April 29, 2007

What can Gordon Brown do for war criminals?

Well I suppose he helped Blair stay in power when he could have swung Labour against the war in Iraq. So he has form when it comes to helping war criminals. But the war criminals I have in mind are the racist war criminals of the State of Israel because I read a curious thing in the Jewish Chronicle just now. The article is headed "Brown attacks media's call to boycott Israel." Apparently Brown [Tony Blair's heir presumptive (or is it presumptuous?)] was a guest of honour at the Board of Deputies of British Jews'president's dinner. Well,
After a speech that earned a standing ovation, he met guests accompanied by Board presidentHenry Grunwald.

When he was introduced to Arieh Kovler of the anti-boycott Fair Play Campaign, Mr Brown told him: "The NUJ boycott is unacceptable and we will do all the we can to help."
This is a Prime Ministerial hopeful who proudly boasted that he intended to cut half of all civil service jobs. What right has he to say what is and what is not acceptable for a trade union to do? And what can he do to help?

I'm thinking that on top of trying to make anti-zionism illegal, the zionists are trying to make international solidarity illegal as well.

JBIG smaller in JC

These Jews for boycotting Israeli goods get around. They were in the Jewish Chronicle on Friday, cheek by jowl with Linda Grant. It was the same letter as was published in the Guardian last week but, according to Deborah Fink on the Just Peace list, the JC omitted a crucial section. Here's what they published:
Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG) welcomes the courageous decision of the NUJ.

Given Israel¹s disregard for international law, pressure has to be increased by civil society if justice is to be achieved for Palestinians as well as Israelis. A boycott of Israeli goods is a legitimate form of grassroots action and is particularly appropriate as Israel is destroying the Palestinian economy. Such a boycott has been called for by peace organisations in Israel including the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

We believe that Israel¹s actions betray Jewish ethical traditions. The continuing occupation and exploitation of Palestinian land blocks a resolution to conflict in the Middle East and its global ramifications endanger world peace.

Deborah Fink, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Mike Cushman, Tony Greenstein, Deborah Maccoby, Professor Moshe Machover, Mike Marqusee, Ruth Tenne
Here's what they omitted to publish:
As a result of its illegal occupation, Israel is able to exploit Palestinian land and resources and flood the Palestinian market with its products while preventing Palestinian farmers from growing and trading their own. The separation barrier and expanding Jewish colonies have turned the West Bank into ghettoised enclaves separating Palestinians from their fields and workplaces. Olive trees are uprooted, harvests destroyed and produce left to rot in the fields. Border crossings, checkpoints, road blocks and a discriminatory permit system make it almost impossible to transport or trade what little is produced.
Just to show that whilst she gets my honest and legitimate comments banned from the Guardian, she is welcome here, here's Linda Grant's offering:
On Friday morning I read a letter from Roslyn Pine condemning Jonathan Freedland for his silence on the NUJ boycott of Israel (Letters, April 20).
Twenty-four hours earlier, I had read a lengthy article by Freedland in The Guardian condemning the NUJ for the vote. Some writers have a personal blog they update five times a day. Others don¹t, and use the pages of a national newspaper to express their views, in this case, The Guardian, whose editor had already condemned the motion in an interview with Ha'aretz, and published a leader in a similar vein.
Linda Grant, Ferme Park Road, London N8
So there you go you JC readers. Don't worry about the Guardian, zionists have complete editorial control.

Incidentally, on the subject of zionists and editorial control, I see that Linda Grant has now left the editorial board (or whatever it's called) of Engage. I remember a "chat" with her on Nick Cohen's site when she thanked Engage, I think it was, for campaigning against a boycott of Israel. She was a part of the Engage set up at the time. Now she appears not to be. What's all that about? Perhaps she doesn't want her objectivity compromised.

April 28, 2007

How do you take your solutions, one state or two? and how do you achieve them?

I caught a bit of a buzz going on about an article by Uri Avnery. I heard that there's some stuff on Desert Peace about it which I'm just about to look at. And what a surprise! Desert Peace supports the so-called two state solution. I also found out that Uri Avnery's piece was itself partly a response to a speech made by Ilan Pappe in the first place.

My own view here is that, at this point in time it doesn't matter how many states there are in what we now call Israel and the occupied territories. What matters is how they are constituted, and, of course, how they behave. On that latter, Israel's behaviour is atrocious. It is not simply a state with colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing in its history, it is a state that persists in colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing. This we (and they) call zionism. It is zionism that is the problem.

Now Israel has powerful allies in governments and the media so it can behave as atrociously as it likes and have powerful allies support it with arms and money. Zionists also contriol so much media that the newspaper considered to be most critical of Israel in this country hands its editorial column over to a self-declared zionist and has resident columnists who are zionists. So what to do? Well if the establishment won't do anything to make Israel yield on the question of the human and civil rights of the Palestinians a boycott seems to be in order. Avnery doesn't like that one either. Why? Because zionist propaganda would portray it as being just like the nazi boycott of Jewish shops.

It's curious that Avnery speaks of gains made by the so-called peace camp in Israel over the years.
I believe that we have already attained impressive achievements: the recognition of the existence of the Palestinian people has become general, and so has the readiness of most Israelis to accept the idea of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as the capital of both states. We have compelled our government to recognize the PLO, and we shall compel them to recognize Hamas. True, all this would not have happened without the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and (sometimes) favorable international circumstances, but the contribution of the Israeli peace forces, which pioneered these ideas, was significant.
He sees gains in these things. I see zionist tactics, in fact gains for zionism in many ways. And then he speaks of what the peace camp hasn't gained:
We have not succeeded in compelling our government to stop the building of the wall or the enlargement of the settlements, nor to restore to the Palestinians their freedom of movement. In short, we have not succeeded in putting an end to the occupation. The Arab citizens of Israel have not attained real equality. But beneath the surface, in the depths of national consciousness, we are succeeding. The question is how to turn the hidden success into an open political fact. In other words: how to change the policy of the Israeli government.
Now I don't accept that either. I don't see Israelis softening and I believe it is because of the pandering to Israel by western governments and covering for Israel by western media that Israel's privileged population retain and insist they will maintain their Jewish supremacy no matter what.

As it happens there have been tremendous gains made in the field of consciousness of the realities of zionism on the part of western publics. In 2000 (I think it was 2000) 60% of EU people polled said they believed Israel to be the biggest threat to peace in the world. Israel regularly comes top of the polls for the worst kind of society. There is a general recognition that far from being singled out for condemnation because it is Jewish, Israel has got away with each atrocity because it has used its Jewishness and its lacrymose Jewish "history" to gain sympathy no other colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing could dream of.

The fact that people generally are wising up to the reality of zionism and therefore the lack of legitimacy of Israel is not lost on the zionist movement. Look at the zionist approach to debate these days. The lies, the abuse, the bullying that goes on. It really is all over bar the shouting. They shout their "rights" to drown out their wrongs. They want to make anti-zionism a criminal offence. They openly lie in the media, on message boards. They don't care. It's a tactic now to flaunt their power but it is also a weakness of power when it has to be flaunted so. And the establishment is with them - for the time being.

So when the establishment won't act, the people have to. It's pointless saying that a boycott can succeed where the international community has failed. The international community, if there is such a thing, hasn't even tried. The people must try. Decent people cannot suddenly take over the Guardian or any other newspaper. Cannot take over governments just yet. So what can we do? We can boycott Israel across a variety of fronts, cultural, economic, whatever. But where establishments fail people can succeed and the strength of the enemy, whether to kill or to lie, should not be held up as an excuse to pander to either its power or its propaganda.

Whether the goal is one or two states based on justice for all, a popular boycott of Israel together with a commitment to expose Israel for what it is and what it does is the only hope for any form of justice for the Palestinians short or long term.

April 25, 2007

Jews BIG in the Guardian

See this. A letter from JBIG in the Guardian about this NUJ boycott business:

We welcome the courageous decision of the National Union of Journalists to boycott Israeli goods (Letters, April 23). Given Israel's contempt for international law, with the complicity of the US and UK governments, pressure has to be increased by civil society if justice is to be achieved. A boycott of Israeli goods is a legitimate form of grassroots action and is particularly appropriate as Israel is destroying the Palestinian economy. Such a boycott has been called for by Israeli peace organisations.

As a result of its illegal occupation, Israel is able to flood the Palestinian market with its products, while preventing Palestinian farmers from growing and trading their own. We believe Israel's actions betray Jewish ethical traditions - the cutting down of olive and fruit trees is prohibited by Jewish law. The continuing occupation and exploitation of Palestinian land is a major obstacle to peace for Israelis and Arabs alike which has global implications for world peace.
Deborah Fink, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Mike Cushman, Sylvia Finzi, Tony Greenstein, Ruth Tenne, Deborah Maccoby, Prof Moshe Machover, Mike Marqusee
Jews for Boycotting Israel Goods

The letter is sandwiched between two from zionists, the last being from David Hirsh. So now they dominate Cif and the letters page but the JBIG crew did well to get published at all. Linda Grant said that certain intellectual Jews were only a phone call away from getting an opinion piece published but, for all that, we don't see many anti-zionist opinion pieces by Jews published.

One little piece of the first letter, by a Martin Sugarman caught my eye:
Dr Summerfield and others (Letters, April 21) whine on about the alleged impact on Palestinian healthcare caused by necessary Israeli security policies to protect its borders and population from murderous attacks by Palestinian terrorists, thereby justifying a boycott of Israel's medical profession - probably one of the most inventive and creative in the world.
Got that last bit? "Israel's medical profession - probably one of the most inventive and creative in the world." I thought zionist propagandists were the most inventive and creative in the world.

Now, that JBIG letter. It was very good I thought but I couldn't sign a letter that invoked "Jewish ethics" or law. I'm not sure what Jewish ethics are and I don't believe in Jewish law. JBIG itself might help undermine the persistent and false allegation that boycotts against Israel are antisemitic or "exceptionalistic" and that's a good thing.

Oh yes, I remember now. Why the headline? Obviously there was a bit of a pun or double entendre there. But what's the other entendre out of the double? Well it still troubles me that when the Guardian editorialised that journalists have compromised their independence by voting to boycott Israeli goods it may have chosen a self-declared zionist to do so. This would be outrageous hypocrisy even without taking into account the fact that the Comment is free space is a free for all for zionists and people can get banned simply on the say-so of one of them. Of course, I shouldn't then suggest that Jews are big in the Guardian. It's zionists who are big in the Guardian and with Freedland writing leaders and Georgina Henry banning anti-zionists because Linda Grant has told her to, the same Georgina Henry appointing recent settlers in Palestine because the same Linda Grant has told her to, they seem to be getting bigger. Now this is bad news. Georgina Henry said in correspondence that she was supposed to keep Cif interesting. Is the take of zionists on life in Palestine really keeping Cif interesting? Is she appointing zionists and restricting anti-zionists or critics of Israel because she thinks it sells newspapers or gets hits or is she taking orders from higher the Guardian's food chain? The Guardian has never been as hostile to Israel and zionism as zionists have made out (things are rarely as zionists make out) but now it seems to be more pro-zionist than at any time I can remember.

So, well done JBIG, you slipped through a tightening net.

April 24, 2007

Freedland editorialises for the Guardian?

I've expressed my concern at zionists taking over at Comment is free, well now I've just been told that Jonathan Freedland wrote the recent Guardian editorial condemning the NUJ for their boycott Israel vote. The guy writing the email says that the editorial and Freedland's own Comment is free piece on the same issue are too similar to be coincidental. Leader writers don't have to be editors themselves it's true but for the Guardian to hand over its editorial column to a self-declared zionist, even as a once-off, would be a new low for the paper.

But how similar are the pieces? The leader mentions the Alan Johnston kidnap, but unlike both Freedland's piece and Israel's ambassador to the UK, it didn't stoop so low as to suggest that this made the Palestinians an unfit case for solidarity. But then, perhaps a Guardian editorial wouldn't have passed the, er, editing if it was so manifestly illiberal. The mention of Johnston in the leader was merely saying that his plight is the kind of thing the NUJ ought to campaign on.

But there are some similarities between Freedland's piece and the leader so please compare and contrast and if anyone actually knows, let me know.


Hamas strikes back

Ha'aretz reports that Hamas has claimed responsibility for firing rockets from Gaza into southern Israel.
For the first time in five months, the military wing of Hamas on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a volley of Qassam rockets and mortar shells that struck southern Israel. The group said the strikes were in revenge for Israel Defense Forces operations over the weekend, in which nine Palestinians were killed.

Izz el-Deen al-Qassam said in a statement that Hamas militants launched 40 rockets and 70 mortar shells from the Gaza Strip "in reaction to the continued Zionist crimes against our people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
Of course history will show that this was yet more unprovoked Arab aggression against Israel.

April 23, 2007

Guardian's barely veiled antisemitism allegation against NUJ

I hadn't realised that the Guardian had editorialised on the NUJ's call to boycott Israel until I saw today's letters. The editorial is atrocious. It could have been written by one of the Engage crew. Cop this:
There are a number of reasons why the NUJ boycott motion was misguided - and the exceptionalism of focusing on Israel and its foreign policy is certainly one of them.
What's that word? Ah, yes, "exceptionalism." In the context it reads like a code word for antisemitism. Still, as should always be the case, the bad editorial has generated some good responses:
You suggest that, in voting to boycott Israel, the NUJ has strayed too far from its legitimate business. We do not think such arguments apply to our grave concerns as doctors about the health-related impact of Israeli policy on Palestinian society. Persistent violations of medical ethics have accompanied Israel's occupation. The Israeli Defence Force has systematically flouted the fourth Geneva convention guaranteeing a civilian population unfettered access to medical services and immunity for medical staff. Ambulances are fired on (hundreds of cases) and their personnel killed. Desperately ill people, and newborn babies, die at checkpoints because soldiers bar the way to hospital. The public-health infrastructure, including water and electricity supplies, is wilfully bombed, and the passage of essential medicines like anti-cancer drugs and kidney dialysis fluids blocked. In the West Bank, the apartheid wall has destroyed any coherence in the primary health system. UN rapporteurs have described Gaza as a humanitarian catastrophe, with 25% of children clinically malnourished.

The Israeli Medical Association has a duty to protest about war crimes of this kind, but has refused to do so. Appeals to the World Medical Association and the British Medical Association have also been rebuffed. Eighteen leading Palestinian health organisations have appealled to fellow professionals abroad to recognise how the IMA has forfeited its right to membership of the international medical community. We are calling for a boycott of the Israeli Medical Association and its expulsion from the WMA. There is a precedent for this: the expulsion of the Medical Association of South Africa during the apartheid era. A boycott is an ethical and moral imperative when conventional channels do not function, for otherwise we are merely turning away.
Dr Derek Summerfield, Professor Colin Green, Dr Ghada Karmi, Dr David Halpin, Dr Pauline Cutting And 125 other doctors
That appeared on Saturday, the day after the editorial. These appear today:
In your leader disapproving of the NUJ resolution urging a boycott of Israeli goods (Neither balanced nor fair, April 20), you do not deny its central and devastating charge: Israel's "savage pre-planned attack on Lebanon". Is it exceptionalist (or anti-semitic?) to regard that naked aggression as appalling and to be publicly condemned in any way one can? Perhaps we can now do without the whining mantra that Hizbullah "started it". There is the newer whine that Hizbullah is being rearmed by Iran; are we to believe that Israel has not thoroughly rearmed, aided by the US, with British companies in support? How will the next atrocious war on Lebanon be blamed on the other side? Or is it just possible that Israel will respect the UN on the border?
Judith Kazantzis
Lewes, East Sussex

The Guardian's position in its leader on the NUJ's annual delegate meeting requires challenging. You claim the NUJ should only take a stand on unsavoury actions when these concern journalism and that it should only do so if it does so against all other states guilty of similar actions. Both claims were regularly trotted out during the anti-apartheid struggle. The first is a non-sequitur, the second a sure recipe for never taking action against any unsavoury regime. The reality is that Israel, like apartheid South Africa, is particularly vulnerable to sanctions by the west and that despite acting towards the Arabs in Palestine as did Europeans towards Africans under apartheid, the west has yet to take action against it. Why not?
Walter Hain

Your leader makes an invalid comparison: whereas in various countries journalists have endangered themselves and sometimes paid with their lives to unearth politically sensitive truths, Israel stands alone in basing its actions on entirely ethnic/racial criteria. The true comparison is apartheid South Africa, which was also boycotted by the NUJ. We Jews should be particularly sensitive to the injustice and suffering caused by racism/anti-semitism.
Hanna Braun
There were a couple of letters supporting the editorial, one on Saturday and one today. Curiously, neither were from Engage as far as I know. They'd be expected to dominate the letters page on an issue like that but perhaps they were busy writing their Comment is free pieces and directing the editor there as to what may be published and what may not.

April 22, 2007

Gabriel Ash on tails, wags and dogs

Here's Gabriel Ash in Dissident Voice (and all over the internet) on the influence or not of AIPAC. In the article he says that whilst he doesn't see the influence of AIPAC or the Israel lobby as decisive in determining America foreign policy this does not excuse liberal and left opinion for its cowardice over exposing the influence that it does have. He puts it so much better than me:
Many of the left and liberal side refuse to accept AIPAC's political significance. Some, such as Stephen Zunes, believe that AIPAC is a powerless puppet and Israel a docile servant of US imperialism. But one doesn't need to be a fanatical Israel Lobby denier to poke holes in the theory that lays US misadventures in the Middle East primarily at AIPAC's door. Mearsheimer and Walt are ideologues of imperialism with a deeply flawed understanding of US politics -- the words 'corporations,' 'finance' and 'capitalism' are simply not part of their lexicon. [3] Others are differently myopic. If one were to believe James Petras, the billionaires who put Bush in the White House in 2000 with the best funded campaign in US history were taken for a ride by a cabal of secret Israeli agents such as Wolfowitz, Perle and Feith, who sent the US into a losing war that nearly bankrupt the US, damaged the prospects of the its oil majors and threatened the worldwide advances of American corporations, all out of their commitment to Zionism. [4] That America's billionaire class came back for a second round and supported Bush in 2004 as well must be chalked up to their masochism and the desire to lose even more money. [5] Zionism is a loathsome ideology, and AIPAC is a powerful organization. Nevertheless, the tunnel vision that sees Zionism as the major determinant of US politics is a new permutation of the classical right-wing knife-in-the-back myth. [6] To those who buy this fairytale understanding of US politics, stripped off corporate power, the military-industrial complex, petrodollars, conflicts of accumulation and the class war, all I can offer is a pack of premium Enron shares at a discount.

Rejecting this tunnel vision does not however justify the cowardly refusal of liberal and left anti-war groups to challenge AIPAC. Unfortunately, the left-liberal camp includes many who use theoretical complexity as an excuse for practical inaction.
He then gives a working example involving a Mitchell Plitnick from "Jewish Voice for Peace."

April 19, 2007

Trade unionists take sides, shock!

According to the Guardian, Israel's man in London has protested the "one-sidedness" of the National Union of Journalists for supporting a boycott of Israeli goods.
"It is a shame that an organisation which represents journalists and the principles of balance and impartiality, should threaten to boycott goods from Israel," Mr Heifetz said.
Next week the ambassador is going to complain about trade unionists taking sides against bosses.

But seriously, the ambassador for the world's foremost racist state couldn't resist giving vent to his own racism:
The timing of this move is also peculiar, coming just days after worrying rumours surfaced about the fate of one of the union's own members
He added. What's he trying to say exactly?

Support Azmi Bishara MK

Thanks to "just intruding" in the comments for reminding me of this case. Azmi Bishara is a Arab member of Israel's parliament. He and his Arab colleagues are often held up as proof that Israel cannot be a racist state. Here's a statement of support for Azmi Bishara that suggests that Israel falls just a tad short of the norms of equality before the law:

Statement of Condemnation of the Israeli Campaign against The Palestinian Intellectual and National Figure Azmi Bishara

Every now and then we are reminded by the state of Israel and its institutions, that the Arab Palestinians constitute a strategic threat to Israel. Such a tendency has been always voiced in different degrees of frenzyness and nakedness, yet its current pitch is unprecedented. At this point, the Palestinian Arabs face a trying phase in their relation with the State of Israel as a result of their legitimate and just demand that the state of Israel should be a ‘state of all its citizens.’ The fact that Israel continues to define itself as a ‘Jewish Democratice State,’ trying the impossible mission to be aknolwedged as a model of a modern democracy, yet to the preserve the ‘Jewishness’ of its identity, is no doubt the root-cause of all forms of oppression and discrimination against the native Palestinians. The Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel have continuously and restlessly tried to put an end to the deformed relationship with the State and to right the wrongs by venturing the moral and democratic alternative of ‘the state of all its citizens.’ However, no results whatsoever were realized towards attaining the collective rights of the native Palestinians, nor lifting the barefaced discrimination against them.

The state of Israel has been systematically keen in passing legislations that serve the persecution of the Arab political leadership of the Palestinian citizens. Therefore, the state of Israel is to be blamed for the deterioration of the relationship with its Arab citizens who have been always wronged and discriminated against .The renewed persecution of the the intellectual and political nationalist Azmi Bishara and his Party—who has been challenging the ideological and political foundations of the contradictory Israeli democracy—is, indeed a persecution of the very existence of the Palestinian citizens of the State.

Acknowledging the rights of the Palestinians to their land, and other rights based on their aboriginality and citizenship that should never be compromised under any justification—we condemn all forms of oppression, threats, persecution and any restrictions on the freedom of speech.

The campaign waged by state of Israel and led by the head of its Secret Services (the Shabak) constitute a real threat to democracy and the values of freedom and liberty that are supposed to be guarded by the state itself. The appalling and racist locutions such as describing the Arabs in Israel as a “strategic threat,” and stating that “anybody who tries to change the nature of the State, even via democratic means, would be persecuted”—voiced by the head of the Shabak, reflect the dangerous degree of the formal incitement against the Palestinians. It is a moral obligation to resist this campaign promptly and firmly by all individuals, political parties, institutes, that believe in the human right of the Palestinians to live with dignity in their own homeland enjoying freedom and liberty.

We, the signatories of this petition, based on what has been stated above, declare the following:

1. We strongly condemn the frenzy campaign against the intellectual and nationalist Dr. Azmi Bishara, and call for an immediate cessation of this political persecution.

2. We appeal to all political parties and the Arab leadership in Israel to face jointly and firmly this campaign which targets the collective Arab presence on their homeland.

3. We call upon all Palestinians, friends, and supporters allover the world to unite in putting an end to this racist campaign and use it to persecute the proponents of discrimination and ethnic cleansing instead of persecuting the advocates of equality in "a state of all its citizens."

You can add your signature here.

Curious that the commentor who raised this issue calls themselves "just intruding." That seems to be what zionists think Arabs are doing in occupied Palestine.

April 18, 2007

Mike Marqusee on zionists and the BJP

This is a straight lift from Mike Marqusee's website:
During a visit to India in February, the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, met with right-wing Hindu supremacist notables at the home of former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, currently leader of the BJP (the official opposition) in the Indian parliament.

In the 1980s, Advani launched and led the “Rath yatra”, a provocative nation-wide tour aimed at mobilizing support for replacing the five hundred year old Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, north India, with a Ram Temple. The upshot was the violent demolition of the mosque in December 1992 by Hindu fanatics, an act of communal aggression which led to riots across the country and the loss of 2000 lives.

Advani had visited the besieged mosque on the very day of its demolition. Along with other leaders of the Hindu right, he was charged by police with making “inflammatory speeches to spread communal hatred". The legal case against him, reopened in 2005, is still pending.

As Home Minister in the BJP-led government of 1998-2004, Advani was complicit in the anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 which took the lives of 2,500 Muslims and left at least 150,000 homeless.

But for Metzger, Advani is a hero. “It is seldom that I go to somebody’s residence to participate in a reception,” he said, “Our custom does not allow this. But, here, I came to Shri L.K. Advani’s residence, as if I were going to my own home. It is a debt that we owe to the leader. As India’s Internal Minister, he was the first Indian top official to visit Israel. He played a major and sustained role in furthering and cementing the relations between the two countries. We immensely value this gesture.”

The reception led to the signing of an anodyne “Hindu-Jewish” declaration against terrorism and religious violence; its real import was made clear by Metzger to the Jerusalem Post: “Several Hindu leaders expressed their dismay at Muslim violence. They told me that both Judaism and Hinduism were the mothers from which all other religions suckled. But sometimes the offspring bite the breast that feeds them.” Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee, who was also present, drove the point home: “Although, Muslim extremism was not singled out, it was at the forefront of many participants’ minds.”

Political, commercial and military ties between India and Israel have steadily intensified over the past decade. The Hindu supremacists of the BJP and its parent organisation, the RSS, have long found common ground with Zionism (and no contradiction between that and their earlier admiration for Nazism); sadly, the Congress-led government that took power in 2004 has also adopted their predecessor’s enthusiasm for the alliance with Israel. Both Congress and BJP leaders happily join with Israeli representatives to celebrate what they like to call “common Hindu-Jewish values”. Metzger’s visit, widely publicised in India, is part of an Israeli effort to consolidate that mythology.

Two months before Metzger’s visit, in November 2006, 218 members of the Bnei Menashe, from Mizoram in north-east India, arrived in Israel and were promptly settled in the northern Galilee as part of a drive to strengthen the Jewish presence in the area after the war against Lebanon.

The Bnei Menashe are a Tibeto-Burman linguistic group who claim to be descendants of one of the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel (hence the name, “Sons of Manasseh”), but their link with Judaism is in fact of recent origin. Like other tribal peoples in north-eastern India, they had been converted from indigenous religious practises to protestant Christianity in the late 19th century. In 1951, a local Pentacostalist leader named Challianthanga announced that God had ordered his people to return to their pre-Christian religion, which he claimed was Judaism, and to their original homeland, which he claimed was Israel. He attracted a band of followers who adopted some Jewish customs while retaining faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

In 1979, an Israeli organisation dedicated to locating the lost tribes learned about the group and made contact with them. Over the following decades many were converted to Orthodox Judaism and some began settling in Israel and the Occupied Territories, principally Gaza. Significantly, much of the funding for this operation came from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a body that solicits Christian support for Israel and is effectively an arm of the powerful right wing Christian evangelical lobby in the USA.

The search for the lost tribes has been a theme of Christian messianism for at least three hundred years. At various times claims have been made that Native Americans, groups in China and sub-saharan Africa are descendants of the tribes – who perished in the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel (one of the two Hebrew states in ancient Palestine) in 722 BC.

But with the emergence of the Zionist state, these claims have taken on a new import. In Israel, champions of the Bnei Menashe openly describe their immigration as part of the solution to “the demographic problem”, i.e. the numerical preponderance of non-Jews in Palestine. Of course, for the Bnei Menashe to be eligible to immigrate under Israel’s Law of Return, they must be accepted by the Rabbinate as Jewish, which means they must undergo formal conversion. This has caused controversy in India, where the issue of mass conversions is extremely sensitive.

In November 2005, the Israeli government halted conversions of the Bnei Menashe in Mizoram, noting that it was straining the vital relationship with India. However, in July 2006, it ruled that those Bnei Menashe who had already undergone conversion could settle in Israel, hence the arrival of the 218 immigrants late last year.

It’s likely that Rabbi Metzger discussed the conversion issue with his right-wing Hindu hosts, who while stridently opposed to Christian and Muslim proselytising in what they regard as “Hindu India”, welcome the Jewish variety, even though it automatically transforms Indian citizens into potential citizens of a foreign state. All of which shows not merely the inconsistency of the parties involved, but more significantly that in the pursuit of the common strategic hostility to Islam and support for the US “war on terror”, religion is a mere plaything for those who most loudly profess its social centrality, in both India and Israel.

April 17, 2007

Israel's Lebanon handiwork in pictures

The Guardian Unlimited online has a series of photos from Lebanon by a chap called Sean Smith. They've been up since 11 April 2007 but I've only just seen them:

July 23 2006: Ali Sha'ita, 12, (l) tries to comfort his mother. The extended family were wounded when the three vans in which they were travelling were hit by an Israeli missile

There are 14 pictures in all.

April 15, 2007

Israel's discourse of avoidance?

I've never seen this mlive.com/newsflash site before. They're carrying a headline that, at the time of writing, heads the google news, thus Israel talks to avoid key issues. Now this is what I have been saying about some of the ridiculous and willfully contrary comments made by zionists on various discussion boards and blogs. They talk to avoid key issues. Here's what I actually said in a recent comment discussion here about the Guardian's comment is free:
the zionists are allowed to run amok with their usual tactics of ad hominem attacks, smears, changes of subject and downright lies. The problem then becomes one of the credibility of not simply one side of the debate but the debate itself.
See? So when I saw the headline "Israel talks to avoid key issues" I thought it meant that the State of Israel does what the rest of the zionist movement does when it talks. I mistook a noun for a verb.

Now here's what the newsflash article actually said:
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday said the regular meetings he plans to hold with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not include any discussion of the "core issues of the conflict," rejecting Palestinian calls to restart talks on a final peace settlement.

Speaking ahead of the first of the meetings, Olmert said the two leaders will discuss "moving ahead with the solution to our conflict with the Palestinians in the framework of establishing a Palestinian state," but added that they would not touch on the substantive issues that divide the sides.

Those include the question of the borders of the Palestinian state, the fate of disputed Jerusalem and a solution for Palestinian refugees who left what is now Israel during the 1948 Middle East War.
It all amounts to the same thing really. Israel's talks lead nowhere on the ground or zionists talk to lead nowhere in debtate.

Who ever heard of an Irish Republican Jew contd.

A recent comment to an old post has prompted this post. A participant in the IRA's "border campaign," Gery Lawless, went on to become a councillor in Hackney. Well Mr Lawless made the claim that he was a "one-eyed Irish Jew" but apparently he was (is, since he's still alive) rather fond of making himself a legend in his own life time and either spread rumours about himself or allowed rumours to be spread about himself without rebuttal.

It's possible that he made the claim of being Jewish on his mother's side as part of a "how can I be antisemitic, I'm Jewish" sort of "debate."

So, if anyone has any info on Gery Lawless please email me or leave a comment. I should point out that google searching for the man is a tad hindered by the fact that some people spell "gery" "gerry" and whilst there appears to be only one Gery Lawless, there appear to be a few Gerry Lawlesses.


April 14, 2007

Dershowitz irritates DePaul over Finkelstein

You will have already read about Alan Dershowitz's campaign to prevent Professor Norman Finkelstein acquiring tenure at DePaul University. Well in a further sign that the Israel lobby is losing its clout in America, the campaign of Alan Dershowitz against Norman Finkelstein has made it to the New York Times, with the NYT reporting the irritation of the Chairman DePaul University's Political Science Department overe Dershowitz's "political" interference.
Regardless of the outcome Mr. Dershowitz has managed to irritate many people besides Mr. Finkelstein. “Everyone has been offended by the degree of outside pressure,” said Michael Budde, the chairman of DePaul’s political science department, “which shows no respect for the integrity of our process and institution.” On Tuesday the Middle East Studies Association, which represents scholars, sent a letter to DePaul’s president expressing concern that this tenure decision had been “unduly politicized.”
Finkelstein is understandably disgruntled by this outside interference. Now cop Dershowitz's reasoning here:
Mr. Dershowitz said he found it paradoxical that Mr. Finkelstein was complaining about outside interference when Mr. Finkelstein tried to discredit the historian Daniel Goldhagen by publishing a book that excoriated his scholarship on Germany and the Holocaust, and tried to disbar Burt Neuborne, a law professor at New York University, saying he lied and blackmailed Swiss banks when he was representing Holocaust survivors.
Now, I could be wrong but I thought that Finkelstein merely commented on, you could say, exposed, Goldhagen and Neuborne's work. That's not quite the same as hindering their job prospects.

SPSC: Overcoming zionism?

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has an event on Monday 16 April 2007. Here's the notice lifted from their site:
SPSC Events

Problem: Israeli Apartheid
Solution: Boycott

Public meeting with JOEL KOVEL

Monday 16 April - Stirling @ 7.30pm, venue TBC

Tuesday 17 April – Glasgow @ 7.30pm, Buchanan Hotel, 185 Buchanan Street

Wednesday 18 April – Edinburgh @ 7.30pm, Word Power meeting room, 43-45 West Nicolson Street

Thursday 19 April – Dundee @ 7.30pm, venue TBC

Kovel joined the Green Party since 1990. In 1998, he was the Green Party candidate for US Senator from New York, and in 2000 sought their Presidential nomination.

Greens, Calling for Palestinian Rights, Urge Divestment from Israel
The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) publicly calls for divestment from and boycott of the State of Israel until such time as the full individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people are realized.” www.gp.org

Born in Brooklyn, NY and studied psychiatry and medicine. Kovel is currently Professor of Social Studies at Bard College, NY.

As an activist, Joel Kovel has been engaged in struggles for peace and justice since the Vietnam War era. He has worked within the antiwar and anti-nuclear movements, the solidarity movements in Central America and the Caribbean, the movements for democratic media, and, increasingly, for ecological transformation.

author of 'Overcoming Zionism '
'This book is absolutely fundamental for those who reject the unfortunate confusion between Jews, Judaism, Zionism and the State of Israel --'
Samir Amin, director of the Third World Forum

Event organised by Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign & sponsored by Scotland Against Criminalising Communities, Muslim Association of Britain.
secretary@scottishpsc.org.ukThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it – 0131 620 0052

Journalists deliver good news on Israel boycott

Late news on the Guardian website yesterday. The UK's National Union of Journalists voted for a boycott of Israeli goods. See this opening paragraph:
The National Union of Journalists has voted at its annual meeting for a boycott of Israeli goods as part of a protest against last year's war in Lebanon.
This is very strange. Israel's existence isn't predicated on "last year's war in Lebanon." Has the Guardian got it wrong here? There are two reasons for boycotting Israel. One is a protest against something specific that Israel is doing, eg, the occupation, the wall, etc. The other is a campaign against the zionist structure of the State. What's the point of a boycott for something a state did unless it's aimed at war reparations which it doesn't seem to be. I'm not simply nitpicking here. Activists should be explaining zionism to people. We can't simply say that Israel is a state that does bad things. All states do that bad things though perhaps we could contrast Israel's response to the capture of its soldiers with the UK's response to the capture of its sailors. We have to say that Israel is a bad state. We have to describe its structure, its origins and how it maintains itself with a certain "demographic balance" and on territory of a certain (or uncertain) size.

Anyway, that's the bad news bit out of the way. The good news is that Israel has been condemned by a major influential union in the UK.
The vote came during a series of motions on international affairs and reads: "This ADM [annual delegate meeting] calls for a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions and the TUC [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government and the United Nations.".....

The vote on the motion was taken after it was split from a larger motion that condemned the "savage, pre-planned attack on Lebanon by Israel" last year.

This motion, known as Composite B in Order Paper 4, was carried by a large majority and also condemned the "slaughter of civilians by Israeli troops in Gaza and the IDF's [Israeli Defense Forces] continued attacks inside Lebanon following the defeat of its army by Hezbollah".

The motion called for the end of Israeli aggression in Gaza and other occupied territories.
Hmm, well it seems to be getting clearer now. It looks to me that Lebanon may have been the catalyst that got some condemnation of Israel going. The splitting away of the Lebanon/Israeli aggression stuff from the boycott stuff ensured that Lebanon would not be used as a pretext to slip through a boycott resolution based on anger rather than reason. Having split the condemnatory resolution from the boycott resolution delegates could express their anger at Israel even if they didn't want a boycott. Had the resolutions remained as one, those wishing to condemn Israel may not have been able to do so. Also, having the boycott resolution stand alone, delegates could make it clear that they are boycotting Israeli goods because of an on-going situation involving Israel. They may not be condemning the zionist ideology and project itself but they are not simply looking back in anger on something Israel did. They could condemn what Israel does which may well be a short step from condemning what Israel is: a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing, racist laws and relentless aggression towards the natives and neighbours of Palestine.

In the end delegates did vote to boycott Israeli goods on account of what Israel does by a margin of 66 to 54. Too close, it's true, so this will be revisited as is the case in other unions. But as long as the debates are had the true nature of the zionist project will become clearer to more and more people. And that is also good news.

Oxfam: Palestinians are suffering!

Maybe Oxfam's on a dial up connection. I'd say they were a tad slow with this bit of news reported in the Guardian:
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are suffering "devastating" humanitarian consequences as incomes plummet, debts mount and essential services face meltdown, Oxfam says in a report that calls for an immediate end to the international financial blockade of the Hamas-led government.
This is a move in the right direction for Oxfam. I wrote to them (as did many others) to protest their rejection of a donation from a chap (I think it was Honderich) for expressing sympathy with suicide bombers. I wrote again (as did many others) to protest their partnership arrangement with Starbucks when the CEO is a prominent supporter of the racist war criminals of Israel who has blamed the Palestinians themselves for the plight detailed above. The reply I got to the latter protest was simply to say something like, Oxfam supports a two state solution. Doesn't everybody?* What made me laugh at the time (I'm not sure if I posted it here) was that the email to me replying to my protest about their hyprocrisy on suicide bombing and Israel's war crimes was sent by a woman called "Kamikazi." That was the name she used anyway. When I'm on a broadband connection I'll see if I can find it. Like I said, I'm not sure if I did a post on it but I think I did. I don't think I would have made anything of the name at the time because I was worried about political correctness and all. You shouldn't make fun of a foreign name. I've let my pc standards slip over the years. Plus when your surname's Elf you earn the right to comment on other people's names.

*For those who don't get irony, I don't actually support a two state solution. I noticed from my tracker this morning that most of my hits today have come from the country where they don't get irony. I won't say which country that is because I'll be accused of anti-Americanism.

Britain the abuser

I mentioned using a dial connection before. Maybe it was in the comments. That's not a good excuse for catching up with yesterday's letters in the Guardian today but it's the only one I've got. Here's a chap called Mark Curtis (Author of Web of Deceit and Unpeople) berating Oxfam's Barbara Stocking for her claim that Britain's foreign policy was mostly benign until the "misadventure [woops!] in Iraq."
I was interested to see Oxfam director Barbara Stocking (The world before Iraq, April 11) claiming that the UK "arguably pursued a relatively successful foreign policy until the misadventure in Iraq". Britain illegally bombed Iraq in 1998, was the chief apologist for Russia's bloody onslaught against Chechnya in 1999, increased the export of military equipment to Israel as it reinvaded the West Bank in 2001, armed Indonesia as it attacked Aceh province in 2003, took legal action to prevent the Chagossians returning to their homeland on Diego Garcia and continued to support some of the world's most brutal governments in Colombia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere - to name some of Labour's shocking policies that could fill this page.

It is therefore intriguing to suggest that the government has "championed" the responsibility to protect civilians from war crimes. It wasn't so much that the UK "failed to press Israel" to halt its attack on Lebanon but that it in effect supported the invasion. The notion that Britain should hold others to account for human rights abuses is surely right, but the fact is that Britain is all too often the abuser.
Well put that man! If you hadn't read it already I hope it was worth the wait.

More on Oxfam coming up!

April 13, 2007

Boycott then and now

Here's an interesting article in Ha'aretz. It compares the treatment of the poor Irish farmers in famine stricken Ireland in the mid-19th century to the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel now. It also covers the origin of the word "boycott" and rise of the Land League, led by Charles Stewart Parnell.
Speaking on September 19, 1880, Parnell outlined the strategy of the league:

"When a man takes a farm from which another has been evicted, you must shun him on the roadside when you meet him, you must shun him in the streets of the town, you must shun him at the shop-counter, you must shun him at the fair and at the market-place and even in the house of worship, by leaving him severely alone, by putting him into a sort of moral Coventry, by isolating him from the rest of his kind, as if he were a leper of old, you must show him your detestation."

Three days later, court officials attempted to serve Boycott's eviction notices on the tenants, and the Land League policy went into effect. Within two months, Boycott's name had become a synonym for ostracism, he had left the estate, and both landlords and government had discovered the power of ordinary people. Within a year, legislation at Westminster provided government finance for tenants wishing to purchase their farms.

For too long, Israel has been taking land from which Palestinians have been evicted, and detestation is spreading around the world. In Ireland, photos of Israeli bulldozers are placed beside those of landlords' battering rams. Even a former U.S. president has recognized hafrada ("separation" in Hebrew) as apartheid. Disgust has reached such a level that even highly conservative institutions that normally try to avoid politics are driven to express concern.

One such body is Aosdana, the Irish state-sponsored academy of artists. Its annual general assembly on March 28 passed a resolution whose full text is: "Mindful of the August 4, 2006 call from Palestinian filmmakers, artists and cultural workers to end all cooperation with state-sponsored Israeli cultural events and institutions, Aosdana wishes to encourage Irish artists and cultural institutions to reflect deeply before engaging in any such cooperation, always bearing in mind the undeniable courage of those Israeli artists, writers and intellectuals who oppose their own government's illegal policies towards the Palestinians."

Although on the surface, this is a mild resolution, it is a boycott call in all but name. Its significance was not lost on Dr. Zion Evrony, the Israeli ambassador in Dublin. The very same day, he issued a press release that was replete with cliches that might have worked several decades ago, when Irish people were still unaware of the horrors that Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians.

Possibly, the alacrity of Dr. Evrony's response was due to the fact that the strength of feeling among Irish artists had been rehearsed in the Irish press. Indeed, the proposer of the motion, playwright Margaretta D'Arcy, who is Jewish, had written in The Irish Times on February 16 that, "I was reluctant to advocate a cultural boycott of Israel until I visited the country for the first time last November ... I became convinced that a cultural boycott was necessary, if only as an act of solidarity with those in Israel who seek to remove the inequality, discrimination and segregation of their society."

Continuing, she quoted from "Land Grab," by Yehezkel Lein, published by B'Tselem - the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories: "The settlement enterprise in the occupied territories has created a system of legally sanctioned separation based on discrimination that has, perhaps, no parallel anywhere in the world since the apartheid regime in South Africa."

Ms. D'arcy finished by saying: "My uncle went to live in the Holy Land in the 1920s to help set up the utopian dream of peace, justice and equality between Jew and Arab. It was only when I arrived there that I realized how mistaken he was. He would have done better to have stayed in the East End of London to struggle for peace, justice and equality in England."

Parnell finished his call to action by saying that "there will be no man so full of avarice, so lost to shame, as to dare the public opinion of all right-thinking men."

They were both right.
The writer is Professor James Bowen who is the national chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Tony Greenstein is anti-semantic

Go on Comment is free, make an ass of me. I say its free for zionists and Tony Greenstein rears his head arguing that "our politicians are using semantics to outlaw criticism of US and British foreign policy.
"the report on anti-semitism, which the government has accepted by upgrading the committee's status to that of a select committee (Jewish Chronicle, March 30 2007: "Police told to focus on hate crime"), is deeply disturbing in its cavalier approach to the definition of anti-semitism, which it conflates throughout with anti-Zionism.

Even the basis for the report itself is hyped and unconvincing. By the reports own' admission (paragraph 29), the year 2005 saw a fall of 14% in recorded anti-semitic incidents compared with the previous year. Of course each and every incident is to be condemned, but where, one might ask, is the all-parliamentary committee on incidents of anti-Muslim abuse; and what, one wonders, would be the level of recorded incidents?

What is more worrying is how anti-semitic incidents are defined. In Brighton and Hove there were two demonstrations against the Lebanon war last summer. Police from Sussex and Surrey swamped the second demonstration, alleging a "serious racial incident" had occurred.

The incident concerned a motorist who had yelled "terrorist" at an Arab demonstrator on the previous march and got into a verbal altercation as a result. Despite a number of eyewitnesses, the police made no attempt to investigate the alleged crime. Instead, it was used as a pretext for some of the heaviest policing of a demonstration, including the use of racial profiling against Arabs, that I have ever seen. It has taken a six-month campaign for Brighton police to accept that the right to demonstrate is not a privilege handed down from on high.

In the course of a conversation I secretly recorded, Brighton's chief of police, Kevin Moore, admitted that before the demonstration, "We made contact with the local Jewish community leaders within the synagogues." In other words, it was the police who made the association between the bombing of Lebanon and the local Jewish community. And in an equally revealing remark, Moore let slip that the police had received a single complaint about the march and, because a "racially motivated incident is one which is declared by any person to be racially motivated", had therefore classified the march as anti-semitic!
There's more to this but I'm in a rush. Check out the whole thing and maybe leave a comment. I was exaggerating for effect when I said that Comment is free for zionists but they are very well organised and can swamp comments sections with complete dross if they're allowed to. So leave a coherent comment and if you notice zionists breaking the "talk policy" then click on "report" and see how you get on. Tell Georgina Henry I sent you.

April 12, 2007

The real terrorists in the Middle East

Predicable who I'm referring to here. The agents, soldiers, settlers etc of the State of Israel. But you wouldn't, well I wouldn't, have predicted that the term "terrorists," has been applied to Israelis by an American journo in an American paper, The San Diego Union-Tribune. Here's the whole thing by Gary Fields:
The art of political language, as George Orwell observed, is to make falsehoods sound truthful and to deny voice to those without power. There are few practitioners of this art more highly skilled than the government of Israel.

As the military occupier of the Palestinian territories for the past 40 years, Israel has managed to represent itself as the beleaguered victim of terrorism in its conflict with the Palestinian people. At the same time, the Israeli government, through its influence in America, has discredited and even silenced those voices inside the Palestinian territories with a far different story about terrorism and its victims. Truth, however, is sometimes able to prevail despite the efforts of those with power to prevent truth from gaining voice.

Last August on these pages, I was able to tell such a story about a Palestinian farmer, Mohammed Abdel Aziz Sabatin. What had been happening to Sabatin, in facing daily harassment from Israeli settlers from Bettar Illit, I insisted, went to the essence of the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Contrary to popular mythology, this conflict is not a clash of civilizations. It is a conflict about land – and the power of one group of people to seize and control the land of another. Sabatin personifies this conflict, while at the same time his situation gives a very different set of meanings to the idea of terrorism and its purveyors.

Sabatin owns land directly next to the Jewish settlement of Bettar Illit, a town built on land confiscated in 1989 from the Sabatin family and from numerous other Palestinian families from the town of Husan. All told, about 5,000 dunums (1,250 acres) was forcibly taken from farmers in Husan to build the settlement.

After construction, Sabatin was left with a small portion of his former property and has since tried to cultivate olives, figs and almonds on this land. In order to access his farmland, however, Sabatin now has to get a permit from the Israeli military authorities who administer the Occupied Territory of Palestine, and he must pass though the security gate of Betar Illit even though his family has owned this land for 200 years. In owning land in the shadow of the settlement, Sabatin is in a precarious predicament.

Last year, Sabatin took me on a tour of his land and told me how settlers from Bettar Illit burn and vandalize his remaining olive and fruit trees on a daily basis. As we walked through his fields, I was able to see olive and fig tree branches shorn from their trunks and scattered on the ground. I also saw several still-smoldering piles of ash, olive trees burned just that morning. “What can I do” Sabatin asked me repeatedly. I never knew what to say.

These settlers from Bettar Illit actually want Sabatin to take flight from his land. They are trying to force him to make a “choice” about whether it is worth it to remain. With enough pressure, perhaps he will finally relent and give it up.

Now, it appears that the settlement has handed Sabatin an ultimatum. Two weeks ago settlers again set fire to some of his olive trees, but this time the fire burned out of control. The firefighting unit from the settlement had to extinguish the blaze. What they did next, however, is befitting of the term Orwellian.

The governing council of Bettar Illit informed Sabatin that it would charge him 7,000 Israeli shekels ($1,600) for the cost of extinguishing the fires since they occurred on his land. This is an amount of money well beyond his means. They gave him until today to remit the money and informed him that failure to pay would result in the settlement confiscating the rest of his land. Sabatin was frantically and desperately trying to find a way to keep his land as the deadline given to him by the settlement approached. Even if he pays the amount, however, what is to prevent extortion such as this from occurring again?

This time, however, after years of abuse at the hands of these settlers, Sabatin has vowed to resist. With help from numerous individuals in the San Diego area and beyond, Sabatin has obtained the services of a well-known Israeli human rights lawyer and is preparing to contest the confiscation order. Today's date may very well mark a turning point in his own personal saga.

In truth, Sabatin is the personification of a much bigger campaign that has been going on since 1947-48 when Palestinians owned about 90 percent of the land in historic Palestine. Now Palestinians own about 12 percent of the land in their historic homeland and this amount continues to decrease as land policies, including the activities of settlements, continue to encroach on, and confiscate, Palestinian land and property while transferring Palestinians into ever-smaller territorial spaces. Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister of Israel and the architect of the settlement policy, described this campaign as a policy of taking Palestinian land “dunum by dunum.”

These policies raise questions about the real purveyors of terror and its victims. The occupation of Palestine by Israel has removed all rights of Palestinians to land and has undermined their capacity to make a living where they have existed for centuries. Palestinians have no security when their land and livelihood can be taken at any time. Until the occupier recognizes these rights, the tragedy of Mohammed Sabatin will continue – and the conflict will not rest.
I hope Gary Fields isn't ambitious.

Stocking up for Israel...even inadvertently

Yesterday, Barbara Stocking had an article in the Guardian in which carried the following passage:
Thousands of Lebanese people blamed the British government, not just Israel, for the bombs that had fallen on their homes, because the UK had failed to press Israel to stop its disproportionate response to Hizbullah's attacks on civilians.
Well, just in from Just Peace, Moshe Machover has responded thus:
Dear Barbara Stocking,

In your article in today's Guardian ("The world before Iraq") you say, referring to last summer's war in Lebanon:
Thousands of Lebanese people blamed the British government, not just Israel, for the bombs that had fallen on their homes, because the UK had failed to press Israel to stop its disproportionate response to Hizbullah's attacks on civilians.

As you can easily check from press reports of the time, Israel was the first to attack civilians, as an alleged "response" to Hizbullah's capturing and killing Israeli soldiers. Only then did Hizbullah retaliate by attacking Israeli civilian targets. This does not justify Hizbullah's retaliation. But the point is that soon after those events history was rapidly rewritten and you were somehow left with the false impression -- which your article further spreads among your readers -- that Hizbullah was the first to attack civilian targets, and Israel merely "responded" to this, albeit "disproportionately ". This is a small but significant illustration of the powerful pro-Israel brainwashing in the media. It even works on you -- who are clearly critical of UK and Israeli policy.

As an Israeli dissident, I urge you to get the Guardian to publish a correction to the factual error you made in your article. I wonder if they will.

Best wishes, Moshe Machover

I'm guessing they won't correct but who knows? Even Robert Fisk plays the hasbara parrot sometimes. I'll have to dig up some evidence of that last point but right now, work work work.

April 11, 2007

Libelled again on Comment is free for zionists

I just checked my tracker and I'd got four hits in a row from the Guardian's Comment is free. Someone called "Quillam" did a comment on a Linda Grant article, linking back to me and suggesting that Linda Grant will get the comment banned. There's the comment (before it disappears):

Comment No. 523149
April 11 12:56GBR
Linda Grant is a zionist extremist - she has been criticised by Rabbi David Goldberg for exaggerating anti-semitism in the UK today http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,639692,00.html

To be fair she is occasionally spot on

Linda Grant in this week's JC:

"There is no question that the Zionist insistence on a Jewish stateputs the Arab minority in a position of second class citizens,underscored by the inferior school system, roads and town planning. NoIsraeli government has ever invited an Arab party to join itscoalition. And this week, in an ominous signal of what might be tocome, rabbinical leaders in Bnei Brak issued a statement saying that itwas forbidden to rent apartments to Arabs.

This is naked racism."Jewish Chronicle19/01/2007

Id strongly recommend going to http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/ and doing a search for Linda Grant - very revealing

How long before free speech Linda gets this post banned ?

[Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]

I haven't read the article so I don't know if the comment is on or off topic but the response of another Cif (and presumably Engage) contributor is quite informative here:


Comment No. 523235
April 11 13:22ISR
quillam - "How long before free speech Linda gets this post banned?"

whether linda herself gets it banned or not, i'd say you've got about as long as it takes for someone to clock that the post breaks both of these rules:

"1. Personal attacks on other users have no place in an intelligent discussion.

3. We will remove any content that may put us in legal jeopardy, such as potentially libellous or defamatory postings."

[Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]

As with Linda Grant when I had my run in with Georgina Henry, Seth Freedman feels free to call the shots as to what is postable. He also feels free to libel me by suggesting that linking to my site is "potentially libellous." Unless he's saying it's potentially libellous to quote Linda Grant from the Jewish Chronicle.

April 10, 2007

Arabs bad for the "only democracy in the Middle East"

These anti-Arab outbursts by members of Israel's Knesset (parliament) are frequent in Israel but every now and then one hits the news. Here's National Union-NRP MK Zevulun Orlev reported in Ynet (Yediot Ahranot online):
“The Azmi Bishara affair has once again raised the question of Arab public officials’ loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state,” National Union-NRP MK Zevulun Orlev said Tuesday in reference to recent rumors of the Arab MK’s intention to resign from Knesset.

“Those who hesitate amid this growing phenomenon will soon find themselves facing a violent Arab insurgence that will sweep the entire Arab-Israeli public,” he said, adding that “this is not an academic or theoretical question, but one that is directly related to Israel’s ability to exist as a Jewish state.”

A few days ago Bishara left Israel for Jordan and has yet to make a public statement on the matter, although his faction – the National Democratic Assembly - formally denied rumors of his resignation.

Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Bishara “undermined the gentle fabric between Arabs and Jews in Israel.

“Everyone is to gain if he indeed disappears from the political arena,” he said.

Orlev continued to say that Bishara’s visit to Lebanon and his meeting with President Bashar Assad in Damascus, as well as the meeting between Arab MKs and Hamas leaders, are examples of “obvious encouragement to launch an armed struggle in Israel and carry out acts of terrorism against its citizens.”
That's funny I thought it was zionist oppression that gave "obvious encouragement to launch an armed struggle in Israel." But that's just me being old fashioned.

Posting gets the hits up but why?

Well I've been back into blogging for a few days now and my hits seem to have more than doubled yesterday against the average for the previous week. The average for the past week up to yesterday was 207. Yesterday the seven day average was showing 174. At least I think it was. This means that I got 405 hits yesterday. Yes I'm sad enough to have sat and worked it out, assuming my calculations are correct that is. I must say that's gratifying but I'm still not sure what causes it to happen. I've checked the referrers and a lot simply say "unknown" but there are few from google or other search engines and a few from long-standing links. I did tell the Just Peace list about the Georgina Henry (Comment is free) correspondence but that only accounts for two out of the last hundred hits. So what's going on? Why would an increase in posts by me lead to an increase in what seem to be random hits?

Oh, just to get a bit of perspective here, I don't see many trackers open to public view but Lenin's Tomb is averaging 1,736 hits a day up to the close of play yesterday and a Wikipedia official editor, when someone proposed Jews sans frontieres for inclusion said, among other things, that my number of hits didn't warrant it. But I still want to know how mere activity on a blog would result in more hits without going out and deliberately generating more traffic.

So, any answers please?

April 09, 2007

Welcome back to free Gaza

I remember how the Gaza "withdrawal" had various zionist "lefts" welcoming Ariel Sharon into their ranks - without acknowledging that he's been one of theirs all along. Here's an article on Canada.com detailing just one of the realities of how unfree Gaza remains:
Raouf Ziara's love life is in Israel's hands.

When Ziara, a 36-year-old officer in the Palestinian security forces, crossed from Gaza to Egypt in late March to visit his Egyptian wife, he had spent more than a month repeatedly trying to get through a border station that Israel only rarely allows to open.

Now in Cairo, Ziara doesn't know when he'll be able to return. But he knows he'll be doing it alone since Israel has frozen immigration to Gaza, which is why his wife is stuck in Egypt and can't join him.

Despite its withdrawal from Gaza in September 2005, Israel still exerts considerable control over the lives of the 1.4 million Palestinians there by controlling access.

The movement of crops crucial to farmers' livelihoods, the decision on when residents of the coastal strip can leave and when they can come back, permission for a foreign-born spouse to move to Gaza - it's all still up to Israel.

Yet Israel says it no longer occupies Gaza because it pulled out its soldiers and settlers. Under international law, Israel argues, it has no obligations to Gaza's residents but on its own initiative will try to keep supplies flowing to the crowded, poverty-stricken territory to avert a humanitarian crisis.
The article goes on to claim that it was the resistance that caused Israel to tighten the knot on Gaza but this overlooks Sharon's claim that the then proposed withdrawal was a "punishment and not a reward for the Palestinians." Only Yediot Aharanot reported it at the time and unfortunately they didn't have a website then. Even more unfortunate, we are left with the increasingly degenerate Counterpunch to carry an interview with Afif Safieh making the claim of Sharon's promise. On the upside, Afif Safieh is more trusted than many a Counterpuncher these days.

Solidarity campaign for Norman Finkelstein

You will probably have heard about Norman Finkelstein's tenure problems with De Paul Uni and Professor Alan Dershowitz.

There's a campaign site here.

April 08, 2007

Correspondence with Georgina Henry, site editor of the Guardian's Comment is "free"

I am posting some correspondence between myself and the site editor of the Guardian's Comment is free space, Georgina Henry. I believe it sheds some light on the pro-zionist tilt of that particular chunk of the internet and it exposes something very illiberal at the supposedly liberal offices of the Guardian newspaper. Ok, it doesn't explain why it's happening but it does, I believe, show that there is a pronounced pro-zionist bias in Comment is free and the site editor seems to be in a state of denial about it.

Regular readers will recall that I had a ruckus with the Guardian comment is free site a couple of months ago. I did a post on it here.

What actually happened will transpire in the correspondence I had with the site editor, Georgina Henry. A couple of things I will say up front are that I first smelled a rat in this saga when I tracked a hit from the Guardian's internal email, actually Georgina Henry's email at the Guardian. Here's the url:
or, since that's too long, in tinyURL:

The other thing is that I let my Jews against zionism chums know what was going on because I thought among the various journos and lawyers, I could get some advice. Unfortunately, Tony Greenstein appeared to think that it was a call to the barracades. You'll see what I mean when you see the correspondence. It is a minor complication but I thought I'd explain in advance. Oh yes, another thing. The fonts are all over the place, presumably because of different email systems and what have you, together with my inability to master html.

Now read on:

Dear Ms Henry

I have tried writing to you, effectively, care of Comment is free and I have reported a comment by Linda Grant via your "report" facility.

The following is what I had originally written to you.

I was going to respond to some ad hominem attacks on me after Linda Grant's article "Other voices, other lives," and I found that whilst the attacks on me using my name, Mark Elf, and my screen name, Levi9909, are still there, my comments on Linda Grant's article and comments on other comments in the same thread have been removed.

The article and comments are here: http://tinyurl.com/ysf2ga

I checked to make sure that my comments were compliant with the terms and conditions and they were. They did not consist of anything libellous or racist. I see that Linda Grant has now said that "the site's editor has removed links to libellous material about this newspaper and will continue to do so whenever they are posted."

I believe that my comments have been removed because Linda Grant cannot sustain her own arguments, even with help from others. It seems clear to me that if you are allowing libellous comments about me or anyone else, my comments were not removed on a point of principle.
Taking the comments that name me personally together with Linda Grant's comment (No. 419475) a reasonable person might take the view that I am either racist or dishonest. I should be grateful if you would remove these potentially libellous references to me or restore my comments to where they were.

Since writing the above I have now found that I have been banned altogether from commenting to the Comment.is.free site on the grounds that there has been "a breach of our talk policy, or because you picked an unsuitable username. I have written to the registration address about this but since I have posted comments before without any problems (except the usual ad hominem attacks from zionists) I am guessing that there is no problem with my user name.
I have now done a post on this to my blog here:

I should point out that I linked back to my blog and I noticed that I had got a hit, not from the site, but from the Guardian's internal email. This, together with the banning, suggests to me that the deletions were not part of the Guardian's normal moderation procedure.

I should be grateful if you would investigate what has happened here and reply to me with an explanation.

Many thanks

Yours sincerely

Mark Elf

Dear Mr Elf

Thanks for your email.

The reasons your comments were taken down is because Comment is free should not become a site where earlier feuds/disputes between bloggers/posters are played out. You've had a running dispute with Linda Grant who you have accused of lying in a previous article. The rights and wrongs of that dispute are not my concern, but it is my concern when you raise the same issues on a blog about IJV just because the writer is the same person that you're feuding with elsewhere.

I have asked the moderater to look at the comments about you that you are complaining of.

Yours sincerely

Georgina Henry

Dear Ms Henry

Thank you for your reply to my email but I am disappointed that your explanation of why my posts were deleted does not tally with either the Comment is free "talk policy" or what actually happened in the case of the deletion of my posts to Linda Grant's article. It also doesn't mention my banning from making comments at all. Furthermore, I don't think it is fair of you to assume that I have made a comment "just because the writer is the same person that you're feuding with elsewhere." I have had disagreements with Linda Grant in the past but my first post was nothing to do with that and I certainly wouldn't say that any dispute I have had with her amounts to a feud.

I read Linda Grant's article and I left a comment criticising the article itself and drawing attention to a previous occasion when she sided with the establishment.

Someone calling themselves Oliver10 (comment no.417795) wrote this:

"Oh dear the indomitable Mark Elf is back...
Maybe he should also have mentioned how he was nearly subject to a libel charge by Linda Grant?"

This was the first mention of anything to do with a dispute between myself and Linda Grant. My next comment was a response to this. If the post by Oliver10 was in line with your policy then my response was. If it was not then it should have been removed when my response was.
Further, Oliver10 then finished his post no. 417906 with the words, "BTW Mark Elf, what is a 'legitimate state' in your eyes? What makes Israel, which was born out of a UN resolution in a post-colonial era any less legitimate than Pakistan?

Don't the other posters have a right to know that your attack on Linda Grant's article is motivated by the major axe you have to grind?"

Again that post is still there and should be removed or mine should be allowed to remain.
Finally, here's Linda Grant, in comment no. 419475, "The topic of my post is the IJV manifesto and my contention that the signatories should take the debate into the Jewish community itself. The topic is not wartime Nazi collaboration which can and has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere. Additionally, the site's editor has removed links to libellous material about this newspaper and will continue to do so whenever they are posted."
The reference to "the site's editor" removing links etc, seems to be a reference to my posts and since it falsely accuses me of libel it is itself libellous. Again, my comments should remain or Linda Grant's libellous comment should be removed.

I reported the comments that offended me on the day I realised that mine had been removed which was the same day that I had posted them. My comments were removed on the day that they were left in spite of them being politically and legally inoccuous and in line with the Cif policy. Comments which, taken together, are clearly libellous, have remained in place for nearly five days now.

I should be grateful if you would treat my well-founded complaint with the same urgency with which you have treated Linda Grant's unfounded complaint. I want you to look at the comments which I have specifically complained of and either reinstate mine to ensure balance or remove the libellous comments.

I also want to be able to post comments to articles using my existing log-in so I would like to be unbanned.

Many thanks

Yours sincerely

Mark Elf

[This next is from Georgina Henry to Tony Greenstein and cc'd to me. If you get confused at this point, don't worry, so do I]



I'm simply not prepared to debate this with all the people Mark Elf is getting to write to me. My job is to run an interesting site, not get bogged down in petty disputes between writers. As I've told him, the site is not here to host a dispute between him and Linda Grant. He's doing it quite successfully on his own site.

Regarding the other comments you refer to, as you will have seen they were deleted in accordance with our talk policy.



Georgina Henry

[My response to the email to Tony Greenstein]

Ms Henry

I have only just seen this email which is clearly libellous.

Regardless of how Tony Greenstein got into the loop, you have no right to repeat your false charge that I was pursuing any kind of personal dispute with Linda Grant. You know that my first comment dealt with points raised in her article and that my subsequent comments dealt with other people's comments that named me. This was all compounded by Linda Grant's assertion that someone (I) had posted comments containing "libellous material about this newspaper."

You have now checked all of the relevant comments (which you should have done in the first place) and so you have no excuse at all to pretend to believe that I have acted improperly.

I think an apology is in order here.

Regarding my blog, obviously it reflects my personal opinion but I don't use it to harrass people. I describe it as "an anti-zionist blog - browsing the media." I try to expose undue zionist influence, lies and hypocrisy in the supposedly liberal media. In this case all three came together at once and rained on my parade.

Yours sincerely

Mark Elf

Dear Mr Elf

We have removed all comments that refer to your dispute with Linda Grant.

What Linda Grant said in her comment about libellous material about this newspaper did not come from me, was not discussed with me, and has been deleted.

Nevertheless my view remains the same: I do not have the time or the inclination to mediate between long-running disputes between bloggers and posters on the site, and if bloggers/posters use the site for their private business - ie, off-topic of the blog in question - then they will be removed. I also do not appreciate being emailed by others about our correspondence, which I had wrongly assumed was private. I should have known better, given that all these emails will no doubt appear on your website.

Yours sincerely

Georgina Henry

Dear Ms Henry

Not having recourse to the legal advice available to the Guardian, I turned to some friends, including journalists and lawyers, connected with Jews against zionism. I gather that one such contacted you without my prompting and against my wishes. If you object to correspondence, you should object to the correspondent, not to me.

I am again disappointed that you see fit to repeat your false allegation that I posted a comment to further a dispute between myself and Linda Grant. And I have not asked you to mediate in any way; just to be fair. I am glad that you have acknowledged and deleted the comments by "Oliver10" and Linda Grant, which clearly libelled me. But many people will have seen these libels already. My legitimate criticism of Linda Grant's article lasted less than a day as did my response to an off-topic comment referring to Linda Grant threatening me with a libel action. Linda Grant and her acolyte's libellous, and therefore, illegitimate comments stayed on the site for nearly six days in spite of you having been alerted to them on the day they appeared. And in spite of your rules about libel and being on-topic.

As you know, I posted a comment criticising Linda Grant's article and linking back to another episode that had her siding with the zionist establishment. Another commentor, typically, a zionist, then invoked a time when Linda Grant threatened to sue me for libel. Now, if what you are saying is true about not allowing reference to past disputes in a thread then you would have had that comment removed without me having to respond to it to set the record straight. It seems to me that my comments were deleted on the direct request of Linda Grant. Now she may have lied to you and said that my comments appeared a propos nothing in particular and you took her at her word or you looked at my comments, saw the context and still decided to delete my comments simply to placate Linda Grant for reasons best known to yourself. Since you seem to have been a little less than forthcoming over the whole thing, I can only speculate as to what moved you to behave so unfairly.

Just to recap, the false allegation that I have used Comment is free to further a running dispute has now been made by a commentor twice, by you twice and presumably by Linda Grant. I think it ill behoves you now to act like a wronged party simply because I sought advice and one of my well-wishers got carried away and wrote to you.

I have behaved impeccably throughout this. My first comment was addressed to the article and subsequent comments addressed other comments. I divulged your emails to others to seek advice. You have made false allegations against me and you have facilitated, indeed committed, libel against me.

I am owed an apology, a truthful explanation and confirmation as to whether I can post comments using my existing log-in.

Thank you

Yours sincerely

Mark Elf


If you don't want me to explain my position to Tony Greenstein, don't include him in your email round robins. You got him involved - without, incidently, telling me who else you were emailing.

I'm sorry, but your emails just reinforce my view that it was right to take down your comments and those about you from the blog. If you disagree so strongly with the way the site is run and moderated, why not read and post somewhere else?

I, too, intend to draw a line under this and am no longer prepared to answer your increasingly belligerent emails.

Yours sincerely


Georgina Henry

Ms Henry

If my tone has become less civil (it's not belligerent) it is because at first I thought you had made an honest mistake and it has become more clear to me that you have not made an honest anything. Your deletion of my posts seems to have been nothing to do with a declared policy but a response to a request or an order from Linda Grant with no regard to the context of the posts. In fact you still have not acknowledged the context of the posts. And your emails have gone from disingenuous to downright ludicrous.

At every turn you have compounded the situation by persisting in false allegations against me and now you have repeated them to Tony Greenstein. On that latter point, whoever else I copied into the correspondence is irrelevant. I have told you that I only sought advice and you have no reason to doubt my word.

Now, you clearly lack the integrity to own up to what you have done, still less, to apologise. Now, since I have always abided by the rules and my posts are always relevant to the article, the thread or the context. all that remains is for you to let me know if I can post to the Cif site with my existing log-in and I'll trouble you no more.

Thank you

Mark Elf

[End of the correspondence]

So there we have it. I was lied to and lied about by the site editor of the Guardian's Comment is free space and for a zionist. Georgina Henry acted on a direct instruction from Linda Grant. I had done nothing to breach their rules whereas Linda Grant and her acolytes clearly had.

A friend of mine told me that I should be pleased that I beat Linda Grant "on her own turf" and, in truth, I am. But it took me several days to achieve what it took her minutes to achieve. And where's my apology for Georgina Henry's own dishonesty? And where too are my posting rights?

Actually I know the answer to that last one. My posting rights are right here on my own blog though once upon a time Linda Grant threatened to have those rights taken away. I'd better get backing up. These zionists are powerful you know.

Pip pip!