July 31, 2008


YNet says: "This is one concert that won't be cancelled."

Israeli war crimes and traffic offences

And which are worse where the Israeli army top brass is concerned? Here's Gideon Levy in today's Ha'retz:
Brigadier General Moshe "Chico" Tamir is a devoted and loving father who let his 14-year-old son drive a military all-terrain vehicle. Being the law-abiding organization that it is, the Israel Defense Forces probed the incident, calling it "serious." As a result, Tamir's promotion may be put on hold and he may be indicted. Certainly, a brigade commander who tried to cover up his son's accident by lying deserves to be punished. But the commander of the Gaza Brigade deserves much more for acts considerably more serious - acts that the world defines as war crimes and for which no one has been held accountable.

I would like Tamir, the dedicated father, to meet a girl the same age as his beloved son whose world fell apart when she was 14 years old. I saw her in mourning in November 2006, in the courtyard of her destroyed house in Beit Hanun. Islam Athamneh lost eight family members: Her mother, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins. They fled their house when it was struck by a shell and were killed by another onslaught. The legs of Abdullah, her three-year-old brother, were blown off. Islam, whose father had died years earlier, became an orphan.

The soldiers who fired the 11 shells at houses in Beit Hanun were under the command of Tamir, the dedicated dad who let his son take a Tomcar for a joyride. Some 22 people were killed in the shelling and another 40 were hurt. Most lost limbs or sustained head wounds.

It was the Gaza Brigade commander, Tamir, who was responsible for that atrocity, but the IDF quickly absolved him of blame. Instead, they placed it on a faulty electronic component in the gun barrel. It was the chip, not Chico, who was to blame. In the seven days before the heinous shelling, which violates international law, Tamir's troops managed to kill 80 Palestinians, 40 of whom were innocent civilians, as part of Operation Autumn Clouds. Their blood was let and their deaths pale in significance to the Tomcar affair as far as the army is concerned. After all, what's some unlawful killing en masse next to illegally driving an ATV?
Was there once an SS officer who used to spend his days shooting unarmed Jews and then the same officer got put away for kicking a dog? It's a story I heard years ago. Is it true?

July 30, 2008

Israel's "infamous" numerus clausus

It's not infamous, is it? Infamous isn't the opposite of famous. Perhaps I should have said unfamous since Israel's racist education policies don't get any coverage as a rule in the mainstream.

Still the Independent does stick its neck out occasionally as it has here:
The heads of six of the country's most prestigious universities have written to the Defence minister Ehud Barak, taking issue with a limit on Palestinian students to 70 a year in Israel and requiring them to justify to the military the exceptional academic grounds for admission.

One prominent Hebrew University professor has warned that the regulations – which include barring Palestinian students from courses "that could be used against the State of Israel" – will help campaigners in Britain and elsewhere seeking to impose a boycott of Israeli academia. "Since its establishment, the State of Israel has carefully maintained a tradition of academic freedom... We expect the military to maintain this tradition and to limit its involvement to matters in its area of authority, meaning security evaluations only," said the letter. It was signed by the rectors and deans of Tel Aviv, Hebrew, Ben-Gurion and Haifa universities along with the Weizmann Institute and the Technion.

At the same time, five leading professors have sought to join a Supreme Court petition against the restrictions. In an affidavit denouncing the idea of a discriminatory fixed quota for Palestinian students, one, Professor Tzvi Mazeh of Tel Aviv University, declared: "The Jewish people suffered for many years from restrictions on academic freedom imposed on European Jews, known infamously as the 'numerus clausus'."

Jews have suffered many of the things that Israel inflicts on its non-Jewish population. It doesn't seem to outrage Israeli public or academic opinion.

July 29, 2008

As near as damn it!

What games the mainstream plays for Israel. Oh, by the way Israel killed yet another child today. Or was it yesterday, or tomorrow. Actually this one was today. But look at how CNN reports the crime:
Palestinian boy killed during protest, witnesses say

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli soldiers Tuesday fired shots near a group of Palestinian youths during a demonstration in the West Bank, killing a 9-year-old boy, eyewitnesses told CNN.
They fired "shots near a group of Palestinian youths". See, if they weren't the most moral army in the world they would have fired at them and that could have been fatal.

July 28, 2008

Troll control

Apologies to readers for allowing a little troll fest to take place in some of the posts below this one. Moderating isn't an exact science.

First up, I ought to point out that Jews sans frontieres has four bloggers now, Gabriel, Nedster, David Landy and me. We all have an equal right to post here though technically I think I might have more control of the blog than they do. Now the comments are entirely controlled by me because the others feel they've done me enough of a favour by blogging! I think that's it. Well I could let all comments through and delete any that I think are inappropriate or I could continue doing what I do which is moderating. This means I get to see the comment - actually sometimes it's in a shorter or anyway, less comprehensible form - and who has left it before deciding whether to "approve" or "delete". It means also that I am deciding for my co-bloggers what's fit to allow through so the bar on trolls goes a little lower if the post isn't by me just in case my chums want to respond.

Well I'm going to have to be a bit more discerning as to what gets through and what doesn't. Anyone can start their own blog so I don't think anyone can claim they have been unfairly treated or that deleting a troll's comments amounts to censorship. It's not as if I'm keeping people's comments out of the public domain.

I'll try to be fair about it but basically people should ensure that their comments are on topic, free from personal abuse and not manifestly untrue.

One more thing. I used to have a facility called cocomment. You could subscribe to it and monitor conversations on blogs that you participate in. Mine hasn't worked for some time now but when it did it published comments simply because they had been made. It meant that comments were published on the cocomment site whether I approved them or not. It might still exist or there may be similar facilities. Well if people really want to keep up with their own comments and other peoples they can try to find a facility like that.

I think that's it but by all means let me have your honest opinion in the comments below this post.


Israel needs sanctions, not appeasement

Sue Blackwell has an article in the Guardian's mortarboard section, criticising Gordon Brown for putting the sick in sycophancy by way of a speech to the State of Israel's parliament. Comments are open now and the zionist trolls are out in force. I've done the following comment that I'm saving here lest it disappears.
Just scanning through the comments that zionists make on these threads shows why an academic exposé of and pressure on Israel is so necessary. The idea that an ethnocracy that invites people of immediate Jewish descent from anywhere in the world to settle in the country from which most native non-Jews are barred can be in any way considered democratic is ludicrous and yet there must be many people who don't know about Israel's origins in ethnic cleansing, nor of its relentless aggression, nor of its current racist structure. But the tide of knowledge and opinion is turning.

Gordon Brown's sycophantic speech to the Israeli parliament, wasn't ignorant of itself. It was dishonest and it sought to promote and maintain ignorance about Israel. Yes, he said a word or two about the occupation but he didn't go far enough on that and of course, given Israel's racist structure, the occupation isn't the only issue.

I recall a survey some years ago now where people were asked who they thought was the biggest threat to peace in the world. 60% in the UK answered, Israel. Since then the zionist movement has pulled out all the stops in its propaganda war. Israel's crimes are glossed over, Palestinians' rights are ignored, victims of ethnic cleansing are blamed for their own ethnic cleansing and Israel's critics are smeared - usually as being antisemitic or something that amounts to pretty much the same thing. Apparently the percentage of people who see Israel for the threat that it is may have decreased since the original question was asked but the same question seems not have been asked, presumably lest the answer be the same.

The fact is that for the support of the EU and UK, Israel is relying on the democratic deficit whereby governments can do what they want irrespective of what their people actually want. When that happens we look to the opposition. In the UK's case the "opposition" are as supportive of the zionist conquest of Palestine as the government. So we look to the media. Oh dear, what do we see? Every UK paper has a resident zionist, the Guardian has at least two and the Telegraph seems to have recruited the Israeli ambassador as a commentator. Ok, so the government, the opposition and the mainstream media have all let us down by appeasing, in many cases lying for, Israel. This leaves the people whose job is to find and promote the truth. Enter the academic community.

It's quite shocking that there are academics who support such a grotesque project of colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and finding ever more ingenious ways of curbing the indigenous Arab presence in Israel but whether the academics are discussing an academic boycott or just focusing on getting the truth into the public domain, the genie is out of the bottle. The antisemitism smear has been so over-used, it no longer works. Though curiously there now some Israeli and Jewish antisemites trying to worm their way into the Palestine solidarity movement of late.

The holocaust card has also lost its value given that it is now known that all of the great powers supported zionism from 1919, way before the holocaust, and that the Palestinians who had risen against British rule in Palestine in 1936 had been thoroughly routed by 1939 leaving the way clear for the ethnic cleansing of the Arabs and the declaration of Jewish statehood then. It was actually WWII that put it all on hold. Then of course there is the less than exemplary role of the zionist movement during the holocaust.

The last card of the zionists has also been played in this thread. It's yet another thinly veiled allegation of antisemitism dressed up as wondering why poor little Israel is being singled out. This charge is levelled by people who don't seem to know how states have actually been condemned by the UN, quarantined and even invaded and occupied for far less than Israel has done and continues to do. These people also don't seem to realise that whilst other states commit human rights abuses, Israel's existence is predicated on its human rights abuses. There is no other state that exists on the basis that it invites people who do not come from there whilst banning people who do come from there. It means that Israel acts as a foreign legion in the middle east for the highest bidder (lately but not always, the US).

The best part of the article was Ghada Karmi's contribution. "Israel needs sanctions, not appeasement". But appeasement is precisely what Israel gets time and time again. I well remember opponents of the war on Iraq being labelled appeasers but appeasement is where party A accedes to demands made by party B in breach of party A's professed principles. Given Israel's inherently racist nature, and the fact that its key western allies are democracies for all of their people, Israel is currently the world's biggest beneficiary of appeasement.
If you comment, try not to rise to any abuse, just report it and see what happens.

July 27, 2008

On unicorns and those radical left Israeli academics

Dear colleagues:

As academics and citizens of the State of Israel, whatever our political opinions may be, we see ourselves as having a duty to fight for the academic freedom of our Palestinian colleagues. We call upon the Government of Israel to honour and implement the right of freedom of movement, academic study and instruction in the State of Israel and the territories controlled by it. Academic freedom is not divisible and cannot be selective. The State of Israel and we its citizens are directly responsible for upholding that freedom. (http://academic-access.weebly.com/)
We, past and present members of academic staff of Israeli universities, express great concern regarding the ongoing deterioration of the system of higher education in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We protest against the policy of our government which is causing restrictions of freedom of movement, study and instruction, and we call upon the government to allow students and lecturers free access to all the campuses in the Territories, and to allow lecturers and students who hold foreign passports to teach and study without being threatened with withdrawal of residence visas. To leave the situation as it is will cause serious harm to freedom of movement, study and instruction – harm to the foundation of academic freedom, to which we are committed.

This mild, lame, tongue-tied petition, which doesn't condemn the occupation, doesn't condemn apartheid, doesn't demand anything beyond the smallest declaration of purely professional solidarity couched in the mildest liberal terms, was sent individually to 9,000 Israeli academics.

9,000 Israeli academics were individually asked by a few of their colleagues to express support for academic freedom in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Nothing more.

407 signed. That is 4.5%.

So where are all the academics who lead the peace movement in Israel? Where is that bastion of progressive thought, that beautiful Israel that is soooo different from the brutal officers and the shameless politicians?

This is Israel's conscience. This is Israel's intellectual genius and liberal heart. This is the Peace Movement. 4.5%.

You could probably get about the same level of support for Palestinian rights in the settlement of Ariel.

Boycott Israel's Academic Institutions!

UPDATE: I left out the text of the petition itself. Added it back.

July 26, 2008

Israel's Artsy Secret Agents

The state of Israel is the paymaster of many kind of knaves: professional colonial officers, demographers and geographers, hitmen, colonization architects, doctors for torture, diplomats, etc.

But there is a special group of highly secret agents that aren't as famous as they deserve to be. You've probably met one of them. They go from festival to festival, from lecture to TV interview, they talk about peace and understanding, and they even criticize the occupation and the last war (but not this war, this war is different!). And they sell their wares: books, films, cds, performances. They are all very talented. And they work for the state of Israel.

Ytzhak Laor unveiled excerpts from the secret contract between Israeli artists and Israel's Foreign Ministry in Haaretz. Artists are referred to in the contract as "service providers." How nice! Less flattering terms have been used to describe more deserving people.

The foreign ministry pays its artists travel expenses as well as "Master artist" fees. In return, as the contract specifies:

"The service provider undertakes to act faithfully, responsibly and tirelessly to provide the Ministry with the highest professional services. The service provider is aware that the purpose of ordering services from him is to promote the policy interests of the State of Israel via culture and art, including contributing to creating a positive image for Israel." (Haaretz, June 25, 2008)
But these are secret agents, remember?
"The service provider will not present himself as an agent, emissary and/or representative of the Ministry."

I wonder if they number their agents? Is Amos Oz their 007? Or David Grossman perhaps? "Did you read agent 112's latest book? Marvelous wasn't it, a real triumph?"

So here's another reason for the cultural boycott of Israel's artists.

Now, you may think that some of these artists take the money and put it to good use. Possible. It has happened before. But probably not here. Israel is very good at supervising its artists and making sure they are the right kind:

The service provider undertakes to mention the name of the Ministry and/or Israeli representation in the abovementioned countries in any publication concerning the services provided by him, in Israel and abroad. He must also undertake: To provide the Ministry with a detailed report of the provision of services by him, including samples and evidence, as stated in subparagraph C, below (hereinafter, 'the services').
Artists with integrity need not apply. Ytzhak Laor tells how festivals who try to invite him as an Israeli poet always fails to secure funds. Ytzhak Laor, to put it in the most diminutive way possible, is the sole reason Hebrew should continue to exist as a living language. No wonder Israel would like to keep him out of sight.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against artists selling their soul to the devil. Each one of them know how much their own soul is worth. And if they sell it I assume they went through the numbers and it was a good deal for both sides.

But could they please sign the contract with their own blood?

July 25, 2008

Update: wanted criminal Omri Borberg

We know from the Hebrew press that the Herrenvolk Army of Israel commander who was responsible for the shooting of a detainee in Na'alin is Omri Borberg. Whatever ridiculous "punishment" he gets, if at all, he is obviously promotional material and I guarantee that he will be promoted. He behaved exactly according to the "values" of the Herrenvolk.

Of course, I expect the Hasbara machine to tell us soon that he was a "rotten apple." Or that he was misunderstood, and how moral the army is for investigating itself (only because Borberg was caught on video flagrante delictu.)

But hopefully there is going to be an arrest warrant waiting for him one day when he lands in a foreign airport. That is probably why the conscientious Ha'aretz translator decided that his name should be excised from the English version of the paper (here it is mentioned in the Hebrew version).

Let's not be confused. Omri Borberg is not a great catch. His crime is only notable in being captured on Video. Israeli officers commit both smaller and greater crimes every hour, because oppression is policy. Beating, shooting, harming, discouraging, harassing Palestinians is the very job of the Herrenvolk Army. One cannot expect any judicial system, not even an international system, to stop this by individuating every single offense and punishing those locally responsible.

Nevertheless, people like Omri Borberg think of themselves primarily as westerners (in the traditional colonial meaning of the world, namely as the bearers of universal morality.) While it may strike many readers here as absurd, I am certain that Borberg sincerely believes that his actions are within universally acceptable norms of behavior, norms we all share. Those warped beliefs are not incidental. They are inculcated in the media and taught in school because Israel's Western identity is fundamental to its geopolitics as well as necessary for securing the compliance of a large section of Israelis.

Getting arrest warrants and legal proceeding in motion against petty officers like Borberg could therefore be an extremely effective pressure on Israel.

July 24, 2008

Israel in Doggie-do as Snoop cries off

Great news!! According to Ynet, Snoop Dogg has developed some logistical difficulties when it comes to playing Israel. Those logistical difficulties are proving to be so logistically difficult that he won't be playing Israel after all. But the logistical difficulties diminish by the time we get from the article's sub-heading and they become "contractual difficulties" in the main body of the article.
Snoop Dogg cancels Israeli gig

Rapper slated to perform in Rishon Lezion Amphitheater reneges on tour date citing logistical difficulties

Or Barnea

Published: 07.23.08, 12:48 / Israel Culture

Another one bites the dust: Despite previous press announcements, famous rapper Snoop Dogg’s scheduled performance at the Rishon Lezion Amphitheater has been canceled, sources in the production told Ynet Wednesday.

A source in the production said that the concert has been called off due to "contractual difficulties" between the artist and the producers; and not because of low ticket sales. The production team was given the cancellation notice over the phone Tuesday.
The list of artists calling off their proposed gigs in Israel is growing. See here. Now what excuses can we find for McCartney, Morrisey, New York Dolls, etc?

Bulldoze this!

Here's Gideon Levy in today's Ha'aretz with an article headed Caterpillar fashion:
Israel might be able to go on claiming that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East, but it cannot do the same regarding another weapon of mass destruction: the bulldozer. The claim that terror has adopted an original new weapon, a "new fashion" as the public security minister put it, once again shows how convenient it is for us to present a one-sided and distorted picture.

The bulldozer as a destructive and even lethal weapon was not invented by the Palestinians. They are merely imitating an Israeli "fashion" that is as old as the state, or at least as old as the occupation. Let us forget for a moment the 416 villages Israel wiped off the face of the earth in 1948 - that was before there were D9 bulldozers - and focus on a more modern fashion. In Israel's hands the bulldozer has become one of the most terrifying weapons in the territories. The only difference between the Palestinians' murderous bulldozer and the Israeli bulldozer is in color and size. As usual, ours is bigger, much bigger. There is no similarity between the small backhoe the Palestinian terrorist was driving and the fearsome D9 driven by Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

From the dawn of the occupation, Caterpillar has been a major arms supplier to Israel, no less than those who provide planes, cannons and tanks. Not for nothing are peace activists trying to call for a boycott of the manufacturer. Israel has sown almost unimaginable destruction using heavy equipment. Go to Rafah, stopping in Khan Yunis on the way, and see the results of the destruction scattered there to this day. Whole neighborhoods razed, the contents of houses - possessions and memories - crushed under the treads. Have you ever seen a street after being "stripped" by a bulldozer? Cars are crushed like tin cans and homes become piles of rubble, along with their contents. Any street in Rafah looks much worse than King David Street in Jerusalem this week.

In 2004, for example, 10,704 Palestinians were made homeless after the IDF destroyed 1,404 homes, mostly in Gaza, due to "operational needs." In the Jenin refugee camp, Israel destroyed 560 homes; the legendary bulldozer driver "Kurdi" told how he would swig whiskey as he "turned Jenin into a soccer field." In Operation Rainbow, another bulldozer operation, Israel destroyed 120 homes in one day in the Brazil camp in Rafah. Only someone who was in Rafah and Khan Yunis at the time can understand what our excellent bulldozers did.

Do not say that our bulldozers only destroy but do not kill. Who killed peace activist Rachel Corrie if not a bulldozer whose driver, according to witnesses, saw her before he crushed her to death? And what about the Shubi family in the Nablus casbah - a grandfather, two aunts, a mother and two children - crushed under bulldozers? And who killed Jamal Faid, a handicapped man from the Jenin camp, whose wheelchair only was found under the ruins of his house, with his body never recovered? Was that not bulldozer terror?

The Palestinians discovered the bulldozer quite late. What is good for us is good for them. And how do our security experts propose to fight the new fashion? By demolishing the houses of the terrorists. With bulldozers, of course.
Hat-tip, Richard Kuyper and Dan Judelsonof the Just Peace UK list.

Uncomplicating Israel

I wonder if Israel's Lior Ben Dor wishes he didn't start his week with a swipe at Israel's critics. He's being torn to shreds over his recent letter to the Indie. Ok, to save space I'll just post a snippet:
In response to Lior Ben-Dor (letters, 22 July), the Palestinians have been made outsiders in their own land. Call it colonialism, call it apartheid or just call it wrong. It's not complicated.

Janet Green

London NW5
Maybe I should post the whole thing just to hammer the point home:
In response to Lior Ben-Dor (letters, 22 July), the Palestinians have been made outsiders in their own land. Call it colonialism, call it apartheid or just call it wrong. It's not complicated.

Janet Green

London NW5
Well really, what else is there to say?

Israel's intimidatory murders

Here's a letter in today's (tomorrow's?) Independent:

Your report ("Bound Palestinian protester shot by soldier", 22 July) shows yet another instance of the violence perpetrated by the Israeli Defence Force against unarmed people who resist the occupation. B'tselem, the Israeli human rights organisation, has recorded 25 cases of beatings and/or abuse of Palestinians by the IDF between 2005 and 2008. Many cases involve more than one victim.

More serious are the thousands of deaths and woundings of unarmed Palestinians, and of some Israeli and international activists. According to B'tselem, 4,748 Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces from the beginning of the Second Intifada (September 2000) to 30 June 2008. But of these 2,219 (47 per cent) were definitely not fighting, and there was doubt about whether a further 871 (18 per cent) were involved. In the same period, 386 Palestinians were killed in "targeted killings", but 154 (40 per cent) were merely bystanders.

The high-profile cases include the killings of the British and American students Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie; the British, Palestinian and Italian cameramen James Miller, Fadel Shanaa and Rafaele Ciriello; and Harald Fischer, the German doctor who was treating injured Palestinians. All were clearly identifiable as non-combatants. There are far too many cases to be just the actions of a few undisciplined soldiers. At the very least, there is a culture of impunity in the IDF. At the worst, it is a culture of deliberate, intimidatory violence up to, and including, murder.

Arthur Goodman

Jews for Justice for Palestinians, London

But I think shorter ones are better. See the next post for a fine example.

July 23, 2008

Lying abroad for Israel?

Who is sent to lie abroad for Israel, Israeli diplomats or the UK Prime Minister? Well I really didn't follow what I have heard was a sycophantic speech by Gordon Brown to the Israeli parliament but I did read the ludicrous letter of Israeli diplomat, Lior Ben-Dor in yesterday's Independent.

Israel's defences are not apartheid

I was profoundly dismayed to read Donald Macintyre's story ("This is like apartheid", 11 July), regarding the recent visit by a South African delegation to Israel and the West Bank. While the report detailed the impressions of delegates concerning the conditions of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, it failed to deliver a balanced account of this extremely complex situation, and lacked historical context and background.

The article neglected to explain that the security measures applied by Israel in the West Bank, including the separation barrier, are a necessary response to constant threats posed by terrorist organisations to the lives and safety of Israeli citizens. Between the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000 and the completion of the first part of the barrier in August 2003, Israel was the victim of 73 terrorist attacks which killed 293 Israelis and wounded 1,950.

During 2003, West Bank-based Hamas operatives conducted several suicide bombings, killing 79 Israelis. But, since August 2003, when the first part of the barrier was completed, Israel has had a dramatic reduction in attacks. Between August 2003 and the end of 2006, terrorist organisations based in the West Bank committed 12 attacks, killing 64 Israelis and wounding 445.

Your comparison of the situation in the West Bank to apartheid in South Africa demonstrates the lack of historical context in the article. Israel's security measures are a necessary response to the unique terror threats it faces, and do not arise from any theory of racial segregation.

By comparing the establishment of Israel to a colonial enterprise, the historic Jewish connection to the land of Israel is eradicated, and the legitimacy of Israel's existence is negated.

Lior Ben-Dor

Embassy of Israel, London w8

Thankfully there's a response in today's Indie:
Israel adopted 'security' spin about the West Bank barrier

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Lior Ben-Dor (letters, 22 July) tries to rebuff comparisons between his country's policies with apartheid by repeating "security" spin about the West Bank barrier.

This illegal structure was rebranded as a security measure only when the Israeli government announced its construction to the world; prior to that it was always referred to in Israeli political circles as the "separation barrier".

It was designed by a demographer named Arnon Sofer who persuaded Ariel Sharon et al that the Palestinians posed a "demographic threat" and the Jewish state needed to "disengage" from them in case one day they call for a single democratic state: nothing to do with "security". Shimon Peres then said: "The line is following a certain vision of the future. When that happens, it stops being a security fence and becomes a political fence. Nobody will admit that it is being built for these [political] reasons; nobody will admit that it is a political line."

Ben-Dor makes no attempt to explain Israel's ever-expanding, illegal, Jewish-only settlements and roads that have cut the occupied territories into ethno/religious specific enclaves, or why Israel subcontracts sovereignty over land under its control to the key Zionist institutions of the Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund whose constitutions explicitly discriminate against non-Jewish use of the land. The consequence of this is Israeli Arabs being forced to reside on less than 8 per cent of the country of which they are supposed to be citizens.

Until the Israeli government can explain these policies, then comparisons between "the Jewish state" in Palestine and apartheid remain well-founded. But since Israel has refused to join the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1973, I will not hold my breath.

Alex Hogg

London W10

See that about the Israeli Arab "citizens" being confined to 8% of the surface area of Israel because of Israel's land laws? Apparently it's about 3% because they are barred from about 92% and about 5% is uninhabitable but wait for tomorrow's zionist nitpick about how Jews can petition the Supreme Court if they want to live in Golders Green. What? Did I just say that Jews can apply to the Supreme Court if they want to live in Golders Green? What a silly thing to say. That would be an outrage if Jews had to apply to a Supreme Court in order to be able to live in a part of the the UK where anyone else can live regardless of ethno-religious or racial background. I meant, wait for the zionist nitpicking letter in tomorrow's Independent, where some bright spark points out Arabs can apply to Israel's Supreme Court if they want to live in an otherwise Arabrein area. Sorry about that little slip.

July 21, 2008

Purity of Arms

Anyone who has any information that would lead to the capture and prosecution of the following criminals in a real court (i.e. not an Israeli theater production), please share:

1. Wanted for shooting a blindfolded prisoner

2. Wanted for cover-up, failure to report a crime, and as material witnesses:

3. Wanted for command responsibility:

For more information, read the B'ilin report and see the video below:

Denying the nakba?

I know, it's one of those question marks again. Last week, actually the week before last, that is the Friday before the one just gone, Alex Brummer (Finance Editor of the Daily Mail and Media Editor of the Jewish Chronicle) lamented the fact that histories of how Israel was actually set up by way of colonial settlement and ethnic cleansing are finding their way into the maintream media.
much of the British media has bought into the narrative of “Nakba” or catastrophe — the idea that Israel’s creation was at the expense of the Palestinians. Some 44 per cent of the articles contained this message, and the figure rises to 54 per cent when just the broadsheets are examined. What is extraordinary is that if one turned the clock back a decade to Israel’s more significant 50th birthday, the idea of the “Nakba” barely registered. This [is] an indication of how well the Palestinians (with help from Israeli revisionist historians) have done in the intervening period.
It's curious that he doesn't give examples of the way in which the nakba is mentioned in the media. His objection is clearly to the fact that there is any mention of it at all.

Just recently there have been more complaints than usual of the JC's unwillingness to publish criticisms, rights of reply and even corrections of falsehoods but Chris Doyle of the Council for the Advancement of Arab British Understanding managed to get his letter published (but not on line as far as I can tell) as follows:
According to Alex Brummer, one report suggests that 44 per cent of articles state that Israel's creation was at the expense of the Palestinians. This hardly constitutes a nakba narrative that rules. The question that needs to be asked is why only 44 per cent? Just where does Brummer think Palestinians came from, outer space? Israel is built on huge swathes of lands whose rightful owners are Palestinian refugees. Israel's gain was undeniably at their expense.
But Brummer together with the overwhelming majority of JC writers on the subject do deny it. Are they lying?

I used the question mark in the headline because Alex Brummer does not quite deny the nakba. His beef is that he doesn't want it reported on. Let's look at a report from the Financial Times that Brummer in his piece in the JC on 2nd May this year approves of:
Meanwhile, the Financial Times’s Jerusalem correspondent Tobias Buck chose to see Israel’s 60th through the eyes of Asher Gore, then a young diplomat present in the UN chamber when it voted in November 1947 to divide the territory between Jews and Arabs.

“The real achievement was not the vote but the war of 1948 in which Israel defeated an invasion by multiple Arab armies.” The FT’s information box felt no need to refer to the Nakba. It noted factually that “Israel defeated its attackers, 700,000 Palestinians fled Israeli-controlled territory.”
There, you see, no mention of cause or effect. That Israel won is factual enough. That the Arab states only mobilised after the zionists had driven 200,000 to 300,000 Arabs from their homes and they had expanded the territory the UN had assigned to them is also factual. And the fact that the "Asher Gore, then a young diplomat" was actually an Israeli diplomat is relevant too. And the words "attackers" and "invasion" are misnomers when applied to the Arab states.

The fact that Alex Brummer is rattled by the mere mention of the nakba is good news and he is right. Things are better now in terms of relevant facts on Palestine slipping through the net of pro-zionist editorial control and censorship than they were ten years ago. In that respect, only the Jewish Chronicle appears to be bucking the trend.

July 20, 2008

The Drakula Times

Where is Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Please, can someone call her?

Rumor has it that a nest of vampires took over the Times building in midtown manhatten. The Times editors reportedly go to their daily meetings with mugs of tepid blood in their hands. And all the mirrors have been removed from the bathrooms. To keep their supply of fresh beverage flowing, the editors have been for years justifying the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Thomas Friedman used to do most of the heavy lifting with unforgettable catchy phrases such as 'give war a chance.' But Judith Miller and other minor vampires also sunk their teeth in targets of opportunity.

Demand for fresh blood is apparently growing. Because there is a new master vampire at the Times, one for whom justifying the murder of hundreds of thousands is just too unimpressive a feat.

Meet Benny Morris, the Israeli historian who believes that the only wrong thing about the Palestinian Nakba is that the ethnic cleansing wasn't thorough enough. Not incidentally, Morris also believes that the genocide of native-Americans was a good thing. Benny the Vampire has other fascinating beliefs, including that the essence of history is the movement of troops across battlefields, that honesty is a liability, that people of different identities who live intermingled are "mindless," and that Ariel Sharon will be remembered for his contributions to peace. Can there be a better fit for the op-ed page of the U.S. leading newspapers?

So Friday Morris graced the Times with his explanation of why Israel probably must and will attack Iran with nuclear weapons.

ISRAEL will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country’s nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb. ( the Times, July 18th 2008)

As you'd expect from Morris, the argument rests on a) a lie, and b) a racist, orientalist (and of course false) image of Iran. (so two lies actually, one white lie, and one White lie)

The white lie is that..
Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran will reach the “point of no return” in acquiring the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in one to four years.
That is a white lie because according to the public National Intelligence Estimate Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon.

And the White lie is that...
Given the fundamentalist, self-sacrificial mindset of the mullahs who run Iran, Israel knows that deterrence may not work as well as it did with the comparatively rational men who ran the Kremlin and White House during the cold war.

This is the crudest Orientalist manure, but it is 'fit to print' in the Times.

It is frightening to think that Benny Morris considers both himself and Israel's leaders to be rational people, and that using nuclear weapons is the kind of thing rational people would do. If that be reason, let us all pray for insanity.

That the Times would print lies is unremarkable. They do it all the time, intentionally and methodically. But there are lies and then there are lies. If the Times editors had an ounce of humanity in them, they would have never published an op-ed that justifies vaporising millions of people in order to maintain U.S. global and Israeli regional dominance.

They would have instead editorialized that whichever county uses nuclear weapons, they would commit to do everything in their power to bring everyone involved--from the head of state to the fueling mechanic--to face the maximum penalty at the Hague.

This is what the Times editors would have published had they been human.

But they are not. They are vampires. And they are thirsty.

July 18, 2008

How to make the case for Israel and win

To the benefit of the many not-very-bright zionist wannabe apologists who read this blog assiduously, I decided to offer a clear and simple method of arguing the case for Israel. This clear and simple method has been distilled from a life spent listening to and reading Zionist propaganda. It is easy to follow and results are guaranteed or your money back.

So don't hesitate! Take advantage NOW of this revolutionary rhetorical system that will make YOU a great apologist for Israel in less time than it takes to shoot a Palestinian toddler in the eye.

Ready? 1..2..3..GO!

You need to understand just one principle:

The case for Israel is made of four propositions that should always be presented in the correct escalating order.

  1. We rock
  2. They suck
  3. You suck
  4. Everything sucks

That's it. Now you know everything that it took me a lifetime to learn. The rest is details; filling in the dotted lines.

You begin by saying how great Israel is. Israel want peace; Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East; the desert blooms; kibutz; Israelis invented antibiotics, the wheel, the E minor scale; thanks to the occupation Palestinians no longer live in caves; Israel liberates Arab women; Israel has the most moral army in the world, etc.

This will win over 50% of your listeners immediately. Don't worry about the factual content. This is about brand identity, not writing a PhD. Do you really think BP is 'beyond petroleum'?

Then you go into the second point: They suck. Here you talk about the legal system of Saudi Arabia, gay rights in Iran, slave trade in the Sudan, Mohammad Atta, the burqa, Palestinians dancing after 9/11, Arafat's facial hair, etc.

There is only one additional principle you need to understand here. It will separate you from the amateurs. You need to know your audience. If you've got a crowd already disposed to racist logic, go for it with everything you have. But if you get a liberal crowd, you need to sugar coat the racism a bit. Focus on women rights, human rights, religious tolerance, "clash of civilizations", terrorism, they teach their children to hate, etc. Deep down your audience WANTS to enjoy racism and feel superior. They just need the proper encouragement so they can keep their sophisticated self-image. Give them what they crave and they'll adore you! But be careful not to 'mix n match,' because it will cost you credibility.

When you're done, there will always be dead-enders insisting that abuse of gays in Iran does not justify ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Take a deep breath, and pull the doomsday weapon: You suck!

You're a Jew-hater, Arab-lover, anti-Semite, you're a pinko, a commie, a dreamer, a naive, a self-hater, you have issues, your mother worked for the Nazis, Prince Bandar buys you cookies, you forgot you were responsible for the holocaust, etc. The more the merrier. By the time you end this barrage, only a handful would be left standing. For mopping them up, you use the ultimate postmodern wisdom: Everything sucks.

War, genocide, racism, oppression are everywhere. From the Roma in Italy to the Native-Americans in the U.S., the weak are victimized. Why pick on Israel? It's the way of the world. Look! Right is only in question between equals in power; the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. Ethics, schmethics. Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Eat, drink! Carpe diem! The Palestinians would throw us into the sea if they could. Ha ha!

Trust me, that's as far as words can go. If you followed this method faithfully, you've done your work. You should leave the few who are still unconvinced to the forces of order.

You are now ready to
apologize for Israel like a pro.

July 17, 2008

Israel plays the card card

You know how Israel and its supporters are always playing some card or other. You know, for the establishment of Israel itself by way of an ethnic cleansing campaign there's the holocaust card, for any criticism of Israel, there's the antisemitism card, for the killing of children there's the blood libel card, for boycott, divestment and sanctions there's the nazi boycott of Jewish shops card and so on. Well, now they're playing the card card. How so? Well, according to the Guardian, an Israeli agent saw a card he didn't like and had it removed from the shop because it contained this picture on one side:

And this poem by Michael Rosen on the other:

JOLLY ROGER - Disappearing Palestine


A family arrived and said they had papers
to prove that his house was theirs,
-No, no said the man, my people have always lived here
My father, grandfather -and look in the garden,
my great grandfather planted that.
-No, no said the family, look at the documents.
There was a stack of them
-Where do I start? said the man,
-No need to read the beginning they said,
Turn to the page marked 'Promised Land'.
-Are they legal? he said, who wrote them?
-God, they said, God wrote them, look,
here come His tanks.

Michael Rosen.

Or maybe the text and pic were on the same side. We might find out soon as you'll see from the Guardian's Hugh Muir today:
Hardly seems a perilous sort of life to run a greetings card shop, so pity the poor folk at Scribblers, "London's favourite card shops", as they seek to extricate themselves from a row over poetry and disputed territory in the Middle East. They might blame the officials who added to the stock a postcard bearing a poem by Michael Rosen, and a series of quotations, about the displacement of Palestinians. Or the official from the Israeli embassy in London who saw it and called the shop's head office complaining that it was inaccurate, offensive and too political to be sold alongside funny cartoons of George Bush. The card has been withdrawn from sale there, which satisfies the embassy official and takes the pressure off Scribblers, but now Rosen is annoyed at the manner of the official's intervention. So is John Hall, who produced the product and is threatening to reprint it bearing the slogan: "The card they tried to ban".
It's true about Michael Rosen's annoyance here. He's going to run the whole business by his MP and ask if agents of foreign powers can simply make demands of private citizens in the UK like that. Bearing in mind Israel was simply allowed to kidnap Mordechai Vanunu without so much as a murmur, I don't see the government complaining to Israel over a boycott of Jewish poets, woops, I mean pressuring a shop to remove criticism of Israel from its shelves. But it's a long time since I linked to Hansard (transcript of parliamentary discussions in the UK), so a treat in store if the MP asks the PM "what the....?"

Meanwhile, complaining scribblers can scribble to Scribblers at enquiries@scribbler.co.uk or info@scribbler.co.uk or, for "Complaints, feedback, suggestions", talk@scribbler.co.uk .

Dancing with racists

Alvin Ailey Dance Company went to Israel this last month, ignoring the Palestinian Boycott call. Sad as it is, the full ironies of this story are even sadder.

The dance company, founded in 1958, was Ailey's response to his own experience of white racism in the U.S. and Ailey's work has always been politically conscious. As Ailey said "If you live in the elite world of dance, you find yourself in a world rife with racism." But part of the contradictions of struggling against racism through cultural work is that success requires accommodations and finding ways to both challenge and serve racism at the same time. Ailey's company was for example one of the first group that toured South East on State Department funds, placing its black identity at the service of U.S. imperialism in the very beginning of the U.S. engagement in Vietnam. It would be surprising if Ailey's early death, his mental illness and self-medication were unconnected with the stress of dealing with racism and succeeding under its terms.

As if to answer the unvoiced (or at least unreported) question "why dance here?" Judith Jamison, Alvey's successor at the helm, told the Israeli press:

"We are artists and will always be in your face, no matter what....We are here to irritate you, to change your mind and make you think." (Haaretz, Sept. 17, 2008)

Unfortunately, it is not true. The reason why the dance company is in Israel is because it pays. The transaction goes like this. The spectators pay the artist for mild provocations that make them "think," i.e. consider universal problems such as mortality, love, and even racism, in "complex" and "irresolvable" way. The artist provides the audience an affirmation of the latter's class and cultural superiority which is evident in their enlightened willingness to be so irritated, all the while allowing them not to think about all these "problems" whose solution might require real sacrifice from them. Problems such as....the apartheid system that pays for these refined pleasures in Tel Aviv.

There are of course opportunities for artists to break the limits of these transactions. But these require some more serious thought than Jamison is ready to consider. What, for example, would it mean to make the audience think, when the audience is composed of those most benefiting from Israeli Apartheid? Surely, in order to change someone's mind one needs at least a specific content. How can you change someone's mind when you can't even express what it is that you want the other to understand? If she were serious, Jamison could have for example told the audience she'll dance for them when half of the people in the hall would be Palestinians from Nablus and Dheishe. Alas, that would provoke the kind of irritating thinking that audiences refuse to pay for.

In a final twist of irony, a dancer from the company with a Muslim name was taken aside while checking to fly out of Ben-Gurion Airport. The security personnel asked the dancer to dance for them to prove his story. One could say that the dancer was asked to prove that his or her professional identity as a dancer really took precedence over the ethno/religious affiliation reflected in the name and skin color. Had the security officer belonged to the same social class as Tel Aviv's dance afficionados, that extra dance at the Airport would have been superfluous.

A word on Samir Kuntar

Samir Quntar, a Lebanese Druze, left Israel's dungeon today after three decades of imprisonment. He rejoins his family and, based on his words, the resistance. He is now being feted as a Lebanese hero. Kuntar is a Druze who joined the Palestinian resistance as a teenager and has been now ransomed by the Shite resistance. With his release, Hizbullah celebrates the final humiliation of Israel after the 2006 defeat. It's a well deserved celebration. Let us soon see Israel's other 11,000 (yes, that is eleven thousands) political prisoners free!

Ynet chose to quote another Druze (wonder why?) who thinks otherwise, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee said:

"The large celebration in honor of the despicable murderer Kuntar is a shame to the Lebanese people, whose leaders choose to celebrate the release of a man who prides himself on smashing the skull of four-year-old Einat Haran," (Ynet July 16th, 2008)

According to the Western press, Samir Quntar is a monster who shot a hostage in the back and then smashed the skull of his 4 year old daughter. This is the account on the basis of which Quntar was sentenced to multiple life sentences. Check google and you'll see that 99% of news and blogs take this account as fact. Why bother with checking facts when the issue is an Arab accused of killing a child?

Now, if Quntar did what he was accused of, then he is no doubt a monster. But did he? The facts leave ample room for doubts. Quntar maintains he did not kill either of his two alleged victims. How much value should one place on his word? I'm not sure, but had Quntar been so consumed with hatred as to smash the skull of a child, would he then care to deny it? That sound to me somewhat unlikely. And Quntar had nothing material to gain from his denial. He also killed a police officer, which he didn't deny, and for which he would have been given a life sentence anyway. Furthermore, Quntar maintained his version even in private.

According to Quntar's version, his mission was to take hostages, not to kill people. This is credible since that was the modus operandi of the Palestinian guerilla at the time. The whole trial, amazingly, was sealed and the records kept "top secret". Only now parts of the file have been made public. The record shows he was convicted on the say so of the security forces who botched the mission to rescue the hostages.

However, in court, prosecution witness no. 4 testified that he saw Danny Haran stand up and shout, "Cease your fire, don't shoot. My little girl is here." Immediately thereafter he saw Danny shot by Kuntar. Testimony was also given in court by a doctor who ruled that Einat's death had been caused by a direct blow with a blunt instrument, something like a stick or a rifle butt.

"Kuntar went over to Einat Haran and hit her head twice with the butt of his rifle, with the intent of killing her," wrote the judges in their verdict. "The other defendant also struck her head forcefully."

Why no mention of forensic evidence regarding the distance from which Danny Haran was shot? And why would Quntar, under fire, for whom the hostages represent his best chance to survive, kill them? And how did BOTH he AND his mate find the time, while police was closing in upon him with guns ablaze, to hit the girl repeatedly, and in few view of the police? And finally why were the police shooting in the direction of Quntar, knowing that he had or might have had hostages with him?

In the end, it comes down to Kuntar's word against the word of unidentified police officers and a physician who works for the Israeli government. Quntar seems to have had no reason to lie. The police who botched their mission and might have been responsible for the death of the hostages did have a reason to lie. He was then convicted in an Israeli kangaroo court that makes the Guantanamo justice system look good in comparison, and the whole trial was so convincing that it was made "top secret."

This looks so far as a tale spun out of facile assumptions, potential lies, and blatant lies--and of course the willful credulity of journalists and commentators. For example, where does the Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel take the nostrum that Quntar "prides himself on smashing the skull of four-year-old Einat Haran"? Whbee can stick his tongue anywhere he pleases, but can he at least avoid lies that can be disproved in two minutes of surfing?

I don't know what happened on the beach that day. Perhaps Quntar did all that is attributed to him. Or perhaps the two victims were killed by "friendly" fire. I'll believe it either way when the evidence is stronger than the say-so of Israel's racist, corrupt and cavalier court system.

Whatever Quntar did however, Israel has no moral authority to judge him. Killing children is effectively legal in Israel as long as the child is Palestinian.

Take Imam al-Hams, for example, who took 17 (seventeen) bullets to her tiny body AFTER soldiers identified her on the radio as a ten year old girl. Her killer, who shot her from two feet away when she was lying on the ground, was cleared of all wrongdoing by an Israeli military court.

Or take the 948 Palestinian children killed by official state policy in the last eight years. There must be monsters all around in Israel. And what about the air-force pilots who dropped bombs on civilian targets in Lebanon two years ago? What about the pilot who dropped a bomb in Qana, killing dozens of children for example? Why isn't he and his commanding officer in jail with a 5760 years sentence?

By all means, Israel should be tough on child murderers. A good place to start is with the "culture of impunity" of its officers and pilots. Then we can talk about Samir Quntar.


Father Ted, who often ministers to the lost sheep that stray into our comment section, recalls the case of Hilmi Susha:

The Jerusalem District Court sentenced Nahum Korman, 36, to six months of community service and a 70,000 shekels ($17,500) fine for the killing of Hilmi Shusha, 11, in the West Bank in October 1996.

...The prosecution contended that Korman beat and kicked the child, knocked him down, put his foot on the boy's neck and struck him with a pistol. The boy suffered a head injury and a fractured spinal cord and died the next day in a hospital (CNN, January 22, 2001)

Unlike Kuntar, there is no doubt that Korman did kill Shusha and did get not only a fair trial but an exquisitely friendly trial. But CNN insists on describing what happened as 'the prosecution contends..' What Kuntar is alleged to have done is rarely attributed to the prosecution, even though the likelihood of a Palestinian guerrilla fighter getting a fair trial in racist Israel is pretty low.

July 16, 2008

Comments are back

I don't know how long it will last but the comments appear to be back for now.

So comment!

No comments or A funny thing happened on the way to the forum

Spooky stuff this. Regulars or even irregulars may have noticed that the comments are not appearing under the posts. Even if you click on a "recent comment" you won't be taken to where the comment appears in full. I don't see any comments "pending moderation" but then I may not have received any. I tried a test comment of my own but my own comments don't go to pending moderation. I simply said "issue here" and it now appears in the recent comments. So, I went to haloscan, which is my comment facility provider and tried to go to the forum to see if others were having the same problem. And this is where it gets spooky. I clicked on "forum" on the comment management page. The url for the forum once you've logged in is http://www.haloscan.com/forum/ and that's what appears when I hover my mouse over the word "forum". But when I click on the button it takes me to this url:
or in tinyurl: http://tinyurl.com/6e3goj
Not quite the same now, is it? And I get a page that looks something like this:

Warning - visiting this web-site may harm your computer! - the page that you are about to visit may be a web forgery!

You can learn more about malware and how to protect yourself at StopBadware.org. This page is very likely to have been designed to trick users into sharing personal or financial information. Entering any personal information on this page may result in identity theft or other fraud.

You can read more about phishing here antiphishing.org.

Or you can continue to http://www.haloscan.com/forum/ at your own risk.

You can also turn off safe browsing warnings by going to Google Desktop preferences.

Would you like to help make the web safer by always sending information to Google about sites with suspicious links?

Advisory provided byGoogle Desktop

On further investigation it appears that this warning has been up since 13th July, ie for three days now and yet taking the plunge and going to the forum pages, no one is talking about it.

Anyway, the main point for the would be commenter is that you can't see the comments at the minute. The point on the side was that it gave me an excuse to run the headline, A funny thing happened on the way to the forum and it did!

July 15, 2008

The settlements: a Labour zionist enterprise

I suppose it's yet another abuse of the language to describe zionism as a secular movement but it wasn't, at the founding of the World Zionist Organisation, a religious movement. In the absence of a humanist case for Israel, religious, together with insular "it's good for Jews", arguments have come to the fore. Also religious zionists have posed as the champions of zionism's hardest line whilst non-religious, mostly Labour, zionists have been happy and hypocritical to allow them to. I mention all this because I have just stumbled on this timely reminder by Gershon Gorenberg that just as zionism was not a religious movement at its formal inception, the expanded settlement enterprise wasn't either. I found this just now on the Occupation (Kibush) Magazine site, though it's actually from Ha'aretz.

Titled The collapse began today it should really be titled Israel's collapse begins tomorrow. Let's see:
It was one of the most important and largely forgotten milestones in the history of the state: Forty-one years ago tomorrow, on July 16, 1967, a young kibbutznik got out of his jeep at Aalleiqa, an abandoned Syrian army base on the Golan Heights, and became the first settler in the occupied territories. Only five weeks separated the end of the battles of the Six-Day War and his arrival. In the days that followed he was joined by more young people. They founded the kibbutz now known as Merom Golan, near the separation-of-forces line with Syria, not far from Quneitra.

They did not wear skullcaps and they did not speak of the imminent Redemption. Secular kibbutz members from the Upper Galilee were behind the settlement initiative. They believed that the "Syrian Heights" must remain in Israeli hands for reasons of security, and that the best way to guarantee this was by creating facts on the ground in the tradition of Labor Zionism. Their "rabbi" and teacher was Yitzhak Tabenkin, the octagenarian ideologue of the Ahdut Ha'avodah (Unity of Labor) party, who supported the vision of a Greater Israel whose borders extended far beyond those of Mandatory Palestine.

Their initiative contravened government policy. On June 19, 1967, in a secret decision, the government of Levi Eshkol offered Syria "full peace on the basis of the international border," with adjustments for Israeli security needs. Nonetheless, labor minister Yigal Allon allocated funds to the settlers from a budget earmarked for work budgets for the unemployed. The head of Israel Defense Forces' Northern Command, Gen. David Elazar, also helped the settlers, as did the Jewish Agency and the Upper Galilee Regional Council. A prologue could be written to the Talia Sasson report on the establishment of the "unauthorized" West Bank outposts that describes the settlement initiative in the Golan Heights in the summer of 1967. At the end of that summer, the cabinet approved the settlers' presence.

Thus the settlement enterprise did not begin with the confrontation between Gush Emunim and the government of Yitzhak Rabin at Sebastia in 1975, at the Park Hotel in Hebron on Passover in 1968, or even at Kfar Etzion in September 1967. It did, however, begin with the belief that settlement would determine the state's future borders, following the example of Zionist pioneers before the establishment of the state.
This piece seems to be calling into question not just the settlements beyond the 67 boundary but within them as well. That goes to the heart of the question of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Fair play but that wouldn't be compatible with the fear that the same writer seems to be expressing when the zionist right invokes the right to return to the far more recent site of a Jewish presence in Palestine, Hebron, than the mainstream movement relies on to push its "case" for Israel. That's another story you can read here on Gershon Gorenberg's own blog.

UPDATE 01:05 16/7/2008: Deborah Maccoby says that my take on the article is wrong and that what the guy is actually saying is that the early pre-state settlements were ok but that the settlements in the territories that became occupied in 1967 is wrong. You'd better read what she says because I think she must be right but I also think that it's not just me that's confused. I think that Mr Gorenberg is confused as well but please look at Deborah's comment. and the southjerusalem.com blog.

July 14, 2008

Israel's war on widows and orphans

Well what's the point of making women widows and children orphans if you're not going to torment the widows and orphans too? After all, a Palestinian hath not feelings like a Jew so being a widow or an orphan isn't hardship enough where Israel and its great Jewish public is concerned. That's Gideon Levy's take in Ha'aretz anyway:
Here is the "next thing" in the war against terror: the war against hairdressers. After Hamas took over half the Palestinian people, in no small measure because of Israel's policies, after we tried to fight Hamas with weapons and siege, destruction and killing, mass arrests and deportations, the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service have invented something new: a war on shopping malls, bakeries, schools and orphanages. First in Hebron, now in Nablus. The IDF is closing beauty salons, clothing stores and clinics, and even one dairy farm, all on the pretext that they are connected to Hamas, or the rent they pay is given to a terror organization.

These bizarre pictures of a closure order issued by the general of command, stuck on the window of a cosmetics store or a physiotherapy center, of a confiscation order stuck to a pita oven, show that the Israeli occupation has gone crazy. A few months ago I visited the charity institutions and commercial centers the IDF has begun closing in Hebron; I saw infuriatingly absurd scenes. A modern school, intended for 1,200 students, standing closed on orders of the GOC, and a library for young people about to shut.

Thus the occupation proves once again that there is no place in Palestinians' lives that it cannot reach, and that it has no boundaries: An army that closes a school, library, bakery and boarding school; soldiers who raid a licensed commercial television station, confiscating its equipment and threatening its closure, as happened recently at the Afaq TV station in Nablus.

In Israel no voices were raised in protest, of course, either against the closing of the school or the closing of the TV station. According to the Israeli train of thought, if we close a bakery making bagels for orphans, Hamas' power will weaken; if we throw hundreds of needy children into the streets from their boarding school, they and their relatives will become sympathetic to Israel; if we close a crowded shopping mall, its irate owners and customers will become Fatah supporters.

The Israeli occupation has not been seen for a long time in such a ludicrous and inhumane light as in these closure and confiscation operations ordered by GOC Central Command Gadi Shamni, the general of onions and garlic, to judge by the produce his soldiers confiscated from the Hebron food warehouses. Illegal, certainly immoral, but no less shortsighted, these operations broadcast a message loud and clear: The occupation has lost all moral inhibitions and any shred of wisdom. How wretched is an army that empties storerooms of food and clothing for the needy, how ridiculous that the GOC signs orders to close hairdressing salons, how pathetic is a military raid on bakeries and how cruel is an occupation that shuts down clinics on any pretext.
Hamas has entered the vacuum created in the West Bank and Gaza. Like any religious movement, it sprouted in the soil of distress and poverty. Now Israel comes along and says let's make the poverty and distress even worse. Why? To fight Hamas. There is nothing more absurd. Tens of thousands of poor children in the West Bank have nowhere to turn to aside from the Islamic charities that Israel suspects of being linked to Hamas, although many were established long before the organization was born. Israel stopped seeing to the population's welfare under the occupation, despite its obligation under international law, and the Palestinian Authority is also not showing any special interest in social and economic needs. Fatah has always devoted more resources to military camps, guns and official cars than to orphanages, hospital beds and dialysis machines.

This is the vacuum the Islamic Movement is filling, offering an impressive level of services. The orphanage I visited in Hebron is one of the most beautiful and well-cared for I have seen. It takes quite a bit of cruelty to threaten its closure, quite a bit of audacity to argue that doing so will serve the war on terror, and quite a bit of stupidity to think that such a measure will help. The closing of stores and malls will only land another blow on the Palestinian economy, which even now is struggling to hold up under conditions of quarantine. Has Israel learned nothing from the failure of the siege on Gaza?

Anyone who visits the charity institutions would see that not all the money flowing to these organizations is earmarked for buying suicide belts and explosives. The West Bank's residents cannot be simultaneously imprisoned, prohibited from earning a living and offered no social-welfare assistance while we strike at those who are trying to do so, whatever their motives. If Israel wants to fight the charitable associations, it must at least offer alternative services. On whose back are we fighting terror? Widows? Orphans? It's shameful.
Shameful? Is that it? Gideon Levy's at a loss for words. We'll have to look around for comparisons. Any takers?

July 12, 2008

Schmattes matter

I went to a meeting of the International Jewish Solidarity Network last night. Among other speakers was this Egyptian journalist, Hossam el-Hamalawy, giving a speech very similar to this one:

There were a couple of people filming the proceedings so hopefully they'll end up on line. The reason for the title here is that his story of the women in the rag trade (schmatte business) had the capacity crowd at a Camden venue every bit as in thrall as his telling of it in the clip above.

July 11, 2008

War in Lebanon off the proverbial table

Israel's defense establishment estimates that Hizbullah has succesfully rearmed after the 2006 war.

Barak said at Labor's faction meeting Thursday that Resolution 1701 is gradually being eroded and Hezbollah "has doubled and perhaps tripled the quantity of its missiles." ...... On Wednesday, members of the security cabinet were told Hezbollah has an arsenal of 40,000 rockets ready to be fired at Israel, three times more than at the start of the Second Lebanon War. (Haaretz, July 11th, 2008)

Take into consideration the significant gains in Hizbullah's political fortunes and 2006 is shaping to be Israel's most complete defeat. The most damaging aspect of the defeat for Israel is that the war was a setback for Western colonialism as a whole. The military junta is itching for an opportunity to erase the shame of that fiasco. But it would be very difficult to find politicians as suicidal as Olmert and Peretz were at the time. Israeli politicians may not be big on foresight, but their hindsight is still 20/20. I believe war in South Lebanon is off the table for a while. Bless all the brave and hard working folks who take part in the smuggling of arms into Lebanon.

Trust Israel to whine about non-compliance with this or that Security Council resolution.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak Thursday warned of the repercussions of the weapons smuggling, which he said are in violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 that led to the ending of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.

Because Israel is such a stickler for international law.

Haaretz has this from Olmert:
"Everybody knows that Nasrallah is afraid confronting Israel," the premier told the Nazareth-based Arabic language newspaper A-Sinara. "He's scared to death."....Olmert said one important outcome of the war is the removal of the threat of rocket fire from southern Lebanon against the towns of the Galilee.
In the name of mercy, hold your chuckles!

We call Israel an Apartheid State because we are trying to be polite

A delegation of ANC veterans from South Africa visited Palestine. Gideon Levy quotes:

....editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times of South Africa, Mondli Makhanya, 38. "When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. In a certain sense, it is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of the apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of

"The apartheid regime viewed the blacks as inferior; I do not think the Israelis see the Palestinians as human beings at all. How can a human brain engineer this total separation, the separate roads, the checkpoints? What we went through was terrible, terrible, terrible - and yet there is no comparison. Here it is more terrible. We also knew that it would end one day; here there is no end in sight. The end of the tunnel is blacker than black.

"Under apartheid, whites and blacks met in certain places. The Israelis and the Palestinians do not meet any longer at all. The separation is total. It seems to me that the Israelis would like the Palestinians to disappear. There was never anything like that in our case. The whites did not want the blacks to disappear. I saw the settlers in Silwan [in East Jerusalem] - people who want to expel other people from their place." (Gideon Levy, Haaretz, July 10, 2008 , my emphasis)

The reason I emphasized certain sentences is to make it easy for the Blood Libel Smear Brigade. Come on! Call it a blood libel! Make my day!

July 09, 2008

Investment in education in Israel pays off

Percentage of Israeli Jews who openly admit to a pollster that they

  • believe the marriage of a Jewish woman to an Arab man is national treason......over 50%
  • disapprove of shared apartment buildings for Arabs and Jews.....................................75%
  • would not allow an Arab to visit their home.......................................................................60%
  • believe that Arabs should not be allowed to vote............................................................40%
  • believe that the state should encourage its Arab citizens to immigrate away.......over 50%
  • would not want to work under the direct management of an Arab..........................over 50%
  • want separate wings for Arabs and Jews in entertainment sites....................................55%
  • feel hatred when they hear Arabic spoken........................................................................31%
  • feel fear when they hear Arabic spoken............................................................................50%
  • believe Arabs pose a security and demographic threat..........................................over 56%
  • believe Arab culture is inferior....................................................................................over 37%

According to survey contacted by the Center Against Racism in Israel, reported by Ynet.

Israelis to Snoop Dogg: boycott our country

From a groups of concerned Israelis, Israeli Citizens For Boycotting Israel. This letter is in support of PACBI's call, “Snoop Dogg: 'Make it Good' and do not perform in Israel!"


Snoop Dogg (Aka Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr)

Dear Snoop

We will not be able to attend your upcoming show in Tel Aviv this September. A group of us, Israeli citizens who support the Palestinian Boycott campaign on Israel and enjoy your music for so many years now, will just not be there. we look up to your musical achievements and some of us are devoted fans who have been following your inspirational artistic career for some time now. It has been an enjoyable period for us as for many others who are inspired by your strong sense of political justice, and acknowledgment of the dangerous racist powers to be. Oh, and we digged the tunes too.

We owe you a lot, for allowing us to take part in the Snoop Dogg state of mind, as perfected in your words and sounds, through so many albums and shows. we also owe you some crucial advice regarding your upcoming performance in Israel. Our advice and request is that you cancel the upcoming show in protest of the ongoing war crimes committed on a daily basis by Israel against The Palestinian people inside Israel, in the West Bank, and in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has been practicing in a racist colonial frenzy for more than 60 years now, and continues to be a racist state, composed of Apartheid like laws and customs. Like Latin and African communities in the U.S, the Palestinians who reside in Israel suffer constant and systematic discrimination. There are thousands of Palestinian Rodney Kings, many of them are jailed in Guantanamo style prisons, for unlimited time periods, under inhumane conditions. Furthermore, unlike the American brand of racism, Israel is formally committed to the position that it is the Jewish state which strives to maintain Jewish domination. Consequently non Jewish citizens (to say nothing of non citizens in the occupied territories) are systematically discriminated against and denied the rights reserved to Jews. This ranges across all aspects of political and social life, from immigration to urban planning to the educational system.

Your arrival to Israel would mean a slap in the face to the Palestinian struggle for freedom and sovereignty. It would also be a slap in the face for us, Israeli citizens who object the immoral deeds done in our names, with our taxes money. As much as we would like to see you perform in Israel, as activists for human rights we feel that we must put our preferences aside in solidarity with those whom our people have been oppressing for the last 60 years.

We are truly sorry we won't be able to attend your concert in Israel. We do think that if eventually you do come here you need to see what is going on here, and will be glad to assist in organizing an eye opening tour of Palestine for you and for the additional musicians and helpers coming with you.

Boycotting Israel is the only sane option we have left to overthrow the bloodthirsty war criminals that run our country. We believe that when artists such as your self stand up and refuse to perform in Israel as long as its violent regime rules the destinies of millions of oppressed indigenous people, it sends a clear message to the Israeli government and its citizens, a message of zero tolerance towards racism and apartheid.

Lastly, as we understand your show is already booked, you might wonder what you can do at this point. We think that the proper thing to do in this case is to consult with the Palestinian originators of the boycott call at pacbi: http://pacbi.org.We do encourage you however, to consider the fact that a growing mass of international artists have decided recently to avoid from performing in Israel. Among them are Bjork, Bono, The Rolling Stones, and filmmakers such as Jean Luc Godard. Hundreds of Palestinian intellectuals, artists, and activists back this call for Boycott and we believe you will consider their stand on this crucial matter.

Israeli Citizens For Boycotting Israel