November 30, 2009

BDS roadshow

Israel, the Palestinians and apartheid: the case for boycott and sanctions

* UK wide speaker tour 4 - 9 December *

2009 has seen a groundswell of popular support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel until it complies with international law.

Join a renowned panel of international speakers from South Africa and Palestine to find out more about BDS and what lessons can be learned from the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa.

Speakers include:

  • Ronnie Kasrils - former minister in Nelson Mandela's ANC government in South Africa & anti-Apartheid activist
  • Omar Barghouti - Founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
  • Bongani Masuku - International Secretary COSATU - the South African trade union confederation

Contributions from:

  • George Mahlangu - Campaigns Officer, COSATU
  • Prof Steven Rose - Biologist, Open University, and founder member of BRICUP
  • Tom Hickey - National Executive Committee, University and Colleges Union (UCU)
  • Terry Brotherstone - General Council Scottish TUC and UCUS Past President
  • Yasmin Khan - Senior Campaigns Officer, War on Want

Dates and locations:

London - Friday 4 December 7pm
Khalili Lecture Hall, SOAS, University of London, Malet Street
» Click here for a map to Khalili Lecture Hall

Manchester - Monday 7 December 7pm
Lecture Theatre A, University Place, University of Manchester, Oxford Road
» Click here for a map to University Place

Leeds - Tuesday 8 December 7pm
Rupert Beckett Lecture Theatre, Michael Sadler Building, University of Leeds, Woodhouse Lane
» Click here for a map to the Micael Sadler Building

Glasgow - Wednesday 9 December 7pm
STUC Building, 333 Woodlands Road
» Click here for a map to the STUC building

Organised by the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), Scottish Trades Union Council and SOAS Palestine Society.

Supported by War on Want and Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Israel issues habeus corpses (sic) against its fascist allies

Tony Greenstein has spotted that the zionists' hypocrisy over the real antisemitism that it has always colluded with, isn't confined to its bogus memorialising of the holocaust. It has now been extended to the Jewish victims of Israel's friends in the old Argentinian Galtieri regime. Tony's post is headed Argentina – Proof that Israel is no Refuge from Anti-Semitism:
Post 1945 there was one regime that murdered Jews because they were Jews and in particular because they were left-wing Jews. In Argentina between 1976 and 1983 3,000 of the Disappeared Ones were Jewish, 10% of those murdered by the fascists. Yet there was not one word of protest from Israel. Quite the contrary. It would seem that Israel was actually advising these torturers on 'counter-insurgency'.
And here's Ha'aretz:
The Knesset yesterday unanimously approved a decision demanding that Argentina extradite to Israel those Argentina colonels and generals involved in mass killings during the country's military dictatorship from 1976-1983 so that they can be put on trial. Just 19 MKs were present for the debate.

MK Yossi Sarid (Meretz) proposed [I think that should be "opposed"] the move, saying that it was a "hypocritical discussion since all the facts have long been known and the government of Israel never once lifted a finger and cooperated with the Argentine murders because of their interest in arms deals."

The Knesset's decision, which takes the form of a declaration, follows reports that 40 former officers of the military junta were arrested in Argentina on Sunday on the orders of the new president, Nestor Kirchner, who said that he is prepared to extradite them to Spain.

The Knesset also called for mass graves to be opened to identify Jewish victims of the regime and bring them for burial to Israel.
So now the victims of zionist-fascist collusion are dead, Israel wants to know them. I remember reading somewhere that, in spite of the well documented collaboration of zionists with the nazis from Hitler's rise to power to the tail end of the holocaust, Ben Gurion wanted to give Israeli citizenship to the holocaust dead when the State of Israel was established. Plus ça change!

November 28, 2009

More thoughts on the circus

I already gave a little mention to the establishment circus being passed off as an inquiry into the war on Iraq. I only found out a couple of days ago that questions were being asked about two of the panellists' ability to be objective about a war they both supported. One is a zionist activist, Martin Gilbert, who writes questionable histories of Israel and hagiographies of Bush and Blair. The other is a chap called Sir Lawrence Freedman who I had never heard of until I saw a Jerusalem Post article implying that questioning the integrity of these two was antisemitic because they are both Jewish. Well I was just googling "Martin Gilbert" to see if anything had been made of his appointment to the panel and sure enough there is a little crop of letters to the Guardian that suggest that the inquiry has been set up to exonerate the war party, especially Blair.

Check out this first one:

Your editorial on the Chilcot inquiry (23 November) is judicious and balanced, but surely your implicit criticism of Sir Lawrence Freedman (which others have expressed explicitly) is questionable.

It is reliably reported that Tony Blair's speech on liberal interventionism in Chicago in 1999 was heavily dependent on a memo written by Professor Freedman. However, Blair's justification for the Iraq war was always based on weapons of mass destruction, and though humanitarian intervention was used by him to seek to bolster his position, the declared policy of the government remained that it would not justify war if WMD was resolved. Furthermore, it is far from clear that Iraq would have satisfied all or indeed any of the five criteria for intervention set out in Chicago.

There appears to be no evidence that Freedman has ever expressed support for the Iraq invasion on humanitarian or any other grounds, and it might be fairer to trust that he would bring the same objectivity to the inquiry that he has displayed throughout a career as an eminent military historian and strategic thinker.

Malcolm Savidge


Curious character this Malcolm Savidge. He's a former MP who was strongly against the Iraq war but also against any inquiry into it.

Now see the next letter:
Your leader raises the acute question as to whether two of the committee members ought to disqualify themselves. Sir Lawrence Freedman was not only a key policy adviser to Tony Blair in the run-up to the Iraq war but during the invasion wrote "the US – and also Britain – will emerge from this conflict hardened in their power and ready to exercise far greater influence over not only the development of Iraq but also the wider Middle East". And Sir Martin Gilbert expressed the view that Bush and Blair "may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill". It is a fundamental principle of inquisitorial fairness that no person should adjudicate if there is a real likelihood of bias. Lord Denning put it thus in a case in 1969: "Justice must be rooted in confidence and confidence is destroyed when right-minded people go away thinking 'the judge was biased'."

Benedict Birnberg


Hmm, Freedman doesn't seem to have been as aloof from the decision to invade Iraq as Mr Savidge seems to think.

The third letter damns the whole panel:
Two establishment historians (Sir Lawrence Freedman and Sir Martin Gilbert), a "former Whitehall mandarin" who spent years at the Northern Ireland office (Sir John Chilcot), a former ambassador to Russia (Sir Roderic Lyne), a former first civil service commissioner (Lady Prashar), and a career civil servant with 25 years' experience who is now director general of the foreign and defence policy secretariat at the Cabinet Office (Margaret Aldred). But no room for a judge, a lawyer or a known critic of the war. (Back to Baghdad: how – and why – did Britain go to war?, 24 November). Thankfully, Sir John Chilcot has given us an assurance that his committee "will not shy away ... from making criticisms of individuals or systems – where that is warranted". But then he would say that, wouldn't he?

Martin Smith


There are three more, the last of which even supports the war in spite of all that we now know. But if the second and third are correct then this inquiry is going to be as much a whitewash as the Hutton inquiry was.

November 25, 2009

Israel arrests its own spy

There have been a few episodes of Israel bombing Jewish and allied targets but this is the first I have heard of one of its own spies being arrested whilst working for, rather than against, the Mossad. This is all over the internet now but check out the Reuters article headed Frayed cloak, rusty dagger:
According to witnesses, a black-clad man in his 20’s attached a magnetic replica bomb to the door of a car parked in Tel Aviv’s tony port district, and tried to slip away. He was spotted by two diners at a nearby restaurant who, thinking him a terrorist or mob contract-killer, alerted police.

Confronted by the cops, the suspect revealed that he was on a Mossad drill. The story surfaced on Tuesday evening, after government censors dropped a gag order.

Was it a training exercise for a novice spy? Probably not. The Mossad is known to dispatch its cadets onto the streets of Israel, and beyond, to learn basic surveillance and infiltration skills. But assassination missions are reserved for select squads of veteran operatives.

(Besides, if the first rule for espionage trainees is “don’t get caught”, the second is: “If caught, don’t admit you’re a spy.”)

Interested parties are now considering which location most resembles the area of Tel Aviv where the wannabe/usedtobe spy (he's been suspended) was caught to second guess where it is that Israel is actually going to bomb.

Review of that Sand book by someone who has actually read it

Here's Deborah Maccoby's review of the book, The Invention of the Jewish People, by Shlomo Sand:
Shlomo Sand’s controversial book, written to debunk popular mythology about the Jewish people and its relation to its Holy Land, has itself created its own mythology among people who don’t appear to have read it.

Thus Sand is said to deny the right of Israel to exist, on the grounds that the Jewish people of modern times has no genetic connection with the ancient Jewish inhabitants of the land. As a corollary to this, Sand’s claim that the Palestinians are (allowing for historical admixtures) the genetic descendants of the ancient Jews of the Holy Land ( who were, Sand writes, mostly converted to Islam at the time of the Arab conquest of the Holy Land in the 7th century CE - is taken to mean that he is saying that the Palestinians, not modern people identifying as Jewish, are the real Jews.

If Sand were actually saying this, it would be easy to argue against him that a) Jewish identity and the connection of Jews with the Holy Land are based upon cultural and spiritual descent, not upon ties of blood and genes; and b) even if it could be proved that modern Jews were genetic descendants of the people exiled 2000 years ago, this would still not be a justification (as Sand’s alleged argument implies) for establishing a ethnic nation-state based upon driving out most of the people already living in the land.

But anyone who actually reads the book will discover that Sand does not at all base his views upon blood and genes – on the contrary he is deeply opposed to arguments founded upon racial descent. He is not denying the right of Israel to exist. He believes that – however wrong the circumstances of its birth – an Israeli-Jewish nation has arisen in the ancient Jewish Holy Land and its existence is a fact of history that cannot and should not be reversed. Nor does he deny that Jewish identity is based upon cultural and spiritual descent. As he pointed out in a recent lecture on his book at SOAS, he is not saying at all that Palestinians are the real Jews and that the people identifying as Jewish today are not authentic Jews. He added that he did not think many Palestinians would agree with this idea either!

Indeed, this book, controversial though it is, does not claim to be saying anything new. As Sand writes in his preface: “I should emphasise that I encountered scarcely any new findings – almost all the material had previously been uncovered by Zionist and Israeli historiographers. “ Various professors of Jewish history have sneered at the book for its alleged “truisms” and setting up of straw men. Sand, a professor of contemporary history at Tel Aviv University, is regarded by these experts in Jewish history as a naive encroacher on their territory. But Sand is not writing for these professors. He is addressing the general public, most of whom - especially Israelis - have swallowed the popular myth of the exiled, miserable, isolated, wandering people – the “Wandering Jew” of Christian mythology - who were all expelled from their land two thousand years ago, after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, and have now miraculously returned. As Sand puts it in his preface: “What is so amazing is that much of the information cited in this book has always been known inside the limited circles of professional research, but invariably got lost en route to the arena of public and educational memory. My task was to organise the information in a new way, to dust off the old documents and continually reexamine them. The conclusions to which they led me created a radically different narrative from the one I had been taught in my youth.”

Sand points out that - as scholars have always known - there was no exile in 70 CE; the Romans never deported whole populations. And he draws attention to something that is again well known to scholars but has never got through to the popular mind - that by the first century CE the majority of Jews were already settled outside the Holy Land, and that these Diaspora Jewish communities were mostly communities of people who were originally non-Jews but who had converted to Judaism. And Sand points out something that is again known to scholars but contradicts common perceptions - that at this time Judaism was an open, proselytising religion that actively sought converts and was in fact immensely popular. Before the rise of Christianity, there was even a prospect of Judaism becoming the main religion of the ancient world. It was only the later persecution and ghettoisation of Jews under Christian rule that led to Judaism becoming a closed, inward-looking religion with a reputation for not welcoming converts, in contrast to Christianityand Islam. Sand writes: “The Mishnah, Talmud and the many commentaries are full of statements and debates designed to persuade the Jewish public to accept the proselytes and to treat them as equal.” ( Here, incidentally, Sand performs a very valuable service in correcting the many current misrepresentations about the Talmud, based on xenophobic statements by some rabbis that are contradicted by many other, very different Talmudic sayings.)

Some of the theories that Sand subscribes to are very much in dispute - in particular, his adoption of the ideas that the Hebrew Bible was composed during and after the Babylonian Exile, and that the Khazars - an early mediaeval kingdom of Turkic-Slavs who converted to Judaism - were the main ancestors of East European Jews. But one does not have to agree with all Sand's hypotheses to applaud the main purpose of his book, which is to plead for an open, outward-looking, variegated Jewish identity, on the part of both Israeli and Diaspora Jews. This is why the whole book leads up to the fifth, final chapter, which is concerned with modern-day Israel/Palestine. Sand calls for an Israel that is no longer a Jewish State in the current sense of belonging to the Jews of the world and not to its own citizens, 20 per cent of whom are Palestinians. This is not the same as calling for the end of Israel. Sand points out that Israeli-Jewish national culture - which is something very different from the variety of worldwide Jewish cultures – would still exist in a binational state (which in the book is his solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, though Sand has said in recent talks that, as Israeli Jews will never accept a binational state, he now supports a federated two state solution). Sand explodes the myth of the “Jewish and democratic state”, pointing out that, in terms of modern Western liberal democracies, in which all citizens, regardless of religion or ethnic origin, are included in the nation, Israel is not a democracy but an ethnocracy.

At a time when Israel has built a Wall that is a ghetto wall for Israel as well as the Palestinians, and is adopting policies that are more and more undemocratic, in order desperately to try to maintain its ethnic Jewish majority, this Israeli Jewish historian pleads for a return to long-forgotten Jewish openness to the outside world.

A final word of warning: Chapter One, which explores Zionism in relation to the meaning of modern national identity – and establishes that all peoples, not just the Jewish people, are inventions - is convoluted and rather impenetrable compared to the rest of the book and might be better skipped out at first and read at the end. The rest of the book – written in a style that is often amusingly ironic - is compulsive reading.
A Palestinian friend of mine described Shlomo Sand as "Benny Morris lite" on account of his support for the continued existence of the State of Israel. Maybe I should go read the book but I wonder if that's why he garbled the first chapter.

November 24, 2009

Circus begins

The UK's Iraq war inquiry began today. The BBC has a Q and A about it but I can't be bothered to read the whole thing. Here's what I noticed from skimming:

Will the witnesses be testifying on oath?

No they will not, leading some to question whether the merits of the inquiry. However, all those appearing will be required to sign a piece of paper saying they will give a "full and truthful" account of events. There is also controversy over the powers of the panel. There are no judges nor QCs on the body, leading many to question whether it has the expertise to question whether the war was legal. But the panel says it will call on relevant legal advice where needed.

In other words, the whole thing is a waste of time.

I've got the BBC news on tv at the moment and more outrage is being expressed about loans to banks than the war on Iraq.

November 23, 2009

Fear of a BDS planet

It's getting hard to keep track of Israeli press mentions of the boycott, divestment & sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Their frequency & tenor bespeaks a growing alarm at the BDS threat — notably, amongst establishment journos. To whit:

Sever Plocker, Chief Economics Editor and Commentator for Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest daily, in an article noting "Israel in midst of freefall on global front," Nov. 3:

By coincidence, or not, large foreign investors are pulling out of Israel.

Another Yedioth journo, Ron Yishai, on Oct. 14, on "Israel's growing isolation" :

We are seeing an anti-Israeli tide in Europe and in South America as well that at times gives rise to latent anti-Semitism. The list is long: Ranging from the media-covered conflict with Sweden over the “harvesting of body parts” affair (which was needlessly inflated by us) to the Norwegian decision to boycott the stocks of Elbit. It continued with the embargo imposed by Britain on the importation of spare parts to the Israeli Navy and the boycott on goods produced in the territories...

We are dealing with an accumulation of positions, declarations, and actions adopted by organizations and governments worldwide with growing intensity, in the aims of isolating Israel and thereby pressuring it to modify is political positions and force military restraint upon it. And this is the good case scenario.

 According to the more negative scenario, they are trying to brand Israel as a “pariah state,” undermine the legitimacy of its very existence, and revoke its natural right and duty to defend its citizens – similarly to the manner in which the international community “took care” of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz, Oct. 15:

But things are not all right - they really are not. Why? Because underneath those still waters on which Israel's ship is sailing lurks an iceberg.

The Goldstone report marked the iceberg's first appearance. Turkey turning its back on Israel was the second. Attempts by European courts to try Israel Defense Forces officers were the third; the boycott of Israeli products and companies in various places round the world was the fourth; and global indifference to the nuclearization of a regional power that threatens to wipe Israel off the map is the fifth. Every week, almost every day, the iceberg peeks above the surface. And when one takes a good look over the railing of this pleasure cruise, one can see exactly what it is: The iceberg is the loss of the State of Israel's legitimacy.

Amir Oren in Ha'aretz, Nov. 22:

In the years in which it moved toward peace and security in exchange for land, Israel managed to overcome the Arab boycott. It's now facing a Western boycott - a product of the ongoing settlement project supported by the Israel Defense Forces.

Daniel Levy in Ha'aretz, Nov. 20:

Palestinian civil society, for instance, has long ceased to rely on its leadership's strategies for achieving de-occupation. Inside the territories, nonviolent resistance, notably to the separation barrier, continues to gather adherents and momentum. Outside, the campaigns for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel are growing to dimensions that should make Israel's leaders sit up and take notice.


November 20, 2009

NY1: Dozens Protest Upcoming Hebron Fundraiser At Citifield

Nov. 20 at the Major League Baseball Commissioner's office, midtown Manhattan:

See also the Press release for the protest.

For further context, here's Jews Against the Occupation-NYC's Aaron Levitt:

The New York Mets and the business of terrorism
The Electronic Intifada, 20 November 2009

When I first learned that the New York Mets were hosting a fundraiser for the nonprofit Hebron Fund at Citi Field in support of the Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, I honestly assumed it was a joke, albeit a poor one. When I realized this was an actual, planned event, I still found it almost impossible to believe. This is because, even aside from the devastating impact of settlement expansion on the prospects for peace in the region, I have had the misfortune to see, repeatedly and at first hand, the fruits of the Hebron Fund's labors.

During the summers of 2005 and 2006, and very briefly in 2008, I spent several weeks working as a human rights observer in the Tel Rumeida section of Hebron, home of the Beit Hadassah and Tel Rumeida settlements that are supported by The Hebron Fund. During that time, I encountered racist graffiti with such statements as "Gas the Arabs" and "Fatimah, we will rape all Arab women." I repeatedly observed settlers throwing stones and clods of earth at young Palestinian girls on their way to elementary school; yelling racial epithets at Palestinians walking in the streets; pushing, kicking, and spitting on Palestinian children and (occasionally) adults who were quietly minding their own business; and hurling large stones down on Palestinian homes and residents from settlement balconies.

I have witnessed this behavior by men and women, boys and girls, from pre-school-aged children to middle-aged adults. I was myself assaulted, on Shabbat, by a group of six teenage settlers, when I came between them and their intended victim, an elderly Palestinian woman who also happened to be the proud mother of a US Navy fighter pilot (the picture of her son standing by his plane was prominently displayed on her living room wall). The settler youths then turned to attack my companion, a young Scandinavian woman who was videotaping the original assault. I have heard and read numerous, credible reports of far worse violence than I personally experienced from other human rights observers, who were in the area for different and/or longer periods.

The Hebron settlers engage in this violence for the express purpose of driving out Palestinian families from Tel Rumeida, site of the Cave of Machpelah, or Cave of the Patriarchs, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims. Settler leaders have said as much in at least one published interview, and a young man from the Beit Hadassah settlement confirmed it to my face in September 2006. The settlers' efforts have been remarkably successful: of more than 600 Palestinian families originally living in the neighborhood, probably less than 100 remained when I was last there in 2008. If the settlers continue to receive free reign, and full funding, we may soon add a new chapter of completed ethnic cleansing to the troubled history of this ancient city.

According to the US Code, Title 22, Chapter 38, S 2656f, our country defines terrorism as "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents." The Hebron settlers' violence is certainly premeditated. It is, by their own admission, politically motivated. It is perpetrated solely against noncombatant targets (overwhelmingly children), and it is obviously the work of a subnational group -- the settlers themselves.

The business of the Hebron settlers is terrorism, pure and simple; not quasi-terrorism, crypto-terrorism, neo-terrorism, potential terrorism, or something akin to terrorism, but the very thing itself. And the business of the Hebron Fund is funding terrorism. This does not mean that all, or even most, donors knowingly support these actions; many may be innocent victims misled by the fund's innocuous marketing materials. Although the fund's staff and Board member attempt to maintain a cloak of respectability, they are another matter entirely.

This year's Hebron Fund dinner will "honor" Hebron settler and spokesman Noam Arnon (whose picture is featured with other "Hebron Fund and Hebron Community Leaders" on the Hebron Fund website). In 1990, Arnon told Israel Radio that three Jewish militants, convicted of car-bombings that killed three Palestinians and maimed two Palestinian mayors, were "heroes" who sacrificed themselves "for the security of Jews." In 1995, Arnon was further quoted by the Associated Press when he called Baruch Goldstein, another settler who slaughtered 29 Palestinians at prayer in Hebron and injured more than 100 others, an "extraordinary person" denied "historical justice."

The 2008 Hebron Fund dinner honored Board member Myrna Zisman, who accepted her award on behalf of Yifat Alkoby, an "extraordinary woman" who received international attention in 2006 when she was videotaped repeatedly calling a Palestinian woman and her daughters whores and telling them to stay in their "cage," as the family sought refuge in their own home, with bars on the windows to protect them from recurring settler attacks.

I could say something about how the Mets, as a treasured New York City institution, shouldn't be lending their facilities, or their name, to such practices, and that would certainly be true. I could say something about the extraordinary irony of such an event being held on top of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, and that would be true as well. Yet the larger truth is that no American team, no American business, and no American individual should be providing material support for terrorism, or assisting those who provide such support. Unless and until the Mets reverse their terribly ill-considered decision to host this event, that is precisely what they have chosen to do.

Aaron Levitt is a member and past board member of West End Synagogue in Manhattan, a member of Jews Against the Occupation (JATO), and is presently Director of Research at a large New York City social services agency. Levitt has been working in support of a just peace in Israel/Palestine for the past seven years. He can be contacted at aaronjlevitt A T gmail D O T com.

Tell the New York Mets to say no to Hebron’s racist, violent settlers

November 19, 2009

Remembering Marek Edelman

SOAS Palestine Society



Marek Edelman, 1919-2009:

A Commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

a talk by

David Rosenberg,

Jewish Socialists' Group

Chair: Diana Neslen,

Jews for Justice for Palestinians

Monday, 30th November,

7pm, Room G2

Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

November 18, 2009

Finkelstein on Danish telly

Thanks to Jake in the comments for sending this link to Norman Finkelstein being interviewed by a hasbarista on Danish TV:

November 16, 2009

Opposition to Sand book goes apoplectic

Goodness gracious, coincidentally I had just been discussing, not so much the Khazar hypothesis itself, but if it has any genuine or valid ramifications for, well anything at all really. Then I get this email linking to a Jerusalem Post article headed TAU historian accused of anti-Semitism about how the Board of Deputies and its provisional wing, the Community Security Trust, are saying that the book by Shlomo Sand taking issue with the idea that the Jews of today are the direct descendants of the Israelites of biblical times is actually antisemitic.
Jewish community figures questioned Sand's work and noted that no opposing view or contextualization was offered at his events.
"Sand's agenda is to sever the historic link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel," said Jonathan Hoffman, co-chairman of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. "To promote that agenda his book ignores archeological and genetic evidence. At none of his three London appearances was there a historian or Jewish history expert on the platform to counter his distortions, evasions and sensationalism. The result will contribute to anti-Semitic discourse and incidents in the UK, already at a record level."
Now, have I got this right? According to Jonathan Hoffman, the zionist movement's biggest embarrassment in the UK (according to various zionist sources including the BoD), Jews are going to be attacked because of our DNA. People who were otherwise quite well disposed to Jews because they thought we were direct descendants of Israelites from 2,000 years ago are now going to attack Jews because we are perceived to be mere 1,000 year old youngsters? I swear, if Jonathan Hoffman didn't exist I might have to invent him.

Anyway, to continue:
A guest on BBC Radio Four last week, Sand told presenter Andrew Marr that he compares Israel's birth to "rape"
Whereas everyone knows that the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was consensual.
"I'm not a Zionist. I don't define myself as an anti-Zionist... but I'm not a Zionist... I don't put into question the existence of Israel," he said. "I compare when I am speaking before Arab students the birth of the Israeli state to an act of rape. But even the son that was born of the act of rape... you have to recognize him... the existence of Israel I don't put in question today, you understand me?"
Not good enough for the zionists I'm afraid. You have to support every assertion even if you don't believe it and if evidence might point elsewhere.
"Sand's book represents another step towards the mainstream for replacement ideologies," said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. "Our history of exile and ghettoization has meant that the Jewish people are remarkably cohesive, genetically, culturally and religiously, and through the centuries the countries in which we have lived have had no compunction in designating us as Jews. It is Sand's theory that is the upstart, rootless and incredible, not the history and collective memory of the Jewish people and our connection to Israel."
Notice how the guy isn't saying that Sand has got anything wrong, just that there are long standing Jewish communities. I haven't read the book but at a guess I'd say that Sand doesn't actually dispute the antiquity of many Jewish communities. He is just saying that we don't all come from the same place and nor did that BoD spokesperson.

So much for the BoD, what about the provo wing? Here's Mark Gardiner:
Gardiner said there was nothing wrong with genuine historical inquiry about Jews or any other facet of history.
"However, that is neither the core purpose, nor the core impact of Sand's book. It can be summed up very simply as: No real Jews = no need for a really Jewish state.
He didn't say there are no real Jews and he explicitly stated that he is not opposed to the State of Israel. Can't these provos read?

But the zionists should stop digging. Whether or not Jews are a direct line from Palestine 2,000 years ago to now is irrelevant to whether or not Jewish supremacy should characterise the governance of Palestine. Jewish supremacy is wrong no matter where Jews are from. If Jews are entitled to ethnically cleanse and otherwise exclude non-Jews from various aspects of public life because they can trace their descent from the site where the supremacy is effected then what does that mean for the majority of Jews, who according to this zionist biological racial purity argument, cannot trace our origins to the various countries in which we live. If you need to show that your DNA matches DNA in the same area from 2,000 years ago in order to qualify for human rights then this means the majority of Jews should, according to this racial purity argument, lose our rights. Actually many zionists would be quite happy with that as their various historical and current collaborations with antisemitism have shown. I don't think most Jews would be happy with that. I hope not anyway.

Oi! I might have to break the habit of a lifetime and read the book that I'm talking about. Just kidding. You don't have to read the book, though you might well want to. I have no doubt in Sand's integrity. It's just this logic of the zionists is so dangerous, as I outlined just above. They are not concerned for culture, not for language nor for any subjectivity. They are concerned with a perception of biological racial purity. And they don't seem to see how disgusting the obsession is nor where it leads, logically if not in practical terms, for the majority of Jews that inhabit the world at large, mostly safely and as equals, unlike the case for the Jews in Palestine.

UPDATE 1/5/2020. I just lengthened the word "zios" to "zionists" because for some time now, it has been up to racists to decide what anti-racists are allowed to call them. I don't want to give the Zionists too many bones to chew on.

November 14, 2009

UK rabbi upset over BNP's support for Israel's policies

or is he upset about Israel's support for BNP policies? Check the JC for this one:
A senior United Synagogue rabbi will use his sermon tomorrow to condemn comments made by Israel’s Interior Minister, which were cited approvingly by the BNP....

Reacting to Mr Yishai’s [Israel’s Interior Minister] remarks on the deportation of illegal migrants, the BNP had said that Israel’s demand to remain a Jewish state matched its own for Britain to be an “ethnically majority” British state.
Notice he isn't objecting to the content of what Yishai said, just the fact that he aired the standard zionist line publicly

November 12, 2009

Who bombed the Beirut synagogue?

Who do you think? Israel of course. Actually it's only a throwaway line in a Der Spiegel article about the Jews of Beirut but see this:
Israeli pilots bombed the house of worship because they believed that Palestinian weapons were hidden there.
How does anyone know what Israeli pilots actually believed?

Apart from that the whole article is worth a read.

Israel pressures self-hating islands

Just in from the Australian:
ISRAEL is sending a foreign ministry official to the Solomon Islands next week to seek an explanation as to why it was the only country in Oceania to vote at the UN for the Goldstone report condemning Israel's assault on Gaza.
I couldn't help noticing that Solomon Islands is also the only country in Oceania with a Jewish name. Coincidence? I don't think so.

November 10, 2009

Israel the illegal murderous zionist regime

Here's a strange thing from the Guardian. It's an article about how Iran's Ahmadinejad has said that America will have to end its support for the racist war criminals of the State of Israel if it wants to have friendly relations with Iran. But see this:
"Obama should take big decisions and changes. He can't collect the support of the illegal murderous Zionist regime [Israel] and the countries of the region as well. Earning friendship of the countries in the region is not compatible with the Zionist regime's friendship. I know that dropping the Zionist regime is a difficult choice and task. [But] he should confront the Zionists and obviously the changes would not take place unless big choices happen."
Did the Guardian really need to tell its readers that by reference to the "illegal murderous zionist regime" Ahmadinejad actually meant Israel? Which other illegal murderous zionist regimes are there?

November 08, 2009

"Hey, can I use your gun to shoot an Arab? After Shabbat, of course"

From Aaron Levitt's blog, "Justice for Palestine:"

On several occasions, when I've made my trips to Israel/Palestine, I've taken advantage of the opportunity to recapture a bit of my old Chabad experience by having Shabbat dinner with an observant family. If you go near the Western Wall on any Friday evening, looking Jewish and preferably a bit lost and/or American, you will almost certainly be approached with invitations to dinner. There's often a 'match-maker' involved; one of several observant folks who do this regularly as a religious 'mitzvah', or divinely sanctioned good deed. I've had good luck with a few past attempts, dining with a traditionally observant couple or family, and perhaps another guest or two. The discussion is apolitical, as befits Shabbat, so I can take a break from the near war-zone of Palestinian advocacy within the Jewish community. Last Friday, when I was introduced to a kindly, grey-bearded Hasid as my host for the night, and particularly when I was told that he was a well-respected teacher of Torah, I figured I was in excellent shape for the evening.

My heart sank a bit when my prospective host asked me what brought me to Israel, but when I replied that I was involved in Palestinian human rights work, he was unexpectedly complimentary. A young American man who already knew the way to our host's house was also joining us, and we headed off while our host waited to meet a third guest...or so I thought. It turned out that our host family was particularly committed to Shabbat hospitality, and wound up with some twenty people at dinner. I'm not much for large groups, even in situations less fraught with potential tension, but it was too late to reconsider without being quite rude, so I settled in for the duration. Here is the cast of our dining party:

1) My initial companion, an young American from the US who volunteered for a 14-month enlistment in the Israeli army (now almost complete) without even taking Israeli citizenship.
2) Another young American IDF volunteer in the same program, serving in a sniper unit.
3) Two Israeli soldiers: one an Israeli-born conscript, and the other a foreign-born 'only son' (normally exempt from combat duty) who volunteered for a combat role. Both are serving in a search and rescue unit that provided humanitarian assistance after earthquakes in Kenya and elsewhere {all four of the soldiers present served in the recent, apparently war-crime plagued, invasion of Gaza}.
4) A North American couple who have been in Israel for several years.
5) A small family who I never really got to meet.
6) An older woman from North America studying Torah in Jerusalem.
7) Two young men and two young women, all from North America, all studying Torah in Jerusalem.
8) Two young men from Australia, also studying Torah in Jerusalem.
9) Our host and hostess and their young daughter. 10) {the invisible other}

Most of us were already seated and chatting when the soldiers arrived, carrying their automatic weapons. One of the Australians almost immediately asked a soldier, "Hey, can I use your gun to kill an Arab? After Shabbat, of course." I don't remember the exact response, but the soldier certainly didn't chastise him, and neither did anyone else. A few minutes later, I turned to the speaker and told him that I didn't find his joke remotely funny. His only response was to say, "I wasn't joking", at which point I told him that the joke wouldn't have been funny coming from an Arab who was speaking about a Jew, it would be even less funny if the Arab were serious, and so it was in his case. I think the speaker looked at least a little abashed, though that might be wishful thinking on my part. {Slightly off-topic, I've noticed that pro-settler Australians visiting Hebron seem to be particularly racist and aggressive, even relative to the high pro-settler norms in those areas. I've wondered whether this is due to Australian anti-aboriginal racism that translates easily to Palestinians, which theory came up in a discussion with a Kiwi couple a couple of nights ago. They thought my theory seemed pretty plausible, and told me that Australian aborigines were still classified under the Flora and Fauna Act(!), and could be legally hunted(!!), until passage of a 1967 Referendum(!!!).} A bit later, our host asked the soldiers to set their guns aside during dinner; while deciding where to put them, the American sniper joked that maybe we shouldn't trust the Australian with them, which drew a hearty laugh from the assembled diners (myself excluded, as you might imagine); apparently, race-based murder was seen as a risible subject. Somewhere around this time, there's a go-round of the table, in which everyone says something about what they're thankful for this Shabbat. Our hostess leads off, and is the first of five consecutive diners who wax eloquent in their admiration of the soldiers at the table, with additional appreciation of being in Israel/Jerusalem, and some for other topics. There is no tempering, much less criticism, included in the soldier love-fest, and even the soldiers look a bit uncomfortable with the adulation. The next several speakers also fete the soldiers, though in lesser proportion to the rest of the universe; I'm the first speaker for whom neither Israeli soldiers nor the wonder of being in Israel arise. Everyone, including myself, thanks our hosts for their hospitality, etc.

At some point, all the diners go to wash their hands in the kitchen, where a very petite, dark-skinned, "foreign worker" (maybe Thai, or possibly Filipino) is washing dishes. I actually caught a glimpse of this woman earlier in the evening, but her presence has been so completely ignored by everyone else that I thought I might be mistaken. Presumably, hiring a foreign worker is better than employing a potentially 'uppity' Palestinian who might feel she has actually has rights in her homeland. I find it extraordinary that, in our round of thanksgiving, nobody (notably our hostess) has even mentioned this woman. I thank her, now, and it takes some time and a second attempt for her to even recognize that she's being addressed, though she has a great smile when she does realize I'm expressing my appreciation for her work.

As dinner progresses, the soldiers actually turn the table to a discussion of sniping techniques, the relative merits of different automatic weapons, and whether the IDF should issue bayonets to its troops. I'm a bit flabbergasted by this content at a Shabbat dinner, and wait for our host to redirect the conversation, but no such luck. After a considerable period, and to my relief, he does invite explications of the week's Torah portion (Lech Lecha: Abram and Sarah go to Egypt, Abram rescues Lot from Sodom, Sarah gives birth to Ishmael) from a couple of the students in attendance. The first 'vort' (a 'word', or short lesson on Torah) is by one of the young American students, and involves Lot's curiosity and overconfidence in his own righteousness, which lead him to reside in sinful Sodom, where he is ultimately dragged down by the corruption surrounding him. It's not a bad lesson, but I'm listening to this and getting more and more incredulous that the speaker sees no applicability to one's company at Shabbat dinner. The next vort is given by the older American woman, who tells how the Ba'al Shem Tov (a uniquely influential Jewish mystic and teacher) and his companions see a man stealing a bridle. The Ba'al Shem Tov tells his companions not to say anything, because the man obviously needs money for Shabbat; he also says that a Jew should not accuse another Jew of a crime, because, after death, Satan will call the accuser as a witness against the accused before G-d's judgment. Our host speaks up at this point, quietly pointing out that one isn't permitted to use stolen money or property for a mitzvah (such as honoring the Shabbat), and the story is rather suspect. Again, it's a good lesson, but all I can think is that the espousal of cold-blooded murder didn't warrant even a similarly mild correction.

A bit later, my original companion asks me privately to explain something I mentioned to him about mapping work I was doing in the the village of Lifta. At this point, I am fervently wishing that I had never come, swearing to myself that I never will again, and the last thing in the world I want is to be subjected to a gang-bang on the supposed evils of Palestinians. Hoping I can still salvage some small positive from the dinner, however, I present my case: Basically, I say, I have come to perceive Israeli Jews/Zionists as seeing no inherent human value in 'the other' (in this case, non-Jews, and primarily Palestinians), but viewing them basically as a contaminant of the Zionist ideal, a 'demographic time-bomb', or what have you. They are hated and persecuted by some, 'tolerated' by others, but viewed as a vital and desirable piece of the tapestry by almost no one. This kind of world view led to the ethnic cleansing of Lifta, a large Palestinian village west of Jerusalem, in 1948. It is also, in my mind, the same thinking that lay at the core of Nazi atrocities against the Jews, and all the other persecutions of our people over the centuries. My hope is to show the beauty and history of the village, its life and its people, and use that beauty to remind Israelis/Jews of the humanity and inherent value of its inhabitants. This is largely because I find it intolerable that the mindset of our persecutors has so thoroughly infiltrated Jewish life, not only because these things were done to our people, this point, I pause to search for words, and my interlocutor actually finishes my sentence for me: "it's just not a good way to be!". He then tells me that he completely agrees with everything I've said, and he thinks what I'm doing in Lifta is amazing and important work. I'm absolutely delighted, of course, but also utterly amazed, and ask this guy how in the world he wound up volunteering for the IDF. He tells me it was due to "first year in Israel-itis"; he was super idealistic and caught up in the romance of the 'Jewish state'. Now, he says, he's still idealistic, but his experience in the Army has shifted his views and the nature of his idealism 180 degrees. He's obviously about to go into more detail when he visibly stops himself with an upward hand gesture, which I take to mean that he is worried about violating the Shabbat, or starting a firestorm with the other diners, or both, but I can't be sure. I give him a brief description of Zochrot, and urge him to seek out the group before he leaves Israel, and that's pretty much the end of my evening.

A preamble & postscript can be seen on Aaron's blog. Also check out his poem for Nakba Day.

Students "bully" Israel's plucky ambassador to the UK

Since I've been working, quick JSF has made my blogging a lot easier. See this Ynet report on how students in the UK wanted to place Israel's ambassador to the UK, Ron Prossor, under citizen's arrest. It's headed Students bully Britain envoy:
Protestors at the University of Nottingham prepared a rude welcome for Israel's Ambassador to England, Ron Prosor, welcoming him with anti-Israel signs and interrupting his speech.

Hours before the visit, British police learned that students at the university intend to place the Israeli envoy under citizen's arrest. Prosor's lecture on Israel's peace efforts was delayed, as a heavy police guard escorted him into the lecture site through a back door.

The lecture itself was accompanied by the shouting of charges and accusations against the State of Israel. During the event, students cut off Prosor on several occasions and some caused other disturbances.

Despite the interruptions, the Israeli ambassador completed his lecture, before leaving the site in a secured vehicle accompanied by local security forces. Fearing for his safety, local police resorted to a deceptive ploy, leading Prosor through one entrance while protestors waited at a different exit.

The envoy later said that the events at University of Nottingham are "yet another manifestation of the ugly smear campaign being managed against Israel on campuses across Britain."

"It's regrettable to see important academic institutions becoming hostages in the hands of radicals, who seek to silence any civilized discussion," he said. "We will fight with all means available to us against academic boycotts, economic boycotts, and diplomatic-legal boycotts."

Meanwhile, Minister Daniel Hershkowitz faced a similar experience while visiting Erasmus University in Holland. Protestors who attempted to disrupt the minister's address were removed from the site.
The news just gets better and better.

November 07, 2009

Arbeit für frei, Israel tells "illegals"

Another cull from quick JSF just to give it due prominence. Israel wants to get African migrants to work for free. Here's Ha'aretz:
The government is considering establishing work camps in the south of the country, where illegal migrant workers will receive shelter, food and medical care, Army Radio reported Wednesday. In exchange, illegal migrants would perform manual labor outside the camps, but would not earn a salary.

They would stay at the camp until their asylum claims are decided, which could take months or years.
I'm sure it was Netanyahu that said that Israel takes black people from Africa to liberate them, not to enslave them.

But then Netanyahu is openly on the right. Perhaps the lefties of the kibbutz and moshav movements will be better:
"We contacted many kibbutzim in an effort to have Sudanese asylum seekers released for farm work," she said. "Despite the argument they desperately needed workers, most of the coordinators at the kibbutzim rejected my request after they learned they would have to pay the asylum seekers at least minimum wage, as provided by law, [and] could not make deductions from their salaries beyond what the law on foreign workers requires."

Rosen contacted hundreds of potential employers at kibbutzim and moshav cooperative farming communities, but very few were interested. In the end, only 14 moshavim and two kibbutzim agreed to hire Sudanese migrants as agricultural workers.
Can anyone really deny that zionism, in any of its manifestations, is a form of racism?

November 06, 2009

UN endorses the Goldstone Report

Voting record of UN members on the General Assembly resolution:

In favor: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Against: Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Poland, Slovakia, FYR Macedonia, Ukraine, United States.

Abstain: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, San Marino, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

Not voting:
Bhutan, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Togo, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.

An interesting factoid: How did Colonialism vote?

Settler Colonial States:

In Favor: None
Against: Australia, Canada, Israel, United States
Abstain: New Zealand

Colonial Metropoles:

In Favor: Portugal
Against: Germany, Italy, Netherlands
Abstain: Belgium, Japan, Spain, Russian Federation, France, United Kingdom

Just saying. It ain't over til its over.

20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall..

Palestinians from Nilin bring down one slab of the Apartheid Wall.

Zios' pincer movement to silence critics

You'll know that that the zios are trying to silence criticism of the State of Israel by using a bogus definition of antisemitism and incorporating it into the criminal law? They've decided to try it on stage by stage. First they want to make it illegal to liken Judeo-nazis to their aryan counterparts then they'll move on to trying to make apartheid analogies illegal then the idea that zionism is racism and then they'll want to make it illegal to criticise Israel for things you don't criticise another 190 or so other states for in spite of Israel being uniquely established specifically for people that don't come from there and not for people that do.

Well all this may never come to pass or it will take a long time so some zio in Palestine has come up with a typically dishonest idea. Sue. That's right. Sue newspapers that criticise Israel.

See Ynet:
Newspapers don’t like lawsuits, I said. It takes time, it costs money, the paper’s insurance company raises their premium, stockholders are wondering why they got into this mess to begin with, and the editor in chief is infuriated after he discovers that he needs to waste two days on testifying in respect to an article that he didn’t even read.

The press won’t come out against us? Prosor asked.

There is no such thing as “the press,” I said. This is the most competitive profession in the world, and everyone is just waiting to see the others fall. Do you really think that The Independent cares whether we sue The Guardian? They’ll be happy about it.

And who will represent us? Asked someone else.

Him, I gestured at the lawyer sitting with us, and a hundred others like him. If the Jewish people has one reservoir that will never run out, it’s lawyers. Every Western capital boasts at least five successful Jewish law firms, and most of them will be glad to represent the State of Israel against the new anti-Semitism.

We’ll be attacked over this, said Prosor. So? I responded. Aren’t they attacking us already at this time?

The lawyer in the group suddenly looked up. It will work, he said. I’m willing to take London upon myself.
So while the zios have to wait to have their bogus definition made into criminal law to silence criticism of Israel, His Excellency, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK is in on a plan to silence UK newspaper criticism of Israel, not by argument but by costly litigation. What a charming man his excellency is. He should be declared persona non grata for undermining what we are always told is a pillar of democracy, the "free" press.

November 04, 2009

Denis MacShane defines racism

There's a double entendre there if you look for it. Denis MacShane is one of the prime movers behind the stupid working definition of "antisemitism" and he is also quite racist himself. See these reports on his contributions to a Cambridge Union debate titled, This House believes that Israel demands too much and gives too little in the peace process.

After setting out roughly what was said by both sides in the debate, Heathlander describes the zio's playing of the antisemitism card:
Of course, no panoply of cheap rhetorical devices in the service of an expansionist Israeli state would be complete without the use of the ‘antisemitism card’ to disparage the Palestinian cause and justify Israeli violence. Serial ‘new antisemitism’-monger Denis ‘Gandalf‘ MacShane was there to oblige, delivering an incoherent rant that culminated in a demand from the audience that we accept the ‘right of gays to exist’. In his defence, MacShane was obviously drunk – he had to be escorted off the premises midway through the debate after accusing an Arab student in the audience of representing Hamas. When the student requested an apology, MacShane demanded, to loud boos from the audience, that he first apologise for the ‘deaths of all the Jews’ killed by Hamas.
There's a more detailed account of MacShane's behaviour in the Cambridge University paper, The Tab:
A Labour MP is at the centre of a RACE ROW after appearing at the Cambridge Union.

Dr Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham, ordered an Egyptian student to "apologise for all Jews killed by Hamas."

MacShane was participating in a debate on the Middle East last Thursday (October 29th) when he came out with the SCANDALOUS SLUR.

The student, Ossama el Batran, a post-grad at Darwin College, made a point of information from the floor requesting the sympathy on behalf of the Palestinian humanitarian plight, which prompted the comments.

Pro-Israeli MacShane was putting to the floor whether a "Jew's life is worth anything", when el Batran spoke.

El Batran said, "What about an Arab's life?" At this point MacShane walked towards el Batran, pointing aggressively at him, saying "your Arab life is worth as much as a Jew's life and until you denounce the killing of Jews…This is the Cambridge Union. You are not a Hamas representative."

Hannah Perry, a student of Downing College, commented that the student was "a person ostensibly of no link to Hamas."

Perry described his behaviour as "unconscionable. He opened with a xenophobic tone which could be excused as light-hearted Franco-bashing with references to Union President Julien Domercq.

"His tone then became more alarming when he replied to a student making a point of information from the floor."

MacShane's shocking remarks were not well received from the floor. "It's fair to say that everyone was relieved when the former Minister of State for Europe, bowing to cries from the floor, took his seat," Perry said.

She added: "I admired said student, who despite this ridiculous, racist attack from an MP, remained calm."

A few minutes later, El Batran demanded that MacShane take back his earlier comments. He said "I request an apology from the second speaker of the opposition for calling me a Hamas representative just because I said a life was a life," to which he received applause from the audience.

Standing up again, MacShane said he wouldn't apologise until el Batran "stand[s] up and apologise[s] to every Jew killed by Hamas in Palestine."

Now there's a man who knows how to define racism.

November 03, 2009

Compare and contrast: Palestine and Afghanistan

From today's Independent:
Is it any wonder the West is seen as cynical and opportunistic? We had huge pressure applied to Afghanistan's President Karzai because we could not be seen to be supporting a leader who has so obviously fiddled his election as President.

In contrast, the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council in January 2006 were judged by international ob-servers to be free and fair. What happened? The wrong party won and the winners, Hamas, were banned even when a unity government with Fatah was established that year. Three years later, we still have the blockade of Gaza and the Israeli attack with all the misery and destruction these have caused.

Mike Barnes


Yada Yada Street (Episode II, Ben-Ami)

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the founder of J-Street, opened the J-Street policy conference, as Mondoweiss reports, with this gem.
We value the partnership and engagement and support of our non-Jewish friends – both here tonight and in our work overall. We need and appreciate allies and alliances, individual and institutional.

But at heart they know – as we know – that the root of this movement and heart of this conversation has to be in the American Jewish community. For many of us as Jews, this conversation taps into our deepest personal feelings – of family, history and community. (Mondoweiss)
Gee, isn't it nice and progressively post-racial that Ben-Ami is willing to accept Palestinian solidarity with his struggle? Because, you know, it's not like they might have bigger fish to fry.

What is, after all, Palestinian life and liberty compared to the complexity and grandeur of the "deepest personal feelings" of Ben-Ami and his ilk as they sit around and kvetch about their identity? And do take note of the presumptuous tone. Not only is Ben-Ami telling Palestinians to stand aside and let Jews figure out what is good for them, but he also knows that "at heart," however much they may insist on self-determination, "in their heart" they understand that only Jews can lead them to the promised land. Not only does he declare his right to determine their fate, but he also takes command of their voice to represent them as willingly giving him the command of their fate. Ben-Ami's performance of the White Man's Burden is so unoriginal that it calls to mind countless other performances. For example, this oil painting of Colombus landing in the New World to be received in awe by the natives who recognize at once his superior right to dominate them, embodied in the drawn-out cross. Plus ça change...

Horowitz and Weiss and others have repeatedly noted that the attendees at the conference are to the left of the leadership. As good as that sounds, and I do realize that a lot of people went to the conference to make their concerns heard rather than to listen to some of the glutei maximi invited to pontificate (and good that they did,) I don't find these assurances that reassuring. Quite frankly, those who were not troubled by the display of colonial and imperial arrogance are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. As for those who were bothered, some thoughts about the strategy behind lending support and voice to an organization that speaks this kind of language, lobbies Congress against the Goldstone report, excises Gaza from its agenda, and considers equal rights to be beyond the pale of conversation would be welcome. It's all great that J Street is opening a side door for Jewish dissent, but that does not automatically mean that Jewish dissent should welcome J street regardless of concrete politics. The central issue is Palestinian rights and self-determination, not how they treat other Jews.

I am also not clear about the excitement over the rise of J-Street as a new "lobby". Jews who are to the left of J-Street already have a wide variety of options for expressing their disenchantment with Israel in an active manner, from the radical left groups such as the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and Jews Against The Occupation, through Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, and a variety of other fora, Palestinian, Jewish and ecumenical, that are active about the Middle East. It is true that these groups are outside of the "mainstream" and not able to directly impact Washington. But then, they are outside the mainstream because relatively few people support their work. Those who would rather be "supporting J-Street from the left" than, for example, supporting JVP from the right, are making an eloquent political choice, and that political choice is to line up behind a blatantly pro-imperialist, racist organization committed primarily to maintaining Israeli domination. They prefer to deceive themselves that J Street will instigate change that it clearly has no intention to instigate, rather than risk being branded as "outside the mainstream". The centrist dynamics involved here is familiar. Many "want change" but don't necessarily want power to really shift; they want to feel included and they want to feel moral and they want to feel their cognitive dissonance resolved. That is all that J Street promises. And while we shouldn't be dismissive of moves at the political center, neither is there reason for giddiness given how far right the center of US politics really is. It doesn't follow that J Street is necessarily a bad development. Splitting the racist Jewish voice between AIPAC and J Street would be a good thing if it happen. It will open more space for dissent and increase the legitimacy of more radical positions. But that is only a good thing if Jews to the left of J Street stay to the left of J Street. If instead J Street saps energy from further left, that is good news for whom?

There is reason to think that second scenario is precisely what J Street's purpose is. As Daniel Luban writes,

The basic premise of J Street is that it is possible to be both liberal and pro-Israel. If the hardliners succeed in destroying J Street, and with it any viable outlet for liberal pro-Israel sentiment, they will force the younger generation of American Jews — who are overwhelmingly Obama Democrats — to choose between support for Israel and liberalism. No doubt some will choose Israel, but far more will choose liberalism. And in that case Israel will face a predicament far bleaker than whatever it fears from J Street. (IPS)
I don't think J Street emerges primarily from the tensions within the Jewish community. Rather, these tensions themselves reflect larger fissures in US society surrounding US global power. To get J Street, we need a more long-term view of the Jewish lobby. For decades, since 1967 at least, the Jewish Lobby built its power by advancing leading US corporate interests, most notably those of the Military-Industrial Complex, while tying these interests to constituencies supposedly the least friendly to these corporate interests, the Democratic grassroots, liberals, Jews, Labour, etc. In that sense, the Lobby performed an extremely valuable hegemonizing service. That worked well as long as the business of empire was humming along, and AIPAC was able to be bi-partisan and beyond criticism. The slow and surreptitious decline of the American empire become front page news between the collapse of the NASDAQ and September 11. The result was the exacerbation of a split about how the empire should react to its decline, a split between those who called for retrenchment and rebuilding of capability, and the neo-conservatives who advocated a "fuite en avant," aggressively trying to monetize US domination. The second camp won the policy debate under Bush, but at the cost of undermining effective hegemony, and the first camp has been strengthened by the obvious economic and military debacles of the Bush administration. AIPAC, in lockstep with the Israeli leadership, fully lined up behind the neo-conservative wing, thus undermining its own role as a builder of hegemonic consensus and creating a political vaccum in Washington, a vacuum that came under the spotlight with Bush's departure from power. Ben-Ami, apparently, wants to fill that vacuum. To the extent that the need for retrenchment is understood by a section of the US ruling class and capital (and Obama's election shows that it does), whoever can fill than vaccuum will have a very successful career. J Street is still far from achieving that. Ben-Ami needs to do a careful dance in order to show that his organization can generate enough heat to be worthy of donors' money without being too far-out and dangerous. The old guard is going to fight him with everything they have, while Obama and most other politicians are going to adopt a wait-and-see attitude until the donors start coming. This is high politics, the struggle for wealth and power inside Washington, a fascinating byzantine story of courtly intrigue, skulduggery and betrayal, but unfortunately one in which right and wrong, communal identities and human rights are merely theater props. For Ben-Ami to succeed, he needs to show that he can do among Jews what Obama did more generally, sap the grassroots' discontent, especially on the liberal side, and accommodate it within the limits imposed by the primacy of the same interests that dominate Washington. J Street needs to be a better Jewish lobby than AIPAC, but perform the same role that AIPAC is no longer able to perform because of its rightward drift and the growing contradictions of the declining empire, which are also reflected in growing disaffection with Israel among Jews. I am not at all convinced that J Street can do that. But one can easily see why that agenda would appeal, consciously or not, to quite a lot of liberals. Those who truly hope for more will be disappointed.

Clearly, the hope of patching up Jewish support for colonial Israel is one of J Street's main attractions in Washington.

"Getting Israel another thirty F-16s won't help us combat the legitimacy issue [with] people who are trying to undermine the right of Israel to have a state." Luria [Isaac Luria, J Street's campaigns director] says. "Jews need a state. And that legitimacy window--the cracks in that window are getting wider. They're dangerous. Dangerous." (Weiss and Horowitz, The Nation)
Now, after I wrote the above, Max Ajl wrote in a comment to my previous entry that
...the "left wing" of the speakers was different from the "left wing" of the attendees. I can't make a claim to social-scientific sampling, but a good chunk of the people I talked to were far, far to the left of the (on the whole atrocious and dumb) speakers. Kids my age (I'm 25) or a bit older or younger, one-staters, Jewish kids who had been to the West Bank, even the editor of, a bit older than me, and far more critical than I expected. I don't know how large a component of young American Jewry this was, but I do think there's a generational shift going on, and it's an important one. This is to say nothing of older people I knew who were there, also
one-staters. Yoffie attacked Goldstone. He was also booed publicly. I agree with the notion that we're not seeing the transcendence of Zionism that we'd both, I'm sure, like to see. But withdrawal begins in steps. I don't know who Yglesias or twerps like Ezra Klein speak for. Not for me, and I don't know any young people that read them either...

I don't deny that, and obviously I wasn't there and I trust Max's impression, and others had similar impressions. So let me clarify. I do not deny that there is meaningful change in Jewish attitudes towards Israel lately. I think the change is undeniable and a good development. And to the extent that J Street simply provided a mixer for young Jews to realize that their disenchantment with Israel is more widespread than they thought, that is awesome. The problem is that J Street was not formed to express that change in attitudes nor to bring that change to political maturity. It was formed to capitalize on that change by blocking it, taming it, and bringing it back into line, the line of marrying support for colonialism in Palestine with U.S. ruling class interests. The most optimistic analysis I can take seriously is Adam Horowitz's quote from Rabbi Brant Rosen:
Rabbi Brant Rosen, who I had the honor of finally meeting in person, observed that J Street has opened a Pandora's box in promoting dissent while trying to manage it. He doubted it could be controlled once the box was opened. (Mondoweiss)
May that be true! But Pandora boxes have been closed before. I would like to hear from the people who found J Street so exciting that they are thinking harder about how to draw from this particular Pandora box and how to keep its lid open despite, not thanks to, J Street, and not assuming that the mere existence of that much positive energy guarantees a good continuation.

First Clinton sings then she dances

Look how ridiculous Hilary Clinton looks with Netanyahu in Gabriel's earlier post. Now see how she looks in this Independent article.

Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, was forced into an awkward diplomatic pirouette yesterday, insisting to Arab foreign ministers that Washington had not capitulated to Israel's continuing hunger for new Jewish settlements even if statements she had made 24 hours earlier seemed to imply exactly that.

Arab anger had flared after Mrs Clinton departed from the script of President Barack Obama at the weekend, suggesting that the Palestinians should agree to resume peace talks without preconditions, including that Israel first stop all settlement construction in the West Bank. She appeared to endorse the offer by the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to institute merely a limited suspension of construction in some areas.

While not backtracking entirely, Mrs Clinton attempted in Morocco last night to massage those remarks. Saying that Israel had expressed to her "a willingness to restrain settlement activity," she added: "This offer falls far short of what our preference would be, but if it is acted upon, it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth."

I don't know why they don't save ink by saying that as far as the US administration is concerned, Israel can do whatever it wants.

November 02, 2009

Landmark victory for BDS at Sussex Uni

BDS is on a roll now. Remember the wave of student occupations over the Israeli assault on Gaza late last year? There was the recent TUC vote for a boycott of Israel. There have been many votes in favour of BDS at various UK trade unions. Now students at Sussex University have voted for a boycott of Israeli goods.

I first heard about the vote taking place from someone I know at the university. I didn't think too much of it because there seems to be a lot of it about these days. Then the vote came out in favour of BDS and I was pleased but, as with the TUC decision, it didn't strike me as momentous. Well it turns out that, as with the TUC decision, it was unprecedented. See this:
Following a landmark referendum, students at Sussex University have voted to boycott Israeli goods. The decision will become part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which calls upon Israel to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine. The referendum result mandates the Students’ Union to remove all Israeli produce from its stores, and review its sources for food outlets. This makes Sussex Students’ Union the first in the UK to implement a full boycott of Israeli goods. The vote was one of the largest and closest contested in the Union’s history, with 562 votes for and 450 against the boycott.

The referendum received messages of support and thanks from Jewish and Israeli academics and non-governmental organisations that oppose Israel’s policy of occupation in Palestine. Author and scholar Norman G. Finkelstein described the referendum result as ‘a victory, not for Palestinians but for truth and justice’. He continued by saying, ‘Let us hope the boycott transmits the message to Israel that it should end the occupation, so that Palestinians can lead a decent life and amicable relations can be restored between Israelis and other peoples.‘
As I said, BDS is on the move now, like an idea whose time has come.