August 31, 2009

Even the bosses don't like Bibi

I was at some leftist meeting a while back when a guy described the Financial Times as the "paper where the bosses tell each other the truth". This distinguished it from the mainstream of course. Well it seems the bosses don't like Netanyahu. The headline Netanyahu’s peace is a cynical evasion is a bit of a clue. But leaving the personalisation aside, I hadn't realised the extent to which Oslo had worked to the benefit of zionism and to the detriment of the Palestinians.

Ok, let's take a little look at what amounts to the "cynical evasion":
Mr Obama has chosen as his battleground the Jewish settlements on occupied Arab land, all of them illegal under international law. “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” the president said. Washington has called for a total freeze, including on the so-called “natural growth” that has enabled the settlements to expand exponentially. Mr Netanyahu, in London and due to see George Mitchell, the president’s special representative, wants to talk economics. This is a cynical evasion.
Ok, and now the Oslo balance sheet:
In 1992-96, at the height of the peace process, Israel alone reaped a peace dividend, without having to conclude a peace. Diplomatic recognition of Israel doubled, from 85 to 161 countries, leading to doubled exports and a sixfold increase in foreign investment. During the same period, per capita income in the occupied territories fell by 37 per cent while the number of settlers increased by 50 per cent. Economic development deals in facts; Mr Netanyahu deals in cosmetics.
And it's Likud that denounces, renounces and reneges on Oslo. There's just no pleasing the zios but the FT really doesn't like Netanyahu and has a few other goes culminating in this:
In his last administration, Mr Netanyahu turned the drive for peace into pure process: piling up unresolved disputes to be parked in “final status” negotiations he never intended to begin. Under US pressure he has changed tactics – but the aim is exactly the same.
So the FT doesn't like Bibi which is why some on the left quite like him or at least prefer him to his predecessors. He's harder for the media to ignore.

But returning to the theme rather than the personality, if Oslo was bad for the Palestinians and anti-Oslo is bad for the Palestinians might the bosses wake up to the fact that the problem is neither Bibi nor Oslo but zionism? Might they? They've certainly come close in this article.

August 28, 2009

Filmakers plan to withdraw from Toronto Film Festival to protest Tel Aviv celebration

Several Canadian filmmakers plan to withdraw their movies from next month's Toronto International Film Festival to protest a weeklong cinematic homage to Tel Aviv...The Tel Aviv-centric week launches the Toronto Festival's new City to City event and is intended to celebrate Tel Aviv's centennial.

According to the protesting artists, including culture critic Naomi Klein and director John Greyson, the problem is not the official participation of Israeli films at the festival but the character of the forum in which they will be screened...In a letter sent to the Toronto festival administration, Greyson wrote that the protest was not against Israeli films or filmmakers chosen for the festival.

He expressed admiration for film work by Israelis shown at previous festivals and said that he would attend Israeli films in the future. Rather, he wrote, his protest was about the "spotlight" itself, the business-as-usual atmosphere advanced by the choice of Tel Aviv as a young, dynamic metropolis, in a celebration free of confrontation with less pleasant parts of Israel, such as what he termed the "brutal occupation." Greyson questioned whether an uncritical celebration at this time might be compared to having held such affairs in 1991 in South Africa, or in 1963 in Montgomery, Alabama.

Israeli director Udi Aloni is supporting the Canadian protest and is calling on Israeli artists to take the same steps.
...According to Aloni, Israeli artists need to rethink their participation in the festival. "Wherever they appear they must decide if they are representatives of the Foreign Ministry or of an uncompromising opposition to occupation and racism in Israel," he said. "Israeli directors don't have to be defensive and ask 'Why are they attacking us?' but say to the Canadian directors: 'We're with you on this. We don't represent [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman; we represent the opposition.' There are only two options. It's no longer possible to shoot and cry."

In a letter addressed to Eytan Fox and Gal Uchovsky, makers of "The Bubble," Aloni asked them: "Are Israeli artists Lieberman's new foreign service cadets?" (Haaretz, 29 August 2009)

Glorious bastards

Tarantino recent contribution to human heritage, which I haven't seen, and must admit probably won't see, certainly won't pay to see, is grabbing attention. It is, as I read, a fantasy about Jews violently taking their revenge from Nazis. To be sure, such Jews certainly existed, and no apology is needed. For example, a Jewish terrorist's, Herschel Greenspan, assassination of a German diplomat was the excuse for Kristallnacht. The Nazis used it to stoke righteous anger and advance their assault on German Jews. This is a pattern of state strategy that students of the Israeli occupation would be familiar with, as Israel uses Palestinian terrorism in similar ways. But this is another story.

Anyway, the film excites Jewish U.S. commentators, and although Tarantino pretends the film has nothing to do with current realities, the fantasy immediately translates into not very bright thoughts about Israel. Jeffrey Goldberg felt all psyched up and ready to settle in Jordan, whereas the ever dull MJ Rosenberg grasped the opportunity to justify the necessity of a Jewish state with a fantasy of Israel participating WW-II and bombing Germany. As I pointed out over there, had Israel been established a decade earlier, it is uncertain on which side of WW-II it would have fought, if at all. That drove him to over the edge.

It seems to me that the film, for all its pretense, is essentially a 300 for liberals, allowing those who imagine themselves urbane and sophisticated to enjoy the same uncomplicated sense of righteous violence and masculinity liberated from feminist "oppression" that the hoi polloi experience in the typical action movie. The introduction of the Jewish themes (as well as Tarantino's name) elevates the film from the mildly disreputable category of entertainment, whereas the Nazis, not a real political phenomenon but a token of pure, fantastic evil, merely function as a device that frees the genteel consciousness from the guilt of enjoying the pleasures of fascism. This is yet another reason to remember (as I also explained here) that the fundamental problem with calling people Nazis is not that it "demonizes" them, but that it assumes that Nazis were demonic. The category of the demonic, not the wrong labeling of Zionists or Arabs or anybody else with this category, is the door through which fascism is kosherized.

But let's get back to uncomplicated Jewish violence. As Weiss notes above, Nazis are no longer among us. The Jewish commentators who saw the film immediately performed the obvious displacement, onto Israel and Palestinians. Unfortunately, finding Israelis with such a "healthy" and uncomplicated attitude towards violence is easier that I would prefer. If Tarantino were honest and had an ounce of courage, he would have made the film about that. Because, for the subject of a high production values snuff movie, few things beat the real adventurers, for example, of one Meir Har-Tzion, about whose murderous exploits I first learned from a devoted fan of his who was a teacher in my high school. By the way, it is possible that the film is about that, but perhaps I read too much into the fact that Tarantino's heroine shares a name with Har-Tzion's sister. With this in mind, here is Har-Tzion's death-porn, quoted from his memoir, published in Israel in 1969.
The wide, dry riverbed glitters in the moonlight. We advance, carefully, along the mountain slope. Several houses can be seen. Bushes and shrubbery sway in the breeze, casting their shadows on the ground. In the distance we can see three lights and hear the sounds of Arab music coming out of the homes immersed in darkness. We split up into three groups of four men each. Two groups make their way to the immense refugee camp to the south of our position. The other group marches towards the lonely house in the flat area north of Wadi Gaza. We march forward, trampling over green fields, wading through water canals as the moon bathes us in its scintillating light. Soon, however, the silence will be shattered by bullets, explosions, and the screams of those who are now sleeping peacefully. We advance quickly and enter one of the houses "Mann Haatha?" (Arabic for "Who's there?")

We leap towards the voices. Fearing and trembling, two Arabs are standing up against the wall of the building. They try to escape. I open fire. An ear piercing scream fills the air. One man falls to the ground, while his friend continues to run. Now we must act we have no time to lose. We make our way from house to house as the Arabs scramble about in confusion. Machine guns rattle, their noise mixed with a terrible howling. We reach the main thoroughfare of the camp. The mob of fleeing Arabs grows larger. The other group attacks from the opposite direction. The thunder of hand grenades echoes in the distance. We receive an order to retreat. The attack has come to an end.

On the following morning, the headlines will read: "The refugee camp of Al-Burj near Gaza was attacked. The camp has been serving as a base for infiltrators into Israeli territory. 'Twenty people were killed and another twenty were wounded."

.. . . A telephone line blocks our way. We cut it and continue. A narrow path leads along the slope of a hill. The column marches forward in silence. Stop! A few rocks roll down the hill. I catch sight of a man surveying the silence. I cock my rifle. Gibly crawls over to me, "Har, for God's sake, a knife!!" His clenched teeth glitter in the dark and his whole body is tight, his mind alert, "For God's sake," . . . I put my tommy down and unsheath my machete. We crawl towards the lone figure as he begins to sing a trilled Arab tune. Soon the singing will turn into a death moan. I am shaking, every muscle in my body is tense. This is my first experience with this type of weapon. Will I be able to do it?

We draw closer. There he stands, only a few meters in front of us. We leap. Gibly grabs him and I plunge the knife deep into his back. The blood pours over his striped cotton shirt. With not a second to lose, I react instinctively and stab him again. The body groans, struggles and then becomes quiet and still. (Quoted in Livia Rokach, Israel's sacred terrorism)
This is the historical content of the fantasy, the new Jewish masculinity that enthralls MJ Rosenberg and Jeffrey Goldberg.

August 27, 2009

Ken Loach's cultural revolution

There a remarkably stupid and dishonest article in Comment is free trying to insulate Israel from boycott calls. It's by executive director of Melbourne International Film Festival, Richard Moore. Headed Censorship has no place in film, you get a taste of how silly the article is going to be from the sub-title: Chinese efforts to censor our festival overshadowed Ken Loach's equally insidious attempt to prevent sponsorship from Israel. So China, you know that great big powerful Asian state, is comparable to Ken Loach and not only that but China seeking to stop film output is the same as Ken Loach suggesting that it is wrong to take money from the racist war criminals of the State of Israel.

Here's another taste from the article itself:
Politics will always walk hand in hand with film, and with film festivals, but at the core of every festival, from Melbourne to Montreal, is the independence and integrity of the programme: it is a festival's primary asset and part of an inviolate bond of trust between a festival and its audience. To allow the personal politics of one filmmaker to proscribe a festival position would not only open a veritable floodgate, but also goes against the grain of what festivals stand for. Not that I felt the need to justify ourselves but in my response to Loach, explaining why Melbourne's film festival would not comply with his demands, I reminded him that it had had a long interest in the Middle East and has programmed many films about the Israel-Palestinian question – most, if not all, sympathetic to the Palestinians.

Loach's reply was:

Film festivals will reflect many points of view, which are often radical and progressive. It is also true that there are many brutal regimes and many governments, including our own, which have committed war crimes. But the cultural boycott called for by the Palestinians means that remaining sympathetic but detached observers is no longer an option.

In other words, everyone has been given a royal dispensation from Loach to commit war crimes bar the Israelis.
No they haven't, they just don't have lots of representative groups of their victims calling for a boycott.

Why can't Israel's apologists be honest? There have been honest opponents of the boycott but clearly this Richard Moore chap isn't one of them. Ken Loach has simply said that funding from Israel should be rejected or he will withdraw his own work from the festival. Withdrawing ones own work is hardly censorship and nor is rejecting funding from racist war criminals.

I believe comments are still open

Levy on "Organ Harvesting"

Too many of our friends around here do not understand the power of truth. They don't understand that the reason Israel needs to drown criticism with endless amounts of cash is because they have no case that can be honestly defended. They see how apologists for Israel can get away with gross lies thanks to their media power, wealth and connections and draw the conclusion that truth doesn't matter. Better try to shout louder than the other side. This is short sighted.

Having truth on your side is a powerful asset. Having money and connections on your side is a different kind of powerful asset. In order to win, each side of a battle tries to move the battlefield to where it has the advantage. A naval power would prefer to fight at sea, whereas a guerrilla force would rather fight in deep forests or urban neighborhoods. Those who have night vision equipment prefer to fight at night, not because fighting at night is inherently better but because it gives them an advantage.

Since truth and fact is against them, Israeli apologists lie all the time. Their preferred battlefield is one in which truth is irrelevant. In a match of public relations prowess, one lying hack against another, they will always win, because they have more, better trained and better paid lying hacks. Put Mark Regev against Comical Ali, and the outcome is a foregone conclusion. The least outcome would be a bewildered listener who knows not whom to trust, or a disgusted viewer who says "a pox on both your houses". And these are not bad outcome at all for Israel. They are however bad outcomes for Palestinians who need actual solidarity, not just indifference and neutrality.

But put Marc Regev against a Palestinian mother from Rafeh, and it's nock-out in 20 seconds.

The people who peddle the recent Swedish bull don't see the terrain of the battle over public opinion. They think they can win by playing the game Israel wants them to play, the trading of unsubstantiated claims. The name of this strategy is shooting yourself in the foot.

Here's Gideon Levy, making a similar point.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman should have sent a big bouquet to Donald Bostrom, the Swedish photographer and journalist who wrote the article claiming that the Israel Defense Forces harvested organs from dead Palestinians. And the Foreign Ministry should write a letter of thanks to the editors of his paper, Aftonbladet. It has been a long time since such a propaganda asset has fallen into the hands of the friends of the occupation. It has been a long time since such damage has been caused to people seriously attempting to document its horrors.

The bizarre Swedish report led to a no-less-bizarre Israeli response. Bad and irresponsible journalism crossed paths with bad and irresponsible diplomacy. Instead of simply denying the report, Lieberman, true to form, acted like a bully... However, the article's damage to the fight against the occupation cannot be ignored.

Serious journalism's task is to document, investigate and prove - not to call on others to investigate, as the Swedish tabloid did. One may, for example, accuse the Swedish reporter of a crime, writing that he rapes little boys or girls, all based on suspicions and rumors, and call on the Swedish police to investigate. That's what the reporter did with his claims of trafficking in Palestinian organs.

There were cases in which the organs of Palestinians who had been killed were harvested without permission, something the Institute of Forensic Medicine has done to others in Israel, for research purposes. But it's a long way from that to suspicion of trafficking in organs based only on the fact that in 1992 a dead Palestinian was found whose organs had been removed and his body sewn back up. And 17 years later a few Jews were arrested on suspicion of trafficking in human organs. That's not professional journalism, that's cheap and harmful journalism.

The Israeli occupation is ugly enough without the contribution of Nordic fairy tales. Its wrongs are abominable even without exaggerations and inventions. We, a small group of Israeli journalists trying to document the occupation, always knew that we must not publish an unfounded report. One mistake and the whole journalistic enterprise would fall into the hands of official propaganda, which automatically denies all suspicions and is just waiting for a mistake....

Over the years, the IDF has killed thousands of innocent civilians, among them women and children. The Shin Bet security service has tortured hundreds of people under interrogation, sometimes to death. Israel prevents food and medicine from reaching Gaza. Sick people are extorted by the Shin Bet to become collaborators in return for medical treatment. Thousands of homes in the territories have been demolished for nothing. Dozens of people have been killed by special units when they could have been arrested instead. Thousands of detainees have sat in jail for months or years without trial. Is that not enough to draw a reliable portrait of the occupation? Is that not shocking enough? (Haaretz)

August 26, 2009

Not Lenin on Lockerbie

I started a post on that Megrahi chap who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in a "Scottish" court in Holland. I was saying how I thought that he was being released because the powers that be think he didn't do it and that the original trial (very original by honest accounts) was a farce. Well the post dragged and I ended up deleting it. Thankfully, Lenin over at the Tomb had the same problem as me but he at least did a little reading on the subject:
I'm glad I didn't have to recapitulate the details of the ridiculous trial and conviction of Megrahi, whose release has stimulated an awful lot of hypocritical outrage. Socialist Worker has done the job for me - see here, here, here and here. You can also see my previous posts touching on this topic here, here and here.
But watch this space....

August 25, 2009

Why Stephen Walt doesn't support B.D.S.

Stephen Walt, who bravely co-authored a bad book about the Jewish Lobby, explains why he doesn't support B.D.S.
I might add that I don't support the "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement" myself. This is partly because I'm uncomfortable with even mild forms of collective punishment and partly because, like Gordon himself, I do worry about the double-standard issue (i.e., if you think it's ok to boycott Israel, why not China or Burma or any number of other countries?). And I'm especially leery of efforts to interfere with academic exchanges, because I don't like anything that interferes with free speech or obstructs the free flow of ideas. (Foreign Policy)
Let's begin with the first point, "collective punishment." Smearing a non-violent strategy of moral pressure coupled with relatively mild pressure on commerce with the terms reserved for high war crimes and crimes against humanity in international law is reprehensible and speaks to Walt's discredit. But let's put that aside. B.D.S. is not "punishment." Punishment is concerned with past behavior whereas BDS is a form of pressure to compel change. Is the avowed "realist" Walt really against the use of coercion in international affairs (which would be of necessity always collective)? Of course not. When pushed, he claims that his "realist" position is descriptive and amoral. It merely describes how states behave. That is patently not however how he writes. Every one of his paragraphs expresses an implicit or explicit prescription for a judicious and prudent statecraft that uses both carrots and sticks to secure "the national interest." Walt is not in principle opposed to war, invasion, occupation, international sanctions, covert operations, etc., all actions that impose a lot more collective harm than BDS, even though he tends to want more stringent criteria for when to use them than most. For example, while Walt has criticized sanctions against Iran on strategic grounds, he has never said he was against them on moral grounds, as "collective punishment." Note that sanctions against Iran are far from "mild forms of collective punishment." Even existing sanctions are causing significant harm, up to aviation disasters because of lack of spare parts, effectively killing Iranian civilians. B.D.S. does not even gets close to that level of harm. If it did, the deadliness of Israeli policies (e.g. in Gaza) combined with the more democratic political system (for Jews) would suggest a far more compelling case for harming Israelis than is the case for harming Iranians.

But then, that assumes that Walt is opposed to exerting pressure on Israel. That would be wrong. Walt conditionally supports pressure, even up to cutting off aid, which would mean a loss of $500 per Israeli citizen, a less mild form of "collective punishment" than anything currently possible within the B.D.S. framework in the U.S.

A few words about the other pathetic quibbles. Double standards? What double standards? Who said it is not O.K. to boycott Burma or China, or the U.S. for that matter? Boycott is a hostile but non-violent strategy, and its morality should be judged by general principles like every other hostile action of its sort. Is justice served or dis-served? How wrong and harmful is the behavior it seeks to change? Is the harm it causes less than harm it seeks to end? Are less harmful options available? Do the people who ask for it have legitimacy? What is the likelihood of success? etc. (All these questions and more are in fact answered explicitly by the campaign (see PACBI and BDS). the strategy of B.D.S. is not specific to Israel. In fact, the campaign against Israel was modeled after South Africa, and hopefully future campaigns in other places will model themselves after Palestine. Furthermore, remember we are cautioned here about "double standards" by a scholar who explicitly rejects imposing demands for moral consistency on international relations.

Academic freedom? Walt claims he is against anything that "obstructs the free flow of ideas"? I assume Walt is not opposed however to the copyright notice printed inside his latest book, which guarantees income to the book publisher (and sometimes even the author) at the price of restricting the free flow of ideas to those who can afford it. Nor does he, I assume, oppose tuition charges in universities. Does he oppose ethical rules on experiments with human subjects? You get the drift. The free flow of ideas is a good thing. But there are many good things, and sometimes they clash and some balance must be sought. A free Palestine, where Palestinian children can freely go to school and learn, is also a good thing. The free flow of people, even people without too many ideas, between Tulkarem and Jenin, is also a good thing. Furthermore, B.D.S. does not call for boycotting Israeli ideas or academics. It calls for breaking relations with Israeli institutions complicit in the oppression of Palestinians. That would include all Israeli universities. Such a boycott may make the flow of ideas marginally slower in some cases, but is it a major limitation? Is co-writing a grant application with an Israeli department or participating in a panel hosted in Israel that much more important than forcing Israel to respect human rights? I guess for some people it is.

Given the flippancy and inconsistency of his arguments, one has to ask: why does Walt really feel compelled to distance himself from the Palestinian B.D.S. on "moral grounds", when he supports in principle far more harmful strategies, including against Israel?

I can only guess. What distinguishes B.D.S. from U.S. sanctions against Iran or pressure on Israel is not the severity of the harm it seeks to inflict but the nature of the agent and the logic of action. B.D.S. is a Palestinian led liberation strategy that seeks solidarity from Americans on moral grounds. As a liberation strategy, B.D.S. seeks to serve the Palestinian cause of liberty, self-determination and rights. When U.S. citizens support B.D.S., they effectively participate in international relations (which Walt affectionately calls IR), independently from their state and as one non-state actor supporting another. By further acting based on moral concerns and solidarity with a grassroots liberation movement, they mess up the neat world of states, ruled by elites, pursuing their interests. One can put it flippantly by saying that B.D.S. undermines Walt's favorite model of IR. But this is far more than a model. It is an ideology of a foreign policy mandarinat. Statecraft, as Walt likes to repeat, not only is but should be an amoral and rough business conducted by calculating strategists in the service of state power. Injecting morality and grassroots concerns into it only messes things up.

Where does that leaves Palestinians? At the mercy of the U.S. policy establishment. As Walt sees it, it serves U.S. interests to make life somewhat better for Palestinians by pressuring Israel to accept a "two state solution" that is better than a Bantustan, although Walt doesn't clarify how much better (his support for the U.S. training of PA thugs suggests that his vision is of a U.S. sponsored autocratic police state like Jordan and Egypt). Of course, Walt's position is not yet consensus among the U.S. foreign policy mandarinat. It is still just one position on a spectrum regarding what the U.S. national interest in the Middle East is, so even getting as much as that is far from a done deal. Whatever the final deal is, however, the only track Walt supports is the one that goes through Washington and serves Washington's interests. When Palestinians chose an alternative track, seeking to mobilize international solidarity through appeal to the world's conscience rather than to the interest of the superpower, Walt suddenly remembers transparently fake "moral" concerns which he raises in order to undermine them. That is the same Walt that advocates a very permissive wide berth for morality in policy since "international politics can be a brutal business."

There is a consistency to Walt's position. First come the interests of the U.S. policy establishment (and the unacknowledged corporate/capitalist interests that this establishment defines as "the national interest"), then come the interests of the U.S. mandarinat, including its academics. Then come the interests of Jewish Israelis (namely, "a Jewish state"), and finally, if there is still room, the interests of Palestinians--even then, only that potential elite Palestinian formation willing to serve as a U.S. client.

Given the sick (and I mean that quite literally) environment he comes from, Walt's willingness to defy some conventional wisdom regarding Israel is refreshing. That does justify a measure of respect as long as we remember he is graded on a curve.

Organ theft Israel?

I know it doesn't make sense but organ theft israel was my google search. I heard the rumours about the Israelis farming internal organs from their Palestinian victims but I assumed (actually I was told) that it was Israeli misinformation to wrongfoot the oppo. Well now I've been sent the original article by the Swedish journo, Donald Boström, who has sparked off such a furore over the matter and to my untrained eye it looks like there's a case for Israel to answer - not that Israel ever answers cases:
In the summer of 1992, Ehud Olmert, then minister of health, tried to address the issue of organ shortage by launching a big campaign aimed at having the Israeli public register for post mortem organ donation. Half a million pamphlets were spread in local newspapers. Ehud Olmert himself was the first person to sign up. A couple of weeks later the Jerusalem Post reported that the campaign was a success. No fewer than 35,000 people had signed up. Prior to the campaign it would have been 500 in a normal month. In the same article, however, Judy Siegel, the reporter, wrote that the gap between supply and demand was still large. 500 people were in line for a kidney transplant, but only 124 transplants could be performed. Of 45 people in need of a new liver, only three could be operated on in Israel.

While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open.

Talk of the bodies terrified the population of the occupied territories. There were rumors of a dramatic increase of young men disappearing, with ensuing nightly funerals of autopsied bodies.

I was in the area at the time, working on a book. On several occasions I was approached by UN staff concerned about the developments. The persons contacting me said that organ theft definitely occurred but that they were prevented from doing anything about it. On an assignment from a broadcasting network I then travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza – meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed. One example that I encountered on this eerie trip was the young stone-thrower Bilal Achmed Ghanan.

He then details the story of the young guy, Bilal Achmed Ghanan and makes what looks to me like a convincing case for the idea that he was killed and his internal organs taken.

But what's this in Electronic Intifada?
Bostrom's article lacks credibility for a number of reasons. In the opening paragraph he tells the story of Levy Rosenbaum, a Jewish man in New York linked to illegal trafficking in human organs with counterparts in Israel. While Rosenbaum has admitted to buying organs from destitute Israelis, until now there has been nothing outside Bostrom's article to suggest that this trade involved the organs of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army.

Rosenbaum has also admitted to being involved in the trade for the past ten years which is well after 1992, when Bostrom claims the organ theft may have occurred in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Other than Israel being involved, there is no evidence to make a direct link between these incidents. It is poor journalism on Bostrom's part to use a timely event and try to connect it to something that happened nearly two decades earlier without offering any evidence.

Bostrom also refers to Palestinians disappearing for days at a time and who have in many cases returned dead. This is known to have occurred before, especially Palestinians being arrested and taken to detention centers without the Israeli authorities bothering to inform the families. This is something that has been reported on and documented by numerous Palestinian human rights organizations. Israel may have even performed autopsies on the bodies without the families' consent, as Bostrom reports. He publishes a horrific photograph of one of these bodies alongside the article, but again, this is not proof that organs in that person's body were removed and sold, or given to Israelis in need, as the author implies.

One must also ask why this story was not covered in 1992, when Bostrom claims the organ theft occurred. It seems this would be a more appropriate time to expose such a story when bodies of those killed by Israel could have been autopsied to determine for a fact whether or not organs from those Palestinians killed by Israel were in fact removed. In the Press TV interview, Bostrom claimed that he did approach many Palestinian, Israeli and international organizations but none, minus the UN, heeded his call for further investigation. Yet, he only makes brief mention of this in the article and says the UN staff was prevented from doing anything about his findings.

Unlike Bostrom's reporting, when most Palestinian human rights organizations or other journalists have uncovered Israeli violations, they are sure to provide well-documented evidence to prove beyond a doubt that such violations were in fact committed. Even though Israel has made it very difficult for both Palestinian and international journalists and human rights workers to practice inside the West Bank and Gaza Strip, many have risked their lives to see that evidence of Israel's crimes is uncovered and reported.

Many such well-documented violations committed over recent decades include: willful killing of civilians, including children; torture; extrajudicial executions; depriving a civilian population of food and other necessities; blackmailing patients in need of medical care to try to turn them into informers; wanton and deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure; punitive home demolitions; and illegal use of restricted weapons against civilian targets, including white phosphorus and cluster bombs. The list of UN resolutions and international treaties violated by Israel is far too long to list here, although these violations have been carefully documented over many years by human rights organizations that have worked tirelessly for their enforcement.

I am not trying to argue here that Israel or some Israelis could never have trafficked stolen Palestinian organs. In a place like Palestine, however, where evidence of Israeli war crimes has never been difficult to find -- despite Israel's consistent efforts to block investigations -- those concerned with holding Israel accountable should not level allegations of such seriousness without producing some evidence.

Hmmm? He's right. Israel is making such a big deal out of this it threatens to overshadow its demonstrable atrocities. Israel is having a big whinge about how it's the "victim" of a "blood libel"....again. Now, the headline. Organ theft israel. I put the words into google and as I did it autofilled. I put in the word "organ" followed by the letter t and the word "theft" autofilled. As I finished the word "theft" myself the names of countries appeared. Organ theft brazil, mexico, china. No sign of Israel. Even when I put in the letter i for israel, the autofill was india and only india. Perhaps Israel doth protest too much. And perhaps an inquiry into this stolen organ business is indeed called for.

August 22, 2009

Partisan Leonard Cohen's "so long" to Amnesty

Amnesty International has withdrawn its support for Leonard Cohen's concert in Tel Aviv. Their reasoning, as Deborah Fink points out on the Just Peace UK list, is just a little bit "mealy mouthed" but this is a victory for BDS in spite of an Amnesty spokesman speaking, ridiculously, of Cohen's "well intentioned" efforts.

Here's the Jewish Chronicle:
Amnesty International says it has withdrawn its support from a concert in Israel because it did not receive sufficiently widespread support from Israelis and Palestinians.

Organisers of the Leonard Cohen concert, which sold out in a day and is due to take place in Tel Aviv next month, approached the US branch of the human rights charity to set up a fund which could distribute the profits of the concert to Israeli and Palestinian charities.

But Curt Goering, deputy director of Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), said this week that it was forced to “cease involvement” after not enough support was shown.

He said: “Representatives of Leonard Cohen approached AIUSA for advice on setting up a fund, using the proceeds of the Tel Aviv concert to benefit Israeli and Palestinian human rights and civil society organisations working for reconciliation, tolerance and peace.

“AIUSA was pleased to offer what help it could, and from the beginning, made clear that its involvement in providing advice was premised on the requirement that there be widespread participation of Israeli and Palestinian groups. That widespread support appears not to have materialised at this point, and is why AIUSA has ceased its involvement.

“We regret this outcome, but still think Leonard Cohen’s efforts are well-intentioned and that the fund is a good initiative.”

I don't know if there's a timeline available on all this but when I first heard that Cohen was planning to entertain in Israel that was all I heard. All this nonsense about Cohen performing for "reconciliation, tolerance and peace" at the same time as ignoring representatives of most of Palestinian civil society together with international solidarity groups wasn't grafted on to the affair until the call for boycott came in.

And now Cohen is on his own until he and his manager can cobble together some face saving sham of a zionist "peace" group. I'm sure the Peres Centre for "Peace" is still right behind him.

August 20, 2009

Israel's clueless racists claim the right to commit genocide

Some 20 people protested Wednesday outside the American Embassy in Tel Aviv against US pressure on Israel to freeze settlement building. Some of the protesters were dressed as Native Americans in a reminder to the US authorities that their country did not exactly ask the natives where they could live or build.

The protestors carried signs emblazoned with slogans like "Three countries for three races" and "America, we understand you – understand us, too" and "Freeze building west of the Atlantic Ocean. Red-skinned American within 1492 border." (Ynet)

[the sign in Hebrew reads: "give us back Manhattan - the third holiest site for Native-Americans"]

Mubarak pays homage to his liege lord in Washington

I guess Obama's ecstatic demeanor is the result of hearing how $2 billion of U.S. monies every year are used to detain bloggers, arrest and torture political activists (as well as the merely unlucky) and suppress democracy. With the health reform in the U.S. falling under the knives of the insurance industry and his voters slowly realizing that he too is, as Isaiah once called Egypt, a "staff of this broken reed"--a description that is still fitting Egypt as well although in a different context--Obama might consider that Mubarak has much to teach him about keeping a disaffected public under the leash.

Not that we should be surprised:
Obama's choice to address Muslims around the world from a country run by a dictator has not only shown us that he is hypocritical when promoting democracy, but even worse - he has given Mubarak both the assurance and the green light to continue ruling. (Khouloud Khalife)

Inventing the Jews...again?

I don't know why this book's publication keeps re-appearing, in front of me anyway. I'm sure I read about it some time ago. We did a post on it back in March 2008 so why has someone emailed a link to the website now? Ach, never mind, it's upset the zios (though why a movement whose apologists are so keen to deny that they are racists are so upset at the idea that the Jews of today might not be the direct descendants of people that inhabited Palestine in biblical times is beyond me) so it might be worth a post. Actually, I think it is the fact that the book may have recently been published for the first time in English that is news, or at least it was news last month.

Anyway, it's the book by Shlomo Sand called The Invention of the Jewish People and it or he contends that the story of the expulsion of the Jews from Palestine by the Romans 2,000 years ago is just that, a story. He contends that it didn't happen and that the story of it happening is played up to justify zionist claims to a state in Palestine for the world's Jews. As it happens, not having read the book I don't know if it contains anything that is new. As I said in the post on this over a year ago, the Magnes Zionist posted about how the Roman exile didn't actually happen. Maybe if that didn't happen perhaps Sand is saying what then actually did happen. But that too has been said before.

Hmm, this is getting distressing for me. I might have to buy the book.

August 14, 2009

Anti-racism on trial

Here's an update on the impending show trial of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign activists:
Appeal for support by activists on trial for 'racism'!

An arrest warrant was issued at Friday's court hearing against Sofiah MacLeod, Scottish PSC Secretary currently in Palestine witnessing Israel's racist dispossesion of Palestinians. Sofiah will bring her recent experiences of Israeli state-driven racism when she goes on trial accused of 'racism'. Three of the other four accused will similarly produce evidence from first-hand experience of Israel's programme of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

On trial for ‘racially aggravated conduct’ are five Scots who responded to the Palestinian appeal for boycott of Israel. We protested a visit by the Israeli state-sponsored Jerusalem Quartet to the 2008 Edinburgh International Festival. Next appearance in Edinburgh Sherriff Court is on Thursday October 1st, when our lawyers will argue to dismiss the case against us .

The Scottish legal authorities will attempt to prove that shouting 'End the siege of Gaza', and 'Boycott Israel' equals 'racism'. We five will argue that boycott of Israel is a duty while that State violates every canon of international law.

This is a political show-trial, encouraged by the stated positions of the British Government, and is aimed at intimidating Palestine supporters. We shall certainly not be intimdated: last year we saw off some Zionist rascals from SCoJeC (Scottish Council of Jewish Communities) who were unwise enough to claim in print that Scottish PSC is anti-Semitic. They then had to pulp 6,000 copies of a book, Scotland's Jews, in open admission that the claim was without foundation and libellous.

We will show in our defence/attack that

  • we are bound to oppose grave Israeli crimes and British Government complicity in those crimes, including political, diplomatic, economic and military support for Israeli Governments
  • the nearest domestic political equivalent in Britain to the factions in the Isaeli Government is the neo-Nazi British National Party (BNP)
  • Israel is an apartheid state as defined in international law
  • the Palestinian-inspired BDS campaign is a duty for consistent supporters of human rights, i.e. those who repudiate a racist attitude that Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans and others have a lesser entitlement that others
  • the Jerusalem Quartet are indeed, as we claim, institutionally linked to the Israeli Army and its State, and thus to be boycotted by human rights supporters

Expert witnesses - Palestinians, Israelis and others - will show that the growing support for the Palestinian BDS appeal is justified by

  • the history of ethnic cleansing carried out by the Zionist movement and its State from 1948 to the present
  • the conscious determination of the Israeli State to continue with further criminal acts of ethnic cleansing
  • the failure of the British Government to honour its international legal obligations to opppose Israeli apartheid, specifically the illegal Wall and settlement building

Witnesses who have agreed to give expert evidence or personal testimonies for the defence include:

  • Leila Khaled, Palestinian refugee and resistance fighter, Member of Palestinian National Council
  • Dr. Ghada Karmi, Palestinian writer and academic
  • Omar Barghouti PACBI (Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott)
  • Dr. Hisham Genayem, Palestinian refugee and surgeon
  • Dr. Moshe Machover, Israeli academic and anti-Zionist political activist
  • Dr. Michael Kearney, University of York (t.b.c)
  • Dr. Keith Hammond, University of Glasgow
  • Yael Kahn, Israeli human rights activist
  • Marion Woolfson, Hon. President of Scottish PSC
  • Liz Elkind, ex-President of the STUC, moved successful report and recommendation for BDS at STUC 2009 Perth Conference
  • Tony Greenstein, (JBIG) Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods
  • Rt. Hon. Peter Hain MP, veteran anti-apartheid campaigner in the 70's, Chair of Stop All Racist Tours (awaiting reply)
  • Members of the public who witnessed the protest during the performance
  • BBC sound technicians who recorded the entire event (awaiting reply)

We are asking supporters to

  • send letters of support to
  • invite one of the accused to speak and explain the background and aims of the campaign to your trade union, political party branch, mosque, church or campaign group
  • turn up outside, and inside, the Court on October 1st and later sessions
  • make a donation to the campaign (Judge Horseburgh criticised the Legal Aid board severely for refusal to provide legal aid to one of the accused.)
  • boycott everything Israeli, except those Israelis supporting Palestinian human and national rights
  • join the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign to help us build this campaign
I wonder who the prosecution will call as witnessing to "prove" that condemning racism is itself racist. If you can stand the dross, check out this thread where you will see it argued that Israel isn't racist because there are academics that say it isn't, that Israel doesn't check people's DNA before discriminating for or against them and that, wait for it, Israel isn't racist because it only does to the natives of Palestine what white people did to the natives of the Americas and Australasia.

August 12, 2009

Colonial Settler FC: to boycott or not?

I wouldn't know about Israel's visit to the colonial settler statelet next door if it wasn't for an off topic comment from Splintered Sunrise earlier. Israel is playing Northern Ireland and Splintered Sunrise, despite reservations about sports boycotts, suggests that Israel's football team is a fitting target for a boycott:
tomorrow night there’s a treat on at Windsor. Yes, as part of a bumper round of international friendlies, the north is hosting Israel. Definitely a match in the “can’t they both lose?” category.

This was being discussed on Talk Back earlier, since the good folks of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign were not, it’s fair to say, altogether enamoured with the fixture, and were protesting outside the IFA headquarters. In response to this, we had interviews with a representative from the IFA, and that mad loyalist with ginger hair who’s always being interviewed on behalf of the Norn Iron supporters. Both of them were adamant that they wanted politics kept out of sport. This was, they said, their bedrock principle. But I don’t think it entirely works like that.

As a rule, I’m a bit cautious about sporting boycotts. If athletes don’t want to go to Zimbabwe or China, of course that’s a matter for them and they have every right to follow their conscience. On the other hand, deadbeat politicians are in the habit of calling on sportsmen to take this or that action as a fig leaf for their own inactivity – see the Foreign Office’s antics over England playing cricket with Zimbabwe. Historically, though, South Africa was a different case as sport in South Africa was run on racist lines. Once segregation and white supremacy were removed from SA sport, so too was the boycott.

That was an example of a good reason. There’s a good reason too in this case, which is a good deal more immediate than disapproval of this or that Israeli policy. You see, there is a Palestinian national football team. Via the Palestine Football Federation, it’s a member of FIFA, and has been recognised by the world governing body since 1998. Yet the team faces severe ongoing problems, most notably an inability to play either home or away fixtures as a result of restrictions imposed by the occupying power – surely that counts as bringing politics into sport. That, it seems to me, is a good enough reason to think twice about playing fixtures against Israel. Indeed, Brazil has refused to play Israel on precisely those grounds.

Worth mentioning, also, that we’re not talking here about a World Cup or Euro qualifying fixture, where you have to play whoever you’re drawn against. We’re talking about a friendly, which is taking place because the IFA issued an invitation to its Israeli counterpart.And of course, having done so, the IFA will not want to lose either face or revenue, so the match will go ahead. Well, at least there is a fair stockpile of Israeli flags in loyalist areas of Belfast. Should make the away supporters feel welcome.
Well said, that person!

Keep your womb shut and work, woman!

Col. (res.) Yitzhak ‘Tziki’ Sela, Commander of the Interior Ministry’s ‘Oz’ Unit which arrests illegal immigrants and deports them, gave an interview to Ma’ariv Wednesday in which he slammed the organizations that have been protesting against the government’s intention to crack down on illegal foreign labor.

“These groups, those who protest against us, the ones that call me ‘Goebbels’ and a Nazi, are anarchists who want the destruction of the state of Israel, with three exclamation marks,” Sela said. “They should be condemned. This is criminal behavior, pure and simple.”

“As for the children,” Sela said, “in the end the result will be that with all due sorrow and pain, there is no choice. There is a sizeable group of 1,200 children who do not have a legal permit and that is it. They are just guests here.”

When asked again about the decision to deport foreign workers’ children he asked: “What do you mean children? Where does the line pass, I want to know. This is a painful and complex issue but the public pressure that has been brought to bear here is unbelievable.”

Asked if the deportation of children was ‘inhuman’ Sela answered: “The State of Israel has made a decision. These are people who knew the law that says they cannot have children. They are adult people and they came here of their own free will. Nobody is forcing them to be here. I carry out policy. If every child receives (legal) status, we will find ourselves with a million and a half foreigners in a few years. That is the watershed from our point of view.”

“We mean business,” he stated. “I am telling the illegal migrants, take yourselves from here and go away willingly. We will give you the plane tickets. Get out of here.” (Israel National News)
Shame on these anarchists that haven't got the memo about not comparing Israelis to Nazis!

August 08, 2009

The Russians are coming!

This is at least partly a mea culpa. I quoted below from Ynet a poll that reveals the horrible attitudes that dominate Israeli public opinion. I did not however offer commentary on what was itself a reactionary Ynet presentation of a racist research project. Our friends at Mondoweiss quoted the same article, but added to it commentary that not only fails to deconstruct but indeed reinforces the reactionary thrust of Ynet.

Ynet picked on the categorization of the poll respondents by a very ideosyncretic categorization: recent immigrants from Russia, Veteran Israeli Jews, and Arabs. It then notes some noteworthy differences of attitude between the groups. Most importantly, it notes, and mondoweiss quotes, that "77 percent of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) support the transfer of Arabs out of the Jewish State."

This is a hard statistical fact. Facts, however, only carry social meaning when they are embedded in narratives and value laden social categories and measured against other facts that are left unsaid. The Ynet article, following the research, acts here as an agent of racialization, implicitly (but under cover of scientific objectivity) producing the social category of Russian immigrants as the carriers of a social pathology, nationalist extremism. The ploy of scientific objectivity is revealed by the fact that the Russian immigrants are labeled with an antiseptic, faux non-ethnic label, "immigrants from the Former Soviet Union." The same scientific detachment is left out in relation to Arabs, who are labeled simply "Arabs," a value laden ethnic category in Israel ( distinct form Palestinian, non-Jewish, indigenous, etc.). Thus, the racialization of "Arabs" is taken for granted. In contrast, the racialization of Russians, which is, as we shall soon see, the very object of the study, has to be camouflaged and ushered with pseudo-scientific decorum.

The NGO behind the poll, the Democracy Institute, a creature of the so called post-Zionist moment in Israel (1991), is a white Zionist think-tank, committed to a liberal capitalist "Jewish state." Its cadres consider extreme nationalistic attitudes pathological and incompatible with liberal capitalism. They are not opposed to racism as such, since they support maintaining, through the liberal and "moderate" nationalist mechanisms of the Jewish state, the material and institutional privileges acquired by veteran Israelis through ethnic cleansing and segregation. Rather, they promote a liberal strategy of whiteness that naturalizes, "normal", correct nationalistic attitudes, those associated with the preservation of the existing Israeli political and economic hierarchy, while pathologizing and when useful racializing attitudes that threaten their hegemonic power.

Extreme nationalist attitudes in Israel are directed against "Arabs", but Palestinians function within it as a convenient scapegoat and punchbag. As elsewhere, extreme nationalism in Israel is also a disavowed class challenge. The target in this case is the hegemonic control of a white, European, veteran elite, whose class rule no longer needs strong national solidarity and is therefore easy to tar with the aspiration for peace and "co-existence" with Arabs. This general dynamic is inflected and made more vicious by the typical tendencies of colonial ethnocratic states, in which immigrant groups find it particularly useful to use violence against indigenous people because it allows them to valorize their status by appealing to the racist ideology of the founders against the founders themselves. The dominant group, veteran Ashkenazi Israelis, has of course itself used a variety of racialization strategies in order to defend its dominance, including manufacturing racialized social/geographic "buffer-zones" between itself and the indigenous Palestinians, first by settling Jews from Arab countries to border colonies in the Negev and Galilee, and more recently by directing Russian immigrants to settlements in the OPT such as Ariel.

This is an important part of the necessary context for evaluating the fact that "77 percent of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) support the transfer of Arabs out of the Jewish State." But before we go on, let us ask a few questions about the presentation. In what way can this fact be perceived as particularly deviant in Israel when the baseline of normalcy is "47% percent for the general public"? Why are Russians compared here to the "general public" in this particular case but not in others? If we were to take the "Arab" component out of the general public, the Jewish baseline for support for ethnic cleansing would surely be closer to 60%. How can three quarters of Russian immigrants adopting an attitude common to a strong majority of Israelis Jews be labeled as a racial pathology specific to Russians? Another question, why disaggregation along these categories and not others? What about other ethnic categories? Ashkenazi, Druze, Mizrahi, Ethiopian? What about geography? Class? Education? Income? Religious identification? What about degree of being a veteran? Pre-48, post-48? What about country of Origin? Are recent immigrants from the U.S. less prone to extreme nationalism than Russians?

Fear not that I am reading too much into this it, for the introduction to the study is quite explicit about the racist purpose of the presentation:
Now, after 20 years of immigration from the Former Soviet Union, the 2009 Democracy Index focuses on an assessment of the way in which the immigrants have integrated politically, socially and economically into Israeli society. The data, researched and compiled by IDI’s Prof. Asher Arian, Michael Philipov and Anna Kanfelman, shows that despite the prevailing view that, at least politically, the “Russians” have integrated into Israeli society, they feel that they have little influence over their environment, even 20 years after the start of the Russian aliya. Many immigrants continue to express opinions that are reminiscent of political attitudes and behavior under the Soviet regime, which testifies to minimal absorption of the substance of Israeli democracy and poor political integration. It also appears that immigrants from the FSU are generally in lower spirits, the problems they face are more acute, and their reactions are sharper. By comparison with the veteran Jewish sector, the immigrant sector expresses greater concern with security problems, is less sure of its desire to live in Israel, and is not certain that it wants to raise children in Israel (The Democracy Institute, my red).
(in parenthesis: "integrating" into Israeli societies means integrating in Jewish society. Russian attitudes, depending of convenience, are measured relative to the general public or relative to veteran Jews. Within the logic of "integration," asking why Russians are not more like Palestinians in their attitudes cannot even be posed. To integrate is to vanish into the white center. That Russians are already doing better economically than the indigenous groups doesn't count as "integration".)

Let's get to the money line. The extreme nationalist attitudes of Russians, despite being in fact shared by majorities or large minorities of veteran Israeli Jews, is described as a pathology associated with their country of origin, and then doubly pathologized by associating it with the (derogatory) "Soviet regime".

Why this racialization? Consider first the weakness of seeing the higher level of nationalist racism among Russian immigrants as proof of their "poor political integration." Russians have integrated politically only too well, to the extent that the party that represents them is the third largest party in the Knesset and a FSU immigrant is Israel's Foreign Minister. Furthermore they have integrated by repeating the very political patterns of challenging Ashkenazi veteran power previously tried by religious and Mizrahi Jews: support for ultra-nationalist parties. It is not the lack of integration that threatens, but the non-docile form that challenges veteran domination.

But now comes also the opportunity. We are in a new international context. That Russian Foreign Minister is an embarrassment. He openly expresses fascist opinions (that a majority of Israelis share). The new chill between Obama and Netanyahu brings increasing U.S. media attention to some unpleasant facts about Israel. For example, the fact that Israel's past actions and current ambitions make even the "two state solution" favored by the U.S. inoperable. The dominant sections in Israel, i.e., mostly secular, veteran Ashkenazi Jews, who are by and large the greatest beneficiaries from the U.S. Israeli imperial alliance and the occupation that was made possible by this alliance, can use a scapegoat. Just as Russians were induced by the authorities of the state to settle in places like Ariel, to be put in direct, visible competition over resources with the indigenous Palestinians and to serve as a buffer zone that absorbs the violence of Palestinian resistance, they are needed now as another type of buffer zone, to be symbolically paraded internationally (and internally) as an excuse that exculpates the veterans in Tel-Aviv and Herzelyia from responsibility to the occupation. Nor is the issue purely or even primarily one of symbols and foreign image. Racializing Russians as carriers of "Soviet Regime" pathologies helps re-asserting white "Western-European" power. With international pressure for a political re-alignment in Israel growing, the racialization of Russians as "anti-Western" who need to be educated and "absorbed" into the dominant ideology could help justify re-building the hegemonic power of veteran elites.

This is particularly ironic when one considers the history of the Russian "Aliyah." Although at least 30% of them were not Jews in their county of origin, they were enthusiastically welcomed by the Israeli establishment. Loopholes and shortcuts were found to fast-track them into Jewishness, in stark contrast to the unwelcoming bureaucracy and accusations of not being properly Jewish that were deployed against (the far more clearly Jewish) immigrants from Ethiopia. The reason for this enthusiasm was race--the white skin and European culture of the immigrants. They started coming at the beginning of the nineties, a time when the challenge to the white Ashkenazi secular Israeli establishment posed by Mizrahi/religious parties, associated with the rise of Likud and later by Shas, reached a boiling point. Far from being only about the demographic balance between Jews and Palestinians, the Russian immigration kindled hopes of reasserting the demographic predominance (and voting patterns) of European, secular Jews, making Palestine not only more Jewish, but crucially, whiter/more European. To a certain extent this worked as intended, as the class challengers within Jewish society are no longer united by religion and culture. But the Russian immigrants, perhaps unsurprisingly, adopted the very racist political attitudes that gave them social currency and legitimacy, thus replicating the same dynamic oppositional model as did before them Mizrahi and religious groups.

We should always remember and repeat that Palestinians are the first and foremost victims of Israeli racism. But the racism of the state manifests itself well beyond that, in the dominance, legitimacy and recurrence of strategies of racialization at all levels and against any group when the dominant classes considers it useful. It is particularly difficult to grasp that even "excessive" racism against Palestinians (as opposed to what is supposedly the correct dose of racism!) can become the basis for racialization. Recognizing this does not mean forgiving or excusing racists. Whoever told the pollsters that the state should encourage Arabs to emigrate should be held accountable for his or her execrable politics. Yet these racializations, even when they masquerade as political moderation and opposition to racism, are still racist, and moreover, they serve the specific purpose of defending and maintaining the racist apartheid regime in Israel, with white, secular Ashkenazi Jews at the top and Palestinians interred in camps at the bottom. Therefore echoing and supporting these subsidiary forms of racism, however gratifying it may momentarily feel, is in fact counterproductive.

August 06, 2009

Ha'aretz demands right of return for Palestinians

Well not all Palestinians, just the ones whose ethnic cleansing
paints Israel in the world's eyes as a country that maintains a cruel regime of occupation, oppresses the weak and strives to create political facts in the disputed city under the guise of the "rule of law."
The Ha'aretz editorial really shows the cleft stick that liberal/left zionists find themselves in.

Israel has evicted thousands of times more than just two Palestinian families. Ethnic cleansing is one of the pillars on which the State of Israel stands. Whoever writes for Ha'aretz knows this. Look:
A democratic state that strives for peace and justice simply has no right to uproot families who became refugees in 1948.
Where was the writer in 1967? Does he or she not know that the 67 war was accompanied by another bout of ethnic cleansing by Israel. Many of the victims of that round were refugees from 1948. And when did Israel ever strive for peace?

But there's more:
No thinking person will be persuaded that Jews have a sweeping right to return to their homes in East Jerusalem as long as Israeli law not only bars Palestinians from returning to their homes in West Jerusalem, but even evicts them from the houses where they have lived for the last 60 years. The Israel Lands Administration's regulations do not even allow Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to buy land and houses in many parts of the city.
Are they saying that the average Israeli is unthinking? Or are they saying that Gideon Levy is an average Israeli?
It is impossible to ignore the injustices of 1948 while hundreds of thousands of refugees rot in the camps. No agreement will hold water without a solution to their plight, which is more feasible than Israel's strident scaremongers suggest. But rulings like the current one make it harder to distinguish clearly between Sheikh Jarrah and Sheikh Munis, between the conquest of 1948 and the conquests of 1967. My house stands on land stolen by force, and it is the obligation of Israel and the world to redress the injustice without creating injustice and new dislocation. My house stands on land that was stolen, but the whole world has recognized the Jews' right to establish their state there. At the same time, no country in the world has recognized Israel's right to conquer Sheikh Jarrah as well.
The world? Was it really the whole world?
In my morning musings on the way to the pool, I sometimes think about the land's original owners. I long for the day when Israel takes moral and material responsibility for the injustice done to them. Now, because of the court ruling, my right to continue to swim here may also be in doubt.
The world can always change its mind, can't it?

Oxfam shows Amnesty how to behave when it comes to celebs & settlements

From the NY Post:


August 6, 2009 --

"SEX and the City" star Kristin Davis is caught in the crossfire of Mideast politics.

The stunning actress is no longer working as a spokeswoman for human rights/relief organization Oxfam International because she also endorses the Ahava cosmetics line -- which is manfactured in what Oxfam regards as "disputed" territory.

Because Ahava is made by Dead Sea Cosmetics in the Mitzhe Shalem Jewish settlement in the West Bank, it's been controversial -- the leftist women's peace group Code Pink, which accuses America of "war crimes," has called for a boycott, saying Ahava uses Palestinian natural resources in what it calls "Occupied Palestine."

"This has been a huge thing," one source told us. "Ahava has factories on disputed land. From Ahava's perspective, they are not doing anything wrong. From an Oxfam perspective, Ahava is a polarizing company and Kristin shouldn't be involved with it."

Our source said Davis "has been very active with both Oxfam and Ahava, and is very passionate about the causes of Oxfam. She was completely unaware of this conflict of interest and is saddened to be on public pause from a group she has devoted so much time, money, and support to."

In a statement, Oxfam said, "Kristin Davis has done great work for Oxfam and we highly value her commitment as a supporter . . . Oxfam remains opposed to settlement trade, in which Ahava is engaged. Both Kristin and Oxfam do not want this issue to detract from the great work we have done in the past and plan to do in the future."

A spokeswoman for Davis told Page Six, "Kristin is passionate about her relationship with Oxfam, and she intends to work with them and other humanitarian causes for years to come." Ahava had no comment.

Bully for Oxfam. Meanwhile, Amnesty is partnering up with Leonard Cohen's Sept. 24 benefit concert in Tel Aviv, sponsored by the settlement-funding Israel Discount Bank. Tell Amnesty to follow Oxfam's fine example -- Action Alert: Tell Amnesty International - No Amnesty for Apartheid Israel!

August 05, 2009

Honduras resistance call for international solidarity and boycott

Call from the National Front against the Coup d'Etat in Honduras to the Worldwide Working Class

This comes from the
..."National Front against the Coup d'Etat" which unites all of the social and political expressions of the popular movement and is driving the national movement towards the defeat of the dictatorship. This front is made up of worker, peasant and other peoples organizations, as well as by the left and center parties and movements who have declared themselves against the coup d'etat.
A few quotes (with my emphasis):
Behind the coup is the business leadership, the four political parties of the bourgeoisie, (Liberal Party, National Party, Christian Democratic Party and Party of Social Democratic Innovation and Unity), the leadership of the Catholic and Evangelical churches, as well as the main owners of the media. All of them made a counter-revolutionary alliance for fear that the popular poll of the 28th of June would give power to the people and especially to the working class and poor peasantry to start the construction of a new society, where the privileges of the bourgeois class and the landowners would be eliminated.
It is also necessary to say that behind this coup d'etat is the hand of North American imperialism and the Latin American ultra-right, who are seeing it as an opportunity to stop the advance of the left in the Central American region and the influence of the Venezuelan revolution, after the recent electoral triumphs of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador and the Sandinista Front in Nicaragua.
The international reaction was forceful from a diplomatic point of view: Except for the Zionist regime of Israel, no other country in the world dared to recognize the military-business dictatorship imposed in Honduras.
The only government that always had an ambiguous policy towards the usurping government was the North American government led by Barack Obama.
The Honduran working class, which since the beginning actively responded to the popular resistance, organized in the third week a unified mobilization through its own methods of struggle: la general strike and the takeover of work centers, starting with a 48 hour stoppage by the three central unions of the country (CUTH, CGT and CTH) this past 23rd and 24th of July, which was repeated again the 30th and 31st of the same month. In solidarity with them friends from the popular organizations of El Salvador and Nicaragua cut of the customs to stop the entrance of exit of merchandise from Honduras. Immediately the business associations of Honduras and Central America, who are in solidarity with the usurpers, screamed to the sky because that boycott implied losses of millions for their companies. This means that the strike and the commercial boycott are effective weapons to wear out the economic base of the coup-makers, more than formal declarations

Because of all of this, the National Front Against the Coup d'Etat makes a call to working class organizations world wide to organize and carry out militant solidarity with the working class and the people of Honduras, carrying out boycott actions of all products that enter or come out of Honduran ports, with the goal of economically asphyxiating the dictatorship; do protests in repudiation of the dictatorship in front of the U.S. and Honduran embassies, do political and cultural actions in solidarity with the struggle of the Honduran people, and in general carry out action that strengthens the struggle of the Honduran people and its working class to get us out of this oppressive regime and reach a new society.

Securitize your dissent!

August 04, 2009

Boycott on trial or Israel on trial in Scotland?

Here's a note from the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign:

Scottish boycott in political show trial for 'racism' (Fri 7th Aug)

Five SPSC members are facing trial on Friday for boycotting Israeli state-sponsored cultural ambassadors, the Jerusalem Quartet. The Israeli musicians, in the words of their admirers, believe that 'a rifle in one hand and a violin in the other is the ultimate Zionist statement.'

In the wake of the Israeli massacres in Gaza early this year, the original Breach of the Peace charge was dropped and new charges of “racially aggravated conduct” were issued.

Boycott helped end South African Apartheid, and can do likewise with Israel. The STUC is pushing the boycott, as are countless other organisations and individuals.

Help us fight the move to criminalise boycott of criminal Israel. The same British authorities who support the siege of Gaza are working to stifle Israel's critics here. The five accused are confident this trial will see the Israeli State and its British allies in the dock of the supreme court: the court of public opinion.

Even if you can only be there for 10 minutes to show your support, please meet outside the court at 9.30am on Friday, and stay for as little or as long as you can.

Fri 7th Aug 9.30am

Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Chambers Street,

Edinburgh, EH1 1LB


Take action against suppression of Palestinian non-violent resistance in Bil’in

From Adalah-NY:

Please find below an action alert in support of the West Bank village of Bil'in, a leader in popular resistance to Israeli apartheid, that Adalah-NY has received from Palestinian and Israeli activists. For years, the Israeli military has taken fierce measures in an effort to try to crush Bil'in's campaign of nonviolent resistance to save its land, but in the past months the Israeli assault on Bil'in has escalated.

Adalah-NY has worked closely with the village of Bil'in in the campaign to boycott the companies of Lev Leviev. Leviev's companies are building settlements on the land of Bil'in, Jayyous and other Palestinian villages. Bil'in has also taken the innovative step of suing two Canadian companies [identified with Leviev's sometime partner Shaya Boymelgreen] for war crimes in Canadian court for their involvement in building the settlements on the villages' land, with June hearings held in Montreal. The Bil'in community leader who testified in Montreal, Mohammed Khatib, was among those arrested last night in Bil'in.

Adalah-NY urges all of you to take the steps recommended below in support of Bil'in:

At around 3am on Monday morning, a large military force wearing combat paint and masks invaded the West Bank village of Bil’in. Israeli soldiers raided several homes, arresting 2 Palestinian children, 5 Palestinian adults including Mohammad Khatib of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. The home of another member of the Popular Committee was raided, but soldiers could not arrest him because he was not present at home.

Also arrested were the three brothers Khaled Shawkat Abd-Alrazic al Khateeb (age 23), Mustafa Shawkat Abd-Alrazic al- Khateeb (age18), and Mohammed Show gut Abd-Alrazic al-Khateeb (age 16); Abdullah Ahmad Yassen (age 18); Abdullah Mohammed Ali Yassen (age 16); Issa Mahmoud Issa Abu Rahma (age 40); This brings to 19 the number of Biliner’s currently in custody.

Monday’s raid is another in a series of many that Israeli forces have carried out in Bil’in since June 29 June 2009, Israeli forces have arrested 25 people (most are under 18). Israeli forces have been using interrogation techniques to pressure the arrested youth to give statements against Bil’in community leaders.

Abdullah Abu Rahme, coordinator of the popular committee stated, “Mohmmad Khatib and Adib Abu Rahme along with other leaders of the Palestinian popular struggle are being targeted because the mobilize Palestinians to resist non- violently. The fact is that the Apartheid Wall and the settlements built on Palestinian land are illegal under international law, in the case of our village even the biased Israeli court declared the route illegal. Yet Israel is prosecuting us as criminals because we struggle nonviolently for our freedom.”

What you can do?

Attempts to criminalize the leadership of non-violent protests where curbed in the past with the help of an outpouring of support from people committed to justice from all over the world.

1. Many of you have met Mohammad Khatib and perhaps one of the others mentioned above. We need you now to personally testify about your knowledge of them and their commitment to non-violence. Write a letter to the Israeli military judge and please send to bilinlegal [@]

2. Please Protest by contacting your political representatives, as well as your consuls and ambassadors to Israel to demand the release of Mohammad Khatib, Adib Abu Rahme and all Bil’in prisoners.

3. The Popular committee of Bil’in is in desperate need for legal funds in order to pay legal fees and Bail. Please donate to the Bil’in legal fund by paypal click . If you would like to make a tax deductible donation in the US or Canada contact: bilinlegal [@]

- The Bil’in Popular Committee against the Wall and Settlements


The Palestinian village of Bil’in has become an international symbol of the Palestinian popular struggle. For almost 5 years, its residents have been continuously struggling against the de facto annexation of more then 50% of their farmlands the construction of the apartheid wall on it. In a celebrated decision, the Israeli Supreme court ruled on the 4 September 2007 that the current route of the wall in Bil’in was illegal and needs to be dismantled; the ruling however has not been implemented. The struggle of the village to liberate its lands and stop the illegal settlements has been internationally recognized and has earned the popular committee in Bil’in the Carl von Ossietzky Medal.

On 21 July 2009, a military judge decided to hold Adeeb Abu Rahma, a leading non-violent activist that was arrested from a demonstration against the barrier that took place in Bil’in village on 10 of July (see video at:, until the end of proceedings against him. This could mean months or a year in military prison for Adeeb, who is being charged with incitement to violence and rioting. He is the sole provider for his family of 9 children, wife and mother.

One demonstrator, Basem Abu Rahma, was killed at a demonstration as he
was attempting to speak with the soldiers.

August 03, 2009

Not all Israelis are racist, violent and fascist, indeed a significant minority isn't

The 2009 Democracy Index, published by the Israel Democracy Institute on Sunday[:]... 

The Israeli public believes in freedom of expression as a general value, but for the most part refuses to allow harsh criticism to be expressed against the state. 74% support “Freedom of expression for everyone, regardless of their opinions.” However, 58% agree that “political speech should not be permitted to express harsh criticism of the state of Israel.” This is a significant increase as compared to 48% in 2003.
Growing support for denying Arabs' rights

53% of the Jewish public supports encouraging Arabs to emigrate from Israel. 77% of immigrants support this idea, compared with 47% of the veteran public. 33% of veteran Jews are accepting of the inclusion of Arab parties in the government, by comparison with 23% of immigrants.
Only 27% of respondents objected to the statement that there should be “a Jewish majority in decisions relating to the fate of the country,” by comparison with 2003, when 38% objected to this statement. These figures indicate relatively broad support for decreasing the political rights of Israel’s Arab minority.
54% of the general public (Jews and Arabs) agrees that “only citizens who are loyal to the state are entitled to benefit from civil rights” (56% of the veterans, 67% of immigrants and 30% of the Arabs). 38% of the entire Jewish public believe that Jewish citizens should have more rights than non-Jewish citizens (43% of the veterans hold this belief, versus 23% of immigrants). In addition, 41% of veteran Jews are of the opinion that “Israeli Arabs face greater discrimination than Jewish Israelis,” compared to 28% of immigrants holding this view.
FSU immigrants more hawkish

The use of violence: 33% of immigrants from the FSU think that political violence is legitimate, as compared to 35% of Israeli Arabs and 22% of veteran Israelis. Among the general public, the greatest legitimacy is given to the use of political violence by young people aged 18 to 30, at 27%.
Evacuating settlements: 48% of Israelis are not prepared to evacuate any settlements within the framework of a permanent agreement; 37% are prepared for the evacuation of isolated settlements; and 15% are prepared to evacuate all the settlements over the green line.
The position of the immigrants from the FSU is more hawkish than that of the general Jewish public: 64% are not prepared for settlements to be evacuated in the framework of a permanent agreement; 30% are prepared for the evacuation of isolated settlements; and 6% are prepared to evacuate all the settlements. (Ynet, August 3rd, 2009)
I am trying to be positive.