October 31, 2006

Labour minister resigns over Lieberman appointment

Here's an article in today's Independent about an Israeli minister, Ophir Pines-Paz, who has now resigned over the appointment of overtly racist, Avigdor Lieberman, to the Israeli cabinet.
Ophir Pines-Paz was the only minister to vote against the cabinet decision which, by a large majority, cleared the way for Mr Lieberman to become the Deputy Prime Minister. He said Mr Lieberman was "tainted by racist declarations".

Mr Pines-Paz immediately announced yesterday that he would join a clutch of rival Labourites planning to stand next year against Amir Peretz, the incumbent party leader and Defence Minister, who successfully argued that the party should not trigger a political crisis by walking out of the coalition over Mr Lieberman.
Amir Peretz? Remember him?

October 30, 2006

False charge of antisemitism?

And it's not by Engage this time! It was student in America. This is from the Union Leader:
A reported anti-Semitic hate crime at the University of New Hampshire earlier this month never happened and the student who reported it has been arrested and charged with lying to authorities, police said yesterday.

Breanne Coventry Snell, 24, of Midlothian, Va., is charged with two counts of giving false information to police and one count of unsworn falsification. Each charge is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

Earlier this month, Snell reported to police that she had been attacked near the Whittemore Center around 6 p.m. on Oct. 3 after leaving a meeting for Hillel, a Jewish student organization. She told police two men shoved her up against a fence and used a number of anti-Semitic slurs related to Nazism.

"It didn't happen," UNH Police Chief Nicholas Halias said yesterday.

Snell was arrested around noon yesterday at the UNH police station after officers called her in. She has since been released on $2,000 personal recognizance bail.
Here's the report that appeared when the allegedly bogus complaint was made:
A University of New Hampshire student was reportedly assaulted earlier this month in what may have been a hate crime.

The student, whom police did not identify, had just left a meeting for the Jewish student group Hillel around 6 p.m. Oct. 3 when two men grabbed her near the Whittemore Center, shoved her against a fence and made derogatory comments about Jews related to Nazism, said UNH Deputy Police Chief Paul Dean.

Police are investigating and do have two suspects, though Dean would not name them and no one has been charged. Right now the incident is considered a simple assault punishable by up to a year in prison, but if it is proven that the assault was racially motivated it could be deemed a hate crime and the penalty increased to two to five years in prison.
Engage are investigating a possible breach of their copyright.

Engage "proves" that Israel isn't racist

This is an unwitting guest post from a commentor called Hulkagaard.
Here's hirshele up to his usual tricks: http://www.engageonline.org.uk/b...icle.php?

on the arrest of a Kahanist, Hirsh asks: "If Israel is a "Nazi" or "racist" state, then how could it be that someone is charged with incitement, for arguing that Arabs should be expelled from the Occupied Territories and for threatening genocidal violence against them?"

how can it be that a someone is charged with incitement, and lieberman is made a vice premier in the government? http://www.zmag.org/content/show...fm?

how can it be that someone is charged for incitement, but no one is charged for incitement for holding an academic conference at Haifa U. on the "demographic threat?" http://www.labournet.net/world/0...505/

62% of israelis polled believe the government should "encourage Arabs to leave." So how can Hirsh not see that the university he is trying to protect hosts conferences full of racist incitement?

Hirsh should know that "encouraging arabs to leave" invariably becomes bloody. the kahanists are only a problem to Israel because they speak this truth without hypocrisy.
I don't know why Dr Hirsh should know that. He doesn't seem very smart to me.

October 29, 2006

Blogger error?

Not sure what this is all about but I just tried a post on a Jerusalem Post article and I got an error message:
There were errors. (Hide details ...)
001 java.net.ConnectException: Connection refusedblog/54/32/13/jewssansfrontieres/archives/2006_10_01_jewssansfrontieres_archive.html
Now I can't see the post on the home page. But I can see it in the archive for October. What's all that about?

Tony Greenstein libelled by Jerusalem Post

I think Tony Greenstein is one of the most thick skinned people I know in anti-racist circles. He nearly lost an eye to the fascist National Front in the 1970s and he has even been the subject of a scurrillous article in Counterpunch because of his principled stand against Gilad Atzmon's appearances at Socialist Workers Party events. But this time someone - the Jerusalem Post - has gone too far, even for Tony. The JP has accused him of being a member of the zionist Alliance for Workers Liberty:
Tony Greenstein, from Alliance for Workers' Liberty, said at the time: "Are you really saying that you are happy to have someone who openly admits to circulating Holocaust denial material perform at Marxism 2005? What kind of Marxism is this? I understand that David Irving is quite good at blowing his own trumpet. Will you invite him too?"

The material Greenstein refers to is an article by Paul Eisen, entitled "The Holocaust Wars" which Atzmon described as "a very important text." The article is a defense of the neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, who says that there was no Nazi plan to exterminate European Jewry and no gas chambers.
AWL? Tony Greenstein? Hmm, I think he'd rather lose an eye.

October 28, 2006

Gaza besieged

Here's an International Herald Tribune article by Patrick Seale about the siege of Gaza:
Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain - verbally, at least, a staunch supporter of a two-state solution - must feel a certain sense of guilt at having failed to persuade President George W. Bush to advance the cause of Palestinian self-determination. By joining Bush in the invasion of Iraq, he may have imagined he could persuade the president to advance the Israeli- Palestinian peace process. He had counted without Washington's pro-Israeli neoconservatives, and their influence on Bush's Middle East policy.

Far from reining in the Israeli hawks, messianic settlers, Arab-killers and expansionists, Bush gave them a completely free hand - and continues to do so.

This may explain why Blair, addressing his last Labour Party conference a month ago, announced that he would make resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the priority of his remaining time in office. Alas, no action has followed these brave words, save for a suggestion that Britain would help the Palestinians to build institutions.

Institutions? What fantasy world does Blair inhabit? One and a half million Palestinians, two-thirds of them under the poverty line, suffering 45 percent unemployment, packed into a narrow strip of 360 square kilometers, are being besieged, starved, cut off from the world and bombed on a daily basis, and Blair talks about building Palestinian institutions! How about stopping the killing first? Does Britain's word count for nothing?

I have scoured British government Web sites and have found stirring speeches and statements by the Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and other officials about Iraq, Africa, Afghanistan, climate change and so forth, but not a word about the ongoing criminal subjugation of Gaza.

It has been left to Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian affairs coordinator, to describe Gaza as a "ticking bomb" and to warn of a social explosion. To end the shameful boycott of the democratically elected Hamas government, there are rumors that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, may appoint Munib al-Masri, a rich businessman from Nablus, to head a government of independent technocrats. At the time of writing, however, Hamas had not agreed to stand aside.

The endurance of Gaza is legendary, but even the bravest man must falter when he can no longer feed his children and his home is reduced to rubble.
I like to paste little snippets but this got more readable as I highlighted the area I wanted to copy. I ought to do a post on the Anglo-American and zionist rejection, indeed destruction, of Palestinian democracy.

That Engage apology in full

Well it's not the apology in full. And of course it wasn't an apology anyway. I just noticed another thing about Engage's post falsely accusing MPAC of antisemitism and dishonesty. Yes, Engage accusing people of dishonesty!
But MPAC needs to think seriously about antisemitism. Interestingly, in their piece, they have reproduced all the links except for one. The one they don't reproduce is the link to the Anthony Julius piece on the blood libel. This is the one that they ought to read.

It is also noticable that MPAC do not respond to the substance of the charge made against them: that it is antisemitic to compare the murder of millions of Jewish children by Nazis with the current policies of Israel. They run with a whole load of fluff about who is Jewish and who isn't - but they fail to defend themselves against the charge.
Now this is sheer dishonesty by Engage. First MPAC ran an article by Desert Peace in which the ghettoisation of the Palestinians and the treatment of children is likened to the Warsaw Ghetto and a forced labour policy, not the killing of millions of Jews; children or adults. Though it should be noted that the ghettoisation was a phase en route to annihilation; something the zionists at Engage choose to ignore. Then Engage falsely accused them of antisemitism for running that post. Then I ran a piece accusing Engage of dishonesty. Then MPAC ran a copy and paste of my post on the whole thing and now Engage, having misrepresented the first piece, are misrepresenting the second piece. They say the only piece that MPAC don't link to is the stupid irrelevant article by Anthony Julius on "blood libel." But the link to that piece is in the article that I linked to when Engage first made their false allegation, that is the article that Engage is complaining about.

And why should MPAC or anyone else run a link to an article on a false charge levelled against Jews in medieval times that is now being used to defend zionists from the truthful charge that the State of Israel mistreats, incarcerates and kills children?

Desert Peace is none too pleased with Engage's dishonest antics either.

October 26, 2006

Engage apologises!

Well look at this. An apology from Engage.
But Engage apologises. We were wrong. How could this piece have been antisemitic? It was written by a Jewish blogger. So it couldn't possibly have been antisemitic, could it?

Well, actually, no we don't apologise. MPAC are today running with a piece which proclaims: "Jewish Brother Stands with MPAC". It is a piece that identifies Engage as a "Zionist smearsite".

The argument seems to run both ways. Firstly, if MPAC's argument is endorsed by two anti-Zionist Jewish bloggers, then it is kosher and not at all antisemitic. And secondly, the inference is that Engage is anti-Muslim because it responded to MPAC rather than the two Jewish bloggers. The two Jewish bloggers, you see, are very keen to receive responses.
It began yesterday with Engage smearing the Muslim Public Affairs Committee of the UK (MPACUK) as being antisemitic for running an article that likened the wall that the zionists are building in Palestine to the wall around the Warsaw Ghetto. It was typically dishonest like the quote above. It didn't acknowledge that the piece was from a Jewish guy's blog verbatim. It wasn't a report by MPAC. It was a copy and paste job. Engage's dishonesty lay in the fact that they (he) didn't even acknowledge that the piece had come from somewhere else.

See where David Hirsh (or Alf Green) has said "MPAC's argument is endorsed by two anti-Zionist Jewish bloggers." See that? Dr Hirsh knows that neither Desert Peace nor Jews sans frontieres were endorsing what MPAC had written. It wasn't MPAC who had written what was written. It was Desert Peace. MPAC was endorsing Desert Peace. I (that is Jews sans frontieres) was simply reporting on yet more dishonesty by the Alf Green posse.

So let's look at this again. MPAC ran a piece likening the zionist wall to the Warsaw Ghetto wall. Engage accused them of antisemitism for this. Engage knew that the piece was written by a Jewish guy but decided not to tell its readers, Muslims being so much easier to smear as antisemitic than Jews. I picked up on their dishonesty. That's it. And now Engage has run a spoof apology piece "explaining" that Jews can be antisemitic but it is more important to focus on MPAC because MPAC are influential. That last line comes close to relevance. It becomes problematic when you consider that between Engage, Desert Peace and Jews sans frontieres, the only one that has ever, on its own account, ever written anything that could be construed as antisemitic is Engage. Lest anyone has forgotten here is a post by Charlie Pottins to the Engage site:
Obviously Sue Blackwell can do no right by you. After all, she moved a resolution in the AUT to boycott two Israeli institutions on account of specific issues, and in your book this places her "behind the campaign to blacklist Israeli scientists, academics, teachers, students, musicians and artists".
Presumably you had some arguments against the proposal to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan, but why trouble with details when you can so much more easily scare the kinder with tales about a completely different and imaginary boycott.
There was more but this will do. Now see the doyen of the anti-antsemites response:
please write in English Charlie, not in Yiddish. This is not a forum for you to perform your anti-Zionist Jewish identity.
The full quotes are here.

So the antisemitism watchdog, Dr Hirsh, aka Alf Green, is himself antisemitic, and he lectures others. But then antisemitism isn't the issue for Engage/David Hirsh/Alf Green. Protecting the racist war criminals of the State of Israel from meaningful criticism and campaigning is his (their) thing.

A couple of comments to the original post are worth a look at here. The first was by Charlie Pottins:
Engage is a bit slow on the uptake. It is four years since an Israeli military commander was quoted in Ha'aretz as saying Israeli forces could learn from Nazi tactics in subduing the Warsaw ghetto, and this was applied in the onslaught on Jenin.

Admittedly this comparison may not have got the publicity it deserved here, but it was noted.

I remember someone quoting it at a Jewish Socialists' Group Warsaw Ghetto revolt commemoration event.

Now when we see the Wall carving Palestine into shrinking enclaves which are besieged and cut off from the world, subjected to starvation and denial of essential supplies, as well as frequent razzias, we are inevitably reminded of how the ghetto was reduced beoore the final revolt.

Of course the line for we fainthearted Diaspora Jews and those Israelis without stomach for such tasks is that Israel is the besieged ghetto about to fall to vastly superior forces unless it takes desperate measures. I have seen Israeli officers unable to keep a straight face when hearing such Zionist persecution-fantasies. But I guess claims to identify with Holocaust victims is part of the stock-in-trade of propaganda outfits like Engage, and they are bound to protest if anyone infringes on their patent.

Incidentally, I may as well outrage them even more by mentioning that at the hight of the Nazi genocide against the Jews, Germans were telling themselves that the Fatherland and race were threatened with annihilation unless they defended it against the Jewish menace. I expect psychologists have a name for this.
The second by Stephen Marks:
Marek Edelman, the last surviving member of the three-man command of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, addressed an appeal to Palestinian fighters a few years ago, urging them to abandon suicide attacks on civilians.

To underline the point that he defended their right to armed resistance, he addressed the appeal 'to the partisans and soldiers of the fighting organisations of the Palestinian people', deliberately echoing the official title of the ghetto fighting organisation.

Another antisemite?
Another antisemite? Only Dr Hirsh has the answer.

Arab Jewish refugees?

There have been a couple of articles recently, restating the bogus claim that Arab Jews fled to Israel en masse as refugees in much the same way that Palestinians were forced to flee what became Israel. One was on Ynet and the other on the Reuters site and also published in Ha'aretz. Thankfully David Shasha, a Syrian Jews based in New York, has been distributing an article by Yehouda Shenhav, author of The Arab Jews which goes a long way to exposing this latest of zionist myths:
Arab Jews, Palestinian Refugees and Israel's Folly Politics

By: Yehouda Shenhav

In an article in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz from 22.10.06, the Reuters Agency reported that World Jewish groups began a global campaign calling for recognition of Jews from Arab countries (i.e. Arab Jews) as refugees in the Middle East conflict. Stanley Urman, executive director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) was quoted saying that:

The world sees the plight of Palestinian refugees, and not withstanding their plight, there must be recognition that Jews from Arab countries are also victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), a U.S.-based coalition of Jewish organizations, is one of the groups coordinating the campaign which aims to record testimonies of Jews from Arab countries, list asset losses and lobby foreign governments on their behalf. Reuters also reported that JJAC is working in tandem with Israel's Ministry of Justice, which is collecting and registering testimonials, affidavits and property claims. The daily internet paper Y-NET (October 24 2006 under the title: "Jews of Arab Countries prepare yourself to claim compensation") also reported that the new minister of justice Meir Shitrit is behind this "new effort."

However this effort is all but novel. It started 6 years ago in a folly attempt to use the Arab Jews and their histories to counter-balance the Palestinian claim for the so called "right of return". The campaign has tried to create an analogy between Palestinian refugees and Arab Jews, whose origins are in Middle Eastern countries - depicting both groups as victims of the 1948 War of Independence. The campaign's Jewish proponents hope their efforts will prevent conferral of what is called a "right of return" on Palestinians, and reduce the size of the compensation Israel is liable to be asked to pay in exchange for Palestinian property appropriated by the state guardian of "lost" assets. Whereas in the past, the State of Israel and Jewish organizations have denied any linkage between the two groups and argued that the campaign was launched in the interest of the Arab Jews (see Chapter 3 in my book The Arab Jews, Stanford University Press, 2006), today all parties involved acknowledge that the main objective of the campaign is not to secure the interest of the Arab Jews, but rather to counter-balance the Palestinian political demands. I would like to argue that the idea of drawing this analogy constitutes a mistaken reading of history, imprudent politics, and moral injustice; and that any analogy between Palestinian refugees and Jewish immigrants from Arab lands is folly in historical and political terms.

Bill Clinton launched the campaign in July 2000 in an interview with Israel's Channel One, in which he disclosed that an agreement to recognize Jews from Arab lands as refugees materialized at the Camp David summit. Ehud Barak, the Israeli Prime Minister at the time, stepped up and enthusiastically expounded on his "achievement" in an interview with Dan Margalit. It should be noted, that past Israeli governments had refrained from issuing declarations of this sort. There were at least three reasons for that. 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 school textbooks and history, and devise a new narrative by which the Arab Jews journeyed to the country under duress, without being fueled by Zionist aspirations. At Camp David, Ehud Barak decided that the right of return issue was not really on the agenda, so he thought he had the liberty to indulge the analogy between the Palestinian refugees and the Arab Jews, only rhetorically. Characteristically, rather than really dealing with issues as a leader, in a fashion that might lead to mutual reconciliation, Barak and later prime ministers Ariel Sharom and Ehud Oulmert acted like shopkeepers. Furthermore, whereas the article in Ha'aretz mentioned above reports that the Ministry of Justice has already received thousands of claims to date, in actuality the campaign's results thus far are meager. The Jewish organizations involved have not inspired much enthusiasm in Israel, or among Jews overseas. It has yet to extract a single noteworthy declaration from any major Israeli politician. This comes as no surprise: The campaign has a forlorn history whose details are worth revisiting. Sometimes recounting history has a very practical effect.

The World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC) who initiated this linkage was founded in the 1970s. Yigal Allon, then foreign minister, worried that WOJAC would become a hotbed of what he called "ethnic mobilization." But WOJAC was not formed to assist the Arab Jews; it was invented as a deterrent to block claims harbored by the Palestinian national movement, particularly claims related to compensation and the right of return. At first glance, the use of the term "refugees" for the Arab Jews was not unreasonable. After all, the word had occupied a central place in historical and international legal discourses after World War II. United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 from 1967 referred to a just solution to "the problem of refugees in the Middle East." In the 1970s, Arab countries tried to fine-tune the resolution's language so that it would refer to "Arab refugees in the Middle East," but the U.S. government, under the direction of ambassador to the UN Arthur Goldberg, opposed this revision. A working paper prepared in 1977 by Cyrus Vance, then U.S. secretary of state, ahead of scheduled international meetings in Geneva, alluded to the search for a solution to the "problem of refugees," without specifying the identities of those refugees. Israel lobbied for this formulation. WOJAC, which tried to introduce use of the concept "Jewish refugees," failed.

The Arabs were not the only ones to object to the phrase. Many Zionist Jews from around the world opposed WOJAC's initiative. Organizers of the current campaign would be wise to study the history of WOJAC, an organization which transmogrified over its years of activity from a Zionist to a post-Zionist entity. It is a tale of unexpected results arising from political activity. The WOJAC figure who came up with the idea of "Jewish refugees" was Yaakov Meron, head of the Justice Ministry's Arab legal affairs department. Meron propounded the most radical thesis ever devised concerning the history of Jews in Arab lands. He claimed Jews were expelled from Arab countries under policies enacted in concert with Palestinian leaders - and he termed these policies "ethnic cleansing." Vehemently opposing the dramatic Zionist narrative, Meron claimed that Zionism had relied on romantic, borrowed phrases ("Magic Carpet," "Operation Ezra and Nehemiah") in the description of Mizrahi immigration waves to conceal the "fact" that Jewish migration was the result of "Arab expulsion policy." In a bid to complete the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Mizrahi Jews, WOJAC publicists claimed that the Arab Jewish immigrants lived in refugee camps in Israel during the 1950s (i.e., ma'abarot or transit camps), just like the Palestinian refugees.

The organization's claims infuriated many Arab Jews in Israel who defined themselves as Zionists. As early as 1975, at the time of WOJAC's formation, Knesset speaker Yisrael Yeshayahu declared: "We are not refugees. [Some of us] came to this country before the state was born. We had messianic aspirations." Shlomo Hillel, a government minister and an active Zionist in Iraq, adamantly opposed the analogy: "I don't regard the departure of Jews from Arab lands as that of refugees. They came here because they wanted to, as Zionists." In a Knesset hearing, Ran Cohen stated emphatically: "I have this to say: I am not a refugee." He added: "I came at the behest of Zionism, due to the pull that this land exerts, and due to the idea of redemption. Nobody is going to define me as a refugee." The opposition was so vociferous that Ora Schweitzer, chair of WOJAC's political department, asked the organization's secretariat to end its campaign. She reported that members of Strasburg's Jewish community were so offended that they threatened to boycott organization meetings should the topic of "Sephardi Jews as refugees" ever come up again. Such remonstration precisely predicted the failure of the current organization, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries to inspire enthusiasm for its efforts.

Also alarmed by WOJAC's stridency, the Foreign Ministry proposed that the organization bring its campaign to a halt on the grounds that the description of Arab Jews as refugees was a double-edged sword. Israel, ministry officials pointed out, had always adopted a stance of ambiguity on the complex issue raised by WOJAC. In 1949, Israel even rejected a British-Iraqi proposal for population exchange - Iraqi Jews for Palestinian refugees - due to concerns that it would subsequently be asked to settle "surplus refugees" within its own borders. The foreign minister deemed WOJAC a Phalangist, zealous group, and asked that it cease operating as a "state within a state." In the end, the ministry closed the tap on the modest flow of funds it had transferred to WOJAC. Then justice minister Yossi Beilin fired Yaakov Meron from the Arab legal affairs department. Today, no serious researcher in Israel or overseas embraces WOJAC's extreme claims.

Moreover, WOJAC, which intended to promote Zionist claims and assist Israel in its conflict with Palestinian nationalism, accomplished the opposite: It presented a confused Zionist position regarding the dispute with the Palestinians, and infuriated many Mizrahi Jews around the world by casting them as victims bereft of positive motivation to immigrate to Israel. WOJAC subordinated the interests of Mizrahi Jews (particularly with regard to Jewish property in Arab lands) to what it erroneously defined as Israeli national interests. The organization failed to grasp that defining Mizrahi Jews as refugees opens a Pandora's box and ultimately harms all parties to the dispute, Jews and Arabs alike.

The State of Israel, the World Jewish Congress and other Jewish rganizations learned nothing from this woeful legacy. Hungry for a magic solution to the refugee question, they have adopted the refugee analogy and are lobbying for it all over the world. It would be interesting to hear the education minister's reaction to the historical narrative presented nowadays by these Jewish organizations. Should Yael Tamir establish a committee of ministry experts to revise school textbooks in accordance with this new post-Zionist genre?

Any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Arab 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, Arab Jews arrived to Israel under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations. Some arrived 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 history of this immigration is complex, and cannot be subsumed within a facile explanation. Many of the newcomers lost considerable property, and there can be no question that they should be allowed to submit individual property claims against Arab states (up to the present day, the State of Israel and WOJAC have blocked the submission of claims on this basis). The unfounded, immoral analogy between Palestinian refugees and Mizrahi immigrants needlessly embroils members of these two groups in a dispute, degrades the dignity of many Arab Jews, and harms prospects for genuine Jewish-Arab reconciliation.

Jewish anxieties about discussing the question of 1948 are understandable. But this question will be addressed in the future, and it is clear that any peace agreement will
have to contain a solution to the refugee problem. It's reasonable to assume that as final status agreements between Israelis and Palestinians are reached, an international fund will be formed with the aim of compensating Palestinian refugees for the hardships caused them by the establishment of the State of Israel. Israel will surely be asked to contribute generously to such a fund.

In this connection, the idea of reducing compensation obligations by designating Arab Jews as refugees might become very tempting. But it is wrong to use scarecrows to chase away politically and morally valid claims advanced by Palestinians. The "creative accounting" manipulation concocted by the refugee analogy only adds insult to injury, and widens the psychological gap between Jews and Palestinians. Palestinians might abandon hopes of redeeming a right of return (as, for example, Palestinian pollster Dr. Khalil Shikai claims); but this is not a result to be adduced via creative accounting.

Any peace agreement (which seems now far then ever) must be validated by Israeli recognition of past wrongs and suffering, and the forging of a just solution. The creative accounts proposed by the refugee analogy by the Israeli Ministry of Justice and Jewish organizations turns Israel into a morally and politically spineless bookkeeper.
David Shasha is the editor of Sephardic Heritage Update which is a newsletter about Arab Jewry. It is emailed as a word document and is not, as far as I know, generally available online.

October 25, 2006

Israel moves to the right?

This is about the inclusion of the overtly racist Avigdor Lieberman in the Israeli government. This is how the Guardian reported yesterday.
The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, yesterday finally turned his back on the centrist agenda which brought him to power earlier this year by bringing into his coalition government one of the country's most outspoken rightwing politicians.
The return to government of Avigdor Lieberman, who has called for Israel's borders to be redrawn to exclude its Arab citizens, signals a more hawkish policy. He will be made a deputy prime minister with responsibility for "strategic threats", particularly Iran.
But how far can the world's most right wing elected government go? In fact the absurdity of considering this to be a genuine move to the right rather than just a more open one than usual was pointed up by Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz over a week ago.
Peace-seekers should support the move to bring Avigdor Lieberman into the government. It is impossible to understand the opposition of several Labor party ministers to having Yisrael Beitenu join the government after all, just what precisely are they afraid will happen? That Israel will embark on an unnecessary war? That the settlement enterprise will be reinforced? That the government will reject Syria's peace proposal? That racism toward Arab citizens of Israel will increase, or that the occupation army will be cruel to the Palestinians?

Indeed, the government in its current constellation is already providing all of this, abundantly, and Lieberman's participation would only remove its camouflage.
So Israel moves to the overt. right then.

October 24, 2006

A Jew controls MPACUK

This is terrible! I just took a peek at the zionist smearsite, Engage, and they have a post accusing the Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK of antisemitism. I know it's no big deal to be accused of antisemitism by Engage but this time they are accusing them of antisemitism over a post that likens the zionists' wall to the Warsaw Ghetto. See this:
If we posted every time MPAC, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, wrote something ignorant and offensive about Jews or about Israel then Engage would be full of MPAC stories. But here's a taste for you:

"Zionists get very defensive when a comparrison is made to the present situation in Occupied Palestine to that of the Jews living under nazi occupation. In that light, I will not add any commentary here, except to ask one question.... CAN YOU SEE THE SIMILARITIES???"

Read the rest here on the MPAC website.

Perhaps MPAC ought to read Anthony Julius' piece on the history of the blood libel. It is a very old theme. It is the Nazi regime that murdered literally millions of Jewish children. And MPAC is accusing the "Zionists" of doing the same.
Ok, did you follow the link? Did you see where MPAC got their post from? They got it from Desert Peace, an anti-zionist blog run by a Jewish blogger based in Jerusalem. The MPAC piece makes this abundantly clear. Our intrepid watchdogs against antisemitism are so good at seeing antisemitism where it isn't and yet they didn't see this link at the end of the piece they are so keen to use to accuse this Muslim group of antisemitism:
Source: desertpeace.blogspot.com
Now why didn't they level their tiresome false allegation at this Jewish chap based in Jerusalem? Surely they weren't concerned for their credibility; they have none. I just don't understand why this zionist site would pick on Muslims for running a post from a Jew's site. Perhaps Alf Green from Engage could pay us a visit to enlighten us.

Giving birth at checkpoints

Here's a report from Middle East online about how women are being forced to give birth at checkpoints in Palestine:
Since the beginning of the second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against Israeli military occupation, in September 2000, 68 pregnant Palestinian women gave birth at Israeli checkpoints, leading to 34 miscarriages and the deaths of four women, according to the Health Ministry's September report.
Thanks to JohnG in the comments for this.

October 23, 2006

Character assassin? Moi?

I've had an interesting comment to my post on Elia Suleiman's suspension of his signature from a call to boycott Israeli cultural institutions.
Being a fan of your blog, I am distressed by your entry on Elia Suleiman.

Suleiman's letter could be better written. His failure to be specific makes it very difficult to understand what behavior exactly he is condemning. And his choice of action may or may not be the wisest action to take against what he condemned. It has certainly emboldened Zionists opponents of the boycott, and that is unfortunate.

You can read the full original letter here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/H...0610/

However, instead of asking for clarification, you have taken to character assasination, insinuating that Suleiman is criticizing whomever he is criticizing to please Zionists and advance his career. Maybe he is, although I seriously doubt it. But what about the benefit of the doubt? Suleiman is a prominant palestinian artist with impeccable credentials and his words deserve a charitable interpretation. He deserves that we listen to him seriously and consider his criticism as the words of a friend. It does us no good when we watch each other for ideological heresy instead of listening to and conversing with each other. The left has destroyed itself many times over with this attitude.

You say "He is equating a cultural boycott of a racist state with the behaviour of the racist state itself." That is not accurate. He sees a common denominator between the way some individuals or institutions have acted, allegedly in the name of boycotting a racist state, and the behavior of that racist state. Below are his exact words:

I am nevertheless appalled that these Palestinian and Lebanese artists, themselves victims of Israeli military policies and layers of occupations, can turn at such ease and mimic the power of authority of their own oppressors and conduct exclusionist policies, excommunications and random intellectual lynching, all of which is tinted by chauvinism and other heresies that stem from the dark side of nationalism.

Since he gave no example of what behavior he condemns, I can't judge whether he is right or wrong, but there is no reason to believe that, a priory, nobody can behave in a racist way that resembles the actions and/or motivations of the state of Israel.

As quoted above, Juliano Mer has later added more concrete examples:

At a film festival in Sicily, the cultural representative of Egypt left the audience during the screening of "Arna's Children" in protest against what she called the positive representation of a Jewish woman who helped the Arabs. She claimed that this was Zionist propaganda. In Hungary, the Palestinian community boycotted the film simply because I, the director, am an Israeli.

These are examples of behavior that is either chauvinist, racist or cynical, which are three atributes I'm quite comfortable associating with Israeli Apartheid.

The movement to Boycott Israeli institutions is very important. For this very reason, it should be intelligent, principled and open to internal criticism. Those who use it to hide their own complicity in supporting Zionism, like that "cultural representative" of Hosni Mubarak, are not allies.

I would like to invite you to listen again carefully to what Suleiman is saying, and to do so critically, but in the spirit of friendship.


Evildoer - g.a.evildoer@gmail.com
Well first up, character assassination was not my intention. Nor was it my intention to suggest that the suspension of his signature from the boycott call was a calculated career move. I expressed myself badly.

I actually think that both Elia Suleiman and Juliani Mer Khamis have raised a very important issue though had I have known about these individual boycott actions I doubt if I would have condemned them in the same way that these guys have. My main point was that I thought that Elia Suleiman's action was destructive; with hindsight, at least as destructive as the specific actions decried by Juliani Mer Khamis. That's all. But where can one engage with Suleiman given that he has gone so public? Also I must add that his use of the language of the occupation - "checkpoints," "ID," even "facing the wall" - do amount to equivalence on the question of the structure of the State of Israel and the occupation on the one hand and the victimisation of this or that Israeli in the cultural sphere on the other.

October 22, 2006

From slag heaps to Palaces of Gold

Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Aberfan disaster. This is an online memorial to those who died. This is how it is introduced:
On the 21 October 1966, 144 people, 116 of them children, were killed when a tip of coal waste slid onto the village of Aberfan in South Wales.

These pages were initially set up as part of a project to catalogue and conserve an archive of material relating to the disaster held at Merthyr Tydfil and Dowlais libraries. Their objective is to act as a starting place for those interested in finding out about the disaster. They provide an overview of the circumstances surrounding the disaster and, more importantly, a guide and link to the more detailed sources of information available elsewhere.
This is how Leon Rosselson memorialised the same event:
If the sons of company directors,
and judges' private daughters,
had to got to school in a slum school,
dumped by some joker in a damp back alley,
had to herd into classrooms cramped with worry,
with a view onto slag heaps and stagnant pools,
had to file through corridors grey with age,
and play in a crack-pot concrete cage.

Buttons would be pressed,
rules would be broken.
Strings would be pulled
and magic words spoken.
Invisible fingers would mould
palaces of gold.

If prime ministers and advertising executives,
Royal personages and bank managers' wives
had to live out their lives in dank rooms,
blinded by smoke and the foul air of sewers.
Rot on the walls and rats in the cellars,
in rows of dumb houses like mouldering tombs.
Had to bring up their children and watch them grow
in a wasteland of dead streets where nothing will grow.

I'm not suggesting any kind of a plot,
everyone knows there's not,
but you unborn millions might like to be warned
that if you don't want to be buried alive by slagheaps,
pitfalls and damp walls and rat traps and dead streets,
arrange to be democratically born
the son of a company director
or a judge's fine and private daughter
Leon Rosselson's site is here.

Zionism and eugenics

Here's an article in Ha'aretz about zionism, "race" and eugenics:
Who is a Jew and who isn't? What is unique about Jews? Can they even really be defined biologically, per se? Do biologists or geneticists possess research tools that are sophisticated enough to definitively answer these loaded questions? Raphael Falk, a professor emeritus of genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is happy to address this challenge - which many others in academia have avoided.
So go on, have a read.

October 21, 2006

Palestinian film maker withdraws from boycott call

I didn't think much about this when someone sent me the link to Ha'aretz yesterday. I didn't notice that the film maker was Elia Suleiman who made Divine Intervention. Now I see zionists are cock-a-hoop about his about turn on a boycott he had originally supported.
On Thursday, however, Suleiman wrote: "I hereby suspend my signature from the petition of Palestinian and Lebanese artists which calls for a boycott," explaining that this boycott "was supposed to have been [of] all cultural activities participated in and sponsored by the state of Israel."

Instead, Suleiman charged, "certain" artists, signatories to the petition, have boycotted Israeli filmmakers "known to these petitioners as artists who strongly support Palestinian and Lebanese resistance ... Yet these filmmakers have been boycotted, ordered away, deserted as people of the plague because they happen to carry the Israeli identity."

Suleiman did not specify which Israeli artists he was defending or cite any specific cases. However, over the past three months, the petition has been highly effective, and Israeli filmmakers have been prevented from participating in international film and dance festivals. [Perhaps he meant these.]

Suleiman, who won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes for his film "Divine Intervention" in 2002, accused Palestinian artists of "putting up checkpoints and demanding IDs to select who goes in and who goes down on his or her knees, blindfolded and facing the wall."

"Who will be next on the witchhunting list?" he wondered, describing this sort of activity as a form of "cultural execution."
Now this reasoning is absolutely bizarre. He is equating a cultural boycott of a racist state with the behaviour of the racist state itself. This from a man whose film was blocked from consideration for an Oscar under the Best Foreign Language Film category because "it originates from a country not formally recognised by the United Nations."

One Guardian review even managed to direct a thinly veiled accusation of antisemitism at Suleiman over one particular scene in the film:
The politics, however, make for an odd and indigestible tonal uncertainty. Some of the sequences have an ingenious zero-temperature kind of comedy; some are laborious and pedantic. But the strangest is when a group of Israeli marksmen at a firing range are confronted with a whirling Arab woman who sees them all off in a display of wire-fu combat: a one-woman Crouching Tiger Intifada. She floats up to the heavens as they fire; then the bullets swirl around her head into a crown of thorns as she stretches her arms out, crucifixion-style. Making sport, subliminally or even unconsciously, with the idea of Jews as Christ-killers is quite a misjudgment for a film claiming the moral high ground of victimhood. Well, it's just a pose of course, a conceit which appears and disappears with quicksilver suddenness: yet the scene pointedly ends with the Palestinian flag etched firmly into the soil. This is a movie with a distinct and startling cinematic language, but with uncomfortably coercive mannerisms.
Still this withdrawal of support for a boycott won't do his career any harm and he might even be considered for an Oscar in future.

The battle of Furnival Street*

Jewish Chronicle readers have responded angrily to Professor Geoffrey Alderman's apologetics for Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in his column last week.
Cable Steet:a worthy cause
By Boris Zeto
The article by Geoffrey Alderman could not be bettered by Mosley himself, were he alive.

I was a lad of 13 at the time but I was aware, like so many of my generation, of the situation. Jews and non-Jews came on to the streets, determined to stop Mosley and his lackeys; we succeeded.

The result of our success was that the menace of the Fascists was felt throughout the country; new laws were passed forbidding the wearing of uniforms by political parties, and new public-order laws were introduced. After a brief period, support for the Fascists fell away and by 1939 they were an insignificant group.

By Jill Kaye
How can Geoffrey Alderman dismiss the hardships of the working-class Jews of the East End in the ’30s?

Yes, the battle was between the anti-Fascists and the police, because the police were protecting Mosley and his blackshirts. Yes, these very same (lawless?) Jews — together with trades unionists, dockers and liberals (not “a motley collection of left-wingers”) — were most certainly bent on denying them the same free speech that their fellow Nazis were enjoying in Europe. And yes, of course, the BUF’s membership increased in 1937, just as that of the Hitler Youth was increasing all over Europe in those terrible years, but perhaps not quite as much as it might otherwise have done.

It is a pity that Professor Alderman apparently did not visit the celebrations to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Cable Street battle. No one could fail to be inspired by the pride of those on the march, by the photographs and exhibits, or humbled and invigorated by the memories of the veterans, now in their late 80s and 90s, who never thought of themselves as heroes but simply struggling workers who feared and hated fascism from any quarter.
My post from when the Alderman article first appeared is here.

*Furnival Street is the home of the Jewish Chronicle.

Anglicans divest from, er, Anglicans

I got this from the World War IV Report site:
This marks the first time a church has actually followed through with divesting from companies involved in Israel's illegal occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory.
Anglican Parish Disinvests from the Central Board of Finance over Caterpillar Shares

The Interfaith Group for Morally Responsible Investment
16th October 2006

An Anglican parish has taken the radical decision to withdraw £140,000 from the Church of England's Central Board of Finance investment account. The unanimous decision by Virginia Water PCC, in the Diocese of Guildford, was taken because the CBF has refused to implement a decision by the General Synod of the Church of England in February to heed the call from the sister church of Jerusalem and the Middle East and disinvest from companies such as Caterpillar which are profiting from Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine. Caterpillar D9 bulldozers are the principle weapon being used by the Israeli military to destroy civilian homes, farms and businesses in Palestine.

The vicar, the Revd Dr Stephen Sizer, insisted, "This is not an attack on Israel or the Jewish people but a non-violent response to an unjust and intolerable situation. Western companies are profiting from the colonisation of Palestine and construction of the illegal Separation Wall. We are simply doing what the local Church in Palestine and the General Synod has asked us to do. If the CBF will not withdraw our money from Caterpillar, then we will do it for them. We are now looking for an investment fund with a more ethically sound policy. We cannot turn our backs on our sisters and brothers in Palestine any longer. We cannot close our ears to their pleas for help. How can we profit from policies which we believe to be both threatening the viability of a Palestinian state and also damaging prospects for peace and security for the Israeli people?"
The Revd. Dr Stephen Sizer is available for telephone interviews on 00 44 7970 789549
Just one parish for now but this boycott, divestment and sanctions thing is picking up.

October 20, 2006

Winter in America and me

I tracked back a hit from the Spontaneous Arising blog. It was from this post:
Mark Elf from Jews Sans Frontieres has decided to post on this issue, which we've been bellowing about for months. This is not a criticism of what Mark does or doesn't choose to post; it is a celebration of the fact that perhaps -- just maybe -- this story will grow a pair of legs.

Here's Mark's post, for those interested in a chilling new level of depravity in Israel's continually-depraved response to its "Palestinian problem."

But better than a personal (if a tad critical) comment on me the guy (Michael Hawkins) has a video of Gil Scott Heron performing Winter in America.

October 19, 2006

Judaism v zionism

Someone sent me this essay last night. It discusses Jewish religious objections to zionism over thje last one hundred years. It's a lengthy piece but the line gives as much pause for thought as any there:
Of all the collective movements that set out to transform society in the twentieth century Zionism alone remains, a final vestige. Both Zionists and their adversaries agree that Zionism and the State of Israel that was to emerge from it in the mid-twentieth century consummated the sharpest break in the entire Jewish history.
It's written by Yakov Rabkin who is a Professor of Jewish history at the University of Montreal.

Wiesel for president of Israel?

I just got this bit of news. Apparently the Israeli PM, Ehud Olmert, wants Eilie Wiesel to be the next president of Israel.
Olmert has made it clear that he prefers a president who does not emerge from the ranks of the political arena, as was the case with Katzav and others. Wiesel, who is internationally acclaimed, has been awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize and is widely respected internationally.

Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor....
Got that?

October 18, 2006

Belated Jewdas update

I was just having a read of the Jewdas site and decided on an update. I didn't even cover the Jewdas Four story so here it is:
State goes mental and arrests
jewdas, but the party will go on

Anyone go to Simcha on the Square in
Trafalgar Square on Sunday? Well, we had a ball. Four fine Jewdassers were arrested at it and detained at Charing Cross Police Station on suspicion of distributing highly inflammable material of an anti-Semitic nature

Or as we like to call it, the flyers for our proposed next event, 'Protocols of the Elders of Hackney', to have taken place at Hackney Shul on October 21st. Perhaps this was a canny attempt by the Police, CST and the venerable organisers at the Jewish Music Institute to give us some extra publicity and get the build-up off to a bang, but boy did those handcuffs chaff, and six hours in interrogation, boys! That's some publicity campaign.

The four, known only as Dogboy, random 76, the p factor and Robin Hood (said to be the ringleader) have been remanded in custody on charges of Racially Aggravated Leafletting under Section 4A and 19 (1) of the public order act. They are thought to be highly dangerous to themselves as well as others. At least one is thought to be at risk of self-hate and is on a round-the-clock suicide watch

Anyone who has received one of these poisonous flyers are asked to hand them in to an appropriate authority, before it explodes in a public place doing irreparable damage to the Anglo-Jewish psyche. But dear reader, you're already involved. The flyers are here! You're already looking at them, you anti-semite rotter!
Inevitably, this means that the remaining 250 flyers, currently held under lock and key by Agent Geoffrey, are now priceless gems to have in your possession, the beautiful men at the CID having confiscated the rest. Especially since the party's not going to be at Hackney shul now anyway. Look out for them in your cafes and bookshops, and treasure them. Personal applications for such seditious material received via jewdas@gmail.com , where you can also access a crash course on the meaning of irony and the positive reclamation of taboo images. AND MAKE SURE YOU ARE ON OUR MAILING LIST FOR INFO ON THE NEW VENUE

And remember people, don't do the Jew do these High Holydays, and attempt to show any pride. CST is watching you, and they're up for a ruck. Except when it involves the men selling Holocaust denial DVDs outside Marble Arch - they won't press for their arrest, don't worry. Only the Jews.

And for anyone who doesn't want us arrested, and who'd prefer to dance with us, see some spectacular art, participate in amazing communal audio and video, and celebrate being Jewish, we'll see you at a mystery venue on Saturday 21st October from 9pm. Maybe you'd like to offer us your venue? But wherever it is, leave your truncheons at the door.

So don't forget that bit of a do on Saturday.

Palestinians don't know what's hit them

I've been hearing about this for a few days now but it looked too weird to run with. It appears that Israel is using a new weapon that causes serious external and internal injuries without leaving shrapnel traces. Here's the Guardian report:
Doctors in Gaza have reported previously unseen injuries from Israeli weapons that cause severe burning and leave deep internal wounds, often resulting in amputations or death.
The injuries were first seen in July, when Israel launched operations in Gaza following the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants.

Doctors said that, unlike traditional combat injuries, there was no large shrapnel found in the bodies and there appeared to be a "dusting" on damaged internal organs.

"Bodies arrived severely fragmented, melted and disfigured," said Jumaa Saqa'a, a doctor at the Shifa hospital, in Gaza City. "We found internal burning of organs, while externally there were minute pieces of shrapnel. When we opened many of the injured people we found dusting on their internal organs."
It is not clear whether the injuries come from a new weapon. The Israeli military declined to detail the weapons in its arsenal, but denied reports that the injuries came from a Dense Inert Metal Explosive (Dime), an experimental weapon.

In Gaza, Dr Saqa'a said the small pieces of shrapnel found in patients' bodies did not show up under x-ray. "We are used to seeing shrapnel penetrate the body making localised damage. Now we didn't see shrapnel, but we found the destruction," he said.

Most of the injuries were around the abdomen, he said. The doctors also found that patients who were stabilised after one or two days suddenly died. "The patient dies without any apparent scientific cause," he said.

At the Kamal Odwan hospital, in Beit Lahiya, the deputy director, Saied Jouda, said he had found similar injuries. "We don't know what it means - new weapons or something new added to a previous weapon," he said. He too found patients with severe internal injuries without signs of any large shrapnel pieces. "There was burning, big raw areas of charred flesh," he said. "This must be related to the type of explosive material."

Photographs of some of the dead from Shifa hospital showed bodies that had been melted and blackened beyond recognition. In several cases doctors amputated badly burnt limbs.

At least 250 Palestinians have died in Gaza since the latest military operations began and hundreds more have been injured.

Neither of the doctors could give exact figures for the numbers of patients suffering the new injuries, although both said that most of those brought in during July showed signs of these injuries.

Dr Saqa'a said the injuries occurred over six weeks beginning in late June, while Dr Jouda said he believed patients admitted even in recent days still showed signs of unusual injuries.

The health ministry in Gaza reported that these injuries came from an "unprecedented type of projectile," and also noted severe burning and badly damaged internal organs. It called for an investigation into the cause of the wounds.

"You have complete burns that lead to amputation. You find shrapnel entering the body and leaving very, very small holes. We have never seen this before," said Khalid Radi, a spokesman at the health ministry.

Tissue samples from patients in Gaza were given to journalists from the Italian television channel RAI. In a documentary shown last week, the channel said the injuries appeared similar to the effects of Dime. An Italian laboratory that analysed the samples reportedly said its results were compatible with the hypothesis that a Dime weapon was involved.

The weapon is new and in the US it is still in the early stages of development. It has a carbon-fibre casing and contains fine tungsten particles rather than ordinary metal shrapnel. It causes a very powerful blast, but with a much more limited radius than other explosives.

However, the Israeli military denies the use of Dime weapons.
Ah well, it can't be true then. Thank goodness.

Jewdas party on Saturday

Jewdas are having another bit of a do this Saturday 21 October 2006.More details on the Jewdas site.

Ignatieff to crawl to Israel but not so soon

Michael Ignatieff has performed another U-turn with regard to Israel. A few days ago he said he was going to visit Israel in the wake of his "evolving" remarks about the Israeli atrocity at Qana. Now, according to the Toronto Star, apparently he won't be going for a while:
Michael Ignatieff's plan to make peace in Israel — leadership-campaign peace, that is — won't happen next month as planned.

The Canada-Israel Committee, fearing a media circus over Ignatieff and the Liberal leadership, has postponed its plans to take some MPs to the Middle East next month. The former Harvard professor and MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore is still welcome to go, CIC insists, but after the Liberal leadership is over.

Ignatieff had vowed to take up the CIC's invitation to Israel to show his goodwill toward the country after landing in controversy for talking about alleged Israeli "war crimes" last summer.

The controversy has not really died down yet, either — it was a highlight of the Liberal leadership debate on Sunday, when rival Bob Rae attacked Ignatieff for the campaign misstep.

Yesterday, CIC spokesperson Alicia Richler said it was becoming apparent that the purpose of the trip was threatening to get lost in Liberal leadership politics.
I'm sure dancing on strings pulled by zionists will go down well with Canadian voters.

October 16, 2006

Engage supports "appropriate collective action" against Israel

It's true. Well it's true that Engage claims to support "appropriate collective action" against Israel in the case of "the denial of entry, re-entry, and continuous residence to foreign passport holding Palestinians and non-Palestinian family members, lecturers, NGO workers, and international development experts." Here's the whole piece:
Palestinian heads of universities protest the policy of refusing re-entry to Palestinians who work and live in Palestine
Added by Alexandra Simonon on October 15, 2006 03:02:44 PM.
Engage supports this letter from Palestinian heads of universities, calling for appropriate collective action:

To Members of Global Civil Society and Academia

To Members of Global Civil Society and Academia We, Presidents of Palestinian institutions of higher education, wish to bring to your attention an alarming yet unannounced Israeli policy that affects our society in the West Bank and Gaza Strip at large, and education in particular: the denial of entry, re-entry, and continuous residence to foreign passport holding Palestinians and non-Palestinian family members, lecturers, NGO workers, and international development experts.

Since the military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, Israel has unilaterally controlled the civil register of the Palestinian population, and has restricted movement in and out of the Occupied Palestinian Territory for Palestinians and other non-Israelis, thus depriving the Palestinians of their basic right to freedom of movement and residence.

Since the beginning of 2006, and especially after the parliamentary elections, many thousands of foreign passport holders of Palestinian and non-Palestinian origin living and/or working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have suddenly been denied entry or even threatened with deportation.

Israel has arrogated to itself the prerogative of allowing or refusing work permits to foreigners in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Most of these are Palestinian-born and currently hold foreign passports because their IDs have either been revoked while studying or working abroad, or their applications for family reunion rejected by the Israeli occupation authorities under various pretexts since October 2000. Yet they are citizens who have built their lives in Palestine, paying local taxes and voting in regional and national elections in their embryonic State.

The majority of foreign passport holders who are denied entry have family connections in Palestine and are entitled to family integrity by international conventions and recognized norms. Israel has also signed agreements of reciprocity in diplomacy and immigration rules with other countries, which it is now violating while consistently failing to provide a proper reason for its behavior, depriving threatened persons of their basic rights of access to justice, transparency and state accountability. Israeli citizens, meanwhile, enjoy unfettered entry into most countries around the world, while citizens of these countries are being denied similar treatment when they cross Israeli borders.

The business community has also been severely affected. Several successful diaspora businessmen, who have invested heavily in building their community for over a decade, are now being refused entry or deported with barely a month’s warning. Diaspora Palestinians and foreigners have withstood humiliating interrogation at entry points, continuously threatened with the insecurity of not having their tourist visas or visitor’s permits renewed every three months.

Most of them are a part of the local educated class whose contributions to civil society, educational institutions and the private sector have been invaluable for the construction of a viable pluralistic country and laying the foundations for a future Palestinian state. There have been at least five cases of academics and university staff being denied entry to the West Bank, the most recent in July 2006. Numerous international students were turned away at the borders and unable to register or continue their studies in Palestine.

Even Trustees of various university boards have been issued final permits and are being told to exit the country. We call on you to support appropriate collective action against this dangerous policy of denial of entry- and re-entry to Palestinians and other nationals that threatens to empty the Occupied Palestinian Territory of its educated classes:

• To achieve the reversal of this illegitimate, discriminatory and immoral form of population control
• To secure the total freedom of access to education and other activities in Palestine.

Presidents of Palestinian Universities
Dr. Ali Zedan, Al-Aqsa University/Gaza
Brother Daniel Casey, Bethlehem University
Dr. Daoud Zatari, Palestine Polytechnic University
Dr. Fakhri Hasan, Hebron University
Dr. Jawad Wadi, Al-Azhar University/Gaza Dr. Kamalain Shaath, Islamic University of Gaza
Dr. Munther Salah, Arab American University Dr. Nabeel Kassis, Birzeit University
Dr. Rami Hamdalla, Al Quds University
Dr. Sari Nusaibah, An-Najah University
Dr. Younis Amro, Al Quds Open University
And already there's a dissenting comment from a Paul Malin:
Some immediate thoughts on reading this article:

1) Is there supporting evidence that an undeclared Israeli policy as described in this letter exists, and that it is applied without reference to legitimate security concerns?

2) Has Engage bothered to ask Israeli authorities for their perspective, before endorsing the letter?

3) The letter says most of those affected are "Palestinian-born and currently hold foreign passports". That means that (A) they have official representation from another government, able to go to bat for them if they are being treated in breech of international agreements, and (B) they cannot be the citizens of any Arab country except perhaps Jordan. This is a situation which has not generated public letters of condemnation from Palestinians or anyone else, or calls for "appropriate collective action".

4) Are you not troubled at all by the hypocrisy and purposeful oversimplifications of the fifth paragraph?:

"The majority of foreign passport holders who are denied entry have family connections in Palestine and are entitled to family integrity by international conventions and recognised norms. Israel has also signed agreements of reciprocity in diplomacy and immigration rules with other countries, which it is now violating while consistently failing to provide a proper reason for its behaviour, depriving threatened persons of their basic rights of access to justice, transparency and state accountability. Israeli citizens, meanwhile, enjoy unfettered entry into most countries around the world, while citizens of these countries are being denied similar treatment when they cross Israeli borders."

- Neither a family connection nor reciprocal visa agreements guarantee anyone a right to enter or reside in any country.

- Very few countries give foreign visitors unrestricted access to war zones, least of all visitors with ties to their enemy.

- There are a number of the countries of the world, most not far from the West Bank and Gaza, to which Israeli citizens do not enjoy unfettered entry at all. Since this letter is couched as an appeal to international norms and universal justice, it is fair to ask what Palestinian voices have been raised against that situation.

5) Describing a policy that so far this year has resulted in "five cases of academics and university staff being denied entry" as one that "threatens to empty the Occupied Palestinian Territory of its educated classes" and a "form of population control" seems to carry the conclusion a little beyond what the data can support.

6) We're back to "appropriate collective action" again. What collective action is being proposed? If not a boycott, what collective action does Engage envision?
Exactly Paul, What collective action is being proposed? If not a boycott, what collective action does Engage envision? Good question comrade. Now let's just wait for the answer.

October 15, 2006

Geoffrey Alderman: Jews were wrong to fight fascism

Here's a comment in last week's Jewish Chronicle by Geoffrey Alderman [subscription only]. In it he argues that Jews and leftists were wrong to oppose the British Union of Fascists' invasion of the East End 70 years ago.
The BUF was fully entitled to hold such an event under the then existing law. Nor would this have been the first time the BUF had marched through the East End; there had been previous marches without serious incident. But an alliance of left-wing groups, led by the Communist party, decided to pick a fight with the BUF in order to heighten awareness of the Fascist threat and to engineer a situation in which — as they hoped — the BUF would be banned, or its activities severely restricted.

The Spanish Civil War had broken out three months previously and British Communists were going to show, at Cable Street, that they, too, could fight Fascism. Or, as one of them confessed at a seminar I chaired at London University in 1986 (at which Cable Street veterans from all sides were brought together for a civilised discussion), physically confronting the BUF was going to make us “feel good.”

So, in order that a motley collection of left-wingers (many of them Jews) could “feel good,” the civil rights of the BUF were going to be swept aside. The police were out in force to protect these rights. And the “battle” that took place was not (as it turned out) between the anti-Fascists and the BUF, but between the anti-Fascists and the police. That was what the Battle of Cable Street was really about.

Mosley and his followers were indeed prevented from marching to Victoria Park. But they reaped a rich reward. It is owing to the research of Dr Linehan that we now have an authoritative account of the effect of Cable Street on BUF popularity. There was, concludes Dr Linehan, a “spectacular leap” in BUF recruitment in east London following the events of Cable Street. The membership of the BUF rose steadily to a peak of around 40,000 in 1937. At the London County Council elections that year, the BUF polled 14 per cent of the votes in Shoreditch, 19 per cent in Limehouse and a stunning 23 per cent in Bethnal Green.
This is an interesting viewpoint and some may say, given the general consensus that it was right to oppose Mosley on the streets, courageously expressed but then Alderman goes on to justify antisemitism, or at least to blame Jews for it.
Why did upright tradesmen and shopkeepers, and even professional people, support and join the BUF? Why was there so much hostility in the East End towards Jews?

These questions obsessed the Board of Deputies. Ten days after Cable Street, the Board’s president, Neville Laski, had a secret meeting with the Communist leader Harry Pollitt and the Labour MP Herbert Morrison. Both agreed that Jews carried much of the responsibility for the prejudice against them. This resulted from such behaviour as flouting the Sunday trading laws; the use of blackleg labour to undermine trade unions; and sharp practices by Jewish landlords and estate agents. The impact of Cable Street was to add to this list by enabling the BUF to brand Jews additionally as enemies of the freedoms of speech and of lawful assembly.
It'll be interesting to see if the JC gets any complaints about that next week.

Ignatieff to crawl to Israel soon

Well he'll probably fly there actually but the point is that he now wants to wriggle away from remarks he made describing the atrocity at Qana as a "war crime." This followed him saying that he was "not losing any sleep" over Qana. Here's the Canadian Globe and Mail:
Mr. Ignatieff sought again yesterday to temper the tone of his "war- crime" remark without retracting it, and made the unexpected announcement that he will take part in a three-day visit to Israel next month organized for MPs by the Canada-Israel Committee. The trip will include a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Mr. Ignatieff said it was unacceptable for Mr. Harper to label his war-crime remark anti-Israel because it was based on reports by groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Israeli rights watchdog group B'Tselem -- although he acknowledged that Israel contests those accounts.

"But it is precisely because there is a debate on that -- the reports that I cited are controversial, they are not accepted by the state of Israel -- that I will visit Israel to listen to their point of view," Mr. Ignatieff told reporters in Toronto.
So now Igantieff has described Qana as no big deal, a war crime and a tragedy. Let's see what he says after Olmert has explained it to him.

October 14, 2006

Ignatieff's evolving position on Israel's atrocities

Michael Ignatieff is in a bit of a spin. First up he said that the Israeli atrocity at Qana wouldn't cost him any sleep. Then he decided that Qana was a war crime. Significantly (I think), his audience for the latter position was French-Canadian. I think there's more sympathy for the Palestinian cause among French speakers in Canada. Now, according to the Globe and Mail he's proclaiming his support for Israel whilst "slam[ming]" the Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, for calling him anti-Israel. But there's more.
Mr. Ignatieff took a political hit of his own as the wife of prominent Liberal MP Irwin Cotler announced that she has quit the party over Mr. Ignatieff's assertion that Israel committed war crimes.
So now Ignatieff has downgraded Qana from a war-crime to a "tragedy."
Mr. Ignatieff tempered his comments Friday, saying that while Israel's bombing of the Lebanese village of Qana last summer was a tragedy, it's up to international bodies to determine whether a war crime was committed.
It's a curious irony that I first remember Ignatieff railing against what he called "three minute culture" that he said was adversely affecting attention spans and, as a result of that, human intellect. The main source of this "three minute culture" was television and the soundbite. Now he's a politician and not a commentator and changes his mind every three minutes. Or to put it as mildly as the Globe and Mail did:
While Mr. Ignatieff's views on Qana evolved throughout the week, everything he has said recently is starkly different from his initial reaction in August, when he said he was “not losing sleep” over the more than two dozen civilian deaths in Qana.
"Evolved," got that? Twisted, turned, jumped through hoops or to put it another way, evolved.

October 13, 2006

Israel's white Australia policy!

Check this out. It's a report in Ha'aretz about how the Israeli ambassador to Australia has suggested that Israel and Australia should unite on the basis of the whiteness of the populations that count in those two states.
Israeli Ambassador to Australia Naftali Tamir said this week that Israel and Australia are white sisters in Asia and should work together to improve ties with "the yellow race."

"Israel and Australia are like sisters in Asia," Tamir said in an interview with Haaretz during a visit to Israel this week. "We are in Asia without the characteristics of Asians. We don't have yellow skin and slanted eyes. Asia is basically the yellow race. Australia and Israel are not - we are basically the white race. We are on the western side of Asia and they are on the southeastern side."

"Israel has a past and present in Europe, but no future. Israel is a part of Asia," he added.

Tamir said that due to what he characterized as the two countries' racial similarities, Israel and Australia should work together to enhance ties with other Asian countries.
No doubt this ambassodor chap will be despatched to cry "antisemitism!" every time Israel is accused of racist rule.

Canadian Liberals "anti-Israel"

A report in the Toronto Star has the Canadian Prime Minister branding all of the candidates for the leadership of Canada's Liberal Party, anti-Israel. My first thought was "what's wrong with that?" Then I noticed, well, I finally took notice of the fact that Michael Ignatieff is in the running and is one of this new "anti-Israel" brigade. Apparently Ignatieff has called the bombing by Israel of the civilian target of Qana, a "war crime." Well his position hasn't been that straightforward look:
In late July, Israeli war jets killed as many as 28 civilians in a strike aimed at Hezbollah guerrillas, who had been raining rockets on Israel from Lebanon.

On Sunday, Ignatieff who had previously said the deaths wouldn’t cost him any sleep, sparked controversy during an appearance on a French-language television program when he revisited the event.

“What happened in Qana was a war crime,” Ignatieff told Radio-Canada.

“I should have said that. That’s clear.”

Speaking at a law-and-order announcement in Toronto, Harper called the war-crime accusation a “serious charge” and made it clear he didn’t share the view.

None of the seven leadership candidates rushed to Ignatieff’s defence but they saved their strongest criticism for Harper, accusing him of polarizing the country.
Norman Finkelstein announces Ignatieff's about turn thus:
Another rat scurries off sinking (Israeli) ship
So is the ship of the Israeli state sinking? Certain leading lights in the western hemisphere clearly think so.

October 12, 2006

Israel bars Palestinian students while Engage welcomes an Israeli minister

I've been sent this link to a New York Times article from yesterday about Palestinians being barred from Israeli univerities on "security" grounds.
Sawsan Salameh, a Palestinian from the West Bank, was thrilled to get a full scholarship from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to begin a doctorate in theoretical chemistry. But a recent move by the Israeli Army to ban new Palestinian students from Israeli universities for security reasons is keeping her from studying at the campus, just two miles from her home.

“The first time I applied for a permit I was rejected,” said Ms. Salameh, 29, a Muslim wearing a firmly fastened head scarf and a black denim skirt that skimmed the floor. “I was shocked, because I thought there must be some kind of mistake, so I kept trying. I kept hoping.”

Her situation is familiar to many Palestinians whose freedom of movement has been limited in recent years because of the continuing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Coinicidentally the zionists at Engage decided to report on their little soirée with an Israeli minister and World Zionist Congress affiliates, the Union of Jewish Students. Perhaps they're coming clean at last.

October 10, 2006

What's with France?

The contagions's spreading. Cop this report in Ha'aretz:
The French Embassy on Monday canceled a New York party for a book about Vichy France's collaboration with Nazi Germany because of the author's postscript that says Israel has oppressed Palestinians.

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy's office in New York had planned to hold a party on Tuesday to fete the September publication of author Carmen Callil's "Bad Faith" about Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the Vichy government official who organized the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz.

Callil told Reuters on Monday that the party was canceled after complaints from "fundamentalist Jews."
"Fundamentalist Jews?" Mon dieu!

More here.

October 09, 2006

Academic boycott of Israel "tremendously dangerous"

Thanks to an anonymous commentor for this Education Guardian article about the visit of Israeli Education minister, Yuli Tamir to the UK where she warned that an academic boycott of Israel would be "tremendously dangerous" because, well see for yourselves:
In a way what a boycott does is it weakens the possibility that there will be a real debate in Israel and there will be ways to change or support the way the government behaves.
So that's why so much progress has been made in the peace process, : no boycott. Read the whole thing. It's worse than I've posted here. Then check out the Engage site where there is a "reminder" of a joint hosting of the Israeli minister by the "non"-zionists of Engage and the zionists of the Union of Jewish Students. Too late for anyone reading this, it started at 6.30 pm.

October 08, 2006

What's with America?

This Ha'aretz comment by Gideon Levy was posted to the Just Peace list today:
The mystery of America remains unsolved: How is it that the United States is doing nothing to advance a solution to the most dangerous and lengthiest conflict in our world? How is it that the world's only superpower, which has the power to quickly facilitate a solution, does not lift a finger to promote it?
So what is with America in its dealings with Israel? Unfortunately Levy only asks. He doesn't answer.

October 05, 2006

Goldsmiths UCU deals double blow to Engage

I've had some comments that I haven't made it clear enough that what follows is about the Goldsmiths branch of the University and College Union though hopefully it will have implications for the national union and, in time, the international academic community. I've also changed the headline to include the name Goldsmiths. Now read on and enjoy!.

The zionist movement's academic wing suffered a double blow yesterday when a motion proposed by Dr David Hirsh and a Josh Cohen, seeking to keep a boycott of Israel off the union agenda in perpetuity, was defeated by 25 votes to 8 with 2 or 3 abstentions. I got my information from the Just Peace list where a post said 3 abstentions. Engage has a report on the vote where they say there were two abstentions. Lest anyone gets accused of "vicious libel" let's run with 2 abstentions. Anyway, here's the motion:
Motion for GUCU [Goldsmiths University and College] Branch Meeting

1 This branch supports those that are fighting to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine based on a withdrawal of Israeli forces and settlers from the West Bank and the Gaza strip and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

2 This branch affirms its commitment to academic freedom in both Palestine and Israel.

3 This branch particularly opposes the following two threats to academic freedom in Israel and Palestine:

i. The Israeli occupation, which routinely and sometimes with life-threatening violence, disrupts the freedom of Palestinian academics and students to study, research, teach and move around.

ii. The call for boycotts, which aim to exclude Israeli universities, or people affiliated to Israeli universities, from the global academic community, with or without some kind of political test.

4 This branch resolves to mandate its members of council to oppose at UCU council, any proposals to boycott, or to encourage a boycott, of Israeli universities or academics.

Proposed: David Hirsh

Seconded: Josh Cohen
Now see point 4. It seems to seek an outright ban on the recently formed University and College Union (UCU) from ever considering a boycott of Israel again. It doesn't merely confirm their existing policy of not supporting the boycott at the moment. Now look at the Engage report by this Josh Cohen chap:
David’s motion consisted of an affirmation of solidarity with those on both sides of the Palestinian-Israel conflict fighting for peace; a statement of opposition to the threats to Palestinian academic freedom presented by the Israeli occupation and to Israeli academic freedom by the boycott; and a commitment to mandate our delegates to UCU Council to vote against any proposals for a boycott.

Speaking briefly to the motion as proposer and seconder, we elaborated some of the points in the motion and urged the meeting not to allow a principle of punishing exclusion to drive our policy and distort the causes of peace and justice.

The main argument that the boycotters employed, in addition to the ritual and wearisome denunciations of Israeli ‘barbarism’, was that delegates shouldn't be mandated to vote any specific way on policies, but should have the opportunity to ‘listen to debate’ and make their own judgements. Omitted from this argument were, firstly, the fact that no issue has been debated more exhaustively and decisively within the union, and secondly that two of the candidates standing for nomination to Council already had an explicit position on the boycott. Equally puzzling was the claim that mandating is undemocratic – traditionally a claim employed by the political Right to weasel out of accountability to a constituency. As David asked, in what sense is it ‘undemocratic’ to demand that a delegate follow the wishes of his or her branch members?

The vote came out as: For the motion, 8, Against 25, with 2 Abstentions. Our branch, which last year declared its opposition to the boycott, voted overwhelmingly against a motion affirming that opposition.

The one nominee for Council not elected was David Hirsh. One of those elected, as I’ve mentioned, is a declared proponent of a boycott.

So: a union branch notable just a year ago for its near-unanimous opposition to the boycott has just voted down an anti-boycott motion, elected a delegation likely to support a boycott at the congress, and is left without policy on the issue.
Now, I said double blow didn't I? See that bit near the end:
The one nominee for Council not elected was David Hirsh. One of those elected, as I’ve mentioned, is a declared proponent of a boycott.
So they lost their motion and their man. Well well well.

To be continued, I'm sure.

UPDATE - continued sooner than I thought. I have just received an email copy of a circular that did the rounds of Goldsmiths prior to the vote detailed above:
Dear Goldsmiths Colleague/UCU member and please forward to others

We are writing to draw your urgent attention to a motion that is to be voted on at the next UCU branch meeting and to which we will all be bound if agreed to.

The aim of the motion being put to the GUCU (Goldsmiths Branch of the University and College Union newly formed through the amalgamation of the Association of University Teachers and NATFHE - The University & College Lecturers' Union) is pre-emptively to block the possibility of any action being taken by UCU, now or in the future, which would confront the state of Israel and its academic institutions on the basis of their behaviour. The implication of such a motion is that no boycott or similar action could be pursued in any other context, regardless of political urgency, moral legitimacy or ethical conscience.

Letting this motion pass would mean tying the union's hands for perpetuity in regard to political activities undertaken in solidarity with colleagues in other countries and on the basis of our commitment to equality, dignity and the pursuit of free intellectual activity. In the light of the Israeli state's continued assaults on the rights and livelihoods of Palestinians in general, and Palestinian academics in particular, as well as its recent wanton assault on Lebanon, the argument of this motion is unacceptable. As detailed below, the attempt to dress up the pre-emptive refusal of any boycott with references to `academic freedom' is morally and ethically untenable.

We therefore call for this anti-democratic motion to be unequivocally rejected, and for a serious and open debate to take place with regard to the union's policy vis-à-vis the Israeli state and its academic institutions, as well as regarding any political and solidarity actions collectively undertaken by UCU with respect to other countries and other institutions.

1. The proponents of the motion bolster their arguments with reference to the concept of `academic freedom'. But the freedom to publish, research and teach without undue state interference should not be interpreted as a blanket license for academics (as opposed to civil servants, or others whose livelihood depends on the state) to collude or comply with systematic violence and disregard for human rights, equality and justice – including but not limited to those of their counterparts in Palestine who are suffering the long-running attempt by the Israeli state to undermine any form of independent Palestinian civic, political or intellectual life. To argue that academics, and, more importantly, academic institutions are absolved of responsibility simply by the fact of being academics is a serious misuse of the notion of `academic freedom'.

2. Similarly, it is only a distorted and immoral understanding of `academic freedom' which would permit one to equate or put on the same level, as this motion does, the systematic onslaughts against the academic and physical life of Palestinian academics, with the discomfort experienced by Israeli academics were the international academic community to decide to boycott any official or financial relationship with the institutions in which they work. The current predicaments of Palestinian academics and Israeli academics are simply not comparable, and while our union should be sensitive to the problems and pressures experienced by our Israeli colleagues, solidarity with our Palestinian colleagues is a primary and urgent concern.

3. The proponents of the motion have objected to the link with the South African boycott in two (disconnected, and even incoherent) ways: firstly, by arguing that the South African boycott was not effective, secondly, by stating that the `democratic' nature of the State of Israel falsifies its characterisation as an apartheid state. The first point is disputable, especially as arguments about the inefficacy of the boycott concentrate on financial matters, while eschewing its political and moral impact. As for the second argument, it is based on the utterly untenable premise that we can separate Israel (which in any case does not treat all of its citizens equally) from the Occupied Territories. To say that the occupation and its array of brutal and humiliating measures (from theft of resources and collective punishments to political assassinations) is something going on `outside' of Israel's `democracy' ignores the fact that the occupation and `politicide' of the Palestinian people has been the ongoing policy of the State of Israel, the same state that both funds and is in key respects ideologically and materially sustained by its academic institutions.

4. We believe that institutional boycotts (for example, a moratorium on European funding for Israeli scientific and research programmes) are entirely legitimate and moral forms of action, which our new union can support. Though their tactical efficacy should be discussed, and the nature of their implementation poses important political issues, they cannot be tarred with the brush of prejudice, racism or anti-Semitism. We oppose unequivocally the immoral and ingenuous way that the charge of anti-Semitism has been tacitly or explicitly deployed in an attempt to silence critiques of the systematic abuses of human rights and contraventions of international law by the State of Israel.

Voting against the motion below (see especially point 4) on Wednesday 4 October is not a vote for the boycott but a VOTE AGAINST A SELECTIVE PROTECTION OF ISRAEL FROM BOYCOTT.

By allowing the motion to go through, we will be selectively protecting Israel from boycott and, hence, tacitly consenting to the violence perpetrated against Palestinian civilians and more recently Lebanese civilians.
We haven't heard the last of this.