April 29, 2010

Same hatred different city

Max Blumenthal finds more hatred in another big city. This time it's New York.

Check this out. It's unbelievable.

They have Hashem? The name? I can think of a few names and the zionists are trying to make at least three of them illegal.

Many thanks to Sau in the comments to the previous post.

Human Rights Watch is good for Israel

I thought human rights were supposed to be good for humanity, not for racist colonies but it looks like I was wrong. The timeline on this is a bit confusing because a New Republic article dated 26 April is actually a response to an article dated 27 April and the article of the 26th even makes reference to an edition of The New Republic dated May 13, 2010, which hasn't actually happened yet. No wonder journos panic about deadlines. Still, here goes.

The 27th article is about a "civil war" raging at Human Rights Watch about the right of return being a human right with specific regard to the Palestinians.
In September 2000, HRW’s board of directors took a vote that still, a decade later, infuriates Sid Sheinberg, a legendary Hollywood mogul (he discovered Steven Spielberg) and current vice-chairman of the board. At the time, Bill Clinton was trying desperately to broker a peace agreement between Yasir Arafat and Ehud Barak, but one of the major sticking points was the right of return. It was an issue that even the most left-wing Israelis did not feel they could compromise on: If Palestinians were permitted to return to Israel en masse, it would imperil the country’s future as both a Jewish state and a democracy.
You get an immediate idea of where The New Republic stands when it can use the word "democracy" as a transparent code-word for Jewish majority or it promotes the idea that Arabs are inherently undemocratic. But see this response from a board member of Human Rights Watch:
There is broad consensus on the board of Human Rights Watch in support of its Middle East work in general and its Israel-Palestine work in particular, contrary to the suggestion of "a civil war" over Israel ("Minority Report," May 13, 2010). As the co-chair of HRW's advisory committee on the Middle East and North Africa and long-time (now emerita) member of the board, I have been a part of virtually all conversations about our work in the region in the last twenty years. I spoke to your reporter for over an hour in late March and made clear to him that I was present for the conversations he described and that his thesis of acrimonious division was wrong. Other board members told him the same, but our views are not reflected in his piece.

I am a Jew, a Zionist and a full-throated supporter of the work of Human Rights Watch. The state of Israel that I love (in fact, I write these words from Tel Aviv) will thrive and be well if it conducts itself according to its own high principles and according to the human rights and humanitarian rules that Human Rights Watch seeks to promote.

There is no bias against Israel at Human Rights Watch except in the minds of those who erroneously believe Israel is harmed by honest criticism. Far from harming it, I believe this work strengthens Israel.

Thanks for referring to Human Rights Watch as the gold standard in human rights reporting. You may view our extensive research on most of the other countries and entities in the region such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia by checking the website (www.hrw.org).

Kathleen Peratis is a lawyer for Outten & Golden LLP and a columnist for The Jewish Daily Forward.

What is it with these zionists that they never say what they mean when they say "zionist"?

BDS: Noam Sheizaf teaches the "Israeli Left" the ABC of denial

The number of people who understood the deep perfidy also known as "the Israeli left" used to be small, and their ideas used to be taboo outside their miniscule publications. One of the salutary effects of BDS is that it helps clarify this perfidy and open the debate to a kind of political knowledge that is actually useful. Here is Noam Sheizaf, scolding the Israeli "Left" for its pathetic reaction to the (unconfirmed) cancellation of Gil Scott Heron's performance. You will excuse me, but there is no way I can refer to that "left" in Israel without placing it in irreality quotes. To paraphrase, ten units of quotation marks the world received; nine were taken by Jerusalem and the rest of the world took one.

Noam Sheizaf: Our Song

A small commotion erupted this week among the public that appreciates black music in Israel upon learning that ground-breaking artist, poet and musician, Gil Scott-Heron apparently canceled his Tel Aviv show for political reasons. There was no official statement. However, following protests of some of his pro-Palestinian fans during a show in London on the weekend, Scott-Heron announced from the stage that he would not be coming to Israel. The show, planed for May 25, was removed from the line up on his site.

Scott-Heron is a political man. He came out against US presidents, preached against nuclear energy, and asked the new generation of Hip-Hop artists to write meaningful lyrics rather than merely "put words to music". His most famous piece, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, is considered the anthem of alternative culture. I assume these and similar reasons made Scott-Heron appeal to a couple of hundred Israelis. The only surprise is their ability to make a U-turn the moment that protest was directed at us.

In the last few days, Israelis who awaited the show in Tel Aviv filled Scott Heron's website and facebook pages dedicated to the issue with angry comments. The arguments were of the type common to such occurrences: one shouldn't mix music and politics ("music brings people together; politics pulls them apart"); one must distinguish between the government of Israel and the citizens; it is hypocrisy and double standards to boycott Israel when there are so many more horrible governments and deadlier regimes in the world.

Beyond the usual arguments, an offended tone sneaked in: "Why should we, music lovers, who love GSH also for the place we live in, should be blamed for the occupation or apartheid?" writes one Israeli on Facebook, and added elsewhere, "to cancel the show, it is to spit in the face of the leftists in the crowd."

"In Israel there is a true music scene," comments another Israeli on Scott Heron's site. "for me, music represents peace and love, not war and hate. If you come to Israel you will see it with your own eyes". Avi Pitshon wrote in Haaretz in relation to a similar incident, in which a few Israelis joined a call to the Pixies and Metallica to skip playing in Israel, "the radical left cannot hurt the powerful, those who shape policy, and is therefore trying to hit whoever is under the spotlight: music loving citizens."

It seems that what hurts Pitshon and the other Israelis most is not the anti-Israeli stance of Scott Heron and others like him, but the choice to specifically boycott them, the public who is for peace, loves Soul and Hip-Hop, and sees itself more in touch with Detroit and Chicago than the Tomb of Rachel and Elkana. After all, the voice of these embittered music lovers didn't rise when a pretty effective boycott was organized in the EU against produce from the settlements: the settlers are the bad guys in this story. But to boycott us, us who took part in three Peace Now demonstrations and two events commemorating Rabin? What is the world coming to?

The Israeli left (and yours truly included) is deeply longing to be part of some global communion. People here imagine themselves through American culture, Italian cuisine and French novels, as if we were born to a bourgeois family on the Left Bank and our life project is to confront the feelings of alienation inherent in human existence. Tel Aviv and its suburbs are arranged with their face towards the West and a wall separating their back from all the turmoil in the East: the settlers in the territories, the Ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem, and also these Palestinians. The occupation is such a boring and tedious story, the making of a stupid government and wicked right-wingers. Clearly, we are not part of this madness.

A worldview so detached leads to many disappointments. So we are shocked to discover that the Palestinians hate us just as much as the hate the right-wingers, we are insulted when the reception clerk in a Spanish hotel lets a curse out behind our back, and cannot understand why an old rapper, who has seen a few things in his life, would tell us that, on second thought, Tel Aviv doesn't suit him right now. What the hell? We blow a fuse. What's the connection between the Barbie Club and the territories? After all, they are at least a 20 minutes car ride away!

To the credit of the Israeli Right one should say that it is much more consistent and well argued. From the Right's perspective, these conflicts with the world are the price for our clinging to parts of our historical homeland and our survival in a hostile region. The Right doesn't try to evade taking responsibility for sitting on top of Palestinians, and if someone, whether Obama or Scott Heron, doesn't like it, there is no choice but to bite the bullet.

In contrast, "the enlightened camp" is busy with the endless theatrical performance of their moral difficulties, a performance whose purpose is to create a barrier between them and all those action for which they refuse to take responsibility. Thus, when the order arrives, the leftist climbs into the tank without a second thought, but later he will do an anguished film about it for the Cannes festival. Thus the obsessive persecution of settlers. Thus Tel Aviv behaves as if it were a Mediterranean suburb of London while in a spitting distance from it eastward and southward lies an immense jail holding millions of people without rights for over half a century.

The self-pity tops itself with the absurd claim that the cancellation will benefit the occupation, because they would discourage those most in favor of two states for two people. As if the role the world is to caress Tel Aviv's residents' back until they draw the courage and convince the right, to please stop building villas on the hills of Samaria and abstain from kicking Palestinians out of their houses in East Jerusalem. Beyond the fact that this method has been completely discredited by history--it doesn't even convince the left itself anymore--the theory doesn't hold water: excited or depressed, these thousands of peace and love and music lovers do not show up in Bil'in or Sheikh Jarrakh, whereas the few dozens of human rights activists who do show up are begging the world for a little international pressure to save Israel from itself.

A few years ago, the dynamics of Roger Waters (ex Pink Floyd) visit recalls somewhat the current case. Waters didn't boycott, but he said a few words about peace and ending the occupation. A few of the "enlightened camp" ordered him to focus on the guitar and stop lecturing us. There is something really strange about our ability to sing about another brick in the wall while forgetting about the miserable falahin whose fields are behind our wall. (As it is hard to understand Israelis who return from Berlin with "an original stone from the wall" when the local version stands for free in our living room.) Considering the deep disconnect between the Israelis and the protest anthems that they are humming, it seems that the elderly Scott-Heron did us a favor for reminding us that in a place where pregnant women give birth at checkpoints and people are locked in their houses even music doesn't cross borders.

The Alternative Magazine, 28 April 2004

A couple of my own comments.

Sheizaf has still to get over the idea that the proper goal of the struggle is "to save Israel from itself." Encore un effort, les amis! Let go of that deadly shibboleth!

He is also a little unsharp on the phenomenology of hatred when he asserts that Palestinians hate all Israelis alike. We hate those whose very existence threatens our cherished self-image much more than those who have done us harm. And nothing threatens our cherished self-image more than those whom we ourselves have harmed. That is why Israelis hate Palestinians: because the Nakba threatens Israel's status as the state of the deserving victims; Another reason is that the existence of Palestinians undermine the European Jewish fantasy, to which Sheizaf refers, of sitting in Montmartre sipping a noisette and thinking about existentialism while avoiding one's existence. While these kinds of generalizations are risky, as of course you will find hatred in Palestine as you will find every other human feeling, the most common reaction of Palestinians to Israelis in my opinion is one of utter bafflement. That bafflement is consistent with the strange fact that advanced moral corruption, and that makes it unique as a human experience--only chronic stupidity comes close--can only be experienced from the outside, since lack of self-awareness is a fundamental ingredient in it. It is the utter bafflement that Hannah Arendt experienced listening to Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Thanks to BDS, the stench of the decomposing corpse of the "Israeli left" is reaching the nostrils of an ever widening public. To those who say BDS is "spitting in the face of the Israeli peace camp" and "hurting the most progressive elements of israeli society," the answer is yes, that is one reason BDS is such a good strategy, because it hits those most deeply in denial.

April 27, 2010

Tel Aviv no longer listed on Gil Scott-Heron's concert website

Take a look at http://gilscottheron.net/live/ It used to list Tuesday May 25, 2010 - Tel Aviv, Israel. But it's gone now:

Saturday May 22, 2010 - Dissonanza Festival, Rome (0)
Sunday May 23, 2010 - Gagarin, Athens (0)
Friday May 28, 2010 - Conservatorio di Milano, Milano (0)
Saturday May 29, 2010 - Tin Angel, Philadelphia (2)

Looks like another rather promising development. It seems Gil is sticking to his word. Is the Israeli press gonna figure this out?

UPDATE: have just checked a Google translation of the Barby Tel Aviv site (the club where GSH was to have played)

See the rolling updater to the right side of the screen? Well, GSH was on it yesterday but now he's not.

Lastly, an Israeli activist told JSF she called the Tel Aviv box office: "Tel Aviv box office confirmed they are NOT selling tickets for Gil's gig. They said they think it was cancelled!!"

For those who wish to confirm it for themselves: office: +972 3-5188123

April 26, 2010

Tickets for Scott-Heron show still on sale in Tev Aviv

From Ha'aretz, April 26:

Human rights activists are attempting to pressure American hip-hop artist Gil Scott-Heron to cancel his scheduled concert in Israel, slated to take place in Tel Aviv on May 25th. Over the weekend Scott-Heron, who is presenting new material this year for the first time in 16 years, gave a performance in London. His concert was greeted with protesters who demonstrated outside calling on the performer to boycott Israel. A pro-boycott Web site claimed that the musician had in fact agreed to cancel his Israeli trip, but the producers of his concert at the Barbie club in Tel Aviv said the concert will be held as scheduled. (Noya Kochavi)

A few folks on Twitter have taken JSF to task for prematurely celebrating Scott-Heron's cancellation announcement during his April 27 London show, by reprinting this presser from the Gil Scott Heron Boycott Campaign. I say reprinting, because I took the release off of the Aboriginal News Service. Odd that folks think it's ours since both those sources were linked and credited. No matter really. Anyhow I agree we shouldn't relax until confirmation is received the show is truly cancelled, and the presser said the campaign was pursuing confirmation with Scott-Heron's peeps. I'm aware of one other follow-up attempt as well. This wouldn't be the first time an artist has cancelled due to boycott request, and the news is out before Israeli producers give up the ghost.

But I think the GSH boycott campaign did the right thing sending out that release, & it made sense to repost it. Publicizing the announcement will help keep GSH to his word. The quote they included from the Black Panther Party's former culture minister congratulating GSH for his decision amounts to public pressure on GSH not to backslide. And they did include the caveat that confirmation was needed.

The Beeb reviewed the Saturday show. Here's the last few paras:

Aside from a lengthy solo track by pianist Kim Jordan mid-way to promote her new album (of which the least said the better), the only truly curious moment came when pro-Palestine protesters shouted slogans between and during songs, apparently in protest at reports Scott-Heron was set to play in Tel Aviv next month.

Though at first he swatted off the criticism with witticisms, he later became visibly aggravated, later in the set denying any plans to perform in Israel had ever been finalised.

Moreover, Scott-Heron, who refused to perform in apartheid South Africa, suggested he would only play in Israel or the Palestinian territories once peace had been restored in the region.

Also there's a pretty good piece today in The Morning Star by a longtime fan who attended Saturday's show. The whole thing's worth a read, I'm posting the latter part that deals directly with the show:

Supporters of Palestine began tackling the issue from the moment Scott-Heron took to the stage, urging him to reconsider and shouting slogans such as "Gaza is today's Johannesburg."

He tried to dismiss them, but he could not shut them up, and more voices were raised after the first song, Bluesology, had ended.

Between songs and protests, the concert was interspersed with a series of what, under different circumstances, would have been engaging and comical anecdotes, but which, in this tense and charged atmosphere, fell somewhat flat.

The songs, of course, were excellent, and Scott-Heron's voice is sounding as great as ever - perhaps even more so.

Deep and earthy and soulful, enhanced rather than damaged by the passing of the years.

But it was hard to listen to songs like We Almost Lost Detroit and Work For Peace knowing that they were coming from a man who had seemingly abandoned the solid principles of solidarity which gave rise to them.

Then came the bombshell. After leaving the stage while his piano player performed a solo piece, he returned with the news that he would, after all, cancel the Tel Aviv show.

He did want to play there, he said, but not until "everyone is welcome there" - a reference to the fact that most Palestinians are penned in to a tiny corner of their erstwhile country, denied even the most basic freedom of movement.

You could palpably feel the atmosphere lift and the crowd - who, it must be said, had not been overly sympathetic to the protesters - gave him a standing ovation in time for the roof-raising finale of classic tracks Celebrate, Celebrate and The Bottle.

One final note of caution, however. The Tel Aviv concert is still being advertised on Scott-Heron's official website, tickets are still being sold, and there has been no official announcement from his management to confirm the cancellation.

It may be too soon to announce a victory on this front just yet...

Maybe so, & I should have thought twice before tweeting it as a "BDS victory." It's promising progress in a BDS campaign, but we should hold off on the bubbly for now.

UPDATE: This review in the Guardian oddly doesn't mention the protest or any controversy. The comment section is still open.

April 25, 2010

Gil Scott-Heron announces cancellation of Tel Aviv concert

An April 24 press release from the Gil Scott-Heron Boycott Israel Campaign:

GIL SCOTT-HERON ANNOUNCES CANCELLATION OF TEL-AVIV CONCERT [includes response from ex-Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas]

Gil Scott-Heron announces cancellation of Tel Aviv concert
Artist won’t play in Israel “until everyone is welcome there”.

Fans of revolutionary poet and singer-songwriter Gil Scott-\Heron welcomed his decision tonight to cancel the concert he had been scheduled to play in Tel Aviv this May. Heron announced the decision during his set at London’s Royal Festival Hall, the opening date of his World tour.

Activists from the Gil Scott-Heron Boycott Israel Campaign had picketed the event earlier in the day, attracting considerable public interest and support. Ten activists from the Campaign then continued their protest inside the concert, raising the issue of Israeli apartheid right at the start of Heron’s set and after the first song.

The activists were great admirers of the artist who were shocked by Heron’s decision to play Israel, given his longstanding commitment to equality and civil rights in both the USA and South Africa. Leading members of the ANC have stated that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is even worse than was their own treatment under South African apartheid.

The Campaign is now awaiting confirmation from Gil Scott Heron’s management that the concert has indeed been cancelled.

Emory Douglas, renowned artist of the Black Panther Party, commented “My choice to join the voices opposed to your going [to Tel Aviv] wasn't personal, but the right thing to do. I will be one of the first in line at your next concert in my town. May you continue to inform and inspire.”

For more information on the campaign, please contact:


Notes to Editors

• Sukant Chandan is coordinating the GSH Boycott Israel Campaign

• The GSH Boycott Israel Campaign started in response to GSH’s proposed gig in Israel on 25 May 2010

• The GSH Boycott Israel Campaign seeks to persuade GSH to cancel this gig


Full Emory Douglas statement:

I commend you on your reversal of not going to perform in Israel, a place ruled by an Apartheid Government. Perhaps the courage you've shown by not going will now set the standard and be an inspiration for other performers to be mindful of the choices they make.

My choice to join the voices opposed to your going wasn't personal, but the right thing to do. I will be one of the first in line at your next concert in my town. May you continue to inform and inspire.

-One Love, Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture of The Back Panther Party

Update: Despite Scott-Heron's announcement, the producers of his Tel Aviv show say it's still on, and tickets are still being sold, as reported today in Ha'aretz.

April 24, 2010

What's the word on Tel Aviv?

Readers may know that Gil Scott Heron has been playing the Royal Festival Hall tonight and that a protest has been taking place against him playing Tel Aviv. A friend has texted me from the gig to say that she thinks he has announced the cancellation of the Tel Aviv gig. Great news if true - grim news if not. Watch this space....

Which path to take?

From South Africa's Mail and Guardian online:

Whatever the boy decides, apparently his granddad will now be there at the bar mitzvah. It appears that the South African Zionist Federation has decided not to picket the special occasion of a thirteen year old boy. I got the info from an email from Deborah Maccoby to the Just Peace UK list.

But let's have a look at the email from Judge Goldstone to Rabbi Michael Lerner:
I am happy to inform you that after being approached this morning by the Jewish
communal organizations, the following statement was issued by the Director of
the South African Board of Deputies, Wendy Kahn:

"The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) is pleased to announce that, following consultation between all the parties involved, an agreement has been reached confirming Judge Richard Goldstone attending his grandson's forthcoming barmitzvah ceremony.

It was agreed that a meeting hosted by the SA Zionist Federation would take place between Judge Goldstone and leadership of the SA Zionist Federation and other Jewish Communal representatives to discuss the Jewish community's response to the report of the Commission chaired by Judge Goldstone last year and for Judge Goldstone to give his perspectives on the issue.

It was further confirmed that Judge Goldstone would attend his grandson's barmitzvah and that there would be no protests associated with the barmitzvah.

The SAJBD respectfully requests, in light of the agreement reached, that all parties immediately desist all public activities on this matter so that the young man's barmitzvah celebration can be returned to the privacy and dignity that it deserves.
Unbelievable! The price for Judge Goldstone to go to his grandson's bar mitzvah is to meet with the South African Zionist Federation "to give his perspectives on the issue" of his report. And I thought these people couldn't stoop any lower than supporting the assault on Gaza itself. How wrong I was.

April 23, 2010

Saturday UK Protest: Gil Scott-Heron: Don't Play apartheid Israel!

Protest: Gil Scott-Heron: Don't Play apartheid Israel!

Date: Saturday, April 24, 2010
Time: 6:15pm - 8:30pm
Location: outside Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London

Meet at 6.15pm outside Royal Festival Hall, London (to protest as people go into the concert that starts at 7.30pm) Bring banners. placards, flags, drums, etc

Gil Scott Heron was part of the United Artists Against Apartheid in the early 80’s. He sang against Apartheid and against artists playing at Sun City (he's the fellow in sunglasses, doing the spoken word part):
Shockingly he has a concert date booked in Tel Aviv on 25th May 2010.

We must get the concert cancelled!

By performing in Israel Gil Scott Heron would violate the almost unanimously endorsed Palestinian civil society call for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel – a call is directed particularly towards international activists, artists, and academics of conscience.

This links to the concert listing on his website, please write comments asking him not to break the boycott:

(As of right now, there are 18 comments urging Scott-Heron to cancel, only one chap wants him to play.) (Via PACBI)

A rapidly-growing Facebook group, Gil Scott Heron: Please Don't Go to Israel!, now has 1,010 members. PACBI has issued a call: Open Letter to Gil Scott-Heron: Don’t Play Apartheid Israel! EI: Gil Scott-Heron: don't go to the moon.

On Huffpo, April 21, David Love, the executive editor of BlackCommentator.com notes the hubbub:

As an aside, somehow, the legendary African-American poet Gil Scott-Heron is caught in the crosshairs of the Mideast conflict. He was involved in the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s. And now he is being criticized for his plans to perform in Tel Aviv, which, critics say, would violate the unified call among Palestinian civil society for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, a call which is "directed particularly towards international activists, artists, and academics of conscience."

Whether Gil Scott-Heron is compromising his ideals by performing in Israel is a question that goes far beyond the scope of this commentary...

Read a bit further & Love appears to be hedging his bets. If Scott-Heron is scratching his head over whether the apartheid label is accurate for Israel, he might consider this article, just published by the Palestinian paper Ma'an:

South Africa condemns 'infiltration order'
Published yesterday (updated) 23/04/2010 09:34

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israel's Prevention of Infiltration Order 1650 caused the South African government to have "taken note, with the greatest concern," over a policy a statement called a "violation of an individual’s human rights."

Moreover, the statement said, the law is "reminiscent of past laws under apartheid South Africa," and called the situation "unacceptable."

"South Africa, because of its history, is particularly sensitive to the infringement of human rights that the carrying of a permit implies and should this “permit” not be the correct one, the unilateral punishments that can be brought to bear on an individual by the state, without the individual having recourse to an independent court of law," the statement read.

Israel's military order 1650, which went into effect on 13 April, expanded the definition of a 1960s order allowing the deportation of infiltrators. The new order declares all those who do not hold special permission from Israel infiltrators, making them vulnerable to expulsion and deportation.

Palestinians believe the order targets Gaza residents living in the West Bank, and foreign nationals married to Palestinians. While Palestinian officials have said the order will not see the mass expulsion of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, Israel's decision to deport a Tulkarem man to Gaza on Wednesday following the completion of his prison term only served to exacerbate tensions.

In its statement, the government of South Africa said it "adds its voice to a growing international condemnation of Israeli actions against Palestine," and, "in the strongest possible terms calls on Israel to create an environment that is conducive to negotiations and not one that intensifies the mistrusts between Israelis and Palestinians and to honour the commitments it signed up to in the Oslo Peace Accords."

If that's not enough, Scott-Heron should peruse "Why Israel is an apartheid state" by JSF's own Gabriel Ash.

You can contact Scott-Heron here:

Sonya Kolowrat
XL Recordings
304 Hudson Street, 7th
New York, NY 10013
sonyakolowrat AT beggars.com

or via his UK publishers:

I'll leave it with Gil from better days, 1976 to be exact, performing his song "Johannesberg"

Update: here's a video Scott-Heron's posted on his website in January. Starting April 14, when the news of his Tel Aviv gig broke, the next 42 comments, by my rough count, are all pleading with him to respect the boycott and cancel his gig.

Judge Goldstone to call SA Chief Rabbi a liar?

This is funny, funny coincidental rather than funny funny. No sooner had I got the homophobic email denouncing the rabbis that congratulated Goldstone than I got one pointing to Judge Goldstone's letter to the South African newspaper, Business Day, suggesting that South Africa's Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, is no fan of the commandment about not bearing false witness.

It looks to me like Judge Goldstone is saying that South Africa's Chief Rabbi has lied about the latter's approach to the saga of Judge Goldstone not attending his grandson's bar mitzvah.

Here's a list of articles in South Africa's Business Day newspaper:


Here's an article with the SA Zionist Federation apparently granting permission to Goldstone to attend his grandson's bar mitzvah

FORMER Constitutional Court Judge Richard Goldstone, who chaired a United Nations report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, will be allowed to attend his grandson's barmitzvah in Johannesburg next month, the South African Zionist Federation said today.

News of his likely return from Washington for the family ceremony in Johannesburg met with opposition from the South African Zionist Federation, which lobbied the synagogue in question to prevent his attendance.

[the sheer arrogance of these people!]


Here's the Chief Rabbi saying "ban, what ban?"


AT THE heart of the storm around the barmitzvah of Judge Richard Goldstone’s grandson there stands an ancient and sacred principle: open synagogues.

The rabbi and lay leaders of the Sandton Synagogue, where the barmitzvah is taking place, consulted me and, together, we took the decision that the synagogue is open to the entire family, including Goldstone, and that everything possible would be done to ensure that the barmitzvah be celebrated with the dignity and joy befitting such an important religious milestone.

Only a few months ago, Business Day published an article of mine in which I criticised Goldstone’s report on Gaza as replete with numerous procedural and substantive injustices, all of which tainted its findings legally, factually and even morally.

His severely compromised report has unfairly done enormous damage to the reputation and safety of the state of Israel and her citizens.

Nevertheless, and in spite of all he has done, there is a great principle at stake here, one which is central to Judaism: open synagogues.


Here's Judge Goldstone's letter calling the Chief Rabbi's version of events into question:


I read with dismay Chief Rabbi Goldstein’s article in yesterday’s Business Day. I was dismayed that the chief rabbi would so brazenly politicise the occasion of my 13-year-old grandson’s bar mitzvah to engage in further personal attacks on me.

I am prepared to respond fully to those attacks, but not in the run-up to my grandson’s bar mitzvah.

He and his family have been working for close to a year preparing for the once-in-a-lifetime rite of passage into the Jewish community. Of all people, the chief rabbi should be aware of the importance of this. Yet, for whatever reasons, Chief Rabbi Goldstein would rather focus on me.

I was further dismayed when I read his article because his rhetoric about “open synagogues” simply does not coincide with how my family and I have been treated. The chief rabbi has been well aware of the situation, and instead of using his position of leadership in the South African Jewish community to promote the “open synagogues” principle that he purports to profess, he would rather write articles and threaten others with lawsuits. I must state that at no time whatsoever has the chief rabbi reached out to my family. Acting on information that we received from the synagogue, and the recent threat by the leader of the South African Zionist Federation of demonstrations if I attend the synagogue service, it was decided that it would be better if I did not attend the bar mitzvah. We have taken that decision in the best interests of my grandson and my family.

My only concern at the present time is that my grandson’s bar mitzvah should be the joyous occasion that he deserves it to be. I would dearly love to attend my grandson’s bar mitzvah. The questionable and unfortunate approach of the chief rabbi, in all the circumstances, makes it less, and not more, possible for me to do so.

Judge Richard Goldstone

Via e-mail


And finally, an article rounding up the sorry saga:


The chief rabbi had at no stage “reached out” to his family.

Goldstein said last night he empathised with Goldstone’s “anguish as a grandfather”, but called on him to understand the pain his report had caused.

“Under difficult circumstances and amid heated emotions I, together with the rabbi and executive of the Sandton shul, ensured that he would be free to attend the bar mitzvah; and we did our utmost best to persuade those who wished to protest not to.”

But people did not need his permission to protest in a “free democracy”, he said.

Goldstein last week threatened activist Zackie Achmat with a defamation lawsuit, after Achmat accused him of betraying his predecessor’s “tolerant tradition” by supporting the SAZF’s stance against Goldstone. He withdrew the threat on Monday.

Can't wait for the full version of Goldstone's case against South Africa's Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein

April 22, 2010

Rabbis' credentials questioned

I just got an email about the previous post about the rabbis that praised and congratulated Goldstone:
What a comical relief to read your posting by phoney rabbis lauding the renegade Goldstone. Several are lesbians and homosexuals, 3 do not believe in Judaism and all are ignorant of the Talmud.

You should write to these oddballs and ask them if they could supplicate the Neturei Karta rabbis to endorse their tosh.

I thought zionists were pretending to be gay friendly these days. And since when was believing in Judaism a prerequisite for being a rabbi? I've heard loads of them breaking the commandment on bearing false witness. Some have incited against keeping the one about, what was it now? Ah yes, not killing people. And don't get me started on all the stuff about not coveting neighbours' land.

Mazel tov to Goldstone from lots of rabbis

Just seen this on Mondoweiss. A remarkable open letter - I think it's open - from quite a few rabbis to Judge Goldstone to wish him mazel tov on his grandson's bar mitzvah and to praise his report on Israel's slaughter of 1,400 or so people in Gaza in Operation Cast Lead, 2008/9:
Dear Judge Goldstone,

As rabbis from diverse traditions and locations, we want to extend our warmest mazel tov to you as an elder in our community upon the bar mitzvah of your grandson. Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a call to conscience, a call to be responsible for the welfare of others, a call to fulfill the covenant of peace and justice articulated in our tradition.

As rabbis, we note the religious implications of the report you authored. We are reminded of Shimon Ben Gamliel's quote, "The world stands on three things: justice, truth, and peace as it says ‘Execute the judgment of truth, and justice and peace will be established in your gates’ (Zekharya 8:16)." We affirm the truth of the report that bears your name.

We are deeply saddened by the controversy that has grown up around the issuing of the report. We affirm your findings and believe you set up an impeccable standard that provides strong evidence that Israel engaged in war crimes during the assault on Gaza that reveal a pattern of continuous and systematic assault against Palestinian people and land that has very little to do with Israel's claim of security. Your report made clear the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, agricultural properties, water and sewage treatment centers and civilians themselves with deadly weapons that are illegal when used in civilian

This is the ugly truth that is so hard for many Jewish people to face. Anyone who spends a day in Palestinian territories sees this truth immediately.

Judge Goldstone, we want to offer you our deepest thanks for upholding the principles of justice, compassion and truth that are the heart of Jewish religion and without which our claims to Jewishness are empty of meaning. We regret that your findings have led to controversy and caused you not to feel welcome at your own grandson's Bar Mitzvah. We believe your report is a clarion call to Israel and the Jewish people to awaken from the slumber of denial and return to the path of peace.

Rabbi Everett Gendler
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Rabbi Brian Walt
Rabbi Haim Beliak
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Rabbi Michael Feinberg
Rabbi Shai Gluskin
Rabbi David Shneyer
Rabbi David Mivassair
Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman
Rabbi Douglas Krantz
Rabbi Margaret Holub
Rabbi Rebecca Alpert
Rabbi Mordecai Liebling
Rabbi Phyllis Berman
Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer
Rabbi Eyal Levinson
Rabbi Doron Isaacs

More names added:

Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill
Rabbi Erin Hirsh
Rabbi Michael Rothbaum
Rabbi Benjamin Barnett
Rabbi Julie Greenberg
Rabbi Linda Holtzman
Rabbi Ayelet S.Cohen
Rabbi Jeffrey Marker
Rabbi Nina H.Mandel
Rabbi Victor Reinstein

As Mooser says in the comments beneath the post:
I am completely speechless. Wow, they laid it on the line, too. Gobsmacked. I’m sure I don’t see everything, or a tiny fraction of it, but this is completely different in tone, no equivocating, no equivalency canard.
Yup, quite a departure from the usual mainstream rabbinical fare.

April 21, 2010

Board of Deputies of British Jews will not tolerate allegations of intolerance

Here's a remarkable report in the Jewish Chronicle. It appears that Board of Deputies officers walked out of a talk addressed by a Liberal Democrat lord because he criticised the intolerance of Israel's Likud led government:
Lord Wallace, the Liberal Democrats’ deputy leader in the Lords, has defended Baroness Tonge’s “over-emotional approach” to Palestinian rights in a wide-ranging address to the Board of Deputies on Sunday.

He explained that she has not been expelled from the party because “we do sadly find the current Likud Party very intolerant of all criticism”.

His remarks prompted a number of Deputies to walk out in protest.

Baroness Tonge was sacked as Lib Dem spokesman on health in February after suggesting Israel should set up an inquiry to refute allegations that its rescue teams in Haiti were trafficking organs from earthquake victims.

Lord Wallace, who is a LibDem spokesman on international affairs, told the Board: “She answered a deliberately provocative question from the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle… I think Jenny Tonge is over-emotional, mistaken.

"She did not say that body parts had been taken in Haiti…She was trapped by a question from the Jewish Chronicle which she should have known better than to answer.”
It's interesting that Lord William Wallace is wise to JC tactics but the walkout by the deputies, according to the JC, wasn't because of Jenny Tonge, it was because he criticised Likud. So now the BoD has gone from being the Board of Deputies of British Jews through the Board of Deputies of British zionists to the Board of Deputies of British Likudniks.

Maybe they walked out because they thought he was being unfair to Yisrael Beiteinu by not mentioning them. Perhaps he'll get a chance to mention them after the next Israeli elections or before the next British ones.

April 20, 2010

Breaking the Law of Return

Hannah Arendt and Israel's dependence Day

In 1944, four years before the Zionist paramilitaries ethnically cleansed Palestine and Ben Gurion establish a state of Jewish dependency upon global white power, Hanna Arendt wrote a re-appraisal of Zionism after 50 years of existence. It is a good moment as ever to re-appraise that reappraisal, but given time constraints, a long quote would have to suffice.
Nationalism is bad enough when it trusts in nothing but the rude force of the nation. A nationalism that necessarily and admittedly depends upon the force of a foreign nation is certainly worse. This is the threatened state of Jewish nationalism and of the proposed Jewish state, surrounded inevitably by Arab states and Arab people. Even a Jewish majority in Palestine--nay even a transfer of all Palestine's Arabs, which is openly demanded by the revisionists--would not substantially change a situation in which Jews must either ask protection from an outside power against their neighbors or come to a working agreement with their neighbors.

If such an agreement is not brought about, there is the imminent danger that, through their need and willingness to accept any power in the Mediterranean basin which might assure its existence, Jewish interest will clash with those of all other Mediterranean people; so that, instead of one "tragic conflict" we shall face tomorrow as many insoluble conflicts as there are Mediterranean nations. for these nations, bound to demand a mare nostrum shared only by those who have settled territories along its shores, must in the long run oppose any outside--that is, interefering--power creating or holding a sphere of interest. These outside power, however powerful at the moment, certainly cannot afford to antagonize the Arabs, one of the most numerous peoples of the Mediterranean basin. If, in the present situation, the powers should be willing to help the establishment of a Jewish homestead, they could do so only on the basis of a broad understanding that takes into account the whole region and the needs of all its people. On the other hand, the Zionists, if they continue to ignore the Mediterranean people and watch out only for the big faraway powers, wil appear only as their tools, the agents of foreign and hostile interests. Jews who know their own history should be aware that such a state of affairs will inevitably lead to a new wave of Jew-hatred; the antisemitism of tomorrow will assert that Jews not only profiteered from the presence of foreign big powers in that region but had actually plotted it and hence are guilty of the consequences.

The big nations that can afford to play the game of power politics have found it easy to forsake King Arthur's Round Table for the poker table; but small powerless nations that venture their own stakes in that game, and try to mingle with the big, usually end by being sold down the river. The Jews, trying their hand "realistically" in the horse trading politics of oil in the Near East, are uncomfortably like people who, with a passion for horse-trading but disposing of neither horse notr money, decide to make up for the lack of both by imitating the magnificent shouting that usually accompanies these gaudy transactions. (Hannah Arendt, Zionism revisited, 1944, in Kohn, Feldman (eds.) The Jewish Writings, 2007)
Happy White Power Day, Israel!

April 18, 2010

Irish Trade Union solidarity with Palestine.

On Friday there was one of the most significant events yet in Palestinian solidarity work in Ireland. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions held a conference on Palestine/Israel and on how to build solidarity links. It was reported and attacked in the media and, in a nutshell, it was a very successful conference – one that will lay the basis of future union campaigning on Palestine. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the implementation of the 2009 ICTU resolution which called for a comprehensive boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel

The main success lay in it being held the way it was – with senior leaders from all major Irish unions present, and the fact it took place in Dublin Castle, a venue which was donated by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs for the event. All of this signalled the seriousness with which this boycott campaign is held by ICTU and associated unions and their determination to place it centre stage. This display of unity was no mean feat. After 20 years of partnership arrangements with the government, Irish unions are in turmoil. The recent economic collapse has led to the government and private sector implementing brutal wage cuts, recruitment freezes and job losses. While there is considerable disagreements among union leaders on how to respond to this attack on working people, there were no serious disagreements in Dublin Castle on Friday – Palestine is clearly an issue on which Irish trade unionists can unite.

The morning session was opened by Jack O’Connor, president of ICTU, followed by Micheál Martin, our minister of Foreign Affairs. While Martin expressed (very politely) his disagreement with boycott, he did say that he also opposed upgrading Israel’s relationship with the EU. This of course raises Ireland’s position with regard to Israel acceding to the OECD, with many speakers saying that the trade unions should use their position to persuade our government to veto Israeli membership of the OECD.

The highlight of the morning session was Patricia McKeown, previous president of ICTU. In her speech she outline the reasons for boycotting Israel, talked of the ICTU trip to Palestine and sharply criticised the Histadrut – a speech which received a standing ovation. We also had Michael Letwin of US Labor for Palestine (and IJAN) effectively rebutting the US Jewish Labour Committee who gave an anti-boycott position.

The highlight of the afternoon was undoubtedly the speech by the Histadrut representative– Avital Shapira-Shabirow. While the IPSC fully supports the BNC and PGFTU position of boycotting the Histadrut, I have to admit that we were delighted with Avital and her speech. She perfectly encapsulated the arrogance and contempt with which Israelis hold those that they disagree with. Within the first two minutes she raised the accusation of anti-Semitism and after that, in a speech that parroted the Israeli embassy’s statement on the conference, it was all downhill for her, uphill for us.

In fact she accused ICTU of being linked in with that notoriously radical group – the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign – an attack that immediately made us the most popular people in the room. She then advised everybody to look at our website – (www.ipsc.ie by the way). I have to admit I felt a bit nervous here, wondering what we’d be accused of. Well she accused us of… (drumroll)… supporting the right of return for Palestinians. Seriously, this was her accusation – supporting the right of return. She then went on to claim that supporting this basic human right for Palestinians meant supporting Hamas. This smear might wash in the US but was greeted with incredulity and frank derision by the conference. It got better – to prove how justified the Israelis were in massacring Gazans in 2009, she showed a video of a British general who praised Israel’s conduct – a general who as part of his credentials proudly boasted of having served in Northern Ireland. This to a room, about a third of whom came from the North. You couldn’t make it up.

The Histadrut was followed by Omar Barghouti of PACBI and Raed Sadeq of the Democracy and Worker’s Right Center in Palestine, both of whom spoke effectively about boycott, and shredded the Histadrut argument that they are ‘the best friend of the Palestinian people’. While it was a shame that all the international trade union representatives from PGFTU, COSATU, Scottish TUC and TUC couldn’t come as a result of the volcano (and an aside – why is there no conspiracy theorising about the Icelandic volcano yet – don’t these people care any more?), the Palestinian speakers who made it were very happy with the conference. When I was speaking at one stage to Raed Sadeq there were literally tears of joy in his eyes because of the level of solidarity for Palestine expressed in the conference. The task of course is to move beyond expressing solidarity to practicing it, and from what I saw yesterday, there is a serious intention in ICTU to do it.

The real value of the conference lay in the networking and liaising outside the conference room. The IPSC line is that unions should first and foremost inform and divest - inform their members of the boycott line, and divest from Israeli companies, CRH and Veolia. The trade unionists received this message very positively, and it is our intention to follow up on this. Everyone who made this conference happen – especially Trade Union Friends of Palestine who helped drive the process – deserves the highest praise. It's rare that we can be so unequivocally positive about something when talking about Palestine, but this conference has helped move Palestine solidarity to a new level in the unions.

Gil's Israel gig has Guardian moderators working into the night

My previous post about Gil Scott Heron's planned gig in Israel drew on a Guardian article that, like the Gil Scott Heron website, didn't mention the gig at all. Many commenters have expressed dismay at Gil Scott Heron, a leading voice with Artists against Apartheid, playing the last of the colonial settler states. Of course, rising to this, there have been comments suggesting that it is perfectly appropriate for the man to play in Israel. One such came from someone called "oosdadaddy":
I am no friend of Israel. But please!!!!!

Somehow I can't imagine ardent rightwingers,Orthodox, Hassids and pro Zionists attending his concerts.....Can you?

There are a lot of Israelis Who are vehemently against Zionism and the oppression and persecution of the Palestinians. Arabs, Et al.
I'm guessing he is going over to play for those guys.

Give the guy a break.

There were and are many responses many of which, including mine, as Ilan, were deleted:

oosdaddy [yes, I spelt their name wrong] - there were many South African whites who opposed apartheid but Gil Scott Heron boycotted South Africa and called on others to do the same. Israel is worse than an apartheid state. It is a state predicated on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws to copper-fasten the colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing of the past and to facilitate more of the same for the future.

If you are so sure that Gil Scott Heron is going to play for anti-zionist Israelis then why has he not announced his up-coming gig in Israel on his website? I am guessing that his time with drugs and in prison has left him a little skint and that is why he feels that an offer from Israel is one he can't refuse.

Well he should refuse if he wants to be true to his anti-colonialist past and lyrics. The idea of him singing What's the word? Johannesburg in the last of the colonial settler states would be ridiculous.

Israel has been militarily unassailable for decades now (in fact pretty much since its inception) and yet its violence against natives and neighbours of Palestine has been relentless and it is intensifying. The attack on Gaza 2008/9 that the Israeli government named after a festive family game, Cast Lead, was a case in point. The war was no different from the war on Lebanon in 2006 and yet Israel was reckoned to have lost the Lebanon one whilst it is said to have won in Gaza. The reason for that is that the government didn't set any war aims in Gaza, it simply set out to kill lots of Arabs, which of course it did. In Lebanon the aim was the same but the government claimed that it was going to defeat Hizbullah, which it didn't do.

Through being treated as normal, indeed better than normal by its allies in the US and EU, Israel has now incorporated increasing violence into its guiding zionist ideology. In common with many states, the zionists used violence to secure their state. Now they secure the state to inflict the violence. The end has become the means and vice versa. And America gives Israel aid and the EU gives it preferential trade.

By playing in Israel, Gil Scott Heron will be conveying the impression that Israel is nothing like the South Africa he refused to play in. If he goes ahead with this we could see the curious spectacle of many people in the new South Africa boycotting him.

You claim you are no friend of Israel but anyone who treats this racist entity as a normal state is a friend of Israel. If Gil Scott Heron plays there, he is being a friend of Israel. That is why clear thinking anti-racists who have enjoyed Gil Scott Heron's work and his message over the years are calling on him to cancel this gig. The zios who have hired him will probably sue him but then he could do fund-raisers for himself and get a hero's welcome worldwide for re-joining the anti-racist camp.

Anyway, please check out the link and ask yourself why the Israel performance in May 2010 is missing from a list that runs from April to September 2010. He is showing one shred of decency; he is ashamed, as well he might be.

I have now reposted the comment with the following intro:
I wish the mods would explain why so many comments have been deleted. Many that have now gone don't look so different from those that have remained. Also it would be nice if the mods could say whether they deleted comments on their own initiative or if they received a complaint and, if so, under which heading.
I really don't know what it was that fell foul of the Guardian's "community standards". Does anyone?

Still, it is good to see so many people expressing their displeasure at Gil Scott Heron's planned gig in Israel. As I said, it received no mention in the Guardian article and it is missing from his website. He clearly doesn't want any discussion of his normalising visit to Tel Aviv but maybe ways could be found to let him know that anti-racists are not best pleased.

Another commenter called Filthyphil left what might be some useful info:

Maybe the best way to stop this madness would be to try to get in touch with him. The following details are on the sleeve notes on I'm new here.'

Contact Gil Scott-Heron:

Brouhaha Music Ltd
238 East 112 Street
Suite A
New York, N.Y. 10029
(212) 828 8746
(917) 508 6246

Not sure if it's any use but worth a try all the same. Could also post on his blog too.

It might be worth dropping him or someone connected to him a line.

April 17, 2010

Gil Scott Heron replaces Stacey Solomon

Well not quite. Stacey will not now be performing for the UK Zionist Federation's celebration of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians that began in earnest in November 1947. Gil Scott Heron, on the other hand, is intending to appear in Tel Aviv some time in May, according to Ynet:
Poet, singer, musician, and renowned author Gil Scott-Heron is scheduled to appear at the Barbie club in Tel Aviv on May 25. Tickets will be priced around $40-50.

Scott-Heron will be promoting his new album, 'I'm New Here', his first to appear in 16 years, during which he battled drug addiction and served prison time for cocaine possession.

In other words he is probably seriously broke and is taking the shilling. I can't think of any other reason why a leading anti-apartheid campaigner would be playing in the last of the colonial settler states.

There's not much info to be had about Stacey Solomon's withdrawal, if indeed it was a withdrawal, from the ZF event. According to her agent, the ZF seems to have jumped the gun by announcing her appearance in the first place. He wrote that Stacey had never planned to be at the event because she has other plans for that night. So where did the ZF get this idea from?
The ZF has organised Israel Independence Day concerts in the UK for the last 20 years, marking Israel’s 60th birthday at Wembley Stadium two years ago with the biggest Israel concert to be held in the world on that day. It is expecting a large crowd this year for NOA, and for X Factor’s Stacey Solomon, who will also make an appearance.
Well apparently she won't but given what used to be Gil Scott Heron's expressly and actively anti-racist politics, he is a far bigger prize than my fellow Dagenhamite.

I'm not sure how displeasure at this collusion with racist war criminals by Gil Scott Heron should be handled because it's all so sad but people can make comments at the Guardian article about the man. You might also wonder why, if the performance lined up for Israel is such a normal thing, is Gil Scott Heron not publicising the May 25 gig on his own website which lists gigs from April 20 to September 10, 2010.

Poor chap, must be ashamed and he must be shamed.

April 16, 2010

Paris: Action against the inauguration of the Ethnic Cleansing Promenade

The Mayor of Paris, in the presence of nuclear proliferator extraoridnaire Shimon Peres, inaugurated a naming of a Parisian promenade after Ben Gurion.

Some Parisians didn't like having to stroll the banks of the Seine on the new "ethnic cleansing" promenade.

The Ben Gurion promenade is not just an affront to Palestinians and a show of support for Israel a year after the Gaza slaughter. It is also a white French affirmation of France's own colonial history. It is primarily an establishment "up yours" to the immigrants from Algeria and Africa, Rwanda, the French Caribbeans and Haiti. It is a statement of white pride. That is how it ought to be understood universally. Many French Jews are proud of this promenade and think it is a great victory of theirs. It could be their victory, but only in the wake of a colossal betrayal. The new Ben Gurion Esplanade is a white messianic text that dares not speak its name. It is yet confined to riddles; but it is slouching fast to Paris to be born. In the video you can hear the mayor say that he "fully assumes, nay claims, the legitimacy of Ben Gurion's struggle". One shouldn't doubt that he is ready to claim that struggle, namely, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and its transformation into a European colonial settler state, as all of France's political class is. "Ben Gurion" is the figure of speech, Palestine is its literal referent, Jacques Massu is its allegorical meaning and the Marechal Pétain is its timeless eschaton.

From now on, never visit Paris without a stroll on the Esplanade Marechal Pétain.

Samson der Nebechdicker does Berkeley

The BDS divestment campaign in Berkeley suffered a setback. Here's a summary of the main events:
A vote early Thursday by the Associated Students of the University of California, Berkeley failed to garner the necessary two-thirds majority to overturn a veto of the bill by students' association President WIll Smelko, though the bill could be reconsidered as early as next week...Following a lengthy discussion that began Wednesday night and concluded in the early hours of Thursday, the Associated Students Senate voted 12-7, with one abstention, to uphold Smelko's veto.

The veto was upheld despite high-profile support for the bill from South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Noam Chomsky. In the wake of the initial 16-4 adoption of the bill in March, Jewish campus groups mobilized to engineer its defeat.

Hundreds attended the Wednesday-night session, including Israel's consul general in San Francisco, Akiva Tor...Following the vote, a procedural motion resulted in two more hours of discussion. The Senate then moved to table the bill. (Jerusalem Post)
The setback is temporary. The dramatic vote divided the Berkeley student community on predictable lines. On the one side, organized Jewish power, with its lines of support in the local Jewish community but even more so in Israel and Washington. On the other side, pretty much everyone else who is politically aware and active. What appears as a deep fissure in the student body is therefore in fact an overwhelming unity in support of Palestinian rights. This unity is more important than the actual vote, and the voting process, culminating in an all night session yesterday, helped its emergence and its self-conscious articulation. The Berkeley senate's inability to uphold the resolution despite their own majority view as represented in the original vote should be understood primarily as another case of the failure of representative politics, which works in a place like Berkeley better than at the national level, but not better enough. Senators voted their understanding of their political future in US machine politics, a future beholden to serving and maintaining privilege, not challenging it.

It was also an appalling reminder to what today most commonly hides behind the adjective 'Jewish'. First, it is worth noting that the resolution that targeted two US companies directly benefiting from the occupation, not Israel, not even Israeli companies, was not merely opposed by, but a mobilizing flash point for, the whole of mainstream organized Jewish bodies, including J-Street. Namely, when push come to shove, the occupation itself, not just Israel, has the full support of organized US Jews. The slightest attempt to confront the occupation is beyond the pale; mainstream Jewish organizations, whatever horse manure they may propose as "criticism" of the occupation, mobilize to defend the continuation of the policy of settlements and ethnic cleansing. That helps understand the real import of the false distinction between the occupation and "Israel proper." The settlers' slogan "Judea and Samaria is here (i.e. in Tel Aviv)" is not only true, but understood as such by the US Jewish mainstream, from AIPAC to J-Street and Hillel. These soft Zionist groups talk about two states for two people but mobilize to shield the one apartheid state of Israel from the river to the sea. They use "two states" as a cover up for support of apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

The talking points the organized Jewish machine distributed to its student cadres in Berkeley were leaked. It is an interesting document. First, the talking points urge supporters to avoid debating the issue. That's an admission of sort. There is no real argument in defense of Israel, only rhetorical noise, and even that isn't very effective.

Second, apparenlty learning from mistakes, the talking points urge
DON'T mention that Israel is being singled out (don't mention crimes committed by other countries). Don't suggest divesting from other countries. It is a weak argument and implies that Israel has committed
war crimes.
A retreating army, apartheid apologists leave behind them positions that they can no longer defend. Do not expect them to admit that they used these fake arguments effectively for years to defend of indefensible. May someone informs, for example, Stephen Walt, that this particular argument has been officially declared exhausted?

The most important point is however the following, which is repeated in a number of variants:
The message: The bill is an attack on our Jewish community. It silences our voices....

The Bill is out of context and based on questionable sources (no need to go into detail). Thus, the bill is in fact an attack on the JEWISH COMML]NITY.

An unjustified attack on Israel is an attack on my Jewish identity. It is attacking ME. (Indybay)
Two important observations need to be made about this strategy. First, Jewish organizations are borrowing the language of marginalization and victimization in the name of the most affluent U.S. identity. Silencing Jews? You gotta be kidding? With leading op-ed writers in practically every newspaper, presenters, editors, anchors and writers in every TV station, over-representation in Congress, a whole cast of members of every US administration in the last few decades, and a slew of top positions in the Forbes list of richest individuals, who can even think of "silencing the voices of Jews"? This not just wrong and silly on the facts, but also an absolutely offensive and disgusting appropriation of the language of empowerment, taking for a ride the real victims of the persistent racism, sexism, homophobia and intolerance that runs deep in US society. That Jewish student organizations can afford spitting in the face of Black, Latino, Queer, Muslim and other students who really belong to groups that are regularly and systematically silenced is a measure of the power they yield. They can talk about racism until the cows come out, but in their actions they put Jews on the side of the perpetrators of racism, not on the side of victims.

Second, the attack on the divestment resolution continues to establish a series of equivalences that testify to deep Jewish folly: US corporations equal the occupation equal Israel equal the Jewish community of Berkeley. No antisemitic demagogue has made this equivalence so convincingly. The equation between capitalism and Jews was (and still is) a figment of the antisemitic imagination. The equation between world Jews and the actions of the state of Israel is universally recognized as racist, and is even part of wretched EUMC "working definition of antisemitism", which lists as an example of antisemitism, "holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel". But thanks to AIPAC, J-Street and Hillel, putting pressure on General Electric because it profits from the occupation of the West Bank is now claimed as "an attack on the Jewish community". Jewish organizations could not better promote an antisemitic understanding of the world if they went and painted Swastikas on the doors of their offices themselves.

To be clear, the claims of the anti-divestment organizers are also false. The Berkeley divestment declaration was supported by many Jews in the student body, as well as emphatically defended by two of the most prominent Jewish professors at UCB, Daniel Boyarin and Judith Butler. What isn't false is the clear line that divide US Jews today, a dominant establishment that supports racism, promotes antisemitism and benefits from both, and an opposition that supports Palestinian liberation and rejects racism in all its forms, including antisemitism.

UPDATE PS. Magnes Zionist responds to the events in Berkely by explaining why even liberal Zionists should support BDS. But even he admits not talking to the organizations that effectively mobilized in defense of the occupation. That only strengthens the point above: the Jewish establishment is not salvagable.

Also, on the impact of the effort that is already a victory, see more by Cecilie Surasky:

...the feeling on campus and in the room was electric. We filled an enormous room that fits 900. Most stayed through the entire night. If you can imagine, the evening started with remarkable statements by divestment supporters Judith Butler, Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, Richard Falk, Hatem Bazian and George Bisharat. And then the extraordinary parade of students and community members who spoke on both sides of the issue until it was past sunrise.

And though the final vote still hangs in the balance, the fact remains that the vast majority of the Senate voted to divest. The bill garnered the support of some of the most famous moral voices in the world, a good chunk of the Israeli left (9 groups and counting), nearly 40 campus groups (almost all student of color groups and one queer organization) plus another 40 US off-campus groups.

In addition, the room was filled with Jewish divestment supporters of every age including grandmothers and aunts and uncles and students. Our staff, activist members, and Advisory Board members like Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, Daniel Boyarin, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb and Noam Chomsky each played critical roles in the effort. And of course, all of you who generated over 5,000 letters of support. (MondoWeiss)

April 15, 2010

Zionists threaten to picket bar mitzvah of Goldstone's grandson

Look at this article in the Jewish Chronicle headed, Goldstone forced to miss his grandson’s barmitzvah. It looks to me that the Zionist Federation of South Africa has threatened to disrupt Goldstone's grandson's bar mitzvah in the event of Goldstone attending.

Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the Goldstone report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, is effectively being barred from attending his grandson’s barmitzvah, due to be held in Johannesburg early next month.

Following negotiations between the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) and the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue in Sandton, the Johannesburg suburb where the event is due to take place, an agreement was reached with the family whereby Judge Goldstone would not attend the service.

The SAZF was “coming across most forcefully because we represent Israel”, said its chairman, Avrom Krengel. “We understand that there’s a barmitzvah boy involved — we’re very sensitive to the issues and at this stage there’s nothing further to say.”

He added that the SAZF had “interacted” on the matter with the South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, the local Beth Din and others.

Beth Din head Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag confirmed that the Beth Din had been involved in “private talks” on the issue, but had not been asked by the synagogue to give a ruling.

“There was very strong feeling in the shul, a lot of anger” at the idea of Judge Goldstone attending, he said. “I heard that the SAZF wanted to organise a protest outside the shul, all kinds of plans. But I think reason prevailed.”[a grandfather not going to the bar mitzvah of his grandson is reason?]

The SAZF would not confirm whether they had been planning a protest.[typical!]

Rabbi Kurtstag said he believed Judge Goldstone had done “a tremendous disservice not only to Israel but to the Jewish world. His name is used by hostile elements against Israel and this can increase antisemitic waves.

“I understand that he is a judge, but he should have had the sense to understand that whatever he said wouldn’t be good and he should have just recused himself. People have got feelings about it, they believe he put Israel in danger and they wouldn’t like him to be getting honour [in synagogue].”

The agreement between the family and the shul “was quite sensible to avert all this unpleasantness”.[barring a grandfather from his grandson's bar mitzvah wasn't unpleasantness]

Reached in Washington where he is currently based, Judge Goldstone, who was a constitutional court judge in South Africa until 2003, said: “After my family consulted with the Jewish community leaders in Johannesburg, I decided, in the interests of my grandson, not to attend the barmitzvah ceremony in the synagogue.”

Rabbi Zadok Suchard of Beth Hamedrash Hagadol had no comment.

The former president of the Constitutional Court Judge Arthur Chaskalson said it was “disgraceful” to pressure a grandfather not to attend his grandson’s barmitzvah.

“If it is correct that this has the blessing of the leadership of the Jewish community in South Africa, it reflects on them rather than Judge Goldstone. They should hang their heads in shame.”

But they have no shame. Their heads should hang in a hall of shame.

April 09, 2010

Scottish prosecutor drops false racism allegation

It appears that the prosecutors in an extremely bogus case against Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists have decided that it is not racist to protest against the normalisation of a racist state: Israel. Here's SPSC:
Five Palestine campaigners who contested the relevancy of a “racially aggravated conduct” charge in relation to their protest against Israel’s blockade of Gaza had all charges against them dropped today.
The campaigners, all members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC), had interrupted the August 2008 Edinburgh Festival concert by the Jerusalem Quartet. Tours by the classical musicians are regularly sponsored by the Israeli Government, which the campaign group claims makes them a legitimate target for protest.
The campaigners had been accused of making “comments about Jews, Israelis, and the State of Israel”, but during a three-day legal debate at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, a BBC audio recording of the event revealed that there had been no reference made to “Jews”. Comments included “They are Israeli Army musicians”, “End the Siege of Gaza”, “Genocide in Gaza”, and “Boycott Israel”.
So it appears that the charge was premised on dishonesty anyway. In fact lying about what has actually been said in an incident is becoming a bit of a standard zionist tactic lately. But see what the Scottish sheriff (judge) had to say about the matter:
Sheriff James Scott ruled that “the comments were clearly directed at the State of Israel, the Israeli Army, and Israeli Army musicians”, and not targeted at “citizens of Israel” per se. “The procurator fiscal’s attempts to squeeze malice and ill will out of the agreed facts were rather strained”, he said.
Do you see? The judge is accusing the prosecutor of stretching the meaning of "racism" to protect a state. But read on:
The Sheriff expressed concern that to continue with the prosecution would have implications for freedom of expression generally: “if persons on a public march designed to protest against and publicise alleged crimes committed by a state and its army are afraid to name that state for fear of being charged with racially aggravated behaviour, it would render worthless their Article 10(1) rights. Presumably their placards would have to read, ‘Genocide in an unspecified state in the Middle East’; ‘Boycott an unspecified state in the Middle East’ etc.
Now do you see? A judge has so rumbled the zios he has gone so far as to say that condemnation of a state is not condemnation of a people. A judge has effectively ruled that anti-zionism is not antisemitism.

The zios are appealing but that judgement will ring out for a long time to come.

April 07, 2010

Gideon Levy in the Intifada

Here's a remarkable interview in Electronic Intifada with Gideon Levy:
DC: Have you completely rejected Zionism?

GL: Zionism has many meanings. For sure, the common concept of Zionism
includes the occupation, includes the perception that Jews have more rights
in Palestine than anyone else, that the Jewish people are the chosen people,
that there can't be equality between Jews and Arabs, Jews and Palestinians.
All those beliefs which are very basic in current Zionism, I can't share
them. In this sense, I can define myself as an anti-Zionist.

On the other hand, the belief about the Jewish people having the right to
live in Palestine side by side with the Palestinians, doing anything
possible to compensate the Palestinians for the terrible tragedy that they
went through in 1948, this can also be called the Zionist belief. In this
case, I share those views.

DC: If somebody was to call you a moderate Zionist would you have any

GL: The moderate Zionists are like the Zionist left in Israel, which I can't
stand. Meretz and Peace Now, who are not ready, for example, to open the
"1948 file" and to understand that until we solve this, nothing will be
solved. Those are the moderate Zionists. In this case, I prefer the

DC: The right-wingers are more honest?

GL: Exactly.
Almost a month ago, Gabriel wrote that Gideon Levy almost gets it. Maybe he does get it now.

April 05, 2010

More on Wigmore

The Independent has a letter from Tony Greenstein and Deborah Fink explaining Why we protested at Wigmore Hall:
As Jewish participants in the protest against the Jerusalem Quartet concert, we reject the suggestion by Elisa Bray and Kim Sengupta (1 April) that the JQ were targeted because their members had served in the Israeli army.

Although those brave Israeli high school students, the Shministim, do refuse to serve and suffer repeated imprisonment as a result, this was not the reason for our protest.

The Jerusalem Quartet has repeatedly gone out of its way to identify with Israel's military. According to the Jerusalem Music Centre, which helped to found and support the JQ, and which is itself based in the illegal West Bank settlement of Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the JQ serve in the army as Distinguished Musicians.

Far from having no responsibility for the Israeli state, the Quartet's foreign tours have been repeatedly sponsored by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and each member of the JQ has been given generous support by the American Israel Cultural Foundation, whose purpose is "supporting the next generation of Israel's cultural ambassadors".

It is untrue that we campaign against the "excesses of the Jewish State". Our disagreement is far more fundamental.

A Jewish state means a state where Jews receive privileges as against Arabs, for example access to state land in Israel, a segregated education system and a society where over 75 per cent believe that Arabs and Jews should not share apartment blocks, and 60 per cent would refuse to allow an Arab to visit their own apartment.

Despite their well-documented role with Israel's army and as Israel's cultural ambassadors, the Jerusalem Quartet has not once condemned discrimination or the repression of the Palestinians.

John Gilhooly, the director of the Wigmore Hall, states that music transcends politics. We disagree. This was the argument used in the days of the sporting boycotts against South African apartheid.

And, contrary to Elisa Bray's article, Deborah Fink is a trained professional classical singer.

Tony Greenstein, Deborah Fink

Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Brighton

There's also a letter criticising the "increasingly insufferable"* Howard Jacobson. You can guess the kind of mealy mouthed nonsense he came out with from the swift demolition:
Contrary to Howard Jacobson's article (3 April), expecting Israel to respect international law is both treating Israel like any other country and as a "grown-up". The fact that he resorts to calling his opponents "poorly educated and easily led" suggests that campaigners for Palestinian human rights are making progress.

Janet Green

London, NW5
Ok, here's the link to Jacobson but be warned, it is more of his usual tosh.