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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Zionist Lolita debate

I attended and recorded last night's Debate at Lolita Bar, on "Is Zionism Racism?," between Saif Ammous and my friend Abe Greenwald. The audio is here (at least temporarily; it will be there as long as someone downloads it at least once a month).

Ammous "won" the debate, by being louder, using rhetoric such as "Zionist criminal pigs," and having vocal supporters in the audience. He grossly distorted the situation of land ownership in Israel, stating that 97 percent is owned by the Jewish National Fund (it's actually about 13 percent) and falsely claiming that almost all land in the country cannot be leased to Arabs. He also presented a hazy view of a non-sectarian, free-market democracy as the alternative to a Jewish state, without discussing what a real, e.g. Hamas-led, alternative would be like. Altogether, the debate cast a great deal more heat than light. But if you're interested, here it is.

1 comment:

Gerard said...

I have to hand it to Abe. He kept his composure in an intolerable environment. Still, I think there were a couple of problems he could have anticipated beforehand.

1. Saife would intentionally distort the meaning of key provisions of Israel Basic Laws, re: distribution of property, in order to make the case that Israel was oppressing the Arabs living there. Meanwhile, ignoring the fact that Palestinian-Arabs living in neighboring countries are not allowed to own property, apply for jobs, and are denied citizenship.

2. I don't recall Abe ever attempting to refute the imbecilic assertion by Saife that Jews and Moslem-Arabs lived in complete harmony prior to the establishment of the state of Israel. Why were the Hebron pogrom, Western Wall riots incited by Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, and numerous acts of targeted killing by Arab-Moslem militias during the 1936-1939 insurrection never broached by Abe?

3. His summation was somewhat disjointed. He used his final five minutes, which should have simply been a recapitulation of his central thesis-along with some of the arguments buttressing it-to respond to tendentious questions his opponent had lodged at the beginning of the debate, and repeatedly invoked throughout even after they had been addressed.