.) What role does religious faith have in the conflict? How can the cities of Jerusalem and Hebron a.o,  be shared so that all feel they are equal and respected shareholders? Have not all faiths been too protective, obstructing access and should not all be more open to sharing, in the name of the one God they all believe in, and concerning basic fundamental human rights? What work is being done on that account, and how wide-spread is it?

7.) How many resources enabling good life for all are wasted in the region in the attempt to fight the imaginary or real other?  How can people on all sides be taught to co-operate and invest instead in health, jobs, schools, care and businesses?

8.) Who drew the principle borders in the region? The answer points straight to Europeans who did so with little regard to locals, arbitrarily and to their own advantage.

In the interest of peace, Israel is asked to concede some territories gained in armed conflict repeatedly. But why are other countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon never part of any equation of conceding land, to let go of some areas assigned to them by the line drawing of European clerical officials (now defended as supposed sancto-sacral  international law)? If all worked together, more space and security could be created in and for a dense and explosive region for all, both for Jews and Palestinians.

9.) Jewish Israelis have rightly been reminded to protect Palestinians and other non-Jewish minorities and ensure they have full equality under the law and representation.  How can that be done whilst guaranteeing that Jews remain in charge of their self-determination within a democratic state? From the Jewish perspective, the last 2000 years have not been good experiences of living in countries in which Jews are not the majority. The last 130 years or so have also not been great for Palestinians.  Does that requirement mean that only a federal or two-state solution is viable rather than a one-state solution?

10.) What can be said about the difference in treatment for Palestinians and non-Jews in Israel compared to Jews?  nd what can be said bout how Palestinian society at large treats minorities of any kind? How can it be improved further? 

11.) If Palestinians should be given all guarantees within Israel (and rightly so), what safeguards exist for the possibility of a future Jewish minority to live in a future Palestinian administered independent  Palestinian majority state side by side the Jewish majority state of Israel? 

12.) How much of the land acquisitions since the 19th. century have been totally fair? How can ownership and claims be addressed between Jews and Palestinians in a way that is agreeable to all parties?

How does one relate to the frequent change of ownership in periods of conquests by successive powers over millennia? This is a question that goes back to biblical days and needs explicit acknowledgement, compromise and agreement. If the wider context is not considered, it will come back and back again.

13.) Who can be trusted to be fair to Palestinians and Israeli Jews as a neutral body? Both sides claim that they suffer from macropolitical bias from different forces.

14.) How does one address the loss of lives on all aiswa, over the last centuries and draw a line? 

15.) How do both states and societies, in general, protect themselves against interference by fanatics within in a peace process? How can they deal with atrocities and violent incidents designed to derail any befriending and change of the status quo?

16.) In a possible one-state scenario for the future, some suggest this,  how can safety and security be warranted for all. What limits to religious and political expression are required from all in such a situation?


On Achilles Mbembe colonialism and slavery:

The above questions already show the complexity of the situation of Zionism and Israel and Palestine. However, I like to raise a few points specific about the issue of colonialism and comparisons to black movements and Zionism.

Black Liberation Movements were informed and inspired by early Zionists, including figures like Marcus Garvey. There are other examples in this regard also. On the other hand, sometimes Jews were used as others (Nation of Islam and early phase of Elhajj Malik Al-Shabazz, when he still called himself Malcolm X in particular).

The relationship between Israel and African politics is complex.  It ranges from relationships and training of the armed wing of the ANC by Israel,  early relations between Israel and new independent African states, to Israel’s later relations with Apartheid South Africa (at the same time Jewish ANC supporters at risk were able to receive refuge in Israel), the rejections and deportations of African migrants and the treatment of African migrants (particularly pressing in the case of Darfurian refugees) within the country.  It also encompasses the comprehensive agreement of African countries to side with calls of some North-African states to boycott Israel (a curious state of affairs given few other countries were ever boycotted).

In its relationship to the European majorities and their othering, Jewish people share the position with Black people (and people of Muslim faith). It is, of course, both different and related. But nationalist liberation movements responded to the racism and marginalisation in both wider cases.

After slavery, the countries of Liberia and the city-state of Freetown in today’s Sierra Leone were both creations that are not dissimilar to Israel in the way that these states provided sanctuary and a new beginning to people of the African diaspora after the catastrophe of their enslavement by Europeans. Settlements in Ghana (following Garvey and Blyden) and Ethiopia (following Rastafarianism) can also be mentioned within this regard. The first “homecomings” in Liberia and Sierra Leone were met with stiff resistance and opposition by regional locals – people were amongst others murdered. The dichotomies of difference were a factor in the respective civil wars there. Sierra Leone Creole’s (Kreo-) community has more or less been out-populated and it struggles to upkeep its cultural distinctiveness. This illustrates that some basic rules to specificity and protection of particular groups are necessary (if one considers again the one-state option that some suggest for Israel / Palestine).

Israel’s maintenance of the status quo of the West Bank is an issue of concern that can be rightly criticised, but it can not be understood without context. The relationship of Jewish people to Israel is totally different to the relationship of the average European seeking to conquer and cultivate colonially acquired territories. That said, the continued expansion and land-acquisitions without due and fair process is and was a reality and victimised Palestinians. Some land was inhabited by Jews, in deed there’s were Jewish cities like Zfad, Jerusalem, Hebron and others where Jews represented a considerable part of society even before Jewish people from elsewhere were considering a larger return (The “returns” were happening for different reasons, one that is strikingly different from European Jews is the migration of Yemenite Jews.)

Jewish acquisitions for settlement expansion (also refered to as the yishuv) were gained through legal agreements, sponsorship collections and allocation, whilst others were in deed gained in conflict, through fear, or indeed occupations, taking advantage of power balances. In the Jewish case, there are references to biblical presence, which allow for the argument of return or reclaim, but undoubtedly many areas were no longer in Jewish possession for a couple of thousand years, with other people having taken custody and ownership of land, often subject to armed conflicts and conquests century after century. Any return must have been negotiated on the basis of taking account of that, and even in its best and most amicable scenario would have yielded tensions, in my view.

At the same time the question of the near-total expulsion of Jewish populations from Arab and Persian speaking lands, not to speak of teh shoah in Europe, requiring somewhere to live, complicates this issue to the detriment of Palestinians. Politically motivated hate of Jews in countries such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and others intended to help Palestinians, In reality it aggravated the situation. It did that because there were both new requirements to accommodate Jewish refugees, as well as the possibility of Jews living in countries like Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt or Syria becoming an impossibility.

This also complicates the option of Jews living in a future Palestinian country or even now under the auspices of the PA as. minority (side by side Israel). On what basis, should Jewish people put their trust and need for essential security with the PA? The fact that neighbouring countries showed themselves to be totally hostile to the extend that Jews were not tolerated in their midst and that wars were fought together against “the Jews” (to wipe the “infidels” and “invaders” off the “holy land” and into the sea) meant that Israel’s defensive ethos was also solidified. 

Such points are hardly considered in the wider discussion. They are however elementary. The expulsions of non-European Jews are for example rarely raised, despite their effect being totally devastating and amount to complete ethnic cleansing over huge territories.  In the creation of Israel, this occurred at most partially to Palestinians, nevertheless just as devastating for those concerned. But many, of course not all Palestinians, are still living inside Israel and there with rights, albeit not perfect, and in the West Bank, and Gaza where life is not free of Israeli control, a circumstance that Palestinians rightly object to and which, the longer it remains also harms the moral integrity of Israel.

The conditions in Gaza and the West Bank and in Israel proper can certainly be better, and should lead to a Palestinian state side by side Israel, federal or independent, but for that, the narrative that one can exist only if the other does not must cease. The doctrine of Hamas is an example of such ideology.

Zionism is as controversial as any nationalist movement. It has winners and losers. Zionism is a response to European nationalism and the rejection of Jews. It is a movement also of liberation from oppression. It was merely one of competing ideas before 1933 (one other was for a Jewish autonomy, or the status of official recognition in Poland, for example) but then gained huge importance due to the genocide against Europe’s Jews, that left little other options. 

Nationalist liberation in the Black and African context is a complex matter for different consideration in the ways of the methods used and who can partake and against whom it is led. In Zimbabwe Mugabe lived out his fight against white oppressors. His legitimate fight for liberation, in the end, led to the destruction and self-destruction of Zimbabwe. In that sense, any nationalist and freedom movement has its time and place and its ability to liberate and self-destroy as well as destroy others. If it can not adapt and provide for inclusive change and widening towards greater human goals, it derail in its inability to consider others and because it fails to lay down arms in an eternal state of defence and elimination of weakness. This is not a healthy state of affairs to any group, let alone a state. In Israel this has led to the growth of a part of society following ultra nationalism, sometimes interlinked with religious metaphysical sentiments,   which is just as troublesome as similar ideologies in any one country,  when they begin to disregard the existence of others, and their human rights. You do not need to look very far to find a counterpart of the  very same, just across the border amongst Palestinians.

It is to be remembered that in the Israeli – Palestinian context these days, as before, two nationalist movements stand opposite each other. Both are potent and can kill. Whilst one is clearly locally the stronger force, controlling the other, on a wider geographical scale the dice looks different, and Israel becomes a singular state of “others” with a significant religious and ethnic difference in a wider Islam -dominated non-sympathetic geographical sphere, against which it has to sustain itself. This is not just due to the difference of religion, but also due to cunning and deliberate misdirection by successive regimes in the area that steered deliberate hatred against Israel and Jews in general, not infrequently also borrowing from antisemitic schools of thought.  As both sides can be deadly to each other, there is huge need to try to discharge wall building and bring the conflict down to a human(e) level, where conflict is argued over with words, rather than with arms, negotiated and agreed upon, and only the results of that (a peace settlement of sorts) eventually protected and heavily guarded.

Therefore, nothing easily compares to the specificity of Israel and Palestine. Allegories to colonial projects on the African continent or Apartheid are useless, therefore. The situation must be understood within its own context and challenges. Everything, of course, needs to be done to overcome hurdles and work towards an approximation that makes life possible and liveable and dignifying for all concerned.

Last but not least, I do not call Mbembe an Antisemite, someone who explicitly hates Jews. The conditions of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict are far-reaching and complex. Arguments can be, in fact must be had. But we we must all also remember to dedicate our efforts to support exchange, conflict reduction projects, and any initiative that allows Palestinians and Jews to meet, exchange and encounter each other, ideally over long sustained periods and on equal footings. It is the consideration of many of these points and the discourse and negotiation between that, which leads to something transformational, in a way that both can find a way and will to live in the region side by side and together in a shared destiny of common resolve and purpose that can leave the past behind without forgetting its warnings.

Double Espresso it is- On Netanyahu’s Re-election.

So I will stay with drinking water or maybe something bitter – a really bad espresso to wake me to the reality, because bitter it is.

I am old enough to have grown up, seeing the 1973 War, the 1972 Munich Olympic Terrorist Attacks, bombings of Jewish and Israeli sites throughout the 1970s and 1980s and the 1980s Lebanon War, Sabra and Shatila, then, the first Intifada and in my 20s, how Rabin and Arafat came together.

I never had any doubt, nor do I have today, about the importance of Israel, a state where Jewish people could live and be more in charge of their destiny than anywhere else, in a country that stands on the basis of Jewish history and religion, as a pluralist democratic and diverse country. But I had to learn that there were Palestinians (the concept was not one I grew up with, then, all were simply terrorists that hated and murdered us Jews) and that the versions of history people close to us told us, were only one part of the story, that there was another side. I support for a long time now the two-state solution.

Believe it or not, with a dose of scepticism that I had as a German-born person, that history had more on offer, I learned in Israel itself, most of all, from open and progressive Jewish Israeli teachers and people who knew a fuller more complicated history. I had been as a young adult to a Palestinian village (I was not allowed by the school administration, and did so nevertheless), and they gave me espresso to drink. Nothing happened to me, but the taste of the coffee was strong and bitter, only sweetened by lots of sugar.

I was shocked when I first met, still in secondary school in Israel at the time, students a year or two older than me who had been alumni of my Israeli secondary school and had begun their army service. I remember how one such young man came back with raw, hateful emotions about Palestinians and revengeful blind and violent language. Then, a few years later, came Rabin and Arafat. It was what turned out to be the last return of a more just, equal, fair and also intellectual Israel or the hope thereof (it is still there, but it has not been in control for nearly half of my lifetime). Much of the old welfare provisions, even the famous Kibbutzim, no longer are anything of what they once were, though there are still a few left – shadows of the past really.

What we got instead is the growth of mostly unchallenged extreme nationalist views on both sides, not helped by bias and interference from the outside against or for either side of the conflict. It was the combination of Russian- and American- and later French-Jewish waves of immigration, mostly from small regions, nearly all coming from divided and racist realities, that they carried with them. They wanted to be free and no longer compromise. Some, with little means, got free or reduced rate housing in controversial areas, beyond the Green Line, a cynical style of politics to people with few choices or lack of awareness. Others moved there deliberately to live-out their Jewish fantasies undisturbed, or so they thought or hoped, and reclaim more of “God’s given land”, more than what laws and wars had settled on decades earlier.

Netanyahu represents a world of simple populist politics, a Jewish version thereof. Easy slogans underpinned with right or far-right, sometimes religious fundamentalist uncompromising ideology, neoliberal economics, aided by coalitions with people like Trump and Bolsonaro, most recently even, it is hard to swallow, with Saudi Arabia at the height of its atrocities in Yemen. Arafat had tried to use a new strategy too. Whilst some found it hard to believe, those who disagreed with him made things hard, he hesitated a lot, and his internal and ideological enemies later returned with a vengeance.

The neighbours of Israel likewise were supported by hardcore dictators and fundamentalists at the same time. Not only the old autocratic rulers Hussein, Gaddafi, Assad but also Ayatollah-led Iran, and later movements like Hamas, the Islamic Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Al Qaida and Daesh. They provided a rationale to an uncompromising iron fist politics by Israels leaders.

But there are pacifists and non-violent peacemakers on the other side too. They have a hard time. In Israel, there is a chance every so often to change the leaders. So far, it is unbelievable but true and for a generation now, reason, morals and intellect are not winning the day, toughness, big words and posturing do. I pray that we will see a return of the hope we felt in the early 1990s, on both sides. And that next time societies are not so fragile, that they allow one fanatic and one bullet to derange rightful aspirations of many, to trigger decades of entrenchment. They always try to extinguish hopes and goodness with violence, hate and bloodshed. It is their tactic, it enrages people, and keeps the fires burning.

Israel has still not gotten over the murder of one of its former elected leaders. And what have they got in return? Double Espresso, with no sugar!

They came for the Jews and I said nothing… with a gaze to the Middle East

My thoughts for December:

” […]Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” This poem by Martin Niemöller, he wrote thinking about what happened in the 19th and 20th century in Europe. However, reflecting on Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lybia, it would not be a false comment there either. Baghdad, Aleppo, Damascus, Sana and Benghazi all once had big Jewish populations, and now have none or almost none. Jews there were amongst the first that got expelled and pushed out, in some places violently so, marking the beginnings of an ever less tolerant and more monotone Middle East. There is no doubt in my mind, that Israel must be a safe haven for Jews, a country, with a clear Jewish history, in which many of the refugees from these places and from others now live. This, in spite of the wrongs and pain, that the reestablishment of a larger Jewish settlement caused on all sides. Because of the historical ruins on which the country stands, Israel is however morally also obligated to be mindful of its Muslim, Christian and other non-Jewish citizens and regional neighbours. Whilst that is not always easy, the spirit of #protecting and securing ethnic and religious minorities with mutual tolerance, respect and dignity is a virtue that must be spread throughout the wider region.

(This text was first published on my facebook, Daniel Zylbersztajn)

Daniel Zylbersztajn – 2015 Selektion

Some of my 2015 Photographs

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Text Selection 2015

Radio Feature DW Jewish Child Refugee  Martin Lubowski links und Frank Auerach mitte mit Kollegin (r) https://dzx2.net/2015/12/23/radio-featureworld-in-progress-jewish-child-refugee/
 die-novemberpogrome-von-1938-gallerypicture-15_620x349 Reichskristallnacht und das Volk. (English Comment) https://dzx2.net/2015/11/09/reichskristallnacht-und-das-volk/
Interview: Die Überlebende: Marina Litvinenko, the survivor

Marina Litwinenko (Litvinenko) (c) All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn 2015
Cynthia McDonald im Hintergrund, im Vodergrund Landy Richmond, mit Toechtern waehrend seiner Theraphie https://dzx2.net/2015/06/27/back-to-eden-kult-hairstylist-in-london-the-roots-of-hair-culture/ Back To Eden, London Rastafari Hair Couture from the Roots
World Capital for the Rich

1Hyde Park (15)
(c) All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn 2015
Leitkommentar / Leading Comment Juedische Allgemeine https://dzx2.net/2015/06/25/bds-gegen-den-isolierten-boykott-von-israel-against-the-isolated-boycott-of-israel/  israel-flag
Sind heute beide tot. Der in Berlin geborene Hans Freund, und Enkel Jeremiah Duggan (damals 8 Jahre) am Sedertisch (Bild fuer J.A. mit freundl. Genehmigung der Familie)  Der Fall Jeremiah Duggan




Nie Wieder Keine Farbigen https://dzx2.net/2015/05/12/never-again-no-coloureds-nie-wieder-keine-farbigen/

01 Staying Power Anzeige am Black Cultiral Archives in Brixton (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
01 Staying Power Anzeige am Black Cultiral Archives in Brixton (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

Modell des Denkmals an die den transatlantischen Sklavenhandel. Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis (c) memorial2007.org.uk
Model of the slavery memorial that was planned for Hyde Park | Modellbüste des Sklavenhandeldenkmals
A Question of Remembering https://dzx2.net/2015/04/16/eine-frage-des-nationalen-gedenkens-und-vergessens-a-question-of-national-memorialisation-and-forgetting/
Remembering Terror 1972 https://dzx2.net/2015/03/09/how-to-remember-the-terrorism-of-1972/



Picture Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_massacre

2013-10-19 12.08.37-1
(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn
Schuhe selbst machen https://dzx2.net/2015/01/31/schuhe-selbst-machen-in-moretonhampstead-devon-go-make-your-own-shoes/
 Ai Weiwei in London

Anish Kapoor & Ai Weiwei Selfie auf dem Marsch für Flüchtlinge (8 mile walk for refugees) ! (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

Claridge’s Brook Penthousesuit, Bett Foto (c) Daniel Zylbersztajn 2015
London: Von Privatbuttler bus zur  Mausefalle  (from private buttler to a mat in a tent.  https://dzx2.net/2015/09/29/von-privatbuttler-bis-mausefalle-taz-hier-mit-bildern/
Frank Auerbach, the old master





Vorherige Jahre:

Previous Years Reviews

Selektion 2014

Selektion 2013

Schild zu Frank Auerbachs Studio(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn




Selektion  2012






BDS Gegen den isolierten Boykott von Israel – Against the isolated Boycott of Israel

In meinem Leitkommentar in der Jüdischen Allgemeinen gehe ich auf die Argumente der BDS Israel Boykottaufrufer eine, und sehe wenig Konstruktives, und viel nach altem Geschmack.


In my lead comment in the German Jewish Newspaper Juedische Allgemeine I take to the arguments of BDS, the strategy to boycott Israel, and see little constructive or helpful and much in accordance with the old rites.


Kein Penny für Ed |No dash for Ed

In dieser Ausgabe der Jüdischen Allgemeinen, fasse ich die Gerüchte zusammen, dass dem Oppositionsführer der Labourpartei Unterstützung aus jüdischen Kreisen zunehmend fehle und finde altbekannten Antisemitismus.

In this report of in the German Jewish national paper Jüdische Allgemeine, I follow the arguments that allegedly the “Jewish lobby” is departing Ed Miliband.



Westminister – Westbank (Jüdische Allgemeine)

Bericht in der Jüdischen Allgemeinen zu Westminster’s Entscheidung zu Palästina, als legitimen Staat neben Israel.


Report about the decision of the UK parliament to acknowledge Palestinian state beside Israel in the German Jewish Weekly


War is not a football game!

War is not a football game!

Mural Peace OasisWar is not a football game, even shortly after the Brazilian World Cup It is not for you to choose one team or another, and incite violence in one or the other direction. The only job you have, if you are not a Palestinian or Israeli, or have family there or even if you are or have, is to support those forces that de-escalate, that understand at least somewhat both sides and especially support whatever means you can, that bring the sides together for peace.

Conflict is never just one sided, or the fault of one side. It is due to methods chosen, and opportunities missed deliberately or without intent. If you do not seek out the peace makers, you are just an extension of war and its propaganda. If you are not Jewish or Palestinian or have family there, and you only get mobilised, when Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East are at each others throats, but remain silent when things happen in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Turkey, Congo, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Nigeria, South-Sudan, Ukraine and other places, than you are biased. Go and help Israelis and Palestinians to share this world meaningfully, support talks and mutual events, peace initiatives, encounter projects, shared study and work experiences, and go and support a comprehensive realignment of the mess that France and Britain created on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire in 1920, in a just and fair way, that is just as just to the Shiites, Maronites and Druze of Lebanon, the Armenians, the Kurds, the Sunni and Shiites of Iraq, the Coptic people of Egypt and other Christians minorities across the Middle East, the Zoroastrians in Iran, the nomadic tribes of North Africa, as it should be to Palestinians and Jews.


To my brothers and sisters of Bengali and Pakistani descent, I ask you to seek justice for the left overs of 1971 and 1947 too. To talk just of Israel Palestine, but not what happened to the Indian subcontinent is omitting historical wrongs there, that are enduring to this day. So yes Israel and Palestine are once again in a bloody dilemma. But there are people, organisations and ideas that need more than your disregard when you support but one side. Help people holding hands and understand the wider contexts.

People must not kill each other because of the organisation of the world at the height of colonial imperialism any longer. Let’s move post imperialism, by supporting people, and how they can come up with strategies that allow shared life, coexistence, tolerance, respect, looking out for one another and mutual prosperous growth. Only by acknowledging that the entire Middle East and much of the once colonial world needs to be redrawn, renegotiated can we grow out of all of this. Nobody who wants a Middle East without Israel or without Palestine should be supported. Nobody who can not agree that minorities should be accepted and protected with mutual neighbourly care should be aided.


Support two sides for peace, all sides for peace and resettlement and renegotiation. or please stay out. Don’t fire up the literal dead-lock. This is not football, there are real peoples’ lives at risk, and neither will the fantasy of those lunatics be just that visualize all Jews leaving the Middle East and the end of Israel, or all Palestinians going to other Arab lands. This can hardly be what some of your shouts stand for? You want justice for Palestinians? You want to guarantee secure Israel accepted and supported by its neighbours? Then support and help all those who work for mutual exchange, community build, inter-cultural, interfaith and international encounters, who help those with mixed feelings to overcome their fears and reservations and to learn how to live with the other without murder and war.

(originally posted on my facebook 20/7/14, reprinted here due to encouraging comments)

Hamas – Israel hostilities, comments over the last week

I once worked for a Palestinian – Jewish peace village and peace initiative  (Oasis of Peace / British Friends of Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al Salam) and had also studied the conflict at university. So quite a few were interested in my thoughts on the escalation of the conflict.
My main forum of discussion was on my facebook. I share the comments here for those who use different ways of staying in touch, as some found them helpful and shared some of them.
Hamas is using guerrilla war fare techniques. They were first suggested but not called this way in the Chinese Art of War Manual. Mao and Ho Chi Minh reiterated the strategy which has its current name from the Spanish peninsulan war. The idea is that a powerful army can not fight an army where the transition between civilian and soldier is constant. In its modern form victims are taken into account deliberately and the depiction of them are used to demoralise the other side and increase sympathies with others, showing how brutal the opposing army is, in its attack on innocents. This is classic war theory. In my opinion, Palestinians in Gaza are just as much hostage to the techniques and agenda of Hamas functionaries as Israelis are subject of their attacks. Why Hamas would order the stockpiling of rockets again, and build all these infiltration tunnels after the previous conflict outbreaks and their costs, is hard to understand.
There is a huge social media battle about Israel and Palestine ongoing. Each side and its supporters discrediting the other. Mostly there is some evidence given to each claims, but I am amazed about biased selectivity across the board There are evidently problems on all sides. It is only through that admission we can move forward, because violence in the Middle East is a multi-factorial spiral.


I think that in the media war the clear looser are the powers for peace and reason. The clear winners are the sides that de-legitimate one or the other side or in deed dehumanize them. Years after the Volksapparat was created (“machine for the people”, the name for the affordable TVs in the Third Reich) to spread the message of Adolf Hitler, we have now entered in deed the age of propaganda rather than factual and reasoned argument, where anyone can try to prove a point with a string of shocking images and simple messages underneath. The internet has made all of us potential hate cells, who can be influenced and traumatized through the free dissemination of the worst images of bloodshed, torture and murder. We can be made to believe that the other side is out there to get us any moment and that all of a Jewish faith or Muslim faith are enemies in their true nature. This begs for very solid education, but I fear no education program in the world can compete with the lazy images on the internet.
Still we must not stand by idly and in defeat. We must insist on solid argument and not the misleading conclusions that simple messages give. Still the half truths if added up with all the others create also a picture. Since I have facebook friends in all camps, many myths are disproved on all sides too. The trouble is that people choose what to see and what not to see.
So what’s the way out? Once again establishing real relations where people encountered the other in reality and consistently and are forced to discuss the topics we smile away, their fears and their believes about the other, and let the other side hear these and respond to. Then after being upset about these, we go back to talk, and meet, and with some good guidance this process leads to an understanding and agreement of how one can live and exist alongside the other. Not a love relation, but a better way of communication through real human relations, than the Q & A game of throwing deadly things at each other.
11 July 2014


When working as press and education officer for Oasis of Peace UK, who represent Neve Shalom – Wahat al-Salam, for over five years, I have witnessed successful conflict transformation between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis through consistent talks amongst ordinary people and professionals on numerous occasions in their centre School for Peace ( http://wasns.org/-the-school-for-peace-), where both sides can meet on neutral grounds. I also witnessed people of the first and second generation (and now even third), who chose and continue to choose themselves as examples of living with the other as neighbours and share all communal life so, thus going to school together, using the same facilities and making decisions together, without being any less Jewish, Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim or Christian.
The community sustained itself in spite of and in the face of many set backs and outbreaks of open conflict and is evidence that Palestinians and Jewish Israelis are not so alien to each other, or so incapable of finding an acceptable way forward, as many on all sides would claim. Their message continues to go out to all on all sides, that if you really try to engage with your “enemy” and neutral places for sustained and ongoing mutual talk and meetings are being provided, the reality on the ground can be very different. We need promotion of the way out of conflict, not just the documentation of what conflict does. Please help strengthening the alternative by spreading the message of projects like Oasis of Peace, the Black Women Movement, Givat Aviva, Combatants for Peace, and other shared Palestinian and Jewish initiatives for a non-violent future!
—-  13 July —
There is a 1991 Israeli movie called cup final, where a Palestinian unit adducts an Israeli soldier and they discover heir mutual love for football during the 1982 World Cup. May the arms rest for a while this evening too….  www.youtube.com/watch?v=3P-B6ryVB3k
Sending my heartfelt deep wishes and hopes for a brighter future to all my facebook friends and family whose lives are affected by the latest violence in Israel and Palestine. I am sorry for my delayed message. I had hoped it would last only a few days.
There are two other posts.

Die Juedische Allgemeine: Paralympics – Spiel, Satz; und (Jewish German General: Game, Set, Victory)

Mein Artikel vom 6/09/12 in der Jüdischen Allgemeine über Jüdische Paraathleten..

Fans of Israeli Paralympic Tennis Team, London 2012

Link: www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/13928/highlight/zylbersztajn

My feature in the German Jewish General about Jewish and Israeli athletes at the parlaympics.

Lesen Sie auch:

See also:

Daniel Zylbersztajn:  Kolumne: Spiele und Terror, Besuch-beim-israelischen-Haus (the games and terror: visiting the Israeli house)

This article was reprinted on http://www.visitjewishlondon.com/jewish-olympics-and-paralympics/israel



The Possibilities and Impossibilities of Being A Neighbour

Article on thinking about Jewish-Polish, Jewish-German relations and simply on the issue of being a neighbour, or not!  Leading Feature Open Democracy 4/11/2011

Special thanks to the editors of Open Democracy, above all R.B., and front page ed., for your interest as well as choosing this as your leading weekend feature-story.  Thanks also to Ben Gidley, James Renton and Agnieszka Piśkiewicz for their respective input and Kei Kulp for one of the pictures. 


Black and Jewish violence justifying militants (2001)

This is the conclusion of  my upgrade paper of my PhD attempt (2001) on the justification of violence as a means of action amongst Jewish and Black militants.  This talk was held at Univ. of Leeds and later at SOAS.  I worked on this phD both at U. of Leeds and later at UCL London.

Conclusions:  Hearing Aids ( Justification of violence as a means of action amongst Blacks and Jews)

The main reason why I discontinued the project was due to the need to work to earn a living and my inability to secure a full bursary, although I did win a British Academy  AHRB university fee covering award. I am not excluding the possibility to return to this one day given the right circumstances.

Fund Raising Appeal, Germany for Mend Palestine.

This was translated and posted by me, modified and introduced for teh German market,  on behalf of MEND, Palestine in December 2006 to a variety of German recipients I had researched as relevant to MEND’s interests.  MEND is a non violence Peace charity for Palestinians
Bitte helfen Sie eine Ausbreitung der Gewalt im Mittleren Osten zu verhindern
Spenden Sie noch heute an MEND zur Unterstützung erfolgreicher und aktiver Gewaltablehnung
Bitte zirkulieren Sie diesen Appell!  Danke
Liebe Freunde im deutschsprachigen Raum,
Ich schreibe in der Zeit der fröhlichen Festlichkeiten, voller Freundschaft und Hoffnung, welche aber zugleich voller Gefahren einer massiven Gewaltausbreitung unter Palästinensern bedeutet, wie zur Zeit weit in der Presse berichtet wurde. 
Als einzige regionale Organisation, die gezielt Gewaltablehnung unterrichtet, arbeitet Mend deshalb umso verstärkter, um die Mittel, wie Gewalt überwunden werden kann,  weiterzugeben.  Auf Grund der Ereignisse der vergangen Wochen findet eine Ausbreitung unserer Kampagne “Smarter Without Violence (Schlauer ohne Gewalt)“ statt.    
Erst vor Kurzem zog Mend in neue Büroräume nach Beit Hanina in Jerusalem.  Weiterhin und überall in der Region konfrontieren unsere Mitglieder („menders“) auf allen Ebenen der Palästinensischen Gesellschaft die Lust zur Gewalt.  Zusätzlich zu unseren Tätigkeiten auf der Lokalebene, haben wir jetzt auch ein Rundschreiben.  Wir sind im Endstadium der Planung einer Serie von Radiodiskussionen, die  über Gewaltlosigkeit geht und speziell für Palästinensische Jugendliche gemacht wurde,.  Wir befinden uns ebenfalls kurz vor dem Herausbringen eines Films über die sehr erfolgreichen Gewalt konfrontierenden Sommerlager (2006).
Einige unserer Gruppen begannen ein spezielles Aktionsprogramm in ihren Schulen, in denen sie sich gegen den erneuten Ausbruch der Gewalt zwischen Palästinensern aussprachen, vor allem weil Kinder unter den Opfern zählten.  Ebenfalls im Publikationstadium ist unser Schulplan zur Toleranz und Gewaltfreiheit      
Auf einer Konferenz in Aman befand sich MEND an der Vorfront zur Gründung eines Arabischsprachigen Netzwerkes zur Gewaltverhinderung.  MEND, repräsentiert durch vier Mitarbeiter und organisatorischen Verwalter überzeugte als erfahrenste Organisation in diesem Gebiet, und leitete Seminare, Unterrichtsstunden, Pressearbeit und Kontaktaufnahme.  Unsere Repräsentation dort wurde sehr positiv aufgewertet.  Weitere Informationen dazu finden Sie auf unserer Website www.menonline.org (auf Englisch).
Die Ereignisse  der letzten Wochen, sowie unsere so essentielle Arbeit,  machen unseren diesjährigen Spendenaufruf umso wichtiger.  Für uns Alle ist es unumgehlich die Arbeitziele in Gewaltpreventation, die wir uns gesetzt haben,  zu erreichen.  Und da wir uns auch in einem regionalen finanziellen Notstand befinden, von dem bis dato kein Ende in Sicht ist, brauchen wir Ihre weitergehende Unterstützung.  
Ich wünsche Ihnen das Beste diese Weihnachten und für das Neue Jahr , sowie eine erhohlsame WInterpause an alle  auch an die die nicht Weihnachten feiern,
Mit freundlichen Grüssen
Lucy Nusseibeh
MEND (Palästinensische Vertretung)
E-Mail:  mend.lucy@gmail.com

MEND Central Office
P.O. Box 66558 , Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem
Telephone: 972.2.656.7310/2988
Fax: 972.2.656.7311

Appell der Gewaltfreiheit
“Weil all das hier in unserer Region passiert, ins besondere im Irak, Libanon und in den Gebieten der Palästinänischen Verwaltung, das Töten von Frauen, Kindern, alten Menschen und die Ermordung von Wissenschaftlern, wichtigen Denkern, sowie der Störung von Glaubensanhängigen in den Orten ihres Gottesdienstes, umso verantwortlicher und umso verstärkter sind wir bereit den Phänomenen ein Ende zu bereiten, welche solche Gefahren für unsere Zukunft und die unserer Kinder bergen, für deren Sicherheit und Verwirklichungsmöglichkeiten.    In diesem Sinne verurteilen wir und weisen von uns zu stärkst ab, alles das was Menschen unternehmen im Sinne organisierter Menschenmassakrierung, und wir wenden uns an alle Parteien, so dass sie sofort ihre Gewaltaktionen beenden, und statt dessen an Dialogen teilhaben, und sich mit ethischer Verantwortung und Weisheit ausdrücken, damit die Spannunggrade und schlimmen Abweichungen ein Ende finden können.  Wir wenden uns ebenfalls an alle lokalen und internationalen Gruppen und Organisationen, dass sie  Druck in solcher weise auszuüben, damit Gewalt sofort enden kann, und damit auch die Besatzung(*)  in allen ihren Formen ein Ende findet. 
Wir akzeptieren die Verantwortung eine bessere Zukunft anzustreben, und, von Dunkelheit bedroht, heben unsere unsere Kerzen hoch:  für die Kinder die Leben noch nicht kennen, für die junge Frau in Vorbereitung ihrer Hochzeit, für die Witwe die auf den Universitätenabschluss ihres einzigen Sohnes wartet, für den alten Immigranten, der in seinem eigenem Land(*) begraben werden möchte. Für alle die werden wir weiterhin geben.
Falls Sie eine Möglichkeit haben MEND’s lebensnotwendige Arbeit zu unterstützen bitte spenden sie online unter www.mend-uk.org oder www.mendonline.org   Sie können aber auch Schecks an MENDUK, Post Box 51752, England, oder
direkt an  MEND; P.O.BOX 66558, East Jerusalem
sowie Bank Details:  The Arab Bank, Al-Ram Barnch
(861), Palestine, A/C 9110-460500/4-511. Swift Code: ARABPS22110
 * dies ist im Zusammenhang von den 50 Mitgliedern aus verschiedenen Laendern die dies in Aman beschlossen haben, zu verstehen und betrifft u.a. Irak, Westbank und Libanon…

Shoa, Trauma, Threat and Claude Lanzmann’s Tsahal

Cover of "Shoah"
Cover of Shoah

Claude Lanzmann is the creator of the epic film documentary Shoa that many may still remember.  He made another documentary film  entitled Tsahal.  In this work I considered both films and the possible relevance of linking the shoa and the Israeli Defence Forces.

This is one of those works I would have liked to integrate into my PhD.

Document not available online!  Please contact me if interested!