August 31, 2008
Al-Majdal is the quarterly publication of BADIL, the resource center for Palestinian residency and refugee rights. The current issue of al-Majdal is called, "Overcoming the Nakba: BDS and the Global Anti-Apartheid Movement."
Among the meatier stuff in this issue is the country-by-country assessment of where BDS stands today:
Australia by Kim Bullimore
Belgium by Jan Dreezen
Brazil by Arlene Clemesha
Canada by Andrew Hugill and Hazem Jamjoum
Catalonia by Boicot preventiu
England and Wales by Zoë Mars
Euskal Herria (Basque Country) by Patricia Lezama
Ireland by (JSF's own) David Landy
Israeli Citizens by Kobi Snitz and Roee Harush
Italy by Mjriam Abu Samra
Norway by Mali Steiro Tronsmoen
Scotland by Mick Napier and SofiahMacLeod
South Africa by Natasha Vally
Spain by Boicot preventiu
Sweden by Tove Myhrman
Switzerland by Urs Diethelm
United States by Abraham Greenhouse
Also worth a browse: a calendar of BDS actions from April-July
And a new website: Global BDS Movement: Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions for Palestine.
August 29, 2008
We do not idealise Palestinian society, fractured and divided as it is, though this is in good measure the result of sustained Israeli policy over many decades of occupation (Showboating over Gaza, August 28). Nor do we recall Israel extending a great hand of friendship to the Palestinians under President Arafat when that society wasn't fractured. Rather, he was routinely labelled a "terrorist". Now, suddenly, we all have to "steer the Palestinians through the choppy waters to statehood". The fact is that about half the West Bank is under the authority of Jewish settlements and the Israeli military, and that the Israeli government shows no signs of yielding up this occupied territory to the new Palestinian state Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor purports to want.Well put, both of you.
You do not have to be a fan of Hamas - we definitely are not - to recognise that they prosper as the result of the criminal and illegal policy of collective punishment that Israel insists on inflicting on the people of Gaza. Gaza is still occupied, still a prison, as evidenced by Israel's land, air and sea blockade. The two boats of protesters that broke the Israeli blockade last week aimed specifically to draw attention to this. They have now set a precedent. May they be followed by hundreds of others bearing food, medicines and other desperately needed goods to the people of Gaza.
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
As the Israelis are now apparently behaving so reasonably about Palestinian rights in Gaza, I presume the Israeli government will offer no hindrance to the dozen Palestinian students currently trying to reach Cyprus in a boat, so that they can resume their studies at foreign universities? If they are stopped by the Israelis it will demonstrate that Prosor's article was really a piece of "showboating", in trying to justify their dreadful treatment of innocent civilians of Gaza through collective punishment.
Norton-on-Derwent, North Yorkshire
August 28, 2008
In passing President Bush’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act last month, a bipartisan Senate coalition has shown itself to be suffering from the dubious, irresponsible mindset articulated in Yiddish as “Sie machen sich nicht wissentig” and by Thomas Aquinas as “Ignorantia Affectata”: willfully making themselves unknowing while feigning ignorance about inconvenient facts.Jewish values? Ok, let's take a look:
A majority of Senate Democrats chose to pander to Latinos, abandoning principle and the party’s historical base to placate a potentially larger electorate. A minority of the chamber’s Republicans, meanwhile, gave the service sector, agro-business and other industries employing unskilled workers a bottomless pool of cheap labor.
All senators who voted for the bill ignored broader ethical, social and environmental concerns, and most ominously the law of unintended consequences. Their caricature immigration reform is pure special-interest politics, denying the very idea of a national interest. Not so incidentally, it also threatens Jewish allegiances, interests and dishonors Jewish values.
The bill traduces Jewish values, sacrificing Judaism’s central tenet: pursuing justice. Citing Leviticus 19 in defense of the legislation, as some of the bill’s Jewish supporters have, is sacrilegious. This magisterial text commands us to “love the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Note that it says love, not exploit for economic or political gain.Hmm, any other Jewish values worth noting?
The bill also rejects Jeremiah’s injunction to “seek the welfare of the city where I have exiled you… in its prosperity you will find peace” (29:4-7). Massive immigration will eviscerate the social safety net — betraying America’s working poor and unemployed by exploiting immigrants is not tikkum olam.
Closer to home, massive immigration will obliterate Jewish power by shrinking our percentage of the population — to a fraction of 1% in 20 years. Jews possess political clout despite tiny numbers because we are concentrated in large electoral vote states, have legendary voting rates, donate significantly to both parties and dominant culture. We will retain residual influence due to campaign contributions, membership in institutional establishments and the endurance of our alliances, but the Latino vote will eventually overwhelm us.Jewish power? He said Jewish power. I'm not touting that as a Jewish value but Mr Steinlight seems to be. Now at that point you might have expected those stalwart defenders of the Jewish people against such antisemitic tropes, Engage, to get involved. A quick search of their site for the name Steinlight yields no hits.
So much for the antisemitism, what about the more prevalent forms of racism?
Moreover, Jewish-Latino political interests clash. We have fought over both refugee and asylum slots: we wanted them for Soviet Jewry, Latinos for Central Americans fleeing the dirty wars in Central America. We won, but at a cost. And except for the evangelical part of the community, Latinos do not share any particularly strong bond to Israel.I don't know why he doesn't just let them in and cull them when necessary. But there's more:
We are divided by socioeconomic chasms that will not be easier to bridge than those that bedeviled black-Jewish relations. With huge numbers on their side, they will have little need for allies, compromise or concern for others’ agendas. Most troubling, survey research, including by the Anti-Defamation League, shows Latinos to be more antisemitic than any group except Muslims.
With Israel facing an existential threat from Iran, Israeli-Palestinian relations having reached bottom and global Islamism targeting Jews, hastening disempowerment is indefensible. Latino population growth is inevitable, but exponential growth is not. If we can keep the numbers within reasonable bounds — which would hasten immigrant acculturation and reduce traditional cultural bigotry — we will likely maintain our position.
Unlike many other newcomers to America, Jews were refugees and asylum seekers escaping religious persecution, tyranny and pogroms. Most immigrants, by contrast, are not refugees: They come to make money.Those money-grubbing Latinos, they fail every test. If this Steinlight character is anything to go by they stir up antisemitism even among Jews (like Steinlight) and they are a demographic threat to Jews. Gosh, they even fail the cricket test and America doesn't even play cricket.
Unlike many others, Jews migrated one way. Jews did not remain loyal to antisemitic countries of origin; most learned English immediately and embraced Americanism. Millions today immigrate for economic gain while despising America and maintaining loyalty to home countries.
August 26, 2008
From al-Jazeera English, Aug. 25 part 1:
A media triple threat, here's Huwaida in the Detroit Free Press.
While we ponder Gissin's blaming Hamas for Gaza's humanitarian difficulties, let us not forget the immortal words of the eminent Israeli humanitarian Dov Weisglass: "It’s like a diet – the Palestinians will lose lots of weight, but they won’t die."
August 23, 2008
August 17, 2008
O.K. this is one stupidly over-mixed metaphor. Apologies. Can't help it. The news are just too delicious.
So here it is: Russian Senator Borris Spiegel, Chairman of the World Congress of Russian Jewry, issued a statement "calling for the establishment of a tribunal that would investigate Georgia's "war crimes" during the past week's round of fighting." (Haaretz, August 18, 2008). Spiegel went as far as accusing Georgia of conducting genocide.
Now, the best would be if Jews stopped creating organizations that pretend to run the world. It would be good for everyone, including Jews. There must be some way for folks to make a living other than selling arms or marketing the holocaust to the highest bidder.
But the second best is to have these organizations exhaust themselves in proxy fights for they paymasters.
...MK Ze'ev Elkin (Kadima), who serves as the deputy head of the Congress, criticized Spiegel's statements, saying the organization's role is to worry about well-being of Jews worldwide and not get involved in "geo-political conflicts." (Haaretz, August 18, 2008)
Of course, for the latter we have Israel and AIPAC.
If only Putin invests well in his Jewish minions, we could all sit back and enjoy the fireworks.
With the arrival of Bat-El Gatterer, the Olympics can finally be said to have gone full circle and returned to their true Spartan original spirit.
Bat-El Gatterer lives in the Spartan (oops Israeli) colony of Kochav Yaakov, which is a prime magnet for U.S. born jewish nutcases. Kochav Yaakov is not just a settlement, but a nec-plus-ultra hilltop settlement overlooking (or more accurately looking down on) the refugee camp of kalandia from its Olympic heights.
Bat-El Gatterer, who is an orthodox Jew (i.e., she observes all the rules of the Torah except the ten commandments), will very appropriately represent Israel in Taekwondo. She finished her service in the Herrenvolk Army the day before she left for Beijing. This is so sweetly symbolic that it defrosted the freezer compartment in my fridge.
It seems to me the Olympic Games are quite antiquated. Why isn't there an Olympic competition in crowd control, home bulldozing, "rubber bullet" eye gouging and other more contemporary athletic exploits? Common folks, let's do it right for a change!
August 15, 2008
Mount Hypocrisy has been scaled again.
"Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century," (George Bush)
Bush didn't say it to describe Israel, or for that matter the U.S., but Russia, after Russia invaded Georgia to protect the residents of South Ossetia from being shelled by their own government.
Shockingly, a hand did not appear in the sky, did not grab the Moron-in-Chief, and did not mop the floor with his eyebrows. I say 'shockingly,' because there are certain things that God shouldn't let pass in silence even if He or She doesn't exist.
But the crucial lesson to remember here is that Bush is completely in type as far as U.S. foreign policy is. His stupendous pomposity and lack of shame create the impression that the U.S. under him is uniquely in the wrong. Nothing is further from the truth. The U.S. has always supported genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass murder, especially when governments do these things to people under their jurisdiction.
The most glaring example of this perhaps is Bangladesh, where events four decades ago bear a striking similarity to the present. In 1971, the people of Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, demanded regional autonomy. The Pakistani Junta, backed and armed to the teeth by the U.S., attacked East Pakistan and began a systematic genocide that left one to three million dead. Finally India intervened, invaded East Pakistan, defeated the Pakistani army and guaranteed the independence of Bangladesh.
Throughout the conflict, U.S. officials knew of the genocide, supported the Pakistani military, and even sent a nuclear aircraft carrier to intimidate India. Nixon's administration even urged China to move forces to its Indian borders in order to deter India from intervening.
Then there is Cambodia. Pot Pot was an equal opportunity mass murderer, but he reserved special attention to attacking Cambodian villages with ethnic ties to Vietnam. in 1979, after years of low intensity conflict, Vietnam invaded Cambodia and ended Pol Pot's horror show. The U.S. was aghast. U.S. officials vocally condemned the Vietnamese invasion and then set on providing military support to the ousted Khmer Rouge who retreated to the Cambodia-Thailand border. U.S. bodies provided tens of millions of dollars worth of U.S. aid to the Khmer Rouge up until 1990 (as far as we know). Throughout all this time the Khmer Rouge conducted terrorist attacks against Cambodian villages and plotted its return to power.
These are just the two instances when a government's attack on its own people was stopped by a foreign invasion. Other U.S. backed genocides, ethnic cleansing campaigns, and mass murder of dissidents occurred in so many countries--Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Palestine, Chile, El-Salvador, etc-- that recounting them would require a book, not a blog entry. (Fortunately, the book exists, William Blum, Rogue State, A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, 2000).
Like Russia, both India and Vietnam had their own political and strategic reasons to stop the murder of civilians. Russia's rulers are no Robin Hood. They are a cold, rational guild seeking its own power, just like the U.S. But here is the question. If self-interest were the sole determination, at least occasionally a state would find itself defending human rights outside its borders. This is what happened to Russia in South Ossetia, to Vietnam in Cambodia and to India in East Pakistan. How come the power of the U.S. depends every time of supporting mass murderers? How come with the one exception of WW-II, despite being involved almost yearly in military conflicts, the U.S. is so consistently on the side of death?
ZF supporter challenges the BBC: One of our members, Jonathan Turner, has appealed to the BBC Trust regarding an article by Jeremy Bowen on the BBC website entitled How 1967 defined the Middle East, which he considers to be biased. He has learned that the BBC Trust is considering a similar appeal by someone else and wishes to get in touch. If you are the other complainant or if you might know the other complainant, please contact Jonathan at email@example.com.Well I can tell you it wasn't me because I have read the piece and I thought it was very good. In fact it was big of the ZF to provide the link but then the email was intended only for the, that is their, faithful.
But the rest of the report on this complaint is a little bit disturbing, look:
The BBC Trust's Editorial Adviser produced a detailed report broadly supporting the complainants but the BBC have asked him/her to rewrite it. Watch this space.So what's going on here? Read the piece. I've copied it here in full. Apologies for any glitches. But please read it and consider, who could possibly complain?
I'm not sure but I think that an Israeli soldier was trying to kill Jeremy Bowen when they killed his driver instead. In fairness they may have just been trying to kill his driver. But never mind, Israel apologists will still get a sympathetic hearing from the Beeb.How 1967 defined the Middle East
By Jeremy Bowen
BBC Middle East editor
To understand what is happening between Israel and the Palestinians now, you have to understand what happened in the Middle East war of 1967.
Rubinger's famous photo (L) was updated in 2007 by Amit Shabi
It took only six days for Israel to smash the armed forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria but over the last 40 years, the legacy of the war has shaped the conflict into what it is today.
The war made 250,000 more Palestinians - and more than 100,000 Syrians - into refugees. No peace is possible in the Middle East without solving their problems.
Israel became an occupier.
It captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan.
The tail started wagging the dog - now the tail is so strong the dog can't move
Israeli photographer of the Six-Day War
Israel had another, very serious, war with Syria and Egypt in 1973, but increasingly the main Arab thrust against Israel came from Palestinian groups, led by Yasser Arafat's PLO.
For Palestinians, the lesson of the humiliating defeat suffered by the Arab frontline states in 1967 was that no-one else was going to do their fighting for them.
The failure of Arab nationalism in 1967 was also a major factor in the early development of political Islam. The mosques began providing the answers to questions that the secular strongmen could not convincingly answer.
Spoiling for a fight
The myth of the 1967 Middle East war was that the Israeli David slew the Arab Goliath. It is more accurate to say that there were two Goliaths in the Middle East in 1967. The Arabs, taken together, had big armed forces, but they were not ready for combat.
We have nothing for Israel except war
Egyptian radio announcer speaking before the war
The Jewish Goliath had never been in better shape, and knew it, or rather its leaders did. In 1967 Israel was a fortress society in a way that it is no longer. There was no television, and generals and politicians did not leak their business to their favourite journalists as they do today.
Israeli civilians, especially in the crisis that led to war, were left to their own fears, which for many people were considerable.
The Jewish state was only 19 years old and the youngest survivors of the Holocaust were barely in their 20s. Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser's radio station Voice of the Arabs fed their anxieties by broadcasting bloodcurdling threats.
Its chief announcer, Ahmed Said, had the best known voice in the Arab world in the 1960s after Nasser himself and the legendary diva, Umm Kulthum.
Said was famous for lines like this: "We have nothing for Israel except war - comprehensive war... marching against its gangs, destroying and putting an end to the whole Zionist existence... every one of the 100 million Arabs has been living for the past 19 years on one hope - to live to die on the day that Israel is liquidated."
No wonder many Israelis and their friends and relations abroad were scared stiff.
Reports of what Said was saying, and even the broken Hebrew of broadcasts beamed directly into Israel from Cairo, convinced many Israeli civilians that if they were facing enemies that were prepared to annihilate them, then they needed to fight, and fight hard.
The problem for the Arabs was they believed Ahmed Said and his colleagues too, and convinced themselves that an easy victory was coming.
The generals' hour
Israel's generals were not taken in. They all knew that the only way that Israel would lose the war would be if the IDF did not turn up.
The Israeli generals... had been training to finish the unfinished business of Israel's independence war of 1948 for most of their careers
So did King Hussein of Jordan, and most of the Egyptian generals - with the exception of the inept and corrupt commander-in-chief, Field Marshal Abd al Hakim Amer.
The Israeli Air Force destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground on the morning of 5 June 1967 in a surprise attack.
In the next five days Israel confirmed the intelligence estimates of the British and the Americans.
Six weeks earlier, the British cabinet's Joint Intelligence Committee had concluded that an Arab victory was "inconceivable."
Around the same time, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff said Israel would be "militarily unchallengeable by any combination of Arab states at least during the next five years".
The Israeli generals, hugely self-confident, mainly sabras (native-born Israeli Jews) in their late 30s and early 40s, had been training to finish the unfinished business of Israel's independence war of 1948 for most of their careers.
When their political leaders, most of whom were cautious immigrants at least 20 years older, tried to use diplomacy to end the crisis that led to war, the top brass were beside themselves with frustration.
They believed that delay meant more casualties, and the unnecessary postponement of the inevitable war and inevitable victory for which they had been preparing.
Nasser's motives for risking war in 1967 are still debated.
Another explanation is that Nasser was prepared to take Israel to the brink to reinforce his position as an Arab hero
Two Israeli historians have recently suggested that he was egged on by the Soviet Union, which wanted Egypt to destroy Israel's nuclear weapons programme at Dimona.
Another explanation is that Nasser was prepared to take Israel to the brink to reinforce his position as an Arab hero.
If it went over the brink, he assumed the superpowers would rescue him and deliver a political victory, as they had in the Suez war of 1956.
When victory came, Israeli civilians, who had never been told how strong Israel was, believed that they had escaped a terrible fate.
David Rubinger, the Israeli photographer who took the most iconic pictures of the war, was with IDF paratroopers when they captured the Western Wall, and was swept up in the mood:
"We were all crying. It wasn't religious weeping. It was relief. We had felt doomed, sentenced to death. Then someone took off the noose and said you're not just free, you're king. It seemed like a miracle."
The conviction that it was a miracle, that God saved the Jewish people and reunited them with their historic homeland in Judea and Samaria, is still the driving force behind Israeli religious nationalism.
When the messianic moment of victory combined with Zionism's innate instinct to push out the frontier, the result was the settlement movement.
Israel's reward, apart from victory itself, was a new strategic relationship with the United States.
Nearly half a million Jews have settled in the West Bank since 1967
Yet even before the fighting ended, as Israel completed its capture of Jerusalem and the West Bank, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, one of the staunchest friends Israel has ever had in the White House, warned that by the time the Americans had finished with all the "festering problems", they were going to "wish the war had never happened".
Four days after the war ended, US Secretary of State Dean Rusk warned that if Israel held on to the West Bank, Palestinians would spend the rest of the century trying to get it back.
Forty years on, Israel has settled around 450,000 people on land occupied in 1967, in defiance of everyone's interpretation of international law except its own.
The settlers are protected by all the resources of the state, including the IDF, from a rebellious subject people, many of whom believe that ruthless violence targeted at civilians as well as soldiers is a legitimate response to occupation.
For Palestinians, the settlements are a catastrophe, made worse every day by the fact that they are expanding fast.
After 40 years as an occupier, Israel can no longer count on the international support it had in 1967.
The settlers see their presence as a national asset, necessity and obligation, but many other Israelis, to varying degrees, believe the settlements, and all the other legacies of 1967 that have deepened the conflict with the Palestinians, are a national disaster.
"The tail started wagging the dog," David Rubinger complains bitterly. "Now the tail is so strong the dog can't move."
I don't have time right now to iron out the glitches arising from copying a whole BBC page into blogger.com. And blogger is acting up tonight on top of that. I'll sort it out later.
August 13, 2008
And here's Ynet:
the conduct of the tank crew, who erroneously identified Shana as an armed gunman, was not out of line with procedure. None of the implicated soldiers will stand trial.How dare journalists insult the most moral army in the world by wearing body armour? It's not as if.... oh never mind.
The last moments of footage recorded by Shana capture the image of a tank stationed several hundred feet away from the border fence firing. Two seconds later the film is cut off.
"The tank crew was unable to determine the nature of the object mounted on the tripod and positively identify it as an anti-tank missile, a mortar or a television camera," Mendelblit wrote.
He further cited an attack that killed three IDF soldiers in another part of the enclave earlier in the day, a separate grenade attack on a tank, the fact that Shana and his soundman who was wounded were wearing body armour - "common to Palestinian terrorists" - among reasons for suspicion.
Jews are leaving Nazaret Illit. Arabs from Nazareth buy land there at exorbitant prices, so they can be near their community in Nazareth, which suffers from severe overcrowding.
Nazareth Illit is a town designed, built and used as an apartheid weapon, strategically built on land expropriated from Nazareth residents in a way that effectively cages Nazareth and prevents its further urban development.
But this bottom-up decolonization process is making a lot of Jews unhappy:
Several rabbis have mobilized to halt the Jewish residents' flight. They pay a visit to the Jewish sellers and, quoting from religious sources, persuade them not to sell their homes to Arabs. The Arab contractors working in Upper Nazareth have taken this issue into account. Rosenfeld says he once worked with an Arab contractor, who offered a contract to buyers with an escape clause allowing for the deal to be canceled if a Jew does not want to live next to an Arab who buys an apartment in the same building. (Haaretz, June 12,2008)
Isn't that generous?! After all, isn't Israel itself an escape clause from the very idea of the universal law? "Yes, it is wrong to....(insert the latest headline), except here, except now. Our situation is special." Isn't Israel a state of mind in which anything, literally anything, that serves the state's delusions of identity is possible, legal, even admonished by the rabbi?
And here's another quote from the same article:
"I wasn't a racist until the problem started to affect me personally," says Ilya Rosenfeld, who immigrated to Israel 18 years ago. Rosenfeld worked in the Prime Minister's Bureau during Ariel Sharon's tenure, dealing with Russian affairs, and is now running for a seat on the city council. "The Jewish city I came to is up for sale," he continues. "It bothers me that on my street, you no longer hear Hebrew and Russian, just Arabic."
How to call a person beginning a sentence with "I was not a racist until...."? Is it fair to call Rosenfeld a racist, given that he himself declares himself one?
But to call him a racist is to suggest that he is deviant. That he stands out with this moral deformity that sets him apart. Shouldn't we rather say that he is just a regular Israeli, a good, hard-working, decent Israeli living and breathing the brackish atmosphere that envelops him?
Isn't that exactly what Rosenfeld says: if I may unpack -- "I wasn't a racist...although people around me were racists, and justifiably so. But I didn't care about them. It was wrong for me NOT to be a racist all these years. It was pure selfishness on my behalf not to be a racist just because it didn't touch me personally. But now I understand the importance of having an ethical attitude. Imagine what would happen if everybody behaved as selfishly as I did, if everybody failed to be a racist! Where would Israel be then?"
And here is a quote from Hannah Arendt that explains the title:
Evil in the Third Reich had lost the quality by which most people recognize it--the quality of temptation. Many Germans and many Nazis, probably an overwhelming majority of them, must have been tempted not to murder, not to rob, not to let their neighbors go off to their doom....and not to become accomplices in all these crimes by benefiting from them. But, God knows, they had learned how to resist temptation. (Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, p.150)
Two weeks ago, we predicted that Omri Borberg, the commander who ordered the shooting of a tied and bound Palestinian detained by the Herrenvolk army in Ni'lin, will get a ridiculous punishment and then be promoted.
Well, Haaretz just affirmed that this is exactly what happened, although as far as we can tell, only in Hebrew.
So here is the denouement, according to Haaretz: Borberg is about to stand trial for "behavior unbecoming to an officer" a very light charge that is usually applied to excessive use of foul language or a bar brawl. The charge is a misdemeanor.
This is for giving an order to shoot a bound man from two feet!! The prosecutor believes that he doesn't have enough evidence to convict Borberg of a crime committed in front of a dozen witnesses and a camera.
In addition, Borberg was "removed from his post"....straight to the next stage of his career. He is going to command the armored branch at the training center for warfare on land near Ashkelon.
In case you missed the point. Borberg was promoted to a position overseeing the training and education of Herrenvolk soldiers. And why not? Is he not an example of good soldiering?
Don't get any idea that we have uncommon prophetic powers here at JSF. Guessing that the Herrenvolk army will act as a Herrenvolk army is as difficult as predicting the rise of the sun in the morning.
August 12, 2008
Israel is an inspiring country. Really. It is so inspiring that it inspires many to emulate it. Its airport security is inspiring. Its racial profiling police methods inspire cops of all nations. Its urban demolition warfare techniques are inspirational to the point that otherwise sober generals facing unruly masses from Faluja to Mogadishu tremble in ecstasy at the mere thought of emulating it.
But nothing about Israel inspires more than its geo-strategic position. Herzl's motto, to become "an outpost of civilization against barbarism", is the motto that unites and inspires all comprador elites from Colombia to Afghanistan. Fortunately, pulling an Israel is harder than it seems.
The latest casualty of this infatuation is Georgia's westernizing elite. for the last five years Mikheil Saakashvili led Georgia on a path of militarization in order to curry favor with the West. Saakashvili, one of the main figures of the CIA funded "Rose Revolution," sought to integrate the country on a platform of economic liberalization coupled with a highly militarized police state. Internationally, Saakashvili positioned Georgia to be a Western thorn in the Russian sphere, seeking membership of Nato and arm deals with the U.S. and Israel. An army of Jewish go-betweens, arm dealers, policy wonks and diplomats, immediately sprung ready to sweeten the road to servility with self-enriching deals. Here is how Ynet describes it:
Israel began selling arms to Georgia about seven years ago following an initiative by Georgian citizens who immigrated to Israel and became businesspeople...."They contacted defense industry officials and arms dealers and told them that Georgia had relatively large budgets and could be interested in purchasing Israeli weapons," says a source involved in arms exports. (Ynet, August 10, 2008)
Among this class is no less than Georgia's defense minister Davit Kezerashvili, a holder of an Israeli passport whose "perfect Hebrew" and background opened doors for the peddlers of Israel's military wares like Milo and Hirsch. Of course, the U.S. branch of this death merchants fraternity hasn't been dormant. The press noted Randy Scheunemann, a McCain adviser whose resume includes stints in a bevy of neeocon and arm-dealing fronts and who lobbied for Georgia in the U.S. But this isn't a matter of this or that person. Georgia has been a major recipient of U.S. aid, three quarters of a billion annually. It is buzzing with U.S. military contractors who train and equip Georgian troops for a pretty penny. U.S. cold-war bots discovered in Georgia a major strategic platform against Russia as soon as the Berlin Wall collapsed. And Georgia's rose smelling elites readily accepted that role as they tried to "pull an Israel" and become an outpost of "Western civilization" against Russia (and against their own Russian citizens).
In a pattern that should be alarming, Israel's "Jewish" politics is recreating a class of Jews that is lavishly paid for perform international pariah jobs for their masters. Instead of the medieval Jewish moneylender, Israel helps produce the Jewish arms dealer and war promoter as new emblems of the contemporary Jewish identity. Israeli politicians wouldn't mind. Making the world dangerous for Jews simply confirms their Zionist worldview. What is more unfortunate is that Jewish community organizations and leaders outside of Israel are not at all alarmed. Watching how they jump to justify Israel is like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
As for Georgia, it is another train wreck. And also a lesson to others. Every country that receives a lot of U.S. aid will pay for it dearly.
August 10, 2008
Mahmoud Darwish, the towering Palestinian poet, died this Saturday from complications following open heart surgery.
Darwish was born in 1942 in al-Birwa, a village in Palestine that Israeli forces depopulated in the Nakba when Darwish was six years old. His family fled to Lebanon but managed to return before Israel succeeded in closing the border. Israel's authorities canceled his "citizenship" in 1971 when he left Palestine to study abroad. He was only able to return in 1995, and only to the occupied territories.
Since the beginning of his poetic career nearly fifty years ago, Darwish has given shape and voice to the Palestinian experience of exile, longing, death, defiance and resistance with unmatched power and beauty. His work lives.
August 08, 2008
“Do you know that Hamas was the first to use the weapon of suicide bombers against civilian targets?” he continues.If we're talking bombings only then that honour belongs to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or India. If we're talking suicide missions then we should consider the case of Baruch Goldstein, the American GP who killed 29 Muslims at prayer in Hebron before being overpowered and killed. The Israeli response was to place the natives of Hebron under curfew while the settlers celebrated his heroism. The Hamas response was to embark on a policy of their own suicide missions. Curiously Harry's Place and its star convert avoid considerations of cause and effect. For David t, the post is an excuse for him to indulge a little hypocrisy:
I don’t believe that it is necessary to reject Islam for Christianity, or indeed believe in any god at all, in order to embrace the Golden Rule.Ok, standard HP fare.
But there was a story of another conversion that caught my eye a few days before the one above. It's the conversion of David t himself. The post is a thinly veiled and false allegation of antisemitism against George Galloway and anti-zionists in general. The excuse for this post is that George Galloway won yet another libel action, this time against a Jewish radio station that "satirised" him as being antisemitic. The lawyer David Toube knows he is on thin ice with the bogus allegation against Galloway so here's a little distancing from it:
I have argued, strongly, and for some time that George Galloway is not a man who expresses racist views about Jews. In fact, when Galloway was a guest on the radio show of right wing conspiracy nut, Alex Jones, I remember that he specifically argued against his host’s contention that Israel controls the foreign policy of the United States. I can honestly say that I have never heard George Galloway deliver a racist diatribe directed at Jews.He then goes on to outline what he claims is an anti-zionist position by showing a ludicrous ignorance about zionism and the State of Israel and then hinting that anti-zionism is indeed antisemitism:
There are serious arguments to be had about George Galloway’s views, and about the politics in which he and others with whom he is allied are engaged. Why, for example does Galloway’s section of the Left deny the right of self determination only to Israelis - and to nobody else - which they support for Palestinians? Why do they promote a one state “solution” for Palestine which they must know would result in the expulsion and massacre of persons who are the descendants of Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern and European lands? What does it mean for a politician to form a party with people who do express openly racist and conspiracist views, or to speak on the same platform as Hamas and Hezbollah activists, and to glorify them?This is mealy mouthed nonsense, neither zionism nor the State of Israel are about self-determination for Israelis. They are about self determination for Jews. Self-determination for Jews embodied in a territorial state means no self-determination for non-Jews within that state. Israel refuses to recognise Israelis as a nation for precisely that reason.
It could be that David Toube has genuinely been misled by the propaganda that has it that Israel is just another state and not the colonial settler state it clearly is. But then we come to the other story of conversion. In the thread, an anonymous commenter has this to say:
Is this the same David T who, only a few months ago on the Socialist Unity blog, complained that “Everybody calls me a Zionist, even though I’m in favour of non-ethnically based states….”?So, a dramatic conversion, easily on a par with that of the son of the Hamas leader. Now people change their minds but what was it about David t in his younger days that made him what he now pretends is antisemitic? How was it that he understood zionism clearly enough in his younger days to sign a statement calling for the right of the Palestinians to return to their homeland and yet now, if his writing is to be believed, doesn't even understand what zionism is? He has even pretended that Britain favouring people of British descent is on a par with Israel favouring people of Jewish descent. But Israel's discrimination involves discriminating against people who come from there. Britain's involves discriminating in favour of people who come from here. And that's when it comes to continuing to or coming to live here. Boy, how they try.
Anyone who, in a moment of boredom and lacking anything more interesting to do, has ever googled “David Toube” will be aware that he was at one time undoubtedly a committed anti-Zionist.
Back in 1990 he was a signatory (no.301) to the “Return Statement” in which members of the Jewish community opposed the Israeli Law of Return and called for the right of return to be granted to the Palestinian people.
The statement took a hardline anti-Zionist position. The signatories declared their “opposition to the state of Israel as a Jewish state and to the Zionist movement”, adding that “the Zionist structure of the state of Israel is at the heart of the racism and oppression against the Palestinian people, and should be dismantled”.
How times have changed. Writing in the Jewish Chronicle in January this year, David T attacked the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign in the following terms:
“The reference to the ‘occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands’ is a barely disguised demand for the disestablishment of the state of Israel: as is the requirement that Palestinian refugees ‘return to their homes and properties’.”
What there is in David T’s current politics that justifies the assertion that he is not a Zionist certainly beats me.
I should note here that, as the anonymous commenter says, twice recently, David Toube has denied being a zionist on the grounds that he doesn't like the ethic or religious definition of statehood. I'm not sure how this squares with his anger directed at those who would boycott the One Voice charade where Palestinians were co-opted into supporting not just Jewish supremacy throughout most of Palestine but the settlement blocks as well.
There are other questions too. He suggests that if he can't pin the false allegation of antisemitism on Galloway then he can at least berate him over his associations. But what of David t's associations? In his post on the Muslim convert to Christianity, one comment verges on the genocidal:
Only another 1.8bn to go!Glancing down the comments, David t is still involved in the discussion but nowhere does he criticise or seek clarification of a blanket condemnation of all Muslims. Conversely, in the thread where David t is outed as a former anti-zionist and the question is raised a few times as to whether he was a racist or antisemite in his younger days, the used to be mysterious Mr t, makes no reappearance in the comments. He does have one defender who suggests that David t simply matured but that doesn't explain how he can now accused Israel's detractors of racism and even genocidal intent at the same time as calling himself anti-zionist.
So, where are we? David t seems to think that support for wars on third world countries and support for a state (Israel) based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws, can somehow be reconciled with the "golden rule". I just can't deal with the fact that he wants the continued existence of Israel, he wants the Palestinians to remain exiled from their homeland and yet he claims to be anti-zionist. I think he's just being silly there or trying to confuse matters. But anyway, he promotes the idea that if someone who wants or who associates with people who want the abolition of the State of Israel is accused of antisemitism, they will only win a libel action on a technicality or quirk of the British legal system. And yet he was such a person once upon a time, so much that he put his name to a demand for the abolition of Israel. As the anonymous commenter asks further down the thread, "was he a racist then?" Or is he one now? Go on Mr t, jump through another hoop.
Still, one mystery has been solved. When I first found out that David t was some kind of financial lawyer called David Toube, I wondered why he told people that if he was outed as the famed HP blogger, it would cause him problems in his work. Given his politics and his work I don't see how that can be true. I now think he wanted to cover up his past and, given his pretence at misunderstanding some of the most basic issues with regard to Israel, I don't blame him.
August 07, 2008
I am walking through the alleys of the Old City of Jerusalem, to meet Aharon Shear-Yashuv. He is the son of a Nazi. And yet he was a senior rabbi in the Israeli armed forces. He lives in an apartment in the Jewish quarter, near the Western Wall. I walk through a pale gold alley; Orthodox Jewish men in long black coats and round fur hats dart past. He opens the door and looks like every other rabbi I have ever met - a black suit, a beard, a questioning shrug. He takes me into his study, settles into a chair, and says, in a thick German accent: "My father was in the Waffen-SS."Ok, you got that so far? The father was still a racist. The lessons of the holocaust had not been learned by this former SS man. And his son?
He was, he explains, born in the Ruhr Valley in 1940. During the war, his father served on the eastern front with Hitler's elite troops. What did his father do in the Waffen-SS? "I don't know," he says calmly. "When I grew up I tried to ask, but there weren't really answers."
He was four when he first met his father. "I don't remember anything about that," he says. It seems he doesn't want to talk about his father; he doesn't describe his conversion in psychological terms but in grand theological and historical ones. "During my theological studies at university it became clear that I couldn't be a minister in the church," he says. "I concluded that Christianity was paganism. One of [its] most important dogmas is that God became man, and if God becomes man then man also can become God." He pauses. "Hitler became a kind of god."
So would he have become a Jew even if the Holocaust had never happened, even if his family had been anti-Nazi? He looks surprised. "Oh yes." I try to draw him back to his father, but he seems exasperated. "Well, you see, he is a father, of course, but ideologically, there was no connection. I was so involved in my conviction that I had found the right path, all the other items no longer had any importance."
Fragments of the story begin to emerge through the haze of theological reasoning. His father was "shocked and enraged" when he went to study Judaism in America, he concedes. "For him that was the end of the world. 'My son is leaving Germany to study in a Jewish rabbinical seminary!' He told me I was crazy and renounced me as a son." When he moved to Israel, his parents pretended that it hadn't happened; they told their neighbours he was still in America. Years later, his sister arranged a meeting with his parents at a station in Düsseldorf. Shear-Yashuv arrived with a Jewish friend. His father peered out of the train, saw the Jewish stranger, and refused to get off.
Today, he believes Germany is doomed. "People there don't get married, and if they do they have one child," he says. "But the Turks and the other foreigners have many children. So it is a question of time that Germany will no longer be German." Why does he think this has happened? "I think it is a punishment for the Holocaust," he says, matter-of-factly. "Germany will leave the stage of history, no doubt about it."Hold on, didn't he say, "ideologically, there was no connection" between himself and his father?
August 04, 2008
Israel's secret police are pressuring Palestinians in Gaza to spy on their community in exchange for urgent medical treatment, according to a report released today by an Israeli human rights organisation.Damned if they do, damned if they don't.
Physicians for Human Rights says the Shin Bet began interrogating Palestinian patients seeking permission to travel from Gaza to Israel for crucial medical help after Israel blockaded and then declared the tiny territory an enemy entity more than a year ago......
International law forbids the use of civilians in conflict to damage an enemy state and collaboration in the Palestinian community is a crime punishable by death.
Letter to Mercedes SosaDear Mercedes Sosa,
Sunday, July 27, 2008
We read that you plan to sing in a concert in Israel this fall. We write you to ask you to cancel this visit.
Your voice carries with it the love, the pain and the hopes of decades of struggle against oppression in Latin America. Your songs opened pathways into the heart of many of us--all over the world--to a deeper understanding and communion with the peasants, the workers and the indigenous communities of Latin America. Don't let your art become the ambassador of oppression, ethnic cleansing, murder and land usurpation by performing in Israel.We know that you have visited Israel before. However, the Israel you visited then appeared as if it were about to step on the path toward peace. Those hopes for a positive change that you may remember from your last visit have been dashed. Israel is today more than ever an apartheid state, a state committed to the continued violent colonization and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine.
In 2006, virtually all leading Palestinian artists and intellectuals called for a world-wide cultural boycott of Israel, similar to that imposed on apartheid South Africa. To date, many prominent international artists, including Ken Loach, John Berger and Jean-Luc Godard and a few artists' unions, like the Irish Aosdana, have heeded the Palestinian Call and refused to perform of participate in cultural events in Israel.
If you sing in Israel you will be lending your public image and the moral authority of your art to Israel's effort to whitewash its increasingly tarnished image as a state that ignores and breaches every principle of international law and tramples upon every human right. You will also violate the Palestinian civil society's Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) that demands artists shun Israel until Israel fulfills its obligations under international law. By singing in Israel you will betray your sisters and your brothers everywhere.
As much as we try, our imagination fails us. How will you sing "cuando tenga la tierra" for a state devoted to the expropriation of the land's peasants, its indigenous communities? Will you let that song become the anthem of the expropriator? How will you sing "honrar la vida" for the pleasure of an audience that sends its young men to destroy the lives of the indigenous communities of Palestine, to demolish their homes, to uproot their olive trees and to expel them from their land?
How will you sing "Hermano dame tu mano" in a state that makes not only different laws for Jews and Palestinians, but also different roads, a state that keeps four million Palestinians effectively caged behind walls and checkpoints, and millions more expelled and not allowed to return. How will you sing "sobreviviendo" in a safe concert hall, half an hour drive from communities laid waste, communities whose thousands of resisting sons and daughters are languishing in military prisons.
How will you sing "Alfonsina y el mar" in a place where Palestinian children are not allowed to see the sea?
Don't let your voice be sullied with collaboration with this oppression! Don't sing in Israel! Don't fail the struggle for freedom and equality in Palestine! Don't betray the people whose struggle echoes so closely the struggles of the people of Latin America!
We undersign this letter as Jews from all over the world. We sign as Jews because we are worried that you might think that through your visit to Israel you stand in solidarity with us Jews, on account of the terrible history of Jewish persecution in Europe. If this is so, we appreciate the intention, but we cannot appreciate the gesture. We want and welcome being free of fear and free of persecution. But we do not believe in liberation through the oppression of others, nor in salvation by finding another scapegoat. We do not believe in a solidarity that asks that we hate those less privileged. We wish to live in freedom, but together with all humanity, with all people, of all backgrounds, faiths, color and origin, not by becoming ourselves usurpers and persecutors. The colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine does not liberate us. On the contrary, it seeks to lock us in a cycle of continuing domination and repression. In performing in Israel, you will not be standing with us, you will be betraying us as well. Please cancel your visit.
International Jewish Solidarity Network
According to her entry in Wikipedia, "Sosa is UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean. How could she?
August 01, 2008
WHAT THE MEDIA SAID
25 July 2008
The Jewish Chronicle
“As Iran’s nuclear programme races ahead, the international response has been sluggish, meandering and uncoordinated. Britain has led the way in urging greater effort, but, to echo Churchill, the international community has so far ‘decided only to be undecided’. Churchill used to tell the parable of the appeaser who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last: the world must send the message to Tehran that feeding time is over.”
ISRAELI AMBASSADOR RON PROSOR, DAILY TELEGRAPH, JULY 14
“Now, if [Samir] Kuntar did what he was accused of, then he is no doubt a monster. But did he? The facts leave ample room for doubts. Kuntar maintains he did not kill either of his two alleged victims... i’ll believe it either way when the evidence is stronger than the say-so of israel’s racist, corrupt and cavalier court system.”
“GABRIEL”, JEWS SANS FRONTIERES BLOG, JULY 17
UK Embassy moves off coast
The embassy plans to move the Kirya Tower.
Ariel Rosenberg 29 Jul 08 18:36
The UK Embassy in Tel Aviv plans to move to the Kirya Tower in Tel Aviv after being located on the seafront Hayarkon Street for decades. Sources inform ''Globes'' that the embassy plans to rent three floors in the Kirya Tower from Africa-Israel Investments Ltd. (TASE:AFIL; Pink Sheets:AFIVY) at $27 per square meter per month.
23 floors of the 74,000-square meter 42-storey Kirya Tower are leased to the Israeli government. The UK Embassy is negotiating a lease on other floors, which have a separate and luxurious lobby, which Africa-Israel has just begun to market. Each floor has 2,000 square meters, which means that the embassy will pay $162,000 in rent a year. The building, located on Menahem Begin Road, across the street from the Azrieli Towers, has a helipad on the roof.
So Gordon Brown goes to Israel/Palestine, and "demanded Sunday that Israel cease settlement construction." In order to show how serious he is about this "demand," his government is negotiating renting its new embassy from Africa-Israel, the holding company controlled by Lev Leviev. One of Africa-Israel's subsidiaries, Danya Cebus, has built in four settlements -- Har Homa in East Jerusalem, which isolates it from Bethlehem, Matityahu East in Bi'lin, the site of weekly protests, Ma'ale Adumim, which helps truncate the WB into Bantustans and cuts off Jerusalem from the Palestinian hinterland. Leviev also is a major donor to the settlers' Land Redemption Fund, a secretive organization that uses shady methods to "secure" Palestinian land for Jewish settlement. The LRF has its roots in the messianic Gush Emumim settler org. Even UNICEF won't have anything further to do with the man; now the UK government is about to rent the its embassy from this land thief.
Brits, what're you gonna do about this one?