August 31, 2007

Oh dear, the children they killed weren't terrorists after all

Well there's a thing. The Israeli army has admitted that the three children it killed on Tuesday weren't retrieving launchers for qassams after all. Here's Ha'aretz:
In the initial IDF statement after the incident on Tuesday, the army said it "wishes to express sorrow" for the "use of children in terror attacks," implying that the children had been sent by terrorists to collect the rocket launchers. The military has frequently accused terrorist organizations of using teenagers and children in this fashion.

But the probe, which was launched immediately after the incident, determined that the children were playing tag near the launchers, as revealed by army footage recording the incident. The video reportedly shows the children - who appear as figures whose age cannot be determined - approaching the launchers and then moving back, in a way that could be seen as suggesting that they were loading the launchers with rockets.

The terrain did not allow for direct observation of the area, so the army had to rely on aerial photography. The unit that launched the missile at the children used this visual feed to direct their fire, army sources told Haaretz.

The video does show one of the figures to be a child, army sources said, but this happened so close to the moment of impact that the troops were unable to abort in time.

IDF troops near the Gaza Strip are under orders to fire at rocket launchers only when terrorists approach them. The launchers themselves are easily replaceable and are of little value to the terrorist organizations, so the IDF prefers to target the terrorists who are directing the firing.
Did you see that? "The launchers themselves are easily replaceable." Doesn't that mean that people approaching them or just being near them wouldn't be trying to retrieve them?

Well really! what do Israelis know about Israel?

The UK's Zionist Federation has cancelled "by mutual agreement" an invitation to Danny Rubenstein to attend its little shindig on the 60th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine by zionist forces. Here's the Jerusalem Post:
Haaretz columnist Danny Rubinstein's participation in this weekend's Zionist Federation (ZF) conference in London has been cancelled by mutual agreement.

On Thursday evening, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Rubinstein, who also teaches at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, told a UN conference in Brussels: "Today Israel is an apartheid state with different status for different communities." In a meeting on Friday with ZF officials, Rubinstein confirmed he made the statement.

The ZF regularly holds meetings where a wide variety of views are expressed, and while there is no question that Rubinstein has every right to express his views about Israel, it was mutually agreed that his participation in the Zionist Federation conference became untenable

ZF Chairman Andrew Balcombe said, "Criticism of Israeli policy is acceptable. However, by using the word 'apartheid' in a UN conference held at the European Parliament, Danny Rubinstein encourages the demonization of Israel and the Jewish people. I believe he was naïve to attend the UN conference. Indeed, his own newspaper had earlier reported that Israeli and EU lawmakers had attacked the UN meeting for having a completely one-sided, anti-Israeli agenda."
I should have thought that the issue was whether or not "apartheid" is a fair or accurate description of Israel or of the occupation but of course the ZF exists to promote and to cover for the apartheid system that is the State of Israel.

Israel is an apartheid state

I try to avoid calling Israel an apartheid state because you get these smart people who love to point out that the beneficiaries of Israel's racist laws are the majority whereas in South Africa, where the expression "apartheid" was first coined, the victims were the majority. Still, see this from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
The Arab affairs editor for the Israeli newsaper Ha'aretz, Danny Rubenstein, told participants at a United Nations conference in Brussels Thursday that Israel is an apartheid state.

"Today Israel is an apartheid state with different status for different communities," Rubenstein said, according to observers at the event, which is being held at the Euroepan Parlaiment. Observers also quoted Rubenstein, a prominent columnist and member of the newsaper's editorial board, as saying: "Hamas won the election of the international community and Israel cannot ignore that."

Rubenstein was one of the few Israelis speaking among a sea of Palestinean activists at a United Nations conference entitled "International conference of Civil Society in support of Israeli-Palestine conflict."

The conference, say some attendees and Israel advocacy groups, is merely a smokescreen for anti-Israel rhetoric by the United Nations committee for Palestinean rights, which has a long history of attacking Israel and blaming all Palestinean woes on Israelis.
I don't understand why attendees would be quoting Rubenstein if he was there. And I don't understand the whingeing by Israel advocacy groups if they were they were there. Hmm.

Israel's Law of "Return"

Here's that Magnes Zionist chap again, with his take on Israel's Law of Return. It comes in two parts. Here's the intro to part one, posted August, 14 this year:
In 1950 the Israeli Knesset passed the Law of Return, which begins, “Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh.” As Joppke and Roshenhek (2001) point out, the Law of Return is not an immigration law that confers upon Jews the right to be citizens of Israel; rather it recognizes their natural right to be citizens. It is part and parcel of the view of Israel as a state of the Jewish people who are its actual and potential citizens; it is a constitutive law, and not merely a law that favors one ethnic group over the other in immigration policy. The law applies not only to Jews who have suffered from discrimination or are refugees, but also to those who wish to settler in Israel for ideological, i.e., Jewish reasons. It follows from the two central doctrines of political Zionism: that the natural place for Jews is the State of Israel, and that a viable Jewish state can be attained through massive immigration. This second doctrine points to one of the main goals of the Law of Return – to ensure a solid Jewish majority, because of the recognition that Palestine is inhabited and claimed by another people, the Palestinians.
And here's the intro to the long awaited part two, published yesterday (30/8):
In “Democratic Norms, Diasporas, and Israel’s Law of Return,” Alexander Yacobson and Amnon Rubenstein defend Israel’s Law of Return by pointing to other states, especially Germany, that accord preference in immigration to "co-ethnics" of the majority ethnic group:
Germany, indeed, provides a well-known example. In the 1950s the Germans expanded the right to automatic citizenship to include not just refugees and displaced persons, as provided in their constitution, but also any person of German extraction from the USSR and the nations of Eastern Europe. This applied to a large population of ethnic Germans living in those areas for hundreds of years, without any civic or geographic connection with the modern German state. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the law was revised so that the eligibility for citizenship was limited to emigrants of German extraction from the former Soviet Union. Germany’s current policy toward ethnic Germans in other Eastern European states is to encourage them to remain where they are and to assist them in preserving their German culture.…in all the decades since its enactment, a half century in which Germany’s laws of repatriation granted citizenship to millions of immigrants of ethnic German extraction (along with considerable financial benefits), the laws of repatriation have never been challenged in the European Court of Human Rights (p. 7).
The authors suggest that there is (or was) a close analogy between the immigration practices of Germany and that of Israel. Both Israel and Germany recognize a right of return of its “co-ethnics,” some of whom never actually lived in the homeland, because of a sense of common nationhood. Germany was never criticized for it; why should Israel be? There is some merit in the analogy, provided that one does not look too closely. If one does, then not only do significant differences emerge, but Germany’s policy turns out to be more liberal than Israel’s – more liberal, indeed, than the policy advocated by Israeli liberals.
Anyway, among those of us who hold that Israel is a racist state, as distinct from a state with racists or a state with this or that racist law, the Law of Return is the centrepiece of what makes it so. I'm just putting a marker on this for now, but I do intend to, er, return to it in due course.

August 27, 2007

Simchas Jewdas IV!

Or is it V? Actually that should be Simchat Jewdas - rejoice in Jewdas - in modern Hebrew. Anyway, a simcha is the word we use for a special occasion, a barmitzvah, a wedding, the funeral of someone you don't like, that sort of thing. Well Jewdas is having a bit of a do next weekend. See this:
Sunday September 2 nd, Noon, Rio Cinema, E8, London

Entrance £5 (tickets on 0207 241 9410)

“Outside the mainstream because of their race, spiritual practices, sexuality, gender and politics, young Jews build radical communities”

Four hours of documentaries and performance that will open your eyes to an alternative way of thinking Jewish.

Political, controversial, fun, and forward-thinking, this is not a place for Streisands or Fiddlers on Roofs. From gay rights to comic books, from vegans to the Middle East, all issues for modern Jewry will be explored on screen.

The screening includes the European premiere of American doc Young, Jewish and Left and the UK’s first cinema screening of a lost classic from 1980, Joel Sucher and Steven Fischler’s “The Free Voice of Labour – the Jewish Anarchists”

Meanwhile, be entertained by music from Brighton’s Le Band Extraordinaire; comedy from Miriam Elia; and a masterclass in Jewla-hooping (aka Jewish hula-hooping). Plus taste extreme Jewish food and prepare for surprises.

The Films

Young, Jewish and Left (Dir: Irit Reinheimer & Konnie Michael Chameides) A celebration of diversity, Young Jewish and Left weaves queer culture, Jewish Arab history, secular Yiddishkeit, anti-racist analysis, and religious/spiritual traditions into a multi-layered tapestry of Leftist politics. Personal experiences from many of today’s leading Jewish activists reframe the possibilities of Jewish identity. It presents a fresh and constructive take on race, spirituality, Zionism, queerness, resistance, justice, and liberation.

Proves that the legacy of Jewish socialists, anarchists, feminists, Yippies, hippies, organizers, and agitators of the past century lives on” (Jennifer Belyer)

The Free voice of Lab our – the Jewish Anarchists (Dir: Joel Sucher and Steven Fischler) - From 1980, a film about the Yiddish-speaking anarchists who played a key role in the unionization of the garment trades before World War I. Utilises interviews with actual participants, stills, newsreel footage, Yiddish songs and poems to document the movement's contribution to the U.S. Labour movement between 1880 and the First World War.

“nothing short of a treasure as the story of how a passion for a `mother tongue' and an anarchist vision produced a movement that had an important effect on the growth of the American labour movement." (American Anthropologist)

Confession – A Film about Ariel Schrag (Dir: Sharon Barnes) - Exploring 23 year-old Jewish comic-book artist Ariel Schrag's world in which she negotiates fame, obsesses about disease, and discusses the way she sees as a dyke comic book artist. Schrag's autobiographical work is of vital importance because it chronicles the underground world of teen dyke culture in all of its raw, sexual, and complicated glory- in a way that is rarely recognized or represented in mainstream art, literature, or media.

Plus other surprise shorts and archive films

Nearest station Dalston Kingsland (on Silverlink), or alternatively get a bus from Highbury and Islington

or walk or cycle or drive. But be there or be a Jew avec frontieres.

Chicago School?

Apparently students of DePaul Uni have launched a website to support Doctors Norman Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee against the rejection of their tenure bids. The home page of the Academic Freedom Committee right now is touting a remarkable line up of opinion from left to right.
On October 12, 2007, the DePaul University Academic Freedom Committee, International Studies Program and Department of Philosophy, Diskord Journal (University of Chicago) and Verso Books will host a panel lecture featuring:
• Dr. Akeel Bilgrami, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and Director of The Heyman Center, Columbia University
• Dr. Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
• Dr. Tony Judt, University Professor and Director of the Remarque Institute, New York University
• Dr. John Mearsheimer, R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
• Dr. Neve Gordon, Professor, Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University
Hosted by:
• Tariq Ali, Editor of the New Left Review and Verso Books
I see Neve Gordon among the names there. He has been harshly, in my opinion unjustly, critical of Finkelstein in the past, which I think shows the depth of anger around what looks like an unfair decision by DePaul. Of course, for his own criticisms of Israel, Neve Gordon could expect to find himself on a list of usual suspects or self-haters who would support a fellow self-hater like Finkelstein but Dr John Mearsheimer has establishment credentials.

But let's not lose sight of what's happened here. It looks suspiciously like the Israel lobby has kicked in to deny Finkelstein a tenured position at an American university. This meeting isn't simply an expression of outrage about one bad decision. It is a sure sign that the climate of opinion has changed in America with regard to Israel. As a "non-zionist" recently said, the anti-zionist movement has reached that critical mass where zionist, like apartheid, is associated with the politically and morally unacceptable. Unlike apartheid that paid real financial dividends to its supporters on account of cheap black labour, zionism involves an ideological fanaticism that detaches its supporters from their material interests. Of course the ragbag of hacks for zionism in the mainstream media are handsomely rewarded as surely as their detractors are punished by exclusion. But the hacks are now having to argue against arguing against Israel and zionism rather than arguing for Israel or zionism. Their false allegations of antisemitism have backfired to the extent that even they don't immediately realise when the real thing rears its head. Zionism has many foot soldiers in real life (that is outside of the media) and I am sure that there are many racists who admire and support Israel to give vent to their own anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism. So the struggle will go on for some time. But we are seeing a real turning of the tide of opinion against the State of Israel and its zionist cheer leaders in the west.

I don't know if this will get Finkelstein and Larudee their tenure though. Maybe a better place will snap them up.

August 26, 2007

Don't confuse me, a zionist is a zionist is a zionist

Or is it? Stephen Marks pointed me in the direction of this relatively new blog, the Magnes Zionist, by an Israeli, American and orthodox Jewish academic who wishes for the time being to remain anonymous. He claims his inspiration from a Judah Magnes and has a fascinating take on what is happening now in Israel/Palestine and what could happen in the future.

Now I must point out here that I have a chap, I think it's a chap, who comes here fairly regularly, to tell me that he doesn't take my blog seriously, that he enjoys the beach at Tel Aviv and how many idealistic American zionists have "made aliyah" lately. Just recently when I had banned someone he made the following comment:
Well done Mark in censoring the debate as its clear that Mikey is just troll, in fact aren't all 'Zionists', they are after all automatic liars. Liars just liars all of them, Herzl, AD Gordon, Ahad Ha'am liars just liars, Ben Gurion, Sharett, Peres, Begin, liars. As for those Hasbara Zionist parrots, all ten million of them, incapable of honesty, engaging in debate and telling the truth.
Now this irritated me because I have said so many times that when I say that all zionists are liars I meant by zionists, people who believe that Jews worldwide have more right to most of Palestine than the natives themselves. Clearly this would not include Ahad Ha'am. When you're raised on the zionist narrative, not at home particularly, but at Hebrew classes (cheder we call it) and via the mainstream media you don't hear of Ahad Ha'am, at least we didn't in my day. But when you go off to college and pick up an elementary textbook on Israel/Palestine, his denunciation of zionists and their behaviour in Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is first a shock and later a classic. I responded to this Rysk person angrily because he knows that by anti-zionist I mean I am against Jewish supremacy in Palestine. I called it "modern political or state zionism" or something like that, I'm going from memory but its in the link above. You see apart from Ha'am, others on his list were quite dodgy characters. Well it seems that Ahad Ha'am did have a flirtation with the Jewish state idea. This Rysk person cannot have known that or he would have embarrassed me by saying so but cop this Magnes Zionist chap:
There is a long tradition of non-statist zionism, from the cultural zionism of Ahad ha-Am (who at times seems to have embraced the idea of a Jewish state, provided that it would not be devoid of Jewish cultural content), to the vehemently non-statist zionism of Judah Magnes.
Ok, don't get me wrong, I still mean the same thing when I say zionist but I've enjoyed reading this blog and I like the guy's idea for how Israel/Palestine should be run and he seems to have a good sense of humour which I suppose if you are going to be suggesting, as a "zionist," that Israel should be a "liberal democracy" you're going to need.

I'm going to return to this chap but I really had to own up to not knowing that Ahad Ha'am, or ha'Am wanted a Jewish state as distinct from somewhere for Jews to potter about in the desert, as Jews of course.

Israel lobby not Israel, Peres tells Turkey

Here's a curious article in Ha'aretz. It follows on from all this business about the Anti-Defamation League finally coming round to the idea that Turkey's slaughter of Armenians was genocide. Shimon Peres has seen fit to tell Turkey that this prominent Israel advocacy group isn't a branch of the Israeli state:
Following the ADL's statement, Turkey was feeling "disappointed with its friends," Erdogan said. President Peres told the Turkish prime minister that Israel does not control U.S. Jewish organizations, which pursue their own agendas.
This reminds me of a bit in the Life of Brian when Brian tells a large crowd, "you are all individuals" and they repeat in unison "we are all individuals." Israel and its advocacy groups in the US need to draft a joint statement addressed to Turkey to the effect that "we are all independent of one another."

August 25, 2007

Finkelstein on Hilberg, "history" and the holocaust

I've had a couple of people draw my attention to this Finkelstein article in Counterpunch on the death, well actually on the work, of Raul Hilberg. Of course Finkelstein can't resist giving us a history of the "history" of the holocaust from it being a taboo subject commemorated only by, mostly anyway, communists, through it being a subject for serious, if acrimonious, study, up to it becoming a western religion and industry in its own right:
It is hard now to remember that the Nazi holocaust was once a taboo subject. During the early years of the Cold War, mention of the Nazi holocaust was seen as undermining the critical U.S.-West German alliance. It was airing the dirty laundry of the barely de-Nazified West German elites and thereby playing into the hands of the Soviet Union, which didn't tire of remembering the crimes of the West German "revanchists." The major American Jewish organizations rushed to make their peace with Konrad Adenauer's government (the Anti-Defamation League took the lead) while those holding commemorations for the Jewish dead were tagged as Communists, which as a rule they were.

In Eichmann in Jerusalem, published in the mid-1960s, Hannah Arendt could draw on only one other scholarly study apart from Hilberg's on the Nazi holocaust in the English language. Nowadays there are enough studies to fill a good-sized library, although it is perhaps not accurate to grace all these publications with the descriptive "scholarly."

Arendt borrowed extensively from Hilberg's work with less-than-generous attribution. He never forgave her this oversight and--what truly is unforgivable--her condescending references to his study in private correspondence and her recommending against its publication by Princeton University Press. In his memoir Hilberg parries the insult, asserting, wrongly in my opinion, that Arendt's study The Origins of Totalitarianism lacked originality. It is true that Arendt could be lazy about facts, which might account for Hilberg's harsh judgment, but the first part of Origins contains many shrewd insights on the dilemmas of Jewish assimilation and paradoxes of the nation-state.

Hilberg reserved even greater contempt (and loathing) for Lucy Dawidowicz, author of the highly touted The War Against the Jews. Here it can be said that his verdict was faultless. During the heyday of the Holocaust religion in the 1970s-1980s, Dawidowicz was its designated high priestess. The problem was that, as Hilberg brutally demonstrates in his memoir, she got the most elementary facts wrong. I once asked my late mother, who survived Maidanek concentration camp, about Dawidowicz's depiction of all the Jews in the ghettos and camps furtively staying faithful to their religion until their final steps into the gas chambers. "When I first entered my block at Maidanek, all the women inmates had dyed-blond hair," my mother laughed. "They had been trying to pass as Gentiles." The shocking accounts of Jewish corruption that could be found in conveniently forgotten memoirs like Bernard Goldstein's The Stars Bear Witness were deleted in Dawidowicz's fantasy....

Hilberg didn't truck in the pieties of what became the Holocaust industry that exploited the colossal suffering of Jews for political and financial gain.
And of course Finkelstein has his swipes at the people he can't stand. Take Deborah Lipstadt (please! arf arf)
Her lawyers imposed a gag rule on Deborah Lipstadt during her trial with David Irving--she was banned not only from testifying in court but also from speaking to the press--because they knew full well that a single word from this know-nothing's mouth would sink the ship. In her account of the trial Lipstadt can barely conceal the lawyers' contempt for her, yet she is too thick-headed to notice the absurdity of her smug two thumbs-up after the jury announced its verdict. She had as much to do with the victory as I did with last night's performance of the Bolshoi.
And Goldhagen:
When Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners was released in 1996, I approached it with an open mind. Both my late parents were of the conviction that all Germans wanted the Jews dead (my father survived Auschwitz) so I figured maybe there was something to Goldhagen's thesis. Reading the book was quite the shock. The reasoning was bizarre, the evidence nonexistent. In debates on it I was accused of polemical overkill. It couldn't be that bad: look at what reviewers were saying. Indeed, who can forget the endless months of breathless prose in the New York Times for the Holocaust industry's new poster boy? It was a singular relief when I read Hilberg's verdict: "worthless."
And doyens of the World Jewish Congress, Bronfman and Singer (now divorced or whatever it is rabbis and lay leaders do when they part company):
Prior to publication of The Holocaust Industry Hilberg had himself denounced American Jews for resorting to the "blackmail weapon" against Europe. His disgust for the megalomaniacal Edgar Bronfman and the irredeemably vulgar Rabbi Israel Singer of the World Jewish Congress, which orchestrated the shakedown, is barely disguised in the recently updated Yale edition of his study.....

Hilberg's last statement for the camera was that next to the likes of Bronfman and Singer, even Shylock looked good. Fully aware of just how incendiary the juxtaposition was, Hilberg chuckled after the camera stopped rolling that he'd probably gotten himself into a lot of trouble. Ironically the British television station forced the producer to edit out this statement. Not even Hilberg could be allowed to utter certain truths.
Finkelstein also expresses his wonderment at the fact that Raul Hilberg was so supportive of his work in spite of Hilberg being a life long Republican and Finkelstein being identified with the left. I just don't get how someone so determined in his pursuit of truth can be a Republican, in the American party sense. I don't think we'll see his like again.

Israel kills 11 year old Israeli

But don't worry, he doesn't count. He is, sorry was, an Arab. This is from the International Herald Tribune:
Mahmoud Ibrahim Karnawi, 11, was shot after Israeli troops moved into Saida village in the northern West Bank, witnesses said. They said the troops were trying to arrest his older half-brother, a wanted Islamic Jihad militant, and came under fire as they approached the family's home, setting off a gunfight.

Neighbors said the boy was inside the home at the time of the shooting and hit in the crossfire. Hospital officials in the nearby town of Tulkarem confirmed the death. Hospital officials said Tariq Mulhem, an Islamic Jihad militant not related to the boy, also was killed.

Relatives said the boy lived in Israel with his parents — a divorced Palestinian woman is now remarried to an Arab Israeli. The family was visiting relatives in the West Bank at the time of the shooting, the relatives said.
Well someone's got to stop this family reunification nonsense. After all it's a threat to Israel's existence as a Jewish democracy.

August 22, 2007

More crying "foul!" for Palestine

Ah, this is nice. I see the Independent's Mark Steele has picked up on this Palestine under 19 football team business. He goes in pretty hard too:
Even more annoying for the residents of Gaza, for over a year they've been under siege, the hospitals have run out of essential medicines, there's no electricity and hundreds of thousands are trapped there, unable to visit family or complete their education if it means leaving
the occupied area. The justification offered often comes down to how Palestinian organisations refuse to recognise Israel's right to exist.

Yet the Israelis seem so determined to refuse Palestine's right to exist that they won't even allow them a football team. So what will they allow? Would they let them take part in the Eurovision Song Contest, or would they get the Foreign Office to refuse them entry on the grounds they were "too loud"? Would they let a Palestinian puppy enter Crufts, or would it be refused a visa for being "too frisky"?

So the Palestinian footballers are left with two options. The first is they're calling on people to send a message to the Foreign Office, at King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH, asking for the decision to be reversed. Or they could organise their next tour to play against Scotland. Then even if they're not allowed to turn up they'll still win three-nil.
I said he stuck the boot in hard. What a terrible thing to say about Scotland.

UK's sporting boycott of Palestine

I've seen reports of this latest anti-Palestine move by our government via emails from various egroups. The UK has denied visa to a Gaza based under 19 football team because the appalling situation in Gaza means that they may not return there. There is also a chance that Israel might bar their return. Apparently the UK is now denying that latter admission of the casualness of Israel's ethnic cleansing, which leaves the first explanation as the official one, though even that has been committed to print as far as I know. War on Want has the following press release on the matter:
UK 'hypocrisy' over Palestine soccer ban

The anti-poverty charity War on Want today condemned the British government's decision to refuse visas to a team of Palestinian footballers due to play a series of matches in England.

The decision to ban the team from entering Britain, apparently taken at a high level within the UK government, comes days before the Palestinian under-19 team was due to arrive in England, with games against teams including Chester City, Tranmere Rovers and Blackburn.

According to War on Want, the refusal stands in marked contrast to the welcome given the Israeli national team, due to play England at Wembley in a Euro 2008 qualifier on 8 September. This is despite calls for that match to be cancelled in protest at continuing Israeli assaults on Palestinian towns, including the bombing of the national football stadium. Last year Israeli armed forces killed around 650 Palestinians, mainly unarmed civilians and among them 130 children. In the same period Palestinian armed groups killed 23 Israelis, including one child.

Louise Richards, Chief Executive of War on Want, said: "It is disgraceful that the British government has refused visas to the Palestinian football team on the eve of its tour. The Israeli football team will be welcomed to Wembley to play England in the forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifier, despite the Israeli military's continuing violation of Palestinian rights. This is another sign of the hypocrisy of the British government in its treatment of the Palestinians, and underlines the urgent need for Gordon Brown to adopt a fresh approach to the conflict."
Some chance of that happening.

I don't know the value of writing to MPs on these issues but I'm going to give it a go. Perhaps you could do the same.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is running an action alert on this and even Engage is running an Independent article on it and it makes the following suggestion:
Letters of protest may be sent to the Foreign Office, at King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH.

August 21, 2007

When is not a genocide a genocide?

Garbled question, I know. But the Anti-Defamation League in America has argued for some years now that the genocide of the Armenians by Turkey didn't count as such, presumably because Turkey is more important to Israel than Armenia or Armenians are. Now it seems they have performed a U-turn but it took a while and some sacking and some resignation and an effective boycott of the ADL by an American town with a large Armenian population. From Ha'aretz:
Over the past two weeks, the ADL has faced a tremendous amount of pressure over the issue. Two weeks ago the town of Watertown, a suburb of Boston with a large Armenian community, decided to cut its ties with the ADL sponsored "No Place for Hate" program, after they discovered that the ADL was not planning to support a bill that would force the American government to accept that the massacre was in fact a genocidal act.

The ADL itself was split over the issue; it fired New England regional director Andrew Tarsy for telling The Boston Globe he agreed the killings were genocide and that he "strongly disagrees with the ADL's national position." Foxman had explained that he did not support the bill in fear that it would hurt both the U.S. and Israel's relations with Turkey while putting the Jewish community in Turkey in danger.

In a statement Tuesday, Foxman said he consulted with historians and his
friend and Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel after the controversy began, and became convinced genocide had occurred.
I'm wondering how long the ADL will keep Foxman as its face and voice and I'm not alone.

August 20, 2007

Netanyahu's blind vision

Here's Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz and he's none to happy with Bibi, who is apparently the most popular leader in Israel today. It follows Netanyahu's victory against Moshe Feiglin in the Likud's leadership contest and is a kind of compare and contrast between the "moderate" Netanyahu and the extreme, indeed "loony" Feiglin.
The bitter truth is that Netanyahu is essentially no different than Feiglin.....

Netanyahu, like Feiglin, supports a continuation of the occupation and both are adherents of the one-state solution - a "Jewish," occupying and racist state in which two types of people live: Jews, superior, and Arabs, inferior. Neither have any real intention of changing the current state of affairs. Feiglin speaks about a Jewish state, racial purity, and Netanyahu indeed does not dare to utter such things, but the non-solution he proposes - like anyone who opposes a complete end of the occupation - will continue to bolster the status quo, which means a Jewish state, ostensibly, with a huge Arab population living a dog's life......

Feiglin responds to Netanyahu's haughty statement, "if they give, they will receive," by saying, "they won't give and they won't receive; the enemy must be vanquished." But what's the difference? After all, even when the Palestinians gave, surrendering most of the Land of Israel, they did not get a thing. Even when terrorism subsided, their miserable lives and the conditions of the large prison in which they live did not improve a bit. And what exactly will Netanyahu "give" them? What bone will he toss them if they behave "nicely"? A quarter of Hebron? Half of Nablus? And how much longer will it be possible to talk about terror, of course only Palestinian terror, another one of Netanyahu's favorite topics, as Israel is killing four times as many of their men, women and children - while Palestinian terror nearly has disappeared from our streets?

Indeed, there is one difference: Unlike Feiglin, Netanyahu speaks at length about sand slipping through the hourglass on the Iranian threat. Oh, how he loves to talk about the Iranian threat. It is a winning card. And what could be bad about searching for the coin under the lantern instead of where it is really located, to become Mr. Iran in Israel and the world and completely disregard the truly dangerous hourglass - the Palestinian problem? The fact that nothing sustains terrorism and Iran like the occupation is something that our very own expert on global terror and Iran is blind to.

The opinion polls show that Netanyahu is the most popular leader in Israel today. This says something about Israel and its mood: It does not want peace. It's unlikely Netanyahu's star-struck supporters have ever even asked themselves where this man, whom they seek to crown and anoint, wants to lead Israel. They only know that they are supporting a moderate statesman - as opposed to the extremist Feiglin. Thus, Netanyahu has made fools of them yet again. And whom does he have to thank? Feiglin.
So that may be the next Israeli PM. Did you see where he is on peace with the Palestinians? Did you see where he is on Iran? So many "left" zionists here in the UK jumped on the Kadima bandwagon as it passed itself off as a compromise between left and right zionism. It was a shift of the mainstream to the right. Zionist "lefts" told themselves and others that Sharon had reformed and Israel was moving left. Israel was moving right. And it still is.

August 18, 2007

Israel withholds holocaust survivor funds

That's according the Ha'aretz article here:
The report finds that the state's treatment of the survivors has been marked by mismanagement, red tape and a shortage of adequate personnel in the treasury, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said.

Lindenstrauss called on the state to treat the survivors humanely and equalize their rights. The process of locating and restoring property lost during the Holocaust to its rightful owners was delayed due to both bureaucracy and a lack of cooperation among the various groups holding the properties in Israel, the report says.

In 2006, the treasury's budget department was late in transferring NIS 21.6 million to a foundation for survivors' welfare, eventually transferring the funds only at the end of the fiscal year.

The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Survivors, a central organization aiding needy survivors, could use only about a third of the budget due to the treasury's delay in transferring the funds, while some NIS 14 million remained unused. Thus the organization's activity in providing aid and other essentials to needy or sick survivors was seriously curtailed.
And to think that Israel got reparations from Germany over the holocaust.

Apparently in the wake of the above news, Professor Alan Dershowitz has contacted DePaul Uni and asked that they grant Finkelstein that tenure after all.

August 16, 2007

Israel out of the news

Nothing happened in Israel today. Israel did nothing of note. Well that's the verdict from google anyway. Time was when I would get up at 5.30 am, google "Israel" and three news items would appear at the top of the page. Not now. I got three maps of Israel.

As always, there's an issue here. What is a news blog for example? I remember Little Green Footballs campaigning to count as a news blog on google's list but go look at it, if it's still there. It was no more news than mine. I don't think LGF was ever on the list but one that was and was subsequently dropped was URUKnet. I was told that it was an Iraqi Ba'ath site. I think I remember they ran something from my blog or maybe it was just a link. News? Hardly. I also remember Atzmon boasting that he could get his antisemitic tosh on there as well as other sites that ought to know better. But is he or anything he says news? The SWP covering for him is baffling but it's gone on for three years now since Lenin's Tomb exposed his antisemitism so again, the man's hardly news. But I'm rambling. I think it is conflict aversion that has caused google to drop the news as a given at the first point of enquiry. It still has a secific news button. Oh, and I just discovered, it runs the maps now because it's touting its map's button.

Ok, so we've seen the news when there's no specific enquiry. Now let's try "Israel". Now I get it. Israel is still in the news and what news? America is upping its aid from more than anyone else gets to much more than anyone else gets. But according to Mearsheimer and Walt its because of the lobby. According to zionists that's antisemitic. According to Chomsky and Massad it's because America wants Israel to be its regional strongman because of its inherent stability and depedency as a colonial settler state. According to zionists, well the "non"-zionists at Engage, that's anti-American. So why give Israel all this money. It's because America is nice and Israel is nice. Apparently that's how international relations works. It's all about degrees of niceness.

Oh why oh why did I want to know what was news about Israel today?

Did you hear the one about the...

....comedian who was smeared on Facebook for the offence of putting down some Israeli hacklers by referring to the occupation? It's a sure sign that zionists are losing their monopoly on the mainstream media that this article has appeared at all, let alone in the UK's Mirror which used to belong to one Robert Maxwell. When Robert Maxwell died he was given full military honours by the State of Israel. Anyway, here's the article:

It is not an offence to offend somebody

Sue Carroll 15/08/2007

Heard the one about the comedian who brought the house down - and found himself libelled on Facebook?

This is the fate that befell my friend Dave Johns and it's no joking matter.

As well as working the comedy circuit, Dave has appeared on the West End stage in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and is a regular on Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

AdvertisementFor 20 years he's been in the business of entertaining hip, young audiences with surreal whimsy. He's used to hecklers, habitual mobile phone-users talking through acts and awkward customers.

All comedians are, it's an occupational hazard.

So, one recent Saturday night at Manchester Comedy Club, after seeing a group of 10 noisy Israeli students behaving obnoxiously he decided to nip it in the bud.

"Are you the Israeli students?" he asked at the start of his act. "Because there's 10 Palestinians at the box office saying you lot are occupying their seats."

Well, it made me laugh.

Luckily we've not reached the stage - yet - when the "joke police" can step in to ban comedians from making a few members of the audience feel uncomfortable and offended.

Isn't that what good comedy is about?

Imagine that great Jewish comedian Jackie Mason not being able to to mock his own faith. It would be like taking a plumber's wrench away and asking him to fix the boiler.

As Stephen Fry so succinctly put it when talking about censorship in comedy: "You're offended? So effing what."

Anyway, the audience loved it. The mob from Israel did not.

They walked out after calling Dave a "p****" and telling anyone who'd listen that, despite two UN mandates stating the very opposite, Israel did not occupy Palestinian territory. It hadn't occurred to them that if they'd been Palestinians, Dave would have turned the joke on its head.

But they didn't want reason, they wanted trouble. Suffice to say, it took all of 24 hours for this bunch to condemn Dave as a racist with a posting on Facebook calling his act "disgusting and unforgivable", his jokes anti-Semitic, mocking up a picture of him as Hitler and urging people "to destroy this pathetic excuse of a comedian's career".

That the posting, which included a totally fictitious account of a mass walkout and someone in the audience shouting "dirty Jews", might be a complete fabrication clearly didn't occur to the cowboys at Facebook.

After all, why let the truth get in the way of revenue? Let's not forget this is the same organisation which ran BNP propaganda alongside bank adverts.

Dave, as it turns out, has been completely vindicated. Manchester Comedy Club recorded the entire show. You won't, of course, Palesfind the scurrilous posting on Facebook now.

After being told this was the sort of libel newspapers pay lawyers vast sums of money to avoid, it was hastily removed.

But what remains is an ominous reminder of how easy it is to play the race card in the public domain and get away with it.

A tape recording exonerated Dave, but what if it had been his word against theirs? That's what worries him.

"A comic should be allowed to make satirical jokes about political situations," says Dave. "If people don't like them, that's their right. But to see racist intent where there is none is wrong. It's an emotive accusation. To use it glibly does a disservice to people who suffer genuine discrimination."

He's right. Real anti-Semites spray graffiti over Jewish graves, daub synagogues with swastikas, deny the holocaust, and preach the extermination of Jews in radical mosques.

Here's a funny thing. You don't find too many of them in the Comedy Club.

It looks like the game's up for the false allegation of antisemitism. I should say "it's all over bar the shouting." But losing a hasbara by libel battle on the internet and then having it reported in a UK tabloid, that's what I call, on the ropes. They'll holler their false allegations for a good time to come but fewer and fewer people will believe them and now and again they'll be exposed.

Many thanks to Ken Waldron for posting to this to the comment section. Where we need these reports most is in the tabloid, at least the mainstream, media. But a tabloid is the least likely place for them to appear.

August 15, 2007

Why boycott Israel?

Here's a sharp article in the San Francisco Chronicle going into the various reasons why Israel should be on the receiving end of a boycott. It also notes the "for us or against us" apoplexy on the part of "unions" and academics in the USA that might, as I said in an earlier post, actually be working in favour of the boycott movement by generating publicity for it and causing searching questions to be asked. Questions like, "why boycott Israel."
When does a citizen-led boycott of a state become morally justified?

That question is raised by an expanding academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel. The movement joins churches, unions, professional societies and other groups based in the United States, Canada, Europe and South Africa. It has elicited dramatic reactions from Israel's supporters. U.S. labor leaders have condemned British unions, representing millions of workers, for supporting the Israel boycott. American academics have been frantically gathering signatures against the boycott, and have mounted a prominent advertising campaign in American newspapers - unwittingly elevating the controversy further in the public eye.
But is it unwittingly? Are these zionists stupid? They've made remarkable achievements over the decades. Would they really make such a basic error as to publicise a boycott of Israel that draws attention to Israel's lack of legitimacy, its outrageous conduct and the way that western governments and media have covered for these racist war criminals over the dacades? I don't think the zionists are stupid. I think they're bullying, or least trying to. I think they are relying on antisemitic notions of "Jewish power" to try to have would-be boycotters abandon the boycott. I don't think they realise the extent to which the tide has turned against Israel on both sides of the atlantic.

Anyway, having dealt with various reasons for a boycott of Israel the article turns to why it is necessary for ordinary folk to try to uphold the rights of the Palestinians.
Politicians worldwide, and American ones especially, have failed us. Our leaders, from the executive branch to Congress, have dithered, or cheered Israel on, as it devoured the land base for a Palestinian state. Their collective irresponsibility dooms both Palestinians and Israelis to a future of strife and insecurity, and undermines our global stature. If politicians cannot lead the way, then citizens must. That is why boycotting Israel has become both necessary and justified.
Hear Hear!

August 14, 2007

And here are the scores.......

I'm sure I've run this headline before. The International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA) has published a study of media coverage of what Israel calls the second Lebanon war.
What did the world press say about the Hezbollah-Israel war?

- Hezbollah won.
- Israel was the victim.
- Deaths were mere stats.
- Qana was the turning point.

I'm just letting you know because I'm sure it makes for interesting reading. I just can't quite get my head around what's being said. But please go see.


August 12, 2007

Engage on the offensive

Engage is getting a bit freaky now. Dr David Hirsh seems to be leading the group to a position where they don't just try to defeat boycott resolutions against Israel as they arise. It now seems that Hirsh wants various groups to declare themselves anti-boycott. In fact Engage seems to be degenerating into some kind of Campus Watch UK. See this:
The Editorial Board of the British Sociological Association journal, Work, employment and society, published by SAGE, supported the campaign for a 'boycott of academic and scientific institutions in Israel'.

This, it said, in a 2004 editorial, is to protest at
"that government's appalling war of occupation and vengeance in the form of collective punishment of the Palestinian people. While the legal implications of the BSA’s charitable status has prohibited the adoption of this as part of our publishing policy nevertheless, the current editor has continued to support the resolution."

Work Employment Society 2004; 18; 661
This journal has an editorial position that Israeli actions in the West Bank can be characterized as an "apalling war of occupation and vengeance...". "Vengeance" for what, one may ask? Perhaps this BSA journal is doing nothing more than echoing the old rhetoric about the Jewish God being a vengeful God, in contrast to the the Christian God, who is the God of love?

This journal also had an editorial position that this "apalling war of occupation and vengeance" constitutes "collective punishment of the Palestinian people". The use of the term "collective punishment" here clearly implies the criminality of the vengeful state.

The editorial of Work, Employment and Society does not mention any other human rights abuses anywhere else in the world. Only the ones committed by the "vengeful" Jews.

Does anybody believe that a person who works at an institution in the "vengeful" state would be fairly treated by this journal?

Can anybody explain why sociologists in Israel whose research interests are in the field of 'Work, employment and society today' should be punished for the "vengefulness" of the state in which they work?

Are sociologists in Britain going to allow a British Sociological Association journal to continue supporting a campaign to boycott colleagues from the "vengeful" state - and only from the "vengeful" state?

The whole editorial is online here.
Ok, now leaving aside the none too subtle hint of antisemitism see this comment from a Brian Goldfarb, no friend of the boycott movement and a regular commentor to Engage:
I have just retired as a Trustee (Executive Committee Member) of the British Sociological Association - my term of office ended at the April 2007 AGM, and I had been a member of the EC for 8 years (that is, since 1999). I am aware that the _then_ editor had such a policy, he wished to but was prohibited from publishing it in the Journal, let alone acting on it as far as selecting papers for the Journal was concerned.

The editorial team has since been replaced - as they are every three or four years, as a matter of BSA policy. What is printed reads as though it was (please note the past tense) meant as a personal statement, not a statement as to the editorial direction of Work, Employment & Society. Note that the quote states quite clearly "the legal implications of the BSA's charitable status has prohibited the adoption of this as part of our publishing policy..."

In 2004, this was brought up at an Executive Committee meeting at which I was an attendee - I missed only one in those 8 years. The then chair of the EC made it abundantly clear (as did the Executive Officer - the full-time, paid person who runs the BSA on a day-to-day basis - who had taken legal advice)that the BSA's charitable status made it impossible for it to have such a policy or for its WHOLLY-OWNED journals (that is, these journals are owned, lock, stock and barrel by the BSA, they are run by BSA Publications, a wholly owned subsidiary of the charity) to run any such editorials.

Please check immediately with BSA (David, you have the contact numbers and email addresses, as do I) and alter the piece as necessary.

The person (or team) that wrote that sentence in 2004 is no longer in charge of the journal, and, indeed, any editor writing such an editorial as a statement of editorial policy could find themselves removed from office as being in violation of the BSA's charitable status.

I fear that the current status of the Journal editorial team was not checked out before this article was published.
So where are we with this? A guy at this sociological association has expressed a personal view in the editorial of its publication and said that the board of the publication cannot express or support such a view. Hirsh has suggested that this personal view is official policy, yes? I think that's it. But he's been rumbled by someone who often comments at Engage. Usually when something like this happens, Hirsh deletes the original post and the comments and carries on as if nothing's happened but now he is digging in. Look:
Brian, could you please give us the reference in WES or elsewhere where the policy of the editorial board to support the boycott campaign but not actually to boycott, is rescinded?
Eh? But surely, oh never mind, here's Brian Goldfarb again:
David, where is the evidence that the current Board of WES is in favour of a boycott? Equally, that they are trying to do something about it in the pages of WES, specifically against the remit of the Executive Committee (let alone the Charity Commissioners and Charity Law)?

You are referring to a statement that specifically acknowledges that the journal cannot operate a boycott, even if the editorial team is in favour of one.

Either the current editorial team is in favour of a boycott and there is evidence that they are operating one (have Israeli sociologists submitted articles, only to have them rejected?), or there isn't. If the former. why not refer the evidence to the BSA Exec, via the office of the BSA (all BSA members have the address, both email and surface)?

Stop trying to make me prove a negative, especially when I don't subscribe to the Journal.
In other words, what's to rescind? Back comes Hirsh:
The evidence that the Board of WES is in favour of a boycott is that they said so in 2004 in an editorial and they haven't - to my knowledge - said anywhere else that they have reversed their position. Personnel comes and goes - has there been a statement changing the position of the board?

The statement from 2004 says that the only reason they are not operating a boycott is that they understand it to contravene the law which regulates charities. This, from a scholarly journal, is in my view not good enough. They seem to say they would be excluding Israelis from the journal if only they were allowed.

Given that the editorial board supports the Roses' "call" (at least did in 2004 and has not to my knowledge rescinded that support), and given that the Roses call for a silent boycott, and the Roses say that the boycott is already in force, it is reasonable then to ask for assurances that the editorial board is not doing what it says it believes in.
One guy, one outgoing guy has expressed a personal view and now it's the Board's policy set in 2004. So again, back comes Brian Goldfarb:
Again, stop trying make me prove a negative.

As Jimmy says, there is no evidence that the CURRENT WES editorial board, a different group of people, have supported the call of the previous editor for a boycott either.

This is turning into a witch hunt, which is rich coming from people who are, rightly, quick to condemn "loyalty oaths" from Israeli academics for the edification of the pro-boycotters.

It is also coming close to a scenario in which it is demanded that a newly elected government repudiate a policy statement apparently supported by a previously elected government - but one that was never turned into a bill, let alone an Act of Parliament. They wouldn't waste their breath.

David, last time I looked, you were a member of the BSA. Why don't you write to the executive officer and ask her what the BSA's policy is, and what the BSA's view of this is. I have. But I will have to wait until Monday at the earliest for an answer. Meanwhile, this is spreading and, to repeat myself, beginning to look suspiciously like a witch hunt.

No-one has any evidence that the present editor(s) of WES support a boycott. Perhaps they don't believe it's necessary, just as no-one here would actually expect Israeli academics to sign the Rose's loyalty pledges.
Maybe this will run and run, I don't know but why did this 2004 editorial get attacked now? Why does Dr Hirsh want associations that have no policy on an Israel boycott to declare against such a boycott? The post is, at the time of writing, the second post down on the forum/blog page. The one above is also about pressuring a professional association, the American Sociological Association, into declaring itself anti-boycott. That article goes into a long list of American labour organisations that have passed anti-boycott resolutions in spite of American unions' reputation for focusing on bread and butter issues only. Contrast that with the UCU leader's view that her members are only interested in pay and conditions. Are American trade unionists really as concerned with protecting Israel as they are with pay and conditions and therefore more concerned with what is a foreign affairs issue than their UK counterparts.?

But I digress. My own view is that shenanigans like these, in the UK anyway, can only benefit the Palestine solidarity movement. If professional or workers' associations declare themselves to be anti-boycott this raises the spectre of the boycott in a way that a mere voting down of boycott or pro-boycott proposals would not. I think so anyway. Dr Hirsh might think that this will have people thinking that the union movement or certain professional or academic bodies are riddled with antisemitism and that activists are exposing and fighting it. I think that many people will wonder why there are any proposals to boycott Israel and, as there are, there must be something boycott-worthy about Israel. They then might start looking into ways to deal with the last of the colonial settler states, and one of those ways might just be a boycott.

August 11, 2007

Israel's integrated apartheid road system

This article demonstrates how, for Israel, appearances are everything, substance nothing. Apparently Israel is building roads that can be used by Jews and by Arabs but in separate lanes.
Israel is constructing a road through the West Bank, east of Jerusalem, that will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to travel along it - separately.

There are two pairs of lanes, one for each group of people, separated by a tall wall of concrete patterned to look like Jerusalem stones, a beautification effort indicating that the road is meant to be permanent. The Israeli side has many exits; the Palestinian side has few.

The point of the road, according to those who planned it under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, is to permit Israel to build more settlements around East Jerusalem, cutting the city off from the West Bank, but allowing Palestinians to travel unimpeded north and south through Israeli-held land.

"The Americans demanded from Sharon contiguity for a Palestinian state," said Shaul Arieli, a reserve colonel in the army who participated in the 2000 Camp David negotiations and specializes in maps. "This road was Sharon's answer - to build a road for Palestinians between Ramallah and Bethlehem, but not to Jerusalem. This was how to connect the West Bank while keeping Jerusalem united and not giving Palestinians any blanket permission to enter East Jerusalem."
I got this from the Mercury News but apparently it also appears in the New York Times.

August 10, 2007

Israel's one state solution: ethnic cleansing both sides of the "Green Line"

Israel often blurs the so-called "Green Line," the pre-1967 border. The ethnic cleansing of Arabs, without which, Israel would not have a Jewish majority, continues to this day on both sides of the line.

Here's a report on the Negev, within the Green Line:
Thousands of residents participated on Wednesday in a conference which comes in solidarity with the "unrecognized" Arab villages in the Negev, and the ongoing Israeli threats to evacuate these villages and displace the 90,000 Arab residents in the Negev living in 45 unrecognized villages.

The participants in the conference stated that Israel is housing thousands of Israeli settlers in the Negev and establishing towns for them, while it rejects recognizing the Arab villages in the Negev and continues to displace their residents.

The participants also called on the Arab countries to act in support of the residents of the Negev and counter the racist Israeli policies against them.

On Wednesday, the Regional Council of the Unrecognized Villages conducted a press conference to expose the Israeli policies against the Arab residents in the Negev, and the continuous demolition of Arab houses there. Several Arab members of the Knesset, and dozens of Arab leaders, in addition to hundreds of residents, participated in the conference.

The participant carried banners written in Arabic, Hebrew and English, reading: "Yes to recognizing our villages" and "Israel wants us out of our land, and wants settlers to replace us."

Arab member of the Knesset, Talab Al Sane’, said that the Negev is 12,000 square kilometers, which it as twice as big as the West Bank, but after the 1967 war Israel displaced 90% of the Arabs there and replaced them with settlements and settlers.

Al Sane’ also said that now there are only 90,000 Arab residents in the Negev, and that those residents are facing displacement by Israel "just because they are Arabs."

He added that the Israeli government is financing the annexation of Arab lands in the Negev, has already annexed graveyards in Be’er Shiva, and has transformed an old mosque into a museum.
And from the officially occupied West Bank:
After Israel demolished structures in at least five Palestinian villages in the Jordan Valley in the last week, Hadash Chairman Mohammed Barakeh called on Thursday for an end to what he termed the "ethnic cleansing" in the area.

Pools, tents and tin structures built without permits and belonging to Palestinian residents, were destroyed in the villages of Bakia, Jeftlik, Beit Dajan and Bardella, which are scattered along the Jordan Valley.

Barakeh said that the demolitions prevent the residents from providing for themselves through working the land and raising livestock. The information was received by the Hadash chairman from the residents - who also turned to Amnesty International - and was verified by Haaretz.
I suppose its only appropriate for Israel to behave that way in this, the sixtieth year of zionist occupation.

August 09, 2007

Haifa Uni harrasses anti-racist pickets

This is a report from the Alternative Information Center:
On Wednesday, 7 August, a few dozen Jewish and Arab students at Haifa University, held a quiet protest on campus, in response to racist remarks made by the Haifa University Students Union (HUSU) spokesperson, Saar Ziv, when interviewed by a local newspaper. In the protest, organized by the local student club of the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality (Hadash), the protesting students held hands to form a human chain across campus. Their mouths were covered in duct tape and they held signs that read, in Hebrew and Arabic: “Let the Students Union Know—It is Better to SHUT UP than SPEAK RACISM.”

The University officials, who are generally hostile towards any student political activity, and especially the activities of Arab students, has charged seven of the protesting students, both Jewish and Arab, with “Provoking a commotion” and “Wild behavior.” The Haifa Seven, who are to be put in front of a disciplinary committee are: Rami Hod, Reem Hazzan, Arik Zolfin, Osama Amer, Uri Weltmann, Remon Maalouf and Elad Bardes.

“During our peaceful protest, we shut our mouth with duct tape to show our objection to the racist talk, the kind of which came out of the mouth of the HUSU spokesperson,” said Reem Hazan, one of the Haifa Seven. “Now it seems the university officials are keen to shut our mouths by force, for enacting our right to freedom of speech and expression. Had the university been sincere in claiming to uphold pluralism and critical thinking, it would have given us its support, rather than threatening to expel us.”

The protest came about after an interview with the HUSU spokesperson to a local newspaper, in which he made racist remarks towards the Arab students in general, and towards the Arab Students Committee (ASC) in particular. Around 25 percent of the students of Haifa University are Arabs, and they annually elect the ASC as their independent representative body. The HUSU spokesperson claimed that the “Arab Students Committee is against co-existence,” and wished the university would disallow its activities. He further said that he hopes that Arab students “will realize who constitutes the majority around here.” After the protest took place, the HUSU spokesperson was interviewed for the leading news portal, where he publicly apologized for his remarks.

“What's most absurd is that the university chose to charge with disciplinary actions those Jewish and Arab students who participated together in a nonviolent and peaceful protest,” said Rami Hod, one of the Haifa Seven. “But rightwing activists from the HUSU held several demonstrations, none of which were according to university regulations, all of which almost resulted in violence.” Hod recalled that when the DFPE student club called for an on-campus Jewish-Arab demonstration on June, to protest the ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in support of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, the HUSU activists held a counter-protest, unauthorized by the university. Nevertheless, the university officials took no disciplinary steps towards them. In his opinion, this is a conscious and deliberate policy of Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze'ev, President of the University of Haifa, and Prof, Yosi Ben-Artzi, the Rector of the university, designed to put down all anti-racist and anti-occupation activities.

During the coming months, the disciplinary committee will convene several times to hear witnesses, discuss evidence, and decide whether to convict and punish the Haifa Seven.

You can protest the harassment of the students by contacting Haifa University officials. You may want also to send a copy of your letter of protest to

President of the University of Haifa
Prof. Aaron Ben-Ze’ev
Tel: 972-4-8240101
Fax: 972-4-8240281

Rector of the University of Haifa
Prof. Yossi Ben-Artzi
Tel: 972-4-8240405
Fax: 972-4-8342101

Dean of Students of the University of Haifa
Prof. Ariel Bendor
Tel: 972-4-8240334/5
Fax: 972-4-8340319

Chairman of the Board of Govenors
Prof. Manfred Lahnstein

Tel: 972-4-8240093
Fax: 972-4-8342104

Chairman of the Executive Committee
Moshe Gavish

Tel.: 04-8249560, 8240585
Fax: 04-8342104

Call for moratorium on Israel's defence force

It turns out that Tony Greenstein's letter to the independent yesterday was the latest in a string of them. Thanks to Evan Jones of the late Alert and Alarmed blog for pointing this out to me in the comments to the Tony Greenstein post:

Israel's 'history' a hoary chestnut

Sir: S W Massil (letter, 26 July) reproduces the hoary chestnut of the 1947 UN partition.

The reason why the Palestinians and the Arab states did not accept the partition is because it gave 55 per cent of Mandate territory to the Jewish state, when the Jewish population was less than 30 per cent, and Jewish ownership of land about 6 per cent. The partition was a con job of the Western powers.

But no, this generosity was not good enough. The Zionist jihadis did not accept the partition then and their children do not accept it now.

A Jewish state without Jerusalem? No thank you. The plight of the Palestinians cannot be blamed on the Arab states' behaviour in the late 1940s.

Can we have a moratorium on printing letters from the party faithful who continue to defend the indefensible, Israel as pariah state?



Evan went on to point out that the papers don't publish letters from flat earthers so why do they publish tosh they know to be tosh in favour of Israel? Anyway, they didn't publish that bit but then the Indie has been known to publish said tosh in its own editorial column.

Oh, and here's a link to the letter that Evan Jones was complaining about.

Independent naqba denial

I didn't see the letter in the Independent that prompted Tony Greenstein's response here:
Sir: Jim Roland (letter, 4 August) really cannot be allowed to get away with the same old discredited Israeli propaganda.

It was nearly 50 years ago, in 1959, that Palestinian historian Walid Khalidi debunked the myth that the Palestinian refugees were the product of exhortations by Arab leaders to leave in order that they could invade. Independently, in 1961, Erskine Childers, in The Spectator of 12 May, published an article after having examined the transcripts of Arab radio stations, monitored by the BBC and CIA, which showed that far from ordering the refugees to leave, they instructed them to stay! This particular myth was created in the early 1950s by Israeli leaders as a means of deflecting the demand that Israel accept the right of return of the refugees.

The explanation for the expulsion of the Palestinian refugees is quite simple. Even in the area that the United Nations allocated to a Jewish state, a majority of the population were Arabs. If a Jewish state were to be created then it was inevitable that the Arabs had to be expelled. As Joseph Weitz, the key official responsible for Jewish colonisation wrote in his diary in 1940: "Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country ... And there is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from her to the neighbouring countries, to transfer all of them; not one village, not one tribe should be left..."


The letter Tony was responding to is here.

August 08, 2007

The United State of Israel?

Thanks to Montag for sending me this suggestion from Rosa Schmidt Azadi in OpEdNews that America adopt Israel as it's 51st state:

A Modest Proposal: U.S. Statehood for Israel?

By Rosa Schmidt Azadi

I’m only half kidding.

Just think of the possibilities. Making Israel the 51st U.S. state could be a win-win-win solution for our country, for Israel, and for Middle East peace. The way I see it, Israel’s security would get a boost at a lower cost to the U.S. taxpayer, and the biggest cause of conflict in the Middle East would be resolved, reducing the threat of terrorism.

Stay with me on this for a minute.

Improving security in Israel.

We’re supplying Israel with billions of dollars in weaponry and we look like their only friend at the United Nations. Right? This is supposedly to defend them from attack by their sworn enemies, who are legion. Many Americans have a deep emotional commitment to the people in Israel and so we are bending over backward to protect them from threats both real and perceived.

But if Israel were the 51st state of the USA, things would be different. I doubt anyone would seriously attack the world’s only superpower. Every state is defended by the U.S. armed forces, which we’re already funding out of our tax dollars, and the United States has plenty of missiles and spy satellites. Plenty enough to watch over the newest state as well as all 50 others.

Israel is too far from the U.S. to feel protected, you say? Well, if Japan was betting on Hawaii being too far from the “contiguous United States” when they attacked Pearl Harbor, they had another think coming.

Imagine this, too. Once Israel became a state they would officially benefit from the services of the CIA and wouldn’t need their own spy agency (Mossad) anymore. That would be a relief to Americans who were so disappointed to hear that Israeli agents had spied on the U.S. and deceptively lobbied Congress. Also, what a relief it would be to hear no more rumors about how Mossad was secretly behind an unrealistic number of dastardly deeds in an unrealistic number of locations all over the world. (These rumors are not helping the struggle against anti-semitism.)

Saving U.S. taxpayers money.

If Israel were a state, we wouldn’t need to give them billions of our hard-earned dollars in military aid every year any more than we had to send the governor of Alaska billions of dollars to defend his state from the nearby USSR during the Cold War.

As a bonus to the U.S. bottom line, individuals and businesses in Israel would pay into the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) like everyone else who receives the protection of the U.S. Defense and State Departments. And they'd also benefit from the services of all the other federal agencies.

Promoting peace in the Middle East (and reducing terrorism).

Statehood is not just about Israel’s security and U.S. taxpayers’ comfort, though. Think how Israeli statehood might benefit the peace process and Middle East peace in general. This would help reduce terrorism.

First, Israel’s borders and land disputes would have to be settled before statehood could be granted, and naturally the U.S. would be interested in getting the best possible bargain. Other countries would also weigh in with their opinions and help mediate. This might be the perfect chance to offer compensation or repatriation to dispossessed Palestinian refugees. With an ultimate prize so big, the price would be worth it, and Israel wouldn’t have to worry about paying the cost all alone.

Second, we probably wouldn’t hear many complaints from the Palestinians and Arab Israelis about discrimination or “apartheid” after Israel joins the United States. Why? Because Israel’s state legislature would have to abide by the U.S. Constitution in its guarantee of religious freedom, separation of church and state, and equal civil/legal rights to all residents. We could also expect to see a sharp drop in terrorist recruitment as conditions improve.

Third, and equally important, transforming Israel from a major military power into one of 51 states in the USA would go a long way toward stabilizing the region. Neighboring countries would understand that, just as the Texas State National Guard cannot on their own authority attack Tijuana and the New York State National Guard cannot attack Montreal, the Israel State National Guard (which would replace the Israeli Defense Force) couldn't launch preemptive strikes into towns in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, or Iran. And that would mean we U.S. taxpayers wouldn’t have to “balance” the billions in military aid we send to Israel with yet more billions in military aid to Israel’s neighbors. Nor would we have to worry about being drawn into conflagrations that we don’t want and that Congress wouldn’t approve if they knew about them in advance (e.g., bombing Iran).

Fourth, when it became part of the USA, Israel would be automatically signed on to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and other international agreements that they’ve so far avoided. Israel would finally have to answer whether or not they have nukes and/or chemical weapons and, if so, put them under Pentagon command. What a public relations coup this would be for the United States internationally! In one fell swoop we’d eliminate all further talk of the “Israeli lobby” or the tail wagging the dog.

As a bonus, we wouldn’t need unpopular military bases in Saudi Arabia or Iraq because we’d have bases in Israel. We could dock our aircraft carriers there instead of in the Arab-Persian Gulf, a move that would reduce tensions in the region. Maybe we could even use this as an excuse to get out of Iraq, saving more money (and lives) and further improving our image.

In sum, if Israel became the 51st state, Israelis would be safer, Palestinians would breathe easier, the biggest source of tension in the region would have been settled, Americans would look like heroes, and the U.S. taxpayer would save megabillions. Which we need for repairing bridges and dams, it seems.

Statehood for Israel: an impossible dream?

There’s only one problem with this dream solution: it might be hard to sell. I think two groups would be especially hard to convince.

The first group would be the people who are emotionally attached to the notion of Israel as a solely “Jewish state.” Statehood advocates will need to convince them that it’s in their best interest to adopt the American system of separation of church and state. (If Israel changed in this way, it would also be easier for Americans to criticize “Islamic nationalism” without being called hypocrites.)

The other group that would need to be won over are those in the region who have always seen Israel as a U.S. satellite helping police the countries of the Middle East and North Africa so that U.S. corporations can exploit their resources. These people would say that making Israel part of the United States would be like putting a leash on the police dog that’s been scaring people . . . and then bringing in a squad of police commandos.

But we can prove they’re wrong, can’t we?

This reminds of when a leading Israeli politician, maybe even the PM of the day, suggested that Israel go on to the US dollar to stabilise the currency. By way of a protest, or maybe a joke, a referee tried to flip a dollar bill at the start of a football match. I think he got the sack.

August 07, 2007

Israel's right refuseniks

Apparently refusing to obey orders to evict settlers from certain settlements or taken over houses is a growing phenomenon in Israel. Soldiers are phoning their parents or rabbis and asking what to do when told to evict settlers. Ha'aretz's editorial today showed signs of panic over the problem. Here's the whole thing:
Dozens of Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Duchifat Battalion - part of the Kfir Brigade, which, as a rule, is stationed in the West Bank - informed their commanders, after consulting with their rabbis, that they would refuse to participate in the evacuation of Jewish families who took over buildings in the Hebron marketplace.

The soldiers were not slated to evacuate the settlers-intruders with their own hands, but were going to be replacing Border Police officers who were being removed from their posts for the evacuation. Some of the soldiers explicitly announced their intentions to refuse orders, while others reported being stricken by various aches and pains that led to their being granted sick leave. Twelve of them were sent, under orders from the commanding general officer, for a disciplinary hearing. However, that is not enough; tomorrow there will be another evacuation, and more refusal.

This is the big test for Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. Over the last few days, Barak and Ashkenazi repeatedly condemned evasion of duty, but refusal is no less dangerous. Political refusal - and cloaking it in religious terms does not disguise its political nature - is a malignant growth in the IDF's body. Military authorities must fight it without compromise. Refusal from the right is no more acceptable or worthy of understanding than refusal from the left. If there is the chance of a political compromise that will lead to peace with the Palestinians, it entails the evacuation of settlements. An army that conveys weakness toward those who refuse its orders will not be able to be a reliable and skilled tool of those who dispatch it.

The refuseniks' organization is a declaration of revolt, and must be dealt with to the full extent of the law. The army must cancel its arrangements with yeshivas whose rabbis reject the commanders' authority. If it is true that extremist groups, some of them from abroad, are offering financial compensation to the refuseniks, they are abetting the soldiers in committing an offense. Those bribing the refuseniks should be brought before the police and the prosecution.

The founders of the state understood that the IDF must have a unified chain of command that includes only military commanders subordinate to the chief of staff, who in turn follows the orders of the supreme headquarters of the IDF: the government. Private armies will lead to the disintegration of the IDF, and will ultimately fight each other, as in pre-revolution China or in Iraq after the American invasion.

Two years ago, ahead of the evacuation of the settlements in Gaza and the northern West Bank, the government and General Staff took a forgiving approach toward the refuseniks, people staying in settlements illegally and violent anti-disengagement protesters. Just recently, MKs on the religious right once more asked that youths who harmed soldiers and police officers at the time of the pullout be pardoned and allowed to join the IDF. But this is not the place for compassion.

Israel is facing several difficult military fronts - Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas - over which it has limited control. It must not accept the existence of an internal front as well, within the sole armed force under its authority. This front, the refusal front, must be dismantled without delay. If Ashkenazi, Barak and the government, led by Ehud Olmert, are too weak to do so, then they must not remain in their posts a single day longer.
So call for the Likud or call for the army? Who else is there to call for to rule Israel?