April 30, 2008

Activists destroy Leviev's Dubai dream

It seems Lev Leviev, the Israeli diamantaire who builds settlements on Palestinian land for a hobby, bit off a bit more than he could chew in Dubai. A mere two weeks after announcing grand designs to open two of his lavish stores in the blingtastic emirate, a spate of bad press and activist pressure seems to have convinced his erstwhile landlords to give him the boot.

The edifice on the left is the Burj Dubai, slated to be the tallest building in the world when complete. With Dubai as an up and coming international hub of diamond-trading, why wouldn't the self-described "diamantaire extraordinaire" want to set up shop in such a landmark? As his flacks proudly announced on April 16:

One LEVIEV store will be a flagship boutique located in the most prestigious section of the BURJ DUBAI Mall, billed as the world's biggest mall, under the world's tallest building, the BURJ DUBAI Tower, culminating at approximately 2,000 feet.

Construction of the store will begin in the 4th quarter of 2008, when the mall is ready for tenants, and inaugurated when the mall opens to the public.

The LEVIEV Dubai flagship will be a full-fledged LEVIEV store, complete with elegant design elements that are a constant throughout all LEVIEV boutiques, a private salon, and several thousand carats of extraordinary diamonds.

The only problem with this plan, and it appears the Diamontaire Extraordinaire still hasn't figured it out, is Leviev isn't the best corporate citizen. When he's not building settlements on Palestinian land and impoverishing the farming villages of Jayyous and Bil'in, for example, or housing security companies in Angola where he gets he rocks which are known for “humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations,” Leviev is busy blaming his "business competitors" for being behind all the protests against him in Palestine, Tel Aviv, New York, and London. He just doesn't seem to get there are people out there who are genuinely motivated by human rights.

To recap, on April 18, Adalah-NY and Jews Against the Occupation-NYC released a call to the people and government of Dubai to boycott Leviev. They were joined in their call by the villages of Jayyous and Bil'in, and Palestinian civil society organizations. A steady drumbeat of negative press, including Khaled Amaryeh,Islamonline.net, and Will Youmans in Arab-American.net, appeared to be enough to persuade Dubai officialdom that Leviev was not worth the hassle. Even the Jerusalem Post noticed the hubbub. Abbas al-Alwati in The Gulf News, April 30:

Dubai: No trade licence has been granted to open Israeli jewellery store Leviev in Dubai contrary to claims by Leviev and its agent in Dubai, said a top official at the Department of Economic Development.

"We are aware of these reports and have not granted a trade licence to any business of this name. If such an application does come to us we will deal with it accordingly," Ali Ebrahim, Deputy Director General for Executive Affairs in Dubai, told Gulf News.

Now how did a heimishe fellow like Leviev get brought to the Gulf in the first place? Naturally, by his local Palestinian-Moroccan business partner, Arif Bin Khadra, clearly a principled fellow:

Asked if he was aware of the activities of Lev Leviev's companies in the West Bank, Bin Khadra said that he had heard of Leviev's practices in the West Bank but had seen no proof of the allegations, adding that they were not a major concern because "such questions are not asked in the diamond business".

Dubai, he said, was an apolitical and international city that needed global brands such as Leviev. "What we have learned here is that you don't have to talk about politics or religion if you're doing business," he said.

Bin Khadra added that he knows of other major Dubai-based jewellers who were interested in bringing Leviev to the UAE. "If we hadn't brought Leviev, someone else would have".

The question remains as to whether Leviev will attempt to peddle his wares in front-shops managed by his apolitical friend Arif.

So it appears Leviev has lost his dream of a flagship store in the world's tallest building. The question is, will Leviev figure out that violating international humanitarian law is harming his image and business interests?

UPDATE:The story makes a UAE CNN producer's blog:


April 30, 2008
Breakfast News: Israeli Jeweller Not Welcome In Dubai

Another interesting item that got my attention while reading the local paper over breakfast today:

"Israeli Jeweller Has No Trade Licence To Open Shop In Dubai," reads the headline in today's Gulf News.

There is a whole lot of money floating around in Dubai who could blame Lev Leviev for wanting to open one (or more) of his self-named stores in the tiny emirate?

But, according to this article, no trade licence was granted to Israeli diamond magnate and the Dubai Department of Economic Development is quoted as saying that "Israeli citizens are not allowed to operate in Dubai."

Advocacy groups that oppose Leviev's investments in the U.A.E. say Leviev profits from companies that operate in the occupied territories.

The stores were supposed to open in the swanky Dubai Mall and the Atlantis Hotel later this year.

Who will win this one?

UPDATE:Ha'aretz buys into Leviev's "business competitors" theory for his woes,Finkelstein declares,"Long live the People's Republic of Dubai!," and the JC, May 2:
DIAMOND TYCOON Lev Leviev has announced plans to open at least two more luxury jewellery shops in Dubai, after launching one such outlet there in the Qasr Hotel last March. His plans have come under attack from pro-Palestinian lobbyists, who are urging the United Arab emirates to boycott Mr Leviev.

April 29, 2008

Killed a child lately? Don't worry, Anthony (no job too small) Julius will defend you

All this news of Israel's on going killing of children reminded me of Engage's favourite lawyer, Anthony Julius. When the number of children killed by Israeli soldiers had passed the 500 (or was it 600, 700 or 800? - he didn't say) mark Anthony Julius produced a paper on the medieval blood libel. Completely irrelevant of course. Israel really does kill children as the post below this one makes clear. The medieval blood libel was, er libel, that is to say, not true. The best defence against a libel action is truth of statement, and the statement that Israel kills children is perfectly true and relevant to the way it works in and beyond the occupied territories.

Julius is a British lawyer. I don't know how accurate American courtroom dramas are but we often see American lawyers jumping up and saying "objection irrelevant" and the judge says "sustained". If that happened here Anthony Julius would never get anything done. Another of his papers was about, not the arguments or political positions of various Jewish anti-zionists but their "vanity".

The above paragraphs were just a big intro to something that's got nothing to do with the above title. It's just yet another ludicrous piece of work by Julius, this time distributed by some Christian zionists in the UK called Anglicans for Israel. They've produced a pdf document titled "How did we get here - the restoration of Israel". Here's Julius's introductory blurb:
I am delighted to have been asked to contribute a foreword to this pamphlet, written to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Israel, the Jewish State. There is a long and honourable history of Anglican involvement in the Zionist project. From the 17th to the 20th centuries, English advocates of the Jews' restoration in the Holy Land worked tirelessly to realise Jewish dreams – often, in more practical ways than by the Jews themselves. It became their mission to restore the land to its lawful owners, and thereby assist in fulfilling Biblical prophecy. The pamphlet, in its own sober and factual way, is but the most recent instance of this centuries-long endeavour. I welcome it.
So British imperialism at prayer has been seeking the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, in line with "Jewish dreams" since the 17th century. Hmm, if Jews were dreaming of going to Palestine in the 17th century why did they only go in significant numbers in the late 19th century? Ah, they supported zionism in "more practical ways than....Jews" did. They went to Palestine while Jews dreamt? They stopped Jews getting into Britain or stopped them getting naturalised in Britain? Really, was Julius making a coded reference to Anglican antisemitism? Antisemitism has historically been the best friend of zionism, as Herzl predicted (and practised) at the formal inception of the zionist movement.

And what's all this about "their mission to restore the land to its lawful owners, and thereby assist in fulfilling Biblical prophecy"? Sheesh. Lawful? Does this mean that Jews worldwide are entitled to the ownership of land prophesied in the bible to be under Jewish dominion at some time in the future? Does this mean I am a lawful owner of somewhere, anywhere, between "the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates"? Does it mean that those who are not Jewish but, in spite of Israel's ethnic cleansing, race discrimination and relentless violence, still live in these places are not lawful owners? This is rather scary. Anthony Julius seems to be saying that he believes in biblical prophecy, that is Christian biblical prophecy in this instance and that this prophecy has the status of law. Who's law? Where is it written? Or is this just obscurantist nonsense?

One more question, is Anthony Julius a chancer or a lunatic?

Who cares about Mohamed al Dura and why?

I've got a commenter in the USA (land of the most zealous zionists) with the oxymoronic name "Zionist Revolution" claiming that Israel didn't kill, indeed couldn't have killed, Mohamed al Dura. The thread (here) reminded me of an article by Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz last year. Here's the article in full:
The concern Israel demonstrates for the fate of one Palestinian boy touches the heart: Again, note what a fuss is being made about the case of the killing of Mohammed al-Dura. Our heart is impervious to the fate of other children who have been killed. Just little Mohammed continues to haunt us. But the question of who killed al-Dura is not important. And maybe he is even alive, as some eccentrics claim. Perhaps he committed suicide, as the strange investigations are liable to suggest.

All of these are tasteless questions designed to divert attention from the truly important issues: According to data collected by human rights group B'Tselem, Israel is responsible for killing more than 850 Palestinian children and teenagers since al-Dura was killed, including 92 in the past year alone. Last October, we killed 31 children in Gaza. This is what should have raised a storm and not the measurements by the former head of the Israel Defense Forces' Southern Command, Yom Tov Samiyeh, aimed at proving that his soldiers did not kill al-Dura, or the "investigations" by the physicist Nahum Shahaf. In an eccentric obsession, Shahaf has devoted the past years to this affair, after previously having also obtained "amazing material" on the murder of Yitzhak Rabin.

Al-Dura refuses to step down from the stage because he has become an icon of the Palestinian struggle and a symbol of Israeli brutality. A thousand Nahum Shahafs will not succeed in blurring the unequivocal fact that a scandalous killing of children is taking place in the territories.

Even if the director of the Government Press Office, Danny Seaman, is right in determining that the film made by the reliable and experienced French journalist Charles Enderlin was "staged," and even if he succeeds in clearing Israel from responsibility for this killing, what will we say about the other children who have been killed? That their killing was also "staged?" That the IDF did not kill them through carelessness and contempt for their lives; by being trigger-happy and even acting with premeditation? If Israel were really interested in improving its "public relations," it would embrace the al-Dura family instead of all the foolish investigations. It would provide compensation to the family and show the world that it is truly and sincerely sorry about the death of one child.

The question of who killed al-Dura is like the question of what Joseph Trumpeldor mumbled before his death. The myth in both cases is already stronger than any investigation. Al-Dura became a symbol because his killing was documented on videotape. All the other hundreds of children were killed without cameras present, so no one is interested in their fate. If there had been a camera in Bushara Barjis' room in the Jenin refugee camp while she was studying for a pre-matriculation test, we would have a film showing an IDF sniper firing a bullet at her head. If there had been a photographer near Jamal Jabaji from the Askar camp, we would see soldiers emerging from an armored jeep and aiming their weapons at the head of a child who threw stones at them. But these children did not become symbols; there are no stamps bearing their portraits, no streets named after them and no songs composed for them as with al-Dura because they were not filmed at the time of their deaths.

Al-Dura became a symbol because every struggle needs a symbol, a shrine for the masses of dead and the anonymous heroes. The assumption that the IDF soldiers firing at Palestinians at the Netzarim junction killed the boy cradled in his father's arms exactly seven years ago is the most reasonable one. As far as we can remember, there has been no other case in which Palestinians fired at the IDF and hit a Palestinian child.

But even if there is some doubt, it is certain that the IDF has killed and is killing children. So this ridiculous focus on who killed al-Dura, a question that will never be resolved, is no more than a tempest in a putrid teapot. There should be a tempest, a great and mighty one, but one focused on an entirely different issue: Why is the IDF continuing to kill children at such a frightening pace, and why doesn't Israel take responsibility for this and compensate the families of those killed? But no one is conducting "investigations" about this.
All of which reminds me, someone sent me a ludicrous blurb by Anthony Julius. I'll post that in a little minute.

April 28, 2008

Family values Israel style

Israel has wiped out yet another Palestinian Arab family according to Reuters. But the child killers have explained why it's ok.
Israeli fire hit a house in the Gaza Strip on Monday while a family was eating breakfast, killing six Palestinians, including four children and their mother, residents and medical officials said.

"They have wiped out my family," said the children's father, Ahmed Abu Meateq, putting his hands on his head in despair and weeping as the bodies were prepared for burial.

The Israeli army said aircraft fired at two Palestinian militants near the house who were carrying bags.

Based on the size of the resulting explosion, the army said it now believed that those bags were filled with bombs and other explosive devices.

"As a result of this big explosion, extensive damage was caused to a house that was near the gunmen and uninvolved civilians were hit," the army said in a statement.

The deaths in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun cast another shadow over Egyptian efforts to forge a ceasefire between Israel and militant groups and end violence threatening U.S.-brokered Palestinian statehood talks.

"This aggression does not serve efforts being exerted to achieve calm, and it obstructs the peace process," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, referring to Israel's military activities, said in a statement carried by WAFA news agency.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, without giving details of the raid in Beit Hanoun, said Hamas Islamists controlling the Gaza Strip bore overall responsibility for casualties among non-combatants because gunmen "operated among civilians".
There you go, it's the Palestinians' fault, that's why it's ok. And by the same reasoning random attacks against Israel are justified because Israeli gunmen operate among civilians. Kill say 5 or 6 Israelis at random and some are just bound to be racist war criminals.

By the way, the picture above is no thanks to the BBC

A case study in zionism c/f AIPAC, Pollard and Vanunu

Here's a curious, if a little over-emotional, Ha'aretz article written by Avraham Burg against the backdrop of another spy for Israel being arrested and charged in America. The central character in the article is Jonathan Pollard, who the article describes as an American Vanunu. Now you may see this as an insult to Vanunu but Burg does draw out the important distinctions between Pollard and Vanunu:
Jonathan Pollard is the Americans' Mordechai Vanunu. In principle, there is no difference between them, except perhaps for the fact that Vanunu did what he did out of deep, if controversial, conviction, while Pollard received money, some say a great deal of money, for his "values system."
That's quite a difference but I think Avraham Burg is being clever here. He's leading on to something else. He narrows down his focus to Pollard and then he introduces AIPAC:
Pollard has become a much greater icon than his dubious attributes would account for. To understand what he symbolizes for the Israeli political right, you have to crack the basic formula of the Pollard problem. He and his handlers lived and plotted in the twilight zone of the complex loyalty of the Jews of the United States.

Their basic premise was and still is that all Jews everywhere have dual loyalty - the loyalty of an American citizen to his homeland, and a much deeper, national-spiritual loyalty to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. For years,Israel officially fostered this snarled loyalty. It entangled and became entangled, plotted and spied. AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) - the Jewish lobby in Washington - is the bluntest conceptualization of institutionalizing near treason and turning it into an enormous octopus of a political mechanism with enormous dimensions and numerous victims.
Cor, this is powerful, line-crossing, taboo-breaking, iconoclastic (ok, drop the thesaurus or I'll shoot - Ed) stuff. Nope, I've got thoughts but no comment. Try Mondoweiss.

April 27, 2008

More zionist "miracles" at the Observer

There's been a mixed bag of letters in today's Observer in response to Sam Kiley's largely ludicrous piece "on" Israel's 60th anniversary. Unfortunately some of the letters perpetuate or even bolster the myths expounded in the (not so) original piece. Happily some do expose the sheer dishonesty in it. I'd say on balance that the hasbara machine has come out on top but, you know, little acorns and all that.

Anyway, here are my faves:

It is difficult to know where the inaccuracies end and the dishonesty begins in Sam Kiley's rendering of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Kiley asserts it is 'a conflict which has been fed by Arab nationalism, Islamist hostility to Israel and its allies and the threat of a nuclear Iran'. It is as if the illegal, military occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the rise of the settler movement which continues to steal Palestinian land with the backing of the Israeli government and the refusal by the same government to seriously entertain the notion of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state in any meaningful sense, count for nothing.

Kiley refers to mysterious 'threats from the Arab world' without specifying what these are and whence they originate: for the very simple reason that he can't because they don't exist except perhaps in his imagination.
Greg Stokes

Sam Kiley makes the ridiculous statement that in 1945: 'Tel Aviv was ... no more than a few jerry-built blocks and huts.' I was there early in 1945 as an RAF pilot and witnessed the actuality: a handsome city of more than 200,000 inhabitants designed in part by Bauhaus architects who were Thirties refugees from Nazi Germany. Their work is now a Unesco World Heritage site.

Kiley describes the 1945 Tel Aviv population as 'frequently starved and broken shells of humanity who had made it through the death camps'. In fact, most had lived there since the Twenties.
Francis Bennion
Budleigh Salterton, Devon

Zionists are fond of their miracles. They cover up so much that would otherwise be called criminality by those less credulous than Sam Kiley.

The flight of 750,000 Arabs - not the 250,000 claimed by Kiley - from what became Israel was a 'miraculous simplification of our tasks,' said Israel's first President, Chaim Weizmann. No, it was ethnic cleansing.

The victory of Zionist forces over neighbouring Arab states too is depicted as a miracle but the Zionists initiated hostilities a full seven months before the Arab states could mobilise and one of the Arab states, Transjordan, had a deal with the Zionists not to attack their forces.
Mark Elf
Dagenham, east London

Hey, hold on a minute, I recognise that name, Elf. I don't remember writing that. Let me see my sent box. Ah, they must mean this:
Dear Sir

Zionists are very fond of their miracles. After all they cover up so much that would otherwise be called criminality by those less credulous than Sam Kiley.

The flight of 750,000 Arabs (not the 250,000 claimed by Kiley) from what became Israel was a "miraculous simplification of our tasks" according to the first Israeli president, Chaim Weizmann". No it wasn't; it was ethnic cleansing.

The victory of zionist forces over neighbouring Arab states too is depicted as a miracle but the zionists initiated hostilities a full seven months before the Arab states could mobilise and one of the Arab states, Transjordan, had a deal with the zionists not to attack their forces. Apart from rejectionist war talk, there is no evidence that the hapless corrupt Arab states were intent on anything more than halting the expansion of Israel and preventing the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The zionists certainly knew that the Arabs were incapable of defeating them. Israel was receiving weapons from America and from the Soviet block. The Arabs' weapons were mostly from WWI. Zionist/Israeli troops outnumbered their Arab counterparts by between two and three to one. And Israel's first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, calmly stated more than once that within twenty years Israel would conquer the rest of Palestine. Some miracle!

There are even zionists who like to claim, disgustingly, that the holocaust itself was a miracle in that Israel was the result. But if it wasn't for the outbreak of WWII Israel would probably have been established in 1939 by which time the British authorities had suppressed the Arab revolt against the zionist takeover of their country. The only help the holocaust has been to Israel is that it succeeded in wiping out a Jewish working class that was overwhelmingly anti-zionist. And of course Israel and the zionist movement at large have very deftly exploited the memory of the holocaust to stifle criticism and to extort money from European banks while Israel's own banks have never returned holocaust assets to the heirs of the holocaust dead.

The only miracle of zionism is that, in spite of all that is known and well documented, western journalists are still writing such wretched apologetics for this racist war criminal project known as the State of Israel.

Yours faithfully

Mark Elf
Many thanks to Christian h in the comments to an earlier post. I might not have read the Observer today if it wasn't for him.

Oh yuk!! I've just realised what the Observer has done here. If you check the letters and see the zionist ones, ok let's look at one:

It is a pity that your balanced and interesting feature, 'Israel: 60 Years of Hope and Despair', last week was misleading in two respects.

First, it minimised the very real threat of annihilation faced by Israel in both 1948 and 1967. On both occasions, Israel was faced by a coalition of Arab countries whose avowed aim was to destroy the state and its Jewish population. On both occasions, too, the majority of outside experts believed Israel would be defeated

The fact that the threat was averted is not a reason for pretending it didn't exist or ignoring the genocide of the Jewish population that would have followed.

Second, despite discussing the impact of various waves of Jewish immigration, the article completely ignored one of the most significant, namely the influx of more than 600,000 Jewish refugees from persecution in Arab countries after 1948 (close to the number of Arabs who were displaced from present-day Israel). Unlike the latter, they were not left languishing in refugee camps for political reasons, and have therefore tended to be ignored by the pundits. Today, these 'Eastern' Jews form around half the Jewish population of Israel.
Harry Goldstein
London N14

You see what they did? They've published letters criticising Kiley from both sides. His piece was heavily tilted in Israel's favour and the ludicrous idea of the "threat of annihilation" was aired by Kiley but now the readers' editor can claim that since Kiley was attacked by "both sides" he must have got it about right. Pass the sick bag Ali.

April 25, 2008

JC's Jewish power has Hirsh and Grant down to a T

The Jewish Chronicle has started to publish its list of 100 powerful Jews in the UK. Actually it's "100 people who exert the greatest influence on British Jewry." Nice to see the Jewdas crew (aka Geoffrey Cohen) straight in at number 67. They're actually publishing numbers 67 to 100 today with 67 being more powerful than 100 so for this week, as if to rekindle our faith in human nature, Jewdas topped the chart:
Jewdas (Geoffrey Cohen)

67 (New) “Geoffrey Cohen” is the collective pseudonym for representatives of the subversive Jewish group. It came to wider attention in 2006 when four members were arrested at the Simcha in the Square celebration in Trafalgar Square on suspicion of disseminating antisemitic material — flyers for a “Protocols of the Elders of Hackney” party. Police decided not to press charges. A more recent event featured obscure films on Jewish anarchists, “extreme Jewish food” and “Jewla hooping” (Jewish hula-hooping, obviously). Once promised a talk from Lord Levy on “fraud, antisemitism and where to buy in Totteridge”. Unsurprisingly, the peer didn’t show.
But it couldn't last. Glance down the list and the hasbara parrots start to make an appearance. Look:

71 (New) An up-and-coming name as key contributor to the well-regarded Harry’s Place blog, which is sympathetic to Israel, if at times critical, and exposes what it sees as left-wing hypocrisy. In professional life, the Oxford-educated blogger is an associate at the London office of international law firm Cleary Gottlieb, where he specialises in Financial Services Authority requirements to which regulated companies are subject. He has also authored legal guides and lectured in law at Queen Mary College, University of London.
Harry's Place has criticised Israel? I remember HP hinted that Linda Grant might be lying about an incident once but that doesn't actually count as criticising Israel. But then truth is about as relevant to the JC as it is to David Toube. Just an aside here. David Toube has actually tried to have people lose their jobs for opposing Israel. Ok, many zionists do that but I've seen an email where the same David Toube asks an anti-zionist not to out him as David t of Harry's Place because it could cause him problems in his work. What a scumbag!

Still with Israel's elite hasbara unit:
David Hirsh

96 (New) A sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths College, University of London, David Hirsh established the Engage website to counter left-wing and trades-union anti-Zionism and antisemitism. He was also to the fore in the campaign to reverse the academic boycott of Israeli universities.
Dr Hirsh has this hypocritical habit of accusing people of the things he is guilty of. Projection, we call that. He once wrote a ludicrous story about how he lectures his daughter not to behave like a Likudnik. When I picked up on it, I was guilty of bringing his children into things! Anyway, he airbrushed the story after complaints from Likudniks. I'm not joking, it's true.

I wonder if Alf Green or Shachtman will make an appearance in the coming weeks. I know Alf Green was Dr Hirsh, I'm only 99.9% certain Shachtman is. I say that because once in the comments to a Linda Grant article at Comment is free, I criticised her piece using the name Ilan (because Linda Grant had my levi9909 id banned from there) and took a swipe at Shachtman for (what else) falsely accusing someone of antisemitism. He came back and accused me of ad hominem attacks and said that I'm the "Tommy Cooper of the anti-zionists". Now in fairness, Linda Grant too has accused me of ad hominem attacks in place of debate whilst calling me and other anti-zionists "cold callous bastards" so perhaps Hirsh isn't uniquely stupid but at least Grant's stupidness was in a thread where she did pass off some comment as genuine discussion. This Shachtman chap didn't even try to veil his personal abuse. He also pops up, as Alf Green did, to support Hirsh's own arguments from time to time.

Anyway, that brings us to the last on the list. Guess who:
Linda Grant

100 (New) Since her first novel, The Cast Iron Shore, in 1996, Linda Grant, 57, has won six major literary awards and been shortlisted for two more. The child of Russian and Polish immigrants has written regularly on Jewish themes. Her latest work, The Clothes On Their Backs, tackles issues including the Holocaust, racism and the dilemma facing Jewish refugees to Britain — maintain a low profile, or seize on opportunities.
I'm not sure if she has ever used bogus id. I've certainly suspected it but there'd be a citation needed as they say at Wikepedia.

Anyway, here's the link to the article again because the whole thing is worth a look at. It even has Ken Livingstone up there at 76, up from 92 last year.

April 24, 2008

Israeli in platforms?

Israel's trying to update itself in the eyes of American youth so what does it do? Sets up a myspace page. The Salon article that Montag sent me ribs the idea mercilessly but given Morrisey's upcoming visit to the colonial project one little quote leapt out at me:
"We saw that we had a problem with the age group of 18 to 35, and the reason is that this group doesn't see Israel as relevant. So we have to talk to them in their language, in platforms that they are using, and the new media is one of the ways to do so."
But life is hard enough when you belong here.

April 22, 2008

Pollard revisited

It seems another American has been arrested for spying for America's number one ally, Israel. The news seems to have first broken at Reuters but a quick google search on the name "Ben Ami Kadish" yields 2,130 sites including including Ha'aretz at the time of writing. Here's what Reuters had to say:
U.S. authorities arrested an 84-year-old American on Tuesday suspected of giving Israel secrets on nuclear weapons, fighter jets and missiles in the 1980s in a case with links to imprisoned spy Jonathan Pollard.

Ben-Ami Kadish acknowledged his spying in FBI interviews and said he acted out of a belief he was helping Israel, according to court documents.

Kadish was accused of reporting to an Israeli government handler who was also a main contact for Pollard, an American citizen serving a life term on a 1985 charge of spying for Israel.

Kadish's arrest indicates that spying revealed by the Pollard case, still an irritant in the close U.S. alliance with Israel, may have spread wider than previously acknowledged. "It was bigger than we thought, and they hid it well," said former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, who prosecuted the Pollard case.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey said, "We will be informing the Israelis of this action ... 20-plus years ago during the Pollard case we noted that this was not the kind of behavior we would expect from friends and allies and that would remain the case today."
Kadish was arrested in New Jersey on a four-count complaint of conspiracy and espionage and was scheduled to make an initial appearance on Tuesday afternoon at U.S. District Court in New York, authorities said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel, asked about the arrest, said: "We know nothing about it. We heard it from the media."

Kadish's lawyer, Bruce Goldstein, did not immediately return a call for comment.
Sorry I don't have the link to the Reuters page.

Did you see that stuff about Pollard? I mean the first time around. They said Pollard was off the wall, a one-off. They even tried to get the yanks to release him as part of the "peace" shenanigans with the Palestinians on that basis.

It'll all blow over of course. Oh, the guy might go down, or he won't, but don't get excited that this will harm American-Israeli relations. This terrible two (that's Israel and America, not Pollard and Kadish) are going to need each other for some time to come yet.

Hamas evolves in the right direction, or spot the fascist

According to military Analyst Rob Ben Yishai Hamas is moving towards a strategy of "quality" guerrilla attacks on military targets. The reason?

Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus who are carefully, if not passionately, following Israeli media reports apparently concluded, just like Hizbullah realized in the Second Lebanon War, that the Israeli public is sensitive to casualties among troops more than it is sensitive to moral and physical damage caused to civilians as a result of the Qassams and Grads in Sderot and Ashkelon. (Ynet, April 21, 2008)

This is fantastic news!! The focus on military targets is important both morally and strategically. It also reflects increased self-confidence and greater operational capacity.

But let's just think for a moment about what Ben Yishai says. The Israeli public cares more about the life of soldiers, whose very job description implies the risk of death and injury, than about the life of civilian residents, including children in Sderot.

It is a bit warped, isn't it? Soldiers are supposed to take risks defending civilians. That is the theory behind the official name of the Herrenvolk army, i.e. "Israel defense forces."

But that is not how fascist ideologies work. Civilians are unimportant. The fascist state isn't an institution whose purpose is to secure inalienable rights or promote the pursuit of happiness. The state of Israel is sacred. Moreover, this sacred status is not based on religious belief. Moshe Dayan, who was as irreligious as one can ever be, referred to the state of Israel as "the third temple." The sacred state is its own religion. The state is the altar and the temple at which Israelis are supposed to worship and, when necessary, sacrifice themselves.

Uniformed soldiers are therefore sacred. They are the altar boys of fascism. Killing them is blasphemy and lèse majesté. In contrast, the death of civilians can be sad, painful, scary. But it remains a purely secular affair. And since it is a secular affair, it is subject to rational cost-benefit considerations. Israelis living around Tel Aaviv have a good degree of tolerance for civilians casualties, especially when the casualties are from Sderot or Shlomi.

Finally, how does Ben Yishai think the Herrenvolk army should counter the new direction taken by Hamas?

In order to deter Hamas from implementing its new strategy and combat methods, a strategic balance of terror must be created vis-à-vis the organization... the fuel supply and humanitarian aid directed into the Strip should be curbed to a minimum, until the attacks stop.

Ben Yishai believes that merely killing the guerrillas and frustrating their operations is not going to be enough. They won't be deterred unless the ratchet is tightened and Palestinian noncombatants suffer a great deal more.

No brownie points for noting that Ben Yishai advocates terrorism, massive human rights abuse and potentially genocide. This is what colonialism looks like.

But consider this: according to Ben Yishai, in Israel, the public is more sensitive to the death of soldiers than to the suffering of civilians. Hamas, according to Ben Yishai, has the very opposite sensitivity, it values reducing the suffering of civilians over and above the life of its guerrilla units.

Perhaps Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas because Hamas is just not fascist enough for Israel.

Weregeld for James Miller

Early Germanic and Anglo-Saxxon societies did not have a criminal justice system. They had vengeance and settlement instead. Weregeld is a a Germanic word denoting a payment usually made by a person guilty of homicide to the family of the deceased as settlement. The amount paid depended on the social rank of the victim, with noblemen receiving an order of magnitude more than commoners and slaves practically nothing.

This is sort of the justice system the West now "exports" to the South.

Five years after British filmmaker James Miller was fatally shot by Israel Defense Forces troops in the Gaza Strip, Israel is poised to pay the family some NIS 12 million [$3 million] in compensation.

In return, the British government will close the case and rescind its intention to ask that the soldiers involved in the incident be extradited (Haaretz, April 22, 2008).

Of course, Israel pays nothing for Palestinians it kills. The U.S. is a tad more generous. It pays up to $2,500 per killed noncombatant in Iraq. There is no central tariff set in law as there used to exist in the Middle Ages. but various incidents reveal the implicit tariff.

On May 7, 1999, a U.S. B-52 bomber dropped three JDAM bombs upon the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. Three young Chinese journalists were killed and 27 other persons in the embassy were wounded. Four months later, the United States agreed to pay $4.5 million in damages to the families of the deceased and to the injured. This amounts to about $150,000 per victim. When a U.S. marine jet hit aerial tramway cables in Italy not too long ago, the U.S. gave close to $2 million to each Italian victim.

On July 1, 2002, a U.S. AC-130 gunship attacked and strafed four villages in the Deh Rawud district of Uruzagan, killing more than 60 innocent Afghans and wounding about 120 others.1 ....the U.S.-installed and backed Karzai regime offered the Afghan wedding victims...$200 on behalf of each individual killed.... (Marc Herold)

Westerners a worth millions. Southerners, between nothing and the low thousands. But there is a special category of Westerners whose life is particularly valuable--victims of Southern resistance. The life of am imperialist pig (sorry, a pilot) killed in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion is worth $97 Millions according to a Miami court. A federal jury in the U.S. awarded Moshe Saperstein, U.S. citizen and Jewish Supremacist in Gaza, $16 Million for a gunshot wound to his hand. (Haaretz, February 8, 2008) Saperstein lost two fingers, each one of them valued by the U.S. jury at more than twice the value of Miller's life.

Miller's life appears to be valued "correctly"--he was a Westerner, although not a victim of resistance. But it took five years and a great deal of British governmental pressure to get Israel to agree to pay even a "normal" compensation.

The reason is probably that Miller was sympathetic to Palestinians. He was in Rafah when he died filming Palestinians under occupation. The life of Western sympathizers is potentially "cheapened" by association with the South. It is thus made subject to two competing tariffs. Rachel Corrie's family failed to get any compensation at all. In essence, Corrie's life was valued according to the going rate in Rafah---zero. Miller's was eventually valued at the going rate in Europe. Because of the tariff dispute, it matters a lot what position the government of the victim's country takes. The success in Miller's case owes a lot to the British Foreign Office's threat to request an extradition unless Israel settled the case.

The struggle over receiving Weregeld from Israel is legitimate. The families deserve it, and the process serves to educate and expose the brutality of the occupation. Miller's widow Sophy won this battle, which honors James' life and commitment.

But using the courts for anything beyond recognition that a Westerner should be paid a Westerner's worth is almost impossible. The system of global Apartheid that underpins the West/South relation is quite safe within its own legal system.

Collaborater Captain Hib al-Heib, who murdered James Miller in cold blood, walks freely. Soon after the incident he even received a promotion. If Israel gets what it wants in return for the money--immunity--he will be able to board a plane and feed pigeons on Trafalgar Square without risking arrest.

(Yes, I know feeding pigeons on Trafalgar Square is illegal now. But I don't think someone who got away with murder will be impressed with the threat of a fine....and I'm stuck with this outdated image.)

The people who taught al-Heib and gave him orders, who promoted him, covered for him, destroyed evidence for him. They are safe. $3 milion for killing the occasional Westerner is 9 hours worth of U.S. aid to Israel. It is a quite affordable. And killing Palestinians is the price of bullets.

Nevertheless, a victory is a victory, and a apt time to remember James Miller's life and death.

: The film Miller made when he was shot

John Sweeney on James Miller:
Getting away with murder


Google "Hib al Heib." Only 17 hits! And none from an israeli news source. Ynet only knows "Captain H." Haaretz only speaks obliquely of "the commander." Obviously, the Israeli journalists are collaborating with the military in the effort to shield al-Heib from any personal repercussions. After all, the man has done the state some service, and they know it.

April 21, 2008

Zionist infiltration at Wikipedia

Many thanks to Tony Greenstein for bringing to my attention this Electronic Intifada article on how a hard right zionist group, CAMERA, seeks to infiltrate wikipedia and tilt entries in favour of the racist war criminals of the State of Israel:

A pro-Israel pressure group is orchestrating a secret, long-term campaign to infiltrate the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite Palestinian history, pass off crude propaganda as fact, and take over Wikipedia administrative structures to ensure these changes go either undetected or unchallenged.

A series of emails by members and associates of the pro-Israel group CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), provided to The Electronic Intifada (EI), indicate the group is engaged in what one activist termed a "war" on Wikipedia.
It's a long and detailed article. The emails are here [PDF - 2.7 MB]

Palestinian holocaust museum?

Wow, the hasbara parrots seem to have flown the nest at the Independent. On Saturday Donald Macintyre wrote a front page piece about the brutality inflicted on the natives of Hebron by Israeli soldiers. Now I would have expected them to follow up with all sorts of irrelevances and lies from the hasbara legion in the letters page but not so.

Here are today's responses to Saturday's article:
Israel's reign of terror in Hebron

Sir: Your front page describing the criminal activities of Israeli Defence Force soldiers in Hebron ("Our reign of terror", 19 April), as reported by the courageous group, Breaking the Silence, is no surprise to anyone like myself, who has actually been to Hebron.

But let there be no doubt that such activities are spread right across the whole of the West Bank. Military "incursions", night-time arrests, insulting behaviour at checkpoints, detention without charge, house demolitions, and theft of water and land by expanding settlements, the Wall and roads for Israeli use only are everyday events.

It is true that Israel does from time to time prosecute soldiers for particularly gross violations, but it is not true that these actions are just the unfortunate result of young men and women being given unlimited power over powerless Palestinians, as the military authorities would have us believe.

What is really happening in Palestine is the terrorising of an occupied civilian population by state and settlers with the objective of taking over as much of the West Bank ("Samaria and Judea") as possible by further ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land and villages. What I don't understand is why US and European politicians shut their eyes to all this; surely they can't really be unaware of it?

And I don't understand why Israel is treated as part of the civilised western world.

Mike Barnes


Sir: While world leaders rightly excoriate the brutal occupation of Tibet and oppression of its people, the siege and suffering of the Palestinians continues to be largely ignored. These same politicians have turned a blind eye to Israel's crimes of conducting one of the most brutal occupations in recent times.

Israel continues to violate international law and numerous UN resolutions with complete impunity. It has received more US tax money than any other nation on earth. While our nation has plunged into a deep recession, and more and more Americans are thrown out of work and their homes, we continue to send Israel massive amounts of money (or euros at Israel's insistence), at present a rates of $7m a day. US tax money is also sent to Egypt and Jordon to purchase their co-operation with Israel and serve as our torture rendition sites.

Unless we can raise humanitarian awareness of the plight of the Palestinians, more will surely die of starvation and despair. Perhaps, years from now, we will be building a Palestinian holocaust museum to mourn the human tragedy that could easily have been avoided.

Americans should demand that we stop giving billions of dollars to fund Israel's war of terror, money desperately needed for our domestic programmes.

Jagjit Singh

Los Altos, California USA

Sir: I visited Hebron last November and witnessed some of the appalling repression described by Donald Macintyre. I also heard testimony from a former soldier,now a member of Breaking the Silence, who made it clear that the events described were not, as the IDF claims "highly unusual", but commonplace.

If the Israelis wish to refute this why don't they set up an international commission of inquiry to investigate, with an independent chairman, say, the former US president, Jimmy Carter?

Sadly, Israel's policy seems to be one of continued denial in the hope that world opinion will look away. Please continue to publicise abuses in Palestine, which are such a shameful stain on the character of the Israeli state.

Mike Gwilliam

Norton-on-Derwent, North Yorkshire

Sir: There is growing concern in Israel of the effects this widespread "brutalisation" of their young men and women on military or border police service throughout the Occupied Territories is having on Israeli society when they return to civilian life.

When our 62-year-old Jewish director in Jerusalem, Professor Jeff Halper, was arrested on 2 April, as he unsuccessfully tried to prevent the demolition of yet another Palestinian home by Israeli bulldozers (more than 18,000 since 1967, leaving more than 100,000 Palestinians homeless), one of the border policemen man-handling him boasted, "I was born to demolish Palestinian homes. I love demolishing homes. I wake up in the morning hungry to demolish homes".

Linda Ramsden

UK Director, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, London NW1

Sir: I cannot understand how the Jews who suffered so much in the Second World War have absolutely no empathy with the Arab population. Obviously, there will never ever be peace, while America sends vast amounts of arms etc and billions of dollars to these barbarians.

I am pleased that Tibet and other situations are being made public, but I rarely see mention of Gaza and what these poor souls suffer.

I visited the Holy Land twice in the 1990s and was disgusted to see how Israel's soldiers treated civilians in Jerusalem. Of course, I do not condone the rockets fired by Hamas, but that is no comparison with the Jewish attacks.

Kay Sharp

Greenhithe, Kent

Now I might have missed all those if it wasn't for ej in the comments who had this to say:
The Hasbara team have let down the side badly. No doubt the Independent will be up on a bias charge and the deniers demanding right of reply, etc. etc.
Or is defending the indefensible getting just too damned difficult?
I think he might be right. I just had a little look at Engage and even they haven't stooped to accusing Donald Macintyre of antisemitism....yet.

Is Dubai helping ethnic cleansing in Palestine?

So asks Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh:

The government of Dubai recently allowed a major bankroller of Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank to open at least two Jewelry stores in the Gulf emirate.

According to reliable sources in the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a key member-state, Israeli billionaire and diamond magnate Lev Leviev is preparing to open two large jewelry stores in Dubai, a world's hub of Jewelry trading.

The first store will be opened soon at the Burj Dubai Mall (Dubai Mall Tower) while a second store is slated to be opened later this year in the new Atlantis Hotel on the Jumeirah Palm Island.

Leviev has already opened one store in Dubai in March, 2008, in the lobby of al-Qasr Hotel on Madinat Jumeirah.

The Dubai authorities were initially reluctant to grant the Israeli billionaire a license to do business in the oil-rich emirate. However, Leviev reportedly successfully lobbied "North American and European connections" to convince Dubai officials to reconsider their objections.

Leviev's companies, including Africa-Israel and Leader Management & Development as well as several other subsidiaries, have been quite active in displacing Palestinian villagers from their homes and land in several parts of the West Bank.

The two firms have built hundreds of settler units in at least five Jewish settlements constructed on land illegally seized from its Arab proprietors.

In recent years, a company called Leader belonging to Leviev built the settlement of Zufim on private Arab land seized from the village of Jayyous. Danya Cebus, a subsidiary of the Leviev-owned company Africa-Israel has built hundreds of settler units on land stolen from the village of Bilin. Numerous additional settler units were built in the two large settlements of Ma'ali Adomim, a few kilometers east of Jerusalem, and Har Homa, near the predominantly Christian Arab town of Beit Sahur.

Israel hopes that these settlements will cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, thus making the Palestinian dream of making the city the future capital of a prospective Palestinian state utterly unrealistic and outright impossible.

In addition to his intensive involvement in Jewish settlement expansion, including colonies defined by the inherently unjust Israeli justice system as "manifestly illegal," Leviev has donated undisclosed but reportedly large sums of money to the Land Redemption Fund, a land-grabbing organization affiliated with Gush Emunim, the ideological group behind Jewish settlement activities in the West Bank.

According to the Israeli newspaper, Yedeot Ahronot, the Land Redemption Fund uses fraud and strong-arm tactics to seize land from Palestinians for settlement expansion.

Last year the Israeli group, Peace Now, and other settlement-watch groups, discovered that hundreds of settler units built in the settlement of Matityahu in the Salfit region, in the central West Bank, were actually built on private Palestinian land seized at gun point from its legal and rightful Palestinian owners.

However, despite the discovery, the Israeli government refused to dismantle the illegal settler units, with one Israeli official saying that "this problem will be discussed with the Palestinian Authority in the context of final-status talks."

Leviev's companies are actually destroying the lives of thousands of Palestinians by narrowing their horizons and dispossessing them of their livelihoods.

Abdullah Abu Rahma from the village of Bilin and Sharif Omar from Jayyous told representative of the human rights group Adalah-NY (www.adalahny.org), which monitors Israeli theft of Palestinian land, that "Leviev's companies are destroying the olive groves and farms that have sustained our villages for centuries."

"We call on people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied against apartheid South Africa."

The mayor of Jayyous, which suffered incalculable losses due to Leviev's destructive rampage in the northern West Bank, told this reporter that "Leveiv is indulging in ethnic cleansing against our community and our farmers."

"He is building settlements at our expense; he is destroying our land, our farms, and our orchards, and at the same time he is opening business in Dubai in order to finance his crimes against our people. Shame on Dubai and its government."

Some Jewish organizations opposed to the Israeli policy of ethnic cleansing and apartheid have also called on the countries of the world to boycott Israeli businesses and firms involved in dispossesing Palestinians of their land.

"We call on the government and people of the United Arab Emirates to join the growing international campaign to boycott Lev Leviev's companies due to their construction of Israeli colonial settlements," declared Daniel Lang-Levitsky of Jews Against the Occupation-NYC.

"A major Israeli violator of Palestinian rights and international law should not be opening jewelry stores in Dubai," said Issa Ayoub, a spokesperson for the Adalah-NY group. Adalah-NY organized eight boycott protests outside Leviev's new Madison Avenue Jewelry store in New York City over the last five months.

The Palestinian Authority has refused to comment on the Dubai government decision to allow the settler bankroller Leviev to open business ventures in the oil-rich emirate.

One Palestinian official contacted by telephone said "I don't know anything about this affair and I have not heard of Leviev."

A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip said "the Palestinian people were feeling embittered and betrayed by this scandalous behavior on the part of the Dubai government."

"We were hoping that Dubai would stand with us against the genocidal Israeli regime and its unrelenting efforts to ethnically cleanse our people from their ancestral homeland. We had never imagined that a day would come when we had to appeal to an Arab country to refrain from harming us and undermining our cause."

Nu? What does the Dubai government have to say for itself?

April 20, 2008

Nice pic Engage, but check out the facts...and the figures

They're a funny lot over at the Engage site. "They" meaning Dr Hirsh mostly. He claims to be a non-zionist and yet he seems to be quite insistent that Israel should be a state for the world's Jews and not for its non-Jewish natives and he just loves the story that Israel exists on account of the holocaust. He's claimed several times that Israel exists because of the holocaust in spite of much scholarly and military opinion that claims that Israel would have been established in 1939 were it not for the outbreak of WWII. Anyway, check out this picture from, first the Observer and then, Engage:

Poignant stuff, huh? There they are, arriving at Haifa from Buchenwald. It appeared today in the Observer and has been gleefully uploaded to the Engage site. Dr Hirsh asks (he hopes) rhetorically if they are,
"Colonial settlers? Emissaries of European imperialism? Jewish supremacists? Racist Zionists? Supporters of apartheid?"
Well given their bearing of the zionist flag, yes they probably were all of those things unless they were models or actors.

What if they were displaced persons from Europe? Does this give them the right to carry out an ethnic cleansing campaign against people in Asia? The photo is trying to say "yes it does". It's by a Zoltan Kluger who, from what I can tell, was to zionism what Leni Riefenstahl was to the nazis.

But let's not get carried away by one manipulative photograph. See this now:
until the camps for Jewish displaced persons and refugees were fully dismantled, less than 40 percent of the survivors came to Palestine (or Israel, after its establishment in 1948), in spite of heavy pressures by the Zionist agencies: a disappointing proportion, given the movement's initial expectations
A picture may well paint a thousand words but those words might be lies. The fact is, the holocaust is not the reason for Israel's existence. It is the excuse for the ethnic cleansing, the racist laws and the relentless aggression but the reason is that there is sadly such a thing as Jewish chauvinism and it has combined itself with western imperialism. No picture can negate that fact.

Incidentally, I didn't quite finish the quote from the "non"-zionist Dr Hirsh. He wants people to listen to the Israeli national anthem, Hatikva. It sings of every "Jewish heart". But over 60% of the survivors may well have considered the fact that if the only consideration is what goes on in a Jewish heart how far is that from the nazi idea that the only consideration should be what goes on in an Aryan heart?

The zionists have very skilfully manipulated the holocaust to enable the racist war criminals of the State of Israel to claim themselves to be the heirs to the holocaust dead. They are not. They celebrated the rise of Hitler, collaborated with his rule and then exploited his genocidal atrocities. It has worked well and stifled the establishment of a mass anti-zionist movement until now. But people are sick of the exploitation. Yes, there are huckster politicians and hacks who will go along with it but if there are tears to be shed now, that's not directly for the holocaust dead but over the fact that they have been so eagerly and in some cases greedily exploited by the racist war criminals of the State of Israel and their supporters in every major media outlet in the west.

Speaking of Engage, I posted recently linking to a post on Engage that seemed to express disgust at an aspect of zionist colonial settlement practised by a group called El'ad that combines religious obscurantism and ethnic cleansing. The post wasn't by Dr Hirsh of course but by Mira Vogel. She came here to make sure that everyone knew that the current crop of ethnic cleansers are a minority in the zionist movement as a whole and to demonstrate her support for the "moderate majority of zionists". She was asked by Hulkagaard in the comments,
If this majority exists, why is it unable to prevent what El'ad does
That was yesterday and she hasn't answered yet. Shobbas? Pesach? Come back soon Mira, the zionist moderate majority needs you.

April 19, 2008

Israeli soldiers abducting, beating, torturing, stunning, bombing, shooting, oh, and crying, of course

Shooting and crying, from the belly of the beast. Here's a report from Donald Macintyre in today's Independent:
The dark-haired 22-year-old in black T-shirt, blue jeans and red Crocs is understandably hesitant as he sits at a picnic table in the incongruous setting of a beauty spot somewhere in Israel. We know his name and if we used it he would face a criminal investigation and a probable prison sentence.

The birds are singing as he describes in detail some of what he did and saw others do as an enlisted soldier in Hebron. And they are certainly criminal: the incidents in which Palestinian vehicles are stopped for no good reason, the windows smashed and the occupants beaten up for talking back – for saying, for example, they are on the way to hospital; the theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who is then beaten "to a pulp" when he complains; the throwing of stun grenades through the windows of mosques as people prayed. And worse.

The young man left the army only at the end of last year, and his decision to speak is part of a concerted effort to expose the moral price paid by young Israeli conscripts in what is probably the most problematic posting there is in the occupied territories. Not least because Hebron is the only Palestinian city whose centre is directly controlled by the military, 24/7, to protect the notably hardline Jewish settlers there. He says firmly that he now regrets what repeatedly took place during his tour of duty.

Now, I find this quite disturbing. Not what the soldiers do. I've known that for years, we all have. But this "Breaking the silence" has been around for years. I posted on it back in September 2005. What have they achieved since then? What have I achieved since then? Obviously, doing the right thing even if it doesn't achieve anything is still doing the right thing, but why do these soldiers cry after they shoot? And why so publicly? Did you see Macintyre's reference to "the moral price paid young Israeli conscripts". You see it worries me that some of these projects are a devious or insidious form of hasbara. We kill but we cry. We are civilised. Don't kill then you won't have to cry. If you have to cry, cry before you shoot....or abduct, or beat or torture.

Shooting the messenger - part ???

Two weeks of film on Palestine

Apologies for missing the beginning of this. It's not as if I wasn't given plenty of notice. The time just flew by like a series of senior moments. What I missed tonight was the opening night of the London Palestine Film Festival 2008. It runs over two weeks, week one being at the Barbican and week two at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

The Palestine Film Foundation (PFF) programmes and runs the annual London Palestine Film Festival. This two-week Festival is the largest event of its kind in the world, showcasing over 35 films dealing with the subject of Palestine each year. Art, fiction, documentary, and experimental work by artists from across the world are screened alongside panel discussions, question and answer sessions, and book talks.

The PFF is run entirely voluntarily and depends on donations and partnerships to maintain the Festival. Information on how to support the PFF can be obtained by contacting us on info@palestinefilm.org
Here's the programme in pdf.

April 18, 2008

Readings for Pessah

Pessah, like every old tradition, carries within it seamlessly the humanistic and the chauvinist, the universal and the tribal, the fabulous and the real. Reading the story is never straightforward; to read is to step into a minefield. Caveat lector! Yet reading touches the core of Pessah as a co-memoration. Reading the Hagaddah--the re-telling of the story of slavery and liberation--is the heart of pessah. But how to tell the story? To recite? To repeat? to study? to criticize? To compare? to transform? And whom to tell? Only your sons (ve-higadeta le-baneikha)? only Jews? And how to remember? What lesson to draw? What 'we' to constitute with that memory?

Caveat lector!

With this warning cleared, let's therefore tell the story.

The historical details in the story of Exodus are fabulations. The Pyramids were not built by slaves, let alone Hebrew slaves, of which there is not a trace in Egyptian records. But one thing clearly isn't imaginary. The biblical author understands oppression and liberation. Pharaoh is a study in the obtuseness of power and Moses is a study in the challenge of organizing liberation.

today I want to focus on Pharaoh; he is a role model for many modern readers of the Haggadah.

The Exodus story begins with Pharaoh hatching a plan for pre-emptive genocide out of chauvinistic paranoia.
He said to his people, "Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." (Exodus 1:9-10, New Revised Standard Version of the Bible)
That "demographic threat" is an old story, oppression is always pre-emptive and justified by security, and that fifth column has a very long history!
Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh.
But--surprise, surprise--the brilliant plan for "security through oppression" backfired:
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.
Finally, since nothing else worked, Pharaoh opts for a slow genocide:
Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, "Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile..."
The parellels are just too obvious. The book of Exodus should be studied in Political Science 101.

Here is Arnon Sofer giving his best Pharaonic impersonation:
When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it's going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It's going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, everyday. (Jerusalem Post, May 21, 2004)
And here is Pharaoh Effi Eitam, MK:
We've got to remove Israeli Arabs from the political scene. We've allowed a fifth column to grow here - a group of traitors. We can't have a hostile group like this in our political system... (Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2006)
And, since nothing works, and as oppression grows so does resistance, we get to Pharaoh Matan Vilnai reaching the same conclusion Pharaoh did:
The more Qassam fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger 'shoah' because we will use all our might to defend ourselves. (quoted Army Radio transcript )

The interaction between Moses and Pharaoh is a dramatic explication of Frederick Douglas's famous words, which ought to repeated and repeated because they are so easily forgotten:
Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.
The first "negotiation" session is instructive:
So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord had commanded; Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff, and they became snakes; but Aaron's staff swallowed up theirs.Still Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. (Exodus 7:20-22)
Moses and Aaron have a contest with Pharaoh's advisers. It is a polite affair--no violence, no threats. The 'rational' terms of the contest are accepted on both sides--magic as proof of divine approval. Moses and Aaron win the argument. But winning the argument proves useless. Political Science 201: Power never says to the oppressed: "on second thought, you are right." It never has and it never will.

Rather, resistance must escalate. The story of the ten plagues is familiar and we'll fast-forward to the culmination:
At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron in the night, and said, "Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone. And bring a blessing on me too!" (Exodus 12:29-32)
This is pretty gruesome stuff. Yet it is only AFTER this massacre comes to pass that Pharaoh relents. Only when the resistance mirrors to power power's own genocidal terms (although on a reduced scale), only when it speaks power's language, the language of indiscriminate murder, that Paraoh finally gets it. When he asks Moses to "bring a blessing on me too," Pharaoh, for the first time in the story, engages Moses in a civilized exchange between equals.

There is a lesson to learn here, and there is also a lesson not to learn. Caveat lector!

Class dismissed.

Hamas celebrates the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

But then they have every right and every reason to. Here's Hamas's foreign minister, Mahmoud al-Zahar, in the Washington Post, paying his respects to the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and putting in a word for his own long suffering ghetto dwellers:
Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people. We Gazans, living in the world's largest open-air prison, can do no less.
And he pays his respects to Jews generally:
Judaism -- which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam -- has corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism
And he even finds words room for the expression "peace process" though, like me, he can only put it in quotes:
A "peace process" with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees. Given what we have lost, it is the only basis by which we can start to be whole again.
But what about the Palestinians?
I am eternally proud of my sons and miss them every day. I think of them as fathers everywhere, even in Israel, think of their sons -- as innocent boys, as curious students, as young men with limitless potential -- not as "gunmen" or "militants." But better that they were defenders of their people than parties to their ultimate dispossession; better that they were active in the Palestinian struggle for survival than passive witnesses to our subjugation.

History teaches us that everything is in flux. Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun, and adversity has taught us patience. As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics: In the end, it is always a question of our children and those who come after us.
If only the Jerusalem Post would publish something like that.

April 17, 2008

Peres in Poland: "We can build an alternate universe"

Israel's President Shimon Peres addressed the Polish parliament in Warsaw Thursday and said his country was prepared to compromise on territorial issues in the search for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.

"We are ready to forgo land in order to reach a genuine peace with the Palestinians and grant them the possibility to found their own state," Peres told the parliament at the end of his four-day visit to the central European country in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising during World War II.

Specifically, Peres agreed to give up all Israeli claims on Nasiriyah in modern Iraq, even though Abraham, the Hebrew Patriarch, was a native of nearby Ur about 4000 years ago.

Peres also said that Israel will not ask for compensation from Egypt for 400 years of building the pyramids. "According to our Bible the Pyramids are technically Jewish property" and could be reclaimed according to the same laws used to recover property confiscated by the Nazis. However, Peres promised Israel would forgo this option if a peace agreement were signed promptly.

If Palestinians agree to end their struggle against Israel, Peres offered them a grand, indeed grandiose vision. "In the West bank it is possible to build a full alternate universe, so Palestinians and Jewish settlers could live not just near each other, but superimposed on each other, without ever having to meet or even see each other." Peres explained that he developed his vision after reading a Ray Bradbury Science Fiction story, but "with so many Jewish Nobel Prize winners and nuclear physicists, I don't see why we can't turn that into reality."

Peres also mentioned the blossoming of Zionism in the European country. He said that most Israeli political parties were founded in Poland. "In our first Knesset, 61 out of the 120 members originated from Poland, including all the Fascists" said Peres. "And I don't want to cause any offense, but in the country's temporary government, led by David Ben-Gurion, six out of 13 ministers were of Polish origin!"

Poland, Peres explained, therefore bears a lot of responsibility for the tragedy that befell Palestinians and should be one of the countries that accepts Palestinian refugees so that Israel can remain a Jewish State. "Accepting a few hundred thousand Palestinians is a small price to pay for being rid of all the Jews who used to live here," Peres said. Referring to Hamas's insistance on the Palestinian Right of Return, Peres explained to a cheering and clapping audience that "asking us to accept Palestinian refugees is like asking you to have Jewish neighbors again."

Nevertheless, Peres was emphatic that Israel had no interest in occupying Poland. That remark caused an audible sigh of relief in the Parliament hall. But some listeners from the gallery were still worried. Lech Drbjgjkmpzrlynsky from the Polish Urbanism Center said that his heart skipped a bit when Peres
mentioned that "Jews lived and died here. We won't forget that." He had nightmarish visions of Warsaw looking like Hebron.

said of the Warsaw ghetto uprising "We are lowering our flags in memory of the uprising, a singular example of the struggle of a few against the well-oiled machine of the devil." Dismissing potential comparisons, Peres revealed that the tanks and bulldozzers Israel uses for crushing the Palestinian uprising are intentionally poorly oiled. "We try to avoid looking like Nazis as much as possible," he said.

At the end of his address, Peres said that Israel and the "new Poland" can realize good and positive relations. "In light of the good memories and in the shadow of the bad ones, we can strive together toward a future of peace, fraternity and justice," he said. "The new Poland, a Poland that hosts U.S. military bases, provides cheap labor for Britain and destroys its wealth in order to please the City of London, is one of Israel's best friends in the European Union."

Adapted from Haaretz, April 17th, 2008.

Canadian Union of Postal Workers Joins the global movement against Israeli Apartheid

The CUPW, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, had its annual national convention this week. At the convention, CUPW passed resolution 338/339. According to The Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid (CAIA),

[T]his resolution is an extremely significant landmark for the Palestinian solidarity movement in Canada. It represents the first time in North American history that a national union has passed a BDS resolution. The resolution recognizes Israel as an apartheid state and expresses CUPW’s support for boycott and divestment from Israel. It was passed almost unanimously after nearly one hour of discussion on the convention floor.

CUPW represents more than 50,000 postal workers across Canada and has been at the forefront of campaigns against privatization and deregulation at Canada Post. The union has a proud history of international solidarity. During the South African apartheid years, CUPW was at the forefront of labour solidarity with South African workers and engaged in concrete actions such as the refusal to handle mail from South Africa.
The resolution states that CUPW will work “… with Palestinian solidarity and human rights organizations to develop an educational campaign about the apartheid nature of the Israeli state and the political and economic support of Canada for these practices.” The resolution also calls on the Canadian government to increase humanitarian aid to Palestinians who have been affected by the conflict, and commits CUPW to research on Canadian involvement in the occupation.

CAIA asks peopel worldwide to
Immediately email and fax the CUPW National office congratulating them on their stand against Israeli apartheid (sample letter below). Please fax your letter of support to CUPW National Office at ++ (613) 563-7861 or email endapartheid@riseup.net and we will pass them on to the CUPW national officeholders.


Thank you CUPW!!!

Spot the terrorist in this picture

The Associated Press says:
Israel struck hard against targets in Gaza on Wednesday, killing at least 20 Palestinians in a day of heavy fighting that also saw three Israeli soldiers killed in a Hamas ambush.

Several civilians were among the dead — including five children and a Reuters cameraman killed while covering the conflict, according to Palestinian officials.

Hamas kills three soldiers. Israel kills a cameraman and five children.

But, as the AP reminds readers not sufficiently clear on the proper way of thinking:

...Israel, the U.S. and European Union consider Hamas a terrorist group.

I consider Israel, the U.S, and the European Union terrorist organizations. But that is probably because Rupert Murdoch doesn't sit on MY board of directors.

Israel struck hard against targets in Gaza...

What an evocative and tasteful way to report a massacre of children!!!