March 31, 2006

Israeli councillor is not racist ...... but

Here's an article from the Arab Association for Human Rights in Israel. Titled Racist law proposed in Nazerat Illit to 'judaize' city it's about proposals to restrict Arab rights in Nazaret Ilit.
Nazerat Illit is located in the Galilee and was established in 1953 on lands that were confiscated from the Arab city of Nazareth and the surrounding villages of Ein Mahel and Reineh. Recently, the ethnic composition of Nazerat Illit has become more mixed thanks to the increase of Arab families that have moved there from Nazareth and its surrounding villages. Furthermore, Nazerat Illit's jurisdiction expanded to include Arab neighbourhoods that were formerly part of Nazareth.

The number of Arab residents in Nazerat Illit presently stands at between eight and nine thousand, concentrated mainly in Al-Kurum (HaKramim) and Har Yona (originally Jabal Sikh). In spite of the Arab population's increase in the city, the recent administrative elections produced an absence of Arab representation at the municipal level.

Some Jewish political activists interpreted Nazerat Illit's growing Arab population as an invasion of the city. In October 2004, Avraham Maman, a member of the local council said, “Many Arabs from Nazareth are taking over more and more apartments in Nazerat Illit. There is not even one road in the city where 20 to 30 Arab families cannot be found; the leaders of the city must stop this invasion before it stops being Zionist and national… I am not racist and I have never been, but, many Jewish families are afraid of possible relationships between the Arabs and their daughters. Unfortunately, this thing has become common".

In September 2005, Maman, forced to sell his house because of heavy debts, said he would not accept any offer to sell his house to an Arab.

Recently, many people in the city have been calling for its 'judaization', based on a vision to increase the city's Jewish character. One voice representing those ideals is a member of the local council, and Likud member, Shimon Gabso. Gabso proposes a racist law, one that would forbid selling homes to Arabs, and would prevent Arabs from buying Nazerat Illit lands. The law would also implement name changes of neighbourhoods and streets – from Arab names to Jewish ones. In addition, under the proposed law, services to Arab neighbourhoods would be severely cut.
From Roland Rance.

Hamas offered Israel a 30 year ceasefire

According to Ha'aretz a former Mossad chief Hamas offered Israel a 30 year ceasefire back in 1997.
A few days before the failed assassination attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Jordan in 1997, King Hussein conveyed an offer from the Hamas leadership to reach an understanding on a cease-fire for 30 years. That offer, intended for then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and conveyed by a Mossad representative, reached Netanyahu only after the botched hit.

This is just one of the details about past incidents that former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy reveals in his book, "Man in the Shadows," coming out in Britain on April 4, and soon to be released in Hebrew by Matar Publishing. In the book, Halevy discloses previously unknown details about security affairs from Israel's past.

Botched assassination

In September 1997, a Mossad squad tried to assassinate the leader of Hamas, Meshal, by drizzling poison in his ear. The attempt failed, two of the agents were captured and others found refuge in the Israeli embassy in Amman. Halevy recounts that King Hussein considered Israel's conduct a severe betrayal, made worse in view of the Hamas offer he had conveyed to Israel. Netanyahu called Halevy in to help calm Hussein, but the latter asked that Halevy not come to Amman, because he did not want a man whom he deemed a close friend to be involved in the nasty affair. Halevy set out nonetheless.

Relations with Amman deteriorated so badly that the king mulled demanding at a press conference that Israel turn in the Mossad agents who had fled to the embassy. If Israel did not turn them in, Hussein was seriously considering military action. Mossad discussed placating the king with various "gifts" for his army, such as night-vision equipment or upgrading some of his fighter planes.

Halevy thought otherwise. He suggested releasing Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from an Israeli prison and transfering him to Jordan, where King Hussein would then order him returned to the Gaza Strip. Opposition was fierce in the intelligence agencies and the Israeli Defense Forces. Support for Halevy's idea came mostly from then-defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai, and it was ultimately approved by Netanyahu.
Today's Ha'aretz is here.

Israel Lobby - the empire strikes back

The London Review of Books has now published a crop of letters criticising the Israel Lobby article. I was surprised to see one letter from Daniel Pipes, an Israel Lobbyist par excellence. Of course he was disclaiming the existence of the Israel Lobby.
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt write: ‘The Lobby also monitors what professors write and teach. In September 2002, Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately pro-Israel neo-conservatives, established a website (Campus Watch) that posted dossiers on suspect academics and encouraged students to report remarks or behaviour that might be considered hostile to Israel.’ This account is inaccurate in several ways (e.g. Martin Kramer had no role in founding Campus Watch), but I write specifically to state that no ‘Lobby’ told me to start Campus Watch. Neither the Middle East Forum nor myself has ever taken orders from some mythical ‘Lobby’, and specifically I decided to establish Campus Watch on my own, without direction from any outside source. I challenge Mearsheimer and Walt to provide their information that connects this ‘Lobby’ to my decision to establish Campus Watch.

Daniel Pipes
So maybe, just maybe, they got a name wrong but did they really try to suggest that Daniel Pipes takes orders from a lobby group? A quick look at what they actually wrote suggests not:
The Lobby also monitors what professors write and teach. In September 2002, Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately pro-Israel neo-conservatives, established a website (Campus Watch) that posted dossiers on suspect academics and encouraged students to report remarks or behaviour that might be considered hostile to Israel. This transparent attempt to blacklist and intimidate scholars provoked a harsh reaction and Pipes and Kramer later removed the dossiers, but the website still invites students to report ‘anti-Israel’ activity.
Oh yes, and there's one subscription cancellation.

March 30, 2006


Oh honestly, what earthquake?

This one in the FT

How about this one in the Guardian?

Or Yediot Ahronot?


Actually amid all the hyperbole I heard an interesting thing on the BBC. Apparently this is the first time in Israel's electoral history that the main party will be depending on support from partners by whom it is collectively outnumbered. That, of course, doesn't bode well for stable government.

March 29, 2006

Israel's lowest ever election turnout

Here's Ha'aretz on yesterday's Israeli elections.
With the vote on 99.5 percent, Kadima had a less than expected 28 seats. Labor held at 20 seats, and Shas rose to 13, making the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox party the third largest faction in the Knesset.

The Likud had hoped to block a center-left coalition, but with almost all of the votes in weakened to 11 seats, far below the figures the party had hoped and a far cry from the 38 seats it won under Ariel Sharon in 2003.

Avigdor Lieberman's Russian immigrant-dominated faction Yisrael Beiteinu captured 12 seats, positioning itself as the chief opposition party to head the nationalist camp.

In the largest surprise of the night, the Pensioners party won seven seats. The right-wing National Union-National Religious Party secured nine seats, with United Torah Judaism at six and Meretz at four. The Arab parties stood to win a total of ten seats.

Exit polls released as polling stations closed at 10 P.M. Tuesday showed center-left parties gaining a total of between 62 and 66 seats, with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima winning 29 to 32 seats, Labor 20-22 seats, Meretz five and the Arab parties seven to eight seats.

March 28, 2006

Moshe Arens, or is it?

Here's a comment in Ha'aretz on the neglect of Israeli Jewish feeling towards the "Israeli Arabs" or Palesinians in Israel, to be politically correct. It's from Moshe Arens, former cabinet minister in Begin and Shamir's governments. Be surprised, be very surprised.
During the election campaign, the competing political parties are expected to address the major issues facing the country and state how they believe these should be handled. Has anyone noticed that one of the main issues facing Israel has been missing from this campaign? Some might even say that it is the most important issue, which if not dealt with could create insurmountable problems and overshadow everything being so hotly debated.

It is Israel's Arab minority. There are more than a million Arab citizens of Israel - Palestinians, if one is to be politically correct. Many of them are far from integrated into the fabric of Israeli society, and some feel a sense of alienation from the state, a feeling that can easily develop into hostility. This is not just a problem for the Arab minority in our midst - it could become a festering sore concerning all of Israel's citizens, Jews and Arabs alike.

Why has this problem been ignored by those competing for our votes? Is this just a continuation of the neglect that has characterized the attitude of the major parties toward Israel's Arab citizens throughout the years, a vain attempt to sweep this problem under the carpet? Not that efforts are not made every election to gather votes from Arab citizens, with promises that are forgotten the day after the votes are counted. A succession of Israeli governments have shied away from facing this problem.

But there is more than a suspicion that this time, it is not just neglect or a sense of mistaken priorities. Ignoring Israel's Arab citizens, the Palestinians in our midst, seems to mesh too smoothly with all the talk of disengagement and separation from the Palestinians living beyond the 1967 lines. The parties calling for disengagement are obviously playing on and even fostering a distaste for the Palestinians. Do they really expect the average Israeli citizen to differentiate between the Palestinians living on different sides of the green line? Do they care how Israel's Arab citizens react to all this talk of separating from the Palestinians and fencing them out? They surely know that it is not music to their ears.

Recent opinion polls among Jewish citizens seem to indicate that many do not want to have anything to do with the Israeli Palestinians. According to a poll conducted by Kadima, placing an Israeli Arab on its list of candidates would significantly reduce the number of votes the party would receive. Is all this the result of the disengagement syndrome, or is disengagement based on the innate feelings of many Jewish citizens toward Palestinians? In any case, there must be a considerable connection between the two phenomena.

But there may be much worse to come. Avigdor Lieberman has been aiming at the lowest instincts of some Jewish citizens by advocating for an Arab-free Israel - by placing Arab towns and villages outside the national borders and stripping the residents of their citizenship. His program, although clearly somewhere in fantasy land, seems to have been an effective political ploy: His party's popularity has been increasing weekly in the polls. As if that were not crazy enough, other political nuts have tried to draw attention to their hairbrained schemes and fringe parties by provocatively entering Arab neighborhoods and villages, and urging the residents to leave Israel. Hatred of Arabs seems to have become a hot political commodity in this election. All this can only lead to disaster if it is not stopped in time.

Where are the Israeli leaders who will courageously speak out against this xenophobia, even at the risk of losing a few votes? Who will explain to the public that Israel is a western democracy and should not deviate from basic democratic principles? That equality for our Arab citizens and integrating them into the fabric of our society is such a principle? It looks like we will have to wait for the next election before they appear.
I said to be surprised.

Herd of independent minds?

Here's Noam Chomsky in Znet writing, briefly, actually quite casually, on the Israel Lobby article. M-W deserve credit for taking a position that is sure to elicit tantrums and fanatical lies and denunciations, but it's worth noting that there is nothing unusual about that.
Take any topic that has risen to the level of Holy Writ among "the herd of independent minds" (to borrow Harold Rosenberg's famous description of intellectuals): for example, anything having to do with the Balkan wars, which played a huge role in the extraordinary campaigns of self-adulation that disfigured intellectual discourse towards the end of the millennium, going well beyond even historical precedents, which are ugly enough. Naturally, it is of extraordinary importance to the herd to protect that self-image, much of it based on deceit and fabrication. Therefore, any attempt even to bring up plain (undisputed, surely relevant) facts is either ignored (M-W can't be ignored), or sets off most impressive tantrums, slanders, fabrications and deceit, and the other standard reactions. Very easy to demonstrate, and by no means limited to these cases. Those without experience in critical analysis of conventional doctrine can be very seriously misled by the particular case of the Middle East(ME).

But recognizing that M-W took a courageous stand, which merits praise, we still have to ask how convincing their thesis is. Not very, in my opinion. I've reviewed elsewhere what the record (historical and documentary) seems to me to show about the main sources of US ME policy, in books and articles for the past 40 years, and can't try to repeat here. M-W make as good a case as one can, I suppose, for the power of the Lobby, but I don't think it provides any reason to modify what has always seemed to me a more plausible interpretation. Notice incidentally that what is at stake is a rather subtle matter: weighing the impact of several factors which (all agree) interact in determining state policy: in particular, (A) strategic-economic interests of concentrations of domestic power in the tight state-corporate linkage, and (B) the Lobby.

The M-W thesis is that (B) overwhelmingly predominates. To evaluate the thesis, we have to distinguish between two quite different matters, which they tend to conflate: (1) the alleged failures of US ME policy; (2) the role of The Lobby in bringing about these consequences. Insofar as the stands of the Lobby conform to (A), the two factors are very difficult to disentagle. And there is plenty of conformity.
So Chomsky's not impressed either but he, like Massad, avoids abusing the AS word.

Massad on the Lobby

Actually the Lobby's usually on Massad so this makes a change. Here's Joseph Massad in al Ahram criticising the Israel Lobby article by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Like that of Adam Shatz and Daniel Levy it stands out for its honesty by comparison to the likes of Engage and a ragbag of other zionist sources.
While many of the studies of the pro-Israel lobby are sound and full of awe-inspiring well- documented details about the formidable power commanded by groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its allies, the problem with most of them is what remains unarticulated. For example, when and in what context has the United States government ever supported national liberation in the Third World? The record of the United States is one of being the implacable enemy of all Third World national liberation groups, including European ones, from Greece to Latin America to Africa and Asia, except in the celebrated cases of the Afghan fundamentalists' war against the USSR and supporting apartheid South Africa's main terrorist allies in Angola and Mozambique (UNITA and RENAMO) against their respective anti-colonial national governments. Why then would the US support national liberation in the Arab world absent the pro-Israel lobby is something these studies never explain.
So the perplexing thing is why the lobby spends so much on the political process.
One could argue (and I have argued elsewhere) that it is in fact the very centrality of Israel to US strategy in the Middle East that accounts, in part, for the strength of the pro-Israel lobby and not the other way around. Indeed, many of the recent studies highlight the role of pro-Likud members of the Bush administration (or even of the Clinton administration) as evidence of the lobby's awesome power, when, i t could be easily argued that it is these American politicians who had pushed Likud and Labour into more intransigence in the 1990s and are pushing them towards more conquest now that they are at the helm of the US government. This is not to say, however, that the leaders of the pro-Israel lobby do not regularly brag about their crucial influence on US policy in Congress and in the White House. That they have done regularly since the late 1970s. But the lobby is powerful in the United States because its major claims are about advancing US interests and its support for Israel is contextualised in its support for the overall US strategy in the Middle East. The pro- Israel lobby plays the same role that the China lobby played in the 1950s and the Cuba lobby still plays to this day. The fact that it is more powerful than any other foreign lobby on Capitol Hill testifies to the importance of Israel in US strategy and not to some fantastical power that the lobby commands independent of and extraneous to the US "national interest." The pro-Israel lobby could not sell its message and would not have any influence if Israel was a communist or anti-imperialist country or if Israel opposed US policy elsewhere in the world.
I think it's a little harsh to describe the Mearsheimer and Walt account as "fantastical" but my take is a lot closer to Massad's than to theirs. I wonder if the appearance of the M & W article is a prelude to a bit of a change in US policy in the Middle East.

Voices from the grave on Palestine 1967

Every so often I like to post resources for argument's sake. They are often quotes from the zionists of the past about zionist plans for Palestine and for those in the know act as a reminder and for those fooled by the plucky little Israel school of propaganda, act as an eye-opener. So this is a revisit to Cactus48, so called because sometimes the cactus is all that remains as evidence of zionist war crimes:
"The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weitzman, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was 'no threat of destruction' but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could 'exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.'...Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: 'In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.'
From Rabin:
I do not think Nasser wanted war. The two divisions he sent to The Sinai would not have been sufficient to launch an offensive war. He knew it and we knew it.
Moshe Dayan:
Moshe Dayan, the celebrated commander who, as Defense Minister in 1967, gave the order to conquer the Golan...[said] many of the firefights with the Syrians were deliberately provoked by Israel, and the kibbutz residents who pressed the Government to take the Golan Heights did so less for security than for the farmland...[Dayan stated] 'They didn't even try to hide their greed for the land...We would send a tractor to plow some area where it wasn't possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn't shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance further, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot.

And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that's how it was...The Syrians, on the fourth day of the war, were not a threat to us.
Oh yes, you know how the zionists accepted partition and the Palestinians didn't? Well here's David Ben Gurion:
The acceptance of partition does not commit us to renounce Transjordan; one does not demand from anybody to give up his vision. We shall accept a state in the boundaries fixed today. But the boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.
That was a bit of a diversion from the usual fare but it's worth keeping these statements to hand.


Thanks to Deborah Maccoby for bringing this grotesque example of the Guardian's racism to my attention.
In the next few weeks the ice off Canada's eastern coast will be stained red as hundreds of thousands of seal pups are viciously clubbed to death, shot and skinned alive by hunters (Seal hunt gets off to a bloody start, March 27).

The annual Canadian seal hunt is the largest and most brutal slaughter of marine mammals on the planet. Despite worldwide protests that this hunt is no longer morally, economically or environmentally justifiable, the Canadian government continues to thumb its nose at the rest of the world.

This year 325,000 seals will die - more than 95% of these will be pups aged between two weeks and three months of age. Only external pressure will end this barbaric slaughter.

Paul McCartney, environmental groups such as International Fund for Animal Welfare and Respect for Animals, as well as hundreds of MPs of all parties all want Canada to see sense.

That is why we seek a trade ban on Canadian products here in the UK, and are spearheading the campaign on behalf of Respect for Animals and Humane Society International to convince British supermarkets to boycott Canadian fish and seafood products.

If readers agree that it must be halted, they should boycott Canadian fish products and urge their supermarket not to stock Canadian produce. By doing so we can send Canada a signal that enough is enough -we can halt this vicious slaughter on the ice.
Sally Banks
Ann Widdecombe MP
Con, Maidstone and The Weald
Glenys Thornton
Chair, All party retail industry group
I shouldn't worry too much about this as I'm sure some of our academics and authors will get together to "engage" with Canada to undermine this singling out of a great democratic nation.

Billy Bragg on Rachel Corrie

Interesting lyric based on Bob Dylan's Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll. Awful song though. But that's just my opinion. Have a listen.

March 27, 2006

Joint Israel Appeal?

From the International Herald Tribune. Well actually they got it from the New York Times. It's a comment on tomorrow's Israeli election by Etgar Keret:
The parties my father votes for never get into Parliament. One year he'll vote for some economist with thick glasses who promises a revolution in tax law, the next year for an irate teacher with a ponytail who advocates a revolution in the school system, the year after that for a restaurateur in Jaffa who explains that only a new culinary approach can bring peace to the Middle East.

The one thing these candidates have in common is a genuine desire for fundamental change. That and the naïveté to believe such change is possible. My father, even at the age of 78, is naïve enough to believe this, too. It's one of his finest qualities.

In the last elections, my brother, a founder of the Legalize Marijuana Party, asked my father for his vote. My father found himself in a quandary. On the one hand, it's not every day that your son founds a political party. On the other, my father, who had a taste of the horrors of fascism during World War II, takes all his civic duties very seriously.

"Look," he said to my brother, "It's not that I don't trust you, but there are all these serious people who claim that grass is actually dangerous, and as a person who's never tried it, I can't really be sure they're wrong." And so, about a week before Election Day, my brother rolled my father a joint. "What can I tell you, kid?" my father said to me that evening during a slightly hallucinatory phone conversation. "It's not half as good as Chivas - but to make it illegal?" And so my father became the oldest voter for the coolest party in the history of Israel's elections. From the minute he said he would vote for it, I knew it wouldn't get into Parliament.
He shouldn't have inhaled.

March 26, 2006

Israeli elections: the other side of the wall

Here's an article by Yoav Peled from the Middle East Report Online* on the issues facing whoever wins the Israeli elections on 28/3. It details the various interests at play restricting the expected victor, Ehud Olmert's freedom of action and concludes by suggesting what Hamas might be forced to do.
Viewed from the other side of the wall, the main card that Hamas holds against Israel’s punitive measures, and any measures the West may impose, is its ability to declare the PA null and void for reasons of financial bankruptcy. Such a declaration will put Israel in a position of again being directly responsible for the lives of the Palestinians in occupied territory, as it was before the Oslo accords. Since April 2002, the PA has been a sham anyway, functioning as Israel’s subcontractor for running basic services for the Palestinians, such as they are, and enabling the “international community” to pretend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a conflict between two autonomous political entities. If the PA ceases to exist, the true nature of the relations between Israel and the Palestinians as occupier and occupied will reemerge, and Israel will no longer enjoy the privilege of having all the power over the Palestinians without any responsibility for their wellbeing. The downside for the Palestinians, of course, will be the loss of international economic assistance that makes up much of their national income and translates into salaries that sustain a great portion of the Palestinian population. But the Palestinians pay a heavy political price for this money, and if Hamas is indeed as incorruptible as it claims, it may decide that the advantages of putting an end to the charade called the PA outweigh the costs. Given the Palestinians’ economic and military weakness, upsetting the applecart in this manner may be the only way forward open to them as the dual war initiated by Ariel Sharon marches on even in his absence.
*The Middle East Research and Information Project is is online here.

Zionists single out Israel

I'm just looking at Mike Marqusee's blog on the Guardian's comment is free space. He says, and I know he's not the first to do so, that whilst Israel's supporters accuse its opponents of singling Israel out it is Israel that singles itself out. He was responding to an article by John Mann where he wrongly, and tediously, conflates anti-zionism and anti-semtism.
I know many of those in Mann's corner criticise the boycott proposals for "singling out" Israel, but the reasoning here is tortuous. First, it's a complaint that can be made about any single issue campaign or almost any boycott of anything. Secondly, it is Israel's supporters who persistently "single out" the country by arguing that its "unique" situation excuses its monumental record of violations of human rights norms, international law and UN resolutions. Third, it seems not even occur to those who make this charge that people around the globe might "single out" Israel not because of hatred of Jews but compassion for Palestinians and plain unadulterated healthy outrage at the decades of injustice to which they've been subject.

Mann notes the anti-semitic hate mail he receives and links it - without supporting argument or evidence - to what he calls "the insipid [sic] growth of anti-semitism on the left under the cloak of anti-Zionism". As I'm sure he must know, the hate mail comes from all quarters. Every time I write about Israel I am inundated with abusive and threatening emails from Zionists. As a Jew, it's my experience that in London I am under threat not from Muslims or leftists but from the more fanatical wing of the Zionist movement.

Anti-Zionism may at times be a "cloak for anti-semitism" (just as support for Israel may be a cloak for anti-Arab or anti-Muslim racism) but Mann's method is assume that it is so unless proven otherwise. This is McCarthyism: the illogic of guilt by association, with the clear aim of de-legitimising or silencing part of the political spectrum.
I don't know what to make of the Guardian hosting blogs. Who has time to moderate the comments. Some are worth a look at but some are just absurd. Anyway have a see.

Rulers on the left, people on the right

I linked to and posted a chunk of Geoffrey Wheatcroft's Guardian comment piece here. I kept thinking about a paragraph I didn't post and it's this:
By now, the older political distinctions have anyway largely been eroded. As the sociologist Uri Ram has said (with a touch of ethnic sarcasm): "The major players in the socio-political drama taking place in Israel today are of the right: the socio-economic liberal right of the capitalist upper classes - called in Israel 'the left' - and the ethno-religious fundamentalist right of the labouring lower classes - called in Israel 'the people'."
This was in the context of the likely outcome of the coming Israeli elections where the imposition of Israel's expanded borders will be passed off by zionists in the western media as a move to the left.

March 25, 2006

Liberating Occupied Minds

Arthur Neslen has a book out called Occupied Minds and the formal launch is on Wednesday 29 March 2006 at Waterstones in Gower Street, London W1. Here's the full spiel:
At 1830, there'll be a meeting at Waterstones on Gower St with Arthur Neslen, journalist and author Daphna Baram, and former BBC Mideast correspondent Tim Llewellyn.

The after-launch party kicks off at 2000 at The Square, 21 Russell Square, London WC1, although there'll also be an overspill here from 1830 if we can't fit everyone into Waterstones.

At 2100, there'll be a screening of the Oscar-nominated (and unmissable) Palestinian film 'Paradise Now' + West Bank photo exhibition + music from DJ's Tania (who played at Punk Purim), Tabitha and others in the disco bar downstairs + food and drinks.

Entrance is by donation - £3 recommended, all monies to the Israeli activist group Anarchists against the Wall. Or you can come for free if you can help out with the door, cafe, bar or cooking rota

More on the Israel Lobby article

Here are a couple of useful antedotes to the hysteria that has greeted The Israel Lobby article by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and published in the London Review of Books. One is by Daniel Levy in Ha'aretz. It's notable for disagreeing with aspects of the article whilst refraining from the intellectual dishonesty so beloved of its zionist detractors.
It sometimes takes AIPAC omnipotence too much at face value and disregards key moments - such as the Bush senior/Baker loan guarantees episode and Clinton's showdown with Netanyahu over the Wye River Agreement. The study largely ignores AIPAC run-ins with more dovish Israeli administrations, most notably when it undermined Yitzhak Rabin, and how excessive hawkishness is often out of step with mainstream American Jewish opinion, turning many, especially young American Jews, away from taking any interest in Israel.

Yet their case is a potent one: that identification of American with Israeli interests can be principally explained via the impact of the Lobby in Washington, and in limiting the parameters of public debate, rather than by virtue of Israel being a vital strategic asset or having a uniquely compelling moral case for support (beyond, as the authors point out, the right to exist, which is anyway not in jeopardy). The study is at its most devastating when it describes how the Lobby "stifles debate by intimidation" and at its most current when it details how America's interests (and ultimately Israel's, too) are ill-served by following the Lobby's agenda.
And the other is the Guardian hosted blog of Adam Shatz. This is a genuine critique of the article itself and a complaint of the way it has been received. Headed Dialogue of the Deaf and worth quoting at length.
However, Mearsheimer and Walt, in my view, bend the stick too far; they seem so in awe of the lobby's power that they have abandoned their realism for the fantasy that Washington is Israeli-occupied territory. It is true that the lobby has a lot of power - too much power, especially in suppressing debate terrifying and/or bribing members of Congress, shutting down artistic productions (see the cancellation of "My Name is Rachel Corrie"), and bullying public figures (witness the abject caving in of Sir Richard Rogers). It is also true that the lobby enjoys boasting of its power, when it is not minimizing it - throwing around one's power while at the same time maintaining the appearance of righteous victimhood is, after all, a delicate balancing act.

But I am not persuaded by the Mearsheimer/Walt argument that the lobby is so decisive a force in shaping American Middle East policy. Israel's record is an embarrassment to the United States, and an affront to its stated democratic ideals (but then so is American behavior in Iraq!), but the Jewish state also provides the United States with valuable services which it might be unable to obtain elsewhere, particularly Israel's intelligence services.

Israel's nuclear weapons have provoked an arms race in the region, leading Iran to develop comparable weapons, which is doubtless a concern to the Americans; but those same nuclear weapons (built with French support, it is often forgotten) create fear in the minds of Arabs and Muslims, something the United States government may well appreciate.

Israel has helped train paramilitaries to fight guerillas in Colombia and other Latin American countries; it provided arms to Somoza's Nicaragua when Jimmy Carter withdrew support from his crumbling regime; more recently, according to Seymour Hersh, it has worked closely with Kurdish groups plotting attacks on Iran's borders; and Israel has advised American troops in Iraq on counter-insurgency.

While the lobby helps to frame, or rather constrict discussion of Israel and its behaviour in America, and while it helps drum up support for Israel on Capitol Hill and to intensify the wave of hostility directed toward Israel's enemies, from Iran to Syria, I'm not convinced that it can be credited with determining American policy (the Iraq war was partly about creating a safe environment for Israel, but much more about control of oil); or that American policy today runs counter to American interests because of the lobby's influence.

There is more convergence than divergence between the interests of Israel and the United States, at least as they are presently constructed. Both Israel and the United States, for different reasons, prefer weak Arab and Muslim states. This is a dangerously short-sighted strategy, one that inevitably provokes hostility, and it is no accident that in such a climate radical paramilitary groups from Hizbollah to Al Qaeda have emerged. The lobby has much to answer for, and it would be a salutary development if groups like AIPAC, which do not represent the majority of American Jewish opinion, were obliged to register as lobbies of a foreign power.

But the vision of Mearsheimer and Walt of a lobby with the power to recast American foreign policy in its image strains credulity. Although the United States is certainly having a hard time of it in Iraq, it could face down the lobby if it decided that the lobby was undermining US interests to the breaking point.
Well done Mr Shatz. You have managed to critique the article without casting aspersions on the writers' integrity and without accusing them of antisemitism.

In Israel racism is becoming mainstream, shock!

According to Chris McGreal in the Guardian, academics in Israel are concerned that after decades of colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and the enforcement of racist laws to facilitate colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing, there is a danger that racism might become mainstream in Israel.
A poll of attitudes among Israel's Jews towards their country's Arab citizens has exposed widespread racism, with large numbers favouring segregation and policies to encourage Arabs to leave the country.

The poll found that more than two-thirds of Jews would refuse to live in the same building as an Arab. Nearly half would not allow an Arab in their home and 41% want segregation of entertainment facilities.

The survey also found 40% of Israel's Jews believe "the state needs to support the emigration of Arab citizens", a policy advocated by some far-right parties in the run-up to next week's general election.

The poll was conducted by a respected Israeli organisation, Geocartographia, for the Centre for the Struggle Against Racism, founded by Arab-Israeli academics. "Racism is becoming mainstream," said the centre's director, Bachar Ouda. "When people talk about transfer [removal] or about Arabs as a demographic timebomb no one raises their voice against such statements.

"This is a worrisome phenomenon. The time has arrived for the Jewish population, who experienced what racism is on its flesh, to wake up and change its way."

Among the poll's other findings was that 63% of Jewish Israelis consider their country's Arab citizens a "security and demographic threat to the state". Some 18% said they felt hatred when they heard someone speaking Arabic, and 34% agreed with the statement that "Arab culture is inferior to Israeli culture".

An Arab-Israeli member of parliament, Taleb el-Sana, said he was not surprised by the findings.

"This shows we're not talking about a few people, but rather, a worrying phenomenon that places question marks over the Zionist movement," he said.

Mr Sana said polls that show anti-Semitism in other countries are greeted in Israel with a frenzy of denunciations.

"Yet when it happens at their home, they're quiet, and that's why this is a two-fold failure - they are racist, and they're also not attempting to address their own racism," he said.

Some Israelis have explained hostile attitudes toward Arabs not as racism but as stemming from years of conflict and religious differences. But Ahmed Tibi, another Arab member of parliament, said Israeli politics fuels racism.

"Overall, it pays to be racist in Israel because you don't pay a price for it and you can always explain it away by a security need and a self-defence mechanism," he said. "Racists have a long time ago moved from the street to government benches."

Far-right parties running in next week's general election in Israel have built significant support with anti-Arab platforms.

The Yisrael Beiteinu party advocates redrawing the border to place about 500,000 Arab-Israelis inside a Palestinian state. Yisrael Beiteinu is expected to win about 10 seats in the 120-seat parliament, meaning it could hold the balance of power. Another right-wing coalition is expected to take a similar number of seats.

Haaretz newspaper reported this week that the Kadima party, favoured to win the election, decided not to include an Arab in a viable position on its election list because it would cost the party several seats.
Oh dear. Where or when did it all go wrong?

Is Judaism defined by DNA?

Mark Lawson, in the Guardian, finds it sinister that someone would edit his Wikipedia entry to say that he is of Jewish descent and he's probably right. He also objects to being on the influential Catholic list of the Tablet.
Judaism is defined by DNA, Catholicism is conferred through practice. So it is provocative for the Tablet list to include the novelist David Lodge (an "agnostic Catholic"), Clare Short (a "cultural Catholic") and Bob Geldof (an atheist), all of whom would cause incense to come out of Papa Ratzinger's ears, while it cannot acknowledge Tony Blair, who is a Roman Catholic in everything except baptism.

But the magazine is right to be so catholic, as it were, in its definition of Catholicism. The novels of Lodge would not have the style or subjects that they do if he had been raised as a Methodist; nor would the screenplays of Jimmy McGovern (Cracker, Priest), another agnostic listed. The politics of Geldof and Short are also clearly shaped by the charitable and pacifist aspects of Catholic social teaching.

Ok, a bit garbled. It's wrong to suggest that being of Jewish descent might drive ones outlook because then you're making an issue of someone's DNA. But it's also wrong to call people Catholics if they don't practice Catholicism. Until Mark Lawson decides that it is ok.

But Jewish DNA? What DNA do I share with, say, Ethiopian Jews that I don't share with British gentiles? Also, ignoring the fact that Judaism is a religion and is defined by belief and practice, contrary to what Mark Lawson says, Jews are clearly a descent group more than a religious group. But is it simply the being born Jewish that makes one be Jewish or are there social, cultural, even political considerations? All this and much much more, I just don't know the answer to.

March 24, 2006

Oh Israel, when did you go wrong?

This is a good article in the Guardian. Written by Geoffrey Wheatcroft, it argues that Israel didn't simply go wrong.
There has, indeed, been a dramatic turn in opinion. It's very hard to recall the esteem and goodwill in which Israel once basked, not least on the broad liberal left, where there is now a received view that Israel has deserved this change in affections: that Israel and Zionism are vicious now, having been virtuous once. The view may be almost universal - but is it true?You can hear echoes of the shift in these pages. It might be a columnist recalling the early 1960s, when progressive young friends (mine too) would go from London to spend the summer on a kibbutz in that heroic land. Or it might be Sir Gerald Kaufman bitterly denouncing the present Israeli government by comparison with "the beautiful democratic Israel" that he first knew in the 1950s.

In the age of Jenin, and now Jericho, of "targeted killings" and F-16s blasting refugee camps, that turn in Israel's reputation might seem natural enough. And yet there is a contrary case to be made, that Israel has in some ways been criticised too harshly over the past 20 years, having been judged too leniently in its first 20.

It is really very hard to explain to anyone under the age of 50 just how popular Israel once was, notably among European social democrats and our own Labour party. In the 50s, newspapers such as the Manchester Guardian and the Observer (for all the trauma of Suez) accepted axiomatically that Zionism was a force for good, and David Ben-Gurion, Israel's founding prime minister, would be profiled in the New Statesman in what were frankly rhapsodic terms.

There were several reasons for this, from traditional liberal philosemitism to horror and shame at the fate of the European Jews. Besides that, in the nearly three decades after 1948, when Israel was run by Labour, it was widely, if myopically, seen as a model social democracy. The change began with the 1967 war, when Israel's former admirers began to condemn the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and was accelerated when Likud took over as the dominant party.

And yet those admirers missed some salient truths. That beautiful democratic Israel of 50 years ago was founded on ethnic cleansing. The later expansion of Israel was actually less brutal: after 1967 a number of Palestinians were uprooted, but there was nothing to compare with the wholesale expulsion of three-quarters of a million Palestinians in 1948 - an event to which the right-thinking liberal west closed its eyes at the time.

Even the settlements in the occupied territories, which Israel almost light-heartedly (and in the end hubristically) began in the 1970s, were often set up on empty land, a contrast indeed to the settling of Palestine in earlier generations. "Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages," Moshe Dayan briskly admitted about the creation of his country: "There is not one single place that did not have a former Arab population."
It began wrong.

Outlawing anti-zionism?

From Ynet. A report in France suggests that anti-zionism should be punishable in the same way that anti-semitism is.
Its author, award-winning writer, doctor and president of a humanitarian aid association, Jean-Christophe Rufin, suggested a raft of measures to combat racism and singles out anti-Semitism as a problem to be combated separately.

But one recommendation, that "unfounded" anti-Israel stances be criminalised to the same extent as anti-Jewish acts, has stirred debate in France, where media and political commentary is often critical of Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

Anti-Israel positions among radical anti-racist campaigners risked "a contamination which could put the lives of our Jewish citizens in danger," Mr Rufin argued.

He suggested a law "to punish those who might level unfounded racism allegations against groups, institutions or states, and use against them unjustified comparisons with apartheid or Nazism."

Other recommendations in Mr Rufin's report included: video surveillance of Jewish cemeteries, clearer statistical databases permitting international comparisons, better national coordination, and heightened vigilance of Internet sites.

The study challenged stereotypes that perpetrators of hate-crimes often came from disadvantaged French suburbs predominantly populated by immigrant families from Muslim north African countries such as Algeria and Morocco.

"The new anti-Semitism appears more heterogeneous," it said.

Anti-racist organisations, while welcoming many of the measures envisioned in the report, turned on the controversial suggestion about assimilating criticism or acts against Israel with anti-Semitism.

Mr Rufin was "acting like an arsonist fireman," the head of France's League of Human Rights, Michel Tuniana, said.

'Personal take on problem facing France'

He said the focus on anti-Semitism created an "imbalance" in the approach to fighting all racism, and added that, if the recommendation became law, the umbrella groups the International Federation for Human Rights would be punished because it viewed Israel's treatment of Israeli Arabs as "discriminatory".

Jewish groups in France, however, supported the recommendation.

Mr. Rufin "denounces, very sharply, the anti-Semites who hide behind a sort of anti-Zionism," the head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, Haim Musicant, said.
Whilst many anti-zionists stop short of likening Israel to nazi Germany, many, including Jews, could fall foul of a law against calling Israel an apartheid state.

"International reverberations"

Here's an article from yesterday's Ha'aretz by Meron Benvenisti. It's an interesting article in its own right but it carries with it a flat contradiction of a major aspect of the recent Israel Lobby article in the LRB in that it shows how America can and does pressure Israel to yield certain results. In this instance America intervened to stop Israel from making their policy of starving the Palestinians too obvious.
The trusteeship alternative
By Meron Benvenisti

The opening and closure of the Karni crossing could have been the subject of a comedy sketch, had it not been part of a humanitarian crisis for more than one million Gaza Strip residents whose basic products are running out. In the morning the crossing is reported closed due to a "serious warning," and a few hours later the crossing opens and a few trucks pass through, until it's closed once again.

The American ambassador invited Israeli representatives to his home in Herzliya, and that was all it took for Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to instruct the security establishment to open the crossing "in a limited manner." His spokespeople confirmed that it's not the humanitarian crises itself that's bothering Olmert, but the "international reverberations" the closure has caused.

It has also become clear that the "international reverberations" - rather than general elections - are the sole factor liable to change Israel's policy, and an American edict undermines any "sovereign and proud" Israeli position. Fear of an international reaction is the most effective roadblock for hasty steps, and the absence of such a fear serves as authorization to take belligerent actions that lead to impassioned public reactions - as though the issue at hand were courageous acts rather than underhanded opportunism.

The absence of a handful of international monitors was enough to jump at the opportunity to carry out the showy operation in Jericho, without worrying about the wrath of the United States. Israel will not be criticized for the humiliation suffered by the Palestinian Authority and its chairman, Mahmoud Abbas (and the entire Palestinian nation), since the PA and its chairman exist solely as a default; and everyone knows they survive thanks to an alliance of conflicting interests that support the existence of a violent and unstable status quo, only because of the fear that its collapse will bring about a worse situation.

That is the context in which the issue of the continued existence of the fiction known as the Palestinian Authority must be examined. Much has already been said about how the cynical use of terms such as "government" and "parliament" to describe Palestinian institutions is meant to disguise a reality of total chaos and continue the charity system known as international aid.

Those calling for the PA to be dismantled think the very existence of the fiction helps Israel continue a deluxe occupation, without being required to fulfill its commitments as an occupying power, and also continue to impose the heavy financial responsibility on the donor states. Those who support the continued existence of the PA say that even in its wretched condition, its very existence symbolizes the demand of self-determination, and that its activity in civil matters, no matter how limited, is important to the process of building the Palestinian nation. The Palestinian people, they say, need national institutions.

It appears that on balance, the continued existence of the PA serves Israel's interests more than those of the Palestinians. Israel is interested in the PA as a symbol of a terror organization (especially since Hamas came into power). Israel is also interested in maintaining the status quo - which is disguised in the election as "unilateral steps of convergence" - but in effect reinforces the regime of cantons, whose independence is, so to speak, verified every day at the Karni crossing.

Dismantling the PA would shake up this status quo, but will not cause chaos, as many fear. The international community would be forced to intervene, because otherwise, a humanitarian catastrophe would take place that no one would be able to shake off. The status quo that Israel wants to perpetuate generates boredom and revulsion that push the international community away from intervention, but dismantling the PA would force a de facto trusteeship, if only to monitor the continued financial support of the Palestinian people.

Israel - which is vigorously opposed to the internationalization of the conflict, out of an aspiration to utilize its complete power advantage without external intervention - will be faced with a tough dilemma. If it opposes such a move, it will be compelled to establish a ruling government in the territories on its own, and funding it. If it doesn't oppose the move, an effective roadblock against its exclusive control will be established for the first time.

A de facto trusteeship will undoubtedly establish a new Palestinian Authority that is not based on the Oslo Accords, of which the only sections left are those that are comfortable for Israel. Under the cover of this temporary trusteeship, the PA will be able to conduct negotiations without worrying about a dictate or boycott. After all, it has already been proven that even the ghost of a threat of international sanctions is enough to moderate boastful Israeli steps.

The opening of the Karni crossing due to American pressure should serve as an example of more daring steps. Whoever does not want to speak with the Palestinian Authority or pay a billion dollars a year to rule over the occupied territories should not complain when faced with the alternative.
I think Meron Benvenisti was a Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem once upon a time but became conscience stricken over the treatment of the Palestinians.

March 23, 2006

Israeli elections: whoever wins Arabs will lose

Here's an article in Australia's the Age newspaper. Written by Ed O'Loughlin and headlined Israel's shunned Arabs watch poll with unease, the article emphasises the fatc that whilst it's a proud boast of zionists that Arabs can vote and even hold seats in the Israeli parliament, they can only lose when the electoral spoils are divvied up if not before:
WHEN the seats are shared out after next week's Israeli election, the balance of power could be held by an immigrant leader who wants to rid the state of large numbers of its native citizens.

This curious state of affairs has not prevented several mainstream parties from courting the support of Moldovan-born Avigdor Lieberman, whose anti-Arab policies have not disqualified him from twice serving as a minister.

Polls show that Mr Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu ("Israel is our home") party could win 11 seats in the 120-seat Knesset in the March 28 election, thanks to growing support from Israel's 1 million recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

So when centre-left Labour became the first party to rule out a pact with 48-year-old Mr Lieberman last week, its principled stand was applauded by the liberal daily Haaretz, which noted that "until now, everyone has appeared willing to join everyone else, with the sole test being an arithmetic one".

Not quite true: there has long been another bloc in the Israeli parliament capable on paper of commanding more seats than Mr Lieberman and which — arithmetically — could have come to the rescue of more than one Jewish prime minister trying to shore up his slender majority.

But unlike Mr Lieberman and his fellow advocate of the "transfer" of ethnically inappropriate fellow citizens, the late tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi, Israel's Arab parties are considered untouchable by mainstream politicians, able to sit and vote in parliament but fenced off from power calculations.

"Arab parliamentarians are never seen as a legitimate partner in a coalition," says Dr Amal Jamal, an Arab political scientist at the University of Tel Aviv. "When Arab parties vote for the government or support the government in any policy issue, immediately the right-wing parties accuse the government of being illegitimate because it relies on Arab votes."

Growing frustration at 60 years of failure to gain a toehold in government is fuelling calls for an Arab boycott of this month's poll. Combined with internal divisions and changes to the election laws, this could all but wipe out the Arab-Israeli parties in the next Knesset. Although comprising a fifth of Israel's 6 million inhabitants, Christian, Muslim and Druze Arab citizens hold only a 10th of the seats in the present Knesset. Only eight of these MPs represent Arab parties or the mixed but mainly Arab communist party Hadash.
Well it is a Jewish state.

Honest reporting?

This is from the blog of a zionist group called, don't laugh, Honest Reporting.
Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but even op-eds have to be no less factually accurate than regular news reports. So we have to wonder about the Madison Capital-Times, which gave op-ed space to Jennifer Lowenstein (pictured) for a nasty screed about Israel. Unfortunately, her facts are all wrong.

Among other things, Lowenstein claims Hamas supports a two-state solution while Israel opposes this, then describes as “bizarre” the notion that Hamas should be forced accept a two-state solution. The road map, which Israel and the Palestinian Authority accepted, is premised on a two-state solution.
And here's what Jennifer Lowenstein actually wrote:
For those who haven't noticed, Israel opposes a two-state solution. It has been doing everything in its power to prevent a Palestinian state from emerging and will continue to do so as long as it can count on the complicity of its powerful friends and on abundant popular indifference.

Under such circumstances, it is incumbent upon ourselves to ask why Hamas has therefore been ordered - by Israel and its same powerful friends - to accept "the two-state solution," especially when, unlike Israel, it has stated clearly and repeatedly that it would accept a Palestinian state on the lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Indeed, all of its key spokespeople have said this.
Now Hamas has clearly said that it will ceasefire for a generation if Israel withdraws from what non-zionists call the occupied territories. It isn't the same as accepting a two state solution and Jennifwer Lowenstein doesn't say that they do. The question is why is a group called Honest Reporting misrepresenting what she actually wrote? It's almost like zionists don't want people knowing the truth. The HR article also implies that Israel does supoort a two state solution and yet such a solution has been within Israel's gift for decades now. So why hasn't it been implemented?

Where the f*** are we?

I'm just posting this so that we all know where we are with America.

Israel's infanticide incentive scheme

Israeli soldiers haven't been killing enough children lately so what to do? Start an incentive scheme.
A Givati Brigade officer will receive NIS 80,000 in compensation from the state after he was cleared of all charges in relating to the death of 13-year-old Palestinian girl, Iman Al Hamas, in the much-publicized "confirmed kill" affair.

Captain "R" will receive NIS 80,000 in compensation from the state in addition to reimbursement for NIS 2,000 of legal expenses, as part of an arrangement reached between his lawyers and the military prosecution.

The agreement was made official Wednesday in the Israel Defense Forces's Southern Command court.
The going rate for killing a 13 year-old school student is NIS 80,000. The details haven't been published yet but it's believed to be a higher rate for killing girls because they are the ones who have babies and Israel's war on the Palestinians is nothing if not "demographic". The more women the Israeli army kills the less Palestinians will be born. This is great news for humanitarians everywhere. Those who despair at the Israeli army's propensity for killing Palestinian civilians can take comfort from the fact that the same army won't have to do that if it targets so many girls that Palestinians will stop being born.

Claimants of the award can remain anonymous like Captain "R" so that their comrades at arms don't get jealous at their jolly good luck. Not only do they get the pleasure of killing and then "confirming the kill" of Palestinian children, they get money out of it as well.

From Ha'aretz.

March 22, 2006

Beware idle chat

From the Guardian: A man has successfully sued a woman for defaming him in an online chatroom. Apparently courts can force ISPs to hand over personal details of users who libel others or otherwise break the law. This case only applies in the UK but there may well be similar laws in other countries.
A landmark legal ruling ordering a woman to pay £10,000 in damages for defamatory comments posted on an internet chatroom site could trigger a rush of similar lawsuits, a leading libel lawyer warned today.

Michael Smith, a Ukip activist who stood for the Portsmouth North seat last year, became the first person to win damages yesterday after being accused of being a "sex offender" and "racist blogger" on a Yahoo! discussion site.

Mr Smith, 53, from Fareham in Hampshire, sued Tracy Williams, of Oldham, for comments posted after she joined a rightwing online forum in 2002.

Judge Alistair MacDuff said in the high court that Ms Williams was "particularly abusive" and "her statements demonstrated that ... she had no intention of stopping her libellous and defamatory behaviour".

The judge ordered Ms Williams never again to repeat the "unfounded" defamatory remarks, which included calling Mr Smith a "nonce" and accusing him of sexual harassment.

Although ISPs have paid out for hosting defamatory comments, this case is thought to be the first time an individual has been found to have committed libel on a internet chat site.

"The obvious and immediate potential ramification is that there will be more cases like this," said Richard Shillito, a partner at the law firm Farrer & Co. "One sees on these sites particularly unrestrained comments that people make in the heat of the moment without thinking of the legal consequences.

"A lot of people post anonymously but it is possible to find out people's identity. I think people should read this judgment as a warning to be more careful about their comments."
I wonder how this will work out.

Bulldozing Rachel off the New York stage

Not bulldozing, bullshitting. Here's a filmed discussion on Democracy Now on the cancellation of My Name is Rachel Corrie from the New York Theatre Workshop.
"My Name is Rachel Corrie" - a play based on the words of the American peace activist crushed to death three years ago by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza - is causing controversy after the New York City theater that was scheduled to run it postponed production. We host a discussion with Katharine Viner, the editor of the play in London and James Nicola and Lynn Moffat, the two top directors of the New York Theatre Workshop.
It's really bizarre listening to James Nicola, the theatre's artistic director who told the Guardian newspaper
"In our pre-production planning and our talking around and listening in our communities in New York, what we heard was that after Ariel Sharon's illness and the election of Hamas, we had a very edgy situation." Nicola went on to say, "We found that our plan to present a work of art would be seen as us taking a stand in a political conflict, that we didn't want to take."
Now listen to Tony Nicola and Lynn Moffat "explain" their decision. Woops, I mean, explain "their" decision.

There is a potentially happy ending here. According to Katherine Viner, the Royal Court Theatre has been inundated with requests from American (including New York) theatres wanting to stage the play.

Guardian corrects and clarifies

The Guardian has added a correction to a review of Linda Grant's latest book by Karma Nabulsi:
In her review of Linda Grant's book The People in the Street, page 9, Review, March 18, our reviewer said that the author visited the village of a Palestinian writer's parents, which they left in 1948, and the reviewer suggested that the book records the Palestinian writer's feelings about the visit. That is not the case. The Palestinian writer told the author that he would be writing his own account, at a future date.
They have also run a clarification of the Punk Purim article I posted on Monday.
Just in case it needs any clarification, the cabaret artist Deborah Fink, referred to in Jewish hipsters and sacred cows, page 2, G2, March 20, as performing "satirical songs about whining Palestinians" while dressed as the columnist Melanie Phillips, was not making fun of the Palestinians as such. This was perhaps clearer in the writer's original piece. Ms Fink emphasises that the one relevant song, with words by Deborah Maccoby, was essentially a criticism of celebrities who go to Israel and ignore the plight of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
So, a good day for Jews in the Guardian.

Engage relaxes its censorship

Engage seems to have relaxed its censorship today. I don't know when they started moderating comments but they clearly use "moderation" to prevent debate. I posted their stated rules here but their policy clearly doesn't tally with their rules. Sadly I have to use it too because I get more than my fair share of time wasting trolls. But I don't use it to prevent debate. I already mentioned that I only tried to comment on Engage twice: once to ask what George Galloway had said that was actually antisemitic and once to say that it didn't really matter if there are one or two states in Israel/Palestine but that it is the state structure that counts. Clearly Engage is trying to protect its lack of integrity here.

Anyway one of their disingenuous posts about the LRB Israel Lobby article has a comment from Debbie Fink. I can't link directly to the comment but here it is:
To those who are in denial about the power of the pro-Israel lobby in the US, maybe they can explain why the play 'My Name is Rachel Corrie' has been indefinitely postponed in New York and why the cantata for Rachel Corrie was cancelled there? (Funny how the JC has not reported the former...another example of censorship?).

As for Lord Rogers.........From what I know about him, I do not believe that he supports that wall, and the rest.....

And what of the pro-Israel lobby over here? Don't you find it strange that the West London synagogue cancelled EJJP's booking for the meeting ' The unheard voices of Israel'? How's this for censorship? It seems that we are only allowed to hear from Israelis (and Jews) acceptable to the Israeli government. People who claim to be pro-Israel in this way, are only selectively pro-Israel. It would be more accurate to say, pro-Israeli government.
The more I see their coverage of that particular article the more I feel they are not simply a bunch of liars for Israel but that they are becoming increasingly loopy and hate-filled. They're looking like a cross between Harry's Place and Little Green Footballs. Go look at the front page of their Forum. It contains the kind of imagery that gets MPACUK accused of antisemitism.

Their policy seems to have been relaxed since Deborah Fink complained about it to the Just Peace list whilst debating with Linda Grant.

March 21, 2006


It must be the time of year. Or maybe it's the time of man. Oh never mind. Here's The Shondes, who can speak for themselves.
The Shondes are a much-needed wake-up call to New York independent music. This vibrant new band will send shockwaves tearing through audiences that have grown accustomed to a sleepy, ironic music sensibility. A Shondes performance will make you laugh, but their humor isn’t mockery; rather, it is a life-sustaining force in a world full of struggle. At a time when “queerness” is often de-politicized, focusing more on throwing a good party for people with lots of privilege than on calling that privilege out, and connecting struggles; a time when young, white hipster culture with loud Zionist overtones has come to define New York Jewish community and identity, The Shondes stand with their communities to challenge a comfort with this through a commitment to social justice and passionate music.
Here's a mid-pesach gig they have line up:
Pesach Rock!
A Radical Jewish Music Showcase, featuring:
Pharoah's Daughter: Hasidic chants, Mizrachi and Sephardi folk rock, and
Spiritual Stylings
The Shondes: queercore-to-the-kishkes rock quartet
Trictrotic: The Music of Nomy Lamm, Marcus
Rogers, and Erin Daly (Chicago)
Jason Trachtenburg's (The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players) Proverbial
Fourth Wall.

Saturday, April 15, 9:00 pm
@ Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY

For more info: or

David Hirsh and the spectre of the Ku Klux Klan

More on the LRB's Israel Lobby article at the Engage site. This time David Hirsh has run the headline: Where the London Review of Books Meets the Ku Klux Klan. They even have a picture of Klansmen in front of a burning cross. Apparently David Duke likes the article so this makes it anti-semitic. Imagine, if Dr Hirsh had read the New York Sun (yes he links to the New York Sun as a serious comment on antisemitism) sooner, he wouldn't have had to misrepresent the article. He could have simply said, or said simply, that David Duke likes it. He's tried this brand of illogic before on Nick Cohen's site.
the American racist David Duke uses the same terminology to describe Zionism as does Joseph Massad, the anti-Zionist academic at Columbia - “Jewish Supremacism”.
Here's my reply
Comparing David Duke to Joseph Massad is disgusting even by your appalling standards. David Duke links every event in world history to the Jews whilst Joseph Massad has very clearly stated that Palestinians have been victims of European anti-semitism as surely, if not (so far) as intensely, as Jews have. I’m surprised at a great academic like you not knowing that. Except of course you do know that and you are just smearing a better person than yourself.
In fairness, he backed down:
I didn’t compare Massad to Duke. I simply pointed out that Duke uses the same central phrase, “Jewish supremacism” to analyse Jewish and Zionist power throughout the world. And Massad does think that Zionism is a global phenomenon.

My point was not that Massad and Duke were the same but that contemporary antisemitism is nearly always anti-Zionist.
But now it seems that zionists across their narrow racist spectrum are ditching any pretence of reasonableness and he is back to the comparison he couldn't sustain when he couldn't control the comments. As it happens, I think he's flipped.

Still, just in case I get likened to David Duke by David Hirsh, I'd better point out that I just hate blueberry pie.

March 20, 2006

Bush will attack Iran for Israel

According to Ha'aretz, Bush has said that America will use military might for Israel against Iran. He must be hard-up for excuses because if you say that America attacked Iraq for Israel you get accused of anti-semitism.
U.S. President George W. Bush said Monday he would use military force to protect Israel from Iranian threats, but also restated his desire to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program diplomatically.

Bush, in a speech in Cleveland, Ohio, cited comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last year calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Iran's "stated objective" to destroy Israel is a "serious threat," Bush said as he marked three years since the start of the war in Iraq.

"I made it clear - and I'll make it clear again - that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel," he said.
So now what do we say? Ah, I know. Stop the war!

Punk Purim in the Guardian

Congrats to Joseph and Adam for bringing their yiddisher dissent to the attention of the Guardian. There's a fair write-up on the Jewdas meets Heeb festivities in the G2 today.
"We are trying to create a new, more radical form of Jewish identity," says Joseph Finlay, of Jewdas. "The main obsessions of British Jews are defending the state of Israel and making Jewish babies. We aim to knock these idols down and reopen the debate on who owns Judaism, who has the right to speak for the Jewish community and who is a Jew - surely anyone committed to justice? "We're also trying to bring in a new sense of fun," he continues, "playing with tradition rather than sanctifying it. Once Judaism is sacred, it is already dead."
See Jewdas's own write-up on the Punk Purim event here.

Who are you calling a liar?

There's a bit of a ding-dong going on over at Just Peace with Linda Grant insisting that Karma Nabulsi has invented a chunk of her book that just isn't there.
I am currently dealing with the Guardian's corrections and clarifications. Karma Nabulsi has invented for the purposes of her review a conversation between Samir el Youssef and myself on his experience of visitng his parents village which neither appears in the book, nor took place in real life. The Guardian has had complaints from others who know Samir, about this fictitious exchange and about the overall tone of the review. A correction has been prepared and the Guardian is currently waiting for Karma Nabulsi to explain how this fallacious exchange appeared in her review. Readers can judge for themselves how reliable the rest of it is on this basis. The correction will be inserted onto the review on the website.
I think Karma Nabulsi made an honest mistake based on other things she has heard or read of Linda Grant. In fact I thought I recognised the episode about the return to the parents village but on re-examination I saw that it wasn't as I thought I had remembered it. I still loved the review though, just ignore the last paragraph.

Leader of the free world?

I never really took much notice of Gary Younge until David Aaronovitch misrepresented him in an article a week or so ago. But here's quite a good one in the Guardian today.
Six years into his presidency it is difficult to think of a single, substantial foreign policy initiative that US president George Bush has pursued that did not involve war, or the threat of it. There is good reason for this. It is the one area in which America reigns supreme, accounting alone for 40% of the global military expenditure and spending almost seven times the amount of its nearest rival, China......

Last week the country that aspires to lead the free world stood alongside only Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands and against 170 countries in rejecting the creation of a new UN council to protect human rights. Only the US and Somalia (which has no recognised government) have failed to ratify the UN convention on the rights of the child....

Meanwhile, elections keep on producing the wrong results. Hamas is in power in Palestine; René Préval, the protege of Jean-Bertrand Aristide whom the US helped remove in a coup two years ago, won the presidency in Haiti; Ahmed Chalabi, the protege of the neocons whom the US wanted to impose on the Iraqi people at the outset of the war, could not win a single seat. Elsewhere, voters in Latin America have opted for leaders who campaigned against the neoliberal economic strictures imposed by Washington.

The issue is not whether the developing world is ready for democracy - as the administration keeps arguing - but if the US is ready for the democratic choices made by the developing world.

Who or what is the Board of Deputies for?

What makes this question interesting is who is asking it. It's Geoffrey Alderman in the Jewish Chronicle.
Joint statement that’s not so joint

16 March 2006

By Geoffrey Alderman

On February 22, a most bizarre “joint statement” was issued by the Department for Education and Skills and nine individuals who were said to represent the leading religious communities in the United Kingdom.

At the top of this list — presumably because “Catholic” comes before “Church of England” — was Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, head of the Ro-man Catholic Church in England. Then came the Bishop of Portsmouth on behalf of the Anglican Church. Further down the list were representatives of the Buddhists, the Free Churches, the UK Hindu Council, the Methodists, and the Network of Sikh Organisations. Also on the list was the name of Sir Iqbal Sacranie, of the Muslim Council of Britain, to which I shall return in due course.

But the name that really caught my eye was that of Mr Jon Benjamin, representing the Board of Depu-ties of British Jews.

In October 2004, the DfES published the first-ever National Framework for Religious Education. That framework is non-statutory. Nonetheless, behind the scenes the government has been working hard to get the leaders of the major faith groups in the UK to sign up to one of its central themes, namely that, in all taxpayer-funded faith schools, pupils should learn about other religions. And so, after months of negotiation, the joint statement was launched, binding its signatories to the view that “schools with a religious designation should teach not only their own faith but also an awareness of the tenets of other faiths.”

On the face of it, no one could possibly object to these carefully crafted words. It is surely right for pupils in publicly assisted faith schools (I am thinking primarily of the 30 state-maintained Jewish schools) to be made aware of the fact that Britain is not a Jewish state and that the majority of British people, if they profess any religion at all, profess religions other than Judaism in its various branches.

Many, if not most, of you reading this column might also agree that pupils should know something — in superficial outline that falls deliberately short of anything remotely resembling systematic theology — about these other religions.

But there are several deeply troubling aspects to this otherwise innocuous initiative. To begin with, the Board of Deputies is not a religious body. Nor does it represent the totality of British Jewry. Its writ does not run in Gateshead, or in parts of Jewish Bar-net, Jewish Hackney, and Jewish Manchester. And even where its writ does run, it is obliged to seek the guidance of its ecclesiastical authorities, the spiritual head of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews (Rabbi Dr Abraham Levy) and the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations, Rabbi Professor Sir Jonathan Sacks. It is also obliged to consult the religious heads of congregations not recognising the authority of either of these two gentlemen.

Well, for starters, I can tell you that Dr Levy was never asked for his views on the matter of the joint statement. Nor was the religious head of my congregation (the Federation of Synagogues), Dayan YY Lichtenstein, ever consulted about it.

This is a pity, not least because Dayan Lichten-stein has some interesting views, strictly grounded, as you might expect, in halachah, on the extent to which Jewish children can be taught about other religions. He believes, for instance, that they can be taught something about the beliefs of Islam, but not about Christianity, which in his view falls within avodah zorah — idol worship.

And I have to ask what Mr Benjamin’s signature was doing on the joint statement. Why didn’t the statement contain the name of Sir Jonathan Sacks (assuming he agreed with its contents)? What about the religious heads of the Reform movement, the Liberals and the Masorti? Were they consulted? And, if so, why didn’t their names appear?

I turn now to a name that did appear, that of Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain. Just like the Board of Deputies, the MCB is not a religious organisation. Cardinal Cormac Mur-phy O’Connor may be able, in an ecclesiastical sense, to speak for and on behalf of all the Roman Catholics in the UK. Sir Iqbal cannot speak, in an ecclesiastical sense, for British Muslims, let alone bind them to any particular religious imperative.

Had the joint statement included the authorised signatories of, say, the Lancashire or Bradford Council of Mosques, or the Islamic Sharia Council of the UK, I might have been inclined to take it seriously. As it is, it is not worth the paper it is printed on.
Perhaps the community's ready for Jews against zionism now.

March 19, 2006

Try the murderers!

Wow! here's a headline and a half in today's Ha'aretz.
State prosecutor: Israel has right to try Ze'evi killers
And now look at the article in Israel's most liberal daily:
Israel has the authority to try the murderers of former minister Rehavam Ze'evi, State Prosecutor Eran Shendar concluded yesterday after consulting with other senior legal officials.
Why try them when Ha'aretz has already found them guilty? And that's without getting into whether or not the killing of Ze'evi was a legitimate targeted assassination of a man who was openly planning ethnic cleansing.

Engage on that LRB article

I've just been reading some opinions on the Engage website about the article on America's Israel Lobby that appeared in the latest London Review of Books. They have three Engage opinions, a link to another one and 6 comments.

Here's a little chunk of the Engage intro to the article.
They discuss all the possible reasons why Israel gets favourably singled out by America, and discard them one by one. The only explanation left is that there must be some sort of secret, a shadowy influence being exercised somewhere.
And here's what the article actually says:
In its basic operations, the Israel Lobby is no different from the farm lobby, steel or textile workers’ unions, or other ethnic lobbies. There is nothing improper about American Jews and their Christian allies attempting to sway US policy: the Lobby’s activities are not a conspiracy of the sort depicted in tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. For the most part, the individuals and groups that comprise it are only doing what other special interest groups do, but doing it very much better. By contrast, pro-Arab interest groups, in so far as they exist at all, are weak, which makes the Israel Lobby’s task even easier.
Here's Jeff Weintraub:
"Yes, I saw that article yesterday, and I found it appalling... but also significant. This is a far more respectable and academically credible version of the Buchananite line - or, to put it another way, an academically heavyweight restatement of the "realist" critique of the US-Israeli alliance and the "Jewish lobby" that used to be associated mostly with people like George Ball, State Department Arabists, and big-business Republicans (with the additional wrinkle of blaming the Iraq war on the Jews)."
Here's what the article actually says:
Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical.
Is that "blaming the Iraq war on the Jews?"

Here's a bit of Shalom Lappin's offering:
the seductive skillfulness of the article consists largely in its packaging a traditional Zionist conspiracy view of American foreign policy, long a cornerstone of the far left and the far right, in a relaxed foreign policy analyist's idiom that detaches it from anti-Jewish diatribes. This is the source of its appeal and its danger.
He seems to be complaining that the article isn't anti-semitic which I would have to agree with since it's not but he also uses the c-word - conspiracy that is, to which we return to what the article actually said:
the Lobby’s activities are not a conspiracy of the sort depicted in tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
He also says that the "Zionist conspiracy view of American foreign policy," has long been a "cornerstone of the far left." No it hasn't. The far left position tends to be that Israel is a useful tool in America's imperialist armoury. But what's also curious here is that for an academic site Engage offers no explanation of why America does support Israel. America supports almost every Israeli move including the occupation which Engage claims to oppose. So why don't they tolerate criticism of American support for Israel. Anyway, the one article that does seek to explain why America supports Israel is linked to on the Engage site but not posted there. The writer is Martin Kramer:
But let's enter Walt's World, and accept its presumptions, for argument's sake—and for the sake of an argument about Israel. Let's set aside the claim that Israel and the U.S. share democratic values, rooted in a common tradition. Let's set aside the fact that the American public has a genuine regard for Israel, shown in poll after poll, which prevents it from ever seeing Israel as one more Norway. (Walt: if Israel tries to impose an "unjust solution" on the Palestinians, the United States should reduce its support for Israel to "the same way that we support a Norwegian state.") Let's just ask his simple question: is Israel a strategic asset or a strategic liability for the United States?

To recap: Walt thinks that by any objective measure, U.S. support for Israel is a liability. It causes Arabs and Muslims to hate America. Since he thinks the United States should disengage from the Middle East, and follow a policy of "offshore balancing," he believes America needs to cultivate a sense of shared purpose with Arabs and Muslims, many of whom detest Israel or its policies or both. The less the United States is identified as a supporter and friend of Israel's five million Jews, the easier it will be for the United States to find local proxies and clients to keep order among the billion or so Muslims. And the only thing that has prevented the United States from seeing this clearly is the pro-Israel lobby, operating through fronts as diverse as AIPAC, The Washington Institute, and—yes—even the Brookings Institution. Have I simplified Walt's argument? Probably not as much as you might think.

To answer Walt's simple argument, I'll respond with a simple question. If you need an ally somewhere, don't you want it to be the smartest, most powerful, and most resourceful guy on the block, who also happens to admire you? And what is the point of having an ally who's backward, weak, irresolute, and thinks in his heart of hearts that you're his enemy? That's the choice the United States faces in the Middle East.
Leaving aside the offensive language, this isn't a million miles from the left perspective. It still begs the question: if Israel acts in America's interests why does the lobby spend so much money on American politicians?

Not the Jewish and Israel Blog Awards

I didn't get a JIBA (Jewish and Israel Blog Award) and I was really disappointed after all the hours (ok, minutes) I put into researching and writing my blog. But it's not all doom and gloom. I got an N-JIBA from the Jewish Socialist. This article sets out some of the Jewish interest websites that won't even be considered for a JIBA because they don't support Israel. Or as Clifford Singer puts it, they are Online but off-message.
Some radical bloggers prefer to skip the spiritual angst and head straight to the action of Israel-Palestine (IP) blogging. Three sites that won't be receiving Jewish and Israel Blog Awards anytime soon are the intelligent and unashamedly anti-Zionist Jews Sans Frontieres, Antony Loewenstein and Anti-Zionist Notes.
See that? "intelligent". Jewish Socialist is the magazine of the Jewish Socialist Group and is a shnip, I mean a snip, at £1.50 a go.

Another review of Linda Grant's book

I linked to the review of Linda Grant's latest book in a post to the Just Peace list and a John Strawson (I think he's with the Engage crew but I'm not sure) has responded thus:
Can I suggest that everyone who is interested in Linda
Grant's book "The people of the Street," read it? It
would be quite wrong to assume that Karma Nabulsi's
narrative of the book is the only one. Grant sets out
not to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or even
to investigate its origins. She is rather attempting
to offer some narratives about the current Israeli
reality. I think we need more not less of this
approach - and certainly need more including of course
Palestinian narratives. It breaks away from imposing
an all embracing national discourse that established a
fixed camp from which the world can see so simple and
instead offers a series of changing frames each
challenging, thought-provoking and thoughtful. My
reading of the book is not as Nabulsi's it is far from
comfortable and cosy but rather disturbing using in
turns humor and sadness to disrupt the noise of
ideological discourses. I my view this is an important
book and a really fine piece of writing.
I hadn't noticed any other reviews of this book but I just found this one, again in the Guardian:
Linda Grant's The People on the Street should be obligatory reading on both sides of the Israel-Palestine divide,
That was the sub-title. You know, the big print just below the headline. I held something back though. The reviewer's name: Ian Black. Another resident zionist at the Guardian.

March 18, 2006

Palestinian gays and more Dershowitz lies

For some time now zionists have been bragging that whilst Israel exists on the basis of colonisation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid laws, it is at least a safe haven for persecuted Palestinian gays. Alan Dershowitz has got in the act, telling an audience that not only did he draft UN Resolution 242 but that he supports Israel because he supports gay rights. Look:
And in Israel? Misinformation abounds. In a 2004 speech at the University of California, Berkeley, Alan Dershowitz said: "I support Israel because I support gay rights. Recently, a progressive congressman, Barney Frank from Massachusetts, worked with me and Israel to grant asylum for 40 Palestinian gays."

Alas, not a word of this is true.

When gay Palestinian men run for their lives into Israel, they do not seek — and they cannot get — "asylum," which is a special status under international law available to those who can establish a "well founded fear of persecution" in the country of their nationality or "place of habitual residence." Israel has never granted asylum to Palestinians, gay or not, says Anat Ben-Dor of the Refugee Rights Clinic at the Tel Aviv University Law Faculty — even those who can credibly claim they will be killed if they are sent back to the West Bank or Gaza. This is because Israel interprets international asylum law — the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which Israel has signed — as inapplicable to Palestinian nationals.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jerusalem advises any Palestinian seeking asylum in Israel that he or she is ineligible to apply. Nevertheless, in years past, West Bank Palestinians were sometimes allowed official or unofficial residence in Israel on any one of a number of humanitarian grounds. These included family reunification, medical treatment, fear of persecution or because they were blessed with high-profile friends. But not any more.
Full article here.

Sharon up and about in Israal

No, not Israel's answer to Leonid Brezhnev. Sharon Stone silly.
"I would kiss just about anybody for peace in the Middle East." It's not that you can't believe the above statement, although it does remain an inadequate excuse for Sliver. It's just well, you somehow sense this one isn't going to be solved by air-kissing. Although she did make good on the remark by puckering up to Peres, a guy she could totally have caught wrinkles from.
Yes, this latest member of the zionist peace camp was with Shimon Peres when she made her generous offer. Full article here.

Linda Grant's bubble-wrapped war criminals

Here's a Guardian review of Linda Grant's latest offering for Israel. Written by Karma Nabulsi, it's not scathing all the way through but it is pretty damning:
Like the colonial narrative tradition from which one can trace its genealogy, sentence after sentence, page after page, it relentlessly stitches a sentimental noose of absolute dominance: the violence has been done elsewhere, the reader becomes a ghost. The dissociation is wordless, for the words are all Linda Grant's, and she has used them well.
And the words she doesn't use?
Millions remain invisible and dispossessed in order to make this charming story possible - this endearing and fey world of a few streets in Tel Aviv. Here, all the Israelis are quirky, amusing, intelligent, terribly winsome, politically aware (or if not, then possessed, like the landlady, the café owner, the shop-keeper, by a sort of madcap ingenuity). There is a mythic quality to this fairytale book, set in an ersatz metaphysical Mitteleuropa on the shores of the Arab Mediterranean. Of course the people on these streets need to be pretty marvellous, as the price for their cosy, closed world is being extracted daily in the refugee camps not too far away.
But there is a glimpse of the price paid for this curious place where racist war criminals dress like ballerinas.
"What was happening in Gaza or Nablus - the curfews, the checkpoints, the terrifying incursions of troops, the targeted assassinations, the collapse of the social infrastructure, the malnutrition, the cages in which Palestinians were fenced off, like zoo animals - could be happening in Bosnia, instead of a 25-minute drive away," she writes. As for Israel: it is "a society floating on boiling anger, fear, anxiety, posttraumatic shock, aversion, brutality. You saw it in the road rage, in the domestic violence, in the rape, the desire to build walls against not just suicide bombers but your own neighbours ... Suspicion, fear, exploding psychodramas detonating whole families. I would be woken in the night by terrible screams, the raised voices of husbands and wives, the sound of objects smashing against walls, the police sirens. Or on the street, screeching tyres, sickening metal collisions, tirades of fury between drivers."

The moment passes, and she returns to the bubble, yet something profound has shifted. There is a new "normalcy", which accepts and incorporates this fracture, and the violence that she has looked in the face. This narrative of internal rupture has been repeated among many Israeli intellectuals over the past five years, the tectonic plates shifting as the Israeli left lurched towards the right: "And so we may have to face the nightmare that the war between the two peoples cannot be concluded; there is no deal that can ever be signed that will not give way, almost at once, to the resumption of the struggle," she writes.

At the end of this story, back in Britain, Grant discovers a Palestinian chum, a writer living in London, who comes from a refugee camp in south Lebanon. They end up going back to his mother's village near Acre (which has become a moshav called Betzel) after attending a literary festival. Unlike Ghassan Kanafani's classic A'id ila Hayfa (Return to Haifa, published in 1967), which captures that electric moment between dispossessed and dispossessors with a savage and subtle beauty, this is a dull affair. He is mostly silent; she, on the other hand, compares it to her own experience of the eastern European village her parents came from. She felt she didn't belong there ("I came, I saw, I left"); she felt nothing. She checks with him - he too feels nothing, no attachment to the ruins of his mother's destroyed village, no desire to return. That's all right then. Let's order another slice of cake at the Café Mapu.
Look out for Linda Grant's letter to the Guardian soon complaining that she's been misrepresented.