The 17 Group: ‘Israel Colonial Settler State and the New Apartheid’

The final meeting, and break-up for the year, of the 17 Group will take place on Wednesday the 3rd of December at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St West End. It will be addressed by Joe and Phil Monsour on the topic:

“Israel Colonial Settler State and the New Apartheid.”

The discussion will be around but not limited to three points:

· The Palestinian struggle to tell their story.
· The Palestinian struggle to expose Zionism, and Israel as an Apartheid State.
· The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement

The Palestinian story is one of catastrophe and struggle following the Palestinian dispossession of 1948 and the creation of the homeland for Jewish settlers from Europe. It has been subsumed beneath European and US support and sympathy for the Jewish people following persecution and genocide in Europe. Israel’s circumstance depends on massive military and economic support from the US to maintain its domination. In the Western media the full Palestinian narrative is overshadowed by Western support for the settlers.

The character of the State of Israel is based on foundations of Jewish exclusivity and this is evidenced by ongoing discrimination against Arab citizens living in Israel since 1948 and a vicious and sustained occupation of the lands conquered in 1967. This is demonstrated amongst other things by:

· the immigration policies of the Israelis
· the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians from their lands and the expanding Jewish settlement on Palestinian land,
· refusal to allow Palestinian refugees a right of return, severe and sustained restrictions on movement and
· the continued imprisonment of Palestinians for political reasons – some estimates are that one fifth of the population have been jailed at one time or another.

The current symbol of apartheid is the massive cement separation wall which is 8 metres high (twice that of the Berlin Wall). The wall frequently divides Palestinian farms, towns and cities and Palestinians travelling to the other half of their farm, town or city need to go through checkpoints that can be miles to their intended destination.

The Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign has emerged in recent years as core activity of the Palestinian solidarity struggle in many countries. What is the BDS and what role does it play in supporting the anti-colonial struggle in Palestine?

The Presenters:

Joseph Monsour
Joseph Monsour was an activist in the Palestine Solidarity Movement in the 1970’s.

He was also politically active during his University days around opposing the ban on Street Marches in 1977 by Joh Bjelke Petersen.

Joseph Monsour graduated from the University of Queensland with a Masters’ Degree in Economics. His area of study was Economic Development and his thesis was on the Lebanese Civil War. He is also a graduate in Accounting from the USQ. He has worked for Commonwealth, State and Local Government in Queensland.

Joseph spent some time in Damascus Syria in 1976 and later stayed with his family in Lebanon in the same year through travel was heavily restricted during to the Lebanese civil war.

The Monsour/Maksour family come from the village of Raas Baalbek in Lebanon and it is renowned for progressive politics. The family still has many relatives living and working in Lebanon.

Phil Monsour
Phil Monsour is a musician and active member of the anti-Israel apartheid struggle in Australia. In 2010 he travelled to the Middle East as part of a trade union delegation that visited the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan as well as travelling extensively through the Occupied Palestinian Territories and region of Palestine occupied in 1948. He was denied entry to the Gaza Strip by the occupation authorities on the basis of his Arab heritage.

In 2010 he was a co-organiser of Australia’s first Boycott Divestment Sanction national conference in Melbourne and has been an active organiser of the BDS movement in Qld and Australia since then. He has also attended a number of international BDS meetings in Europe and has worked closely with the Boycott National Committee in Palestine.

Phil last three albums have included a number of songs that relate closely to the Palestinian struggle and in 2012 he filmed a video clip “Ghosts of Dier Yassin” in the Palestinian refugee camps and recently performed at large Free Palestine festival in France.

Leon, when asked if he’d be at this one, went into a fit of abstraction and quoted himself, as he is wont to do, this time from 1937:

Before trying to answer your questions I ought to warn you that unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to learn the Jewish language, which moreover has been developed only since I became an adult. I have not had, and I do not have the possibility of following the Jewish press, which prevents me from giving a precise opinion on the different aspects of so important and tragic a problem. I cannot therefore claim any special authority in replying to your questions. Nevertheless I am going to try and say what I think about it.

During my youth I rather leaned toward the prognosis that the Jews of different countries would be assimilated and that the Jewish question would thus disappear in a quasi-automatic fashion. The historical development of the last quarter of a century has not confirmed this perspective. Decaying capitalism has everywhere swung over to an exacerbated nationalism, one part of which is anti-semitism. The Jewish question has loomed largest in the most highly developed capitalist country of Europe, in Germany.

Our attempt to bring him back to 2014 failed by about seventy four years, as he got as far as July 1940, his eye rolling back prophetically, as if he were Teiresias in the presence of Cleon:

The attempt to solve the Jewish question through the migration of Jews to Palestine can now be seen for what it is, a tragic mockery of the Jewish people. Interested in winning the sympathies of the Arabs who are more numerous than the Jews, the British government has sharply altered its policy toward the Jews, and has actually renounced its promise to help them found their “own home” in a foreign land. The future development of military events may well transform Palestine into a bloody trap for several hundred thousand Jews. Never was it so clear as it is today that the salvation of the Jewish people is bound up inseparably with the overthrow of the capitalist system.

The question of perennial interest to Group Seventeeners is thus unanswered yet. But could this be the one? Will Leon supervene? Only those who come will be able to answer this question. Be among them.

Israel Colonial Settler State and the New Apartheid.docx

One thought on “The 17 Group: ‘Israel Colonial Settler State and the New Apartheid’

  1. Here are three key ways in which Israeli law has created an ethnocracy, not a democracy.

    One. In the first few years after the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the Knesset passed three laws that established the foundations of a Jewish state at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians (most of whom had been ethnically cleansed and prevented from returning). The combined effect of the Law of Return, the Absentee Property Law, and the Citizenship Law meant the following: any Jew in the world could move to Israel and become a citizen, while expelled Palestinians were stripped of their citizenship and their properties expropriated by the state.

    Two. There is no such thing as Israeli nationality, with “the Population Registry’s use of the term ‘nationality’ referring not to citizenship but rather to ethnic identity.” The identification of the state with one specific national group, creates a hierarchy and exclusion” expressed not just with “symbols” but also “in terms of allocating resources, governmental power, jobs, discrimination (formal or informal) and the need to indicate in the Population Registry who is a Jew and who isn’t.”

    Three. There is no guarantee of equality for Jewish and Palestinian citizens enshrined in Israeli law. The closest it gets is Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992), but the Basic Law itself includes a crucial caveat, or limitation clause, that allows the “rights” contained within it to be ‘violated’ by laws “befitting the values of the State of Israel” – namely, “as a Jewish and democratic state.”

    On these foundational elements, and others, are built a host of discriminatory policies and practices. These serve to protect a Jewish majority created through the mass expulsion of Palestinians, and ensure benefits and privileges for Jews at the expense of those Palestinians who remained. This affects land allocation, housing, regional and municipal planning, citizenship rights, the family, education, dissent, and a host of other areas of life.
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