March 23, 2012

Beitar fans beat Arab workers, no arrests

From Ha'aretz:
Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem supporters assaulted Arab cleaning personnel at the capital's Malha shopping center on Monday, in what was said to be one of Jerusalem's biggest-ever ethnic clashes. "It was a mass lynching attempt," said Mohammed Yusuf, a team leader for Or-Orly cleaning services.
Despite CCTV footage of the events, no one was arrested. Jerusalem police said that is because no complaint was filed. Witnesses said that after a soccer game in the nearby Teddy Stadium, hundreds of mostly teenage supporters flooded into the shopping center, hurling racial abuse at Arab workers and customers and chanting anti-Arab slogans, and filled the food hall on the second floor.
Now look at this from the same article:
Avi Biton, Malha's security director, sent a force of security guards in an attempt to restore order, but they were outnumbered. He called the police who arrived in large numbers about 40 minutes after the brawl started. At about 10.30 P.M., they evacuated the mall and the management shut its doors.........

Biton said that his department would step up security measures when Beitar matches take place. "This event was unusual for Beitar fans," he said. "We've learned our lesson and from now on we'll make more serious preparations ahead of Beitar games." 
But to flatly contradict the words I've emphasised, from the same article again:
Beitar fans are known for their staunchly anti-Arab positions and have been previously involved in attacks on Arabs. 
I'm not a great follower of football but it seems that racism is more important to Beitar fans than the game.

March 22, 2012

Message from within the largest concentration camp in history: "Gaza is Dying"

Since June, 2007 Israel has adopted a continuous series of measures harming the civilian population. In September,2007 Gaza was declared "an enemy entity," and imports were restricted to 9 basic materials. Prohibited have been such items as certain medicines, furniture, electrical appliances, cows and cigarettes, and decreased amounts of such basic foods as fruits, milk and dairy products. Fuel and electricity supplies have also been cut. Gaza used to depend 100% on Israel for its fuels and close to 60% for its electricity. Gazans, however, resorted to digging tunnels on the Egyptian borders with Palestine in order to get fuel, medicine and other necessities. The Mubarak regime took every possible step to tighten the siege and destroy the tunnels. The ousting of Mubarak should have meant the end of the deadly siege imposed on Gaza. This has not happened yet, one year after the great Egyptian revolution! The Rafah crossing is still “partially” open; supply of fuel through tunnels has completely stopped, and the electricity ration is only for 6 hours a day! Hospital generators have stopped!

Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into the largest concentration camp with the largest population of prisoners in the world. The international conspiracy of silence towards the slow genocide taking place against the 1.5 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.

According to UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control

We, therefore, call upon the international community to demand that the rogue State of Israel end its siege and compensate for the destruction of life and infrastructure that it has visited upon the Palestinian people. We also call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:

  • An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
  • The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention (to which Israel itself is a signatory.)
  • Immediate opening of the Rafah Crossing (24/7) and the flow of goods, fuel and medicine.
  • That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing
  • An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes.
  • Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip.
Besieged Gaza, Occupied Palestine

One Democratic State Group
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
Israel Apartheid Week Organizing Committee-Gaza

March 21, 2012

Ashton under slime

Some weirdness yesterday over the words of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to a conference titled: Engaging youth—Palestine Refugees in the changing Middle East. In fairness to the rabid dogs who went ape (apols for the mixed metaphor) her speech was misreported in the first release of the transcript so that the last paragraph:
We are gathered here because we have recognised the potential of the youth of Palestine. Against all the odds, they continue to learn, to work, to dream and aspire to a better future. And the days when we remember young people who have been killed in all sorts of terrible circumstances - the Belgian children having lost their lives in a terrible tragedy and when we think of what happened in Toulouse today, when we remember what happened in Norway a year ago, when we know what is happening in Syria, when we see what is happening in Gaza and Sderot and in different parts of the world - we remember young people and children who lose their lives. Here are young people who are asking not to be leaders of the future, but to be taken seriously as leaders of today. And it is to them that we should look and to them we should listen and it is to them that I pay tribute. 
omitted the words, "and Sderot". Before it became known that Sderot had been mentioned the Israeli government tipped a wink to its commentariat. YNET led the way with a report claiming that
Catherine Ashton compared the children who were murdered in Monday's shooting attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France with children who are killed in Gaza. 
Of course she didn't actually compare them and she didn't even isolate Gaza according to the misreport but Harry's Place got the message and Sarah AB ran a post headed, Unbelievable: Baroness Ashton on Toulouse. Sarah allows for the obvious fact that she was simply saying that it is awful when children die by ending her post by saying:
she might say she was simply saying it’s awful when children die, whatever the cause – but she can hardly be surprised that her words are being greeted with outrage. 
 Note that no context is offered as to where Ashton was and what she was doing when she mentioned Toulouse and other places where children have met with tragic unnatural death, whether violent or not.  Oh, except I think Sderot, where I am not sure if any children have been killed. But Sarah didn't know about the mention of Sderot when she did the post.

So, when the video and updated transcript were posted, Sarah did an almost decent thing.  She ran another post headed with the most important piece of info, Baroness Ashton mentioned Sderot, and linking to the video that proves that she did indeed mention Sderot.

If this is accurate – that the original speech referred to Gaza and Sderot, not just Gaza, then the speech cannot, I think, be seen as so particularly objectionable.  Maybe it would have been better to leave I/P out of the equation, but the fact she mentioned Sderot certainly needs to be noted.
Update: Here’s a video – the relevant bit is about 12 minutes in.
Eh? Let's have that bit again, "Maybe it would have been better to leave I/P out of the equation, but the fact she mentioned Sderot certainly needs to be noted."

Looking at what Ashton actually said, she wasn't making an equation.  She was drawing out the common features of the tragic and violent death of children in various places.  She had to mention Palestinian children because she was addressing a conference on the youth of Palestine. She didn't have to mention Sderot for any reason of balance or completeness. She simply had to comply with zionist political correctness. But how can even Harry's Place suggest that Palestinian children shouldn't be mentioned at a conference on Palestinian youth?

Perhaps they simply mean that there should be no conferences on Palestine.

March 20, 2012

Peter Beinart spills the Beans

Peter Beinart's argument for why boycott only settlements' goods never made any sense. According to Beinart

boycotting anything inside the green line invites ambiguity about the boycott’s ultimate goal — whether it seeks to end Israel’s occupation or Israel’s existence. (New York Times, March 18, 2012 )

But that is simply not true. The Boycott is a strategy for pressure, not a strategy of representation. If I don't buy Avocados from Israel, this is not because Israelis use avocados to oppress Palestinians. It is because I send a message that I am willing to take punitive action against Israel. The actual pressure is not a representation of the offense, just as the prison term that I would like Tzipi Livni to serve is not a representation of the crime of bombing civilians.

Beinart is taking advantage of the fact that the BDS movement does not offer a blueprint for a resolution in order to read into a purely strategic question, what pressure is effective, a symbolism that simply isn't there. There is no logical reason why, for example, a "Zionist BDS" of the kind Beinart envisages would not boycott high tech products made in Tel Aviv on the basis of an explicit demand that Israel return to the 67 borders.

Most of the left critique of Beinart focuses on his misguided attachment to a state that is Jewish for Palestinians and democratic for Jews. I completely concurs with that critique but I think it is equally important to understand Beinart's strategy.

for a few years now, the Reut Institute has emerged as the strategic brain of a coordinated approach to defending Israel from the international grassroots struggle against it, and most importantly from BDS, which the Reut institute dubbed a "strategic threat" to Israel. The Reut institute proposes a strategic defense based on a number of principles, of which I want to highlight three that are most important (see for e.g.:

  • Countering the growing grassroots solidarity with Palestinians by aping its key methods, including relying on networks, community work and division of labor between local work and global coordination.
  • A big tent approaches that accepts the legitimacy of criticism of Israel, even harsh, provided that the "red line" of "denying Israel's right of self-determination" is not crossed.
  • Driving a wedge between those who support BDS but are not committed to supporting full Palestinian rights and those who do. According to Reut, the latter, called "catalysts," are relatively few but have an enormous impact. They can therefore be isolated and neutralized.

There is a lot to be said about this reactionary agenda, but it serves no purpose to deny that the Reut institute makes a reasonably good effort to provide intelligence and strategy services for a "counter-insurgency" campaign against BDS based on the familiar "winning hearts and minds" model.

In responding to his right-wing critics, Beinart effectively defended his own effort by highlighting its compliance with the Reut institute's template:

Let’s imagine you’re some left-leaning Christian denomination. You’ve recently sent some of your ministers to the West Bank and they’ve come back appalled because, well, most people who see the occupation up close come back appalled. They want to do something. Their local BDS activists tell them to boycott Israel. Their local Jewish organizational officials tell them that doing so would be anti-Semitic.

Right now, they have no way to oppose Israel’s occupation without opposing Israel’s existence. Zionist BDS offers them that alternative. Without it, the Jewish organizations may pressure them into not boycotting Israel this year, but every time they go back and see the settlements expanding further, they’ll be more inclined to do so. And the more they see the one state reality that settlements are creating, the more they’ll embrace for practical reasons what BDS activists embrace for ideological ones: a future that dismantles Israel as a Jewish state. (Beinart, The Daily Beast, March 20, 2012 )

Thus, the virtue of a Boycott of the settlements that Beinart highlights is that it would drain support for BDS by separating soft supporters from the BDS leadership, offering an alternative that allows criticism of Israel but doesn't threaten it too much, and working with wavering organizations, individuals and communities in a manner that copies the BDS model. The limitation of the boycott to the settlements is a convenient branding, since it isn't material to any of Beinart's professed goals.

I'll be charitable and accept that Beinart honestly believes that his proposed strategy can also end the occupation. It is worth noting that this is not the opinion of the Reut Institute which has no interest in ending anything.

Surely, a credible and persistent commitment by Israel for a peace that establishes a Palestinian state and brings about an “end of conflict” would weaken the grounds of Israel's delegitimization. However, the viability of the peace process is undermined by several structural obstacles, such as the effective actions of the resistance network to sabotage it and the constitutional and political crisis within Palestinian politics. This reality necessitates an Israeli strategy to fight delegitimization within the context of political stalemate. (Eran Shayshon, The Jewish Journal, 4/27/2010)

In other words, ending the occupation would be nice, but it can't be done because the Palestinians aren't ready, so let's focus on what's important, defending Israel.

Beinart's proposal, if it were to put to work, would be a joint effort by deluded but honest folks and cynical strategists like Shayson. There is little chance that it would achieve even the limited goals of ending the occupation. Why? Because the strength of BDS is tied to its Palestinian leadership and the way it puts Palestinian concerns at the center of the struggle. It is this commitment that both captures the imagination of solidarity activists and creates dynamics that sidestep distractions, build unity and focus energies on effective action. The movement that Beinart proposes would be, in contrast, led by Jews and put Jewish concern at its center. Jews, however, are not those who are oppressed by Israeli apartheid. Thus, a large part of the energy and commitment that Beinart movement will have to mobilize in order to succeed will always be derivative. Beinart himself describes his key motivation as fear over the destruction of Zionism. Beinart's movement will have to mobilize primarily on the basis of that fear which is generated by BDS rather than on the basis of principles of justice that demand the end of the occupation (that is not to deny that Beinart truly finds the occupation abhorrent). Fear is a reactive driver. As long as BDS advances, such an anti-BDS movement built on fear could theoretically piggy back on it and grow as well. But if the Shayson strategy succeeded in weakening BDS, a critical mass of Beinart's activists would go home, and the occupation would continue. It's like mistaking a thermostat for a water heater.

Taking into consideration the willingness of the New York Times to publish such calls as well as the deep similarities between Beinart's proposal and Reut's model of counter-insurgency, this development should be taken seriously. Beinart wants to offer an alternative big tent to BDS. Criticizing the ideological premises of this effort is important. But it is also important to say to those who are still dreaming of ending the occupation and keeping a Jewish state that what they are being offered is snake oil and more occupation. While I support and prefer a single, democratic state, I have no crystal ball to predict what kind of resolution will follow if we succeed in putting on Israel unbearable pressure. But I can predict with confidence that Beinart's effort can only help entrench the occupation. That is not a step in the right direction, even if the intention is halfway decent.

March 17, 2012

French prosecutor demands prison sentence for BDS direct action

Update from Olivia Zemor.


The many activists (some 200 inside and outside the tribunal -- see the video

) who had taken the day off work to come and support the 4 BDS activists Maha, Olivia, Mohammed and Ulrich, at Bobigny magistrates court on March 15, 2012, who are accused of racist discrimination and incitement to hatred and violence, for having participated in or having posted on their website boycott actions against the Israeli occupation, were not to be disappointed!

During this marathon trial which lasted from 10 am to midnight, which was requested by the government and commandeered by the Israeli lobby, we witnessed hours and hours of lies spouted out by the 5 plaintiff lawyers, considering themselves on home ground.

Unable to produce the documents purporting to confirm their assertions, distorting statements and texts, inventing inexistant newspaper articles : what a show ! They remained incapable of demonstrating that French law prohibits the citizen boycott of a State, as argued by our lawyers, Dominique COCHAIN, Antoine COMTE and Gilles DEVERS.

As if that wasn’t enough, the prosecutor went on to explain that the minister for Justice, Michele Alliot Marie, had issued a circular asking him to condemn us “with serenity and independence", but omitted to say that she had announced this decision at the CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France) gala evening, (even though she had said earlier in Parliament that our boycott actions in supermarkets did not constitute offenses).

And after telling us how much he respected our cause, our freedom of conscience and our ideas, he asked the court to pronounce exemplary sentences against us, in order to prevent us from continuing to defend that same cause: fines of between 1000 and 2000 euros for Mohamed, Maha and Ulrich ... and a 3 to 4 months suspended prison sentence against Olivia Zémor, explaining that getting rid of the leader, we would have peace at last.

The French government, the only one in the world to demand the punishment of those engaged in non-violent actions to stop the criminal policies of Israel, does it really believe that these dictatorial methods will stop the international boycott movement, while the Israeli occupation continues it’s colonization and atrocities?

While the bombing of Gaza continues and Hana Shalabi is in her 28th day of hunger strike to protest against arbitrary imprisonment, torture and humiliation inflicted on the Palestinians resisting the occupation?

In our humble opinion, the French government is mistaken !


All the best,


March 16, 2012

Rachel Corrie 1979-2003

Rachel Corrie was murdered by the IDF in 2003 while on an ISM mission in Rafah. The lie that calls itself her government never demanded accountability. But we have and we will continue. Rachel inspired many in a generation of activists who refused to be frightened by her murder and continued her work in ISM missions in Palestine. I don't count myself among the brave. But I went with an ISM mission in 2003, six months after her death, and the example she sat, although she never wanted to set that example, played a part in my decision to go. Remember Rachel and stand for justice and humanity. Free Palestine!

March 13, 2012

Granting No Quarter: A Call for the Disavowal of the Racism and Antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon

This clear and concise statement reproduced below has just been posted to the website of the US Palestine Community Network. Please share widely with your activist contacts


For many years now, Gilad Atzmon, a musician born in Israel and currently living in the United Kingdom, has taken on the self-appointed task of defining for the Palestinian movement the nature of our struggle, and the philosophy underpinning it. He has done so through his various blogs and Internet outlets, in speeches, and in articles. He is currently on tour in the United States promoting his most recent book, entitled, ‘The Wandering Who.’

With this letter, we call for the disavowal of Atzmon by fellow Palestinian organizers, as well as Palestine solidarity activists, and allies of the Palestinian people, and note the dangers of supporting Atzmon’s political work and writings and providing any platforms for their dissemination. We do so as Palestinian organizers and activists, working across continents, campaigns, and ideological positions.

Atzmon’s politics rest on one main overriding assertion that serves as springboard for vicious attacks on anyone who disagrees with his obsession with “Jewishness”. He claims that all Jewish politics is “tribal,” and essentially, Zionist. Zionism, to Atzmon, is not a settler-colonial project, but a trans-historical “Jewish” one, part and parcel of defining one’s self as a Jew. Therefore, he claims, one cannot self-describe as a Jew and also do work in solidarity with Palestine, because to identify as a Jew is to be a Zionist. We could not disagree more. Indeed, we believe Atzmon’s argument is itself Zionist because it agrees with the ideology of Zionism and Israel that the only way to be a Jew is to be a Zionist.

Palestinians have faced two centuries of orientalist, colonialist and imperialist domination of our native lands. And so as Palestinians, we see such language as immoral and completely outside the core foundations of humanism, equality and justice, on which the struggle for Palestine and its national movement rests. As countless Palestinian activists and organizers, their parties, associations and campaigns, have attested throughout the last century, our struggle was never, and will never be, with Jews, or Judaism, no matter how much Zionism insists that our enemies are the Jews. Rather, our struggle is with Zionism, a modern European settler colonial movement, similar to movements in many other parts of the world that aim to displace indigenous people and build new European societies on their lands.

We reaffirm that there is no room in this historic and foundational analysis of our struggle for any attacks on our Jewish allies, Jews, or Judaism; nor denying the Holocaust; nor allying in any way shape or form with any conspiracy theories, far-right, orientalist, and racist arguments, associations and entities. Challenging Zionism, including the illegitimate power of institutions that support the oppression of Palestinians, and the illegitimate use of Jewish identities to protect and legitimize oppression, must never become an attack on Jewish identities, nor the demeaning and denial of Jewish histories in all their diversity.

Indeed, we regard any attempt to link and adopt antisemitic or racist language, even if it is within a self-described anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist politics, as reaffirming and legitimizing Zionism. In addition to its immorality, this language obscures the fundamental role of imperialism and colonialism in destroying our homeland, expelling its people, and sustaining the systems and ideologies of oppression, apartheid and occupation. It leaves one squarely outside true solidarity with Palestine and its people.

The goal of the Palestinian people has always been clear: self determination. And we can only exercise that inalienable right through liberation, the return of our refugees (the absolute majority of our people) and achieving equal rights to all through decolonization. As such, we stand with all and any movements that call for justice, human dignity, equality, and social, economic, cultural and political rights. We will never compromise the principles and spirit of our liberation struggle. We will not allow a false sense of expediency to drive us into alliance with those who attack, malign, or otherwise attempt to target our political fraternity with all liberation struggles and movements for justice.

As Palestinians, it is our collective responsibility, whether we are in Palestine or in exile, to assert our guidance of our grassroots liberation struggle. We must protect the integrity of our movement, and to do so we must continue to remain vigilant that those for whom we provide platforms actually speak to its principles.

When the Palestinian people call for self-determination and decolonization of our homeland, we do so in the promise and hope of a community founded on justice, where all are free, all are equal and all are welcome.

Until liberation and return.


Ali Abunimah

Naseer Aruri, Professor Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Omar Barghouti, human rights activist

Hatem Bazian, Chair, American Muslims for Palestine

Andrew Dalack, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Haidar Eid, Gaza

Nada Elia, US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel

Toufic Haddad

Kathryn Hamoudah

Adam Hanieh, Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon! Canada

Monadel Herzallah, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Nadia Hijab, author and human rights advocate

Andrew Kadi

Abir Kobty, Palestinian blogger and activist

Joseph Massad, Professor, Columbia University, NY

Danya Mustafa, Israeli Apartheid Week US National Co-Coordinator & Students for Justice in Palestine- University of New Mexico

Dina Omar, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine

Haitham Salawdeh, National Coordinating Committee, US Palestinian Community Network

Sobhi Samour, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London

Khaled Ziada, SOAS Palestine Society, London

Rafeef Ziadah, poet and human rights advocate

USPCN, March 13, 2012

March 12, 2012

Cause and effect in Gaza?

Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz on the implausibility of Israeli claims about its attacks on Gaza:

This cyclical ritual of bloodletting always prompts two questions: "Who started it?" and "Whose is bigger?" It's as if both questions were straight from some preschool playground. The response to the first question is always mired in uncertainty, while the answer to the second is always razor-sharp.
Who started it? The IDF and the Shin Bet security service did. The impression is that they carry out the targeted killings whenever they can, and not whenever it is necessary.
When are they necessary? Do you remember the debate on targeted killings sometime in the distant past? Then, it seemed the targets had to be "ticking time bombs" en route to carry out their attacks. In any event, such a vague standard no longer applies. In 2006, in his last court ruling handed down before his retirement, then Supreme Court President Aharon Barak barred such killings when they were meant to be "a deterrent or punishment."
The latest target killed was Zuhair al-Qaissi, the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. IDF sources said he was responsible for the terrorist attack on the Egyptian border last August - which would make his killing an act of "deterrence or punishment." But to be on the safe side, it was also noted that he had "led and directed plans to carry out a terror attack within Israel, which was in its final stages of preparation."
This convoluted announcement by the IDF spokesman was enough to get the Israeli public to accept this latest regular dose of targeted killing with automatic understanding and sympathy. And who knows what the late al-Qaissi had planned? Only the Shin Bet does, so we accept his death sentence without unnecessary questions.
Did he really lead and direct plans? And what are "the final stages of preparation"? The military reporters said so, and the military reporters know. Even the question of the effectiveness, rather than the legality of the killings, is no longer a subject for debate. What benefit will it bring Israel, other than more people injured, and additional days of fear in the south? Did this targeted killing really head off a terrorist attack? We won't know. It's enough for the news presenters to know. (And they don't. They just obediently spout what they get from the defense establishment. )
The second question - "Whose is bigger?" - is even more ridiculous and superfluous, of course. It's the best equipped army in the world against a ragtag army of rocket launchers. Nonetheless, this has to be proven to everyone, both to them and us, over and over.
You have the score right here in front of you. As of yesterday afternoon, it was 15-0 in Israel's favor.
And so it goes on.....

March 11, 2012

Ugandan Rosebell Kagumire.explains the problem with the Kony video in language that even liberals can understand

A quick word on Israeli apartheid

As with South Africa back in the bad old days, Israel's main mechanism for segregation within the pre-67 borders is the ID card.  Catch this throwaway line in a Guardian piece by Harriet Sherwood titled Israelis: Portrait of a people in tense times:
Despite his Israeli citizenship, Youssef does not consider himself as Israeli, but a Palestinian who lives in Israel. He shows his Israeli identity card. Until 2005, it used to categorise him as an "Arab", but after many court battles ID cards now show a row of asterisks for all Israeli citizens. However, Jews are identified as such by their date of birth, shown according to the Hebrew as well as Gregorian calendar.
That's a bizarre thing for a democracy to do.

Israel's attacks on Gaza - consolation, training or maybe both for Iran

It's not really news when Israel kills Palestinians but when zionist sources describe Palestinian retaliation as "Palestinian.... rocket attacks" on Israel you know there's a game on.

In a meeting Saturday night with the mayors of southern Israeli communities, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue hitting Palestinian forces in Gaza responsible for a barrage of rocket attacks.
Netayahu praised the residents for their resilience in the face of the rocket barrage.
“We will continue to hit whoever plans to attack citizens of the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. " At the same time, we will continue to improve home front defense including by means of additional Iron Dome systems, the effectiveness of which was shown again over the weekend."
More than 130 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since an Israeli airstrike killed the leader of a Palestinian terrorist group.
Ah, so it was Israel attacking Gaza not the other way around.

Here's Gush Shalom on the same escalation:
In the beginning of the week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu failed in his attempt to get an American autorization for an attack on Iran, which might raise oil prizes and overthrow the world economy. At the end of the same week, he is setting the Gaza Strip border on fire with an act of "liquidation" which was certain to precipitate a barrage of rockets at the communities of southern Israel and make their children huddle in air-raid shelters on the Purim holiday.
The bombings and killings in the Gaza Strip look like a general rehearsal and test of weapons systems towards the great war to come - and a "consolation prize" for not yet have gotten the authorization.
In recent weeks, there were many indications of a growing distance between Hamas and Iran, and an unwillingness of the Hamas leaders to take part in a war between Israel and Iran, should it break out. A responsible Israeli leadership should have been seeking to deepen this gap, and therefore do all in its power to keep the Gaza border calm. But a responsible leadership is not exactly the right term for Israel's present government.
And what's this distance between Hamas and Iran all about?  Well it could be described as fallout from the Arab spring.  Hamas is distancing itself from Syria's Assad regime.  Here's The Guardian:
Hamas will not do Iran's bidding in any war with Israel, according to senior figures within the militant Islamic group.
"If there is a war between two powers, Hamas will not be part of such a war," Salah Bardawil, a member of the organisation's political bureau in Gaza City, told the Guardian.
He denied the group would launch rockets into Israel at Tehran's request in response to a strike on its nuclear sites. "Hamas is not part of military alliances in the region," said Bardawil. "Our strategy is to defend our rights"
The stance underscores Hamas's rift with its key financial sponsor and its realignment with the Muslim Brotherhood and popular protest movements in the Arab world.
It's curious to see how Israel and Iran both have issues with Palestine arising over the Arab spring, But what attracted my curiosity in the first place was how an attack by Israel on a Palestinian target could be described as a Palestinian attack on Israel.  Perhaps that too was a rehearsal for an Israeli attack on Iran.

March 09, 2012

Atzmon slagged

Not Quite "Ordinary Human Beings"—Anti-imperialism and the anti-humanist rhetoric of Gilad Atzmon

[The following statement has been published on several websites. The version published here is the final version and contained the most up-to-date list of signers as at 8 March 2012.]

Attempting to latch onto the just, vital, and growing movement in support of the Palestinian national liberation struggle, Gilad Atzmon is one of a very small and unrepresentative group of writers who have argued (in agreement with many Zionists) that there is no meaningful distinction to be made between Jews in general and Israeli atrocities. According to Atzmon, the latter are simply a manifestation of Jews’ historic relationship to gentiles, an authentic expression of an essentially racist, immoral, and anti-human “Jewish ideology.”

Atzmon’s statements, besides distorting the history of Jews and constituting a brazen justification for centuries of anti-Jewish behavior and beliefs, also downgrade anti-Zionism to a mere front in the broader (anti-Jewish) struggle. Atzmon has specifically described Zionism not as a form of colonialism or settlerism, but as a uniquely evil ideology unlike anything else in human history. In addition to any ethical problems, this line of argumentation actually strengthens Zionism’s grip and claim to be the authentic representative of Jews. It obscures the reality that Zionism is an imperialist and colonialist enemy of Jewish people and Palestinians, as well as the Arab people generally and all those oppressed and exploited by imperialism.

In his online attack on Moshe Machover, an Israeli socialist and founder of the anti-Zionist group Matzpen, Atzmon states:

Machover’s reading of Zionism is pretty trivial. “Israel,” he says, is a “settler state.” For Machover this is a necessary point of departure because it sets Zionism as a colonialist expansionist project. The reasoning behind such a lame intellectual spin is obvious. As long as Zionism is conveyed as a colonial project, Jews, as a people, should be seen as ordinary people. They are no different from the French and the English, they just happen to run their deadly colonial project in a different time.[1]

For Atzmon, such views are “pretty trivial” and “lame” because he holds that Jews are in fact radically different from the French and the English. Of the many quotes we could provide in this regard, here is a small sampling:[2]

In order to understand Israel’s unique condition we must ask, “who are the Jews? What is Judaism and what is Jewishness?”[3]

Zionism is a continuation of Jewish ideology.[4]

The never-ending robbery of Palestine by Israel in the name of the Jewish people establishes a devastating spiritual, ideological, cultural and, obviously, practical continuum between the Judaic Bible and the Zionist project. The crux of the matter is simple yet disturbing: Israel and Zionism are both successful political systems that put into devastating practice the plunder promised by the Judaic God in the Judaic holy scriptures.[5]

Sadly, we have to admit that hate-ridden plunder of other people’s possessions made it into the Jewish political discourse both on the left and right. The Jewish nationalist would rob Palestine in the name of the right of self-determination, the Jewish progressive is there to rob the ruling class and even international capital in the name of world working class revolution.[6]

Were Jewish Marxists and cosmopolitans open to the notion of brotherhood, they would have given up on their unique, exclusive banners and become ordinary human beings like the rest of us.[7]

I do not consider the Jews to be a race, and yet it is obvious that “Jewishness” clearly involves an ethno centric and racially supremacist, exclusivist point of view that is based on a sense of Jewish “chosen-ness.”[8]

At the most, Israel has managed to mimic some of the appearances of a Western civilisation, but it has clearly failed to internalise the meaning of tolerance and freedom. This should not take us by surprise: Israel defines itself as a Jewish state, and Jewishness is, sadly enough, inherently intolerant; indeed, it may be argued that Jewish intolerance is as old as the Jews themselves.[9]

Israel and Zionism then, has proved to be a short lived dream. It was initiated to civilise Jewish life, and to dismantle the Jewish self-destructive mode. It was there to move the Jew into the post-herem[10] phase. It vowed to make the Jew into a productive being. But as things turned out, neither the Zionists nor the “anti Zionists” managed to drift away from the disastrous herem culture. It seems that the entire world of Jewish identity politics is a matrix of herems and exclusion strategies. In order to be “a proper Jew,” all you have to do is to point out whom you oppose, hate, exclude or boycott.[11]

The conclusion to such views is not difficult to draw:

The endless trail of Jewish collective tragedies is there to teach us that Jews always pay eventually (and heavily) for Jewish power exercises. Yet, surprisingly (and tragically) enough, Jews somehow consistently fail to internalise and learn from that very lesson.[12]

More precisely, commenting on the climax of State violence directed at Jews in the 1930s, most famously by Germany, but also in most other European nations, Atzmon is clear:

The remarkable fact is they don't understand why the world is beginning to stand against them in the same way they didn't understand why the Europeans stood against them in the 1930s. Instead of asking why we are hated they continue to toss accusations on others.[13]

Within the discourse of Jewish politics and history there is no room for causality. There is no such a thing as a former and a latter. Within the Jewish tribal discourse every narrative starts to evolve when Jewish pain establishes itself. This obviously explains why Israelis and some Jews around the world can only think as far as “two state solution” within the framework of 1967 borders. It also explains why for most Jews the history of the holocaust starts in the gas chambers or with the rise of the Nazis. I have hardly seen any Israelis or Jews attempt to understand the circumstances that led to the clear resentment of Europeans towards their Jewish neighbors in the 1920’s-40’s.[14]

It is, as such, not surprising that Atzmon’s work has received enthusiastic reviews by such prominent members of the racist right as former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Kevin MacDonald of the Occidental Observer, David Icke, and Arthur Topham’s the Radical Press. It should not be surprising that Atzmon has distributed articles defending Holocaust deniers and those who write of “the Hitler we loved and why.”[15]These connections ultimately serve the interests of Zionism, which seeks to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Jewishness. Zionist agents have repeatedly attempted to ensnare and link Palestinian, Arab, and/or Muslim rights advocates to Neo-Nazism, through dirty tricks and outright lies.

It is more surprising and disappointing, then, that a small section of the left has opted to promote Atzmon and his works. In the UK, the Socialist Workers Party promoted Atzmon for several years before finally breaking with him; his latest book The Wandering Who? has been published by the left-wing Zero Books (a decision that elicited a letter of protest from several Zero authors).[16] In the United States, the widely-read Counterpunch website has repeatedly chosen to run articles by Atzmon. Currently, in February and March 2012, Atzmon is on tour in North America, where several of his speaking engagements are being organized by progressive anti-imperialists who we would normally like to consider our allies.

While perhaps well-meaning, operating under the assumption that any opposition to Zionism is to be welcomed, progressives who promote the work of Atzmon are in fact surrendering the moral high ground by encouraging a belief-system that simply mirrors that of the most racist section of Israeli society. Anti-racism is not a liability; on the contrary, it is a principle that makes our movements stronger in the long fight for a better tomorrow.

As political activists committed to resisting colonialism and imperialism—in North America and around the world—we recognize that there can be different interpretations of history, and we welcome exploring these. Without wishing to debate the question of whether far-right and racist ideologues should be censored, or how, we see no reason for progressive people to organize events to promote their works.

In our struggle against Zionism, racism, and all forms of colonialism and imperialism, there is no place for antisemitism or the vilification of Jews, Palestinians or any people based on their religions, cultures, nationalities, ethnicity or history. At this historic junction—when the need to struggle for the liberation of Palestine is more vital than ever and the fault lines of capitalist empire are becoming more widely exposed—no anti-oppressive revolution can be built with ultra-right allies or upon foundations friendly to creeping fascism.

As'ad AbuKhalil, The Angry Arab News Service, Turlock, CA
Suha Afyouni, solidarity activist, Beirut, LEBANON
Max Ajl, essayist, rabble-rouser, proprietor of Jewbonics blog site, Ithaca, NY
Haifaa Al-Moammar, activist, stay-at-home mom, and marathon walker, Los Angeles, CA
Electa Arenal, professor emerita, CUNY Graduate Center/Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Women's Studies, New York, NY
Gabriel Ash, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Geneva, SWITZERLAND
Joel Beinin, Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
Dan Berger, Wild Poppies Collective, Philadelphia, PA
Chip Berlet, Boston, MA
Nazila Bettache, activist, Montréal, CANADA
Sam Bick, Tadamon!, Immigrant Workers Center, Montréal, Québec
Max Blumenthal, author; writing fellow, The Nation, New York, NY
Lenni Brenner, author, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, New York, NY
Café Intifada
Paola Canarutto, Rete-ECO (Italian Network of Jews against the Occupation), Torino, ITALY
Paulette d’Auteuil, National Jericho Movement, Albuquerque, NM
Susie Day, Monthly Review, New York, NY
Ali Hocine Dimerdji, PhD student at The University of Nottingham, in Nottingham, UK
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, professor emerita, California State University
Todd Eaton, Park Slope Food Coop Members for Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions, Brooklyn, NY
Mark Elf, Jews sans frontieres
S. EtShalom, registered nurse, Philadelphia, PA
Benjamin Evans, solidarity activist, Chicago, IL
First of May Anarchist Alliance
Sherna Berger Gluck, professor emerita, California State University/Israel Divestment Campaign, CA
Neta Golan, International Solidarity Movement
Tony Greenstein, Secretary Brighton Unemployed Centre/UNISON, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, Brighton, UK
Andrew Griggs, Café Intifada, Los Angeles, CA
Jenny Grossbard, artist, designer, writer and fighter, New York, NY
Freda Guttman, activist, Montréal, CANADA
Adam Hanieh, lecturer, Department of Development Studies/SOAS, University of London, UK
Swaneagle Harijan, anti-racism, social justice activism, Seattle, WA
Sarah Hawas, researcher and solidarity activist, Cairo, EGYPT
Stanley Heller, "The Struggle" Video News, moderator "Jews Who Speak Out"
Mostafa Henaway, Tadamon!, Immigrant Workers Center, Montréal, CANADA
Elise Hendrick, Meldungen aus dem Exil/Noticias de una multipátrida, Cincinnati, OH
Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer, New York, NY
Ken Hiebert, activist, Ladysmith, CANADA
Elizabeth Horowitz, solidarity activist, New York, NY
Adam Hudson, writer/blogger, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Dhruv Jain, Researcher at the Jan Van Eyck Academie and PhD student at York University, Paris, FRANCE
Tom Keefer, an editor of the journal Upping the Anti, Toronto, CANADA
Karl Kersplebedeb, Left Wing Books, Montréal, CANADA
Anne Key, Penrith, Cumbria, UK
Mark Klein, activist, Toronto, CANADA
Bill Koehnlein, Brecht Forum, New York, NY
L.A. Palestine Labor Solidarity Committee, Los Angeles, CA
Mark Lance, Georgetown University/Institute for Anarchist Studies, Washington, DC
David Landy, author, Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel, Dublin, IRELAND
Bob Lederer, Pacifica/WBAI producer, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, New York, NY
Matthew Lyons, Three Way Fight, Philadelphia, PA
Karen MacRae, solidarity activist, Toronto, CANADA
Heba Farouk Mahfouz, student activist, blogger, Cairo, EGYPT
Marvin Mandell and Betty Reid Mandell, co-editors, New Politics, West Roxbury, MA
Ruth Sarah Berman McConnell, retired teacher, DeLand, FL
Kathleen McLeod, poet, Brisbane, Australia
Karrie Melendres, Los Angeles, CA
Matt Meyer, Resistance in Brooklyn, New York, NY
Amirah Mizrahi, poet and educator, New York, NY
mesha Monge-Irizarry, co-director of Education Not Incarceration; SF MOOC City commissioner, San Francisco, CA
Matthew Morgan-Brown, solidarity activist, Ottawa, CANADA
Michael Novick, People Against Racist Terror/Anti-Racist Action, Los Angeles, CA
Saffo Papantonopoulou, New School Students for Justice in Palestine, New York, NY
Susan Pashkoff, Jews Against Zionism, London, UK
Tom Pessah, UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine, Berkeley, CA
Marie-Claire Picher, Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory (TOPLAB), New York, NY
Sylvia Posadas (Jinjirrie), Kadaitcha, Noosa, AUSTRALIA
Roland Rance, Jews Against Zionism, London, UK
Danielle Ratcliff, San Francisco, CA
Liz Roberts, War Resisters League, New York, NY
Emma Rosenthal, contributor, Shifting Sands: Jewish Women Confront the Israeli Occupation, Los Angeles, CA
Penny Rosenwasser, PhD, Oakland, CA
Suzanne Ross, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition, The Riverside Church Prison Ministry, New York, NY
Gabriel San Roman, Orange County Weekly, Orange County, CA
Ian Saville, performer and lecturer, London, UK
Joel Schwartz, CSEA retiree/AFSCME, New York, NY
Tali Shapiro, Anarchists Against the Wall, Boycott From Within, Tel Aviv, OCCUPIED PALESTINE
Simona Sharoni, SUNY, author, Gender & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Plattsburgh, NY
Jaggi Singh, No One Is Illegal-Montreal/Solidarity Across Borders, Montréal, CANADA
Michael S. Smith, board member, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY
Pierre Stambul, Union juive française pour la paix (French Jewish Union for Peace), Paris, FRANCE
Muffy Sunde, Los Angeles, CA
Bhaskar Sunkara, editor of Jacobin, Bronx, NY
Tadamon! (, Montréal, CANADA
Ian Trujillo, atheist, Los Angeles, CA
Gabriella Turek, PhD, Auckland, NEW ZEALAND
Henry Walton, SEIU, retired, Los Angeles, CA
Bill Weinberg, New Jewish Resistance, New York, NY
Abraham Weizfeld, author, The End of Zionism and the liberation of the Jewish People, Montreal, CANADA
Ben White, author, Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination, and Democracy, Cambridge, UK
Laura Whitehorn, former political prisoner, NYS Task Force on Political Prisoners, New York, NY
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, founding member, Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods (J-BIG)
Asa Winstanley, journalist for Electronic Intifada, Al-Akhbar and others, London, UK
Ziyaad Yousef, solidarity activist

* List in formation
* Organizations listed for identification purposes only

This text is not intended as a comprehensive critique of Gilad Atzmon's politics. It was written quickly by some North American anti-imperialists who learned of Atzmon's 2012 speaking tour just days before it was to begin in late February 2012. At first it was thought it would be signed by just a few people, but the initiative quickly took on a life of its own, being posted to the web and to multiple listservs, discussed via email and on Facebook, and elsewhere, even before the wording had been finalized or a decision had been made as to how to use it (the initial assumption had been that it would be passed on to organizers with far less fanfare). Instead of a few signatures, within a week there were dozens, and emails continue to arrive from people wishing to sign on. We believe that this speaks to the deep frustration that many of us feel when confronted with Atzmon's anti-Jewish beliefs, which constitute an affront to our anti-racist principles, as well as a distraction from the essential tasks of opposing colonialist genocide and Israeli apartheid. What this response makes clear is that for many anti-imperialists, opposing such racism remains essential to building a movement against imperialism and the myriad forms of oppression that both feed on and are fed by it.

Any subsequent news or information about this initiative will appear here on the Three Way Fight website ( Those wishing to endorse or discuss this initiative, or for more information, should email We wish to reiterate that we consider many of those promoting Atzmon's work to be allies, but would ask that they reconsider their decision to do so. This is not a call for censorship, but for consistency and accountability.

[1] Gilad Atzmon, "Tribal Marxism for Dummies," originally published in June 2009, republished on his Web site on April 24, 2011.
[2] Many more quotes like these could be provided, but we assume this is enough to show that these are not out-of-context or out-of-character remarks. If not, readers may wish to peruse the section of Atzmon’s website on “Jewishness” at<>.
[3] Gilad Atzmon, "Tribal Marxism for Dummies," Atlantic Free Press, July 2, 2009.
[4] Anayat Durrani, "Exposing Dangerous Myths," Interview with Gilad Atzmon, originally published in Al-Ahram Weekly (May 19-25, 2011), republished on Atzmon's Web site on May 19, 2011.
[5] Gilad Atzmon, "Swindler's List: Zionist Plunder and the Judaic Bible," Redress Information & Analysis, April 5, 2008.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Gilad Atzmon, "An Interesting Exchange With A Jewish Anti Zionist," Atzmon's Web site, August 17, 2011.
[9] Gilad Atzmon, "The Herem Law in the context of Jewish Past and Present," Atzmon's Web site, July 16, 2011.
[10] “Herem” is a Hebrew word that refers to banning or excluding someone, it is also the name of the repressive legislation Israel recently passed to enable punitive lawsuits against those calling for a boycott of the apartheid state. For Atzmon, this law is just one more example of Zionism’s Jewish uniqueness (guess he never heard of SLAPPs), as he concludes that “this is what Jews do best: destroying, excluding, excommunicating, silencing, boycotting, sanctioning. After all, Jews have been doing this for centuries.”
[11] Ibid.
[12] Gilad Atzmon, "A Warning From The Past," Atzmon's Web site, May 26, 2011.
[13] Quoted in Shabana Syed, "Time for World to Confront Israel: Gilad Atzmon," Arab News, June 14, 2010.

March 08, 2012

Letters on Clegg and Tonge

There was a good crop of letters on Jenny Tonge leaving the LibDems in The Guardian yesterday all in support of Ms Tonge. Here they all are:

Jenny Tonge has been forced to resign the Liberal Democrat whip in the Lords for making the essentially non-controversial prediction that Israelcannot be guaranteed survival in its present form if it continues to alienate all its neighbours, including former allies such as Egypt and Turkey, all the Arabs it controls, and eventually even the taxpayers of the United States (Report, 1 March).
Israel already has changed form since its creation by expanding into other people's land in violation of international law and UN security council resolutions. Its survival was put seriously at risk in October 1973 and, with the advent of a powerful Hezbollah neighbour and possibly a nuclear power in Iran, is at risk again. Even in the US, criticism of Israel is at last being publicly made by politicians, academics, writers and journalists. Why is it wrong for a British politician to point these matters out? Is Britain guaranteed survival in its "present form"? Is Scotland? Would a Liberal MP or peer be sacked for debating the case?
What is more sinister than the reactions of Israel's representatives and placemen to Jenny Tonge is that, in this third intervention against her over her candid remarks in recent years, the leaders of the Lib Dems, encouraged by senior figures in the two other main political parties, have disempowered a British parliamentarian under pressure from the backers of a foreign state – Israel.
Tim Llewellyn
• Jenny Tonge's main offence was being a member of a party for whom principle is a dirty word. Tonge stated: "Israel will not continue much longer in its present form." Is Nick Clegg really saying that Israel should continue to treat its Arab citizens as guests? Or that depriving the Palestinians of the occupied territories of any democratic rights should continue, since it is clear that the West Bank is not going to be relinquished? Perhaps Clegg should consult the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz of 29 November 2007, where he will find the then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, stating: "If the day comes when the two‑state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished." Clegg should be eating humble pie and apologising profusely for having jumped when the tabloids barked.
Tony Greenstein
• I am appalled at the way Jenny Tonge has been treated. I spoke at the same Middlesex University debate as her on 23 February. Her remarks about Israel were clearly made in the context of its continuing repression of the Palestinians and its violations of international norms of behaviour – hardly startling news. No one could have objected, except the hysterical supporters of Israel who came to attack her, and the Lib Dem leaders too craven to stand up to them.
Ghada Karmi
• I was deeply saddened to read of Nick Clegg forcing Baroness Tonge's resignation merely for stating the obvious. The true friends of Israel long ago realised that US taxpayers cannot subsidise them forever, and their only hope for peace is in a genuine partnership of equals with their Palestinian neighbours.
Edward Hooper
Former Lib Dem parliamentary candidate
I'm guessing they'll be balanced out by some complete cobblers by the hasbara brigade soon enough. Hold on, let's check today's Guardian.
Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has made it clear Israel is preparing for war on Iran (Report, 6 March). President Obama was clear, too, that the US is ready to use force against Iran. The increasingly strident tone of the weapons inspectors, tightening sanctions and the open threats of an attack are all terrifyingly reminiscent of the buildup to war on Iraq. An attack on Iran would risk a conflagration across the region. We support Stop the War Coalition's launch of the Don't Attack Iran campaign.
Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Brian Eno, Lindsey German, George Galloway, Kate Hudson, Jemima Khan, Ken Loach, Roger Lloyd Pack, Lowkey, Len McCluskey, John McDonnell MP, John Pilger, Michael Rosen, Jenny Tonge
Hmm, did you see that?  The only mention of Jenny Tonge is when she signed off a plea against war on Iran Perhaps even the most ardent of hasbaraniks can't make a case for her being forced to leave the LibDems.