1. I am a merry ploughboy and I plough the fields by dayI'll be back on the 30th.
Till a sudden thought came to my mind that I should roam away
For I am sick of this civilian life since the day that I was born
So I am off to join the I.R.A. and I am off tomorrow morn.
And we're all off to Dublin in the green,
Where the helmets glisten in the sun
Where the bay'nets flash and the rifles crash
To the rattle of a Thompson gun.
2. I'll leave behind me pick and me spade, I'll leave behind my plough
I'll leave behind me horse and me yoke, no more will I need them now
And I'll leave behind my Mary, she's the girl that I adore
But I wonder if she'll think of me when hears my armalite roar.
3. And when this war is over, and dear old Ireland is free
I'll take her to the chapel on the hill and a rebel's wife she'll be
Well some men fight for silver and some men fight for gold
But the I.R.A. are fighting for the land that the Saxons stole [alt. the land De Valera sold]
December 26, 2006
December 24, 2006
Christmas in Bethlehem
I've stopped thinking of Christmas as a convivial family occasion. The more time I spend in Bethlehem, the more I associate Christmas with secret assignations in cold, wet basements among masked men who'll be dead in a few months.Now that paragraph probably doesn't do justice to the entire article but I found it rather poignant.
Matt Beynon Rees has a blog here.
December 23, 2006
Bethlehem birth and Bethlehem death
"It was 5pm when I started to feel the contractions coming on," she says. She was already nervous about the birth - her first, and twins - so she told her husband to grab her hospital bag and get her straight into the car.More blood libel I suppose.
They stopped to collect her sister and mother and set out for the Hussein Hospital, 20 minutes away. But the road had been blocked by Israeli soldiers, who said nobody was allowed to pass until morning. "Obviously, we told them we couldn't wait until the morning. I was bleeding very heavily on the back seat. One of the soldiers looked down at the blood and laughed. I still wake up in the night hearing that laugh. It was such a shock to me. I couldn't understand."
Her family begged the soldiers to let them through, but they would not relent. So at 1am, on the back seat next to a chilly checkpoint with no doctors and no nurses, Fadia delivered a tiny boy called Mahmoud and a tiny girl called Mariam. "I don't remember anything else until I woke up in the hospital," she says now. For two days, her family hid it from her that Mahmoud had died, and doctors said they could "certainly" have saved his life by getting him to an incubator.
A word of warning about Johann Hari, he has described support for the one state solution as antisemitic*. Some blogger hates Hari so much he has a blog called "Shoot Johann Hari." I'm not suggesting that you go out and do that but have a look at the guy's blog.
*Thanks to a commentor, Niko. Hari does not actually say that the one state solution is antisemitic, he says it is a "loathsome aspiration." The context was an attack of George Galloway.
Secular Jewish identity
Continuing our occasional series on the modern Jewish family, Simon Round talks to a rebellious left-wing couple who have rejected religion, but still hold a Seder and gave their twin sons a faith-free barmitzvah.Written by Simon Round the article is headed, Atheist, socialist — and proud Jews, though nowhere in the article is pride in an accident of birth mentioned.
Journalist Julia Bard (56) and teacher David Rosenberg (48) live in Tufnell Park, North London. Their children, twins Jacob and Reuben (20), are students at Cambridge University
Julia Bard and David Rosenberg are committed Jews. They feel passionately about Jewish history, they have a strong Jewish element to their social lives and their children have inherited a love of Hebrew and Yiddish culture.
But David and Julia do not belong to a synagogue, do not believe in God and are antagonistic towards Zionism. They feel strongly that these factors should not exclude them from full acceptance as part of the mainstream Jewish community, yet they claim that the community is too narrow-minded to embrace them.
Both David and Julia come from traditional Jewish backgrounds. There is symmetry in how they questioned accepted values from an early age. Indeed, when both talk about their childhood and adolescence, it is as a political journey towards socialism, secularism and anti-Zionism.
For Julia, who was brought up in Hendon, North-West London, the first rebellion was over cheder. “Everything there was an imperative and nothing was up for discussion.”
Her introduction to socialism came through the Habonim youth movement, and from there her journey took her to York University, chosen because it possessed no significant Jewish community for her to be “sucked into.”
She adds: “It was a conscious decision to break away — not from being Jewish, which I’ve always been very upfront about, but from the conformist, traditional Jewish community.”
David was raised in East London, in a working-class Jewish community, and moved to Ilford, Essex, while still a child. He went to a Jewish primary school but was soon rebelling. “I was meant to turn out Zionistic and religious. Actually, I turned out as an anti-Zionist and an atheist.”
As a teenager he became involved in the anti-racist movements of the 1970s and it was then that he began to question Zionism. “One of the key slogans for black people in the ’70s was: ‘Here to stay, here to fight.’ They were struggling for their right to be treated as equals in Britain, but this was in complete contradiction to what I was hearing from the Zionist movement, which was that we should all run away and have our own state.”
He was one of the early members of the Jewish Socialists’ Group in the 1970s and it was as members of the group that in 1983 Julia and David met. They married in 1985.
Julia’s anti-Zionist perspective is coloured not only by the suffering of the Palestinians but also by what she sees as the marginalisation of diaspora history. “Zionism always portrays Israeli and Hebrew culture as a monolith and everything else as deviant.”
But unlike many Jews, who reject religion and drift away from the community, she is adamant about retaining her identity: “I wanted to remain Jewish. I understand my Jewish identity as an ethnic identity. I want to prove that there is a way of being Jewish that doesn’t involve saying prayers to a God you don’t believe in.”
She adds: “Those people who are bleating on about the Jewish community shrinking base it on a false assumption — that Judaism remains unchanging and that you can’t be Jewish without being religious.”
As secular Jews, David and Julia have had to invent their own template for Jewish life. For example, their Seder is secular and socialist. The couple usually invite along an outsider and previous guests have included the former PLO representative to London, Afif Safiyeh. In fact, their children, twins Jacob and Reuben, are similar ages to those of the Safiyeh’s and spent afternoons playing together.
Jacob and Reuben, now 20 and both at Cambridge, attended a local comprehensive. Says Julia: “Mainstream schools used to be full of Jews. But now the faith schools have taken the Jews away, which is a shame for all the other kids.” The boys were given a choice about whether they wanted a barmitzvah and were both very enthusiastic. The ceremony was non-religious, consisting of readings in Hebrew, Yiddish and English, with poet Michael Rosen acting as MC. The barmitzvah was also notable for being one of very few to be held at the Trades Union Congress’s banqueting suite, and to feature a Marxist magician.
The children gave David and Julia their biggest dilemma — to circumcise or not to circumcise. In the event, after an agonising debate, they decided to go ahead. Julia says they would make same decision now.
Ultimately, if David and Julia have a mission, it is to encourage Jews without religious beliefs not to feel intimidated by the religious establishment. “We want to give people the confidence to say: ‘I don’t believe in God, but, yes, I am Jewish.’”
UPDATE: David Rosenberg has commented thus:
Fame at last eh? Most of it is accurate. We have written a letter to the JC to correct 3 innacuracies which we hope they will print next week.
Our letter says:
The article states that our children inherited from us “a love of Hebrew and Yiddish culture”. In fact, they have inherited an appreciation of diaspora Jewish culture – in which Yiddish is significant – and, in particular, they value the internationalism of this diaspora culture. They share our dismay about the destructive impact of Israeli culture being imposed on diverse diaspora communities.
In reference to Jewish festivals the article states, “their Seder is secular and socialist. The couple usually invite…”. This is not our personal Seder but the Seder of the Jewish Socialists’ Group, an annual event that has been celebrated collectively by a community of secular Jewish socialists for the last 25 years.
Lastly some words have gone missing from the paragraph about our children’s circumcision, giving it the opposite meaning to what we said. According to your article, “Julia says they would make same decision now” (sic). In fact Julia said we would NOT make the same decision now. If we were faced today with a conflict between a longstanding tradition such as circumcision and children’s right to be free from unnecessary pain and harm, and to be protected from practices to which they have not consented, we would confidently uphold their human rights and seek more humane ways of being welcomed into Jewish life.
The rise and rise of Hamas
In the past, refugee camps like this one, housing families that fled Israel in 1948, would have been strongholds of Fatah, the secular movement that for the past generation has been at the forefront of the Palestinian struggle for independence.
But Mr Abu Latifa, 51, having been a lifetime Fatah supporter, voted for Hamas, the hardline Islamic movement that won the last elections. It was his way of punishing Fatah for its many failings. "They were crooks, thieves and warlords," he said, sitting on a plastic chair in the sun outside his shop. "They still haven't cleaned themselves up." The rest of his family, including his four teenage children and his brother and sister, are still Fatah supporters.
A few yards further along the street are others who vow to remain lifelong Fatah loyalists. Working next to them are overtly religious families who back Hamas. At least one other shopkeeper in the street refuses to vote at all. All speak anxiously about the factional violence and fear of civil war that has gripped the Palestinian territories in the past weeks. But many also share a profound frustration with all their political leadership.
December 22, 2006
HRW: Israel's ambulance bombing was no hoax
During the Israel-Hezbollah war, Israel was accused by Human Rights Watch and numerous local and international media outlets of attacking two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances in Qana on July 23, 2006. Following these accusations, some websites claimed that the attack on the ambulances “never happened” and was a Hezbollah-orchestrated “hoax,” a charge picked up by conservative commentators such as Oliver North. These claims attracted renewedNow in fairness to Engage they did an update when The Australian stood by its story. So I wonder if they will update now that the hoax story has itself been shown to be a hoax. I'm guessing Melanie Phillips won't.
attention when the Australian foreign minister stated that “it is beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax.”
In response, Human Rights Watch researchers carried out a more in-depth investigation of the Qana ambulance attacks. Our investigation involved detailed interviews with four of the six ambulance staff and the three wounded people in the ambulance, on-site visits to the Tibnine and Tyre Red Cross offices from which the ambulances originated to review their records and meet with supervisors, an examination of the ambulances that were struck, an on-site visit to the Qana site where the attack took place, and interviews with others such as international officials with the International Committee of the Red Cross who were involved in responding to the attack on the night it happened.
On the basis of this investigation, we conclude that the attack on the ambulances was not a hoax: Israeli forces attacked two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances that night in Qana, almost certainly with missiles fired from an Israeli drone flying overhead. The physical and testimonial evidence collected by Human Rights Watch disproves the allegations of a “hoax,” made by persons who never visited Lebanon and had no opportunity to assess the evidence first-hand. Those claiming a hoax relied on faulty conjectures based on a limited number of photographs of one of the ambulances.
Leon Rosselson explains Israel boycott
As a signatory of the letter supporting a cultural boycott of Israel, may I make the following points? 1) The boycott is not, as the objectors seem to think, aimed at individual Israelis but at state-sponsored events and institutions. 2) There are apartheid-like laws in Israel - for example, the right of return that applies only to Jews, the ban on non-Jews owning state land, the bar on any Palestinian Israeli from living in Israel with a Palestinian spouse not resident in Israel. In the occupied territories roads are maintained for Jews only. 3) By defining itself as a Jewish state, Israel denies full citizenship to its non-Jewish population. 4) Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state is threatened, in the long run, by what Israelis like to call "the demographic problem". To put it crudely, too many Arabs. The policy of "transfer", one way or another, will be put into practice, continuing the ethnic cleansing started in 1948. 5) I may not live to see it, but I believe the only just solution is a single secular state with equal rights for all its citizens.And what's wrong with that?
Wembley Park, Middlesex
Israel to hand Palestinians' money to Abbas
Israel is considering handing over millions of dollars in withheld Palestinian tax funds to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a move that could bolster him ahead of elections over his Hamas rivals, sources said on Wednesday.From Taipei Times.
Western diplomats and Palestinian sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the proposal under consideration called for releasing the tax money to Abbas in stages on the condition that it will bypass the Hamas-led government.
Transferring the funds would mark a shift in Israeli policy, and could allow the moderate Abbas to make payments to Palestinian civil servants, who have not received their full salaries since Hamas came to power in March.
Two sources said Israel was prepared in principle to transfer tax funds directly to Abbas once several technical and timing issues were addressed.
"No final decision has been made," an Israeli official said.
Olmert's office declined to comment on Israel's plans for the funds, which total about US$500 million.
"We have not been officially informed. We don't know how much the sum would be," top Abbas aide Rafiq Husseini said.
Another senior Abbas aide, Saeb Erekat, said Israel would not transfer the money directly to Abbas, but use it to pay Palestinian bills to Israeli utilities as it has in the past.
December 21, 2006
Mazin Qumsiyeh on the conference in Tehran
As a Palestinian-American, I am appalled that many people meeting in Teheran claim to support Palestine while denying or trying to minimize Jewish suffering. Few at the conference articulated that the Holocaust did happen, was horrendous, and it needn’t be denied in order to support Palestinian human rights or to oppose Zionism (throughout I refer to political Zionism not cultural Zionism).And here's the rest.
This is not surprising, considering that Zionists constantly and intentionally conflate Zionism with Judaism. This is accomplished in many ways, using Jewish symbols for Israel, choosing a national anthem that speaks of Jewish yearning (even though 20% of the population is not Jewish), emphasizing Israel as a Jewish state, speaking of "the Jewish people" as united in support of Israel, even though most Jews are not Zionists, and countless other ways.
But to me the most dangerous Zionist myth that contributes to anti-Jewish ranting in Teheran and beyond is that political Zionism is the defender and protector of Jews against a hostile (gentile) world. The truth is otherwise, and is now well documented in declassified archives, in Zionist archives, in letters and books, and it is rather "inconvenient" (to put it mildly) to political Zionists.
December 20, 2006
Iran has an idea: inspect Israel for nukes!
Iran demanded Tuesday that the U.N. Security Council condemn what it said was Israel's clandestine development of nuclear weapons and "compel" it to place all its nuclear facilities under U.N. inspection.Condemn Israel for its weapons programme? Now how come no-one thought of that before?
December 18, 2006
Lenni Brenner interviews Joachim Prinz on MP3
In fact, close relations have always existed between Zionists and antisemites: exactly like some of the European conservatives, the Zionists thought they could ignore the 'demonic' character of antisemitism and use the antisemites for their own purposes. Many examples of such alliances are well known. Herzl allied himself with the notorious Count von Plehve, the antisemitic minister of Tsar Nicholas II; Jabotinsky made a pact with Petlyura, the reactionary Ukrainian leader whose forces massacred some 100,000 Jews in 1918-21; Ben-Gurion's allies among the French extreme right during the Algerian war included some notorious antisemites who were, however, careful to explain that they were only against the Jews in France, not in Israel.So here are those Lenni Brenner/Joachim Prinz mp3s.
Perhaps the most shocking example of this type is the delight with which some Zionist leaders in Germany welcomed Hitler's rise to power, because they shared his belief in the primacy of 'race' and his hostility to the assimilation of Jews among 'Aryans'. They congratulated Hitler on his triumph over the common enemy - the forces of liberalism. Dr Joachim Prinz, a Zionist rabbi who subsequently emigrated to the USA, where he rose to be vice-chairman of the World Jewish Congress and a leading light in the World Zionist Organization (as well as a great friend of Golda Meir), published in 1934 a special book, Wir Juden (We, Jews), to celebrate Hitler's so- called German Revolution and the defeat of liberalism:The meaning of the German Revolution for the German nation will eventually be clear to those who have created it and formed its image. Its meaning for us must be set forth here: the fortunes of liberalism are lost. The only form of political life which has helped Jewish assimilation is sunk.The victory of Nazism rules out assimilation and mixed marriages as an option for Jews. 'We are not unhappy about this,' said Dr Prinz. In the fact that Jews are being forced to identify them- selves as Jews, he sees 'the fulfillment of our desires'. And further:We want assimilation to be replaced by a new law: the declaration of belonging to the Jewish nation and Jewish race. A state built upon the principle of the purity of nation and race can only honored and respected by a Jew who declares his belonging to his own kind. Having so declared himself, he will never be capable of faulty loyalty towards a state. The state cannot want other Jews but such as declare themselves as belonging to their nation. It will not want Jewish flatterers and crawlers. It must demand of us faith and loyalty to our own interest. For only he who honors his own breed and his own blood can have an attitude of honor towards the national will of other nations.The whole book is full of similar crude flatteries of Nazi ideology, glee at the defeat of liberalism and particularly of the ideas of the French Revolution and great expectations that, in the congenial atmosphere of the myth of the Aryan race, Zionism and the myth of the Jewish race will also thrive.
Of course, Dr Prinz, like many other early sympathizers and allies of Nazism, did not realize where that movement (and modern antisemitism generally) was leading. Equally, many people at present do not realize where zionism - the movement in which Dr Prinz was an honored figure - is tending: to a combination of all the old hates of classical Judaism towards Gentiles and to the indiscriminate and ahistorical use of all the persecutions of Jews throughout history in order to justify the zionist persecution of the Palestinians.
December 17, 2006
Leeds Uni "gagging" update
Leeds unitedNow to get one letter flatly contradicting a front page story maybe considered a misfortune but two, well....
The University of Leeds is proud to be multicultural, with over 100 nationalities and many faiths here. We expect all members of the university to behave according to our values, which include academic freedom, critical independence, diversity, and mutual respect. We will not tolerate any kind of harassment of students, staff or visitors on our campus.
We are committed to promoting and positively encouraging free debate and enquiry, which means that we tolerate a wide range of views, even when they are unpopular, controversial or provocative. We expect speakers to respect the values of our civilised, inclusive society, and in particular to demonstrate respect to all sections of our community.
The referendum decision (JC, December 8) does not remove any rights from Jewish students or conflict with the university’s values. People may criticise the policies of the state of Israel, but they may not be antisemitic. Be assured that we would act swiftly and decisively in the (very unlikely) event that any antisemitism were to emerge at Leeds.
(Professor) Michael Arthur,
University of Leeds, Leeds
Contrary to your report that Jewish students had been “constitutionally gagged” and stripped of “basic rights enjoyed by others,” all students enjoy freedom of speech equally on the Leeds campus.
Following the outcome of the referendum, we will continue to build positive relationships between groups and individuals on campus, and we assure all students that, regardless of belief or background, their safety and welfare are paramount.
The motion in no way changes Jewish students’ right to support the state of Israel or debate the issue. The students’ union provides opportunities for debate and expression; we will not tolerate behaviour which strays into the realms of racial or religious hatred.
Michael Damola Timeyin,
Communications and Democracy Officer, Leeds University Union,
Lifton Place, Leeds
At last Palestine gets one man one vote
I heard yesterday that Abbas was calling for elections. Now it seems he has actually called elections. I've been looking around the net for some firm confirmation but I'm not finding much. Here's something I did find on Canada's CTV:
White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo was hopeful the election would bring about positive change.Did you catch that? A White House spokesperson, that is a spokesperson for the institution that was seeking to overthrow the elected Palestinian Authority arguably before Abbas was, says that "the elections are an internal affair." An internal affair for who? the White House? No, far be it from the White House to interfere in another country's elections.
"While the elections are an internal matter, we hope this helps bring the violence to an end and the formation of a Palestinian Authority committed to the Quartet principles," she said, referring to the Quartet of Mideast mediators, which is comprised of the U.S., the UN, the EU and Russia.
December 16, 2006
Death sentence for throwing stones?
What is now going through the mind of the soldier who fired a loaded weapon at a boy on the Sunday before last - and killed him? What was he thinking when he aimed at the boy's head? Is he still thinking about his victim? Why does live ammunition have to be used against children, even if they are throwing stones at a armored vehicles? Don't the soldiers have other means of punishment? And what about the security cabinet's decision to promote calm in the West Bank, too?No, a death penalty. The sentence was passed long ago in spite of Anthony Julius's pleas for clemency.
On December 3, after all, the security cabinet decided that arrests in the West Bank would henceforth be made only with the authorization of the GOC Central Command - but apparently, in order to fire at the head of a boy and kill him, no authorization is required. It's enough to get out of the jeep, aim and fire. The Israel Defense Forces, we know, opposes a cease-fire in the West Bank, too.
Jamil Jabaji, 14, the "boy of the horses" from the Askar refugee camp in Nablus, had been throwing stones at an IDF Hummer making its way toward the camp, and a soldier killed him in cold blood. The vehicle was moving slowly, according to the children's testimony, stopping every once in a while, in what the youngsters thought was a type of provocation, as though trying to lure them closer, until it stopped and two soldiers stepped out, aiming their weapons at them. No teargas, not even rubber-coated bullets. Live fire. A death sentence for stone-throwing.
"I know you're gay, you're just in denial"
Gilad Atzmon: Deborah Maccoby killed Jesus .... twice!
To settle the question of whether or not Gilad Atzmon is a Christian antisemite, here is a short extract from a personal correspondence I had with him in February and March this year. I would not normally make a private correspondence public, but in view of Gilad's public claims that he is not antisemitic and in view of his threat to sue Mark, I think this has now become necessary.I left the typos in place. Now look forward to Gilad Atzmon quoting himself out of context to insist that others are dishonest and watch out for this or that SWP member covering for him too by telling us what he really meant.
I had said that Jesus was a human being and not the Son of God and this was his reaction:
"G: Human being??? Not a son of God? Who do you think you are? You have just re-murdered the son of God and his spiritual heritage. Indeed you are a proper Christ killer and you have very good reason to be concern with the association."
And for good measure,here below are two other choice extracts from this correspondence.
"Jewish people and you included have problems with great people who expose their ugliness. This is why you murdered and re murder systematically and symbolically, this is why your ancestors ousted Sponoza, and this is why you campaign against Shamir and Eisen."
"Again the Q I would like to raise is how come a J like yiourself is so concerned with the association with Christ killers. Why Italians aren't that concerned with a very similar accusations? At the end of the day, it was their Roman ancestors who made the crime. The reason is simple. While Italians developed an ethical thinking, your resemblance to the murderous great priest is shockingly apparent. It is something you try to push under the carpet, You know so welll that you are a modern day Christ killer.
You (andyour 3rd category ilk) insist to act as kosher commandants. You are there to decide who is dangerous, who is right and who is wrong. Who is good for the Palestinians, you aree there to Crucify the enemies of the Jewish people. in your private list, Paul Eisen his a shining yellow star. Shamir is the devil and slowly but surely you learn recognise that i am the 'most dangerous' of them all. Let me tell you, somehow, you are not as talented as the great Cohen. You are not even as talented as myself. You have to practice a lot before the next lesson."
I deleted a couple of comments recently that made great play of the fact that the Guardian gave Atzmon a right of reply to the Engage buffoon-in-chief, David Hirsh. According to one of his accolytes this shows he can't be called a liar or a racist or antisemite. In his comment is free piece he happily quoted himself out of context in order to claim that David Hirsh has done that. The problem for David Hirsh is that he misrepresents so much that others are free to read for themselves the Guardian had no option but to give the lying antisemite Atzmon the benefit of the doubt. It's a curious irony that as Hirsh has become such a liability to the zionist movement, Atzmon has come to replace him as an asset. Whether Atzmon means to be or not is irrelevant. The problem here of course is that the zionists have cried wolf so often now, few are prepared to believe them when a real wolf appears.
It's pointless trying to persuade Atzmon to mend his ways and stop the racist abuse of honest anti-zionists, stop the lies and stop getting his friends to leave stupid and threatening comments here, or even stop using phoney ID to leave lying comments himself. But what on earth is the SWP doing offering such a gift to the zionist movement? I have to say, Harry's Place hasn't had so much fun since George Galloway appeared on Big Brother. And one of their people was here just last night practically accusing me of antisemitism.
UPDATE: As almost predicted, Gilad Atzmon is on the peacepalestine.blogspot.com claiming to have been quoted out of context. He does a strange thing to back his false claim which is to reproduce the whole correspondence which show that he wasn't quoted out of context. The peacepalestine blog recently claimed that I have no problem with David Hirsh of Engage. For info on my issues with David Hirsh check this search.
When Olmert met Vanunu
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has finally admitted his country's nuclear capability. Will he now apologize to former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu for exposing this already well-known sham and whom they once jailed and still mistreat. Mordechai's words still ring true to this day.That was a letter to the Los Angeles Times.
Having the atomic bomb is what has allowed Israel to fearlessly carry out its apartheid policy.
Elia Suleiman signs up for boycott call
There is a fragile ceasefire in Lebanon, albeit daily violated by Israeli overflights. Meanwhile the day-to-day brutality of the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank continues. Ten Palestinians are killed for every Israeli death; more than 200, many of them children, have been killed since the summer. UN resolutions are flouted, human rights violated as Palestinian land is stolen, houses demolished and crops destroyed. For archbishop Desmond Tutu, as for the Jewish former ANC military commander now South African minister of security, Ronnie Kasrils, the situation of the Palestinians is worse than that of black South Africans under apartheid.See that last signature? Elia Suleiman. See this link, read the page and then scroll down a bit. Suleiman is the guy who withdrew his signature from a boycott call back in October 2006. So he's now back on board. It's funny how well publicised the withdrawal of his signature was. I haven't heard anything til now about him adding his signature to yet another boycott call. Perhaps he needs a crash course in PR.
Meanwhile, western governments refer to Israel's legitimate right of self-defence, and continue to supply weaponry. The challenge of apartheid was fought better. The non-violent international response to apartheid was a campaign of boycott, divestment and UN-imposed sanctions which enabled the regime to change without bloodshed.
Today, Palestinians teachers, writers, film-makers and non-governmental organisations have called for a comparable academic and cultural boycott of Israel as offering another path to a just peace. This call has been endorsed internationally by university teachers in many European countries, by film-makers and architects, and by some brave Israeli dissidents. It is now time for others to join the campaign - as Primo Levi asked: "If not now, when?" We call on creative writers and artists to support our Palestinian and Israeli colleagues by endorsing the boycott call. Read the Palestinian call pacbi.org.
and 85 others
December 15, 2006
Holocaust denial? Israel's asking for it
It’s been a good week for the Holocaust. It was in the news all the time. Unfortunately, the media excels in not making connections, which leaves me with the joyful job of bringing together all the recent Holocaust news.Of course antisemites are responsible for their own actions but holocaust denial isn't the only expression of antisemitism the zionists have been asking for.
In Iran, the clowns at the Foreign Ministry hosted a conference of Holocaust buffoonery graced with the presence of such luminaries as the white supremacist David Duke. In France, Presidential hopeful Segolene Royal stumbled over the question whether she heard the comparison that a Hizbullah deputy made (or didn’t make, in Arabic or not, that was or wasn’t translated to Royal) between Hizbullah and the French resistance to the Nazis. Royal assured us that any such comparison, which implies some measure of likeness between Nazi Germany and Israel, would be, had it been made, completely “inadmissible, odious, an abomination” (Loubnan Ya Loubnan, December 2006). Finally, before leaving for a visit to Germany, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert gave a speech at the National Holocaust Museum in which he compared Iran to the Nazis and urged Germany to cut its economic ties to Iran.
Let us begin with the third event. This is how Olmert put his case to the Germans: “May I suggest to the German people. . . . You may have an economic interest, you may have a business interest, but you have a deeper and more fundamental moral obligation to yourself, to your history and to your future.” (Israel National News, December 11, 2006) In other words, because of the Holocaust, Germany must support Israel’s assault on Iran.
Five centuries ago, a German monk rose against the Catholic pope, accusing him of mixing matters of conscience with lucre by selling divine pardons to wealthy sinners. Martin Luther was adamant that sin and redemption were matters of the direct relation between the individual and God. Anyone who pretended to mediate this relation, to obtain redemption on someone else’s behalf (and to be paid for it) was a charlatan (Luther actually said “antichrist,” but that is the name of the supreme charlatan). The least one can say about post WWII Germany is that it betrayed Luther. Repentant of their recent Nazi past, Germans agreed to pay billions of dollars to Israel. Israel is a state that didn’t exist during the Nazi holocaust. The Nazis murdered Jews, homosexuals, Roma, socialists. That had nothing to do with the state of Israel, some of whose founders expressed admiration for Nazi ideology and even wanted to fight on Hitler’s side in the War (Lenni Brenner, 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration with the Nazis). Israel was not a victim of Nazism. It was, if anything, an indirect beneficiary. Yet Israel offered Germans redemption: pay us, and we will lift the burden of sin from your shoulders. Pay us, and you will be rehabilitated. And Germans were happy to pay. Having a conscience of one’s own, living with one’s true past and seeking redemption in the desolation of the wrecked self was just too much for many Germans (to be fair, that is easy to understand. The burden of Nazism wasn’t light.) They were happy to pay and they watched silently, uncritically, as Israel took their blood money and used it to build exactly the kind of militarized garrison state that had led them to perdition. It is ironic that the Germans, having accused themselves of being too obedient, too eager to let the Nazi state define morality, would try to cure themselves by giving yet another state, Israel, the right to define morality on their behalf. Yet they did. Thus German politicians and intellectuals outsourced their conscience to Israel and the U.S. Fifty years later they are still unable to criticize the actions of either. Instead of a real conscience, they adopted a sanctimonious servility to all things Israeli. Into this context stepped Ehud Olmert, the new Holocaust Pope, demanding from Germans obedience in exchange for a renewal of the epochal pardon, reminding them, like the sleek indulgence hawker that he is, of their “obligation to themselves.”
Olmert, however, the man received “warmly” by Chancellor Merkel, is a war criminal. Only recently he ordered the slaughter of hundreds of people. According to his own words the slaughter was not a by-product of military action (which would be bad enough) but a deliberate attempt to exert pressure on Lebanese politicians (Gabriel Ash, Dissident Voice, July 2006). Olmert is thus a criminal even by the lax standards of ius in bellum. To be clear, there is absolutely no comparison between what Olmert did in Lebanon and Gaza and what the Nazis did in Auschwitz. There is, however, a pertinent similarity between what Olmert did in Lebanon and Gaza and what the Nazis did in places such as Lidice. If contemporary Germans had any obligation to themselves and to their history, that obligation would be to arrest him and put him on trial the moment he landed in Germany. They certainly did not have an obligation to listen to a blood stained butcher pontificate about morality. Nobody does.
Let us turn now to the Affaire Sego. According to masterful digging of the French Lebanese blogger of Loubnan Ya Loubnan, Segolene Royal was trapped by a little comedy put together either by the members of the Lebanese “Cedar revolution” parties or by insiders of Jacque Chirac’s government or by both. The two groups have a stake in preserving the current French Lebanon policy and its alignment with Washington and Tel-Aviv. The interesting thing to ponder, however, is the lasting usefulness of the Holocaust as a leash against stray European politicians. Royal, smarting up from the bruises, canceled her meeting with Hamas representatives, essentially giving up on her erstwhile commitment to listen to all parties in the Middle East. She issued the expected declaration that any comparison between the Nazis and Israel would have prompted her to leave the room. That effectively means she cannot be in the same room with 90% of people who actually live in the Middle East. The Holocaust, one concludes, is the most effective weapon in the hands of those bent on manufacturing a “clash of civilizations.” If the memorization of Nazism in the West can prevent a French politician from meeting with the democratically elected representative of Palestinians, the Holocaust has become a tool in the arsenal of segregation in the service of global apartheid.
I am not sure which is more offensive, a Saudi doctor insisting that he wouldn’t be in the same room with women (Arab News, November 22, 2006), or a French politician insisting she won’t stay in a room with a Lebanese who sees himself fighting in the tradition of the French resistance against the Nazis. The comparison is salient because the Holocaust has taken in Europe (and differently, in Israel) the semblance of religious dogma. “Denying the Holocaust” is the only speech-act that is legally proscribed as blasphemy and can land one in jail. And European politicians apparently cannot be in the same room with “infidels,” i.e. people who challenge the belief that there is only one great Holocaust, with Israel its prophet.
And just like the breathtaking hypocrisy of Saudi fundamentalists, who raise hell over a stupid Danish cartoon but co-operate with the U.S. and Israel behind the scenes against Palestinian resistance, the “Holocaust fundamentalists” of Europe talk through both sides of their mouth. No sooner had Segolene Royal asserted she would not listen to the slightest implication of a similarity between Israel and Nazism, Israel’s PM used the podium of the Holocaust Museum to compare Iran to Nazi Germany. Will Royal say she would have left the room if she had heard Olmert make that historical comparison? Israelis and Americans run a cottage industry of comparisons between Nazism and the evil man de jour. Begin compared Yasser Arafat to Hitler. Clinton compared Milosevic to Hitler. Sundry columnists compared Islamic fundamentalism to Nazism. Bush compared Saddam to Hitler. And now Iran is Israel’s latest Nazi incarnation. When was the last time a European Holocaust fundamentalist left the room in reaction to these truly asinine comparisons?
Let me spell out the hypocrisy of the Holocaust hawkers. The West has elevated the crimes of the Nazis into a benchmark of evil. Paradoxically, every subsequent crime, especially when the perpetrator is Israel, can now be excused on the ground that it falls short of the death camps. Conversely, the genocidal tendencies inherent in the systematic obliteration of the basis of civilian life can be ignored by invoking the ritual condemnation of the "false analogy" with Nazism, even as such systematic destruction has been incorporated in the military practice of the West and is operative wherever modern armies must contend with popular resistance. Therefore one could never compare the death of over a million Iraqis as the result of deliberate American policy since 1992 to the holocaust, nor can one compare the decade long collective punishment of the people of Gaza or the destruction of South Lebanon to the pacification methods of the Nazis. Nobody would call Bush a “holocaust denier” for flatly denying the value of a scientific study that estimates the number of his victims to be in the hundreds of thousands. However, the opposite happens when the interests of the West are so disposed. The “lesson” of the holocaust is good enough to justify the NATO bombing of civilian targets in Yugoslavia, the genocidal U.S. occupation of Iraq, Israel's massive bombing of Beirut, a future nuclear war against Iran, etc. The pettiest tyrant who “kills his own people” (and who doesn't?) is suddenly as terrible as Hitler.
The slaughter of European Jews has thus been transformed into a Hollowcaust, a benchmark of evil that is utterly indeterminate, empty at its core, at once trivially applicable to everything and sublimely applicable to nothing. The Hollowcaust acts like a quirky and capricious divinity, rejecting a comparison here, accepting an equally valid or invalid one there. It is a partisan divinity, a god that always blesses 'us' and curses 'them,' even as it simultaneously demands to be worshipped by all humanity and in the name of all humanity. The Hollowcaust thus entices victims to a futile competition in which they must worship it with a steady sacrificial offering of facts, reports, statistics, that would justify their demand to be heard by measuring what happened to them in relation to the fate of the Jews of Europe. But the success of this appeal, like the success of Cain's original 'holocaust,' depends on nothing except the freedom of the divine will -- in this case the mood in Western capitals. History and facts are more or less irrelevant. Like Skinner's pigeons, the supplicants are driven to insanity by the complete disconnect between causes and consequences. Like Cain, they are sometimes driven to fratricide. It is quite understandable that under such circumstances the temptation to deny or belittle the crimes of the Nazis is almost irresistible. The denial of the holocaust is rooted in the desire to pin down the Hollowcaust.
This brings us back to the pathetic holocaust conference that took place in Iran. The most charitable thing that can be said about the organizers of this conference is that they are fools. Allegedly in solidarity with the victims of state terrorism, they come out in defense of state terrorism. Challenging the veracity of the holocaust, Iran’s President’s pet cause, is not a repudiation of Zionism, but as Joseph Massad convincingly argued (Al-Ahram, 2004), a useful justification for Zionism. Moreover, to whitewash Nazism is to defend state terrorism, and that includes Israel. There are anti-imperialists who reject state terror categorically. It is perhaps not surprising however that the government of Iran, itself not averse to torture and murder, would find such high principles too burdensome.
The pettiness of Iran’s President are, as expected, manna from heaven to Zion’s willing apologists. The Western media took the occasion to fill many pages with condemnations, exhortations, and scare mongering of epic proportions. To take one illuminating example, Anne Appelbaum warns her readers that all the work done to institutionalize the memory of the holocaust is not enough. “The near-destruction of the European Jews in a very brief span of time by a sophisticated European nation using the best technology available was, it seems, an event that requires constant re-explanation . . .”
The message of Hollowcaust hawkers such as Appelbaum is only amplified by such idiocies as the Iranian conference. O Jews! They are singing in unison, give some more money to the likes of the Simon Wiesenthal center, so they can blabber a little more about the Hollowcaust while they present Rupert Murdoch with a human rights award! (The Forward, February 3, 2003)
But pay close attention to what exactly Appelbaum seeks to “explain.” For in her words one can see clearly the trace of the Hollowcaust’s Faustian bargain, the bargain that gave Jews official recognition for their suffering in return for accepting to become the standard bearers of Western Whiteness. It isn’t the horror suffered by the victims as such, it isn’t murder, it isn’t terror, it isn’t even genocide that Applebaum singles out as the uniqueness of the holocaust. What needs to be explained, according to her, what needs to be constantly re-imagined, is the horror of “a sophisticated European nation using the best technology available” to commit genocide. But it should takes no effort it figure out that this is the last thing that requires an explanation. A sophisticated European nation using advanced technology to kill those it considers not fully human!? Where is the question? Isn’t that a valid synopsis of a full dozen chapters of modern history? Did anyone expect white supremacy to be enforced with sticks and stones? Of course states use the best technology they have when they perpetrated murder against whole populations. Does Appelbaum not know how many billions of dollars are spent every year perfecting the tools of mass murder and inventing new ones? What makes gas chambers so sophisticatedly shocking or shockingly sophisticated among nuclear bombs, mustard gas, napalm, cluster bombs, Agent Orange, machine guns, Caterpillar D-9s, long range bombers and any of the thousand small and large inventions designed by perfectly legitimate enterprises to hasten the passage of the offending population to its unmarked grave?
Sophistication and technology are not what sets the Nazi genocide apart. It is the one thing it has most in common with dozens of other campaigns by Western states against non-white population groups. It is remarkable that Appelbaum wants to erect as primal difference the very element that is least unique to the holocaust, the one element that is most likely to be seized upon by victims of Western imperialism and colonialism as the common ground of their victimization. The stakes cannot be clearer. “Remembering” the holocaust is primarily about excluding other victims. It is about rendering murder incomprehensible when committed on a massive scale by “a sophisticated nation with advanced technologies.” The act of explaining is not concerned with adding insight. In the manner of negative theology, one “explains” the holocaust by preserving its incomprehensibility, so that it constantly remains in need of re-explanation.
Erecting the Hollowcaust as a unique case of “a sophisticated nation with advanced technology” committing genocide is not about affirming the past. It is about denying the present. It is about denying the millions of deaths that are perpetrated year in year out by “sophisticated nations with advanced technologies.” It is also about erecting a totemic barrier between “sophisticated nations with advanced technologies” and the rest of humanity. On the one side are those nations whose acts of mass murder are made to be incomprehensible, and therefore effectively denied -- it does not happen anymore because it would be unthinkable to think that it happens. A genocide committed by a sophisticated nation happened only once. And to suggest that it happened more than once is to betray the memory of the victims. It is blasphemy. The very commemoration and deification of that unique, one-off, historical aberration confirms that it was an unexplainable departure from the “civilized” norms that are defined by it. In Freudian terms, the Hollowcaust is the foundation of modern Western supremacy in the same way that incest is the foundation of the family.
On the other side (of the wall, if you wish) are the “unsophisticated,” technologically backwards nations. By implication, mass murder in those nations is low-tech, but also unremarkable, easily comprehensible, explained quite “naturally” by their very lack of sophistication. They are the barbarians and they just tend to kill each others. It follows that to kill them is to commit no great crime, since violent death is their very modus vivendi. ‘They’ do not respect life as ‘we’ do; they raise their kids to be suicide bombers, and so forth. In a perfectly circular manner, their irreverent rejection of the Hollowcaust faith (which is built to exclude them) confirms their exclusion from the community of the civilized and abandons them to be killed without repercussions.
Cartoon by Abdallah Derkaoui, originally published here.
The Hollowcaust is thus the ideology par excellence of Global Apartheid (of which the Israeli wall is but a small section). Abdullah Derkaoui’s brilliant cartoon above captures the way the Hollowcaust functions according to the classic definition of ideology, mediating between the viewer and the reality of Apartheid and thus constructing the subject of segregation.
And now these pious Hollowcaust hawkers are surprised and shocked that so many barbarians piss on their memorials? Note: they are only getting back the message of their own racism with a “return to sender” scrawled over the envelope.
December 14, 2006
Israel to go the way of the Soviet Union
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's President, said, "I want to tell the western countries just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out."Ah see, just like the Soviet Union. Was that genocide? Pity he said what he did against the backdrop of a conference to promote holocaust denial. Still, nothing wrong with Israel going the way of the Soviet Union.
December 13, 2006
Al Qaida? Who's he?
Of all the things on the to-do list before the Democrats take control of Congress next month, one item seemed to have escaped the attention of Congressman Silvestro Reyes: read something about the Middle East.Feel safer now?
Mr Reyes, a Democrat from Texas, was chosen by party speaker Nancy Pelosi to chair the house intelligence committee, charged with the oversight of the CIA and other agencies.
So there was much chagrin when the congressman was unable to answer even the most rudimentary questions about militant Islamist organisations such as "Who is in al-Qaida", and "What is Hizbullah"?
Mr Reyes's lack of expertise was exposed by a columnist for the Congressional Quarterly, a political magazine. During an interview last week, the columnist, Jeff Stein, set Mr Reyes a quiz on the modern Middle East.
The congressman stumbled when asked whether al-Qaida was predominantly a Shia or a Sunni organisation.
Mr Reyes guessed that the followers of the Saudi fugitive, Osama bin Laden, were primarily Shia.
In fact, al-Qaida is an extremist Sunni organisation, and many of its followers see Shia as heretics.
"He couldn't have been more wrong," wrote Stein. "It's been five years since these Muslim extremists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Centre. Is it too much to ask that our intelligence overseers know who they are?"
By the time Stein got around to the subject of Hizbullah, the Shia militant group in Lebanon, Mr Reyes was feeling testy.
"Why do you ask me these questions at five o'clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?" he said.
If it's any comfort for the congressman, he is not alone.
Stein said two Republican committee members were "flummoxed" by such basic questions on Islam and the Middle East, and as the Iraq Study Group reported last week, only six people at the US embassy in Baghdad are fluent in Arabic.
Israel and apartheid
In discussing Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Michael Kinsley does not manage to address the "rigid system of required passes and strict segregation" Carter mentions in his comment article (Israel, Palestine, peace and apartheid, December 12). I would also point out one glaring inaccuracy in Kinsley's article. He writes: "No one has yet thought to accuse Israel of creating a phony country in finally acquiescing to a Palestinian state." In fact, that is exactly what organisations such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign have been accusing Israel of for years.Now how did he miss that?
Ehud Barak's "generous offer" was a state with no control of its own borders, fragmented by a network of settler roads for Jews only, designed to allow them free movement between settlements which appropriate the water resources requisite to a viable state. Bantustan is a word that has often been used.
Kinsley also asks "where is the Palestinian Mandela?" It is no argument to defend the systematic oppression of a community of people by lamenting that they don't behave as well as you feel they should under that oppression. If human rights were restricted to those people fortunate enough to be led by someone of the stature of Nelson Mandela, we'd all be in trouble. But again, just for the record, Mandela did endorse a bombing campaign, and our own prime minister of the day described him as a terrorist (while Israel sold guns to South Africa).
But if the Israelis are desperate for a Palestinian Mandela, how about Marwan Barghouti for a candidate? Now where is the Israeli De Klerk?
Michael Kinsley's criticism of Jimmy Carter's new book ignores the obvious parallel: that both were the consequence of the colonisation.
December 12, 2006
Olmert lets the nuclear cat out of the bag?
Israeli media are calling it a "nuclear slip" of the tongue. Aides to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert deny any change in policy.See that last line. It's that alone that suggests that Olmert's openness may well have been a slip. Now we have to watch as American politicians justify breaking their own laws to fund a racist war criminal project to impose a segregationist system that America itself ditched in the 1960s.
Either way, Israel's decades-long position of nuclear weapons ambiguity appears to have crumbled after Olmert implied the Jewish state has the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal in an interview broadcast on German television.
It is less than a week since incoming U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, speculating at a Senate confirmation hearing on Iran's possible motives for trying to build nuclear arms, suggested that Israel had the bomb.
Olmert's remarks led Israeli news bulletins on Tuesday.
Both mass circulation Hebrew-language newspapers had front page headlines: "Olmert's nuclear slip of the tongue".
Speaking in English in the interview, Olmert said:
"Iran, openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel, Russia?"
Arch-foe Iran, whose president has called for the elimination of the "Zionist regime", has denied seeking nuclear arms. It says its nuclear programme is for civilian use.
Israel has long declined to confirm or deny having the bomb as part of a "strategic ambiguity" policy that it says fends off numerically superior Arab enemies.
This reticence is a major irritant for Arabs and Iran, which see a double standard in U.S. policy in the region.
By not declaring itself to be nuclear armed, Israel skirts a U.S. ban on funding countries that proliferate weapons of mass destruction. It can thus enjoy more than $2 billion in annual military and other aid from Washington.
Countering the Counterpuncher Atzmon
Reply to What is to be Done?Just to firm up on the fact that Atzmon, whilst adhering to the same racist worldview he has held for some time now, has started altering this or that word on his site, for example changing the word "Jew" for the word "zionist." Very clever! He is foremost a lying buffoon but his racism is a problem for anti-zionists particularly as it opens the door for Israel Shamir and Paul Eisen who, of course, want to include other more overt racists like Zundel and Duke. I don't think Atzmon is simply trying to cover his own racism by these recent alterations though it could be that he thought it might help him in a libel action he has threatened (and got others to threaten) against me. He was raised to have a racist worldview and he obviously sees nothing wrong with it. I firmly believe that he is simply trying to spare the blushes of the Socialist Workers Party whose embrace of Atzmon has given him and his racist worldview a prominence that they would not otherwise have achieved. That said, it's probably time to move on.
Anti-Semitism is not the answer
We write as two of the initial founders of Palestine Solidarity Campaign in 1982 in the UK in reply to Gilad Atzmon’s article ‘What is to be done? Palestinian solidarity at the time of the massacres, Counterpunch 22.11.06). Gilad Atzmon shows all the enthusiasm of a child with a new toy in his lecture to Scottish Palestine Solidarity. He sees the terrible depredations in Gaza, the massacres and the bombings and asks why we can not end it. The answer, it seems to him is simple. It is a failure of the Palestine solidarity movement in the UK and elsewhere.
If only it were so simple. If there was a silver bullet it would have been fired years ago. The tragedy is that there is no solution that can be wished into existence by a magic wand. Atzmon however is determined that he has found the key to unlocking the door. Israel is a ‘Jewish only state’. And further it is fascist. And even more surprising there are differences between Palestinians living in Israel and the Occupied Territories (OT) and those living in the Palestinian diaspora, mainly refugee camps.
Taking these three in order:i. The aim of Zionism is indeed to create a pure Jewish society. This is not an original discovery! However, that has not yet been achieved, and it is important that, with the inclusion of an open advocate of transfer in the Olmert government, Avigdor Lieberman, we redouble our efforts against the beginnings of an overt transfer programme in Israel (which began with the Law that prevented Israeli Arabs from marrying Palestinian spouses from the OT).
ii. If you don’t like a State, and think it is a vicious, nasty state, then Atzmon’s reasoning, such as it is, is that it is fascist. But fascism refers to a particular kind of State formed in specific circumstances such as the defeat and atomisation of the working class. Israel is not such a State, which does not mean that it is not everything else Atzmon has described it as. It is racist, it is expansionist, it is genocidal when it can get away with it and it relegates the Arab to the category of non-human. All of this is true but that doesn’t mean it is fascist. On the contrary, it is the settler colonial nature of the Israeli state which best explains its expansionism. No one doubts that the South African State was racist and expansionist, but it wasn’t fascist. The fact that these states allowed certain freedoms, such as of the press, voting etc., for their own herrenvolk, demonstrates this. The democratic rights for Jews in Israel, within certain limits, also spill over into a partial leakage of such rights for Israeli Arabs. It is something that has to be fought for and it is an unequal struggle, but it serves no one’s purpose to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
iii. Following on from this it is clear that the Palestinians of the OT and those in the refugee camps surrounding Israel are in the worst position of all. The level of repression directed against the Palestinians of the OT is horrific. But Atzmon is wrong to suggest that their demands are therefore different. The question which naturally follows is what are those demands? What are we aiming for?
It should be clear now beyond any doubt that a two-state solution is no solution at all. It therefore follows, as Atzmon says, that the only solution to the Palestinian Question is a unitary state, but also a democratic, secular unitary state in all of Mandated Palestine. It should also follow that the aim of both Israeli Arabs and the Palestinians of the OT are consonant. In other words both groups are fighting for equal rights, i.e. a state which doesn’t discriminate against someone because of their nationality or religion or any other arbitrary characteristic. In such a state there will be no question that those Palestinians who wish to return, will have an absolute right to return to the State of Palestine.
A Jewish or Jews-only State
Gilad Atzmon emphasises repeatedly that it is a Jewish or Jews-only State that is the principal antagonist for the Palestinian solidarity movement. Not so. It is the Zionist movement and the racist Israeli state that it has created. Atzmon emphasises the Jewishness of the Israeli state, but a state cannot pray to a god, nor wear a skullcap, nor fast on Yom Kippur. If Atzmon is saying that the Israeli state defines the chosen ones, the herrenvolk, those with privileges, as Jewish then we would agree. But, given that one-third of Soviet immigrants in the 1990’s were non-Jewish it would appear that Jewishness is becoming synonymous with being a white European and being Jewish defines the oppressor.
Atzmon’s purpose, however is quite different. It is to imply that because there is something specifically Jewish about the Israeli State it is that, and that alone, which defines its barbarism. It is this implication which we reject.
Unfortunately Atzmon becomes confused along the way and says that our problem is to admit that Zionism is a continuation of Jewishness. In fact he is wrong. It is a break in many ways from Jewishness, which is why the Zionist movement always had such contempt for the Jewish diaspora and its battles for socialism and equal rights. This is not Zionism’s battle. It wishes to deny rights for others, not to fight with others for common, universalist, human goals.
But, like the clock that gets it right twice a day, Atzmon is correct to (nearly) say that modern Jewish identity is formed, primarily, by Zionism. This is no secret, certainly not on the left, and we would recommend that Atzmon reads issue No. 1 of Return magazine an in particular the articles ‘Zionism and Jewish identity’ by Akiva Orr, an Israeli Jew, or ‘Jewish identity through the Ages’ by Ilan Halevi, a Palestinian Jew, or ‘Holocaust Analogies’ by Tony Greenstein in Return 2, or his pamphlet ‘Zionism and its Shadow’. It is no secret that Jewish communities in the West have moved to the right and predominantly support the Israeli state, however critically at times. The point is what conclusion one draws from this fact.
One other fact that Atzmon, in his diatribe doesn’t consider, is that, when Jews were freed from the ghetto walls by Napoleon and discrimination gradually ended, more and more Jews assimilated to the majority communities. We welcome that. More Jews for example survived in Europe under the Nazis because they ‘married out’ i.e. to non-Jews than because of the Zionist project. Today in the world, with the virtual absence of anti-Semitism, over half the Jews in Britain and America are marrying out. In other words the visible Jewish community outside Israel is fast declining. Gilad Atzmon however would resurrect the one thing that Zionism claims has traditionally preserved the Jewish people – anti-Semitism. As Herzl noted in his Diaries (p.231)‘anti-Semitism too probably contains the Divine will to Good, because it forces us to close ranks, unites us through pressure, and through our unity will make us free.Zionism believes that Jews are strangers in the lands they were born and brought up in, and should ‘return’ to Israel, and that the struggle against anti-Semitism is futile. we therefore don’t understand why Atzmon refers to the ADL-Bnai Brith and Abe Foxman, who are not in the least concerned with anti-Semitism, i.e. the fight against anti-Jewish racism. Their concern is merely to defame and libel their opponents, to tar them with the brush of anti-Semitism.
However it is when he comes to the alleged gate-keepers of the Palestine Solidarity movement that Gilad Atzmon reveals his agenda. Israel is a Jews only State, therefore anyone who is Jewish is automatically suspect. We are a fifth column within the Palestinian Solidarity movement. Anyone who is Jewish and who dares oppose the Gilad Atzmon, Israel Shamir line in the movement – and as he says, ‘I have been closely monitoring the Jewish left discourse for more than a few years’ – is damned as a Zionist, which for Atzmon seems interchangeable with being Jewish.
Atzmon’s logic is impeccable for its Zionist credentials, which as readers will be aware, is no more than the other side of the coin of anti-Semitism. Jews, be they in Britain as a whole or in the Palestinian solidarity movement, are outsiders, strangers, interlopers. We do not belong. And where do we belong according to this logic? Why in Israel, the Jews-only State! You couldn’t make it up if you tried. For all his posturing, Atzmon repeats the Zionist canard he learnt at his parents’ knees, viz. that Jews outside Israel are neither fish nor fowl – they are neither proper Jews nor accepted citizens of the countries they live in. Surprising as it may seem, we reject this nonsense.
So yes, Moshé Machover is quite right. Anti-Semitism is indeed a Palestinian problem. Not in the sense that they personally experience it, but because any growth in anti-Semitism cannot but have adverse consequences for the Palestinians. But for anti-Semitism there would have been no Zionist movement and certainly no Israeli state. The fact that Atzmon cannot understand this simple fact suggests he doesn’t understand what Zionism is.
The rest of the attack on Moshé Machover, someone who is rightly respected by both Palestinians and Jewish anti-Zionists, is just an absurd caricature. We do not know of any single Jewish anti-Zionist, certainly not Moshé, who has attacked Palestinians because they are not interested in fighting anti-Semitism. To be blunt we would prefer not to fight anti-Semitism, certainly not within the Palestinian solidarity movement. We prefer things like supporting asylum seekers, ending the war with Iraq and the attempted domination by the USA, with and without Israel, of the Middle East and its oil resources. And the fight against anti-Muslim racism in Britain is our priority, because we agree with Norman Finkelstein that anti-Semitism is a declining phenomenon in the West, which the Zionists of course try to pretend is otherwise.
Atzmon tells us he is a philosopher and an essentialist. What he really means is that he is unable to place anything in its proper context or perspective. If he was he wouldn’t be searching for the ‘spirit’ of Zionism, which would seem to be what Zionism describes as the ‘essence of Judaism’. Nor would he be so concerned about ‘that which transforms the Israelis and their supporters into ethically blind killing machines.’
Atzmon might also want to consider what made supporters of General Pinochet or South Africa’s John Vorster or George Bush and his millions of supporters into just such machines. Concepts such as imperialism rarely fall from Atzmon’s lips.
Atzmon declares his true agenda when he says that, if Israel as a Jewish State is wrong, then Jews Against Zionism, the Jewish Socialists Group etc. are also wrong. Wrong Mr Atzmon. It is precisely because Israel claims that it is acting in the name of Jewish people everywhere that it is incumbent upon those who are Jewish and who are socialists or are genuinely opposed to anti-Semitism on principle to also oppose racism which is directed against the Palestinians. There is no contradiction here, except in the mind of someone who is afraid of his own identity.
Anti-Semitism has no place in the Palestine solidarity movement
Gilad Atzmon is too coy. In ‘On anti-Semitism’ 20.12.03 he writes that ‘If we go along with the Zionist call to regard Jewish-ness as a nationalistic category rather than a religious one, we should be consistent and regard any act against Jews as a political reaction rather than an irrational racist attack. In other words: the success of Zionism drains away any possibility of anti-Semitism.’ What he is saying is that we should accept at face value the Zionist definition of Jew=Zionist and then proceed to attack Jews on the basis that they are synonymous with Israel and Zionism. Wonderful. We can’t think of any better way of strengthening the very Israeli state Atzmon purports to oppose.
In the same essay, Atzmon wrote: ‘we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously…. …. American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the elder of Zion' are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews do try to control the world, by proxy… I would suggest that perhaps we should face it once and for all: the Jews were responsible for the killing of Jesus who, by the way, was himself a Palestinian Jew.”
We note that Atzmon has now substituted ‘Zionists’ for the ‘the Jewish people’ above, but the same intent and meaning remains. Zionists are Jews and Jews are Zionists. On this Atzmon agrees wholeheartedly with the Zionists. And if there were any doubt on this score, then further into the essay he writes that ‘American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the elder of Zion' are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world.’ This rehabilitation of the oldest and most infamous of anti-Semitic tracts, about which Hitler also declared that it was irrelevant if they were a forgery, should be shocking in anyone who declares themselves an opponent of Zionism.
Yet not satisfied with this, Atzmon was determined to write his own version of the Protocols, which can be read on his web site:
‘Now, it looks as if Zionist lobbies control American foreign politics. After so many years of independence, the United States of America is becoming a remote colony of an apparently far greater state, the Jewish state…. The idea that Zionists have taken over America might sound bizarre in the first instance but we must remember that this kind of strange scenario does happen. Last month I heard Israel Shamir's observation regarding this very issue.’ [The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion (Verse 2)]
Israel Shamir is the spider at the centre of the small, but growing, group of people who believe that anti-Semitism can somehow of be assistance in the development of a Palestine solidarity campaign. Believed to be a Russian-Swedish fascist Adam Ermash living in Israel, he openly denies that there was a Holocaust of European Jews, and argues that that Auschwitz was merely a labour camp, that there is substance to the medieval blood libel and that the Palestine solidarity movement should align itself with white supremacist and far-right organisations and individuals. To which end Shamir hasn’t hesitated to speak on the same platforms as David Duke, the ex-KKK leader, at a Kiev Conference on ‘anti-Zionism’ last year, and to praise Horst Mahler of the German NPD. Other luminaries in this group include Paul Eisen, British Director of Deir Yassin Remembered, whose article ‘Holocaust Wars’ features on Shamir’s web site. It is a fulsome tribute to Holocaust Denier, Ernst Zundel. It is an article which Atzmon has described as ‘a great text’ – something he has never withdrawn. To give but a flavour of Eisen’s works:“World War II - that is, the war against the East - was really a preventive/defensive war against Communism, which was Jewish.”Which is of course how the Nazis justified the war against the Soviet Union. And he tells us that “Ernst Zundel was not the only German who loved Hitler and is probably not the only German who still loves Hitler. Millions of Germans loved Hitler who for twelve years impacted on them as no German has or probably ever will.” This of course is the fascist tyranny which not only exterminated millions of Jews, gypsies and gays, but others it considered untermenschen. It was a state which, despite repeated blandishments from the Mufti of Jerusalem, was steadfast in its support for the Zionist state-in-the-making in Palestine. Its racial philosophy was not merely aimed at Jews, but held in equal contempt Blacks and third world peoples. That was why Hitler was determined to do nothing that undermined the British Empire and certainly not to support or encourage any Palestinian rebellion against the British.”
This is, apparently, the direction in which we should be going. Atzmon, together with Shamir, believes that Jews today are ‘Christ killers’, and offers the Palestine solidarity movement the prospect of an alliance with medieval Christian anti-Semitism and other assorted racists. It is an offer we should refuse.
Tony Greenstein & Roland Rance – Jews Against Zionism (UK)
December 11, 2006
Israel messes with Tutu
Desmond Tutu, a Nobel laureate, says that Israel has refused him permission to lead a fact-finding mission to investigate Israeli-Palestinian violence.Well what a surprise. You'd think if Israel was keen to deny that it's an apartheid state it would be thrilled to have an expert on apartheid come and give them a clean bill of political health. Sometimes I think Israel has something to hide.
Tutu was to begin leading a six-member team over the past weekend in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun to investigate the killings of 19 civilians in an Israeli artillery barrage last month.
But Israel failed to grant them the necessary travel clearance.
"We find the lack of co-operation by the Israeli government very distressing, as well as its failure to allow the mission timely passage to Israel," Tutu said. "We have, in our view, been turned down."
December 10, 2006
Israel is in crisis. The recent Lebanon War has heightened all its internal and external contradictions. Gabriel Ash looks at the economic and political foundations of this deeply militaristic and ideological state. The recent military defeat, brewing class divisions and political polarization from within, have made Israel more unstable than ever.But where's it going?
December 09, 2006
Leeds Uni zionists: we really can't complain
Britain’s largest Jewish student community was in a state of shock this week after being constitutionally gagged against a background of intensifying anti-Israel campaigns and propaganda.Unfortunately, I can't find the actual motion itself. If anyone knows where to find it, please let me know. Thanks!
The student union at the University of Leeds has recently become the stronghold of a growing pro-Palestine lobby, which regularly runs campaigns declaring Israel to be a racist and apartheid state. Following a campus-wide referendum last Friday, union authorities have been mandated to ignore J-Soc complaints “as long as Judaism as a faith is not offended.” This policy was carried by 1,421 votes to 895.
The motion, proposed by members of the Palestinian Solidarity Group, catalogues J-Soc complaints against it. It then claims that the existing practice of “considering every complaint received by the student union as a real complaint” constituted “an arbitrary use of authority.”
A further successful motion, worded as a polemic against Israel, resolves to twin the union with the student body at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, where many seats on the student council are held by the Hamas-linked Islamic List. It brings to a climax a disturbing term for Jewish students — in the last month alone, UK J-Socs have fought against some 11 motions, the majority of which they managed to defeat.
Campus leaders, students and academics have voiced concern that the first motion singles out the university’s Jewish students — thought to number almost 1,000 — and strips them of basic rights enjoyed by all others. They fear this principle will be introduced in other unions, creating a culture where Israeli’s critics have carte blanche to launch tirades regardless of their truth, and where it becomes taboo for any J-Soc to show solidarity with Israel.
They have also reacted with incredulity to the motion’s wording, in which its Palestinian Solidarity Group authors claim for themselves — and to the exclusion of Jewish students — authority to define Jewish identity. Now the motion has passed, Jewish identity is now exclusively religious, according to the union’s constitution.
After the votes, the atmosphere at Hillel House was gloomy. “The motion is trying to tell us what we should and should not think about Judaism,” said Mark Frazer, 21. “Its proponents are saying that Israel should not be part of our Jewish identity; we think is. It should be for us to decide.” Judith Keen, 20, spoke of “feeling let down as the referendum process is meant to help students here, not be used a political tool.”
Zach Esdaile, one of the J-Soc’s campaign officers, claimed it will “add to fear on campus.” He said: “This motion is supposedly about freedom of speech [by preventing complaints], but it delivers anything but that.”
However Damola Timeyin, communications and democracy officer for the union, said that the motion was passed by a democratic forum, and as such is binding.
According to Mitch Simmons, campaigns director at UJS, the motion represents the “stepping up” of a “national, systematic and coordinated attempt on campuses” to blacken Israel’s reputation and delegitimise Israel’s centrality in Jewish identity.
Insiders in the National Union of Students report a growing rift with Leeds over the motion, even though, publicly, NUS respects the autonomy of member unions. NUS president Gemma Tumelty would not “comment extensively,” but confirmed there is a clash.
UPDATE: and thanks to Akram Awad in the comments for providing this link to the motion:
This Union Notes.So there we have it.
1. That in November 2004 the LUU Palestinian Solidarity Group (PSG) was refused permission to erect a model of the Israeli wall of separation outside the Student Union as part of the group's campaign against the building of the wall in the West Bank of Palestine.
The Student Union sent security guards and phoned the police to remove the wall from campus after receiving a complaint from one Zionist Jewish student claiming he was offended by showing the wall on campus.
2. That in November 2005 PSG was forced by a Union Executive to repaint the wall model, spending £150 of its budget, before allowing them to display it in a planned event. The repainting was requested to remove the words "Racist", "Apartheid" and "Zionist" from the wall, claiming they were inflammatory.
3. That the International Court of Justice has ruled in July 2004 that "the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law".
4. That the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu described the apartheid regime in South Africa "a picnic in comparison with the utter brutality of Israel's occupation of Palestine."
5. That in November 2004 and October 2005, PSG were not allowed to distribute a leaflet about Zionism because of describing Israel as a "racist, Zionist state".
6. That in November 1975, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379 which determined that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." Israel made revocation of resolution 3379 a condition of its participation in the Madrid Peace Conference, in progress in the last quarter of 1991. Under pressure from the administration of US President George H.W. Bush in the United States, the UN passed Resolution 4686 in December 1991, revoking Resolution 3379.
7. That in November 2006 PSG was ordered by a Union Executive to hide the word "Jews" in "Zionist Jews" printed on a banner quoting the Balfour Declaration, an official document issued by the British Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1917. The order was made after receiving a complaint from a number of Zionist Jewish students claiming to be offended by mentioning the word "Jews" in the quotation.
The banner was displayed in several outdoor events on campus in the past and has never received such complaints by any Jewish student.
8. That PSG were ordered by the Student Union in several incidents to make changes to their display material or to end their activity because some students were approaching their stalls or displays causing disorder, disturbing the peace and jeopardising the event.
9. That although the LUU Jewish Society (JSoc)is categorised by the Student Union as a religious society, a principal role for JSoc is to promote the state of Israel via its activities and affiliation with the National Union of Jewish Student (UJS), an organisation which openly declares itself as a Zionist i.e. political organisation.
10. That in February 2006 JSoc organised an Israeli Awareness week in the Riley Smith Hall of the Student Union building. Part of the activity was a huge map of Palestine laid on the floor without any border lines identifying the Palestinian territories, implying that the whole map is for Israel. A number of Palestinian students complained to the Societies Executive about the map but the complaint was ignored.
11. That from 1967 to 1988 the UN Security Council passed 88 resolutions directly against Israel and during that span, Israel was condemned 43 times. During the same time, in the UN General Assembly, 429 resolutions against Israel were passed, and Israel was condemned 321 times. Many other resolutions have been passed by both the Security Council and General Assembly since then. Israel has never complied with the vast majority of these resolutions.
12. That in October 2003, the European Commission conducted a survey representing all EU's member nations and included a list of 15 countries with the question: 'tell me if in your opinion it presents or not a threat to peace in the world'. Israel came first and was reportedly picked by 59 per cent of those interviewed.
13. That all UN resolutions related to the Arab-Israeli conflict starting from resolution 242 in 1967 onwards consider the Palestinian territories (including West Bank, Gaza strip and East Jerusalem) as Occupied territories.
This Union Believes
1. The University's Code of practice on freedom of speech ensures that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees and for visiting speakers.
2. Considering every complaint received by the Student Union as a real complaint and taking actions according to it, without having a reasonable and logical basis for that complaint, is an arbitrary use of authority against the other party.
3. Requesting an event to remove or modify any of their display content should be the last resort -not the first- to avoid the breach of peace in the event, as long as the displayed material doesn't contain content that insult the members of a curtain faith or race.
4. It is the responsibility of the University Secretary and the Appointed Officer to ensure that adequate number of stewards, suitable to the Appointed Officer, is available, in addition to any security staff that the Appointed Officer may feel should be present to maintain order.
5. It is inappropriate to blame or take action against the organisers of an event for the disorder caused deliberately by other individuals or groups, especially as it is the duty of the Appointed officer and the security staff to protect the event and the organisers and to ensure they feel safe to speak freely on campus.
6. The Israeli-Arab conflict is, although complicated, not a religious dispute and thus it is open to controversy and debate. Advocates of both sides of the conflict should feel free to raise awareness and educate the university members, students and employees, about the conflict each from their own perspective. The same ruling should apply to all political conflicts and debates.
This Union Resolves:
1. To ensure that all political societies are practicing their freedom of speech without the fear of being silenced for the sake of satisfying other parties with opposing political stances.
2. To request the LUU societies executive to take all necessary security measures mentioned in (This Union believes - Paragraph 4) in all LUU society events to avoid any breach of peace by the organisers, the attendance or other external parties.
3. To formally advise the LUU Jewish Society that promoting and defending Israel in its activities indicate that JSoc is taking and advocating a curtain political stand in behalf of the Jewish students on campus. Therefore JSoc is expected to expect and accept having other parties declaring and promoting opposing stands in the University, as long as Judaism as a faith is not offended.
4. To send a letter to the University secretary with a copy of this motion.