March 31, 2005

Nazi-Zionist comparisons deconstructed?

Here's an article that seems to be popping up all over the internet. It's supposed to be a deconstruction job on the comparison of Israel with the nazis. It starts deftly enough, pointing out all the examples of things that Palestinians are allowed to do under zionist rule that Jews couldn't do under nazi rule. But then, Dr Rory Miller, Senior Lecturer in Mediterranean Studies at King's College, University of London, delves into history to demonstrate that this nazi-zionist comparison has been around since the 1940s, indeed "a memorandum written during World War II and circulated among the Zionist leadership predicted that after the war opponents of Zionism would consciously attempt to present Zionists as "Jewish Nazis" as a way of delegitimizing Jewish aspirations in Palestine."

Unfortunately Dr Miller doesn't say who wrote the memo, or why s/he thought that such a comparison would be raised but he does provide some interesting quotes; none though with an explanation of what was happening at the time of the quote to beg such a comparison. Indeed the reader could be left with the impression that the comparisons were/are perfectly apt.

Miller quotes Freya Stark, who he describes as a British propagandist and anti-zionist:
I today lunched with Mrs Rothschild and a Jewish painter (Rubin) who has done some really beautiful work in Palestine. Olga Rothschild who is studying Jewish history and is inclined to be fair and very impressionable had, I noticed, very much come round since the last meeting and told me what she dislikes in the Zionists is their Nazi principles. I think it is one of the propagandist's purest pleasures to see his own words come back dressed up as Other People's Ideas.
Then "a senior official at the British Embassy in Baghdad who spoke of a:
powerful Jewish organization in Palestine, that is run on Fascist lines and Nazi principles… Jewish refugees from the Nazi's Fascist tyranny in Europe have introduced into Palestine a good few of the methods employed to regiment the German masses by Himmler's hoodlums.
Again no hint of why the comparison was raised. And on to Sir Edward Grigg who, at a Cairo press conference, reported on
establishment of a kind of Nazi gangsterism in the Holy Land
and Sir Edward Spears who said in 1945 that
political Zionism as it is manifested in Palestine today preaches very much the same doctrines as Hitler....Zionist policy in Palestine has many features similar to Nazi philosophy…the politics of Herrenvolk…the Nazi idea of Lebensraum, is also very in evidence in the Zionist philosophy...the training of youth is very similar under both organisations that have designed this one and the Nazi one.
At a talk in 1947, Robert Maugham "drew attention to"
the stare of hatred...the patriotic songs...the pride and confidence...are all the same as in the Germany of Hitler
Dr Miller then rounds up by pointing out that it wasn't just British officials and commentators who compared zionism to nazism. The Arab League also published articles and pamphlets saying the same thing. This is from 1945:
to the Arabs indeed Zionism seems as hideous as anything the Nazis conceived in the way of racial expansion at the expense of others. The Zionist claim to have brought prosperity to the country sounds to the Arab ears very much like Hitler's talk of the blessings of the New Order, and the historical, legal and moral arguments adduced to support he Zionist case… appear in the same light as those used by the Nazis to justify the spoliation or destruction of the nations they attacked…while the novel contention that the matter is not one of rights but of the greater need of the Jews…smacks unmistakably of the Lebensraum doctrine.

Now, what I find peculiar about this is that, nowhere does it seek to actually refute what is being said in the various quotes. It seems clear that the comparison of zionists with nazis arises because, like the nazis, the zionists believe that statehood and nationality should be based on ethnicity. Of course, zionism's dependence on imperial patronage means that it has to wear a liberal mask but pre-Israel zionist groups often assimilated to their home country's political culture or that of its patrons. If zionism has a liberal complexion now it's because its main backers have that complexion too. We shouldn't be complacent about this, its main backer now is the USA and the USA is hardly becoming more liberal.

March 30, 2005

Racism on Israeli TV

From Sephardic Heritage Update:

White power: Study of prime-time TV programming reveals secular, veteran Israeli men of European descent rule the screen

By Raz Shechnik

We hear much about how the racism that propelled the founders of Israel has become a thing of the past.  Guess again.

Israel is home to multiple ethnicities and religions, but you would never know it by watching local television shows. A recent study paints a bleak picture of deep-seated bias in the depiction of minorities on the small screen. 

Jewish, secular men of Ashkenazi (European) descent dominate prime-time programming, according to the study. Meanwhile, Jews of Middle Eastern origin are likelier to be associated with crime, violence, and poverty than Ashkenazi Jews. 

Professors Eli Avraham of University of Haifa and Anat First of Netanya College analyzed various programs, including newscasts, talk shows, game shows and dramas for about a year for the study, commissioned by Israel’s Second Broadcasting Authority. 

Their conclusion is that Israel’s minority groups, namely Arabs, Ultra-Orthodox, and new immigrants, have become virtually extinct when it comes to TV appearances. 

Women mostly appear in cooking, lifestyle shows

Meanwhile, women and Israelis of Middle Eastern origin did appear on television occasionally, but to a much lesser extent than their percentage in the population warrants. 

On another front, women tended to be featured in cooking, fashion and lifestyle shows. Settlers were also largely absent from the local television scene, with the exception of news programs.

The study found new immigrants played a central role in only 21 news items during the year, while 1,626 items focused on veteran Israelis. Ethiopian immigrants fared particularly poorly, with only three items focused on them. 

This trend was also seen on talk shows, with guests likely to be veteran, secular Israeli Jews, mostly of European descent. The same pattern held true for game show participants. 

When it came to dramas, 99 percent of characters were Jewish. The only non-Jew to make an appearance on one of the shows was a foreign worker. 

Meanwhile, 20 percent of the Arabs appearing on news shows were presented as holding provocative views, compared to only 5 percent of the Jews.

Moreover, while most newscasters and hosts tended to be Ashkenazi males, minority group members were often cast in the role of “the man on the street.”

‘Things would have to change’

Second Broadcasting Authority Director-General Moti Sklar said he does not intend to ignore the study’s findings. He likened the situation to an owner of a major road who decides to only allow brand new vehicles to travel on it. 

Sklar said the study confirmed an already present gut feeling. 

“Television stations only give expression to a very particular segment within Israeli society,” he said, and added things would have to change. 

“You cannot create a democracy, particularly in a country with so many schisms, when principal groups are not part of the discourse,” he said.

From Ynet News, March 13, 2005

War poetry

In today's Independent:
Sir: Here is another limerick, based on Professor Day's line "We went to war on a page of A4":
Enlightened by Dubya's epistle,
Blair sexed-up Iraq's old Scud missile
And took us to war
On a page of A4,
But never found anything fissile.

JOHN BOLTON

Potters Bar, Hertfordshire

UK/US helping Israel get away with murder

Thanks to Bat for sending me this link. The Socialist Worker this week has a report on how the Foreign Office is refusing to co-operate with the BBC over the case of Iain Hook who was killed by an Israeli soldier whilst working for UNRWA in Jenin in November 2002.
Last week the foreign office flatly refused to release the information it holds on Iain’s death, saying this could damage relations with Israel.
According to the report Hook was shot in the back. An inquest has yet to take place and it seems the UK government is none to keen to get one started. What could an inquest tell us?
The circumstances in which Iain was killed were quite straightforward. He was shot in the back after he had been on the phone to the Israelis for several hours trying to get his people safely out of the UNRWA compound. The Israelis claimed Palestinian fighters were in the compound. This was never the case. An Israeli soldier decided he was going to shoot Iain.
So it could tell us that Iain Hook was murdered.

Now why doesn't our government want us to know that Iain Hook was murdered (the one or two of us who don't know, that is)? Sophie Hurndall, the sister of Tom Hurndall, another victim of an Israeli murder, offers this as an explanation of why not only the British but also the US government doesn't like to pry into Israel's campaign of murder of witnesses to its on-going war crimes:
The US and British governments have not gone out of their way, even though these cases have involved their citizens, to pressurise Israel to do what is right. There are hidden dynamics in the relationships between these countries. But the very least the US and Britain can do is stand up and demand an inquiry into the deaths of their citizens.

Palestinians are dying in similar circumstances every day. We had to campaign for six months on the TV and in the papers before Israel admitted Tom hadn’t been armed or been shooting at them. The BBC case just adds to the deeply shocking state of affairs.

March 28, 2005

The return of Ken the opportunist

Today's Guardian has a letter from Ken Livingstone criticising Tariq Ali for saying that he will vote Lib Dem in his own constituency and that others should vote tactically to oust the war party, whether pink or blue. Now read on...
Tariq Ali, in his wish to punish pro-war Labour candidates at the ballot box, omits to subject the Lib Dems to sufficient scrutiny (For one day only I'm a Lib Dem, March 26). In fact, Lib Dem opposition to the war was half-hearted. They supported the war once it had begun, and backed the occupation of Iraq.

In 2003, some Labour voters of Brent East did as Tariq now proposes to do and voted Lib Dem in the byelection. The Lib Dems won. The anti-war voters were repaid just six days later in a speech at Lib Dem conference by Menzies Campbell, who faced down the anti-war movement and put the case for sending more troops: "I understand the concern that many people feel about the deployment of more UK troops. But when the commanders on the ground ask for additional resources it is neither realistic nor fair to ask them to fulfil tasks for which they consider their present resources inadequate."

It was a betrayal of the anti-war votes. As a local resident, I will be doing my bit to repay the Lib Dems by voting for the anti-war Labour candidate in Brent East, Yasmin Qureshi.
Ken Livingstone
Mayor of London
Now nothing Ken says here contradicts what Tariq Ali said since he was advising people to oust the war's (or should that be wars') supporters. I know Ken makes the point that the Lib Dems did support the war after it began but what kind of message did Ken send out when he rejoined the Labour Party, while troops were still in Iraq and, as Daphna Baram said, sabres were (and are) being rattled against Syria and Iran. Anyway, welcome back Ken. One day we'll all know where we stand with you.

The lesson Sharon learned from Hitler?

I'm only posting this to annoy certain people but I did notice that the advice offered to Hitler by General's he ignored might go some way to explaining the so-called disengagement plan.
Hitler's only military experience had been as a corporal during the First World War. He knew only one thing - the fanatischer Widerstand (fanatical resistance), and I can still hear him say the words. Blitzkrieg was not devised by him but by military strategists whom he later sidelined. As soon as we suffered the first setbacks he became deaf to calls to switch to modern, mobile defence techniques. He saw them as defeatist since they sometimes required giving up territory.
Except, of course, in Sharon's case another explanation was offered by one of his closest advisers, Dov Weisglas:
the significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process, and when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.
And Sharon himself told Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth that "disengagement" was the continuation of Israel's racist war criminality by other means:
this should be seen as a punishment and not a reward for the Palestinians
said Israel's latest statesman.

March 26, 2005

Gross!

This is one of those handwringing articles (by a Miriam Gross in the Spectator - registration required) about how hard it is to be Jewish these days. See how she starts:
The fact that I am Jewish has always mystified me. It bears no relation to anything else in my life — not to the way I was brought up, not to religion since I am agnostic, nor to any community in which I have lived.
Her parents (German/Russian) were assimilationists in that they thought Jews should actively assimilate. But then:
Despite these views my parents both emigrated to Palestine in the 1930s (they weren’t married at the time), very soon after the Nazis started introducing anti-Jewish legislation. They did this in a spirit of defiance and adventure — they were in their twenties — but also as a precaution: Palestine might have become the only place where Jews could live in safety. Their Jewishness, like that of so many German Jews, was in a sense ‘thrust upon them’ by anti-Semitism.
Now that last sentence is true. Even Christians with Jewish roots had to wear the yellow star in church. The perplexing thing about going to Palestine "in a spirit of defiance" is who were they defying? Hitler found zionism quite useful in the 1930s. The German Zionist Federation had signed an agreement with him whereby Jews going to Palestine could take more belongings with them than those who went elsewhere. Leaving Germany, particularly for Palestine, was certainly understandable, but it was hardly an act of defiance. Then she tells us about herself:
I learnt nothing about Judaism or about Jewish traditions and culture at school, any more than I did from my parents. I never once took part in a Jewish festival nor did I ever go into a synagogue.

So it is not surprising that, for most of my life, I have had almost no sense of Jewish identity. I feel much more English than Jewish. This must be true of hundreds of Jews with similar backgrounds.
She then discusses Jews with regard to each other:
Jews are as different from one another as non-Jews....

What, for example, do Einstein and Lauren Bacall have in common? Or Kafka and Michael Howard, or Primo Levi and Philip Green, or the Chief Rabbi and Ruby Wax? Or, for that matter, an Algerian Jewish farmer and a New York psychoanalyst? Nothing. Or rather, only one thing: Hitler would transport them all to a concentration camp.
Now I could really warm to this theme. And it gets better:
The question of whether there is such a thing as a Jewish race has been endlessly debated, but race has always seemed to me a meaningless concept when applied to people whose physical appearances range from the swarthily Semitic to the blondly Danish and whose moral, social and intellectual characteristics cover the whole gamut of human behaviour.
But then it starts to deteriorate:
just as my parents were forced by the Nazis to focus on their Jewishness, so the recent resurgence of anti-Semitism in many parts of the world has made me much more conscious of being a Jew. Not that I have ever personally encountered anti-Semitism. But even in England — which, whatever anyone might say to the contrary, is not a racist country — there is more of it in the air; the anti-Semitism of the past...is coming back into the open.
Now it starts to actually degenerate:
I now sometimes find myself telling new acquaintances that I am Jewish for no other reason than to prevent the possibility of their letting drop some anti-Semitic remark. It would be less easy to do this when talking to Muslims who have been taught that Jews are devils, responsible for all the ills of the world including 9/11; or who have perhaps read and believed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that horrible forgery which is now a bestseller throughout the Arab world.
So, she has never experienced anti-semitism, not from Muslims or non-Muslims. She has read the "reports" though, but in spite of her never having experienced it she tells people that she is Jewish so that they won't say anything offensive to her. She has never met any Muslims apparently because she would find it harder to tell them that she is Jewish in order to stop them from saying anything beastly about Jews, but in spite of that, still she has never experienced anti-semitism. It is therefore, safe to assume she cannot have met any Muslims. If she had she would have heard them say something anti-semitic since she would not have told them that she is Jewish because she "would. have found this less easy" than telling non-Muslims. So now we can welcome her back to the Jewish fold. She has never experienced anti-semitism but she knows there's a lot of it about, after all she reads the Spectator. She has, it seems, never met a Muslim but:
In this new climate I feel more of a bond with other Jews than I ever have in the past - indeed it is a rather comforting fellow feeling, somewhat akin, perhaps, to belonging to a secret society.
Now if you're not Jewish, please don't ever say that being Jewish is like belonging to a secret society. You'd be eaten alive and that would be before angry Jews got their hands on you.
But no one would wish to acquire a sense of identity based on the negative fact of other people’s prejudices. It’s true that many Jews, perhaps most, have been shaped by traditional Jewish religion and culture, but it would be spurious for me to claim a part in experiences which I don’t share.
Ah well, a glimmer of hope. An end to victimology and she ends on what could be a withering denunciation of zionism
The tendency, nowadays, to put everyone into an ethnic slot, to make "ethnicity" a primary consideration in defining people, is, it seems to me, impoverishing society in general. And it’s the surest way of increasing divisiveness and intolerance.
What a shame that the main argument in her article is that Jews, who have no positive Jewish attribute, can join in a secret society of Jews because they have read that Muslims, who they have never met, don't like us.

Write to life

Here's a wonderful letter to the Guardian in response to a "shooting and crying", zionist-with-conscience, article in last week's Guardian Review.
David Grossman beautifully describes writing as individual defiance to the situation of conflict in the Middle East ('To see ourselves', March 12). In the process, he resorts to what is increasingly becoming a fashionable tool for many well-meaning Israeli and western commentators: the creation of false moral equivalence between the two sides of the conflict. The act of writing for an Israeli, in his triumphant, dominant society, is one of choice, at its best, a taking of responsibility for the deeds of one's own - a ' j'accuse! ' For a Palestinian, it is an act of survival, the affirmation of a humanity trampled on every day - an anguished ' j'existe! ' If you look at reality from the eyes of your enemies, you will perhaps see that this conflict has no symmetry.
Dr Ala Khazendar
Cambridge
J'existe! I love that.

Tariq's tactics

Tariq Ali says that we should think carefully and vote tactically at the forthcoming general election to punish the war party.
Normally, people vote to assert their political sympathies. But this is not a normal general election. It will be the first opportunity to punish the warmongers and, given the undemocratic voting system, the votes cast for the Greens, Respect and others will have no impact, with a possible exception in Bethnal Green and Bow, east London, where George Galloway confronts the warmonger Oona King. It is possible that in some constituencies the Green/Respect vote could ensure the return of a warmonger, as we have seen in the odd byelection. So why not treat this election as special and take the politics of the broad anti-war front to the electoral arena? If the result is a hung parliament or a tiny Blair majority, it will be seen as a victory for our side.
Now I agree almost entirely with Tariq Ali here. The war party should be punished if possible. It's extremely difficult of course given that the government of neo-conservatives is officially opposed by an "opposition" of equally pro-war old Conservatives. Also, Ali's dismissiveness towards Respect and the Greens has a whiff of self-fulfilling prophecy to it. And further there is one factor that he has omitted from his equation: the BNP. In some areas the tactic of anti-fascists and anti-war people will have to be, to paraphrase the leftist slogan of the Chirac-Le Pen stand-off, to "vote for the [war] crook, not the nazi."

March 25, 2005

New Zealand should take in Vanunu

This is a few days old now. New Zealand's Green Party has called for Mordechai Vanunu to be given a New Zealand passport. It's suggested that it's a kind of quid pro quo for the Israeli agents who served time last year for trying to acquire false NZ passports and because of Vanunu's persecution in Israel.
Mr Locke, Green Party spokesman on foreign affairs said: "We tell the Israeli authorities we were dead against them getting fraudulent passports, but Mr Vanunu is one prominent Israeli who does deserve."
Now if he gets it, how would Israel react?

Rosen responds to the Rabbi

I'm guessing that this letter to the Guardian is from Michael Rosen the author and poet.

We know that Zionists, old and "new", want a "substantial part" of Israel, the West Bank and even parts of Lebanon (We need a new kind of Zionism, March 23). What some Jews don't understand is why Zionists felt, and still feel, entitled to push people off their land and out of their houses, while someone with "an unswerving commitment to social justice" like Rabbi Bayfield needs two countries to live in.
Michael Rosen
London

March 24, 2005

BNP jumps on anti-Ken bandwagon

Jewish British National Party councillor, Pat Robertson*, has complained to the Standards Board for England because a Jewish Liberal Democrat councillor, Gavin Stollar, called her a nazi. She said that Stollar had "joined the Ken Livingstone club". Ken Livingstone has also been reported by racists to the Standard Board for England.

*Woops - her name's not Robertson, it's Richardson. Pat Robertson is a nutty televangelist from America. The Richardson's were a crime family in south London.

The wrong kind of Zionism?

This is one of those articles that is so bereft of meaning it makes you wonder why the Guardian printed it. This is by a Reform Rabbi, Tony Bayfield, headed We need a new kind of Zionism and sub-titled "it is treated as a dirty word and condemned by false analogy. But it is also an idea which has to be recast for the 21st century". Now read on....
Despite glimmers of hope [of a Palestinian surrender] and what looks to be the emergence of Ariel Sharon the statesman [eh?], Zionism still appears to be a dirty word. It gets classed with communism as a discredited ideology, or equated with appalling things such as racism and apartheid. [because it is analogous to racism and apartheid] To some, it might seem unthinkable that a progressive person should own up to being a Zionist. But I am.

In fact, the overwhelming majority of Jews, wherever they stand on the political spectrum, are Zionists. [that's absurd. Zionism is on the right of the political spectrum and where's the evidence for all these Jews supporting ethnic cleansing, colonial settlement and segregationist laws?]When attacked, we tend to respond by equating anti-Zionists with anti-semites. It may be unfair, but wells up out of anger and frustration at not being allowed to be ourselves, at the obtuse refusal to accept Judaism on its own terms. [Judaism? I thought he was talking about zionism]

"Traditional" Zionism owed much to 19th-century European life and thought. It was fuelled by persecution, by an enduring and increasingly violent refusal to allow Jews to be. It also reflected 19th-century nationalism [i.e. racism]. It was even marked by the fingerprints of colonialism.[it was Herzl who described his project as colonial when he approached the Brits] Modern day Australia is not alone in struggling with the consequences of seeing only terra nullius, the widespread perception of an uninhabited land waiting to be settled. But that isn't the whole story.[that isn't any of the story. The zionists knew that Palestine was inhabited]

Judaism is a religion with a geography as well as a history. The particular piece of land called Canaan, Israel, Judea and Palestine has always formed part of Judaism. You can't escape it in the Bible. You can't avoid it in Jewish prayer books. Judaism has always been both particularist and universalist, about both a people in a land and a people in diaspora. That's how Judaism is.[this is where it gets meaningless. Is it particularist or is it universalist? Universalist does not mean applying to people who turn up in lots of places, it means applying to all. But Bayfield is saying that the "particularism" means that Jews can ethnically cleanse Palestine and rule it (or most of it exclusively) whilst the "universalism" means that Jews can live as equals anywhere - that latter is of course fine but why the mealy-mouthed language of "particularism" and "universalism"?]

Today that theological, historical and cultural reality combines with a demographic reality. There are 1.8 billion Christians in the world, 1.2 billion Muslims and 14 million Jews. By 2020 more than half the Jews in the world will live in Israel.[and the relevance of these statistics?]

If the state of Israel were to cease to exist - were the Jews of Israel to be thrown into the sea or swallowed up as a minority in a bi-national entity [wow! did you see that? Consider the minority position of Jews in, say, the UK. Does it somehow compare to being thrown into the sea?] - Judaism would, I believe, also cease to exist, except perhaps for a tiny remnant of Jews.[so people stop believing in a certain religion, is that a problem? I have to say at this point, that this Bayfield guy doesn't seem to be terribly bright but this is a new angle. Zionists usually make out that Israel ceasing to exist would mean that Jews as an ethnic group would cease to exist. This guy, remember, has thrown Judaism into the equation; albeit a Judaism that worships geography over God.]

My point is this: religions are not all the same. The textbooks which make them look the same by describing each at equal length, under neat chapter headings, grossly distort. Consider this thought: perhaps the Jewish attachment to land is as important to Jewish self-understanding as the need to share and spread the "good news" is central to Christianity.[so people of good will should allow Jews who believe this tosh to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign and maintain an apartheid state]

So does that mean that any faith has to be accepted uncritically on its own terms? Not at all. We need a contract by which the faiths can live together in a shared world. If one side of the contract is the right of a faith to acceptance on its own terms, the other side is the obligation of faiths to recognise that they exist within history, have been shaped by history and must respond to new situations that history brings about.

So Zionism, in the form in which it was expressed in the 19th and 20th centuries, needs a different expression in the 21st century.

Contemporary Zionism must assert as strongly as ever the right of the Jewish people to live in freedom and security [and exclusivity] on a substantial part of the land which has always been its home. I say "substantial part" because it should go without saying that Zionism must recognise the right of the Palestinians to their secure and viable state as well. But contemporary Zionism must respond by enshrining three values at its heart.[now here come some interesting admissions]

It must embrace a commitment to peace [I thought they claimed to always be seeking peace]- to building a just and enduring peace with the Palestinians. Revealing its 19th-century origins, traditional Zionism mobilised Jews to go to Palestine on the basis of a "settlement" ethos and on the assumption that either the Arabs there did not really exist or that the relationship with the Arabs who inhabited the land would sort itself out.[the knowledge of the existence of a significant settled Arab population in Palestine was well known to the zionist leaders as was the desire to remove them]

The world has moved on dramatically and the first goal of modern Zionism must be to make peace. I would justify that in terms of theology - peace as the highest value, and in terms of ethics - peace is not possible without justice and justice is the supreme ethical value. Others would be more pragmatic and say that without peace with the Palestinians, the Zionist dream will turn into a nightmare, if it hasn't already. Whatever the justification, the commitment to peace must drive us relentlessly.[yada, yada, yada]

The second value of contemporary Zionism must be democracy. Here, there are extremists on both sides. There are those who say that democracy is a Greek idea giving supremacy to vox populi, whereas Judaism is the authentic voice of God, vox dei. At the other extreme are those who argue that democracy requires the abolition of the Jewishness of the state and allowing other religious traditions, and none, to have equal say in the cultural and spiritual direction of the country. In fact, Israel can only exist, morally and physically, through an accommodation between those two views, which must not be at the expense of the rights of Muslims and Christians.[so bye bye zionism - campaigning for equality in Israeli elections is currently illegal as this would undermine the "Jewishness" of the state]

The third Zionist value must be an unswerving commitment to social justice. Every authentic Jewish source demands this and the reality, certainly of diaspora Jewish life, is a marked, widespread Jewish commitment to social justice in the societies in which Jews live. It would be scandalous if we were not as committed to the same values within the Jewish state. [but it clearly isn't. In the diaspora Jews have fought for civil rights for blacks in America and South Africa but there has never been a significant anti-war or anti-apartheid movement in Israel. Many of the Jews involved in desegregation in America and anti-apartheid in South Africa have been zionists. Is this a way of ingratiating zionism with non-Jewish liberals? Israel Shahak certainly thought so ] Contemporary Zionism must have, as its third core commitment, the renewal of the vitality of human and social goals in Israel, such as the vindication of rights and the eradication of poverty. [of course, one way to eradicate poverty in what zionists like to call "Israel", is to take the most impoverished parts, stop calling them "Israel" and start calling them "occupied territories", or "Palestine, or "Gaza"]As a Reform Jew I am enormously proud of the courageous work of the Israel Religious Action Centre, part of the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel, which has done so much to advance this agenda in the teeth of extremist opposition.

Yes, I am a Zionist and I am heartily sick of condemnation by false analogy and, even more, of not being allowed to be me [a supporter of racist war criminals] and of Judaism not being allowed to be Judaism. But Zionism must move on, learning from history and responding to the demands of present and future. [so, time for yet another PR drive for the racist war criminals of the state of Israel].

March 22, 2005

Don't mention the war

Not to Michael Howard anyway. Kevin McNamara is coming under attack for suggesting that Michael Howard's despicable incitements against travellers have the "whiff of the gas chambers about them". The headline for this, in the Daily Mail, is "Nazi slurs and New Labour". So let's round this up shall we? New Labour have lampooned Michael Howard as a flying pig (as in if X could happen then pigs might fly) and as a man with a pocket watch (no-one knows if he was supposed to resemble Fagin having stolen a watch or Svengali hypnotising someone or just Joe Bloke with a pocket watch). These caracatures were attacked as being anti-semitic because Tory leader, Michael Howard is Jewish. Now Michael Howard is inciting people to the hatred of travellers and anyone who points out the similarity with Nazi policy towards "nomads" is again accused of anti-semitism. Whoever said it's not easy being a Jew? It's a doddle. We can say or do anything and woe betide anyone who dares to criticise. No wonder the BNP was so keen to have a Jewish candidate. Now they're no more fascist than that cuddly Ariel Sharon chappie.

Boycott World Pride 2005

QUIT (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism) is calling for a worldwide boycott of the World Pride event to be held in Jerusalem this year. They have issued an Open Letter to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer Groups and Individuals as follows:
We ask you to join us in a boycott of travel to World Pride Jerusalem 2005 as part of the international boycott of Israel and the campaign to divest from Israel.

As you know, many groups have joined the movement to boycott Israeli goods and to divest from Israel in protest of the ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands, the construction of the apartheid wall in the West Bank, and the destruction of Palestinian olive trees, homes, and villages. We believe that the goal of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) liberation is best served by supporting local community organizing while also supporting the liberation struggles of all oppressed peoples.

We support the work of Jerusalem Open House (the local sponsor of World Pride 2005 in Jerusalem) in fighting queer oppression, and we understand and respect that LGBTIQ people and organizations within Israel and Palestine will decide for themselves how to relate to World Pride. However, we ask LGBTIQ people from other countries to boycott travel to Israel and not to attend World Pride 2005 in Jerusalem.

Although Jerusalem was designated as an "international city" by the United Nations, travel to Jerusalem may only be accomplished with the consent of the Israeli government and its military forces. Palestinians and other people of Arab and North African descent have routinely been barred from the City of Jerusalem by the occupying Israeli forces. We are appalled that InterPride chose Jerusalem as the site of the second World Pride event and is encouraging LGBTIQ people from all over the world to ignore the boycott and spend significant funds in Israel, bolstering its tourist economy and its disingenuous claim to be a "free," democratic, state. We are also appalled at the blatant misrepresentation of the event as one that will be open to all LGBTIQ people and the chosen theme "Love Without Borders."

The promotion of this event by InterPride has included the distribution of thousands of DVDs at Pride 2004 in San Francisco and New York. The DVD promotes the "great parties" and "beautiful women" in Israel. The DVD also promotes the fact that the Israeli army allows openly lesbian and gay people to serve. It does not discuss the role of the army in oppressing people in the Occupied Territories, but does condemn the Palestinian Authority for its treatment of lesbian and gay people. The only mention of the Intifada (Palestinian resistance struggle) is to say that it makes it more difficult for lesbian and gay Palestinians to come out or to "escape" to Israel.

We understand that some conservative and right-wing people in Israel are opposed to World Pride being held in Jerusalem because they oppose LGBTIQ rights, and that some LGBTIQ people are considering attending the event to oppose these forces and support the local LGBTIQ groups. We certainly understand this impulse, but we believe that after examining all of the many political issues involved it is more important to boycott travel to World Pride 2005 in Jerusalem to send the message to Israel that the civil rights victories gained by some LGBTIQ people within Israel do not justify or excuse the oppression of the Palestinian people or the occupation of their lands.

We hope that you will raise the issues discussed above with your group and others as part of the ongoing dialogue concerning how LGBTIQ people can both promote LGBTIQ liberation and the rights of all oppressed peoples including the Palestinian people in the occupied territories, refugee camps, and in the Diaspora. We will post thoughtful responses to these issues on this website www.boycottworldpride.org in order to facilitate dialogue on these issues within the LGBTIQ community.

Please let us know if your group is willing to join us in endorsing or sponsoring the boycott of travel to WorldPride 2005 in Jerusalem.

In Peace and Struggle,

The Coalition to Boycott World Pride 2005
I wonder if Peter Tatchell's going.

Eric Silver: wrong and wrong again...deliberately

It has been plastered over the internet and even made it into the mainstream press that Israel and the World Zionist Organisation have been breaking even Israel's laws by expanding settlements for Jews only in the occupied territories. Even the fervently pro-zionist Daily Telegraph reported today that the Israeli government has a "culture of criminality." Whilst writing on settlement activity today, Israel's man in the Independent refers to Jerusalem as "Israel's disputed capital". Now this isn't just dishonesty, it's stupidity. Jerusalem is largely, some say entirely, occupied territory. That might be disputed by Israel and her dishonest zionist supporters but if Silver can concede that Jerusalem's status is "disputed" then how can he call it "Israel's". The answer lies in the fact that zionists in the UK media are given so much leeway, they don't even have to make sense anymore.

Terrorist use of ambulances

Thanks again to David for sending this link to Lawrence of Cyberia. I'm surprised I missed this as I ran a £10 challenge regarding the terrorist use of ambulances in response to a pack of lies in the Guardian from Israel's press officer in London about that same subject. Anyway, Lawrence has a post (October 2004) about how Ha'aretz censors its English edition, particularly to cover up the misdeeds of the Israeli army.
Ha’aretz is like the BBC: a news outlet that enjoys a reputation for progressive, liberal reporting, despite the fact that its fundamental bias is not really pro-Right or pro-Left at all, but strongly pro-Establishment. Editorially, both the BBC and Ha’aretz are essentially mouthpieces of the powers-that-be in their respective societies. Their great virtue is that regardless of how conservative (with a small "c") their editorial position, they at least provide a platform for outstanding individual journalists to speak, even when that individual does not toe the party line. BBC News owes its worldwide reputation today not to its editorial policy or its governors, but to individuals who posted no-nonsense, hard-hitting reports which, as often as not, the corporate BBC could not back away from quickly enough. (I’m talking here about truly great news reporters like Charles Wheeler, Martin Bell, Kate Adie, Keith Graves etc, etc. Perhaps their closest counterpart today might be Orla Guerin, the BBC’s correspondent in the Occupied Territories, and nemesis of Natan Sharansky for her refusal to be cowed by his any-criticism-of-Israel-is-anti-Semitism nonsense).
Lawrence also has a table showing the differential treatment of the Barghouti kidnap between the Hebrew and English editions of Ha'aretz. I haven't figured out how to do tables in Blogger yet so here's the content of the last row in non-tabular form:
Hey where did the ambulance go?
Hebrew version

The initial siege of the house involved soldiers from a battalion of an armored brigade, and soldiers from the Dukhifat infantry battalion. The Dukhifat soldiers were squeezed into a protected ambulance in order to arrive as quickly as possible at the house where Barghouti was hiding, and to seal it off. The head of the armoured battalion commanded the operation.

English version

This paragraph omitted from English edition.

Lawrence's comment

Ha’aretz’ English edition inserts tangential comments demonizing Arafat, but omits salient facts from the original story because they reflect IDF misconduct?
Hey why the question mark?

Roma rights

This is yesterday's front page story from the Independent, headlined, in the print edition, Are these Britain's most demonised people?. The Tories have decided to make vilification of travelling people their main campaign issue for the expected May election. It seems like only yesterday that the same Tories were denouncing Labour for being anti-semitic for caricaturing Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin as flying pigs. I think we can probably argue over whether travellers or Muslims are the most demonised in Britain and indeed Europe. I don't think travellers are an issue in America so Muslims/Arabs probably have the number one spot in the irrational hatred stakes in the West as a whole.

Anyway, a chap called Guy believes that now is the time to celebrate rather than denigrate diversity with a site called Xenophilia. The site is still under construction but it has some charming potted histories of various (mostly) minority communities. I say charming because they are free of schmaltz (well, almost) and of rancour but see for yourselves. He also has a section on Palestine. I think Guy is some kind of craftsman who lives in Lyme Regis but again see for yourselves.

March 20, 2005

Armenian Jews on the Armenian genocide

According to Holyland News Jewish communal leaders in Armenia have called for Jewish leaders around the world to support the campaign to have the Armenian genocide ranked alongside the nazi holocaust as a crime against humanity.
The appeal stresses that Ottoman Turkey perpetrated monstrous crime against citizens of its country, inflicted reprisals, and annihilated 1.5 million Armenians. Those facts were consigned to oblivion for decades and were not condemned by mankind, they claim. "Perhaps", claim the Jewish community leaders in Armenia, "Holocaust would not occur if the world, in proper time, stood together against that atrocity, as it stands on the fight against terrorism". In addition, the Armenian Jewry leaders wrote: "No political or economical interests should prevent recognizing tragedies, common to all mankind".
Hmm..let's have that again. With regard to the suppression of knowledge of the Armenian genocide "No political or economic interests should prevent recognizing tragedies, common to all mankind". Now whatever could they have meant?

Who's Said?

Here are a couple of passages from an article in the Sephardic Heritage Newsletter. about the campaign against mostly Arab professors at American Universities; in particular Columbia. There's a film doing the rounds called "Columbia Unbecoming" which purports to be about the intimidation of students at Columbia University. Frankly I'm so weary (and wary) of Zionist propaganda regarding threats to "Jewish" students on campus that I can't be bothered to check out the film or even read that much about it. The film has led to a meeting about the "Arab problem" on campus at Columbia. David Shasha's article on al this includes much on Edward Said and the campaign of vilification that he faced about his "bias" and even his origins. Now check out this passage:
The sort of rhetorical violence from the various speakers often took on ominous tones; the edge of the speeches had a shrillness that served to reinforce the idea that these people were not much better than those they had come to criticize.

This became clear when three of the students from the "Columbia Unbecoming" film stepped forward to make some comments on the film and take a few questions.

Ariel Beery stepped forward to say that he was unhappy with the tone of many of the speakers at the event and that he and the other students were fighting simply to be heard in a fair manner and not to suppress the right of Arab professors to their speech. Audience members were visibly upset that the very protagonists of the drama were not on board with the orgy of bloodletting that had been taking place in the auditorium that morning. One even rudely and with great intimidation demanded Beery to provide evidence of bias on the part of the speakers. When Beery provided that evidence you could see the visible anger on the part of the audience members. Beery was not following the script: His presentation of the themes of fairness and equity were not really what this conference was all about: The point of the event was to bash MEALAC (Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures faculty) and the Columbia administration into submission.


Now who said this?
Where is the vision? where are the values guiding the investment of this great national treasure of ours, which will not last forever? How many castles in England, how many Cadillacs, how many Lockheed jets need to be bought before we can turn to other things? For this Right Wing I have been describing is not finally interested in its own preservation so much as it is interested in having a good time; no ruling class in history is so unintelligent as this one. If it does not have faith in its people, it has no faith in any other values either. The universities languish. The student population increases – which is good – yet the curriculum is as antiquated as anything can be. We must face the fact that there are no achievements to speak of in modern Arab science or most intellectual effort, at least none that have come out of our universities… We are living through a period in the Arab world of unparalleled economic prosperity on the one hand, and of unparalleled political and social and intellectual poverty on the other hand. In what Arab capital is it possible to write and publish what one wishes, to say the truth, to stem the tide repressive state authority, intolerant of everything except its own fantasies and appetites? Most of our best writers and intellects have either been co-opted or jailed into silence.

Bernard Lewis?

Daniel Pipes?

Martin Kramer?

No.

Edward Said from his 1979 essay "The Arab Right Wing."

One can scour Said’s writings and find the same strident militancy against the forces of Arab anti-Semitism and anti-feminism and racism that we heard from many of the speakers at the Columbia anti-Said festa. And here is the value and the beauty of free speech – we can be political enemies and continue to discuss and dialogue with one another by finding COMMON GROUND.

Blair did lie

Ok I know we all know that Blair lied about the war but it's good fun to keep reminding ourselves. It's also nice to see someone flatly contradicting that serial buffoon, David Aaronovitch:
By ignoring the ways in which the intelligence information leading up to the war against Iraq was manipulated and changed, David Aaronovitch's attempt to exonerate Tony Blair from the charge of dishonesty (Comment, last week) can hold no water.

Information which undermined the case for war was left out of the September 2002 dossier, caveats were ignored and the doubts turned into certainties. 'No solid evidence' became 'established beyond doubt'.

For politicians to do this in order to persuade Parliament and the country of the need to go to war is unforgivable.
David Simmonds
Epping, Essex
Funny how Essex men get such a bad press. We're really rather nice.

Ha'aretz censored

Many thanks to Dave for pointing me in the direction of this article. Check the link in the headline. It's an article about an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist's stuggle for justice over being shot in the face by an Israeli soldier in Jenin. The fact that an Israeli soldier would shoot an unarmed American doesn't surprise me. The killing of unarmed Palestinians had been a daily occurrence until very recently and Israeli soldiers have killed a BBC driver, a British UN worker, a British ISM activist (Tom Hurndall), an American ISM activist (Rachel Corrie), a British cameraman (James Miller) and many other witnesses to their war crimes. What surprises me is that the full article has been cut in the English edition of Ha'aretz. Apparently the censorship of English versions of events is more stringent than that of Hebrew versions. I have posted the article in full here but this is the passage that was cut from the English version:
The Dept of Health Refrains

Brian Avery’s ability to sue the Israeli government depends on his obtaining a medical opinion evaluating his present condition. This has not been a simple matter, even though Avery was willing to pay for the service. As Bilha Golan of Physicians for Human Rights relates, ‘We contacted Dr. Zvi Ben-Ishai from Rambam Hospital and doctors from government hospitals, all of whom informed us that they could not furnish a medical opinion to be used in a suit against the government.

The Department of Health explains that doctors who are government employees are prohibited from furnishing professional medical opinion that is to be used as testimony in suits against the government. A Department of Health Committee and representatives of the State Attorney can permit such opinions in exceptional cases. Dr. Zvi Ben-Ishai, Assistant Director of the government hospital in which Avery was hospitalized and treated, confirms that he was requested to furnish his professional opinion about Avery’s present condition. "I told them that because of the Health Department prohibition, I need to send the request for the opinion to the legal advisor of the department, but then they decided instead to turn to someone else."

"Isn’t this a Bolshevik order?"

"In reality it is, but formally it is not."

Bilha Golan says that the next appeal was to Professor Menachem Wexler from the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, who met Brian and listened to the details about his injury, and who took x-rays and interviewed Brian. Then, when Prof. Wexler read in the referral letter that Brian was injured by Israeli forces, Wexler told Brian to go to the office to get back his money for the referral. Wexler told Brian’s lawyer, Shlomo Lecker, that it was inconvenient for him to give an opinion. Hadassah confirms this.

Avery is still waiting for some Israeli official to kindly consent to
meet with him, and to explain to him what happened and perhaps even to apologize.
Ha'aretz is one of the more reliable sources of information on Israel/Palestine but it seems if really want to know what's going on via the media we have to "watch this space." We also have to wonder why Israeli censors trust Hebrew speakers with embarrassing information that they don't trust non-Hebrew speakers with.

March 18, 2005

Zionists condemn Ken again

Ken Livingstone has upset the Zionists again. This time it's for supporting a Jewish cultural organisation's guide to Jewish London. The Zionists' beef this time is that if you want to support anything Jewish you have to support ethnic cleansing war criminals first and let the cultural stuff just fall into place.
Meanwhile Jewish youth and student groups are set to display their disgust over Ken Livingstone’s "anti-Semitic" (quotes in the original) remarks to the reporter with a protest march at City Hall on Monday.

Jeremy Seef, 20, who is organising the demonstration, said: "The Mayor’s comments have been forgotten and nobody’s done anything. Somebody in his position shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it."
Ken Livingstone is to address tomorrow's anti-occupation rally at Trafalgar Square. I wonder which demo will be bigger.

Ben-Gurion Park

From the Jewish Chronicle:
Israeli Froeign Minister Silvan Shalom this week attended the inauguration of the David Ben-Gurion Park in Pachuca in, 60 miles north of Mexico City. Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez told the 2,000 people in attendance that the park demonstrated the Mexican government's commitment to rejecting anti-Semitism and racism[!]
Just how a park honouring an ethnic cleansing war criminal would help combat anti-semitism and racism wasn't explained.

End the occupation...tomorrow

There's an "End the Occupation" demo starting at Hyde Park Speakers' Corner midday tomorrow and wending its way via Grosvernor Square (the US Embassy) and rallying at Trafalgar Square. Here's Tony Benn's invitation to us all:
I am writing to you to urge to you attend the demonstration on March 19th. It is clear that not only was the war illegal but that one of the results of us going shoulder to shoulder with Bush on the "war on terror" is an unprecedented attack on our civil liberties. The government are desperately trying to push through new legislation for house arrest and soon it will be illegal to demonstrate outside government buildings.

We are expecting this demonstration to be big, but that of course all depends on you. Please make sure you are on the streets of central London on March 19th calling for the troops to be brought home, No More Bush Wars, No House Arrests, No bombs on Iran, No Terror Laws, and No Attack on Syria. Encourage your friends, family and colleagues to come along.

The demonstration is gathering at 12pm at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park. It will be passing the US embassy for, Parliament Sq and Downing Street linking the axes of evil. It will be the first time a mass demonstration passes the US Embassy since 1968 so the atmosphere will be electric.

Please make sure you attend the march. We must carry on demonstrating until we achieve our objectives, an end to the occupation of Iraq, and that no leader ever takes us to war illegally and unnecessarily ever again.

See you on Saturday.

Regards,

Tony Benn

President of the Stop the War Coalition

The Book of Sharansky

Anatol Lieven reviews Natan Sharansky's novel The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. in today's Financial Times. (subscription)
Mr Sharansky's book The Case for Democracy is one of the few works on the Middle East that Mr Bush has read. According to Mr Bush himself, Mr Sharansky has been a key inspiration for the US president''s rhetoric of spreading democracy and freedom.


Tragically, however, Mr Sharansky's record in Israel, and Mr Bush''s apparent indifference to this record, demonstrate the almost Orwellian contradictions in the US approach to the Muslim world. They also go to the heart of European doubts about both the practicality and sincerity of US progressive agendas in the Middle East. The grounds for such doubts are especially worth recalling at present, given the short-term exuberance produced by developments such as the Iraqi elections and anti-Syrian demonstrations in Lebanon. Mr Bush was first attracted to Mr Sharansky by his noble record of resistance to Soviet tyranny, which earned him years in Soviet jails. Today, however, Mr Sharansky is a leader of the Soviet immigrant-based Yisrael Ba''aliyah party, which takes a hard line on Palestinian demands and security issues, and has supported the expansion of settlements.

Mr Sharansky's demand for greater democracy is, of course, focused foremost on the Palestinians. He said in February that he would be prepared to give the Palestinians "all the rights in the world" once they fully adopted democracy. The problem is that Mr Sharansky has never said what land he would be willing to concede, even to a fully democratic Palestinian state. His record in office, however, has reflected utter contempt for the lives, property and well-being of Palestinians, as well as for their opinions, whether democratically expressed or not.
I've seen around the internet that some Zionists want this ardent racist, Sharansky, for PM. So often I have heard Palestinians saying things like "what could be worse than Begin/Shamir/Sharon etc?" Sharansky might well be the answer to that.

March 17, 2005

Paddy's day special

I'm venturing into Irish politics today on account of it being St.Patrick's Day. I found this article on the McCartney case in Spiked on-line. I had a tremendous amount of sympathy with the McCartney family but I was starting to feel uneasy about the way they had lined up with an array of forces traditionally hostile to the republican movement. And when I heard that the McCartney sisters were to meet with George Bush I was absolutely dismayed. There was hysteria in the media when the IRA offered to shoot the killers of Robert McCartney. Do the McCartney sisters really see George Bush justice as being morally superior to that? This is a guy who used to unwind by watching a state execution in Texas and now likes to watch the Iraqi resistance "bring 'em on" so that this chicken-hawk can liberate such cities as Fallujah. I still feel very sorry for the McCartneys. On top of losing a loved one, they have allowed themselves to be used by a coalition of malevolent media and political forces.
The irony of the McCartneys' campaign for local justice is that they are now removed from their local community, and their campaign transformed from holding individuals to account to something beyond their control. There are reports that some residents in the Short Strand are becoming disgruntled by the changing nature of the campaign. Might the politicisation of the McCartneys' grievance end up exacerbating the unravelling of old bonds in east Belfast?

Belgian PM on anti-Semitism

This is from Ha'aretz. The Belgian PM, Guy Verhofstadt, has said that "any attempt to negate the existence of the State of Israel is a form of anti-Semitism." He "differentiated between legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism" but said "when you're tackling and directly criticizing Israel or the Jewish community, that's anti-Semitism." What a buffoon. He conflates Israel with the. Jewish community and then accuses others of anti-Semitism.

He then went and spoiled it completely when he was invited to look at one of Israel's apartheid laws.
Verhofstadt, who participated in yesterday's inauguration ceremony for the new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, added that the Law of Return forms "the basic idea of the foundation of the State of Israel."*

Asked whether he sees the law as problematic insofar as it discriminates against non-Jews, Verhofstadt said, "That's a question of the internal lawmaking of Israel, but I think that legislation like this exists in other countries too. It's not the monopoly of Israel."**
*So "tackling and directly criticising" the Law of "Return" is anti-Semitism since said law is "the basic idea of the foundation of the State of Israel.
**Which other country has a law calling in people who don't come from there in preference to people who do come from there? Australia used to have the white Australia policy but that fell foul of the UN. And South Africa had a similar policy but that fell foul of the ANC.

March 16, 2005

Victims remember, perpetrators forget

Thanks to Roland for drawing attention to this excellent Ha'aretz article by Amira Hass.
One of the infuriating absurdities in every injustice, especially one of inconceivable proportions like the German murder industry (with extensive European aid), is that the victims and their offspring remember and live it day in and day out. The perpetrators, however, repress and forget it, and it is easy for their offspring to ignore it.

So let the entire diplomatic throng, which is seeking Sharon's audience today, go and talk of the European responsibility for the Holocaust in its own territory, not in Israel.
Do the zionists really believe that Amira Hass is some unique specimen who alone can see the cynicism with which Israel deploys holocaust "memory"? Israel's use of the holocaust is pure manipulation, nothing more. The fellow travellers from various governments are not taken in by this. They are making an informed choice to side with racist war criminals using the holocaust as cover.

Zionists take possession of the holocaust

It was obvious, with the building of the revamped and extended Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Israel, that Israel was staking its claim to be the keeper of holocaust memory. Chris McGreal, in the Guardian, puts it well:
A new Holocaust museum, designed to affirm Israel's claim to be the principal keeper and interpreter of survivors' memories, opened in Jerusalem yesterday.
There were many world leaders there, including Kofi Annan. I wonder if anyone told them that they could see Deir Yassin from where they stood. Also I wonder if they were embarrassed when career holocaust survivor and former Irgun member, Elie Wiesel, said that "the Holocaust was not about man's inhumanity to man, but man's inhumanity to Jews." Of course that wasn't the worst. Ariel Sharon graced the opening with his presence:
There are several chambers in the heart of man. In the national Jewish heart, there is a chamber of memory and it is here at Yad Vashem. The state of Israel is the only place in the world where Jews have the right and the strength to defend themselves by themselves. It is the only guarantee that the Jewish people will never again know a Holocaust. It is our historic commitment to the Jewish people.
What a queasy feeling it must have been to be standing at a memorial to the victims of one of the world's worst war crimes while a war criminal justified his own war crimes committed over several decades now.

March 13, 2005

Israel's Dr Mengele?

This is how the American satellite broadcaster Link TV previews its documentary The Ringworm Children:
In the early 1950's, approximately 100,000 immigrant children, primarily from North Africa, received X-ray radiation treatment for ringworm upon their arrival in Israel. At the time, the medical establishment thought ringworm a grave danger to public health. It was later discovered that these treatments caused high rates of infertility, cancer and death. This tragic affair was hidden from the public eye for decades… until now. Through exhaustive research and testimonies of survivors, this emotional documentary illustrates how stereotyping immigrants can have horrific consequences.
And this is how David Shasha of Sephardic Heritage Update. describes the man most responsible for the programme that blighted the lives of so many Jews from North Africa for generations:
Dr. Chaim Sheba, the first Surgeon General of Israel and an avowed racist who believed in the principles of using Eugenics as a social tool, was loath to accept the immigration from North Africa. Sheba demanded as a health official that any immigrants with family members who had health problems be barred from moving to Israel. And when the first immigrants came from Morocco, he demanded that they be treated for ringworm.....

Dr. Sheba, according to his writings, became obsessed with this ringworm issue in regard to the North African immigrants. In his role as a public health minister he demanded that all North African children be sent to health centers to receive RADIATION THERAPY.

As the film points out, the regimen of forced radiation based on eugenics was on the wane in the US after the revelations of Nazi experiments in the Concentration Camps and the vast scientific evidence from Japan after the nuclear devastation in 1945. The scientific community by 1952 was well aware of the dangers of radiation and the short and long-term impact of this type of treatment on individuals – especially children. Dozens of lawsuits were being settled in the US courts with compensatory damages being awarded to the victims of these cruel experiments.

This did not deter Dr. Chaim Sheba – the Josef Mengele of Israel.

Resources on the occupation

This is a fairly new site containing photos, documents, stats and articles on the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Arab-Jewish Americans

Here are three takes, presented by Lynne Vittorio, on being Arab and Jewish in America.
We know that there was an Arab Jewish community in New York prior to the establishment of Israel and that the Arab Jews who managed to emigrate here from Israel were absorbed by that community. These two groups, however, have completely different experiences and memories of their lives in Arab countries prior to coming to New York.
Professor Ella Shohat is an Iraqi Jew who teaches in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at New York University.
- Why don't we hear about Arab Jews?

I hold responsible both Zionism and Arab nationalism. Zionism has always looked at the people of the East as inferior, including Jews from Arab countries. From the turn of the century, Zionists tried to bring Arab Jews to Palestine as cheap labor. Up to now, there are Arab Jews in Israel who are discriminated against within the Jewish population. It is largely the European Jews who set the tone. The rise of Arab nationalism and the forceful rise of Islam did not create a less problematic condition for diverse minorities, who have also suffered, but for the Arab Jews, it has been one of the most complicated stories, precisely because of the establishment of the state of Israel. For the first time in their history, Arab Jews had to choose between being Jews and being Arabs.
David Shasha is an American born Arab Jew living in Brooklyn with a Master's Degree in Jewish/Middle Eastern Studies from Cornell University. He is an activist, an educator, an author and an archivist and the Director of The Center for Sephardic Heritage.
- What has the impact of your different opinions been on you?

I have been called 'Arab lover,' 'terrorist,' I get the emails. It's a very ugly situation right now. We just found out that there's something called 'Campus Watch.' Jewish organizations are monitoring Arab professors, or professors sympathetic to the Arab position. My library in itself is expressive of my guilt. The fact that I have a full shelf of Mahfouz already makes me guilty of being an Arab sympathizer and it has hurt my ability to make a living.
Professor Ammiel Alcalay was born and raised in Boston and is of Bosnian origin. He teaches at Queens College and is the author of numerous books on Arab Jews and Levantine culture.
- Why do you think they're such an isolated community?

Traditionally, the way that Arab Jews have related to their environment is to completely integrate themselves into it and you can see this during the periods of their greatest cultural creativity, in Spain and Iraq. You can see it through the music, through the poetry. What happened when they came here they faced an Ashkenazi community that did not understand who they were and because of the political situation in the Middle East, their own sense of their Arabness eroded more and more and they were left adrift, relating neither to one or the other.

Tale of two demos

I know a lot of people have posted about this already but I have just seen this on the excellent Peace Palestine blog. It's a Ha'aretz article by recovering Zionist, Meron Benvenisti, about the ludicrous claims being made by the war party about George Bush's "crusade for liberty and democracy." Benvenisti looks at the changes in the Middle East via the recent demonstrations in Lebanon:
What symbolizes the "spirit of democracy" that is blowing strongly all over the Middle East? Is it the demonstration by the opposition, which led to the downfall of the Lebanese government, or is it rather the "demonstration ofthe million" two days ago, which demanded the continuation of the Syrian presence in Lebanon? Judging by the attitude toward it, the first demonstration - which has been called the "Cedar Revolution" - is seen as an event that compares to the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine and the "Rose Revolution" in Georgia, and as proof of the victory of the doctrine of democratization of U.S. President George W. Bush and his spiritual mentor, MK Natan Sharansky.

On the other hand, the second demonstration is described as a forced call-up that was organized by the Hezbollah terror organization and members of Syrian intelligence. And some also see the demonstration supporting Syrian subjugation as proof of democracy.....

But the great crusade to impose liberty is being conducted cautiously, and in a hope that it won't be taken too seriously; it's only good as a slogan. After all, the political allies of the United States happen to be tyrants who have no intention of giving up their power, and the countries that have established any sort of democratic institutions, and in which a civil society is developing, are not necessarily the chief supporters of the United States.

Who is Pushing Whom into the Sea?

This is a recent Counterpunch article, by Willaim Martin, but it hardly contains recent ideas. It seeks to find where the expression "driving (pushing or whatever) the enemy into the sea" enters the discourse of the Palestinian struggle. Allegedly Ahmed Shukeiry said it in about 1964, a few years after the allegation was first made, though there is no actual proof of his having said it and Shukeiry himself went to his grave denying that he had said it:
On 11 October 1961 Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion declared in the Israeli Knesset:
'The Arabs' exit from Palestine...began immediately after the UN resolution, from the areas earmarked for the Jewish state. And we have explicit documents testifying that they left Palestine following instructions by the Arab leaders, with the Mufti at their head, under the assumption that the invasion of the Arab armies at the expiration of the Mandate will destroy the Jewish state and push all the Jews into the sea, dead or alive'.
The phrase has been variously attributed by Zionist supporters to Yasser Arafat, Gamel Abdul Nasser, or any other of Israel's enemies, but none whom I have challenged, including U S Congressman Henry Waxman who made the claim in a letter to me, attributing the phrase to Nasser, have been able to provide any documentation of support for their claim. This 1961 speech certainly predates Arafat's 1968 ascension to the head of the PLO. The phrase is very much entrenched in the thinking of Israel supporters and is taken as a factual basis for an Arab intent of Genocide and of their own potential for peril.
Giving up on his search for this Arab incitement, Martin then debunks the most enduring of Zionist lies; that of the Arab states'and leaders' instigation of the Arab flight from Palestine. As I said, it's nothing new but sadly it has to be restated continually. Martin sums up thus:
Much of the perception of Israel and much of its popular support rest on the myth of the purity of Israel and much of that can be traced directly to David Ben Gurion's distortions of truth. The unambiguous historical evidence is that the state of Israel was founded upon terrorism and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arab population. There is nothing pure or righteous about that.

March 12, 2005

Annan following in African footsteps

Kofi Annan is to visit Israel soon. Together with other world leaders he will be visiting the holocaust museum just a stone's throw from Deir Yassin, the site of a notorious massacre by the combined forces of Labour and Revisionist Zionist armed groups. Of course he won't be visiting Deir Yassin; how would that help Zionist propaganda? He will, according to reports, be meeting with Ariel Sharon. In visiting Yad Vashem and meeting with a leading Israeli war criminal, Annan is following in the footsteps of another "great" African leader. That African leader was of course John Vorster, late Prime Minister of South Africa and overt Nazi sympathiser who the Brits had to intern for the duration of WWII. He was the esteemed guest of then Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Apparently there are no plans for Kofi Annan to visit the wall to see the suffering of the living.

Oxfam replies but doesn't answer

I've posted about this before, here and here but some time back, Oxfam rejected a £5,000 donation from a Professor Honderich on the grounds that he had expressed sympathy with Palestinian suicide bombers in a book. I wrote to them to complain and they wrote back to "justify" their position. Later it transpired that they were in a partnership arrangement with Starbucks whose Chief Exec is on record supporting the war criminality of Ariel Sharon. Again I wrote to them to complain at their manifest hypocrisy. Again they wrote back "justifying" said hypocrisy. I think it was on the grounds that a) you can't identify a company with it's CEO who was after all expressing a personal. penchant for war crimes and b) the CEO supports a two state solution. Obviously it's pointless getting into too much debate with such disingenuous hypocrites but I did wonder at the time that, if the CEO's views are irrelevant, why was he asked where he stood on the so-called two-state solution? Anyway, now the partnership deal is coming to an end, the Jewish Chronicle has reported that "enraged Muslims had bombarded Oxfam with protests that Starbucks founder and Chairman Howard Schultz was a major supporter of Israeli and Jewish interests." See that? "Jewish interests". So I wrote to Oxfam as follows:
I should be grateful if you would let me know if any protests were made by Muslim groups regarding Mr Schultz's support for "Jewish interests" or was it simply his support for the state of Israel and, in particular, Ariel Sharon's policies in the illegally occupied territories that were the basis of the complaint? I am particularly keen to know if any organisations invoked "Jewish interests" in their complaints.
Here's the bizarre reply:
Thanks for your email on the issue of the collaboration with Starbucks.

Our current one year collaboration with Starbucks will come to an end in September 2005. This collaboration provides support to coffee farmers in Ethiopia and enables Starbucks and Oxfam to share knowledge on coffee purchasing with the aim of finding solutions to overcome poverty and ensure stability in coffee farming communities. After September 2005 Oxfam will still continue dialogue with Starbucks as well as other coffee retailers and roasters on tackling the global coffee crisis.

Oxfam GB has considered how to advance its campaigning work particularly on Fairtrade. There have been significant changes in the coffee market since Oxfam opened discussions with Starbucks on this collaboration last year. Other retailers, including Marks and Spencers and AMT Espresso have both gone 100% Fairtrade. Given these developments Oxfam GB now feel it is more appropriate to work in broader collaboration with a range of retailers, including Starbucks.

I hope that clarifies our position on the collaboration and explains how we will continue our dialogue with Starbucks after the existing collaboration ends.

You can see more about our work in our work in Israel and the Palestinian territories on our website here

In general, we are advocating for a just and peaceful solution to the conflict. We recognise the need for a solution that will allow both Palestinians and Israelis to live, and make a living, within secure borders. We support a two-state solution in which citizens from both societies can enjoy their full range of human rights under international law.

I hope that helps you understand our position on these difficult issues.

With best wishes,
So there we have it. Ok we still don't know if Muslims complained about "Jewish interests" but we do know that Oxfam supports the same solution as George Bush, Tony Blair and Ariel Sharon: the two-state solution.

BBC says sorry to Israel...again...and again

The BBC has issued its third apology to Israel in (I think) as many weeks. The Guardian has reported this latest one.
The BBC has bowed to an Israeli demand for a written apology from its deputy bureau chief in Jerusalem, Simon Wilson, who was barred from the country for failing to submit for censorship an interview with the nuclear whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu.
Going from memory, the first apology was over someone expressing a personal view about Arafat's departure from Ramallah when he was dying. Apparently it's appropriate for the BBC to apologise when a personal view is expressed on a programme subtitled "personal reflections by BBC correspondents around the world." The second was when the BBC news showed a family in mourning for their suicide bomber son before they showed the grieving relatives or dead victims. The zionist complainants were not impressed by the fact that the Beeb implied that the bombing broke a truce when it was actually Israel that had been breaking the truce, such as it was/is.

Some time ago, at the behest of the zionist movement, the BBC appointed a chap called Malcolm Balen to report on its Middle East coverage. The report is a secret but since it was completed, and of course, post-Hutton, the BBC's longstanding pro-Israel bias is now degenerating into abject sycophancy. When's it going to stop?

Chief Rabbi on slavery

Very strange article in yesterday's Jewish Chronicle. Titled "Talking 'Genes and Genesis' it covers a public discussion between the UK's orthodox Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, and Harvard professor of psychology, Steven Pinker. Since I wasn't there I will never know why the Chief Rabbi said that
Exodus was "the ultimate rejection of slavery, but neither England nor America abolished it until the 19th century."
To describe this view as ahistorical (I like that word) would be an understatement. It's downright ridiculous. Just taking the Exodus story at face value, it's not a rejection of slavery but of the enslavement of Jews (well, Israelites) by non-Jews. It's also, of course, a biblical myth, possibly of some use as tribal lore, but nothing to be taken seriously by any modern commentator. There's more: the Chief Rabbi verges on the Freudian when he invokes a Jewish rejection of slavery. A quick look at Israel Shahak's Jewish History, Jewish Religion. shows that in the Talmud, orthodox Judaism's main source of law, slavery and slave-trading are positively encouraged:
Trevor-Roper is also one of the very few modern historians who mention the predominant Jewish role in the early medieval slave trade between Christian (and pagan) Europe and the Muslim world (The Rise of Christian Europe, pp.92-3). In order to promote this abomination, which I have no space to discuss here, Maimonides allowed Jews, in the name of the Jewish religion, to abduct Gentile children into slavery; and his opinion was no doubt acted upon or reflected contemporary practice.
Now obviously it would be despicable to blame all Jews for the writings of one and the practices of some, but why cover this up? What was the Chief Rabbi playing at by using, effectively, a fairy story, to promote Jewish morality over British and American? This is yet another example of the Chief Rabbi's propensity for sheer dishonesty. Shahak has more to say about Jews and the slave trade and how the whole issue is covered up:
the worst attacks against me were provoked not by the violent terms I employ in my condemnations of Zionism and the oppression of Palestinians, but by an early article of mine about the role of Jews in the slave trade, in which the latest case quoted dated from 1870. That article was published before the 1967 war; nowadays its publication would be impossible.
As I said, this nonsense coming from the Chief Rabbi looks like a Freudian slip and it exemplifies why so many Jews, and indeed non-Jews, are slaves (pardon the expression) to a past we're barely allowed to know.

I've written this in a bit of a rush because I find the Chief Rabbi's wilful dishonesty so irritating. I might have to revisit it later.

March 11, 2005

Melanie, the Klan and Ken

Apparently former* Klansman, David Duke, has picked up on the Ken Livingstone/Nazi guard saga. I know this because another virulently racist right winger, Melanie Phillips, has picked up on it. She must read David Dukes then scrub the word "Jew" and replace it with the word "Muslim" for her racist rants on her site and in the Mail on Sunday. So here's Melanie quoting Duke:
If you can stomach such ravings, here's a taster:

'You see, you can’t liken an individual Jew, no matter how obnoxious, to a concentration camp guard. You have stepped on the toes of the Holy People, the unassailable people, the people you can’t criticize or God help you!...The will of the people be damned, you cannot offend the real rulers. Get it in your head, you Gentile dolts, we do not live in Democracy. We live in a Jewocracy!'
Now there's a disgusting piece of anti-semitism and Melanie even links to the site. But why did she select that quote and not, for example this:
Before discussing this issue, I want to mention the fact that Ken Livingstone has never been a friend of the European American people. He has welcomed with open arms the massive non-European immigration in Britain which is in effect ethnically cleansing the land of Shakespeare and Nelson.

He has embraced the Jewish supremacist agenda which has been the driving force of immigration and multiculturalism all over the European world.

He has welcomed the cultural and moral dissolution of our people launched by the anti-White psychologies of the extremely anti-gentile Sigmund Freud and the later the pathologically anti-White rantings of the Frankfurt School. In fact, at the time of his Jewish indiscretion he was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the coming out of the gay member of parliament Chris Smith.

Livingstone has been a key promoter of Holocaust commemoration, but of course has never said a word or laid a wreath for the victims of the worst mass murder of all time, the Bolshevik-Jewish mass murder of tens of millions of Russians, Ukrainians and other Eastern and Central Europeans.
I mean, before going on to describe Livingstone as a "sincere liberal", this former klansman has denounced Ken as a Judeophile and race-mixer. Why didn't Melanie mention this? Perhaps she couldn't "stomach such ravings", except these ravings came before. the passage she chose to highlight. Melanie obviously knows that most people reading a web page don;t follow the links. If they did, in this case, she would be exposed, not simply for being deceitful, but for sharing many tenets with a known Nazi.

*former because, as Mike West says, he was expelled from the Ku Klux Klan for conduct unbecoming a racist.

Blair more Sharonic than Sharon

Here's a quirky article from Daphna Baram expressing her annoyance at Ken Livingstone and the British left for having double standards towards Blair and Sharon. See this:
I agree that my prime minister, Ariel Sharon, is a war criminal. From the intentional killing of 69 civilians in the village of Qibya in 1953, through the invasion of Lebanon in 1982, all the way to the wild bombing of Palestinian cities in the last few years, his career is steeped in vile criminality.
So what's the problem? It's this:
if justice is to be dispensed evenly, what about your prime minister? Yes, Tony Blair, the bloke who took the British army into Iraq and butchered tens of thousands of Iraqis in an illegal war and under a false pretext? What is he, exactly? I, for one, think he deserves to share a cell with Ariel Sharon. Indeed, Sharon may reasonably protest: he is yet to be responsible for killings in such numbers.
I could warm to this theme but then:
I know the British left were against the war in Iraq. But it is rare to hear them refer to Blair as "a murderer", "a butcher", or "a war criminal". Blair is more often presented, even by ardent anti-war commentators, as "misled", "mistaken", "sincere but wrong", "well meaning but cheated by Bush", "acting out of great religious conviction", and so on.
Eh? Alright, I haven't heard "butcher" but only Lib Dems, anti-war Conservatives and some anti-war Labourites wear kid gloves to criticise that lying, murdering, ok here goes, butchering, war criminal Blair. Did she not see those banal posters with expressions like Tony B. Liar? Or Bliar Bliar, Iraq's on fire? Or the picture of Blair's nose transmogrifying into a cruise missile? Did she not hear the cry "who are the terrorists"? the reply wasn't Sharon, it was Bush and Blair. I think some anti-war people have even tried to mount some kind of war crimes prosecution against Blair. But a wonderful person like Dapha Baram was bound to have something powerful to throw at those of us who have been supporting Ken through his little spat with the zionist movement:
Even Ken decided to rejoin Mr Blair's party after the criminal invasion of Iraq, and at a time when sinister hints as to British and American intentions in Iran and Syria were already in the air. This is what makes serious Jews and Israelis sneer at his statements against Sharon.
Actually in my recent solidarity with Ken I did forget to sneer at his opportunism. Perhaps there's some lesser-evilism in us all.

How the Mossad Eliminated Jews

In this article, former zionist Iraqi Jew, Naeim Giladi tells of his youthful involvement in the zionist project before his own experience of zionism's intrinsic racism left him disillusioned:
I write this article for the same reason I wrote my book: to tell the American people, and especially American Jews, that Jews from Islamic lands did not emigrate willingly to Israel; that, to force them to leave, Jews killed Jews; and that, to buy time to confiscate ever more Arab lands, Jews on numerous occasions rejected genuine peace initiatives from their Arab neighbors. I write about what the first prime minister of Israel called "cruel Zionism." I write about it because I was part of it.
Many thanks to Sean for sending me the link.

March 09, 2005

Israel's legal system fails to deliver

This is the BBC's online report on Israel's failure to bring charges against the killer of James Miller.

Israel will not prosecute the soldier believed responsible for the death of documentary-maker James Miller in Gaza.

Mr Miller, from Devon, was shot dead in 2003 at the age of 34, allegedly by a soldier in the Israeli Defence Forces.


Now consider the fact that the zionists are forever on the BBC's case for being anti-Israel and even anti-semitic.
His crew claim they were carrying a white flag and identified themselves as British media to IDF soldiers as they left a Palestinian house but were fired upon and a bullet struck Mr Miller in the neck.
Actually his crew don't have to claim. anything. The whole thing was on film; white flag, fatal shot and all. I just saw it for the umpteenth time on Channel 4 news.

Syria's Jews, "before the myth sets in stone"

Letter in today's Guardian:
With reference to Professor Geoffrey Alderman's letter (March 5), and before the myth becomes set in stone - the Jewish community was not "ethnically cleansed" from Syria. Many left in the early 90s because pressure was put on them to do so by Jewish groups in the US. Financial incentives were offered (one community leader told me that each family was promised $400-600 per month) and visas and green cards were facilitated by the US. Any average Syrian would have found these lures almost irresistible and most of the 5,000-strong Jewish community in Damascus and Aleppo, departed - to the dismay of many in the Syrian government and the diplomatic community.
Brigid Keenan
London
Of course, in the interests of "balance" the Guardian had to grant space to a men sent to lie in the UK for Israel.

March 08, 2005

We are not refugees: Arab Jewry

I am particularly grateful to Treeplanter for providing this link. This Ha'aretz article exposes the falsehood and the motivation behind the latest zionist myth: "the systematic ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands".
Past Israeli governments had refrained from issuing declarations of this sort. First, there has been concern that any such proclamation will underscore what Israel has tried to repress and forget: the Palestinians' demand for return. Second, there has been anxiety that such a declaration would encourage property claims submitted by Jews against Arab states and, in response, Palestinian counter-claims to lost property. Third, such declarations would require Israel to update its schoolbooks and history, and devise a new narrative by which the Mizrahi Jews journeyed to the country under duress, without being fueled by Zionist aspirations. That would be a post-Zionist narrative.
This demonstrates the sheer immorality of analogising the movement of Arabs from Palestine and Arab Jewry to Israel. It is based entirely on political machinations. The factual incorrectness is put succinctly thus:
Any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews is unfounded. Palestinian refugees did not want to leave Palestine. Many Palestinian communities were destroyed in 1948, and some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled, or fled, from the borders of historic Palestine. Those who left did not do so of their own volition.

In contrast, Jews from Arab lands came to this country under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations. Some came of their own free will; others arrived against their will. Some lived comfortably and securely in Arab lands; others suffered from fear and oppression.
The ethnic cleansing of the Arabs from Palestine was cut and dried, the exodus of Jews from the Arab states was anything but.


Don't trust Jews says US military

This is in today's New York Times:
Defense lawyers for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, say the military has been working to undermine the inmates' trust in them.

In one case, a lawyer said, a military interrogator recently told a detainee that he should not trust his lawyers because they are Jews.

The lawyer, Thomas Wilner of Washington, who helped bring a successful suit in the Supreme Court against the government on behalf of 12 Kuwaitis, said he was angered that the military had tried to turn his client against him.

"The government should not be trying to come between these people and their lawyers," Mr. Wilner said in an interview. "And I'm especially offended that they tried to use the fact that I'm Jewish to do it."