February 28, 2007

Ethnically cleansing the West Bank Bedouin

Here's a report in today's Guardian on the ethnic cleansing of Bedouin from their homes in the West Bank:
For the 3,000 Bedouin living here, most from the Jahalin tribe, this presents an imminent crisis. "They came and destroyed my house to protect their wall," said Mr Hassan, 62. "They really don't have enough land already that they had to come and destroy my house? We've lost everything."

Earlier this month the Israeli military destroyed seven huts and tents belonging to Bedouin living near a settlement in Hebron, in the southern West Bank. Another group of Bedouin living further east in the Jordan Valley have been given two months to leave their homes near an Israeli military base and a Jewish settlement.

In each case the Israeli authorities argue the homes have been built without permits, but Palestinians say they are notoriously hard to obtain.

Bedouin culture has been eroded as a result. Refugees from the Negev desert in Israel who crossed after 1948, their grazing land has been squeezed by the growth of Palestinian towns, the rapid emergence of large Jewish settlements and lately the vast concrete and steel barrier. Most Bedouin live on land that under the Oslo accords was supposed to be unpopulated farmland where Israel has civilian and military control. Today most live in primitive shacks, many no longer keep animal herds and they have little in the way of formal land ownership documents. They have become one of the most vulnerable Palestinian communities......

Other Bedouin have also changed and work as construction labourers, many even employed in Ma'ale Adumim, building the settlement that has taken the land they once lived on.
Still, at least they're making a living.

February 25, 2007

Gulf states to let Israel use their airspace en route to Iran?

I'm not sure how true this is. I was sent the Ha'aretz link by a "David Cohen,"
Three Arab states in the Persian Gulf would be willing to allow the Israel Air force to enter their airspace in order to reach Iran in case of an attack on its nuclear facilities, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyasa reported on Sunday.

According to the report, a diplomat from one of the gulf states visiting Washington on Saturday said the three states, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, have told the United States that they would not object to Israel using their airspace, despite their fear of an Iranian response.
Those gulf states, they'll be sponsoring Arsenal Football Club next!

February 24, 2007

Rally in Trafalgar Square today

It should be starting round about now at Speaker's Corner, Hyde Park and march to Trafalgar Square. This is the Stop the War blurb:
Tony Blair took us to war on Iraq to find weapons of mass destruction. There were none. 655,000 Iraqis, over 3000 US soldiers and 130 British soldiers have died in that illegal war. Now Blair wants to spend up to £76 billion on new Trident nuclear weapons for a ‘defence’ policy based on indiscriminate killing of millions.

Stop the War, CND and BMI are calling a national demonstration on 24 February to say no to these insane policies of death and destruction.

Well, I can't do the march but I might make the rally.

Israel seeks "air corridor" over sovereign Iraq

According to Ha'aretz, Israel wants the way clear for an attack on Iran but who is Israel negotiating with for this corridor?
Israel is negotiating with the United States over permission for an "air corridor" over Iraq should an attack on that country's nuclear facilities become necessary, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

Military authorities would need permission from the U.S. Department of Defense for any such operation
But not from sovereign Iraq.

February 23, 2007

Israel's apartheid regime, but where?

Another one of those irritating observations, reported in the Guardian, that Israel's regime in the West Bank and Gaza is like apartheid, like the rest of Palestine is an oasis of liberal, or even social, democracy. The headline and article are a tad confusing. The headline, Occupied Gaza like apartheid South Africa, says UN report, refers, as you can see, to Gaza but the comparison with apartheid is about the settlements:
After describing the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank, with closed zones, demolitions and preference given to settlers on roads, with building rights and by the army, he said: "Can it seriously be denied that the purpose of such action is to establish and maintain domination by one racial group (Jews) over another racial group (Palestinians) and systematically oppressing them? Israel denies that this is its intention or purpose. But such an intention or purpose may be inferred from the actions described in this report."

He dismissed Israel's argument that the sole purpose of the vast concrete and steel West Bank barrier is for security. "It has become abundantly clear that the wall and checkpoints are principally aimed at advancing the safety, convenience and comfort of settlers," he said.
Then we get to Gaza:
Gaza remained under occupation despite the withdrawal of settlers in 2005. "In effect, following Israel's withdrawal, Gaza became a sealed-off, imprisoned and occupied territory," he said.
So Gaza is a Bantustan and the West Bank has an apartheid regime. And Israel "proper?" You'll have to delve into the Guardian's archives for that one.

The compiler of the report for the was John Dugard, a South African law professor who is the UN's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories.

If I had a hat I'd tip it to Justin Horton of, er, Justin Horton fame.

February 21, 2007

Which Israel?

My friend Dina Turner offers a consumer's guide to Israel in today's Guardian.
Which Israel would ambassador Zfi Heifetz like the Palestinians to recognise (Hamas has not delivered, February 20). The Israel created by the UN in 1948, which comprised 55% of historic Palestine? The Israel after June 1967, which consists of 78% of historic Palestine? The Israel of today, 85% of historic Palestine? Or perhaps the Israel that will be, after it has finished building its illegal barrier and settlements, which will then consist of 90% of historic Palestine?
Dina Turner
Farnham, Surrey
In the same group of three letters, representatives of seven different groups call for the ending of sanctions against the Palestinians and the imposition of sanctions on Israel:
On February 8, Fatah and Hamas issued the Mecca agreement. Palestinians are now working to create a national-unity government to rebuild Palestinian society, which has faced systematic destruction under Israeli occupation (Leaders, February 20). Given the international Quartet is meeting today, the British government must seize this opportunity to overturn its wrong and disastrous position of supporting sanctions against the Palestinians, which have created a humanitarian disaster.

For over a year, our government has been complicit with the European Union, the US and Israel in collectively punishing the Palestinian people, because they did not agree with the result of the Palestinian Authority elections. The EU, previously the largest donor, withdrew its funding to the PA from April 2006. The US also stopped its funding, and the Israeli government has withheld tax revenues collected on behalf of the PA of around $60m a month. A recent report by the Commons international development committee said: "As a result, the Palestinian Authority is facing financial crisis and this is seriously affecting the Palestinian people: 51% of Palestinians are now food insecure and 66% of families are below the poverty line." The report concluded that the withdrawal of aid was counterproductive and threatened the viability of the occupied territories.

The government must end its role in punishing the occupied people, the Palestinians, rather than the occupying nation, Israel. It should ensure the EU resumes its funding of the Palestinian Authority, and that it puts all possible pressure both on the US to resume its aid and on Israel to release the withheld tax revenues.
Betty Hunter
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Louise Richards
War On Want
Ismael Patel
British Muslim Initiative
Deborah Maccoby
Majed Al Zeer
Palestinian Return Centre
Caroline Qutteneh
Welfare Association
Dan Judelson
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
See anyone you recognise? Incidentally, if you're not suffering Atzmon fatigue you might like to check out this little article on the AMIN site.

And the last of the three is this call to end the occupation:
After 40 years, the world is still waiting for five simple words from the Israeli government: "We will end the occupation."
Leon Rosselson
Wembley Park, Middlesex
I think it's a bit late for that now Leon.

February 20, 2007

Tony Greenstein on Comment is "free"

Tony Greenstein has an article in the Guardian's comment is free space today. At a glance it seems that the article is about attempts by antisemites to infiltrate the Palestine solidarity movement. First up Tony explains how it is zionists themselves that have made life easier for antisemites by crying "wolf"
Like the boy who cried wolf, the charge of "anti-semitism" has been made so often against critics of Zionism and the Israeli state that people now have difficulty recognising the genuine article.

So absurd has the situation become that the allegation of anti-semitism is even made when Jews disagree among themselves. That is why the suggestion by Alvin Rosenfield that "anti-Zionism is the form that much of today's anti-semitism takes" needs to be taken with a large pinch of salt.

One of the consequences of this abuse of the term "anti-semitism" is to devalue the currency. It renders it almost meaningless because people assume that allegations of anti-semitism are merely the last-ditch resort of those who are incapable of defending the Apartheid Wall that separates the people of the West Bank from their land, the bulldozing of civilian houses, the wanton destruction of olive groves and crops, to say nothing of the theft of their land.

Anti-semitism today is not a mainstream form of racism. It is asylum seekers, Muslims and black people who face stop-and-search, control orders and racial profiling, not Jewish people.
Already, Gilad Atzmon's nazi-type trolls are spamming the comments with links back to their favourite blog. Also I notice a zionist commentor called "Shachtman." The post I saw was clearly off topic but it seems to have been allowed. It seems to have been written in the style of a sock puppet called Alf Green.

February 19, 2007

First the holocaust cartoons, then holocaust denial and now a Middle Eastern state does a holocaust joke!

And which state is it? No prize for you. It is of course Israel. Here's a Jerusalem Post article, detailing the neglect with which the State of the holocaust survivor treats, er, holocaust survivors:
In the Mogilov ghetto, she saw the Nazis chop her four-month-old sister's head off with an axe and shoot her grandmother to death. The Nazis also did terrible things to Rozenstain herself.

"I have no one to talk to, no grave to go visit," she says. "I don't need money, I just need a little relief in my life."

But the fact is she does need money. Echoing Leopold Rosen, she says, "There are days I don't eat, but I'm used to not eating. My medicines I have to take, though."

She suffers from depression, anxiety attacks that don't let her catch her breath, a heart condition and osteoporosis.

"I need dentures that cost NIS 8,000, and special glasses that cost NIS 2,200," she adds. "Where am I supposed to get the money?"

Living alone, her two children long having left the house, she and her late husband cashed in his pension in 1990, when, she says, her husband's heart surgeon convinced them it would be better if the operation was done privately. "My husband died on the operating table," Rozenstain says.

Her landlord is now trying to evict her from the apartment, which she says she's been paying for on a "key money," or virtual ownership, basis since 1963. The eviction proceedings have forced her to borrow NIS 10,000 for a lawyer.

She lives on German reparations that come to about NIS 1,500 a month plus NIS 2,200 a month in Israeli old-age pension.

"But I know other [Holocaust survivors] who have it much worse, who go through the garbage bins for food," she says. "They make a big joke out of us."
Thanks to Desert Peace for first bringing my attention to this.

Actually, now I'm thinking about it, wasn't it Abba Eban who first said, "There's no business like shoah business."

February 17, 2007

Palestinians give it the BIG'un

I wasn't aware of this until Johng posted something on it in the comments. This call to boycott Israeli goods is posted on the Palestine News Network:
Palestinian call to a comprehensive boycott of Israeli products

(Ramallah) Rashid Hilal

Sunday, 11 February 2007

ImageThe labor movement and the Stop the Wall Campaign issued an appeal on Sunday to international and Arab trade unions to boycott Israeli goods until the ongoing assaults on the Palestinian people come to an end.

At a press conference in Al Bireh City just outside of Ramallah, labor official Haider Ibrahim said, “The unions and the popular campaign appeal for an inclusive boycott of Israeli products and for continued resistance to the Apartheid Wall.” He said that the Wall has nothing to do with the security claim with which the Israelis have sold the idea, but is rather part of a larger political project.

Ibrahim asked that Palestinian workers escalate their boycott of Israeli materials to include all of those available on the market. He appealed to the Arab League to support the nonviolent action against occupation.

He added that non governmental organizations should join forces for a unified political boycott alongside the product boycott undertaken by the unions.

The Coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign, Jamal Juma', said that product boycotts are historically effective. He used the examples of Apartheid South Africa and the Canadian and Brazilian labor movements of the past.

Writer and political analyst Samih Shabib added that Israel would lose three billion dollars annually if Arab countries joined the boycott. The agreement signed in 1994 between Israelis and Palestinians has been greatly destructive to the Palestinian economy, Shabib pointed out. Palestinian store shelves are filled with Israeli goods. He said, “We must include agricultural products and manufactured goods, and put it into the public consciousness that we do not consume Israeli made anything.”

He also said that there is no willing Israeli partner to deal with any real issues and that the time is ripe for the people to put an end to the practices of occupation that have so devastated the Palestinian population since 1948. The unemployment rate on a national level is 40 percent, and the Wall makes it higher as villages are cut off from lands and places of employment, while land confiscation and attacks on industry and agriculture severely hinder economic sustainability.
Check out Ernie Halfdram here for his take on boycotts generally.

February 16, 2007

War crimes to become no crimes in the UK?

Another one from the Jewish Chronicle (sub only). Apparently, Margeret Becket has told the Israeli government that the government is trying to change war crimes legislation so that Israeli war crimes suspects - ie just about anyone who has served in the Israeli army - can dodge prosecution for their crimes:
Israeli army officers may no longer face the threat of being arrested and charged with war crimes in Britain.

The issue was on the agenda

during last week’s meeting in Jerusalem between Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

According to Mr Olmert’s office, Mrs Beckett said UK law officers would “take care” of it.

In 2005, former IDF general Doron Almog, the Israeli army’s commander in Gaza until 2003, decided to remain on a plane at Heathrow rather than step on to British soil after an arrest warrant was issued by Bow Street Magistrates’ Court.

He had learned that he was facing arrest on suspicion of breaching the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is an offence in the UK.

The warrant was issued after Gaza residents and the Palestine Committee for Human Rights urged a firm of London solicitors to pursue a case against him. It is believed that Israeli diplomats tipped him off and he flew back to Israel before the warrant could be served.

The then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, later apologised.

The Israeli government warned other senior IDF officers not to visit Britain, and the former Chief of Staff, Moshe Yaalon, cancelled a trip to London the same year for a charity event.

The issue enraged the Israeli authorities.

Mrs Beckett told the Israeli premier that officers working for Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith, and Home Office officials, were “actively looking into the situation”.

However, a Westminster source told the JC that any moves to prevent IDF officers facing prosecution in the UK would require a controversial and difficult change in the law.
So are they going to insert a special get-out clause for Israelis or are they going to scrap the concept of war crimes altogether?

Another day another holocaust museum

Back to the Jewish Chronicle for an article attacking the holocaust industry. Norman Finkelstein drew a lot of flak over his exposé of the way money is drummed up for lawyers and zionists by the exploitation of suffering. Now criticism of the same thing is part of mainstream discourse. Mira Bar Hillel writes of how the ageing survivors of the holocaust are being denied funds that are rightfully theirs:
To their injury insult is added in the form of the thriving Holocaust commemoration industry. Last August, the world’s 58th Holocaust museum opened in Norway. This means there is now approximately one museum for every 1,000 poverty-stricken survivors. Perhaps this is why, on a recent visit to Israel, one of them said to me: “Alive, we are a nuisance; dead, we are an asset. They just want us to die as quickly as possible so that they get on with commemorating us lavishly — with our own money.”
And you remember all that kerfuffle over European banks and other corporations withholding holocaust assets from their true owners? Well check this:
JC readers will be familiar with criticisms of the Claims Conference, set up to help allocate the $1.25 billion which was finally given up by the Swiss Banks in 1998 after a long battle with a high media profile. The Conference also handles further billions agreed with the governments of Germany, France and Austria, five of the leading insurance companies in Europe, and a number of major German corporations, all of which signed a settlement with the United States government and Jewish organisations to return assets and to compensate Holocaust victims. But the money was not given to the victims themselves, and much of it is not reaching them.

The Swiss money was transferred to Brooklyn Federal Court and Judge Edward R Korman. According to Ha’aretz, by the end of 2006 only $400 million had actually been distributed. “Several Jewish organisations and the State of Israel have already begun fighting over the remaining sum,” the newspaper reported.

And Israeli banks are as guilty as the Swiss were of denying money from accounts opened by Holocaust victims before the war. Last month, research conducted by Sidney Zabludoff, an American economist and former employee of the US Treasury Department, found that only a fifth of the assets taken from Jews had been returned to their rightful owners since 1945. Zabludoff says that the total value is now $115-$175 billion.

David Aaronovitch's hypocrisy?

David Aaronovitch, a hypocrite? Who said that? Well the headline to a the following letter in the Jewish Chronicle (subscription only) is COLUMNIST'S HYPOCRISY. Here's the letter:
Dear Sir

David Aaronovitch wonders why he wasn't invited to sign the Independent Jewish Voices declaration even though he wouldn't have signed it. There could be two reasons. One is the fact that late last year, in The Times, David Aaronovitch sneered at Jews for Justice for Palestinians and, in particular, an invitation to sign their statement. He actually said that he wouldn't sign anything "as a Jew" and that he couldn't understand why anyone would ask him to sign anything simply because he has a Jewish name.

The second reason might be that the David Aaronovitch, who writes for The Times and who couldn't understand why he would be asked to sign anything "as a Jew" was a different David Aaronovitch altogether from the one who would like to have been asked to sign the IJV declaration and that these IJV people asked the Times chap but not the JC chap.

Perhaps it's time for one of these David Aaronovitches to read the other one's articles.

Yours faithfully

Mark Elf
Mark Elf eh? But the h-word doesn't appear in the letter so perhaps the JC was making a statement, you never know.

The article I was responding to was in last week's JC and headed Independent, but not very Jewish. David Aaronovitch is now the proud owner of a Jewometer that can tell how Jewish people are. Some gadget, huh?

February 15, 2007

Israel does petty apartheid

One of Israel's get-outs from the charge of being an apartheid state is that it doesn't do so-called "petty apartheid." Like the ethnic cleansing, the Law of Return and the planning and land laws aren't enough to condemn the zionist system as apartheid. Well cop this little carry on at a shopping mall in Netanya.
Four law students at the Netanya College were refused entry at the city's Sharon Mall on Tuesday because the security guards identified them as being non-Jewish.

The students were asked to leave after one of them could not produce an identity card, even though his colleagues did present theirs. As they were ordered to leave, a guard sarcastically told them: "Now you have something to do your clerkship about."
Now can we call Israel an apartheid state?

February 14, 2007

Israel doesn't kill children.....this time

Palestinian teachers, a headteacher and many children were left in a state of shock when the Israeli army invaded Abu Dis Boys School and didn't kill any of the children. They just beat them very badly instead:
Statement by Abdul Wahab Sabbah, Abu Dis, 14th February 2007

I was rung at about 11 o'clock this morning by the head teacher of the Abu Dis Boys' School who was asking for help as something very terrible was happening in his school. I got there as soon as I could and when I got to the school it was terrible, there was a real crisis. The school gate was broken, there were people from Abu Dis (parents) coming in, kids and teachers in crisis, the head teacher upset as he had rung the Palestinian Ministry of Education and was feeling blamed for not protecting hischildren.

I was told that a jeep full of Israeli soldiers (6 of them) had burst into the school. There is a guard at the school but he did not manage to stop them. The students were on break but they ran into their classrooms to hide.

The soldiers went into one classroom after another (grades 7, 8 and 9) and started beating the boys. The teachers stood in front to try to protect the boys but the soldiers pushed them away. The soldiers hit the boys with batons . The boys put their hands over their heads to try and protect themselves and their hands got hit - they were badly hurt, we think that some of them have their hands broken.

I was told that everyone was scared as the Israeli soldiers had threatened to come back and repeat this beating.

Many of the students were beaten and hurt but 6 of them have serious injuries. Along with two people - a teacher from the school and the father of one of the children who had been beaten - I took these boys in a Ford Transit to the Al Muqassed clinic, to see Dr Abdullah - an army jeep followed us the whole way.

Dr Abdullah said that the boys needed an X ray which can't be done in Abu Dis so he took them to Azariyeh - These are the boys he took with him:

Ahmed Khalid Mohsen (12 years old) (possibly 2 of his left fingers broken)

Abdul Rahim Ahmed Halabiye (14 years old) (beaten badly all over his body by three soldiers and his left elbow possibly broken)

Ahmed Mohammad Mahmoud Saireh (14 years old) (started this school 2 days ago) (his left hand possibly broken)

Mohammed Qasim Rabiye (15 years old) (his right side hurting near his kidneys, his right hand possibly broken)

Ali Yussuf Bader (14 years old) (his left hand possibly broken)

One more boy was scared and left the clinic.

I was told that everyone was scared as the Israeli soldiers had threatened
to come back and repeat this beating.

Abdul Wahab Sabbah.
See that? They'll be back.

This report was sent to the Just Peace UK list by the Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association.

Rounding up the IJV discussion

Much of the "debate" around the Independent Jewish Voices declaration has been absolutely ludicrous. Here's Brian Klug rounding up on the discussions that have involved several Comment is free articles and possibly over a thousand comments.
"The rebellion goes global" is the headline of the lead article on the front page of this week's Jewish Chronicle (JC), which prides itself on being the "world's oldest and most influential Jewish newspaper". "International drive to challenge communal leaders' 'unquestioning support' for Israel reaches Britain" explains the strap line. The article reports that in just three days over 1,000 entries on the subject were posted on the Comment is Free site. This is not to say that the JC is sympathetic to IJV, as it makes clear in an editorial [subscription only]. But its extensive coverage reflects the extent of public interest, not least in Jewish circles, in the issues raised by the launch.

It's the issues, not the IJV as such, that count. As one email writer put it: "Judging by the enormous response, it is clear that these issues have been smouldering beneath the surface for some time". He thought that the launch of IJV has "catalysed the debate".

Another wrote: "You have said openly what many of us have felt for a very long time but have lacked a vehicle for expressing our views."

These sentiments, which have been expressed in abundance over the last week, provide part of the answer to an objection raised frequently - in the threads of comments on this site and elsewhere - during the week. We stand accused of being a clique of marginal Jews who have ample opportunity to express our views in the media; who have invented or imagined the figment of censorship; and who simply cannot bear the heat of vigorous debate.

It would take a while to unpack this accusation in full. Briefly, there is no clique. The two email writers I just quoted are not members of the glitterati. They do not have automatic access to the comment pages of newspapers. Like many signatories to the IJV statement, they are individuals who feel alienated by the prevailing climate of debate over Israel and Zionism within the Jewish world.
Now, what was I saying? Ah yes, ludicrous. Go to Brian Klug's latest offering. Scroll down to the comments and have a look at some. At the time of writing there are 221. Then nip over to Engage and see the denunciations of these dangerous dissidents. Ok, as a foretaste, here's David Aaronovitch.
I don’t sign newspaper petitions any more, but a girl does like to be asked, and I felt a twinge of preposterous disappointment when the ads came out for Independent Jewish Voices and I wasn’t there, listed among the signatories. After all, organiser Brian Klug couldn’t have known that I’d refuse, albeit graciously. I’m as famous as Uri Fruchtman, aren’t I, Brian? I bloody hope so.
Compare this with what Aaronovitch had to say about Jews for Justice for Palestinians in The Times back in September of last year:
Some time ago, a colleague of my late father’s — an intelligent, courageous person, more skilled in ex-pression than in listening — asked me if I would like to append my own name to JfJfP’s aims. And I changed the subject. Partly because I could see where all this was headed, but mostly because the whole idea of the organisation struck me as a bit weird.

Why would having a Jewish name give me any particularly valuable view of the Middle Eastern quagmire? In what sense would wanting justice for the Palestinians be an expression of Jewishness? Why not just join “Justice for Palestinians”?

No, this was an attempt to lever an element of my identity — an element that might differ hugely from person to person — so as to suggest something more remarkable, more authentic, than a non-Jewish perspective. It might say to Israel: “Look, even a guy with a name like Aaronovitch is critical,” or to Palestinians: “Look, even a guy with a name like Aaronovitch supports you.”
As I said, that's just a foretaste. The fact is that for this rag-bag of zionists (who call themselves non-zionists) at Engage, any dissent from the stock zionist positions sends them into a babbling panic. If they contradict themselves from time to time. That's ok. Being establishment means never having to explain.

February 13, 2007

Spot the difference at Comment is free

The comment space to Linda Grant's article, Other voices, other lives, has been updated today. Just in case you haven't read the post before this one, I left a comment on Linda Grant's article, criticising what she had written about siding with the zionist establishment in this country and linking to where she has done that before. There followed some attacks on me by zionists to which I responded. Two of the comments mentioned me having some beef or other with Linda Grant, one in particular mentioned her threatening me with libel action. Then Linda Grant came in with this little gem:
The topic of my post is the IJV manifesto and my contention that the signatories should take the debate into the Jewish community itself. The topic is not wartime Nazi collaboration which can and has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere. Additionally, the site's editor has removed links to libellous material about this newspaper and will continue to do so whenever they are posted.
That last line seemed to be aimed at me so I checked to see if my comments were still there and they had gone. All the attacks on me remained. So I complained and complained and complained. Eventually I got a reply to the effect that my complaint was being looked into.

So now look at Linda Grant's last comment:
The topic of my post is the IJV manifesto and my contention that the signatories should take the debate into the Jewish community itself. The topic is not wartime Nazi collaboration which can and has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere.
See that? The offending line is gone. All that is left is a zionist telling commentors what they are not allowed to comment on.

The bizarre part of all of this is that out of the protagonists here, I was the one who remained on topic with the article and subsequent posts by zionists. It was zionists who steered off topic and veered into libel.

February 11, 2007

Guardian comment space: not free but it's going pretty cheap....for some

There's a rum do over at Comment is free at the Guardian site. Linda Grant had an article titled "Other voices, other lives." In it, two statements glared at me:
Many, if not most British Jews have relatives in Israel.
But the majority of British Jews are not secular.
These were firmed up by a third statement regarding the thrust of the article, Independent Jewish Voices:
I can't speak for the intentions of IJV, but if their collective membership wants to have any impact on the majority of the non-Guardian reading British Jews, they need to take the conversation to the places where Jews are: in their synagogues, at their youth groups, in their voluntary organisations. They need to acknowledge the central role that Israel plays in contemporary Jewish life, how it is now part and parcel of Jewish identity.
Having read this I left the following comment:
There are some hefty unproven assumptions in this article. Breaking it down we find that most UK Jews go to shul, most UK Jews support Israel, most UK Jews have friends or family in Israel. Who compiles these stats and what questions are put to the individual members of this majority in order to establish what their support for Israel is based on?

Do they support the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, whether in 1948, 1967 or now? Do they support apartheid laws such as the Law of Return or the Absentee Property Law? It's easy to say that most Jews (or indeed anyone else) support Israel. Not so easy to prove.

And then there is the problem of representation of the UK's Jews whether by lobbying institutions or issuing propaganda. Many Jews were appalled by the Board of Deputies' support for the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon and yet even the zionist left supported the war until it was clear that Israel was losing.

Linda Grant was in the pro-war camp, assuming that her support for those people who went to a zionist rally in Kenton to support Israel's war criminality and spat on and abused five Jewish woman who went to picket the event can count as pro-war.

Maybe anti-zionist or other dissident Jews do not or cannot reach or represent the mainstream but this doesn't mean that there is not a Jewish perspective against Israel's "excesses" or its very existence, as a colonial settler state based on ethnic cleansing and racist laws, that has a right to be heard. Some feel a duty to speak out as Jews if only to protect anti-zionists from the time honoured smear of being called antisemitic.

Mark Elf
Well, as anyone who has tried an honest comment on a zionist blog would expect, there followed a some ad hominem attacks on me including two from the same person implying that I had some beef with Linda Grant and that that is why I criticised her article. These extracts are from Oliver10. There's this:
Oh dear the indomitable Mark Elf is back...
Maybe he should also have mentioned how he was nearly subject to a libel charge by Linda Grant?
And this:
BTW Mark Elf, what is a 'legitimate state' in your eyes? What makes Israel, which was born out of a UN resolution in a post-colonial era any less legitimate than Pakistan?

Don't the other posters have a right to know that your attack on Linda Grant's article is motivated by the major axe you have to grind?
And this rarity that manages to stay on topic, playing the ball and not the man:
Oh dear Mark, what a one sided take on history you have...

You know full well that the concept of colonialism as applied to Jewish immigration to pre-state Israel is debatable. The original pioneers were often ignorant as to the extent of Arab population in Palestine, some thought they could work together, and in any case there was no host state sending them to exploit Palestine for the host state's benefits.

If Israel is an illegitimate state based upon it being an immigrant settler state, then isn't the U.S or Australia?
Various comments about and addressed to me are still in place whereas my reponses to them have been deleted. I kept one in addition to my first one but I seem to have lost two others, maybe more. Anyway, here's the one I kept:
The concept of colonialism applied to this or that individual or their state of knowledge regarding the project in which they are engaged is irrelevant. The zionist project as set out by its founding father was a colonial project. He said so himself. The pre-state "pioneers" were most certainly part of a colonial settler project, pre-state and pre-mandate. Most of the zionist parties were clear that they believe that Jews had or should have more right to live in Palestine than the native population. Post-state the zionist position remained and remains unchanged.

Re America and Australia. The settlers in both places abandoned ethnic cleansing a long time ago and both give their native population protection and compensation for losses. The racist war criminals of Israel are yet to officially acknowledge that the natives of Palestine suffered any losses.

It is an interesting admission on your part that the zionist project is comparable to the settlement and genocide in the so-called New World. I hope Israel is stopped before it emulates these two ancestors to its own project.

Both America and Australia have abolished race discrimination under the law. In Israel racism is largely compulsory. It doesn't do "petty" apartheid but it does do discrimination on a massive scale.

Israel has rid itself of the bulk of the Palestine population. Israel has no right to close its doors on those people and no right to open its door on a preferential basis to people who don't come from there.

With regard to this: "Don't the other posters have a right to know that your attack on Linda Grant's article is motivated by the major axe you have to grind?"

My criticism of Linda Grant's article is because I am Jewish and anti-zionist. You (Oliver10) have shown that you can't make a case for Israel so you impugn the motives of anti-zionists. There has been some unpleasantness between us though, see for example here: http://tinyurl.com/yxrmvv and here:
So, as I said, my comments have been deleted and the comments arguing with my points or attacking me personally by my real name and my screen name have remained in place. But that's not all. Linda Grant seems to have announced that she is now the moderator of comments to her own articles in the Guardian's Comment is free space. Look:
The topic of my post is the IJV manifesto and my contention that the signatories should take the debate into the Jewish community itself. The topic is not wartime Nazi collaboration which can and has been discussed ad nauseam elsewhere. Additionally, the site's editor has removed links to libellous material about this newspaper and will continue to do so whenever they are posted.
See that last line? Let's have it again:
the site's editor has removed links to libellous material about this newspaper and will continue to do so whenever they are posted.
Now taking that with the earlier comments directed against me, referring to libel etc, that last line too seems to be aimed at me. I'm sure that anyone reading all of the comments would take that view and given that my comments have been deleted they might even take the view that I had written something libellous in the comments I left. All I can say to that is that I did not.

But, I know, another "but," sorry. But it gets worse still. I just clicked the "Post your comment" button at the bottom of Linda Grant's article and I have been banned from commenting altogether. This is the message I got:
This account has had its posting rights withdrawn. This may be because of a breach of our talk policy, or because you picked an unsuitable username. If you have any questions please contact registration@guardianunlimited.co.uk
I am in the process of writing, yet again, to enquire as to what is going on and to get some clarification as to how I have breached the talk policy or whatever. I'll let you know what happens, though I am still awaiting replies to two emails to the moderator sent on 8/2 and 9/2/2007. Not only that, when I wrote to complain that the name Alf Green, an Engage sock-puppet had been used to support articles by David Hirsh and Alexandra Simonon, I didn't get replies to those either and that was back in October 2006.

Now I am not against deleting per se. I do it myself. My objection is that I am identifiable as the subject of allegations of wrong-doing. I would always allow a right of reply to anyone on the receiving end of criticism.

Ach! What am I complaining about? Who needs the Guardian when I've got Jews sans frontieres?

Independent voices and vicarious identity

Here's Arthur Neslen in the Guardian's Comment is free arguing that meaningful debate in the Jewish community under the auspices of established institutions cannot happen because debate is stifled by the "dependent voices" of, among others, the Board of Deputies:
Having burst through the rusty eruv of acceptable discourse on Israel, the territory has quickly morphed around them. Ripostes on this website and elsewhere have denounced them as splitters, luvvies and traitors, comparable even to the Neturei Karta Rabbis who attended the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran. But the various dependent Jewish voices levelling the charges have united around one bone of contention: the absurdity of claiming that the Jewish establishment is stifling debate on Israel. Perish the thought.

Of course, the logical fallacy of this argument is that it is aimed at stifling the new initiative. Thus do the various dependents prove the need for IJV, even as they rubbish it. That the initiative has stirred up such angst, though, should not be surprising.
I particularly enjoyed the bits on the Board of Deputies' approach to certain issues facing Jews over the centuries.
The underlying problem is the instinctive cosying up to power by a cowardly communal hierarchy that is at once reactionary and deeply unresponsive to change. The Board of Deputies of British Jews was actually established in 1760 to pay homage to George III on his accession to the throne, and it has dedicated itself to upholding the ruling order ever since. Fearing association with Jewish communists, Bundists and anarchists fleeing Tsarist Russia for their lives, it never opposed Arthur Balfour's anti-semitic 1905 Aliens Act that denied them entry to Britain. Hermann Adler, the Chief Rabbi of the time, even travelled to Russia to ask his co-religionists not to come.

In the 1930s, the Board remained wedded to the British establishment, issuing dire warnings to the Jews of the East End not to confront Oswald Moseley's Blackshirts at Cable Street. Thankfully, our forebears ignored their advice. But for the greater part of the last century, the board continued to talk down the dangers of far right anti-semitism and talk up the threat of anti-Zionism. As Jacob Gerwitz, ex-President of the Board of Deputies in the early 1980s put it in a paper on "Anti-Semitism, the Left and the Right":

Although theoretical differences can be drawn between anti-semitism and anti-Zionism, these are distinctions without a difference. The fascists, odious as they are, have at least the virtue of candour.

Perhaps this is why the Board declared there was no need for Prince Harry to make a public apology after he adorned himself in swastikas in 2005. Predictably, their hechsha did not extend to Ken Livingstone. Equally predictably, dissenting voices within the community could not find much space to articulate a critique.
He ends by contrasting the uncritical support given to Israel within the Jewish establishment with calls by the same establishment on Muslims to denounce certain of their leaders.

February 07, 2007

Board of Deputies and Linda Grant's mother

Here's a Comment is Free piece by Linda Grant on this Independent Jewish Voices malarkey:
The reason I see myself somewhere in between the Independent Jewish Voices and the ones delineated as the Establishment, is that eight years ago I wrote a book about my mother's dementia, and about the role of memory in Jewish family life, and the care given to her by the voluntary bodies of the Jewish community. I had spent every Sunday afternoon for years visiting the care home where my mother was placed. We were all down in the same place: visiting loved ones whose minds and bodies were failing.

Without the help and support of those mainstream bodies, affiliated to the Board of Deputies, I'd have gone mad. Nothing I had written or read in the Guardian could help me now. It was the Jewish community which cared for my mother, the Jewish community which washed her body when she died and placed her in her coffin, it was the Jewish community who buried her and the synagogue which said the prayers, all in accordance with her wishes. It was the Jewish community I was forced to listen to, to hear their fears, hopes, beliefs, anxieties.
I don't know. I just don't think that's a good enough reason to allow a bunch of war-loving zionists to mis/represent a diverse community.

More on Linda Grant's support for the zionist establishment here.

February 06, 2007

Israel's "right" to exist?

Here's an article from Christian Science Monitor about the sheer deception involved in talk of Israel's "right" to exist:
"Recognizing Israel's right to exist," the actual demand being made of Hamas and Palestinians, is in an entirely different league. This formulation does not address diplomatic formalities or a simple acceptance of present realities. It calls for a moral judgment.

There is an enormous difference between "recognizing Israel's existence" and "recognizing Israel's right to exist." From a Palestinian perspective, the difference is in the same league as the difference between asking a Jew to acknowledge that the Holocaust happened and asking him to concede that the Holocaust was morally justified. For Palestinians to acknowledge the occurrence of the Nakba – the expulsion of the great majority of Palestinians from their homeland between 1947 and 1949 – is one thing. For them to publicly concede that it was "right" for the Nakba to have happened would be something else entirely. For the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, the Holocaust and the Nakba, respectively, represent catastrophes and injustices on an unimaginable scale that can neither be forgotten nor forgiven.

To demand that Palestinians recognize "Israel's right to exist" is to demand that a people who have been treated as subhumans unworthy of basic human rights publicly proclaim that they are subhumans. It would imply Palestinians' acceptance that they deserve what has been done and continues to be done to them. Even 19th-century US governments did not require the surviving native Americans to publicly proclaim the "rightness" of their ethnic cleansing by European colonists as a condition precedent to even discussing what sort of land reservation they might receive. Nor did native Americans have to live under economic blockade and threat of starvation until they shed whatever pride they had left and conceded the point.
Israel's "right" to exist! What will they think of next?

February 05, 2007

Jews against the Board of Deputies

Here's an encouraging article in the Independent today. It is about over 100 high profile Jewish Brits signing up for an alternative voice to the Board of Deputies, which is seen as simply a mouthpiece for Israel
.[Human rights lawyer] Mr [Geoffrey] Bindman said: "The easy assumption that all Jews support Israel and its ill-treatment of Palestinians is an insidious form of racism. I, like many Jews in and outside Israel, am appalled and disgusted by the illegal occupation by Israel of Palestinian territory and its brutal treatment of Palestinians."

At the height of the bombardments of Lebanon and Gaza last year, the Board of Deputies organised a rally to support Israel.

February 04, 2007

Lenni Brenner and the blog with no name

There's a write up of one of the talks Lenni Brenner gave for Scottish Palestine Solidarity here at anask.wordpress.com. As far as I can tell the blog has no name. But it does look like it's worth a read.

February 01, 2007

Olmert says Israel won the war on Lebanon

This is news to everyone. You know the war with no name, because it's the war that Israel lost. Well now it's going to be known as the war that Israel won in spite of the fact it lost. Doesn't have the same ring to it as, say, Yom Kippur War, but it's a name. Here's Ynet on Olmert's take:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted to deficiencies in the conduct of the second Lebanon war last summer during his testimony before the Winograd Commission on Thursday, but insisted that Israel won the war because it achieved key diplomatic and military successes, aides said.

The prime minister reportedly told the commission that United Nations Resolution 1701, which mandated an international peacekeeping
force in Lebanon , pushed Hizbullah away from Israel's northern border and called for the immediate release of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah, was Israel's major achievement.

Olmert also argued that Israel's intensive aerial offensive took Hizbullah by surprise and emboldened Israel's deterrence, adding that the Shiite group will think twice before daring to launch a cross-border attack in the future.
That's not snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, that's lifting it out of the sewer.
Olmert appointed the Commission following a hailstorm of public criticism of the army's poor performance against Hizbullah and its failure to halt the firing of rockets into Israel.
Perhaps its Hizbullah's deterrence that has been emboldened.

Atzmon aktion alert!

I already did an Atzmon aktion update then I realised that Atzmon aktion alert is more alliterative (if I've spelt that right).

I know it's not good keep thinking about that antisemitic low-life, Gilad Atzmon, but he's trying to silence Sue Blackwell of all people. I found some of his antisemitism annoying quite honestly. And then I was dismayed that the SWP would cover for him. My annoyance only started to turn to anger when I stumbled on his anti-Arab stereotyping under the name Jihad Abu Az Zamman. The language used by the latter was too stereotypical to be a real Arab. See this, it's an attack on long-standing anti-zionist activist Tony Greenstein:
This Tony Greenslime really gets on my nerves. I have never heard about him before I came to this pepa. Why all the time he is moaning like a woman. Is he a woman? He never says anything positive. I tell you, if I am stuck with this Green moron and Abu Ibn Iby on a desert island, first we go for Greenpiss together and only then I go for iby.

I saw this Green pee here last time talking about working class, I tell you, this Jewish socialists, they are not working class, they are surfing class. I bet this people didn’t have a day job in their life.

yala greeny, say something nice
jihad Abu Az Zamman | 01.29.07 - 11:33 pm | #
That conforms to the quality of debate where I found it but what makes me think it's Atzmon? Well many people have suggested that Atzmon is simply having a laugh in all this. Obviously there are some who find the SWP's discomfiture over their association with this low-life quite amusing. So I thought perhaps he thinks if he can slip antisemitism into the Palestine solidarity movement, maybe he could get away with anti-Arab racism too. Well on the site where I found that, he can. But what makes me think it's him? I googled the names Gilad Atzmon and Jihad Abu az Zamman together and found a "Truth Seeker" article. The bloody idiot seems to have forgotten to get the hosts to remove either his name or "Jihad's" name from the header. It seems he submitted an article and omitted to tell them to run with one name or the other but not both. Now this goes some way to explaining the SWP's position on giving a platform to this racist low-life. The SWP position is that organised racists and fascists shoudn't be given a platform. But clearly, Gatekeeper Gilad, can't even organise his thoughts without making a balls of it. Further confirmation is available on the Shamir site.*

Now regarding this "Gilad's having a laugh" school of thought, as Gilad explains in his protocols, it seems that Gilad's brain occupies 2.9% of his total head. How do we explain that he gets so many articles published in Counterpunch? And on Peace Palestine it's even worse. I think we have to take the idea that Gatekeeper Gilad takes himself too seriously very seriously indeed. Especially now he is using lawyers to try to silence a critic.

This neo-nazi clown really wants to be taken seriously but he knows that as long as people expose his antics, no principled and serious person can take him seriously.

* A little update: A friend of Atzmon's has just popped in to say that his Jihad stereotype is another one of his "brilliant satires" like the "Protocols" etc. Yawn.

Atzmon aktion update!

I have more detail now on Gilad Atzmon's threat against Sue Blackwell.

Gilad Atzmon has had lawyers write to Sue to get her to remove his name from a page on her website headed "Nazi alert." I gather that part of his objection is to the fact that David Irving is mentioned on the same page. This is very strange because he has attacked people for condemning Israel Shamir and Paul Eisen, both of whose work resembles that of Irving. I don't know why Atzmon would therefore see what she has done as defamatory. Both Eisen and Shamir are mentioned on the same page. I don't know if Gilad Atzmon is objecting that bit.

It's not clear if Irving is consulting lawyers in order to get his name removed from a page that mentions Atzmon.

Oy! Gatekeepers we don't need Gilad, or can I call you Jihad?.