December 31, 2007

One state is better than two

Here's a Comment is free piece from Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti on the deadness of the so-called two-state solution. It's titled Democracy: an existential threat?. Of course there was to be an interesting debate on this at the Oxford Union but it was nobbled by the Israel lobby. It's actually surprising who the Union had to speak up for the two state solution given the racist idea behind a state for the world's Jews in 78% of what was Palestine and a state for Palestine's Arabs on the remaining 22%. Regulars here might remember that the zionists cried foul over the fact that Norman Finkelstein was to argue on the two states side. They didn't like the fact that Finkelstein was noted as an Israel critic. Things get messy immediately here. Israel could have ceded a two state solution at almost any time over the last 30 or so years so anyone who truly wants a two state solution will be a critic of Israel and anyone who doesn't criticise Israel can't really want a two state solution. Yes? No? That actually means that the only people who are acceptable to zionists to argue for a two state solution are people who don't particularly want one or who want the two state solution as a way of maintaining Jewish supremacy. That's what I say. Now let's see what Abunimah and Barghouti have to say.

First up they demonstrate the racism underpinning arguments against a one state solution:

As two of the authors of a recent document advocating a one-state solution to the Arab-Israeli colonial conflict, we intended to generate debate. Predictably, Zionists decried the proclamation as yet another proof of the unwavering devotion of Palestinian - and some radical Israeli - intellectuals to the "destruction of Israel". Some pro-Palestinian activists accused us of forsaking immediate and critical Palestinian rights in the quest of a "utopian" dream.

Inspired in part by the South African Freedom Charter and the Belfast Agreement, the much humbler One State Declaration, authored by a group of Palestinian, Israeli and international academics and activists, affirms that "the historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status". It envisages a system of government founded on "the principle of equality in civil, political, social and cultural rights for all citizens".

It is precisely this basic insistence on equality that is perceived by Zionists as an existential threat to Israel, undermining its inherently discriminatory foundations which privilege its Jewish citizens over all others. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was refreshingly frank when he recently admitted that Israel was "finished" if it faced a struggle for equal rights by Palestinians.

For the superficial observer, as long as Israel can have Jews out-settle the Arab natives, or as long as it can restrict or reverse the growth of the Arab population (aka the demographic threat) then Israel can't be accused of being an apartheid state. But of course, it's not the racial ratio that counts, it's the supremacy of one group over others by force of the laws that counts.

The next paragraph shows the sheer hypocrisy of those who claim to be anti-apartheid whilst supporting Israel as a state for the world's Jews at the expense of the Arabs from and/or in the area Israel now rules.

But whereas transforming a regime of institutionalised racism, or apartheid, into a democracy was viewed as a triumph for human rights and international law in South Africa and Northern Ireland, it is rejected out of hand in the Israeli case as a breach of what is essentially a sacred right to ethno-religious supremacy (euphemistically rendered as Israel's "right to be a Jewish state").

Palestinians are urged by an endless parade of western envoys and political hucksters - the latest among them Tony Blair - to make do with what the African National Congress rightly rejected when offered it by South Africa's apartheid regime: a patchwork Bantustan made up of isolated ghettoes that falls far below the minimum requirements of justice.
But it's not just hucksters, liars and racists who tout the two state settlement and condemn advocates of one state:
Sincere supporters of ending the Israeli occupation have also been severely critical of one-state advocacy on moral and pragmatic grounds. A moral proposition, some have argued, ought to focus on the likely effect it may have on people, and particularly those under occupation, deprived of their most fundamental needs, like food, shelter and basic services. The most urgent task, they conclude, is to call for an end to the occupation, not to promote one-state illusions. Other than its rather patronising premise - that these supporters somehow know what Palestinians need more than we do - this argument is problematic in assuming that Palestinians, unlike humans everywhere, are willing to forfeit their long-term rights to freedom, equality and self-determination in return for some transient alleviation of their most immediate suffering.

The refusal of Palestinians in Gaza to surrender to Israel's demand that they recognise its "right" to discriminate against them, even in the face of its criminal starvation siege imposed with the backing of the United States and the European Union, is only the latest demonstration of the fallacy of such assumptions.

A more compelling argument, expressed most recently on Cif by Nadia Hijab and Victoria Brittain, states that under the current circumstances of oppression, when Israel is bombing and indiscriminately killing; imprisoning thousands under harsh conditions; building walls to separate Palestinians from each other and from their lands and water resources; incessantly stealing Palestinian land and expanding colonies; besieging millions of defenceless Palestinians in disparate and isolated enclaves; and gradually destroying the very fabric of Palestinian society, calling for a secular, democratic state is tantamount to letting Israel "off the hook".

They worry about weakening an international solidarity movement that is "at its broadest behind a two-state solution".

Really, and the demand for a two state solution, the demand by almost everyone bar the wackiest fringes of the zionist movement has been a rip-roaring success?

But even if one ignores the fact that the Palestinian "state" on offer now is no more than a broken-up immiserated Bantustan under continued Israeli domination, the real problem with this argument is that it assumes that decades of upholding a two-state solution have done anything concrete to stop or even assuage such horrific human rights abuses.

Since the Palestinian-Israeli Oslo agreements were signed in 1993, the colonisation of the West Bank and all the other Israeli violations of international law have intensified incessantly and with utter impunity. We see this again after the recent Annapolis meeting: as Israel and functionaries of an unrepresentative and powerless Palestinian Authority go through the motions of "peace talks", Israel's illegal colonies and apartheid wall continue to grow, and its atrocious collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza is intensifying without the "international community" lifting a finger in response.

This "peace process", not peace or justice, has become an end in itself -- because as long as it continues Israel faces no pressure to actually change its behaviour. The political fiction that a two-state solution lies always just around the corner but never within reach is essential to perpetuate the charade and preserve indefinitely the status quo of Israeli colonial hegemony.

We'll take that as a no, the two state solution hasn't been so successful. The illusion, indeed the lie, that zionists truly want it has put the alternative on the back burner, not the other way round. Ludicrous, bogus rounds of phoney peace talks has allowed Israel to dig deeper into the occupied territories than if there had been no talks, particularly no talks on this illusory basis. And what's to stop the supporters of two states working together with supporters of one state on that which unites us? Supporters of two states can argue that one state won't be achieved, but two states hasn't been achieved and there seem to be much land left for it to be achieved on. But what do we do now? Do we accept that because Olmert is in a panic that if Arabs come to outnumber Jews in Israel and the occupied territories combined, what's to stop him falling back on the old zionist expedient of ethnic cleansing? It's worse than the ghettoisation policy we have in place at the moment but if the two states supporters are going to compromise on basic equality for all the people of Israel and the occupied territories and accept Jewish supremacy, how far are they in accepting ethnic cleansing as a solution to Israel's "demographic problem"? Ok, that was over the top but what does unite us, that is those of us who want a genuine solution and not just a guarantee of Jewish supremacy?
To avoid the pitfalls of further division in the Palestinian rights movement, we concur with Hijab and Brittain in urging activists from across the political spectrum, irrespective of their opinions on the one state, two states debate, to unite behind the 2005 Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, as the most politically and morally sound civil resistance strategy that can inspire and mobilise world public opinion in pursuing Palestinian rights.

The rights-based approach at the core of this widely endorsed appeal focuses on the need to redress the three basic injustices that together define the question of Palestine - the denial of Palestinian refugee rights, primary among them their right to return to their homes, as stipulated in international law; the occupation and colonisation of the 1967 territory, including East Jerusalem; and the system of discrimination against the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Sixty years of oppression and 40 years of military occupation have taught Palestinians that, regardless what political solution we uphold, only through popular resistance coupled with sustained and effective international pressure can we have any chance of realising a just peace.

Hand in hand with this struggle it is absolutely necessary to begin to lay out and debate visions for a post-conflict future. It is not coincidental that Palestinian citizens of Israel, refugees and those in the diaspora, the groups long disfranchised by the "peace process" and whose fundamental rights are violated by the two-state solution have played a key role in setting forward new ideas to escape the impasse.

Rather than seeing the emerging democratic, egalitarian vision as a threat, a disruption, or a sterile detour, it is high time to see it for what it is: the most promising alternative to an already dead two-state dogma.

Ah now here I have to disagree with their use of one word and that's "dogma". The zionist supporters of the two state solution are certainly fanatical in their devotion to dogma. What kind of self-consciously ideologically driven society is it that plots, plans, corrals and kills to maintain a certain ratio of Jews to non-Jews? The zionists are certainly dogmatic as far as that goes. But few seem to envision the Palestinian state on, at best, 22% of what used to be Palestine. This is the area to which a few million exiles are to be allowed to return. Is it really expected that such a space could accommodate them? The Palestinian state area seems not to have been thought through at all. It's almost as if no one truly wants it but certainly no one is arguing that it is just. I think I have to agree that the two state idea is dead though. Ironically, it's a zionist solution, a racist solution, and it's the racist war criminals of the State of Israel that killed it.

Apart from that quibble over one word, I can't see much to argue against there but there are 135 comments so far. I can't bear to look at them just now but if anyone fancies a peek, here's the link again.

Israel steals from holocaust survivors

I suppose this is all pretty boring now. It is quite well established that whilst the holocaust industry extorted money from various European banks and other companies, Israeli banks have retained the assets of holocaust survivors and those who perished in the holocaust. Now it seems that, apart from the political exploitation of the event that certain zionists collaborated in, the State of Israel has diverted a few million dollars worth of holocaust survivors' welfare money from its promised recipients. Here's Ynet with the headline Holocaust survivors accuse State of stealing their welfare funds:

The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel welcomed the government's pledge in 2006 to allocate an additional $7.7 million for Holocaust victims the following year. Two separate bodies were to contribute the much-needed funds, with the Prime Minister's Office and Yisrael Beitenu party each slated to give half the final amount.

But Ynet has learned that throughout the course of 2007 – only one payment of $3.8 million was received.

The funds were used mainly to cover medical expenses for thousands of needy Holocaust survivors living in Israel, said officials at the foundation, adding that with the full amount some 5,000 more requests for aid could have been authorized.

But both the PMO and Yisrael Beitenu claim they transferred the entire amount they had pledged to the Finance Ministry during 2007.

'It's a ruse to swindle Holocaust survivors'

Foundation Director Dubby Arbel told Ynet that his organization has no intention of settling for half the amount it was promised. "$3.8 million do not just vanish into thin air. Not only is the government trying to throw sand in the eyes of the Holocaust victims, it is committing a grave violation of trust and the foundation will keep fighting to make sure that the funds meant for the survivors will reach their intended destination. It is shameful that this sort of ruse would be employed against Holocaust survivors," he said.

"Only a certain kind of mind could come up with something like this," said foundation board member Shmuel Reinish of the Finance Ministry's apparent conduct.

The Finance Ministry said in response that according to the State's current budget terms, the foundation was only slated to receive $3.8 million. "This is it, the $3.8 million, this is what they were to receive and that money was transferred to the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel during the year of 2007," the ministry said.

'Thousands will be left without aid'

Meanwhile the foundation announced Sunday that it would no longer be able to provide an adequate response to the thousands of requests it receives from survivors if the government continues to dawdle.

One of the survivors who turned to the foundation for help is 80-year-old Tibor Pearl. "The government cannot fathom what we have been through. Today I am struggling just to survive, to buy medication and

support my disabled son. And yet I am more worried about survivors who cannot even afford to heat their homes in the winter."

And what of the new funds allocated for Holocaust survivors in October? The Finance Ministry said the Knesset has yet to complete the necessary legislative procedures.

Every so often the maltreatment of holocaust survivors by zionists of some stripe or other, American holocaust hucksters, Israeli banks, the State of Israel itself, makes it to some Jewish media or other, the Jewish Chronicle, Ha'aretz, this one on Ynet. And yet when Norman Finkelstein denounced what he first called the holocaust industry, he was denounced as a "Jew who doesn't like Jews". Just what is it that gives some Jews the right to highlight the plight of holocaust survivors and not others? It's all very perplexing.

Q. What do Israel, the UK and Burma have in common?

A. Leviev.

I've just received a justly irritated email from New York pointing out that I had missed quite a juicy bit of the Leviev coverage in Ha'aretz's The Marker mag as translated on the International Solidarity Movement (I had called it Palestine Solidarity) site. It turns out that Israel's richest settler, Leviev the diamond dealer, is moving to London. Not only that but he has been censured by the EU for selling rubies from Burma and so he doesn't simply fund Jewish supremacy in Palestine by investing in Jews only settlements, he also funds the Burmese junta by buying and selling their rubies and he's going to become a Londoner or at least a Britisher. Don't they have a Labour Friends of Israel in Israel? Perhaps Israelis know Israel too well to be friends of Israel. Here's the relevant bit of the article
The company Danya Cebus, which is a subsidiary of Leviev’s company Africa-Israel, is one of the partners spearheading the construction of Modi’in Illit and many other settlements. Modi’in Illit was built on the land of five Palestinian villages, among them the village of Bil’in.

A spokesman on behalf of Leviev stated in a response to the Post that: “the demonstrators are not accurate” in their claims against the Leviev diamond brand. In his words, “the Leviev diamond brand scrupulously follows the Kimberley Process, which follows the origins of diamonds in international markets with the goal of eliminating the trade of blood diamonds.”

The British newspaper “The Sunday Times” uncovered in September that Leviev’s diamond shop in London sold “blood” gems that originated in Burma [Myanmar], and thus contributed to the funding of the military junta government in that country.

The journalist for that newspaper, disguised as a customer, visited Leviev’s flagship boutique on Old Bond Street in London the week before. She requested jewelry that included rubies of Burmese origin. She was shown a ring worth 500,000 UK pounds sterling [approximately one million US dollars] in which was set a five carat ruby and diamonds.

The military junta in Burma receives tens of millions of pounds each year from the sale of precious gems by way of jewelry stores in London, among them Leviev’s boutique, as well as Cartier, Harrod’s and Asprey.

Upwards of 90% of rubies in the world are of Burmese origin, however, often stones are polished in other nearby states such as Thailand, and because of this the origin of the stone is not recorded by customs authorities.
Ah! so we're back to the good old days when apartheid South Africa could avoid sanctions by having their goods relabelled as coming from Israel who, in those days, could pass itself off as something other than the most despicable kind of state on earth. Amazing what a bit of colour can do for a cause. Hopefully these rubies will have a similar impact on public perceptions.

Anyway, here's footage of some Burmese solidarity activists showing there solidarity with Palestine. Be quick, it's a drive by:

December 30, 2007

Protest against Leviev from Bi'lin to Madison Avenue to the belly of the beast

Woah, I've just dehumanised Israel. Hurrah! I've been accused of that so many times and now I've done it. The belly of the beast, what can it mean? It's not entirely fair given that Ha'aretz isn't the most beastly of zionist institutions but that's where the protest against Leviev have landed themselves. Yup, on the pages of Ha'aretz's Hebrew language business magazine, The Marker. Those nice people at Palestine Solidarity have kindly posted an English translation of the The Marker article.
The exclusive jewelry shop that Lev Leviev opened in New York became a focus for protests against the extensive construction of settlements in the territories that is being implemented by the construction company Danya Cebus, owned by the diamond and real estate magnate. The New York Post reported that currently, in addition to the protests outside Leviev’s jewelry shop on Madison Avenue in New York, calls are being made to famous people — celebrities, who are also supporters of human rights–to boycott the store, which opened last month.

An American Jewish human rights organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, posted an open letter on their website to the film actress Susan Sarandon, who attended the official opening of the store last month while a protest was taking place outside. In the letter, the Oscar winning actress was asked to “sever her connections” with the jewelry store. “As long time admirers of your work on social justice issues and as Jewish activists working to promote a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, we in Jewish Voice for Peace write to call your attention to the crimes of Lev Leviev and to urge you to announce publicly that you are severing all connections with him and his company” said the letter.

A representative on behalf of Sarandon responded that Sarandon’s attendance at one event in his shop does not constitute “ties.” He added that “she is not connected to any jewelry company.”

Sarandon is not the only celebrity who visited Leviev’s shop and was criticized for doing so by human rights activists. More than a month ago the famous attorney Alan Dershowitz, a prominent pro-Israel supporter in the United States, visited the store at a time when a demonstration outside had been organized. When Dershowitz left the store, in his hand a gift bag, demonstrators asserted that he was a supporter of apartheid.
This isn't just a matter-of-fact article. It's a warning to the Israeli business community that they are being watched. Israel's reputation as an apartheid state, certainly an illegitimate state, is spreading, anger is rising and protest is growing.

Dr Hirsh sings Come all ye faithful!

Well, he doesn't actually sing it, he just says it and then not in so many words. Heaven forbid him from singing a Christmas carol, what with the brouhaha over Jews for Justice rewording a few. This first appeared on the Engage site on 19 December but I needed to pick the brains of a few academics about the traditions of academic co-criticism. Anyway, cop this. Dr David Hirsh of the, ahem, "non"-zionist website, Engage, has written a supposedly academic paper. Academic is what he does. He is an academic, a Phd no less. The paper is called, Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections. Now see how, on the Engage site, he announces a meeting to discuss the paper with some, ahem, respondents:
All welcome to hear responses to David Hirsh's paper at SOAS, 30 January
Added by David Hirsh on December 19, 2007 05:17:08 PM.
All welcome to hear responses to David Hirsh's paper at SOAS, 30 January
Robert Fine, Professor of Sociology, Warwick University
Les Back, Professor of Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Anthony Julius, Visiting Professor, Birkbeck, University of London
Jon Pike, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Open University
David Hirsh, Lecturer in Sociology, Goldsmiths, University of London, will reply briefly
Charles Small, Director of YIISA and editor of the Working Paper series, will chair the event.

Will respond to: Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism: Cosmopolitan Reflections By David Hirsh.

30 January 2008, G2 SOAS, University of London, 7.00pm, Followed by a reception

Everyone is welcome entry is free, but you must reserve a place by e-mailing Book now, before the holidays, and put the date in your diary for 30 January.

Download a flyer [PDF]

Download the paper (165 pages) [PDF]

Listen to David Hirsh discussing the paper

Details on the Goldsmiths website

This event is organized by the Unit for Global Justice at Goldsmiths, in association with the Centre for Jewish Studies at SOAS and the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism

Now the academics I spoke to told me that a more usual practice would be to submit an academic paper to some recognised authority in the field who would then seek respondents with either different points of view or no known point of view as to the specifics, just expertise in the broad field, say, sociology, politics, whatever. Well check out the Engage contributors page. Five of his "respondents" are Engageniks. One of them, Jon Pike, is on record saying that Engage opposes Israeli racism. Where are they on the Law of Return that says that any Jews can take out Israeli citizenship? Where are they on the ban on Palestinians returning? Ok, that was a bit of an aside but this is the quality of respondent.

Let's move on to the meeting. It's an open meeting but you have to email Hirsh to reserve your place. This means he can vet the attendance. That's not to say he will, but he can. Hirsh has no prominence outside of the zionist movement in the UK though clearly there are zionists stateside who feel he has his uses. The paper is hosted on the Yale website.

But it all looks like an exercise in vanity publishing rather than any discernible academic exercise. It's a bit like a supporter of intelligent design inviting known fundamentalist Christian vicars to respond to a paper on the creation. Of course there is an element of vanity to this effort but it also looks like an attempt to give momentum to a paper that we can be sure will be seeking to equate anti-zionism with antisemitism. He won't say that in so many words. Even Hirsh isn't that gauche. From what I have seen it will be this new "antisemitism in effect but not intent" guff. Goodness knows why that would take 165 pages. And what's all this about "cosmopolitan"? I asked someone about this and they told me that it has to do with the application of universal principles to diverse cultures. This is truly bizarre. The last place on earth that wants the application of universally held principles is that exception to international norms, Israel.

The insidious thing about this paper is that by organising a rally for it, it gains for it a momentum that it would lack if it went the more traditional route of independent critique. If it was read by people with no track record of zionist activism, as these respondents have, the critique might have the likes of Yale thinking twice about running zionist propaganda that has little or no academic merit. I'm saying all this without having read the thing but I've read enough of Hirsh to hazard a guess.

Anyway, I'd love someone to go away, read it and critique it properly rather than simply parrot it as this rally of Dr Hirsh's zionist faithful is intended to do.

December 29, 2007

Leviev updates

Around Christmas time, I've been getting updates by email from the States on the solidarity actions against Leviev, the diamond dealing paymaster for settlements in occupied Palestine. And a little snippet about the man himself. These are in the order that I got them.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, has the news that Leviev is moving to London.
Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev is emigrating.

Leviev, the Uzbek-born diamond magnate and Orthodox philanthropist, is leaving Israel for London with his family, Ha'aretz and other media reported Thursday.

According to the reports, Leviev, 51, expects to find better tax terms and new business opportunities in Britain. But he will maintain a home in the Jewish state, where one of his daughters will continue running his international consortium, Africa-Israel.

Leviev's personal fortune is said to be worth as much as $8 billion, making him Israel's richest citizen.
$8 billion? I wonder which football club he'll buy.

More political is the little reported fact that representatives of two Palestinian villages have asked Susan Sarandon to stop doing business with Leviev. This is from Znet:
Dear Ms. Sarandon,

We felt sorrow when we learned that you accepted Lev Leviev’s invitation to attend the opening night event for his new jewelry store in New York City on November 13 while our friends protested outside, because we respect you for your support for human rights, for your courage in speaking since 2002 against the US war on Iraq, and for your many other honorable public positions.

Lev Leviev is building Israeli settlements on Bil’in and Jayyous’ land, and is also building in the settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim around Jerusalem, in violation of international law. Leviev is destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained our villages for centuries, and is profiting from human rights abuses.

We were reassured to learn from our colleagues in New York City that you expressed interest in learning more about these issues. We still hope that you will also speak in support peace and justice in Palestine. We invite you and would be very pleased to welcome you to visit Palestine, specifically Jayyous and Bil’in, in order to witness what Leviev’s settlements are doing to our communities.
I wonder if she goes.

There were carols too in honour of Leviev last week according to New York's Indymedia:

A diverse group of enthusiastic participants sang loud and creative versions of 11 traditional holiday songs. Carolers serenaded upscale Madison Avenue shoppers and New York City police with the debut performance of “I Made a Little Settlement” to the tune of “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel”:

“Apartments for Jews only, Discrimination, sure!
He thinks Palestine's the problem, and Apartheid is the cure!”

“Oh boycott boycott boycott, Don't buy Leviev today
Funds crime with all that profit, Who needs diamonds anyway?”
Indeed, who does?

And another letter to Sarandon. The first was from Palestinians, the New York Post reports on one from some Jews:
SUSAN Sarandon outraged the Jewish Voice for Peace group when she crossed its picket line to attend a cocktail party last month in the new Madison Avenue jewelry store of Lev Leviev, a diamond-dealing real-estate mogul who owns the former New York Times building and the Apthorp building on the Upper West Side.

Now the California-based grass-roots organization has sent the star a letter asking her to "publicly sever ties" with the jeweler, whom the group is boycotting because he supports Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But Sarandon's rep denies she's allied with the high-end gem dealer.

The picketers, who were there for the Leviev store launch in mid-November, stood on the sidewalk with Palestinian flags, shouting, "You're glitz, you're glam, you're building on Palestinian land," and, "Occupation is a drag, just say no to your gift bag." A source told Page Six that Sarandon marched in and "tried not to notice the yells outside."

Now the group has posted its letter to Sarandon on its Web site, demanding that the Oscar-winner join their boycott.
Now let's see what can be arranged for Leviev in London.

December 28, 2007

Israel faking evidence says key ally

Well well well, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak has accused Israel of faking evidence of Egypt's security forces helping to smuggle arms to Hamas. Here's Reuters:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has accused Israel of fabricating evidence it says implicates Egyptian security forces in helping Hamas militants smuggle arms into Gaza, and warned Israel not to ruin its ties with Egypt.

Mubarak's comments were made to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth and were carried by Egypt's state news agency MENA on Thursday, a day before publication of the interview in Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said this week Egypt was doing a "terrible" job of stopping the flow of arms, and Israeli foreign ministry officials said Israel had sent a videotape to Washington showing Egyptian security forces helping Hamas militants smuggle arms across the border.

"Our officials (saw the pictures)... and I'm informing you that they're fabricated pictures and computer work... Anybody can make pictures of arms smugglers...I can organize pictures of an Israeli man and an Israeli woman smuggling arms and plotting a terrorist operation," Mubarak said, according to MENA.

"Anyone who tries to accuse Egypt of cooperating with arms smugglers, I tell him he's a big liar," Mubarak said.
Oh my goodness! Israel lying? Whatever next? Egypt helping the Palestinians? Curiouser and curiouser.

December 25, 2007

I swear this blog is going down the Toube, ask Lenin

I've done a few posts on Harry's Place, a hard right wing hate site that seems to promote a leftish image of itself. It's main man seems to be a chap who prefers anonymity so he calls himself David t. It looks like an impressive blog and has a large following if the comments are anything to go by. The comments are usually abusive non sequiturs aimed at anyone who dares challenge the HP orthodoxy. Readers of Melanie Phillips in the UK or random zionist hacks in the US will be familiar with the style and the content. I suppose it is a UK equivalent of the US's Little Green Footballs.

Anyway, seeing myself as a small fish in a large ocean, I quite enjoy it when I get attention from famous people. I've had threatening emails from Linda Grant, pseudonymous comments from Nick Cohen and David Hirsh, quite nice supportive comments from China Mieville (sci-fi writer) and Michael Rosen (children's author and broadcaster) and I was a co-star of a libellous and unbelievably childish article by David Aaronovitch in the Jewish Chronicle and the Times online. But I was still chuffed when the mysterious (he hoped) David t came here a few times. I even wrote to him congratulating him on a mention he got in Private Eye.

But I have to say that the main thing that struck me about David t was that he was such a lightweight in debate. I'm not the smartest and I walked all over him. I said once that Israel was a cause of antisemitism. He accused me of blaming the victim. But Israel's not a victim. The victims are random Jews. Israel is a repugnant state. Just recently, he came here to defend a post he did trying to get a curator of an exhibition on Israel's 60th anniversary the sack for wanting to show the Palestinians' dispossession and exile and Britain's role in it as part of the exhibition. Unable to defend his own post he quickly changed the subject to one of no relevance to the post whatever. Now I couldn't quite believe how stupid that was. Really each time I have crossed with him I was disappointed with his sheer lack of intellect. I thought I must be missing something.

Well, what do you know? I was missing something. It turns out that this intellectual lightweight political blogger is actually a top hole lawyer called David Toube. Look at his CV on his page of his firm's website.
David S. Toube is an associate based in the London office.

Mr. Toube’s practice focuses on United Kingdom and European regulatory securities law matters, anti-money laundering law and practice, and in particular the Financial Services Authority requirements to which regulated companies are subject. He advises in relation to a broad range of investment banking, fund management, corporate finance and other financial services sector matters. Mr. Toube is a co-author of “A Practitioner's Guide to the FSA Regulation of Investment Banking,” Sweet and Maxwell’s “The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, A practical legal guide” and is a contributor to Oxford University Press’ “Financial Markets and Exchanges Law.”

Mr. Toube joined the firm in 2007 having previously been a trainee and then an associate at Ashurst in London. He took a first class honours degree in Law from Southampton University in 1990 and received a BCL from Brasenose College, University in 1992. He was a Lecturer in Law at Queen Mary, University of London.

Mr. Toube was admitted to the Bar of England and Wales in 1993.
I must thank Mike Murray in the comments for linking this but after googling "David Toube" "David t" I found that it was my old mate and former co-blogger Lenin who first discovered his real ID and outed him as many as two months ago. And it wasn't even Lenin's post that came up on google, it was Neil Clark's. I'm just giving credit where it's due here.

But back to Mr t, thing that I find most disturbing about him is that his uselessness in debate must be a sham. I can see his difficulty. He is enormously clever but desperately immoral. He supports Israel and anything else that he thinks will harm the victims of Israel but he can't make a case for what he believes in so he acts stupid and just repeats mantras over and over. Having got all the attention he gets from the fact that he inherited a website from a certain "Harry" and a "Hari" he now calls on his troll army to harass anyone he denounces. He is confident that he is broadly with the mainstream media so his difference with that is over tactics. He wants people to write and harass people he doesn't approve of. He wants them denounced by name and,if he can pull it off, sacked. But if he is outed there's no chance of him being sacked. His employers won't mind what he does. He promotes the right wing agenda of his employers. The only reason for his anonymity is that his politics are indefensible so he has to do a stupid act. If he used his real name people would google it and see that he is actually clever, not stupid and that just goes to show that there is no correlation between intellect and morality. Also if he acts stupid anonymously no one would immediately believe that he is the highly qualified champion of finance capitalism that he actually is.

This David Toube is a finance capitalist and he supports wars of the west's choosing and he supports Israel, the jewel in the crown of western imperialism. He cannot defend his position intelligently so he adopts bogus ID to bully and smear those he disapproves of. If he used his real name, clients might be anxious that an idiot is looking after their affairs and they'd run for cover. By using a false name and behaving in such a stupid manner no one would believe he's a first class Oxbridge grad so whatever scent he leaves would never (he hoped) lead to this top hole lawyer, David Toube. So David Toube becomes David t and claims to need anonymity because his employers might harass him like he harasses others. They wouldn't of course, but Harry's Place never lets the truth get in the way of a good story.

The problem for me is that these things happen on the net right under my nose and I don't even notice, hence my headline. Well done Lenin, if only you were consistent about removing platforms from neo-nazi types but I understand the tribal loyalty thing too. But why is David Toube still using the "David t" persona? Has HP acknowledged that their man has been exposed? I think we should be told before they start getting public funding.

And finally, I know this has been a garbled post but it's late and there have been all sorts of visitors and drinks going on. To recap, this David t is actually a finance lawyer called David Toube. From google it would appear that not a lot of people know that. He acts stupid for the same reason that he calls himself "David t". It's so that no one would guess that he is actually a top hole finance lawyer with qualifications as long as your arm. But doesn't this just go to show the sheer ideological fanaticism that zionism commands? He has been quite successful on the net but only his nearest and dearest know who he is. All those plaudits for Harry's Place and its main man is too busy skulking in the shadows to enjoy them. And all for the sake of a racist war criminal project and its side shows like the Iraq war or maybe the Iran war, who knows?

December 24, 2007

Mel Phlips for David t

Now here's a thing. Melanie Phillips, an arch neo-con zionist in the UK media, has picked up on the Harry's Place post that appears to be seeking to have Judy Price pulled from an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of the declaration of the State of Israel "in a critical way along with the Naqba." Apparently this makes Judy Price "a virulent opponent of Israel’s existence." Not to mention, "ignorant, bigoted, pathological." Not at all like Melanie Phillips or David t.

Melanie, together with David t, feels that:
anyone who regards the restoration of the Jews to their rightful ancestral home as a ‘catastrophe’ for the people who tried to destroy it at its rebirth and haven’t stopped trying ever since can hardly be regarded as a reliable source on anything at all.
Whereas anyone who thinks that white men and women and Asians and Ethiopians who happen to be Jewish have more right to live in Israel than people who are not Jewish but who actually come from there, and this on the grounds that it is the ancestral homeland of this white woman, her white informant (he allows himself to be photographed from the back) and a whole load of other people who cannot possibly have come from the same place 2,000 years ago, share a common ancestry. Don't get me wrong, I don't think ethnicity has any bearing on people's basic human rights. But how on earth can anyone suggest that the ethnic cleansing of possibly 800,000 people from a land their own ancestors had inhabited for at least 1,000 years would be seen as anything other than a catastrophe by the victims? But this is Melanie Phillips's view. Let's be kind and say it's her honest view.

Perhaps I'm being unfair on David t. He doesn't actually say that the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians isn't a catastrophe. He may even grant the Palestinians the right to view their own dispossession as they wish. After all, the Jewish identity is based largely, though not entirely, on the commitment of Jews to our own mythology. Surely the Palestinians feelings about their own reality is equal to or even superior to that when it comes to the right to live between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. His issue is with someone who takes the view that it is appropriate for any exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of the declaration of the existence of the State of Israel to also consider the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians and the role of the British mandate in that catastrophe. Oh, and the fact that it's publicly funded.

I've mentioned before that I have been hopelessly naive about Harry's Place. I thought they at least pretended to be left wing. Maybe I confused them with Engage or the Alliance for Workers Liberty.

Anyway, my previous post was on what I think is a witch-hunt by David t, trying, in spite of a sarcastic denial, to have the "public funding" of this proposed exhibition pulled. Please check it out because David t, the courageous scourge of.... erm, scourge of, er.. well, scourge of certain things that he doesn't like, came here to comment on just about anything but the post in which he tries to mobilise opinion against Judy Price and her role as an Arts Council funded curator of an exhibition that might exhibit the birth of Israel in a way that portrays the role of the British and the impact on the Palestinians. I also mentioned the fact that Engage has linked to the Harry's Place post as if to suggest, given Engage's stated mission, ie, the card that it plays, that Judy Price is antisemitic.

I have to admit that I was a little anxious at first. I thought that the Harry's Place post might be picked up by some quiet zionist who might then whisper a word in the collective ear of the Arts Council, but a zionist megaphone, and a raving lunatic one at that, has got hold of it. Does Melanie Phillips really read Harry's Place on the off chance that she might find something of interest? Or does a certain UCU activist list member keep her in the loop? Never mind. David t can congratulate himself on being picked up by a mainstreamer, albeit a nutty one, but I don't think anyone at the Arts Council is going to be swayed by Mad Mel Phlips. But who knows...?

December 22, 2007

Harry knows nothing about art but he knows what he doesn't like

It's not Harry, it's David t at Harry's Place harassing some Jewish artist at the British Council for trying to mark the occasion of Israel's 60th anniversary "in a critical way along with the Naqba." He's posted what was a private email from Judy Price to Haim Bresheet. The latter posted the email to the activists' list of the University and Colleges Union. Not the smartest of moves given the belated enthusiasm of some UCU members for trade union activism. And so the email found it's way to Harry's Place. Incidentally, in spite of the fact that the British Council event has nothing to do with antisemitism, those brave and honest campaigners against antisemitism at Alf's Place, I mean Engage have linked to the HP post. But I digress. Here's the email:
Dear Haim

Thank you for your e-mail and your comments which I value highly. There can be no doubt that a voice that speaks the truth, and that acknowledges the reality of life on the ground, outside of distractions, ideologies and distortions is vital in situations like this. Your concerns are not dissimilar from my own. How is it possible to speak at all in the arena of calamity and violence, when somehow speaking seems to be emollient or at best compromised?

With these thoughts in mind I had a great deal of soul searching to do when the British Council asked me to curate a series of archival film screenings around the British Mandate period. This soul searching has not gone away and throughout the planning, the question of whether I am a complicit with the 'occupation', and ongoing acts of violence against Palestinians by participating in a discussion in Israel is always on my mind.

Having not taken on this project lightly I decided that it is as an opportunity to bring to the forefront the British Mandates role in the Naqba and establishment in the State of Israel and to construct a programme that could not in anyway be interpreted as jingoistic or nationalistic.
Whether I, or anyone can provide an answer to the question; engage constructively or condemn through silence is frankly beyond me. I do know that there are a large number of constituencies involved in this and I, and hopefully you, can shape things in constructive engaged and way.
I can only do things within certain parameters, parameters set by geopolitical forces right down to the personalities of people that I am working with. The British Council is trying to operate with integrity, not to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel but to mark it in a critical way along with the Naqba.
Now here's David t:
I find it odd that a woman with these views, and with this political agenda should have been asked to put on, at public expense, an event of this nature.

I'm handicapped from saying that this is an astonishing thing for the British Council to be subsidising, because if I say that, it will be proof to some, of an incredibly powerful international jewish conspiracy to shut down debate.

So, to be clear: I'm in no way calling for Price to be shut up. I'm just suggesting that political campaigning work of this sort is better paid for out of grants from Arab states, than from the British government.
I can't see much in the way of "views" here. She's saying that an event marking 60 years since the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians should take a critical look at Israel - the fruit of the ethnic cleansing - and Britain's role in the establishment of the State of Israel, based, as it is, on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and apartheid laws. And that it should take into account, specifically, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. David t is constrained from saying what he actually does say, that he thinks "this is an astonishing thing for the British Council to be subsidising, because if I say that, it will be proof to some, of an incredibly powerful international jewish conspiracy to shut down debate." And yet he does say what he is "handicapped from saying." He does say that it is "astonishing" that the British Council is funding someone with the kind of views that hold that a marking of the 60th anniversary of the declaration of the existence of the State of Israel should take into account the Palestinian victims of Israel's existence and Britain's role in their victimisation. He clearly doesn't approve of the British Council funding or hosting this though he is "handicapped" from saying so. He doesn't like the "public purse" being used to enlighten people as to what befell the Palestinians in the late 1940s or Britain's role in the same. He must scream long and loud against the public resources deployed for Holocaust Memorial Day.

But he does think Judy Price's work should be funded but by Arab states. Zionists are fond of telling us there are 22 Arab states and that they are all the same. I think there might just be 18 and that there are significant differences between them but let's leave that to one side for now. It seems to me to be perfectly appropriate for the British Council to support, host or fund an event that demonstrates Britain's involvement in the suffering of victims of colonialism. Does David t protest the money spent on Black History Month? Did he protest Tony Blair's apology for the slave trade or the Irish famine? Ok, he may have noticed the sheer insincerity of both but did he say that homage to either or both was better funded by Black or Irish states? I'm not an avid reader of Harry's Place so maybe he did show that his racism isn't simply directed against Arabs. Maybe he holds Black and Irish people in the same contempt.

I was encouraged by the comments that I saw last night. Let's take a look at those now. First up was from "Red Deathy" taking exception to David t's notion that public funded art should only ever be an expression of the views of the state itself.
I believe East German apparatchiks used to make comments like that...whatever happened to the arms length principle and the autonomy of art - and other liberal principles...Liberty, if it means anything...
Now it is clear that David t's issue here is with the politics of the artist but look at his grotesquely dishonest reply:
Why does this need to be state funded at all?

Why is it "art"?
Oh dear. David t has artistic differences with Judy Price and not only that he now thinks that no state should fund art. Only moments ago he thought that Arab states (any or all) should fund events portraying the suffering of Arabs and the perfidy of Albion.

Here's the next one:
Without knowing anything more about the actual project and Price's contribution thereto, it's pretty difficult to make any specific, well-informed contribution to the debate.

But I did indeed find the following sentence....rather ominous, actually. (And indeed, I regret to say, reminiscent of the former East Germany.

I find it odd that a woman with these views, and with this political agenda should have been asked to put on, at public expense, an event of this nature.

She is an artist! Of what conceivable relevance is her "political agenda"? Surely one must acknowledge a distinction between propaganda - that seeks to persuade - and art - that seeks to promote discussion.

Why on earth should holding particular "views" disqualify an artist from receiving funding from the likes of the British Council?

If anything I think it wholly admirable that a body like the British Council, that is funded by the British state, is prepared to do things that are patently not just parroting a party or state-approved line. Indeed, this is the very essence of democracy.

Were it that many more states (one thinks immediately of Russia at the present time, given its current clamp down on the British Council, and the range of dubious mass-organisations that seem to exist to promote the Kremlin in one way or another...I have already received my first hagiography of Medvedev courteously of well as being perfect in every way and a real gentleman he also keeps a fishtank in his office) were prepared to show such tolerance and respect for "peculiar political perspectives".

It strikes me as, well, highly unlikely, to say the least, that there is currently (or I daresay in the immediately foreseeable future) even one Arab state this is likely to adopt such an approach.

The idea of pushing artists to seek funding from authoritarian dictatorships is also not conducive to intelligent debate or free discussion. As anyone who is even remotely familiar with the kinds of work funded by totalitarian regimes should be immediately aware.
I'm not a regular to Harry's Place and I have been accused of naivete when I have expressed surprise at some of the sheer unpleasantness and dishonesty I have found there but this commentor surely surpasses me for naivete expecting HP to promote that which is "conducive to intelligent debate or free discussion." But back comes the mysterious, indeed increasingly mysterious, Mr t:
Why is it an art project to put on a series of films, the purpose of which is:

"not to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel but to mark it in a critical way along with the Naqba."

Can I put together a political campaign, designate it "art", and then obtain public funding for it?

For example: what about a project which considered, in a critical way, the "myth of Palestinian nationhood", or the "Eurabia" thesis, to which the organisers invited Robert Spencer and a bunch of Israelis with far right sympathies?

If I dress this up as an art project, should I get state funding?

If I don't bother to dress it up as art, should I be denied state funding?

What are your criteria here?
He's in a dizzy spin here. What's his problem exactly? Israel exists on the basis of colonial settlement, initially under the protective umbrella of British imperialism, and ethnic cleansing. Britain has a responsibility for that. It is now for David t to be explaining what the self proclaimed role of the British Council is rather than whingeing that his favourite racist project is being given more exposure.

There are other comments so go see but Mr t has clearly thrown himself on to the ropes here. There doesn't seem to be any issue arising out of Judy Price's email and all Harry's Place has done is show their sheer desperation to keep the truth about Israel out of the public domain. He also shown that there are UCU activists who are similarly fearful of such exposure. And he has shown that the supposedly anti-antisemitic campaign of Engage is itself a sham simply trying to close down debate, discussion and exposure of the last of the colonial settler states.

So he has his uses this Mr t. Thoroughly dishonest, a bully, a liar and prone to panic whenever Israel is exposed. But oh no, not a part of an "incredibly powerful international jewish conspiracy to shut down debate." Just an ordinary guy who gets tip-offs from belated activists of the UCU and only acts out of the highest principles of consistency and balance. And I thought Engage's Dr Hirsh was a nasty piece

December 19, 2007

Scott Ritter, a zionist on the turn?

Here's an article in by Scott Ritter. It's one of those "where (and when) did Israel go wrong?" sort of articles but it's written in an interestingly angry way. He starts by telling us that one of his best friends is the State of Israel.
I have for some time now publicly articulated my sympathy and support for the state of Israel, even while criticizing those cases that I believed constituted poor judgment and bad policy. My stance was based upon my past experiences with Israel, which began indirectly in 1990-1991 when I was involved in counter-SCUD activities during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and continued in a much more direct fashion as a weapons inspector with the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM), charged with disarming Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

As a weapons inspector I made numerous visits to Israel for the purpose of coordinating with the Israeli intelligence community on matters pertaining to Iraqi WMD. I was greatly impressed not only with the professionalism of the Israeli intelligence services, but also with the Israeli people and society. During my time in Israel, I was witness to numerous horrific events, including several terrorist bombings and the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The resilience of the people of Israel in absorbing these blows yet continuing to live life to its fullest was remarkable, and worthy of admiration.
There is blood on the hands of many an Israeli adult and it's a highly militarised society, not to mention that it's the most ideologically committed society on earth. From its early days, zionism had something of the death cult about it. That they accept the death of Jews so casually, Ritter thinks it's stoically, should be no surprise to anyone who knows the cult.

Anyway he quickly gets round to a Mearsheimer and Walt style critique of the America/Israel relationship.
The insidious manner in which the current Israeli government has manipulated the domestic political machinery of the United States to produce support for its policies constitutes nothing less than direct interference in the governance of a sovereign state. The degree to which the current Israeli government has succeeded in this regard can be tracked not only by the words and actions of the administration of President George W. Bush and the American Congress, but also by the extent to which a pro-Israel lexicon has taken hold within the mainstream media of the United States. Witness the pro-Israel bias displayed when discussing the situation in southern Lebanon, the air strike in Syria, or the Iranian situation, and the retarding of any effort toward a responsible discussion of anything dealing with Israel becomes apparent.
Ok, witness the pro-Israel bias of America. So what? Why does it mean that Israel is responsible for what America does? What's so insidious here? Has Israel manipulated Bush? Or does Bush simply support Israel for interests he wants to pursue for his own reasons? I find this idea that America is some innocent waif being tricked by Israel dangerous nonsense. Was American foreign policy so benign before Israel existed or even before zionism itself existed?

Anyway to continue.
One would expect such efforts to shape the domestic public opinion of a state deemed hostile, but when the target of these Israeli actions is its ostensible best friend, one must begin to question whether or not the friendship is a one-way street. And if this is indeed the case, then perhaps it is time for the United States to reconsider its decades-old policy of strategic partnership with Israel.

It must be understood that the government of Ehud Olmert is acting in a post-9/11 environment, with considerable facilitators in the administration of President Bush, including the vice president. These two factors combine to create a cycle of enablement that allows a purely Israeli point of view to dominate American policy. If the Israeli point of view were built on logic, compassion, and the rule of law, then this tilt would not constitute a problem. But the Israeli point of view is increasingly constructed on a foundation of intolerance and irresponsible unilateralism that divorces the country from global norms.
"One would expect such efforts to shape the domestic public opinion of a state deemed hostile." Well maybe but how far would they get with "such efforts" if they weren't pushing at an open door? But then Ritter does hit some sore spots with regard to Israel's recent apoplexy over the recent report that Iran isn't developing nuclear weapons:
The statements by Israeli officials concerning the recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran and its nuclear program are perhaps the best manifestation of this reality. Avi Dichter, Israel's public security minister, has condemned the NIE as a flawed document, and in terms that link the American analysis to a cause-and-effect cycle that could lead the Middle East down the path of regional war. Like many Israelis, including the prime minister, Dichter disagrees with the American NIE on Iran, in particular the finding that Iran ceased its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The Israelis hold that this program is still active, despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reached a conclusion similar to the NIE's based upon its own exhaustive inspection activities inside Iran over the past five years.
And then bizarrely, having expressed his earlier admiration for these racist war criminals, he castigates Israel over the zionists overuse of what they see as their trump card in the game of emotional blackmail:
In threatening the world with war because America opted for once to embrace fact instead of fiction, Israel, sadly, has become like a cornered beast, lashing out at any and all it perceives to threaten its security interests. The current Israeli definition of what constitutes its security interests is so broad as to preclude any difference of opinion. Israel's shameless invocations of the Holocaust to defend its actions not only shames the memory of those murdered over 60 years ago, but ironically dilutes the impact of that memory by linking it with current policies that are cruel and intolerant. The message of Holocaust remembrance should be "never again," not just in terms of the persecution of Jews, but in terms of man's inhumanity to man. The birth of the Israeli state, as imperfect and controversial as it was, served as a foundation for the pursuit of tolerance. However, Israel's current policies, rooted in ethnic and religious hatred, are the antithesis of tolerance.
But the ethnic and religious hatred are not the party policies of Olmert or Kadima or Labour or Likud. The ethnic and religious hatred is woven into Israel's state structure like that of no other state on earth. When does Ritter think the change took place from the Israel he admired to the one he has belatedly wised up to?
Israel at present can have no friends, because Israel does not know how to be a friend. Driven by xenophobic paranoia and historical grievances, Israel is embarked on a path that can only lead to death and destruction. This is a path the United States should not tread. I have always taken the position that Israel is a friend of the United States, and that friends should always stand up for one another, even in difficult times. I have also noted that, to quote a phrase well known in America, friends don't let friends drive drunk, and that for some time now Israel has been drunk on arrogance and power. As a friend, I have believed the best course of action for the United States to take would be that which helped remove the keys from the ignition of the policy vehicle Israel is steering toward the edge of the abyss. Now it seems our old friend is holding a pistol to our head, demanding that we stop interfering with the vehicle's operation and preventing us from getting out of the car. This is not the action of a friend, and it can no longer be tolerated.
"Israel at present can have no friends?" He thinks Israel's racism and relentless aggression is a recent development. He also believes that America's foreign policy is essentially benign but for the insidiousness of Israel lobbying. This just doesn't stand up to analysis. Still all in all, it's nice to see another pro-establishment type bringing the singular nastiness of Israel to the public's attention.

December 18, 2007

Buying hasbara on campus

Thanks to a chap from Ramallah for sending me this snippet of news. Apparently a wealthy Californian based couple are to fund students to promote Israel on campus. This is from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
An advocacy group is hiring students as on-campus promoters of Israel.

StandWithUs is offering up to $1,000 a year this semester to 38 Emerson fellows, Jewish student leaders at key colleges and universities targeted by the organization. Their duties will include bringing in speakers and films that show Israel in a positive light.

Officials from StandWithUs told reporters that they gave particular consideration to applicants from “problem campuses” such as Columbia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, which the organization identifies as hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment.

More than 100 students applied for the fellowships, funded by California-based philanthropists Rita and Steven Emerson.

StandWithUs is an international pro-Israel education organization founded in 2001.
You learn so much from one small snippet of news. Zionists have to be paid for hasbara now. Of course there were always the Foxmans of this world with half a million dollars a year to claim that Europe is on the brink of another holocaust but I thought there was enough zionists idealism in the Jewish youth of today for them to do hasbara on campus for free. And what's all this about philanthropy? Funding zionism is philanthropy? I don't think so. And what about these ""problem campuses" such as Columbia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan, which the organization identifies as hotbeds of anti-Israel sentiment." Even the JTA has put "problem campuses" in quotes as if to distance itself from an allegation. And the sentiment thing, what's that? I thought academia was about truth, not sentiment. If I'm right then most students, I'm sure, just won't buy hasbara on campus.

December 16, 2007

Going up going down!

The zionist movement has a special word for colonial settlement in Palestine. It's "aliyah." Literally it has been translated as "ascent" or "going up." Well according to the Jewish Chronicle, going up has been going down in the UK, down in fact by 20% from last year to this.
Three months ago, the Israeli government voted for permanent funding for independent aliyah organisations, chiefly Nefesh b’Nefesh, which encourages potential immigrants from North America and Britain, with financial inducements and assistance in housing and job placements. The decision was seen as a blow to the Jewish Agency, which previously enjoyed a monopoly on aliyah activity.

“The fact that, with all their hype, Nefesh b’Nefesh haven’t succeeded in raising the aliyah numbers proves that it takes much more than a money to encourage people to make aliyah,” adds the Agency official. “It’s something much deeper, starting with education.”

A Nefesh b’Nefesh spokesman replied: “We have been working in Britain for two years. In 2006, two-hundred olim came from Britain with our programmes and that number has doubled in 2007.”
Now here's a Ha'aretz article that suggests that the Jewish Chronicle may have been putting a brave face on what Israel is seeing as a bit of a problem:
they're going to be down again. The January to November figures paint a very clear picture, and if there wasn't a sudden wave this month (and there wasn't), then immigration will have been down 7 or 8 percent this year. Only about 18,000 Jews came from around the world this year to live in the Jewish state. And what makes the statistics even more grim reading is the country-by-country numbers; there are no signs of hope for the future.

Last year, when immigration was also down, there was, at least, an upward trend coming from the English-speaking countries, primarily the U.S. and Britain. This year, Anglo immigration is also down. There is an increase in immigrants coming from Latin America, but those numbers are negligible in the overall picture. And immigration from Ethiopia is also slightly up, but since 2007 was probably the very last year of mass immigration from that country, and the government has decided that from June no more Falashmura will be allowed in; their immigration numbers will have dwindled in the coming year. But are these numbers necessarily a bad thing? Arik Sharon used to speak of bringing a million immigrants over the next decade. Now, it doesn't look as if we'll be getting even a quarter of that sum.
See that line tucked away in there. Ok, let's have it again:
the government has decided that from June no more Falashmura will be allowed in
While parts of Palestine, the West Bank, Jerusalem, Galilee, the Negev, are being Judaised, the Ethiopian Jews are being de-Judaised. Now there's a policy reversal that doesn't seem to have got half the publicity that the policy itself achieved when Israel, short of labourers, decided that Ethiopian Jews were Jewish enough for this thoroughly racist state. But that wasn't the point. Israel is suffering a "going up" shortage and it's worried.

Here's more from the same Ha'aretz article:
The great waves of immigration are a thing of the past. The Ethiopian operation is being wrapped up, the Jews in the former Soviet Union who haven't come so far seem intent on having their share of whatever economic miracles are going on in their home countries and even the "threatened" Jews of Iran and Venezuela don't seem to be taking advantage of the easily available escape routes. For the great majority of them, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez seem less-daunting prospects to the option of uprooting their families and giving up their businesses. Immigration from France is still relatively healthy, but the mass exodus, predicted in the wake of the Muslim rioting, has so far failed to materialize; meanwhile, the rise of Sarkozy has set many troubled minds at rest. There are those who still believe that anti-Semitism will inevitably arise again in the West, and hundreds of thousands of once-confident American, British, Australian and French Jews will be forced to seek refuge in Zion. But that doesn't seem to be happening quite yet.

There are of course those who believe that it's all a matter of changing the established attitude toward immigration, and that the way to bring more Western Jews is the more personalized, customer-orientated methods of private organizations like Nefesh B'Nefesh in North America and Britain and AMI in France. But if the 2007 figures are anything to go by, the much-publicized efforts by these two organizations haven't succeeded in boosting overall immigration numbers from these countries. That doesn't mean the new attitude toward immigrants shared by the private organizations and a growing number of senior officials within the old guard of the Jewish Agency and Absorption Ministry is necessarily wrong.

Perhaps no one is to blame for the low numbers of immigrants; perhaps the numbers are no longer a reliable measure of success in this field. The numbers don't tell us how many of the new immigrants are young couples and singles, with useful professions and bright prospects of absorption, nor how many of them are disillusioned and alienated teenagers, soon to lead lives of delinquency and generate headlines for scrawling swastikas on synagogue walls in Petah Tikva, how many of them are 80-year-old pensioners from eastern Europe arriving simply to enjoy the much more favorable health services?
Aha, "good human material." Zionism in all its disgusting glory, on display in a Ha'aretz article. And for all the worry the article expresses about Israel's "demographic" nightmare, see this concluding paragraph:
Zionism is not dead. There are always those who will come for purely ideological reasons, but for the rest of potential immigrants, it has become increasingly a matter of convenience and lifestyle. The numbers game is obsolete, and those hoping the Jews of the world will arrive in droves and save Israel from demographic catastrophe are deluding themselves.
Zionism is not dead? But is it dying perhaps? New settlers are not going to solve the "demographic problem." But then wasn't that the case right in the beginning? Wasn't it the case that there were never as many Jews up for the zionist project as the zionists had hoped when they decided to set up their state for the world's Jews and against Palestine's Arabs? What did they do when the settlement of Jews failed to outnumber the native Arabs? Why they expelled most of the Arabs of course. This of course is all without getting into the murky business of zionist terrorism against Jews in Arab countries and their collusion with antisemitic regimes since the inception of the zionist movement and continuing today with the bizarre alliance of Jewish and Christian zionists.

December 15, 2007

Brewed in Palestine

Thank you to Charlie Pottins of Random Pottins and the Just Peace UK list for posting the link to the video you see here, which speaks for itself:

Apparently Taybeh has been refused permission to import its product into America on the grounds that the label says "Brewed in Palestine." As Charlie points out in his email, this is incompatible with the idea that America supports a two state solution for Palestine.

December 10, 2007

From the horse's mouth, zionism is colonialism

Here's a story in Ha'aretz about how the descendants of holocaust victims are to get a payout by way of the liquidation of the assets of a company set up by the zionist movement for the purpose of colonising and conquering Palestine.
The Organization for the Restitution of Assets of Holocaust Victims in Israel has publicized the names of 55,000 stockholders in the 19th-century Zionist movement company Jewish Colonial Trust, who perished during the Second World War, Army Radio reported on Monday.
I'm not sure what the exchange rate is for shekels these days but it sounds like a lot of money.

But what struck me was the name of the group: Jewish Colonial Trust. How do zionists keep a straight face whilst telling us that zionism is not colonialism? The company was formed during the colonial heyday and so their candour then was part of the zionist movements ability to assimilate to the political milieu in which it finds itself. Today it masquerades as liberal or even socialist and so all its former candour is gone. It's because of this that some find it easy to say that all zionists are liars.

Zionist racism: two "humanitarian" case studies

Here are a couple of examples in Ha'aretz of how Israel's essentially racist system works in practice:
Natalia Mueller underwent and as much as completed a gradual naturalization process during more than five years. One day before her husband died, while he was on his deathbed, Mueller came to the Interior Ministry offices to submit her final application for citizenship. There she was told that if her husband died, she would have to leave the country. Since that time she has been in Israel with no legal standing, without a home and without being able to work.

Anna Jagnos-Paliashkon, an 80-year-old Holocaust survivor who has undergone heart surgery, has a single, functioning relative who can care for her: Sergei Dzhedan. Her daughter, Dzhedan's wife, died of cancer and Jagnos-Paliashkon's husband is in a geriatric hospital. But the Interior Ministry insists on deporting Dzhedan.

Mueller and Dzhedan ostensibly meet the criteria the Interior Ministry itself created for naturalization, but nevertheless the body with the Orwellian name - "the Interministerial Committee for Humanitarian Cases" - has decided to deport them both.
So what's all this about?
The Population Administration serves as Israel's substitute for an immigration policy. Israel's real policy is to do everything to block the entry to the country of non-Jews because they are non-Jews. The insufferable bureaucratic bottleneck and the via dolorosa traversed by those seeking naturalization assure that the gates are blocked. It is precisely for this reason that Israel maintains the Population Administration in its shameful situation, as was revealed in a series of reports: with its lack of human resources, untrained personnel and poor facilities.
Now this is where the article shows the extent to which zionist are in denial about the sheer rottenness, or as Ha'aretz puts it "institutional evil," of their system:
Eight months have passed since the last version of the Citizenship Law was passed, which greatly limits the naturalization of Palestinians married to Israelis. The law ordered the establishment of a committee to deal with humanitarian exceptions, but this has not happened yet. Haaretz today reports on the Supreme Court ruling of last week in which the justices wrote: "We cannot tolerate this ongoing violation of the law."

Due to the desire to close Israel's gates to non-Jews, the officials at the Population Administration are ignoring the law, their own regulations and humanitarian considerations, and are creating countless human tragedies. Thus has the administration itself become an apparatus that institutionalizes evil. The fact that we accept this shows how much our hearts have become hard and insensitive.
That's what 100 or so years of colonial settlement and 60 years of ethnic cleansing can do to a heart.

December 09, 2007

Dershy's dirty diamond dance

See Dershowitz shopping at Leviev in New York:

Here's the Indymedia New York article on it:
Despite NYC Palestinian rights protest, Dershowitz buys jewelry from settlement mogul Leviev

New York, NY, Dec. 8 - Wealthy Madison Avenue holiday shoppers were greeted Saturday afternoon by boisterous music and dancing, as 60 New Yorkers protested in a growing campaign to boycott Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev over his settlement construction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Participants performed a joyous dabke, a traditional Palestinian dance, and chanted to music from the eight-piece Rude Mechanical Orchestra. During the protest, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz entered LEVIEV New York and emerged to jeers as he displayed a LEVIEV shopping bag to the crowd.

Saturday's event was the third and largest protest outside LEVIEV New York since the store's November 13 gala opening. The protesters highlighted Leviev's abuse of marginalized communities in Palestine, Angola and New York. In the West Bank companies owned by Leviev have built homes in at least five Israeli settlements. These settlements carve the West Bank into disconnected bantustans, seize valuable Palestinian agricultural and water resources, and isolate Palestinian East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, rendering the creation of a viable Palestinian state impossible. All Israeli settlements violate international law. Yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Israel against its plans to build new homes in Har Homa, one of the settlements where Leviev's company Danya Cebus is building.

Midway through Saturday's protest Alan Dershowitz suddenly appeared in front of LEVIEV New York. "Just before he entered the store, I told Mr. Dershowitz, "you claim to be for peace, but you are deliberately putting money in the pockets of a man who builds settlements and prevents peace," explained Issa Mikel of Adalah-NY.
"Dershowitz responded, 'Thank you for telling me about this place.* I'm going to shop here from now on.' It's not surprising that Dershowitz is proud to support Israeli settlements, despite their illegality and immorality. Dershowitz is also a defender of torture, and has proposed that Israel destroy entire Palestinian villages." As
Dershowitz emerged from the store holding high his LEVIEV shopping bag, he was met by loud chants of, "Alan, Alan, you can't hide, your support for Apartheid."

New Yorkers were joined by members of the New Jersey Star dance troupe for likely the first ever Madison Avenue performance of the Palestinian folk dance dabke. Riham Barghouti of Adalah-NY explained, "Our dabke performance at Leviev's store was an affirmation of our identity as Palestinians, and of our refusal to accept Israel's efforts to cleanse us from our land and destroy our culture."

Participants were reminded of the breadth of Leviev's abuses when a stream of cars decorated with Burmese flags and "Free Burma" banners drove by the protest honking their horns in support. In September, 2007 The Sunday Times in London reported that its undercover journalist was shown Burmese rubies for sale, allegedly "blood rubies" used to finance Myanmar's military junta. UPI reported in October that Leviev was warned by the EU to stop doing business with Myanmar or face sanctions.

Protesters held signs saying, "Latkes not land theft", and "Dreidels not demolition and "Candles not confiscation." Ethan Heitner of Adalah-NY explained, "I can think of no better way to celebrate Hanukah than to shine a light on the abuses Leviev is committing around the world."

Leviev mines diamonds in close partnership with Angola's repressive Dos Santos regime, and the security company Leviev employs in Angola has been accused of serious human rights abuses. In New York City, Shaya Boymelgreen, Leviev's US partner until this summer, has been the target of a campaign by local groups for employing underpaid, non-union workers in hazardous conditions, and violating housing codes to construct luxury apartments that threaten to displace lower-income residents.
*"Thank you for telling me about this place"? Who told Dershowitz about this place? Was it him?

December 08, 2007

Jewish conspirator conspires to avoid charge of Jewish conspiracy

He's mad. He's stark staring bonkers. David Abrahams put £600 k into Labour party coffers using the names of 19 (or so) intermediaries so as to avoid the idea that his largesse was some kind of Jewish conspiracy. This was pointed out to me in an email I received from a friend yesterday or the day before. But here's the Jewish Chronicle on the case:
From his £1 million apartment overlooking London’s Regents Park, he lashed out at those he claimed had blackened his name simply for giving money to a cause close to his heart.

He also claimed that he had made his donations secretly so as to avoid accusations of his being part of a “Jewish conspiracy”.

Of the row surrounding 19 anonymous donations made through third parties, Mr Abrahams told the JC: “A lot of this is character assassination, conjecture and speculation. The Daily Telegraph was saying that the money was not mine and that it came from Israel. That was patently untrue. My accountant has recently done my books and it was all there. The money was earned legitimately through hard work and it was totally wrong to say that it came from Israel.
Well the plot, if I may call it that, thickens because here's the Guardian's latest update:
Labour's secret donor David Abrahams has warned that the row over party funding may "take one or two dirty turns" if ministers "hammer" him, it was reported last night.

The property developer was also quoted as saying he donated the £650,000 via proxies to avoid accusations that he was part of a "Jewish conspiracy".

Last night he rang the BBC to say that his comments had been "misrepresented" and that he had given money secretly because he wanted to remain anonymous. He added: "All week long I have refused to give the Jewish Chronicle an interview."

But Leon Symons, the reporter who wrote the story, said Abrahams rang him at the end of last week - although the businessman decided subsequently not to grant a personal interview.

He added: "We reported exactly what he said and have notes to back this up...We stand by every word of this story."

Meanwhile the Economist thinks that this Abrahams chap is just a poor (sheesh!) immigrant.

"Peace" oil?

Here's an interesting article from Mark Tran in the Guardian showing how these "Jews and Muslims can be friends" type projects can undermine the Palestinians.

A Palestinian villager passes olive trees burned and cut by militant Jewish settlers at Einabus, on the West Bank.

A Palestinian passes some of the 1,000 olive trees burned or cut down by militant
Jewish settlers at Einabus, on the West Bank, in 2003. Photograph: Vadim Ghirda/AP

Peace Oil, an olive oil made in Israel by Jews and Arabs, would seem an ideal Christmas gift for those wishing to take a stand against consumerism.

The oil is one of the products promoted in the Good Gifts catalogue, run by the Charities Advisory Trust (Cat), an organisation founded by Hilary Blume and widely respected for advising charities on ethical ways of generating funds.

The blurb on the Peace Oil website claims the product encourages cooperation between communities. By helping to market the olive oil, Cat hopes to bring economic prosperity to such enterprises, thereby encouraging others.

Despite its laudable intentions, however, Cat has come under fire from those who claim it is undermining products made by Palestinians and brought into Britain by cooperatives such as Zaytoun.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the UK branch of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and the Inter-Faith Group for Morally Responsible Investment, have written to church and charity groups urging them to promote Palestinian olive oil rather than Peace Oil.

The groups claim that without costly advertising, Palestinian products struggle to find space on shelves in UK health food shops, charity outlets and the occasional supermarket.

"As an Israeli-based product, albeit with some Palestinian input, Peace Oil faces none of these limitations," the groups said in a joint statement.

"We hope that the Charities Advisory Trust will take this on board and, at the very least, promote fairly traded Palestinian oil from Zaytoun alongside Peace Oil.

"Until this happens we would urge those who want to give olive oil as a 'good gift' to choose Zaytoun in preference."

Olive oil, the backbone of the Palestinian Authority's agricultural economy, is a vital source of income for tens of thousands of farmers and their families, 67% of whom live below the poverty line.

Palestinian olive oil producers have faced enormous difficulties as Israeli authorities have confiscated or denied access to land, uprooted ancient trees, and controlled water resources. The building of the security barrier has cut off some farmers from their olive groves. Once the wall is completed, 10% of the West Bank will fall on the Israeli side of the barrier.

Zaytoun was established in 2004 to ease access to western markets for Palestinian farmers in the West Bank.

Heather Gardner, a Zaytoun director, said Cat was misleading the public in promoting Peace Oil as a product that encourages peaceful cooperation.

"The fact that Arabs are employed in making Peace Oil is not anything different from the status quo, as Israelis use Arab labour as a matter of course," she said.

She also criticised Peace Oil for its lack of transparency about where the oil is sourced and what the profits are used for. Zaytoun, a member of the International Fair Trade Association, is audited by a Swiss company.

Activists also question the claim that funds from Peace Oil will be used to promote a just peace between Palestinians and Israelis. One activist, who preferred to remain anonymous, was scathing about the product.

"It's a total con," the activitist said. "Peace Oil is using peace to obfuscate the lack of justice for Palestinians in the conflict. It is misleading people of goodwill who want to do something for peace."

Hilary Blume, a director of Cat, strongly defended the idea of Peace Oil, which she said had caught people's imagination since it was introduced a year ago.

"It's Jews, Druze, Bedouin working together," she said. "It's concerned with spreading cooperation among ethnically diverse groups."

Blume, who has worked to bridge ethnic divides in places such as Sarajevo, hit back at critics of Peace Oil, saying the groups wanted a trade boycott of Israel.

She said Peace Oil for cooking, one of three varieties of the oil, uses olives from smallhold farmers from Nablus in the West Bank.

Many of the presents in the Good Gifts catalogue, one of Blume's ideas, are designed to help people in developing countries become more self-sufficient. For example, a £25 gift buys five chickens and a cockerel; £100 buys a travelling library for African schools.

No other gift in the catalogue has attracted the kind of controversy that Peace Oil has faced. Asked why Cat chose not to promote Zaytoun, Blume said it was a commercial product and Cat could not help every cause in the world.

"You can find Zaytoun in every church group in the country," Blume said. "If they can't market it effectively, it's their problem."

This of course isn't the first time the charity sector has been used to support Israel at the expense of the Palestinians. Many of the charities operating in the West Bank and Gaza are getting Israel off the hook of its responsibilities as an occupying power. Also let's not forget Oxfam's love affair with Starbucks.

December 05, 2007

The UK's Israel lobby?

I'm a bit late with this article from Yasmin Alibai-Brown in the Independent a couple of days ago and I've only got it now because I know someone who had a letter published in response to it. Yasmin Alibai Brown is one of the few Muslims with her own regular slot as a columnist in a UK paper. I find she usually tiptoes round the Palestine issue. Not this time she didn't. She questions the role of the Labour Friends of Israel, indeed the other parties' Friends of Israel as well. The question has arisen because some of its members have been involved in a scandal involving illegal donations of about £600,000 to the campaign funds of various high profile Labourites.
Pardon me for asking. Perhaps I shouldn't. For an easy life, some things, you learn, are best left unsaid. Nervous, am I? You bet. But these questions will not stand aside or lie down. They have been bothering me since the Labour party donor row broke last week. They are raised here in good faith. I have no wish to bring the wrath of Moses upon me and I can already hear the accusations of anti-Semitism because I dare to raise the question: Can someone explain what exactly is the role of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) in our political life? And its twin, the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) too. In an open democracy, we are entitled to make such queries – indeed, it is a duty.

David Abrahams, the strange shape-shifter at the centre of the funding furore, was once Mr Big in LFI; so is John Mendelsohn, the smart fundraiser picked by Gordon Brown to garner "election resources" to finance the next Labour win. Lord Levy is also a key member of LFI. We witnessed the tortuous police investigation into the peer's affairs during the cash for honours investigations, but not once was there any scrutiny of Levy's connection to LFI and how that might have led to the offer of his prestigious position as the Middle East envoy, handed to him by his tennis partner, Tony Blair.
I thought some turns of phrase there were quite clever, the "wrath of Moses" and the "shape-shifter" reference to David Abrahams's habit of using other people's names to distribute his largesse. Well one correspondent the next day wasn't impressed. He thought that "wrath of Moses" was an antisemitic expression but my former Arab Media Watch colleague, Dina Turner, was well impressed:
Sir: Thank you to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. She is a brave woman. It is disturbing to think that our politicians are working for the benefit of a foreign country, and explains a lot about our Middle East policy.

This is clearly not just about the Labour Party, and should be the beginning of questions about the influence of foreign lobbying groups in the Conservative Party too. If we want to trust our politicians in future, we may have to accept that the only way forward is by public funding of political parties.

Dina Turner

Farnham, Surrey
I don't know about that. I think if the Israel lobby didn't exist, the foreign policy establishment would probably invent it but there is certainly something rotten about these Friends of Israel types. Whether Conservative, LibDem or Labour, they are all friends of Israel, a state with an ethno-religious structure only demanded by fascist organisations in Europe. The fact is that being a friend of a state based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing, and segregationist laws is incompatible with socialism and liberalism. Conservatism is a little nebulous a concept to define but most UK Conservatives would have difficulty defending Israel from a blow by blow description of its structure alone.

Even without these financial scandals, the very existence of these societies of "friends" should up for question, especially as they are more likely friends of each other than friends of the parties they take the first word of their labels from.