January 31, 2006

Collective punishment of the Palestinians

And this time its the EU and US doing the punishing according to head of Hamas's political bureau, Khalid Mish'al in today's Guardian:
The day Hamas won the Palestinian democratic elections the world's leading democracies failed the test of democracy. Rather than recognise the legitimacy of Hamas as a freely elected representative of the Palestinian people, seize the opportunity created by the result to support the development of good governance in Palestine and search for a means of ending the bloodshed, the US and EU threatened the Palestinian people with collective punishment for exercising their right to choose their parliamentary representatives.
Meanwhile, highlighting the EU and the US's hypocrisy on this issue Israel killed a 9 year old girl in "free" Gaza two days ago. She was the second child to be killed by Israel in a week. See here.

And here's a letter in today's Guardian pointing up the cleft stick that our own government is in now, through it's uncritical support of Israel, it has driven the majority of Palestinians under occupation to support Hamas:
Under the terrorism bill will it now be an offence to support a democratically elected government?
Nigel Hunt
Good question.

January 30, 2006

Jennifer Lowenstein in conversation

This is a guest post from Esther Sassaman:
What follows is a write-up I wrote for Jews sans frontieres about the Jennifer Loewenstein presentation on Wednesday evening.

Included is an audio link to her lecture, a Windows Media file about an
hour in length.
Jennifer Loewenstein is one of the most prominent and outspoken American Jewish activists and scholars on the issue of Palestine. On Wednesday she travelled to Dundee and gave two presentations about the current situation of Palestine under occupation and after the election victory of Hamas.

Loewenstein worked at the Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza City for 5 months in 2002. In February 2003 she founded the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project and visited Rafah in January 2004 for its first delegation to the city. She teaches at the University of Wisconsin but is currently a visiting fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University.

She spent a good part of the years 2000-2002 in Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Lebanon. Loewenstein is a member of the Palestine/Israel Peace & Justice Alliance (PIPAJA) and a founder of the Rafah-Madison Sister City Project, and a contributing author of The New Intifada (2001).

On Wednesday, Loewenstein talked a lot about the Hamas elections victory, the history of Hamas and its original Israeli backing, and raised an interesting point that the occupation in Palestine has been a force that counteracts the ongoing trend towards social and political modernization there - the occupation, by utterly disrupting freedom of movement, increases the control and influence traditional village elders
have on communities and essentially forces Palestine back in time.

According to Loewenstein, Hamas has capitalized on this trend and is encouraging and intensifying it culturally.

She placed the election results in the context of the brutal occupation of Palestine by Israel by sharing many moving personal anecdotes from her time in Gaza.

She also talked about what solidarity activists should do, a bit - talking about the difference between support of Palestine and endorsement of Hamas. But further questions need to be raised on this issue. When working with Palestinians directly or talking about Palestine in the West, what approach should solidarity activists take as regards issues such as womens' rights and the killing of civilians?

Madison Rafah Sister City Project

Mezan Centre for Human Rights
Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University

A word from the Wise

Here's a letter from Palestine News editor, Hilary Wise, in today's Guardian:
What an extraordinary spectacle. The media are dutifully lining up behind Israel to repeat the mantra "renounce violence!" to the newly elected representatives of the Palestinian people. Amid the hysterical outpourings, Israel's ongoing violence is never mentioned. For every Israeli who has died over the last five years, four Palestinians have been killed.

Suddenly, Fatah are the nice guys. But Israel refused to negotiate seriously with them, even when Mahmoud Abbas, its preferred candidate, was elected. As early as 1988 the PLO recognised Israel's right to exist within the 1967 borders. Israel's response was to keep pouring settlers into the occupied territories, as it does today. It was the realisation, after Oslo, that nothing was going to change, that led the Palestinian people to launch the intifada in 2000 and to turn to the only alternative political force in last week's elections.

Hamas could "renounce violence" tomorrow and formally recognise Israel's right to exist; but there is no evidence to suggest that Israel would renounce its policies of enlarging the settlements, building the settler-only roads across the West Bank and penning the Palestinians into shrinking ghettos.
There are others too including one this particularly hypocritical one from William Shawcross:
In your leader (January 27) you say that Hamas is "best known in Israel and abroad for the suicide attacks it used against its Israeli enemies". This is a description you have used before. You appear to have forgotten that under the laws of war, children and women and other civilians are not legitimately targeted as "enemies". Hamas has murdered many innocent people in brutal crimes against humanity. Why do you not say so?
Because Israel is so scrupulous about the rules of war.

January 29, 2006

The Qalqilya effect?

Here's an article by Ali Abunimah in Electronic Intifada explaining the significance, in so far as it can, of the recent Hamas victory.
The election result is not entirely surprising, however, and has been foreshadowed by recent events. Take for example the city of Qalqilya in the north of the West Bank. Hemmed in by Israeli settlements and now completely surrounded by a concrete wall, the city's fifty thousand residents are prisoners in a Israeli-controlled giant ghetto. For years Qalqilya's city council was controlled by Fatah but after the completion of the wall, voters in last years' municipal elections awarded every single city council seat to Hamas. The Qalqilya effect has now spread across the occcupied territories, with Hamas reportedly winning virtually all of the seats elected on a geographic basis. Thus Hamas' success is as much an expression of the determination of Palestinians to resist Israel's efforts to force their surrender as it is a rejection of Fatah. It reduces the conflict to its most fundamental elements: there is occupation, and there is resistance.

For Palestinians under occupation, it is not yet clear what Hamas' win will mean. It is now common to speak of a Palestinian "government" being formed out of the election results, as though Palestine were already a sovereign and independent state. But if the first duty of a government is to protect its people's lives, liberty and property, then the Palestinian Authority has never deserved to be called a government. Since its inception, it has not been able to protect Palestinians from lethal daily attacks by the Israeli army in the heart of their towns and refugee camps, or to prevent a single dunum of land being seized for settlements, nor to save a single sapling of the more than one million trees uprooted by Israel in the past ten years. Rather, in Israel's conception the Palestinian Authority was supposed to crush Palestinian resistance to make the occupied territories safe for continued Israeli colonization. Hamas will certainly not allow that to continue, but whether it will be able to tranform the Authority into an arm of the struggle against Israel is by no means certain. Hamas, which has observed a unilateral truce with Israel for a year, has signalled that it wants to continue this if Israel "reciprocates." The movement clearly believes it can make such an offer from a position of strength and it is to its tactical advantage to leave uncertainty about when and how it might resume full-scale armed resistance
It's interesting that this unilateral truce of Hamas has received so little coverage. It's now nearly a year old. google Hamas truce and it comes up as news. Google anything that's one year old, anything now, and see if it comes up on Google news.

Fisk on the PA elections

Here's Robert Fisk's comment on the elections to the Palestinian Authority. The article first appeared in the Independent but Fisk's articles are pay per view there so this is from the Information Clearing House.
Oh no, not more democracy again! Didn't we award this to those Algerians in 1990? And didn't they reward us with that nice gift of an Islamist government - and then they so benevolently cancelled the second round of elections? Thank goodness for that!

True, the Afghans elected a round of representatives, albeit that they included some warlords and murderers. But then the Iraqis last year elected the Dawa party to power in Baghdad, which was responsible - let us not speak this in Washington - for most of the kidnappings of Westerners in Beirut in the 1980s, the car bombing of the (late) Emir and the US and French embassies in Kuwait.

And now, horror of horrors, the Palestinians have elected the wrong party to power. They were supposed to have given their support to the friendly, pro-Western, corrupt, absolutely pro-American Fatah, which had promised to "control" them, rather than to Hamas, which said they would represent them. And, bingo, they have chosen the wrong party again.

Result: 76 out of 132 seats. That just about does it. God damn that democracy. What are we to do with people who don't vote the way they should?
So now what? Jewish Voice for Peace has an interesting article on this here.

January 28, 2006

Herzl and "transfer"

No special reason for posting this now. I just remember a zionist commenting here once that the founder of "modern political" zionism, Theodor Herzl never intended the removal of the Palestinians from what would become the Jews' state. Here's the quote that most people are aware of to prove that Herzl intended that the natives would be removed from Palestine.
We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly. Let the owners of the immoveable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back.
Now that looks pretty clear to me and to most people but one detractor did come here (again and again) to complain that what Herzl went on to say in this passage meant that he actually wanted coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. This of course begs the question of what would be so Jewish about the Jews' state if Jews had no special status there. But anyway, here's how the passage unfolds as related by the zionist rabbi, Dr Chaim Simons:
Herzl realised that secrecy and discretion were necessary to put these ideas into practice. His diary entry thus continues, “The property-owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly. Let the owners of immovable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back.”

Herzl described his methods of expropriation. “The voluntary expropriation will be accomplished through our secret agents. The Company would pay excessive prices.” Herzl was determined that once property had been acquired it would be retained in the hands of the Jews. “We shall then sell only to Jews, and all real estate will be traded only among Jews,” he said. As a qualified lawyer, Herzl realised that he would not be able to declare sales to non-Jews invalid. He therefore took precautions to avoid resale to non-Jews, as he wrote, “If the owner wants to sell the property, we shall have the right to buy it back at our original sale price.”

Herzl realised that some property owners would, for sentimental reasons, be reluctant to part with their properties and in such cases these people “will be offered a complete transportation to any place they wish, like our own people. This offer will be made only when all others have been rejected.”
This guy Chaim Simons has a whole site devoted to pressing the case for the expulsion of the native population from Palestine. It makes for interesting reading because of his calm casual style. Incidentally this guy who thinks it only right and proper that he has more right to live in Palestine than the Arabs who come from there do, and even more right than those who live there now, is a Londoner. I found the link to his writingson the very useful resource site: Palestine Remembered.

Be moderate!

That's the title of a song by James Connolly. But it's also my new policy for would-be commentors. I've been getting a lot of hassle lately from zionists. I usually allow the usual lies we get from zionists from time to time (make that all the time) but some of the stuff lately has been about nothing at all. I think it's a ploy to put people off the idea of genuine debate so what happens now is you leave a comment and I check my "pending moderation" facility and if I think the comment is conducive to people's understanding then I will allow it. If it's stupid I won't. If you want to give vent to a load of disingenuous zionist tosh you might like to try the Engage on line site. Or if you want to cross the line into pro-zionist and pro-war hysteria then try Harry's Place or Little Green Footballs. I would recommend Nick Cohen on that latter score but he has now stopped comments on his blog. Did I mention that already? If you want to be just plain silly then there is a blog specially set up to denounce me but the guy ran out of things to denounce apparently so he does slag some other people too. He calls his blog "Banned by Elf" and he seems to adopt multiple IDs to maintain some kind of "dialogue" with himself.

Anyway the moderating lark's only an experiment for now as it might be too time consuming checking the posts. I'll let you know if I revert to unmoderated comments.

I got the idea for this from the Engage site when I tried to ask them to substantiate an allegation about George Galloway going on record with anti-semitic statements. If someone is asking me to substantiate something I have asserted I will usually respond with links...if I can.

Thank you

The end of zionism?

According to Forward, zionist activism is on the wane in America. the World Zionist Congress is trying to organise worldwide elections for any Jew over the age of 18. In America voter registration is down from 150,000 in 1998 to 70,000 for this latest contest.
The world's only global Jewish elections are approaching fast, but from the early tallies it appears that the word has not spread far.

Voter registration for the World Zionist Congress — open to any Jew over 18 — closes February 15 in America. Thus far, fewer than 70,000 Americans have registered, down from 120,000 registrants in the 2002 election and 150,000 registrants in 1998. American voters will choose 30% of the 700-odd delegates to the WZC, to be held in Jerusalem in June; the remaining delegates will be chosen by Israelis and by other Diaspora communities.
Communities? I suspect that means "community organisations".

This report follows on from reports that the Israeli Jewish population (the only Israeli population that counts in the zionist worldview) has just recently overtaken the American Jewish population in size. It reminds me of a heckler at the recent MPAC meeting who tried to defend Israel's race laws on the grounds that Jews worldwide are choosing assimilation and that therefore Israel is necessary to maintain the "ethnic purity" of the Jewish people.

Respect supports Holocaust Memorial Day

Here's a curious piece in the European Jewish Press. Apparently Respect was behind the Holocaust Memorial Day event at SOAS yesterday. The Muslim Council of Britain has been castigated by various zionists in the media for boycotting HMD. Well now Respect's support for the event has caused great disgruntlement to zionists. Check this:
Gavin Gross, president of the SOAS Jewish Society, said: “I believe that Respect may have organised this Holocaust Memorial Day event as a political ploy to inoculate themselves against future charges of anti-Semitism.”

“When they attack Israel or ‘the Zionists’ in future, they will point to their embrace of Holocaust Memorial Day to demonstrate that their criticism is purely about Israel and that they care very much about Jews,” he added.
So leaving aside the fact that this is an admission that the SOAS Jewish Society uses the charge of anti-semitism to undermine Israel's opponents, what does Respect have to do to appease this particular zionist group? Should it make like the MCB and boycott HMD? Personally, I'm not comfortable with HMD as Israel has clearly used the holocaust to justify its own actions but I suppose there are lessons that can be drawn from it in terms of why we should oppose all manifestations of racist rule.

Sharon's posthumous victory?

Here's Gerald Kaufman's take on the Hamas victory in today's Guardian.
Lying in a coma in Hadassah hospital, Jerusalem, Ariel Sharon has achieved his final triumph. The Hamas victory in Wednesday's Palestinian elections is not only the inevitable outcome of everything Sharon did as prime minister, but is precisely what he would have wished.

Last week I argued in the House of Commons that "If Hamas does well [in the elections] as it may well do, the responsibility for that will lie with the Israeli government for nourishing the roots of Hamas. The sad thing is that Hamas and Likud and Kadima need each other. Israelis can say, 'We've got to do what we're doing because Hamas and Islamic Jihad are so dangerous'; Hamas and Islamic Jihad can say, 'We've got no alternative because the Israelis are oppressing us'." The Hamas landslide is the direct outcome of the utter frustration felt by Palestinians at the failure of anybody to do anything about the abject poverty and oppression under which they spend every day of their lives.
There's a curious quote from Netanyahu here
Today Hamastan has been formed, a proxy of Iran in the image of the Taliban.
Does he not know the animosity between Iran and the Taliban? The Taliban killed several Iranian diplomats before the American invasion of Afghanistan, calling them "CIA stooges". Somthing like that anyway. Kaufman quotes this to demonstrate that Netanyahu is an extremist but it rather shows that he is out of touch with reality.

Kaufman also outlines some issues around whether America tries to take on Iran militarily before ending with the troubling observation that Armageddon, after all, is a place in Israel.

US/EU set impossible task for Hamas

Both the US and the EU are making any aid they offer to the Palestinian Authority conditional on Hamas recognising Israel's right to exist. But what does this mean? Israel exists on the basis of three things: colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws. As far as I know it is the only state that exists on that basis. Now recognising Israel's right to exist recognises it's right to those three things. The colonial settlement isn't the main problem here; it's the ethnic cleaning and the racist laws. How can Hamas, or any Palestinian group recognise Israel's right to carry out ethnic cleansing? And how could they recognise Israel's right to have racist laws that all but explicitly make Muslims third class citizens? Well perhaps they could do that latter if Hamas goes for this dhimmi thing so beloved of neo-cons and zionists in the media.

Ich bin ein Municher!

Or is that Münchener? Anyway I went to see Munich tonight with a friend. There has been a lot of criticism of the film from zionists and from Arabs. Then Abe Foxman gave the movie the kiss of death by praising it. Sure enough I think the zionists do get better treatment by the film than the Palestinians do. The Angry Arab News Service complained that every Arab had a gun in the film. Not so. The first Palestinian to get killed was a genteel Renaissance man. The Palestinians weren't shown in a very favourable light though. The Israelis were shown agonising about their murderous activities and there were a good few sloganised zionist takes chucked around - "2,000 years of suffering", "Jews are better", "we need a home".

Hey! They never said they'd made the desert green again. That Spielberg! Such a self-hater.

January 27, 2006

Six per cent solution?

Well it was an impressive turnout for the elections to the Palestinian Authority but not among Jerusalemites. According Hind Khoury in the Guardian, only 6% of Jerusalem's Arab electorate could vote.
Yesterday just over 6% of the Palestinian electorate in occupied East Jerusalem were granted the opportunity to vote in their city in the second Palestinian parliamentary elections - a total of 6,300 out of a population of nearly a quarter of a million (including children). Yet even the lucky 6,300 - the number permitted by Israel to vote is entirely arbitrary - faced a campaign of intimidation to discourage voting.

Israel tried to score points internationally by allowing elections in East Jerusalem, while trying to choke the life out of them. As well as severely restricting the number of Palestinians allowed to vote, Israel photocopied registration lists. A refusal to give a previously issued letter of assurances that voting would not affect residency and other rights added to the atmosphere of fear.
The scale of the Hamas victory has shocked a lot of commentators but it was clearly a combination of zionist brutality and Fatah corruption and disarray that has caused what was a predominantly secularist population to turn to the islamists. It should be noted that this election was only about aspects of rule in the PA areas of West Bank, not the representation of the Palestinians as a whole. It now appears that the PLO are in talks with Hamas. Now the PLO can still claim to represent the Palestinian people, but solely? Not without Hamas it seems.

January 24, 2006

Wiesenthal Centre's Chavez quote tantamount to fabrication

I posted earlier about the Venezuelan Jewish community's discomfiture over the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's unwarranted attack on Venezuelan President Chavez. Well here's a report from FAIR.org that shows that the SWC et al fabricated aspects of Chavez's speech in order to make it appear anti-semitic. Here's what Chavez actually said:
The world has an offer for everybody but it turned out that a few minorities--the descendants of those who crucified Christ, the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here and also those who in a certain way crucified him in Santa Marta, there in Colombia--they took possession of the riches of the world, a minority took possession of the planet’s gold, the silver, the minerals, the water, the good lands, the oil, and they have concentrated all the riches in the hands of a few; less than 10 percent of the world population owns more than half of the riches of the world.
Here's FAIR's analysis:
The biggest problem with depicting Chavez's speech as an anti-Semitic attack is that Chavez clearly suggested that "the descendants of those who crucified Christ" are the same people as "the descendants of those who expelled Bolivar from here." As American Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who questioned the charge, told the Associated Press (1/5/06), "I know of no one who accuses the Jews of fighting against Bolivar." Bolivar, in fact, fought against the government of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, who reinstituted the anti-Semitic Spanish Inquisition when he took power in 1813. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, a Jewish sympathizer in Curacao provided refuge to Bolivar and his family when he fled from Venezuela.
But now look:
Most of the accounts attacking Chavez (the Daily Standard was an exception) left the reference to Bolivar out entirely; the Wiesenthal Center deleted that clause from the speech without even offering an ellipsis, which is tantamount to fabrication.
I think it's time to say that most public (that is institutional and media amplified) allegations of anti-semitism are false. It does cause a problem because some allegations of anti-semitism are true. I think given that false ones seem to outnumber true ones then we shouldn't expend too much energy trying to discover which is which. Instead I think we should focus on forms of racism that are really harming people's lives. Anti-semitism isn't one of them. Zionism is.

Please read the FAIR article in full.

Wherefore is zionism different from all the other nationalisms?

Cop this Ha'aretz article from David Hirsh and Jon Pike of Engage - the zionist anti-boycott group. It has David Hirsh indulging his hobby horse that Israel - with its grounding in colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing backed by racist laws - is the same as any other other state and that zionism is Israeli (not Jewish now), Israeli nationalism. See this:
The boycott policy was advocated by people who argue that Israel is the only "illegitimate" state in the world; that Israeli nationalism is essentially different from other nationalism; that Zionism is a form of racism, apartheid or Nazism; that Israel plays a pivotal role in global imperialism; that the Zionist lobby has huge, covert and illegitimate influence; that Israel is guilty of genocide.
What I find so bewildering about this paragraph is that it's just so bland. Look at it. "The boycott policy was advocated by people who argue that Israel is the only "illegitimate" state in the world Now here you might expect something to refute what David and Jon are trying to tell us is wrong and yet there is nothing. What could there be? Israel is certainly an illegitimate state. Are there others? I don't think there are any that compare to Israel. I mean I find Saudi offensive being named after its ruling family but illegitimate? Could it honour the human rights of all the people who come from there and still be Saudi? Well I guess it could. I hope it couldn't but I guess it could. But the fact here is that Israel is an illegitimate state and possibly uniquely so. David Hirsh and John Pike cannot simply issue a declaration that it ain't so; they have to make their case. Well they should if they had any sense of intellectual principle but sadly they don't have to in order to be academics in UK colleges.

Ok, how about "that Israeli nationalism is essentially different from other nationalism." Now here, if you weren't used to their method you might expect a bit of compare and contrast. You also might wonder where they got this "Israeli nationalism" expression from given that zionism has many definitions but they are always bound up with some kind of Jewish nationalism. Actually if Israel's official ideology is truly "Israeli nationalism" then it is unique because Israel doesn't recognise Israeli as a nationality. Citizens of Israel may not call themselves Israeli on their pass cards. They have to say whether they are Jewish or not. They can say almost anything else but not Israeli. Some nationalism! I think most definitions of zionism would have to point to the idea of some kind of Jewish, not Israeli, nationalism. This means that zionism excludes many Israelis from its nationalism. Other nationalisms that exclude large percentages of a country's population on ethnic or religious grounds are called racist or sectarian. Also, most nationalists have some kind of belief in the country that they are from but zionism encourages Jews to believe in a country that we are mostly not from. It also discourages (in various ways) people who do come from that country from believing in it. It is this discrimination that leads people to argue that zionism is a form of racism. "that Zionism is a form of racism, apartheid or Nazism" Again Hirsh and Pike cannot just insist that it isn't so. They have to make a case but the two academics don't seem to see a need for that; not in practical or in moral intellectual terms. They probably think that slipping nazism in would make people sqeamish of arguing with them but very few people say that zionism is nazism. Obviously they are in the same family of ideas but they are not the same.....yet. Regarding apartheid, this is another devious maneouvre. Israel has laws for apartness (in Afrikaans: apartheid) but South Africa sought to exploit the natives, Israel seeks to eliminate them. I think I'll just stick with racist. But again, where is there argument?

Moving on then, "that Israel plays a pivotal role in global imperialism"Pivotal? I'm sure it's been said but who by and how often? Most would say that Israel plays a role in imperial affairs in the Middle East and indeed the world but pivotal? Nah!

What about"that the Zionist lobby has huge, covert and illegitimate influence?" This isn't relevant. Actually zionist lobbying has been very successful and it might not be delicate language but it is safe to describe most media in the English speaking world as zionist controlled but that's not the reason to boycott Israel. That's the reason that it's difficult to get a boycott off the ground.

And finally (thank goodness) "that Israel is guilty of genocide". Now I think that removing such large numbers of people from their land is considered genocide under international law but Israel does seem to seek the elimination of Arabs from wherever it seeks to govern. The ideology and the project are genocidal in action and intent.

I was in too much of a hurry to finish here and a commentor has pointed out that Wikipedia defines genocide as the "systematic extermination of a people." So running with that definition, genocide is indeed an exaggeration but it's not so outlandish an allegation, particularly when pitted against the many myths of zionism. But we have to have higher standards than the racist war criminals of Israel and their supporters so I'll cool it with that particular allegation just in case it gives more ammunition to these Israel apologists than they already have by virtue of their status as academics. 25/1/2006

Now that was a nice excuse to further expose Israel as the nasty racist illegitimate state that it is but these guys are academics in British educational establishments. They make questionable declarations with no reference to facts or sources. I know many people see through this stuff and some are even pushed over to the other side by it but many do not and these people certainly have the upper hand in the mass media. I find it most offensive that they have made such inroads into academic life. I'd say that the duty of principled anti-racists is to expose these people wherever and whenever possible.

Brechtian democracy?

To Greg Promtemkin's blog - The Pumpkin head - for a look at how Israel's democracy works.
In 1953, the Soviet sponsored government of East Germany suppressed an uprising of Berlin's workers. After seeing the government’s response to what was regarded as the people’s lack of understanding, the Communist playwright, Bertolt Brecht, wryly quipped:
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
This is a post about how Israel rid itself of the original population of Palestine and simply elected, well, selected another. But it also takes a good look at zionist logic.
On November 17,1958, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Abba Eban, tried to explain why the Arabs who had been forced out by the Israeli onslaught should not be allowed to return. In order to make his case, he took issue with the use of the word "repatriation", and in order to do this, he also used some rather unusual (to say the least) definitions for the words "transplanting" and "resettlement".

In reference to the word "repatriation":
First the word itself is not accurately used in this context. Transplanting an Arab refugee from an Arab land to a non-Arab land is not really “repatriation.” “Patria” is not a mere geographical concept. Resettlement of a refugee in Israel would not be repatriation, but alienation from an Arab society; a true repatriation of an Arab refugee would be a process which brought him into union with people who share his language and heritage, and impulses of national loyalty and cultural identity.
You can read the whole thing here.

Israel's "demographic" time bomb

Reuters reports on a speech by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni where she said that continued conflict with the Palestinians is eroding Israel's legitimacy.
With a higher Palestinian birth rate, that could mean the end of a Jewish majority in what is now Israel, she said, giving voice to an argument interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has raised for trading occupied land for peace.

I say that time works to our disadvantage, not only from the standpoint of demographic numbers ... but also from the standpoint of the legitimacy of a state for the Jewish people in the eyes of the international community," Livni told a policymakers' forum near Tel Aviv.
So who is this Tzipi Livni?
Livni, a former official in the Mossad intelligence service, is widely seen in Israel as a rising political star. She is number two behind Olmert in Kadima, the centrist party founded by Ariel Sharon, who was incapacitated by a stroke on Jan. 4.
Where else on the world would a politician so obsessed with "demographics" be described as "centrist" and by Reuters too?

January 23, 2006

Israel's holocaust?

There's a curious expression. Yitzhak Laor's latest offering in the London Review of Books is a review of Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood by Idith Zertal. I was going to post some snippets but since the LRB is only available on line to subscribers I'm posting the whole thing.
Children of the State
Yitzhak Laor

In 1950 the Israeli parliament passed the Nazis and Nazi Collaborators (Punishment) Law, the first constitutional expression of Israel’s belief that it must act as the heir of the Jews murdered in Europe. This status won international recognition only gradually, thanks by and large to West Germany’s decision not only to pay compensation to the victims of Nazism but also to pay ‘reparations’ to the state of Israel. In her excellent book, Idith Zertal reviews some of the trials of Jewish collaborators who had immigrated to Israel after the war and were indicted under this law. These survivors were victims too, but the law required that their victimhood be suspended. Nevertheless, they were all given light sentences, as if the judges themselves had some reservations about the law.

A far more critical case followed, however, when a man called Malkiel Grunewald, who had lost his entire family in Hungary during the war, issued a series of pamphlets accusing Israel Kastner, a spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, of collaboration. During the war, according to Grunewald, Kastner had met Eichmann, travelled all over Germany, and arranged transport out of Occupied Europe for more than a thousand privileged Hungarian Jews. Grunewald’s own family, too unimportant to be saved, were deported to places from which no one returned. Kastner had known about these places but, as part of the deal he had struck with the Nazis, had kept this knowledge from his fellow Jews. After the war he testified at Nuremberg on behalf of his SS contact Kurt Becher and saved him from being hanged.

Instead of indicting Kastner, if only to allow him to be found innocent, the attorney general chose to file a libel suit against Grunewald. What followed turned into the political trial of David Ben-Gurion and his party, to which Kastner belonged. Grunewald was acquitted. Kastner, the German-born judge wrote, ‘had sold his soul to the devil’. In Zertal’s view this was the beginning of Ben-Gurion’s downfall. Worn out by the scandal, he ordered Mossad to kidnap Eichmann and to bring him to Israel for what Zertal and other Israeli scholars, following Hannah Arendt, have called a show trial.

Holocaust memory is the safest, or at any rate the least controversial, Israeli collective experience, at a time when the rest of our national values are under threat. To be a good Israeli some forty years ago meant doing something for the state – ‘for the nation’, ‘for the Jewish people’. Now, to be a good Israeli means to see ourselves as the only protagonists in our story. This has been a gradual process, and its grotesque culmination came in the spring of 1993 when Major-General Ehud Barak, then IDF chief of staff, stood in uniform at Auschwitz and said at the climax of his speech: ‘Had we only arrived here 50 years earlier . . .’

The Holocaust is by now a central element of ‘Israeliness’. Zertal sees it not just as a ‘spiritual’ entity, but as a material institution as well. She begins with the way the Zionist elite chose to ignore its survivors: ‘martyrdom’ was reserved for the dead. Dead victims are far more convenient for myth-making, ceremonies and political speeches.

Zertal describes three occasions when the pre-Israel Zionist elite turned defeats into heroic myths. First, an incident in 1920, when settlers near the disputed border between the French and British colonial powers (the border between what is now Lebanon, Syria and Israel) were attacked by armed locals. This quickly became a legendary tale of the land of Israel being redeemed by force of arms, work and death. The protagonist of the story was Josef Trumpeldor, whose actual last words were a Russian curse, something close to ‘motherfucker’, but the version we all grew up on was: ‘Never mind. It’s good to die for our country.’ The second heroic defeat was the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and other similar rebellions against the Nazis. The third was the boarding of the Exodus in 1947 by the British navy to prevent its 4500 passengers, Jewish refugees from Europe, from landing in Palestine.

There were survivors of all these defeats, but their voices were silenced unless they stuck to Zionist ideology when telling their story. If their story wasn’t part of our story, they were forgotten. The victims, Zertal writes, were instrumentalised. Thus the story of the Warsaw uprising became part of Zionist history. Zertal quotes speeches and articles from the immediate aftermath in which only Zionism is seen as capable of explaining the courage of the people ‘over there’:

The meaning of the nationalisation of the ghetto uprisings was the nationalisation of the narrative of the uprisings as well as the expunging of its incompatible non-Zionist components. Early on, while the insurrection was actually taking place, it was convenient to believe in Palestine that it was solely borne by the young people of the Zionist youth movements. This glossed over and ignored the fact that the rebel groups encompassed the entire spectrum of Jewish political parties; that the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was led by a group which did in fact include representatives of the Zionists, but also members of the anti-Zionist Bund as well as Communists, and that the Jewish Fighting Organization – Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa (ZOB) – received material and moral support from both community leaders and institutions of the openly non-Zionist American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (the Joint), without which it could not have operated.

Take Marek Edelman, an extremely eloquent and charismatic man, and a prominent figure first in the socialist Bund movement, then as one of the commanders of the Warsaw uprising, then as a doctor in postwar Poland, then during the Solidarity insurrection, and finally in post-Communist Poland. He was almost erased from the official Israeli story of the uprising. Why?

Edelman persistently refused to view the establishment of the State of Israel as the belated ‘meaning’ of the Holocaust . . . Consequently, his narrative of the uprising was silenced and his role was played down. His book, The Ghetto Fighting, published in Warsaw in 1945 by the Bund, was translated into Hebrew only 56 years later, in 2001 . . . Within the flourishing commemoration industry that developed in Israel around the rebellion and its heroes, there was no room for Edelman and his other story.

The past had to be carefully constructed, and the Holocaust entered only through the eye of the Zionist needle. If the thread was too thick or had too many strands it had to be altered to fit – a boy scout morality prevailed. In 1976, Israel Gutman, later the editor of the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (1990) and himself a survivor of the Warsaw uprising, wrote in Haaretz about Edelman (to whom he granted a very short entry in the Encyclopedia): ‘Why did Marek Edelman remain in Poland as a doctor when almost all his Jewish political colleagues and people close to him personally left?’ Edelman used to come, now and then, to Israel, to see old friends, but no one had ever publicly asked him this question, though he had a very good answer: he didn’t like the idea of the ‘new nation’. In fact, Edelman was always very critical not only of Israelis’ attitude to the Holocaust, but also of more sensitive issues – such as our racist laws of citizenship. In a late interview he told a Polish journalist: ‘Israel is a chauvinist, religious state, where a Christian is a second-class citizen and a Muslim is third-class. It is a disaster, after three million were murdered in Poland, they want to dominate everything and not to consider non-Jews!’

The truth, according to Israeli ideology, is that the Nazis never really died: they just changed languages, ideologies, systems and allies. The most ridiculous claims, that Arabs are Nazis, today come from the right-wing leader Benjamin Netanyahu. But Netanyahu has predecessors within the Zionist establishment.

In The Holocaust in American Life (1999), Peter Novick noted that the Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin El-Husseini (a sworn enemy of both Zionists and British colonialism, who had met with Eichmann and had great expectations of a Nazi victory), was depicted in Gutman’s Encyclopedia as one of the major designers and perpetrators of the Final Solution: his entry is twice as long as those for Goebbels and Goering, longer than the combined entries for Heydrich and Himmler and longer than the entry for Eichmann. ‘One might add,’ Zertal says, ‘that in the Hebrew edition of the Encyclopedia, the entry on El-Husseini is almost as long as that on Hitler.’

Anyone seen as an enemy of Israel is still perceived to be carrying on Hitler’s work. Similar paranoid traits can be found in connection with the ‘new anti-semitism’, an ugly charge aimed at anyone who criticises Israel’s destruction of Palestine. The campaign (which has been quite successful in Germany and France) was launched after the reinvasion of the West Bank three years ago, after the devastation of Jenin (which capitulated, to the great pride of the Israeli army, on Holocaust Day 2002). The language that pro-Israelis and representatives of Israel use to describe the ‘new anti-semitism’ stems from the logic that portrays Palestinians as Nazis. Zertal traces it back to Ben-Gurion’s rhetoric of the early 1950s.

On the night of 12-13 October 1953, an Israeli woman and two of her children were murdered by Palestinians who had crossed the border from what was then the Jordanian West Bank. The response, decided on by Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, was immediate. A military detachment was sent under the command of the young Ariel Sharon on the night of 14-15 October. Forty-five houses in Kibbya were blown up and 60 villagers (most of them women and children) killed. The international outrage directed at the young, quite popular state was unprecedented. It was followed by the official lie.

On 19 October, Ben-Gurion, ‘the father of the nation’, gave one of his most famous speeches – a speech in which he not only lied, as we all know today, but also launched his new discourse of equivalence. First, he gave the numbers which proved that ‘we’ were the victims: ‘Hundreds of Israeli citizens, women and men, old people and infants, have been murdered and severely injured.’ These victims were ‘frontier dwellers, most of them Jewish refugees from Arab countries or survivors of Nazi concentration camps’. Then he claimed that the atrocities had been committed by ‘them’:

The Israeli government justifiably allotted them weapons and trained them to defend themselves. However, the armed forces from Transjordan did not cease their criminal attacks until the patience of some frontier settlements was exhausted and after the murder of a mother and her two children in the village of Yahud, they attacked this week the village of Kibbya across the border . . . The Israeli government strongly rejects the absurd claim that 600 soldiers of IDF took part [in the operation] against Kibbya. Having conducted a thorough investigation we certify beyond a doubt that not a single military unit, however small, was absent from camp on the night of the attack on Kibbya.

Zertal comments:

While rhetorically magnifying the crime of the Palestinian infiltrators by defining the objects of their crime as ultimate Jewish victims, survivors of Nazi concentration camps, Ben-Gurion did the almost inconceivable . . . by pointing to those same victims and singling them out as having ‘justifiably’ taken up arms and perpetrated the Kibbya massacre . . . he moved the Jewish frontier dwellers, many of them in fact Holocaust survivors . . . equipped them with weapons, and transformed them into avengers who had taken the law into their hands.

Zertal is right to describe Ben-Gurion’s use of these ‘frontier dwellers’ not only as a political lie, but as an Israeli symptom: he wouldn’t have done it to groups that could have protested that ‘we’ don’t do such horrendous things.

He allowed himself to do it . . . because these marginal, new immigrants, living on the border line of Israeliness, in every possible sense, had no voice, no representation and no political power, and, consequently, could be discounted. Just as they had been sent, without being consulted, to those border villages, many of them recently abandoned Arab villages converted to immigrant settlements to become the living barrier of the new state, so they could also be given an identity and moulded to fit propaganda need or political contingency.

In 1953, ‘us’ (IDF, Israelis) and ‘them’ (Holocaust survivors and their moral equals, Jewish refugees from Arab countries) were still two separate entities. It was only later that the difference was blurred in the construction of our ‘identity’. There is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ any more. We are all victims. We are all saviours. One Zionist academic described that process as ‘healing the trauma’. Whose trauma? Both the victims’ and the saviours’.

What should also be noted about Ben-Gurion’s speech is the way he represents the Holocaust survivors, who were commonly supposed to be more cruel, more vindictive than other Israelis, as if they came out of one of Leon Uris’s cheap novels. The survivors were, of course, never more cruel than the IDF, with its tough, ‘guiltless’, arrogant officers. The Israeli story made vengeance a mode of Jewish being – ‘because they came through Hell’.

But then came the Eichmann trial (1961), the last of many pedagogical projects we had to go through as children of the state. Zertal quotes in this context one of Ben-Gurion’s ugliest speeches, of April 1961, in which he responded to Ernst Simon of the Hebrew University. It was election time, during the Eichmann frenzy, and Simon had just proposed a less belligerent government without Ben-Gurion. The prime minister, in a public speech, replied:

Has the distinguished professor co-ordinated his call with the tyrant of Egypt who has just declared that Israel is an ‘element which must be eradicated’ . . . ? Would the distinguished professor dare to blame the six million Jews of Europe annihilated by the Nazis – claiming that the fault was theirs for not acquiring the love and friendship of Hitler? The danger of the Egyptian tyrant is like that which afflicted the European Jewry . . . Is he [the professor] not aware that the Mufti was a counsellor and a partner in the extermination schemes, and that, in all Arab countries, the popularity of Hitler rose during World War Two? Is the distinguished professor confident that, without the deterrent force of the Israeli army, which he sees as an ‘anti-security’ and ‘harmful’ factor, we would not be facing similar annihilation?

This is how the nation was transformed by its political leaders. The rhetoric against Palestinian nationalism never ceased to involve comparisons with the Nazis. On 30 August 2002, in an interview with Haaretz, the former Israeli chief of staff Moshe (Boogey) Yaalon made what he called ‘an unequivocal statement: Arafat will not be the decision-maker. He will not be.’ Asked what would happen if Arafat were democratically re-elected, Yaalon replied: ‘The alternative Palestinian leadership has to be elected democratically on the model of Germany after World War Two. Anyone who was a member of the Nazi Party was not allowed to be a candidate in the elections there, and anyone who is tainted by terrorism cannot be a candidate here.’

If what Zertal writes about the ideological role Israel has assigned to the Holocaust – using it to legitimise the most horrific acts – is true, it is also important to remember that the Holocaust, even in Israel, plays a very ambiguous role. One cannot understand the phenomenon of the refuseniks (five are currently in jail for refusing to serve in the army), or many other types of stubborn Israeli resistance to the Occupation, without understanding the dreadful fear that haunts so many Israelis (though too few for us to be proud about): the fear of becoming a victimiser. Ensuring that the Holocaust is an inseparable part of our life has produced a counter-warning as well: ‘Beware of the Nazis, do not become one.’

Zertal’s account contains the plot of an implied melodrama, in which Ben-Gurion is the villain and Hannah Arendt the heroine. Arendt’s excommunication, in Israel and in the USA, after her book on the Eichmann trial was published, is described in full. In Israel the book was not available, even in English, until recently. Few read it. Gershom Scholem wrote a fierce attack on Arendt. She wrote him a letter. He promised to publish his attack only with her response, but he didn’t keep his promise, not in Israel, in Hebrew, not even in his later collections of articles and letters. When Arendt’s book was finally published in Hebrew in 2000 the attacks on her were no less offensive. Her relationship with Heidegger led to accusations that she was a Nazi-lover.

I was 13 when Eichmann was tried. I listened to the radio every day – there was no TV in Israel until after the 1967 war. We lived the Holocaust through that trial. In a way we are its products. In that sense, Ben-Gurion’s decision, no matter what his motives were, no matter how his attitude to the Holocaust changed from contempt to adoption, made all Israelis to a certain extent survivors. We need to pinch ourselves and say: we are not the victims.
And people wonder why there is scepticism about Holocaust Memorial Day.

Spy movie?

Actually it's AIPAC: the movie and it's horrid, grotesque. It features Ariel Sharon, Hilary Clinton, George Bush and Binyamin Netanyahu.

January 22, 2006

Spielberg's Munich Fisked

Spielberg's Munich got a Fisking in the Independent recently but it's pay per view at the Indie site. Here's the piece at the Information Clearing House. I still need to see the film and I intend to on 27/1/2006. But Fisk does hit the spot a few times in this piece:
There's plenty to be appalled by: the killing of the athletes interlocked with scenes of assassination leader "Avner" copulating with his wife in a New York apartment; the Israeli murder of a Dutch call girl who has set up a Mossad killer for assassination - she walks naked and bleeding across the floor of her canal barge, trying to breathe through the bullet wound in her breast; and the Middle East cliché of the year. It comes when "Avner" - in an entirely fictional scene - talks to an armed Palestinian refugee whom he will later kill. "Tell me something, Ali," he asks. "Do you really miss your father's olive trees?"
"Middle East cliché of the year? There's a bold statement; it's only January. Perhaps he meant last year.
And there's a lot else wrong. The same Mossad team's real-life murder of a perfectly innocent Moroccan waiter in Norway is deleted from the narrative of the film - thus avoiding, I suppose, the embarrassment of showing one of the murderers later hiding in the Oslo apartment of the Israeli defence attaché to Norway, a revelation that did not do a lot for Scandinavian-Israeli relations.
Fisk clearly does not think the film is all bad:
And the film's ending - when Avner's Mossad minder comes to New York to persuade him to return to Israel, only to be rebuffed when he fails to supply evidence of the murdered Palestinians' guilt, and to walk away in disgust from Avner's offer to break bread at his home - suggests for the first time on the big screen that Israel's policy of militarism and occupation is immoral. That the camera then moves to the left of the two men and picks up a digitalised re-created image of the twin towers through the haze was what I call a "groaner". Yes, Steve, I said to myself, thank you - but we've got the message.

Yet that's the point. This film deconstructs the whole myth of Israeli invincibility and moral superiority, its false alliances - one of the most sympathetic characters is an elderly French mafia boss who helps Avner - and its arrogant assumption that it has the right to engage in state murder while others do not.
So now I ask: will we get a Spielberg epic on the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948 and after? Or will we - like those refugees desperate for visas in the wartime movie Casablanca wait, and wait - and wait?

Will Galloway sue Engage, Norman Geras and Professor Kramer?

Lenin's Tomb has a post on Cambridge professor, Matthew Kramer's diatribe against George Galloway. The post is largely based on my own comments on this bizarre case but Lenin wonders if, indeed wishes, Galloway will sue. The smear campaign seems to be instigated by Professor Kramer, Norman Geras and David Hirsh unless these great academics are, themselves, falling for what seems to be a googlesmear.

I have already posted that Professor Kramer has said that his source for anti-semitic statements by Galloway is the comments box at a site called Harry's Place. He told my friend that the comments were to a post on 6/12/2005. It turns out that the most likely date for them is 7/12/2005. Still what's in a date? We're only talking about yet another tedious and false allegation of anti-semitism by three fairly well known "academics".

Norman Geras doesn't accept comments. Engage "moderates" them. That is it checks them for suitability. I asked what Galloway had said that was anti-semitic and the comment wasn't allowed. Professor Kramer has responded to my friend's email but only to refer him to Harry's Place. Quite a courageous triumvirate.

Observe this Nick Cohen!

Quite a crop of letters slagging the fraudster and famous gentile, Old Nick Cohen, in the Observer today. This is my favourite:
Nick Cohen does a good line in guilt by association. The anti-war movement has had millions of people marching against the war in Iraq and the subsequent occupation. And yet he feels he can undermine the movement by reference to the antics of the leader of the Respect coalition with a little over 10,000 members.

How about some analysis? If the Iraq war was about liberation and democracy, why do we support Uzbekistan? If it was about WMD, why do we tolerate Pakistan and India? And if it was about WMD and liberation and democracy, why tolerate Israel's oppression of the Palestinians and its possession of nuclear weapons?
It's by some guy called Mark Elf in Dagenham (wherever that is).

Nick Cohen has now deleted all 180 comments on his post on "anti-semitism". I saved them on a disk somewhere. I'll have to dig them up.

Winfrey's Wiesel words

According to Adam Shatz in the LA Times, Oprah Winfrey has thrown in her lot with Elie Wiesel to make up for the gaff of her promoting "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey. The book turned out to be a bogus memoir so now Oprah has to restore her (in)credibility with the great American public. Unfortunately the best way to do that is to pander to zionists. So Oprah has a trip to Auschwitz lined with..........go on guess.
Now she has also made what looks like a highly savvy decision. She has named as her next book club selection Elie Wiesel's 1960 memoir, "Night," a searing account of the author's journey through the nightmare of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. What better way for Oprah to underscore her point about a memoir's underlying message — and at the same time to insulate herself from criticism over the Frey contretemps — than to warm herself by the hearth of Holocaust remembrance? After all, no one will contest Wiesel's memoir or — thankfully — the truth of the historical events it recounts.
It gets more ghastly, look:
Oprah is planning a trip to Auschwitz with Wiesel, who has a reputation as a truth-teller, a witness to human cruelty, a shining example of the power of remembrance over the forces of evil, deceit and amnesia. And yes, the pilgrimage to the camps will be filmed.
And worse still:
it overlooks the far more disturbing "recovery" that Wiesel has made since his ordeal in the camps. For the author of "Night" has gone from being a great victim of war crimes to being an apologist for those who commit them — all while invoking his moral authority as a survivor.
Can it get worse? Well yes:
Wiesel does not believe that Gypsies and gays should be remembered alongside Jewish victims of the Holocaust, although hundreds of thousands of them perished. He has frowned upon the use of the term "genocide" in reference to the Armenian holocaust.
It couldn't get worse than that surely?
Wiesel's troubles with memory and truth are especially acute when it comes to Israel's behavior toward Palestinians. For example, he has long maintained that the 1948 Palestinian refugees left voluntarily, "incited by their leaders," a claim that Israel's own historians have done much to shatter.

In the face of abundant evidence from human rights groups that Israel has committed widespread human rights violations in the occupied territories, Wiesel has either denied such reports or loftily asserted that, as a Jew who does not live in Israel, he has no right to air his criticisms (though, paradoxically, his nonresident status does not prevent him from airing his praise). His last Op-Ed article in the New York Times was a lamentation for the settlers of Gaza, zealots whom even Ariel Sharon, the architect of the settlement project, finally had the wisdom to remove from their stronghold.

The author of a justly praised Holocaust memoir, Wiesel may provide Oprah with good cover after the Frey disaster. As a historian and political commentator, however, Wiesel has been a specialist in denial, a man who has contributed far more to the blurring of fact and invention than the author of "A Million Little Pieces."
But read the whole thing.

January 21, 2006

JNF's "racist land-grab worthy of apartheid"

Here's a book review from the Guardian. The book is City of Oranges: Arabs and Jews in Jaffa by Adam LeBor.
The most telling of LeBor's details on Jewish methods is his account of the quasi-legal subterfuge by which all confiscated land was handed not to the state, of which Israeli Arabs were citizens, but to an institution called the Jewish National Fund. One of the JNF's founding articles held that property in its possession was the inalienable property of the Jewish people. Thus Arabs could neither appeal the decision nor apply for compensation. It was a racist land-grab worthy of apartheid South Africa at its worst, and between 1948 and 1990 Israeli Arabs lost almost one million acres. Even in 1950 a Jewish journalist called it "wholesale robbery in legal guise".
It's hard to follow the antics of the Jewish National Fund these days because of a split between the Israeli and UK branches. The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign accused the JNF in the UK of being an instigator and beneficiary of ethnic cleansing. For that the JNF-UK threatened them with a libel action. SPSC stood firm and the JNF dropped its threat.

The JNF did win one small victory over this. Of course they couldn't disprove the claim that they are financial supporters of ethnic cleansing but they could, it appears, pressure the SPSC's website hosts to prevent the SPSC from publishing their response to the JNF's lawyers' threat of legal action. Here's a piece of the JNF's lawyers'letter:
as a matter of urgency a full and unequivocal retraction and an apology in terms to be approved by us together with an undertaking not to repeat these allegations...Our client is also entitled to substantial damages upon which we invite your proposals. In addition, our client will also require payment by you of all legal costs it has incurred in this matter.
And here's ther SPSC's response:
Date: 3 April 2004

We have received a letter from your lawyers threatening to sue us and demanding damages and apology from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign on the grounds that we have stated publicly that "the Jewish National Fund (JNF) raises funds for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians."

As you know, every word we have written is true and we look forward to meeting representatives of your racist organisation in front of a British jury. We will produce witnesses to verify that they personally have been, and remain to this day, the victims of ethnic cleansing by the Israelis, which is supported by the Jewish National Fund. They will testify that this ethnic cleansing has gone on for over 56 years and continues to this day.

Hell will freeze over before we part with one penny to your Fund, which would only go towards the further violation of the human rights of Palestinians. Your demand for damages is an impertinence – your organisers deserve to be in prison for the human rights violations they have encouraged and supported.

We stand by our statement and many similar statements and will continue, with many others committed to opposing Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, to publicise the evidence of your involvement in the world’s longest-running, unfinished programme of ethnic cleansing.

The pathetic nature of your ‘case’ is made clear by your slight of hand, namely, that we implied that the JNF “supports the unlawful expulsion of Palestinian Arabs from their homelands.” Far from being unlawful, your atrocious violations of Palestinian human rights are perfectly legal in the racist State of Israel. We are a campaign for the human rights of all; our supporters, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and many of no religious persuasion, are determined to see the end of a fund which violates in Israel/Palestine every generally accepted norm of human rights with the assistance of generous subsidies from Gordon Brown and the British taxpayer.

The JNF is the only group of organised racists we have corresponded with and it is not a pleasant experience. Please do not write back except to inform us of the date of the first court appearance. Any decision on your part not to proceed with your threats of legal action will be taken as an admission that you are indeed, as we claim and insist, involved in racist activities and the ongoing programme of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

Mick Napier
Chair, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
The SPSC is still awaiting a response to their challenge. The bit I don't get is why the SPSC stays with a host that won't let them publish what they choose to publish. Must investigate.

January 20, 2006

Rules of Engagement?

I've just stumbled on the zionist Engage website's guidance to commentors. Here:
The editors of Engage are looking to enforce a stricter policy in the comments boxes. We all had our fun over the holidays - but:

1 Comments will be posted if the editors think that they add something to the debate. Editors will make a judgment about the quality and relevance of comments. Editors will try to be consistent but will not always succeed. Commenters should not feel they have a right to have their comments posted - it is an editorial decision.

2 Engage is not primarily a forum for discussion of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Its focus is on antisemitism. Endless and in-depth discussion about why the peace process broke down, for example, are interesting and important - but are not the core business of Engage.

3 Short comments are more likely to be posted than long comments.

4 Reasoned argument is more likely to be accepted than insults and hype.

We very much encourage people to write longer pieces. These should be submitted as posts to alex@EngageOnline.org.uk for consideration.

posted by The Editor at January 15, 2006 08:59:06 AM
Now as I posted earlier, I posted a comment on their blog a few days ago now. The post was about a letter by a Cambridge Law and Philosophy professor, Matthew Kramer in which it was claimed that George Galloway is
a man who has made a number of anti-Semitic pronouncements in various settings. I shall be happy to supply you with relevant quotations. I should note that, when I say "anti-Semitic", I mean "anti-Semitic"; I do not mean "anti-Israeli" (though Galloway is of course implacably opposed to the state of Israel).
Now the guy said a lot of other things but as it says above
Engage is not primarily a forum for discussion of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Its focus is on antisemitism.
So I left a comment, or tried to anyway, asking what George Galloway has ever said that was anti-semitic. Sorry, but here's the exact comment again:
Here's a quote from the letter - "you are apparently intending to allow the Arts Theatre to be used as a platform by a man who has made a number of anti-Semitic pronouncements in various settings. I shall be happy to supply you with relevant quotations. I should note that, when I say "anti-Semitic", I mean "anti-Semitic"; I do not mean "anti-Israeli" (though Galloway is of course implacably opposed to the state of Israel)."

Leaving aside the fact that being anti the State of Israel doesn't make a person "anti-Israeli", does anyone have any quotations from Galloway that are anti-semitic? I remember the Galloway v Telegraph Group case when the Telegraph's barrister (I think he was a QC) tried to accuse Galloway of anti-semitism, the judge, Eady, upped the damages. Here.
It might interest people to know that when I asked that same question on this blog two days ago, out of 43 comments not one said what it was that George Galloway has said that was anti-semitic. Anyway, what aspect of Engage's rules do you suppose I broke? Add something to the debate? The debate, according to Engage, is anti-semitism. If Norman Geras or David Hirsh or anyone could come up with some quotes we could debate whether they're anti-semitic but we're not even allowed to ask for quotes and Engage doesn't seem to want to know. I didn't break rule 2. I didn't raise any issues about Israel/Palestine. I could have broken rule 3 but the bogus allegation doesn't actually appear on the Engage page - frightened of being sued perhaps. So perhaps it was too long. But I don't think that would be fair. How about rule 4? Reasoned argument, not insults. No insults by me. So what's going on at the Engage site. Who can participate in this debate on anti-semitism.?

Anyway, a friend of mine has now written to Professor Kramer to ask for the quotes he said he could provide. He referred my friend to the comments of Harry's Place on 6 December 2005. Don't laugh it's true. A Cambridge don has used, not just Harry's Place, but the comments at Harry's Place as source material. So there I've made it easy. Now find some anti-semitic quotes by George Galloway. The relevant post might be this one but I'm not sure.

Right of return?

I've been sent this report from the Arab Human Rights Association in Israel (AHRA). Headed 3 year old lives in anonymity in Baqa al Gharbiyyah, the article sets out how it is that the child of an Israeli mother is barred from attaining Israeli citizenship:
The Israeli Interior Ministry continues to repeatedly refuse Israeli citizenship to Qadar Ismail Mawasi, who three years ago was born in Nabulus when her mother from Baqa al Gharbiyyah in Israel was visiting her husband in the West Bank city.

Qadar's name was also not imprinted on her mother's ID as is usually done for children of Israeli parents. This denial of identity stems from the fact that she was born at the Rafidia hospital in Nabulus. Qadar's brothers, Fahmi and Ahmad are both Israeli citizens.

Qadar's mother, Izdihar Mawasi, says, "When I was in my last month of pregnancy (3 years ago) I was visiting my husband Ismail at his home in Nabulus; being from the West Bank, he is forbidden entrance into Israel. During that visit, I felt that I was about to deliver, so began my return to Baqa al Gharbiyyah. However, I was stopped at the checkpoint leading into Israel due to a security closure. This kept me in Nabulus, even though I told security staff that I was on the verge of delivery". Shortly after Qadar was born, Izdihar's husband suffered a heart attack and passed away; all this time her daughter had been living with her in Baqa al Gharbiyyah in Israel.

Izdihar then attempted to have her daughter registered at the Interior Ministry in Israel given their current residence within the State and Izdihar's status as an Israeli citizen, but was refused. Again, the reason given was that Qadar was born in Nabulus. Izdihar has been going to the Interior Ministry on multiple occasions (with all the appropriate documentation) but has continually been denied identity papers for her daughter.

Izdihar fears much for her daughter's future because it rests in uncertainty. The fact that three year old Qadar has no identity papers implies she is not registered by the government, and therefore registering her in school and ensuring access to health care is also put into question.
This is another example of Israel's continued ethnic cleansing from within its internationally accepted boundaries and, again, an abuse that could juts as easily happen under the most far-reaching of left zionist "peace" proposals.

Also posted to Lenin's Tomb.

January 18, 2006

Engage on Galloway's "anti-semitism"

Hey get this. I was just looking at the Engage site when I noticed this article.
In December, Norm published a letter sent to the Cambridge Arts Theatre by Matthew Kramer, Professor of Legal and Political Philosophy, Cambridge University. Matthew Kramer was concerned that the theater was giving a platform to George Galloway, instead of fulfilling its role as a platform for performing arts.
Norm has now posted an update of the case.
I posted (or tried to post) this comment.
Here's a quote from the letter - "you are apparently intending to allow the Arts Theatre to be used as a platform by a man who has made a number of anti-Semitic pronouncements in various settings. I shall be happy to supply you with relevant quotations. I should note that, when I say "anti-Semitic", I mean "anti-Semitic"; I do not mean "anti-Israeli" (though Galloway is of course implacably opposed to the state of Israel)."

Leaving aside the fact that being anti the State of Israel doesn't make a person "anti-Israeli", does anyone have any quotations from Galloway that are anti-semitic? I remember the Galloway v Telegraph Group case when the Telegraph's barrister (I think he was a QC) tried to accuse Galloway of anti-semitism, the judge, Eady, upped the damages. Here
Well guess what. The comment is awaiting moderation. I've never commented there before so it seems to be a precaution of some kind. I remember when Engage began its campaign against the boycott. They wouldn't take comments. You can see discussion on that in the comments to this post. Now they're vetting the comments before allowing them on the site. I delete objectionable or irritating stuff all the time but I try to let people know I've done it. Their twists and turns on comments remind me of Nick Cohen's little fiasco here, not that I needed reminding (ho ho).

Anyway, any takers? What has Galloway said that amounts to "a number of anti-Semitic pronouncements in various settings."?

Boycott "uniquely distasteful" Israel

Norman Finkelstein has written an article supporting an economic boycott of Israel. The article appeared in the Norwegian paper Aftenposten on 14/1/2006. I'm posting the whole thing here but Norman Finkelstein's website is well worth a visit and Aftenposten is worth a look at too.
The recent proposal that Norway boycott Israeli goods has provoked passionate debate. In my view, a rational examination of this issue would pose two questions: 1) Do Israeli human rights violations warrant an economic boycott? and 2) Can such a boycott make a meaningful contribution toward ending these violations? I would argue that both these questions should be answered in the affirmative.

Although the subject of many reports by human rights organizations, Israel's real human rights record in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is generally not well known abroad. This is primarily due to the formidable public relations industry of Israel's defenders as well as the effectiveness of their tactics of intimidation, such as labeling critics of Israeli policy anti-Semitic.

Yet, it is an incontestable fact that Israel has committed a broad range of human rights violations, many rising to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity. These include:

Illegal Killings. Whereas Palestinian suicide attacks targeting Israeli civilians have garnered much media attention, Israel's quantitatively worse record of killing non-combatants is less well known. According to the most recent figures of the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B'Tselem), 3,386 Palestinians have been killed since September 2000, of whom 1,008 were identified as combatants, as opposed to 992 Israelis killed, of whom 309 were combatants. This means that three times more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed and up to three times more Palestinian civilians than Israeli civilians. Israel's defenders maintain that there's a difference between targeting civilians and inadvertently killing them. B'Tselem disputes this: "[W]hen so many civilians have been killed and wounded, the lack of intent makes no difference. Israel remains responsible." Furthermore, Amnesty International reports that "many" Palestinians have not been accidentally killed but "deliberately targeted," while the award-winning New York Times journalist Chris Hedges reports that Israeli soldiers "entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport."

"From 1967," Amnesty reports, "the Israeli security services have routinely tortured Palestinian political suspects in the Occupied Territories." B'Tselem found that eighty-five percent of Palestinians interrogated by Israeli security services were subjected to "methods constituting torture," while already a decade ago Human Rights Watch estimated that "the number of Palestinians tortured or severely ill-treated" was "in the tens of thousands - a number that becomes especially significant when it is remembered that the universe of adult and adolescent male Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is under three-quarters of one million." In 1987 Israel became "the only country in the world to have effectively legalized torture" (Amnesty). Although the Israeli Supreme Court seemed to ban torture in a 1999 decision, the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel reported in 2003 that Israeli security forces continued to apply torture in a "methodical and routine" fashion. A 2001 B'Tselem study documented that Israeli security forces often applied "severe torture" to "Palestinian minors."

House demolitions.
"Israel has implemented a policy of mass demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Territories," B'Tselem reports, and since September 2000 "has destroyed some 4,170 Palestinian homes." Until just recently Israel routinely resorted to house demolitions as a form of collective punishment. According to Middle East Watch, apart from Israel, the only other country in the world that used such a draconian punishment was Iraq under Saddam Hussein. In addition, Israel has demolished thousands of "illegal" homes that Palestinians built because of Israel's refusal to provide building permits. The motive behind destroying these homes, according to Amnesty, has been to maximize the area available for Jewish settlers: "Palestinians are targeted for no other reason than they are Palestinians." Finally, Israel has destroyed hundred of homes on security pretexts, yet a Human Rights Watch report on Gaza found that "the pattern of destruction…strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat." Amnesty likewise found that "Israel's extensive destruction of homes and properties throughout the West Bank and Gaza…is not justified by military necessity," and that "Some of these acts of destruction amount to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are war crimes."

Apart from the sheer magnitude of its human rights violations, the uniqueness of Israeli policies merits notice. "Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality," B'Tselem has concluded. "This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa." If singling out South Africa for an international economic boycott was defensible, it would seem equally defensible to single out Israel's occupation, which uniquely resembles the apartheid regime.

Although an economic boycott can be justified on moral grounds, the question remains whether diplomacy might be more effectively employed instead. The documentary record in this regard, however, is not encouraging. The basic terms for resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict are embodied in U.N. resolution 242 and subsequent U.N. resolutions, which call for a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza and the establishment of a Palestinian state in these areas in exchange for recognition of Israel's right to live in peace and security with its neighbors. Each year the overwhelming majority of member States of the United Nations vote in favor of this two-state settlement, and each year Israel and the United States (and a few South Pacific islands) oppose it. Similarly, in March 2002 all twenty-two member States of the Arab League proposed this two-state settlement as well as "normal relations with Israel." Israel ignored the proposal.

Not only has Israel stubbornly rejected this two-state settlement, but the policies it is currently pursuing will abort any possibility of a viable Palestinian state. While world attention has been riveted by Israel's redeployment from Gaza, Sara Roy of Harvard University observes that the "Gaza Disengagement Plan is, at heart, an instrument for Israel's continued annexation of West Bank land and the physical integration of that land into Israel." In particular Israel has been constructing a wall deep inside the West Bank that will annex the most productive land and water resources as well as East Jerusalem, the center of Palestinian life. It will also effectively sever the West Bank in two. Although Israel initially claimed that it was building the wall to fight terrorism, the consensus among human rights organizations is that it is really a land grab to annex illegal Jewish settlements into Israel. Recently Israel's Justice Minister frankly acknowledged that the wall will serve as "the future border of the state of Israel."

The current policies of the Israeli government will lead either to endless bloodshed or the dismemberment of Palestine. "It remains virtually impossible to conceive of a Palestinian state without its capital in Jerusalem," the respected Crisis Group recently concluded, and accordingly Israeli policies in the West Bank "are at war with any viable two-state solution and will not bolster Israel's security; in fact, they will undermine it, weakening Palestinian pragmatists…and sowing the seeds of growing radicalization."

Recalling the U.N. Charter principle that it is inadmissible to acquire territory by war, the International Court of Justice declared in a landmark 2004 opinion that Israel's settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the wall being built to annex them to Israel were illegal under international law. It called on Israel to cease construction of the wall, dismantle those parts already completed and compensate Palestinians for damages. Crucially, it also stressed the legal responsibilities of the international community:
all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. They are also under an obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction. It is also for all States, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to see to it that any impediment, resulting from the construction of the wall, to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination is brought to an end.

A subsequent U.N. General Assembly resolution supporting the World Court opinion passed overwhelmingly. However, the Israeli government ignored the Court's opinion, continuing construction at a rapid pace, while Israel's Supreme Court ruled that the wall was legal.

Due to the obstructionist tactics of the United States, the United Nations has not been able to effectively confront Israel's illegal practices. Indeed, although it is true that the U.N. keeps Israel to a double standard, it's exactly the reverse of the one Israel's defenders allege: Israel is held not to a higher but lower standard than other member States. A study by Marc Weller of Cambridge University comparing Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory with comparable situations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, East Timor, occupied Kuwait and Iraq, and Rwanda found that Israel has enjoyed "virtual immunity" from enforcement measures such as an arms embargo and economic sanctions typically adopted by the U.N. against member States condemned for identical violations of international law. Due in part to an aggressive campaign accusing Europe of a "new anti-Semitism," the European Union has also failed in its legal obligation to enforce international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Although the claim of a "new anti-Semitism" has no basis in fact (all the evidence points to a lessening of anti-Semitism in Europe), the EU has reacted by appeasing Israel. It has even suppressed publication of one of its own reports, because the authors -- like the Crisis Group and many others -- concluded that due to Israeli policies the "prospects for a two-state solution with east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine are receding."

The moral burden to avert the impending catastrophe must now be borne by individual states that are prepared to respect their obligations under international law and by individual men and women of conscience. In a courageous initiative American-based Human Rights Watch recently called on the U.S. government to reduce significantly its financial aid to Israel until Israel terminates its illegal policies in the West Bank. An economic boycott would seem to be an equally judicious undertaking. A nonviolent tactic the purpose of which is to achieve a just and lasting settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict cannot legitimately be called anti-Semitic. Indeed, the real enemies of Jews are those who cheapen the memory of Jewish suffering by equating principled opposition to Israel's illegal and immoral policies with anti-Semitism.
Boycott sites to visit:

Academics for Justice

Boycott Israeli Goods

Boycott Israeli Goods

British Committee for Universities of Palestine

Israel canvassing for Hamas

Here's a report in today's Independent showing how Israel's "retaliation" boosts the popularity of Palestinian armed groups; in this instance, Hamas.
Mohammed Abu Tir, number two on Hamas's national list of parliamentary candidates, had arrived in good time to pay his condolences to the dead 24-year-old's tearful brother Ziad. As the January rain began to fall, they kissed three times before Ziad Ayyadeh, 36, declared: "It is a positive thing because people now will vote for Hamas."
The Israeli army claims that Thabet Ayyadeh was killed whilst trying to shoot his way out of an attempt to arrest him in Tulkarem.

January 17, 2006

Colin Powell addresses the "Jewish community"

Colin Powell addressed the ethnic cleansers of the Jewish National Fund last night. Here's how the "anti-Israel" BBC covered it. Read it and wonder what a pro-Israel BBC might do.
About 150 protesters gathered outside a Glasgow hotel as former US Secretary of State Colin Powell gave a speech at an event for the city's Jewish community.
Mr Powell addressed the fund-raising event organised by the Jewish National Fund (JNF) at the Hilton Hotel.
There is just a hint that the JNF might be a tad controversial:
The Scottish Friends of Palestine said it was "extremely disappointed" at his decision to address the dinner.

Touched down

The organisation said it was staging a protest to highlight its claims that the Jewish National Fund is detrimental to the Palestinian people both within Israel and worldwide.
But nothing about what it does.

Another Munich review

I've been asked not to post anything more about Munich the movie until I've seen it but it doesn't go on release here til 27/1/2006 and I just stumbled on this review by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post. Many zionists are unhappy about what they see as Spielberg drawing moral equivalence between Israeli "commandos" and Palestinian "terrorists" but Krauthammer sees a deeper seated propaganda element to the film. See this:
It takes a Hollywood ignoramus to give flesh to the argument of a radical anti-Semitic Iranian. Jewish history did not begin with Kristallnacht. The first Zionist Congress occurred in 1897. The Jews fought for and received recognition for the right to establish a "Jewish national home in Palestine" from Britain in 1917 and from the League of Nations in 1922, two decades before the Holocaust.
You see Krauthammer is anxious that Spielberg suggests that Israel exists because of the holocaust. For the American Krauthammer, Israel is a miracle based on a 2,000 year longing of Jews (a minority of the world's Jews that is) to return to the ancient homeland. You don't have to be from Hollywood to be an ignoramus. It shows the strength of American imperialism when a well known writer can speak of "rights" enshrined in an imperial decree like the Balfour Declaration and the rubber stamping of that decree by the League of Nations.

January 16, 2006

A Sephardic take on Martin Luther King Day

The link here is to an article by David Shasha, editor of the Sephardic Heritage Update newsletter. It's been written for Martin Luther King Day which is on 18/1. Titled Martin Luther King, Yes, Sephardic Jews, No: Mr. Peretz Please Go to the Back of the Bus the article rails against the hypocrisy of an Ashkenazi establishment remembering Martin Luther King jr, while practicing discrmination against non-white Jews such as Amir Peretz. I think Mr Shasha has perhaps too much faith in Peretz but I like I'm taken with the anger he expresses here.
The continued suppression of Amir Peretz in the Western media, a Sephardic leader who could perhaps become the Martin Luther King Jr. of Israel, forces us to come to a more nuanced understanding of the Jewish celebration of Dr. King on this Martin Luther King Day.

On the day dedicated to the memory of Dr. King we Sephardic Jews working in the progressive spirit of Dr. King are forced to witness this vain, vulgar and continuing Ashkenazi prejudice against Sephardim and their concerns.

While hypocritically celebrating non-violence, social justice and equality in Dr. King's name, Ashkenazim in Israel and the US, as evidenced by their continued disregard for the principles of equal rights and pluralism that were the hallmark of the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King Jr., continue to abide the Southern racism of Robert Byrd and George Wallace those White Americans who fought so hard against King to keep the BLACKS IN THEIR PLACE.

Sephardim have been denied inclusion in the larger Jewish context that has been dominated, as we have insisted, by a "Whites-Only" policy.
I don't want to quote David Shasha out of context so please read the whole article.

The Burning Bush

I always tell people who don't know what a blog is that a blog is like a diary. Well here's a diary-type entry. I googled "Folk London" this evening and then went here then here, then here and here. It was at that last here that I saw The Burning Bush tonight. They are a six piece, inter alia, klezmer band. I'd never been to the Walthamstow Folk Club before but it turned out the a friend of mine, Russ, runs it. He asked me to sing a song in the second half which I did. I sang "The Song of Martin Fontash" by Leon Rosselson. I wanted to sing a song with a Jewish theme. I'll post the lyrics tomorrow when I'm not tired. Then the band came back and they're well worth a listen. So listen.