March 31, 2009

Boycott works

According to the Alternative Information Centre the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign is having an impact.
21% of Israeli exporters have been directly affected by the boycott movement since the beginning of 2009. So reports today (29 March) The Marker, a Hebrew-language economic newspaper.

This number is based on a poll of 90 Israeli exporters in fields such as high tech, metals, construction materials, chemistry, textile and foods. The poll was conducted in January-February 2009 by the Israeli Union of Industrialists.

The AIC is working to receive a copy of this poll, and will translated and distribute relevant sections of it in service of the global boycott movement.

Meanwhile, carry on boycotting, you know it makes sense.

Anti-Hamas front starts to crack

Here's Ben White in the Christian Science Monitor on the recent history of boycotting Hamas and the implications of ending the boycott:
March 2009 may come to be seen as a critical month in the ending of the international community's isolation of Hamas. Finally engaging Hamas would spell the end of hypocritical Western policy and bring the peace process in line with the realities of the Middle East.

First, a group of high-level US foreign policy officials, past and present, went public with their recommendation that the Obama administration talk to Hamas. Coincidentally, European politicians who visited Hamas officials in Syria about the same time echoed that view.

Typically, meetings between European lawmakers and Hamas leaders are conducted discretely, if not entirely in secret. Now, the trips have begun to be publicized: In March there were trips by a cross-party group of British and Irish members of parliaments, as well as their counterparts from Greece and Italy.

There was also an open letter to President Obama, published on March 10, and signed by more than 120 experts and academics. The letter urged a change of US policy in the Middle East. Significantly, the signatories advocated an end to the US "fear of Islamist parties coming to power," and also urged prioritizing human rights over supporting the region's autocrats.

But what was the boycott all about anyway?
Originally, the rationale behind isolating Hamas (a social and political movement condemned by many in the West as a terrorist group) was to weaken the organization and force a change in policy vis-a-vis the armed struggle and Israel, while simultaneously supporting the Ramallah-based leadership of Mahmoud Abbas. The international boycott emerged in parallel with the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip that began post-Palestinian parliamentary elections in early 2006. The aim: Punish the civilian population into rethinking their choice, and make a Hamas government untenable.
And did it work?
Hamas is no weaker for the cold-shoulder from diplomats, and, in fact, has been able to use the siege to deflect criticism of its policies in the Gaza Strip. The West Bank "moderates" dominated by Fatah have little to show for their negotiations with Israel; rather, the colonization of the occupied territories continues.
And where did I get that headline?
the anti-Hamas united front is starting to crack. European politicians have been independently visiting Hamas leaders in Syria, and urging a rethink in the position of the so called Quartet of the US, the UN, the EU, and Russia. The appeals to Obama represent this shift in approach, reflective of both how the current policy has failed, and how engaging Hamas will be beneficial.
And now, what time is it?
Ending the isolation of Hamas would strike a blow to hypocritical foreign policy – a small but important step toward changing the way the US and international community relate to Middle East politics. After Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman's success at the polls, Quartet envoy Tony Blair said that "We've got to work with whoever the Israeli people elect"– a courtesy not yet offered to the Palestinians.
I see, time to end the hypocrisy.

Israel's war crimes, case closed

Israel opened an inquiry just the other day into alleged war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead and they closed it yesterday. Here's the Independent:
The Israeli military closed an investigation into two cases of alleged killings of Gaza civilians yesterday, saying there was insufficient evidence and the accounts were based on hearsay.

Israeli soldiers had described the alleged incidents in a closed-door meeting, and their accounts were published by Israeli media earlier this month, prompting a furore in Israel and around the world. One case involved the alleged killing of an elderly woman by a rooftop sniper, and the second described a sniper fatally shooting a mother and two children. However, the Israeli chief army prosecutor, Brig Gen Avichai Mendelblit, said yesterday he would not file charges. He said the soldier who described the killing of the woman and two children told the investigation that he did not witness it. He said other investigations into army conduct during Israel's three-week offensive in Gaza would continue.

until they too are closed for lack of evidence.

March 29, 2009

Not the Financial Times?

Here's my favourite article from a very convincing mock up of the Financial Times dated April 1, 2020:
Anti-Semitism on decline since Israel wiped off map

Anti-Semitic behaviour has dropped off sharply since the new state of Kanaan came into being on 14 May 2018, according to a United Nations study.

The world’s newest independent country, Kanaan incorporates all of the territory formerly known as Israel, as well as the territories that Israel illegally occupied.

Although many feared a Middle Eastern Holocaust after the disuniting of the American states, and despite threats of terrorism by the Provisional Stern Gang and the Ariel Sharon Memorial League, the transition of the highly militarised Jewish state into a modern secular democracy has been remarkably smooth.

Pockets of prejudice persist, the study found, but their influence on popular opinion is now marginal.

Formal recognition of the right of return of all Palestinians forced into exile, and of Jerusalem’s status as an international city, have together had “a significant positive impact” on the incidence of anti-Jewish feeling around the world, the UN researchers say.

Kanaan’s new government stoked controversy last year when it admitted to possession of an arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Successive Israeli administrations had refused to confirm or deny the weapons’ existence, in the interests of maintaining regional stability.

In a wide-ranging series of proclamations, Kanaan also condemned suicide bombings, and issued a formal acknowledgement of the “many crimes and injustices” which took place during Israel’s birth.

It also caused indignation in parts of North America by stating that occurrences recounted in scripture “are not considered an appropriate foundation for national policy in the present day”.
And here's the home page for the Financial Times 2020 website.

March 28, 2009

Some of their best customers are Jews

I've just got home from this café, Café Crema. I went there because there was an article in the Jewish Chronicle saying that the café's boycott of Israeli goods had been a "PR disaster".

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Here's the JC:
A café owner has apologised for displaying a sign declaring “Jews are welcome”, saying it was a bid to allay fears that his boycott of Israeli goods could be interpreted as being antisemitic.

Chris Boddington said he was open about his boycott and support for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign at Café Crema in New Cross, south-east London. But he realised a boycott of Israeli produce could be equated with antisemitism.

The nearby Goldsmiths College owns the café and is Mr Boddington’s landlord. Many customers are Goldsmiths’ students or academics. In an attempt to reassure Jewish customers, Mr Boddington wrote on a blackboard: “We do not use any Israeli products. We are not antisemitic but anti-fascist. Jews are as welcome here as anyone else.”

He admitted it had backfired and constituted a substantial “PR cock-up”.

He said: “I wanted to make it clear we are not antisemitic. But people have taken it as me singling out Jews. I have said sorry. We do not want to exclude anyone. I am also well aware there are plenty of decent Israelis, but I do not believe they will dismantle the settlements and end the occupation.”

David Hirsh, a Goldsmiths’ lecturer and editor of the Engage website, which campaigns against academic boycotts of Israel, said: “Antisemitic ‘cock-ups’ follow the boycott campaign wherever it goes. Not because the boycotters are Jew-haters. But because the campaign to single out Israelis for exclusion is antisemitic.”

I expected to see the place festooned with Palestinobilia but there was nothing on display that could be seen from outside until you got right up close and there was a little postcard in the window advertising an "Evening for Gaza" from last month. Now I was a little disappointed so I popped inside, looked around and I still couldn't see anything suggesting anything about Palestine or Jews unless you count the picture of Bob Dylan on the wall. (Bob Dylan was at one point quite a fanatical zionist, I don't know where he stands on Palestine now.) So I asked the man behind the counter about the café's support for the boycott and about the JC article which it turned out he had read.

I asked him about his "sign" and it wasn't a sign at all. It was a little note in chalk at the bottom of a board that said what was for sale in the café. You could spend your whole time in there and never know where they stood on Palestine. But it was when he was told that some people say that the Israel boycott is antisemitic he put up a notice to say that Jews are as welcome as anyone else and then it was pointed out to him that that really could offend people, which he accepted and changed the note to what it had been before, pretty much. A mistake? Maybe. A PR disaster? Hardly.

I know but he didn't know, that several people have been there already simply because of the reports that started on the blog of a zionist called Bob from Brockley (on March 11, 2009), that went from there to Engage - that is the site which the Jewish Chronicle says "campaigns against academic boycotts of Israel" though it claims to campaign against antisemitism - and from there to the JC. That's a good two weeks now.

Ok, so having his attention drawn to the thing about Jews being as welcome as anyone else, Chris removed the note and said that he was sorry about it. End of story? Well no. See that JC report again. Dr Hirsh says that the boycott itself is antisemitic so it didn't matter what he said about Jews in general. Boycotting a state based on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing, racist laws and relentless aggression towards the natives and neighbours of Palestine is antisemitic, according to Dr Hirsh.

Now I know I shouldn't waste as much time as I do on these people but the contribution of John Strawson to this is bizarre.
The arrogance of Chris’s position is astounding. Britain has been a colonial power for 3 centuries during which time it played a major role in the slave trade, ethnically cleansed most of North America and Australia, created concentration camps in South Africa and fought vicious wars to keep its colonies - do not forget some 100,000 Kenyans died in the 1950’s. Incidentially it also prevented many cictims of the Nazis from reaching Palestine - and did nothing to stop the Holocaust during World War II. The same Britain has recently been helping occupy Iraq since 2003. Chris is not frustrated by his own state and its bloody colonial record - he is only frustrated by a Jewish State. I think he has a problem.
When I met the guy (Chris Bodington, not John Strawson) this afternoon he struck me as being a pleasant unassuming chap. What does John Strawson know of what he makes of the UK's colonial past and present? But whatever he does make of it, what's it got to do with Israel? And what's it got to do with arrogance? And of course Strawson is a zionist. What's his principled objection to ethnic cleansing? Only Jews are allowed to do it? I don't think even he would be so brazen as to say that.

It's true that what Israel is doing to the Palestinians bears comparison to what the British and other Europeans did to the natives in America and Australasia but that's the point. We want to stop that before it's too late not use those earlier episodes to justify or cover for what Israel is doing now. And as for the occupation of Iraq, the UK's existence isn't predicated on it. Israel's existence is predicated on the dispossession of the Palestinians.

And what's all this about the holocaust? What did the zionists do while the holocaust was in progress? What did they do when Hitler came to power? What did they do in Hungary? How many Jews got trapped in Germany because of the Ha'avara agreement? and what might have become of Hitler's regime if the boycott hadn't been broken by zionists? Is Chris supposed to buy Israeli goods because of the holocaust? And what's with the "incidentally" with regard to the holocaust? It's their main card, hardly incidental either historically or to zionist "arguments".

I'm sure John Strawson understands these things but to leap in with such an obvious ad hominem attack on someone he's never met is downright childish. And this is a lecturer in international law and a former lecturer at Bir Zeit University. He is also someone who refused to answer if he was the same John Strawson that ran on the Meretz list for election to the World Zionist Congress a few years ago. A man of many parts.

My own view here is that Chris has been a little naive. He was wrong to believe that the boycott Israeli goods campaign is genuinely perceived as antisemitic. A simple statement, Boycott Israeli Goods or in this case we boycott Israeli goods, is fine. In the context of the board where the note appeared, the "Jews are as welcome as anyone else" looked like an answer to a frequently, if mischievously, asked question. Now there are genuine critics of Israel and even anti-zionists who don't support the boycott but they know that the antisemitism ploy is just that, a ploy. They also seem to realise that it could backfire as, as Chris points out, a boycott of a state isn't a boycott of its people or the people the state claims are its people. The anti-boycotters that want to make a genuine case against a boycott whilst condemning Israel are hindered by the clowns that play the antisemitism card. But the only people who are offended by the boycott are people that don't like serious criticism of Israel or of zionism anyway.

Oh, I've only just remembered, when she saw the article in the JC, Deborah Fink wrote to the Just Peace UK list to say this:
Here's a café we must all go to! I wonder if they stock Zaytoun products?
Good news! They do.

Anyway, any more PR disasters like that and Chris and his family will be able to expand the café into adjacent shops.

Just one more thing - they do make a nice espresso and carrot cake - that's the main thing.

Palestine film festival

This is a bit of a grab from the Palestine Film Festival site so you can see it before the zios hack it down from the web. Now read on.....


April 24th - May 8th 2009, Barbican Cinema & SOAS

Click on the logo for full details and downloadable programme:


April 24th - May 8th, Barbican Centre

Click on the picture for details:


May 22nd, Brunei Gallery, SOAS

The PFF, with English PEN, The London Middle East Institute (SOAS), and The Poetry Translation Centre, is organising an evening of poetry readings by Gaza-based Palestinian writers in May 2009: "Refuge in Words: Voices From Gaza" - more information and advance registration details HERE..

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

Those pictures aligned to the left are supposed to be aligned to the centre like I told them. Any geeks out there want to suggest how to centre two recalcitrant left aligned pics, please leave suggestions in the comments.


War criminals in Sudan

There's been a lot in the news about Sudan, mostly regarding Darfur. I've even run a few posts on it here on Jews sans frontieres. Zionists often complain that no one says anything about Darfur when they probably wouldn't have heard of Darfur if it wasn't for the fact that plenty of people say plenty of things about Sudan and Darfur. So anyway, in spite of having run a few posts on Sudan myself, here is another on account of something in the Independent that caught my today, though it seems to have appeared yesterday:
Israel carried out air strikes in January on a convoy moving through Sudan which it believed to be carrying weapons destined for Hamas in Gaza, according to a report by the US television network CBS.

Two Sudanese politicians yesterday confirmed that unidentified aircraft targeted the convoy in a remote desert region north-west of Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast.

The outgoing Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, appeared to fuel speculation that his country's air force was behind the attack, which reportedly killed 39 people, when he said that "Israel hits every place it can in order to stop terror, near and far". CBS reported that Israeli intelligence had learnt of plans to move weapons north through Sudan into Egypt and then smuggle them into the Gaza Strip to Hamas. The report said that those killed were manning the 17-vehicle convoy, although a number of civilians had also been injured in the attack, which occurred in the same month as Israel's offensive in Gaza.

While Israeli defence officials had earlier appeared to pour cold water on the report that their aircraft had carried out the attack, Mark Regev, the spokesman for Mr Olmert, would only say that it was not Israel's practice "to respond to these sort of allegations when they arise in the press".

Oh no! Mark Regev won't tell us anything. Now we'll never know because he always used to be such a reliable source.

Zionists and the crying of "wolf"

Tony Greenstein has a letter in the Independent today ridiculing the ridiculous Mark Gardner, Director of Communications of the Community Security Trust (CST).

The CST masquerades as the provisional wing of the Board of Deputies of British Jews though apparently the link is tenuous (see this comment from David Rosenberg). He wrote into the Independent recently to protest the use in an article of the expression "Jewish lobby" as if he would have been happier with the expression "Israel" or "zionist" lobby.
The article on the resignation of Charles Freeman was headlined, "Israel lobby blamed as Obama's choice for intelligence chief quits". The opening sentence, however, stated, "Fears over the Jewish lobby's excess influence on US foreign policy flared anew".

At root, the failure to distinguish between Israelis, pro-Israelis and Jews is the same analytical meltdown that occurs in the minds of those who physically attack and threaten British Jews every time there is a flare-up in the cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The Independent really ought to do better.

Mark Gardner

Community Security Trust
So here's Tony, two weeks later:
I agree with Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust (letters, 14 March). The failure to distinguish between Israelis, Zionists and Jews leads inexorably to attacks on Jewish people. This kind of "analytical meltdown" inevitably tars all Jewish people with the war crimes of the Israeli state.

Is this the same Mark Gardner whose organisation stewarded a solidarity rally on 7 January in support of Israel's attack on Gaza? The rally was organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, whose president, Henry Grunwald, spoke of "our", that is, Jewish, "solidarity for the people of Israel". Why did Gardner not protest about an organisation calling itself the "representative body of the British Jewish Community" organising a pro-Israeli demonstration when the Zionist Federation could have called it instead?

Or if it is the term "Jewish lobby" that Gardner objects to, then perhaps he can inform the Israeli press that this word is verboten. I refer, for example, to Israel's daily Haaretz, whose article "US Jews are losing their bond to Israel" refers to the "ever-present strength of the Jewish lobby in the US".

For years, Zionist groups have conflated Israel, Zionism and Jews, thereby accusing opponents of Israel of being anti-Semitic. Now that some people have begun to take them at their word, they are like the little boy who cried wolf so many times that when finally the wolf appeared no one believed him.

Tony Greenstein

Brighton, east sussex
It's strange that this took two weeks to appear. In the age of emails letters usually appear the next day. I wonder what they were trying to balance out here since it can't have been what it was that Tony was criticising. Ah never mind. It was published and that's what counts.

March 27, 2009

The get lost tribe of Israel

Here's a harrowing case of Israel's internal ethnic cleansing reported in the New Zealand Herald by Billy Briggs under the heading The unwanted tribe of Israel:
The destruction began just before midday when Israeli security forces fanned out to form a line on a hill overlooking the tiny Bedouin settlement.

Armed with guns, sprays and batons, the police moved forward with military precision, led by a paramilitary force called the Green Patrol.

Out of sight, reinforcements sat in a fleet of vehicles in case of resistance by the Arab villagers while behind the police line three bulldozers revved their engines ominously.

Once they reached the bottom of the hill, officers vaulted a fence then began clearing the village systematically. As police entered the homes and ordered families to vacate, people were still inside frantically trying to salvage clothes and possessions.

Some of the Bedouin, resigned to their fate, were already on the move, carrying pets, pot plants and kitchen utensils, but others lingered and pleaded for more time.

As one old woman left her home for the last time she wept and looked to the sky while her daughter turned and spat in the direction of a policewoman filming the operation.

"I hope you show your film so the world can see this ethnic cleansing," she shouted in Arabic. From another shack two women wearing black abayas or cloaks appeared carrying a sofa. They struggled with it for about 20m until, exhausted, they gave up and sat on it in the shade of a small tree.

Staring ahead in stunned silence, they remained there briefly until policemen arrived waving their arms to shoo them away as if herding cattle or sheep. Mohammed, only 5 days old, was carried away by his mother in a blue plastic bucket seat, sleeping and oblivious to the plight of his tribe and three elder siblings.

"Where will we go?" his mother, Khatan, said as she walked away from the land she was brought up in.

According to Israel, these Bedouin Arabs have no rights to live on this desert land in the Negev region. This community, close to the town of Beersheba in the south and known as an "unrecognised village", was home to members of the al-Atrash tribe for nearly 30 years until the authorities arrived to destroy it.

As 20 homes were razed an official from the Israel Land Administration said the settlement was illegal and that security forces were executing a ruling made by the Beersheba magistrate's court in 2000. "The land is state land. They [the Negev Bedouin] do not have a link to this land. The court gave a verdict and we are fulfilling it," said the official who was monitoring the demolitions.

The al-Atrash tribe had made numerous appeals against the order but a few days earlier a judge ruled the Bedouin had no land rights and the destruction of the village must take place.

There's another two pages to the report here and here.

March 26, 2009

No one likes them, they don't care

Except of course they spend fortunes - millions upon millions - on their image but the product lets them down in a big way. Israel has performed badly in opinion polls for years now but as its behaviour has plumbed depths of depravity so its standing in world has followed in kind. Here's the Financial Times, famously not prone to hyperbole, with the headline Israel dismissive as fury mounts:
Battered by fresh accusations of war crimes during the recent Gaza conflict, Israel’s standing in the world is plunging to fresh lows. Two months after the guns fell silent, international condemnation of its treatment of Palestinian civilians during the military offensive shows no sign of abating.

Outside the country, the latest revelations – most strikingly, a claim that soldiers committed “cold-blooded murder” during the operation – have once again spurred calls for a UN war crimes tribunal.

In Israel itself, however, the response to allegations of war crimes has been both muted and defensive. While Israeli officials have promised to investigate the claims, ministers insist there was nothing wrong with the army’s conduct during the three-week offensive.

Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, led the way on Monday, claiming Israel Defence Forces was “the most humane army in the world”.

Ha ha ha. I know I should cry but I can't. What did that chap in the Independent letters say the other day?
Following Israel's self-appointment as the world's most moral army, may I appoint myself as the world's greatest lover. When after five minutes this claim is questioned and then ridiculed, I will aggressively question your editorial standards and bias.
Ah yes, that was it.

Zionism against Jews?

I blogged already on the situation of Jews in Yemen and how the Jewish Agency for Israel - I think that's the kind of recruitment arm of the World Zionist Organisation - was stirring it for them in the efforts to leave the country for somewhere safe and secular as opposed to Israel. Well there's a twist in the tale. Here's the Forward:
In recent weeks, Jewish organizations have insisted that Yemen’s tiny Jewish population is in grave danger and that a secret evacuation is necessary to bring the people to safety. But a new report written by on-the-ground observers suggests that one of the primary barriers to the Jews’ departure is the resistance of the Jews themselves.
It appears that this tribe didn't know it was lost until it was found.

Save the children....from Israel

I just had a call from the Save the Children fund seeking donations for Gaza. The reason they called me was because I had responded to a call to text CEASEFIRE to 81819 and they would then take that as a kind of petition signature to honorary Jewish National Fund patron, Gordon Brown, and try to get him to use his best endeavours to stop the assault on Gaza. Gordon Brown, for those that don't know, when he's not honorarily patronising the Jewish National Fund, doubles as the UK's Prime Minister. Well anyway, Save the Children, which did some wonderful work in Lebanon back in 2006, is seeking £3 a month to contribute to relief in Gaza and presumably to cover the cost of their calls. They got 182,000 texts by the way, from people that read their appeal in either a newspaper or saw it on line. I can't remember where I saw it.

What else did he say? They have just been allowed back into Gaza which makes you wonder why they were kept out in the first place. Health and safety probably....not!

Anyway, I gave the link above but here it is again because there is a lot to see on their site including links to their Gaza staff's blogs.

The Headless Herrenvolk Soldier

This spot on cartoon infuriates the right people:

"Pat Oliphant's outlandish and offensive use of the Star of David in combination with Nazi-like imagery is hideously anti-Semitic," Anti-Defamation League chief Abe Foxman said.  (Haaretz)

sorry. Not going to work. It isn't the cartoonist who is abusing the Star of David; it is the headless soldier. And that is an accurate commentary on Israel and its apologists.

Do you want to see a truly antisemitic cartoon? Here it is.

Seven deadly sins?

You'd think so with the ruckus it caused. Apparently saying "Jewish" in a sentence is now antisemitic. Try it in a sentence. Seven Jewish children. Hmm. Let's look at the play itself and check out all the rights stuff at the bottom and how you might donate to Medical Aid for Palestinians. Also check out Israel apologist (his expression, I prefer zionist) Norman Geras's review of the play which is what prompted me to post the script here. Anyway, now read on:
a play for Gaza

Caryl Churchill

No children appear in the play. The speakers are adults, the parents and if you
like other relations of the children. The lines can be shared out in any way you
like among those characters. The characters are different in each small scene as
the time and child are different. They may be played by any number of actors.

Tell her it’s a game
Tell her it’s serious
But don’t frighten her
Don’t tell her they’ll kill her
Tell her it’s important to be quiet
Tell her she’ll have cake if she’s good
Tell her to curl up as if she’s in bed
But not to sing.
Tell her not to come out
Tell her not to come out even if she hears shouting
Don’t frighten her
Tell her not to come out even if she hears nothing for a long time
Tell her we’ll come and find her
Tell her we’ll be here all the time.
Tell her something about the men
Tell her they’re bad in the game
Tell her it’s a story
Tell her they’ll go away
Tell her she can make them go away if she keeps still
By magic
But not to sing.

Tell her this is a photograph of her grandmother, her uncles and
Tell her her uncles died
Don’t tell her they were killed
Tell her they were killed
Don’t frighten her.
Tell her her grandmother was clever
Don’t tell her what they did
Tell her she was brave
Tell her she taught me how to make cakes
Don’t tell her what they did
Tell her something
Tell her more when she’s older.
Tell her there were people who hated Jews
Don’t tell her
Tell her it’s over now
Tell her there are still people who hate Jews
Tell her there are people who love Jews
Don’t tell her to think Jews or not Jews
Tell her more when she’s older
Tell her how many when she’s older
Tell her it was before she was born and she’s not in danger
Don’t tell her there’s any question of danger.
Tell her we love her
Tell her dead or alive her family all love her
Tell her her grandmother would be proud of her.

Don’t tell her we’re going for ever
Tell her she can write to her friends, tell her her friends can maybe
come and visit
Tell her it’s sunny there
Tell her we’re going home
Tell her it’s the land God gave us
Don’t tell her religion
Tell her her great great great great lots of greats grandad lived
Don’t tell her he was driven out
Tell her, of course tell her, tell her everyone was driven out and
the country is waiting for us to come home
Don’t tell her she doesn’t belong here
Tell her of course she likes it here but she’ll like it there even
Tell her it’s an adventure
Tell her no one will tease her
Tell her she’ll have new friends
Tell her she can take her toys
Don’t tell her she can take all her toys
Tell her she’s a special girl
Tell her about Jerusalem.

Don’t tell her who they are
Tell her something
Tell her they’re Bedouin, they travel about
Tell her about camels in the desert and dates
Tell her they live in tents
Tell her this wasn’t their home
Don’t tell her home, not home, tell her they’re going away
Don’t tell her they don’t like her
Tell her to be careful.
Don’t tell her who used to live in this house
No but don’t tell her her great great grandfather used to live in
this house
No but don’t tell her Arabs used to sleep in her bedroom.
Tell her not to be rude to them
Tell her not to be frightened
Don’t tell her she can’t play with the children
Don’t tell her she can have them in the house.
Tell her they have plenty of friends and family
Tell her for miles and miles all round they have lands of their own
Tell her again this is our promised land.
Don’t tell her they said it was a land without people
Don’t tell her I wouldn’t have come if I’d known.
Tell her maybe we can share.
Don’t tell her that.

Tell her we won
Tell her her brother’s a hero
Tell her how big their armies are
Tell her we turned them back
Tell her we’re fighters
Tell her we’ve got new land.

Don’t tell her
Don’t tell her the trouble about the swimming pool
Tell her it’s our water, we have the right
Tell her it’s not the water for their fields
Don’t tell her anything about water.
Don’t tell her about the bulldozer
Don’t tell her not to look at the bulldozer
Don’t tell her it was knocking the house down
Tell her it’s a building site
Don’t tell her anything about bulldozers.
Don’t tell her about the queues at the checkpoint
Tell her we’ll be there in no time
Don’t tell her anything she doesn’t ask
Don’t tell her the boy was shot
Don’t tell her anything.
Tell her we’re making new farms in the desert
Don’t tell her about the olive trees
Tell her we’re building new towns in the wilderness.
Don’t tell her they throw stones
Tell her they’re not much good against tanks
Don’t tell her that.
Don’t tell her they set off bombs in cafés
Tell her, tell her they set off bombs in cafés
Tell her to be careful
Don’t frighten her.
Tell her we need the wall to keep us safe
Tell her they want to drive us into the sea
Tell her they don’t
Tell her they want to drive us into the sea.
Tell her we kill far more of them
Don’t tell her that
Tell her that
Tell her we’re stronger
Tell her we’re entitled
Tell her they don’t understand anything except violence
Tell her we want peace
Tell her we’re going swimming.

Tell her she can’t watch the news
Tell her she can watch cartoons
Tell her she can stay up late and watch Friends.
Tell her they’re attacking with rockets
Don’t frighten her
Tell her only a few of us have been killed
Tell her the army has come to our defence
Don’t tell her her cousin refused to serve in the army.
Don’t tell her how many of them have been killed
Tell her the Hamas fighters have been killed
Tell her they’re terrorists
Tell her they’re filth
Don’t tell her about the family of dead girls
Tell her you can’t believe what you see on television
Tell her we killed the babies by mistake
Don’t tell her anything about the army
Tell her, tell her about the army, tell her to be proud of the army.
Tell her about the family of dead girls, tell her their names why
not, tell her the whole world knows why shouldn’t she know? tell
her there’s dead babies, did she see babies? tell her she’s got
nothing to be ashamed of. Tell her they did it to themselves. Tell
her they want their children killed to make people sorry for them,
tell her I’m not sorry for them, tell her not to be sorry for them,
tell her we’re the ones to be sorry for, tell her they can’t talk
suffering to us. Tell her we’re the iron fist now, tell her it’s the fog
of war, tell her we won’t stop killing them till we’re safe, tell her I
laughed when I saw the dead policemen, tell her they’re animals
living in rubble now, tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out,
the world would hate us is the only thing, tell her I don’t care if
the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re
chosen people, tell her I look at one of their children covered in
blood and what do I feel? tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.
Don’t tell her that.
Tell her we love her.
Don’t frighten her.

Seven Jewish Children is Caryl Churchill’s
response to the situation in Gaza in January
2009, when the play was written.
Seven Jewish Children first published in Great Britain in 2009 by
Nick Hern Books Limited, 14 Larden Road, London, W3 7ST,
in association with the Royal Court Theatre, London
Seven Jewish Children copyright © 2009 Caryl Churchill Limited
Caryl Churchill has asserted her moral right to be identified as
the author of this work
Typeset by Nick Hern Books, London
ISBN 978 1 84842 047 2

Performing Rights
Seven Jewish Children was first performed at the Royal Court
Theatre, London, on 6 February 2009.
The play can be read or performed anywhere, by any number
of people. Anyone who wishes to do it should contact the
author’s agent (details below), who will license performances
free of charge provided that no admission fee is charged and
that a collection is taken at each performance for Medical Aid
for Palestinians (MAP), 33a Islington Park Street, London
N1 1QB, tel +44 (0)20 7226 4114, e-mail,

Author’s agent: Casarotto Ramsay and Associates Ltd,
Waverley House, 7-12 Noel Street, London W1F 8GQ,
fax +44 (0)20 7287 9128, e-mail

This text can be downloaded free of charge from the
following websites:
Casarotto Ramsay,
Nick Hern Books,
Royal Court Theatre,
Printed copies can be obtained, while stocks last, with all
proceeds going to Medical Aid for Palestinians, from Nick
Hern Books, address as above.
I find it quite fascinating that the writer does manage to cram a lot of zionist myth-making into the thing that takes about 10 minutes to perform. I noticed on the internet, usual places, Harry's Place, Engage, etc, that the zios are making an issue out of this one line:
Don’t tell her they said it was a land without people
According to some zionists, the first person to say that wasn't Jewish. I swear some zios have said that. (I'll look for links in a bit). I thought the relevance was bound up with whether it's true or not, not the ethnicity or religion of who said it. Actually Israel Zangwill is most often credited with having described Palestine as "a land without a people for a people without a land" though his daughter said that he never said it. Elsewhere zionists have Mark Twain saying that he visited Palestine and that there was no one home at the time. I'm not sure if the lights were on or not. More notoriously, I always confuse Joan Rivers with Joan Peters, Joan Peters said that Palestine was empty on the eve of zionist colonisation and Professor Alan Dershowitz, ahem, "agreed" with her. The difference between Joan Peters and Joan Rivers is that the latter is a joker, the former just a joke.

But again I say, it's the truth that counts and can the zios, collective hand on collective heart, honestly say that no Jewish child ever gets told the fiction that Palestine was empty on the eve of zionist colonisation? If so they're lucky because everyone else has been told it. Oh no!!!!! I've put my foot in it now. If everyone gets treated to zionist propaganda why single out Jewish children? Well perhaps it's because when it's Jews and when it's children, zionist propaganda becomes zionist indoctrination and children are rather susceptible to that and Jews receive that propaganda from more sources and from an earlier age than the population at large.

Israel's contempt for human life

The headline is for the letter that tops the Independent letters page today from Jocelyn Hurndall, mother of Tom Hurndall who was killed whilst shielding Palestinian children on their way to school. Here's the letter:

Your article about Tristan Anderson (24 March) brought back strong memories of when my son Tom Hurndall was shot in Gaza in 2003. My heart goes out to Tristan Anderson's parents, for I remember clearly how it was in the days after Tom was shot by an Israeli sniper in Rafah while rescuing Palestinian children.

Like us, his mother and father will be utterly devastated, numb and overcome by disbelief. As Americans, they will be reaching out for the support of their government and, maybe, stunned by the same astonishing level of Israeli obfuscation and cover-up that we experienced. I have come to recognise this feeling when reading the accounts of recent Israeli atrocities and civilian deaths during the incursion into Gaza.

Contrary to my own family's experience when we called for and received the support of numerous parliamentarians in the UK, Tristan's parents may have a hard time harnessing the energies of their government and insisting the Israeli government investigates properly, investigations that should never be done in-house. I recall with sadness how difficult it was for Rachel Corrie's parents, Americans, to get truth and justice for their daughter, being given no government support after she was run over by an Israeli army bulldozer.

We've had little indication of how the new American government will respond to Israel's incursion into Gaza, the stance they will take over the scores of civilian killings and iniquitously loose rules of engagement that killed Tom and so many others that were followed by inept investigations. A state's response to the shooting of a young man who was demonstrating peacefully is a litmus test of the quality of inclusive justice we have a right to expect across the world. In accordance with international law, the policy-makers, the chain of command and the soldiers, all must be called to account.

For the sake of Tristan and his parents, I hope President Barack Obama's administration uses this opportunity to speak out against the Israeli policies, indeed any state's policies, that show such contempt for human life.

Jocelyn Hurndall

Friends of Birzeit University, London EC4

When I read the headline I couldn't know what the story was behind it as Israel has done so much to show its contempt for human life lately.

The Independent and the Guardian both carry articles detailing the evidence of Israeli war crimes and a commenter drew my attention to an article by Christopher Hitchens in Slate suggesting that rabbinical extremism should rule out American aid to Israel that might be used for settlement activity, "even indirectly". Does he mean that if it can be proven that American aid was used for settlement activity then it should be stopped but if not it can continue? He doesn't actually say but it is nice to see him, as another comment said, trying to leave the sinking ship that is the world's and even western opinion of the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

March 25, 2009

Barak doesn't give a fig says Barak

No not Obama, he really doesn't give a fig. This is Ehud Barak claiming that the inclusion of "Labour" in a Netanyahu government doesn't amount to a fig-leaf for a government intent on avoiding even cosmetic concessions to the Palestinians. Here's the Guardian:
Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's next prime minister, was last night on the verge of forming a majority coalition after the Labour party agreed a last-minute deal to join his incoming government.

The vote came after an all-night negotiations between Ehud Barak's Labour and Netanyahu's Likud. Although as many as seven of Labour's 13 elected MPs opposed the move, the party's 1,400-strong central committee followed Barak's lead and voted to join the government.

The decision gives Netanyahu the comfort of a government with a broader base. He will lead a coalition drawn from across the political spectrum which embraces in an unlikely partnership with Avigdor Lieberman, an outspoken far-right politician, and Barak, head of the traditionally left of centre and social welfare-oriented party.

Netanyahu will be prime minister, with Lieberman as his foreign minister and Barak remaining as defence minister, where he was a key figure behind Israel's three-week war in Gaza.

"I am not afraid of Binyamin Netanyahu," Barak told his party. "We will not serve as anyone's fig leaf. We will ensure there will not be a narrow right-wing government, but a real government that looks after the State of Israel."

That's right, the State is everything, the people nothing. And that's not a narrow right wing government? At least they admit it's some kind of right wing government but then with zionism we are always talking about degrees of rightism.

People might like to ponder the fact that when Rabin was assassinated his widow said that it was Netanyahu that created the atmosphere that made the assassination possible and now Rabin's successor is power-sharing with him. What a lovely spectacle!

March 24, 2009

UK's Charities Commission joins the blockade of Gaza

This is a worrying thing. See this post on the Socialist Unity blog:
‘A political attack from both sides of the Atlantic’

In an extraordinary move, the Charity Commission in Britain has issued a hostile briefing about the Gaza solidarity campaign inspired by Respect MP George Galloway, just before he arrived in North America for a speaking tour. The Viva Palestina campaign, which organised a convoy of over 100 vehicles bringing aid to the besieged population of Gaza, has been in contact with the Charity Commission over the last week and sent it a substantial letter today in response to letters only received this morning.

Before receiving that letter, however, some officials at the Commission have issued a statement to the media to say they are launching a “statutory investigation”, even though the Viva Palestina campaign has sought to co-operate with all relevant authorities throughout. As Galloway touched down in the US to begin his speaking tour he made the following statement:

“If anyone needs investigating, it is the Charity Commission itself. There is no good reason why the Commission should jump the gun and issue a statement that it is launching an investigation when, in fact, it was about to receive the information and correspondence it had asked for. But there are plenty of bad reasons for this outrageous behaviour.

“Let the facts speak for themselves. On Friday, Rupert Murdoch’s Sun reports that a right wing, pro-war, Bushite in Canada is stamping all over free speech and seeking to ban me from the country. On Saturday, Hazel Blears wrote to the largest Muslim organisation in the country calling for the head of its Deputy Director General Dr Daud Abdullah, because of his support for the Palestinian cause.

“On Monday morning, I set off to the US and Canada for a sell out speaking tour on the issue of Palestine. While I’m in the air the Charity Commission decides not to wait for a letter it had asked for and which will reach it tomorrow, Royal Mail permitting, but instead launches a public attack on the aid convoy I led.

“This isn’t the first time the Charity Commission has intervened in a blatantly political way. It did it over the miners strike a quarter of a century ago and against other solidarity movements. It did it over my campaign against sanctions on Iraq, when it repeatedly went though the books of a political campaign despite the fact it never found anything untoward.

“In truth, I expected this kind of attack. So, I’m sure, did the millions of people whose support for the people of Palestine is an affront to the establishment and its organs. Doubtless supporters of the Iraq war and Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians will hope that this will damage solidarity efforts. They are deluded.

“We won’t be intimidated. Viva Palestina will continue to campaign. And if the reaction in Canada to these kind of attacks is anything to go by, I anticipate an even greater outpouring of support for our campaign – moral, political, financial and in every other way.”

To think that Betar was a registered charity in the UK for about twenty years and the Jewish National Fund still is.

Support Hermann Dierkes against the antisemitism card

This looks like just another case of zionists playing the antisemitism card. Here's Electronic Intifada:
Hermann Dierkes is a respected politician with an honorable record of campaigning for social and political justice in the German Rhineland city of Duisburg. He represented his party Die Linke (The Left Party) on Duisburg City Council, campaigning tirelessly on anti-racist and anti-fascist issues. Most recently, he was his party's candidate for the post of Lord Mayor.

On 18 February 2009 Dierkes addressed a public meeting on the question of Palestine. To the question of how to take action against the injustice being suffered by Palestinians, he responded that the recent World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil had proposed an arms embargo, sanctions and the boycott of Israeli exports. He added: "We should no longer accept that in the name of the Holocaust and with the support of the government of the Federal Republic [of Germany] such grave violations of human rights can be perpetrated and tolerated ... Everyone can help strengthen pressure for a different politics, for example by boycotting Israeli products."

A few days later, Dierkes gave an interview to the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (WAZ), a conservative paper based in the nearby city of Essen. He explained the demands of the World Social Forum, and requested that the published interview should stress that this had nothing to do with anti-Semitism -- a qualification that invariably needs to be made in Germany, except when there is suspicion of Islamophobia. Predictably, his precautions were in vain; scenting a political coup, the reporter published his article without including the qualification.

All hell broke loose. In the 25 February edition of Bild -- Germany's best-selling and most obnoxious daily paper -- Dieter Graumann, Vice-President of the Central Jewish Council, accused him of "pure anti-Semitism." WAZ editorialist Achim Beer decried Dierke's "careless Nazi utterances," comparing his words to "a mass execution at the edge of a Ukrainian forest." Hendrik Wuest, General Secretary of the CDU (the Christian Democratic Party), warned that "the Nazi propaganda" emanating from Die Linke is "intolerable." Michael Groschek -- General Secretary of the local branch of the Social Democratic Party, which shares power nationally with the CDU -- played electoral politics with the claim that "[a]nyone playing electoral politics with such anti-Israeli utterances sets himself outside the rules of the democratic game."

Worse still, Dierke's own party failed to stand by him unambiguously. Press spokesperson Alrun Nuesslein opined that if Israel is criticized because "the population in the Gaza Strip is collectively punished by the ... closure of border crossings, it is equally impossible for us to punish the Israeli population" by means of a boycott of Israeli goods, particularly "in the context of German history," a mantra with which Germans routinely absolve themselves of their historic responsibility towards the Palestinians.
There is a petition doing the rounds and I'll post details of that when I have them. Right now I'm just amazed that Germans can play so fast and loose with holocaust analogies when the zionists are doing their damnedest to have such analogies made illegal when applied to an obvious case, the State of Israel.

Demonstrate at the G20 in London on 1 April

Demonstrate at the G20 on 1 April

Assemble US Embassy, Grosvenor Square at 2pm
The leaders of the world’s big powers will meet at the G20 summit in London on 2 April.
It is Barack Obama’s first visit to Britain. It is our chance to demand a change from Bush’s war policies.
  • Get the troops out of Iraq & Afghanistan
  • End the siege of Gaza – free Palestine
  • Create jobs not bombs
  • Stop arming Israel
  • Abolish all nukes

Details of transport to the protest

Click to download flyer

Called by Stop the War, CND, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, British Muslim Initiative

Our message will be ‘Yes We Can’. Yes we can end the siege of Gaza and free Palestine, get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, make jobs not bombs, abolish nukes, and stop arming Israel.

This is a time of slump but the G20 are spending more and more on war. Despite the disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US and Britain are sending thousands more troops to Afghanistan.

They are spending more in Iraq. The total cost of the war will be around $6 trillion. The US spends $54 billion and Britain nearly £2 billion every year on nuclear weapons.

Most G20 leaders support Israel and refused to condemn the attack on Gaza or the siege. They sell arms to Israel. The US gives more aid to Israel than it gives to any other country. For all these reasons, join us to protest at the G20.

We will also be protesting on Thursday 2 April at the G20 summit, 11am at the Excel Centre.

Called by Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, The British Muslim Initiative and CND

  • April 1 (afternoon): Protest March and rally in central London
  • April 2: Protest march to G20 conference

PA head Mahmoud Abbas joins the boycott campaign

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Western-backed government warned European states on Monday against easing a boycott of Hamas Islamists, saying it could put unity talks at risk.

Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said he relayed that message last week to European leaders during talks in Brussels...

Malki said European overtures could undermine the unity talks by giving Hamas the impression that "the international community, and especially the European Union, is ready to change its position towards Hamas", whether the group agrees to abide by interim agreements or not. (Reuters)

Love the background.

When will Israel be brought to book?

The Guardian is asking that question in a few articles today including the editorial. There are also the video reports on the website that appeared yesterday.

Today there is Seumas Milne's comment looking at the prospect of Israelis being brought to justice:
There is of course no chance that the UN security council will authorise the kind of International Criminal Court war crimes indictment now faced by Sudan's leaders over Darfur. Any such move would certainly be vetoed by the US and its allies. And Israel's own courts have had no trouble in the past batting away serious legal challenges to its army's atrocities in the occupied territories. But the use of universal jurisdiction in countries such as Spain or even Britain is making Israeli commanders increasingly jumpy about travelling abroad.

With such powerful evidence of violations of the rules of war now emerging from the rubble of Gaza, the test must be this: is the developing system of international accountability for war crimes only going to apply to the west's enemies – or can the western powers and their closest allies also be brought to book?

Well yes they can, but will they?

Israelis dismayed as UK retains war crimes laws

You'll remember the case of an Israeli war crimes suspect leaving London Heathrow airport without even leaving the plane because of an arrest warrant over war crimes in an earlier assault on Gaza. Well the UK had promised Israel that it would change its war crimes legislation so that Israelis can come here without the fear of prosecution. Well now apparently, the UK isn't going to change the law after all. Here's Ha'aretz:
London will not push through changes in legislation that permits the arrest of Israel Defense Forces officers visiting Britain on war crimes, as previously promised, Jerusalem has learned.

In an unofficial message to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Britain said that as a result of the decline in Israel's public image following Operation Cast Lead the government believes it will be unable to pass the amendment to the legislation before next year's scheduled elections.
So in the wake of the assault on Gaza the rockets haven't stopped, Hamas is still in power and an Israeli war criminal is still a war criminal. Remind me, what did Israel gain from Gaza?

But what does the UK Foreign Office have to say:
We recognize Israeli concerns but this is a complex legal issue
Complex legal issue? Try public relations disaster.

Israel and the last of the red hot lovers

The Independent's been running some sick letters and editorials lately and that's not counting Howard Jacobson's increasingly insufferable output. But they have run some useful articles and Israel's critics get another look-in in today's letters including a funny swipe at the Zionist Federation's Jonathan Hoffman who claimed that the Indie's editorial standards had slipped because they picked up on Ha'aretz's report on Israel's war crimes in Gaza. Here's the letter from Chris O'Donoghue:
Following Israel's self-appointment as the world's most moral army, may I appoint myself as the world's greatest lover. When after five minutes this claim is questioned and then ridiculed, I will aggressively question your editorial standards and bias.
There's a letter too from my friend Diana Neslen pointing to US, UK and EU collusion with Israel's war criminals, otherwise known as the State of Israel:
The news of the behaviour of the Israeli army comes as a surprise only to those who wilfully chose to deny reality (20 March). However in spite of the fact that Israel deliberately planned the Gaza onslaught and carried it out mercilessly, our Government and the EU have chosen to use our taxes to rebuild what Israel has destroyed, are busily patrolling the seas around Gaza to prevent arms smuggling, while continuing to arm Israel, are allowing Israel to set the agenda for Gaza's reconstruction and continuing to allow Israel preferential entry into the European markets, in spite of her abrogation of human rights.

Surely the world has learnt that appeasing an aggressor only results in fuelling the appetite for greater barbarity. In the absence of any sanction, and indeed in the presence of what can only be called reward for felony, one can but conclude that the governments of this country, the European Union and the US are indeed complicit in Israel's actions.
But it's not all doom and gloom. The next post will be on the Ha'aretz report that the UK will not now be changing its law to allow Israeli war criminals safe passage to and through the UK.

Guardian Gaza war crimes special

Check out these clips at the Guardian while I figure out how to upload them to the blog here.

These are stills from clips on the use of drones, the use of human shields and the attacks on medics.

March 23, 2009

Another war on Gaza?

According to the Guardian, Matan Vilnai, the Israeli deputy defence minister who suggested a "shoah" (holocaust) against Gaza early last year, is calling for another attack on Gaza and the seizure of land from which rockets have been fired. Here's Rory McCarthy:
Israel's deputy defence minister has called for a new invasion of Gaza and the capture of land close to the border, despite growing domestic and international concern about the conduct of the previous war.

"We need to conquer the areas from which mortar shells are being fired," Matan Vilnai told an Israeli conference on the Gaza war last night. "The mortar shell is the main threat," he said. Most were launched from within four miles (6km) of the border. "We just need to be there," he said.

His comments reflected a wider Israeli frustration with the results of the devastating three-week war. Israeli forces destroyed thousands of homes and buildings and killed more than 1,400 Palestinians but failed to achieve their main goal: to halt the rockets and mortars which are still being fired into southern Israel.

Meanwhile Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, has complained that Israel did in Gaza precisely what nazis were executed at Nuremberg for when they did the same thing:
An advance copy of his report is highly critical of the war, saying Israel's "recourse to force was not legally justified given the circumstances and diplomatic alternatives available, and was potentially, a crime against peace". He calls for an expert inquiry into war crimes allegations against Israel.
Some hope if Obama has a veto.

Sweet news from Ireland: Cyprus refuses to grant asylum to Israeli vegetables

Every Monday should have a positive story. Here's this week's. The supermarket chain, Aldi had been selling Israeli fruit and vegetables marked ‘Product of Cyprus’. We in the IPSC raised it in the media and to the Cypriot ambassador. The Cypriots went ballistic and Aldi backed down.

I think the victory lies less in the fact that Aldi is no longer able to sell mislabelled Israeli stuff, but that they were trying to do so in the first place. It shows the boycott is starting to work. Hopefully Aldi will start looking for new suppliers now.

Here’s the Cypriot newspaper report:
Shunned Israeli fruit being sold as Cypriot
By Nathan Morley
(Cyprus Mail - Thursday, March 19, 2009)
ALDI ‘apologises unreservedly for this error to its customers and producers’

Aldi, the supermarket chain, yesterday admitted to misleading European consumers by selling re-labelled Israeli Grapefruit as a product of Cyprus before passing it on to the public.

It has been claimed the decision to pass off the Israeli fruit by the German ALDI chain came after a widespread boycott of Israeli goods in the aftermath of the Israel’s invasion into Gaza in December.

Since then, shoppers across Ireland especially, have been turning their backs on Israeli goods such as fruit, vegetables and electronics and it is thought that stockpiles of Israeli produce are rotting at supply depots…
more here:

March 22, 2009

Israel's apartheid quality

Many thanks to Gert in the comments for pointing me in the direction of this article in The National by South African anti-apartheid activist, Tony Karon. I knew that Thatcher and Reagan said that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist but I never knew this:
In one of her last acts as US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice had Nelson Mandela’s name removed from America’s terrorist watch list. Many Americans were shocked to learn that their favourite former political prisoner had ever been deemed a terrorist.
But international solidarity and people power put paid the powers that be, or rather, that were. But what has that to do with us?
The international anti-apartheid movement began at the grassroots among religious, community and labour groups, but it grew sufficiently powerful to force governments to distance themselves from a regime that they had viewed sympathetically. And that is a lesson that terrifies Israel’s leaders.
But why should that be? South Africa was an apartheid state.
Even as Israeli officials admitted last week that they were hoping to “rebrand” Israel’s image abroad, the Israeli media were reporting that six Israeli soldiers who had fought in Gaza were alleging that men in their units had indiscriminately killed Palestinian civilians because of what they said were permissive rules of engagement. There is only so much that “rebranding” can achieve when it is the product, rather than its packaging, that is at the root of the problem.

And that is where the apartheid warning used by Mr Olmert and other Israeli advocates of a two-state solution becomes an unintended confession. It is not some demographic milestone that will tip Israel into the realm of apartheid, because apartheid is a qualitative rather than a quantitative term: it refers to a situation in which a whole category of people were denied the rights of citizenship in the state that ruled over them. South Africa’s apartheid would have been no more acceptable to the world had black people comprised 45 per cent of the population rather than 80 per cent. And since 1967, the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza have been living under the control of a state that denies them citizenship.

What Mr Olmert and others are really saying, without realising it, is that Israel is already in an apartheid situation – and that if it doesn’t end that situation soon, the world will notice and begin to respond accordingly.
Apartheid is qualitative not quantitative. So many people try to get Israel off the hook of the apartheid tag on the grounds that Arabs are a minority under Israel's rule. This ignores the ethnic cleansing that made that the case. It also ignores the fact that apartness is what apartheid means and that apartness is the crux of zionist rule.

Jewish lobby clashes with Israel lobby

Here's quite an informative story of how zionism can be, horror of horrors, bad for Jews. A Jew was murdered in Yemen back in December 2008. There has been an increase in anti-Jewish feeling in the country since Israel's attack on Gaza that began in the same month. Here's the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
About three weeks ago, the Jewish Agency for Israel announced that it had brought 10 Jews to Israel. Meanwhile, the United Jewish Communities has been working behind the scenes to arrange for the immigration of some 113 members of the Yemenite community to the United States. The operation was a joint effort that included the Satmar community of Rockland County, N.Y. -- the community has ties to Yemenite Jewry and is determined that they preserve their traditional religious practices -- as well as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, FEGS, UJA-Federation of New York and the U.S. State Department.

But after Israel's daily Ma'ariv published an account this week of the UJC's effort, Jewish organizational officials involved in the emigration effort said they were worried the Yemeni government would clamp down on Jewish emigration -- especially to Israel -- possibly to placate Arab critics.

"We’re concerned this will endanger this operation and will strand the Jews there," one Jewish organizational official said of the publicity.

But now look at the sheer arrogance of the so-called Jewish Agency, or the Jewish Agency for Israel, to give it its full name and a more accurate description:
For its part, the Jewish Agency, which was the first group to go public with its effort to spirit Yemenite Jews out of the country, issued a harsh condemnation of the operation to bring the Yemenites to the United States.

"We vehemently oppose the immigration of Jews, wherever they are, to the United States, including the group of Jews from Yemen that is not going to the State of Israel," the Jewish Agency said in a statement. "The place of all Jews from the entire Diaspora -- and included in this are the Jews of Yemen -- is in their homeland, Israel."

Given that most Jews don't come from Israel shouldn't it be for individuals to decide what their homeland is? Not according to the Jewish Agency for Israel it's not.
U.S. Jewish organizational officials said they simply were following the wishes of Jews in Yemen who had expressed a preference to immigrate to America.

"Our efforts were aimed primarily at trying to get them to Israel," Joe Berkofsky, a UJC spokesman, told JTA. "Some did not want to go to Israel; they wanted to go to the States.

"Our primary mission is to help Jews in need and save Jewish lives. And if some want to come to the United States and that’s going to save their life, that’s what we need to do."
Now, assuming what's left of this ancient Jewish community is in danger, I can't help but be reminded of Ben Gurion's infamous words following Kristallnacht:
If I knew it was possible to save all [Jewish] children of Germany by their transfer to England and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz-Yisrael, I would choose the latter----because we are faced not only with the accounting of these [Jewish] children but also with the historical accounting of the Jewish People.
I think roughly translated that means that the Jewish state is more important than Jewish people and that's what they call zionism.

March 21, 2009

Art and Dialogue

Jill Goldberg, a former Women in Black member and an experienced Jewish peace activist, is a little confused. We believe in helping people, so we will try to help her understand two or three things. In opposition to the call to boycott the Batsheva dance company, Goldberg reviews the performance and writes:
Watching the superlative talent that went into Deca Dance, I was transfixed; how could participating in such imaginative, such beautiful, such clever art not be edifying? Deca Dance was such a tremendous offering that I feel certain that such a performance has the ability to reach people in a way that transcends the harsh reality of life in the quagmire that is the Middle East. If art is the triumph of imagination over crude reality, then Deca Dance is the proverbial victor, vanquishing the ordinary with the power of creativity as its only weapon. At the risk of sounding naïve and overly idealistic, I have to wonder: if the small group of protesters outside had snuck in and watched Naharin’s choreography, would they be moved out of the rigidity of rhetoric and into the relative softness of dialogue? Would they see something in the work of these immensely talented Israelis that showed them that they too are human with the same longings for peace and security and the same fears as their Palestinian brethren? (Plank Magazine)
Goldberg seems to think that the call to boycott Batsheva is rooted in a negative aesthetic judgment on its art. Absolutely not. Batsheva is a leading dance company. Oded Naharin is a talented choreographer. The call to boycott Bathsheva is a non-violent strategy in the struggle against Israeli apartheid that is rooted in a moral and political understanding of the context of Israel's artistic output. It is not a aesthetic judgment.

If one of the tenets of fundamentalism is the belief the sacred text was written directly (or at least dictated) by God, there is a widespread fundamentalist philistinism today that sees art in exactly these terms, not as work, not as a human product, but as direct revelation, the true religion of the high minded. It is a form of philistinism that loves art the way flag waving Americans love their country. An element of this philistinism is to divide culture between the two mutually exclusive categories of art (revelation, prophecy) and propaganda (imposture). Either, for example, Churchill's play is art, or it is worthless agitprop, propaganda. The revealed Truth that the high-minded philistines discover through art is always the One, humanist and universally shared--as Goldberg puts it--"reflection of what it means to be a..human being", and therefore anything political or divisive, or indeed any contextual meaning that is less total than that humanist revelation, is an intrusion of the profane. That this is absurd requires only a minimal knowledge of the history of art. Is the Sistine Chapel, painted by the greatest renaissance artists, any less of a work of art for being a work of blatant political propaganda? Batsheva's performance's artistic merit does not preclude it being also propaganda work for Israel and thereby facilitating the murder and continued ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

The work of art is always done in the service of two masters at least. One master is, one could say, revelation, recalling us to our senses by addressing our sentient capacity, jolting us, making us feel, making us aware of our conscious being. The second master is the one who buys the artist's lunch (a person, an institution, an audience, aa community, a system, etc.). Sometimes, when the artist also wants to say something through art as an engaged agent, art has a third master as well, the artist's conscience. That third master is not necessary like the first two. Art can and often does exist without it. But there can be no art without an invitation to experience, and there can be no art without the social relations that sustain the artist. Art can serve as propaganda in a variety of ways. It can speak directly for the second master, as the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel do. It can speak directly for the third master, as Diego Rivera's "Man at a Crossroads" did. But art can also serve as propaganda indirectly, whether by naturalizing, falsifying, glossing over, reconciling, justifying or symbolically resolving conflict, or simply by being vague, as the art of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko, appreciated and promoted by U.S. capital in the Cold War because it didn't speak of anything. Finally, art can serve as propaganda by externally associating the revelation of art with either a political cause or the patron and paymaster. This at least is certainly the case with Batsheva, financed and promoted by the Israeli government as a "cultural ambassador" for Israel, thus helping to advance the goals of campaigns such as "Rebrand Israel," which seeks to improve Israel's image (and thereby facilitate Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians), by among other things using artists to represent Israel.

Being moved and "edified" by a work of art is not the be-all of appropriate responses. One can be awed by the technical prowess and impressed by the expression of energy and purpose of Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will," yet condemn it as a work of willing service to one of the vilest movements in world history. One can appreciate the exacting animation of David Polonsky and Yoni Goodman in "Waltz with Bashir" while fuming about the way that film whitewashes and embellishes Israeli responsibility for a minimum of 18,000 deaths in the 1982 Lebanon war and symbolically erases Palestinians from Israel's collective memory. Artists make choices. They make artistic choices within the work of art itself as well as professional choices within a social and political context in which they create their art, present it and make a living out of it. All these choices have moral and political implications to which indifference in the name of high-minded humanity is a special kind of genteel philistinism. Goldberg's review has eyes only for humanist exultation. The pieces evoked for her "the sacred and the transcendent power of prayer," or "the realm of human sexuality," or "a lofty and visionary" imagination. I don't know if that is because the performance does not lend itself easily to finer grained interpretations or because Goldberg is unable to respond to art in any other way than as a religious service for unbelievers. Her only contextualized reaction was to a piece that reminded her of her cousins who served in the Israeli army, and "all of them born and bred, like Naharin, on a kibbutz, all of them hungry for peace in the region." It is amazing that the only political reading of the performance that Goldberg recognizes is exactly the message of Israeli propaganda, that Israelis suffer from the wars they wage and yet yearn for peace, shooting and crying. It is even more amazing that her reaction reproduces a set theme of Israeli racism against non-European Jews, representing the racially exclusive kibbutzim as the home of Israel's best and most conscientious. She could hardly have come up with a clearer argument in favor of the boycott. Goldberg hopes, "naively," that the protesters outside see the performance and recognize the humanity of Israelis. But was that humanity ever in doubt? Isn't the humanity of Israelis and the bestiality of Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims the fundamental ideological matrix through which the conflict is represented in the U.S., in the press, TV, Congress, etc? How about humanizing Palestinians? How about asking why nothing in Naharin's work evoked for her a meaning that might challenge the U.S. audience's understanding of the country from which Batsheva comes?

Goldberg praises Barsheva for reaching "people in a way that transcends the harsh reality of life in the quagmire that is the Middle East." But who are those reached? Whose harsh reality is being transcended and by whom? What does it mean, what kind of artistic intervention it is, to help people who suffer little of that reality "transcend" it in their minds? Can Palestinians "transcend" the checkpoints with the help of Naharin's powerful images? Can his deeply moving art console the mother of ten-year-old Mahmoud Ghazal? Or does it make it easier for someone who never heard of Mahmoud Ghazal to "transcend" that irrevocable absence she is not and will never be aware of? And if the latter, is that to be praised or rather challenged?

Goldberg would have like the work of art to help the protesters "be moved out of the rigidity of rhetoric and into the relative softness of dialogue." This is not a very intelligent comment: real dialogue is hard; only dialogue with the mirror is soft. And rhetoric can be either soft or harsh depending on how one wants to be be received. But the demand for boycott is in fact a form of dialogue, real, truthful and honest dialogue. It is dialogue with the audience of the Batsheva dance company about how to understand their own relation to what is taking place in the Middle East. It is also a dialogue with Naharin and his dancers. Naharin's public comments suggest an understanding of his role as an artist is limited and self-flattering. He commented on the boycott:
The boycott is just preventing something that is good....I think artists belong to a group of people who don't represent the ugly side of Israel. They represent people who have compassion and who are willing to give up a lot for peace. And artists everywhere usually represent something missing from politics: the search for new solutions. (
Shouldn't artists in fact represent the "ugly side of Israel"? Shouldn't Naharin be aware that the state of Israel uses artists as agents of beautifying ethnic cleansing? For example, after Jaffa was destroyed in 1948, the Tel-Aviv municipality gave Israeli artists and writers subsidized, privileged homes and studios in the Disnified "Old Jaffa," using glamor and art's prestige to legitimize the ethnic cleansing of 1948, and using the gifting of stolen Palestinian property as a way to buy the silence of the artists. Isn't that silence something one would describe as "ugly"? Shouldn't Naharin recognize that his role as "cultural ambassador" makes him particularly complicit, over and above his citizenship, in the continuing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians?
“We will send well-known novelists and writers overseas, theater companies, exhibits,” said Arye Mekel, the ministry’s deputy director general for cultural affairs. “This way you show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war.” (NY Times)
When Naharin assures us that artists "are willing to give up a lot for peace," isn't it fair that Palestinians cash this promise and demand to see what exactly Naharin is willing to give up as an artist?

Is he for example ready to do what Paul Ben Itzak, editor of Dancer Insider, would like to hear him do? Challenge his audience before every performance with words such as:

We are now spectators of the latest -- and perhaps penultimate -- chapter of the 60-year-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. About the complexities of this tragic conflict billions of words have been pronounced, defending one side or the other.

Today, in (the) face of the Israeli attacks on Gaza, the essential calculation, which was always covertly there, behind this conflict, has been blatantly revealed. The death of one Israeli victim justifies the killing of a hundred Palestinians. One Israeli life is worth a hundred Palestinian lives.

This is what the Israeli State and the world media more or less -- with marginal questioning -- mindlessly repeat. And this claim, which has accompanied and justified the longest Occupation of foreign territories in 20th century European history, is viscerally racist. That the Jewish people should accept this, that the world should concur, that the Palestinians should submit to it -- is one of history's ironic jokes. There's no laughter anywhere. We can, however, refute it, more and more vocally. (Dancer Insider)

Is Naharin ready to make Batsheva officially take a "position calling for an end to the occupation, not to mention recognizing UN-sanctioned rights of the refugees or ending racial discrimination against the state's 'non-Jewish' citizens (the remaining indigenous population)." as Omar Barghouti demands?

Is he ready to produce and tour with dance pieces that the New York Times reviewers might perhaps deascribe as "anti-israeli propaganda" because they would challenge the audience's understading of the Israel and the conflict?

None of it would be easy for a group paid with the money of the Israeli government. Perhaps Naharin would lose his livelihood if he tried. Isn't it a risk worth taking? Artists have been arrested, jailed, beaten and murdered for standing up to lesser inequities. Is talent a license to collaborate? Shouldn't artists take some risks before they seek to express "the triumph of imagination over crude reality"? Perhaps Naharin would fail. But is it unfair to insist that he wrestle with the institutions that fund him, use his prestige and recognition and negotiate perhaps a way to work that would represent, not just the state that is, but also the state that would be, once this racist regime is defeated? How come there are no Palestinian dancers in his "Israeli" dance company when over 20% of Israeli citizens are Palestinians? How come there are no conscientious objectors who refuse to serve in the army in this dance company of artists ready to "give a lot for peace"? Surely they can do better than that.

Naharin and his dancers can choose the masters they serve. It is up to them how to respond. It is their political awareness or lack thereof. Their professional ethics or lack thereof. Their conscience or lack thereof. Their character or lack thereof. But to impose these demands through a strategy of boyoctt, divestment and sanctions IS dialogue. Is it dialogue that respects art as human endeavor, as a democratic and equal exchange, not as an opportunity for sentimental and costless communion with the tragic (primarily for others) spirit of humanity. It is not the dialogue favored by the doyens of the peace industry, pointless, decade-long chatter with no consequences. It is dialogue that demands answers, responsibility, and proof of delivery from those claiming to represent enlightenment and speak for peace. What Jill Goldberg recommends instead is for Israelis to stick to their internal monologue, shooting and crying about it; and for Palestinians to stay silent and appreciative. These days are over.