October 31, 2009

Support the Daily Show!

Following on from Nedster's post below, Anna Baltzer has written the following open letter:

Dear friends,

Last night Dr. Barghouti and I were on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart talking about Palestine.

The show was overwhelmed with angry emails and phone calls prior to the appearance, and up until the last minute it seemed like they might cancel. During the taping the show had it’s only heckler in 11 years.The entire staff were very nervous and may come to regret the monumental decision (and not make it again) as they will surely be inundated now that the show has aired.

That is why it is CRUCIAL that the show receive letters of support from anyone who appreciated the interview.

PLEASE take a moment to give a quick thank you to the Daily Show. I’m sure they will likely be affected by numbers rather than length, so it’s OK to make it short, but spread the word to others! Be sure to put “Thank you” in the subject, and maybe Dr. Barghouti & my names. Fill out the form here.

(make sure to choose The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as your topic). You can also try calling 212-468-1700.

Many of you who watched the show on TV noticed that everything of real substance that I said was edited out. The major issues cut out were:
(1) the US role in aiding Israel,
(2) the lack of adequate coverage in mainstream US media, and
(3) the Palestinian-led movement for Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions (BDS)
to nonviolently pressure Israel to comply with international law.

The full, un-cut interview is available on the Daily Show homepage and will eventually be moved to:

Part I
Part II

It’s worth watching and comparing with what they allowed said in the TV version.

Regardless of the cuts, this was a huge step for the movement (and Dr. Barghouti’s left-in parts were excellent, in my opinion). If you agree, do make your letters positive, even if you decide to mention the disappointing discrepancy between the full interview and what was aired. Again, please take a moment to fill out the form here. (Make sure to choose The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as your topic).

I believe the interview wouldn’t have happened 3 years ago. Times are changing. Keep on keepin’ on…


PS. I launched a new version of my website in time for the show, in case you’re interested.

Are times changing when we have to appeal for support for a programme that included a factual discussion on Palestine? Well yes, the discussion of Palestine was something new on US television but if we don't support the programme, times could and would easily change back.

October 29, 2009

Blachar goes, questions of torture remain

Here's an article by John S Yudkin, emeritus professor of medicine, University College London, on the persistence and credibility of torture allegations of Israeli doctors' complicity in torture. It is on the BMJ site for which some kind of subscription or membership is required and it appears in full on Brian Robinson's site.

A recent BMJ news report outlined the reasons behind the call by 725 doctors from 43 countries for the former chairman of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA), Yoram Blachar, to step down as president of the World Medical Association (WMA). The doctors’ petition, addressed to Edward Hill, chairman of the WMA Council, documented a series of reports, going back to 1996, of cases in which Israeli doctors have been accused of complicity in torture and where the IMA had failed either to respond to or fully to investigate the charges. Although Dr Blachar is no longer the IMA president and concludes his term as WMA president this month, the petition still raises important questions concerning the IMA’s commitment to investigate and tackle possible complicity of Israeli doctors in the torture of prisoners and detainees.

In March this year I contrasted the powerful position statement on torture posted on the IMA’s website with the failure of that body to respond to allegations in a report, published in May 2007, by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. The report comprised detailed testimonies of nine torture victims and included names of medical personnel involved in their management in prison or referral hospitals, several of the personnel being IMA members. The reasons for medical involvement varied, but the report included an account by a 29 year old man with a sacral ulcer. During his interrogation, he was intermittently tied over a four day period with all of his limbs arched back over a chair with a sharp edge to the seat. His testimony recounted visits to a hospital where he was examined, and after the intervention of his guards the doctors prescribed analgesics and returned him to prison. Six weeks later he was referred to a different hospital for investigation of the permanent foot drop that had subsequently developed.

The IMA, which fulfils not only the functions of a union and a guild, like the British Medical Association, but also the role of ethical overseer similar to that of the UK General Medical Council, had, by early this year, failed to investigate the allegations in the report. However, in response to concerted pressure, the chairman of the IMA’s ethics board reported in March 2009, having contacted and spoken to “most of those listed,” all of whom denied either any connection with the prison services or, in the case of the three who were so employed, any involvement in interrogations, torture, or medical approval for this.

Responding to this open letter the directors of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and of Public Committee Against Torture in Israel posed a series of questions to the chairman of the ethics committee, outlining why they believed that the investigation had not been “a professional, detailed and thorough examination of serious and specific claims raised in the Report”. They requested confirmation that investigations had included “inquiries beyond the telephone conversations mentioned in the letter,” such as conversations with doctors working at the hospitals where the prisoners had been treated, reviews of medical files, and documentation of examinations and treatment from the time of arrest. They pointed out that such inquiries would circumvent the inability of many of those providing testimony to name the individual doctors involved and that even the awareness of those doctors that torture had taken place should have led to their reporting the fact to the authorities.

They also challenged the ethics committee chairman’s implication that it would be easier to check such allegations were there “some shred of evidence other than the word of the prisoners,” pointing out that the denial of an allegation of rape or sexual harassment would not be sufficient grounds for refusing to investigate it. The letter concluded by calling for a comprehensive and exhaustive investigation of the events described in the report, specifically regarding physicians’ conduct, and for the IMA to act to instil the rules of medical ethics among physicians in public hospitals and in detention facilities. To date the IMA has not responded to this letter.

The question that needs considering—by the IMA president, its ethics committee, and its members—is whether the security risks facing Israel can be allowed to over-ride human rights. Furthermore, Dr Blachar, as the president of the WMA, had an unparalleled opportunity to re-examine, from a neutral standpoint, the role of the Israeli medical profession in defending human rights. Failure to investigate to the level of accepted international norms could imply an anxiety that the claims have veracity. Furthermore, the BMA should demand from the Israeli Medical Association a more vigorous response in investigating these testimonies. The BMA has put on record its serious concerns regarding reports of medical complicity in torture at Guantanamo Bay and so would not be singling out Israel for censure.

A common response to criticism of Israeli policies or practice is that it is a consequence of antisemitism. Any such comments coming from Jewish critics warrants the label of “self hating Jews.” The roots of such interpretations are easy to understand, but, as with the response to the Goldstone report on the Gaza conflict, this may merely be an attempt to silence critics. Dr Blachar has written to doctors who are members of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel to say that, because criticism of the IMA expressed in international forums or “slinging mud at the doctors of Israel” provides “fertile ground for anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist anti-Semitism,” the IMA has decided to sever all ties with Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, an action that could have dire consequences for the provision of care to some of Israel’s most vulnerable groups.

The WMA’s Tokyo declaration provides a powerful statement on the need to end all medical complicity with torture. The new president of the WMA should work with member associations to develop guidelines on their role in investigating and censoring doctors who contravene this declaration.
Oh goodness! Zionists suggesting that criticism of the racist war criminals provides “fertile ground for anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist anti-Semitism”. How about investigating the allegations that just won't go away?

Daily Show: Anna Baltzer & Mustafa Barghouti Extended Interview Pt. 1

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Anna Baltzer & Mustafa Barghouti Extended Interview Pt. 1
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I can't figure out how to embed part 2 of the interview, but Adam Horowitz, who is much smarter than me, has it posted on Mondo along with his commentary. Anna & Dr. Mustafa: nicely done!

Here's a link to an extract of the show from Channel 4. (Levi9909)

October 27, 2009

Anything US students can do.....

Goodness, this student protest lark must be catching. No sooner has Gabriel reported on the disruption of a talk given by Ehud Olmert than reports are coming in of similar treatment being meted out to Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Daniel Ayalon. This report is from Indymedia UK:
Over 50 Students and activists protested and disrupted a lecture tonight at the London School of Economics (LSE) by Daniel Ayalon, the controversial Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel. Protesters greeted Ayalon outside of the lecture on LSE’s campus with placards and banners, whilst inside audience members heckled the controversial Minister as a "racist" and "murderer" in relation to the illegal occupation and violence carried out by the Israeli state.

Ayalon was in the UK to meet British government officials and speaking at the LSE ahead of these talks in a lecture s titled "The Middle East: The View From Israel". Security at the university was tight, with private security and police officers keeping a close watch on protesters. The Minister began and ended his lecture amid boos and chants of “Free, Free, Palestine” whilst his speech was interrupted relentlessly throughout with audience members questioning Israel’s atrocities.

The action was organized by the LSE Students’ Union Palestine Society and the Palestine Solidarity Initiative. The London School of Economics Students' Union is officially twinned with Al-Najah University and has previously voted to divest funds from those companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The motion also called on LSE to respect human rights and follow suit in embracing a divestment agenda with regards to such companies. Students also held a week long occupation in January as a response to the Israeli attacks on Gaza last winter, resulting in LSE aggreeing to practically support Palestinian students affected by the violence.

Mira Hamed who attended the lecture and is the Chair of the LSE SU Palestine Society said after the protest, "The Palestine Society at LSE has grown in support since the atrocities committed in Gaza which explains the huge turnout tonight. We will continue to support the growing international resistance against the occupation of Palestine until a just peace is achieved."

Merna Al Azzeh, a Palestinian Masters student who was in the audience added, "As an LSE student, I find it disgusting that LSE could invite a Minister to speak from a racist government that has been committing war crimes for the last 60 years."

"The recent Goldstone Report overwhelmingly condemns the genocide waged against Gazan civilians last winter and as a Palestinian I am reassured by the growing international resistance to Israeli Apartheid".

For more information:

1. LSE SU Palestine Society: www.palsoc.org.uk
2. Palestine Solidarity Initiative: www.palestinesolidarity.org

Mira Hammad ( m.hammad@lse.ac.uk)

So anything US students can do, UK students can also do. Sadly, anything US academic institutions can do their counterparts in the UK can do too. Look forward to more of these invites and the protests too.

War Criminal Olmert confronted in Chicago

A war criminal visited Chicago. He was feted by the University of Chicago, which, like every U.S. institution, offers a safe space for war criminals to explain why racism and mass murder of brown people are good and necessary. This is called "free speech" and "respectful dialog." Olmert was invited to give the annual "King Abdullah II leadership lecture." Now, every word of this expression deserves a Talmudic commentary.

"Lecture," because Olmert was supposed to speak for twenty minutes unchallenged, followed by pre-screened softball questions allowed by the organizers. Respect for war criminals precludes the right to call them out on their crimes.
"Leadership," because this is what higher education stands for, the training of the next generation of leaders, those who will be called upon to commit crimes against the lesser breed, to justify and rationalize these crimes, to avert their eyes when they are being committed, and to treat the criminals with the highest respect and deference .

"Abdullah II," because the King of Jordan, affectionately called "King Playstation" by Angry Arab, is the kind of leader brown people should be proud of. Trained and educated in the colonial mother country, (where he absorbed the same values shared by Olmert and his listeners in Chicago), King PS2 is a CIA contractor on the White Man's payroll. His sympathy for Palestinians is so legendary, he did not have to apologize for being more occupied with his dog's health than with the massacres last year in Gaza. Indeed, while Palestinians in Gaza were butchered, he sent his dog to Israel to be treated by Israel's superior veterinary medicine. King Abdullah II is also famous for the kind of "free speech" celebrated by Chicago University. Who then is better placed to grace a lecture by war criminal Olmert, who ordered and oversaw the punitive expedition into the heart of Gaza, than Abdullah II?

However, some thirty area activists conspired to disrupt the ceremony of death at Chicago University, and their illegal and uncouth shenanigans have been immortalized by a clandestine video recording, which I hope is going to inspire us all to match and better at every opportunity.

P.S. the first heckler is Ali Abunimah from the awesome Electronic Intifada.

Sacha Baron Cohen: yet another lying zionist

This is a real late one and I'm annoyed with myself for not spotting it sooner particularly as it made an appearance, I now know, in quick JSF, but better late than never.

I sometimes found Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G character quite funny but I suspected Cohen was a zionist when he pulled that Throw the Jew into the well routine and I found the whole Borat persona to be racist. I wasn't surprised when Cohen came out against the protest against the celebration of Tel Aviv's "centenary" at the Toronto International Film Festival. But the following story did surprise me. It shows Sacha Baron Cohen to be a despicable liar even by the sorry standards of zionist apologists.

I wouldn't have known about this if I hadn't noticed from our own JSF blogroll that Umkhalil hasn't posted for over a month. Checking the blog I noticed that the output was down to about one post a month so her post from 1 August, 2009 was still on the homepage. The post links to a youtube clip a Guardian article headed, The non-profit worker from Bethlehem who was branded a terrorist by Bruno, Bruno being Cohen's latest character and the non-profit worker being Abu Aita, a Palestinian with no record of armed activism.

Here's a large cut from the on line article:
Baron Cohen's film protagonist Brüno is a gay fashion-obsessed Austrian TV host who, in a short clip featuring Abu Aita, asks to be kidnapped in a bid to get famous. He thinks that Palestinian terrorists are the "best guys" for the job, because "al-Qaida are so 2001".

Promoting the film recently on the David Letterman talkshow in the US, Baron Cohen explained that finding a "terrorist" to interview for the movie took several months and some help from a CIA contact. He described the secular Martyrs Brigades, most of whom signed an amnesty deal with Israel in 2007, as "the number one suicide bombers out there".

Abu Aita said: "My file is clear with the Americans. I was in the states twice and I travel all the time." He is a Christian Fatah representative – of the movement's political wing, he stresses – for Bethlehem district. He is also a member of the board of the Holy Land trust, a non-profit organisation that works on Palestinian community-building. "I am a non-violent activist and I am not ashamed of that," he says.

The interview with Baron Cohen was set up via Awni Jubran, a journalist for the Palestinian news agency, PNN, who received a call from the film's producer. "My friend Awni told me they wanted a Palestinian campaigner to talk about the situation for a documentary, to show young people what life is like in the Palestinian territories," says Abu Aita.

He met Baron Cohen one week later, accompanied by Jubran and Sami Awad, founder of the Holy Land trust – although Baron Cohen described the two to Letterman as bodyguards for "the terrorist". Abu Aita says that Brüno's crew chose the location, which is under total Israeli control – and which appears in the film as Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp, in Lebanon.

"We trust people and we never refuse an opportunity to discuss the Palestinian cause," he says.

"We went upstairs to one of the hotel rooms and talked about the Palestinian situation for over two hours," says Abu Aita, adding that Brüno seemed serious – although his knowledge was limited.

At the very end of the discussion, Baron Cohen asked a couple of questions about al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden, which Abu Aita considered oddly out of place and which he asked the translator to repeat.

Then, when Brüno asked to be kidnapped, Abu Aita says that his actual reply was edited out. "I was angered by the question," says Abu Aita. "I said, first of all I'm not a terrorist. Second, you are a guest here, so I must take care of you until you leave my country."

Abu Aita forgot all about the interview until the the film came out and he started to receive countless calls from outraged Palestinians.

"They ask how I could allow myself to be laughed at in this way, how I could agree to it," he says. "They are angry that I have embarrassed the Palestinian people, because we are being presented in this false, disgusting way."

Abu Aita is standing in the Palestinian parliamentary elections slated for January 2010, and opposition candidates are already using this incident to discredit him. He says it is also damaging for him to appear in a gay film, which features nudity and graphic sex scenes. "With our culture and our heritage we refuse such things," says Abu Aita.

He is well known in the area and several people testify to his good character and good sense of humour. "Brüno can make jokes about anything he wants, but this is not a joke," says Abu Aita. "Calling me a terrorist is not funny – it is lying."

Discussing his plans to sue, the Fatah official says he did not sign release forms for the footage of him which appeared in the film. His lawyer, a Palestinian-Israeli from Nazareth, says that such cases can result in million dollar compensation payouts in the US.

A spokesman for Baron Cohen declined to comment.

Cohen can make himself available to denounce protests against the showcasing of Tel Aviv but cannot comment on lies he has told to undermine a Palestinian community activist and the Palestinian cause more generally.

Here's the youtube clip:

Yup, Cohen is just the kind of low life you'd expect to speak out against Israel's critics, the surprise is why anyone would now want to listen to or watch him.

The honest zionist is still as elusive as ever.

Israeli water torture?

The imbalance in water usage between Israel and the Palestinians demonstrates the full blown colonial racist nature of the State of Israel in such a way that even the most dishonest of Israel apologists won't even try to justify or deny. Ok, except for Mark Regev of course. See this report from the BBC:
Israel is denying Palestinians access to even the basic minimum of clean, safe water, Amnesty International says.

In a report, the human rights group says Israeli water restrictions discriminate against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

It says that in Gaza, Israel's blockade has pushed the already ailing water and sewage system to "crisis point".......

In the 112-page report, Amnesty says that on average Palestinian daily water consumption reaches 70 litres a day, compared with 300 litres for the Israelis.

It says that some Palestinians barely get 20 litres a day - the minimum recommended even in humanitarian emergencies.

While Israeli settlers in the West Bank enjoy lush gardens and swimming pools, Amnesty describes a series of Israeli measures it says are discriminating against Palestinians:
  • Israel has "entirely appropriated the Palestinians' share of the Jordan river" and uses 80% of a key shared aquifer
  • West Bank Palestinians are not allowed to drill wells without Israeli permits, which are "often impossible" to obtain
  • Rainwater harvesting cisterns are "often destroyed by the Israeli army"
  • Israeli soldiers confiscated a water tanker from villagers who were trying to remain in land Israel had declared a "closed military area"
  • An unnamed Israeli soldier says rooftop Palestinian household water tanks are "good for target practice"
  • Much of the land cut off by the West Bank barrier is land with good access to a major aquifer
  • Israeli military operations have damaged Palestinian water infrastructure, including $6m worth during the Cast Lead operation in Gaza last winter
  • The Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza has "exacerbated what was already a dire situation" by denying many building materials needed for water and sewage projects.

In the interests of balance here is one of the lower forms of life in occupied Palestine and it's the aforementioned, Mark Regev (né Freikorps, woops not Freikorps, Freiborg). Anyway, here he is:
Mark Regev said "the idea that we're taking water away from someone else is simply preposterous".
Well honestly, fancy accusing the State of Israel of taking something to which it's not entitled. They'll be accusing them of using white phosphorous on schools and hospitals next.

Here's one account on the Amnesty site of Israel's destruction of Palestinian water infrastructure in the West Bank.

October 22, 2009

Harry's Place finds an excuse for BBC's fascist showcase

Sorry to run another post on Harry's Place so soon after the previous one but this time I am actually shocked that they are so happy to undermine anti-fascist activism rather than work with socialists or Muslim groups against fascism. Their latest post has them supporting the BBC's latest decision to support violent racists albeit in the opposite way from the previous time. This time the beeb has decided to grant a platform to fascist British National Party leader, Nick Griffin. The last time they showed their support for violent racism was by not allowing a platform for a fundraising effort for the children of Gaza.

Traditionally leftists and liberals have opposed providing a platform for fascists and I'm sure Harry's Place have pretended to be acting in this tradition when they have opposed visits to this country by various islamists. It's curious then that HP have made an excuse for what the BBC has done tonight that even the BBC hasn't come up with and that is that in the internet age the no platform policy is redundant as people can simply surf the net. Here's HP's Brett:
You really have to stop and wonder sometimes whether SWP and UAF activists are just hysterical children throwing tantrums for attention or temper. Is there not a serious strategist among them?

Having not succeeded in the, frankly, redundant-in-the-internet-age tactic of ‘no platform’, what did they do next? They created such a media stir - now, apparently having broken in to the TV studio - that Nick Griffin’s performance on Question Time will probably be guaranteed the biggest audience since a mysterious assailant shot J.R. Ewing!

Now this appearance of Nick Griffin on the BBC has been publicised in the media for weeks now and it was the subject of the front pages of both the Guardian and the Times newspapers this morning. But for the anti-anti-fascists of Harry's Place it is the SWP and Unite against fascism who publicised Nick Griffin's appearance on UK television tonight.

Two points about HP emerge from this. The first is the usual one that in suggesting that it is anti-fascists that have publicised this event by their actions tonight when the event was already publicised on the front pages of two national newspapers this morning, HP shows that truth is a complete irrelevance to its campaign against leftists and Muslims. The other is a bit more troubling and that is that if HP has to choose between fascists on the one hand and socialists and Muslims on the other, it will side with the former.

The Question Time programme that Nick Griffin is appearing on tonight is actually on as I am writing this and the reason HPrs see leftists and Muslims as more problematic than fascism in the UK wasn't long in coming. Griffin managed to mention that his party wholeheartedly supported Israel's assault on Gaza. And this of course calls to mind the time that a so-called Community Security Trust spokesperson admitted that "[t]he BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web".

October 20, 2009

Oh no! Jewish Jew bashing fails to silence criticism of racist war criminals

With breathtaking arrogance, Gene from Harry's Place has expressed surprise that the bullying and smearing of Jewish anti-zionists and critics of Israel hasn't worked. Cop this:
I had hoped that our efforts at mockery, along with those of our comrades at Engage and some others, would have rendered it simply too embarrassing for anyone to use the phrase “as a Jew” in the course of Israel-bashing.
With Dr David Hirsh on the missing list from his increasingly ludicrous Engage blog, I suppose HP has to step into the breach to ensure that the public at large only conceive of Jews as nasty racist bigoted supporters of war criminals.

This Jewish Jew bashing has manifest antisemitic overtones as it seeks to impose a one size fits all worldview on all Jews, and in particular it seeks to impose a worldview that is in itself racist and wrong. No surprise then that, idiot that he is, Gene, possibly without realising the irony, has titled his post, "As a Jew watch" which is very close to the most prominent of the American openly nazi websites, Jewwatch.

Apart from failing to see their own racism against Jews and others (mostly Arabs and Muslims but David T thinks blacks have their uses in bogus comparisons with Jews), in trying to "mock" those Jews who speak out as Jews against the the racist war criminals of the State of Israel, Gene and co are exposing a profound neurosis about an identity they want homogenised under the rubric of zionism.

This neurosis isn't confined to Harry's Place. Gene's post was based on a post from the blog of Norman Geras. Norman Geras has been described as left-wing and even marxist but I find him a bit of a vulgariser of political concepts. Perhaps, like David T, he was a leftist in his youth and moved to the right later on in life. Anyway, he isn't happy that someone can identify themselves as a Jew to condemn Israel whilst ignoring Palestinian violence, lower in incidence, fewer in incidents, but far more highly publicised in the western media and more frequently condemned by western governments.

Woops, I should have pasted the quote and named the person that Geras and Gene are condemning. It's Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books and the quote that so upsets these Jews against Jews is this:
“The most sensitive area,” says Ross McKibbin, an Oxford don who writes on politics for the paper, “is undoubtedly the Middle East, where you couldn’t say there is much balance.” Wilmers herself says that her customary ambivalence doesn’t extend to Israel: “I’m unambiguously hostile to Israel because it’s a mendacious state. They do things that are just so immoral and counterproductive and, as a Jew, especially as a Jew, you can’t justify that.”

“My people”, as she calls fellow Jews, “have a responsibility”: “I feel a particular right to speak out on this because of my background.” In August she ran an essay headlined “Zionist Terrorism”. What about Palestinian terrorism: does that get a look-in? “Everyone knows about that,” she counters. “I just think we get worked up about the wrong things, and there is more wrong on one side. What Cherie Blair said about being a suicide bomber if she’d been brought up in Gaza, I can absolutely see that point.”

And here's Norm:
'As a Jew...' she says. Well, yes. Jews are just people. So you can expect the same mix of qualities amongst them as you can amongst other sorts of people. Unambiguous hostility to Israel for being 'mendacious'; levels of mendacity of other states in the Middle East not a topic for comment. As a Jew you can't justify Jewish immorality; but Palestinian terrorism you can skate past (and do worse than skate past) because 'everyone knows' about it. Such are the constituents of responsible moral judgement. Not as a Jew but just as a person, I know the odour of that kind of 'responsibility'. (Thanks: DH.)
Not sure how mentioning and contextualising the "suicide bomber" amounts to skating around it but has Norm never heard of people speaking as Jews against Palestinian resistance without any mention of what it is that they are resisting? And who's DH? Why no link?

I said that this harassment of Jewish critics of Israel has a lot of form on the net and that Engage seems to exist for it or at least it seemed to when David Hirsh (DH?) used to post there. In fairness Hirsh always claimed that Engage was not a Jewish group. As it happens it's hard to discern sometimes whether Engage is a group at all but it has certainly worked closely with specifically Jewish, Israeli and zionist groups and Engage, HP and Geras are happy to link to Jewish advocates for Israel and Hirsh/Engage has been more than happy to work with those who are self-promoted as authentic official voices of Jews.

What these particular Israel apologists and defenders do not countenance is clearly not then the validity of Jewish voices qua Jewish voices, but rather the validity of alternative Jewish voices on the subject of Palestine/Israel. Its attacks on coalitions such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP) or Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) are unsettling to read and often descend into ad hominem calumnies directed at British Jews whose politics Hirsh or Engage oppose.

Hirsh has described the coming together of Jews in political initiatives independent of or opposed to Zionism as constituting an ‘‘'as a Jew’ love-in"; when IJV was founded by British Jews looking to disrupt the BoD’s or Chief Rabbi’s claims to representative status, Hirsh discerned its real purpose as being ‘to deny that there is a threat of contemporary antisemitism’ and to do so by offering:
[…] an explicitly Jewish denial, in the name of Jews. It offers a succession of high profileJewish celebrities, political activists and academics who will testify, ‘as a Jew’, that left-wing or liberal hostility to Israel is, in every case you care to examine, free from racist menace.
And of course, whilst denying that the antisemitism smear is ever used to silence Israel's critics, Hirsh has to accuse IJV of antisemitism:
IJV complains that the ‘official’ Jewish community refuses to allow Jews to criticize it or to criticize Israeli policy. It says that those ‘dissidents’ who do criticize are subjected to smear campaigns which aim to silence them with a dishonest charge of ‘antisemitism’. People in IJV present themselves as weak victims of a hugely powerful Jewish lobby.
For all their condemnation of those who speak "as a Jew", Engage were happy to post a riposte by the Board of Deputies to reassert their formal status as the representatives of the Jewish people in the UK.

And of course they were happy to cross post from that rarity, a hasbara site that's even sillier than Engage, Simply Jews as it managed to bring together crass references to the the genitalia of Palestinian men, jokes at the expense of the late Rachel Corrie, and further reflections on the alleged‘physical inadequacies’ (also of a sexual character) of anti-Zionist Jews. But surely its most egregious moment comes when a new variant of the “self-hating Jew” canard used to deny the legitimacy of anti-Zionist Jewish identity is provided. The author coins the term ‘self-serving’ and goes on to relish in the fortuitous discovery that this provides a means to label anti-Zionist Jews ‘SS Jews’. How curious that these people are usually on record supporting the idea of outlawing the perfectly apt comparison of Israel to nazi Germany because they say it is hurtful to Jews to compare a specifically Jewish state to a state that brought so much harm to so many Jews. Let's leave aside the fact that is precisely the supremacy thing together with the rampant militarism that leads to the comparison between nazis and zionists and focus on the sheer lack of principle of these people who see themselves as Simply Jews or simply Jews.

Just to round up, according to these hasbaraniks, Jews must not, as Jews, criticise Israel but Jews, as Jews, must support Israel and attack and smear Israel's critics. Israel must not be likened to the nazis because it's hurtful to Jews, but Jews who, as Jews, criticise Israel, can be called SS Jews. You get the idea?

That was intended as a brief outline of some of the hasbara parrots that Gene of HP hoped would have embarrassed Jews out of criticising Israel whilst identifying as Jews. Has it not occurred to him that the bullying smear tactics of the Jewish supremacist movement of which he is a part, together with the racist murderous violence meted out by the Jewish supremacist state, might actually embarrass a lot of Jews without specific commitment to the anti-racist cause whereas those of us who openly, as Jews and as human beings, condemn Jewish supremacy and all racism have nothing to be embarrassed about? Maybe it has occurred to him. Logic and truth aren't exactly de rigeur at Harry's Place.

October 15, 2009

Turkish tv "presents Israeli soldiers as murderers of innocent children"

Here's Jörg Lieberman in Ha'aretz:
"Such a drama series, which doesn't even have the slightest link to reality and which presents Israeli soldiers as murderers of innocent children, isn't worthy of being broadcast even by enemy states and certainly not in a state which has full diplomatic relations with Israel
I think that's what they call "telling it how it is" or "keeping it real".

October 12, 2009

Zios in panic over Goldstone

London Jewish News carries a report of a petition headed "No to Goldstone" being posted to the UK Prime Minister's Downing Street website as follows:
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to declare the UK’s opposition to the Goldstone Report and to ensure its rejection when a vote is taken in the UN Human Rights Council in March 2010. We believe that the Report was biased against Israel from the announcement of the UN mission’s mandate. This was compounded by its composition, by the selectivity of the incidents it investigated, by the witnesses it interviewed and by its almost complete failure to refer to terrorism and to the defensive context of Israel’s operation in Gaza in January 2009. More details

Submitted by Jonathan Hoffman – Deadline to sign up by: 06 March 2010 – Signatures: 1,733

What's an "almost complete failure"?

Clarification from B'Tselem?

I should have revisited this B'Tselem post earlier than now but I've been busy and I've just been reminded of it. Just to recap, a report appeared in the Jerusalem Post claiming that a B'tselem director was basically supporting the standard zionist line on the Goldstone report. This had me posting that B,Tselem is zionist first and for human rights second. Omar Barghouti was a little more cautious by raising the possibility that the JP report might not be accurate but, like me, he found B'Tselem to be suspect.

It subsequently turned out that B'Tselem's position was largely supportive of the Goldstone report so I ran a post wondering out loud if an apology by me might be in order That led in turn to an email to me from B'Tselem's Press Officer, Sarit Michaeli, as follows:
Dear Levi/Mark,

Indeed, this time I fear you have got it wrong. Setting aside for a moment opinions about B’Tselem, it would have been easy to have made contact with the organization to ascertain whether the Jpost article was an accurate representation of B’Tselem’s position. As a matter of fact, it was incorrect (the headline was completely false) and tendentiously edited. B’Tselem’s actual position (which you may or may not agree with) is much more nuanced and was delineated by Jessica Montell here:


In any case, you are always welcome to approach me for information.



I have to say that, having read Jessica Montell's own Jerusalem Post article, I am still not convinced that B'Tselem is primarily concerned with human rights:
THE GOLDSTONE Report is unsettling. I was disturbed by the framing of Israel's military operation as part of "an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience." The facts presented in the report itself would not seem to support such a far-reaching conclusion. In light of the sweeping conclusions regarding Israel, the very careful phrasing regarding Hamas abuses is particularly conspicuous. The mission did not find conclusive evidence regarding Hamas's use of mosques and civilian buildings for military purposes, nor does it criticize Hamas's firing from and shielding themselves within civilian areas.
This looks like a potted if slightly softened version of what the whole zionist pack has been saying. She is claiming that there is no evidence that Israel is collectively punishing Gaza but that there is evidence to justify Israel's firing on civilian targets. I see no other interpretation. And if I'm wrong, I'm still not sorry.

October 10, 2009

Victor Kattan live and direct from London West One!

Video of the recent launch of Victor Kattan's book, From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949:

More later....

Victor's own site is here.

UPDATE - here's part II -

October 09, 2009

Parody dies another death

Obama has followed greats like Henry Kissinger, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres in being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I think George W.Bush was runner up.

Here's a chunk of the Reuters report:

Describing himself as surprised and deeply humbled, Obama said he would accept the award as a "call to action" to confront the global challenges of the 21st century.

"I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations," he said in the White House Rose Garden.

Like he hasn't been humbled by Bibi and AIPAC.

Now America has launched well over 20 foreign invasions since WWII and Obama says that the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded as "an affirmation of American leadership on behalf of aspirations held by people in all nations". Perhaps parody isn't dead after all.

Beigels not bagels, beigels not bombs and look, no bagels!

What's goin' on 'ere then? Where did the bagels go from this Jewish Chronicle report?

First up, a big mazel tov to Debbie Fink for being found not guilty of some charge or other arising out of a protest against Israeli foreign minister, Jorg Lieberman. Now the important business of the disappearing bagels.

An email from Vivien Lichtenstein to the Just Peace UK list had me checking the google cache for the original Jewish Chronicle report on Debbie's acquittal. This is from the email:
"Ms Fink was in a group of around a dozen protestors who were asked to
move by police after throwing bagels at those attending."

Was convinced I'd read that bagels weren't thrown and have since learned
they were, but not by Debbie or other J-BIG / JfJfP protestors.
And here's google cache:
Ms Fink was in a group of around a dozen protestors who were asked to move by police after throwing bagels at those attending.
And here's the Jewish Chronicle now:
Ms Fink was in a group of around a dozen protestors who were asked to move by police.
So, leaving aside that it's beigels, not bagels, who ate all the beigels?

October 07, 2009

Holocaust awareness and respecting "the Other"

A friend of mine has a letter in today's Independent about the origins of holocaust denial in the middle east:
Donald Macintyre reports on teaching Gaza children about the Holocaust (5 October). When I worked in Lebanon with Palestinian refugees over a decade ago, most were aware of the Holocaust. That didn't stop many of them thinking that it was an exaggerated or made-up story to justify the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland; or, worse, that the Jews in some way deserved what they got. This view was formed in the context of living in a refugee camp in Lebanon since 1948, and being refused their right of return for decades.

One senior Palestinian nurse working in the camp had studied abroad. In the US, he gave first aid to a passer-by who was suffering from a heart attack, only to find later that he was an Israeli. He commented: "I visited him in hospital, he was a really nice man, we got on well." This was a story he told to his junior colleagues to demonstrate the nursing code of practice; serving everyone irrespective of ethnicity and religion. He was a person who did not support violence in any form, and always tried to see the best side of everyone.

One day, we talked about the Holocaust. He believed Jews were powerful and persuasive, a view gained from his experiences of Israeli invasions of Lebanon, and as a refugee, and visiting the West where the Palestinian story was under-reported and misunderstood. He said that Hitler perhaps felt he had no choice, as he may have thought that it was the only way of protecting the Germans from a Jewish takeover of their land.

Relating to Gaza children, the Holocaust will always be seen within the context of their own experience. Many are refugees; all have experienced living under harsh conditions of Israeli occupation. Introducing one new educational topic will not change views, particularly as the Holocaust was the product of European anti-Semitism, for which Palestinians have paid a heavy price.

What might be more relevant would be teaching all the world's children how to respect "the Other" and treat him/her as an equal, thus ridding the next generation of notions of racism and bigotry that still is at the root of conflict throughout the world.

Dr Judith Brown

Farrington Gurney, Somerset

Very well put, Judith.

Undermining the legitimacy of a racist regime

See this al Jazeera interview with Richard Falk. He says that the decision of Abbas's PA is so perverse it leaves the Palestinians bereft of representation and that NGOs and solidarity groups must step into the breach. He further claims that the global Palestine solidarity movement is the "sequel to the anti-apartheid campaign...that was so effective in finally undermining the legitimacy of the racist regime in Pretoria".

I notice that in referring to the struggle for Palestinian rights and his mention of "finally undermining the legitimacy of the racist regime in Pretoria" Richard Falk made no distinction between Israel and the occupied territories - but that's just me.

Bar Rafaeli, anti-Zionist?

Well she may not have the same anti-Zio chops as Marek Edelman, but let's give credit where credit is due. Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli is under fire from fellow Israeli model and IDF private Esti Ginzburg. Rafaeli, it seems, is a draft dodger, whilst Ginzburg is a proud soldier. "IDF service is a must," declares Ginzburg. "Service is a duty, not a choice." (Anyone seen Starship Troopers? "Service guarantees citizenship!!"). Anyhow the YNet article in which Esti disses Bar links to this two-year old interview with Rafaeli which includes these bon mots:

“I really wanted to serve in the IDF, but I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time,” she said. “That’s just the way it is, celebrities have other needs. I hope my case has influenced the army.

“Israel or Uganda, what difference does it make? It makes no difference to me. Why is it good to die for our country? What, isn’t it better to live in New York? Why should 18-year-old kids have to die? It’s dumb that people have to die so that I can live in Israel,” Refaeli added.

Bar: it's definitely better here in the Big Apple. We agree with you, Jews don't need frontieres. Come join us in the galut!

October 06, 2009

Moshe Arens et al on Marek Edelman

As is now well known, Marek Edelman, a Bundist and co-founder of the Jewish Battle Organisation, died a few days ago. I was surprised to see a respectful obituary of the man by Moshe Arens in Ha'aretz:
Many of the survivors of the uprising who settled in Israel could not forgive Edelman for his frequent criticism of Israel. When on my return from Warsaw I tried to convince a number of Israeli universities to award Edelman an honorary doctorate in recognition of his role in the Warsaw ghetto uprising, I ran into stubborn opposition led by Holocaust historians in Israel. He had received Poland's highest honor, and at the 65th commemoration of the Warsaw ghetto uprising he was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal. He died not having received the recognition from Israel that he so richly deserved.
But then why sully the memory of such a courageous and principled man? I'm guessing Israel will get round to "honouring" him just as soon as people forget that he was a bundist, not a zionist.

Not surprising are the obituaries from Jewish Socialist Group's David Rosenberg and Charlie Pottins both of which are well worth a read.

UPDATE 19/12/2017

Moshe Arens's article in Ha'aretz has now been zapped but it can be read at the Wayback Machine.

October 02, 2009

Mixed messages from B'Tselem

I dunno. Should I apologise for going off half-cocked in my post on B'Tselem? Should I have been more like Omar Barghouti perhaps? You see, I sent the Jerusalem Post link to the Just Peace UK list where Roland Rance responded by cutting out the middleman and posted a link to the B'Tselem site itself. The official position of B'Tselem appears to be that Israel should accept the Goldstone report and it doesn't say anything about one-sidedness or fixations with Israel etc. Here it is:
With the publication of the Goldstone Committee report today, human rights organizations in Israel are studying the report and its conclusions, and they call upon the Israeli Government to take the report seriously and to refrain from automatically rejecting its findings or denying its legitimacy.

Already it is clear that the findings of the report - written after gathering extensive information and testimonies from Israeli and Palestinian victims - will join a long series of reports indicating that Israel's actions during the fighting in Gaza, as well as the actions of Hamas, violated the laws of combat and human rights law.

Human rights organizations in Israel believe that the State of Israel must conduct an independent and impartial investigation into these suspicions and to cooperate with an international monitoring mechanism that would guarantee both the independence of that investigation and the implementation of its conclusions. The organizations have written to Israel's Attorney General to demand that he establish such an independent body to investigate the military's activities during “Cast Lead”, but he rejected their request.

The groups expect the Government of Israel to respond to the substance of the report's findings and to desist from its current policy of casting doubt upon the credibility of anyone who does not adhere to the establishment's narrative.

Organizations on this statement: Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Adalah, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Gisha, HaMoked, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Yesh Din.

Now here's Omar Barghouti's email on the Jerusalem Post report:
If accurate, this Jerusalem Post report may be revealing B'Tselem's lowest point ever, I think, where the organization shows where its true loyalty lies: in protecting Israel from real, effective accountability measures before international law, rather than defending and upholding human rights even if that leads to punitive measures against Israel, a consistent perpetrator of grave violations of them.

Attacking the UN and the investigative report by Goldstone -- a judge with deep connections to Israel and Zionism who has been partially criticized by ranking international law experts (<http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10788.shtml>http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10788.shtml) for letting Israel off the hook on important aspects of its war crimes in Gaza -- is a sign of unprecedented failure by B'Tselem to distinguish itself from the Israeli herd-like near consensus in defending the state's crimes against humanity committed in Gaza, albeit indirectly and partially.

I've argued for years, based on my in-depth reading of B'Tselem's reports over the years, but particularly since the second initfada erupted in 2000, that the organization adopts a very selective, sanitizing approach to reporting Israel's human rights violations, focusing on the least grave crimes and omitting the gravest of all. To my mind, this was indicative of a commitment to protect Israel's image against the worst accusations -- that may call for war crimes investigations -- and to focus attention instead on less egregious crimes that may only evoke condemnations and demands for Israel to do better next time!

As I've written before, I believe that B'Tselem has fallen well behind international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (despite the obvious problems and political limitations of both) in reporting, examining and otherwise exposing Israel's war crimes and crimes against humanity in its war of aggression on the Palestinian people in Gaza at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. In the following news report, B'Tselem's director reportedly provides the key factor that may explain this utter failure to defend human rights when it is inconvenient: Israel should not be blamed for indiscriminately targeting civilians!

Shifting the blame from Israel to Hamas is a shameful tactic of blaming the victim that one hoped even B'Tselem will not join the herd in adopting.

Joining the Israeli choir, from academic institutions, to public figures, to leading intellectuals, to the most right-wing MPs, B'Tselem here is indirectly defending Israel against THE most well documented fact about its atrocious war on Gaza: that it intentionally and in a pre-meditated manner used massive firepower to devastate civilian infrastructure and "collectively punish" the entire civilian population as a form of pressure against the resistance, applying the Israeli military doctrine partially developed at Tel Aviv University: the Dahiyah Doctrine. (see attached the excellent study on TAU's complicity in Israeli violations of international law, prepared by researchers of the SOAS Palestine Society).

If the following report is accurate, this disgraceful failure by B'Tselem to uphold international law in circumstances where it may invite tough sanctions against their state makes it lose whatever little credibility it may have still had among Palestinians and indeed among consistent supporters of human rights worldwide. Many of us, including myself in all likelihood, will still quote some of the excellent reports issued by B'Tselem on the least troubling crimes committed by Israel. But if we want facts about Israel's worst crimes, we must look elsewhere. B'Tselem can no longer be a reliable source of information or legal analysis on those. It must choose where its main loyalty lies: protecting the state despite its colonial and apartheid policies and war crimes, or consistently, thoroughly and accurately defending human rights, indiscriminately and without the damning omission of the most serious violations of them.

It all comes down to two words in Omar Barghouti's email: "if accurate". Often a big "if" with Jerusalem Post reports.

So is an apology in order or should B'Tselem put its house in order? I'll think about it while I'm at work.

With PA help, Obama moves Palestine one step closer to genocide

The Goldstone report was a milestone in demanding accountability from Israel. Unfortunately, to tear one's hair out, it is being buried with the help of the Palestinian Judenrat in Ramallah.
the Palestinian Authority, under heavy pressure from the United States, has withdrawn its support for a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution on alleged war crimes in Gaza, diplomats in Geneva said Thursday.

U.N. and European diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter with reporters, said the Palestinian delegation's surprise turnaround means any resolution on the report would likely be delayed until next March. (AP)
This is exactly what Nadia Hijab predicted less than two weeks ago:
The Obama administration could send a strong signal by voting to submit the report to the General Assembly, or even by abstaining. But, despite its fine words on Monday, it is more likely to want to bury it. Otherwise, attention will focus on prosecuting an Israel it’s trying to nudge to the negotiating table. The problem it will face is that Third World countries dominate both the Human Rights Council and General Assembly and they traditionally support Palestinian rights. So it will seek an alliance with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. If they indicate they do not want the report to go forward, the rest of the Third World would find it hard to go over their heads.

But could Egypt and the Palestinian Authority possibly want to stop accountability for war crimes in Gaza? Hard to believe, but they may have already done so earlier this year when Father Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the General Assembly’s Nicaraguan president, tried to get the international community to stop the slaughter.

Father Miguel has named no names, but in his speech at the end of his one-year term this week, he left little doubt about what happened. He said he had tried to persuade “those who should have been most closely involved” to convene the General Assembly to help the Palestinians under fire. But “all I received was advice to give the process more time… we should do nothing that could endanger the success that was always just beyond our reach.”

And he went on to make a very serious accusation against “those who should supposedly have been most interested” yet “denied their support.” He said he hoped “that they were right and that I was wrong. Otherwise, we face an ugly situation of constant complicity with the aggression against the rights of the noble and long-suffering Palestinian people.”

If this complicity repeats itself at the Human Rights Council, the Goldstone Report will be sunk. The power of the state system (and a putative statelet) will have trumped the principles of international law and human rights -- unless human rights advocates act to make sure the right thing gets done. (Middle East Online)

I wish I am wrong, but I see this success of Israel at the Human Right Council as one major advance toward genocide. This won't happen next week. But the brakes are being cut one by one. The righteous fury is in place, the silent world is watching incapacitated, and all is made ready for the final push down the hill.

October 01, 2009

The liberal elite does Polanski

Roman Polanski raped an adolescent. You can call is 'statutory,' because that is the legal term. But this wasn't a nineteen year old boy hunky-punkying with his seventeen year old girlfriend. The victim was 13. It was rape. Furthermore, given that Polanski was a famous director who encountered the victim in his scope as Vogue guest editor, and knowing what kind of career door opener a photo in Vogue is, this "relationship" would have stunk to high heaven even if the victim were nineteen and Polanski's account of it were true. Regardless of age, it would still be sexual assault and rape if half of what the victim described were true, as it almost certainly is.

Polanski then fled the U.S. rather than risk going to prison. That is not an offense. While Polanski deserves a stint in prison for his crime, the U.S. penal system is the definition of "cruel and unusual punishment." On this ground alone, no country committed to human rights should extradite a person to the U.S. to face a prison term, even as, in this case, that person fully deserves a prison term. On the other hand, there is no harm in remembering Polanski was able to flee because he was given VIP treatment by the U.S. "criminal justice" system. He was not, after all, a dark skinned shoplifter in possession of marijuana, but merely a celebrity who raped a girl.

The arrest of Polanski must be seen as the sequel to the U.S. Switzerland row over UBS, whose managers provided support for tax evasion to "high net worth" U.S. taxpayers. Polanski is a sacrifice with which Switzerland hopes to ingratiate itself with the U.S. justice department after the bruising battle over bank secrecy. There are no saints here. Given the weight of its banking sector, Switzerland's tax haven status is crucial to its prosperity. The Swiss will do a lot worse to keep their share of the world's wealth. On the other hand, given that half of every dollar paid in taxes to the U.S. government goes to kill people somewhere on the globe, the rich sending their monies to secret Swiss bank accounts is almost humanitarian.

This is a story without moral high-ground. But a special dishonorable mention must goes to Polanski new friends. A long list of liberal pimps has endorsed Polansky as a aggrieved victim. Their argument can be summed up as "there are surely more important issues in the world" than celebrities raping the children of people who want their children to be celebrities. Consider that the price of admission, wink-wink, nod-nod! You just got to read Joan Z. Shore unbelievably fatuous apology for celebrity rapists. Even if you believe that Polanski should not be arrested and extradited, is making light of child rape not beyond the pale? Shore claims to be a feminist.

Then there is the tail end of the holocaust industry wagging itself shamelessly. Is there no end to the tripe that the Holocaust can be asked to carry? Claude Lanzmann, maker of the nine hour documentary of survivors' recalling of the holocaust, signed a statement circulated by Bernard-Henry-Levy, that describes Polanski as a survivor of Nazism and Stalinism as one of the reasons he should be excused. Anne Applebaum explains that Polanski's decided to flee a jail sentence because "Polanski's mother died in Auschwitz. His father survived Mauthausen. He himself survived the Krakow ghetto..." You can take it as an admission of sort that, mutatis mutandis, the U.S. prison-industrial-complex shares some noticeable affinities with the gulags of Stalin and the concepntration camps of Hitler. That was no doubt unintentional. We should not be waiting for Anne Applebaum to write something about the less glam victims of the American Gulag, people like Shifa Sadequee, jailed for the crime of being young while Muslim. You only have her sympathy if you're famous and/or a holocaust survivor. Writes Katha Politt, "The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst." I am not convinced about the 'worst' part.

What can be expected from them? These are the people, Anne Applebaum, Claude Lanzmann, Bernard-Henri Levy, for whom the holocaust justify every murder, every brutality and every lie. They grab the Holocaust excuse, which they deploy in defense of Israel's crime de jour on average every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the way you slip into your slippers. Perhaps every perpetrator of an ugly crime who survived the holocaust reminds them of "plucky little Israel". Perhaps the "liberal cultural elite" is so used to defending the indefensible that it has become second nature.