Some 60 people attended a talk by Prof. Slavoj Z’izek, Professor of Philosophy from the University of Lubliana, Slovenia, at a rally sponsored recently by “Yesh Gvul” in Jerusalem.
Prof. Z’izek’s topic was Citizenship and Responsibility–especially relevant to those Yesh Gvul members who have chosen to refuse to accept one obligation of their citizenship by refusing IDF orders to serve in areas beyond the 1949/67 armistice lines – Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan or Jerusalem
The evening was moderated by Prof. Moshe Zimmerman, professor of history and the head of the department for German Studies of the Hebrew University. Zimmerman gained notoriety a number of years ago when he publicly equated Jewish children from Hebron with Nazis. “There is an entire sector in the Jewish public which I unhesitatingly define as a copy of the German Nazis. Look at the children of the Jewish Hebron settlers: they are exactly like the Hitler Youth,” Zimmerman stated in a 1995 interview.
Zimmerman wasted no time in setting visiting Prof. Zi’zek straight at the Yesh Gvul meeting when Zi’zek responded to an audience question by explaining, “I didn’t mean to imply that your state is Nazi Germany.” Zimmerman replied: “That’s my privilege as an Israeli…”
Zi’zek’s talk was an engaging speech about the ethics of “my country, right or wrong.” Using examples from his own Balkan region, Zi’zek drew some sympathetic comparisons with Israel. “You’re nowhere near us in terms of cruelty,” he said, referencing unspeakable acts of the various forces of the Balkan war. He called the actions of those who refuse to serve in the territories, “heroic.”
Zi’zek made repeated references to rape–explaining that in interviews with rape victims in the Balkans, most of the women said that the worst humiliation was not the act itself, but the fact that it was committed in front of family members.
Responding to his talk on behalf of Yesh Gvul was spokesperson Tally Gur.
(Gur also works as the spokesperson for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel)
“I’ve heard of some cases of rape” by IDF soldiers, she said. “I know there is some evidence of rape in the first intifada,” she went on. “I hope there are not, but there are some cases in this current intifada too.”
“But even the daily actions of the IDF in front of relatives plays a part here. It’s micro-political (sic) humiliation. We see it as very brutal and systematic,” Gur informed the visiting professor. “It’s become part of the occupation regime.”
Moving from the acts of soldiers to the acts of the government, Gur concluded: “Israel does everything to violate the rights of those living in the West Bank. She asks other states to put pressure to reform the Palestine Authority and then it bombs Arafat’s compound. It’s quite a game to play…”
Zi’zek responded by explaining his opposition to international intervention.
“I saw the fiasco of UN and US intervention (in the Balkans). They tried to impose a multi-cultural solution–but the people simply hated each other…”
Gur said that there are other moral questions that people like her ask themselves every day. We should be asking the police why they stop certain people and not others like me? “Is it because they look a certain way?” she asked.
Closing the evening, Zimmerman alluded to a reference made by Prof Zi’zek about the November 1943 speech by Heinrich Himmler. “Bringing together the Himmler speech with the question of citizenship was very audacious. We should take it up and think about it. It means the comparison [presumably between Nazi Germany and Israeli actions] is relevant…”