The thunderous silence of Leonardo Avritzer

Image: Om Jeneen


In two extensive articles Avritzer did not find space to say a single word about the ongoing massacre in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank

Leonardo Avritzer has just produced a quadruple, published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul referred to two of my articles in the same vehicle. Unfortunately, he does not refer to a scandalous piece produced by journalist Demétrio Magnoli, in the same Sheet. Leonardo Avritzer's text is made up of a series of statements, compatible with a historiographical debate, and also of a series of implicit assumptions, of quite different content. I will list them.

(I) I asked, in my rejoinder, that Leonardo Avritzer speak to delimit his criticism of the slanderous accusation of Demetrio Magnoli, who qualified my initial text as equivalent to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a falsification that served as the, let's say, ideological basis for the murderous anti-Semitic policy of the tsarist regime and, later, for the Jewish Holocaust caused by Nazism between 1933 and 1945. It is obvious that, if this were the case, all historiographical debate would be excluded. I did this because Demetrio Magnoli's slander was explicitly based on Leonardo Avritzer's text published in Sheet. Unfortunately, in his quadruple, Avritzer thought it best to say nothing about it, despite my explicit request. I therefore extend my repudiation of Demetrio Magnoli's slander to Leonardo Avritzer's conniving omission.

(Ii) To argue with my text, and with others, Leonardo Avritzer resorts to the not-so-subtle procedure of disqualifying his opponents in advance. I would “align myself” (sic) with Ilan Pappé, who would be a “secondary researcher”, who would “radicalize theses through dubious procedures”. In a previous text, Leonardo Avritzer had dismissed the Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi by summarizing him as “obscure”. Leonardo Avritzer's statements, without more proof than the statement itself, are very far from being unanimous. In the case of Ilan Pappé, visibly despised by Leonardo Avritzer, he omits that the Jewish historian was persecuted academically, politically and physically by the Israeli Zionist regime, which forced him to go into exile and currently teach at an English university.

(Iii) As for me, Leonardo Avritzer states that he would be in a “dubious” (sic) attitude when objecting to UN resolutions, since they would constitute “fundamentals of international law”, which would be, apparently, indisputable, proposing (I) that their compliance would be “an act of will”. International law hovers, in Leonardo Avritzer's arguments, like a dove in the sky of an idealized “international community”, without (today dramatic) contradictions.

Professor Jorge Nóvoa, from UFBA, in a text posted on social media, referred to “British politicians who wanted to free themselves from the pressures of Zionist sectors immigrated from the pogroms of Eastern Europe and Russia, who idealized to take this [Jewish] population to England. In the same way, the beginning of the war to found an ethnic-religious State appears in Leonardo Avritzer's narrative as 'a bolt of lightning in a serene sky' following the vote at the UN legitimizing such construction, as if the composition of the forces at the UN were exempt at the time. to the pressures of the geopolitical and geoeconomic purposes of British and Yankee imperialism in the so-called Middle East. Interests that remain dominant and that seem to have increased after the discovery of oil in what remains of the Palestinian coast, and are found in various ways in the immediate and mediate explanation of the State of Israel and its allies”. That's the least that can be said about it.

(Iv) Without caring about the contradiction, Leonardo Avritzer cites a December 1991 UN resolution that revoked another, from 1975, which qualified Zionism as a form of racism, stating that I had omitted it. There was, obviously, no omission, as I cited the 1975 resolution as an example of a resolution that negated another, previous one, from 1948. The fact that the 1975 resolution was only revoked in 1991, unfortunately for Leonardo Avritzer, plays against his argument. . This means that for just over sixteen years (1991-1975 = 16) Zionism would have been outside the law, that is, international law.

During these years, and also those before and after, the State of Israel transformed itself, with strong international support, mainly from the USA and European states (which paid little attention, in this case, to “international law”), into the most densely armed and militarized on the planet, including the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East (about whose supposedly “deterrent” character we will say a word later). From all the galimatias, Leonardo Avritzer draws the conclusion that the supposed omission would not have been an oversight on the part of “a specialist in Arab history”, but, we suppose, an “act of will”. At no point in my argument did I refer, in any sense, to the qualification of Leonardo Avritzer as a “specialist in political science”.

(V) But the most resounding implication of the whole quid pro quo is that in two extensive articles Leonardo Avritzer did not find space to say a single word about the ongoing massacre in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, that is, in the Palestinian territories. Deaths, mainly among the civilian population, exceeded, in two months, the deaths resulting from the Russia-Ukraine (NATO) war in two years. That this genocidal violence, which the Zionist regime explicitly promises to extend indefinitely in space and time, goes far beyond the supposed motive that gave rise to it (the fight against a “terrorist group”) was made clear in the statements of senior Israeli officials, before and after October 7, 2023.

In 2017, while still a Member of Parliament, Israel's current Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, published a “subjugation plan” that called for the annexation of all disputed territories, expelling all Arabs who did not accept their subordinate position and eliminating anyone who resisted. On November 11, 2023, when the Israeli Minister of Agriculture, Avi Dichter, from the Likud party, was questioned in an interview with Jadashot whether it was possible to compare the images of evacuated residents of the north of the Gaza Strip with those of Nakba 1948, he responded: “We are now basically carrying on the Nakba of Gaza. From an operational point of view, it is not possible to carry out a war like the one the army is carrying out within the territories of Gaza when the masses are between the tanks and the soldiers”.

When asked a second time whether this was really “the Nakba of Gaza,” Dichter responded: “the Nakba of Gaza 2023. This is how it will end.” The minister was then asked whether the residents of the Gaza Strip would return to Gaza City and replied: “I don't know how this will end, because Gaza City is located in a third of the Gaza Strip, it is half the population”.

(vi) Complementing the above, a member of the Israeli cabinet was explicitly affirmative when asked about the possibility of Israel using a nuclear device against the population of the Gaza Strip. Finally, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu evoked the biblical image of the God-ordained destruction of Amalek in Old testment, to justify the invasion of Gaza as a “sacred mission”, made nothing less than a clear and unmistakable call for genocide against the entire population of the Gaza Strip.

In the comfort of transatlantic distance, the vice president of DAIA (Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas) issued his own aberrations, declaring that there were no innocent inhabitants in Gaza, “except, perhaps (sic), children under four years of age” (sources of facts listed: all moderately informed newspapers on the planet). The individual in question resigned (it would be better to say “was resigned”) from his position, we have no doubt, due to pressure from the Argentine Jewish community, which has something to remember when remembering the massacre of children in a country that was governed by a dictatorship. anti-Semitic crime between 1976 and 1984, including the disappearance of children, many of them Jewish.

(Viii) About all this, Avritzer, after Magnoli, has nothing to say, focusing his fire on the “radicalized groups on social networks”, at whose service Ilan Pappé would be and to which he subscribes. The “radicalized group” that is in command of a powerful army and a nuclear arsenal, its suppliers and financiers, and the genocide they are perpetrating, directly or indirectly, do not deserve the slightest comment.

Just like other great authors in the history of humanity, Jorge Luís Borges was involved in numerous debates during his life, without ever “going down” (that's the word) to the arguments ad hominem, even disqualifying his opponents, focusing on their arguments and ideas. Not even in the case of the Swedish academics who deprived him of the Nobel Prize, when he was, according to authoritative opinions, literary superior to all the winners of that honor. During the Second World War, Jorge Luís Borges published an essay denouncing Nazism and the Jewish Holocaust, which had not yet received that name, was ignored by the powers fighting the Axis, and described as “exaggerated” (sic) by Western Zionist newspapers.

Jorge Luís Borges wrote that if a Nazi had the possibility of looking in the mirror, and recognizing a human being in his reflection, he could only wish for his own defeat. This was written when Germany seemed to be winning the world confrontation, and had numerous supporters in Argentina, starting with the military government itself. It took courage. For our part, we do not question Demétrio Magnoli's qualifications as a journalist, nor that of Leonardo Avritzer as a teacher and researcher, but rather his ideas and arguments regarding the topic in focus. I hope that 2024 brings you great happiness and the chance to look at yourself, even just a glimpse, in Borges' mirror.

Again, shalom e assalamu aleikum.

*Arlene Clemesha is a professor of contemporary Arab history at the University of São Paulo (DLO-USP). She is the author, among other books, of Marxism and Judaism: history of a difficult relationship (Boitempo). []

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