September 30, 2007

Crisis in Burma - it's good for Jews!

News just in the from the World War IV Report. Killing unarmed demonstrators in Burma is good for Jews. See this:
The Burmese junta currently shooting unarmed protestors received a cynical plea for restraint from the Israel government on Sept. 29. According to the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, the Israeli foreign ministry announced "Israel is concerned by the situation in Myanmar, and urges the government to demonstrate restraint and refrain from harming demonstrators." The article ended by pointing out that "Israel denies selling weapons to Burma or Myanmar." (Ha'aretz, Sept. 29)

Not true, according a March 1, 2000 report in the authoritative British publication Jane's Intelligence Review by William Ashton. The article, titled "Myanmar and Israel develop military," details how Israeli companies and the Israeli government have been supplying and developing weapons for the Burmese regime, and sharing intelligence:

In August 1997 it was revealed that the Israeli defence manufacturing company Elbit had won a contract to upgrade Myanmar's (then) three squadrons of Chinese-built F-7 fighters and FT-7 trainers. The F-7 is a derivative of the Mikoyan MiG-21 'Fishbed' jet fighter. The FT-7 is the export version of the GAIC JJ-7, itself a copy of the MiG-21 'Mongol-B' trainer. Since they began to be delivered by China in 1991, the Myanmar Air Force has progressively acquired about 54 (or four squadrons) of these aircraft, the latest arriving at Hmawbi air base only last year. In related sales, the air force has also acquired about 350 PL-2A air-to-air missiles (AAM) from China and at least one shipment of the more sophisticated PL-5 AAMs.

Since their delivery to Myanmar, these new aircraft have caused the air force considerable problems. Several aircraft (and pilots) have already been lost through accidents, raising questions about the reliability of the Chinese technology. There have also been reliable reports that the F-7s were delivered without the computer software to permit the AAMs to be fired in flight. Also, the air force has complained that the F-7s are difficult to maintain, in part reflecting major differences between the structure and underlying philosophy of the Myanmar and Chinese logistics systems. Spare parts have been in very short supply. In addition, the air force seems to have experienced difficulties in using the F-7 (designed primarily for air defence) in a ground attack role. These, and other problems, seem to have prompted the air force to turn to Israel for assistance.
Of course if there are sanctions against Burma, as it's not "illegal" to discuss boycotts of states other than Israel, this will be even better for Jews because Israel has always been chief among sanction busters. Ask a South African. No ask a Rhodesian. Oh dear, you can't ask a Rhodesian, Rhodesia no longer exists.

Who are like the nazis?

I really should pay more attention. I don't have my copy of the Jewish Chronicle now but I think Geoffrey Alderman and Melanie Phillips may actually appear on the same page, I'm not sure. Anyway, for the post before last I borrowed a headline from Melanie Phillips for the headline. She had accused Independent Jewish Voices (I think it was them) of being Jews for genocide as if to say they wanted Jews annihilated, though she disclaimed that interpretation in the article itself. This in turn begs the question, why run the headline? Anyway, I have only just seen that Geoffrey Alderman too thinks that Gazans should be deprived of water. What I noticed about Alderman's article is that he sees fit to liken Qassem rockets, a homemade missile, to the industrially manufactured V1 and V2 bombs pioneered and used by the Germans in World War II. But that isn't the only dubious comparison he invokes. See this:
But just suppose, for a moment, that a radio broadcast from a neutral country had revealed that Nazi-occupied Western Europe was receiving electricity from British power stations. That water from British reservoirs was being transferred to European cities. And that precious fuel, bought from British refineries, was being sold, through third parties, to the Nazi regime. Let us further suppose that, when confronted with these shocking revelations, Churchill’s government had explained that it was permitting the transfer of electricity, water and fuel as “humanitarian gestures”. After all, why should innocent civilians suffer — and be collectively punished — because of the iniquities of Hitler and his allies?
Now I should have thought that if we are going to invoke analogies between the middle east now and World War II then surely Israel is more like nazi Germany. Israel is the aggressor, Israel has the master race belief in itself, Israel is so racist that like Germany before it, it alienates potential friends by assuming that all Arabs are the same. This is what happened last year in Lebanon with many Christian communities, formerly phalangist, turned to Hizbullah for defence or at least moral support.

I think it's always important to study the nazi era, how they got into power, what they did once in power and how they conducted their war effort and how that war effort was informed by its racism. It was its racism that did for it in the end. It's all very well this or that Israeli commander telling his troops to do to a refugee camp (or maybe it was Gaza) what the nazis did to the Warsaw ghetto. But he might want to tell his troops that Germany lost the war and many of its commanders were executed or spent lengthy spells in prison when Germany lost.

But that's not the point I want to make. When people compare Israel to the nazis there are howls of hysterical protest. Some even call it holocaust denial though why liken Israel to the nazis if you are denying the holocaust? I remember Howard Jacobson saying that if you compare Jews to the nazis you are saying that the Jews should be annihilated. I'm not sure of the logic because I've never heard anyone saying that the Germans should be annihilated. Perhaps it was a freudian slip on Jacobson's part. These people that compare the Palestinians to the nazis do seem to want them annihilated. And there are two such possibly on the same page of the main UK Jewish community newspaper.

September 29, 2007

Anarchists against the Wall in London tonight

Just in from Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Meeting with ADAR GRAYEVSKY and SARIT from ANARCHISTS AGAINST THE
WALL

Anarchists Against the Wall are a group of Israelis who have shown
steadfast and courageous opposition to Israel's illegal "security"
barrier. This stance has earned them physical injury and legal
attack. They have been foremost amongst those instrumental in the
recent legal victory over the wall in Bil'in.

Come and hear from two of those directly involved in the regular
Friday protests in the village against the stealing of land; about the
Barrier and about the reaction of Israelis to the campaign and
the recent Supreme Court judgement.

In their own words: A 3 year battle has been waging over several
hundred acres of West bank lands. This struggle has come
to symbolize the popular resistance to Israel's "separation barrier".

Aligned on one side were a city of 30,000 settlers, several of the
largest construction companies in Israel, the state itself and the
IDF. On the other side was a village called Bilin population
1700. Bilin is supported by a loose collection of activist from
around the world and from Israel. A significant part of that
support comes from the Israeli group called Anarchists Against the
Wall (www.awalls.org).

By ceaseless demonstrations, direct actions and endless creativity the village and its supporters have forced the Israeli court to yield back part of the lands of the village in a stunning decision on Sept 4th. The struggle is not over but one thing is already clear; the joint popular movement of Palestinians internationals and Israelis is capable of sustaining intensive campaigns for years and has more power than even it knew.

Venue: Indian YMCA 41 Fitzroy Square London W1T6AQ ( nearest
tubes Warren Street and Great Portland Street )

Organised by Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Melanie Phillips, a Jew for genocide?

Some time ago Melanie Phillips of the Mail on Sunday and Jewish Chronicle, described mild mannered Jewish critics of Israel as "Jews for genocide." Her zionist colleague at the Jewish Chronicle, Guardian columnist and occasional leader writer, Jonathan Freedland, baulked at that description. But now here's Melanie in this week's Jewish Chronicle joining the Israeli Jewish zionists who have lost their moral compass completely and are now discussing, indeed planning, depriving the Gaza civilian population of all of the means of life itself.
Is the Jewish people capable of defending itself properly? This may seem an absurd question to ask when Israel has created a formidably armed society in an explicit renunciation of the powerlessness of the Jewish diaspora.

But with Israel under internal and external pressure over its decision to designate Gaza a “hostile entity” and the prospect that it may cut off its fuel and electricity, we might ponder the absurdity of it not doing so.
Has something changed here? Israel has always been based on a cultivated and encouraged genocidal impulse of settlers towards the natives. All are agreed that Israel isn't colonial in the expoitative sense. Elimination of the natives was always the aim of the mainstream zionist movement. But what happened to the circumspection called for by Herzl and practised so adeptly by a combination of labour zionist hypocrisy and western government and media connivance? Decades the zionists have spent covering their crimes and blaming the victims as the aggressors. Now Melanie Phillips - yes a wacko but - a mainstream journo can openly join the settler population in occupied Palestine in calling for the application of a water diet on top of the food diet forced on the Gaza population. The Jewish Chronicle is happy to publish this outrage but their readership is almost entirely Jewish (and its circulation is in decline). I must check the Mail on Sunday tomorrow to see if Melanie Phillips sees fit to share this sordid genocidal racism with her goyishe readers.

I should say that I did my usual here and only read part of the article. I just returned to it and I see that Melanie Phillips is promoting the same racial mythology that Howard Jacobson was promoting a couple of weeks ago. It's the idea that all Jews come from an Israel that was purged of its entire population by the Romans and that in the intervening 2,000 years Jews have done nothing but "yearn" for return and suffer a real physical exile. The difference is that while the "left wing" Jacobson thinks we should "feel" for the Palestinians' exile (don't panic, not in a doing anything about it sort of a way), Phillips pretends that they haven't been exiled at all or if they have they deserved it for being enemies of the Jews.

So where now? An open call in a Jewish community newspaper for the intensification of a genocidal campaign that was first mooted in the 1890s and initiated in 1947 and continuing "even as we speak." The call has already been made in the mainstream Israeli press and there have been Israeli cabinet ministers openly calling for what would be called nazi policies were they repeated in a European cabinet. How long before this enters the mainstream discourse of the west. And how long before some of the fascist parties of Europe start to say that all they want is what Israel already has?

I'm not sure but I think a line has been crossed here. I think that sort of thing shouldn't even be published but I wonder if there will be any counter argument in the JC next week. A truly unedifying spectacle, the Jewish community openly discussing whether or not one and a half million people should be deprived of the means of life itself.

September 28, 2007

Zionists use the law to silence the boycott Israel movement

Zionists at the University and Colleges Union are celebrating a "victory" over the movement for a boycott of Israel. See this from the Engage website:
The campaign for an academic boycott of Israel has ended today in an absolute and final political, legal and moral defeat.

The University and College Union’s (UCU) own lawyers advised it that a policy to exclude academics who work in Israel from the global academic community – and to exclude nobody else on the planet - would have been a violation of equal opportunities legislation in Britain.

Given this legal advice, the leadership of the UCU had no choice but decisively to end the union’s flirtation with a boycott of Israeli academia. To persist in a ‘discussion’ of an illegal and discriminatory policy would have opened the union up to potentially fatal lawsuits on the grounds of unfair discrimination. Union members could have been held personally liable if they had ignored clear legal advice. The Opinion was given to UCU by a widely respected barrister.
I'm not sure how using equal opportunities legislation or policies to defend the most thorough-going racist state on the planet amounts to a "moral" defeat for those who support an academic boycott, but then frankly, I couldn't bear to read the whole article.

But international solidarity has always been part of the credo of the trade union movement so work still needs to be done for the Palestinian cause in the unions. Of course zionists will try to have international solidarity itself outlawed but the focus now will have to be simply on drawing attention to Israel's crimes. This of itself won't stop Israel's crimes but ultimately it might stop or hinder our own government from supporting, indeed participating in, these crimes.

I actually first got to hear about this discussion (or not) business via Justin in the comments to the post below this one. I also got to hear about this Socialist Worker article in the same thread.
The effort by supporters of Israel to prevent any debate on the role of the state’s academic institutions is itself an attack on the human rights of British lecturers and should be dismissed with contempt.

Nevertheless, while the decision to discuss a boycott was a victory for the left, it is also a potential trap. The first elections to the new union’s leadership earlier this year produced a split result.

Sally Hunt, with the support of the right and centre-left in the old Association of University Teachers, won the position of general secretary. But the left won a majority on the executive.

Hunt came out very strongly against the decision to discuss a boycott. She has also expressed sympathy with calls from the Zionist camp to hold a membership ballot on the issue.

The signs are that Hunt wants to rush through the debate that the congress decided on and probably to weight it in favour of opponents of a boycott. She will then in all likelihood attempt to move quickly to mount a ballot with the aim, not simply of throwing out the boycott, but also of isolating the left within UCU.

The left faces two problems here. The first is that the boycott is an issue that divides critics of Israel. Even as sterling an anti-Zionist and anti-imperialist as Noam Chomsky opposes it.

The second is that any ballot would be dominated by a well-funded Zionist campaign that would enjoy the overwhelming support of the mass media. Under such pressure, the boycott would almost certainly be heavily defeated. Such an outcome would set back the cause of solidarity with Palestine in British universities for many years.

The left should refuse to walk into Hunt’s trap. We should make it clear now that we do not intend to propose an actual boycott of any Israeli academic institutions at the next union congress.

We should do so in order to achieve the maximum unity over the question of Palestine.

Many opponents of the boycott have been fulsome in their support for the Palestinians. We should put them on the spot and demand to know, if a boycott were off the agenda, what they intend to do help the Palestinians.
Yup, that's the question now. But will the zionists at the UCU get the question outlawed as well?

September 25, 2007

What is Abbas for?

This article is all over the net now. It's Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz denouncing Mahmoud Abbas as a "puppet leader." Here's the whole thing:
Mahmoud Abbas has to stay home. As things stand right now, he must not go to Washington. Even his meetings with Ehud Olmert are gradually turning into a disgrace and have become a humiliation for his people. Nothing good will come of them. It has become impossible to bear the spectacle of the Palestinian leader's jolly visits in Jerusalem, bussing the cheek of the wife of the very prime minister who is meanwhile threatening to blockade a million and a half of his people, condemning them to darkness and hunger.

If Abu Mazen were a genuine national leader instead of a petty retailer, he would refuse to participate in the summit and any other meetings until the blockade of Gaza is lifted. If he were a man of truly historic stature he would add that no conference can be held without Ismail Haniyeh, another crucial Palestinian representative. And if Israel really wanted peace, not only an "agreement of principles" with a puppet-leader that will lead nowhere, it should respect Abbas' demand. Israel should aspire for Abu Mazen to be considered a leader in the eyes of his people, not only a marionette whose strings are pulled by Israel and the United States, or affected by other short-term power plays.

Right now power rests with the powerless Abu Mazen. Since Washington - and perhaps Jerusalem as well - badly want the photo-op otherwise known as a "peace summit" to show off an "achievement," Abu Mazen could and should threaten to boycott the meeting to try and force some achievement on behalf of his people. Palestinians live in Gaza, too - an area controlled by Hamas, which Abu Mazen so loathes: He cannot continue to ignore the inhumane conditions in which Gazans live, caged in by Israel.

But the impression Abu Mazen makes is that he's no more than a political survivor. He's participating in the American-Israeli masked ball not because of naivete or weakness - for him, Gaza is just as "hostile territory" as Israel is. Therefore, he shares a shameful common interest with Israel, which will do neither side any good. Judging by his behavior Abu Mazen not only doesn't object to what Israel is doing in Gaza, he may even agree with the twisted doctrine arguing that cruel pressure will subdue Hamas and return the people to Fatah's embrace. In so doing, Abu Mazen proves that he's no "downy chick," as Ariel Sharon once put it, but a cynical rooster who cares little for the welfare of his people.

A genuine peace conference should involve all the hawks. Peace is forged between bitter enemies. The question of whether Saudi Arabia will take part in the summit or not is futile unless it includes real Palestinian representation. At most Abu Mazen represents only half of his people and could achieve, at best, half an agreement that wouldn't survive anyhow, given Hamas' strong opposition. It is in the interests of all the parties involved, including Abu Mazen, to drag Hamas to the negotiation table. A peace conference without Hamas and without Syria is a joke. But the short-sighted coalition of the royal triumvirate, Jerusalem-Washington-Ramallah, is trying to promote a false vision of "peace talks" without the decisive partners, while the world is busy applauding this illusion.

Obviously, it is hard to expect from Abu Mazen that he will rise above his narrow interests and call for an invitation to be issued to Hamas, the party that was democratically elected to lead the Palestinian government. But the least one could expect from the person with the lofty title of "President of the Palestinian Authority" is to strive for the greater good of all his people, especially in light of the extent of their distress. But instead of acting to bring about a cessation of hostilities and opening Gaza to the world, the triumvirate is busy formulating yet another position paper that won't be worth the paper it's written on and that will soon find itself in the garbage bin of history, along with its predecessors. It will only serve to impose increasingly cruel hardships on the people of Gaza. Abu Mazen must not participate in this farce.
But he will, won't he?

September 21, 2007

Racial purity; ignorance of religious ethic; visceral hatred of sexual minorities; xenophobia - in Israel? never!

Crikey! That's Geoffrey Alderman writing about Jewish fascists in the Jewish Chronicle today. I always thought Geoffrey Alderman was a Jewish fascist in the Jewish Chronicle until today. Actually, I must thank him for reminding me to nuance my thinking. Can you make a verb (or can you verb) out of nuance? I think so. Anyway, Geoffrey Alderman has written an interesting article in today's JC on Jews who were proud fascists during what Brenner famously called, The Age of the Dictators. He's written it in the wake of that neo-nazi business in Israel.

Now, do you remember me pointing out that this neo-nazi stuff has cropped up in Israel for each of the last three years. Well, not to be outdone, get a load of Geoffrey:
The capture of the gang, and the discovery of their ways and weaponry, have shocked public opinion both in Israel and the diaspora. But in fact this is by no means the first incident of its kind. Small neo-Nazi organisations operating in Israel have been known to the Israeli police for some time. A centre for victims of anti-Jewish harassment in Israel, established by Zalman Gilichinsky, has been documenting such incidents since 1990. Dr Gilichinksy’s efforts have until now been largely rebuffed by Israeli politicians and police, perhaps because the truths he uncovered were felt to be an exaggerated embarrassment. But not any more.
Now think Lenni Brenner:
should we be surprised that Nazism holds any attraction for Jews? I do not think we should. Fascism — one of Nazism’s parent creeds — had many Jewish admirers in the first half of the 20th century. The then Chief Rabbi of Rome was a paid-up member of Mussolini’s Fascist party. In his memoirs, the distinguished Israeli diplomat and academic Dan Segre records how he was born into a thoroughly fascist Jewish family in Piedmont. It is not pleasant to remember — but we must never forget — that a number of prominent British Jews were proud fascist “fellow travellers” in the 1930s, including Sir Philip Montefiore Magnus, Gladstone’s biographer.
I really need to read up on this stuff but where do I find the time?

Anyway, Alderman's on a roll here. Why on earth would Jews of all people support fascists, even nazis?
Nazism also had its Jewish admirers and supporters, at least in its early years. Professor Marc Shapiro’s brilliant study of the radical-Orthodox head of the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin, Yechiel Weinberg, documents the reasoning that lay behind Weinberg’s admittedly guarded welcome for the advent of a Nazi government in Germany in 1933, and points out that his views echoed those of a rabbinical colleague, Elie Munk. The Nazis (Munk explained) opposed democracy, women’s rights, and socialism; so did the Jews.

In Nazi Germany there were party members of undoubted Jewish origin, such as Field Marshal Erhard Milch, whom Hitler himself bracketed with Göring as the joint founder of the Luftwaffe. Nor did this penchant for the racist ideologies of the far right end in 1945. During the 1970s, I elevated myself into the bad books of the Board of Deputies by publicly naming and shaming halachically Jewish members of the (British) National Front.
I'm tellin' ya! Lenni Brenner's kidnapped Geoffrey Alderman.

But how are these manifestations of Jewish fascism related?
there are sinister threads that connect all these movements: an obsession with racial purity; an ignorance of religious ethic; a visceral hatred of sexual minorities; an obsessive xenophobia; the glorification of physical aggression as a legitimate form of political expression.
Has he made his case here? These are the outward forms of fascism. Are they what connect the support of a Chief Rabbi in 1930s Rome to racist bootboys in Petah Tikva? I don't think they are. I just thought it was funny that a supporter of Israel can be so shocked that some new Israelis can be so shocked at those who have "an obsession with racial purity; an ignorance of religious ethic; a visceral hatred of sexual minorities; an obsessive xenophobia; the glorification of physical aggression as a legitimate form of political expression." Take out Israel's sop to western liberal opinion on "sexual minorities" and he's described Israel itself.

Who's the idiot?

I've just received a complaint in the comments section from my friend Georgina. It arose out of my post on Howard Jacobson's follow up to his piece on how Jews are a dispossessed people just as much as the Palestinians are. I said that someone who said that Jacobson's view was shaped by his being Jewish was an "idiot." Here's my friend's comment:
I'm sorry to see you refer to an anti-Jacobson correspondent as 'An idiot (who) walked into the trap of believing that just because most, maybe all, Jews in the mainstream media jump through hoops to defend the racist war criminals of the zionist movement and the State of Israel, it must be a Jewish state of mind.'
You are usually the first to admit the overwhelming pressure the Zionist Jewish community use to ensure this misunderstanding is perpetuated. Until I met you and discovered others, such as the admirable Stephen Rose, I too was 'an idiot'. That's because I had many Jewish friends and acquaintances who without exception whole-heartedly supported the racist state of Israel. Then I started reading the Jewish Chronicle which appeared to speak for all the Jewish communities in this country and, again, saw no anti-Zionist dissent. As to the mainstream media, at that time I didn't in general distinguish Jews from non-Jews (not having had any occasion to), so I suppose if someone wrote in favour of Israel I thought they were Jews and vice versa.
You are expecting the majority of perfectly sensible people, often with their hearts and their heads in the right place, to have the opportunity and inclination to look as deeply into these matters as you do.
I by the way am the 'lady from Milton Keynes' dishonourably mentioned in Jacobson's second article.
Did you see that? Sorry, a digression from the "idiot" bit. Did you see that Georgina got a personal mention in the Jacobson article? I didn't read the whole thing (remember?) so I didn't see the reference. Let's have a look now:
A lady from Milton Keynes missed my point and proved it all at once, explaining that the difference between dispossessed Jews and dispossessed Palestinians is that the former have become the dispossessors of the latter. But that is not a moral difference, it is a tragic political consequence. If we insist on making it a moral difference we not only compromise our good faith, we fail to find a solution to the consequence.
Of course! Jacobson is earnestly looking for a solution, not covering for Israel by muddying the waters by invoking a probably bogus lineage for Jews and Palestinians. Meanwhile in the real world, the zionists dispossessed and are dispossessing the Palestinians. What part of that is Jacobson refusing to understand? But worse, in my opinion, what on earth are editors thinking of when they allow their commentators to target named, or at least identifiable, people, in that way? Ok, she stuck her neck out by writing the first letter but there was nothing she misunderstood. If anything, as I argued before, she pandered to his own misunderstanding by referring to Jews (including himself) as dispossessed. And of course, she can always write to the Independent who would surely allow a private individual to respond when they've been singled out by a dishonest hack. Apparently not:
Here is what I wrote to the Independent when I found out about it:

I see that the gentleman (I wonder if you would publish that? He happily called me 'lady'.) has dismissed my published response to his previous article as a failure to understand what he was saying. I am happy to accept that possibility because, in truth, his first article was almost unreadable. That you have allowed him another diatribe on the same subject, but this time one that is both personalized and vindictive, makes me wonder why. It doesn't worry me, however, as I think he is doing himself and his cause nothing but harm.
So yet another resident zionist in the media can say what he (or she, when it's a she) wants, target identifiable individuals and those individuals can be (invariably will be) denied a right to reply. This repeats and repeats. Even the "liberal" papers allow the last word to the zionists, and people have complained when I have referred to the media as zionist controlled.

So who is the idiot? Is it idiotic to believe that because every Jewish journalist in the mainstream media is an apologist for Israel or has engaged in smears of named individuals for criticising Israel, then every Jew must support Israel, either its racist structure or its appalling behaviour? Or is it idiotic to expect counter-inductiveness on the part of casual readers? Oh dear, maybe I'm the idiot.

Nope, I don't like that. I'm not an idiot. What we have to do here is assume that if a people's identity is based on an accident of birth, no matter how many of that group subscribe to an idea or exhibit a certain voluntary behaviour, we should not generalise about the whole of those people's identity group. Difficult sometimes I know. But I shouldn't call it idiotic. I'm sure it is called inductive reasoning to assume that all observed instances are typical of all possible instances of the same thing. I'm not sure I've expressed that well, so maybe I am the idiot.

I just checked the letters page of the last Independents from 17/9/07 to today and there were some letters rubbishing Jacobson but there were two supporting Israel. One claimed wrongly that the previous correspondents had challenged Israel's legitimacy and the last was from someone claiming that there wouldn't be any Palestinian refugees if the Arab states hadn't mobilised against Israel in 1948. The fact that the zionists began their ethnic cleansing campaign in November 1947, about seven months before the Arab states mobilised and the fact that there were already about 300,000 Palestinian refugees by the time they did hasn't occurred to that person. And that letter, lying about the cause of the Palestinian refugee situation seems to be last word in this round. Would it be idiotic to point out that the Independent's editor, Simon Kelner, is himself Jewish? I really don't know.

We are all Norman Finkelstein!

Professor Norman Finkelstein has photos of what looks like his leaving do at DePaul University. This is the pic which caught my eye:



Not sure I approve of personality cults but I'll make a temporary exception in Finkelstein's case.

September 20, 2007

Howard Jacobson's intellectually right zionism

I've just seen a critique in the Electronic Intifada of two of Howard Jacobson's recent defences of zionism. I covered the responses to the first one here. I didn't know he'd followed up until just now and so I took a quick look. I don't have time to read the whole thing. Thanks to Ben White's critique I don't have to read the (not so) "original." Still, Jacobson starts well.
"As a Jew," a reader from London W6 writes to tell me, "you can't be expected to take a dispassionate view of the State of Israel." Nice of him to be so understanding of my predicament. "But the fact is," he goes on to explain, "that Palestine was stolen from the Arabs." Thereby showing me what a dispassionate view looks like.

I take exception, of course, to the idea that a Jew can think and feel only one way about Israel. There are examples in plenty of Jews who think and feel differently from me, as indeed I often think and feel differently from myself. I also take exception to the assumption that a Jew holds the view he does only because he is a Jew. For one thing, it predetermines the argument, making anything a Jew says on the subject suspect. For another, it discounts the possibility, all round, of arguing disinterestedly.
I say he starts well. He was lucky. An idiot wrote him an email. An idiot walked into the trap of believing that just because most, maybe all, Jews in the mainstream media jump through hoops to defend the racist war criminals of the zionist movement and the State of Israel, it must be a Jewish state of mind. I think that's called "over-inductive" but it might not be. We ought to note his chutzpah at hinting that there are anti-zionist Jews without actually naming any or explaining their arguments.

Anyway, I didn't read beyond that stuff. I did read the whole of Ben White's article though and I'm pasting the whole thing here.
Shoot and cry: Liberal Zionism's dilemma
Ben White, The Electronic Intifada, Sep 20, 2007



Howard Jacobson is one of the most high-profile Jewish authors in Britain, having written numerous critically-acclaimed and successful comic novels. He also writes a weekly column in the liberal-leaning The Independent and in recent times has used it to vociferously attack the growing boycott of Israel. His column on 1 September, "There seems to be a pecking order among the dispossessed, and Jews come last," was a fine example of the twin track approach of the liberal Zionist, combining moral remorse with unhampered support for ethnic cleansing.[1]

Soft-pedaling Israeli colonialism is nothing new -- as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has noted, in 1948 a number of Zionist politicians condemned some isolated incidents among the widespread atrocities being perpetrated against the Palestinians. This, according to Pappe, was an attempt "by 'sensitive' Jewish politicians and soldiers to absolve their consciences," an "Israeli ethos that can best be described as 'shoot and cry.'"[2] Jacobson's angst drew such a response in the letters' page that the writer felt compelled to pen another, rambling defense of his defense of Zionism, "When I argue on the side of Zionism, it is because it seems intellectually right to do so."[3]

Most of Jacobson's original piece is an attack on either John Pilger or Robert Fisk, wrapped in his musings on how the Jewish exile is afforded little sympathy when compared to other people groups (the Palestinians included). But the article is also a classic example of how Zionism appropriates the rich, varied religious-cultural significance of Jewish identity (and in particular, Jewish exile) for a narrow, colonial purpose. For Jacobson, "the lost respect and homelessness" experienced by the Jewish people through history "found expression in Zionism." Twice, Jewish "yearning" is equated with the modern day state of Israel, even though this Zionist-driven equivalence has always been fiercely contested among Jewish communities.

Many Reform and Orthodox Jews opposed the Zionist project from the start, and although the combined effect of the Zionists' best efforts to conflate Judaism with Zionism together with the devastating impact of the Holocaust soon reversed the balance, significant numbers continue their resistance today:
The Jewish tradition had formulated the strategy of return to the promised land through the agency of spiritual effort, in order to do so in peace. Many threads of tradition warn against any worldly effort, which might delay redemption and bring down unprecedented calamity upon the Jews. The military conquest of the Holy Land and the ingathering of the Jews there constitutes, from this perspective, an act of blasphemy, a usurpation of the divine prerogative, which undermines the Covenant of the children of Israel with God.[4]
Needless to say, that is simply one example -- many nonreligious Jews would also reject the conflation of their own complex sense of identity with the destiny of a colonial settler-state.

Effacing these differences and claiming to speak for all Jews, as Jacobson does in his commentaries, has always been a core part of Zionism. This illogical equivalence, which ironically is the same accusation leveled against alleged or real anti-Semites, forms the basis for Jacobson's meanderings. With typical clarity, Joseph Massad highlighted the three assumptions underlying this move:
(i) Modern European Jews are the direct descendants of the ancient Hebrews; (ii) The ancient Hebrews had exclusive rights to Palestine in which they lived alone; and (iii) European Jews have the right to claim the homeland of their alleged ancestors 2,000 years later.[5]
Jacobson repeated these foundational ideas in his second column (which were sometimes taken at face value even by his critics), as he wrote about how unjust it was to "express sorrow" for the Jewish "exile" but deny these feelings when "they return." In his essay, Massad goes on to cite Israeli historian Benjamin Beit- Hallahmi, who described how the "Zionist settlers claimed they were not moving to a new country, but simply coming home after an extended stay abroad." While "theirs was an act of repatriation" then, "the apparent natives were actually the real foreigners."

Jacobson's tactic is simple. If one puts the millennia-old Jewish diaspora on a par with the Palestinian refugees, then the likes of Fisk do indeed look unfair in their solidarity with the Palestinians compared to the lack of "understanding" for the Jewish (read Zionist) success in "returning to the 'land for ever denied'":

"If it is terrible to lose your home today, then it was terrible to lose your home yesterday."

But of course, there is no comparison. Responding to the
controversy over the inclusion of the Nakba in government-approved Israeli textbooks, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman defended the ethnic cleansing of 1948, saying "we did what we had to." Lieberman was born in Moldova in 1958 and only moved to Israel in 1978; Jewish militias were clearing out Palestinian villages to make way for the Jewish "return" ten years before Lieberman was even alive. Compare that with the experience of one from thousands of Palestinian families who have witnessed their home demolished:
Armed Israeli security forces woke them up at 5:00 a.m. Jessica said she was given five minutes to get out. Her daughter screamed and her husband was arrested as clearers stuffed some of their possessions into plastic bags before the bulldozers pulverized the two-bedroom house and vegetable patch into rubble.[6]
That was in August, in Occupied East Jerusalem (and sadly, the story's surfacing owes much to the fact that the wife is British). In an unbroken line of demolition, massacre and uprooting, the "returning" Jews have come as dispossessors, the Palestinians rendered an inconvenience.

But Jacobson is a liberal Zionist, not a Likudnik, a Sharon or a Netanyahu. He thus finds himself in a fix -- how to render the horrors of colonialism more palatable? This is done in two ways (aside from appealing to the standard Zionist frameworks already discussed): firstly, Jacobson sows a seed of doubt that all this talk of "ethnic cleansing" is even true -- "Jews are now held to be dispossessors themselves" (my emphasis). At the risk of repetition, it is worth noting that once again, Jacobson talks of "Jews," a mirror-claim of the anti-Semites who see world Jewry as one and the same as the Zionist colonizers.

In his follow-up column, he positively layers on the ambiguities, diverting the reader's gaze from the columns of Palestinians forced from their homes in 1948, or the farmers robbed of their land in 2007, to a less queasy exchange of claim and counter-claim. It is impossible to "understand" a situation, Jacobson urges, if you "refuse to see its contradictions and intractabilities." Apparently, you don't aid peace by denying the "competing claims" of a "complex situation." It is the naggingly familiar liberal lullaby of the "circle of violence" and "two sides," which sends us to sleep while Palestine shrinks.

The second approach, and one beloved by Zionist liberals from Tel Aviv to London, is to move from the material horror of Palestine's colonization to the vaporous world of existential rumination and "feelings." Jacobson states for the record that he is "one of those who believe that Jewish experience of exile obliges Israel actively to comprehend the sorrows of Palestinian exile." That, of course, is as far as it goes. It's similar to one of the correspondents who wrote to the paper in Jacobson's defense, who acknowledges that the Palestinians might "feel" badly treated, as if all that was needed was a good dose of navel-gazing therapy. Jacobson was even more categorical in the second column. The dispossession of the Palestinians is not a "moral" issue, he wrote, but rather an unfortunate afterthought, a "tragic political consequence" of the Jews' "return."

Jacobson's writings exemplify the dilemma of liberal Zionists, the politicians, authors and journalists who often grace the pages of the "center-left" press in the US and UK (as well as Israel). They desperately wish to "acknowledge" and embrace the Palestinian "feeling" of suffering and dispossession, yet at the same time, help to solidify the Zionist mythology that was, and is, used to justify the Palestinians' dispossession. Perhaps, however, it is not quite strictly accurate to call it a "dilemma," since for the Zionist -- liberal or otherwise -- there is no doubt when it comes to the crunch question of whether to support or oppose the ongoing colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of its people.

Ben White is a freelance journalist specialising in Palestine/ Israel. His website is at http://www.benwhite.org.uk/ and he can be contacted directly at ben@benwhite.org.uk.
I see Ben White has chosen to ignore the opening paragraphs where Jacobson negates the idea of a Jewish monolith "yearning" or thinking anything as Jews but then it wouldn't have suited his title about a "dilemma." This is flat contradiction. There's more contradiction too. In the first article, Jacobson claims to believe that the Jews of today, including himself, are the direct descendants of the inhabitants of Palestine in biblical times. And yet he claims to have subjected this to intellectual scrutiny. How did he fail to consider what became of the people of biblical Palestine in terms of linguistic, cultural and religious identity? How did his intellect get so stuck in the rut of 19th century racial theorising? Never mind, he's a zionist hack in the mainstream.

He can write what he likes. It doesn't have to be true, it doesn't have to make sense, and it certainly doesn't have to be consistent with other things that he has written. See this.
This is Jacobson responding to an article by an Independent colleague, Yasmin Alibai-Brown. First see the title: Iraq and Israel: A Jew answers back.

Now to be fair to Jacobson he could be saying that Alibai-Brown has generalised about Jewish opinion and he is answering back to demonstrate the singularity of his own opinion. But cop this:
In a general, and if you wish to be unkind you might say legalistic, way, Jews are not impressed by connections. At the heart of Judaism is the principle of separation – havdalah. In prayer, God is sometimes referred to as "He Who Distinguishes", separating the sacred from the profane, light from darkness, one thing from another. I am not saying you have to be Jewish to be fastidious about confusing objects and events that merely appear on the surface to be similar, but Jews are especially on guard against the habit. We are also frightened by it. Of the sexual abominations listed in Leviticus, the worst are condemned as "confusion". In confusion we not only defile ourselves, we lose ourselves. So our feathers are ruffled by the procedure of connecting – the intellectual methodology of it, if you like – even before we get on to the matter of what it is that is being connected with what.
No, Jacobson is saying, "as a Jew" that Jews only have one opinion and that we get (or pretend to be) frightened by the same thing and that it goes all the way back to Leviticus and four years later the same guy can berate an email correspondent for suggesting that Jews have but one opinion, a zionist one, and then this same Jew, Jacobson can say that the email correspondent is wrong for saying that Jews have only one opinion. And he was right, the correspondent was wrong, but how far to resident zionists in the media depart from Jacobson's intellect based zionist opinion?

September 19, 2007

Yoiks Tally Ho! It's the Harry's Place Hunt!

I was paid a visit recently by one of our courageous heroes at Harry's Place. Or was I? Certainly Marcus (for it is he) claims that he came here and to a handful of other sites that are listed on the Lenin's Tomb site as "organic intellectuals". He berates all these "trotbloggers" for not mentioning Galloway's criticism of the SWP over various issues at Respect. It's all a bit strawman really. Most of the people listed stopped blogging some time ago. They were hardly going to return after, in every case (bar Lenin, I think), over a year simply to report a falling out between Galloway and the SWP. But look what he says about little old me:
Jews Without Frontiers, which is next on the recommended list, contains plenty of rants about perfidious Zionists but not so much as a peep about what or whom is to be preferred in the coming RESPECT implosion. No joy there either then.
You see this is where my headline comes in. Those of you born within the sound of bow bells may have thought that I was fluffing my rhyming slang and that Berkshire Hunt may have been the expression I was looking for. But you'd be wrong. Cheeky little imp (imp! geddit!!!) that I am, I'm being sarcastic about our intrepid hunter coming here to the home page, looking around for something about Respect, George Galloway and the SWP and somehow missing this:


MP George Galloway criticises Socialist Workers Party

"Unhealthy" internal relations, a lack of democratic decision-making, financial crisis and looming "oblivion". Last week, the Respect MP sent a scathing eight page document to all members of the Respect National Committee. The SWP leadership reacted furiously

Click here to read his document It was the best of times, it was the worst of times
Click here to read an extract from the SWP's internal Party Notes, reacting to the document
Of course, the next issue of the Weekly Worker (September 6) will be analysing and commenting on the document in detail

This is curious. I allowed my membership of Respect to lapse when I heard that the SWP had prevented Salma Yakoub from censuring Galloway over his Big Brother appearance. That showed a lack of democratic values, I thought. I also heard that Galloway was criticised over financial mismanagement at War on Want and that he was suspended from the UK parliament because of some financial issue over his Iraqi charity. And Galloway is accusing the SWP of financial mismanagement and lack of democracy. All we need now is for Gilad Atzmon's promoters at the SWP to accuse Galloway of betrayal. Let's just wait and see, shall we?
How did he do it? This is still (at the time of writing) on the home page. It was 4 September. So, did he see it and decide that he wouldn't let the truth get in the way of a good story? Did I tell him what he didn't want to hear? Or did he not come here at all in spite of having told his readers that he did? Or perhaps his get-out will be that I didn't actually take sides between Galloway and the SWP but criticised them both? Of course, if I was a Harry's Placer I'd be hopping up and down demanding an apology and retraction and so on. But I'm not a Harry's Placer so I'm just going to add this post to all of my "rants about perfidious Zionists."

Just a little addition here. If anyone wants to actually check to see if I have posted about anything or anybody then you can go to the little search blog bar at the top left corner of the page and punch in what you are looking for, like say, Galloway, put Galloway in the box and click on the button marked "search blog." Of course you might not need to do that if what you are "searching" for is on the home page. Then you need to scroll down a little.

September 18, 2007

Self-hating Jewish Kiwi?

I just stumbled on this blog post by googling "anti-zionist blogs." It's actually an anarchist's blog and it covers various issues but the post that came out top referred to another titled "Self-hating Jew?" It turns out the guy is Jewish and he's been getting quite a hard time from his community since being up front with his anti-zionist position:
Since I became more public with my beliefs as an anti-Zionist member of the New Zealand Jewish community, a large number of people, many of whom have known me most of my life, have seen fit to label me with that cruel epithet "self-hating Jew". This has reached the stage where I now very rarely involve myself in the Jewish community or it's activities. I no longer feel welcome at the Jewish community centre in Wellington, a place where I went to kindergarten and primary school, a place where I have spent so much of my life.

Now, I could write here about the role my Jewish identity plays in my life. I could write about how I express my Judaism, or the role Judaism plays in influencing the political activism I do (such as anti-fascist activism). But I'm not going to do that, because that would be allowing those who have smeared me to dictate the frame of the argument. I'm not going to defend myself or my beliefs, because I shouldn't have to. In a truly respectful community, we would agree on some things, disagree on others and respect each others differences. We would discuss, and we would argue, but at the end of the day, regardless of the outcome, we would continue on our seperate paths with both of us having grown from the experience, because that's what a community is about.

If you feel uncomfortable associating with me because my beliefs differ from yours, perhaps you should seek out a cult, rather than our community, because there you won't have to question yourself – everything you say will be echoed by everyone else.

If you haven't run away after that last paragraph, I'm going to assume you want to be a part of the Jewish community still. That's fantastic. Now, how about we engage in some dialogue, rather than spreading (frequently false) rumours about me behind my back.

I don't want to hear your patronising comments about how me not believing in G-d (you see, I write it that way out of respect for you, even if I may not agree) or not linking my fate to that of Israel's is a "failure of the community to properly educate". As I said in a previous email to this list a few months ago:

"Education is giving knowledge in such a way that empowers the educated to form their own opinions

In education, as long as the educated are sufficiently able to form their own opinions, you cannot fail. The only way to fail in education is if you fail to educate.

On the other hand, indoctrination is regarded as exactly what the dictionary says: "To imbue with a partisan or ideological point of view". This means teaching certain things with the explicit goal of producing a specific point of view. In indoctrination, one is considered to have failed if the recipient does not come out with the required point of view."

I hope sincerely that our community aims to educate, not indoctrinate, although sadly sometimes I'm not sure that it does.
He posted that last year. A bit later things hadn't improved. After posting a comment to a NZ message board to the effect that anti-zionism isn't antisemitism he received an email from someone he had known all his life:
Shame on you Asher.

Your Mother would turn over in her grave to read what you have just posted.
Well Asher wasn't a very happy bunny but this part of his reply must replicate in the experience of so many Jews who question or disagree with community leaders:
My Mother raised me to value my own thoughts and opinions in the knowledge that they were valid. My Mother raised me to be more than merely a reactionary spouting off talking points that I had heard on the news.

When I was young, I remember a certain Wellington Orthodox Rabbi who told me I should question everything anyone told me. Being a cheeky kid, I asked him "even things you tell me, Rabbi?". He answered me swiftly with something I remember and value to this very day. He said, "You should question me most of all, as I'm claiming a position of authority".
Ah, I do love a happy ending.

Holocaust miniseries on Iranian tv

Now here's an interesting thing. Iranian tv has a fictional account based on reality, of an Iranian diplomat who saved many Jews' lives during the holocaust by issuing fake Iranian passports. Here's the AP report on Huffington Post though it's all over the net by now, including, usefully, Youtube.
the series titled "Zero Degree Turn" is clearly sympathetic to the Jews' plight during World War II. It shows men, women and children with yellow stars on their clothes being taken forcibly out of their homes and loaded into trucks by Nazi soldiers.



"Where are they taking them?" the horrified hero, a young Iranian diplomat who works at the Iranian Embassy in Paris, asks someone in a crowd of onlookers.

"The Fascists are taking the Jews to the concentration camps," the man says. The hero, named Habib Parsa, then begins giving Iranian passports to Jews to allow them to flee occupied France to then-Palestine.

Though the Habib character is fictional, it is based on a true story of diplomats in the Iranian Embassy in Paris in the 1940s who gave out about 500 Iranian passports for Jews to use to escape.

The show's appearance now may reflect an attempt by Iran's leadership to moderate its image as anti-Semitic and to underline a distinction that Iranian officials often make _ that their conflict is with Israel, not with the Jewish people.

About 25,000 Jews live in Iran, the largest Jewish community in the Middle East after Israel. They have one representative in parliament, which is run mostly by Islamic clerics.

The series could not have aired without being condoned by Iran's clerical leadership. The state broadcaster is under the control of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khomenei, who has final say in all matters inside Iran.

Moderate conservatives have been gaining ground in Iran, where there is increasing discontent with the ruling hardliners over rising tensions with the West, a worsening economy and price hikes in basic commodities.

The government even allowed the series to break another taboo in Iran: For the first time, many actresses appear without the state-mandated Islamic dress code. The producers wanted to realistically portray 1940s Paris, and thus avoided the headscarves and head-to-foot robes that all women must normally wear on Iranian TV.

Ahmadinejad sparked widespread outrage in 2005 when he made comments casting doubt on the Holocaust and saying the state of Israel should be "wiped from the map." His government organized a conference of Holocaust deniers and skeptics from around the world in December.

But the series has won support even from hardliners. Some argue that it links the Holocaust with Israel's creation, thus boosting an argument by Ahmadinejad that if the Nazi killing of Jews did take place, the Palestinians who then lived in Palestine should not have had to pay the price for it by the creation of Israel after the war.

"The series differentiates between Jews and Zionism. The ground for forming Israel is prepared when Hitler's army puts pressure on activist Jews. In this sense, it considers Nazism parallel to Zionism," the hard-line newspaper Keyhan said.

However, if the series does aim to make that point, it has not done so overtly.
I remember the Holocaust miniseries made by Hollywood, and didn't it show? It had a happy ending of course, with some young handsome American accented Jewish guy being talked into helping orphans learn American football en route to Palestine. And Schindler's List too ended happily in Palestine. I wonder if this one will have a happy ending to.

Onward Christian soldiers?

I've caused a bit of controversy with my previous post because of the words:
the phrase "discharged soliders" is a synonym for "non-Palestinians," since Palestinians are not allowed, by law, to be soldiers. This is a common tactic used to discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Well that led to a mild mannered correction here and a not so mild mannered one here. They revolve around the categories of human being that can or must join the Israeli army. All of which reminded me of this piece I read some time ago but I don't really know how true it is:
Conscription of Non-Arab Christians

(Chief of Manpower Department, February 1986; Standing Order 43 01-02 -
Conscription of Christians into Israel Defence Forces)

1) Procedure for conscripting Christians into the IDF:

2) For the purpose of the present order, a Christian is one who is a
Christian according to Jewish Law, and is not an Arab by nationality.

3) A Christian who came to Israel as an `oleh [=Jewish immigrant to
Israel -MM], or whose parents came to Israel as `olim [= plural of `oleh],
will be conscripted to the IDF.

4) A Christian whose father is a Jew - will be conscripted to the IDF.

5) A Christian who is married to a Jewish woman - will be conscripted to the

IDF.

6) A Christian who was married to a Jewish woman and divorced her, or was
widowed, and who -

a. Has children from this marriage and the children are with him - will
be conscripted to the IDF.

b. Has no children as above, or his children from this marriage are not
with him - will be conscripted to the IDF only if his father is a Jew.

7) A Jew who converted to Christianity - will be conscripted to the IDF.

8) Compulsory conscription will not be imposed on other sorts of Christians,

except such as have volunteered to be enlisted and their applications are
accepted.

(Quoted from 'Hamishpat', an Israeli law periodical issued by the School of
Law, Academic Track, The College of Administration, Issue 19, March 2005)
I was sent this in an email once upon a time and by googling one little piece of it, all I could find was this site. It looks like a university message board to me. So, now I'm looking for reliable information on conscription and volunteering to and barring from the Israeli army. Any takers?

Thanks

September 16, 2007

Land for peace, land for soldiers or land for Jews only

Back to the Magnes Zionist for an update on the Jewish National Fund bill. We can expect racist laws from Israel and there's no surprises with this one but a section of the post did strike me.
Last night, Menachem ben Sasson, who is chairman of the Knesset's constitution committee, came to my shul for holiday prayers. I asked him, hopefully, whether he thought that that the bill would be buried in committee. He said that it would not, that it was not in his committee, and that it would come to the main floor for the second and third readings. But -- and here is main point -- there would be significant changes with the JNF and its relationship with the Israel Land Authority, which administers the land. These changes would involve the JNF's returning to the state the Palestinian land which it purchased in the fifties. So none of that land would fall under the purview of the JNF and its new "Jews only" clause. Now this solution had already been proposed by former Justice Minister Amnon Rubinstein, in a letter to Prime Minister Olmert. Rubinstein, who criticized the Knesset law. also proposed that the JNF would not lease its land to "Jews only" but to projects of national importance, that could include Jews and non-Jews. Pay attention:
Rubinstein's proposal, made to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, recommends that a distinction be made between JNF lands and state lands, with the organization returning all state lands in return for being allowed to manage the properties under its control "in line with national interests." As an example of such "national interest," he proposes that JNF lands be used for housing projects for discharged soldiers.
Another example of land for "national interests" would be apportioning lands for a "peace village" for Jews and Arabs. I asked Ben-Sasson if the Knesset was going to come up with something that looked like Amnon Rubinstein's proposal. He said that it would not be identical but it would "be in that direction." Now, Rubinstein's proposal sounds much better than the original law, which he severely criticized on liberal grounds. But it is just as racist because of the "national interests" clause. For example, the phrase "discharged soliders" is a synonym for "non-Palestinians," since Palestinians are not allowed, by law, to be soldiers. This is a common tactic used to discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel. When I lived in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, I leased land from the JNF which was made available to IDF veterans or new immigrants, i.e., to keep Palestinians out of the neighborhood (By the way, it is still segregated by law, and the law was sustained by the High Court of Justice.)

As for joint Jewish-Arab villages, I assume that he is referring to villages on the model of Neveh Shalom, the only one of its kind in Israel. He may be liberal enough to include Jewish communities that are segregated, but where Palestinians wish to live, as in the Ka'dan case. That would affirm the status quo and would seem to be a blow to the proponents of the JNF bill.

But would it? The fact is that by returning the land to the state, Israel would be able to keep lands expropriated for Jews only (at least until challenged by the courts, which has not yet happened.)
You see that stuff about preferential treatment for ex-soldiers? Now there are Jews who go to live in Israel at a time in their lives when they don't have to join the army. This "national interest" provision means that they might want to join the army even if they don't have to.

September 14, 2007

Self-proliferators?

Self-haters are proliferating it seems. Tony Karon has celebrated Rosh Hashona (or hashana) by penning an article on the arrival of a kind of Jewish glasnost. He is referring to the growing number of Jews who are speaking out against Israel. The article is about challenging the zionist establishment of the Jewish communities and the way that same establishment purports to represent all of the Jewish people. It starts on the kahanist website, masada2000, but it goes wider and deeper than that:
The Kahanists are a fringe movement, but their self-defeating list may nonetheless be a metaphor for the coming crisis in more mainstream nationalist efforts to police Jewish identity. The Zionist establishment has had remarkable success over the past half-century in convincing others that Israel and its supporters speak for, and represent, "the Jews." The value to their cause of making Israel indistinguishable from Jews at large is that it becomes a lot easier to shield Israel from reproach. It suggests, in the most emphatic terms, that serious criticism of Israel amounts to criticism of Jews. More than a millennium of violent Christian persecution of Jews, culminating in the Holocaust, has made many in the West rightly sensitive towards any claims of anti-Semitism, a sensitivity many Zionists like to exploit to gain a carte blanche exemption from criticism for a state they claim to be the very personification of Jewishness.

So, despite Israel's ongoing dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories, then-Harvard president Larry Summers evidently had no trouble saying, in 2002, that harsh criticisms of Israel are "anti-Semitic in their effect if not in their intent."

Robin Shepherd of the usually sensible British think-tank Chatham House has gone even further, arguing that comparing Israel with apartheid South Africa is "objective anti-Semitism." Says Shepherd: "Of course one can criticize Israel, but there is a litmus test, and that is when the critics begin using constant key references to South Africa and the Nazis, using terms such as ‘bantustans.' None of these people, of course, will admit to being racist, but this kind of anti-Semitism is a much more sophisticated form of racism, and the kind of hate-filled rhetoric and imagery are on the same moral level as racism, so gross and distorted that they are defaming an entire people, since Israel is an essentially Jewish project."

I'd agree that the Nazi analogy is specious -- not only wrong but offensive in its intent, although not "racist". But the logic of suggesting it is "racist" to compare Israel to apartheid South Africa is simply bizarre. What if Israel objectively behaves like apartheid South Africa? What then?

Actually, Mr. Shepherd, I'd be more inclined to pin the racist label on anyone who conflates the world's 13 million Jews with a country in which 8.2 million of them -- almost two thirds -- have chosen not to live.

Although you wouldn't know it -- not if you followed Jewish life simply through the activities of such major Jewish communal bodies as the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation League -- the extent to which the eight million Jews of the Diaspora identify with Israel is increasingly open to question (much to the horror of the Zionist-oriented Jewish establishment). In a recent study funded by the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (an important donor to Jewish communal organizations), Professors Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman revealed that their survey data had yielded some extraordinary findings: In order to measure the depth of attachment of American Jews to Israel, the researchers asked whether respondents would consider the destruction of the State of Israel a "personal tragedy." Less than half of those aged under 35 answered "yes" and only 54% percent of those aged 35-50 agreed (compared with 78% of those over 65). The study found that only 54% of those under 35 felt comfortable with the very idea of a Jewish state.

As groups such as the Jewish Agency in Israel (which aims to promote Jewish immigration) and the American Jewish committee expressed dismay over the findings, Cohen and Kelman had more bad news: They believed they were seeing a long-term trend that was unlikely to be reversed, as each generation of American Jews becomes even more integrated into the American mainstream than its parents and grandparents had been. The study, said Cohen, reflected "very significant shifts that have been occurring in what it means to be a Jew."

Cohen's and Kelman's startling figures alone underscore the absurdity of Shepherd's suggestion that to challenge Israel is to "defame an entire people." They also help frame the context for what I would call an emerging Jewish glasnost in which Jewish critics of Israel are increasingly willing to make themselves known. When I arrived in the United States 13 years ago, I was often surprised to find that people with whom I seemed to share a progressive, cosmopolitan worldview would suddenly morph into raging ultranationalists when the conversation turned to Israel. Back then, it would have seemed unthinkable for historian Tony Judt to advocate a binational state for Israelis and Palestinians or for Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen to write that "Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now." Unthinkable, too, was the angry renunciation of Zionism by Avrum Burg, former speaker of Israel's Knesset.

And, in those days, with the internet still in its infancy, the online Jewish dissident landscape that today ranges from groups in the Zionist peace camp like Tikkun, Americans for Peace Now, and the Israel Policy Forum, among others, to anti-Zionist Jews of the left such as Not in My Name and Jewish Voices for Peace, had not yet taken shape. Indeed, there was no Haaretz online English edition in which the reality of Israel was being candidly reported and debated in terms that would still be deemed heretical in much of the U.S. media.

Thirteen years ago, there certainly was no organization around like "Birthright Unplugged," which aims to subvert the "Taglit-Birthright Program," funded by Zionist groups and the government of Israel, that provides free trips to Israel for young Jewish Americans in order to encourage them to identify with the State. (The "Unplugged" version encourages young Jews from the U.S. to take the Birthright tour and its free air travel, and then stay on for a two-week program of visits to the West Bank, to Israeli human rights organizations, and to peace groups. The goal is to see another side of Israel, the side experienced by its victims -- and by Israelis who oppose the occupation of the West Bank.)

Clearly, much has changed, and the ability of the Zionist establishment -- the America Israel Political Action Committee, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and others -- to impose nationalist boundaries on Jewish identity is being eroded. It's worth remembering in this context that anti-Zionism was originally a Jewish movement -- the majority of European Jews before World War II rejected the Zionist movement and its calls for a mass migration from Europe to build a Jewish nation-state in Palestine. The most popular Jewish political organization in Europe had been the Yiddishe Arbeiter Bund, a Jewish socialist party that was militantly anti-Zionist. Even among the rabbis of Europe, there was considerable opposition to the idea of Jews taking control of Zion before the arrival of the Messiah (and there still is, of course, from a sizable minority of the ultra-Orthodox).

Of course, the Holocaust changed all that. For hundreds of thousands of survivors, a safe haven in Palestine became a historic necessity.

But the world has changed since then, and as the research cited above suggests, the trends clearly don't favor the Zionists.
I got so engrossed I couldn't stop highlighting before hitting "copy" then "paste."

But the times they are a changin' and Jews are changing with them. We're an adaptable lot.

Tony Karon's article appears in full on antiwar.com and tomdispatch.com. Nothing wrong with a bit of rootless cosmopolitanism.

September 12, 2007

Arresting nazis "a sign of Israel's strength"

This neo-nazis in Petah Tikva business has hit the Daily Telegraph. The writer of the article expressed surprise at the presence of neo-nazis in this safe haven from nazis. But look:
Anxious to maintain its Jewish identity in the face of a local Arab population with a high birth rate, Israel has allowed various waves of immigration that have added new social strata.

Much was made of the fact that the neo-Nazi gang members all came from the families of recently arrived immigrants from the former Soviet Union. In a country of just 7.2 million people, the arrival of a million immigrants in just a few years from the former Soviet Union was bound to have an impact, not least because of the immigrants' often weak connection with Judaism.
So Israel relaxed its rules concerning "who is a Jew" in order, paradoxically, to maintain Jewish supremacy. Is it really such an ideological leap for the beneficiaries of this policy to embrace neo-nazism?

The article concludes by saying:
It is a sign of Israel's strength that not only were these men arrested for the attacks they committed on innocent bystanders but when they went to jail yesterday, they had to be put in solitary confinement. Their fellow inmates abused and threatened them, making sure they understood quite how crackpot their dalliance with neo-Nazism was.
This is a strange conclusion given that neo-nazi activists have been discovered twice before and in the same place too (see here and here. The first time it happened it turned out that Israel had no law against antisemitism.

September 11, 2007

Zionists lose control of UK media

Well it seems that there are parts of the UK media that the zionist movement just can't reach. Cop this headline from Ha'aretz, Soccer/ Euro 2008 Qualification / English press doesn't give Israel much respect. And then check out the article. Starting with the Guardian:
"Israel were so poor you wondered how they ever managed to come to Wembley in second place in the group and how England could work themselves into such a state about having to beat them." The paper also stated that English goalie Paul Robinson got a chance from coach Steve McClaren to play, but didn't get a chance to touch the ball during the game.
Aunty Beeb:
the team played so terribly that "Israel did not even force a save out of keeper Paul Robinson."
The Mail:
Under the headline "Don't get carried away, England," the paper warned coach McClaren: "Owen's 38th goal for his country... was the highlight of an easy win against an awful Israel side," but it "will be a different test altogether when unbeaten Russia arrive in London."
And unthinkable under the Black/Amiel regime:
The Sunday Telegraph jeered at Israel for failing miserably, trying to come in and ruin things for England without knowing how to do it.
If Lord and Lady Black were dead they'd be spinning in their graves.

And where's Howard Jacobson when you need him?
The Independent was downright insulting: "McClaren may have stuck his neck out in sticking with Paul Robinson in goal and recalling Emile Heskey, but as it turned out he could have fielded David James, Gordon Banks or Brian Barwick [Director of the English football association] between the posts without anxiety." The paper concluded: "Israel's record of only one defeat in 18 previous qualification matches over the past two tournaments was made to look inexplicable as they struggled to contain some lively English attacking and made no headway whatever themselves, still using only one striker 40 minutes after falling behind."
And of course, this being a round up of Sunday papers and Rupert Murdoch being a born again Christian, he takes the day off and so we get his little gem:
The Sunday Times noted the poignancy of playing "Nessun Dorma," a tribute to Luciano Pavarotti, before the game. The song may mean "none shall sleep," the paper joked, but falling asleep "is always a temptation when Israel, with their preoccupation with defense, are playing."
Or was this typical Times pandering to Israel's "defence" agenda? I wonder....

September 10, 2007

Dr David Hirsh is now "proud to be ashamed to be Jewish"

A great leap for mankind! David Hirsh of Engage has signed a letter appealing to the powers that be in the UK to allow the Palestinian under 19 football team to tour the UK. This is the letter together with its signatories published in the Times newspaper a couple of days ago under the headline "A pitch for Palestine":
Sir, Today at Wembley, 22 Israeli and English footballers, proud to represent their countries, will engage in a sporting contest when they play their crucial qualifier for Euro 2008.

In dramatic contrast, Her Majesty's Government has denied the Palestinian Under-19 squad, equally proud, the chance to travel here to play a number of matches with British clubs. The decision to deny the team their visas is bizarre, taken with no formal reason being given.

Where the UK should have facilitated a morale-boosting tour it has instead proffered double standards. While the Government condemns boycotts and sanctions against Israel, it engages in them against the Palestinians.

It is not too late to rectify the situation; the tour can go ahead more or less as planned. It requires only that the Government treats Palestinian footballers in the same way as their Israeli counterparts. We strongly urge they do so immediately.

Seymour Alexander
Leonie Ashley
Terryl Bacon
Julia Bard
Michael Baron MBE
B Barry
Sue Beardon
Rosemary Bechler
Cllr Elise Benjamin
Michele Benn
Sir Geoffrey Bindman
Jo Bird
Rica Bird
Cllr Jonathan Bloch
Carla Bloom
Emanual M Bloom
Jenny Bloom
Ilse Boas
Jaqueline Bornstein
Jenny Bourne
Rachel Braverman
Dr Colin Brewer
Frances Bruce
Prof Irene Bruegel
Prof Jane Caplan
Elizabeth Carola
Esta Charkham
Gail Chester
Rosalind Claxton
Anthony Clayton
Harry Cohen MP
Ken Cohen
Ruth Cohen
Prof Stan Cohen
Sylvia Cohen
Paul Collins
Mike Cushman
Prof Miriam David FRSA
Sara Davidson
Bernard Davies
Dr Hyman Davies
Sally Davies
Jean Davis
Simone Dawood
Gerald de Groot
Nicky Defries
Ivor Dembina
Jenny Diski
Prof Elizabeth Dore
Marc Eady
Linda Edmondson
Mark Elf
Michael Ellman
Prof David Epstein FRS
Moris Farhi MBE
Nina Farhi
Judy Farrar
Prof Paul Fatt FRS
Prof Gene Feder
Dr Rayah Feldman
Tansy Feltis
Dr Antonio Fernandes-Vidal
Deborah Fink
Sylvia Finzi
Frank Fisher
Mark Forstater
Stephen Fox
Peter Fraenkel
David Freedman
Annie Freud
Ruth Friedman
Prof Ivor Gaber
Jack Garfinkel
Sarah Nicola Garfinkel
Carolyn Gelenter
Denis Glaser
Deborah Glass Woodin
Naomi Goldman
Arthur Goodman
John Goodman
Stuart Goodman
Lesley Grahame
Dr Judith Green
Tony Greenstein
Justin Grossman
Heinz Grünewald
Joan Hall
Michele Hanson
Keir Hardie
David J Harrison
Judith Harrison
Roger Haydon
Abe Hayeem
Rosamine Hayeem
Dr Jane Henriques
Denis Herbstein
Dr Ken Hirschkop
Dr David Hirsh
Prof Eric J Hobsbawm
Dr Philip Hodes
Michael Hornsby
Antonia House
Adam Hurst
Jerry Hyams
Keith Hyams
Prof Paul Hyams F.R.Hist.S
Dr Anthony Isaacs
Dr Susie Jacobs
Joanna Jellinek
Dan Judelson
Ann Jungmann
Jenny Kassman
Paul Kaufman
Shirley Kaufman
Sid Kaufman
Michael Kendall
Nicolas Kent
Dr David Kerr
The Revd Canon Nicholas Kerr
Judith Keshet
Dr David King
Brenda Kirsch
Prof Francesca Klug OBE
Michelle Knight
Prof Eleonore Kofman
Eunice Kossoff
Stevie Krayer
Leon Kuhn
Richard Kuper
Dr. J. Kuper
Prof Emeritus Ailsa Land
Prof Emeritus Frank Land
Madeline Landauer
Jennifer Langer
Jon Lansman
Francesca Lassman
Ruth Leboff
Mike Leigh
Miki Lentin
Hemdat Lerman
Betty Levene
Judith Levene
Simon Levene
Louis Levi
Miriam Levin
Dr Peter Levin
Prof Emeritus Raymond Levy
Rosalind Levy
Tanya Levy
Prof David Lewis
Sue Lewis
Vivien Lichtenstein
Sonja Linden
Anne Lindley
Peter Lipman
Susan Loppert
Stephen Lubell
Prof Steven Lukes
John Lynes
Tony Lynes
Deborah Maccoby
Dorothy Macedo
Daniel Machover
Beryl Maizels
Philippa Manasseh
Kay Manasseh
Jenny Salaman Manson
Carole Marco
Miriam Margolyes OBE
Stuart Markless
David Marks
Rafael Marks
Prof Emeritus Shula Marks
Stephen Marks
Mike Marqusee
Hilda Meers
Dr Ron Mendel
Claudia Mernick
Dr Jonathan Miller
Dr Rachel Miller
Prof Ursula Mittwoch
Anton Moctonian
Dr Daniel Moldavsky
Prof David Mond
Daniel Monk
Andrea Morris
Sharon Nassauer
Simon Natas
Dr Gill Nathan
Prof Mica Nava
Jeannette Nelson
Chaim Neslen
Diana Neslen
Orna Neumann
Ines Newman
Prof Mike Newman
Juliana Ochs
Dr Michael Oppenheim
Charlotte Owen
Sam Paechter
Dr Kathy Panama
Sylvia Pepper
Rina Picciotto
Prof Sol Picciotto
Simon Pirani
Charlie Pottins
Alison Prager
Peter Prager
Sylvia Prager
Caroline Raine
Jerry Ravetz
Susan Reed
Prof Martin Rieser
Adrian Rifkin
Sheila Robin
Dr Brian Robinson
Lee Robinson
Neil Rogall
Dr Ben Rogaly
Zina Rohan
Prof Hilary Rose
Prof Steven Rose
Barbara Rosenbaum
David Rosenberg
Prof Douglas Ross FRS
Leon Rosselson
Ruth Rosselson
Liz Rothschild
Denis Rutovitz
Michael Sackin
Lisa Saffron
Richard Saffron
Michael Safier
Prof Raphael Salkie
Susannah Sallé
Wendy Saloman
Benjamin Alfred Samuel
Prof Andrew Samuels
Simon Sandberg
Cllr Larry Sanders
Dr Esther Saraga
Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah
Prof Donald Sassoon
Alexei Sayle
David Schneerson
Dr Susan Schonfield
Prof Graeme Segal
Prof Lynne Segal
Peter Segal
Suzanne Senior
Cath Senker
Shalom Group
Jack Shapiro
Diana Shelley
Dr Peter Sheridan
Sybil Shine
Prof Avi Shlaim FBA
Rebecca Shtasel
Prof Bernard Silverman FRS
Joseph Sinclair
Dr Juliet Singer
Ray Sirotkin
Ruth Sirton
Gillian Slovo
Jill Smith
Ruth Smith
Ben Soffa
Dr David Sperlinger
Harriet Stevens
Prof Frances Stewart
Henry Stewart
Dr Kitty Stewart
Daniella Stone
Sir Tom Stoppard
John Strawson
Paul Sussman
Tony Tabatznik
Rabbi Larry Tabick
Dr David Taylor
Ruth Teddern
Annette Thomas
Andi Tobe
Martin Toch
Suzanne Treister
Sonia Tuban
Tanya Ury
Prof Anton van der Merwe
Prof Claudio Vita-Finzi
Natasha Leah Walden
John Waller
Johnny Wallman
Michelene Wandor
Brian Warshaw
Carla Wartenberg
Janine Waters
Larry Wayne
Margaret Wayne
Naomi Wayne
Irving Weinman
Jenny Weinstein
Jeremy Weinstein
Janet Weitz
Florence Williams
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
Devra Wiseman
Walter Wolfgang
Rabbi Alexandra Wright
Miriam Yagud
Sherrl Yanowitz
Nice to see so great an academic putting his name to a list of people he spends more time attacking than supporting. I signed it too,as did the Professors Hilary and Stephen Rose, who Dr Hirsh was happy to see referred to as an "obnoxious floral display [that] comprises of Jews who are proud to be ashamed that they are Jewish." One of the Engage faithful found that too insulting to be included in any serious discussion around action for Palestine:
Apart from exhibiting your own capacity to be obnoxious, what is the point you are making? Moreover,how do you know they are "proud to be ashamed they are Jewish"? It is perfectly possible to believe one's being Jewish demands that one fight injustice wherever it occurs, even, or especially, in the Jewish state.
but Alf Green (aka Dr Hirsh) begged to differ:
"It is perfectly possible to believe one's being Jewish demands that one fight injustice wherever it occurs..."

Yet Steven Rose throws antisemitic abuse at UJS when they fight antisemitism and he uses the language of the Protocols to do it.

And he lies that people on campuses portray any criticism of Israel as antisemitism.
I have to hand it to whoever organised the letter. This one has cast its net wider than the previous effort that involved paying for an advert in the Times. That was to protest the bombardment of Gaza and its signatories included those who wished to save Israel from itself and those who had no time at all for Israel. This one has Dr Hirsh who calls Stephen Rose a liar, and Stephen Rose signing it. It also has me on it, and I have placed more than just a question mark over Dr Hirsh's integrity.

So what's caused this "non"-zionist to change from denouncing Israel's critics to signing a letter with them? The letter isn't criticising Israel of course. It's criticising the UK and rightly so. So I should say that Dr Hirsh is "proud to be ashamed to be British." Sorry Doctor but perhaps he should list some dos and don'ts regarding what we can and can't do to support the Palestinians and use his own name to do it.

Woops, in all the fun I forgot to mention that the Times also ran an article on the letter it published. It's headed "Jews try to end ban on Palestinian team." Just as well, I can't see anything on this at the Engage site. That doesn't mean it's not there. To be fair, they reported the denial of visas back on 22 August but I can't find anything since then. Is Dr Hirsh ashamed to be proud to be ashamed to be British or Jewish? Perhaps Alf Green could tell us. Or maybe it's a different Dr Hirsh.

September 09, 2007

Israel's annual fascist fest?

No surprises here, and, it has to be said, nothing new. From the BBC website, Israel has discovered a cell of neo-nazis from the Soviet Union who go round "happy slapping," that is videoing their assaults on, gays, visibly orthodox Jews and drug addicts.
Police say the gang members would target homosexuals, Jews who wore a skull cap and drug addicts, often video taping their attacks.

"It is difficult to believe that Nazi ideology sympathisers can exist in Israel, but it is a fact," Revital Almog, the police official who led the investigation, told Israeli public radio.
Well really! Fancy people in Israel believing in racial supremacy and relentless militarism. Where do they get their ideas from?

Now I said this is nothing new. I have actually posted on this in 2005 and 2006 hence my headline.

Ha'aretz: Finkelstein says Jews abuse the holocaust

Now he doesn't actually say that. The Ha'aretz headline to an AP article say that he says that. Here's the headline: U.S. prof. who says Jews abuse Holocaust to curb critics resigns. Now, he says that the zionist movement abuses the holocaust to deflect criticism from Israel. In particular he has criticised the State of Israel for abusing the holocaust. So the headline is just a little bit misleading. But hold on a sec. What's this:
A Chicago university professor who has drawn criticism for accusing some Jews of abusing the legacy of the Holocaust
"Some Jews" now. Not "Jews" because that could imply all Jews. But now see this
His most recent book, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, is largely an attack on Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz's The Case for Israel. In his book, Finkelstein argues that Israel uses perceived anti-Semitism as a weapon to stifle criticism.
Oh so now we've moved from "Jews" to "some Jews" to one named Jew and the state that's the main beneficiary of the holocaust and the assets of its victims. I'm glad Ha'aretz cleared that up, and in the same article too. Now, I've heard that headline writers are not the same as the people that write the articles which appear underneath them but you'd expect the headline to at least tally with the article.

I mentioned that the article came from Associated Press. Well I googled some words from it and sure enough the article also appears on Ynet, the online presence of Yediot Ahranot. The headline there is "Controversial Jewish professor resigns post." So we can assume it was Ha'aretz's lie, not AP's, in the Ha'aretz headline. Yediot Ahranot used to be to the right of Ha'aretz. That might still be the case but Ynet is getting more reliable than Ha'aretz these days. It could be the demands of a 24/7 global news market or it could be the age olld issue that the zionist left has always been more dishonest than the zionist right. Either way, Ha'aretz's headline was deliberately dishonest. I wonder how many of the (at the time of writing) 483 comments below the Ha'aretz article mention the disparity between its headline and the article itself. I wonder because there's no way I'm going to read them.

September 08, 2007

Americans detained by a friendly state

This is curious. It's from the St Petersburg Times (TampaBay.com). An American family making their way home were stopped at Tel Aviv airport and told that most of them had to go back to the West Bank, where they had been staying, and travel back to America from Jordan. Now why would Americans be treated that way by such a special friend of America?
A large Lakeland family has been split in two temporarily by complex Israeli travel restrictions that forced the mother to leave seven of her children behind when they attempted to fly home.

On Aug. 18, Wedad Yacoub and 10 of her children -- all U.S. citizens -- were returning from a family visit in the West Bank through Tel Aviv, the same airport through which they had arrived more than two months before.

Israeli officials initially tried to block the family from leaving, saying they had to go through Jordan, a travel restriction that applies to Palestinian residents of the West Bank. Officials finally permitted Wedad Yacoub and her three youngest children to fly home, but the other seven children are still in the West Bank, two weeks later with no resolution in sight.

"I can't believe that children who were born in Lakeland could have their American citizenship ignored by a country so friendly to the U.S," said Wedad.

Even Israeli officials couldn't readily explain it.

"American citizens born in America can't leave through Tel Aviv, where they came in?" asked Daniel Seaman, director of the Government Press Office in Israel. "This has to be inaccurate. This can't be."

Seaman says it will take some research to know what happened, which is what he, other Israeli officials, U.S. State Department officials and Florida congressmen are doing.

"We've called the State Department and we want to solve this, but we don't have answers yet," said Keith Rupp, a spokesman for Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow.

The journey began normally enough on June 4 when Wedad Yacoub and her 10 children entered Israel through Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, as they have done every summer for the past five years. After attending family weddings and visiting with family in the West Bank, she and the children returned on Aug. 18 to fly out of Tel Aviv.

But, to their surprise, they were stopped by Israeli security officers who said they had to exit through Jordan because of their father's Palestinian heritage. Steve Yacoub, 54, was born in the West Bank, but moved to the United States 30 years ago. He became a citizen shortly after.

"Our father's heritage can't erase that we're American citizens, born and raised in Lakeland, Fla.," 18-year old Ramy Yacoub says he told Israeli police.

But, he says, they disagreed.

Wedad, who began weeping, was allowed to leave with the three youngest children. But the other kids, ages 11 to 21, were told they had to return to the West Bank. They stayed six hours in the airport before family members arranged for a driver to get them.

"We entertained ourselves by humming theme songs from U.S. television shows," said Ibrahim Yacoub, 21. "Our favorite is the tune from Jeopardy."

A month before, the children's father, who owns a Lakeland convenience store, arrived in Tel Aviv to go to the West Bank with his U.S. passport, as he does every year. But he was told by Israeli police that he had to travel through Jordan because of an expired Palestinian ID from 28 years before.

Yacoub said that he had entered as a U.S citizen for many years but dutifully complied and embarked on a 72-hour marathon, flying back to the United States from Tel Aviv, then flying to Jordan to enter the West Bank in time for a wedding.

"But I didn't think Israeli officials would suddenly turn my American-born children into Palestinians because of it," he said.

But apparently they did, at least to some degree.

The children say they were told they must get Palestinian IDs and depart through Jordan because their Palestinian heritage trumped their American citizenship. If they are not permitted to fly from Tel Aviv, the children will forfeit their $9,100 in tickets and face the prospect of buying tickets from Jordan for $16,800.

"Coming up with about $26,000 is not easy," said Wedad, who was born in Kuwait but is a U.S. citizen.

While Israeli officials did not respond with an explanation Tuesday, a clue to their thinking came from the U.S. State Department. A spokesman provided what he called "observations" made in May by State Department officials concerning Israeli travel policies.

According to these observations: "It is possible that an American citizen born in the United States whose parents were born or lived in the West Bank or Gaza would be considered a resident by Israeli authorities."

But why this "possible" designation as a new resident of the West Bank suddenly fell upon the Yacoub children, no one seems to know, including the State Department spokesman, Steve Royster.

Royster could offer only this broad statement: "We are committed to ensuring that all American travelers receive fair and equal treatment. ... We are having a positive dialogue with the government of Israel on travel and security issues."
Broad statement? It looks like an evasion to me. So they're Palestinians. So we know why Israel treated them so badly. Israel treats those it considers racially inferior badly. But why does America allow Israel to treat its own people this way? Perhaps America could pick up the $26,000 tab or however much it turns out to be and deduct it from the billions of dollars it gives Israel to, ah, ah yes, to treat the Palestinians and their neighbours badly.

I suppose the Mrs Yacoub should be thankful that Israel didn't kill any of her children. They do that quite a lot too. They've killed an American. They've killed a few Brits now too. There's nothing Israel can't do. I think opponents of the boycott should consider that one and add it to the core lack of legitimacy of Israel and the fact that it gets such an easy ride in the media. Britain lets Israel kill its citizens and it lets America do the same thing. But being American isn't even enough to stop a person being killed and children being harassed and detained. Does this mean that plucky little Israel is the most powerful state on earth? I'm not surprised that some people think so. I don't think so. I think the plug will be pulled on this fascistic little entity in the not too distant future and a good thing too. There'll be a lot of pain between now and then but at least the majority of American Jewish youngsters won't take it as a "personal tragedy for them."