Dr. Boris Dubson says that Francis Fukuyama was wrong when he announced "the end of history." Dubson refuses to accept the argument that what is now happening in the United States, Europe and Israel is the optimal situation that the human race can achieve. He actually believes there is a world order that is better than capitalism. He is even certain that communism will return. Dubson is careful to note that what he is saying is not wishful thinking, but the reflection of scientific analysis.
This statement is not surprising in and of itself. Dubson is not the only one who thinks that way. But it is surprising that Dubson, 64, is an immigrant from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) who arrived in Israel exactly 10 years ago. Immigrants are thought of not only as right-wing, but also as traumatized by communism to the point that even the mere mention of the term "socialism" makes them queasy.
"Not all of us are capitalists," says Dubson, refuting the generalization. "True, most immigrants do feel that way, but there are a few who think just as I do. I know them. The problem is they prefer not to talk. Fear is instilled in the Soviet character. They're afraid that it might disrupt things at their job or socially if people think they have a communist or even a socialist world view."
Dubson is not afraid to express his opinion, or even to support Hadash, without being a member of the party. His reputation as an internationally known researcher of society and economics and an author when he was still in Moscow of books that have been translated into numerous languages enables him to speak freely. He is also used to being a dissident, going back to his days in Russia.
It is not that he is unaware of the failures of the communist system. The opposite is true. In his youth, he lived with his family near the lagers (forced labor camps) of Koloma and saw everything with his own eyes. Now he lives in Be'er Sheva and is writing a 400-page book on the social gaps and social policy in Israel. When he looks at the reality, he has no doubt that communism will return, though perhaps not exactly to the previous starting point.
"I can't say that tomorrow there'll be a revolution in Russia, Israel or Europe, but it will come. Perhaps in another 10 or 20 years. I can't say that I yearn for a revolution; after all as Marx wrote, a revolution is not angels in white with songs, but people with stones and blood. But, as a scientist, I'm looking into the options for the development of society in Israel and Russia. Marx's theory may not be appropriate at the moment, but a large part of the things he wrote apply today as well."
Upon arriving in Israel, he first approached Meretz, occasionally going to the party's local branch. He cut his contact with Meretz after it supported the American bombing of Belgrade in 1998. Someone told him about a Hadash branch, and Dubson went to check out what was going on there. "Unfortunately, I found a party that was primarily an Arab party with very few Jews. These are simply two different societies and that creates a problem. Arabs in Israel are living in an industrial society, while Jews are in a society that is in the post-industrial stage. They each have different problems and different slogans and this impedes cooperation, beyond the political and nationalist differences."
However, he will once again vote for Hadash, a fact that he does not talk much about with his Russian relatives, all of which are ardent right-wingers. He is convinced he is right and that if the social policy whose goal is to destroy the welfare state continues in Israel, there is a real chance of a revolution.
The very living proof of his thesis could be seen this week in the village of Ar'ara in the Wadi Ara region. Two young Jews were being hosted in the home of Wajib and Aisha Sidawi after being summoned to the area to attempt to prevent the razing of the home of Munas Washahi in the nearby village of Ara.
This meeting would not have been of particular interest even in these times, had it not been for the fact that the two visitors are young immigrants from the CIS. Despite the unusual nature of this meeting in the political and social experience of the immigrant community, it was apparent that Sergei Gornostayev, 30 and Yana Zipperman, 21, felt very much at home. Joint activities in the left-wing organization Ta'ayush, the Arab Jewish Partnership, support for Hadash and a communist worldview embrace them with a bond of solidarity.
"We're trying to create an alternative society," says Wajib Sidawi, 45, who studied in Bulgaria. At the time, he was almost killed by the Iraqi Ba'ath party, whose members chased after him at a rally shouting "Zionist." His library at home has philosophy books in Arabic alongside Hebrew language books on biblical style and Lenin's writings in Russian.
All those at the meeting vigorously reject the suggestion that the connection between them is a posed one that allows the Arabs to boast of their two Russian friends and the young Jewish revolutionaries to glory in their friendship with Arabs. "With us, it's real," they say. "I think that the young people in Hadash really want this connection," says Zipperman. "It's not folklore," insists Gornostayev: "It's a genuine ideological infrastructure. We're not two token Russians for them. It's just a coincidence that Jana and I came from there and speak the same language."
From the Jewish Agency's perspective, Zipperman, a psychology student, is a total failure. Six years ago, she came to Israel on the Jewish Agency's Na'aleh program, which brings youths from the CIS here without their parents and already she is flitting around an Arab home in Wadi Ara as if she were born there.
Zipperman's great, great grandparents were among those who brought about the Russian Revolution and were very close to Lenin. They, she relates, were also among the first to be destroyed by the workers' class. "Because of that, I don't like revolutions," says Zipperman. "That's also why it's impossible to talk to the Russians in Israel in Marxist terms, because for them it means a dictatorship of the proletariat." Her grandparents then became Soviet-style bourgeoisie, factory managers from the upper class of the proletarian dictatorship, she says. In Kiev, her birthplace, she rejected communism and was even the first to drop out of its youth movement. Now she describes herself as a "neo-Marxist."
Her six years in Israel have also transformed her from a Zionist active in the Jewish Agency in Kiev into a "post-Zionist." "I came out of Zionism to the national home of the Jewish people," she relates. "What they didn't tell me and maybe I didn't want to know, is that there's also a nation here that we are pushing into the abyss."
Zipperman started her political involvement in Israel with Meretz. "I thought that's where the left ended," she says. "I came to Hadash gradually. My arrival in the radical left went through Ta'ayush.
Her social circle today is comprised of friends from the various stages of her absorption including both Jews and Arabs. It includes women from the Women's Coalition for Peace, young members of Hadash and Ta'ayush activists as well as some fellow immigrants with whom she shares an apartment and who do not agree with a single thing that she does or says. "Sometimes they think I've gone crazy," she laughs.
Her three roommates in a Haifa student apartment are immigrants from the CIS. Some time ago, after a heated political discussion in the apartment, they raised an Israeli flag in the living room. "They're really sweet," she insists, "but they haven't done a thing in this country since their arrival here, and then they try and lecture me about patriotism."
Gornostayev, now studying for a master's degree in anthropology, immigrated to Israel 12 years ago and actually describes himself as a proletariat. He is temporarily unemployed and spends his nights in the company of Arab fishermen from Acre, the subject of his thesis on "the economy of Acre fishermen." "The Marxist approach speaks to me," he says. Until immigrating to Israel, he was totally apolitical, put off by the politics he had seen while he was growing up during the days of perestroika in the former Soviet Union. "After a year in Israel, I was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces," he says cynically. "There in the Golani brigade, while serving in the territories, I experienced culture shock. It was definitely culture shock that preceded the political response."
This response led him to Hadash - a very unusual choice among the immigrant community. "Russian speakers are a very small part of my social network," says Gornostayev, "relatives and maybe two or three friends. The people I'm in constant contact with are from the university, Ta'ayush and from Acre. Really, my social circle consists mainly of Arabs. That's how it worked out. We are connected by our shared class status. It's one of the wonders of the post-modern world that a person can have a master's degree and still be a proletarian." In between, he also managed to be a conscientious objector and refused to serve in the territories as an active member of Ta'ayush, "a movement where Jews and Arabs really do do things together and not under the guise of duki [a mocking, shortened version of the Hebrew word for coexistence]."
His connection to the proletariat was deepened by the train rides to Be'er Sheva where he did reserve duty. On those trips, he met people with jackets, laptop computers and cellular phones, which they used on the train. "I felt as if I didn't belong with them and also as if I didn't want to belong. On the other hand, my identification with the Palestinian citizens of Israel is both political and class-related. I imagine it sounds shocking, because I still live better than most of that sector, even though I'm unemployed."
The ideological confusion is heightened by the fact that Gornostayev, a Jew according to halakha (Jewish religious law), has actually had a hard time identifying himself as a Jew since his arrival in Israel. "I have trouble with the political, partisan connotations that this definition has in Israel," he explains, "I prefer to talk about civilian identity. In that respect, I see myself as totally Israeli and that's the identity out of which I operate in the public domain."
Gornostayev attempted to instill his political beliefs in his parents. He was partially successful with his mother in the 1999 elections after he tried a completely non-ideological method of persuasion; "If anyway you don't care whom you vote for, do me a favor and vote Hadash," he told her. His mother almost agreed, but in the end voted for Natan Sharansky.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now