12 January 2013

"Da'am Israelis": bad pun warning, for English speakers

"Agbaria-Zahalka...could not disagree with [Haneen Zoabi] more. “We will not go together with the Muslim Brotherhood like she did on the Marmara,” she said. “I object to the siege on Gaza, I think it’s a travesty to starve an entire people. And I’m against the political persecution against Zoabi. But we’re fighting against the Brotherhood. I want to promote a real left that doesn’t see Islam as its salvation. I don’t want to go 1,400 years back in time. I want to go into the future.”'

This is a large part of the last paragraph of an article by Liel Liebovitz in The Tablet. While I more than mildly disagree with her about the sentiment (let alone the truth) of her second sentence (but she's entitled to her opinions), nevertheless, Asma Agbaria-Zahalka is an Israeli Arab woman who's been on an interesting journey. She started out interested in Islam to a far greater extent than her family, who appear, according to the article, to have been conventional, moderate Moslems. Asma, however, delved deeper into the religion, to the advantage of her personal development. A change came when she started at Tel Aviv University.

Once there, she needed extra financial support, so she took a job with the then brand-new political party Da'am as a proof reader for their paper. According to Leibovitz (and Snoopy, Gideon and any other Israel-based readers of this site will know far better than me whether this is so), "there isn’t much to suggest that Agbaria-Zahalka and her party, Da’am, stand much of a chance of making it to the Knesset come this month’s election." Again, according to Leibovitz, what's intriguing about this party of faint-hopers (that is, not quite no-hopers) is that it appears to be composed of a coalition of genuine two-staters, Moslem and Jewish, and socialist to boot.

Thus, one intriguing quote from Asma A-Z is: “Whether they like it or not,” she said, “Jews and Arabs today are joined at the paycheck. They’re both victims of bad policy.” Da'am founded Ma'an, which campaigns (with a fair degree of success) for pay and conditions in line with Israeli labour law for the poorly paid and organised (this will be, in practice, alongside the Histradut's similar campaign). Another is “You can continue to fight over the country you say the Jews took from you in 1948,” she said, “or you can realize that the Jews themselves don’t have a country today. It was taken from them. It was taken by the government and given to tycoons, and we all need to fight to get it back.”

For those aware of the organisation, this sounds remarkably similar to the UK-based Workers Liberty organisation, which believes in a workers' state in the former Palestine, but meanwhile, also believes that israel has the right to exist in peace and security within secure borders.

They're my kind of people, for the last sentiment at least. They are worth a quick google.

More importantly, it's people like this (with or without the socialism, according to taste) that the situation in the former Palestine desperately needs. See if you agree, by reading the full article.

By: Brian Goldfarb