January 30, 2009

Costa del war crime?

Ah, those were the days, pre-EU mostly, at least I thought so, when British criminals could hide out in Spain safe in the knowledge that there was no extradition treaty between there and here. Of course then Spain got into the EU and things were supposed to have changed. So how is it then that Israel is closer than ever to getting into the EU and yet its war criminals (suspected that is) can find the safe haven that Britain's ordinary decent criminals can't?

But isn't Spain that progressive state where a prosecutor was seeking to have Pinochet extradited from the UK to? Well, yes and presumably under similar or the same legislation, according to yesterday's Ynet (and my previous post):
A Spanish court granted a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Thursday, asking the two [former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former IAF and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz] be investigated for alleged "crimes against humanity" for their involvement in the 2002 assassination of Hamas operative Salah Shehade. Fourteen civilians were killed in the incident and about 100 more were injured.
But now see today's Ha'aretz:
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos informed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Friday of Spain's plan to amend legislation that granted a Spanish judge the authority to launch a much-publicized war crimes investigation against senior Israeli officials.

Judge Fernando Andreu launched an investigation Thursday into seven current or former Israeli officials over a 2002 bombing in Gaza that killed a top Hamas militant, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 other people, including nine children.
Oh well, maybe we'll have better luck with Turkey but it will be interesting to see how laws have to be changed so that Israel can keep on getting away with killing children. I wonder if a Spanish child killer in a Spanish court would be able to use an "Israel defence" like the Americans tried in Abu Ghraib.

UPDATE: Abdullah Abenyusuf from the blog, Situjihadismo, claims that Israel is making this up to pressure the Spanish government into intervening. If he's right and I think he is, then it's remarkable that Livni would be so brazen. But here is Abdullah in the comments below this post, "I mean, the vice-president of Spain's Governement, made today a clear statement about the independence of the Justice in Spain, as a democracy "something that Israel surely understands", a beautiful piece of irony by the way." I can't find an English source for any Spanish denial of Livni's boasting but I do have this link to El Mundo from Abdullah's blog. If anything shows up in the mainstream English language media to expose Livni as having lied about this I'll do a follow up post.

Law catching up on zionist war crimes suspects

From Ynet:
National Infrastructure Minister and former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and former IAF and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz may face criminal charges in Spain for killing Palestinian civilians seven years ago.

A Spanish court granted a petition by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights on Thursday, asking the two be investigated for alleged "crimes against humanity" for their involvement in the 2002 assassination of Hamas operative Salah Shehade. Fourteen civilians were killed in the incident and about 100 more were injured.

You see? Fourteen civilians were killed according to Ynet. So why did Ehud Barak call the victims "terrorists"
"Those who call the killing of terrorists 'a crime against humanity' are living in an upside-down world," said Defense Minister Ehud Barak. He called the Spanish announcement "delusional"?
And also, with a possible trial on the way, why did he admit to killing people? Funny bloke, unless he knows something. Maybe they have friends in the Spanish police like that Almog chap had friends in the British police.

January 29, 2009

Davos: Turkish Prime Minister storms off stage over Gaza



More on Ha'aretz. In their video you can hear applause for Erdogan as he walks off stage.

UPDATE: Some of the text of Erdogan & Peres' remarks are on the Beeb. My fave from Peres:

"Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza. Why did they fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza."

False allegations, a Jew for Justice responds

And it's Deborah Maccoby doing the responding, in the Spectator, to the false allegation that there is anti-Jewish chanting on the demonstrations for Palestine:
Israel fuels anti-Semitism

Sir: I am a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and have participated in every one of the national demonstrations against Israel’s brutal onslaught against Gaza. I have never heard the slogans ‘Hamas, Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas’ and ‘Death to the Jews’ that Douglas Davis (‘The terrible warning of a Holocaust survivor’, 24 January) claims are being chanted on these marches. I know that the stewards have strict orders to clamp down on any expression of anti-Semitism.

Like the majority of the demonstrators, I am not a supporter of Hamas. But though the Hamas Charter is indeed appallingly anti-Semitic, it played no part in Hamas’s election campaign, and the best way to ensure that Hamas repudiates it is to draw it into a genuine peace process. Hamas has already recognised Israel’s de facto right to exist by saying it is willing to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and has offered Israel a long-lasting hudna, or truce. Hamas expressed willingness to extend the recent ceasefire (which Israel broke) if Israel would agree to lift the blockade.

The recent Israeli massacre of Gazan civilians (two thirds of the dead were civilians) has only increased Hamas’s popularity and is not likely to make them any less anti-Semitic. Similarly, though any expression of anti-Semitism is of course to be condemned, it is inevitable that Israel’s actions have fuelled Muslim anti-Semitism, which is mainly political in origin, since Islam, unlike Christianity, does not have a tradition of hatred of Jews. Israel’s atrocities also give encouragement to the re-emergence of long-dormant European Christian anti-Semitism.

If Jews really want to reduce anti-Semitism, they should speak out to change Israel’s destructive and self-destructive policies.

Deborah Maccoby
London E5

What Deborah was responding to was beyond ludicrous. See this:
At my dinner table on Friday night, a holocaust survivor admits that she is trying to persuade her son to take his family out of Europe to America, Canada, Australia, Canada, Australia, Israel...’They say they can’t leave me, but I tell them: “Go, get out. My parents left my grandparents behind in Berlin and brought me to safety in England. Now I want you to leave so that my grandchildren will be safe.”’ There is an unbearable desperation in her plea. But she has a point.
I have to hand it Deborah. I just couldn't respond to that.

Boycott news: send the word, the Yanks are coming!!!

My goodness! Academics across the pond have formed a US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and panic has already set in at Ha'aretz over it. First here's the group's endorsement of the campaign called for by many groups in and from Palestine:
As educators and scholars of conscience in the United States, we fully support this call. We urge our colleagues, nationally, regionally, and internationally, to stand up against Israel’s ongoing scholasticide and to support the non-violent call for academic boycott, disinvestment, and sanctions.

If you wish to endorse this call for an academic and cultural boycott, please email us at: uscom4acbi [at] gmail.com. If you are willing to indicate your support publicly, please send us your name and institutional/organizational affiliation (for identification purposes only).

Ha'aretz notes the concern in Israel:
While Israeli academics have grown used to such news from Great Britain, where anti-Israel groups several times attempted to establish academic boycotts, the formation of the United States movement marks the first time that a national academic boycott movement has come out of America. Israeli professors are not sure yet how big of an impact the one-week-old movement will have, but started discussing the significance of and possible counteractions against the campaign.
It further notes just how remarkable an achievement it has been to get the boycott off the ground in America at all:
"The response has been remarkable given the extraordinary hold that lobbying organizations like AIPAC exert over U.S. politics and over the U.S. media, and in particular given the campaign of intimidation that has been leveled at academics who dare to criticize Israel's policies," Lloyd wrote in an e-mail to Haaretz Monday. "Within a short weekend since the posting of the press release, more than 80 academics from all over the country have endorsed the action and the numbers continue to grow."
So what to do? Quick change the subject:
Asked if the group would accept the endorsement of Hamas supporters, Lloyd said, "We have no a priori policy with regard to the membership or affiliation of supporters of the boycott so long as they are in accord with the main aims stated in the press release."

He argued that, "on several occasions Hamas has sought direct negotiations with Israel, a pursuit that constitutes de facto recognition of Israel, and has openly discussed abandoning its call for the destruction of the state of Israel conditional on reciprocal guarantees from Israel."
Damn! he had an answer. Change the subject again:
Lloyd wrote that to the best of his knowledge, all supporters of the anti-Israel boycott were also opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Asked if logic wouldn't dictate that he and his colleagues boycott themselves, he responded, "Self-boycott is a difficult concept to realize. But speaking for myself, I would have supported and honored such a boycott had it been proposed by my colleagues overseas."
And if that fails, have a moan about Durban, that might help.
The idea of an academic boycott against Israel originated in 2001 at the "World Conference Against Racism" in Durban, South Africa.
Uh oh, where? Did someone say that the Gaza assault is Israel's Sharpeville? Oh yes, I did.

Henwood on Obama and King


I wanted to write a comment about Obama's inauguration. It fell by the wayside, mostly because of how trite it was, decent oratory, strong sentences, but so completely worn out, so out of touch with the challenge that we face, we the people who inhabit this planet. Every word was there to tackle the challenge Obama faced, the challenge the U.S. empire faced. That so many people who should know better cannot distinguish between what's good for the empire and what's good for the people is sad.

Here is Doug Henwood, writing the best commentary I've seen so far:

Speaking of the new administration, I was profoundly annoyed by all the facile comparisons of Barack Obama to Martin Luther King that have been floating around in recent days. You’d think that electing a black president solved all our racial problems! You’d almost conclude, from all the vigorous back self-patting, that the whole reason we had slavery and Jim Crow was just to transcend them someday, thereby proving our innate goodness.

think I’ll use the words of Obama and King themselves to refute the comparison. First, some excerpts from Obama’s inaugural address:



Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred…. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics… For us, they fought and died in places Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn… Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched… We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in itsdefense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, ‘Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.’ … [t]he selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours…. As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service: a
willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.
There, in 216 words, we hear someone still in the grip of orthodoxy:

subscribing to the master narrative of a war on terror, evoking some fanciful post-partisan world where interests and preferences aren’t in conflict, equating the Vietnam War to the struggles against the Confederacy and Nazi Germany, channeling Milton Friedman on the freedom-promoting powers of The Market, placing the burden of job preservation on self-sacrificing workers, echoing George Bush on our way of life, and reproducing the central message of the McCain campaign on the military as our highest calling.

Contrast that with this excerpt from King’s April 1967 speech against the Vietnam War delivered at Riverside Church, a year to the day before his assasination:

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered… True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring…This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

I’m afraid that’s too generous. We’re no longer approaching spiritual death; we’re on our spiritual deathbed. ( Doug Henwood)

Student occupations against Israeli occupation

There are student occupations all over the UK in protest about their universities complicity with Israel’s wars. This is a wonderful development, and shows the way for future actions. For information about the occupations, check out this website: http://sussexoccupation.blogspot.com/

The great thing about these occupations is that they’re winning. Sometimes all they are getting is the university agreeing to provide charity to Gaza, sometimes establish links with Palestinian universities, and take in students. Other times, they’re managing to get their central plank - divestment from Israel - considered, and hopefully soon it will be adopted.

Hasbara Panic or HP for short

I have to question the Hasbara Buster's judgement going into the belly of the beast to do a satirical post on the similarities between zionist and apartheid apologetics. He has done a typically wonderful post but why he should waste it on a bunch of Eustonistas I don't know.

What am I talking about? See the post on the HB blog. Seasoned serious Israel critics will be familiar with the similarity between Israel apologetics and the old apartheid apologetics so I don't have to replicate HB's post here. The title of the post is On how Apartheid South Africa was unfairly demonized -- like Israel. His main point is that whilst there were worse human rights abuses in the world, in Africa even, than those committed by South Africa, it was South Africa that was uniquely demonised, ostracised and quarantined. That's his point. That's the height and size of his point.

The first thing to amuse me about the post on Harrys Place but not on the Hasbara Buster site was the "Editor's note":
Editor’s note: this piece is tongue in cheek. The Hasbara Buster is not supporting apartheid South Africa. Rather, he is making a point by analogy. I mention this because I expect that some people will be confused, otherwise.
In fairness, it could have been the Hasbara Buster himself that wrote that but it's certainly more than a passing possibility that since Harrys Place is a hasbara space, a lot of people may well think that a post "defending" apartheid was serious rather than satirical which is probably a good reason for principled anti-racists, like HB, not to post there.

But having satirically laid out the similarities between Israel's propaganda and that of the old apartheid South Africa a Harrys Place regular, or "Editor" even, decided to pretend that it wasn't satire at all.

Here's HP's Brett:
After taking in his article (below this one), I have to say that The Hasbara Buster is one of the sloppiest historians I have ever encountered.

If his grasp of South African history is as shonky as his grasp of Israel’s history, it is little wonder that this stretched and laboured ‘apartheid’ analogy falls so flat. His bubblegum wrapper master-class in South African history gets it wrong from the get go.

I’d like to deal with some substantive errors, so let’s dispense with those nickpicking points first and get them out of the way. HB says.....

But it doesn't matter what HB says. The point is, as the "Editor" noted, it was "tongue in cheek". He was likening the propaganda of the old South Africa to that of the State of Israel. He was deliberately falsely stating South Africa's history just as zionists falsely render Israel's history.

Funnier still is the fact that whilst the panic was apparent among some of the HP faithful, the "Editors" didn't dare tackle this in the comments to the original, and it was original, post. Nope, in their panic, the "Editors" had to speedily arrange, hot on the heels of HB's post and linked at the bottom of it, a very detailed post on South Africa's history right down to the names of the different groups of natives, discriminated against by the white settlers, whose language was an esperanto only "formally recognised in 1925". HB's satirical history, rendered in the style of an apartheid/zionist apologist was "laughable" or even "more laughable still". Careful Brett, you nearly got the point.

January 28, 2009

Naalin holds Holocaust exhibit



As the world commemorated the Holocaust Tuesday, a small village in the West Bank held a surprising exhibit
memorializing the most tragic event in modern Jewish history.

Naalin, a village that has become the symbol for the Palestinians' battle against Israel's construction of a separation fence in the West Bank, erected a display of photographs purchased from Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and invited the public to learn more about the persecution of the Jews.

Mohammad Amira, a member of the village's Land Defense Committee, said hundreds of people visited the exhibit by early afternoon. He said many had praised the initiative.

"People are surprised at what they see here; there are people who are seeing images of the suffering in the Holocaust for the first time. There are people who didn't know anything about Jewish history," Amira said.

"Unfortunately, we are paying the price for the immense pain suffered by the Jews during the Holocaust. There is no comparison between our suffering and that of the Jewish people in the Holocaust, but everyone should understand that we are suffering too, as a result of what the Germans did to the Jews." ( Ynet )

The article further contains some comments that are really questionable about the relation between the Holocaust and Israel. But one has to be humble in the face of heroism.

UN nuclear watchdog boycotts the BBC over Gaza

The BBC has now been condemned by the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei. He told the Guardian that
the BBC decision not to air the aid appeal for victims of the conflict "violates the rules of basic human decency which are there to help vulnerable people, irrespective of who is right or wrong".
The BBC has now brought itself into disrepute with the UN. Time for Mark Thompson to resign.

Irish Jews speak up against the war in Gaza, are told to shut up, speak up again.

Here’s a letter exchange in the Irish Times. A group of us wrote into the paper, as Jews, to condemn the war on Gaza. A few days later the Jewish Representative Council (the Irish equivalent to the Board of Deputies, and about as representative), wrote in with the familiar refrain that we weren’t real Jews. Real Jews support war.

Today I wrote back, and as the phrase goes, look forward to their response.

On more serious note, it’s been unreported but 148 Irish academics (including some of the signatories of the below letter) wrote into the Irish Times last week calling for the EU to suspend its funding of Israeli academia. The fact it’s been unreported just shows how unexceptional such calls are nowadays.


January 22nd
Madam, – We are people in Ireland who are Jewish or of Jewish descent.

We are appalled by Israel’s slaughter in Gaza. We have seen people justifying this on the basis of Israel’s “security concerns” and attacking supporters of peace for being anti-Jewish.

In this climate we feel it important to assert that it is not anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish to oppose Israel’s action.

Nor, however, can it be part of any progressive political vision to conflate what the Israeli state has done and is doing in Gaza as being supported by Jews worldwide.

Throughout the world, Jews have opposed the invasion of Gaza.

In Israel itself, tens of thousands protested this war; they have been attacked by police and right-wing mobs and many Israelis, predominantly non-Jewish but also Jewish, have been imprisoned.

We ask people to support these Israelis.

As for Israel’s security concerns, two points need to be made. Firstly nothing, but nothing, justifies the massacre of innocent people.

Secondly, peace will only come about through justice for the Palestinian people and through negotiations between Israel and elected Palestinian representatives.

One does not need to be Jewish to know this.

We ask people not to claim to speak for us when justifying Israel’s barbarity. – Yours, etc,

KATRINA GOLDSTONE,
CONOR KOSTICK,
GAVIN KOSTICK,
DAVID LANDY,
RONIT LENTIN,
ANTONIA LESLIE,
SUE PENTEL,
JONATHAN SUGARMAN



January 27th
• Madam, – As the representative body of the Jewish community in Ireland, we wish to distance ourselves from the letter published in The Irish Timeson January 22nd and signed by Katrina Goldstone and others. The authors of the letter may be Jewish, but they neither speak for the Irish Jewish community nor do they take any part in Jewish communal affairs here. They represent nobody but themselves.

The overwhelming majority of the Irish Jewish community supports Israel’s right – indeed, obligation – to defend its population against Hamas, recognised by the international community as a terrorist group, which for the past eight years has rained missile, rocket, and mortar fire on a daily basis, indiscriminately, on the men, women and children living in the cities and towns of southern Israel.

As Irish citizens and members of the Jewish community we are concerned by the tone taken against Israel by some of the media in recent weeks, ignoring altogether the steps Israel has been forced to take to protect its citizens.

Clause 1 of the Hamas constitution makes its position quite clear – the destruction of the State of Israel. Hamas is sponsored by Iran, whose position has been given many times by its president: to eradicate the state of Israel from the map. And Iran is working flat out to complete its nuclear weapons capability.

We are all deeply saddened by the deaths of civilians in the conflict in Gaza, largely caused by Hamas using the population as human shields and firing at Israel from sites adjacent to schools, hospitals, mosques and the UN compound.

We are also deeply saddened by the deaths and injuries of Israeli civilians, and the widespread destruction caused over the past eight years by over 5,000 Hamas rockets, along with numerous horrific suicide bombings, all deliberately aimed at killing civilians.

Even now, during the fragile truce, tunnels through which weapons are smuggled into Gaza are being repaired and rebuilt by Hamas, whose admitted master-plan, the destruction of Israel, has not changed. – Yours, etc,

LEONARD W. ABRAHAMSON,
Chairman,
STEPHEN MOLINS,
President,
Jewish Representative Council of Ireland,


January 28th
• Madam, – Leonard Abrahamson and Stephen Molins (January 27th) are correct in saying the Jewish Representative Council does not speak for me, a co-signatory of the letter of January 22nd which they condemn. Nor do they speak for an increasing number of Jews in Ireland who have been shocked and repelled by Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Their response to our letter reads like a transcript of the talking points put out by the Israeli embassy. It is not in any way a representation of how deeply troubled many Irish Jews are by Israel’s actions. I and other signatories have been surprised and heartened at the positive responses to our letter from some of our Jewish friends and acquaintances.

Openly supporting the war on Gaza – more a massacre that has killed over a thousand people and hundreds of children – is simply shameful.

What disturbs me, as a Jew, is most certainly not the many good people who have spoken out against this war but the development in Ireland of a right-wing Christian Zionist support of Israel’s actions.

Messrs Abrahamson and Molins are silent about these people, who believe that Jews are somehow “special”; who believe that our proper place is in Israel, not Ireland; who at their extreme believe that once all the Jews go away to Israel, then the awaited apocalypse can happen. After all, these people support the war on Gaza – what’s to worry about?

By claiming to represent the Jewish community in cheerleading this war, Messrs Abrahamson and Molins wish to prevent the wide diversity of opinions among Irish Jews from being recognised. More importantly, they wish to prevent us all from taking the necessary actions to ensure that Israel never again commits such atrocities. – Yours, etc,

DAVID LANDY,

January 27, 2009

BBC Manchester offices occupied

News from Indymedia at 18:13:
A friend just rang to tell me that the BBC offices in Manchester have just been occupied..
The BBC offices in Manchester have just been occupied by Gaza solidarity activists, presumably in response to their decision to block DEC appeal adverts. The police had just arrived, but I don't have any more details as yet...

A quick web search tells me this is the address, if anyone fancies going along to support or join in:
BBC Manchester,
New Broadcasting House,
Oxford Road,
Manchester,
M60 1SJ

And from Socialist Unity:
In protest against BBC’s pro-Israel bias.

I got a txt message telling me. hopefully more details to follow.
The first comment says:
I’m downlading pictures at this very moment, you should have some within the next 30 mins. I only took 427.
  1. The Manchester Evening News is running the story.

    The occupation ended when the senior manager on duty promised to meet a delegation tomorrow. 1-0 to protesters

    The moral of this story is, if you haven’t occupied your nearest BBC office, what are you waiting for !!!!!!!

    Comment by Richard Searle — 27 January, 2009 @ 8:16 pm

Hopefully pics to come...

BBC's help for Israel helps the Palestinians

Assuming Israel doesn't steal the aid that is. According to this Guardian report, the Disasters Emergency Committee has raised £1 million for the people of Gaza which appears to be more than they would have raised if the BBC hadn't helped Israel with its criminal blockade. I'm assuming that's because of the sympathy aroused by the BBC (and Murdoch's Sky TV) so obviously siding with Israel and the fact that the siding with Israel generated publicity for an organisation I for one had never heard of before.
Donations to an emergency fund for Gaza have doubled despite the refusal of the BBC and Sky News to broadcast an appeal that was shown on three other channels last night.

The number of complaints to the BBC also rose overnight and now stands at more than 21,000, with just 380 writing in support of the corporation's stance. At the same time, a parliamentary motion criticising the BBC's decision has grown in popularity and has attracted the signatures of MPs from all parties.

Not only that, there's a picture doing the rounds that makes Mark Thompson, the Director General of the BBC, look ridiculous over this:

From duckrabbit with thanks to Catherine across the pond

And it gets worse still for the Beeb because their support for the racist war criminals of the State of Israel has brought the charge of racism down on themselves:
The BBC is also being threatened with a lawsuit alleging its decision to ban the charity appeal for Gaza from its airwaves was discriminatory, the Guardian has learned. The case is being brought on behalf of 42 people who say they were offended by the corporation's decision.

They will argue that the ban discriminated against the Palestinian people because the BBC refused to allow a charity appeal for them to be broadcast, but did allow appeals for other ethnic or national groups, such as those affected by the conflicts that plagued Darfur and Kosovo. Solicitor Lawrence Davies said: "The decision not to broadcast it is tainted by racism, it is anti-Palestinian."

Davies said British race relations laws covered such acts, although they had never been used in this way before. He said the claim against the BBC could run into millions of pounds. Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, has been sent a letter giving the corporation several days to reverse the ban before legal action starts.
Now this will be interesting. I read about a Jewish guy who used to taunt a Palestinian neighbour by waving an Israeli flag whenever the Palestinian left his house. The police got involved but the accused guy got off on the grounds that Palestinians don't get the protection of race relations law in this country. That was some years ago but that was the gist of the story.

What could happen here is that Mark Thompson could buckle and the Palestinians win even more than they have already won. He could dig in and the case could go to court. People will think that the BBC isn't just pro-Israel but its DG is a zionist fanatic. If it goes to court the court could find against the Beeb. The Beeb is racist and so is Israel. Or a court could find for the Beeb in which case the Beeb is racist, so is Israel and so is the judiciary. A win win win situation for the people of Gaza and the Palestinians as a whole.

Destroying the United States and proud of it


William Kristol wrote his last column for the New York Times. He will be sorely not missed.

In that last column, he wrote

Since Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980, conservatives of various sorts, and conservatisms of various stripes, have generally been in the ascendancy. And a good thing, too! Conservatives have been right more often than not — and more often than liberals — about most of the important issues of the day: about Communism and jihadism, crime and welfare, education and the family. Conservative policies have on the whole worked — insofar as any set of policies can be said to “work” in the real world. Conservatives of the Reagan-Bush-Gingrich-Bush years have a fair amount to be proud of. (NYT)

When malcontents such as we come to the people with a slate of radical change and hope to warmly received, we can do worse than acknowledging first that "conservatism" has an inherent appeal. Every society has something good in it, something worth conserving. Every society has what Walter Benjamin called "weak messianic power." American society between 1945 and 1980, while full of blemishes, and chiefly among them a persistent racism and a growing imperialism, successfully built an edifice with some appealing features, among them a growing respect for diversity, an ethos of inclusion, a celebration, often overdone, of individual freedom, an incipient social democratic economy that produced high growth and recognized social needs, and above all, a work world in which ordinary people could grow, not rich, but decently prosperous just by working diligently. They called it the American Dream. To be sure, it left many people out. That is one reason they called it a dream. But it also allowed more people in than many other social orders. It fell way short of the full realization of human potential. It even fell short of other existing social democracies. But it wasn't by far the worst of places. Poorer countries could look forward to the day when their citizens would enjoy that American lifestyle.




What William Kristol calls conservatism had nothing to do with conserving any of that. It was a giant wrecking ball directed at the whole edifice. This wrecking ball was not invented by Ronald Reagan. Since 1929, the share of income that went to the rentier class at the very top of the social order kept falling, and the rentiers were bidding their time. After 1945, the decline was locked into economic policy. The wars of Korea and Vietnam were the first attempts to wreck the building, by sucking out the money from the social programs that defended the power of organized labor and by breaking the WW-II legacy of formal and informal price controls. But only the inflation of the seventies, partially the result of these wars, created the crisis that would be "solved" by putting the wrecking crew, a.k.a. "conservatives," in charge. For 20 years, until the end of the NASDAQ bubble, they have been looting the building, not only emptying the safes and cleaning the jewlery drawers, but also pulling apart the upholstery and cutting the window frames. Their greatest achievement was dismantled the U.S. manufacturing base and sending the factories to the four corners of the world, replacing it with McJobs and day trading, shrinking wages and prisons. By 2000, the building of the "American Dream" was an empty shell, sitting on a pile of debt. And then the wrecking crew started pulling the copper wires out of the electric installation and ripping the tiles and fixtures from the bathrooms. That was the Bush presidency, during which blown up home prices and easy credit kept the behemoth economy running one last mile on the fumes of Wall-Street. When that to reached the limit, and only the walls stood naked, they finally let it all come crushing down.

Over the last 28 years, everything, absolutely everything of value, even the much vaunted national security, was sacrificed in order to restore the income of the rentier class. And it worked. See the graph on the left. Note the two big inflection points, 1929 and 1980. That graph tells you everything you need to know about "conservatism," a movement as rooted in "conservative values," whatever these values are, as Mussolini's fascism was rooted in the glory that was Rome.

Can we say "heck of a job, Billy!"? You did good by your friends. You earned your thirty pounds of silver. Now be gone.


Israel's latest war on the defenceless removes taboo on nazi-zionist comparisons

Mazel tov Yisrael! The EU worked so hard on its stupid nonsensical working definition of "antisemitism" to make it illegal or at least exremely difficult to criticise Israel and with a few slaughtered children, the Israeli government and army has shattered the main taboo. How do you explain that gassing people is morally or politically worse than using white phosphorous against them?

But that's not the thrust of this Ha'aretz article. No, the article is still working for the working definition, oblivious to the fact that the working definition isn't, er, working.
The operation in Gaza put an end to the European taboo on equating Jews to Nazis. That message was one of the conclusions of the first international panel discussion on anti-Semitism following the Gaza invasion, which was held in Jerusalem Monday on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Equating Jews? Very rare one that. Surely they mean equating zionists with nazis. But read on:
Speaking at the panel, which was part of the World Zionist Congress conference, Professor Dina Porat said, "the comparison has now become self-understood." She added this applied not only to Muslims in Europe, but among "leftist circles."

Porat, an international authority on anti-Semitism and head of Tel Aviv University's research body on this phenomenon, added that Operation Cast Lead has "left no doubt" that Muslims in Europe had, "prepared in advance a public campaign against Jews and Israel, which they see as one and the same."

"[Muslims] were waiting for a signal or a pretext to launch this campaign and the Nazism comparison," she said.
Ah, so it was a specifically and openly zionist meeting. And it was addressed by someone who makes his living accusing people of antisemitism often under the auspices of the main group that has an interest in falsely making that allegation.
"Europeans are burdened by the Holocaust, and accusing the victims of being like the Nazis helps distribute some of the burden and guilt," Porat told the 500 people who came to the event, at the Inbal Hotel.
I see, so Europeans are burdened by an event that occurred over sixty years ago. They wish to unburden themselves so they assume that the people who recently bombarded Gaza killing over 1,300 people and destroying infrastructure to blight Gazan lives into the future were actually all holocaust survivors. This means that all of the bombers and commanders of the assault were over 64. It also means that all the Europeans raising the comparison are over 64. That's ridiculous.

I wish I was a zionist. You can say anything and get paid for it.

Another crack in the media wall?

After the short anti-smoking clip there's quite a remarkable video titled Time Running Out For A Two-State Solution?



Watch CBS Videos Online

The information is nothing new to those of us that follow events in Palestine but this was shown on a mainstream news programme, 60 Minutes on CBS. The Gaza Justice Action Center is encouraging its members to thank CBS and to write to other media encouraging them to broadcast accurately and openly on what is happening in Palestine.

And now MSN is broadcasting the clip the Beeb and Murdoch tried to ban.

From Warsaw to Gaza: International Holocaust Memorial Day 2009

mourning_resistance.jpg


How does the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow!...
She weeps sore into the night, and her tears are on her cheeks:
among all who loved her she has none to comfort her.
(Book of Lamentations)

Last week, after murdering 1400 people – of whom 400 were children – after bombing hospitals and mosques, schools, universities and humanitarian supplies, and tens of thousand of homes, Israel declared a cease-fire. A shameful parade of European leaders immediately went to Jerusalem to embrace the mass murderers and to pledge their support for the continuing siege of Gaza.

The primary purpose of this massacre was to break the spirit of the Palestinian people until they surrender and accept their fate as lesser human beings. As former Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon said in 2002, "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people." European leaders support this goal, as did previous U.S. administrations, as do the ruling elites of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi-Arabia, despite the fury of their peoples. We wait to see if the freshly inaugurated Obama Administration will break with sixty long years of attack on the Palestinian people armed and financed by the U.S. and Europe.

We grieve with the people of Gaza. We see the faces of the children, of the women and the men; we hear their voices. We also hear the silence of the leaders of Western countries, intermittently broken by evasive platitudes. And we are reminded of the time when the world turned a blind eye while
our forebears, our families, were slaughtered.

100,000 Palestinians were made homeless in Gaza this month. Most of them became refugees in 1948 when they were expelled at gunpoint from their towns and villages. Now they are homeless again, even in their land of exile, and at risk of being driven out from Palestine altogether.

Yet on January 27, Holocaust Remembrance Day, the leaders of the U.S. and Europe will be joined in honoring the memory of our dead. Even as we seek to remember and to honor the immensity of that loss, we struggle to find words to convey the hypocrisy of these ceremonies, in which those who are silent today pay homage to the victims of yesterday’s silence.

The radical Jewish writer Walter Benjamin, who died while fleeing the Nazis, wrote, "not even the dead will be safe from the enemy, if he is victorious. And this enemy has not ceased to be victorious." The Third Reich was defeated, and yet, "the enemy has not ceased to be victorious." Racism, mass murder, and genocide continue to be accepted tools of statecraft. Even our dead are not safe. They have been called up, disturbed, dredged from their mass graves and forced to testify against their fellow human beings in pain, to confess a hatred that was alien to them and to offer themselves up as justification for a new cycle of suffering in Palestine. Their ghosts have been enlisted to help displace fellow Jews from Arab homelands, and to bequeath to them that same alien hatred, conscripting those of us descending from Arab lands to become enemies of our own memory and past.

The Jewish British MP Gerald Kaufman spoke in anguish while the massacres in Gaza were taking place: "My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza." We share and echo that refusal. Let not the memory of Jews murdered by the Nazi regime serve as cover for the attempted destruction of the Palestinian people!

Although the guns are relatively silent, this genocidal assault on the Palestinian people is not over. The siege, the lack of food and fresh water, the disease-threatening broken sewage system, and economic collapse and humanitarian crisis persist in Gaza with the full support of the U.S., Europe and the Egyptian government. As the siege of Gaza continues, so does the slow ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the home demolitions, the building of the apartheid wall, the settlement build-up, the economic devastation of the towns and villages strangled by checkpoints, the assault on Palestinian neighborhoods in Jaffa, Akka, Lydda, the Galilee and the Negev, the mass imprisonment of Palestinians (over 11,000), and all the large and small ways by which Israel is seeking to crush the spirit and erase the presence of the Palestinian people in their homeland.

Faced with the threat of annihilation in Europe, Jews resisted. From ghettos to concentration camps and within countries under occupation, Jews led resistance to the Nazi regime. Today, from the ghetto of Gaza to the Bantustans of the West Bank and from the neighborhoods of Jaffa and Akka to cities across the globe, Palestinians resist Israel’s attempt to destroy them as a people. On January 27th, honoring the memory of our dead is for us inseparable from honoring more than sixty years of Palestinian survival and resistance. Only when the Palestinian people regain their freedom will the dead rest safely. Then we will all celebrate another victory for life.

Statement of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network



January 26, 2009

Israel's pure poisonous propaganda in Comment is free

Avi Shlaim had this letter published in today's Guardian. It's headed the Newspeak of Israeli propagandists and what he complains of will be instantly recognisable to those of us who take our news from the mainstream. I should point out that Shlaim is countering a crude zionist propagandist in one of the main zionist stamping grounds on the web, Comment is free.
What Uri Dromi says about Hamas is pure and poisonous Israeli propaganda (This Hamas hallucination, 23 January). In every respect his article is almost the exact opposite of the truth. Dromi claims that: "The Orwellian mindset of the organisation is as much a barrier to peace as the rockets it fires." But it is the newspeak of Israeli propagandists like Dromi that is truly Orwellian.

Over the last four weeks the powerful Israeli propaganda machine has been churning out lie after lie about Hamas in order to excuse its own inexcusable onslaught. Israel stopped journalists going into Gaza, preventing any independent reporting on the war crimes its forces were committing. Truth is usually the first casualty in war. Gaza was not even a war in the conventional sense of the word; it was one-sided carnage.

Here are some of the facts Dromi ignores or wilfully misrepresents. First, Hamas is the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people, not the corrupt regime led by Mahmoud Abbas. Second, Hamas spokesmen have repeatedly declared their readiness for a long-term ceasefire. Khalid Mish'al recently did so on these pages (Comment, 6 January). Third, Hamas has a solid record of observing ceasefires, while Israel has a consistent record of sabotaging them. Fourth, even during the ceasefire Israel did not lift its economic blockade of the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza, a form of collective punishment forbidden by international law. Fifth, the offensive unleashed in Gaza was illegal, immoral and unnecessary. If all Israel wanted was to stop rocket attacks from Gaza, all it had to do was to observe the ceasefire brokered by Egypt in June 2008.
Professor Avi Shlaim
Oxford

Curiously the editor of Cif has seen fit to simply allow Dromi a short swipe at Shlaim that deals with none of the specifics. Check it for yourself but when a zionist propagandist has to turn to an Egyptian minister for back up we're talking desperate here.

BBC bias by numbers

It's that quirky Craig Murray again, this time detailing, literally by numbers or should that be numerically by numbers? the bias of the BBC towards the racist war criminals of the State of Israel:
What is Really Happening

I watched BBC World News for a timed hour yesterday. In that time I saw:
Pro-Israeli (including US government) speakers - 17
Pro-Palestinian speakers - 2

Mentions of Hamas Rockets as reason for war - 37
Mentions of illegal Israeli settlements - 0
Mentions of Palestinians killed by Israel during "ceasefire" - 2
Mentions of Sderot - 12
Mentions Sderot used to be Palestinian - 0

If you don't believe me, try it yourself.

The BBC took being banned from Gaza by the Israelis as the excuse to focus a wildly disproportionate attention on the Hamas threat to Israel. Their choice of Sderot as their base of operations was in itself a factor of bias - and their failure to say, even once, that Sderot was once Palestinian was inexcusable.

I keep meaning to post Avi Shlaim's letter in today's Guardian but then I get distracted by emails coming in drawing my attention to some of the excellent coverage of Gaza on the web, also the coverage of the coverage is rather good too.

Wossisname again?

One for the Brits, or Bwits only I'm afraid. Well, I'm not afraid. I hope Jonathan Ross isn't known abroad. Here, for those who know Jonathan Ross and Melanie Phillips and who also know that the BBC is helping Israel with its criminal blockade of Gaza, is Martin Rowson's cartoon in today's Guardian:



I thought that it was by Steve Bell and when I couldn't find it on line I emailed him to ask for a copy. I hope I didn't offend him. I thought the Guardian was scared of Mad Mel Phlips!

The video nearly banned by the associates of the nearly late Ariel Sharon

Well here it is on the Guardian website and no doubt lots of other places to. It's the Gaza aid appeal video. I'm going to try to upload it but I have never succeeded before so I'll publish without it and you can follow the link to watch the vid. Meanwhile, I'll go in, edit this post and see if it works. OK?


video


Well it's 21:37 now and blogger is telling me that it's uploaded the clip so let's "publish" and see what happens.

Silencing the Gaza appeal: It was the ghost of Ariel Sharon wot dunnit

It was. It's true. Alright it's only half true, Ariel Sharon still hasn't quite given up the ghost yet but his influence lives on in from Palestine to the BBC and now to Sky television.

I've mentioned Sam Kiley lots of times. He's actually quite a friend of Israel these days but once upon a time he wrote this about Rupert Murdoch and Ariel Sharon:
But in the war of words, no newspaper has been so happy to hand the keys of the armoury over to one side than The Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International. Murdoch is a close friend of Ariel Sharon, Israel’s prime minister.
Rupert Murdoch also owns Sky Television so that would explain Sky's refusal to host the DEC's Gaza appeal. But what about Murdoch's counterpart at the BBC? Surely the Director General of this guardian of Britain's sense of fair play couldn't be got at by the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

But what's this we find in a 2005 gossip column in the Independent?
The BBC is often accused of an anti-Israeli bias in its coverage of the Middle East, and recently censured reporter Barbara Plett for saying she "started to cry" when Yasser Arafat left Palestine shortly before his death.

Fascinating, then, to learn that its director general, Mark Thompson, has recently returned from Jerusalem, where he held a face-to-face meeting with the hardine Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Although the diplomatic visit was not publicised on these shores, it has been seized upon in Israel as evidence that Thompson, who took office in 2004, intends to build bridges with the country's political class.

Sources at the Beeb also suspect that it heralds a "softening" to the corporation's unofficial editorial line on the Middle East.

"This was the first visit of its kind by any serving director general, so it's clearly a significant development," I'm told.

"Not many people know this, but Mark is actually a deeply religious man. He's a Catholic, but his wife is Jewish, and he has a far greater regard for the Israeli cause than some of his predecessors."

Understandably, an official BBC spokesman was anxious to downplay talk of an exclusively pro-Israeli charm offensive.

Apopros this month's previously undocumented trip, he stressed that Thompson had also held talks with the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas.
But the Palestinian sellout-in-chief seems not have made the same impression on Thompson. Or maybe he did.

Clearly the BBC and Sky have crossed a line here. They are not simply siding with Israel, they are aiding and abetting a long-standing on-going war crime. We mustn't let this blind us to the fact that the mainstream media bias in favour of Israel in the UK and throughout the west is more pronounced and its dishonesty is more outrageous in favour of zionism than on any other subject. It's a bit like Israel committing its eye catching atrocities, they distract attention from the on-going war crime represented by the State of Israel's core existence. The BBC and Sky have effectively committed an eye-catching atrocity. That doesn't make the rest of the media ok.

January 25, 2009

More pressure on the Beeb's starving of Gaza

Many thanks to one of my Scotland correspondents for drawing my attention to the occupation of the BBC's Glasgow headquarters. The report is on the Sky website which is newsworthy of itself since Sam Kiley, a Murdoch dissident, said that Murdoch was a personal friend of Ariel Sharon. Anyway cop this straight from the Sky website:
Gaza Aid Protesters In Beeb's HQ

7:05pm UK, Sunday January 25, 2009

Dozens of protesters have occupied the BBC's headquarters in Glasgow over the broadcaster's refusal to air an emergency aid appeal for Gaza.

Palestinian woman holds her baby as she stands in the rubble of east Jebaliya, Gaza

Palestinian woman holds her baby as she stands in the rubble of east Jebaliya, Gaza

The supporters of the Stop the War Coalition and Palestinian groups said they will not leave the building's lobby area until the Beeb reverses its decision.

The coalition claimed there were about 100 demonstrators inside and outside the building.

A Strathclyde Police spokeswoman said there were about 40 to 50 protesters and there had been no arrests yet.

More than 50 MPs have already backed a parliamentary motion urging the broadcaster to show the appeal for thousands of people struggling in the Palestinian territory.

The early day motion - to be tabled on Monday by Labour's Richard Burden - has so far received the support of 51 MPs from across the Commons.

The BBC is still standing firm on its decision not to show the advert for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

The corporation has said it has received "approximately" 1,000 telephone complaints and a further 10,000 by email.

Rival broadcasters ITV, Channel 4 and Five have now agreed to air the appeal. Sky is still considering its position.

A Palestinian boy eats an orange while standing in the ruins of the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City

Suffering in Gaza

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is the latest figure to add his voice to the string of politicians, including senior government ministers, urging the corporation to change its mind.

He said he fully backed the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, who said: "This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms but by the Disasters Emergency Committee asking for relief."

Thousands of people have already demonstrated outside the BBC's Broadcasting House in London this weekend.

The DEC - an umbrella group for several major aid charities including the British Red Cross, Save the Children and Oxfam - wants the appeal to be broadcast on TV and radio.

It aims to raise millions of pounds for Gazans in need of food, medicines and shelter following Israel's three-week assault on the area.

The Charity Commission has repeated its call on the BBC to show the appeal, and also urged Sky to lend support.

BBC director general Mark Thompson says broadcasting the advert could compromise the impartiality of the BBC's reporting from Gaza.

They have a video too but I couldn't load it and you're not missing much really.

I don't get the Observer but I'm guessing that several articles on what the BBC did made it into print today. Check out this little lot:

Corporation receives 11,000 complaints and 50 MPs plan to back motion calling for rethink on aid film
Tim Lewellyn is in a real fume:
The corporation's chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, had refused to allow it to broadcast an appeal on behalf of the Disasters Emergency Committee for Gaza. She said that one reason was that "the BBC's impartiality was in danger of being damaged". Could the BBC be sure, she added, that money raised for this cause would find its way to the right people?

How is the BBC's impartiality to be prejudiced by asking others to raise money for the victims of an act of war by a recognised state, an ally of Britain, using the most lethal armaments it can against a defenceless population? What sly little trigger went off in her head when Thomson questioned whether the aid would reach the right people? What right people? Hamas, the elected representatives of the Palestinian people? The hospitals and clinics run by private charities and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency? The mosques? The citizens of Gaza, persecuted beyond measure not only by their Israeli enemies but by the western powers who arm and sustain Israel and defy the democratic vote of the Palestinian people?

Is Thomson more fussed about some imaginary "war on terror" that even the new White House is shying away from than she is about upholding the free speech and freedom of action of the corporation?

This pusillanimous obeisance to some imagined governmental threat has aroused unprecedented anger across the BBC.
Ok, I've done a few posts on this now but the Beeb is literally behaving like it's the Israeli state broadcaster. That is a story in itself and I can't promise there won't be more. There almost definitely will be more. I'm hoping the last one will be if and when the Beeb blinks and then buckles.

Another dead child, another valiant Hasbara effort

 

BBC crisis over Gaza appeal

Who'd be the BBC, poor things? They probably thought they were doing what the Prime Minister would approve of but the outcry about Israel's war on the people in Gaza was too great and the government distanced itself from the Beeb, and why not?

Well now, according to this Guardian article,
The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has accused the broadcaster of "taking sides". He said yesterday: "This is not a row about impartiality but rather about humanity.

"This situation is akin to that of British military hospitals who treat prisoners of war as a result of their duty under the Geneva convention. They do so because they identify need rather than cause. This is not an appeal by Hamas asking for arms but by the Disasters Emergency Committee asking for relief. By declining their request, the BBC has already taken sides and forsaken impartiality," the archbishop added.

The establishment is split over Gaza.

January 24, 2009

It's the Benn Broadcasting Corporation!

This was going to be a post of Ellis Sharp's pics from today's demo against the BBC together with a bit of context from Lenin. I went to the demo, even took some pics of my own when it was nearly over and the youngsters started dancing and the police started arresting....one young woman of maybe 15.

Anyway, I just googled something about "demonstration" and "Gaza" and I stumbled on this interview with Tony Benn on the Beeb. It was before the demo that I hasten to point out has now taken place but it's worth a listen partly to get the details of the charities whose efforts the BBC is hindering for Israel and partly because it's a good performance by Benn.
A demonstration will be held to protest against the BBC's decision not to broadcast an appeal for aid to the people of Gaza. It is being organised by the Disasters Emergency Committee - an umbrella group for some of the big charities. Politician Tony Benn discusses why he will be attending the protest outside BBC Broadcasting House.
Plot spoiler - he basically read out the appeal that the BBC tried to, indeed did and still does, ban:
The situation
After an 18 month blockade of Gaza and three weeks of heavy shelling the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is now completely overwhelming.
  • Donate online to the DEC's Gaza Crisis nowDonate Now: Gaza Crisis
    Thousands of people are struggling to survive with many having lost their homes and most down to their last supplies of food and only limited amounts of fresh drinking water.
  • Just £25 can buy warm blankets for 8 children
  • Just £50 can provide a Food parcel for a family for one month
  • Electricity - supplies to Gaza are erratic at best with 75% of the area cut off completely. There is a significant public health risk arising out of the almost collapse of Gaza’s water and sewage system, the running of which is dependent on electricity.
  • Water - Around 500,000 people are without running water with 37% of Gaza’s water wells not working effectively and fuel reserves depleted due to restrictions on access and damage to pipes.
  • At least 412 Children have been killed and 1,855 injured
  • 60% of the population is living in poverty
  • 1.1 million people are dependent upon aid to survive.
  • Health - The capacity of the health system has been significantly reduced due to the damage of at least 21 clinics. Ten primary health care clinics are functioning as emergency clinics and hospitals and intensive care units continue to treat the mass casualties.
But listen all the same because the interviewer appears to express the fear that rather than going into eat as you go aid, the money might aid reconstruction and under the auspices of the elected administration. The only democracy in the middle east can't have any of that going. Goodness! they'll want their own state next and in Palestine too!

On Chomsky and B.D.S.


And now to something completely different. At the end of the interview mentioned in the previous post, Chomsky is asked about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions strategy against Israel. His answer is weak and sadly unbecoming his record.

Is divestment a proper tactic? Well, you know, if you look back at South Africa, divestment became a proper tactic after years, decades ofeducation and organizing, to the point where Congress was legislating against trade, corporations were pulling out, and so on. That’s what’s missing: the education and organizing which makes it an understandable move. And, in fact, if we ever got to that point, you wouldn’t even need it, because the US could be brought in line with international opinion. (Democracy now)

The ANC first demanded the boycott of South Africa in 1958. In 1965, British academics for the first time adopted a boycott resolution. The U.N. General Assembly adopted a boycott resolution in 1962. In the U.S., the movement's first achievements had to wait to the late seventies, with the first campus divestment campaigns and the faith based pressure on corporations to end their operations in South Africa. The campaign reached the U.S. congress only in 1986. Apartheid survived for another eight years after that.

So Chomsky is right that many years passed between the first call for boycott and the first major achievement. However, had the anti-apartheid movement listened to people who made Chomsky's arguments in the sixties, the successes of the eighties would not have happened. Of course it takes years and maybe decades to build a successful movement against entrenched power. The B.D.S. movement against Israel is officially only three years old, yet it has already reached the state that the original anti-apartheid campaign reached perhaps in the mid seventies. There are B.D.S campaigns in dozens on campuses and trade unions, and many boycott resolutions have already been adopted; there are academic boycott resolutions that have gained wide support and publicity and will have a very good chance of succeeding in the near future. Corporations are begining to feel pressure from consumers and public partners. Veolia, one of the worse offenders, just lost a 3.5 Billion Euro contract in Stockholm. The President of the U.N.G.A., Miguel D'Escoto, urged the U.N. to support the B.D.S. movement (Please support him). No doubt that is going to happen before long.

What then is that "education and organizing which makes it an understandable move" that is missing? Is not the B.D.S. campaign by its very nature the very campaign that educates people about why B.D.S. is necessary? It feels awkward and sad to explain to Chomsky elementary principles of grassroots organizing, but he leaves me no choice. Do you educate people about nuclear weapons before you campaign against them, or do you educate people about nuclear weapons by campaigning against them? Did the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. spend years explaining civil rights to white people before demanding civil rights for African-Americans? Of course not. A campaign of public education without a commitment to and a strategy for applying pressure is not a movement.

Chomsky's last comment is that because of the power of the U.S. over Israel, the B.D.S. campaign would be superfluous the moment it becomes possible. That, as Franz Kafka pointed out, is also true of the Messiah. And I'm afraid that Chomsky's recommendation isn't too different from waiting for the Messiah. Any campaign that succeeds in its objectives becomes superfluous. And any campaign that challenges entrenched power in a major way looks hopeless when it starts. Besides, B.D.S. is not a U.S. campaign. It is a global strategy against apartheid coordinated by the united Palestinian B.D.S. National Committee. Despite its young age and daunting task, it is a campaign that already works. Every little success draws howls of protest from Israel, as well as attempts to deflect criticism. For example, only after the success of the British academic boycott resolution did the heads of Israeli universities for the first time ever issue a public statement criticizing the occupation for its effects on Palestinian education. The best evidence to the value and effectiveness of B.D.S. is the amount of fear it instills in Israel and its apologists.

I hope that we won't have to wait for the U.S. to "be brought in line with international opinion" for Chomsky to join the vibrant movement that has taken on and will bring down Israeli apartheid.




On Chomsky and the comeback of Oslo


Noam Chomsky did a review of Obama's plans for the Middle East on Democracy now. It is always dangerous to write something before you read what Chomsky says about the same thing. Chomsky adds a lot of details, and especially notes the absence of specifics regarding all the Israeli crimes that the U.S. effectively supports and enables, the settlements, the wall, etc.

The main difference relative to what I wrote earlier however is that Chomsky thinks that the talk of two state solution will remain as empty as it was during the Bush years. That would mean that Israel will continue the occupation as it is now, post Second Intifada, with the occasional meaningless "peace summit," and the same policies of the Sharon and Olmert government will continue under Netanyahu. In contrast, I interpreted Obama's words to suggest interest in returning to Clinton's policies. Let's review the case.

There is certainly a possibility the Obama will follow Bush completely, but at least the rhetoric suggests that Obama wants to return to the strategies of the Clinton years. That would require building a much better trained, armed and effective PA that would take a larger role in the oppression of Palestinians and get the IDF out of direct contact with the Palestinian population. In return there would need to be carrots for the PA, both in terms of symbols and in terms for welfare for for top boys and funds for influence peddling projects. Carrots might go from red carpets all the way to the (unlikely) freeze on settlements.

In favor of this are the fact that Obama's team is drawn from the Clinton administration and this was their game. Also in favor of this is the mounting exasperation in Arab and European capitals and the expectation that Obama "does something" to at least release some of the mounting public pressue. Finally, in favor of this is Obama's compassionate image that will be hurt if he were to stand aloof.

But there are good reasons not to try. First, returning to the Oslo model will require not just buying off Palestinians. There would be strong opposition to it in Israel, and from the governing (soon) Likud constituency. That will stress Israeli politics and the likely result would be massive violence against someone, most likely Palestinians. This is how Israel reacts to attempts to rein it. Obama will be forced to look like a loser or spend significant capital, both political capital and real cash, to overcome the internal Israeli opposition. There will also be opposition within Palestinian society, and Obama's administration would need to be blind not to recognize that the PA doesn't and will never have Arafat's legitimacy. Chances of success are not good, even for a very short period.

What would they do? One strategy they could fall on is to split it. They will forge ahead with new "bold" propositions, and when they run into the wall they will try to make Hamas take the blame for the inevitable failure, as Clinton did with Arafat in 2000. There is little doubt that the Obama administration would prefer to do nothing. It will act to the extent that it is pushed, so a lot rests on who pushes it and how hard.


"Palestinians poised for victory"

Heart warming stuff in these dark cold days. But that's what Richard Falk is saying in The Nation. I've got to say I have some gripes with some of what he is saying but I it is a very positive article, especially when the zionists are pulling out all the stops to distort media coverage in their favour and they have even got the BBC helping them starve Gaza. Falk is considering who has won in this assault on Gaza and he doesn't think it's Israel.

He starts with the impression the assault has made on the Palestinians:
Reports from the West Bank, Gaza and the Palestinian diaspora suggest widespread anger at the Palestinian Authority for its passivity and a rise in support for Hamas, even among secular Palestinians, in appreciation of its determined resistance to the brutality of the Israeli occupation and military operations. If Hamas becomes the dominant political force in all of occupied Palestine when the next elections are held, Israel will be the loser.
When will those elections be held? Will Hamas be able to organise for them or participate in them? Also, there is nothing here about Israel's yen for ethnic cleansing. The choices out of Fatah and Hamas are a bit devil and deep blue sea-ish. If Abbas wins, Israel has a supine bullied and/bribed Palestinian administration of occupied territory. He could even pretend that he has a state and accept the ethnic cleansing from within the pre-67 borders that the Israeli moderate leader, Tzipi Livni, mooted just a few weeks ago.

On the other hand, if a resistance group wins, the zionists could cry (and shoot, don't forget) about their want of a "partner" (yeah, right!) and use resistance to the occupation to justify the ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and Gaza.

Still, there is good news on the diplomatic front:
Qatar and Mauritania, among the few states in the region that had accepted Israel, broke relations, and the European Union has suspended moves to improve Israel's status as a trading partner. The Turkish prime minister even suggested expelling Israel from the United Nations....

...voices, ranging from the UN's high commissioner for human rights to the president of the General Assembly, are for the first time calling for a war crimes investigation. The Malaysian Parliament has unanimously called on the UN to establish a special war crimes tribunal.
I don't know what it takes to establish such a tribunal but I'm guessing there'll be powerful states with veto powers putting the kibosh on this idea.

Richard Falk even suspends disbelief momentarily to give Israel the benefit of the doubt over its motivation:
Even if Israel's claims of defensive response are accepted at face value, this is excessive use of force. There are also widespread reports that Israel has used legally dubious weapons like white phosphorus, dense inert metal explosives and depleted uranium. And finally, through its rigid control of exits, Israel has denied the people even the right to flee the fighting, a violation of humanitarian law that lends credibility to the claim that Israeli occupation policy essentially imprisons Gazans.
So if Israel's not lying it's still committed war crimes.

There is then a useful discussion of the holistic impact of war, any war involving any protagonists:
Winning militarily but losing politically should not surprise students of modern warfare. After all, the United States won every battle in Vietnam and yet eventually lost the war. The same was true for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and indeed it was the general pattern in decolonization struggles. In such wars the militarily dominant side not only loses the war but generates a deep crisis at home and experiences a tarnished international reputation. What these counterinsurgency or neocolonial wars have in common is that "the enemy" is merged with civilian society; the fighting abandons the restraints of international humanitarian law; and by killing helpless civilians, the occupying or colonial power is perceived as committing war crimes.
And in Israel's case?
This has been the case in Gaza, with worldwide outrage inflicting on Israel a major defeat in the battle for public legitimacy, which in the end is often decisive in shaping the outcome of major conflicts.
And what about its main backer?
Neither the United States nor Israel has discovered the limits of military power in the contemporary world. The leaders of both countries seem unable to learn the lesson of recent history: that occupation in the postcolonial world rarely produces the desired results at an acceptable cost. It is from this perspective, despite a horrific price in lives and suffering, that the Palestinians may be slowly winning the "second war," the legitimacy war, whose battlefield has become global. Perhaps the most impressive victory in a legitimacy war was won by South Africa's anti-apartheid movement.
Now here the guy's worrying me and he then worries me some more:
If the Gaza conflict brings the Palestinian struggle for self-determination to the top of the global justice agenda, it will be a major victory for Hamas. Of course, Hamas is not the African National Congress, and Israel is not South Africa. The Palestinians lack the sort of inspired leadership that Nelson Mandela and other ANC figures provided.
Fair comment, Hamas is not the ANC. The ANC could claim to represent all South Africans regardless of their skin colour, skin colour being for apartheid what religious practice or heritage is for zionism. Hamas does not represent nor does it truly seek to represent all of the people of Palestine. But "Israel is not South Africa", what did he mean by that. Did he mean that the apartheid regime was more open about its system than Israel has ever been? Did he mean that when the apartheid regime started negotiating it did so in good faith? Did he mean that the apartheid regime accepted a truth and reconciliation commission and Israel can tolerate neither truth nor reconciliation? I am worried he might mean that Israel is "normal" without the occupation but I don't know what he meant because, sadly, he didn't say.

So what does the future hold?
legitimacy wars have no clear boundaries and involve subtle shifts of public opinion that can alter the overall political climate in decisive ways. I believe the Gaza conflict, especially against the background of Israel's prior siege and its 2006 Lebanon misadventure, is approaching that tipping point. Despite the frightful punishment inflicted on Gaza's people, despite the bitterly divided Palestinian leadership, despite the cruelties of more than four decades of occupation, the Palestinians are poised to achieve victory.
Now that could be very nice indeed but what does Falk want to happen?
The fragile cease-fire poses new challenges and opportunities. There are hopeful scenarios, but they depend on leaps of imagination that have been lacking on both sides. Hamas could confirm its willingness to behave as a political actor and stop firing rockets at civilians. Israel could recover in the legitimacy war by dealing directly with Hamas and taking its offer of a long-term cease-fire seriously. Israel could also show a willingness to engage in peace talks based on the 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative. Even at this late stage of the conflict, such alternatives offer both Israelis and Palestinians a promising, if perilous, escape route from the inferno.
I should have left this with the "Palestinians poised for victory" so let's just repeat for the squillionth time that Israel is a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing and racist laws so it can never recover legitimacy, it never had any. It could go back up in the estimation of some but if it remains a state on most of Palestine where Jews from anywhere have more rights than native non-Jews, Israel might have a legitimate image, but the reality will be very different.

Obama to Palestinians: accept your fate as Untermenschen, and we will make your life tolerable

This is the clearest outline of Obama's Middle East vision, expressed in a speech at a State Department event: Comments interspersed.

Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel's security. And we will always support Israel's right to defend itself against legitimate threats.

For years, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people, nor should the international community, and neither should the Palestinian people themselves, whose interests are only set back by acts of terror.

To be a genuine party to peace, the quartet has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel's right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements.

This is the key demands, and it is worth repeating what they mean. The resistance (which is bigger than Hamas) must recognize "Israel's right" to deny Palestinians they basic civil and human rights. This is what it meant by "Israel's right to exist". Hamas is asked to sign off, among many things, the right of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to fight for equal rights. And of course it must sign off the right of return of the refugees. Hamas must sign off the right to resist, and it must agree to be bound by past agreements (Oslo) that have been completely ignored by Israel. Although Israel doubled the numbers of settlers during Oslo, Hamas must accept Israel's right to control Area C, for example, as defined in the Oslo protocols. These demands are not part of a grand peace bargain with Israel. They are only pre-condition for being a partner to negotiations. Only after Palestinians accept that, as General Yaalon said, they are "a defeated people," will the negotiations begin. Then, the Palestinians' human rights, right to live, right to drink fresh water, the right to travel freely, the territorial rights, the right to self-determination, etc. all these rights, which are not asserted and are not pre-conditions, will be negotiated, in a process in which Israel holds all the cards and Palestinians none. That is Obama's recipe for a just peace.

Going forward, the outline for a durable cease-fire is clear: Hamas must end its rocket fire; Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza; the United States and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm.

Obama is committing to a sanctions regime against Hamas that bears some similarity to the sanctions regime against Iraq. To prevent Hamas from undermining Israel's monopoly over military force, all the economy of the strip would have to be held hostage, all imports scrutinized, and everything that might be useful militarily stopped. That is a guarantee of eternal poverty and no reconstruction. The plan as it is shaping is a repeat of the Iraqi scenario. First a devastating blow to the civilian infrastructure, then a regime of control that would keep that infrastructure in a state of permanent collapse. Plus, the daily operation of this regime of control will have to be managed by Israel, who will call ther shots on every economic decision in Gaza.

Yesterday I spoke to President Mubarak and expressed my appreciation for the important role that Egypt played in achieving a cease-fire. And we look forward to Egypt's continued leadership and partnership in laying a foundation for a broader peace through a commitment to end smuggling from within its borders.

U.S. Middle East policy will continue to rely on despised collaborator regimes and guarantee their "leadership."

Now, just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians.

Israel must have complete and undisturbed monopoly of violence. Palestinians will have "hope."

OBAMA: I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza. Our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water, and basic medical care, and who've faced suffocating poverty for far too long.

Now we must extend a hand of opportunity to those who seek peace. As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza's border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.

There will be humanitarian aid. Perhaps even more that Israel alone would have wanted. That would be the new toughness with regards to Israel. But as a condition to receiving this aid, Palestinians must accept to be ruled by the corrupt Vichy government of the PA. For those who accept the rules of the game, corruption, service to Israel, and taking orders from Washington, the Obama administration will create business opportunities and some of them might even get rich.

Relief efforts must be able to reach innocent Palestinians who depend on them. The United States will fully support an international donor's conference to seek short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction for the Palestinian economy. This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority.

The days of Oslo should return. No to national demands. Yes to business opportunities for collaborators. Enough opportunities should be given to a small group of cronies to create an elite that will rule the Palestinian Bantustans for Israel.

Lasting peace requires more than a long cease-fire, and that's why I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security.

A "Palestinian state" (i.e. a bantustan) is what Olmert and Livni and Barak want. Natanyahu says he doesn't, but he doesn't really care. His constituents do. If this plan moves toward implementation, the major conflict will again be between the interests of the Israelis who vote Likud and to the right of Likud, Israelis who are at the margins of Israel's global economy, and the Palestinian collaborators' economic elite centered on the PA. The competition will be over who gets the stingy economic benefits from the repression of Palestinians. The Oslo era ended because the newly formed Palestinian elite lost. That was a very likely outcome, given that their competitors vote in Israeli elections and they don't. It is doubtful whetherthat a much weakened PA, even with the best of American support, can do much better.

Senator Mitchell will carry forward this commitment, as well as the effort to help Israel reach a broader peace with the Arab world that recognizes its rightful place in the community of nations.

I should add that the Arab peace initiative contains constructive elements that could help advance these efforts. Now is the time for Arab states to act on the initiative's promise by supporting the Palestinian government under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, taking steps towards normalizing relations with Israel, and by standing up to extremism that threatens us all.

The U.S. will take from Arab initiatives those elements they like, such as normalizing relations with Israel, and negotiate away what they dislike, such as a just solution to the refugees.

Jordan's constructive role in training Palestinian security forces and nurturing its relations with Israel provide a model for these efforts. And going forward, we must make it clear to all countries in the region that external support for terrorist organizations must stop. (Washington Post)

It is important to mention every collaborator in the credits.



This is just a plan, a plan to repeat the Oslo policies of the Clinton administration. The U.S. is now reacting to events. So this plan will change as it encounters, and let's hope it encounters, resistance. But this gives us a clear understanding of what the U.S. wants.